Tory spite and cruelty

THE CONSERVATIVE Party conference in Manchester this week has seen them rise from being merely the “nasty party” to become the seriously sadistic party. It is hard to find words to describe the effects of the policies they are proposing will have on the unemployed, the long-term sick and disabled.

And the reason for ratcheting up the torture that these people are already experiencing is the failure of the Work Programme the Con-Dem Coalition put in place in 2011. Of course it failed — it could not succeed without the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

All the Work Programme did was to take the longterm unemployed and mentally ill and batter them for circumstances way beyond their control — they were not responsible for the economic crash, nor for the hundreds of thousands of job cuts made in both the public and private sector nor for the prejudices that prospective employers hold against the long-term unemployed and the disabled. The people who have been forced on to the Work Programme have been humiliated and abused by the scheme to make them grovel to future employers — and to put on a forced grin while doing so to appear “positive and willing”.

But when one of them does succeed in getting a job it just means someone else does not get it — so the total unemployed stays the same. The problem is a shortage of jobs, not a lack of willingness to work.

The penalties for not complying with the orders of the Work Programme are sanctions — the total loss of benefit for varying periods of time, during which the victims are supposed to live on thin air.

The ways to incur sanctions are absurd and cruel. You can be sanctioned if a job interview overruns so that you are late for a Work Programme appointment; if you have training and signing-on appointments that clash and you cannot be in two places at once, if you have a heart attack during your work capability assessment or if you fail to apply for a job that has already been taken. Most of those who go through the two-year Work Programme are still unemployed at the end. Now the Government wants to prolong the agony by forcing these people at this stage into totally unpaid work — as if they are criminals being awarded community service.

The Tories’ motto is “no one gets something for nothing” — though the getting something for nothing ethos is the bedrock of speculative capitalism and of landlordism.

And the employers of this compulsory workfare labour will indeed be getting free work for nothing — and sacking their paid employees to make way for the free ones and so increasing the unemployment rate.

The Tories do not follow the logistics of this kind of economics. They feel they have no need to. They don’t care if they hurt us. As far as they are concerned we exist only to make them money and if we cannot do that because they do not provide enough jobs or because of disability or ill health then we have no right to exist.

This is the sort of callous combination of ignorance and arrogance that will bring about their destruction — as it did to the feudal ruling class in France in the 1790s. The workers of Britain in recent decades have been easy going and put up with a lot of exploitation and abuse. The Tories are giving them no choice but to fight.