How Liam Byrne could help save his career through welfare reform


2:30 pm - June 14th 2011

by Don Paskini    


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Liam Byrne is currently one of Labour’s most important politicians. He combines his role in co-ordinating the party’s policy review with leading for Labour on Work and Pensions. His hobbies include “banging on” about immigration, deficit reduction and welfare reform.

But in fewer than eighteen months, his political career is almost certainly going to be over. Here’s why and how the principles of responsibility and reciprocity could help him save his job, while at the same time helping reform the welfare state for the better.

Every two years, Labour elects its Shadow Cabinet. Last time, Liam finished in 19th place, scraping into the Shadow Cabinet by just one vote. Next time, competition will be even fiercer, as some of Labour’s rising stars put their names forward, and David Miliband may return. It may be that even if he doesn’t get elected by fellow MPs, he will be offered some kind of role through the “Affirmative Action for special advisers and management consultants” programme which Labour has run in recent years.

We’ve heard from Liam and from Ed Miliband that Labour’s approach to welfare is going to be built around “responsibility”. This approach draws on research done by the Fabian Society.

Once you get past drivel such as Ed Miliband’s charming anecdote about how he met a disabled scrounger and carried out an impromptu assessment of his capability to work, there is plenty of merit in the idea that greater reciprocity in the welfare state could help to rebuild public support and make the system work better for everyone. But it will require a lot more work.

Ed Miliband’s idea of adjusting social housing allocations policies is
(a) something which is already happening and
(b) the housing policy equivalent of rearranging deckchairs as the ship sinks – given the huge shortage of affordable housing.

Or take Liam Byrne’s idea that people who aren’t making an effort to look for jobs should have weekly appointments ignores the fact that
(a) this can already happen,
(b) it doesn’t work very well, and
(c) the way welfare to work provision is funded on payment for sustainable job outcomes means that there is every incentive to see people who don’t want a job as infrequently as possible, and instead to focus on people who are work ready and want to do so.

No one should reasonably expect Labour to have a fully worked out set of proposals yet, but it will be Liam’s job to work out some of these details.

Now, he might well make a right Purnell of doing this, coming up with a set of unworkable, incompetent proposals which are designed to sound tough and nothing more. And no matter how “tough” the proposals, the Tories will come up with something “tougher” and more vindictive. We’d like to offer him an alternative.

Sue Marsh and the Broken of Britain have done some outstanding work on gathering ideas on how the current system isn’t working and what should be done instead to help sick and disabled people. Kate Green MP is an expert in what works in tackling poverty, and has called for the “moral imperative” of addressing the barriers to work rather than attacking the workless.

Plus, there’s a lot to be learned from Labour’s record in government in cutting child poverty, which researchers from America describe as almost miraculous.

So here’s our deal, based on the principles of responsibility and reciprocity. Liam Byrne could spens the next few months listening to the people who are hardest hit by the government’s cuts, working with groups like Broken of Britain, listening to Kate Green’s advice to stop demonising people who are out of work, and coming up with common sense policies such as reforming ESA and getting rid of Atos; policies which really help people into work and supporting them in work; and which help make sure that people who can’t work have an adequate income to live with dignity.

If he can show that he really really listened, we’ll encourage Labour MPs to vote for him in the next Shadow Cabinet elections.

As Liam says, we need “a bargain that rewards the people who do the right thing”. If he does the right thing and listens to people living in poverty, then his reward would be greater support from the Labour grassroots and greater job security.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Equality ,Labour party ,Westminster

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Reader comments


“No one should reasonably expect Labour to have a fully worked out set of proposals yet”

Why, did this problem erupt last week?

“based on the principles of responsibility and reciprocity”

Why do we only hear this guff about “responsibility and reciprocity” only applied to benefit claimants?

Why is it not applied to bankers and the financial sector? Why not to the middle-class house owners who have made a fortune and priced the young out of home owning by sitting on their arses for a few years?

I think we know why.

