From the TUC

Tories even harsher to the unemployed

30 Sep 2008, by in Labour market, Society & Welfare

I’ve been using this blog to moan about the Government’s harsh line on unemployed people, and on benefit claimants more generally, but you can rely on the Conservative Party conference to prove that there’s still clear blue water between Labour and the Opposition.

Chris Grayling, the Conservative spokesperson, seems to believe that the reason we have unemployed people is that they can’t be bothered “to get out of the house and to do something” and that the way to deal with this is to threaten them with taking away their benefits for up to three years.

As unemployment starts to accelerate, Grayling’s speech may not be such clever politics after all. Yes, it will probably go down well with his own Party, but it may not look so good to the electorate: as unemployment starts rising, Conservatives banging on about unemployed people who can’t be bothered to get out of the house are going to revive lots of memories of why people thought they were the nasty party.

If unemployment rises by half a million over the next six months the reason won’t be that they all suddenly became lazy, and floating voters will probably recognise that unemployed people are not the villains in this story – they’re the victims of economic forces they have no control over.

If Grayling isn’t careful he could turn a difficult story for Labour – rising unemployment – into a problem for his own Party: behind the mask, are they as vindictive as ever?

One Response to Tories even harsher to the unemployed

  1. Derek
    Nov 22nd 2008, 7:01 pm

    But the neo-Conservative Party aren’t any better.

    Now let me see… by the end of 2009 we’ll probably have 3 million people actively claiming jobseeker’s allowance and far fewer vacancies than the 800,000 or so that are supposed to currently exist (calculated by taking the number of Jobcentre Plus vacancies and multiplying by three). To implement Purnell’s rediculous plan we will need to generate one million jobs for people on Incapacity Benefit by 2015 and a million jobs for unemployed men and women over fifty and another million jobs for people who lost their positions in the recession and a further 500,000 or so jobs for single parents et al. Going out on a limb I kind of think, post credit bubble, that NONE of that is going to happen. So workfare. Are we really going to see unemployed women in their forties, fifties, late fifties – almost at what used to be at pensionable age – forced by private employment agencies to wear orange boiler suits, like petty criminals on a chain gang, and sweep the streets or pick up litter under threat of homlessness and destitution if they refuse? Is this the bold new “socially just” twenty first century England the Conservatives or neo-Conservatives (New Labour) plan for us all to enjoy? If it is it stinks on ice! If Purnell cannot muster a majority amongst Labour MPs and pushes this welfare “reform” through the House of Commons with the help of the opposition surely that will finish him as a potential future leader of the neo-Conservatives? As they say: every cloud has a silver lining. I for one would be delighted to see the smirking charmless amoral and golem-like James Purnell become extinct politically. His welfare reform might cause terrible suffering to so many innocent and helpless men and women in society but if it gets rid of its author, sooner rather than later, it might achieve at least one positive result.