… no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.
I have always taken the use of the term “enslaved” in the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Federal Constitution to be figurative, given that slavery was formally abolished in England in 1833. But while reading yesterday’s Observer I was struck by the thought that perhaps we need to revisit the issue rather more literally.
Under the headline Coalition to step up its work-for-free programme Daniel Boffey and Toby Helm report that in the next fortnight Iain Duncan Smith is planning to launch an expansion of his mandatory work programme for long-term unemployed people. This plan is perhaps curious, given that there are signs that the current mandatory scheme is not delivering the expected outcomes. And this is occurring at a time when it appears that welfare to work more broadly is floundering in the face of the recession. Boffey and Helm report that:
Critics … claim the move is an indication of panic within government over the failure of ministers’ various schemes to tackle long-term unemployment, which is at its highest level for 16 years.
It wouldn’t surprise me if it was. Panic would seem a plausible – quite possibly understandable – reaction to the current situation. Continue Reading →