Unsurprisingly, The “Disparate Impact” Test Reveals That Brexit (And Everything Else) Is Sexist

Brexit - gender equality - womens rights - identity politics - EU - European Union

Leftists to women: “Don’t you worry your pretty little minds with complicated talk about geopolitics, democracy or the long-term national interest – just think about Brexit in terms of whether you stand to gain or lose government benefits and entitlements”

It must have seemed like a godsend to whichever scheming left-winger first thought it up – the notion that any proposed government policy should be analysed primarily according to its impact on different identity groups, with any disproportionate impact expected to be felt by minority or designated victim groups providing concrete “proof” that said policy is inherently racist, sexist or otherwise deliberately prejudiced and therefore political Kryptonite.

Here, suddenly, was a super-weapon which could be deployed effectively against almost any policy originating from the right-of-center, and an argument structure which could be adapted and endlessly recycled by lacklustre, uninspired left-wing politicians and activists who would otherwise struggle to string a coherent sentence together on television.

Why does it work so well? Because since right-of-center policies often involve reducing or re-targeting government programs (or encouraging their future provision through the private or nonprofit sectors rather than directly through the state) and since the Left ostentatiously claims to work and speak for the recipients of many of these services, leftist politicians have been able to insinuate that innumerable conservative policies were not conceived in the national interest but rather out of a burning desire to hurt certain vulnerable communities.

Since women and certain ethnic minority groups are disproportionate consumers of certain government services and benefits, virtually any policy which rolls back government spending in these areas can be condemned not only as misguided or callous but as inherently racist, sexist and discriminatory. And the policy’s proponents, in turn, go from being wrong on a matter of policy to inherently evil. Couple this with a left-wing media which is only too happy to take up the clarion call of discrimination without putting too much actual thought or analysis into the matter and you have effectively built an automatic, reflexive Conservative Policy Smearing Machine.

One need only put the conservative policy du jour in the machine’s slot, crank the handle (sometimes multiple rotations are needed depending on the number of degrees of separation between the policy and being able to suggest a favoured minority getting less stuff from the government) and out flies a prefabricated furious press release, a viral social media campaign and an eager up-and-coming left-wing politician to make their name fighting for justice and equality.

And so it was inevitable that leftists, once their initial shock at the EU referendum result had subsided, would seek to crank up their trusty Conservative Policy Smearing Machine and aim it square at the heart of Brexit. This blog has previously highlighted one such effort being promoted by EU idolatry magazine The New European, in which the author declared:

Let’s get one thing straight. This self indulgent pratting about over Brexit will be stopped. But not by MPs kowtowing to party whips in rapture to the latest autocratic executive power grab. And not because media silence blanks out the protests of citizens, but by women kicking off.

Let’s face it. Brexit is essentially sexist. Those spitting out their dummies need a good slap as my gran would have said, and she would have been only pleased administer. She’d have probably denied them sweets, treats and pocket money until they came to their senses too. Her view would be behave like brats, and get treated accordingly.

The chain of “logic” here is that because Brexit (or specifically a mishandled Brexit resulting in economic damage, not the concept of Brexit itself, though it is not in the author’s interest to acknowledge this nuance) may have negative economic consequences, this will result in a recession, which will result in lower government tax revenues, which would mean that the government would have no choice but to cut spending (though the Left also love to argue for stimulus spending, not cuts, during economic downturns) which would then disproportionately impact women, since women are more likely to claim tax credits or various other taxpayer-funded benefits.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this chain of illogic is rather too long and twisted for the conclusion to justify the premise, being more akin to the Underpants Gnomes from the satirical TV cartoon South Park (in which little creatures busily steal underpants from the town’s inhabitants, feverishly working to the formula Underpants + ? = Profit, with the question mark never being identified). And you would be right. But for Continuity Remainers and leftist defenders of the European Union, any embarrassment at drawing such a tenuous connection is outweighed by the opportunity to smear Brexit as being not only misguided but motivated by a callous desire to hurt women. No matter how implausible, if a line can be drawn linking Brexit to misogyny or racism then that line will be drawn, personal dignity and intellectual integrity be damned.

