Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth I’

Westminster Council Goes 16th Century on the Homeless

January 15, 2017

Mike also put up a post yesterday reporting that Westminster council has decided on another authoritarian way of dealing with homelessness. They’re going to round them up and send them to other councils outside the borough from January 30th. The council’s excuse for this disgraceful policy is that it’s to combat the high cost of temporary accommodation. Mike points out that the reality is that it’s simply more social cleansing from a Tory-run council, whose leaders want to take as much as possible for themselves while giving little to others. Mike also makes the point that the real way to tackle homelessness is to make sure people are able to keep their homes, and states that it’s a miracle that anyone is there to do the cooking, cleaning and other menial work for the borough’s rich electors.

He concludes

This is truly disgusting behaviour by some of the most vile dregs of humanity, all dressed up as respectable people in the same way their activities are decorated with a veneer of respectability.

Scratch it and see the corruption.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/01/14/homeless-people-are-to-be-hidden-not-helped-according-to-britains-most-tory-council/

Johnny Void has been covering policies like this for a very long time. He has a particular interest in homelessness, and has put up countless posts about how Tory policies, and those of New Labour, actually create homelessness and make life worse for homeless people. He has also covered the social cleansing policies of the various councils in London and elsewhere, whose solution to the problem of rough sleepers is to make sure they are not seen on the streets, and so drive them out of town centres or the area altogether. This is part of the same mindset that seems very happy with putting house prices well out of the ability of working people to afford them, forcing them to commute from the poorer boroughs where they live into the exorbitantly expensive areas where they work further into London.

And the council has plenty of previous in its exploitative and abysmal treatment of its poorer residents. In the 1980s or ’90s there was the ‘homes for votes’ scandal, in which the council leaders, Dame Shirley Porter, and her minions deliberately put working class, Labour voters in sub-standard property with dangerous levels of asbestos as part of a strategy to engineer a cosy victory for the Tories.

Thatcher famously used to bang on about ‘Victorian values’, by which she meant making welfare as uncomfortable and difficult for the poor as possible, in order to deter them from using. Like the architects of the workhouse. This policy, however, goes further back.

Right back to the 16th century.

It’s a return of the old Elizabethan legislation in which the homeless in search of work were, unless they had a permit, to be whipped and sent out of the borough. Except that they haven’t got round to flogging them yet. However, as Mike put up a couple of posts just before Christmas of incidents where people thought that beating and urinating on the homeless and their bedding was a great joke, this probably won’t be long.

This shows the disgusting medieval attitude of the rich lords and ladies of Westminster council, and how they view us serfs, even if we are fortunate enough not to have to live on the streets.

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Vox Political on the Criminalisation of Youth Unemployment

February 19, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political wrote this piece on Cameron’s promise to make community work compulsory for young, unemployed people between 18 and 21. As he points out, this is the sentence usually dished out to petty offenders. The article’s called Conservatives would put unemployed on community service, and begins

It used to be a punishment for low-level criminals, but now David Cameron has admitted a future Conservative government would force it on people who have been out of work for more than six months. Those aged 18-21 will have to go straight into this work.

What does that say about Cameron’s opinion of the unemployed?

Is he trying to make it seem like a criminal offence? Is he trying to make it a criminal offence to be young and out of work?

It’s all part of his ‘divide and conquer’ plan for the UK, one supposes – treat the unlucky as an underclass and make those who are fortunate enough to be in (well-paid) work thank their lucky stars.

Take note of that caveat about ‘well-paid’ work; part of this scheme to criminalise the unemployed is an intention to force more and more people into underpaid jobs without in-work benefits, in order to make more money for his rich donors (who of course will pass some of the benefit on to the Conservative Party). You know the kind – the zero-hours contracts that Labour plans to outlaw; part-time work, temporary work, minimum wage work that means people still have to claim benefits.

There’s also an intentional – but superficial – resemblance to Labour’s plan; the job guarantee.

Both would compel benefit claimants into work after six months, but after that, the Tory plan does not stand up well at all.

Mike then goes on to compare it to Labour’s plan to provide the young with compulsory, but paid employment.

I can’t say I’m happy with Labour’s plan. It’s too much like an improved version of workfare. That said, it is much better than what the Tories are offering, which is vicious, punitive and degrading. Pretty much like them.

The Criminalisation of Unemployment under the Tories and Elizabethans

As for the Tories’ policy effectively criminalising the unemployed young – I think that’s absolutely correct. It bears comparison with the Elizabethan poor laws of the 16th century, when the country was first having to grapple with the problem of unemployment caused by changes in the economy. These also notoriously criminalised poverty. Unemployment was seen very much as the fault of the unemployed themselves. They were seen not as victims of economic forces, but simply idle and lazy.

Moreover, in a nation that was still very feudal with a social order based on subservience to a landholding elite, the unemployed were considered to be a threat to order and authority. They were ‘masterless men’, outside the feudal and guild bonds that tied the peasant to the landlord and the apprentice to the master craftsmen. Simply by being unemployed, they were a threat to society and its order. They were also a source of fear because of the threat they posed as a drain on the primitive welfare provisions that were in place, such as the parish vestry and private alms. And then, of course, there was the additional fear of the dangers they also posed of robbery and theft.

It’s no accident that when workhouses first appear to accommodate the unemployed and teach them a trade under Edward VI, they were described as ‘houses of correction’. One of the first laws to tackle unemployment stipulated that an unemployed person could not legally turn down an offer of work made by a prospective employer, no matter what the conditions. If he did so, the employer was empowered to seize and enslave him. The law didn’t last long before it was removed, but it shows the panic and the punitive nature of the authorities at the perceived threat the unemployed pose.

The Tories and their cheerleaders in the right-wing press pretty much have exactly the same attitudes. Unemployment is a result of idleness and the character defects of unemployed and disabled themselves. It is not the product of the economy.

And the unemployed are a threat to society. They’re feeding off the earnings of the ‘hard-working’ taxpayer, and without work to discipline them are undoubtedly all criminals, committing theft, robbery and drugs. Thus, they all should be forced onto workfare.

Once upon a time, the same right-wing loudmouths used to prescribe national service as the solution for poorly educated, ill-disciplined, slovenly and potentially criminal young people. That seems to have gone by the board, as the Tories are trying to dismantle the regular army because it costs too much. More importantly, the voters tend to get upset when their sons, daughters and partners start coming back in body bags. It’s not good for national morale, and so the army is being reduced to what would have been called a militia back in Elizabeth’s time, and much of the fighting done by private military contractors. We’re still seeing our boys and girls come back in the body bags, though.