The lie of Welfare Reform

Karen Mathews - demonised to reinforce the Daily Mail readers stereotype of the unemployed.
Karen Mathews – demonised to reinforce the Daily Mail readers stereotype of the unemployed.

UK – If you were a middle class reader of The Daily Mail Nazi or The Nazi Daily Express you could possibly be forgiven for thinking that the unemployed are a feckless lazy bunch of thieves who would rather get drunk, get wasted on drugs, smoke and well do anything but a proper days work.

Even worse, that all single women with children on council estates started as gymslip mums who got knocked up for a council house, who should be sterilised.

The vast majority of single women with children are left in that situation because of breakup of their long term relationship. Whether that relationship was a marriage, civil partnership or one where she was living with a partner is totally irrelevant.

That children’s classic, so beloved of the middle class, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame has a lot to answer for. In the book various anthropomorphized animals are used represent the social classes in the United Kingdom.

The Upper class is represented by Mr. Toad, an impulsive and utterly irresponsible character.

The main characters Badger, Mole, Otter and Ratty represent gentlemen or the middle class.

The working class is represented by scheming weasels, stoats and foxes and so on. They are described by Ratty thus: “all right in a way… but… well, you can’t really trust them”.

If you take the example of the recent recession which is the result of white collar crime, the readers of The Daily Mail Nazi or The Nazi Daily Express might be much better off if they counted their finger after shaking hands with their social peers than the man who comes to fix their heating system.

The vast majority of people, who are unemployed, want to work and want to work hard. The problem is that the commitment of government to full employment was dropped during the 1980’s by the Thatcher government. This is not the whole story. The blame is spread much more widely and lay in the social divisions of the 1970’s, the power of the trade unions, weak feckless management of industry and the naked greed of city shareholders.

The long and short of it is that the government needed to break the power of the unions. It was a showdown brought on by the trade unions declaring that they would bring down the elected government. This happened with the conservatives in 1974 and Labour in 1978.

The Conservative party came to power with a plan to take on the most powerful trade union, the National Union of Miners, when they were ready. The showdown, when it came with record coal stocks round the country. Victory for the government was inevitable.

With the defeat of the NUM the Conservatives won the battle to reform industrial relations. The price of keeping the trade unions in order is mass unemployment. Trade union power is at its greatest when there is full employment. Thus the government dropped its commitment to full employment in order to prevent the union movement form regaining the whip hand.

The phrase magnanimity in victory and humility in defeat holds the seat of securing a victory. Something that is all too often forgotten. This is indeed what happened with the battle between the government and the trade unions. This strategic error by the Conservatives was then compounded by Nu Labor™.

No attempt to reform the welfare system is worth attempting until the government commits itself to full employment. This by necessity means a stronger trade union movement. Given that this is the inevitable consequence it would be wise to look at the way the Germans have workers councils involved with the management of companies. We need to create a partnership, not the, us and them situation that existed before. Only in this way that we can have a full employment without falling back into the bad old ways of the 1960’s and 1970’s. In my humble opinion a lot of trade unions are more suited to becoming professional associations. As a professional association they would be able to deliver greater benefits’ for both society and their members. Not only that as a professional association they would have the support of government.

The biggest consequence of a commitment to full employment would be that the so called welfare problem would solve itself. Welfare reforms by making the welfare rules tougher are doomed to failure without a commitment to full employment. Both the Conservative and Nu Labor™ administrations have committed to the creation of a disenfranchised underclass by failing to commit to full employment. We all know that creating a disenfranchised underclass is a very bad idea. This is where revolutions are brewed.

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Author: Dr Suusi Watson

Editor of the Bastard

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