And now, charging into the debate, we have the London School of Economics’ execrable Brexit blog, an embarrassment to academia which exists primarily as a platform to cast as many aspersions against Brexit as possible without ever once seriously engaging with democratic or constitutional criticisms of the EU.

In a new essay by Julie MacLeavy of the University of Bristol for the LSE Brexit Blog, it is suggested that the goal of gender equality is “adrift in the Brexit backwash”. Good luck trying to decode the following identity politics word soup:

With European legislation and regulation on gender equality framed as inhibiting economic growth, the post-Brexit environment is likely to see the simultaneous intensification and erosion of gender. Should the UK government deregulation fail to enact sufficient legal protection to compensate for the removal of EU laws, directives and charters, the prior neoliberal tendencies of individualisation and the transfer of reproductive responsibilities towards the feminised spaces of communities and families – renewed in part through the implementation of austerity measures in recent years – will no longer be restricted by the promotion and implementation of gender equality policies.

At the same time, deregulation and the reprivatisation of social reproduction are likely to affect not just women, but a number of feminised individuals upon whom the burden of additional care work falls. The dimensions of class, race and ethnicity mean that any change in the gender regime will affect constituted groups differently. In this sense, Brexit indicates the significant intensification of the practices that reflect and reproduce gendered labour and economic inequality.

Making the case for Europe’s democratic values and its commitment to social justice will depend on both the popularisation of a feminist campaign in which gender equality as a main goal is rendered legitimate, as well as the incorporation of a feminist ethic within the auspices of the state. This latter task is becoming increasingly difficult given the support expressed for the repatriation of European powers by previously pro-European factions.

Left Foot Forward has also been promoting the same infantilising line of argument.

MacLeavy’s line of argument is distasteful more for its haughty contempt for democracy rather than its condescending view of women and minorities. The entire operating assumption of the article and the academic “thinking” behind it is that because Britain is a terribly backward and barbaric place, crucial and fundamental human rights have to be imposed on us by a higher, outside authority (in this case, the EU).

Since nasty, backward British voters cannot be trusted to believe in or vote for the right things, we need human rights imposed on us at a European level, so that present and future UK governments could not dial back certain rights or entitlements even if they wanted to. This is predicated on the belief that democracy, popular will, should not trump everything, which is actually a perfectly reasonable position – any good constitution should have checks and balances built in to it in order to prevent the passion of the moment finding its way onto the statute books without due discussion, diligence and consideration of the rights of dissenting minorities.

But the academic Left’s naive approach assumes that the EU will always be a force for the kind of socially progressive agenda that its academics seek to champion. By defending a structure which permanently paints the UK as the authoritarian bad guy and the EU as the right-dispensing good guys, it provides no defence in the event that the EU flips and takes a less expansive view of human rights than is currently the case. And this is more than a theoretical, irrelevant supposition – with the rise of populists and authoritarians throughout Europe, a time may eventually come when some decidedly illiberal policies flow down from Brussels. And what defence would Britain then have, given that the Left trust European voters and politicians over British people to be the final arbiter of rights and freedoms in the UK?

Thus, at best this “resist Brexit to preserve women’s rights” movement is guilty of exceptionally short-term, two-dimensional, narrow thinking in which the policy thought most likely to guarantee certain rights and entitlements today is mistakenly held as the optimal policy for the longer-term, and at worst it is as contemptuous of women as it is of democracy itself.

In truth, women should be insulted by this definition of sexism based on disparate impact, by the suggestion that women are helpless supplicants without agency or power, whose lives and livelihoods are dependent on government largesse. Self-respecting women should reject the condescending notion that their worth or societal footprint is somehow bound up in how many taxpayer resources they consume, and that they are effectively “gender traitors” if they allow their constitutional and democratic arguments for Brexit to overrule the grasping desire to secure government entitlements in perpetuity.

