Gordon Brown's call to work had a very 20th century ring to it. "Work for all... we need to go further...the New Deal... ". Behind the New Deal lies the unpleasant reality of compulsion.

This is the requirement to which younger people have already been subjected of having to participate in an economic system to which some of them genuinely do not wish to contribute. Whether or not they are entitled to that view, has now become a question. Many people have been prepared to live modestly, to say the least, on state benefits, and to contribute to society in voluntary ways. They are the sort of people who tend to leave the lightest ecological footprints.

I have heard it argued by a rising labour MP, that removing benefits from those who do not apply themselves to job seeking as required, is actually a matter of choice rather than compulsion because they could do what they were told if they wanted to. This is sophistry of the nastiest sort.

The control over lives of individuals which this provision gives to junior state officials is most unwelcome. The phrase "mentoring" has unpleasant Orewellian undertones.

The idea of daily signing on is the classic example of the authoritarian mind set, and no doubt has been borrowed from the daily signing on at police stations for those awaiting trial in criminal cases.

It is no consolation that bureaucratic pressures on such systems nearly always means they work inefficiently. There is here a matter of principle which has been bypassed completely.

As regards the climb down on the fuel escalator George Monbiot has put the argument succinctly on Channel 4 News, that it hits the poorest 30% who do not have cars, and who have already suffered the most from the rise in public transport costs.

The arrival of creeping hypothecation signifies how the Treasury has submitted to spin. If tobacco can finance the N. H. S. perhaps a tax on cannabis could finance the Ministry of Defence. As things stand it is part of the "hidden economy which is draining billions" which is indeed a "loss of revenue and waste of resources".

french action over beef l response to Portillo l illegality of Trident
Jack Straw's Regime l Labour's commitment? I Gordon Brown and the New Deal
High Court and GM food I Lords Reform I Gulf War Veterans
The Queen's Speech I Local opinion on Portillo