Saturday, 23 March 2013

Let's Sanction Ministers!

What's sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander.

Thoughts about sanctions
It started off by musing on sanctions. DWP sanctions targets are in the news and I was wondering whether – rather than abolish sanctions for those on JSA – we might instead extend sanctions to MPs.

At the present, we seem to have a Chancellor who’s wrecking the economy, a Health Secretary who’s dismantling the NHS, a Welfare Minister who’s actively harming the poor and vulnerable etc. Why do ordinary people have a whole set of targets and consequences, but our Chancellor can lose the country’s AAA credit rating and bowl into work the next day as though nothing had happened.

Beyond Parliament, there are even worse examples. RBS heads can lose £bns and still get huge bonuses. The Head of the NHS can preside over a hospital that actively kills its patients, and get promoted!

A terrifying prospect?
Socialists do not oppose sanctions – anybody who’s heard of Soviet 'War Communism' knows that – and there’s little wrong with sanctions as long as the tasks set and the consequences attached are reasonable. What’s wrong with the DWP sanctions is not that there are sanctions – it’s the fact that the Job Centres are sending Special Needs adults home with a ten-page document to complete, and requiring people with no IT skills to function online, and then – effectively – trying to starve them to death when they fail.

A policy of appropriate sanctions applied across the piste would terrify the Tories. What sanction, for example, would you apply for driving some poor soul to suicide by a poorly-conceived bedroom tax? What sanction is appropriate for throwing millions out of a full-time job?

We have targets for everything nowadays. Some of them are utterly uncompromising. A teacher has to get certain percentages of his pupils through their exams, whatever their intelligence, whatever their background, whatever their personalities. A favourite government trick at the moment is to up the targets whilst reducing the funding – that really raises workers’ stress levels.

So why no targets for ministers?
I don’t even see that this is such a far-out idea.

We could start with some basic, easy ones:

  • Chancellor: do not wreck the economy
  • Health: do not give away the NHS
  • And it would be nice to have a DWP Minister who was a human being.

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