Thursday, 11 December 2008
New Labour-Old Tricks
I have been re-reading Some Lives, David Widgery's story of his life as an East End GP. It's a salutary tale of how the effects of the last economic downturn impacted on the lives of those at the bottom of the heap. Mass privatisation and high unemployment coincided with government plans to change the ethos of claiming benefit. It was the era of "Job Club" and all kinds of other mad schemes intended to make claiming more difficult and in some way "prepare" people for the market in non-existent jobs.
It looks like a similar tranche of bullshit is about to be unleashed on both the long term unemployed and the new army of jobless who are growing by the day. As New Labour prepare to pick up the soiled mantle of tough love from where it was dropped by the retreating Tories all those years ago we might wonder why all this "help" and "training" was not rolled out during the time of economic boom, when the City was awash with dough and traders were spending the equivalent of a cleaners annual salary on a round of drinks.
Of course none of this has anything to do with unemployment and certainly nothing to do with helping the long term jobless toward a richer and more fulfilling life. This is all about reassuring a spiteful middle class Middle England that, despite what they read in the Mail on Sunday, that New Labour is still very much a party of the centre right.