Saturday, 21 September 2013

Malevolent By Default

Tomorrow Labour will announce the stuff they've announced tonight, don't ask me how that works. I am holding off for 24 hours before criticising it because I am promised that there is much more flesh on them bones.

That being said, my optimism remains non-optimal. Sue Marsh says this is cynicism, but to me it is no more cynical than a weatherman predicting rain- it's looking at the best information which is there and drawing a conclusion. Politicians are malevolent by default. No, that's not the conclusion- that's the best available information; the conclusion comes later. But it's not fair to advance that statement as a point without doing what Liam Bryne has not yet done: put flesh on the bones.

The rotting pus-strewn meat of the issue is that these things always begin with high ideals. They always start out as progressive-sounding announcements by the would-be Gandhi's, the hopeful Beverege's, the promising heir's of Martin Jesus F Kennedy Robin Luther Hood Tolstoy Christ: the bestest and most noble man who ever aided the sick and defended the poor. Every horrific thing ever done, with the fig-leaf of legitimacy, to the weak and vulnerable started out like this. That is the crushing weight of history and not even Atlas, Hercules and Hulk Hogan combined could move that.

What happens as soon as these people get within smelling distance of power is a subtle change of tone too quiet for anyone to notice before a sudden ratchet of rhetoric steam-rollering it's way through sanity and reason too fast for anyone to stop it. A significant number of non-working disabled people say they want to work; this is confirmed by repeated surveys done by charities. This is the kind of stuff politicians latch onto for credibility, to show that they are 'in touch' when they want support for their latest enlightened proposal to help disabled people who want to work. But when things start moving, real stuff that actually affects the real world, people who want to work are the last thing on their minds. They are forgotten and the focus turns to those who do not want to work. There are lots of reasons why someone does not want to work: they have a condition which could be made worse, they want to look after their children, they want to study something, but what gets focused on is 'work-shyness' and it's weasel word twin 'the system trapping people on benefits'.

So what began as the next big idea to help those who want to work turns into the latest 'crackdown' on those who don't want to work. I am predicting that what Labour will do if they come back into office in 2015 will repeat the same story as last time, and the time before that, and before that, and before that. The Coalition strategy for social security has been basically this all the way through and Labour have been impotent in their ability to criticise this because it's exactly what they did in the New Labour years and exactly what they will do the next time they are given another chance to get it completely wrong. They have already delivered frequent tone-deaf messages which appeal to the basest predatory instincts of public opinion; we can guess accurately what disposition towards benefit claimants, including the disabled, they would prefer.


  1. I share your frustration with the media as regards coverage of social security.Personally,I dislike the usage of "personal stories" as a conduit for discussion,but as the writer Trevor Griffiths opined."When you work in the sewer you have to deal with shit"The poor woman in Bedfordshire being a case in point-it became infested with vultures,ever ready to swoop .It became(if indeed they actually read the story)an outlining of how she was undeserving/or not.I fell for responding in the game for a bit because it was so horrendous I felt I had to reply.Now,I don't care for judgemental bollocks-(if I ever outlined our particular situation-they would not only swoop but delight in tearing us to pieces-a three bedroomed detached house for two people on benefits,not worked for six years-they would be outside with pitchforks).To be clear I hate in" both "sides.I hated the charity I worked having blind people rattling tins for money-deliberately choosing the most "sympathetic" person to do it.What someone is,looks like,character etc I couldn't give a toss-it should not form part of the debate-but it doesIf something is wrong-it is wrong facts-and actual facts should be enough.But they are not-the battle is over language-I take it as a good sign that "social security "is being used-and perception-who is affected,the Mail relies on the miniscule (ever so conveniently posed) cartoons,I suppose the Guardian is trying to oppose this by showing the ordinary-it could be your mum etc.Also,it does appear that they have left it until it has happened to cover it for newsworthy effect,a trait I also dislike.The fight is a neverending one Arec.The notice of repeal,hopefully will alert the Government to make more concessions,Councils will be pressurised into nonevictions-I agree people have paid the price for the medias gameplaying-we must continue to help those to come.regards

  2. Byrne offered nothing new, just the same neo-liberal solutions to problems of its own making. Byrne's language changes nuance depending on his audience. 'languishing on benefits' for liberals becomes 'lifestyle choice' for tabloids.

    I would love to see some hope in a future Labour Government, and their supporters say we should give them the benefit of the doubt. Why? What have they done to earn that benefit? Their record last time was as punitive as the Tories.

  3. I for one did not know this.Yet another ,excuse the language,bollocking false economic misanthropy to come under UC-

  4. DWP -benefit cap successfully brought in nationwide-a major reform apparently-

    IDS-So far teams at Jobcentre Plus have helped around 15,300 potentially capped claimants into work and this support will continue.

    Actual evidence-Important: The figures for those claimants moving into work cover all of
    those who were identified as potentially being affected by the benefit
    cap who entered work. [b]The statistics are not intended to show the
    additional numbers entering work as a direct result of Jobcentre Plus[/b]