Sunday, 13 October 2013

Unemployment: Labour and the Tories compete to blame and persecute the victims

Are you unemployed? If you are you are in a pretty tough situation. There clearly aren't enough jobs to go round, and many of the jobs that can be found are pretty poor. Add to that the fact that the minimum wage if you actually get paid it, is inadequate. The reason for this situation is a global economic crisis created by 'free' market capitalism. The great crash of 2008 is still reverberating around the global economy, and the response from western governments - austerity - has made the economic situation worse, not better.

But austerity is not intended to make things better for ordinary people. The intention with austerity is to make ordinary people pay for the mistakes and greed of the bankers, and the tame politicians which support them. To make people pay for a crisis which is not of their own making. For capitalists, the added bonus is that the crisis can be used to suppress wages and attack collective rights and agreements which have benefited workers, slashing pensions and terms and conditions. Its simple, the 1% have taken a larger slice of the economic cake, and have increased their share of wealth to 46% globally, and they have taken that wealth from the rest of  us.

You'd never believe it if you read the Daily Mail but being unemployed has never been easy. I was unemployed in the 1970s. Although I was better off than today's unemployed I still had to deal with the stigma of unemployment and go through the weekly humiliation of standing in the dole queue and signing on. And there were very few jobs going for young people then. I ended up getting a couple of jobs working outdoors on what was called the Youth Opportunities Programme, a government employment scheme. Not great, but at least I was working and being paid for it. And I didn't have to deal with the persecution of workfare and job clubs which today's unemployed are subjected to.

What the Coalition government and its supporters in the capitalist media are doing is seeking to vilify claimants and blame them for their own situation, they are blaming the victims of capitalism. What's worse is that we now hear that Labour are competing with the Tories at their own game in a benefit bashing race to the bottom which is taking us back to the workhouse. How any Labour Party members and supporters can bear this complete betrayal of what the party has stood for is beyond me. But what is certain is that Labour politicians are more concerned with out-Torying the Tories in the hope of being elected than doing the decent thing by the victims of the economic crisis.

There are solutions to helping the unemployed which don't involve workfare or forcing them to take jobs, but none of the three main parties have any interest in pursuing them. If capitalism can't create meaningful work for people to do - and why should it bother to? - then governments must. Those jobs must be green jobs, and they will not only benefit the young and unemployed but they will also help us fight climate change. The solutions, such as One Million Climate Jobs and The Green New Deal  are well thought through and planned alternatives. We need to be actively campaigning in parties, trade unions and wider society to get these solutions adopted otherwise millions face a very bleak future. 

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