Why Labour SHOULD be ‘the party of welfare’

[Image: Redpepper]

[Image: Redpepper]

What follows is intelligent, adroit and not mine. It was written by Bernadette Meaden on the Ekklesia website and passed on to me by a mutual friend.

It constitutes what I think may be a complete answer and refutation of ‘accusations’ that the Labour Party is the so-called ‘party of welfare’. Tories love to bandy this about as though it is an insult. What they don’t tell you is that their alternative is abject poverty for all but an elite few.

I’m jumping ahead of myself. Here’s what Bernadette had to say:

“Conservative MPs frequently say that the Conservatives are the party of ‘hardworking people’, and the Labour Party is ‘the party of welfare’. It’s said as an accusation, an insult, and many Labour MPs take it as such, attempting to deny the charge as if it’s something to be ashamed of.

I would like to see Labour MPs acting as an Opposition, and to meet this ‘accusation’ head on, with conviction and pride. Here is what I’d like to hear a Labour MP say.

“Yes, we are the party of welfare, and we’re proud to be so. Let me tell you why.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that, if you have a stroke tonight, you should have poverty added to your misfortune.

“We’re the party of welfare because, if you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease tomorrow, we don’t believe that you should worry about eviction as you wait six months for an assessment, only to be denied the support you so obviously need.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that when 1,700 people apply for eight jobs at Costa, or when 1,500 people queue for hours to apply for 40 jobs at Aldi, there is a big problem with people being ‘workshy’. We don’t believe unemployed people are to blame for unemployment.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe ordinary workers need to be motivated by the threat of hunger, whilst bankers need huge bonuses to motivate them.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that if a person loses their job, they need to have their distress exacerbated with the threat of benefit sanctions if they are late for a Jobcentre appointment.

“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that ‘hardworking people’ and people in receipt of benefits are somehow two different species. We know that in an unfair economy, many hardworking people rely on benefits to keep a roof over their head and their children fed. And until such time as the economy is fair, and those people’s wages are sufficient, we will not begrudge them the support they need.

“So yes, we are the party of welfare, because we’re the party of humanity, compassion, and fairness, and we do not view people who are poor or in difficulty with thinly disguised suspicion and contempt.”

That is what I would like to hear a Labour MP say, the next time they are ‘accused’ of being the party of welfare.”

Hear, hear.

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18 thoughts on “Why Labour SHOULD be ‘the party of welfare’

  1. john ingamells

    excellent and well considered piece. I thoroughly agree that Labour should be proud of its history and if these are so called accusations and suggestions of some kind of weakness and inadequacy, Labour should be proud to oppose this hateful coalition of privilege and hypocrisy, oppose all that they stand for and show its true motives and principles, the shame should all be from those who see welfare as not representative of a civilised and wealthy country, which we are.

  2. Niki

    I agree totally. I would also like them to add that the welfare bill could rightly be decreased, by implementing a living wage to remove the need for tax credits, to increase housing and controlling rents to reduce the housing benefit bill and other practical, sensible ideas. Sort out the tax issues while they do it as well.

    And I WISH that labour would defend the whole “labour left us in a mess” sh**e.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Peter Hain did so – very effectively – once on Any Questions (Radio 4). I can’t understand why the rest of the Labour Party didn’t do the same.

