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. Continue reading
The New Statesman report today that Labour MPs including Diane Abbott, Ian Lavery and John McDonnell are planning to vote against capping benefit, when a vote on this issue takes place this Wednesday, “with more to follow”. Abbott told the Statesman that the benefit cap was “part of a political narrative which demonises welfare claimants; most of the public don’t understand that half of welfare claimants are pensioners and that another quarter are in work.”
Ed Balls shocked many in announcing that Labour would not oppose the cap, and, it seems, has no qualms with it at all: “Ed Miliband called for a welfare cap last year, in his speech in June, and we have agreed with the way in which the government has structured the welfare cap, what’s in and what’s out in the next parliament.” Worryingly, George Osborne’s office are already crowing that Balls’s announcement means that Labour has signed up to the Tories’ “updated fiscal mandate”. Continue reading
On 6 April, the start of the new financial year, on exactly the same day that 14,000 millionaires in the UK get a £40,000 per year rise in their net income from the abolition of the 50% rate of income tax, thousands of Britain’s poorest people will be forced then or soon after out of their homes by swingeing Tory cutbacks in housing benefit.
Tory-run Westminster Council estimate 2,327 households will be hit and forced to move. Camden is contacting 761 households, comprising 2,816 adults and children, who they believe will be unable to afford their current accommodation or any other home in the south-east. Continue reading
Businesses need funding fast, so why doesn’t Osborne just order RBS and Lloyds to ratchet up the lending? After all, he controls 80% of the former and 40% of the latter, more than those who talked about seizing the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy ever dreamed of.
Why instead does he go cap in hand to the Bank of England begging it to overseee the pumping of loans to small firms through a process known as ‘credit easing’, thus bypassing the banks even though he owns two of the largest? And why does Cameron refuse to stop the obnoxious payment of gigantic bonuses in the City piggery on the pretence that he can’t micro-manage the banking system? Continue reading
Is Labour’s position on capping benefits a carefully-crafted thought-through policy from Liam Byrne, the man charged with overseeing Labour’s policy review? Or it is just a bit of triangulated political posturing from the man responsible for the “no money left” 2010 ‘gag’? We’ll leave it to your judgement.
Labour’s front bench team yesterday explained its position to Labour MPs like this: Continue reading