Sunday, 7 November 2010

If I weren't laughing, I'd be crying

There must still be an element if innocence left in my bones - that I can still be shocked by the bare-faced effrontery of a politician like Danny Alexander, LibDem Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

I’m still honestly shocked as he advocates (as a Liberal Democrat - the party they say that is the radical progressive party) forcing long-term unemployed people to pick up litter, paint schools or do public gardening. And then trying to argue these aren’t punishments - but ‘sanctions.’ No, no, no Mr Alexander - you can’t get away with that. The long-term unemployed will see these as punishments. And most of the public will too; the only difference here is that the public will divide into two groups - those that approve of the punishments and those that don’t. But punishments they are.

But it’s about teaching the work habit (they say). Then let’s find people work which teaches skills and knowledge. No doubt it’s easy jumping out of bed when you’re Chief Secretary to the Treasury (or a millionaire like most of his colleagues); what does he know about getting out of bed to get his hands dirty? (Being a press officer for Tourism doesn’t count.)

And there’s another aspect equally worrying. Don’t we have people who are paid to do these jobs? What is to happen to these workers - are they to lose their work because of the forced work-parties? Alexander couldn’t guarantee, in an interview, that none of enforced labour would be replacing paid workers . . . and he and his cronies won’t be able to either. They’ll see the headlines now when the scheme falls apart, so best make no guarantees.

What a shabby mob. We’d expect this from some of the hard-line Tories, but from the LibDems we don’t. Or at least we wouldn’t have; but we’re fast coming to know better. A recent poll had the LibDems as low as 9 per cent; bit of a blip, but here’s hoping it becomes more the norm.

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