  3. hugosmum70

    if only those in power could be shown to have had no experience of the working world. or so little it makes no difference. hundreds of people loved watching Upstairs ,Downstairs in the past and more recently Downton Abbey. but in neither case were the aristocracy shown to have no compassion at all for those less fortunate. they kept their places, both up n down stairs. there was a distinction. but not the outright bullying, nasty, evil, thoughtless, and downright uncaring attitudes of those we have in power right now. Perhaps a documentary in reverse of those done so far showing how the “scroungers” live. lets have one done about how Cameron, IDS, Osbourne, Clegg and Gove live. to name the main culprits. warts and all.whats good for those on benefits should be good for those calling them nasty names. bring in how IDS came to be where he is. on the back of his wife and her family, made up a completely fictitious life of his own before meeting her. (possibly since too. we know there’s been fraud on his part.) dig up all the dirt possible on them all. ruin their lives as they have ruined so many others. what they are doing now is exactly how they were allowed and encouraged to behave by those in charge at those expensive top schools. they are trying to say that kids arent loved enough today. that unwashed pots from breakfast or a bag of rubbish waiting to be taken out to the bin is neglect of the kids. when they probably never saw their parents from the good morning hello son (father probably even forgot their name) now run along with nanny…. to the goodnight father, goodnight mother with no cuddle or kiss from them before the adults had their evening meal/never set eyes on their parents from the day they were dropped off at their boarding school at beginning of term,more likely by the family chauffeur than their father or mother, to the end of term….year in year out til they went to uni, possibly paid for as none have the intelligence to get there under their own steam. then during the school hols, ya know old chap its gonna be a spiffing hols.lotsa tennis and punting. yeah sure. , farmed out to different relatives or allowed to do whatever they pleased with no control. no wonder they believe kids dont get enough love.they didnt get any themselves. sired simply to carry on the family name, or with girls marry well to bring more money and property into the family. (sheep auctions????) they’ve only that sort of upbringing to go on. how much further removed from normal everyday life can they get? washing up being left only means mother hasnt had time to do it probably because of dealing with some kiddie crisis. much more important than a bowl of washing up. washing up wont walk away if not done for a while after all. but not dealing with a kids crisis, real or imagined COULD be classed as emotional neglect.and could last that child a lifetime.
    sorry. rant over……….. for now.

  4. Barry Davies

    A very good piece, it’s a shame the Ed Milliband seems to ape the tories on their policies though, I think someone like Michael Meacher more closely has real Labour policies at heart.

  5. jeffrey davies

    there are too many tony blairs left in the party until they shown the door back to the tory party im afraid then they wont be labour jef3

  6. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Great piece by Bernadette Meaden defending the welfare state and Labour as its party by pointing out the obvious: the welfare state exists not to support skivers, but because there is a genuine need for it. She also points out that the people receiving welfare benefits are not some different, exotic species from ‘hardworking people’. Indeed not. Under the Tories, increasingly they’re one and the same.

  7. hugosmum70

    you could be right. brillianr man and has a heart too. but he seems to have been rather quiet though of late?or is it me hasnt seen anything of his lately?

  8. Alison Webster

    This what i want them to say,because this is what they should be saying and not apologising for being the party of the people that actually made this country the wealth it had.

  9. bookmanwales

    Unfortunately for the majority of people these days a social conscience is a sign of weakness and a bad thing. To say you care about other people makes people see you as some sort of alien creature from a parallel universe (a lefty, communist, marxist demon, or worse still a human being)
    The reasons behind the forming of the Labour party are lost in the mists of time as people have been cushioned from the truths of the past.
    Poverty is shown by quaint Christmas showings of Oliver Twist and A Chrismas Carol so viewed as just fairy stories that affected very few.
    Major series like Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs show our rich forebears as rather quirky but benevolent chappies ( no whippings, abuse, random shipping to convict colonies, no beggar children, no one dying of curable diseases and definitely no signs of exhaustion from the staff after working 12 -14 hours a day six days a week with only a half day off every other Sunday and more importantly no sign anywhere of the “Workhouse or Poorhouse” the last of which only closed in the 30’s

    Until Labour show why welfare was introduced and what we may well head back into I am afraid they are nothing but fraudsters taking pecuniary advantage of those stupid enough to believe they do actually care.

  10. Barry Davies

    The general consensus of opinion seems to be that welfare means benefit street, the sheer hatred of anyone receiving a single penny seems to have permeated the nations psyche, due to propaganda from the tories, with their subtle, “for hardworking people” mantra, and programmes like benefit street or even comedy like Bread. The reality of course is very different, most welfare payments go to people who are working. The sick and disabled are being demonised by this approach as skiving scum, and the true level of unemployment is hidden, meanwhile for the benefit of the rich the jobs market is being flooded with cheap labour from the east and south of europe, and the cost to the welfare which of course includes health care is increasing exponentially.

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