Tory welfare reform is pure political mischief, but at least 124 of us voted against it

It is extraordinary that the Labour party could have got itself into such a muddle over welfare reform (which is Tory-speak for crippling welfare cutbacks) when Osborne’s sole motive for this bill, which had its second reading today, is to create divisions within Labour and label it as the party of shirkers.   The bill is awful.   Despite some useful provisions on apprenticeships, it ignores the plight of children in low income working households, removes the concept of child poverty from the statute book, increases the number of children living in poverty, worsens work incentives for people with below average incomes, and cuts the incomes of sick and disabled people.   The attempt of the interim leadership to square all this with Labour’s need to get on-side with public opinion, repeatedly corrupted by Osborne and the Tory tabloids ranting against the poor and jobless, predictably got the worst of both worlds – a split party and an unconvincing compromise presented to the electorate.

If only Labour could have stayed together by hammering away at the stark inhumanity of the bill, the result could have been very different.   There is no way that the majority of people in the country would support this bill if they knew the full details of what it does.   It applies the household benefit cap to persons who are responsible for a child under 2 years old, or are a carer, or are in temporary accommodation because of domestic violence.   It restricts tax credits applying to 3 or more children where a third child is born as a result of a multiple birth, where a thrid or subsequent child is fostered or adopted, where a third or subsequent child is disabled, or where a family with 3 or more children moves on to tax credits or universal credit in exceptional circumstances, including the death of one member of the family, the departure of one parent, or loss of income through unemployment.   It cuts ESA for the work-related activity group by around £30 a week, even though this group has been through a rigorous test which deemed them not fit to work because they have Parkinson’s or are being treated for cancer.   And so on.

Instead of trying to defend the indefensible, it would have been far better to skewer the Tories on the succession of broken promises presented in this bill.   Cameron said before the budget: “Whatever the pressures, we will stand by my promises to protect the most vulnerable, including the most disabled who cannot work”.   How is that compatible with a big cut in their ESA?   The Tory manifesto said it would “work to eliminate child poverty”.   How is that compatible with abolishing the targets for reducing child poverty?

19 thoughts on “Tory welfare reform is pure political mischief, but at least 124 of us voted against it

  1. Labour seems to be run by idiots at the moment.
    They don’t seem to realise that only 24.4% of people who were eligible to vote, actually voted for the Tories. They are now destroying themselves whilst trying to pander to these, many of whom are dyed in the wool Tories who will never change their views.

    Why can’t they see that they should instead be appealing to the remaining 75% many of whom voted Labour in the hopes that, should they have won the GE, they would have gone back to somewhere near their original values? Others in this 75% left Labour ages ago, many after Clause IV was taken out, and went on to vote Green or TUSC (perhaps even UKIP). These should be Labour’s target area, and these are also the people Jeremy Corbyn is appealing to. One of my Facebook friends has actually formally left the Green Party in order to vote for him!

    The fact that the SNP won so many seats on an anti-austerity programme should have given them a good indication of what people want.

    I’m pretty sure it was Jeremy Corbyn who said that people didn’t vote for an increase in child poverty.

    So he knows what’s right and hope he’ll get elected and that he and the other good Labour MPs will be able to drum some sense into the rest of them.

    I only hope that enough people know that they can vote for the Leadership without having to join the now much discredited Labour Party. They can register by texting SUPPORT to 78555 (£3 fee). Please share this widely.

  2. Ref Tories’ broken promises:
    I believe that very many working people who are currently receiving Tax Credits are now very upset at the Tories for cutting these. Some relied on a speech Cameron made; others had specifically asked their Tory candidates who told them these would not be cut. They’re all now facing difficulties as “working more hours” often is not possible. I wonder if they might just vote Labour in 2020? Seems such a long way off; anything could happen.

  3. An SNP MP has tweeted that if all the Labour MPs had voted against this, the bill would have been defeated by one vote. So Labour would appear to be placing the dubious chance that they’ll be elected in 2020 above the welbeing of the poor and vulnerable, including children. If that is indeed the case, then it’s disgraceful.

  4. “Labour seems to be run by idiots at the moment , etc ?”

    Of course couldn’t agree with you more, (a rare but really not that exceptional occurrence,) and the dead hand of Blair, (“trust me on this,”) still continues to throttle both Labor party and country more widely, both of which his sad little coterie of third rate losers, apparatchiks and place-men will quite happily and callously see go to straight to hell before they’ll concede even a millimeter of their waning power and diminished influence.

    Jeremy Corby is actually the only bright spot on horizon.

    He’s got to go, not least be because he makes his petty, venal and sticky fingered, (lets not forget that,) colleagues look even worse than they already do anyway

  5. One caveat:

    Even I don’t entirely disagree with idea genuinely reforming and certainly rationalizing the benefit system, which was never intended to pay better than working, (something which has somewhat undermined it’s support and it’s credibility,) and which yet another complete and utter mess that Blair left us all with.