“Responsibility and reciprocity” were originally terms used by communitarianists like Charles Taylor and they applied them only to communities. Then Blair came along and elided the terms to apply to society as a whole.

How can it work places like Merthyr Tydfil, or Sunderland? There are no fucking jobs and even if there were it’s unlikely many claimants would be successful in obtaining one.

So all you can do is harass claimants; stop their benefits, reduce their benefits, make them attend useless “courses” run by private companies (a real cash cow) like A4e.

But maybe if Liam Byrne’s “political career is almost certainly going to be over” he has one eye on a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, one David Blunkett who now works for an A4e as a “consultant”……

Yes, I agree with Liam about people ‘who do the right thing’, so what about all those people who did the right thing and held down jobs, only to see them ruthlessly off-shored by greedy bastards? You know Liam those people thrown onto the scrap heap at fifty via a massive multinational. People who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own but steadfastly ‘refuse’ to take an non-existent job? Those scroungers who no longer do the jobs that are halfway round the World now.

Hey, perhaps if they send out more CVs then more jobs will magically appear or if we get them to turn up at offices twice a week that twice the number of jobs will be created.

Look the fact of the matter is that no matter how you look at it, we no longer need these people to work. There are simply not the jobs for them to do. That might not be a nice thing to say, but there it is. Simply making the unemployed compete harder for what jobs do appear will not push employment up, the most able candidate, irrespective of the incentives you push toward the unemployed, will win those jobs. If the best candidate happens to be Polish, he will get the job and there is NOTHING any politician can realistically do about it.

We all, from the Left to the decent Right need to get our collective heads round the fact the days of full employment are over and they are unlikely to come back. In fact, the Labour Party and the Tories are as one on this, inflation will always trump unemployment in the struggle and we all know that. The classic ‘elephant in the room’ is we need unemployment to keep the rest of the lower end of the labour honest. Any humane welfare reform needs to take that into account.

“Why do we only hear this guff about “responsibility and reciprocity” only applied to benefit claimants?”

I certainly think that these principles should, at the very least, also apply to any politicians which make speeches about them. This would be a good disincentive.

@ 3 Jim

I agree.

Plus ” the days of full employment are over and they are unlikely to come back”.

To any decent neo-liberal in any of our three main parties full employment is anathema. Firstly, full employment means wage inflation, which knocks on to raise inflation in general, a big ‘No-No’ to any neo-liberal.

Secondly, full employment means a work force with strong bargaining powers due to scarcity of labour. This means strong trade unions. (I can already hear “Luis Enrique” and “Tim J” saying “the HORROR! the HORROR!!)

I’m not a Marxist, but it looks like he was right about capitalism needing a “reserve army of labour”.

“Plus, there’s a lot to be learned from Labour’s record in government in cutting child poverty, which researchers from America describe as almost miraculous. ”

What, Gordon Brown shoving hugely complicated and expensive tax credits at people until they just marginally crossed some arbitrary line of the governments own making?

Nothing miraculous about that at all.

“What, Gordon Brown shoving hugely complicated and expensive tax credits at people until they just marginally crossed some arbitrary line of the governments own making?”

So how do you explain that in 1996, after 18 years of Tory government, 45% of lone parents worked, whereas in 2010 after the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, 57% were in work?

http://www.poverty.org.uk/46/index.shtml?2

As seomone who quite liked Ed’s speech yesterday, I get the points being made on this post. The big problem as I see it is that whatever the facts of the matter there does appear to be a perception of Labour as a party that gives people on benefits an easy ride.

How do we combat this perception? Do you have a an alternative to the ritual of mild scrounger bashing before the media gods?

“How do we combat this perception? Do you have a an alternative to the ritual of mild scrounger bashing before the media gods?”

I’m happy enough with the overall message for media/public consumption being that Labour wants a welfare system based on responsibility and reciprocity as Ed M and Liam set out (though with better chosen examples than the one Ed started with).

