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Jobs Are For Life, And So Are Guarantees: Labour’s Disposable Socialism

Posted on the 20 February 2014 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

Jobs Are For Life, And So Are Guarantees: Labour’s Disposable Socialism

Posted: 20/02/2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: disposable socialism, Ed Miliband, full employment, IDS, jobs, Jobs Guarantee, Labour, labour government, Labour party, One Nation, Politics, RR, social justice, socialism, unemployment |Leave a comment »

If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly


I have to confess to mere resigned disappointment, rather than surprise, to the uncovering of some irritating small print in Labour’s flagship policy in its 2015 offering to the electorate: the Jobs Guarantee. The scheme, under which every person on Job Seeker’s Allowance for two years- or one year if under the age of 25- would be guaranteed a job, is only to be funded for the first year of Labour government. One of the strongest policy responses to date to the curse of long-term unemployment is to be a brief post-election sweetener.

The Labour Party argues that the policy will still benefit 250,000 people even within just 12 months. Indeed, there can be no doubt that, for a good proportion of this massive number of people, their lives will be transformed for the better. That is wonderful news, and however strives towards that aim has my wholehearted support. However, there is no reason why this hand up must be denied to those who become unemployed in 2016, or 2020 for that matter.

The reason that is offered is the chronic lack of money available to the state in Austerity Britain. When the Jobs Guarantee costs several hundred million pounds a year, there will be a clear political cost to maintaining it when a government- and a Labour government at that- is cutting spending elsewhere. Yet Labour has adopted what is becoming a signature tactic of linking each spending pledge with a tax rise; in this case, a re institution of the bankers’ Bonus Tax and cuts to pension tax credits for wealthier savers will fund the Jobs Guarantee. Unless Labour is to repeal these changes in 2016, the money earmarked for the Jobs Guarantee will still be flowing in. In all seriousness, not only will a Labour government lack the will to reverse progressive tax rises, but it risks breaking the entire labour movement apart if it tries.

Full employment is an aim that has been in the heart of Labour since it was formed in 1900. As a party built on the efforts and aspirations of the proletariat, the very soul of it is imprinted with the desire to eliminate the risks of poverty and unemployment that are such a mental burden on almost any person. In its 114 years, Labour has moved so far towards its aims, but full employment never quite made it to the real world. Suppose that the Attlee government had only introduced the National Health Service for twelve months, reverting to the dog’s dinner of the pre-war health system in June 1946; that Blair had the National Minimum Wage for a one-budget period, allowing wages to tumble back down to £0.80 an hour after a temporary respite from ultra-low wages; or if the State Pension was ditched because there was only enough money to help the elderly on a temporary basis.

The social problems wouldn’t be solved. Nobody would be at all inspired. Few would bother to fight for “disposable socialism” like this.

If Messrs Miliband, Balls and company agree that “Britain can do better than this” and want to realise the One Nation vision, they can commit to pursuing a policy of full employment, to be achieved within 10 years. That can be done with determination and public support, neither of which is lacking in the British people.


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