With Project Work, you have to do compulsory work to get your benefits, and unemployed people are being bussed out to the countryside to dig holes, or made to work in charity shops which pretend they are volunteers.
But now we have Welfare-to-Work and the New Deal, and we’re hearing no end of glowing news reports from the government and church. It’s hardly out of the news, now Tony Blair, in his 6 month stint as EU president, is trying to convince Europe about his plans for the welfare state. We are told how young people will be given opportunities like never before, to get training and education to help them find work. There’s been token opposition to parts of the New Deal from the Labour Left, but none of them will tell you what welfare reform really means. The rest of the time we are hearing concerned New Labour voters wondering how things like cuts in benefits to the disabled could be happening under Labour.
Well sorry folks, the idea of the New Deal was floated well before the last election in the Labour manifesto. It was designed partly to cut the public spending budget, and figures published this January suggest the government will save over one billion pounds in welfare reform alone. The other side of the New Deal is to brainwash us into accepting the bogus idea of every one working towards some common goal like “making Britain great again” . Who gives a shit? The New Deal for unemployed people just means forcing people without jobs into low paid work, or if we refuse, to cut our benefits. Everyone knows that most of the jobs advertised in the Job Centre are not worth doing if they mean losing housing benefit, free health care like prescriptions and dentist charges, or at least making it more hassle to get them. And at least if you’re on the dole, you don’t have to go to work every day while you’re signing on!
The government wants to change all that. One of the four New Deal options is almost identical to Project Work, and we are told there is to be “no fifth option of a lifetime on benefits”. The church is also telling us that this what the unemployed want, and go on about how work gives us dignity. What a load of rubbish – what’s dignified about working for a boss who is making profit out of your working for the lowest wages possible? Charities, who often have religious backing, seem quite happy to go along with this, and are taking part in another of the new deal options – you’ve guessed it, working for a charity in exchange for benefits! All these politicians and churchmen know there can be no full employment under capitalism. We could hold them to ransom too easily by threatening to down tools. The bosses need unemployment to scare workers that it could be them if they get out of line. This ideology has now got so extreme that even if you are disabled or a single parent they want you to feel guilty about not working, and the laws are already being changed to make the New Deal apply to disabled people and single parents.
What the government and business really wants is a cheap and willing workforce to help them compete in the European and global markets, against countries whose people may have made fewer gains in the past than workers in the West. Don’t let’s forget that welfare provision was given to the working class in the 1930’s to prevent post-war unrest. New Labour are not the only government in Europe doing this. Getting ready for Monetary Union has meant cuts in many other countries, resulting in strikes and riots over the last few years. Most recently there have been massive occupations of benefits offices all over France and also in Germany.
There is a great need to voice our opposition now to the New Deal and all it stands for. Rather than accept the idea that we should be glad of our jobs, we shouldn’t forget that it’s the working class who make the profits, and realise our power. We need to make links with people in other countries, so we are aware that it’s happening everywhere, and to make sure everyone understands we won’t fall into the right-wing trap of the working class of one country blaming the people of another.