Jeremy Corbyn will speak at the conference in Prague [Image: PA].
“Political parasites feeding off people’s concerns and worsening conditions” – yes, that would describe the Tories – and UKIP’s – attitude to immigration (for example).
This Writer spent an annoying few moments on Thursday evening explaining to one of the right-wing parties’ cultists that immigrants are not responsible for a shortage of school places near him – Tories are.
The speech seems as eloquent a way of rejecting the politics of Tony Blair as we’re likely to see, too. Blair enthusiastically embraced the neoliberal politics of Margaret Thatcher, which is why she said New Labour was her greatest achievement.
The result, as we have seen, was a United Kingdom that New Labour left ripe for the sale of its remaining public resources into private hands by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition – and also ready for the spread of racist and other antisocial attitudes that we are seeing today.
Mr Corbyn is right. The politics of division will only leave us defenceless against the exploiters of the populist far-right – and don’t be fooled; Theresa May and Nigel Farage are far-right politicians.
This cartoon by Gary Barker for Tribune Magazine illustrates Mr Corbyn’s point.
Spread the word. Those with the intelligence to recognise the facts will hear.
Europe’s centre-left parties must reject the establishment – or watch the populist far-right win across the continent, Jeremy Corbyn will warn this weekend.
In a speech to Labour’s European sister parties, at the Party of European Socialists conference in Prague, the Labour leader will warn that the populist right had correctly identified problems with the prevailing economic model.
But he will argue the solutions of those anti-immigrant, anti-EU, and anti-Islam parties were only “toxic dead ends” that would not solve people’s problems.
“In many cases the populist right do identify the right problems, but their solutions are toxic dead ends of the past.
“They are political parasites feeding off people’s concerns and worsening conditions, blaming the most vulnerable for society’s ills instead of offering a way for taking back real control of our lives [from] the elites who serve their own interests.
“But unless progressive parties and movements break with a failed economic and political establishment, it is the siren voices of the populist far right that will fill the gap.”
UKIP members’ hopes of putting clear blue water between their party’s policies and those of the Conservatives were dealt a blow last week when Nigel Farage told the BBC Question Time audience he “never has” criticised people with disabilities.
His comment encouraged the good folk at Political Scrapbook to look in their copies of old UKIP manifestos – and what did they find in a policy document which was mysteriously deleted from the UKIP website last year?
Over to the Scrapbook: “The party claimed that 75% of incapacity benefit claimants ‘are fit and healthy’, dubbing them ‘a parasitic underclass of scroungers’ and handing them a £1,300 cut in state aid:
“The welfare state has also created a brazen culture of benefit “scrounging”, whereby individuals who are perfectly capable of working refuse to do so, and go on benefits instead. They frequently justify this by feigning illness.
“This gives rise to a parasitic underclass of “scroungers”, which represents both an unreasonable tax burden on the working population
What is that if not an attack?
Now, it might seem perfectly legitimate for UKIP assembled to rise up and complain that this is no longer party policy, which might be fair enough, but for the Right’s apparent inability to stick to its promises.
Remember when David Cameron promised “no top-down reorganisations of the NHS”? Remember when he promised not to raise the rate of VAT? Remember any number of other promises, up to and including the promise to make offshore tax evasion a criminal offence? All broken.
Remember the many claims that UKIP is not racist? That its members are not homophobic? That it is the party of the people? How many examples do you need, before you believe the opposite has been proved?
It seems right-wing parties like UKIP (and UKIP is a right-wing party, no matter what its advocates may try to dupe you into believing) are adept at saying whatever gets them into a position of power and then doing the exact opposite.
There is no reason to believe this case is any different.
Here’s an article that ticks many boxes. Johnny Voidwrites:
“The body established to lie on behalf of the fraud ridden welfare-to-work industry have launched a new campaign on the back of a report so breath-takingly dishonest it would make Iain Duncan Smith blush.
“According to the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the floundering Work Programme has been a huge success and is set to add £18 billion to the economy. This is based on a report which ERSA commisioned from a consultancy company called Europe Economics who have mangled the figures in an attempt to hoodwink the DWP into giving Work Programme providers like A4e and G4S even more tax payer’s cash.”
You can read the rest of the article here – but we’ve been here before. Look at the issues mentioned:
1. The report claims that around 100,000 people have gained jobs over the last three years as a direct result of the Work Programme – but that claim is based on the number of job vacancies. What about the phenomenal rise in self-employment? What about the question of whether these people are actually self-employed or are merely claiming Working Tax Credits because it is easier than jumping through the hoops placed in front of them by Job Centre Plus?
