Gordon Brown and Arthur Daley – An Uncanny Resemblance
Anyone who has watched Gordon Brown’s antics over the last decade, in which he has been towering, or tottering, over British politics like a malevolent colossus, will know that he is fond of giving “guarantees”. They will also know that guarantees from Mr Brown are generally worth about as much as those given by Arthur Daley on his used motors.
This time it is a “Young Person’s Guarantee”. A news report on the PM programme yesterday described Gordon Brown launching this new “guarantee”, under which 18-24 year olds unemployed for at least 6 months will be “guaranteed” a job, training or work experience. The report said it would benefit half a million young people over the next 15 months.
Apparently the scheme started yesterday, 25th January, and is to be “part-funded from a one-off tax on bankers’ bonuses”.
Unfortunately for this little bit of government spin, the scheme was first announced by the Prime Minister on 29th June 2009. At that time he said that the £1 billion cost had been “set aside” in the 2009 budget to pay for it.
The “bankers’ bonus tax” was announced in the Pre-Budget report in December 2009 – six months after Mr Brown announced that the money had been set aside to pay for the Guarantee scheme.
In short, it is not “part funded by the one-off tax on bankers’ bonuses” at all.
It is, in fact, wholly funded by “Quantitative Easing”, that weasel phrase for printing money to finance government spending. The government has been doing that to the tune of £200 billion over the last year or so.
There is, of course, much more. What does a “guarantee of a job, training or work experience” really mean? In June 2009, when the scheme was announced, Mr Brown claimed it would be “compulsory” and that young people would lose their benefits if they refused to take part. There was no mention of that today.
If Mr Brown thinks he can make such a scheme compulsory, he is even more disconnected from reality than I thought. The “young people” concerned have turned lack of commitment into an art form. They won’t refuse to take part. They’ll accept. And then they won’t turn up “because I overslept”. Or “because I was ill”. Or “because I forgot”. Or they will just pretend not to understand, and will keep on asking dumb questions until the officials concerned are tearing their hair out, and themselves become completely confused.
They will provide contradictory information on official forms, and they will ignore letters asking them to clarify. They will play employers off against government offices, and government employees off against education providers. They are adept at sowing confusion, and the system is no match for them.
Mr Brown’s new scheme sounds great though, of course. A “guarantee”. Security for those poor young people. A future. A career.
Forget it. Some of the young people concerned have no intention of working, and prefer to be parasites living off hard-working tax-payers.
Others are simply not capable of holding down a real job. They are often functionally illiterate after 12 years in the government’s education system. Their schools convinced them that they had a “right” to their opinions and to respect (quite so) but forgot to mention that they had responsibilities to contribute to society as well. The schools especially forgot to tell them that learning things was quite important, and that nobody would give them a job if they couldn’t write well enough to write an application letter.
That nice schooling system even gave them D or E grade “passes” at GCSE, forgetting to tell them that to an employer, only a C is a “pass”.
Or maybe they spent their “school” years wandering around the shopping centre drinking beer, unmolested by the authorities because if they were at school, they would simply disrupt the educations of everybody else. On those occasions when they decided to turn up at “skool”, and they told the teachers to “f*** off”, the teachers pretended not to hear for fear of being beaten up by the young people concerned or their even more violent parents.
They are not in work either because nobody wants to employ them, or because they don’t want to be employed. Or more often, both.
Therefore this scheme will not help, any more than the government’s previous stumbling attempts to tackle this problem. It will be more of our money flushed down the toilet to satisfy Gordon Brown’s fantasies.