As is well known to any readers here, the Liberal Democrats stole my vote because they went into an election with one manifesto and then became the wooden leg for the worst of Tory policies ever seen. So I might prefer Nick Clegg's and the Liberal Democrat's presumed policies for Europe (assuming they wouldn't turn 180 degrees again) over Nigel Farage and UKIP, but the Liberal Democrats won't get my vote until they are near destroyed at the election and realise the reconstruction they need with a focus on honouring the electorate.
But the Labour Party is becoming a concern now and, unlike the press, I have been rather well-disposed towards Ed Milliband. Now I am getting worried...
Labour proposes to 'nationalise' the Universal Jobsmatch website, in the sense that legislation will require all jobs advertised on any website to be also advertised on UJ. Ah no - it will still be run by a private company receiving the contract. In the new 'Rights and Responsibilities Social Contract', every person unemployed will have to register and visit each vacancy within 25 miles of their postcode and indicate, as is possible but not required now, why they are NOT applying for a job that is being advertised as well as pressing the buttons that constitute applications.
Labour further proposes that every business will be eligible for National Insurance reductions and subsidies to take on workers to process the (deluge of) emailed job applications that will result. Employment agencies will also be able to apply for subsidised workers, but there will be no more of the likes of A4e or In Training as the Work Programme ("neither Work nor Programme") will be scrapped.
Applicants will copy and paste each vacancy visited and its URL, and whether or not applied, and email this document to the Department for Work and Pensions, and the email reply will indicate whether the person has been signed on for a further two weeks or sanctions have kicked in. Anyone sanctioned for 4, 8 or then 26 weeks will not be deemed unemployed at the time. The old effort of physically going to sign on will end. DWP staff will now process these emails instead and at a much faster rate than meeting claimants.
However, the unemployed will have to be active each and every day. According to these 'Social Contract' proposals, anyone over twenty five who is unemployed for more than six months will have to take a literacy, numeracy and ICT test, and this will determine what class they go in to at school. Yes - school.
The unemployed will utilise the newer academies and remaining local authority schools and then attend English, Maths and ICT classes at the entry level appropriate. Labour thinks the sudden expansion of numbers will justify more investment in teachers, and mixing adults and children will also have the effect of improving classroom behaviour. During other lessons the unemployed will visit school computer suites to go on to Universal Jobsmatch. There will be one hour a day opportunities to use the school gymnasium or run around the playing field.
Whilst children will continue to wear school uniform, the unemployed will receive a clothes budget for formal wear but also wear orange high visibility jackets when in and around the school. In the sense that this further blurs the distinction between criminals and the unemployed, Labour sees this as an incentive for people to get a job. Failure to attend would in any case result in criminal sanctions and a custodial sentence.
Surely the likelihood of anyone being properly considered for getting a job, when the employers will be deluged with applications and just throw so many away, suggests that the policy is not well thought through at best.
People who go on to Employment and Support Allowance will only be required to sign up for Adult Education Classes in Literacy, Numeracy and ICT, and will not be counted as unemployed. Failure to attend could result in criminal sanctions and a custodial sentence. People will be tested as whether suitable for work under more generous conditions than under ATOS but Labour seeks an active unemployment count of around one to one and a half million.
All benefit receivers will continue to receive "accommodation subsidies" for one or a couple, plus children, and pay council tax to 20%, and pay travel expenses to and from school. Homeless unemployed and disabled may be accommodated in prisons.
Who to vote for? Please, not Nigel Farage.