EX-ARMY officer Duncan Smith, the Coalition’s Work and Pensions Secretary, yesterday announced a Universal Credit to replace all benefits, and also a ‘claimants contract’ for the unemployed. The ‘contract’ will allow the state to remove benefit for up to three years if a person refuses a job offer or a ‘community placement’ post, doing the job of a redundant council worker, for no pay.
Universal Credit will see the lame and the sick, and those who were on housing benefit, first of all having to prove that they deserve the new ‘credit’.
To make the massive multi-billion pound cuts required by crisis ridden capitalism and the Tory-LibDem coalition, millions will be denied the new credit. They will be told that however sick they are, they are fit for some type of work, or that their house is too expensive and inappropriate for their class, and that they will just have to find cheaper accommodation.
The sick and the disabled will be forced to become very cheap labour, (especially since the coalition has decided to close scores of Remploy factories for the disabled), while the homeless poor will establish themselves in tent cities, as has happened in the US, from where Duncan Smith draws his inspiration.
Smith calls the above barbarism, ‘Bringing Welfare into the 21st Century.’
In fact, he means by this the destruction of the Welfare State, which the ruling class has always opposed, and driving back the working class a century, so that British capitalism can become one gigantic workhouse.
With over 500,000 council workers and some 600,000 private sector workers due to lose their jobs in the period ahead, making for heavier unemployment than the 1930s, Smith attempts to cover up his barbaric policy for slashing benefits by stating that refusing to work is a ‘sin’, and the unemployed are doing just that.
At a time when jobs are going by the million, he has declared his mission to be ‘disciplining’ the unemployed, by forcing them back into the ‘work habit’, and by refusing them benefit for three years, starving them and their families, if they will not become slave labourers. His mission is to undermine the trade unions!
His fervour for disciplining the sinful unemployed, by forcing them into any kind of work, both low paid and no paid, brings back a special historical trait of the British bourgeoisie.
His campaign is being conducted with the same fervour that saw the poor persecuted in the 16th and 17th centuries when the landed bourgeoisie enclosed the common lands, and a third of the population were turned into vagrants, roaming the countryside, where they were beaten and bludgeoned, branded or had their ears and noses docked, by the ‘god-fearing’ bourgeoisie.
Duncan Smith, the ex-military disciplinarian, is in that tradition. He regards the poor as sinners, made up of sturdy rogues who refuse to work for the same amount of pay as Eastern European migrants get, and who will have to be taught a very severe lesson if they ‘don’t play ball’, and learn to become slave labourers.
However, the coalition will not break the spirit of the working class, the unemployed, the youth or even the sick and disabled.
Their ‘Big Society’ drive to turn the UK into a giant workhouse, with the working class trembling in their presence, will be met with a massive revolutionary response, which the trade unions must lead, since it is the trade unions that the coalition is out to weaken and destroy by the use of unpaid labourers.
The trade unions must reject this bonfire of the benefits. They must bring the coalition down with a general strike and bring in a workers government and socialism, putting an end to capitalism, and providing jobs for all.