Was political propaganda as blatant as this under Labour?


The DWP press office put out a diabolical piece of bilge masquerading as news on Friday. It’s so godawful I have to share it with you.

The gist is that the new ‘Claimant Commitment’ a contract “demanding more from jobseekers” is now in place across the whole of the UK, with 635,000 JSA claimants having been forced to sign these agreements.

But let’s go through it in detail, with each paragraph clarified by Vox Political‘s special ‘BS’ translation service.

“The Claimant Commitment has now been successfully rolled out across the country, the latest figures show. It means all new jobseekers and those completing the Work Programme must agree and sign the commitment in order to receive benefits.” Translation: It doesn’t matter that you’ve paid taxes all your working life – you do what we say or we bankrupt you.

“The new agreement sees jobseekers agree the steps they will take each week to give them the best chance of getting into work.” Translation: Agreement has nothing to do with it – we’ll make them jump through hoops in a poodle costume if we want but it won’t help them get a job.

“This could include registering and looking for work through Universal Jobmatch or a recruitment agency.” Not only do we do nothing to help them get a job, we also help identity thieves steal their details and put vulnerable youngsters in the clutches of the sex industry.

“It builds on help already in place.” Obviously we’re having a laugh with this line.

“Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said: ‘With Universal Credit we are creating a modern and sustainable welfare system that is fit for the 21st century – one that supports people when they need it and helps them become independent.” This has nothing to do with the Claimant Commitment but I’ve been told to ‘big up’ Universal Calamity whenever I can, to hide the fact that it’s such an albatross.

“‘The Claimant Commitment redefines the relationship between jobseekers and the state.” To one between slave and master.

“‘Claimants receive greater support to get into work from their work coach-‘ All our work coaches have been given extra training in how to use a whip ‘-and we expect them to do all they can to find a job as quickly as possible as part of the deal for receiving their benefit.’ We know there aren’t any jobs but this simply means we can cut off their cash more quickly when they fail.

“‘Staff have told me it has strengthened their ability to support people into work at the earliest opportunity.’ Those who haven’t gone on long-term sick leave with depressive conditions have developed a kind of dead-eyed look and keep repeating, ‘I’m just following orders’.

“Following an in-depth conversation, work coaches and jobseekers agree regular specific tasks, work preparation and training opportunities that will give them the best chance of finding work quickly.” Tasks… preparation… opportunities! Oh, our sides are splitting! “The penalties claimants could face for failing to meet their responsibilities to get into work are clearly spelt out.” And horrifying.

[The following paragraph is edited as it purports to feature an actual jobseeker] “‘Dizzy’ Guise [not his real name], signed a Claimant Commitment after he was made redundant.” We know our official wording has it that their jobs are redundant, not the people, but it gives us a tremendous sense of superiority over these proles to say that they are redundant instead. “He said it helped him focus on his job search and he’s now working as a business apprentice in Barking.” You’d have to be barking to believe that!

“He said: ‘When I first met my adviser I was probably like every person coming to the Jobcentre, a bit unenthusiastic.'” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“‘But I don’t think people know how much the Jobcentre advisers do for them.'” To them.

“‘I thought the Claimant Commitment was demanding, but fair. It motivated me.'” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“‘Without that commitment you probably don’t do so many job searches.’” We want people to think that everyone claiming JSA is a sponger and doesn’t want to look for work.

“The new commitment is an important part of the cultural transformation that Universal Credit will bring-” from a free society in which every citizen is equal to one where we can treat you like the scum we think you are “-and will place a strong focus on the responsibilities that claimants must fulfil” … while we accept no responsibility at all for whatever happens.

That seems much clearer now.

Would any jobseekers, who have had to sign this Claimant Commitment, care to tell us what it’s really like?

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33 thoughts on “Was political propaganda as blatant as this under Labour?

  1. Stephen Mcewan

    The whole Dwp needs tearing down and replacing with something with a system thats actually there to do what it can to help people into work or training; this of course would require a complete rethink of the ways the government has done things for the last few years and probably a bunch of cash to replace the whole computer system so it’s not a dated messed up piece of cr*p that hardly does the job it’s there for… oh, and a complete retraining/dismissal of all staff since none of them seem capable of doing their jobs.