Is anyone else getting tired of the intellectually dishonest, emotionally manipulative “disparate impact” political test to determine the presence of sexism or racism? No policy or political decision will ever affect all identity groups equally, but this fact does not make them all inherently discriminatory. That much can only be determined by considering the intent of the policy – is there or is there not reasonable cause to believe that a particular policy was proposed or implemented with intent to disproportionately impact a specific demographic group for no reason other than an innate physical trait shared by that group?

Under this far more reasonable test for discrimination, the idea that Brexit is somehow sexist rightly appears absurd – one may just as well declare that going to war is sexist and deliberately antagonistic toward women because it would redirect taxpayer resources from welfare to the military, even though men would be doing the lion’s share of the fighting and dying. Brexit, like going to war, is based on a foundation of interweaving ideas and aspirations far wider and more complex than a desire to roll back societal progress toward gender equality. It encompasses arguments about governance, democracy, trade and regulation, almost none of which are even tangentially linked to the relative status of men and women. Even so far as Brexit can be conceived as a desire to roll back employment and other regulations, the idea that the goal of such rollbacks is to harm women because they are women is utterly ridiculous.

If politicians, activists or academics came to me and told me that as a mixed-race man raised in a single-parent family I would be disproportionately impacted by Brexit and should therefore abandon my existing views on the European Union in order to vote in accordance with someone else’s interpretation of my best interests, I would tell that person to take a hike, and none too politely.

As a country, isn’t it time we shut down this growing cottage industry of left-wing wannabe heroes whose loudly stated conception of what is best for minorities always conveniently gels with their pre-existing leftist, Utopian worldview? Isn’t it long past time that the entire country told these unwanted saviors to mind their own business?

 

Remainer paints EU flag on her face - European Union - Brexit

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An NHS For Housing And Food – What Fresh Hell Is This?

Free school meals

With all the political momentum behind them and the Conservative government in chaos, even more moderate leftists are now pushing for a radical expansion of the size and role of the state

Fresh from advocating for a 100 percent inheritance tax, Guardian columnist Abi Wilkinson takes her desire for all of us to be vassals of the state to the next level by calling for a National Housing Service and National Food Service to rival the wonder that is the NHS. No, seriously.

Wilkinson is responding to a new report published by UCL’s Institute for Global Prosperity, which calls for an ever-expanding range of “universal basic services” to be provided free of charge to all British citizens.

From the report’s summary:

The UK should provide citizens with free housing, food, transport and IT to counter the threat  of worsening inequality and job insecurity posed by technological advances, a report launched by the Insitute for Global Prosperity recommends.

The proposal for ‘Universal Basic Services’ represents an affordable alternative to a so-called ‘citizens’ income’ advocated by some economists, according to the expert authors working for UCL’s Institute for Global Prosperity.

Building on the ethos that saw the establishment of the NHS and public education – that essential services should be free at the point of need – the plan would “raise the floor” of basic services all citizens can expect, providing better protection for workers in the face of rapid advances in technology and automation.

As always, the report’s sponsors and cheerleaders make heavy use of emotional manipulation to press policy solutions which make people feel good and altruistic at the time, but which ultimately do more harm than good as they act as a dead weight on the economy. Andrew Percy, “citizen sponsor” for the report, predictably puts a rather more positive and moral spin on it:

It cannot be sufficient to excuse hungry school children or an uncared-for elderly population with a notion of ‘unaffordability’ in a society that is as rich as any that has ever existed.

Because let’s not blame irresponsible parents for having children they can’t afford or selfish adults for having no interest in caring for their elderly relatives, both groups not just being willing to palm these responsibilities off on the state but expectant of doing so. Let’s not assume that any of these problems require even the slightest change in the way that we ourselves behave. No, let’s just scream about human suffering and point angrily toward the government, demanding a solution.

Cynically using the Grenfell Tower tragedy as a convenient emotional launchpad to push her leftist Utopian vision, Wilkinson picks up the banner and writes:

The horror of Grenfell Tower has also given impetus to those who wish to see a more communal politics. Though a public inquiry into the tragedy is in progress, leftwingers have long argued that programmes for poor people are poor programmes. That is to say, when fewer people are dependent on a service – and when they’re among the most marginalised, disempowered and ignored members of society – there’s a higher chance that standards will fall.

