Are we really supposed to believe Labour’s leaders have changed over ‘welfare’?

Helen Goodman: Her amendment of the Conservative Government's 'Welfare' Bill is the best choice for Labour MPs.

Helen Goodman: Her amendment of the Conservative Government’s ‘Welfare’ Bill is a better choice for Labour MPs than that which was tabled by the party’s interim leader, Harriet Harman.

The news media are working hard to believe Labour has changed tack over the Government’s latest ‘Welfare’ Bill, after a rebellion by MPs – but has it?

It seems the party’s leaders have tabled an amendment to the Bill, saying what Labour will support and what it won’t – but child tax credits, the issue on which Parliamentary Labour Party members rebelled, is not mentioned at all.

Instead, it opposes the abolition of child poverty targets and cuts to Employment and Support Allowance.

Meanwhile, shadow ‘welfare’ minister Helen Goodman has tabled an amendment of her own, supported by more than 40 of her fellow Labour MPs, calling for the Conservative Welfare Bill to be rejected in its entirety.

Vox Political urges Labour MPs to support Ms Goodman’s amendment, rather than Ms Harman’s.

Interim leader Harriet Harman had initially proposed that Labour should abstain, rather than voting on the ‘Welfare’ Bill. This would ensure that the Conservative cuts are passed in their entirety.

Defending this proposal, she said on Sunday that, having been defeated in two general elections, Labour could not adopt “blanket opposition” to the proposed changes. This is a false argument. It assumes that the voting public avidly supports the removal of public money from people who need it. When was this proved?

Only 23 per cent of the electorate supported the Conservative Party at the election; 76 per cent opposed its policies. The vast majority of the UK population is against the Tory proposals. Labour MPs should bear that in mind – constantly.

Look at the words Harriet Harman used to justify her abstention call: “We’re not going to do blanket opposition because we’ve heard all around the country that whilst people have got concerns, particularly about the standard of living for low income families in work, they don’t want just… blanket opposition to what the government are proposing on welfare.”

So her solution is to let the Conservative Government pass legislation that will reduce the standard of living for those families? It doesn’t make sense.

If Labour’s vote on the ‘Welfare’ Bill is divided, perhaps that is what the party needs. It will show a public that mostly despises the Conservatives and the selfish changes they have imposed – which divert money from the poor who need it to the rich who don’t – that there are some members of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition who do still oppose Conservative neoliberalism.

It will also show the Labour Party that the way forward is to ditch the silly idea of ‘triangulation’ that suggests the Opposition party should support government policies, because making yourself like your opponent makes you more electable. This is silly, childish nonsense.

It also proves a well-used saying that it is madness to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Labour tried it in 2010 and again in 2015. It didn’t work.

Time to do what Labour’s supporters – especially those who have drifted away, thinking the party was too much like the Tories – want.

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  1. hayfords July 17, 2015 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    “Only 23 per cent (actually 24.2%) of the electorate supported the Conservative Party at the election; 76 per cent opposed its policies.”

    That is not quite correct. 34% did not vote at all so their view is unknown and may not oppose the Conservative policies. All the recent polls show a large majority in favour of welfare cuts. Also don’t forget that less of the electorate voted for Labour in 2001 and far less in 2005.

    • Mike Sivier July 17, 2015 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      I do apologise – I was using somebody else’s numbers. However, since you’re arguing over one per cent that does not make any material difference, I don’t think anybody else will believe it matters.
      If the 33.9 per cent who didn’t vote supported Conservative policies, they would have voted for them. They didn’t. In the absence of any further evidence, we must therefore conclude that they did not support Conservative policies.

      As for the polls, are you referring to those carried out for the Tory-supporting FT and Telegraph? Hardly trustworthy, really. I notice two-thirds of Scots oppose any further cuts. Perhaps if the whole population was polled with neutral questions we might get an answer we can trust.

