1980s >> 1986 >> no-980-april-1986

Mis-spent Youth

It seems that the government’s new two-year Youth Training Scheme has got off to a sticky start. The television advertisement suggests that, given two years “training”, young unemployed workers can become virtually anything they wish, from circus clowns and musicians to business tycoons and professional footballers—all grateful for receiving a place on the new scheme. Full-page newspaper adverts show how a youth writing “SPURS” on a wall with a can of spray paint is transformed into an employed signwriter working on the lettering of a sign at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

But if the waste of unemployment and the YTS makes us angry, we should not jump to the conclusion that “real” employment is the answer. It is in fact the problem. For as long as workers think its natural to work for a boss in return for wages or salaries then we will periodically be faced with mass unemployment, as market forces indicate to our bosses that it is no longer profitable to hire us.

This brings us to the Labour Party, which no longer claims that it can bring about full employment, but that it could lower the figures. Here the Labour Party reaches the depths of political dishonesty. If there was such a master plan to reduce unemployment would not all governments implement the necessary policies? Come to think of it—why haven’t Labour cured capitalism of unemployment in their past governments? So what is Labour’s secret plan for slashing unemployment?

Well, it is a pretty cunning one. It seems that their latest ply is to capture the hearts of Britain’s youth by wheeling out pop stars (spokesmen for the young generation) like Billy Bragg and Paul Weller to sing passionately about the effects of capitalism—and then tell us to vote for capitalism’s great friend the Labour Party. But the oddest solutions come from Labour’s intellectual heavyweights like Michael Meacher. They claim that “real” jobs could be created by improving Britain’s roads and sewage system.

To suggest that such “public works” schemes can solve unemployment is to misunderstand capitalism—a madness fostered by massive advertising campaigns and a constant barrage of political propaganda which claims that employment is natural. However, many workers see that YTS schemes don’t teach real skills and are extremely exploitative. Workers should look at their own daily employment and ask the question: Is the boss doing you a favour by employing you, or are you doing him or her the favour of creating their profits and privileged lifestyles?

Derek Devine

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