If a larger proportion of people lived in social housing, this sort of treatment would be impossible. Politicians can only neglect a certain percentage of the population without facing consequences: mess with too many of us, and we’ll vote you out. In essence, this is the basic argument for universality. It’s one that even many left-of-centre politicians seem to have forgotten in recent decades. The higher the number of people who have a stake, the better resourced, monitored and defended a public service will be.

Interesting. Abi Wilkinson seems to have forgotten the more important and proven lesson from history – that when everybody is dependent on a service (as in every Communist state yet attempted) standards do not just fall, they crash through the floor, except for those well-connected apparatchiks who are given unofficial permission to bypass state provision and get what they want or need on the black market.

At first glance, Wilkinson’s argument may make sense to many people – because  many of us do not have an immediate, direct stake in social housing or welfare payments, we are naturally less concerned with the service offered to those who are. But even this is not entirely accurate, since the majority of Brits are now net beneficiaries from the state rather than contributors to it. And this is reflected in the dismal Politics of Me Me Me which has utterly taken over, our selfish badgering at every general election not about what we can do for the country, but what the country can do for us.

In other words, half of the population effectively consider themselves (or are considered by government agencies) to be among “the most marginalised, disempowered and ignored members of society”, or at least among the most entitled members of society, and still this has not generated sufficient political pressure to force the socialist gold-plating of these services. But then clearly this is why Abi Wilkinson is pushing for more. Her New Jerusalem can only be achieved when literally everybody relies on the state for housing, food, healthcare, transport, education and probably cultural and leisure services too, for good measure.

And this is precisely what she then calls for:

As the neoliberal order of the past several decades enters its death throes, we should take the opportunity to reconsider our conception of universal rights. Healthcare and under-18 education we already agree on. In a changing economy with a growing need for highly skilled workers, why not university education as well? What about state-provided universal basic services, which is what leading economists and social scientists at UCL propose as a practical, affordable and morally justified response to growing poverty and inequality?

The left has spent years focusing primarily on opposition: resistance to spending cuts, punitive welfare changes and the erosion of employment rights. Now, with Labour tantalisingly close to power, we have, at last, a chance to imagine something better.

Except it’s not better at all. What she proposes has been tried, tested and failed every single time it was implemented. There is already a steady ratchet towards greater state provision underway, both fuelled by and fuelling public clamour for the same. People now expect to be able to procreate and have the state cover the cost of raising their children, and to even question this absurdity is to find oneself excommunicated from polite society. People expect schools to feed their children, and act as though schools expecting parents to provide meals for their own kids is somehow a mark of barbarity.

After a brief retrenchment, more and more people once again are clamouring for the state to be landlord to everybody, and the weak, pathetic incumbent Conservative government is actively cooking up plans to build more council homes while doing almost nothing to increase private provision. At every turn, people look first to the government to solve their problems, and with some justification – they have been falsely led to believe that this is normal and moral their entire adult lives.

Leaving aside universal basic income (for which there may arguably one day be a case if current trends toward automation continue on their present trajectory) the idea of universal state provision of individual services like housing, food, endless tertiary education and more besides is corrosive to the human spirit, as is the idea that it should automatically be the compelled responsibility of productive individuals to pay for the bad choices of another person. A basic welfare safety net is absolutely required, particularly at the present time, when civic society is so eroded after years living under a system where government comes to be seen as an auxiliary parent. But we must recognise the ratchet effect for what it is – increasing state provision leads to decreased personal initiative and increased demand in an endless, self-fulfilling cycle.

And where would it end? Today, food, housing and internet access are seen as essentials for which no human being or head of household should have any responsibility for providing for themselves. Presumably, then, every new invention from here onwards will quickly be decreed by the Left to be so vital to wellbeing and participation in society that it requires nationalisation and state provision to an ever-expanding pool of “vulnerable” people. Where does it end? And what happens when the innovators and high-income people who fund the wretched Ponzi scheme leave Britain in disgust?

