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Unemployment and Worklessness - Life Cycle of a Political Myth
Publication date: 2002-11-07

Now, in 2002, in Britain the government say that the "unemployed" are not taking up work which is available, and so they will send people to the "unemployed" peoples' houses to persuade them to take up work. They are re-branding "unemployment" as "worklessness". There is even some talk about "unemployment benefits" being withdrawn.

But what is "unemployment"?

Somewhere back in the 20th century, when Mrs Thatcher was still a little-known politician, and the Conservatives were as "unelectable" as they are today, and the Labour Party still believed in "public ownership", and the income tax was 92%, the Conservatives decided to "stage a comeback".

They hired a public relations agency to "put their message across", and one of the posters carried a message "Labour is not working". And the picture on the poster was a long "dole" queue.

The idea of the poster was: "Look, here we have a Labour government, who claim to be the party of the 'working class', and they have been in office for years, but unemployment is still with us. Vote for us and we shall 'put Britain back to work'".

At that time there still were in the Conservative party some real Conservatives, like Sir Keith Joseph, who understood, that the whole idea of "unemployment", that is, paying people because they do not want to find a way of making themselves useful, is wrong. So, they were against the idea of making the Socialist myth of "unemployment" part of the philosophy of the Conservative party. Sir Keith Joseph, who was then playing an active role in the Conservative leadership, was warning that acceptance of socialist myths will result in "socialist dwarfing of the individual". But his warnings were ignored.

As it happened the Conservatives won that election, and they attributed their electoral success to the "Labour is not working" poster. They did not understand that elections are never won, they are lost by the party in government. But their belief in the power of the posters was so strong that they continued to rely on posters in all their subsequent election campaigns, which did not prevent them from losing the last two elections and sliding back into unelectability.

Under the Conservatives "unemployment" did not disappear, it increased and became even more institutionalised. Almost in every news broadcast announcers were telling about "job losses" and "job creations". It was presumed that people were "worried about jobs", and politicians were seeking to use this "worry" to keep themselves in power.

Anybody, who had opportunity to observe people living on unemployment benefits at the time, knew that the real worry those people had was that they would be taken off the benefits and sent to work. In spite of all the talk by politicians and journalist about the "plight of the unemployed", the real-life unemployed saw their life on the "dole" as easy and carefree.

At that time I had opportunity to observe the life of the "unemployed" at a very close range. Here are some of the cases:

So the only reason all these people were "unemployed", was the existence of the unemployment benefits system. They all could have found ways of paying their own way, but they were kept on the welfare benefits at the taxpayers expense to justify a political myth for the benefit of the politicians.

People were telling the Conservative leadership at the time that the problem of "unemployment" could be solved by abolition of the unemployment benefits system. But it took some thirty years before the New Labour have come to see this as a solution to the problem of "unemployment".

So what about the conservative party?

The conservative party is a living proof, that the predictions of Sir Keith Joseph about "socialist dwarfing of the individual" were true. And the worst victims of this dwarfing are the conservatives themselves. But they never learn, they still believe that they can 'stage a come back' by pandering to the human deficiencies - some are chasing the "gay vote", others promising "services, services, services ...".


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