The Archbishop of Canterbury: right to be worried

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The Independent notes:

Plans to make the long-term unemployed do unpaid manual labour for their benefits could push vulnerable people into a "downward spiral of despair", the Archbishop of Canterbury warned yesterday.

In a forthright intervention into the debate on welfare, Rowan Williams said he had "a lot of worries" about the scheme, which will be formally unveiled this week by the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

His comments will irritate Coalition ministers – particularly the Tories, who remember their party's fractious relationship with the Church of England under Dr Williams' predecessor in the 1980s, Robert Runcie.

I commented on  the same proposals yesterday.

The Archbishop is right to be worried. The Conservatives are also right to be worried. The Church of England provided effective and appropriate opposition to its programmes to undermine society in the 1980s, and I sincerely hope that they will do so now that the Conservatives have returned to the attack, seeking to destroy all that is good about the communities in which we live.

I note some think that was is to be formally announced later this week is a simple PR stunt  and that few if any will be subject to the type of enforced labour  referred to in the weekend newspapers, no doubt with the active assistance of leaks from The Department for Work and Pensions. I am not so sure,and even if few will be involved, I remain profoundly concerned. Let's catalogue what is happening:

1. Because of cuts in housing benefit many unemployed people and people on low wages will be forced out of their homesand into low income ghettos;

2. Unemployment, currently supposedly standing at 1.4 million people, but with maybe 1,000,000 to be added to the total when cuts in disability benefit force those claiming that relief to seek work whether they are able to do it or not, and with at least 1.6 million people to be made redundant as a result of cuts in the state and private sectors resulting from the ConDems’ economic policies, will rise as a consequence to 4,000,000. In such an environment the number of new employment opportunities to be created by the private sector will fall. The number of long-term unemployed will, inevitably, rise.

3. Those long-term unemployed are to have their benefits cut, over and above cuts in their housing benefit. This will marginalise them in society . And, if as I predict, the deficit does not fall, largely because of increasing benefit payments, they will be made to bear the blame for this. This will increase the stigma attached to their position.

4. Having been forced into this invidious and marginalised position through no fault of their own the long-term unemployed will now be forced to work. As Jackie Ashley asked in the Guardian this morning:

What happens to someone, already feeling crushed and useless because they have been sacked, and then turned down, who does not want to spend 30 hours a week in front of the neighbours, scrubbing graffiti? Will they be watched by security guards, or made to wear identifiable uniforms?

The question is fair. How else will control the enforced? We can be sure that it will be the private sector we will be supervising these people, and at the same time will be undermining social services, employment opportunities that previously existed in the public sector whilst undermining opportunities to tender for this work from small private enterprises that might otherwise undertake it if enforced labour did not.

I believe this is a co-ordinated,and significant attempt to create a marginalised group in society on whom the deficit can be blamed. We all know that the blame for the deficit rests with bankers. The evidence is compelling, clear and undeniable.But they wish to maintain their position in society and this co-ordinated  policy by their friends in government to ensure that the blame can be shifted to the victims of the crash, rather than the perpetrators of the crash, is the type of social engineering that the right always engage in.

And in that case all decent people,from the Archbishop of Canterbury onwards, have a duty (I stress, a duty) to oppose what this government is doing because next they will come for you.