Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

‘Blue Labour’ Gets it Wrong on Welfare.

with 10 comments

Radio Four (Analysis) last night examined Blue Labour’s plans for welfare reform (You can hear it here. Transcript here).

Mukul Devichand opened with this,

These voices are the gurus of a new circle at the top of the Labour Party. They’re highly influential: in charge of writing the policies for Labour’s next manifesto and crafting Ed Miliband’s key speeches. And if you thought Labour would simply tinker around the edges of welfare, and reverse some of the cuts, you’d be rrong if this group had its way. Labour long ago jettisoned the idea that the central government could run industry. In this week’s Analysis, we’ll explore how this group also wants the central state to walk away from a top down model of welfare.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham then described his ideas.

Here are his thoughts on the Welfare state,

I think the problem has been we forgot what it was originally set up for. It cuts people’s legs off. It rewards people the more need they can demonstrate. It does things for people and that’s a mistake. So for example on housing, if you come in and say, “I’m homeless, I’m in need,” we’ve rewarded in the past, we’ve rewarded people. The more need they have, the more likely it is we’ll support them. So you’ve got to show, you’ve got to prove that you can’t do things. That’s the wrong way to do it.

Perhaps Sir Robin has found a way of abolishing need.

Apparently so,

He began by stating,

The Soviets learned in 89 that it didn’t work. We still think we should run things centrally and we’re one of the most centralised states and a democratic state in Europe. It’s nuts. We need to do more in terms of pushing power and responsibility and opportunities down locally, and I’d argue that if we’re going to make the welfare state work there needs to be a much stronger local element where the community and the values of the community can be put to work. You cannot put something that meets an individual’s needs, you cannot structure that from the centre.

As Devichand wryly observed, the Soviets are not around to answer back.

He by contrast has set up Workplace, a local alternative to Job Centres,

The government’s Work Programme is a disaster, and it’s a disaster because it’s designed by civil servants to be run nationally and you don’t start with the employers. We go to the employers and say could we present people to you who are job ready, who are the right people you want? And the result is that not only do we get five thousand people into work; half of them are long-term unemployed, a large number are young people.

The Work Programme is in fact thoroughly decentralised.

It is delivered, in scores of different ways, by private providers, mostly companies, but including ‘social enterprises’ and charities.

This is the result of extensive lobbying by these providers (who’ve become the ‘unemployment business’) as first encouraged by David Blunkett, closely linked to one company (he served on its Board after setting the system up), A4E).

The system is unemployment business driven and nobody knows exactly what they’re going to get.

It is also news that Workplace is unique in going to employers, since that is exactly what all Work Programme providers do.

The root problem is deeper and simpler: there is not the work for the unemployed to be fitted into.

To test the success of Newham’s scheme we got people saying that they agreed that graft should be rewarded and skivers left out. This was not ,

a gathering of the local chambers of commerce; it was a crowd of the recently unemployed in East London, albeit hand-picked for us by Newham Council

We are reaching the realm where the inhabitants of   land  go Cloud Cuckoo Land to get away from their mundane lives.

It is a sad indication of the ‘debate’ set up by Blue Labour that it was up to the Fabian Society General Secretary,   Andrew Harrop  to talk some sense.

That the reasons why welfare is ‘centralised’ (that, is we all have the same rights and benefits are aligned to need) is that Beveridge,

wanted a uniform, consistent system, so that it was based on your citizenship rather than more arbitrary factors, and there’s still a lot of truth in that insight.

Polly Toynbee pointed out that if we decentralise welfare  in the way Blue Labour want,

 In the end you might get some councils who say actually we care more about our municipal flowerbeds.

This is not a joke.

A percentage of  Council Tax benefit has been made payable by those on benefits and  decentralised under the Liberal-Tory Coalition.

Those in Liberal or Tory areas can pay twice or event three times what you pay in Labour ones. Poor areas have high charges, rich right-wing ones, despite their reserves, still shift as much of the burden as the can onto those on the Dole.

With ideas like these  the Labour Party should get itself some new ‘gurus’.


10 Responses

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  1. The Conservative group leader at Cornwall council has quit her post over the use of “lie detector” tests on people claiming benefits.

    Fiona Ferguson, who was responsible for corporate resources at the unitary authority, cited concerns about the use of voice risk analysis (VRA) software. In her resignation letter to Jim Currie, Tory leader of the council, Ferguson warned that using VRA would not help the council to pursue fraud and would be “extremely damaging to our reputation”.

    Private outsourcing company Capita says on its website that VRA is “capable of identifying stress and emotion in a caller’s voice pattern”. The contract will cost the taxpayer about £50,000 but is intended to save many times that amount in preventing false claims, according to Cornwall council which states that research carried out in other areas of the country suggests 4%of single person benefit discounts could be false claims.



    May 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

    • Yes and what they seem to forget [when it suits them]. If you are phoning about benefits and late due payments, you will be emotional and stressed anyway. Does that mean then if you are calm and fully focused fluently you will be deemed a liar or if you are stressed and emotional you will also be a liar. Can any council that uses this system [Cornwall -etc] please clarify this point?

      King Of Kernow

      May 28, 2013 at 11:39 am

  2. I used to support Labour, but no more. I shall vote for the Green Party, and I urge others to do likewise. Labour have betrayed us.

    Landless Peasant

    May 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm

  3. Maurice Glassman was very annoying, and said nothing about how to get rid of mass unemployment, the problems Universal Credit was causing, or the misery and poverty faced by people on benefits at the moment.

    The bloke who’s Mayor of Newham seemed to think that his scheme (which sounds like just about any other Work programme scheme in existence) was the answer to the woes of the out-of-work – a ridiculous assertion.

    Solving unemployment by getting the workless to pull their socks up seemed to be their main solution!

    Andrew Coates

    May 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm

  4. “Unemployed Texans will now have to pass drug screening to get benefits”



    May 29, 2013 at 11:51 am

  5. Annos

    May 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm

  6. Lawful Disobedience: ARREST THAT JUDGE! Full Version HD (Uncensored)

    The following is an interesting video which the Tories tried to ban.

    Some points raised in the video were made on Ipswich Unemployed Action in January this year by “Twinkle 99” regarding the position of unemployed people under the Common Law when signing up to the “statutory” and “mandatory” Work Programme. Note the section of the video on “legalese”after about 6 minutes.

    (There is also a highly articulate section between 6 minutes, 57 seconds and 9 minutes, 27 seconds about the importance of the Common Law):



    May 30, 2013 at 9:59 am

    • Try this link here for the video:


      May 30, 2013 at 10:01 am

      • …and don’t worry, the beeping sound at the beginning, only lasts for a few seconds!


        May 30, 2013 at 10:02 am

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