    So it’s been a open goal for the Tories, who are cynically using all that as an excuse and a pretext for it’s abolition along with key notion of social security.

    Once again well done Tony.

  6. My my my mp sat with the tories shamefully also aberavon mp son of neil did the same do these mps now they in a labour stronghold and vote against their peoples I dont see them sitting for much longer has the people will get a say but then why dont the little torys do the party the biggest favour and cross the floor to their true colours jeff3 once again we left down by the blair babies

  7. 257 labour mps of which 124 voted against then then the blairites rule they wont allow you to go back

  8. JP – If people on benefits get more than some who are working then it’s because earnings are too low and not that benefits are too high, because they are barely enough to live on.

    Most of the larger amounts go to landlords as housing benefits. Also many are, or at least before this Bill were, paid to people IN work. Now some of these people will be worse off if they work!

    Reform yes, but not like this. Cap rents and make employers pay a proper living wage. That’s the right way to go.

  9. Wanda Lozinska-

    As it always does your passion out-ways your analysis, and low wages are only part of the problem, the benefit system was a complete mess before Blair and he made it even worse, a five pound supplement o encourage people on benefits to buy food for example was ridiculous.

    Universal credit is actually a good idea in principle; however pernicious it’s it’s implementation has been, but you can’t entirely blame someone struggling on minimum wages, on a zero hour contract, working for an abusive and exploitive employer for deeply resenting the amount of money that some people on benefits receive.

    Although human nature being what it they’ll always believe some people are getting more and having it easier than they actually are, and it’s left the disabled particularly vulnerable.

  10. “Cap rents and make employers pay a proper living wage. That’s the right way to go ?”

    yes it is.

  11. JP – You said “Although human nature being what it they’ll always believe some people are getting more and having it easier than they actually are”

    Well, I’ve worked full time since I was 16 and only became too ill to do so just a few years before I could retire (only because they changed the retirement ages). Anyway, in all of this time, I realised that there were some people who didn’t work and were living on benefits. Somehow, it didn’t bother me.

    I wasn’t earning a lot, but enough to pay the bills, buy what I needed, run a car, go out at weekends and have inexpensive holidays. I was happy enough with my life and would not have wanted to live in poverty like they did. I was also aware that some people could afford an awful lot more than I could, but somehow didn’t feel envious; I just accepted that some people were luckier than others. So, am I very unusual!?

  12. No wl thats not there are more just like you a story just like you ill health forces you onto the sick but work yes three of which were the forces happy days like you been happy with whot I got not wondering whot the grass tasted like in the other fields yet we alowed yhatcher to steal the milk nay not that milk the milk of kindness tony blair help towards this to turning many heads to that greed yet there is many who hadnt change look about you but greed got to alot turning the working man against those on benefits but there again most of us had some sort of benefits paid child tax we grew up with now this tax like many of the in work ones will get you called into the job centre for that interview whot are you doing to get off benefits youl stand Agast you say but im working you cant farthom it out but the penny drops they now coming for you on that universal credit like you paid into the pot but didnt ask why are there people on benefits I left that to the toffs but to deny them benefits isnt the way has jp states make employers atleast pay more but to have that etopia well wishfull thinking with this greedie lot of fraudsters mps

  13. m and m could you explain to me you state 124 of us voted against it sounds like it was that many mps but now looking about it states only
    While SNP MPs voted against the welfare reform and work bill, only 48 Labour MPs defied the party whip to vote against the bill. “If Labour had voted with the SNP against George Osborne’s assault on those on low incomes, then the Tories could have been beaten last night,” Sturgeon said.
    it seems only 48 real labour mps voted against this disgracefull the day is coming were mps will be brought to book otherwise i see that whot i dread to come jeff3

  14. Jeffrey – I think the SNP are just stirring things.
    There was some “pairing” involved whereby some Labour MPs and the same number of Tories didn’t vote. As the Tories have a majority I don’t think the Bill could have been defeated. The amendments Labour proposed failed. It now goes to a 3rd reading and then to the Lords where the Tories don’t have a majority.

  15. You missing the point forty or so voted against has for pairing with torys how and when did this come into fashion has being a labour mp they should be agreeing or pairing with them has for the scots well they are going against the tory norm

  16. I am just at the point of giving up, not sure how much of this malevolent Tory hogwash and mendacity I can stand.

  17. Jeffery –
    “Pairing” is perfectly fair. At least one Labour MP was in hospital so it was right for him to be paired with a Tory who also couldn’t attend in person to vote.

  18. They still didnt vote against dreadfull it doesnt matter whot about pairing they shoukd have voted against that initself is a disgrace to the masses weasle words of it didnt matter has we like the stacking shelves apprenticeship oh dear blair babies and has much has I like to see the party return to a labour party but they not going to leave him to it even m and m knows this they break this greedie party up jeff3

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