Thursday, 19 June 2014

Punishing the youth: More vindictive Tory-lite nonsense from New Labour

In 2008 the UK economy collapsed into a crisis from which it has yet to recover. Despite the endlessly repeated Tory rhetoric that this crisis was caused by the Labour party, the real cause of the crisis was a global spree of reckless financial sector gambling, often on extremely complex financial products that the buyer clearly didn't even understand.

The Labour party were somewhat to blame for not only refusing to undo the financial sector deregulations of the Thatcher era, but actually even further deregulating the financial markets themselves. But the only Tory complaints at the time that Labour were further deregulating the financial sector were that Gordon Brown's deregulations hadn't gone far enough, and that the UK should strive to be more like Ireland!

Reckless financial sector speculation caused the global financial sector insolvency crisis and necessitated the biggest state subsidies in economic history to prevent the UK banks collapsing into their own black holes of debt. The problem is that it doesn't matter how much evidence there is that deregulated capitalism caused the financial sector insolvency crisis, the Tories and the right-wing dominated press are absolutely determined to create the simplistic narrative that the Labour party, and welfare spending are to blame for the fallout from the financial sector crisis.

The Tory narrative is that the Labour party "bankrupted" the economy with their excessive welfare spending, and the actual facts of the matter are irrelevant.

Instead of attempting to offer an alternative narrative built on the actual facts, such as the fact that the bankers' bailouts cost more than the entire national debt that the Tories endlessly fearmonger about, the Labour leader Ed Miliband has decided to capitulate.

Instead of attempting to counter the "blame Labour" right-wing rhetoric with the truth, Miliband and the shadow Work and Pensions secretary Rachael Reeves have decided instead to try and out-Tory the Tories.

Their latest plan is to revoke social security for 18-21 year olds, and replace it with a pitiful benefit only payable if the youngsters do workfare or training schemes. No doubt the same alphabet soup of extremely dodgy corporate outsourcing parasites (A4e, G4S, Serco, Sudexo, Capita, Atos ...) will be lining themselves up to administer the Labour party workfare schemes, and provide the Labour party "training" schemes, just as they have cashed in for the last four years administering the Tory parties workfare schemes and the Tory parties "training" schemes (in which people are "trained" at the taxpayers' expense how to wipe their bottoms by these companies).

In my view a much more sensible strategy for the Labour party would have been to attack the Tories for the fact that long-term youth unemployment has risen 57% since the Tories came to power in 2010, and that this huge rise has come despite the ever increasing use of workfare schemes designed to artificially exclude hundreds of thousands of (mainly young) people from the unemployment figures, even though they still receive unemployment benefits throughout their term of compulsory unpaid labour.

This astonishing rise in the rate of long-term youth unemployment is by no means the first example of the gross incompetence of Iain Duncan Smith providing Ed Miliband with a huge stick to whack the Tories with, but Ed preferring to set about beating himself over the head with it instead.

Back in February 2013 the Cort of Appeals declared Iain Duncan Smith's Workfare schemes for the unemployed unlawful, but instead of using this humiliating court judgement to attack Iain Duncan Smith, Ed Miliband and the Labour leadership actually decided to collude with the Tories in order to help Iain Duncan Smith get a vile piece of retroactive legislation rushed through parliament in a single day. Not only did Miliband refuse to attack Iain Duncan Smith for his incompetence, he actually helped IDS to stick two fingers up at the courts by quickly  rewriting his own hopelessly botched legislation and applying the changes retroactively so that his workfare rules would have been lawful had they been written that way in the past.

Now Miliband is refusing to attack the Tories for the huge rise in long-term youth unemployment since 2010, and instead seems to want to further reinforce the Tory narratives that welfare spending and "scroungers" are to blame for the crisis through his new plan of attacking the pitiful amounts paid out to workless 18-21 year olds, instead of actively doing anything to actually help them.

Given that the economic crisis was undeniably caused by the bankers, a much better Labour party strategy might have been to highlight the huge rise in long-term youth unemployment since the bankers trashed the economy and to propose a new tax on bankers bonuses designed to fund paid apprenticeships for young people in real businesses (rather than ludicrous taxpayer funded "how to wipe your bottom" courses with A4e).

Instead of developing a strategy which highlights the reckless bankers and the incompetent Tories as the culprits, Ed Miliband's Labour party seem intent on painting the victims of the bankers' crisis as the guilty parties who are deserving of punishment for their "idleness".

Ed Miliband and Rachael Reeves seem intent on punishing a generation of youngsters who were still in primary school when the bankers were trashing the economy with their reckless gambling spree, because the economy still hasn't recovered sufficiently to offer these kids the prospects of real paid employment. This may seem like a sensible strategy from within the bubble of the Labour party leadership, but to countless thousands of traditional Labour voters it's bound to kill the last vestiges of hope that New Labour offer anything other than vindictive Tory-lite policies designed to appeal to readers of the Daily Mail and the S*n.

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The "Making Work Pay" fallacy
The economic case against tax-dodging
A letter to fans of Workfare

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