News that the Tories wish to place in community work all young people between 18-21 who become unemployed is a new low in the neoliberal attack on us all.
This is a measure that gives credence to the notion that our main political parties are ignoring the youth vote because it doesn’t yield results. As young people ignore the opportunity to vote they are seen as a fresh way to save money and are being treated like dirt. You’d think the parties might actually use this opportunity to embrace them and try to bring them into the fold but that’s not how economics and politics work. They will pay for their alleged apathy. I say alleged because I find that most people under the age of 30 are exceedingly interested in politics but what they’re not interested in is Westminster. In Croydon and across England in 2011 we began to understand that this kind of politics can come with risks for the establishment and our communities with the riots that spread after the killing of Mark Duggan. Major reports into the riots have shown the political and economic failures that contributed to the riots.
After the riots many young people received seriously harsh sentences. Let’s be clear about this policy though – it assumes the young unemployed are criminals already. The policy isn’t just a harmful form of workfare (a system that the Tory candidate in Croydon South, Chris Philp, is an advocate), it’s basically a version of Community Service which is a rehabilitation sentence under the criminal justice system (albeit one where the individual is paid). Is the policy going to be presented in a new Welfare Bill or as an amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act?
It’s utterly disgusting to treat young people in this way. Already they are underpaid, receiving a lower National Minimum Wage and a lower rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance. Now they will be forced to work for these lower payments whilst firms and businesses get free labour. Once again we see the potential for the Tories to try to turn the welfare system so that benefits are taken from the people and given instead to private enterprise.
We must resist these harmful and disrespectful policies and shun Tories like Philp across the country. Young people out of work are not criminals and they’re not the playthings of the establishment. They should not be slaves to capitalism. We should support and nurture their talent and creativity so they can achieve their potential and be themselves.