Ed Miliband on the Workfare Bill – we’ve heard it all before

Miliband and Byrne: They did the wrong thing, but was it for the right reasons?

Miliband and Byrne: They did the wrong thing, but was it for the right reasons?

A whole week after the crucial confidence-breaking vote on the Bill that gives Iain Duncan Smith retroactive powers to steal benefits from jobseekers, an email appears “from the office of Ed Miliband”.

Here’s what it said:

“Thank you for contacting Mr Miliband about the Jobseekers Bill and my apologies for the delay in replying.

“We know how strongly many people feel about this and that you are disappointed that Labour decided to abstain.

“Please be assured that we looked very carefully at all the points raised but in the end the vote came down to the question of whether the DWP should have any legal power whatsoever to stop benefits for people who won’t try to find work at all.

“With record levels of young people out of work, we believe young people must be offered a real choice of a real job with real wages. That’s why Labour is moving amendments to the Bill to demand a tax on bankers’ bonuses to fund over 100,000 jobs for young people with pay at the national minimum wage and training.

“Our approach is completely different to the government.

“We would guarantee everyone unemployed for over two years a properly-paid job, but we want it to apply to young people after a year. In return, we think most people would agree that people would be obliged to take up those jobs or face losing benefits.

“These powers have always existed; for example, in Labour’s Future Jobs Fund, if a young person didn’t take the offer of a job, they would have faced having benefits halted. Labour’s New Deal operated on the same principle.

“We would not support a retrospective bill driven through Parliament at lightning speed – and Labour demanded two crucial concessions, which we forced the government to make.

“First, appeal rights must be guaranteed so that others can appeal against mistakes made by the DWP. We can’t have carte blanche retrospective legalisation of sanctions.

“Second, there must be an independent review of the sanctions regime, with an urgent report and recommendations to Parliament.

“While you may not agree with the decision to abstain, we hope you can recognise that the points you and others have raised were carefully considered and the safeguards Labour have secured.

“Thank you again for taking the time to contact Mr Miliband on this important issue.”

It’s not good enough, is it?

Miliband – and Liam Byrne, Stephen Timms, and all the rest of the current Labour team – need to realise that there is a fundamental difference between what they supported and what they say they want. They should have held out for the latter.

The Coalition government’s scheme puts people to work – for employers who are perfectly capable of paying not only minimum wage but the living wage, for an indefinite period of time, to a person who used to be defined as a paid employee – for, and this is the important part, no remuneration other than their Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Contrast that with what Labour offered in the past – “in Labour’s Future Jobs Fund, if a young person didn’t take the offer of a job, they would have faced having benefits halted. Labour’s New Deal operated on the same principle” – and what Labour says it would offer in the future – “we believe young people must be offered a real choice of a real job with real wages“.

Why put up with anything less?

The concessions are paper tigers – it is understood that appeal rights were enshrined in the original legislation and we have seen no evidence that they were ever going to be dropped, while the timetable of the proposed independent review is such that the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions may never have to act on it.

In other words, Labour let the Coalition run roughshod over the rule of law – for nothing.

86 thoughts on “Ed Miliband on the Workfare Bill – we’ve heard it all before

  1. paurina

    I received the same email from Ed. It’s just newspeak, plus some totally contradictory statements, not least “We would not support a retrospective bill driven through Parliament at lightning speed”, which is precisely what they did.

  2. vic surgical

    “The question, said Alice, is if you can make words mean so many things? The question, replied Humpty Dumpty with contempt, is who is to be master, that is all.”

    The Labour Party…a poisoness crock of careerist shit. Plus ca change.

  3. Patricia Roberts

    I don’t think Labour have any clue about how furious core labour voters are about this .Everywhere,all over the political groups I’m a member of ,on Twitter and Facebook, people are absolutely raging.Their point is that they need to see Labour helping them,you are agreeing too much with the Tories,you are too far right.people will NOT put up with another New Labour PM,they won’t vote for you,they want a party to help the working class who are in a terrible,terrible mess,not more Blairite policies.There is a reason Labour didn’t win the last election.
    I was a staunch Labour supporter all my life,I still cant bear to hear the haters,but I’m retired after working 50 yrs and I’m living on the breadline,please help the people your supposed to help,not the big corporations and newspaper owners,us,labour voters,why have you abandoned us?

    1. Frank Psychosis

      Labour have never really done anything for the broad working class and nor will they, I wish people would wake up to this. The Labour Party, and certainly the PLP are nothing more than the ‘left’ wing of the ruling class, and just like the union leaderships, they exist to perpetuate the status quo, they exist to protect the capitalist system and their cosy privileged place within it. Fuck them, fuck them forever. Miliband is nothing more than a public school toff, pathetic weasel bastard. The Labour Party need to be smashed

      http://libcom.org/library/labouring-vain

      1. Joan

        No, it’s the university college he attended after some primary education in the USA and Haverstock Comprehensive in the UK.

  4. kittysjones

    I feel the right of appeal and the review were important concessions. Labour put the vulnerable group – the job seekers – first. Reviews are really the only effective way of challenging policies as opposition. I respect and admire those who voted, and I also appreciate the difficult decision Byrne made, they didn’t even have all of the facts and details to work with either

    Had all of the party voted, they would have lost, with no concessions. The Lib dems always vote with the Tories, every time. That’s why Labour lose every vote. They are under-represented on every Parliamentary Committee.

    Two things worth remembering: the labour party had a sanction regime that was nothing like this governments’.. The Bill was the TORIES Bill. Not Labours.

    We have an authoritarian government that does not inform us, or the opposition of it’s policy intentions clearly and accountably. That makes effective challenges difficult, and stifles debate.

      1. kittysjones

        And strategic pre-empting and manouevre do not make a party complicit with something, but make them strategic and pre-emptive.I think that no matter what decision they had took it would have bee “wrong” to some of our labour supporters

      2. Frank Psychosis

        How in the hell would it have been wrong to support benefit claimants getting money which was withheld from them unlawfully? And then their defence seems to be to re-state what are just right wing smears about all unemployed people with,

        “Please be assured that we looked very carefully at all the points raised but in the end the vote came down to the question of whether the DWP should have any legal power whatsoever to stop benefits for people who won’t try to find work at all.”..Shite

      3. kittysjones

        The Labour Party used the emergency legislation last week to ensure that all bad sanctioning decisions can be appealed and even more importantly, that the whole sanctioning regime is reviewed. We forced the Government to implement an independent inquiry into the sanctions regime as part of the Jobseekers Bill and voting against the Bill would have prevented this negotiation.

        Labour is now gathering evidence to submit to that inquiry. If you have evidence of sanctions being handed out inappropriately I would be grateful to have them, so I can include them in Labour’s submission to the independent review. Jon Trickett MP

      1. Mike Sivier

        I disagree. As I mention in this article, the concessions were meaningless. One was already a part of legislation, the other may never have any worthwhile effect. Pointless.

  5. John Shields

    Soon some will be congratulating Ed on his cowardice & ego driven (not people or humanist driven) cowardice

    1. Tel

      Like all labour MP’s, for supporting this corrupt government. MOD and JCS along with all CC are planning a paper exercise to put down the working class should we exercise our god given right to remove them from power. Should this paper exercise move from paper to the Troops on the ground, they will have orders ‘shoot to kill’. Has we are now a republic, they will be tried for Treason.

    2. kittysjones

      ‘m congratulating no-one, just presenting what I know. I also admire those who voted, but see why the order to abstain was given, too. this wasn’t a simple and straightfoward situation, and we do have an authoritarian government, making negotiations difficult at the best of times.But this was not a simple black and white scenario that was my point. And voting, knowing the would lose would have gained NOTHING. Negotiating or the right of appeal for jobseekers to remain ( it wasn’t in the Bill to be passed ) and the review were important gains. Well…we will see, I hope so anyway

  6. Linda Thomas

    I hope his bicycle has a bloody puncture! These are weasel words from Milliband and his father must be so ashamed as I believe he was a proper left winger!

  7. Jim

    But under Labour’s own New Deal programme people effectively HAD to do 13 weeks of workfare, or lose their benefits, on the risible Intensive Activity Period. They also received travelling expenses and about £15.00 extra a week while on IAP.

    LABOUR PIONEERED WORKFARE UNDER BLAIR AND BROWN!

    No wonder then that they support a government who have acted unlawfully not to compensate workfare victims stripped of their benefits.

    1. Frank Psychosis

      Well said Jim. Labour invented workfare and the bedroom tax…Blair is a total degenerate, an absolute pig, a war criminal. I despise the man as much as Thatcher. Milliband is a weasel, a turd in the footnote of the history of the Labour Party. The Labour party exist to stymie working class agitation so that it doesn’t pose any real threat to capitalism or the ‘military industrial complex’. They always sell out workers to the needs of the markets…and they always will

  8. Luther

    Reading between the lines it looks as though Ed Miliband and Liam Byrne are still as thick as thieves. This couldn’t be more depressing. As Byrne goes Miliband goes. It’s so very, very sad.

