Thursday 7 February 2013

This Vicious Government

It is a trick of government not to explain legislation. It comes towards people and heads go into the sand. Then it comes, apparently sorted, and it is too late. It impacts. You then get social disorder and backtracking happens.

The Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats together are not just the nasty parties - they are vicious. The Bedroom Tax is nearly upon people and it is going to cause social destruction across large groups of the poorest. There are large estates in places like London and other major cities that can react to tipping points far less than this, and this will hurt. This one is a Poll Tax Plus big time, on top of making the Council Tax a localised form of Poll Tax all over again.

In the past governments knew that there was a social contract. It went something like this. Capitalism works most of the time but not all of the time. With the best will in the world, the market fails to employ everyone and fails to fit the best people to the best jobs. So you make life just possible for the people who are left unemployed and try and make things more fluid to get a job. Everyone knows that a place like South East Wales does not have a geography that causes more depression: it is unemployment, and the need to live on more than the minimum that leads to depression and disability and at least a little more money to cope. The Tories in the 1980s created mass unemployment and just dumped people, but at least they could live even if the figures were fiddled. Of course everything should be done to assist those who should and can work when the work is available.

This government now is led by a bone-headed Chancellor, an air-head Prime Minister and an arrogant over-promoted Deputy Prime Minister. They are all privileged posh boys and have little insight into where so many people exist. They have forgotten the social contract, and the Work Programme involves no work and no programme but just adds repetitive pressure. The firms involved park the difficult cases while trying to claim the job seeking efforts of the successful as their own work. It becomes more private profit. Well that's all OK if it is surrounded by a practical realism, but these political lightweights deceive themselves. They believe their own propaganda. The strength of their politics has been shown once again, today, by the reverse gear use by Michael Gove the Education Secretary (who has been promoting himself to take over from Cameron). He is another hopeless case, a shambolic prejudice-run individual.

What the Bedroom Tax does is lead hundreds of thousands who can just about make ends meet fall into continuous debt. But it won't work, if the aim is to cut welfare payments. It only affects people in England, so that is one discrimination, as with the Council Tax becoming the new Poll Tax. It only affects people in listed social housing. It also denies those people a broader family life or social assisted life, because the extra bedroom is the means by which the wider family can come and stay, or carers can stay over. There must be a human rights challenge on that basis if nothing else.

So imagine what happens as large numbers of people get a cut to their housing benefit. It will soon be real. They must do something about it, because they are living on so little. Many cannot move and will suffer. So say they pay £75 a week rent and get that in benefit. It then drops by 14% or just under £5 every week. If they have two rooms 'spare' it drops by just under £19. This is money that went on heat, clothes and food. So the government starts to save money. But then many couples or individuals move into the private rented sector, where, up to certain limits, the full housing benefit for an area is paid. Before market pressure and rising rents, they might pay say £85 a week rent, even for flats and small houses. So the housing benefit that was £75 paid becomes £85 paid under the new system.

At the same time, people in private rented accommodation, receiving their housing benefit, will not want to move into vacated social housing. So the effect is that the benefit bill goes up. There becomes a surplus of two and three bedroom social housing, which no one wants except larger families on a waiting list, but these days many families are small and fragmented and the housing stock reflects the benefits system as has been.

But then let's not be fooled about even this. Social housing makes up some of the smallest units of housing going. Many of these two bedroomed houses are with a tiny so-called double room and then a box room. Europeans and Americans are often surprised at just how small are British houses and flats. The tax is an excuse; it does not reflect the nature of social housing.

So the policy is vicious and stupid at the same time. It is another example of (at the very best) cocked-up inadequate government, where people in administration and control have no insight and are clueless so that they come up with grand ideas that turn out to be disasters in practice. No one thinks things through. Either that or the Tories and Liberal Democrats really do believe in rubbing the poor into the gutter.

There was a lot of parliamentary gnashing of teeth over the removal of the social mix from posh London. But this is far, far worse. This hits so many people, causes so much disturbance, and leads to widespread worry and stress. People will be pulling their hair out over this change and once it hits it will be very nasty. British people are also a strange people. They mutter a lot and stay quiet, but when the shit hits them they often react big time.

Last night there was a party political broadcast by the Liberal Democrats. I only caught a part of it. It was Nick Clegg mouthing off something or other. I have never felt such rage when a politician has appeared on TV. This man is a charlatan, very toxic, and a lying politician of self-serving nastiness and incompetence combined.

I don't give a toss about the Chris Huhne story any further, but I am interested in the Eastleigh by-election. I really do want to know what is happening in the south, because even in the south the figures are fiddled and the economically underperforming exists in large numbers. We've had the public sector and major private employers sacking people with frequency while the unemployment figures have gone down. They are a joke. For example, if you are unemployed and receive a sanction, you are no longer counted as unemployed for the duration of that sanction. Lots of people seeking work are not counted as undemployed. It is rumoured that Job Seekers Allowance could be linked to how many vacancies have been examined or jobs applied for: that would itself be a pernicious system.

The sooner the coalition crumbles the better: I hope Eastleigh helps. The Liberal Democrats deserve nothing but destruction. The Conservatives deserve to divide and fall. Let them obsess over Europe. The economic policy has failed and the social policy is anti-social and incompetent at the same time. The electorate has been sitting and waiting to exert a bloody nose on them, but the Bedroom Tax and new Poll Tax may more than try its patience.

The authorities are stupid as well as vile. These people like Gove, Osborne, Cameron and Clegg should not be running the country and should not be anywhere near the levers of power.

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