Tag Archives: Centre for Social Justice

Right-Wing Clichés (#6): Work is the best route out of poverty

How many times have you heard a government minister say “Work is the best route out of poverty”? How would they know? They have never been impoverished nor have they been forced into a situation where they’ve had to work in a low paid job, struggling to pay bills and rent. David Cameron repeats the line often enough, but even when he was a student at Oxford, he wasn’t living in a cold, damp, miserable student house. He had the best accommodation money could buy. He didn’t have to go to his local Jobcentre and sift through loads of poorly paid, menial jobs that offer no future and, more importantly, the route out of poverty that he claims to speak of with such authority. His daddy had contacts. The Queen’s equerry even phoned Carlton Television and acted as his referee . How many ordinary people does that happen to?

If you’re a woman and you come from a working class background, the only ‘opportunities’ to make a decent amount of money are in the sex industry. More and more working class women are being forced into making these kinds of choices and perhaps worst of all, the message that comes from government and people like Catherine Hakim, who filleted Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital to devise her ‘concept’ of “erotic capital”, is that if you’re a working class woman, you’re only good enough to be ogled, fondled and fucked in the car park by some grubby businessman for a tenner. It comes as no surprise to The Cat that Hakim works for the Thatcherite think-tank, the Centre for Policy Studies.

Work that pays the minimum wage (or less) actually locks people into poverty. If you are working in low paid job, you are forced to work endless hours of overtime (for the same amount of money) to make ends meet.This means you don’t have much of a life. It also means that you don’t have the time to look for work that pays more money. You may be in a zero hours contract or have been forced into ‘self-employment’. If you are, then you know that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. You have to work even if you’re ill. The only thing that raises people out of poverty is greater access to opportunities. Under the present neoliberal system, the possibilities of this happening are small to non-existent, because the jobs that pay the best money are reserved for those people who come from wealthy and powerful families.

So next time you hear a Tory tell you that “work is the best route out of poverty”, you laugh and laugh hard, because he or she has no evidence to support their contention. One Tory told me that the working class were “richer” at the end of the 19th century than at the beginning of that century. Spot the logic fail.

David Cameron is the Queen’s fifth cousin.

 

 

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Two examples of Orwellian thinking

When George Orwell wrote 1984, he’d intended it to be read as a satire. Many years later, doublethink and doublespeak have become the norm in our political system. What I find with these politicians and their parties is that there is no trace of irony in their selection of names. They actually believe in their lies to the extent that they see them as universal truths.

I have identified two think tanks that have both adopted Orwellian names. The first is the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank that was set up shortly after Iain Duncan Smith resigned as leader of the Conservative Party. The CSJ claims to be ‘independent’ but as we all know, no think tank is free of ideology; it simply isn’t possible and it is dishonest to make the claim that it is so. The CSJ’s remit is, as you might expect, social justice. But this notion of social justice comes from a Conservative perspective. Ergo, one needs to take a tonne of salt when approaching the work of the CSJ.

The CSJ rightly identifies housing as an issue but it stops well short of offering real solutions. This is perhaps the most revealing passage in their section on housing

The law should be changed so that local authorities are free to use new social housing, and existing social housing as it becomes vacant, as they see fit.

So if a property becomes vacant, then a local authority can sell it off if it “sees fit”.  That solves nothing. In fact, it contradicts the paragraphs that appear below it, such as

The current homelessness obligation must be changed so that authorities are required to assess the housing and other social needs of people who present as homeless, focusing on the underlying causes of their homelessness. Their emphasis must be to agree an appropriate package of support to meet those needs in a holistic way.

I think this happens already. So nothing new or exciting here. The inclusion of the word “holistic” is there to suggest a ‘touchy-feely’ approach – this is caring Conservatism, which is, in itself, an oxymoron.

There should be a requirement that new working age tenants and their landlords sign commitment contracts under which the tenant agrees actively to seek work and the landlord agrees to provide or access support such as training or childcare to help them do so.

Which “landlords” are we talking about here? Private or social? IDS has already made it plain what he thinks of social housing.

Over the years, our housing system has ghettoised poverty, creating broken estates where worklessness, dependency, family breakdown and addiction are endemic

So rather than attack the underlying conditions, he attacks the homes that people live in. The word ‘causality’ cuts no ice with these Tories!

The CSJ’s remit covers the entire gamut of social issues which are viewed through the lens of privilege. Those who form their committees and lead their working groups come from upper middle class backgrounds. The criminal, Jonathan Aitken has been welcomed as the chairman of the Prison Reform Working Group. He was given this role presumably because of his previous experience of doing time for perjury. He was also involved in the arms trade.

