Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
James O'Brien warns of the scapegoating of furloughed workers
13 May 2020, 11:22
The right-wing media are starting to use furloughed workers as scapegoats, James O'Brien warned.
On the day that people in England were told to go back to work if they can't work from home, James spotted that the newspapers were beginning to target those who are furloughed.
To avoid mass redundancies, the government offered to pay 80% of people's wages if they are furloughed - and analysis shows that more than half of workers are now being paid by the state.
That was considered one of the few successes of the government's response to coronavirus. But James noticed that things are starting to change.
He said: "This is how it works. A certain type of propagandist for the billionaire newspaper owners gets up in the morning and thinks 'who can we attack today?'.
"Look back at the difference between the Mirror and the Sun when Murdoch bought it and you will see the seeds being sown for the weaponisation of scapegoating and envy.
"And today, it's reached the furloughed workers and I find it absolutely staggering.
"They turn up at work and say who can we hate on today? Teachers - yes. We'll trust them with our children's lives, but when they tell us they don't feel safe, we'll just tell them to jog on, the feckless job-shy layabouts.
"Nurses - not yet, a bit soon. They're still obviously working very hard with the Covid-19. Give it a year and when they ask for a payrise, we can all cheer in the House of Commons when we turn it down and our friends in the newspapers can give us big pats on the back.
"Doctors - again, give it a year before we can attack them again.
"Firefighters - absolutely, fill your boots, slap them around as much as you please.
"Furloughed workers - let's use them as a scapegoat to distract the British public's attention away from the fact they have already been let down by the government and the best way for the government to camouflage that in the short term is to let employers off the hook with regard to making their workforce feel safe.
"Can I stay at home and if I don't feel safe and continue to be furloughed? No.
"Does that matter to the way the story is being reported? Not even a tiny bit. It's so bizarre."
Hear his monologue at the top of the page.