Follow by Email

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A boost for the hard right of the party?

i do't agree with the anti-right rhetoric, but i like some of the ideas.

the bad:
Ed Miliband is not - as some of his enemies would claim - on the left of the Labour party. He would, traditionally, have been seen as a fairly conventional old Labour right-winger. But for those who wanted a shift away from New Labour, it was crucial he defeated his brother in the leadership election, because David Miliband would have ideologically resisted pressure from below - no matter how strong - for a change in position. His team (who included people even more right-wing than he is) would have relished defining their man against the party and the wider labour movement.

the most representative members of Labour's electoral college: rank-and-file trade unionists.

In the speech, Ed Miliband put so-called "benefits cheats" in the same category as the bankers who nearly brought the entire global economy crashing into a 1930s-style Great Depression, and who caused a crisis which we are still stuck in after nearly four years

the good:
The government estimates that £1.5 billion a year is lost through welfare fraud, compared to £70 billion a year lost through tax evasion. The amount of benefits left unclaimed - "welfare evasion", if you will - is about ten times the amount lost through fraud.

There are 2.5 million unemployed people in Britain today, and another 1.5 million in part-time jobs who want full-time work. That's excluding those on incapacity benefit who the government wants to push into work. And yet there are only around 500,000 vacancies - and generally not where they are most needed. When Iain Duncan-Smith suggested the people of Merthyr - a Welsh town battered by deindustrialisation - get on the bus to find work in Cardiff, it was subsequently pointed out that there were 9 jobseekers for every 1 vacancy in the Welsh capital. As Ed Miliband himself highlighted in his response to the Budget earlier this year, there are 10 people chasing every 1 vacancy in over 130 constituencies.

Ed began Monday's speech with an anecdote about a man on incapacity benefit who, in his view, could work. I'm not sure about the wisdom of playing amateur doctor, but in any case, the anecdote misses the point. There are not enough jobs to go round, a statement we would all be wise to repeat again and again.

It is true that, as Iain Duncan Smith has admitted, Tory governments in the 1990s manipulated unemployment figures by encouraging those without work to be transferred to incapacity benefit. But, as research by Dr Christina Beatty and Professor Steve Fothergill has revealed, many incapacity benefit claimants are those who are least able to work in areas with the least amount of jobs. When there are large numbers of people competing for a small amount of work, those with ill health are least likely to get work: hence they concluded that "the UK's very high incapacity claimant numbers are an issue of jobs and of health."

And they are right. If you are scraping by in life, working hard in a job that you don't enjoy, and you think that there are those enjoying a higher standard of living at your expense - that will rile you more than anyone else. Right-wing politicians and journalists know this, and exploit it ruthlessly.

But it will backfire. The strategy will fuel prejudices that the Tories will be best placed to satisfy

No comments: