Ian Pattison - a marcher on the Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow march - replies to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s recent comments which claim to offer a ‘radical rethink’ on benefits.
Dear Ed Miliband
I was disgusted to wake up to 2012 to hear that you’re going to “get tough on the workshy.” I’m a Master’s graduate, but after four months out of work, and over 50 job applications, I’ve only just found a job.
Statements like yours prove that pampered politicians are out of touch. You have no idea what life is like for ordinary working and middle class people. For one job, I was one of over a hundred applicants. 2.64 million people (over a million 16-24 years olds) are chasing just half a million jobs.
No matter how much you condemn so-called benefit scroungers, it makes no difference to the unemployment figures. There just aren’t enough jobs out there. If you’re under 25, unemployment benefit is £53 a week. This is not enough to live on.
The Tories’ ‘Work Academies’, and other schemes, (inspired by similar measures started under Labour) are forms of cheap slave labour, forcing people to work for their dole. These programmes make the unemployment figures worse, as they take a job away from someone who should be paid a decent wage.
The only new policy you have come up with is to deny benefits to anybody who has never paid tax. I never paid tax, as I have not found permanent employment since I left university, similar to millions of young people leaving school, college, and university jobless. The only temporary job I’ve had paid so little I wasn’t eligible to pay tax.
If this disastrous policy was implemented it would only worsen the present situation where the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer.
The Labour Party should be fighting for the immediate reinstatement of EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) and the scrapping of tuition fees.
Labour councils, elected to stand up against the Tories, should be implementing these policies now. The blame for unemployment doesn’t lie with ordinary people struggling to find work, but with big business which is currently hoarding £60 billion in banks, refusing to hire, and refusing to invest.
The Con-Dems’ pro-cuts agenda is making unemployment worse. But the Labour Party is not a credible opposition. You’ve let the hated Tories take the lead in the polls!
Britain’s three main political parties all want to make working and middle class people pay for the crisis caused by big business, bankers, and the rich. They all see youth unemployment as a price worth paying.
If the capitalist system can’t afford decent jobs, then we need to fight to build a socialist society that can. No mass political party out there speaks for ordinary people, the main pro-big business parties are happy to exploit young people while condemning them in the right wing media.
We need a new mass workers’ party that will stand for the ‘99%’, a political party that demands the creation of decent jobs, education, and training for all.