The irony of such wicked proposals emanating from an organisation calling itself the Institute for Global Prosperity is almost too much to bear. How does the IGP think that prosperity is generated in the first place? Which is the economic system which has lifted more people out of poverty and want than any other, and which is the system which always begins in a blaze of idealistic optimism and ends with round-the-block queues for government bread?

But this is why it is essential that conservatives wake up, stop their petty infighting over personalities and develop an alternative policy programme to address the issues tackled in the IGP report. At present, the socialists are the only one with ideas and the political courage to speak them out loud. And at a time when dissatisfaction with the status quo is high and populist policies quickly gain traction, these ideas could end up being implemented by a Corbyn government sooner than many people think possible.

Carefully cultivating their reputation as the wooden, uncharismatic, technocratic comptrollers of public services, as the Tories seem determined to cast themselves (witness Theresa May’s most recent awful performance at Prime Minister’s Questions this week), is now a recipe for political suicide. Indeed at this point, given the uselessness of the present Tory party, it may already be inevitable that the political pendulum swings toward the Corbynite Left no matter what is done now. But thinking conservatives of vision and courage need to be ready to step in with an alternative as soon as the opportunity presents itself, whether it be a successful U-turn while still in government or a quick bounce back from Opposition.

And unlike the Left’s beguiling promises of an easy life stripped of any personal responsibility, this new conservative vision must inspire humans at our hardworking, civic-minded best rather than pandering to us at our grasping, self-entitled worst.

 

UCL - Institute for Global Prosperity - Universal Basic Services report

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The Tories Are Fighting A War Against State Dependency, Not The Disabled

ATOS Kills - Birmingham Against The Cuts - DWP - Welfare Reform

Opposition to the Conservative government’s welfare reforms are high on hyperbole and outrage, but tellingly low on alternative proposals

To listen to many voices on the Left is to be told that we live in a uniquely heartless and uncaring age, where living standards are being deliberately driven to unprecedented lows by the deliberate actions of a government which is not just wrong, but actually evil.

Here’s Laurie Penny in the New Statesman, pouring scorn on the very thought of verifying that claims for sickness and disability benefit are genuine:

I should say “fitness tests”, because nobody gets to be sick any longer under Iain Duncan Smith (so good at rebranding ideological cuts that they named him twice, once for each face). Navigating this system is humiliating enough for disabled people without them being lied to every step of the way. If the DWP would just come out and say that it doesn’t believe the state should help people who are ill, disabled or injured, it would somehow be more bearable. At least people would know where it stood. But the stated aim of the welfare changes is to “get people working”, because: “Work is the best route out of poverty.”

And here’s the Green Party’s Jonathan Bartley, churning out the latest conventional left-wing thinking over at Left Foot Forward:

For IDS it is now clear that disability is not something to be embraced, let alone celebrated as part of the diversity which makes us all stronger. Disability is an aberration. It is a problem which needs to be fixed.

And if those who are different get the right therapy, or where necessary they are sanctioned, they can be pushed into the workplace to become like ‘normal’ people.

Left-wing opposition to Tory welfare reforms has now become so reflexive and so unthinking that encouraging people to work and be economically self sufficient – with all the freedom that it brings – is now actively seen as a bad thing.

Britain is now such a “diverse” country that it apparently contains a large bloc of people for whom any kind of work is permanently impossible to contemplate, and for whom any attempt to help or encourage them away from dependence on benefits (thus protecting them from vulnerability to future policy and benefit changes) is seen as an unconscionable assault on their “human rights”.

This is dangerous, hyperbolic nonsense.

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Meet Britain’s Compassionate, Homicidal Welfare System

Benefits Street - Welfare Trap - Britain

 

If you are even moderately well-off and suddenly fall on hard times, Britain’s universal welfare system isn’t like landing in a safety net – it’s more like smacking into a concrete floor from a fifty-foot drop.

 

People generally talk about the British welfare state as some kind of benign presence, maybe in need of a tweak here or there but basically something of which we can be justifiably proud – Britain’s post-war gift to humanity.

