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Bush tucker trials for Incapacity Benefit

December 11, 2008

column-picture1There have been a few issues that have been jostling for position in respect of comment this week.

There was the wrongful arrest of a Conservative MP, and the announcement in the Queen’s Speech that lie detector tests will be used for benefit claimants. But there is one thing to be mentioned above all – well done to Joe Swash for becoming the King of the Jungle!

What a lovely bloke. What a lovely friendship that developed with Gorgeous George. And what an example of fair-minded advocacy to all those politicians who have become blunted by the comfortable nature of Westminster celebrity.

I am genuinely proud of the country’s ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ voters. Not only for dispatching Robert Kilroy Silk first, but for choosing an admirable set of finalists in George Takei, Martina Navratilova and Joe Swash.

This was a show that, whilst I can’t really believe I got in to it as much as I did, had an uncanny knack of warming the cockles, and putting your faith back in human nature. Much more so, I have to tell you, than the crazy business that has been happening up in Westminster – the Damian Green Affair, and the new wheeze by the eminently dislikeable Secretary for Work & Pensions – James Purnell MP.

You may not know, but our own Labour MP got his chance to put a word in on the debate that took place following the arrest by the Police of Conservative frontbencher Damian Green.

I was disappointed that, given an opportunity to lambast the indiscriminate use of anti-terror legislation passed by his Government, Michael decided instead to make a couple of party political jibes at David Cameron.

It is not exactly clear to me what one has to do to become a member of the House of Lords, but I am sure that our MP is doing all the right things in order to rub shoulders with the likes of Peter Mandelson on a more regular basis.

As for the Queen’s Speech, I was absolutely incredulous to learn that Labour is to roll out across the country lie detector testing for benefit claimants.

Apparently the use of such equipment saved £300,000 in three months in Harrow, north-west London.

I am all for using technology, and all for adopting policies that work. But something inside me just recoils from this idea.

I know that the Government is branded Orwellian so often that the phrase has almost become meaningless, but there comes a point where we must refuse, as a country, their instinct to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

New Labour has always been ideologically bankrupt. It is presiding over an economy which is increasingly so. And a society in which lie detector equipment is preferred over proper support and incentives to break the cycle of worklessness in hard-to-reach communities, is not the Great Society promised in the new dawn of 1997.

Just have done with it I reckon.

Introduce bush tucker trials for Incapacity Benefit.

[What do you think about Government proposals to use lie-detector tests for benefit claimants?  Use the form below to send in your views]

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