If reports that The Chingford Slaphead wants to perform a surgical strike on Remploy - in the name of economy, of course - are true, that course of action will do nothing but pauperise the people who work in its factories.
That those factories are at a virtual standstill should not be surprising. We are in the middle of a recession by the end of which, if we are to believe some economists, we will have eaten the milk cows, be dressed in rags, have weeping sores and be thinking of bartering our wives for a potato.
That they should not have performed well financially over the long term should not be surprising. The goods they produce do not receive any preferential pricing treatment on the open market. It is astonishing that anyone believed they would ever make money when they must adhere to the iron, flesh-tearing dogmas of free trade.
If this report is true, then for what my opinion's worth I'll never believe a word that comes out of The Chingford Slaphead's mouth ever again. This is a financial assault upon society's weakest people. It gives the lie to any idea of a 'Big Society'. As far as the Tories are concerned, and regardless of whether those Tories wear red, blue or orange rosettes, your role in any Big Society is to take the lowest paying job you can find and pray that you're not either offshored or replaced by an immigrant, while gagging at talk of skills shortages.
But these people are different. These are people who are only employed because a decision was taken over 60 years ago that for them to be employed doing something, anything, was a noble end in itself. These are people who cannot compete in any kind of flexible labour market; that's the whole bloody point.
As I read that report, my mind turned back to the doctor who once signed me off Incapacity Benefit with a spiel that began 'Work's good for you, it gives you routine'. Recognising that this seemed like a well meaning spiel but a spiel nonetheless, one perhaps rooted in ideology and not medicine, I politely but firmly cut him off by telling him that I used to be a solicitor. I did not tell him that the employment I had just gained would be my 22nd post in 17 years. The desire of some disabled people to work should not be underestimated. Accordingly, if government still considers it to be a good thing for disabled people to work, it is astonishing that putting disabled people out of work should even be being contemplated. What are these people to do? Go on benefits, and be labelled a scrounger by The Daily Mail? These are people who only have jobs because other people once believed in the dignity of labour. If these factories are closed, then that really will be the final proof that the concept of dignity of labour is dead in this country. No doubt some 22 year old Tory, who knows nothing of God except that he doesn't believe in Him, will cheer its demise.
It's not the fault of the Remploy staff that they're not busy. What have the management been doing to get orders in? Have they been out cutting deals with B & Q, MFI, Homebase (Osborne & Little?) and the other leviathans of the British home furnishings market? Have they gone for the burn and tried to poach IKEA's designers? Or have they been good little mice, timidly poring over their spreadsheets and holding meeting after pointless meeting about how the KPI's relate to the SLA's and how nobody seems to be taking ownership of the process? Are their homes stocked full of Remploy products? Have they been eating their own cookie? Or has someone eaten their lunch? What have they been doing?
It's not as if they don't have a sound backer. They work for, er, us. Remploy could go out and buy IKEA tomorrow, if the British taxpayer gave it enough money to do so. However, that's unlikely to happen, because we're in the middle of a financial crisis, or at least that's what we're told. When the British have a financial crisis, they seek to solve it by throwing money at the people who've caused it and by letting those who don't pay their way, the tax avoiders, keep doing what they're doing. The folks on the shop floor at Remploy haven't been gambling on the subprime mortgage market. They've paid their taxes. Ergo, according to the perverse and inhuman nature of current British economic thinking, they've got to go.
However, I do hope that Remploy is unionised. These are precisely the kind of people who need the protection of trade unions. If you wish to see those who satisfy any definition of 'the weak' that you might care to offer, there they are. If they are not unionised, I for one would want to know why. If they are not, then, given the nature of Remploy and the needs of the people who work for it, that would amount to one of the most shocking derelictions by an employer of their duties of care to their employees that I can think of. I hope these people strike, if only to see just what depths the blue and orange Tories, and their attack sloths in that part of the filthy British press which in a truly just world would be behind bars, will plumb to slime them. These aren't big men with bad tempers, standing round braziers in front of locked gates and spoiling for a fight with the local bully cop. These are the learning disabled, the wheelchair-bound.
These are the meek, and one day they're going to inherit the Earth; and The Chingford Slaphead had better not forget it.