It's entirely voluntary and the idea is supposed to be to give young people the experience of holding down a job, of getting up in the morning, of working as part of a team and so on. Just without the experience of GETTING PAID FOR IT.
I have listened to the lovely Sarah Teather defending this government scheme, and pointing out that 50% of people who try it out DO go on to get a proper job afterwards. And I've heard that the scheme is terribly popular and that people are desperate to get on it. But with record youth unemployment, YOU'D be desperate for anything that might give you an edge too, wouldn't you. And I just can't get over the NIGGLING feeling that we have MINIMUM WAGE legislation in this country for a REASON.
We already know that the minimum wage is set TOO LOW. Otherwise why do we need to have WORKING TAX CREDITS? Surely we all know that these were not just the moody monomaniac's compulsion to control who is and is not "deserving" but also Mr Frown's ADMISSION that he would rather make other taxpayers subsidise criminally low salaries than force his new chums in big business to pay a living wage. A win-win for the authoritarian friend of the millionaires!
And now we're letting them pay NOTHING and getting people to work for the price of their benefits.
OK, it's not "slave" labour because you can just walk away; but it is a BLEEDIN' LIBERTY!
If a job needs doing – and burgers DO need flipping, shelves DO need stacking – then it ought to be worth PAYING someone to do it. If your company is getting some desperate youth to do it while on the Job Seekers, then that's a PAYING JOB LOST.
Actually, the superficially-hilarious story of a Hard Labour MP going bananas and head-butting a Conservatory and then punching one of his own whips look like it might be a bit of a tragedy.
Mr Eric Joyce, the MP in question, looks like he might have gone off the rails after his wife left him. Or possibly vice versa. Either way, it looks like he could have done with a lot more care and attention from his colleagues before it got to this stage.
And let's not forget that WE didn't necessarily handle Charles Kennedy's drinking problem terribly well either.
The impossible financial situation in Greece rumbled on. On the one fluffy foot, you can UNDERSTAND why the Euro-bankers might want everyone in the Greek Parliament to sign up to the latest rescue plan – with fresh elections on the way, the temptation must be for an opposition party to repudiate the deal and stand on a platform of abandoning the austerity. And they'd probably WIN. The next government will surely be tempted to default, meaning the bankers will lose all the money they're considering loaning to the current government. So OBVIOUSLY they want everyone to be as IMPLICATED as everyone else.
But on the other fluffy foot, the bailout loans are basically by-passing the Greek people and going straight back to the banks that loaned them too much money in the first place.
Anyway, the Greek government managed to pull itself together long enough to even more pain... and then the Euro-bankers kept them waiting another week before grudgingly agreeing to hand over the cash rather than let the mother of democracy go bust. Which was nice.
Lots of people continued to opine that Greece will "obviously" have to leave the Euro, as though this makes any sense at all. ANY new Greek currency will fall through the floor faster than you can say TARTARUS, and leave them with raging hyper-inflation on top of their massive EURO-DENOMINATED debts. The problem for the Eurozone remains, as I've said before, north-European (especially German) reluctance to take some responsibility for the economic disparities and agree to GIVE MONEY to the poorer parts of the continent.
Unsurprisingly, the Greeks responded to this with the now the traditional riots.
Confusion still seems to abound concerning why we can't just send a man who has been convicted of no crime to a country where they probably obtained the evidence against him by torturing some other people until they were willing to say anything. I'll spell it out for you: BECAUSE IT IS WRONG!
I'm sure it won't be long before some MORON comes along saying "what about the human rights of our womens and childrens"... oh, look, here comes the egregious Conservatory idiot Mr Peter Bonehead to say "What about the human rights of all our citizens - our men and women and children?"
Listen, numbskull, the thing about Universal Human Rights is that they're either Universal or they're worthless. Once you start making EXCEPTIONS for SPECIAL CASES then you open the door to letting any Tom, Dictator or Harry say that YOUR human rights are a SPECIAL CASE. Immediately before applying the electrodes.
Thankfully we've got a Liberal Democrat like Lord Alec Carlisle to say: "It is extraordinary that this man should remain in the United—" oh for fluff's sake.
Look, I have no doubt that Mr Qatada is a VERY BAD MAN. Which is surely all the more reason to KEEP HIM HERE where we can KEEP AN EYE ON HIM rather than just booting him out of the country and hoping that he'll be somebody else's problem. If he breaks the law, prosecute him and send him to prison. And if he doesn't... then what's the problem?
