The Tories are stuffed with coruscating loons, many of whom are able to exploit their position to spew repugnant reaction over the suffering populace. In the last few weeks, there has been a crescendo of concern mutating to disgust on the workfare-by-stealth being perpetrated upon the unemployed, and the moral and economic cesspit that this exposes. As usual, the Trotskyite remnants are drawing attention to it, but it is after all their raison d'etre and it would be more alarming if they remained silent.
What is less predictable is that many large companies have been reviewing their support for 21st century indentured labour. Firms like Tesco and Sainsbury's usually figure highly on the scale of corporate demonology, but the damage that using forced labour does to both their reputation and their corporate responsibility is large and growing. Being associated with firms like A4e, whose rapaciousness and corrupt practices are gradually being exposed by the free segments of the press, and who have been profiting from the free labour of those they have been pretending to help, does not help with brand loyalty even in these post-Thatcherite dark days.
So into this situation blunders Priti Patel, MP for the unlucky citizens of Witham, Essex (change for Braintree, it doesn't get much more exciting than that). Ms Patel is one of Hamster Face's poster Tories - always wheeled out into the spotlight along with the demented "Baroness" Warsi to demonstrate the inclusiveness of the new-model reactionaries - and therefore gets credibility well above the level of intellectual rigour that goes into her interventions. She has used the columns of "Pravda", or do I mean the "Mail", to attack the BBC for exposing the activities of the workfare advocates, and the activities of A4e, whose doyenne's role as Cameron's "Families Tsar" has been abruptly terminated by the ongoing attentions of Plod.
It's good to see the BBC actually reporting news rather than government spin (see previous blog) - but it does raise the question as to the moral, political and economic literacy of many of our legislators. Ms Patel may not be the most outrageous example, but in her intervention she is implicitly supporting the resumption of the slave trade - if you are threatened with having your benefits docked if you don't participate in workfare, boosting the profits of large companies, then it is at best blackmail at best the equivalent of economic prostitution.
Quite apart from that, the use of unpaid workers denies paid employment and displaces other people onto benefits - so it doesn't even pass the test of being economically-efficient (not that such trifles worry the patricians who want to keep the proles in order) - and its training "benefits" are spurious as the slaves will be replaced by a freshly-pressed cohort when it no longer behoves companies to keep them on. So no wonder the Tories like it - it's pretending to do something while not actually addressing why deflationary policy combined with excess profits in the corporate sector spells the route to the next Great Depression.
Ms Patel seems to think that anything reported that does not act as hagiographic scraping before the great God of the new Right is in some way a left-wing bias. By shrieking bias, she degrades the debate and attempts to turn the violation of citizens' rights into a side-issue from perceived indignities forced upon the Tories by those who call them for what they are. The problem is that people start believing lies the more they are told, and the more opportunities the Tories are given, the more they will take.
The real scandal is the lack of a coherent scheme to address job creation, and the restoration of a manufacturing base. This would require a visionary government that learns the lessons of forty years of economic incompetence and does not (with the honourable exception of Dr Cable) feel confused with its relationship with the City. I can just imagine Osborne asking the Hamster whether he has to keep his nose clean and his tongue brown or the other way round. But it's "snobbish" to criticise capitalism and its impact, and Dave has clearly got ethics confused with where Priti Patel misrepresents her constituents.
Perhaps a slave market is the way forward - because as with everything else in the Tory universe the worth of individuals is defined by their pre-existing economic power - and I'm sure that there are plenty of spaces in Witham that could host one. In the meantime, it's good to see that the Tories haven't learnt from Blair and the Romanovs aboout the likely fate of Tsars.