2. The report ignores the Work Programme’s utter failure to find jobs for people in the Work-Related Activity group of Employment and Support Allowance. These ESA claimants are in danger of losing their benefit entitlement at the end of a year – whether their physical condition has improved or not – and should therefore be a priority but the Work Programme providers are continually ignoring them in a process known as ‘Cream and Park’ – they ‘cream’ off the people they can easily get into work and ‘park’ those – like people on ESA – whose cases are too much like hard work.
3. The assumption that the Work Programme will add £18 billion to the economy is based on a lie. The figure adds together the amount the government is expected to save in benefits and the claimant is expected to receive in extra money, along with “some magical money added on top which they pretend it will save businesses”, as Johnny colourfully puts it. The trouble is, as he points out: “It assumes that everyone who gets a job and keeps it on the Work Programme is a 17-year-old with 50 years of working life ahead of them. 17-year-olds aren’t even eligible for the Work Programme” [bolding mine].
4. At face value, the report shows that the Work Programme is only adding £140 million to the economy at the moment – but it costs at least three times as much, according to Johnny’s article. What does this mean? The Work Programme is costing the UK economy at least £280 million every year.
You see, not only has this been going on ever since the Coalition government established welfare-to-work in its current form –
Not only have government ministers and backbenchers been lying to you about the payouts given to the profit-driven privately-owned provider companies –
Not only have these companies been sucking down on your hard-earned taxpayer cash as though they had done something to earn it –
But the people they were supposed to be helping – people who have been forced into ever-greater poverty by the benefit uprating cap, arbitrary and unfair benefit sanctions, the bedroom tax, the £26,000 cap on benefits for families, the imposition of council tax on even the poorest households (in England at least), the stress of continual reassessment (if they are ESA claimants in the work-related activity group), the humiliation of having to visit food banks and who knows what else…
The people who are desperate to get any kind of paying job, despite the fact that zero-hours contracts could make them worse-off than unemployment, due to the effect on in-work benefits, despite the fact that those in-work benefits are also being squeezed hard, and despite the fact that there are at least five jobseekers for every job that becomes available…
These are the people that government ministers, backbenchers and the right-wing press keep victimising with their endless attacks on “skivers”, “scroungers”, the “feckless”, the “idle” and the “lazy”!
If I was unemployed and my MP had been caught slagging me off while praising these good-for-nothing so-called work programme ‘providers’, I would make it my business to bring them before the public, lock them into some medieval stocks and pelt them with rotten vegetables. Public humiliation is the least they should get for this continual insult to common decency.
But wait! There’s more.
It turns out that, not only are these work programme providers a bunch of lazy good-for-nothing parasites, but many of them are also a bunch of foreigners who’ve come to the UK to take our jobs!
Ingeus is Australian. G4S is part-Danish. Maximus is American.
It seems that all the politically-fuelled and media-driven anger against immigration into the UK from the rest of the European Union and beyond may be designed to distract us all from the fact that foreign firms are immigrating here to take government jobs that should be yours, and to steal your tax money.
Nobody can say they’ve earned it, after all.
But let us not be unfair. It would be wrong to concentrate on welfare-to-work providers when all of government is riddled with foreign interlopers.
Look at the Treasury, where the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms have been re-writing tax law to suit their tax-avoiding corporate clients for the last few years. They are Deloitte (American), PriceWaterhouseCoopers (part-American), Ernst & Young (part-American) and KPMG (Dutch).
And then there is the huge, criminal, foreign firm that has been advising the Department for Work and Pensions on ways to privatise the welfare state since the mid-1990s – a firm so controversial that there is currently a moratorium on the mention of its name in the national mainstream media. It is an American insurance giant called Unum.
The best that can be said of these five corporations is that – at least to the best of our knowledge – they do work for a living.
The Sunday Times Rich List has confirmed what some of us have been saying for years – that Austerity has funnelled Britain’s money into the hands of a very few, very selfish people.
The 1,000 richest Britons now own one-third of the nation’s gross domestic product, with their combined wealth rising from last year’s total of £449,654,000,000 to £518,975,000,000.
That’s an increase of 15.4 per cent, an average rise of £69,321,000 each and an average income of 518,975,000.