And now we learn that the government – the first government with PROPER LIBERALS IN for almost a century – wants to tinker with the Human Rights Convention.
Right now, we are begging the Syrian government to stop blowing up their own citizens, and trying to persuade the Chinese to be a bit less brutal, and MPs are going to debate Bad Vlad and the Russians' human rights record. So we WANT these people to look to the human rights court – the court that WE, Great Britain, were PROUD to set up following World War Part Two – and we WANT them to see responsible countries – like, maybe, US – obeying the rulings of the court. Because that way maybe EVERYONE gets a few more human rights.
So are we REALLY choosing NOW to start bad-wording about with the court? Please tell me this is a BAD CHEESE DREAM!
Lady Insider Warsi and definitely-not-a-lady Eric Pickled and man-in-a-frock (or is he a lady?) Mr Lord Canary all rush to the defence of the poor Christians who are being oppressed by a court ruling that no they cannot use the council agenda to COMPEL non-Christians to attend prayers. Shockingly, if they want to talk to their invisible friend they are completely free to do so so long as they do it in their own time and don't make other people join in. In her Valentine to Mr the Pope, Lady Warsi said this was up there with the invasion of Poland. Someone should have reminded her to not mention the War.
And THEN Mrs the Queen barrels in, reminding us all how LUCKY we are to have an established Church to defend the rights of anyone who wants to believe in religion. 'Cos I'm SURE that's how it works, and I for one look forward to seeing Brenda standing up for someone's right to conduct a black mass...
I know I'm always on about Mr Bully Balls shooting his mouth off, but this month he really took the biscuit. AGAIN.
When the credit rating agency Moody's put Great Britain on a WARNING that we might be downgraded from our Triple-A risk rating if Master Gideon doesn't stick tight to his austerity programme, the Shadow Chancer took to the airwaves to announce this was a sign that Master Gideon should, er, abandon his austerity plan.
Basically, Moody's said "take one step closer to Mr Balls' position and we shoot you". Which Mr Balls took as an endorsement. And did any of the interviewers ask him about this blatant contradiction? GET A CLUE!
Apparently sending a PRINCE and a BOAT to the Falklands counts as a "dangerous militarisation". At least that is what the President of Argentina is to complain to the United Nations about. Mind you, according to the BBC's then-and-now comparison, it looks like these days the Falklands would stand a better chance of taking Argentina if the islanders invaded them. Fortunately, the Argentinians have Oscar-winning Sean the Sheep on their side. So that's all right then.
We love Mr Ed. We love Mr David Outlaws. But if –I only say IF – this IS the end of the road for the Huhney-Monster, then couldn't we at least PRETEND to consider one of the EXCELLENT candidates of the LADY persuasion?
Sparkling Ms Lynne Featherweight; lovely Sarah Teather; could it even be time for Ms Jo Winsome? (Yes, that's a BIG jump straight to cabinet but, you know… Jo WINSOME!)
Let's be CLEAR: these three are NO ONE's TOKEN woman. Yes, it would be HUGELY helpful to have one (or MORE!) of them in the Cabinet as a role model and to show how SERIOUSLY we take promoting women within the party. BUT by ANYONE'S reckoning, they are ALL among the BEST and BRIGHTEST that the Party has to offer, regardless of whereabouts they keep their reproductive organs!
Ms Lynne, Queen of the Lib Dem Blog-o-sphere, is surely the BEST candidate. She's carved out a HUGE role in the Home Office, demonstrating the ability to drive through the LIBERAL agenda, and even persuading Ms Teresa May-Not of the case for diversity and equality.
Lovely Sarah is the me-sized dynamo who has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to hold her Brent seat against insane odds (up to and including her own sense of humour), who has ALSO been key to delivery of the Liberal Democrat manifesto pledge on the PUPIL PREMIUM.
And as for tireless campaigner Jo Winsome… ANYONE who has met her will tell you she's AWESOME, an absolute star, destined for great things, and – so long as Scotland doesn't do anything DAFT like wandering off towards independence – a sure bet for future leadership. She's also a mate of my Daddies, so not at all biased there!
Anyway, they're all TOP MPs.
So COME ON, Cap'n Clegg! Do the RIGHT THING and increase our Cabinet Gender-balance by INFINITY PERCENT!