I think this paragraph in the Guardian this morning is quite extraordinary:
George Osborne will continue the government's push to reduce welfare spending by announcing a nationwide scheme on Monday to force 200,000 long-term unemployed benefit claimants to either undertake community work, attend a jobcentre every day or go on a full-time intensive programme to tackle the underlying reasons for their failure to find work.
I added the emphasis. Ignore for a moment the absurdity of the plan to make the unemployed undertake community work: I hope the national minimum wage will apply. And ignore the absurdity of enforced jobcentre attendance. Jonathan Portes has dealt with that. Just look at that bit I emphasised.
The unemployed are being asked to explain their reason for failing to find work. Hasn't it occurred to Osborne that this may be that there is no work? That 2.5 million people aren't all wrong? And that it's not their job to create the work; it's his?
I would love to say I'm staggered that the Guardian can publish this and yet it also shows how far things have descended that such reports can apparently be issued without much comment. It's as if the world does assume that the unemployed are indeed not working by choice - as neoclassical economists assume to be the case.
Reclaiming this narrative now is vital. Overdue and vital, I might add.
And in the meantime people will suffer. We know that: IDS is seeking to make sure they do.