A Nation of Shelfstackers

By Tim Hardy

The Jesuit Ignatius of Loyola epitomised blind loyalty when he stated:

That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which appears to our eyes to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black.

The Conservatives unquestioning obedience to the authority and hierarchies of wealth gives rise to same anti-scientific thinking.

Yesterday while Cameron defended his policy of giving handouts to supermarkets by having tax payers cover their staffing costs, he was driven to claim that stacking shelves taught people as much as university.

Put a young person into college for a month’s learning, unpaid – and it’s hailed as a good thing.

Put a young person into a supermarket for a month’s learning, unpaid – and it’s slammed as slave labour.

David Cameron condemns rhetoric of anti-business snobbery

No wonder his party wrecked further education.

Today Redwood spoils a rather good rant about the behaviour of bailed-out banks by concluding that this proves socialism doesn’t work – because obviously the answer to a crisis caused by excessive deregulation of the financial industry is more deregulation.

Meanwhile, Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph claims that yet another scandal in private industry brought in to profit from state contracts proves that private industry is better than public.

In the Independent Victor Blank supports Cameron’s claim that business is a force for moral good – before sticking his hand out for more and demanding the state fund business “largesse” by giving the rich their donations back in the form of  tax incentives.

White is black. The more their ideology is shown to be false, the greater the devastation grows from the failures of free-market capitalism, the more these zealots insist that the answer is more free-market capitalism.

They demand state handouts for those that back them and more bail outs for the rich while trampling on the most vulnerable and calling them spongers.

They look to China and they salivate over the prospect of the profits they could make if only they could force people to work in Foxconn-style conditions over here.

They say “freedom” when they mean exploitation.

They say “red tape” when they mean the kind of laws that stop children being sent up chimneys.

The Conservatives have a devil’s dictionary which would have delighted Orwell in which those who inherited wealth or profit from monopolies or inequalities are “people who have done well.”

The Conservatives fundamentally do not believe in equality. As far as they are concerned, the poor should know their place and be grateful for the scraps that trickle down from their masters’ tables.

No matter how much the Liberal Democrats lie and scheme and whine, they are every bit as guilty as the Conservatives in this project to create a nation of shelfstackers.

Iain Duncan Smith sneers at X-Factor yet the coalition vision of life is X-Factor: a rigged system in which a tiny few get all the rewards and the rest get nothing but futile dreams to distract themselves from their despair and to keep them from rioting.

One thought on “A Nation of Shelfstackers

  1. Cameron’s remarks about the comparison between education and “work experience” actually highlight one of the obvious flaws Workfare.

    The national minimum wage drops from £6.08 down to £2.60 if you’re an apprentice in your first year. This is the “approved” model for reducing pay but compensating with tangible experience. Obviously part of the low pay is to encourage employers to take apprentices on, but the justification for dropping the minimum wage in those cases is that the employees come away with the same amount of value, if less money.

    In exchange for working for less money, you enter into a structured learning process which helps you work towards NVQ/BTEC/other qualifications, which materially affect your employability in your chosen sector.

    Having established that a minimum of £2.60 plus relevant experience that leads to accredited qualifications seems about fair (or at least doesn’t meet with protest), how then is it possible to justify Workfare at £2.25 per hour, whose only tangible output is the opportunity to add a line about willingness to undertake menial labour to your CV?

    Are they suggesting that Workfare gives you more experience than an apprenticeship? After all, they pay less money, so presumably this is topped up by a really good grounding in stacking shelves..?

    With apprenticeships, they already have a working model for substituting genuine transferable experience for pay. Workfare, by comparison, just doesn’t add up..

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