John Harris

Journalist & Author

The return of benefit sanctions won’t help the Covi​d-19 jobs​ crisis | John Harris

As mass unemployment looms, the government is reverting to policies that have wrecked lives and worsened low pay and insecurity

As the government responds to the looming economic crisis, its approach seems to embody two polar opposites. The money it is spending to revive the economy is, we are told, not just unprecedented, but indicative of a huge change in Tory thinking, which shoves Conservatism away from the tenets of Thatcherism and everything that followed it. Chancellor Rishi Sunak tells us this is an administration “unencumbered by dogma”, Boris Johnson cites Franklin Roosevelt, and shocked Daily Telegraph columnists warn of a return to “Labour’s paternalistic corporatism”.

But viewed from another angle, it looks like the government is basically spending vast amounts of cash shoring up an economic model that is now on to its second meltdown in just over a decade. Covid-19 has magnified a social crisis centred on low pay and insecure work, an enduring housing crisis and inequality that defines millions of people’s everyday experience. Yet there is still no sign of any meaningful attempt to change those things. What some people call neoliberalism has, perhaps, reached the stage of high farce, whereby its supposedly rugged, laissez-faire model can only survive thanks to huge bailouts from the state. So, as the old quotation goes, for everything to stay the same, everything must change.

Related: Only 12% want a return to the old ‘normal’ Britain after Covid-19

Related: Care workers with coronavirus face an awful choice: live in poverty or risk killing your patient | Aditya Chakrabortty

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 13th, 2020 at 8:15 pm and is filed under Guardian RSS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. « Powerless, rudderless and adrift: Covid-19 has crystallised how England feels | John Harris | Now Britain stands at the crossroads. Will we choose dread or hope? | John Harris »
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