The Communist Party of Britain's Economic Committee has issued the following statement in response to the plans announced today (November 11, 2010) by the Con-Dem government's Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith
The unemployed have joined the lengthening list of 'the enemy within', alongside striking workers, housing and incapacity benefit claimants and students.
They and their dependants—including children—are to be punished if they don't rush to do unpaid menial work, or jobs once done by properly paid council employees with a pension scheme.
The Con-Dems are raising a new conscript army of cheap labour, as part of their drive to boost big business profits by dragging down wage levels.
The new scheme unveiled by Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has to be seen as the latest in a barrage of attacks on the unemployed, the sick and the incapacitated.
It follows on from the programme of 'social cleansing' which will drive housing benefit claimants from middle class and inner-city areas. Its architect is the arch-Thatcherite who tells the unemployed to 'get on the bus' to spend three hours a day travelling to and from an eight hours a day job.
It is as though the unemployed—rather than the bankers, speculators and profiteers—are responsible for the recession. They must pay for this government's refusal to tax the rich and big business, fund public services and benefits and to direct capital into productive industry.
Furthermore, the whole scheme rests on a cruel hoax—that there are jobs for most of the unemployed to do.
Currently there are 1.6 million people on Job Seekers Allowance who will be dragooned into the proposed new programme. The government also believes that one million claimants of incapacity benefits should be suited for work of some sort.
That's 2.5 million people to be driven into 'employment' under the threat of losing their benefits.
Yet the number of job vacancies in Britain stands at 459,000 and falling, especially in construction and the public sector as the direct result of Con-Dem and New Labour cuts.
That's five conscripts for every available job—leaving aside the massive mismatches of location, aptitude, skill and qualification.
But even this is not the whole picture. Another 900,000 people are registered as unemployed but not in receipt of JSA. Some 2.4 million people are economically inactive but would like to work; 1.2 million part-time workers would like to go full-time.
The idea that private enterprise is going to create 2 million jobs to employ Captain Duncan Smith's conscript army is preposterous enough, let alone meeting the needs of an extra 4.5 million unemployed or under-employed people.
As the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warned the Commons Treasury select committee on November 2, government cuts and next January's VAT rise will destroy 1.6 million jobs over the next five years (900,000 of them in the private sector).
It is clear that the Con-Dems have no policy to prevent more mass redundancies and put Britain on the road to full employment. That's why it wants to transfer attention onto the new 'enemies within'.
The Communist Party, on the other hand, argues for a Left-Wing Programme around which the labour movement can unite: to defend public services, restore full employment, rebuild Britain's industrial base, promote social justice and protect our environment.
Outlaw mass redundancies in viable enterprises and take failing fims into public or cooperative ownership.
Stop the cuts in public services and welfare benefits, replace tuition fees by student grants.
Invest massively in public sector housing, public transport and non-nuclear renewable energy.
Boost economic demand and production through higher wages, pensions and benefits.
Enforce equal pay for women and end minimum wage discrimination against young workers.
How could such policies be financed?
Impose a Wealth Tax on the super-rich and close all tax havens under British rule.
Levy a windfall tax on monopoly profits in the banking, energy, retail, pharmaceutical and armaments industries; and a 'Robin Hood' tax on financial speculation.
Slash government payments to PFI privateers and the European Union.
Take the whole financial sector into public ownership and direct capital into housing, small businesses and productive industry.
Scrap Britain's unusable nuclear weapons and withdraw the troops from Afghanistan.
Communist Party of Britain
November 11, 2010