Closet Tory Liam Byrne is cosying up to the Coalition – and will cost Labour the next election

Liam Byrne wants Labour to adopt Conservative policies but carry them out in a different way. Why would anyone vote for that?

Liam Byrne wants Labour to adopt Conservative policies but carry them out in a different way. Why would anyone vote for that?

Now what’s that creepy Liam Byrne up to?

First he warned the Coalition that plans for further, hugely damaging, cuts in social security spending will cost around £1.4 billion more than they save.

Then he offered to help Iain Duncan Smith, of all people, to save Universal Credit, of all things!

The Torygraph has claimed this is Labour’s “strongest backing yet” for Universal Credit.

Is Ed Miliband, as Labour’s leader, blind to the amount of damage this will do to his party?

It seems likely that Byrne is trying to improve his position ahead of a shadow cabinet reshuffle, but Miliband would have to be stupid to keep him on, after the shadow work and pensions secretary caused one disaster after another.

Look at the Guardian article. The lead paragraph declares: “The coalition’s benefit cuts have descended into “chaos” that will cost an extra £1.4 billion because of delays, extra claimants, waste and complaints, Labour claims.” [Italics mine]

What about the human cost, then? What about the huge damage that these Conservative-led policies will cause to hard-working people up and down the UK? We know that the benefit cap has already caused huge harm to working-class people, and the bedroom tax is doing the same – and these are only recent examples of stupid, cruel Tory policies (forget the Liberal Democrats – they’re only around to rubber-stamp the plans of a Tory government).

This is telling us that Labour actually agrees with the ideology behind these schemes; it is in the execution of them that the parties differ. Here’s proof of it in the Guardian article: “The focus of Byrne’s speech will not be challenging the substance of reforms brought in by Iain Duncan Smith… but criticism of his failure to deliver them properly.

That is a terrible, terrible mistake for Labour to make and, as leader, Ed Miliband should be putting a stop to it at once.

The Guardian says, “he will pledge to ‘bring social security spending under control’.” That’s what the Tories say! Labour should be promising to bring fairness back to social security. Labour should be promising the removal of Atos, Unum and any other profit-making concerns from the business of the Department for Work and Pensions and Labour should be pledging to bring in a new system that concentrates on the needs and abilities of each claimant, as determined by proper medical evidence and not some silly made-up tick-box computer questionnaire that was devised to make it easier to sell bogus insurance schemes.

Why is Byrne making such silly promises? Because, the Guardian says, Labour wants to “shake off Tory claims that it is too much on the side of benefit claimants over working people”. In other words, he and they are worried about what the Tories say, and not about the torture through which they are putting ordinary people like you and me. They won’t win any elections that way!

Attacking the Tories over the way they are doing things, rather than the things they are doing, has of course left Byrne wide open to any kind of attack the Tories wished to launch and, sure enough, an ‘aide’ to Iain ‘Returned To Unit’ Smith dismissed Byrne’s claims as “laughable”.

Quoted by the Guardian, she said this was “yet another disastrous speech, void of any ideas”. It’s a rare situation in which I am forced to agree with a Conservative!

“Same old Labour is in the wrong place on welfare,” she continued. “They want people on benefits to make more money than the average hard-working family earns.” Now that – of course – is utter nonsense, but it will stay in people’s minds because the claim that the speech has no new ideas to offer, coupled with one that it is a “last-ditch attempt… to keep his job in the shadow cabinet” rings true.

The Telegraph article says Byrne has called for cross-party talks to clear up the “‘mess’ of delays and IT problems that he says have hit the policy.” Again, no mention that the policy is wrong. In fact, the article later states, “The project… is a good idea but needs to be rescued from the ‘disaster’ that it has become under [Mr Returned To Unit], he will claim.” A good idea? Universal Credit?

It’s a shame that he has decided to support the principles of the Tory regressions (we can’t call them reforms, and changes isn’t strong enough), because he did come up with a decent comment, that is also a truism: “There is now a private joke in Whitehall – to err is human, but to really foul things up you need Iain Duncan Smith.” But of course Byrne ruined it by saying it was Smith’s fault his harmful reforms are in crisis, rather than pouncing on them as bad ideas in their own right.

The Guardian article says “Shadow cabinet members are under pressure from Labour grandees to start spelling out their policies more clearly.” If this is Byrne’s idea of a Labour policy he should be dumped – not only from the shadow cabinet, but from Parliament and the Party – with haste.

Byrne has always been a dangerous liability – remember the damage he caused with one silly note about there being no money left after the 2010 general election?

He persuaded hundreds of Labour MPs to abstain from voting against the Tories’ hasty plan to legalise their robbery of millions of pounds from thousands of Jobseekers – the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act – in March, claiming that he had secured “concessions” that would make it worthwhile.

The first was a guarantee of appeal rights – a safeguard that had always been in place and that the Conservatives had not suggested they would drop.

The second was an independent review of the sanctions regime, with an urgent report and recommendations to Parliament. It is now nearly six months since that concession was made. Has anybody – anywhere – heard any more about this “urgent report”?

Byrne was hoodwinked into giving way on a policy that is hugely damaging to the financial security of millions of people and receiving nothing at all in return. That’s not even mentioning the damage caused to the Labour Party by this and other unnecessary concessions to the Conservatives.

Now this.

The only sane choice for Ed Miliband is to sack Byrne on the spot and announce a reversal of Labour policy that will halt any support for regressive Conservative austerity measures that harm not only hard-working people and jobseekers who want to get onto the employment ladder but also the economy in general.

But Miliband seems weak – or at least indecisive. It seems he needs encouragement.

His email address is [email protected] and he is on Twitter as well: @Ed_Miliband

If you feel strongly about this, give him a piece of your mind.

19 thoughts on “Closet Tory Liam Byrne is cosying up to the Coalition – and will cost Labour the next election

    1. Mike Sivier

      Trouble is, when people make comments like the above, I have to ask whether they, too, are closet Tories trying to undermine confidence in Labour.

      No offence, but are you?

      1. vomsters

        I feel the same about many politicians. There are too many on the front benches who have no clue how “normal” people live, work and think. You just have to look at the kind of thing that gets expensed or the kind of thing they consider as “normal” themselves to realise that. It’s not that the Labour front bench are “Tories in Disguise” transformerbots, it’s that there is very very little to distinguish them from their opposite numbers. As long as all parties are espousing neo-liberal policies, it rreally doesn’t matter who you vote for, the rot continues.

    2. Big Bill

      It’s probably more accurate to say they’re neoliberals – and no, I’m not myself! 🙂

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  3. Gavin MacMillan

    I have to agree with ThePrisoner58. And as for myself, I am neither an “out” Tory or a closet version. But the 3 main parties (4 if you count UKIP) remain totally in thrall to a neo-lib ideology, and until a credible political party that rejects this economic insanity appears, there is no hope of any change in either how UK plc is run, or in how the “wealth” will be distributed. The Green party supposedly rejects this ideology, but in so many ways, and on so many levels, they are dysfunctional and are as much a collection of “individuals” beating their own personal drums as they are an organised party capable of taking on the big money of the mainstream parties. And sadly, the vast bulk of the electorate still don’t see past what gain or advantage they personally can get out of whichever party is in power, to a point where a party that is good for society as a whole could be considered for election. The reality is that selfishness still wins the day, and the prospect of a new iPhuck © being dangled in front of their greedy little snout still, for a sizable part of the population, contiues to win out over any idea of social cohesion or solidarity with the dispossessed.

    The truth remains – Britain is a rich country. It generates as much wealth in a year now as it did in 2010, and yet according to all main parties, it remains in financial crisis and the only way out of this is to cut public spending. So, the big question – and really, the only question – where is the money going? As law enforcement agencies might say when trying to solve a particular crime, “follow the money”.

    1. Big Bill

      The money’s being used as funds for Osborne’s new housing bubble scheme. It’s been featured on the Max Keiser report “Meanwhile, George Osborne’s welfare reforms see £11.8 billion ‘saved’ from housing benefits, while £12 billion of taxpayer money is set aside to subsidize mortgages of up to £600,000 for the second phase of the Help to Buy scheme.” Recommended.

  4. bookmanwales

    Unfortunately you are flogging a dead horse. Labour are as dead as the Liberals in the mind of voters.

    Lack of leadership, abandonment of ideology, lack of public outrage over Tory cuts, agreement with retrospective legislation, being ashamed of union connections and to cap it all off now agreeing to work with Tories to implement cuts in a better way.

    There is not one thing Labour have done in the last three years that would make anyone support them, particularly the working class (if such a thing exists anymore)

    A change of leadership will do nothing as the executive of the Labour party is in itself corrupted by the pursuit of power. Lets not forget who put the likes of Blair, Milliband, Byrne etc where they are, as far as I can see not the grass roots members, if they did then they were easily fooled.

    My advice to everyone is to follow doomsday preppers, stock up on food, clothing and firewood because when, not if, the Tories win the next election things are going to get much much worse.

  5. Nick

    the benefit system is used by all sorts of people ed should be just outlining that the long term sick and disabled will not in future be persecuted to their death in some cases

    And it’s as simple as that just a few words to get across making sure of a win at the next election for the very simple reason it not only makes common sense but looks balanced and those long term sick and disabled wont be in fear of their lives of which the whole country should celebrate

  6. Mike

    I’m actually saddened to hear this, especially as Liam is my local MP. Labour will lose a lot of support, indeed they have already.

  7. Jay

    Rumour has it that Liam Byrne will be shuffled sideways, or even out of the pack altogether, in the near future. Here’s hoping!

  8. Clutter

    With “friends” like the plastic tory Liam Byrne, Ed Miliband doesn’t need enemies.

    I thought I heard Byrne say on WATO that the only job he wanted was IDS’. Is he going to cross the floor, or have I misheard or misunderstood?

  9. Tom (AAV)

    Byre is clearly a closet Tory. Perhaps it would be better for everyone involved if he did a David Freud and went and joined the Tory party, instead of trying to make Labour policy more Toryish than the Tories themselves?

  10. Samwise Gamgee

    So now who do you turn to, if you’re disabled, long term sick, unemployed or on a low income? Labour needs to get its soul back ASAP. They can start by getting Ed Milliband to fire that IDS clone, Liam Duncan-Smith, sorry Liam Byrne.

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