In his New Year message, Nick Clegg rolls off a list of his “achievements” and plans for the future. To me it sounds a bit like new Labour boasting about the abolition of foxhunting, while doing nothing to abolish Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or bernefit sanctions and replace JSA with a humane system, like Unemployment Benefit and Supplementary Benefit under the last real Labour government.
What awaits us in this new year is frightening. During the election campaign I read about David Cameron’s plans for a war on benefit claimants, under the same delusions as Thatcher and new Labour, only even more extreme. The Lib Dems were supposed to put a stop to that, but have abondoned this core policy of theirs. Ian Duncan Smith has given details of his plans to make unemployed people do manual labour at random intervals for a few weeks each time. There’s nothing new about this as a similar system called New Deal started in 1997-1998 and I’ve never heard that it’s been abolished. Claimants were told that they’d have to do New Deal a second time, then for a third or a half of the rest of their lives unless someone agreed to give them a job.
Meanwhile, on the Conservative Party’s official website, they’re going on about a war on “benefit fraud” and their plans to attack it. The amounts of money involved are a drop in the oceans compared to the bankers’ bailouts and bonusses, so who cares? Not only that, but don’t forget that “benefit fraud” can mean earning just a few Pounds a week, or even winng £10 on the lottery and not declaring it.
I for one, hope that this year sees the end of this coalition government, but I don’t know what will replace it.