This story makes us feel good, so naturally most of us swallow it unquestioningly, nodding along when the NHS is worshipped in a theatrical Mass during the London Olympic Games opening ceremony, or when Just Another Identikit Politician drones on about the importance of “triple-locking” pensioner benefits.

Sadly, it’s all nonsense. The universal welfare state and its organising principle of non-contributory benefits has proven to be one of the greatest self-inflicted evils we have ever wrought in this country, a vast conveyor belt of human misery leading to an incessant grinding machine in which the lives and dreams of countless thousands of our fellow citizens are destroyed each year, while nearly everyone turns and looks the other way.

Usually it’s good when government does not discriminate. Justice, for example, should certainly be blind, as the old saying goes. But when it comes to social security, we choose to regard our welfare system as a “safety net”. Yet any fisherman knows that different nets are needed for different environments, and likewise a one-size-fits-all safety net for citizens experiencing unemployment or hard times simply won’t catch everybody. Some will slip through entirely and crash to the ground, while others will become ensnared and trapped forever. In other words, when it comes to welfare we should actually want the government to actively discriminate.

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On Welfare Denialism

One real gem of an idea nestling in between the usual stale nonsense.
One real gem of an idea nestling in between the usual stale nonsense.

Yesterday we were treated to the spectacle of Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith promising to “slash Britain’s benefits bill” by picking around the edges of the problem and denying benefits to immigrants who do not speak fluent English, a transparent piece of Daily-Mail-pandering that sows despair in the hearts of anyone who wants to seriously reform Britain’s welfare system.

This was a triumphant case of grabbing headlines whilst accomplishing nothing courtesy of the Conservative Party, but it turns out that Labour were not to be outdone. Today, it was the turn of Rachel Reeves, the shadow Work & Pensions Secretary, to put on the Tough Love hat and have a crack at the welfare problem.

Almost anticipating the backlash and onslaught of scepticism, The Guardian hide the story well away in the depths of their online news site, reporting:

Labour would force jobseeker’s allowance claimants with inadequate maths or English to go on basic skills courses as a condition of receiving their benefit, Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, will say on Monday .

It is estimated that one in 10 of Britain’s 250,000 monthly new JSA claimants have inadequate maths or English, two skills critical to finding work. Nearly 20% of those with repeat claims have problems with reading or numeracy. Labour said the pledge could be funded from the existing skills programme.

Much as with the Tory announcement on welfare, there is nothing inherently wrong with this idea. If a significant proportion of repeat benefits claimants have low literacy or numeracy skills that could be holding them back from gainful employment, then it is probably right and proper to take action to address this skills gap. If, as Labour claim, the testing could be funded with existing money then so much the better. But while there is nothing wrong with the proposal itself, there is everything wrong with unveiling it as a major announcement or in any way a serious attempt at policy change.

Dan Hodges, writing in The Telegraph, spares no time in shooting down the proposal and exposing it for what it is:

Reeves’s speech was trailed in this morning’s Independent. “Her mission is to create a ‘fair and affordable social security system’, with ‘sticks and carrots’ to get the unemployed back to work, which will be good for them and for taxpayers,” wrote the newspaper’s political editor Andy Grice.

That’s not Rachel Reeves’s mission. Her mission, handed to her by her leader, is to make the country think she is planning “tough” reform of welfare, whilst at the same time reassuring the Labour movement she is not preparing any significant reform at all.

“It is hard, but it is also fair. You can call it tough love,” said Reeves. No you can’t. Setting someone a maths test isn’t tough, or loving. It’s a maths test. At her school did they say “right Rachel, you’ve got an hour of PE, an hour of Geography and then an hour of tough love”?