    This latest piece of bilge is proof the DWP are not fit for purpose.

  2. JK


    Do you think Labour will do anything about the new sanctions regime? So many simple, innocent and guileless persons are being tripped up and sanctioned by Jobcentres for nothing and given unbelievably harsh penalties by clerks for nothing. And will Labour really carry on with Universal Credit, with all of its conditionality, where they might lose everything, including Housing Benefit, if they are five minutes late for an interview and end up homeless and destitute? Labour wouldn’t keep this terrible climate of fear if it is elected back to office next year surely?

  3. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike runs the latest public relations statement issued by the DWP through his anti-official lies universal translator (like the one used in Star Trek to translate Klingon, Ferengi and Vulcan into English, only much tougher as it has to do a nastier job) to present the unpleasant truth behind the DWP’s reassuring verbiage. In fact, deliberately misleading language has always been part of the official rhetoric of the Right. Under Maggie Thatcher, whenever she cut services and the welfare state, it was always trumpeted to the media as ‘More self-help’. Which encapsulated the Tory ideology and was so much more election-friendly than saying ‘even less government help’. And when Hitler exterminated the Jews, the genocide was couched in similar obscure language to disguise what was going on. The transportation to the death camps was simply described as ‘special executive orders’, and the victims weren’t killed, they were merely ‘transported to the east’.

  4. Tony

    They have taken the existing Job Seekers AGREEMENT “beefed it up” and re-named it a Job Seekers COMMITMENT. Interesting bit of re-branding there.

    An agreement is an arrangement which is acceptable to both parties. It can be re-negotiated by either party. A commitment is something you MUST do.

    So we have gone from a negotiated and negotiable contract to a binding state directive. Not too much of a leap to work camps and workhouses now.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I wasn’t complaining about it; I was mocking it, ridiculing it, satirising it. Also you really should have looked at the headline; it acknowledges the possibility that New Labour may have used similar tactics, but the question was whether Blair and Brown were quite as ineptly blatant about it as the current Conservative-led clowns.

  5. untynewear

    In the past I’ve taken temporary jobs in the full knowledge that I’d be unemployed again at the end of the job’s term, but if nothing else they were breaks from having to deal with the DWP.

    However, if I was to do that now I’d be a candidate for Claimant Commitment when the work finished.

    So – is it now worth taking a 3 month job ? Is the 12 weeks of slightly more money and less DWP going to trump the knowledge of what awaits when I have to sign on again ?

    Good old DWP – closing more doors and calling it progress.

    But like JK said earlier – what, if anything, will Labour do to redress the situation ? As far as I can tell, its seems to be pretty much more of the same.

    1. Mike Sivier

      One major difference between Labour and the Conservatives is that the Conservatives intend to make matters much, much worse. The ultimate plan is to remove the Welfare State safety net altogether and dispose of the NHS, while pensions are (I’m told) already on their way out the door because employers won’t pay their contribution; instead they are asking employees to take up private pensions (if anyone can provide more illumination on this last piece of information I would be grateful).

      1. untynewear

        I dont doubt at all that the Tories would make things even worse… the trouble is that I – like I suspect many other people – no longer see Labour as a viable alternative.

        But on the question of welfare – are Labour going to rescind what the ConDems have built over the last few years ? Or, as seems likely, is it just going to be more of the same ? Everything I’ve seen seems to suggest the latter – why would I vote for more of the same ? I’ve already had more than enough of it…

      2. Mike Sivier

        I’ve got a report to read that suggests Labour will ignore its own poverty and disability taskforce because it has suggested that spending is required to put right what has been done in this country. This would support what you’re saying.
        Troubling times.
        But that doesn’t mean Labour wouldn’t be a LOT better than more of a Conservative government, and that’s what voters need to think about, for now.

      3. hayfords

        Nothing could be further from the truth. I have seen how the Conservative party is at the highest level and heard their views on these subjects. They are great believers in the NHS, the benefit system and pensions. They want to reform these areas. As far ASD pensions are concerned, Brown did the pension industry the most harm when he removed tax relief. It has cost a projected £119bn taken off the values of pension funds and stopped the final salary system. All parties know the benefit system needs major change, but they won’t take the risk of changing it.