The key thing is that in developing the detailed policies which underpin these principles that they listen to the people who know what they are talking about. We tried the approach of being “tough” with Purnell and it didn’t work on any level – the policies were cruel and dehumanising and the public thought we were soft.

I’d also flesh out some of the undeserving rich stuff – everyone knows about 1 Somali family who lives in a mansion, but very few know about the hundreds of slum landlords who rake in millions from the taxpayer to rent out their hovels. Would help give a bit of perspective on where the real abuses of the system are.

Andreas Paterson @ 8

I realise it is difficult to do, but we really need to have an adult debate regarding what kind of economy and what kind of labour market we want/need and then frame the welfare debate around that, rather than pretending that these issues are completely unconnected in the same way that say prisions and libraries are.

Don Pashini @ 9

but very few know about the hundreds of slum landlords who rake in millions from the taxpayer to rent out their hovels. Would help give a bit of perspective on where the real abuses of the system are.

Another symptom of Labour’s failure in Government, as if another one was needed. Labour’s failure to build social housing resulted in Labour being smacked over the head with this stuff and led to people in crappy housing bemoaning the ‘immigrants getting the best houses’ stuff.

12. Luis Enrique

[captain swing, you’ve just got those ideas about me wedged tight in your cranium haven’t you, and no amount of evidence to the contrary is going to dislodge them].

fwiw I’m not sure the idea that full employment is inflationary is a neo-liberal or right-wing one – I think a certain JM Keynes, for example, might agree [1]. One problem with inflation, obv, is that nominal wage increases do not translate into increases in spending power. What may be right-wing is the idea we ought to tolerate high unemployment for the sake of controlling inflation. The idea that a certain amount of unemployment is required to prevent inflation is embodied in the concept of NAIRU. Of course the idea of literal full unemployment is a pipe dream (unless you are talking about full command and control economies) because there will always be some frictional unemployment as some companies fail and shed workers whilst others expand and recruit, something which would happen even without offshoring. I think there’s a lot of truth in the idea that capitalist economies require a reserve army of sorts, such as in the efficiency wage hypothesis – the idea that some unemployment is needed to keep workers keen.

If you ask me, all this adds up to an argument that the state should ensure a decent standard of living and access to housing and services for the unemployed.

On welfare reform, aside from making good on the Atos scandal, I’m not sure what a good policy would look like, there are nasty trade-offs all over the shop. I presume that any unemployment benefit will always have to deliver a standard of living significantly below that you can attain by working, both to give people a reason to work and for political feasibility. The ideal solution there seems to me higher benefits and higher wages for the low-paid. More bargaining power for low-paid workers sounds good to me. This doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about worries that higher minimum wage etc. will reduce employment. If you ask me (again) how to increase wages at the low end of the wage distribution is the big economic policy question, and I don’t think Labour has a clue.

I also think any welfare system is going to require people to attend training courses after a while, and contain some sanctions for people who appear to be making no effort to find a job. Of course there are good and bad ways of going about that, but would anybody here argue for the removal of all such measures? Don?

The big issue looks like the lack of jobs. In the current situation, it’s very easy (for me at least) to support government job creation schemes (oh, how I’d like to be in charge of a Ministry of Works). But as for using government job creation policies to reduce unemployment in the long-run (should we ever emerge from this recession), my memory is that the track record of such schemes wasn’t great, but perhaps it’s time for some fresh thinking on that, I don’t know.

anybody interested in this stuff might like latest edition of the State of Working Britain books, a presentation (slides with audio) by one of the editors Paul Gregg on the history of welfare reform.

[1] although I’m never sure how much of what I know as Keynesian economics the real Keynes would have agreed with (I’ve never read the General Theory in the original).

@9 Not to mention the possible distorting effect on house prices and rents elsewhere that the slum landlords may well be having too.

Goodness me! I didn’t expect to see an article like that! Thank you so much for asking Liam Byrne and others to engage with us. I really really hope they do.