He then rightly contrasts the awesome size of Britain’s welfare bill (here he separates out pensions) with the puny scale of the measures that Reeves is proposing:

Is there anyone anywhere who thinks a maths test will come anywhere near addressing the current crisis of welfare, or if you prefer, the crisis being created by the attack on welfare? It is a nonsensical policy. Saying “the big problem with the welfare system is very few claimants have good numeracy skills” is like saying “the biggest problem with the welfare system is very few claimants have Indian elephants as pets”. It’s true, but it’s irrelevant. Teach them better maths. Teach them better English. Teach them to lightly fry chorizo and play Bach. What impact is that seriously going to have on the nation’s £100 billion welfare bill?

Hodges (who, in course of the past year, has become my favourite Labour-in-exile commentator) believes that Labour would do well to stop talking about welfare altogether, for fear of making themselves appear even more incoherent and opportunistic than they do at present. I would be tempted to agree with him, but for the presence of one genuinely good and revolutionary idea in Reeves’ speech, the proposal to award higher level unemployment benefits to long-term or higher rate taxpayers for the first months of their claim, so as to provide a “soft landing” for those newly out of work.

The Guardian reports:

In her biggest speech since taking on the portfolio, Reeves will also confirm she is seeking to strengthen the contributory principle by exploring how long-term taxpayers can receive a higher-rate allowance for the first months that they are unemployed.

This is laudable, and something that I have myself supported for a long time. Such an action would return the concept of unemployment benefits or Jobseeker’s Allowance to being viewed as a kind of insurance rather than an ever-present and unchanging right.

Why should it be that someone who has worked over a period of years, perhaps in a well paying job, and has contributed many thousands of pounds to the treasury should, on losing his or her job, receive exactly the same allowance as a young person living at home who managed to fall out of eleven years of compulsory education without any qualifications? For the newly-unemployed high earner, jobless benefits may be a way of scraping together enough money to keep making rent, mortgage or bill payments while they scramble to find new work. For the unemployed eighteen year old, that same money may be nothing more than beer tokens to be redeemed at the nearest Wetherspoons pub.

Of course this is a generalisation and of course we cannot individually means test the level of benefits awarded to each claimant based on their individual circumstances – nor would it be the appropriate role of government to attempt such a thing. But surely it is not so outrageous to restore a link between the amount of money contributed in taxes over the years by a new claimant and the amount that they are awarded in benefits? Is that not part of “making work pay”, as well as making sure that capable but overstretched workers (probably with limited to no savings) in today’s precarious economy don’t fall off a complete financial cliff if they happen to lose their jobs? If I sound at all bitter when I discuss this, it is because my argument comes from my own bitter experience.

So overall, another day of great frustration on welfare. Labour have joined the Conservatives in seeking to tinker around the edges in pursuit of cosmetic change and tabloid approval, while the crux of the problem remains conspicuously untackled. The only shining light in the whole tired song and dance, the newly-broached idea of giving higher allowances to higher-contributing taxpayers, was proposed by the party I least suspected to ever endorse such a thing (how on earth did Iain Duncan Smith let Ed Miliband steal a march on him like this?) and while it is truly refreshing to see this being advocated by a major political party in the UK, it is almost sure to die a slow death under withering barrages from the far left proclaiming it “unfair” and “discriminatory”, and another step on the road to a “two-tier Britain”. So clearly and vividly do I see the imminent death of the proposal that it is very hard to generate enthusiasm about its announcement.

From a Conservative perspective, it should also be troubling to David Cameron and to Tory supporters to see Iain Duncan Smith join Michael Gove as the second Conservative minister to be completely outmanoeuvred by their Labour counterpart. With Gove it was the Labour proposal to license teachers and enhance their professional standing and standards, and now with Duncan Smith the Tories were nowhere to be seen when Labour suggested tiered unemployment benefits according to contributions.

In the first years of the coalition government we were continually told of the revolutionary new ideas and policies being cooked up by ambitious Tory ministers determined to enact real change and make their mark after eleven stultifying years of New Labour’s centralisation and standardisation efforts. In 2014, innovation and revolutionary ideas are hard to come by anywhere at all in British political life, but where it does exist, it is not emanating from the Conservative Party.

This should worry anyone who does not want to see the spirit of Gordon Brown in the guise of Ed Miliband reoccupy 10 Downing Street next May.