Friday 23 December 2022

A Plague On All Our Houses?

I recently discovered from an old co-conspirator, who was now employed by the DWP, that signing on was still a thing, or at least that it was still called that. Although they knew everything that they needed to know from your online account, and although you no longer signed anything even electronically, once a fortnight you were still expected to present yourself in person, giving up half a working day to the public transport and the queues, at the risk of sanction if you were five minutes late, and paying the exorbitant bus fares out of your benefits. This was suspended during and between the lockdowns. Yet it has been brought back, for no reason that even the staff can divine.

But half a dozen pestilences are sweeping the land. There is going to be a lockdown. Between that, and the doubling of unemployment as only the beginning of the very long legacy of the mini-Budget to almost all of which the Labour Party was still committed, it is difficult to see how this nasty little relic of the Blair years could possibly survive to the end of next year. The Blairite fondness for big technology projects never did trump humiliating the poor, although saying that does raise the possibility that they may not be so lucky as for common sense and compassion to break out in this instance.

As I predicted here, this lockdown will be used to end the strikes. There is always some sort of public health crisis in winter, and this winter's, the worst in a very long time, will be used as the pretext to lock down. Under that cover, the disputes will be settled by a Government that, for all the knockabout at Prime Minister's Questions, was far more open to negotiation than the Opposition was. The cost will hardly be noticed against that of a lockdown. Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting will be left bellowing, "Get back to work, peasants!", only for the peasants to reply, "We already have, because we won. We beat you."

Thankfully, we are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.