Today’s High Court decision to uphold Cait Reilly’s appeal over her being forced to participate in the government’s workfare scheme on pain of having her JSA stopped, is a rare victory for human decency.
Currently thousands of people up and down the country, who through no fault of their own are struggling to find employment, are suffering the indignity and coercion of workfare. It is reflective of the callous disregard for the human rights of the poor and most vulnerable in society by this government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.
In conjunction with the social injustice of the controversial and ongoing Atos re-assessments of people on disability, the upcoming bedroom tax designed to punish people on housing benefit, workfare will be remembered as a low point in the nation’s social history in years to come. The criminalisation of poverty and the demonisation of the unemployed and people on benefits is in itself a crime.
Cait Reilly’s victory today gives millions who are currently suffering as a direct result of the government’s attacks on benefit claimants hope, reminding them that they are not scum and that they do not have to accept being bullied, harassed, intimidated, and coerced – that they can fight back and they can win.
Bertolt Brecht once wrote that ‘Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.’
Britain in 2013 is just such an unhappy land and Cait Reilly is indeed a hero.