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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all