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Monday, May 26, 2008 

On yer chain-gang!

As Labour prepare yet another doomed comeback, it's instructive to examine exactly what it is that's going to be replacing our current overlords in a couple of years' time. If you thought that New Labour was heartless, callous and Machiavellian, you ain't seen nothing yet:

A future Conservative government will bring in "boot camps" for unemployed young people aged between 18 and 21 who refuse to take a job, Chris Grayling, the party's welfare spokesman, will say tomorrow.

In a significant hardening of Conservative policy towards welfare claimants, he will announce the abolition of benefit payments for any able-bodied person under 21 who is out of work for more than three months and who refuses to go on a compulsory community service programme or a "boot camp" training course aimed at improving their work discipline and giving them basic skills to get a job.


It's about time that someone broke down the barrier between the unemployed and the criminal classes, because, let's face it, they're one and the same. Both are robbing from the taxpayer and both only understand one thing: the cold steel. Thought that boot camps were only for those that broke the law? Think again!

To be slightly more serious, who can honestly say that they're surprised that it's the weakest in society who can look forward to getting whacked again once we're back under the security of a Conservative government? They've got off slightly under Labour, despite all the rhetoric about getting tough on welfare and the triangulation policies that have already led to Brown stealing some of the Tories' original idea, but the unemployed, single mothers and foreigners can all be assured that the old guard are back in town. Nasty party doesn't even begin to cover it.

You can also rest assured that this would just be the rolling out of it to begin with. The "healthy" young (the so-called NEETs can almost always be defined by their depression, desperation and profound pessimism about their chances of getting anywhere, and mostly they're right to be) are the easiest to demonise: after all, if you can't find a job within 3 months when you're that age, they might as well be put down and save the taxpayer the money entirely. It doesn't seem to matter that this is the equivalent of the bringing back of the workhouse, getting the poor to sing for their supper rather than allowing them to sit on their arses all day, as that's clearly what they do with their time. The Tories would put them to work on "community service programmes", doing all the jobs that even the immigrants won't do: cleaning the graffiti that they probably sprayed up in the first place off, washing out drains, cutting the grass, picking up rubbish, and all for much less than £70 a week! As we're so often reminded, there's the deserving poor and the undeserving poor, the aspirational and the feckless, and the feckless will be made to face up to their lot in life by receiving far, far less than minimum wage for doing so.

The community service programme will be what the lucky get off with. "Boot camp" training course, it just sounds so inviting, encouraging and bound to enthuse, doesn't it? It's just what these kids need, discipline, a jumped-up man with a thin moustache screaming at them when they put a foot wrong, ensuring that they get the "basic skills" needed for a job. First question: can you read what this tin says? If yes, please report to nearest supermarket for the rest of your life. If you work hard enough, you might even get to become manager in 20 years time! Now that's an aspiration we can all respect.

If you thought Labour wanted to privatise everything and use PFI to build everything, then again, the Tories are prepared to go that little bit further. It's quite obvious that the welfare system just isn't working at the moment: the Jobcentre Plus is providing jobs mainly for the private sector, so why don't we just square the circle? The private and "voluntary" sector can pick up the slack straight away, and we all know that they'll be far more efficient and realistic with the unemployed than the current lot, who tend to get attached to those they're working with. There's no room for sentiment in big business, and when there's the dirty great big carrot of £5,000 for every young person they stick in a dead-end job which makes hell look like an attractive proposition, they'll soon forget there's an actual person they're dealing with and instead turn it into the conveyor belt one size fits all system which it should be. Doubtless, these firms won't be providing the Tories with funds in the mean time, or be directly offering money to Tory shadow ministers studying the portfolio. That would be an unthinkable slur and allegation of corruption.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Conservatives under Cameron have looked at New Labour under Blair and found a lot of it that they like. Just one problem: it's not quite right-wing enough, and the Conservatives are determined to be even less subtle than the Blairites. All the things Blair wished he could have done they will be straight on to push through, and this welfare package is just the beginning. Inheritance tax will be next, then a huge expansion of the "academy" system, directly bribing the middle classes, a huge prison building programme, a major rise in defence spending, tax cuts for those who declare that they are "one of us", while all will be forgotten about those they're currently trying to appeal to over the 10p rate. As for tackling tax avoidance, which some studies suggest takes far more from the exchequer than the welfare system even does, that won't even get a mention. The Conservatives are the new, real Blairites. And Labour only has itself to blame.

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I've spent some time working for the Prince's Trust as a Development Coach, essentially dealing with the young unemployed that this policy is aimed at. And based on that experience it is quite clear that what ever prat came up with it has never been near a young unemployed person in their life.

Yes some people need to be brought into a far more disciplined mind set but do you do that through anything that might be described as boot camp? Do you hell.

All it achieves is great head lines for the Daily Hate.

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