      4. AM-FM

        I think Hayfords posts are just a waste of black and white electrons!

        On a slightly different subject. Do you have an email Mike or shall I do a NFP.

  6. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    Oh I’m so glad they’ve referred to the claimant commitment as a CONTRACT


    Because that means contract law will apply.

    Now read this:-

    According to case law, contracts must fulfil all the elements of a contract in order to be legal.

    The main components of a valid contract in contract law are:
    A mutual intent to create a legally binding agreement
    An offer to make a contract, that is accepted
    The exchange of something of value in both directions (consideration)

    In addition to these fundamental principles, contract law also states that:
    Parties to a contract must be of sound mind
    The purpose of the agreement must be lawful
    The parties to the contract must consent to making a legal relationship

    …and then read the link that Mike has posted and you should come to the conclusion that the DWP has f**cked up big time!

    1. jaypot2012

      Completely agree WWOlady – they have cocked it right up.
      Besides, how can anyone from the DWP be of sound mind? I’m actually serious here – how can anyone, who throw sanctions at people for no other reason than they feel like doing it, be of sound mind? That goes up the food chain right to IDS and Fraud – the biggest pair of d!ckheads known to the UK.

      1. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

        Couldn’t have put it better myself Jaypot! Put it this way, if I was being subjected to sanctions or commitment or whatever they’re calling it this week, I would start quoting contract law at them and see what they’ve got to say to that!

  7. Patrick Cullinane

    Dear Mike Sivier,

    Why is my legitimate comment above, which was posted at 5:15 am, still NOT posted, while later posts have been processed below?

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation” – Why?

    Yours truthfully,

    Patrick Cullinane, Common Law Lawyer and Victim of the UK’s COMMERCIAL Kangaroo Courts.

    It is now 14:30

    1. Mike Sivier

      It’s off-topic and doesn’t belong on that comment thread.

      Also, the way it is written makes it very hard to work out what it is all about – it seems to be about the UK courts having been taken over by criminals, but does not make its point in a clearly understandable way. I had deep concerns about putting up a comment of this nature.

      Having said that, if you would like a separate article covering this subject, I’ll happily consider it – IF you send me all the information I need, in a form that makes it easy to understand.

      And don’t forget – this is my blog. I choose what goes on it, not you. If I don’t want to put a comment up, that’s my decision.

  8. jaypot2012

    Somewhere dark and eerie is an alien who sees Planet Earth completely differently from the millions who live in a land called Britain – he is named Hayford – beware of him, he is trying to twist the minds and words of many – he speaks Tory!!!!

    Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, people are beginning to see through this Hayford and see him as a non-entity like any other Tory.

    Mike, you are right and Hayford hasn’t got a clue what he is talking about – Tories caring about the NHS?!?! That’s as believable as an alien…

  9. Chris Gregson (@cm_gregson)

    None of what I say below is meant to denigrate the efforts of a young man trying to get started in life; just the poverty of ambition of a department who sees someone working for nothing and then moving on to a paid training course as proof of towering success.

    Anecdotal poster boy Neal Guise found his apprenticeship while working unpaid for the DWP. Described by DWP Relationship Carla Ah-Mane as her ‘sidekick’ on January 16 when she publicly tweeted he had lots of work to do tomorrow:

    Long day today without my new sidekick @NeoGuise19. Mountains of work tomorrow. Bring your A-Game!— Carla Ah-Mane (@BRMHaveringWSD) January 16, 2014

    Neal was still working unpaid on February 28 when he found out he had found his apprenticeship. This was celebrated by another DWP manager Lorna Franklyn with the hashtag #WorkExperienceWorks

    @NeoGuise19 @BRMHaveringWSD Congratulations Neal and well done Carla on supporting yet another young person into work. #WorkExperienceWorks— Lorna Franklyn (@Lorna_EA) February 28, 2014

    Given that Neal was already unofficially on the books and that the DWP had access to his Twitter account, any quote he gives has to be taken with a bucket of salt. And remember that the best evidence the DWP could come up that what they’re doing works is one case of someone who does not even actually have a job!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Neal was indeed the person quoted (and poorly dis-guised by me) in the press release. Well done, Chris, for providing this background information.

      It goes to show that the social media can debunk government deceptions faster than it can devise them.

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