Eamonn McCann: Rage at Stormont over Workfare (or not)

Tonight The Pensive Quill links to a piece in the Derry Journal on Thursday 29 March 2012 by radical socialist activist Eamonn McCann. A regular to TPQ recommended it, saying 'it exposes the Stormonteers for their eagerness to push through Tory attacks on the unemployed.'

Posh-boy Chancellor George Osborne barely had time to draw breath after his feed-the-rich, fleece-the-poor budget last week than a succession of Stormont politicians was mad-dashing for the microphones to express anger and dismay at the likely effect of the measures on the less-well-off in this part of the world.

Even Sammy Wilson was incandescent. Of course, Sammy incandesces easily.

But what does Sammy propose could or should be done to counter Osborne’s plans?

Nothing so far. But maybe he’s working on it. Or not.

The ‘workfare’ scheme introduced at Westminster, supposedly to acquaint the unemployed with the “culture of work,” provides the most obvious precedent for the budget measures. Workfare involved major companies being supplied with free labour and the unemployed threatened with loss of benefits if they balked at taking up the offer. The measure was so obviously unfair that it immediately sparked widespread protests and disruptions which were supported by millions who ordinarily would run a mile from militant action.

To read the rest of Eamonn McCann go to http://www.derryjournal.com/community/columnists/eamonn-mcann-rage-at-stormont-over-workfare-or-not-1-3670198


  1. The different British governments down the years have made many ill-advised attempts at solving the problems of unemployment.

    At least the "jobskills" programme of the early 90s gave you an extra £10 a week on top of your dole and by giving participants new skills (to a certain degree) wasn't the worst of them.

    Overall though it always brings to mind a sticking plaster or sweep under the carpet approach which never addresses the real problems meaningfully.

    The latest approach has to be the worst one yet. The bullying nature of this present government is apparent. Their setting of the working poor against the unemployed to distract them from focusing on the real problem- the unaccountable, subsidised, bailed-out, unworkable so-called "powerhouses of industry" is apparent also.

    That the present local politicians rubber-stamped this shows they have little empathy with people who for one reason or another find it difficult to find work. I mean it is a recession- avoid boom and bust economics and you could have avoided this in the first place.

  2. SF have important questions to answer on this, there is little point there leaders parading themselves around Dublin as being opposed to the austerity programe down there, when they get an opportunity in the north to do something about it, they roll over and support Tory schemes like workfare and the privatisation of the NHS.

  3. To quote McCann...

    "Such was the intensity of opposition that a number of key firms quickly withdrew from the scheme, fearing damage to their reputations. The Government then executed a U-turn, at least to the extent of lifting the threat to remove benefits."

    This was after the Stormonteers signed off on it.

    In fact as McCann also said...

    "Social welfare is a devolved matter. It does not come under Westminster but under Stormont. Workfare could only apply in the North if endorsed by the Assembly."

    Therefore the likes of SF and the SDLP could have opposed it...But they didn't they agreed with it.

  4. Now we are about to witness why the bearded one the waster ex mp for west Belfast jumped ship,one thing that can be said for him is he truley is a cunning bastard...

  5. Mick,

    It takes us back to what Tommy McKearney once said of SF – its bottom line is that it has no bottom line. It will do exactly the same down here. The party is nothing other than a vehicle for power.


    Tesco is more radical than SF.