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Sorry to disappoint you, Prime Minister, but this is, in fact, a cold, callous idea and you are a cold, callous man with a heart like a walnut left in a bonfire. ON THE GOOD DOLE DAYS.

Byline: John Niven

I was on the dole once. I loved it. It was only for a couple of years, when I was 20 or 21 and playing in a band.

Back then, this was something young folk did – you got your rent paid, a little bit of money to live on and you loafed around, wrote songs, rehearsed and dreamed of playing Wembley Stadium. (Well, we just dreamed of headlining the Sub Club in Glasgow, to be honest.)

Loafing around has much to recommend it. And it'll probably be completely off the menu soon – the one single piece of new policy hinted at by David Cameron in his (obviously sickening) speech at the Tory Conference last week was to suggest that the Government are intending to cut off benefits for under–25s.

Cameron said: "We should give young people a clear, positive choice – go to school, to college, do an apprenticeship, get a job."

He went on to add: "Let no one paint ideas like this as callous. Think about it – with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing?

" Sorry to disappoint you, David, but I'm about to do exactly that. This is a callous idea and you are a cold, callous man who undoubtedly has a heart like a walnut left in a bonfire.

I love my children and care greatly for their future. If they decide they just want to loaf around for a bit between the ages of 16 and 25, that's perfectly fine by me.

I did it and I'm doing fine, thanks. Sometimes "leaving kids to their own devices" is the best thing for them. Of course. your lot do this kind of stuff all the time, David – you just call it "having a gap year".

In fact, show me someone between the ages of 16 and 25 who already knows exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives and I'll show you an accountant.

Most of us need some time to figure it out. And what a bleak, dispiriting idea all of this is – get straight out of school and into some job, any job, and work till you die. What's wrong with loafing around and plotting and scheming for a bit?

I once worked at a record label called London Records. The company was owned Roger Ames, one of the most successful figures in the British music industry. Roger always placed a value on loafing, on holidays, on not being in the office all the time.

When you were in the office, he felt you were often just firefighting, dealing with problems. It was only when you were lying around doing nothing that you came up with your best ideas. He encouraged his execs to lie around.

Those of us lucky enough to work with him flourished. As did he – today Roger is worth somewhere north of PS150million.

Or look at Larry David, who created Seinfeld. He used to try to get fired from every job he ever had so he could collect unemployment benefit and work on his comedy writing. Larry David is an unashamed, self–avowed loafer who is worth more than $400million.

Or let's use the most famous example – JK Rowling, who wrote the first Harry Potter book while being supported by, you guessed it, the welfare system. Isn't she worth more than the Queen? Or there's Noel Gallagher who wrote the first Oasis album while on the dole or...

I could go on and on and on. I'm guessing the collective tax payments of a group of people like that would go a fair way towards supporting some others who might, one day, become like them.

Let me counter the obvious – of course, not everyone who is unemployed is going to be a Noel Gallagher or a JK Rowling.

But what is interesting here is the idea that the Tories are running to embrace – if you are not doing exactly what they say and grinding yourself into the dirt doing whatever job is thrown at you the moment you leave school, you are a lazy, scrounging enemy of the people who should be cut off without support.

It's fitting in a way that Cameron is saying all this in the same week people are pouring scorn and hatred on the Daily Mail for their disgraceful treatment of Ed Miliband's dad.

It seems that, as the rest of the country are running away from the Daily Mail and their warped, narrow definition of a decent citizen, Cameron is rushing to embrace those very values.

They also seem to be overlooking the fact that, while they can take away benefits from young people, they cannot, as yet, take away their right to vote.

Good luck at the next election, Dave.


DOLE PALS Millionaires Larry David, JK Rowling and Noel Gallagher all benefited from welfare payouts

FEELING SICK? Cameron makes speech last week
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 6, 2013
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