Coming soon: criminal sentences for the long-term unemployed?

Jobless criminal: Proposals by the Tory Free Enterprise group would put the clock back to the 16th century, when joblessness was a criminal offence.

According to the Telegraph, that outstanding group of backwards-thinking Tories, the Free Enterprise group, has come up with a new way of turning back time to the Middle Ages.

The group, some of whose luminaries were responsible for the stain on literature known as Britannia Unchained, believe those out of work for more than a year should have their benefits docked by 20 per cent.

Anyone unemployed for more than six months should do 30 hours’ community service and lose 10 per cent of their benefits, they reckon.

Britannia Unchained, you will recall, wrongly suggests that workers in the UK are among the laziest in the world.

Magistrates regularly dish out community service orders to people who have been convicted of criminal offences that may be punishable by imprisonment. These orders are for work totalling not less than 40 hours. I suppose the Free Enterprise zealots think they have cleverly avoided comparisons by limiting their suggestion to 30 hours, but if a person is unemployed for more than a year, under their proposal, they would have to do 60 hours’ unpaid work in the community – well within the amount for criminal offences.

Taking away 20 per cent of a person’s income has never been within a magistrate’s – or a judge’s – powers as fines have always been specific amounts. I would imagine that a judge would consider such a sentence to be an overly cruel and unusual punishment.

The whole proposal is reminiscent of the days – perhaps the Free Enterprisers consider them ‘good old days’ – when unemployment was considered a crime, along with vagrancy. Perhaps we should be happy they don’t want to reintroduce the death penalty for it!

That is exactly what unemployment used to attract. From 1536, the law allowed vagabonds and the jobless to be whipped and hanged. In 1547, a bill was passed that subjected vagrants to some of the more extreme provisions of the criminal law, namely two years servitude and branding with a “V” as the penalty for the first offense and death for the second. During the reign of Henry VIII, as many as 72,000 people are estimated to have been executed.

He was on the throne for a fair amount of time, so he’d probably be impressed by the death toll already racked up by this government among the sick and disabled.

Chris Skidmore, Conservative MP for Kingswood, who part-wrote the report, tried to make it look respectable by saying, “Now is the time for the Conservative party to be brave. We need bold thinking and ideas that reflect the fact that we are the party that believes people should have the freedom to make the decisions about the things that affect them.”

Which people? Not unemployed people, I take it. People like you, Chris?

We know the welfare budget is going to be hit again by the Coalition government – these idiots simply don’t have any other ideas. Comedy Prime Minister David Cameron told Andrew Marr his party would “level” with the public about the need for another £16 billion of spending cuts in 2015-16.

“We have to find these spending reductions and if we want to avoid cuts in things like hospitals and schools, services that we all rely on, we have to look at things like the welfare budget,” he said.

So the Free Enterprise group’s foolishness might soon become government policy.

And don’t be fooled by Cameron’s comments about hospitals and schools. When he says these are services “we all rely on”, he means that he and his cronies are relying on turning them into cash cows from which they can all profit. The hospitals are already being sold off piecemeal to private firms that Tory ministers partly own.

30 thoughts on “Coming soon: criminal sentences for the long-term unemployed?

      1. pricklypilgrim

        Terrifying thought! Is there *NO* way in which to get rid of them before 2015? They’ve already wrecked so much that it becomes difficult to see how it can be reversed….

  1. Angie

    A vote of NO CONFIDENCE may do it. We cannot let this government stay in power until 2015. If we do, the country is lost and the poor of this once great country will be put back into the workhouse as this government, I think, is working for that to come back. How can we get them out??

    1. Mike Sivier

      The problem is that a ‘No Confidence’ vote must come from within Parliament and – as rules stand since the Coalition came in – would have to be supported by a certain number of Conservative MPs.
      You see, they’ve been rigging the situation in their favour since the start.

    2. bombasticspastic

      Calling for a vote of no confidence presupposes that 1) the majority in Parliament have ‘no confidence’ in this lash-up of a government, and 2) that the general public has lost confidence in the government.

      Sadly, neither is true. This country is going to bleed quite a bit more before enough people feel sufficiently aggrieved to do something to counter the repression.

      At the moment the overwhelming majority of the public do not know of or understand the full implications of Universal Credit. They probably think its something the affects others than themselves. They have a rude awakening ahead of them.

      Anti-cuts campaigners need to get the message out of how the Universal Credit will hit disabled people, single parents, our youth, the elderly, unemployed, and even people in paid employment. This junta is no longer simply targetting the ‘feckless’ unemployed and fripples; they’re going after our entire class!

      1. Mike Sivier

        I agree with that, all the way down the line. I mean, I’m not even sure I know the full implications of the Universal Credit, and I’ve been watching developments there for a long time.

  2. Kelly Rose

    Ridiculous – there aren’t enough jobs at the moment, they’re taking disabled and sick people’s benefits off of those who are not fit for work… What are they going to do – send them to prison when they can’t hold down a job?
    All by a government that wasn’t even voted in by the public!

  3. Mike Sivier

    I received a tweet from a gentleman named John Fletcher. From his words, I think he takes an opposing view: “Love it when left come out with this type of paranoid fantasy. Their bile and envy make then look ridiculous.”
    Any comments?

