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Editorial: Tories set on making life even more miserable for working people

IT IS as if the very act of bringing David Cameron back into government has triggered an even more powerfully vindictive strain of Toryism to infect the Westminster bloodstream.

His return reminds us that his coalition of Conservative and Liberal Democrats was characterised by a particularly brutal austerity regime combined with a sickening hypocrisy and served up, especially in the case of the Lib Dems , with a willingness to abandon election promises in a manner only rivalled by Keir Starmer.

Of course the Tory age of austerity never vanished and in fact the profit-driven inflation of this present cycle of capitalist economic inefficiency is putting the squeeze on working-class incomes, irrespective of whether people are in work or not.

Although capitalism in general, and the British variant in particular, treats human beings as more disposable than the dead capital embodied in the machines, technology and information that lies unproductive without the magic ingredient that workers bring to the the production process there is always a sense among our masters that unemployment is a whip to be held over us.

Of course, at a societal level, unemployment, ­the waste of human potential, imposes costs on society but these costs are borne, in the first instance, by the human beings and families affected and secondly by society itself which carries the social costs. 

Unemployment benefit, in its origin, is the price Liberal, then Tory and latterly Labour governments proved willing to pay to avoid the political challenge that inevitably arises when workers are forced into desperate poverty.

For all the Westminster factions that favour the continuity of the capitalist system, making unemployment even more unbearable seems to be the instinct brought more easily to the surface than any other.

So who is surprised that in pursuit of the Tory dream of reduced public expenditure — Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s main task before his diminishing majority puts an end to his parliamentary career — his government proposes dock the unemployment benefits, for which we all contribute National Insurance payments, and make life even more miserable for working people.

A rationally organised political system would plan labour market measures to meet the social and economic needs of society as a whole.

This necessarily entails training and education to equip the labour force (aka the working class) to meet production needs.

Life, the ageing process, and especially exploitation in a low-wage economy inevitably render a substantial proportion of workers unable to work.

By and large the main disincentive for unemployed people to take up the offers of employment with which they are presented is both the unattractive nature of the work itself and the lousy wages that are standard in a low-wage economy.

For many others their bodies, and some cases their fragile mental state, makes work in a highly exploited and competitive labour market a big challenge that is not eased by a police regime operated by the DWP.

There is also the phenomenon of workers, with varying but always important levels of competence for whom there is no longer a demand for their skills.

Add to that many, many people in physically demanding industries who cannot continue to the the advanced age that our pension system compels and we have a labour force cohort whose problems are not best served being forced into even more punishing poverty.

Every working-class community, every sizeable enterprise, every working family includes people who fall into these categories but don’t expect a government of the rich and for the rich to either comprehend this or to think it important do something positive about it.

For that we need working-class power and a socialist government.­


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