Average wages in the UK are stagnant at around £26,500, with average pay for the lowest earners having fallen by 14 per cent since David Cameron’s Tory government got its nose in the trough in 2010.
There are only two points to make from this.
Firstly, bearing in mind Gary Barlow’s recent appearances in the news for taking part in a tax avoidance scheme: How many of these 1,000 very rich people are participants in the same or similar – legal – procedures for avoiding tax? How many of them pay the full 45 per cent and how many only throw one per cent into the national pot (from which they get as many public services as the rest of us)?
Secondly, bearing in mind that many of these people take their money from very large corporations who employ very many people, how many of them pay very low wages to their employees?
The answers should provide enlightenment – not only on these people and their reasons for living in Britain, but on the policies of a government that intentionally impoverishes the defenceless in order to make this country more attractive to these fellow parasites.
Is anyone else sick of employers bleating that the minimum wage is hindering their business?
They must think we’re all stupid.
A few of them were on the BBC’s Any Answers on Saturday, saying the minimum wage keeps pay down, and that people can’t afford to go to work – especially if they live in London – because their housing costs are paid by benefits. This is nonsense.
The minimum wage is exactly what it claims to be – a minimum. And if people aren’t getting up to work for it because benefits give them more, we can see that it is not enough.
But let’s take this further: We all know that Landlord Subsidy is being restricted – especially in London, where landlords charge more than in the rest of the country. This means that people on low incomes in rented homes will be unable to pay the bills and will be forced to move somewhere cheaper (if they can find it), as intended by our extreme right-wing government.
Where are all these minimum-wage employers going to find their minimum-wage workers then?
Even that isn’t the limit of it, though. We know from such sources as the summer’s excellent Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 that employers have found ways around the minimum wage.
They have taken people on as self-employed contractors who are paid a flat rate for a day’s work – no matter how long that work takes – and being self-employed, these people pay their own taxes and National Insurance, and get no time off for holidays or if they are ill.
They have taken on workers on part-time contracts, meaning reduced or non-existent holiday and sick pay entitlements – and then boosted up their hours to full-time levels with fake ‘overtime’ offers.
They have employed workers on zero-hours contracts, meaning they can demand an employee’s presence at any time and make them work for as long – or short – a period as required. Again, there are no tax administration obligations, NI, sickness or holiday benefits.
The result is very nice for a government of liars such as the current Westminster administration, because it seems they have managed to increase employment (in fact the last figures showed unemployment is greater than at the end of the Labour administration in 2010, but by such a small amount that it’s not worth mentioning).
Production, on the other hand, has remained flat. If more people are in work, it should have increased.
That is how we know we are looking at a con.
If more people are in work but production hasn’t gone up, we must question the incentive for this increased employment. It has already been mentioned: The lack of holiday and sick pay entitlement, National Insurance and tax admin obligations. The larger the employer, the larger the saving – but this doesn’t mean small firms aren’t feeling the benefit.
The minimum wage worker’s income is topped up by benefits – but the government is cutting these back. Landlord Subsidy in London won’t be enough for people on the kind of contracts described here to stay in their homes, and this means a consequent job loss if they have to move out of the area.
Tax credits are being removed; child benefit restricted. Universal Credit (if it ever works) will operate in real-time, adjusting benefits to ensure that low-paid workers remain in an income trap for as long as their wages remain below a certain level.
Employers reap the benefits. But even they are being conned, because this can’t last forever.
Imagine a Britain without in-work benefits but where the living wage has not been introduced nationwide (this will be a reality in a few years, under a Coalition or Conservative government). Workers on the self-employed, part-time or zero-hours contracts described here will not earn enough to survive.
Private debt will increase exponentially, leading to increased mental illness as the stress of trying to cope takes its toll on the workforce. Physical illness will increase as people cut back on heating in their homes and food in their fridges and larders. Result: malnourishment and disease.
What happens then? It’s hard to say. It may be that employers will take on increasing numbers of cheap foreign workers – but there is already resentment at the influx of immigrants from the European Union and this could lead to civil unrest.
It seems likely that the largest firms will leave these shores. If we compare them to huge parasites – and we can – then the host will have been drained almost dry and it will be time to move on and find another to treat the same way. These are the companies who have reaped huge rewards from tax avoidance, aided by the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms – KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young – who have been writing – into British law – ways for them to get out of paying their share.
