The Plastic Hippo

June 6, 2012

London Bridge is falling down

Filed under: Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 1:00 am

It might possibly be a genuine misunderstanding. It might only have involved a single company and only 80 people. It might be just a series of unfortunate events but the jubilee steward’s debacle might just be the breaking timber that brings this whole rotten shambles tumbling down.

The facts are shocking enough. Unemployed people forced to work unpaid or lose benefits are driven through the night from Plymouth, Bristol and Bath. Arriving at three o`clock in the morning, they are told to get their heads down under London Bridge. Two hours later they are woken and issued with their work clothes, a high visibility tabard and a plastic cape. There are no toilet facilities and they have to change clothes in public. They are given a muffin and a packet of crisps which they must save as it is their lunch. At the end of a 14 hours shift in the cold and the rain, they are transported to a campsite in the Essex marshes where they are allowed to pitch the tents they have provided themselves. They have been stewarding the Jubilee River Pageant.

This disgraceful state of affairs was brought about by the government`s Workfare scheme. It works like this: people claiming job seekers allowance are referred to a “charity”, in this case an agency called Tomorrow`s People, who find placements in industry for training and work experience. The “charity” takes a cut and the company acquires free labour. The company, in this case, is Close Protection UK, a private security firm, one of a number of private contractors who were awarded contracts to provide security at the Queen`s jubilee. The details of the contract must have contained set levels of staffing for the tasks being paid for and it is entirely coincidental that Close Protection UK allegedly dismissed trained, qualified and experienced security staff just days before the buses started rolling out of Plymouth and Bristol. So 80 of the staff specified in the contract require no wages for the services. The Department for Work and Pensions pays the money to the “charity” and the Home Office pays the money to the contractor. Clever, huh?

One might think that Ed Miliband and his chums would be up in arms over this outrageous scam but most have remained strangely silent. It was left to John Prescott to huff and puff about the “duty of care” that a company has to provide adequate working conditions for Workfare placements and has gone so far as to write to the Home Secretary for an explanation. Workfare, you see, was invented by New Labour soon after they came to power in 1997, only way back then it was called New Deal. Prescott knows that it won`t be him being reminded of this by Cameron across the dispatch box, it will be the mute Miliband.

Only public revulsion can bring down this teetering pack of cards and once the euphoria of being given a couple of days off to wave some flags at some boats has worn off, the great, patriotic British public might need to consider this: profiteering has placed the life of our most graceful and amazing and lovely majesty and her lovely and amazing and wonderful family in great danger. Imagine if you will, a Thames embankment crowded with a joyous populace. A man pushes his way through the throng and approaches a steward. “Good heavens”, he says, “you look exhausted and hungry and without any qualifications in security. Here, have my Kingmac double whopper with cheese and this side of fries. Now you just sit down here while I assemble my snipers rifle”.

One of the most moving highlights of the spectacular parade of small boats was the stirring rendition of Rule Britannia not once but twice. The crowds cheered and sang along with gusto. One wonders if the Workfare placements, cold, wet, hungry and far from home had the energy to sing:

“Britons, never, never, never shall be slaves.”

Or did they sing:

“Wood and clay will wash away, bricks and mortar will not stay, iron and steel will bend and bow, silver and gold will be stolen away, my fair majesty.”



  1. TT has produced stuff that smells better. Assuming everything reported with regard to the unemployed stewards is true, this is just shameful.

    Comment by kate Goodall — June 6, 2012 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

  2. Hippo

    I fear that you have underestimated the taste of the Great British Public.

    I suspect that the general view is that there are those that serve, those who are served and those who are served right for being lazy and possibly falsley incapacitated (ref. Ian Duncan Smith).

    Let’s face it – these are REAL jobs, involving REAL people and not an opportunity that any right-minded individual would turn down. Except that there was no care, no consideration, no respect and no pay given to the poor sods who sought to comply with the press-gang mentality that now prevails in the market of the unemployed.

    It is little wonder that the recorded numbers of non-working people will soon plateau and then decline. Indignity heaped upon indignity will undoubtedly cause a significant drop in the jobless quota, as the aged, infirm and impoverised will, by degree, elect to either go underground or to vote for euthanasia.

    This will satisfy Government number crunchers. They will again be able to show some success in driving down the number of people dependent on State support (ref. George Osborne).

    Alternatively, Cameron and Clegg could declare Essex as a Refugee Safe Haven.

    The Realist

    Comment by The Realist — June 7, 2012 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

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