The next MP for Croydon South is likely to be Chris Philp. The seat is effectively a job for life so it’s a good idea to see what we’ll be getting after the general election. He could well rise through the ranks and have a ministerial career and so this issue goes beyond South Croydon.
Chris Philp wrote a report for the Taxpayer’s Alliance (TPA) last year advocating workfare. The TPA describes itself as a grassroots organisation but as has been pointed out elsewhere this is really a front for rich Tory supporters to campaign, Tea Party style, for neoliberal economics. This article from 2009 details the super-rich business people running and funding the operation. The organisation presents itself as simply wanting good value for money for taxpayers. In reality, they are looking to influence politicians and the public to accept an extension of free market policies. So it is with Philp’s contribution.
His report “Work for the Dole” is an astonishing document. It is full of statements, presented as fact without evidence and a use of statistics worthy of Disraeli’s damnation. In the Executive Summary Philp claims that the number of people on benefits has remained “stubbornly high” for over a decade including during times of economic growth. Of course, what he fails to take into account is the fluctuation of the job market. With each new year there is a fresh intake of people of workable age and of course there are people who retire. It’s not the same people throughout this process that are on benefits. Of course, in a growing population, if the number of benefit claimants remains roughly the same over time then there is actually a reduction in the proportion of the population claiming. And yet, the point at the centre of this report is that people get more from benefits than they do from work and therefore there is an incentive to remain ‘dependent’ on benefits rather than get a job. He fails to make that point convincingly, instead falling back on the normal rhetoric.
By saying that welfare payments are so high people prefer them to work is the opposite side of a coin explaining that bosses pay so badly that welfare payments are preferential to work. So (if he was right about welfare dependency, and he isn’t) you could make a strong case here for much higher wages for those at the bottom of the job market. But that would be crazy when you can attack the people without the power to actually make changes. So his answer is workfare – an extended version of the current system.
Philp is an entrepreneur, providing finance in the construction industry amongst other things. He is a businessman and a rising star in that circle so it should come as no surprise that ultimately his political policies come very much from that perspective. However, he begins by shrouding his ideas as noble. Those on the dole can work 30 hours a week (not 40 because this would prevent them from job search activities) for charities and in community work. Community work includes that classic Tory concern “cleaning graffiti”. So, this appears to be all about getting good community and charity stuff done.
Obviously, working class people who do not comply with these rules would have their benefits stopped. He takes the view that this is civic duty, that benefits shouldn’t be doled out for nothing. He makes the claim at one point that those on benefits take wealth from the taxpayer without giving anything in return. It makes the assumption that as benefit claimants they are likely not to be taxpayers themselves at the time of claiming. Obviously this doesn’t take account of an individual’s full ‘contribution to society’ and that’s because he doesn’t want the full picture to be seen. He presents welfare as a business transaction rather than a safety net.
The truth finally slips out in the document where he writes that working for the dole should also include
“Work experience, or participation in a work-based training programme or apprenticeship-type scheme. If these are with commercial organisations, then there must be genuine skills development – it cannot simply be free labour for the commercial company”
The insistence on ‘genuine skills development’ is interesting. It’s unclear how this would mean that the work isn’t simply free labour for the company. That’s exactly what it is. In effect this is a report advocating free labour for the benefit of the rich. Philp the entrepreneur must like this idea. Philp the businessman must salivate at the thought of ’employing’ people who are paid for by the state. This is a man who argues for a smaller state and yet wants businesses to profit with free labour supplied by it.
He paints a picture of benefit claimants as fraudulent and a social problem. His report shows actually that it is the rich that benefit from a something for nothing culture. They want free labour or cheap labour, they want wages suppressed so that they can keep maintaining their extravagant lifestyles. It is the rich who suffer from a dependency culture: they’re dependent on us to create the wealth which they then take.
People like Philp run the world. They are the politicians and the bosses. They control us by trying to divide us from one another and put us in competition for wages. Philp in power means support for harmful neoliberal policies. He will advocate workfare using working class terms like ‘the dole’ to make him look like one of us. He isn’t. He’s a dangerous Thatcherite and we need to stop him .
At the next general election #VoteClassWar
If you have any information on Philp that may be useful please contact me via @campaignbeard on twitter.