The smaller employers might keep going for a while or collapse; it depends how much their bosses save up for the inevitable crash. Deficit financing of their business will support them for a while but, if they don’t have any ideas, they’ll go under.
All because a few very greedy people just won’t pay a reasonable amount for a hard day’s work.
They get on the media, telling us they can’t afford higher wages. In that case, why are they even in business? If they need a workforce of a certain size, but cannot pay a living wage, then they simply should not bother. All they are doing, in the long run, is contributing to a monumental confidence trick that will cause immense harm to the economy and the nation’s health.
Of course, the UK did not always have in-work benefits. People used to be paid enough to make ends meet. We should be asking why that changed and who benefits. A return to that situation would benefit the country enormously – but it isn’t going to happen on the minimum wage, and it isn’t going to happen on zero-hours contracts.
It’s time to name these firms and ask bosses who employ on these terms why those contracts are necessary and why they feel justified in the damage they are causing.
And while we’re at it, it’s time to ask our MPs why they tolerate it, too.
Work camp: But is this a Nazi camp of the 1930s/40s, or a prediction of a British residential workfare scheme for the disabled in the 2010s?
Residential Workfare for the disabled. If that sentence hasn’t already set off at least three separate alarms in your head, then you haven’t been paying attention. What follows is a warning: Stay alert. Ask questions. Do not allow what this article predicts.
Workfare, for all those who still need enlightening after three years of this particular Tory-led nightmare, is a government-sponsored way of keeping unemployment high while pretending to be doing something about it. The idea is to send unemployed people to work for a period of several weeks – often for a large employer that is perfectly capable of taking on staff at a reasonable wage – and remove them from the unemployment figures for that time, even though they continue to be paid only in benefits. When the time period is served, the jobseeker returns to the dole queue and another is taken on, under the same terms. The employer pays nothing but reaps profit from the work that is carried out. The jobseeker gains nothing at all.
The disabled are, of course, the most persecuted sector of modern British society – far more vilified than hardened criminals or terrorists. Since the Coalition came into office by the back door in 2010, it has been government policy to close down employers taking on disabled people (Remploy factories), to spread propaganda against them, claiming they are scroungers or skivers, and the vast majority of disability benefit claims are fraudulent (this is true of only 0.4 per cent of such claims – a tiny minority). The bedroom tax, enforced nationally in April, has proven itself to be a means of driving disabled people out of homes that have been specially adapted to accommodate their needs. The Work Programme, which was extended to disabled people last December, has proven totally unsuited to the task of getting them into work, yet the Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance continues to sign 70 per cent of claimants off the benefit as ‘fit for work’ (whether they are or not), and a further 17 or 18 per cent into a ‘work-related activity’ group where they must try to make themselves employable within 365 days.
The word ‘residential’ – applied to any sector of society at all, never mind whether they’re disabled or not – rightly sends shivers through the hearts of anyone in this country of good conscience. The terrible regime at the Winterbourne View home in Bristol is still recent, and nobody wants to see those crimes repeated – on anyone.
However, put these three words together and that seems the most likely consequence.
So why bother?
Here’s some pure speculation for you: The government knew that the bedroom tax was going to put the squeeze on the disabled, and it knew that disabled people would complain (although there was no way of knowing whether it would win a court case on the issue, as happened this week). It had already devised a solution and called it residential training for the disabled.
The residential aspect means that participants currently get to stay in their own rooms, in relative comfort – but this could change, and very soon.
You see, this scheme is intended as a pilot study, and the plan has always been to expand this form of training, opening it up to the market, for private-sector parasites to run for profit after competing with each other to put in the lowest bid for the franchise.
Bye bye, individual rooms. Bye bye, dignity. Hello, communal dormitories. Hello… well, eventually it’ll just be hell.
And you can be sure mandation will follow, meaning anyone refusing to attend will lose benefit.
Gradually, disabled people will disappear from our communities, ending up in these residential ‘Workfarehouses’.
How long will it take before we start hearing stories about abuses taking place against people living in these places?
How long did it take before the stories came out of Winterbourne View?
Come to that, how long did it take before the world found out about places like Auschwitz or Dachau or Belsen?
I know what you’re thinking:
“It couldn’t happen here.”
(The first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times, is available now in paperback or as an eBook, including a large ‘footnotes’ section in which you can actually connect to internet links containing supporting evidence – if you’re reading on a device that supports this kind of activity.)
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.