I don't like to discuss my politics - suffice to say I am an open minded individual who looks at all of the promises and lies and makes a judgement when the time comes. In most of the general elections held since I was 18 I have voted Labour - based on the fact that I either couldn't stand the Government of the day (18 years of Conservatives got a bit boring and decrepit), or that Labour seemed to be doing a decent job of the economy etc.
I also have a strong sense of social justice - in my teens and early twenties I was almost as red as Ken Livingstone in the fight for the working class - I read the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - all of that stuff, and in the main agreed with it.
BUT - (see how big that BUT is?) age has me viewing a very different picture. These days I don't see people mistreated by society and cast out because they are unemployed or of poor educational standard* - these days I see scroungers, living off the back of my enormous tax contribution, living on benefits to which they are only entitled by the "system" and not for any real or moral reason - (*I do still see these people, but they are very few and far between.)
These days I see (especially where I live) able bodied young adults, cashing their giros for god knows how much cash supposedly to feed and clothe their enormous families,) stacking their supermarket trollies full of cheap 'budget' brands, endless bottles of fizzy pop and microwave burgers, topped with two or three crates of beer or lager, then heading to the fag-counter for a hundred Benson's, pulling out wads (and I mean wads - much more than their giro just gave them I'm sure) of cash and handing it over without so much as a grimace. They are dressed in designer sports wear, the girls have the latest clothes and shoes and enormous cheap gold earrings, the boys have the best hair do-s of their generation, designer trainers, speaker phones, ipods, Wii's etc. They walk around the estate as if they own it, bringing disruption to other residents with their late night (and daytime when / if they're awake) antics, showing no respect for anything or anyone, including themselves. They are quite capable of work, they just don't have to. The state pays for them to live the life of Riley. The state pays their rent, their council tax, their health costs. The state pays for their milk, fruit and veg and then gives them some cash for other things - usually spent on beer, fags, cheap gold earrings or another tattoo. They have no responsibilities, they have no respect, they have no need to provide for themselves. The state pays. Their parents taught them how to 'work the system' in the late eighties and early nineties and to them it is now a way of life. I do not blame them. I blame the 'system' for allowing it to happen in the first place.
So I was very pleased to hear yesterday that the government was considering another overhaul of the welfare system which forced people to work for their benefits and which brought about the introduction of benefits being a stepping stone into employment, a temporary benefit to help you find work. Yippee!! At last a sensible fresh approach I hear you cry, except that this isn't new Labour thinking at all, this isn't even a fresh idea, this was the policy bandied about in the late eighties by the Tories and called something like "Workfare" a policy to which I was vehemently opposed, and it's this that makes me think I'm becoming more Right Wing in my old age.
Of course it will only work if they make some provision so that the genuine cases aren't hounded out of the system - which seemed to happen with a similar overhaul of the Incapacity Benefit system a few years ago!!
I Spy With My Little Eye
4 hours ago