‘Tough love’, say the Tories? Tough shit, says Caitlin Walker

The Tories are back.  And their first act as newly-instated governing body of the country?  An issue so important it has overtaken austerity, immigration and Trident as the mascot policy for the new stand-alone Tory government?  The repeal of the fox-hunting ban.  Well, you can’t say it isn’t true to form – the outdated and callous political party of rich arseholes brings back an outdated and callous form of ‘entertainment’ loved by rich arseholes.  However, this is only the first attack on the ‘parasites’ of society.  Next on the list is a threat far more dangerous, contemptible and vile – the young unemployed.

The Tories, in their infinite wisdom, have revealed their plans to slash the country’s youth unemployment figures – the scrapping of Jobseeker’s Allowance for childless 18-21 year olds who are not ‘earning or learning’.  Instead, they will receive a ‘youth allowance’ for six months, after which, if they still have not found work, they will be required to go on a ‘community work scheme’.  This community service- sorry, work scheme! – will entail working 30 hours a week for £57.35.  That’s £1.91 an hour.  This is the Tories’ failsafe plan to inspire the youth of the country to throw themselves into the world of work.

And not only are 18-21 year olds having their Jobseeker’s Allowance removed, but housing benefit as well.  The result being young people who are stuck at mum and dad’s, in a jobless community, working 30 hours a week for benefits which are worth much less than the minimum wage, and unable to get out.  Hellish.

In fairness, the Tories cannot be blamed for not understanding what it’s like to be young, poor and unemployed.  None of them has ever been poor or unemployed, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that my youth has been markedly different from David Cameron’s.  Ok, so I’m generalising.  But so are the Tories.  How many 18-21 year olds do you know who actually want to leave school and go on the dole?  They seem to think we all do!  And how bloody soul-destroying is it trying to find a job, never mind a job that pays enough to survive on?  (I’m writing this with Gumtree, Indeed and Tesco careers tabs all open, I shit you not.)  And now we’re being told we’re not trying hard enough.  By people who have never tried to find a job in their lives.

Frankly, it’s no surprise that the Tories are out of touch with the young and unemployed.  It’s not news that they cannot comprehend that the country in fact isn’t made up of scrounging wasters, but jobseekers who are struggling to find work that pays a living wage.  And you’d never see them admitting to this being their fault.  Notice how there’s no word of increasing the minimum wage or implementing a living wage?  Notice how self-employment figures are at an all-time high, but those who are self-employed have lower wages and work longer hours than those who aren’t?  Notice how very little has been said about zero-hours contracts since the election?

The Tories’ ‘tough love’ approach is merely another example of how out of touch they are with the society that forms their electorate.  They vilify the poor and the vulnerable while maintaining a crooked partnership with businesses, which in turn prevents any wealth being injected into the parts of society which desperately need it.  And this is who we’ve got looking after us for the next five years.  I don’t know about you, but I’m shitting myself.

[Caitlin Walker – @hirquitallient]

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