In giving you the contents of a forthcoming Ministerial speech I shall start with a Jewish joke. A man is seeking a new suit and a friend recommends a bespoke tailor. Good morning, sir, he was greeted, welcome. As you can see we specialise in grey suits. I want a blue suit was the customer response. No problem, sir, just one minute while I change the bulb. The moral being one size (colour) does fit all.
I am hurt by the suggestion that the Coalition Government’s Benefit proposals will lead to the creation of areas of the country that will be dubbed Gulags. As you know, we have suggested a single Universal Benefit, including a range of separate Benefits at present, and in particular Housing Benefit, and its capping at no more than the average wage. It has been said that in areas with high rents, for example Greater London but many other areas as well, rents are so high that families on Benefit will not be able to live the area at all. (Someone mutters from the audience, The Law of Unintended Consequences).
Perhaps this will happen. I am not saying nay or yea. But if it does will this be a bad thing? Do you think the posh people of Kensington wish to have a substantial number of poor people in their streets. Be reasonable, would you like it? If these people move to an area with others of their kind, will they not be happier. Of course they will. In these areas there will be plenty of Council Houses and we shall help the local authorities to build new low cost homes so that other poor people can move in. You cannot say that this policy will be partisan because although the high cost areas will continue to elect Tories there is a good chance that these new Gulags we are creating will elect Socialists. This construction activity will create jobs. With a bit of luck we can attract charitable funds.
What I wish to convey to you is that when considered in the round the scheme will save huge sums of public money. And we shall not be mean about this. Families migrating to a Gulag will travel in special trains. We shall provide the name tags and the lunch boxes. People will be very, very happy. Why shouldn’t they be?
You may think this post of mine a nonsense. Hold on. Think a bit. Ken Clarke’s prison reforms will create a new class of voluntary labour. If you live in a Gulag without a prison let me know. We can get one shifted to your town and your community will benefit.
Do you get the message? With a little ‘here’s your uncle’ one size can suit all the poor deserving or otherwise. Cut the deficit, we are all in this together, hurrah for the Big Society.