Thursday, June 17, 2010

Government adviser: "cut unemployment by locking people up"

Meet Lawrence Mead, the new adviser to the Tory/Lib Dem government:

"For difficult cases, such as fathers who do not work and fail to make child support payments or ex-prisoners on parole, the sanction for not working would be jail...

The key intellectual insight for Mead when he began his assault on the American welfare state was that what changed behaviour was not economic incentives but tough government talking. "It was authoritative statements from people in authority that mattered. We should not [incentivise people] to work. We hope [they will]. We say it because you are supposed to do it, we expect you to do it...

Such sentiments have a whiff of 1930s Germany, something the Twittersphere buzzed with when welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "Work makes you free" – the same words hung over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp. "I have faced this accusation," says Mead. "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate."

Government should cut unemployment by locking the poor up, and the problem with forced labour schemes of the past was that they didn't have a popular mandate, says government adviser.

And the Lib Dem supporters read this (for it was in the Guardian), and they were confused that this far right wing drivel had not been condemned by Lib Dem MPs or by civil liberties campaigners. After all, they remembered their leader saying, just two months ago, that "civil liberties and individual freedoms are part of the DNA of the Lib Dems" and condemning Labour for its authoritarianism and for locking so many people up.

So they went back to the barn, and read the statement of Liberal Democrat principles. And it turned out they had misremembered. For the statement of Liberal Democrat principles had been changed, and now read - "civil liberties and individual freedoms are part of the DNA of the Lib Dems, except for those who do not work".

And the rest of us looked from Tory to Lib Dem, and from this Coalition government back to Maggie Thatcher's government, and found it increasingly hard to tell the difference.


At 1:10 pm , Anonymous hangbitch said...

As daft as it is threatening.

Wonder who they'll think they'll get to enforce this crap, since they're hellbent cutting public spending and public sector jobs?

At 4:39 pm , Anonymous Alun said...

It's all very New Poor Law, isn't it. You know, Chadwick was nearly lynched during a tour of Northern England...

At 6:25 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was started by new labour with the new medicals we disabled have to go through.

I keep asking the same question never getting the answer. I'm paraplegic which means basically I'm crippled, who will employ me because boy have i tried.

A chap who is now fifty has never done a days work in his life, Labour the Tories liberal say he will work, who is going to employ him, what great employer with a heart of gold.

fact is my disability means I cannot shit without help, I cannot piss without help, so again who are the employers willing to say to me yes yes we will give you a job we are in this to help you we do not want to make money.

fact is I've been looking for a job since my accident, the one job I did find was sitting in an office filling in forms transferring those forms to a computer, except they did not give me a computer for six solid weeks I did nothing, when i was off work for a week ill, nobody even knew I was missing.

Who are these great employers willing to take on the dregs of society to help out the politicians.

At 10:49 am , Blogger Tom Freeman said...

Locking people up, eh? That's always cheap. It'll save loads of money.

BTW I particularly like the way Clegg has had to demonstrate his commitment to the cuts by hitting his own town of Sheffield. I'm increasingly thinking that the Lib Dems are getting a rough deal from this coalition...

At 12:58 pm , Anonymous Paul Sagar said...


Now let me lead us all in our Patriotic Chant of the New Politics:

"Two Parties Good, One Party Bad!"

"Two Parties Good, One Party Bad!"

"Two Parties Good, One Party Bad!"

At 8:13 pm , Blogger Tom Freeman said...

Vince, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The long-hoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty days it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the airbrushed forehead. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved the Big Society.

At 10:47 pm , Blogger Vinny said...

"For difficult cases, such as fathers who do not work and fail to make child support payments or ex-prisoners on parole, the sanction for not working would be jail..."

It's been tried. It didn't work.

Up to the 1980s men who did not pay maintenance to their wives could face up to eight weeks in jail. It was found many men (including the odd famous name) preferred doing an annual eight weeks inside to paying maintenance, so it was dropped.

There also used to be an offence of "failing to maintain" yourself. This was sometimes used on benefit claimants who were on benefits for a long time. I know this because in my druggy days in the 1970s I was threatened with being charged with "failing to maintain myself", you could ultimately end up in jail. (I don't know when this law was dropped).

So I dropped being on the dole and became a full-time drug user-dealer and petty criminal.I imagine some young people knocked off benefits nowadays could consider this as an option too (and the drug scene in the '70s was tiny compared to what it is nowadays).

Have the proponents of imprisoning claimants considered the cost-benefits of this? Every prisoner costs £35,000-£40,000 a year, considerably more than they cost as claimants.

But don't put it past them. Remember New Labour,disgustingly, imprisoned the mothers of chronic truants and you can be imprisoned for failure to pay council tax even in cases of genuine hardship.

And all three major parties seem to be signed up to'workfare" and punishing the long-term unemployed regardless of their health, or dependants.

However, as cuts bite and unmployment rises and a higher percentage of the middle-class find themselves on the dole and they find it is not the cushy billet the Daily Mail has led them to believe I think we may hear rather more protests about this approach.

At 10:44 am , Blogger Chris said...

And quite apart from the obvious moral questions...

How much does it cost to keep somebody in prison rather than on benefits? The Adam Smith Institute say upward of £35,000 per annum. Ooh, lets save some money!


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