Workfare is hemorrhaging credibility. It’s high time that Labour’s leaders opened their timid mouths.

This post was written by Reuben on June 14, 2012
Posted Under: Uncategorized

When workfare was first brought in, I was disappointed by Labour’s failure to oppose the policy, yet I did not scream “betrayal”. This was an issue on which the room for for manoeuvre was genuinely limited. The sheer popularity of the measure – a function of widespread public hostility to the unemployed – made it tricky to oppose.

Things, however, can change. Yesterday the results of government commissioned research were revealed. It has been found that mandatory work activity has no impact when it comes to getting people into work. The policy is objectively a failure.

This comes just two weeks after the scandal of unpaid Jubilee stewards being made to sleep under Bridge – wherein the nation was able to see exactly what kinds of businesses are taking up the offer of unpaid labour. If ever there was a good moment to try and shift the consensus on workfare – and indeed unemployment – it is now.

Yet from labour’s leadership a stony silence comes. Backbenchers like Tom Watson and John Prescott have done great work in publicising what went on at the Jubilee. Grass roots activists – people who don’t get paid for doing politics – have done even better work in shaming companies that exploit unpaid labour. Yet we still do not even know whether Labour’s top brass consider the treatment of the Jubilee stewards to be a good thing or a bad thing.

It is something of a cliche to say that politicians should lead public opinion, rather than simply trailing it. Certainly, that is something that is often more easily said than done. Yet their are also crucial moments at which it is possible to shift an ugly prevailing consensus. This is one such consensus, and this is one such moment. Unfortunately those elected to lead the Labour movement in parliament appear too timid, too risk averse, and too disengaged from those whom they might wish to shift, to even attempt such a thing. Back to business as usual, in all of its horror.

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To contact Reuben email reuben@thethirdestate.net

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Reader Comments

julia

Well this is just a guess, but maybe they support workfare, and academies, and privatisation, and public service cuts, and immigration controls, and selling arms to dictators, and shayster press barons…

#1 
Written By julia on June 14th, 2012 @ 5:57 pm
Fred

…and Labour hired Lord Freud, brought in the WCA and Atos to administer it. You can expect no morality from them.

#2 
Written By Fred on June 14th, 2012 @ 10:12 pm
Jacob

This is one of the most snivelling and pathetic pieces that you’ve ever produced. Let’s just run through the logic.

1) Opposing workfare initially was untenable for Labour at first because it was so popular
[this in itself is just wrong, as everything that fed into workfare was actually *set up* by the last Labour government.]
2) The tide has swung and workfare is unpopular
3) It would be good if *politicians* led rather than trailed
4) Therefore we should demand that Labour speak out about it now.

Obviously the most ridiculous premise in this argument is that leadership by politicians would be a good thing. It’s almost like you have no critique of the state or parliamentary politics, and that you think that the best possibility for a paradigm shift out of the austerity programme that is *necessary* for capital is likely to be in the House of Commons. But this also leads you to the most minimal demand, of requesting a big lumbering organisation which for some reason you believe represents you to make some kind of statement on the matter. No doubt you’ll tell me about how many members of trade unions are therefore *represented* by the labour party. But here you fall into your own trap of following rather than leading. And as it happens, you are following a bunch of cynical bureacrats, begging them for minimal submission. This is what happens when most of your political interactions are mediated by the internet.

#3 
Written By Jacob on June 15th, 2012 @ 8:57 pm
Reuben

“This is one of the most snivelling and pathetic pieces that you’ve ever produced”

Yep and this is why I couldn’t be bothered to read on, you unpleasant fucking prick.

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