Don’t blame the poor when the rich are bleeding you dry


You know that things have come to a pretty pass when Labour Party supporters turn against the poor.

This has happened at a time when the number of people with money to spare has dropped dramatically, meaning more of our people have become poor.

The change may reasonably be blamed on Labour’s adherence to Liam Byrne’s diabolical welfare policy, that aims to continue where the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats leave off – demonising people who have done nothing wrong, unless you count illness, disability and unemployment as a personal choice.

It suggests that people of good heart are leaving the party in large numbers, allowing those who are left to turn it into what its critics have claimed it to be for a considerable time now: Tory Lite.

The change is identified in a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, that showed 47 per cent of Labour supporters surveyed in 2011 thought that, if benefits were less generous, people would learn to support themselves – up from 17 per cent in 1987.

The fact of the matter, of course, is that benefits are much less generous now than they were in the 1980s. In 1987, unemployment benefits totalled around 20 per cent of the average weekly wage; now they come to around 10 per cent – around half of what they were. But Labour supporters – Labour! – say they are too generous.

It looks like the Tories really are brainwashing people with their nonsense rhetoric, as repeated in newspapers that Labour supporters shouldn’t be reading, like The Sun and the Daily Mail. That good friend of the Conservative Party, Joseph Goebbels, was right – “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Of course, Goebbels added: “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent.”

So those of us who are interested in the facts may be looking forward to hard times. It’s still better than being a fair-weather friend of social justice – only interested in the good of our fellows if it doesn’t impact on us.

But it is already impacting on everybody!

The Office for National Statistics, using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures, has reported that the UK has plummeted down the international league table of economic well-being, from fifth to 12th within the six years up to 2011.

On a separate labour-market ranking, the country fell even further, dropping 12 places. In the labour market league table it ranked 21st out of 34 countries. Top of the league was Norway, which has just three per cent unemployment and, as I understand it, a thriving welfare state. Think about that.

The ONS noted changes to taxes and benefits as key factors in the drop.

This morning, one of Vox‘s longest-serving commentators reported that there is a change among the people around him; that those who argued against his criticism of the Conservative-led government are now turning to the Left. If so, it seems they are not turning to Labour.

Recently we have witnessed a movement to form a new political movement, representing socialist views but untarnished by the memory of New Labour’s 13 years of Neoliberal mistakes. Several contenders have cropped up but none of them will carry any weight at the next general election – instead, all they are likely to do is sap enough votes from Labour to let the Conservatives back into office again. That would be a calamity for the country.

No, the best thing to do is to take Labour back for the people it was meant to serve. First step in that direction must be to consign Liam Byrne and his vile mess of a welfare policy to the back benches, and design a new plan, attacking the causes of unemployment and workplace sickness and disability, rather than their symptoms. This is simple logic.

And we need to get people into the shadow cabinet who have actually held proper jobs. Look at Ed Miliband: Oxford graduate – short media career – Westminster job for Labour. Ed Balls: Oxford graduate (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) – short media career – Westminster job for Labour. Douglas Alexander: University graduate – six-month career as a solicitor – Westminster. Yvette Cooper: Oxford (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) – Westminster researcher job for Labour. Andy Burnham: Cambridge – researcher for Tessa Jowell. Many of these also went to Harvard.

Liam Byrne, the demon of the Labour Party: University (Politics and Modern History at Manchester) – Harvard – then work for a multinational consulting firm (Accenture) and then the Rothschild merchant bankers(!) before going to Labour to help lead its ‘New Labour’ business campaign. This man has nothing whatsoever to do with real working people.

When everybody in a particular group – in business, politics, socially, whatever – is from the same background, they tend to agree about key subjects. From the above group we can see that many of the Labour front bench have followed exactly the same career path. What do they know about working-class people? At least two of them – Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, no less – graduated from the same Oxford degree course as David Cameron, the comedy Prime Minister.

No wonder people are having a hard time distinguishing between the two main parties and want a left-wing alternative.

It’s time for Labour to grow up and realise it needs to change. It must come back to its voting base and start to represent the people of the UK once again – rather than Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard graduates. If Ed Miliband wants to keep his position, he needs to clear out his shadow cabinet and get some fresh thinkers in. Someone recently mentioned Abraham Lincoln’s ‘cabinet of enemies’, and the fact that it was good for him to have opposing views at the heart of his government.

Until we get that in the Labour Party, maybe we should agree that the ‘Tory Lite’ criticisms are accurate.

