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Paul T Horgan: Labour cares about jobs but not about the work that creates our wealth


Labour stands for jobs.  The Conservatives stand for work.  Jobs?  Work?  Surely they are two sides of the same coin.  They are in fact absolutely different and explain why Labour ruins economies and the Conservatives fix them.  It also explains why the state sector is such a mess and why an incoming socialist government would cause further chaos and suffering among the most vulnerable people in our country.

Consider Labour’s offer on youth employment, entitled the ‘Compulsory Jobs Guarantee’.  This English Socialist policy is Orwellian in its wording.  It has the stick of the ‘compulsory job’.  But it also has the carrot of a ‘job guarantee’.  But a guaranteed job is not one that you should be compelled to take up.  Something that is guaranteed does not include a measure of compulsion.  Labour have, in this policy, created an exercise in doublethink.

According to Labour, employers will ‘bid’ for the funds to pay for these compulsory jobs.  The incentive of a private-sector employer to do so is not made clear.  Perhaps the bidders will be Labour local authorities or the NHS who want another way to procure taxpayers’ cash.  The jobs themselves will be part-time and will pay the holders just the minimum wage.  For the rest of the time, these forced labourers will be required to perform ‘intensive job-search activity’.  They are thus simultaneously pulled in two directions, working at a job and trying to leave it at the same time.

The jobs will apparently involve a degree of training, the type and quality of which seems to be at the discretion of the employer, who will have to find resources for people who will take this training and then walk out, leaving no return on investment.  It will all be paid for by taxing the bonuses of employees in the banking sector, whom Labour assume will sit by and let their bonuses be taxed.

The target of all this mandatory generosity will be those school- or college-leavers who have been on the dole for more than six months.  The coercive element is that if a person refuses to take up the job, he will lose his benefits.  This has to be a win-win for Labour.  If someone is in a compulsory job, he will be off the jobless statistics, but the refuseniks will also be gone.  So, in the end, the policy automatically achieves its aim of reducing an important statistic irrespective of real outcome.  What it does not do is to reduce genuine long-term joblessness.  The policy is a fiddle to save on dole money.

Consider also the young people targeted by this policy.  According to the latest government statistics:

“743,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in November to January 2015, down 12,000 on the previous quarter and down 181,000 on the previous year.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24-year-olds was 16.2 per cent.”

It is many decades since I attended a ‘bog-standard comprehensive’ in Dagenham.  There were about 1,200 pupils in all and classes were streamed according to ability.  Those who were unwilling to be educated were apparent by their eagerness to disrupt the education of others as well as their own.  They knew they would walk out of the school gates for the last time and be able to walk straight into a job at Ford’s or some related industry where their education simply was not necessary.  I can well imagine about a sixth of every year-group being unemployable in a modern knowledge- and service-based economy, where unskilled jobs for the illiterate, innumerate, indolent or plain defiant have been exported, advertised only to EU nationals or are the preserve of flexible-hours contracts.

This does assume that the jobless rate is evenly spread across the country.  There may be areas where the rate is higher.  But then we did have thirteen years of Labour Government to address this and its big ideas seem to have been to bloat the state sector and trash the banks, instead of encouraging private-sector growth in areas in which it does not always flourish.  Labour had its chance and it blew it.

The people Labour are targeting have been through at least thirteen years of full-time education and at the end of it do not have the skills that the other 83.8 per cent of their contemporaries have to convince an employer to hire them.  Some of the responsibility for this has to fall on the youths themselves, the courses they chose and their diligence.  The quality of teaching may be a factor.

The paradigm shift from Ford scooping up every willing school-leaver to it having closed down its last car production line  in Dagenham concluded over a decade ago.  Pupils simply have to be more job-aware at school and study accordingly.  And behave in class.  Teachers should teach properly.  Labour disagrees.  People are not to blame for their actions, they believe.  Schools are not responsible when their young charges end up unemployable.  A work ethic is not something that can be taught, apparently.

Labour believes that creating jobs is the be-all and end-all of employment policy because they persistently refuse to accept that the work that is performed is more important.  It is work, not the number of jobs, that adds value, creates wealth and generates profits.

Labour sees profit as evil and its attack on bank bonuses is a symptom of this.  A refusal to  understand the function of work to create wealth by adding value means that jobs become an end in themselves, especially if profitable parts of the economy can be raided to pay for the extra jobs.  Labour does not believe that people should receive additional reward if their employer prospers as a result of their work.  An ideal socialist workplace would be one where all profits are paid to the workforce as wages.  Investment would receive no return and it would be impossible to assess business risk.  When there is a need to modernise, there would be no money for it as all capital would be used to pay for production. In the end the money would run out.  The USSR discovered this in the late 1980s.  Labour has not learnt the lesson.

This also explains why Labour allowed health workers to neglect vulnerable patients to death and social workers to turn a blind eye to rape gangs targeting teenage girls under their care for years on end.  The jobs of these criminally-negligent employees were completely secure regardless of the work performed.   Labour and the unions cannot, according to their socialist ideology, have a worker dismissed when they catastrophically under-perform.

A job, according to a socialist, is more important then the actual work that is done.  It is an end in itself, regardless of outcome.  This is why socialism drives down standards in the name of equality so that the worst-performing worker is protected from dismissal.  Higher performance cannot be rewarded as this would be discriminatory against lower-performers and so standards have to be forced downwards and everyone has to work to the same level.  It is no wonder that workplace morale is always lower under socialism.  No-one is allowed to strive to be exceptional.  No-one can achieve and receive genuine reward for that achievement.

Conservatives understand work and the creation of wealth as a virtue.  Apprenticeships are helping rebalance the economy away from services by providing skills that add value and create wealth in a manufacturing sector deliberately neglected by Labour.   Retreating to their power-base of the state sector, Labour let manufacturing industry wither because they could no longer control as it did did in under Callaghan and Wilson.  The Labour party thinks this way because if it did not, it would not be Labour.

Labour’s jobs-before-work mindset explains why the nationalised industries of the 1970s were doomed to fail.  Any extra investment was at the mercy of powerful socialist unions to pay more wages or create more jobs, even when the jobs were not needed.  Productivity shrank and finished products became uncompetitive as the cash to improve them had been misdirected.  Labour policy gave this country a Morris Marina-style industry when we deserved to be the Toyota Corolla of the world.  Given the chance, Labour will do so again.

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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