UK government say unemployed must do "unpaid work"… but where's all this work going to come from?

For years the Conservative Party have wanted to force unemployed people to “earn” their benefits by doing unpaid work.  And finally (in a coalition government with the Lib Dems, strangely enough) it seems they are going to achieve their goal.
The Work and Pensions Secretary (and failed former party leader) Iain Duncan Smith has announced in a white paper that he wants the unemployed to undertake unpaid work or lose benefits, dressing up these draconian plans as a necessary step to cut welfare costs as well as to break what the government is calling the “habit of worklessness”.  The government are trying to suggest that people prefer to live in poverty on the derisory Jobseeker’s Allowance (£51.85 a week for those under 25 and £65.45 for those over 25 – what riches!)  rather than take a job.  And this crazed plan is apparently going to end the “culture of dependency”.
What IDS has neglected to tell us is where exactly this unpaid work is going to come from.  The plan glosses over this detail, saying that “charities, voluntary organizations and companies” will provide these jobs.  This totally ignores the fact that voluntary organizations don’t want people to work for them reluctantly – people who volunteer to work for nothing do so because they want to help the organizations in question and the quality of their work is therefore much higher than what will be done by those who are there under duress.  And as for the companies who will provide the unpaid jobs: if there is work that needs to be done, why haven’t these companies already employed workers to do them?
This plan is an outrageous attempt to provide the Tory Party’s corporate allies with a way to get around the minimum wage.  Instead of advertising these jobs to willing workers who would, by law, be entitled to a living wage, these companies will fill the posts with people who will have to work for nothing.  How the hell can the Tories and their corporate friends get away with this?
And why are the Lib Dems going along with this?  After the destruction of the traditional Labour Party by Blair and his “New Labour” lackeys, some of us thought that the Liberal Democrats were the only progressive party left.  But now they’ve joined the Conservatives in coalition government, we can see Nick Clegg and his colleagues for what they really are: just Tories under a different name.
Democracy in Britain has been dying for many years.  Now it has been shot in the back of the head and buried in an unmarked grave.  We desperately need to take back the power that is rightfully ours.  But the ballot box will get us nowhere.  We must use alternative methods to rid ourselves of the greedy and evil men and women who claim to rule in our name.
 

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"Vote Labour for war against Iran!" says Blair

Saturday 30 January 2010
Tony Blair has been accused of trying to make war with Iran an election issue, after he mentioned Iran and its evils 57 times during his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq yesterday (29 January 2010).
Blair claimed that western powers might soon have to invade Iran because its Islamic regime now poses the same threat to peace as Saddam’s Iraq did seven years ago. He warned that the international community must be prepapared to take “a very hard, tough line” with Iran, a country “linked up with terrorist groups”, to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. He even claimed that if he hadn’t toppled Saddam in 2003, Iraq and Iran would probably be locked in a race for nuclear power.
Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran, said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that Blair’s claims had put the issue on the electoral agenda, and that political parties now needed to make it clear that war was not an option. “We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians and with our candidates that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time.”
One of Blair’s complaints about Iran was that its government had fomented the insurgency in Iraq. He claimed that Iran, which follows Shia Islam, had supported al-Qaida, despite it following the rival Sunni branch of the faith, because they both had a common interest in destabilising Iraq. He is trying to put any blame for the failure of his policy on Iraq at Iran’s feet, as well as establishing some sort of non-existent link between Iran and Al-Qaeda to justify a new war. Dalton, a former employee of Blair and an expert on the region, has dismissed this as rubbish. Now we must hope that no one else listens to the former prime minister.
I saw an interesting question posted on the Guardian site by a reader called “Eleusis”: how can Blair continue in his role as UN peace envoy to the Palestinian Territories and Israel after his shocking public war mongering? Unfortunately, I don’t think Blair will have the slightest problem reconciling these conflicting ideas. Blair is two-faced and can perform amazing contortions. Should be in a bloody freak show…
Now is a good time to tell you about the campaign to arrest Blair for war crimes. George Monbiot, a journalist writing on British and international politics and current affairs, has set up the site www.arrestblair.org as a focal point for the campaign. In 2008 Monbiot attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of John Bolton for his role in planning the war against Iraq, and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tried to arrest Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe. Of course neither attempt came to anything; but the citizen’s arrests attracted a lot of media attention. This inspired Monbiot’s Arrest Blair campaign. Monbiot wrote in yesterday’s Guardian:

So today I am launching a website – www.arrestblair.org – whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the former prime minister. I have put up the first £100, and I encourage you to match it. Anyone meeting the rules I’ve laid down will be entitled to one quarter of the total pot: the bounties will remain available until Blair faces a court of law. The higher the ­reward, the greater the number of ­people who are likely to try.
At this stage the arrests will be largely symbolic, though they are likely to have great political resonance. But I hope that as pressure builds up and the crime of aggression is adopted by the courts, these attempts will help to press ­governments to prosecute. There must be no hiding place for those who have committed crimes against peace. No ­civilised country can allow mass ­murderers to move on.

There seems to be quite a bit of support for the idea: at the time of this writing, the bounty pot stands at £10,045.99. And that’s after just a couple of days. In time this pot will grow much bigger – especially after a few arrest attempts have been made and media coverage spreads the word. A fine idea!
There are a few rules – for instance the arrest attempt must be non-violent and it must be covered by a “mainstream” media outlet of some kind – and also a few tips on how to perform the citizen’s arrest. It’s very very important you don’t give the impression that you are trying to physically attack Blair in some way as he goes around with armed guards.
According to www.arrestblair.org there is a film crew who would like to follow someone planning to make the arrest. And the campaign also has a Facebook page. If anyone wants to give it a go, I support you wholeheartedly. And if you like the idea but (like me) don’t have the balls to actually do it, you could always donate some money to go into the bounty pool. Check the front page at www.arrestblair.org for details on how to donate. Good luck!

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