Thursday, 12 July 2012

Where is the anger?

That's the question asked by John Harris in a Guardian article last week.  He is provoked by the story we reported on that the W2W providers are demanding more and more "sanctions" - wanting to stop the incomes of clients.  It's a long and eloquent piece, and he can't understand why people are not more angry about what's happening.
It's not a difficult question to answer.  We could start with a story which appeared in the Express last week: "One Scot in 10 would rather skive than get a job".  It's a story designed to misinform.  It even quotes the odious Taxpayers' Alliance.  But the point is that it feeds the belief, in people who know no better, that the welfare system allows the idle to live in comfort on the back of the industrious.  Once this would have been seen as far-right propaganda.  Now, people have been persuaded that it's true.  They see their own insecurity not as the fault of the elites who have messed up the economies of the world in their own greed; they blame the people who are even lower down the ladder than they are.
Many of us know people who believe that there are vast numbers of "scroungers", living comfortably on benefits with no intention of working.  They will tell you about families that have all the luxuries you could desire and don't want a job.  There is just enough truth in the fiction to turn it into a generality.  Never mind that all such families are up to their eyes in debt, or criminally inclined.  It's no use telling them that many thousands are desperate for work.  How many read such reports as this one in the Yorkshire Post: "Hull: City where 18 people chase every job vacancy".  They don't believe it.  Write about food charities and they don't believe it.
So cut welfare.  The only people who will suffer don't matter.  The reason that the government is reluctant to cut benefits for the elderly is that the elderly have an annoying habit of voting.  As for the poorest, most of them don't vote, and the calculation is that more people will approve of "cracking down" on scroungers than will have sympathy with the sob stories.  

G4S are getting a mauling in the press today.  But rely on the BBC and you'd never know that the company has W2W contracts.


  1. Then anger of who? the unemployed where they are demonised by the state and by the press the ones who feel sanctions are a very real threat for daring to speak out.

    Who speaks out for the unemployed.. Only a very few. Where are the unions, where are the mp's, where are the reporters. We know we will be labelled shirkers, job snobs for even speaking out, and they wonder why there is "no" ANGER

    We are angry, very angry.. but no one listens to us or wants too.

    1. I agree,I have jumped through more hoops than a circus monkey,promises of re-training,classes that are inane and empty promises,pissed off? right.I had to sign a contract,my liabilities were spelled out, I have completed those,they have not where is the fault?

  2. Too right; there isn't any point in the unemployed articulating their "anger". Where would it get anyone? What would it achieve to have your name up in lights? Unless you want to be sanctioned/victimised/blacklisted/rendered unemployable. If anyone is waiting for the unemployed to vent their "anger" just so that they can fill a few column inches or a news programme segment they will be a long time waiting.

  3. I agree with The Anonymouse.

    The Work Programme scheme is just as useless as all of its predecessors but the only people who ever realise this are the customers, upon whom these schemes are inflicted compulsorily.

    What's the point of becoming angry about it? Who's going to listen? Certainly not my own MP, Chris Huhne! He's been nicked for perverting the course of justice so he can't spare any time to worry about the concerns of his constituents, obviously.

  4. Some missing of the point here, I think. Harris is talking about the anger that ought to be felt by society as a whole at the way its most vulnerable are treated.

    1. But the unemployed are society as well we are demonised, saints and scroungers, all the negative views. Society today is a lot about I'm alright jack. If the unemployed are angry but dont dare speak out, if the employed are scared of speaking out incase they become one of the "unemployed". Its hard to be angry when your own job is at risk you are more worried about yourself than anyone else. This is sad, but it is the state of society today.

      I am convinced society is starting to see the sick/disabled unemployed as being to be blamed for everything.

  5. Remember the terrible story from last month of a group of long-term unemployed jobseekers who were bussed into London in the middle of the night to work as unpaid stewards during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

    The coach driver left them under London Bridge at three in the morning, and told to sleep before working on the river pageant. They had to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and then they were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a fourteen-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the River Thames.

    The company using the unemployed stewards for ‘training’ purposes was Close Protection UK, a sub-contractor of G4S.

    1. West Coast raises an interesting point. If Close Protection hadn't been exposed would G4S be looking for as many 3,500 security personnel for the Olympics?

  6. In my opinion i think some of these comments are fair. the angry will not shout out because there are a lot of unemployed who don't want work which means those who do get tarnished. people are scared of the reaction they will get. I don't think the situation is going to get better not for a long time. It doesn't matter the name or company who run it they can't invent jobs only those elected can and they are more bother about getting one uo on each other.

    1. I'm unemployed. Three times a week I travel by public transport to the other side of the city. I participate in a sports club.

      The other members are higher level professionals: medical doctors, solicitors, there is one account and somebody who is a senior civil servant.

      I found out that a fraud investigator had visited the club. Questions were asked about whether I talked about employment ect.

      You see, one of the criteria for a fraud investigation is if a claimant is observed leaving their home at set times and returning at set times on a regular basis. This points to somebody going to work and then returning again.

      I suspect that a particular individual reported me, supremely confident that I would be arrested, subjected to public humiliation, maybe even (if they were lucky) have me serve a prison sentence. Of course, as I was acting in a perfectly lawful manner nothing of the sort happened.