I have very little hope that Byrne will deliver in any meaningful way. His start point seems to have been to draw a distinction between sick and disabled people and the unemployed, saying the latter must try harder. This is fine for those of us who are disabled but a) many unemployed are in no better position to change their lot than we are and b) the way that ESA and the work capability assessment is going it’s debatable whether there will be anybody left who comes under the ‘sick and disabled’ category; we’ll all just be unemployed.

Secondly, most of Labour’s work on lifting children out of poverty has been through the means tested benefits system. This doesn’t fit in too well with the ‘reciprocity’ thinking because you don’t ‘pay in’ in order to be able receive them. In welfare policy there is an inherent conflict between paying on the basis of ‘need’ or ‘contribution’. There are good arguments for both approaches but they don’t necessarily coincide.

Lastly, Ed M’s thinking in that speech (and elsewhere) appears to be influenced by the ‘blue labour’ mindset and Purnell is setting himself up as a big cheese in that. So the chances of ‘making a right Purnell of it’ might might not be as remote as they should be, sadly.

Given that Labour spent 13 years in office until 12 months ago, there should be a number within its ranks with thoughts on this. Jim made a two really good points about how the economy has not produced large numbers of jobs for years and the fact that unemployed people serve quite a useful purpose to the Tories in particular.

I’m not a Tory but am of the right and believe that full employment should be an aspiration of any government. However, we really need to look at whether the minimum wage and some of our employment laws are costing jobs, albeit low paid ones, to people who want to work. We need to raise the allowance threshold so the low-paid do not pay tax at all. Most importantly, we need to understand that every public sector non-job costs more than one in the ‘real economy’.

IMO there needs to be some sort of ceasefire between the left and private enterprise and an understanding that Labour, however well-intentioned it was, made the lives of small businesspeople very difficult.

http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

@ Don Paskini
“Once you get past drivel such as Ed Miliband’s charming anecdote about how he met a disabled scrounger and carried out an impromptu assessment of his capability to work,…”
When you scrutinise it, this is an example of a politician acting wiith no sense of responsibility.
By reading the blogs & comments in the disability online community, I am aware that disabled people are being subjected to verbal abuse by complete strangers in the street – and this abuse stems from the words of politicians and some newspapers.
I even have read that police forces are concerned about the potential outcome of a rising amount of hostility towards disabled people, while due to cuts they have fewer resources available to conbat it.
Perhaps if Mr Miliband wishes others to exercise some sense of responsibility…..

18. So Much For Subtlety

3. Jim – “so what about all those people who did the right thing and held down jobs, only to see them ruthlessly off-shored by greedy bastards? You know Liam those people thrown onto the scrap heap at fifty via a massive multinational.”

What about them? Those jobs are going offshore. There is simply nothing we can do about that unless we want to stop trading with the world.

“Look the fact of the matter is that no matter how you look at it, we no longer need these people to work. There are simply not the jobs for them to do. That might not be a nice thing to say, but there it is.”

Sorry but that is not true. There is no fixed number of jobs for people to do. There can never be a shortage of things that could be done – at the right price. The problem is that wage demands are too high. Lower them and the jobless will disappear. Add to that too many regulations and stupid laws. Too high taxes. But there is a lot we could do to get those people back into work.

“We all, from the Left to the decent Right need to get our collective heads round the fact the days of full employment are over and they are unlikely to come back.”

Only because we don’t want them back. If something bad happened and the government broke down, taking welfare payments with it, how many people do you think would be unemployed in six months? I would say roughly nil. In all places with no regulations on wages and employment, there are sometimes temporary spikes in unemployment but in the middle term, there is no such thing as unemployment. We pay for people to be idle. So some people are idle. We can and should change that.

“In fact, the Labour Party and the Tories are as one on this, inflation will always trump unemployment in the struggle and we all know that.”

The 1970s proved that inflation and unemployment have little to do with each other. And given Britain’s problem is the long term unemployed who have no impact on wages, it is irrelevant.