The second and perhaps the most disturbing of the two Orwellian think tanks is the Centre for Social Cohesion, The director of the CSC is Douglas Murray, arch-Zionist; opponent of common sense; distributor of paranoid conspiracies and fan of Leo Strauss. The site claims that

The Centre for Social Cohesion is a non-partisan think-tank that studies issues related to community cohesion in the UK. Committed to the promotion of human rights, it is the first think-tank in the UK to specialise in studying radicalisation and extremism within Britain.

I like the way these people think we will be hoodwinked into accepting their word that they are ‘non-partisan’ or ‘impartial’.  The CSC also claims to be “committed to the promotion of human rights”,  but it is selective about who is entitled to such rights. If the first paragraph didn’t do the trick, the CSC ram the point home again in the final paragraph,

NON-PARTISANSHIP: The CSC is an independent think tank with no party-political affiliations.

They can say it as much as they like but I know this isn’t true: Douglas Murray is a Conservative who describes himself as a ‘neo-conservative’ and that should set off some alarm bells. While the neo-cons are in retreat in the US, Murray hopes that by repeating the ‘message’ that Europe is being Islamicized, people will rush to burn down their local mosque and embrace neo-condom. He worries that he may see minarets on every street corner instead of pubs – which are now closing by their hundreds every month – and witness to implementation of Sharia Law in our lifetimes. Never mind that Halakha or Jewish Law has been used in civil cases for years without certains popping up and warning of a creeping’ Judaification’ of Europe. Murray’s got his sights set on Islam and there is no way to convince him that he’s wrong.

In January, Murray published a blog in the Daily Telegraph in defence of the racist Geert Wilders. The title of the blog was “Geert Wilders: on trial for telling the truth”. “On trial”? “Telling the truth”? If that is your truth, let me tell you mine: you’re stirring up hatred and you barely conceal your dislike of anything that doesn’t conform to your paranoid thinking. I will take no lessons on ‘social cohesion’ from you or your crackpot organization.

I can only wonder what other names they will devise for their think-tanks. Perhaps the Centre for Social Responsibility will be next. This think-tank will be charged with making private companies more socially responsible by permitting them to pollute as much as they like.

UPDATE: 6/3/12 @ 2140

The Centre for Social Cohesion was absorbed into the equally vile Henry Jackson Society last April.  Below is a screengrab of the CSC’s homepage

Here’s a link to the people who run the Henry Jackson Society.  Dougie has been installed as an “Associate Director”. Is that like an “Executive Vice-President” or something? Just below that in “Communications”, we find Michael Weiss. He leaves his blogs on the Telegraph. Weiss’s recent blogs tend to be focussed on Syria. Do you smell a rat? So do I.

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The Quiet Man is back and he’s talking a lot of rubbish

Iain Duncan-Smith has forever saddled himself with the soubriquet, “Quiet Man”. How he must rue the day he uttered those words. David Cameron has recycled all the former failed leaders of the Tory party from 1997 to 2007 with the exception of Michael Howard, who retired and is presumably now waiting to be ‘kicked upstairs’…but his chance will come, of this I am certain.

Tories have always been out of touch with what is happening in the world outside the Westminster ‘bubble’ and the shires.  None of the Tory MPs have ever been unemployed, most of them have worked for the City or in financial houses. Some of them have never had to work: living off inheritances or daddy’s generous allowance. Therefore the ignominy of the dole queue has eluded them.  But every now and again, Tory politicians pretend they know how the unemployed feel when they live on benefits for a week. A week is never long enough to form a judgement on the situation many unemployed find themselves in.

For too long, those on benefits have been a soft target for politicians wanting to make their mark. IDS, now newly installed as the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, has never been unemployed; he doesn’t know anyone who is unemployed and can only regard them from the safe distance of his ivory tower. Now he’s talking about welfare to work and forcing invalids and the long-term sick into work. This is odd for someone who claims to be a Christian but then the director of his think tank, the Centre for Social Justice (yes, I still find that name hard to swallow), Philippa Stroud is a self-confessed Christian who claims that she can ‘cure’ gays and lesbians by “driving out their demons” (sic). Stroud got a the consolation prize of being named as IDS’s special advisor for losing in her bid to take a seat from the Lib Dems in Sutton and Cheam.

So what has IDS and his team of hatchet men got in store for benefit claimants? Will he make them work in chain gangs? Or will he get Philippa Stroud to exorcise their ‘demons’? How can he create jobs in regions that are virtual work deserts? You can’t make people take jobs that don’t exist, or maybe that’s where Stroud comes in…maybe she can conjure up a few thousand jobs by just praying for them.

I wonder if The Quiet Man is prepared to accept the fact that the biggest recipients of state handouts are private interests like major corporations? Probably not because they’re all batting for the same side. It’s much easier to engage in class war against those who have nothing than against those who supply your party with funds.

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