What are you going to do about it, Labour?


  1. kittysjones May 15, 2013 at 10:06 am - Reply

    The problem as I see it is that the PUBLIC seem to want a “Tory lite” party. What does labour do about that? Clearly populism is not the answer. But an overtly socialist party will not be voted in…

    • ViolentHaze May 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      the public want a ‘Tory lite’ party ??…. they all want shooting and we want new !! lets burn westminster and start afresh from its ashes…

    • johndwm May 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Actualy the answer is authentic and practical VISION! Many assumptions can be opposed and peeled away as long as people are not like ideological robots! He (The boyEd who I like) needs to get people together across the breach between the very poor and the not very well off and the enlightened well off and form a vision we can all believe is both authentic, credible and do-able. Trancend the sillyness of so called Progress Blairites and so called Old Left defend what youve hadites! We need Vision! We need reinventing of mirth and hope for a fearless future un-nuanced by the Daily Mail ( or even the Guardian) J

    • Glynnux May 16, 2013 at 1:52 am - Reply

      You just made that up didn’t you. “The public want +ory li+e….” ..that’s is beyond ridicule. Which tiny brain washed/self serving percentage of the populace were you referring to?
      The problem with socialism being? and …social, society, sociable…notice any similarity…or did the Rothschilds already give your back pocket a wink.
      It looks like Labour will be fighting for a share of the Tories 22% then. Don’t plan any sea changes for Labour in 2015 if that is representative of the Labour mindset..

  2. elspethparris May 15, 2013 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Can’t imagine why anyone would vote Blue labour in, same reason why they wouldn’t vote libdem next time. If they want a tory government, they’ll vote tory. if not, who can they vote for? I see (and dread) a massive rise for UKIP. Vox, you go for an attempt to reclaim Labour for the Left. Personally, I wouldn’t trust them as far as i can spit! The only hope I can see is if the Labour Left (the rebels against that infamously retroactive Workfare bill would be the only ones I would even begin to trust) left Labour and threw their weight behind one of the emerging leftwing parties. For a new party to start up with 30+ sitting MPs would give it a chance!

    • Glynnux May 16, 2013 at 1:58 am - Reply

      I totally agree elsepethparris. More and more people are realising the risks of having the choice of 4 City puppet Tory parties to choose from. This will end badly this time.

  3. Steve Chapman May 15, 2013 at 10:46 am - Reply

    It’s a depressing mess! It feels as though through long-term illness I have fallen into a bracket without representation in Parliament. I don’t want this, and I’m working hard to try to get better, which isn’t helped by this open assault on me and my family. Every time I hear a Labour response to the Government’s latest atrocity I feel deflated.

    This is how Maggie got in 3 times – no viable opposition

  4. Jane Canning May 15, 2013 at 11:12 am - Reply

    The voting system is to blame when people feel they have to vote for someone they do not feel represents them just to keep out something worse. It would be great to see politicians like Tony Benn once more in parliament; people who have a respect for humanity. If we had a media that wasn’t in the trough alongside the politicians we may well find that socialism is acceptable to the majority after all, since they appear to be so susceptible to what they are being fed. The Labour Party has so let us down with regard to bedroom tax and the like. I really don’t feel I can trust New Labour, but what real choice do I have?

    • Glynnux May 16, 2013 at 2:09 am - Reply

      People ARE seeking a socialist alternative. The troughing media are not reporting what’s happening on that side of the picture but that doesn’t mean it isn’t very real. It’s probably much more real than the smoke and mirrors charade that they do ‘report’.

  5. Bill Garnett May 15, 2013 at 11:31 am - Reply

    ‘without contraries there is no progression’ Blake

  6. lisers123melodie May 15, 2013 at 11:50 am - Reply

    I feel the same, labour has forgotten its roots and are as guilty as the condems for the mess of the welfare reforms .its the poorest of our society and this includes the in work benefit claimants who are suffering every cut going .there is not one main party that stands out for me and they may try to say a EU vote will be a vote winner but I think people have more worry about trying to manage there every day life with the welfare reforms than the worry about the in out vote EU

  7. Big Bill May 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    I suspect what we’ll end up with is two new parties, the neoliberals and the anti-neoliberals. If all the antis leave Labour and the Tories to form a new party ther’ed be so few left in either they’d have to combine to form a new party themselves, an overtly neoliberal one. It’s not about left or right any more.

    • Pip Godbeer May 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Thought it was about representing everyone that is trying to live in this country. It seems that the government is no longer doing that.