      The consequences of this visit were that the people I trained with at the club now saw me as some sort of person who was slightly suspicious, and slightly dodgy. It was made worse because I evaded questions about work and employment totally, to avoid embarrassment. Although I still attend the venue it is not really the same.

      There was an assumption that because I was out of work, I had to be carrying out a fraud. Hence the on so confident attitude of the people who reported me. The idea that I might be attending a venue to train in a sport I have been involved in for over twenty years did not even cross their minds.

      On one another occasion a women said to my face that because I was part of the long term unemployed I must be committing criminal offences to suppliement my benefits - I was about to say that I had obtained a CRB check the previous month for a job I had applied for, but decided that my breath wasn't worth wasting on her.

      I have also been accused of being an alcoholic by a neighbour, as this would explain why I do not have a job. This is despite the fact that the person concerned had never witnessed me being intoxicated - It would have been impossible because as a committed Methodist the last alcoholic drink was in 1995!

      Many people work long hours for low pay, see what little they earn absorbed in sky high rents, and an ever rising cost of living. But rather than looking at the causes of their problems look for somebody to blame.

      Rents are high because in 1988 the Conservative government repealed the Rent Act which removed rent controls and effectively removed protection from private sector tenants. Food is increasing in price due to a combination of middle class people in China and India being able to buy more food and the activities of commodity speculators.

      Rather than nationalizing the banks after their board of directors gambled millions of pounds away. The authorities choose to swallow their principles and practice socialism for the banks and indulge in the most ruthless capitalism for everybody else.

      Headlines screaming that one in ten Scottish people would rather "scive" than work are stirring up dangerous levels of hatred towards the unemployed and the disabled. Disability charities point out that there has been a 74 per cent increase in assaults on disabled people.

      This morning a parliamentary report stated that around 3 billion pounds is lost in fraud every year. This figure is dwarfed by the 13 billion that they state underpayed to hose who would be entitled to it.

      As a Christian I pity the people who hold these bigoted views towards the sick and disadvantaged. I pity them that despite access to free secondary education they have not learned the five stages of scientific inquiry in a science class, or learned to question what they read in an English or a history lesson.

  7. No passport or driving licence? then try and book an appointment for a health and saftey card test! be prepared for alot of ridiculous red tape!

  8. It's said that it takes more energy to frown than it does to smile :-) As a result, it's not good to be angry 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year.

    HOWEVER, there ARE times when anger is justifiable.

    I am reminded of this fantastic track by Public Image Ltd:

    As John Lydon says, anger IS an energy and a fantastic motivator!

    Indeed, we have the term 'Angry Young Men', used in the 1950's to describe you British Writers disillusioned with traditional British society at the time. Well, right now we need a long more Angry Young Men. And Women. Not browbeaten ones and "I'm all right Jack" merchants.

    Society should be angrier. If not angry, then at least it needs to do a lot more collective thinking and questioning.

    People should really question the motives behind lurid newspaper / web headlines as in the Daily Express. Thankfully the Yorks Post takes a rather more sensible tone.

    Take workfare for example. Many will support this policy as they believe it is right to make jobseekers work for benefits, provide 'work experience' and "give the unemployed something to do rather than watching The Jeremy Kyle Show all day long".

    What such people fail to do is question and THINK! They do not think about the possible medium and long term consequences for themselves, their friends, families and wider society. So when THEY and their work collegues fail to get any overtime and have their hours reduced due to workfare trainees taken on in their workplace, where is THEIR anger then? By then of course, it'll be all too late!

  9. Historian said:
    "Some missing of the point here, I think. Harris is talking about the anger that ought to be felt by society as a whole at the way its most vulnerable are treated."

    Historian makes a fair point, in my view. However, how does one define "vulnerable?" IDS has been busy trying to persuade the public that almost nobody of working age in the UK is genuinely vulnerable. He claims that the very few working age people who genuinely are vulnerable because they need constant medical attention receive that without fail.

    I'd argue with IDS. According to him, Universal Credit will be the best thing since sliced bread. According to today's Telegraph, the new computer system upon which the UC scheme will depend has run over budget by £100 million so far but still doesn't work properly:

    IDS won't be keen to discuss that with the public but it is likely to annoy more voters (I hope) than his claims about vulnerable people.

  10. If I remember the article correctly there were very many comments - the vast majority of which displayed extremely eloquently the anger felt.
    The trouble is not lack of anger but lack of power to do anything about the situation.

  11. Another interesting article by David Walker in The Guardian today - "How do we remedy the ills in public service contracting?
    The G4S Olympic security failure calls for a rethink of the public service contracting model"

    1. Parliamentary democracy is a little like water - it takes a long time but in the end it always finds it's own level.

      The most sophisticated propaganda deployed by the Natzies, and the Communists could not disguise the flaws with the economic and social system they created. And so it is with the current government: in the end its policies will be discredited and the right-wing will be out of power for the next thirty years.

      Of course, in the meantime many people will suffer hardship, but there is hope. Things will work out in the end, we just have to be patient.

  12. The media tells people when to be angry, and what to be angry at. the vast majority of peoples anger is not their own.


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