19. So Much For Subtlety

9. Don Paskini – “I’d also flesh out some of the undeserving rich stuff – everyone knows about 1 Somali family who lives in a mansion, but very few know about the hundreds of slum landlords who rake in millions from the taxpayer to rent out their hovels. Would help give a bit of perspective on where the real abuses of the system are.”

Why would it matter if people knew about them or not? Could you please explain what is wrong with providing people with a place to live? We don’t have any slum landlords as it happens – the only vile places to live in the UK are owned by the State. And we have not had any since, I guess, Thatcher lifted the restrictions on rent and so put the ones we did have out of business. But I digress. What is wrong with providing people with what they need? Is it also morally wrong to make money providing the poor with food? Clothes? Is it just shelter that is wrong?

“We don’t have any slum landlords as it happens – the only vile places to live in the UK are owned by the State.”

Nope. Have a read of “confessions of a slum landlord” :

http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/Columnists/GuestColumnists/article/20100709/e815b4c0-8b34-11df-8b51-00144f2af8e8/Confessions-of-a-slum-landlord.jsp

If even the Investors’ Chronicle has realised that there are slum landlords…

The English House Condition Survey (EHCS) 2006 reported that in the Social Sector there were approximately 1.3m non decent homes. In the private sector there were 6.8m non decent homes of which 1.3m are privately rented which equates to 50% of all private rented dwellings.

@ 7 Don

Err…I was talking about Gordon Brown’s child poverty targets, and how the system was arbitrarily defined and then manipulated with tax credits.

You are talking about single parents working.

I am not.

See the problem?

22. Luis enrique

Blimey Don, that article you link to does more than alert us to the existence of slum landlords, it also shows us how screwed the system is / was. It also sounds like many tenants treat the property badly; I’m not sure how much I’d spend on upkeep if I thought the tenant wasn’t going to look after it. Putting people on benefits in private accommodation looks like a bad situation,

I’d be interested to read your ideas for welfare reform, specifically how much you think payments ought to be increased by, and which sanctions and requirements you would change or withdraw altogether

SMFS @ 18

What about them? Those jobs are going offshore. There is simply nothing we can do about that unless we want to stop trading with the world.

Yes, but that is the point. We only ever need so many services and goods, if we stop using our workforce here and use the workforce of other Countries; it stands to reason that there will be less work for our population? You are really struggling with that? Honestly? You think if we imported all our meat, for example that we could retain the livestock farmers in their jobs?

Sorry but that is not true. There is no fixed number of jobs for people to do.

There is no ‘set number’ of jobs in the economy, but there is got to be a limit. Our economy is finite, there must be a limit to the goods and services that are bought and sold at any one time. That will change from time to time and perhaps even hour to hour, but the Tory concept that there are endless jobs out there is just a nonsense.

There can never be a shortage of things that could be done – at the right price. The problem is that wage demands are too high. Lower them and the jobless will disappear

Bollocks, you have this thrown back into your face every time you throw this up. The areas of low unemployment anywhere in the World have the highest employment rates and the lowest wages are to be found in the areas of the Country were unemployment is highest.

Every time you bring this up and every time you are asked ‘What are these jobs that would be getting done here if wages are low enough, and so far your ‘best’ answers have been raking through tips and child prositution( you are a Tory, though, so fair play).

I would say roughly nil. In all places with no regulations on wages and employment, there are sometimes temporary spikes in unemployment but in the middle term, there is no such thing as unemployment</b<

Where? The backward Countries, I did say the decent right, not the vermin, but thanks anyway.

24. So Much For Subtlety

23. Jim – “We only ever need so many services and goods, if we stop using our workforce here and use the workforce of other Countries; it stands to reason that there will be less work for our population? You are really struggling with that? Honestly? You think if we imported all our meat, for example that we could retain the livestock farmers in their jobs?”

