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article imageOp-Ed: The view from the Left — Banks, benefits and tribunals

By Alexander Baron     Jun 27, 2012 in Politics
The loony left in Britain has identified some of the problems we face, but as usual they haven't a clue about the real solutions.
On June 25, the headline in the Morning Star was Cameron's assault on poor will be 'met with resistance'. If the claims made in this article are half-true, they will indeed be met with resistance: cutting welfare benefits in the provinces, and compulsory community work gangs. What next, concentration camps? Don't laugh, we had them in Britain in the 1930s.
The June edition of the hard left magazine Labour Briefing has an editorial called The bankers versus the people, which at last identifies the real enemy, although as long ago as the 1970s, Australian Larry Hannigan coined the phrase the people against the banks, and the problem posed by these perfidious institutions was identified as early as the 18th Century - by the Founding Fathers - if not considerably earlier.
There are two other interesting articles in this magazine, one by Kate Osamor: Young people bear the brunt of recession, and a review, Tribunals on trial, by Dave Statham.
The editorial about the banks and the associated article Take over the banks! hit the right target but as usual being socialists, the comrades come up with the wrong solution. It is not enough to nationalise the banks, because as long as money is created as a debt, there will still be a shortage of the damned stuff, and both the people and the government will go progressively in hoc to the system, no matter who (supposedly) owns and runs it.
Kate Osamor's article is more of the same, and yes, the unemployment rate for black men under 25 is as high as 50% in some areas. No, it's not racism, comrade, it's the fact that like the tragic Ashley Thomas, they are for the most part unemployable.
The article on tribunals is a review of a book about employment tribunals, and how they are said to fail workers.
This combination - benefits and tribunals - reminded a certain scribe of Catford, and a resources centre that is sadly no more. Catford Centre for the Unemployed was run by a small group of dedicated left wing activists including Tom Caldwell. Tom died at Christmas 1994; he had been very ill for some time, but we thought he was on the road to recovery, so his death came as a shock to all at CCU: staff and users.
Towards the end, he had taken a lot of time off work, and it was decided to recruit someone to manage the centre. One of the applicants was a Moslem, or a nomimal Moslem, who came all the way down from Peterborough, which was to be his daily commute. No one seemed to think it strange that he was prepared to travel so far, and he got the job. As soon as he did, he collected an advance, put in a medical certificate, and was seen no more, although CCU did have a visit from the police; he had half a dozen or so warrants out for him.
Another person who applied for the post, and didn't get it, was a Mr Sikpi. He decided that there could be only one reason CCU could not accept him as its new manager, racial discrimination, and he took it to a tribunal for such. At the time, CCU had one black member of staff, it had previously had at least one more. Mr Sikpi lost his non-case, and appealed. At the end of the day, even though CCU defeated his spurious claim, it was left around five thousand pounds out of pocket, a large sum for a small organisation on a tight budget that was only part-funded by the London Borough of Lewisham. Mr Sikpi claim and appeal was obviously a try-on; he was clearly hoping CCU would buy him off, but it didn't.
This is the reality of the tribunal system, and the reams of ludicrous legislation that accompanied it including claims for indirect racial discrimination - whatever that is - sexual discrimination, and now the mythical disease of homophobia has even raised its ugly head. An organisation or a company, perhaps a small one, gives someone a job interview, and ends up being pilloried for it.
Again, the problem is not indeed never has been any sort of discrimination; if there were plenty of jobs around that paid a living wage, and people qualified to fill them, there would be no such spurious claims. Legislation does have a role in the workplace: we need health & safety laws and such, but the misnamed and misguided anti-discrimination laws never created one worthwhile job, although they have led to the creation of many useless jobs including for legislators, lawyers, judges and ethnic monitors.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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