  9. jaynel62

    I had the virtually same letter from another shadow minister – Liz Kendall, it is clearly the Party Front for making what I think, they’ve now realised was a huge error. I guess we’ll see what response the People’s Assembly get??

    1. Frank Psychosis

      Don’t hold your breath about the People’s Assembly. Tony Benn and who? Tariq Ali and all the other associated usual public school toff twat suspects of the fake left. Hours of boring speeches praising the Arab Spring, or the Greek resistance to neo-liberalism, but making absolutely damn sure nothing remotely like it will happen here. Get real for God’s sake. Then what a big rally to Hyde park in October to listen to none other than….you guessed it, Ed Milliband!! Who will tell us that cuts are necessary etc etc blah blah blah….Free badge and poster included, spiffing what. Does it never get old for any of you seriously?? The same dead horse flogged again and again and again

      1. Mike Sivier

        As with Kitty’s comments about the concessions, I disagree.
        There are a lot of people involved in the People’s Assembly who have a genuine interest in prosperity for ALL the people – they’ve showed it in the past.
        And there are still more than a few good socialists in the Parliamentary Labour Party. Anyone who tars them all with the same brush does not only those MPs, but also themselves, a huge disservice.

      2. Frank Psychosis

        @ Kittyjones Nasty?….The Tories are nasty. Our society is dominated by people who are privately educated, and politics is full of them, they’ve all done PPE at Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, Winchester..a few others other places perhaps. Its a cosy little club and the toffs run it for themselves.

  10. Stephen Bunting

    Thatcher once came out with something to the effect that she looked forward to a future when both parties believed in the same thing. The current Labour front bench are Tory in all but name.

  11. Earl Bramley-Howard

    The key word here is ‘retrospective’… it sets a very dangerous precedent when they can amend or pass Laws retrospectively.
    I gave up on Labour years ago I’m afraid. Neo-Labour under Blair and Brown only confirmed my suspicions. Illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq followed by ‘bail-outs’ to crooked banksters? Nah I’m afraid it’s a case of corporate-poodle Lib/Lab/Con/Dems “all in it together”… which is one of many reasons why I’m a Green.

    1. Frank Psychosis

      The Greens appear to be the only mainstream ish sane party left, with a hope of getting elected. It will be interested to see how it plays out in Brighton & Hove what with their recent statement on the bedroom tax. It gladdened my heart to read ‘whatever their name is’s ‘ criticism of it, and how B&H council would react, ie, ‘no evictions’. Time will tell.

  12. Norman Walsh

    It stinks!!! I believe they politicians are all in it together to make sure they get theirs why the country goes down the tubes we shoul take to the streets show them enough is enough!

  13. jack johnson (@jackjoh01219520)

    Labour Party = Tory Scabs. There is no discernible difference between them when
    they collaborate with slave labour.After 30 odd years an activist, who I thought was
    going to be a good Labour leader turns out to be just another Tory twat like his
    brother, I have finally had enough of Tory Labour.I am now only campaigning for
    socialism.

  14. kittysjones

    Come 2015 you will have 2 real choices: labour or the Tories, possibly UKIP will be in the running. You can bleat all you like , and do nothing, and we get another 5 years of the Tories. Or you can observe the divisive strategies used by the right and far left, with their own agendas, and look for the truth. You can inform the LP what you think, push them to reflect our needs and represent us. I do.

    Labour have pushed hard for the review, Despite the obstacles that the Tories are trying to create. That’s worth valuing and observing. Labour are not at all like the Tories, and if you think that, then you will get all you deserve at the next election – http://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/political-parties-they-are-not-all-as-bad-as-each-other-at-all/

    1. Frank Psychosis

      We got what we deserved with ‘New’ Labour/old Tories all right. 13 years in government and what? Pathfinder, the housing/community destruction programme, 2 illegal wars with @million dead, the most surveilled (is that a word?) nation in Europe, deregulated banks sinking the economy, our heads are still spinning from all the spin, sleazy scum at the trough. 2 real choices, both rubbish, both working against the needs of society. The 3 main political party’s exist primarily to perpetuate their position and control our perception of them with spin, and limit our criticism of them with propaganda. They’ve rendered democracy virtually meaningless.