I am struggle with it because it is not true. It does not follow that there will be less work for our own people. Our currency floats. Which means more or less by definition (ignoring inward and outward investment flows) every import is also an export. If we buy Japanese goods, the Japanese must buy something from us (or more likely from someone else who buys something from us). If we imported all our meat, our livestock workers would be out of work, but they would get jobs in some other industry. Someone else would export more. After all, if imports go up, the currency goes down, exports are more competitive, we export more. It is not rocket science.

“There is no ‘set number’ of jobs in the economy, but there is got to be a limit. Our economy is finite, there must be a limit to the goods and services that are bought and sold at any one time. That will change from time to time and perhaps even hour to hour, but the Tory concept that there are endless jobs out there is just a nonsense.”

At any one time you are right. And if the 10 million economically inactive people in the UK had their benefits cut off overnight there would be severe suffering. But we should start to phase out passive welfare in all its forms so that everyone who can work, does work. There is no long term limit to the size of the economy or the amount we can produce.

“Bollocks, you have this thrown back into your face every time you throw this up. The areas of low unemployment anywhere in the World have the highest employment rates and the lowest wages are to be found in the areas of the Country were unemployment is highest.”

Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it untrue. I am not sure that your point is even relevant. What are you trying to say?

“Every time you bring this up and every time you are asked ‘What are these jobs that would be getting done here if wages are low enough, and so far your ‘best’ answers have been raking through tips and child prositution( you are a Tory, though, so fair play).”

No they have not. I don’t know what jobs there would be. That is for the market to decide. Only it can determine what needs to be done. But in countries with no welfare, there is also no unemployment.

25. So Much For Subtlety

20. Don Paskini – “Nope. Have a read of “confessions of a slum landlord” :”

An article that utterly refutes your point:

In theory, this adds up to an astonishing gross rental yield of 48 per cent. In practice, Nathan has yet to make a penny of profit after five years. “Since the law was changed to pay benefits direct to tenants instead of landlords, rent arrears are my biggest problem,” he says. Being based hundreds of miles away means Nathan has to rely on a managing agent to sort out problems – a system that’s far from ideal.

So far from making millions, he isn’t making anything at all.

“If even the Investors’ Chronicle has realised that there are slum landlords…”

Actually they have realised there are slum tenants:

“The problem is, the government have no idea what being on the dole in the north east is like,” he says. “These tenants don’t want the responsibility of having to budget and hand money over to the landlord every two weeks. Most can’t read or write.”

The English House Condition Survey (EHCS) 2006 reported that in the Social Sector there were approximately 1.3m non decent homes. In the private sector there were 6.8m non decent homes of which 1.3m are privately rented which equates to 50% of all private rented dwellings.

Although why anyone would listen to what looks like the usual self-interested mouthpiece of the welfare industry is beyond me.

“Every now and then you get a nasty shock. Drug dealers operating from a property; someone found dead after ten days; a tenant who hacked into the attic and sold the hot water tank for scrap metal. The RSPCA once boarded up one of my properties as the tenant walked off, and left behind a menagerie of reptiles.”

So pretty much par for the course as far as Housing Estates go? Would you really claim that these issues are not vastly worse in State owned housing?

26. ex-Labour voter

Yes, quite right of Liam Byrne to say that the unemployed should do more to find a job.

If these people were serious about getting a job then they would get off their lazy backsides and get themselves parachuted into safe Labour seats like Byrne did.

I wonder what Byrne will advocate next, slashing the tyres on someone’s wheelchair, perhaps?

Byrne’s career should be over already for feeding the Coalition its best line. Idiot.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/17/liam-byrne-note-successor

SMFS @ 24

every import is also an export. If we buy Japanese goods, the Japanese must buy something from us

What about the trade deficit? Just because we import something from one sector deoes not we could shift people to that sector does it? There is no guarantee that that what we export will be as labour intensive as we import. Given that we import high labour intense products, it is very unlikely that we are exporting the equivalent those products. Anyway, no matter how you count it those exporters ar already creating jobs.

Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it untrue. I am not sure that your point is even relevant. What are you trying to say?

You have been peddling this shite for as long as I can remember, but every time you do, you are asked the same question. Why is it that the areas of the Country with highest average wages also have the highest employment? Why is that places that have the lowest wages appear to have fewest people work? If your contention that high wages destroys jobs, then surely the opposite would be true? I think it is a gross over simplification to say ‘high wages cost jobs’.

I don’t know what jobs there would be.

Yeah, fucking sure you don’t, all these wonderful examples of full employment all over the World and you cannot identify a single job we are missing out on. Not a single job, eh?

But in countries with no welfare, there is also no unemployment.

So, no umeployment in South America? Africa or even Asia? None? Full employment all of these Countries, then? So you would rather come back with a feeble answer and make a fucking twat of yourself than admit that you are fucking wrong again?

Typical fucking Tory. You think no-one has ever been outside the Country? You think none of us have ever witnessed anything other than European Countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_unemployment_rate

how many of these Countries hve no welfare States?

29. So Much For Subtlety

28. Jim – “What about the trade deficit?”

There are also, as I said, capital flows.

“Just because we import something from one sector deoes not we could shift people to that sector does it?”

Sorry but what is that supposed to mean? No, if we import something in one sector we should not move people to that sector. We should move them to some other sector where we can compete. What’s your point?

“There is no guarantee that that what we export will be as labour intensive as we import. Given that we import high labour intense products, it is very unlikely that we are exporting the equivalent those products. Anyway, no matter how you count it those exporters ar already creating jobs.”

No there isn’t. Your point is what? In fact you’re right and we are more likely to import high labour products. So what? We are still not exporting jobs. Our GDP remains the same. We consume as much (in fact more) as we did before. Which means there are other jobs for people to go to. As there can never be a shortage of jobs.

“You have been peddling this shite for as long as I can remember, but every time you do, you are asked the same question. Why is it that the areas of the Country with highest average wages also have the highest employment?”

I don’t recall being asked that question. It is not true for one thing. It is not relevant for another. You can keep asking the same dumb question as often as you like. If it is irrelevant, it will remain irrelevant. Why do you think this has any link to this conversation at all?

“Why is that places that have the lowest wages appear to have fewest people work?”

They don’t.

“If your contention that high wages destroys jobs, then surely the opposite would be true? I think it is a gross over simplification to say ‘high wages cost jobs’.”

My contention is not that high wages destroys jobs. My contention is that wages have a market price and more specifically low productivity demands low wages. If you insist that the lowly productive are paid more than they produce, they will not have jobs. It is entirely possible to pay manufacturing workers well – if they are productive. As Germans, for instance, are.

“Yeah, fucking sure you don’t, all these wonderful examples of full employment all over the World and you cannot identify a single job we are missing out on. Not a single job, eh?”

Why would I? Only the market can tell.

“So, no umeployment in South America? Africa or even Asia? None? Full employment all of these Countries, then? So you would rather come back with a feeble answer and make a fucking twat of yourself than admit that you are fucking wrong again?”

Yes, well, to be strictly accurate, no unemployment.

“Typical fucking Tory. You think no-one has ever been outside the Country? You think none of us have ever witnessed anything other than European Countries.”

I have no idea what you have witnessed but given your lack of grasp of the basics of this issue I am not sure it matters.

“how many of these Countries hve no welfare States?”

How many of these countries have official statistics that are utterly at odds with the reality on the ground? The majority of those countries have highly regulated economies with, naturally, massive informal sectors. The government may count someone in an informal job as unemployed but they are not. As for welfare states, quite a few of them given that high unemployment seems to be linked there with formerly being a Communist state. Although, as I said, it is most likely to be the regulation, not the welfare in those cases.

