From April, unemployed people whose English is poor will have to show that they are learning it in order to claim benefits. This is, in principle, a good idea. And this will be soon confirmed by the fact that it will be accused of discrimination. But, in practice, it overlooks that there are plenty of jobs in Britain for which English isn’t necessary; and that, indeed, most people in these jobs, these days, don’t speak English: in short, those measures come too late. It would be good for both these people and the country at large if they learned English, but it definitely won’t be unemployment measures to do the trick. Sometimes conservative ideas really are anachronistic.