      1. kittysjones

        The tories are infinitely worse than labour ever were, even with Blair as PM. My sick and disabled friends were not dying under that government, nor was I afraid for my own survival. I am now

      2. Frank Psychosis

        The Tories are infinitely worse than Labour of course but, Blair paved the way for this lot though.

    1. Bobby Mckail

      The Labour party hasn’t moved on from Blair at all. Ed Millibands “One Nation Labour” is just a rehash of Blair’s “New Labour” That’s the inconvenient truth of the matter!

      1. kittysjones

        Whilst I didn’t agree with Blair about Iraq, I am more occupied and focused on the fact that the current government are killing 73 sick and disabled people per week via their callous and brutal policies. THAT needs to be addressed in the here and now. That doesn’t diminish what happened to those killed in Iraq, but they are now beyond our help, the sick and disabled here are not.
        http://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/the-esa-revolving-door-process-and-its-correlation-with-a-hugely-significant-increase-in-deaths/

      2. paurina

        You seem to believe that Labour will repeal all the ‘reforms’ made by the ConDems to welfare and the NHS. What makes you think that? Have they ever said they will? or didn’t they just say it would all take a little longer to bring about under a Labour government?

      3. kittysjones

        Yes they have said they would rescind the health and social care Bill, both Burnham and Miliband have committed to that. They have caled for the WCA to be scrapped, and have committed to improving the lot o the sick and disabled. With regard to the rest of the welfare reforms, they have challenged and opposed them very clearly, even Byrne has given some articulate and worthwhile condemnation of them.

        Whilst Labour are far from perfect, my position is that they are VERY preferable to what we have. My view is that we work with that, and push the party leftwards , make sure they reflect and meet our needs, and are fit for the job in 2015. I know they listen and respond: I was one of the activists involved in talking to Labour about the WCA and Atos, and that led to the parliamentary debate instigated by Denis Skinner. They respond. That won’t ever happen with the Tories..

      4. kittysjones

        Yes we have to take some responsibility for the policies of the future, too. I would never argue that labour are perfect, Mike. I didn’t like Blair, and I don’t like Byrne much. But I can still acknowledge that both have contributed some bloody good work, in addition to the bad . Perhaps it’s about to trying to keep an even handed, balanced view. I suspect all will be clearer.in the fullness of time 🙂

      5. Frank Psychosis

        Yes, I’m perfectly aware how the coalition are treating the ‘sick and disabled’ ‘ via their callous brutal policies’. I’m also aware that the Labour party have basically endorsed another callous brutal policy, this time against the unemployed, and the ‘retrospective’ element is Orwellian, and no matter how much you try to dress it up….you can’t. People are not as stupid as you’d like them to be,

        What are you a paid apologist for the Labour Party?…

        Labour said this, Labour said that, ne ne ne. Its all wishy washy crap with you isn’t it? That’s the theme. Protect the institution first, at all costs. The Labour Party are slightly nicer neo liberals…That’s what Blair did, and he made it seem ok to the rest of the party either because they were incompetent, plain f*cking stupid, or totally complicit in this.

        “Not as bad as the Tories”…Its catchy…but seriously. F*ckoff.

      6. Mike Sivier

        Okay, that’s enough. If you don’t want to debate in a cordial way, please take it off this page and argue between yourselves. Other people want to read this page and won’t want it filled with personal insults.
        Play the ball, not the player – as someone said, who was more intelligent than me.
        I want to read your points – and Kitty’s – but I won’t have the abuse on here.

  15. Joan

    I was sad when John Smith died. I can’t help but imagine what the country might have been like now if it had been him rather than Blair in 1997. A true Labour leader.

  16. Bobby Mckail

    There is not a jot of difference between Labour and Tories they are both trying to win “middle England” voters who are right of centre. The Labour party had to shift right in 1997 under “New” Labour and Ed is continuing down the same path with “One Nation” Labour. The Labour party has de facto left the people the people haven’t left Labour. That’s why Scotland will vote for independence because social justice and Labour is now an oxymoron!

    1. Frank Psychosis

      Agree with that…but as I see it nationalism and social justice are not compatible. The nationalists will sell out real ‘labour’ issues in the end, they always do. At least it did in Ireland, can’t see it being any different in Scotland

      1. Bobby Mckail

        “Nationalism and Social Justice are not compatible”? Do you know anything about the SNP? What a sweeping statement that was you made! They are thee only left of center Party in Scotland. Did you hear Johann Lamonts “Something for nothing” speech. The SNP are the only party in Scotland who has Scottish interests and it’s people at heart! The “Scottish” Labour party moved to the right with “One Nation” Labour” The Labour party in Scotland is a dead man walking, while the SNP have just signed up their 25,000 member there is also over 230 Yes Scotland groups for independence.

