The Tories have announced draconian new plans to disqualify people from claiming benefits and force existing claimants into unpaid work – and the first to be targeted will be those claiming incapacity benefit.
Following a review, thousands will be told that they are now ineligible for benefits. The review will be undertaken by a private company – which will make more money every time they strike-off a claimant.
David Cameron has also said that people who receive jobseekers’ allowance for two years should be forced into voluntary community work.
The plans will rightly remind people of the viciousness of the Tories’ agenda but many know that work and pensions secretary Peter Hain has already announced a similar scheme.
That the main political parties attempt to make political capital by attacking those on benefits speaks volumes about how far removed they are from the lives of ordinary people.
It also explains why many people see little difference between the policies of New Labour and the Conservatives.
The bigoted bishop
The liberals and right wingers who support the “war on terror” insist that their anti-Muslim diatribes are aimed solely at “extremists”.
But their barely concealed bigotry cannot help but reveal itself – as the disgusting comments made by the Bishop of Rochester last Sunday have shown.
The bishop claimed Muslims had set up “no go” areas across Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter, and he blamed the “novel philosophy of multiculturalism” for this.
The right wing press has leapt with glee on the bishop’s fantasies. The Daily Telegraph’s Philip Johnston applauded him for pointing out the “impact of a growing Muslim population upon the very fabric of the nation”.
The Daily Express’s Leo McKinstry celebrated that “at last a trumpet blast has been sounded against the creeping Islamification of Britain”.
This kind of rancid rhetoric serves to create a climate in which bigotry can flourish. It is ordinary Muslims who will pay the price for the bishop’s rants in the form of increased racism and physical attacks.
With his outrageous outburst, it is the bishop who is creating “no-go” zones.
Blaming the victims
A measure of the prejudice in the criminal justice system can be seen in the case of Mohammed Ayub Sheikh, who was jailed last month for his part in the Bradford riots of 2001.
Seven years ago the multiracial city exploded in revolt after the Nazi National Front (NF) threatened to march through the city.
The NF wanted to attack the Asian community and spread hatred – and the police were determined to protect their “rights”.
When thousands of Asian youth took to the streets to defend their communities, the police rounded on them. Hundreds were arrested, and dawn raids swept up hundreds more.
Last month Mohammed became the 200th person to be jailed for fighting the NF.
In the years that have passed the poverty and racism that blight Bradford has increased but the state’s only response is to carry on blaming the victims.