I don’t normally pay any attention to polls* but it’s awfully tempting to begin this post with “On a day when a Populus poll shows the Tories to have lost three points to the Lib Dems over Christmas…” so I will.

On a day when a Populus poll shows the Tories to have lost three points to the Lib Dems over Christmas, it comes as no surprise to hear once again the whining sound of David Cameron’s fingernails as he desperately scrabbles to cling on to the pitilessly vertical deck of the HMS Frothing Tory:

Benefit claimants will lose a month’s worth of state handouts for the first job they turn down, three months’ of payments for the second “reasonable offer” and a third employment refusal will be punished with a bar on unemployment benefits for up to three years.

Needless to say, “reasonable offer” is not defined. Now, this is a deeply undeserved digression but I do wonder sometimes whether politicians of every stripe might do well to be bolder about this sort of thing. It’s so easy to slag off the Tories for this little gem it actually bores me to petulant tears.

If Cameron had said, oh, say, “Now, don’t quote me on this, because we haven’t done our research, but I’m defining reasonable here as being a job that pays at least 80% of the average salary level in the area and which complies with all relevant regulations as regards paid holiday, sick leave, breaks and so forth and has a formal contract of employment providing protection for the employee whether temporary or permanent. Go on, bite me.” and then we could at least have engaged. Said things like, you’re totally missing the point about what makes a decent living-wage job, you stupid plummy thumb-man. Or, oh right, so you’d condemn people to a miserable, unsuitable position just to get them off your stats with no thought for their long-term welfare or, by extension, that of the economy, would you?

Stuff like that. Of course, had he said any such thing, he would have been quoted, and soundly pilloried for any departure from it following said further research (assuming, which I charitably will, that there are at least three people in the Conservative party who do Reading and Writing).

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Cameron: increasingly resembles a thumb

We’re oddly adolescent as a political society, aren’t we. We can’t cope with the idea that our authority figures might change their minds. “But you said!” we yelp in furious injury, and flounce out slamming the door. So they tiptoe round us. And one literally has no choice but to fall back on to background knowledge to work out what they might mean, an information strategy which somehow never seems to serve the Tories particularly well. Poor blossoms.

* No, the lady doth not protest too much, I really don’t pay much attention to them – unlike those of you who bluster furiously along similar lines and then furtively minimise seventeen Excel windows whenever anyone comes into the room. You dirty dogs.

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