      • Ian July 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm - Reply

        If you put an honest, informed choice to the people; ‘which is more important, 12 billion being cut from benefits, benefits you pay for and may well need or the ten times that amount dodged by rich corporations?’ What do you think they would say?

        That’s a major problem in these days of outrageous news bias, you only ever get one side of the story. The neoliberal side.

  2. Ian July 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    This stinks of shamefaced backtracking, to me.

    Too little, too late as far as I’m concerned.

    Corbyn For Emperor!

    • Mike Sivier July 17, 2015 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      I don’t think it’s backtracking!
      I don’t think they’ve done what we’re being told they’ve done.
      Why aren’t child tax credits mentioned at all?

  3. ian725 July 17, 2015 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    I agree I am almost certain that the UK majority by a long way oppose the cuts and I honestly cannot see a UK majority support these Tory policies. In fact I would further surmise that many who did vote conservative regret that they did. Conservative gloating and lies have become intolerable.

  4. hayfords July 17, 2015 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    The 12 billion cuts were indicated in the election and people voted for them.

    The question of companies dodging tax is a complicated one. Companies not paying corporation tax here are paying it elsewhere. This is nothing new. Companies have been doing business that way for 100 years or more. Ford made cars here with engines made elsewhere. Differential pricing of components such as engines leave the profit in whatever country they want. Don’t forget that these companies provide jobs and tax is paid via employers and employees National Insurance and PAYE tax.

    Our companies do exactly the same. ICI did business in almost every country in the world and their internal pricing made the profits return to the UK. ALL large companies do the same thing. It would be incredibly difficult to change the system. It would need the cooperation of every major country. All countries choose to do business in a tax beneficial area. The recent budget corporation tax reduction should attract companies here.

    • Mike Sivier July 17, 2015 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      The question of companies dodging tax has been examined by economists and they all say the same thing: The UK is being cheated out of around £120 billion a year.

      And we’ve already been over the fact that a minority of people voted for the cuts. Most people didn’t.

    • mohandeer July 17, 2015 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      Hayfords, the Tories are in negotiations with other EU member states to link tax evasion to put a stop to the evasion that costs all countries money. If this inItiative pans out, corporations will be audited and the information shared like a ” tax Interpol”. Don’t know how feasible it is but worth a try especially as we have the lowest corporate tax in the EU and still the b******s try to avoid paying.

    • John Gaines July 20, 2015 at 9:44 am - Reply

      And, do not ‘forget’ that FORD got Dagenham for Gratis so they could develop Jobs for the New Housing Estate, how many ways do we have to pay these Corporate swindlers for actually (A) screwing up the UK car manafacturing process (we actually paid for the Factory and Land which plants were built upon) (B) allowing Ford access to European markets at nil cost.
      I wonder what politicians got paid off on that one.

  5. ian725 July 18, 2015 at 12:58 am - Reply

    ‘ The UK is being cheated out of around £120 Billion a year’ … Enough to wipe out the deficit and put us back into surplus. I believe that the last time we were in surplus was in Browns time.

    • sasson1 July 18, 2015 at 10:24 am - Reply

      And when you add in the subsidies – another £93 billion and other ‘sweeteners’ – there would be no need for ‘austerity’ at all, if there ever was one anyway when you consider how government bonds are sold.

    • John Gaines July 20, 2015 at 9:49 am - Reply

      We will never get rid of the ‘Deficit’ all that we are existing upon is DEBT, even actual Money nor Gold, is no longer worth the time mining or making; Electronic Debt is the New master of the Universe.

  6. crazytrucker1951 July 18, 2015 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Who did Harry consult before uttering the abstain thing? Just the Shadow Cabinet? I expected better than that from her. But then perhaps she agrees with this piece of nastiness aimed at just about everybody but the rich.

  7. mrmarcpc July 30, 2015 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    They should be aopposed to everything the Tories say and stand for, not comply, some opposition these bunch of cretins are!

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