  17. Angie

    Sorry people but I feel Labour under Milliband is just Tories under another name his thinking is that of a Tories but then what did you expect from a man who went to Corpus Christi College Oxford and the London School of Economics if you did not know I was talking about Ed Milliband you would think I was talking about someone in the Tories what would Tony Benn think of all this.

  18. Phil The Folk

    In 97 I danced in the street, because 18 years years of Tory hell had ended, which had caused all my problems from which I have never recovered, to happen. Despite later feeling betrayed under Blair and Brown, I would say again what I said to everyone in 97..don’t think about WHO you are voting in, think about WHAT you are voting out! If no new credible left party appears before the next election, do you really want to risk having more Tories in, and for longer maybe? They have already seized power with no mandate from the british people, and they’ll do again if even less people turn out to vote.

  19. Fedupfifer

    The quote is: “Please be assured that we looked very carefully at all the points raised but in the end the vote came down to the question of whether the DWP should have any legal power whatsoever to stop benefits for people who won’t try to find work at all.”
    I put it to Ed Milliband:
    At what point did any of the folk forced onto workfare fail to try to find work at all? Without jobs to apply for volunteering is a reasonable option to extend your CV and the main case that brought the publicity the girl was doing exactly that.Volunteering. In a job that matched her degree, so hopefully improving her CV. Also as far as I’m aware no one has asked yet how much debt she had to accrue to get her degree.
    You have brought Labour into disrepute. Are you so far removed from real lives that you can’t understand how badly you have treated people?

    You’ve lost my vote, and you’ve had my vote, on every occasion at every election of all types since I was 18 I’m 61 now.

    1. Mike Sivier

      That’s an excellent observation about Cait Reilly. It would be easy to forget that it was her case that started this particular ball rolling, so I welcome your timely reminder.
      Miliband has indeed brought the Labour Party into disrepute, under Liam Byrne’s influence.

  20. Silver

    Liam Byrne must go,end of.Until then,this leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.I am disappointed with Ed,but with his brother David going.Perhaps Ed will have more confidence in himself.I really hope so,if not we are F—-D.

  21. Jix

    If ANYBODY reading these words can list Liam Byrne’s achievements, value, or any redeeming features could they please list them below.

  22. kittysjones

    Off the top of my head…Liam Byrne campaigned fiercely for the human rights of the disabled, and he has called for the bedroom tax to be scrapped.

  23. kittysjones

    Whether we like him or not, he has a mix of virtues and shite, like most of us do 🙂 I know about his campaign for the disabled with Anne McGuire as I was involved

    1. Mike Sivier

      Good. I heard Oxford’s the Tory university.
      (Don’t get your hopes up, anybody reading this who’s not in the know. I think Cambridge is the Liberal – Whig – one).

  24. kittysjones

    I have been forwarded this message: ‘The Labour Party used the emergency legislation last week to ensure that all bad sanctioning decisions can be appealed and even more importantly, that the whole sanctioning regime is reviewed. We forced the Government to implement an independent inquiry into the sanctions regime as part of the Jobseekers Bill and voting against the Bill would have prevented this negotiation.

    Labour is now gathering evidence to submit to that inquiry. If you have evidence of sanctions being handed out inappropriately I would be grateful to have them, so I can include them in Labour’s submission to the independent review. Jon Trickett MP’

    Regardless of what we think of the decision to abstain, this is a call for information, and so I urge anyone that has had sanctions imposed on them unfairly to contact the Labour Party please with details. The review is very important and has cost so much. Right or wrong, the decision was made and now we can at least try and pull something positive from this. We can try

  25. dale

    Looking back helps to look forward, Labour have never been about the working class, look back at the 1926 general strike, and the miner’s strike 1984-85…we need a party for the people by the people and a complete change in the way we live.

  26. kittysjones

    Mike it’s not often we have found something to disagree on. It’s a healthy thing to debate. What I have appreciated here, as well as the opportunity to debate, is the fact that you have done so courteously and politely.Thank you or that, much respect.

    1. kittysjones

      I’m seriously ill, disabled and WC and female, you can’t get more disenfranchised Frank, than that, but I manage to stay the right side of courteous. I am sure you can, with a little effort. You don’t make personal comets in debate, you attack the line of reasoning and not the person. Otherwise , you are seen as little more than a bully.

Comments are closed.