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Home > Politics

Quick Fix No. 2,236: Community Slavery

2 March 2007

One of the great unfairnesses of life is the way some people impress others because no one knows what they’re *really* like. We’re warned of this possibility in childhood, when your parents say things like ‘Paul’s such a sensible boy!’, not realising that Paul has a habit of throwing dead animals off motorway flyovers. The phenomenon continues in adulthood, when someone you fancy says ‘Steve’s really nice!’ and you can’t point out that Steve chucked his last girlfriend to avoid paying for her abortion. (Not without looking a bit twisted, anyway.)

And so it is with Gordon Brown, who, by keeping out of the limelight, has so far managed to avoid being associated with bad policy decisions. However, as he inches closer to Downing Street, he’s started coming up with his ‘own’ policy ideas, many of which are worryingly similar to the quick-fix, media-led initiatives associated with Blair. Brown’s latest idea is to get new immigrants to do voluntary work in the community, something that has no obvious benefit to anyone. It’s also worth pointing out that:

1) You’re either allowed to settle in the UK or you’re not. If your immigration application is approved, why should you have to do drudge work usually reserved for teenage criminals?

2) The idea is obviously media-led. Immigration horror stories are eagerly reported by the press, as is the fact that the government has clearly fucked up on immigration on several occasions (not knowing how many illegal immigrants there are, not deporting criminals, etc.) This suggests the policy is little more than a crude sop to vindictive and/or racist tabloid readers: ‘Yeah, get the buggers picking up litter! That’ll teach ‘em to be black!’

3) The actual problem Brown is supposedly addressing is immigrants who don’t want to integrate. Whether this is a significant problem is open to question, but even if someone resolutely doesn’t want to integrate with UK society, is a couple of months of community service going to make any difference whatsoever? (No.) (Of course not.)

It’s this last point that really irks us: even if a problem with integration exists, Brown’s solution is totally irrelevant. If you applied the New Labour approach to the rest of your life, you’d soon be in a pretty pickle. Why not take this simple test and see if you’d be better employed as a New Labour policy advisor?

You forget your girlfriend’s birthday. What do you do?

A. Do the best you can in the circumstances and get some Black Magic from the 24-hour garage.

B. Apologise and make it up to her by getting a more expensive
present than you were originally planning to.

C. Make an effigy of Rick Parfitt out of earwax.

If you answered ‘C’... etc.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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