Are Tory ministers really so stupid that they think that leaving the blinds down is a crime?

In the idiotic claims they make about welfare claimants, the likes of Grant Shapps and George Osborne reveal how completely out of touch they are

Share
Related Topics

As this Government becomes more unpopular, there’s one way it tries to seem in touch with the people, which is to get angry about people on benefits. Its studies show this goes down well, so we’ll soon see Grant Shapps, above, on Newsnight saying: “My mate works down the Town Hall and he says nowadays these unemployed turn up with a list from John Lewis, and by law the council has to give it them. One bloke got a snooker table made out of Waterford Crystal. Another got Beyoncé to sing his fish to sleep, straight up. Paid for by you and me.”

Presumably, it’s this thinking that led to the phrase “families with the blinds down”. Grant Shapps, George Osborne and other ministers have described people on benefits like this, which is designed to make the Cabinet seem like ordinary folk fed up of welfare cheats.

But they don’t live in streets like that, they’ve just been told it’s a phrase other people use. If everyone in a focus group told Osborne that “the ones who make me sick are these people on the social with a giraffe in the kitchen”, he’d be banging his fist at the Tory Conference going: “No longer must hard working families have to put with people on the social with a giraffe in the kitchen.”

The idea they’re trying to get across is that unemployment is caused by the unemployed not wanting to work. Maybe this is true. In which case, in the 1920s everyone was full of beans, but in around 1931 three million people decided they couldn’t be bothered for a few years, though they perked up again around 1938 which was handy as it was just in time for the war – although, during the blackout, Osborne would have had the entire country evicted for having the blinds down all the time.

It’s a theory that might be difficult to explain to the people of Corby, where I’ve been this week. It’s a baffling town, as it’s in Northamptonshire but most people have a throaty Scottish accent. In the 1930s, a steelworks opened there, and 10,000 Scots left their homes to work there, many of them walking all the way. Then, in 1980, Margaret Thatcher decided the place should be shut, and 14,000 people were suddenly unemployed. Or maybe this was coincidence, and 14,000 people decided they couldn’t be bothered to get up any more, which makes sense as this was around the time duvets and morning television started.

Recently, Corby has recovered, but if you mention when the steelworks closed you get a forlorn gaze, as no one likes to talk about it, the way few people liked to recall fighting in the Somme. But they must all be wrong, because we’re all envious of the unemployed’s idyllic existence of Noel Edmonds, Cash in the Attic and perpetual darkness.

Mark Steel’s ‘In Town’ returns today on Radio 4 at 6.30pm

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Are multinationals really eclipsing nation states? Don’t bet on it

Boyd Tonkin
A residential tower block in an area of Southwark with a high concentration of social housing  

We desperately need to solve our housing crisis, but rent controls are not the answer

Mira Bar Hillel
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee