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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