  8. guy fawkes May 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    A great piece Mike, it must have been difficult for you to admit that labour royalty are tory lite and ignorant of real working class values.

    • Mike Sivier May 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      That’s not exactly what I’m saying; I’m merely reacting to the findings of the study and suggesting reasons. It seems to me that it won’t matter whether Ed Miliband really is ‘Tory Lite’ or not if he’s from the same background as David Cameron (and he is – Cameron’s career goes: Oxford graduate (PPE) – short media career – Westminster job for the Conservatives). People will form the obvious conclusion and it’s better all around if he distances himself and his shadow cabinet from that as much as possible.

      Liam Byrne is a lost cause and must be jettisoned.

      • Glynnux May 16, 2013 at 2:16 am - Reply

        Liam Byrne is one of several infiltrators. There seems to be so many ‘enemies’ in a variety of ‘withins’. It’s falling apart rapidly.

  9. Thomas M May 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    And partly because of the unfair voting system, the left wing replacements only get 1% to 3 % of the national vote. Even under PR they would hardly get anywhere.

  10. […] as the excellent Mike Sivier on Vox Political points out in a posting today, it’s suggested that members of the Labour party who are still of good heart and conscience are […]

  11. Big T May 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Maybe time for the new parties to amalgamate and call themselves “Old Labour”.

  12. chris miller May 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    A very significant part of the Thatcher legacy was the weakening and discrediting of the unions resulting in few MP’s coming into the house via this traditional old labour route over the last 30 years. As a result we don’t have the leaders and the orators that we used to because we have lost the forum where working class people learned politics and learned to speak for themselves and others….and so the working class has lost it’s voice.
    The unions once were the people, to re-energise the labour party, there must be a resurgence in the trade unions, or we must look elsewhere, the new protest movements perhaps, for those who speak not just for themselves, but want the world to better for all.

  13. Penny Ledger May 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    If the people questioned were told benefits are generous their answer is fairly predictable. How many know what benefits they would receive if they suddenly were unemployed or disabled? I am really worried that Labour will base their policy and manifesto on this.

  14. HomerJS May 15, 2013 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    The problem is that people are deserting Labour but not going anywhere. There are too many going in the ‘none of the above’ group. Our leaders do not care if we don’t vote, and by not voting we fail to give a clear message. Labour needs to know that they can move to the left and actually be moving to the centre. They have bery few votes to lose but many votes to gain.

  15. Editor May 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on kickingthecat.

  16. guy fawkes May 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Mike sivier

    How can labour top brass understand working class values when they have never had a job and mainly come from middleclass. They have hijacked the labour party, first Blair now MIliband.

    Big T in reply to you calling an amalgamation of the other left “old labour”, that may confuse some of the elctorate when going to vote i.e. the ongused elderly which labour do we vote for? We need a new name and need the decent labour and lib dem mp’s to defect and join a real left wing organization.

  17. guy fawkes May 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    The ongfused should read confused.

    • Mike Sivier May 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      Liberal Democrats have proved that they’re not left-wing at all, I think.

  18. mybeautfulthings May 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    A brilliant piece – thank you. We’ve been saying much the same about the lack of real working people in parliament, in any party. We need Alan Johnson and more like him – people, men and women who have held real jobs before going into politics.
    I hate the demonisation of group after group too – reminds me of what Pastor Neimoller said.
    I’m going to post this on Fb for others to read.

  19. guy fawkes May 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm - Reply


    Some Individuals in the lib dem’s are very left wing. Our citizens advice bureau manager for more than 20 years and a lib dem councillor was very left wing.

    • Mike Sivier May 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      An endangered breed, I fear. Beware Orange Book Liberals!

  20. Trevor Fallas May 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    The damage has already been done by the right-wing press. The gullible masses now believe that they are being taken for a ride by benefit claimants. Old Labour would have tried to alter this public perception. New Labour would rather pander to the bigots for the sake of a few votes. So, now we have the situation where even those who are suffering from low pay are blaming the unemployed and the disabled. And even many of the unemployed and disabled are blaming the immigrants.

    In my own opinion, New Labour cannot be salvaged – with or without Liam Byrne. Many like me could never vote for these traitors ever again. It isn’t us voters who are splitting the left-wing vote – it’s Labour themselves. In future, I will always waste my vote on whichever left-wing party stands some small chance. We could do with someone in the know, who could help us to vote tactically in our different constituencies.

  21. […] Don’t blame the poor when the rich are bleeding you dry. […]

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