The war on the poor aka 'welfare reform' is being waged with that much more ferocity and that much more cynicism in the weeks up to the General Election: that much is apparent. There are of course the very obvious ways and means to target and scapegoat the despised minority of unemployed claimants as Channel 4's 'poverty porn' output and DWP press releases can attest, but much more covert and nefarious methods are now being deployed.
'Workfare' is and has been the favoured method of disciplining and punishing the unemployed for the past 5 years - whilst having a long history in its own right - which with breathtaking gall, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) omits from the claimant total, thus helping make it appear lower than it actually is. Such cooking of the statistical books by 'reclassifying' the terms of reference and categorization for what 'counts' as unemployed and what doesn't, is nothing new, but when combined with the fondness for imposing 'sanctions' aka withdrawing the king's ransom that is Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) which the incumbent administration of the said government department displays, it becomes that much clearer through the PR smoke and mirrors exactly what is being attempted: a vigorous war against not just the poorest in society, but the majority too.
The 'majority' in question also comprises the chronically underemployed, those who are expected to meet full-time living costs on part-time hours, so having to have dealings with the punitive benefits system to try and materially survive - the bulk of that going on the landlord subsidy called 'Housing Benefit', not JSA.
Indeed, the electioneering and sloganeering has already had plenty of 'common sense' homilies spun over the last few years by David Cameron's policy-hacks, which in the true terms of propaganda have been repeated ad infinitum, and sure enough are now being so again virtually continuously: 'hardworking families', 'people who want to get on' - get on what and where? 'People who do the right thing' - what exactly is that? And perhaps most tellingly, 'Ending the something for nothing culture' - if the lusty zeal to cut away the last remaining rope holds of the severely inadequate social safety net that is supposed to be universal is what is meant: it may be that it is, but this cannot be said directly or explicitly, and so instead the sort of folksy tabloid homilies mentioned are preferred.
Electioneering then to ramp up the war on the majority? Yes. Put crudely, but what we are dealing with is after all crude, this is class war waged from above. 'Record falls in unemployment' and 'record numbers in employment' is in fact the biggest Tory wheeze of the lot: mass signing off to 'reclassify' former claimants as newly 'self-employed' being the reason for such 'record falls'. The former claimant struggling to make their income of JSA doing some sort of piece work like selling door-to-door catalogues or having an eBay account topped up with Tax Credits, is what 'self-employment' actually amounts to.
As such, the nonsense of a 'recovery' can be seen in food banks having become a visible and ever-present feature of the UK. The UK where 'flexible labour markets' mean chronic underemployment in which employment of the most precarious, insecure and temporary kind comprises around one third of the workforce, and where the underemployed have to supplement their inadequate wages with even more inadequate benefits - benefits overseen by the DWP, currently conducting its own inquiry into the suicides of 60 people who were 'sanctioned': That is the sordid and toxic social reality of the UK 'recovery'.
The really unpleasant part of this cynical and unrelenting class war is yet to come - that is if it is not abandoned altogether as being of greater cost than benefit to the state - that being the vanity project known as so-called 'Universal Credit'. When and if that failing and massively costly project ever 'goes live' nationally, it will target not only the despised and demonized unemployed JSA claimant, but all of the underemployed as well, so many millions of the general population 'in work', but poorly-paid, and/or working chronically few hours - often one and the same. The underemployed in receipt of some kind of benefit - because their wages are too low, and they are not paid enough - will be obliged to "look for more or better paid work" as a condition of still being able to claim at all, the alternative being the same cosh of workfare and 'sanctions' wielded against unemployed JSA claimants but of course this is not yet immediately apparent to the substantial section it will hit. In the meantime, the same substantial section of general society who also help make up the majority who are indeed without anything but their labour to sell, is ceaselessly divided and subdivided against itself since 'We're electioneering' after all.