Following last week’s revelation that some of those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) were being forced to undertake work placements for no additional payment other than travel expenses, and the protests that caused, some of the employers concerned pulled out of the scheme. And the remaining employers are still being pressured by campaigners.
The scene was then set for the inevitable reaction, the full righteous rage of the right, and so it has proved. This actually kicked off on Saturday in the Maily Telegraph – rather than the Mail, the usual seat of this kind of explosion. The author of what was to become the template for the fightback was Janet Daley: “The Government should stand up to the rent-a-mob campaign against unpaid work experience” she stated.
This moderately wayward rant identified the villains of the piece: the deeply subversive Guardian (theirs was denounced as a “wrecking campaign”), the Socialist Workers’ Party, and of course the BBC. The Coalition was held to be merely a thing of benevolence, battling valiantly against the feared, er, Kirsty Wark, in a Newsnight edition that, it was asserted, was “shockingly biased”.
And with that, the scene was set for a rantfest to satisfy the most discerning connoisseur: the following afternoon brought “Tories order Police to halt workfare demos as MP makes formal protest to BBC over bias in favour of hard-left militants” in the Mail. Note the use of “hard-left”, a characterisation much beloved of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
Note, too, the “formal protest”, as opposed to “complaint”, by self-promoting Tory MP Priti Patel, occasionally representing the electorate of Witham, but more often Herself Personally Now. The “protest” was yet more of that self-promotion. But more pundits had to be sent over the top, and to his shame, occasional London Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was next at the Telegraph.
“The loony Left, out to destroy youngsters’ hopes of a job” asserted Bozza, on the day his fabled New Bus For London made a less than auspicious debut in service and broke down twice. “Most of them go into full time jobs” he further asserts, but that is not true, unsurprisingly for Johnson. Then the icing on the cake has come from Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips at the Mail.
“Jobs, welfare and how the BBC went in to battle for the Socialist Workers” thunders the title, as Mel smears the Back To Work campaign as some kind of SWP front. A “few far-Left thugs” have exposed employers’ “contemptible absence of spine”, the whole protest “vastly amplified by a combination of social media and the BBC”. The Guardian has exhibited “shameless and poisonous hypocrisy”.
And the poor are then depicted as “victims”. There’ll be more of this dross to come.