Christopher was parliamentary candidate for Gloucester in 1966.  He was defeated by Jack Diamond but was one of the few candidates who increased the Conservative vote.  He has always advocated ‘One Nation’ Tory policies with the hope that there can be less inequality. He was re-adopted prior to the 1970 Election, but then a group of right-wing Councillors ’took over’  the Gloucester Association. Christopher could not agree with their thinking, resigned and returned to work in the Careers Service. Sally Oppenheim was adopted and won the subsequent Election in1970.


Christopher was elected as an Independent, 'who could not agree with Mrs Thatcher', in  1979 defeating the official Conservative candidate.  He was re-elected in 1983 when he was not opposed by other candidates.  As a Councillor he was involved in Planning, Housing, Social Services  and as a Governor of the Local College.  A particular interest was helping to  find occupation and/or employment for those without work, a more entrepreneurial approach to the work in the Careers Service.  The Gloucester Diocesan Education Committee agreed to the use of a redundant Church school at Broadwell near Coleford in order to set up the Forest of Dean Bridge Project.

‘A centre for those who have not been able to find employment and appreciate resources, companionship and support whilst seeking alternatives or investigating self-employment.’   Most of those who came did not satisfy the conditions for receiving unemployment benefit.  Earnings of £4  per week was then the agreed  maximum earnings for those receiving supplementary benefit.  The Council agreed to pay this sum for ten people and the Project found funds for any above this number.  Around 15 to 20 people usually came to the Project.  The Manpower Services Commission  (MSC) then agreed support if one year short-term Youth Opportunity placements  (YOP) were also provided.   The hope for a centre where all could stay until they had worked out a viable way of life  diminished  as the MSC pressed the Church (who were the main sponsor) to become part of the MSC’s  one year Community Programme.   At first 32, and later more than 50, places were  provided.  An advertisement for a Senior Supervisor  post read: ‘The scheme now employs over 50 working in one of the workshops - general engineering, wood working, arts and crafts, vehicle repair and the canteen.’  After each year some found work, others joined Council work projects, some became self-employed and some of the older participants continued at the Bridge in a voluntary capacity. One of the problems, as now, was that people could not take up part time work ,which was available, without losing their entitlement to benefit.   Universal credit is being introduced to help.  Christopher would like further consideration of the idea of a Citizen’s Income for all, also known as Unconditional Basic Income.

CITIZEN’S INCOME.  ( www.citizensincome.org)      UNCONDITIONAL BASIC INCOME EUROPE.  (http//ubie.org)

Christopher was introduced to the Citizen’s Income idea when it was discussed by Conservatives in the 1970s.     At the Bridge Project he met those who would have liked to take on  paid odd jobs but did not do so because of the understandable  fear of losing  benefit.   In the 1980s a magazine called ‘Initiatives’ produced ‘a memo to policymakers’ about Citizen’s or Basic Income:

‘ Simplifies and replaces benefit payments and tax allowances, removes distinction between employed and unemployed, removes poverty trap, legalises black economy, boosts small firms and start-ups.’  

These issues remain valid thirty years later, but for the main UK political parties an unconditional regular payment is still regarded as ‘something for nothing.’    The idea has been accepted by the Green Party and by Podemos in Spain.   Throughout Europe there are supportive groups with much internet discussion.  But the tussle to get people with power to take it  up remains. 

In England  the phrase ‘hard working people’  is much used by people in the Conservative Party who are themselves secure in work which gives them an acceptable and often enjoyable way of life.    They do not seem able  to, or do not wish to, put themselves in the position  of those for whom the only openings are jobs without security or with poor conditions, people who would like to work hard if only they had the opportunity.   Instead of considerate understanding, benefit cuts and sanctions are liberally applied. 

Of course there is always concern about ‘unintended consequences’.   Change can never be accurately foreseen. But there is increasing evidence, reinforced by pilot schemes in other countries (see note below) that, with explanation, guidance and discussion in the schools,  a small unconditional income  could lead to an increase in the discovery of satisfactory and satisfying ways of life.  Calculations suggest that this need not cost much more than the complications of the present benefit system.   All might profit, more fulfilment, better health, less poverty, less inequality and even in time an increase in tax revenue from those who had established their own business.

Note.  www.the hindu.com/opinion(op-ed)cash-transfers-can-work-better-than-subsidies/article6665676.ece


In 1904 a  Mrs Ogilvie Gordon  (though Rachel Ogilvie’s brother George had married Harriet Gordon, the relationship is not known) suggested that Local Education Authorities should have ‘educational information and employment bureaux with the aim of  leading all boys and girls towards employment likely to bring them a livelihood and prove congenial to them’.  In 1945  the Ince Report was emphatic that the use of tax revenue for a Juvenile Employment Service was worthwhile expenditure.  ‘The pivot of life of almost every boy and girl is the job.  If the Service is successful, it will make a contribution of incalculable importance to the life of every worker. It is in the best interest of every pupil to be given vocational guidance before taking employment.’

Christopher worked in the Warwickshire Youth Employment Service in the 1960s.  In the 1970s, after the name changed to the Careers Service, he was Principal Careers Officer for the London Borough of Merton. The thinking was that all pupils should be seen beginning two years before leaving school to discuss possibilities. He regrets the decision of the Conservative Government in the 1990s to privatise the Service.  There were often problems with the subsequent provision and in 2012 an on line National Careers Service was set up.  Face-to-face advice is available but only to those aged 19 or over, or to those aged 18 who are already Job Centre Plus customers. As a College Principal wrote on the web: ‘ Information on line is not the same as a professional guidance adviser exploring the motives and ideas of a student.  You might as well ask why pupils come to school when they could just stay at home and read books’.

For more information see www.the cdi.net



Leave your comments

terms and conditions.