Theresa May is clearly a good person with a conscience which sees merit in some of the compassionate social policies of the New Labour era. People have grown accustomed to having the state on their side not only establishing a framework in which they can exercise social and economic freedom but also standing up for them at times of fear and hardship. So far so good. The spiteful ‘Old’ Labour idea of squeezing the private sector wealthy as though they were some kind of hideous raptor screwing the country over, whilst allowing the well-heeled public sector elite to up their wages to compensate for higher taxes is outrageous. But politics today is a bit outrageous. So what of the May incursion into the Labour Party ideological heartlands?
Well, Mrs May’s new labour policies reflect the poor state of modern Britain. Elderly people being overlooked by offspring who have been conditioned to think of themselves as economic consumer units rather than social creatures with human obligations towards the young and elderly. Enabling some twisting within the economy to allow the economically active to step out of role seems fair but it will come at a cost. We calculate the cost will be considered justified on the basis that it is cheaper than adult social care. However, people being out of the workplace are a cost to companies and the state, particularly when you have to consider covering their absence with temporary staff and then taking them back later. There is also the problem of the stressed public sector which can’t recruit at the best of times and the sheer grind of coal face work in the public sector making the option of opting out very attractive. Unfortunately, Mrs May’s new labour policies are just more of the state putting a sticking plaster and another expensive one at that on the gaping wound of failed economic and social policies. It very much reflects but in a different way the problem of how to manage the millions of people who now form the second and third generation unemployed ex-industrial and agricultural workers who have been patronised and outrageously labelled the underclass by remote politicians who patch them up with welfare and healthcare, rather than work.
However, there may be a proper solution to these twin problems. How about turning the welfare benefits system into a public wage system and require everyone in the benefits system to work pro rata at the living wage for their welfare. The welfare system was set up when a man (we are talking about 7o years ago) could lose an industrial job and get another one relatively quickly. Now mortgages and debt trap people and the jobs are not going to come back anytime soon. So rather than politicians holding out the forlorn hope of the unemployed moving to another industrial job, why not empower and pay the unemployed to look after their own. Turning the second and third generation unemployed ex-industrial and agricultural workers into the first generation community social workers. We would say that was welfare well spent.