  4. karen Smith

    It’s all about figures. There would be more jobs if the government would stop making disabled people take unpaid work. In the 80s they put everyone on the sick to get the dole figures down and now they are trying to get the sick figures down by making sick people work for no pay, which takes jobs away from people who want to work. Now it seems they are trying to get ALL the figures down.
    Maybe, if they stopped with their expenses and 2nd houses, they wouldn’t have to crucify the poor.

  5. Bill Kruse

    This will go on as long as people allow it. When enough people are rioting on a regular basis it’ll stop. They’re just naughty schoolboys seeing how much they can get away with.

  6. linda

    Lololol!! Yeah, good luck with THAT…Write another article next year and tell us how that worked out for you…
    Wow…effin’ CLUELESS…lolol!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Is this the quality of the argument coming from the Conservative supporters? If it is, I think it lacks a certain – how can I put it? Substance? Coherence?
      Tell you what, I’ll let you know how this article is working out for me, shall I, Linda? It’s my third most popular ever, behind ‘Grayling, IDS, Miller to be tried for crimes against humanity?’ and ‘Poll tax revival plan to take away your home’. It seems clear to me that these are the pieces that have connected with what a huge number of people think, and your abuse will only fuel their beliefs.
      So, as a campaigner against political injustice, I suppose I should thank you for your co-operation.

      1. Mike Sivier

        Interestingly, when I looked up ‘Linda’ here on Gravatar, it told me there’s ‘No such user’. You’ll draw your own conclusions, I’m sure.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Are you suggesting that Henry VIII was a Renaissance man? The legislation I mention was more backward-looking than forward and belonged, in my opinion, to the Middle Ages more than the times that were taking over. In any case, we are both referring to times that were, in comparison to recent decades, primitive. That is why the reference is pejorative.

      1. Jo Edge

        It was really the Victorians who ushered in the golden age of the workhouse, as I gather, so perhaps in light of this article a reference to the Victorian era would have been more suitable. Call me petty, but as someone who studies the medieval period every day I find this reference to ‘The Middle Ages’ as ‘A Time When Things Were Shitter Than They Are Now’ completely lazy.

  7. Anna Savage

    Cuts to MPs’ wages. Cut the “civil list” Take away stately homes from the greedy monarchy and ministries of parliament and the church.. It’s not rocket science… Redistribution of excess wealth. Abolish poverty not the victims of it.

  8. Editor

    I might have the mathematical sophistication of a wombat, which rules me out of being a real economist (that and the lack of funding for my right wing think tank named Zeig Heil), but shouldn’t a benefits system adapt to circumstance? Like if there are half the number of vacancies as could be expected, people should be expected to take twice as long to find a job? If growth is negative, a further time allowance should be added. In turn what sanctions are in place for the people who screwed over the economy, and those who have stopped it from recovering? Oh no, I lost my knighthood, how will I cope with my diamond shoes and £100 note handkerchiefs…?

    We can’t all fold towels and then get promoted to Chancellor. We can’t rely on our father-in-law offering us a job after we have had a privileged education.

  9. Arky An Arky

    ‘Under article 61 of Magna Carta 1215 (the founding document of our Constitution) we have a right to enter into lawful rebellion if we feel we are being governed unjustly. Contrary to common belief our Sovereign and her government are only
    there to govern us and not to rule us and this must be done within the constraint of our Common Law and the freedoms asserted to us by such Law, nothing can become law in this country if it falls outside of this simple constraint.

    Article 61 shows quite clearly who really holds the power in this country, that being quite simply us the people; we have Sovereignty not any Parliament and nor can this be taken from us by any Parliament who claim to have taken the people’s Sovereignty. As defined above any act passed by a Parliament to remove the power the people possess, or to remove the power from the point of constraint we invested the power in, is invalid as it falls outside of the constraint laid down by Common/Constitutional Law.

    This is a simple safeguard put in place to protect our freedoms under said law and to never allow such freedoms to be removed or diminished. So in reality any Act, Statute and subsequent law or legislation formed by these actions, that effects our freedoms asserted to us, is quite evidently unjust, invalid and most certainly illegal.

    By invoking article 61 we are quite clearly stating that we feel we are being governed unjustly and after giving the head of state (Her Majesty) 40 day’s to correct this, if this is not corrected, then we can simply enter into lawful rebellion and we do this under the full protection of our Constitutional Law.

    Lawful rebellion allows quite simply for the following recourse;

    Full refusal to pay any forms of Tax, Fines and any other forms of monies to support and/or benefit said unlawful governance of this country.
    Full refusal to abide by any Law, Legislation or Statutory Instrument invalidly put in place by said unlawful governance that is in breech of the Constitutional safeguard.
    To hinder in any way possible all actions of the treasonous government of this land, who have breeched the Constitutional safeguard; defined with no form of violence in anyway, just lawful hindrance under freedom asserted by Constitutional Law and Article 61.’

    USE THE LAW TO BREAK ILLEGAL CORPORATE LAW.

  10. Thomas M

    I long for what happened to Mubarak to happen to this government.All that is needed is enough people. Instead they either do nothing, or they engage in violent, idiotic rioting and looting. People are a little like ants-if one ant disagrees with you, you can step on it. If 100 ants don’t like you, you can crush them quite easily. If a million ants don’t like you,they can strip you to the bones. I’m not advocating violence here, but massive Tahrir Square type demos.

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