The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Heart of Flint

The battle for the centre ground of British politics and the Shirley Porter Compassionate Award for Social Responsibility continues with a proposal by the Minister for Second Homes, Caroline Flint, that people in social housing and on council estates should be kicked out of their homes if they fail to satisfy employment incentivisation corporations that they are actively seeking work. Flint has recently discovered that over half of working-age resources in social housing are not in employment and, therefore, cannot be seeking it: "If you are in a family, an estate or a neighbourhood where nobody works that impacts on your own aspiration. It is a form of peer pressure" which leads irresistibly to an urge to loaf about the house in benefit-sponsored luxury rather than availing oneself of the millions of shiny new jobs which are constantly being called into existence by careful manipulation of the unemployment figures. During the interval between being laid off in the approaching recession and having their prospects boosted by eviction onto the streets, the beneficiaries of Flint's initiative may perhaps expect a few dawn raids from the idleness police: "Rather than the jobless going miles to get employment, debt and childcare advice, it is better to bring that advice to them," she said.

The shadow minister for housing, Grant Shapps, apparently criticised the proposals for not being harsh enough: "What we've heard is classic Labour spin - designed to sound tough" - not, you will note, designed to sound fair, or reasonable, or useful, or constructive, or socially responsible, or economically sensible, or even designed to sound as if it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the present planet; designed to sound tough, hard, mean, the way Daveybloke sees himself in dreams - "but in reality meaningless." The problem is that "ministers and local councils have a statutory duty to house homeless families with children and so they can't boot them out of their houses without then providing alternative accommodation." Taking this unfortunate state of affairs into account, Downing Street has issued a spokesbeing to say that "in principle it's a good issue to be debated", which presumably amounts to a coded rebuke to Flint for failing to sell the idea properly, as a deterrent to Islamic extremism or a way of controlling immigration or something of similarly proven appeal.


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