Voting with the Tories on ‘welfare’ will end any credibility Labour has left

George Osborne is a liar, from a party of liars - one only has to consider the UK's secret bombing of Syria - after Parliament voted against it - to see the truth in that.

George Osborne is a liar, from a party of liars – one only has to consider the UK’s secret bombing of Syria – after Parliament voted against it – to see the truth in that.

What an amazing piece in The Guardian about George Osborne’s call for “progressive” Labour MPs to support his entirely regressive changes to social security (the only people who call it “welfare” are Tories)!

Will people believe this pack of lies?

The article starts by saying he has urged “progressive” MPs in the Labour party to back his cuts in a major Commons vote today (Monday) on the Tories’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

He wants Labour MPs – but more importantly, the electorate, to think that the plan to cut child tax credits (among other measures) is what the public wants, and also builds on “mainstream Labour thinking”.

This is moonshine.

Labour believes that the profits of all our work should be shared out to ensure a decent standard of living for everybody, including those who cannot work but contribute to society in other ways. For example, if you have children, then you get child tax credits because their contribution to society has yet to be made.

Removing the tax credits and lowering the standard of living – as the Conservative chancellor’s plans would do to many people – is therefore the opposite of “mainstream Labour thinking”.

Osborne also calls on Labour to “stop blaming the public for its defeat”. This is typical Tory gaslighting. As a party, Labour has not blamed the public. The prevailing mood in the party is that Labour needs to draw the correct conclusions from the election result and create policies that acknowledge what the public wants, while fitting Labour values.

That’s real Labour values – not George Osborne’s fantasy.

You can tell that Labour isn’t doing as Osborne claims. Nowhere in the Guardian article is any factual evidence provided to show Labour has blamed the electorate for its defeat. Harriet Harman is paraphrased as having said the party needed to recognise that the electorate had sent Labour a message – which is quite the opposite.

Osborne also fails to support his claim that the majority of the electorate support his cuts. The majority of the electorate voted against the Conservative Party on May 7, with the Tories managing to gain only a 24.3 per cent share of the possible vote and a tiny 12-seat advantage in Parliament. That does not indicate majority support for the cuts programme.

The article states: “Osborne sprung a surprise in the budget by proposing cuts to the level of tax credits, but balanced these in part by a rise in the minimum wage to more than £9 an hour by 2020 for those over 25.” Notice that the tax credit cut is immediate, but the minimum wage will only rise to more than £9 per hour in five years’ time. How are people supposed to survive in the years between?

Also, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the cut in tax credits, along with the other cuts that ‘Slasher’ Osborne wants to make, will remove £12 billion from the economy – but the minimum wage rise – when it finally happens – will only add £4 billion.

So the Conservatives want Labour to support an £8 billion cut in living standards for the people who can least accommodate it.

Osborne’s argument that the responsibility for ensuring decent living standards should be rebalanced, from the state handing out subsidies towards employers providing decent wages, falls because he has no intention of making employers pay decent wages.

Osborne also writes: “Three in four people – and a majority of Labour voters – think that Britain spends too much on welfare.”

Are these the same people who think 41 per cent of the entire social security budget goes on unemployment benefits, when the actual proportion is just three per cent?

Are these the same people who think 27 per cent of the entire social security budget is claimed fraudulently, when the actual proportion is just 0.7 per cent?

Are these the people who believe George Osborne’s lies, and the lies of the Conservative Government?

In case anybody is wondering, the figures quoted above are from a TUC poll that was carried out a couple of years ago. It seems that, with the help of compliant media (such as The Guardian?) the Conservatives have succeeded in continuing to mislead the general public.

Osborne continued: “For our social contract to work, we need to retain the consent of the taxpayer, not just the welfare recipient.”

People receiving social security payments are also taxpayers; indirect taxation accounts for around three-quarters of the taxes received by the UK Treasury from the 20 per cent of people in the lowest income group.

The lies keep coming: “For those that can work, I believe it is better to earn a higher income from your work than receive a higher income from welfare.” If this was true, then he would have forced the minimum wage up to a point at which people would no longer need to claim tax credits in order to receive the same amount. He didn’t; he lied.

Osborne goes on to praise interim Labour leader Harriet Harman for capitulating to the Conservatives over child tax credits. There is only one reason he would do this – to undermine support for the Labour Party by suggesting that it really is ‘Tory-Lite’. Shame on Ms Harman for allowing this to happen!

His claim, “She recognised that oppositions only advance when they … recognise that some of the arguments made by political opponents should be listened to,” would be reasonable if the argument for cutting tax credits was sound, but it isn’t – people will be worse-off in this instance. If people were to become better-off afterwards, he might have a point. As it is, it is drivel.

His very next point confirms this: “A previous Conservative opposition realised [this] 15 years ago when it accepted the case for a minimum wage.” The Conservative Party only accepted this case in 2008, under David Cameron – a Tory leader who, when campaigning unsuccessfully for the Stafford constituency seat in 1996, had said it would “send unemployment straight back up” (The Chronicle (Stafford), February 21 1996). Even now, many Tory supporters despise the minimum wage.

Osborne ended with an appeal for “moderate” Labour MPs to vote with his party.

That would be the end of any credibility Labour has remaining, as a party of Opposition.

According to The Guardian, Osborne said: “The proposals are part of a common endeavour by Labour and the Conservatives to implement difficult welfare reforms.” Again, he is trying to make the public think Labour and the Tories are the same. Labour MPs would have to be complete idiots to help him.

Some of the complete idiots in Labour who have already helped him are, according to Osborne, “New Labour work and pensions secretaries such as John Hutton, David Blunkett and James Purnell [who] all tried to reform the welfare system… Alistair Darling [who] says tax credits are ‘subsidising lower wages in a way that was never intended’ [and] Frank Field… [who] agrees the system as it stands is simply ‘not sustainable’ and the budget represents a ‘game-changer’.”

Wouldn’t social security be a little more sustainable if George Osborne spent less time obsessing about wringing more money from those who can least afford to lose it, and more time getting his extremely rich corporate friend to pay up more of the £120 billion a year they are believed to owe in unpaid taxes?

Why isn’t Labour making this point, whenever Tories like Osborne start bleating that anything is “unsustainable”?

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39 thoughts on “Voting with the Tories on ‘welfare’ will end any credibility Labour has left

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      But Labour needs to attract more voters if it is to form a government in the future. Therefore any poll of people who voted Labour will be unrepresentative of the majority that Labour needs to attract.

  1. Mr.Angry

    If Labour supports the cruel Tory policies I for one and I know many more will never again vote Labour, they will be finished or is this the plan?

  2. Nick Fourbanks

    Osborne is just scared if he tried to reign in on the rich you could be sure at some point he would be assassinated and this is why all governments let the rich off the hook as they would never know on when that day would come but come it would

      1. Nick Fourbanks

        It depends on the territory most governments don’t take any chances and leave the rich and certain type of criminals to there own devices

        after all you and your family will not always be fully protected by bodyguards

  3. Timro

    I never thought much of Harriet Harman, but considered her harmless. I don’t think that now. Does Labour really believe that rolling over for the Conservatives social security cuts now, five years before the next general election, will improve Labour’s electoral chances? Seriously – are Labour strategists really THAT dim?

      1. Joan Edington

        Possible translation. If Labour do vote for Osborne’s travesty of a con then she will not vote Labour again?

  4. BlueTies

    Maybe Labour should just become Conservatives. Then the government would have a strong majority and can start purging the poor without any opposition. After all, it’s what the public want.

  5. Jim Round

    Trouble is, more people voted for pro-austerity parties than anti-austerity parties.

      1. Jim Round

        Yes, if the electorate were mainly anti-austerity, then they would vote for these parties.
        It appears they are not.
        Why is this?
        Are they easily influenced by biased MSM reporting?

  6. Steve Grant

    The whole point of this comic parliament is that the party with a majority rules and the collective of the remaining MP’s ” oppose”.To agree with the ruling party fails to hold them to account and makes any opposition pointless.This is the Labour Parties problem for the last 7 years,there is no difference between the Tories and the other parties on so many issues.Its sheer laziness…..why just not bother to turn up to the House of Commons and let every right wing policy to go through? Better still just resign your seats and turn the country into a one party state?

    1. Joan Edington

      “why just not bother to turn up to the House of Commons and let every right wing policy to go through”.
      This seems to be exactly how it is working these days. There is virtually no debate. The Tories may put a couple of token MPs on their benches while the opposition make speeches on the business of the day, then, when voting time comes along, they all troop back in and vote how they want in a block that should always win. If it looks like the block might be chipping off a bit at the edges, they postpone the vote.

