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Camden New Journal - COMMENT
Published: 24 July 2008
The miracle cure in a poisoned chalice

THE miracle cure for so-called dole and benefit scroungers – the blueprint the minister James Purnell unveiled on Monday – has been given gung-ho headlines, especially in the tabloids.
It is bound to affect thousands of people in Camden, and elsewhere.
They are soon to discover that while they are indifferent to high-minded politics – something that goes on in a faraway place known as Westminster – politics is very much interested in them.
The Purnell plan, largely stolen from David Cameron, has been stitched together to win votes from Middle Englanders who are largely in-work.
And with Labour so low in the polls, it is little wonder Mr Purnell has produced this new bag of tricks.
Any government would be failing in its duty if it was not prepared to regularly prune the welfare system.
The Purnell Plan is intended to force long-term unemployed into community work in order to hack away at the billions spent on dole payments.
But has Mr Purnell costed how much it will cost local authorities to police the system? For instance, will extra people have to be employed to manage the gangs of graffiti cleaners and others doing similar community shifts? Won’t all that be horrendously costly?
Money saved in one direction will be frittered away in another.
Is this another case of the unintended consequence of ill-thought-out government proposals?
Gordon Brown could provide proper jobs that would help to reduce the dole queues. He could borrow and spend his way out of the recession – along the proven Keynesian track – by, for instance, giving new life to the dying building trade through the creation of a massive council housing programme.
This would, among other things, boost our vulnerable manufacturing industry and stop the flood of jobs pouring out of the building trade.
LAST night (Wednesday) was a bad night for democracy in Camden. Sound arguments, carefully crafted and embraced by hundreds of people, mainly Somers Towners, against the plan to bolt the Frank Barnes School for the Deaf onto the site of Edith Neville school, was swotted away – almost ­arrogantly – by the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition (see page 4). Cries that the plan was part of a speedy decision to set up an Academy school in Swiss Cottage – again against much opposition – went unheeded. A ­triumph for political bigotry over commonsense.

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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