Byrne’s ideas have little to do with rewarding the virtuous and everything to do with punishing the disadvantaged. Byrne thinks that the poor have too much and that if we make it harder for them to live, have a home, maintain a family, they’ll suddenly jump up from their armchairs or out of their wheelchairs and take up one of the countless well-paid job opportunities homogeneously available across the whole country… Oh! Hang on a minute!… That last bit about “countless well-paid job opportunities” isn’t true is it? Sorry. Got it completely wrong there. Anybody would think I was Ed Miliband or something!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Deborah Segalini

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/06/14/how-liam-byrne-could-help-save-his-career-through-welfare-reform/

  2. Hal Berstram

    "Dear Liam Byrne, there are no shadow cabinet votes left": good stuff from Don Paskini http://t.co/XGvoAd5

  3. BendyGirl

    How Liam Byrne could help save his career thru welfare reform http://t.co/rUkNe5O via @libcon Read & if you agree RT til your fingers bleed

  4. Sue Marsh

    How Liam Byrne could help save his career thru welfare reform http://t.co/rUkNe5O via @libcon Read & if you agree RT til your fingers bleed

  5. Sue Marsh

    How Liam Byrne could help save his career thru welfare reform http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon Read & if you agree RT til your fingers bleed

  6. Kirstie Bebbington

    How Liam Byrne could help save his career thru welfare reform http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon Read & if you agree RT til your fingers bleed

  7. Margo Milne

    How Liam Byrne could help save his career through welfare reform | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/5ZQFZgm via @libcon

  8. Sue Marsh

    How Liam Byrne cld help save his career through welfare reform | LibCon http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon << THIS v surprising! PLS RT!

  9. Joe Cassels

    How Liam Byrne cld help save his career through welfare reform | LibCon http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon << THIS v surprising! PLS RT!

  10. Mabel Horrocks

    How Liam Byrne cld help save his career through welfare reform | LibCon http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon << THIS v surprising! PLS RT!

  11. Barbara Hulme

    How Liam Byrne cld help save his career through welfare reform | LibCon http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon << THIS v surprising! PLS RT!

  12. Thomas Hemingford

    We will help @liambyrnemp save his career if he listens on welfare reform http://t.co/QY08YZ6 says @donpaskini

  13. Stuart White

    Witty and wise post on welfare reform from @donpaskini http://t.co/9K1mVlV via @libcon

  14. Jill Hayward

    How Liam Byrne cld help save his career through welfare reform | LibCon http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon << THIS v surprising! PLS RT!

  15. Broken OfBritain

    MUST READ: How #LiamByrne could help save his career through #welfarereform http://t.co/AEYb7FS via @libcon << #disability #WCA

  16. BendyGirl

    MUST READ: How #LiamByrne could help save his career through #welfarereform http://t.co/AEYb7FS via @libcon << #disability #WCA

  17. GOVManslaughter

    MUST READ: How #LiamByrne could help save his career through #welfarereform http://t.co/AEYb7FS via @libcon << #disability #WCA

  18. Pat Cox

    RT @BrokenOfBritain: MUST READ: How #LiamByrne cld hlp save his creer thru #welfarereform http://bit.ly/jYCnoW via @libcon #disability #WCA

  19. GOVManslaughter

    RT @BrokenOfBritain: MUST READ: How #LiamByrne cld hlp save his creer thru #welfarereform http://bit.ly/jYCnoW via @libcon #disability #WCA

  20. Independent Woman

    MUST READ: How #LiamByrne could help save his career through #welfarereform http://t.co/AEYb7FS via @libcon << #disability #WCA

  21. Mandy C

    How Liam Byrne cld help save his career through welfare reform | LibCon http://t.co/gll2bRj via @libcon << THIS v surprising! PLS RT!

  22. Sue Marsh

    How Liam Byrne could help save his career through welfare reform | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/gnGmOZn << startling #spoonie #tBoB read

  23. Nick H.

    We will help @liambyrnemp save his career if he listens on welfare reform http://t.co/QY08YZ6 says @donpaskini

  24. paulstpancras

    How Liam Byrne could help save his career through welfare reform | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/i868pfR via @libcon





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