- Support for the unemployed and those who cannot work due to ill health or disability is being drastically slashed, thus making the prospect of unemployment a terrifying one.
- A rise in zero hour contracts and below inflation pay rises makes work for the majority a less and less profitable proposition.
- Personal debt increases due to low pay and the constant marketing onslaught which is the lifeblood of an economy based on the endless consumption of mass produced ephemera.
Those three factors alone would make it likely that people in precarious employment, who have amassed an amount of personal debt will accept any pay and conditions. If you have a workforce who is prepared to accept a substantial degradation of their situation as long as they can retain some kind of employment it should not be surprising when companies get away with what they can.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to get a job in the NHS and after 12 years I am in a position I would have not thought possible when I started. I put 75% of this good fortune down to the fact that I have white skin, a penis, straight teeth and good posture. I’ll lob middle class in there as well. Turning up more often than not turning up is worth another 10%, leaving me with about 15% that I can claim to be somehow down to my good judgement and competency.
There have been some shit jobs too and it was only because of working tax credits and housing benefits that I could afford to eat properly, pay my bills and buy shoes. I lived in Swansea at the time and you needed to make sure your shoes did not have holes in them from September to May because it would not stop raining and trench foot is not a good look. If I was in the same position under the current government I can imagine how life would be and it would not be pretty or very long. It isn’t hyperbole to say this either; you would need to have your head buried fairly deep to ignore the steadily rising tide of suicide. The Samaritans 2015 report, which contains data up to 2013, states that the male suicide rate is at its highest since 2001 with 19 per 100,000 men killing themselves. Given the intervening years I would be disinclined to suppose that this trend has changed substantially. Here’s a link to the report:
And the report from the Office for National Statistics is here:
The Prime Minister’s Questions session on the 27th of January saw our mighty leader David Cameron refer to the people living in abject misery in the camp in Calais, who have fled vicious and relentless violence in their own countries, as “a bunch of migrants.” This does not stand out as particularly unusual language for him, his party members and the sort of person who votes Conservative but it is disgusting all the same. Cameron seems to have a very particular view of anyone unfortunate enough not to be pleased with the general debasement of humanity and I don’t think it is entirely positive. Again, if you were a cynical sort you might suppose that he thinks you’re only really human if you’ve got a couple of million in the bank, drink the blood of virgins and sacrifice kittens to Cthulhu.
I had the good fortune to find myself sat at a table somewhere in the Midlands before Christmas. I learned that someone had a husband who wanted to be a Tory MP and wanted to bring back hanging. This wasn’t some retired Captain of Industry or Wing Commander, but a young man. Two things struck me as unusual:
A. That anyone would admit to being a Conservative.
B. That anyone would marry someone who admitted to being a Conservative.
The fact that he wanted to bring back hanging seemed to go without saying and did not really surprise me. I imagine that this reveals some deep seated prejudice I have against white middle class men who want to protect their privileged position and are happy to let the rest of the world burn. I really must work on that. The other thing that was surprising was that no one else around the table expressed any particular emotion either, if anything some seemed to think it a rather good idea. I’m not sure if the “it” they thought was a good idea was becoming a Tory MP or bringing back hanging or if they even separated the two.
On my way home I pondered the fact that back in Liverpool the chances of repeating this experience were extremely low. Does this mean that the people of Liverpool are somehow morally superior? I don’t think it does, you can hear some equally unpleasant notions being aired round this way. Rather, it shows just how thoroughly the Conservatives have shat on Liverpool over the years. This fact yields a glimmer of hope, but only a glimmer; if people really have to be covered in Tory shit, utterly immersed in the stuff, before they vote for someone else, surely that point will be passed in the next four years, unless by then they have convinced enough people that it could be worse, which is not impossible. If you demoralise and disenfranchise enough of the population, beat the will to resist out of them, then if any of them vote at all they will still be outnumbered by the minority of people you have favoured with your largesse. That’s how they won the last one, if not completely then certainly in part.
Some of the points raised in this essay are set to music in the following song by popular electro-rock beat combo Mashemon. Here’s a link to their song Great Job, which will be part of an EP to be released once I’ve done pulled my finger out and finished the last song. You’re welcome.