  7. Jim Round

    Also, no political party has any credibility.
    I see Andy Burnham intends to abstain from the vote, hmmm.
    When will people see that the party system is not the way forward.

  8. Ian

    The right wing infiltrators are determined to make Labour a thing of the past. So it seems, anyway. They know people want a move to the left but insist they should move right instead; I really don’t understand why they would do that unless they want to ruin Labour or are saying all the right things to get their rewards in the corporate world once they leave the HoC.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      This version of Labour, certainly.
      But then, 10 years ago, everyone was saying the Conservative Party was finished.

    1. Ian

      I’ve been a bit harsh on my MP (Iain Wright) before but he was one of the forty-eight last night, so fair play to him. I wrote to him last week about this siding with the Tories issue and I got my reply today. He’s going to oppose the bill all the way 🙂 Unfortunately he’s also behind Burnham for the leadership, which is a shame but he wants Tom Watson as deputy so not all bad.

      I included in my email a request to ask David Cameron about these benefit deaths figures you asked for. He has wrote to the PM and included my email. I’m not sure what will happen or when, if anything does happen, but it makes me wish I’d included a few choice anti-Tory insults…

  9. Stephen Bee

    Mike, Congratulations..I do believe you have illuminated enough points for Jeremy Corbyns first speech as oppositon leader at the despatch box….A significant speech that WILL be viewed by millions of the great unwashed and poltical numpties…that think politics is difficult and not for them. (until it affects them personally) I’ll be sharing your views on my FB page and in the various JC Support groups on FB and Twitter…hopefully JC will get to read them and take them to heart and won’t have to worry unduly about his maiden speech being a damp squib 🙂

    (I will be recording it for posterity as the speech that puts Scumeron to shame in the public eye)

    Brilliant work Mike..!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I don’t think he can have a second maiden speech – that’s only an MP’s first speech in the Commons chamber.

  10. Jim Round

    If the electorate were genuinely anti-austerity then they could easily have voted that way.
    It looks like I was right all along, 70% of the British public are thick and are Sheep.

  11. watermelonbloke

    I’m not sure why Labour MPs should or will be too bothered at the criticism being doled out here and elsewhere..

    After all, when you’re on £80k plus expenses, feted by lobbyists, availing of dinners and free trips to the opera etc. there’s little time for giving 2 f***s what the untermensch think. Secretaries and interns can deal with the mail, answer machine and social media stuff.

    They know the system is in their favour, all they have to do is say “horrid tories” and the other usual s**t half a decade from now and the donkeys will buy it. So the vast majority of them are looking at 10 years of more of this gravy.

    That’s the actual politics of the situation. Of course, they could experiment with the idea of being an opposition out of “principle” or something but that’s probably a little far fetched isnt it?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You’re forgetting that 48 Labour MPs did indeed oppose the Welfare Reform and Work Bill – out of “principle” or something.
      As for the rest – let’s see what the leverage of public opinion and a new leader will do.

      1. watermelonbloke

        I’m not forgetting. I am focussing on the sell out vomit-majority who let the tory press lead them around by the nose.

        Public opinion won’t obstruct 5 years of gravy.

        3/4 candiates aren’t qualified to “lead” anything. They are appeasers, capitulators.

        On second thoughts, at least Liz Kendall might believe this tory nonsense.

      2. watermelonbloke

        And are we supposed to be reassured that a minority of Labour MPs are as radically opposed to smashing the poor as ….the Libdems? This is catastrophic.

  12. Dale Latimer

    The issue of abstaining appears to be a complicated one, involving some mechanism of approving of some changes whilst reserving the right to oppose others. A couple of mps have issued statements explaining why they abstained, although I am still unclear as to how it works. I’m unconvinced that anything Labour do will make any difference.

  13. mrmarcpc

    Labour has no credilibity left, aren’t even Labour anymore, that is why Corbyn is so popular, he is Labour, the public know this and that is why they want him as leader and not any of the light tories there!

    1. Nick Fourbanks

      indeed the penny was a hell of a long time dropping on the labour party but at least it will get back to it’s roots albeit late in the day

      Corbyn will do his best for the average public and with luck that will bring renewed change for the better

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