A stark warning for Labour over social security cuts

Jeremy Corbyn: He must control Labour policy announcements and not let 'spokespeople' offer opportunities to Tories.

Jeremy Corbyn: He must control Labour policy announcements and not let ‘spokespeople’ offer opportunities to Tories [Image: AP]

Labour under Jeremy Corbyn must be much more careful and clear with its message – with no “loose lips” making it possible for the Tories to “sink the ship” (to adapt an old saying).

The BBC is reporting that Jeremy Corbyn has voiced his opposition to plans by the Conservative Government that would lower the overall household “welfare cap” in an interview with New Statesman. There’s nothing wrong with that – the cap was introduced at a level that was too low, and now the Tories want to cut it further, pushing more and more families into poverty and out of their current homes in what has been dubbed “economic cleansing” of housing estates.

But the report also quotes a “spokesman” who said Corbyn was “very much in favour” of getting rid of the cap altogether – supporting this with a quote from Corbyn himself, telling the TUC conference last week that he wanted to “remove the whole idea of the benefit cap”.

That’s just opening up the goal for the Tories to score.

Lo and behold, up pops Iain Duncan Smith – a man who has been missing for months while his Department for Work and Pensions was battered by allegations that his policies have been killing benefit claimants – accurate allegations.

Working hard to wash the blood off his hands and divert attention elsewhere, the Gentleman Ranker said: “chaos and confusion” surrounded Labour’s position – despite being an unlikely judge. Chaos and confusion have dogged his tenure as Work and Pensions secretary, yet he continues, blithely unwilling to acknowledge any problems.

“Conservatives believe that nobody should be able to claim more in welfare than the average family earns by going out to work,” he said. “By pledging to reverse this position, it’s clear that today’s Labour Party are simply not on the side of working people. They are still the same old welfare party – wanting to borrow more to spend more on benefits.”

Childish nonsense.

If Conservatives really believed that nobody should claim more than the average working family earns, then social security benefits would be capped at £32,000 – not £20,000. The fact that the Tories want to cut the amount available means they don’t want social security to be a safety net for people in hard times. Instead, they want to use it to prise people out of their homes and into poverty. That much is clear and indisputable.

Labour has not pledged to reverse any claim that people should have more in benefits than an average working family. The evidence shows that Iain Duncan Smith was lying. Claims by a spokesman and comments that the Labour leader wants to do something do not add up to a policy commitment.

And the claim by the man This Blog calls RTU (Return To Unit – a military term for an officer candidate who is not up to the task) that Labour is “not of the side of working people” is nothing less than offensive to all the working people who have suffered at the hands of the Tories over the last five years and more.

But the fact remains that Labour people gave the odious IDS a chance to push his perverted version of the facts.

Labour needs to be better than that. Whoever this “spokesman” is, they should take a back seat for the foreseeable future. Anyone who is that loose-lipped cannot be allowed to speak for the party or its leader. The party needs to be on-message, all the time.

Owen Smith, Labour’s new Work and Pensions spokesman, has fought a rearguard action, saying it is “very clear” that Labour is currently opposing only the plan to cut the cap to £20,000 nationally, and to £23,000 in London – but he shouldn’t have to do it.

It doesn’t matter whether Labour MPs, spokespeople, supporters or whoever want a particular policy, or want to undermine the new leader (still an issue among the neoliberals who are hanging on in the party in the hope of turning it back to Red Toryism), or have an agenda of their own – they need to shut up and stick to party policy.

Tories like Duncan Smith are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to attack Labour and divert attention away from their own policies of hatred towards anybody not in the top one per cent of earners. If Labour is to win the country back from these despots, then Labour needs a much better publicity strategy.

Starting today.

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  1. stephen brophy September 24, 2015 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    There’s no shame with the tories! But the average Joe public are sheep! Too easily led by propaganda! So he will probably get away with it!

    • John Gaines September 25, 2015 at 9:18 am - Reply

      We get nowhere if we are frighted out of our wits of what the Reich Press and the CBI/City/Corp Business failures bleat, moo or simply wriggle our statements to gain a lying advantage; these are their “domains of acknowledged deception” and in this way they claim that they do everything possible to fairly distribute our resources, by constantly assuring us that they will ‘do the necessary,’ when they have absolutely no intention of doing so.

      For example:
      “The winds of volatility blowing
      through global markets have left a
      clear mark on the financial services
      sector, impacting business volumes
      and investment intentions, “The Chinese slowdown is a real
      “Slower growth in China and other
      emerging markets has had a knock-on
      impact on confidence in the world
      Lauren Fedor

      Whenever do these ‘Winds’ stop blowing, up/down y’all still keep on ‘Begging Welfare’ (QE) EVEN WHEN WE GET A (rare) SUPPOSED TORNADO of UPs, do they really, really have any clue about Global Business whatsoever?
      For us, the poor, who actually supply the unacceptable wealth they blow in our faces as continually fiddle and squander….these Guys are full of it, if it were blowing a ruddy Typhoon of business opportunity, they still couldn’t grasp the opportunity but, why bother it is easier simply to call the Taxpayer and swindle another few £Trillions.

      Meanwhile, Gardy Loo Gideon, is in China and enriching the Chinease with gargantuan amounts of our money, someone said something about Lies, ask the Tories and their Reich Pressw friends, they are World experts.
      Just say what you have to say and, never mind their crap.

  2. hayfords September 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    There are 2 articles on the New Statesman about this. The one linked to here with same date begins:-

    “Labour will fight for the benefit cap to be scrapped completely, Jeremy Corbyn has told the New Statesman.”

    Indicating that he said it himself and it was not a spokesman.


    • Mike Sivier September 24, 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      In the article, he states: “We will now oppose completely the Welfare Reform Bill.

      “In my own constituency, the benefit cap has had the effect of social cleansing, of people receiving benefit but the benefit is capped, therefore, they can’t meet the rent levels charged and are forced to move. It’s devastating for children, devastating for the family and very bad for the community as a whole.”

      Opposing the Welfare Reform Bill completely is opposing the reduction in the cap. It seems the New Statesman has misreported. His own opinion about the cap is a different matter.

  3. Mr.Angry September 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Whole heartedly agree in what you say Mike and I do hope they do take some notice, it’s something that could quite readily be overlooked and come back to bite them.

    The Tories are a devious bunch and do anything to undermine anyone that goes against their corrupt policies.

    JC is far from stupid, I trust the other members will not rock the boat in this regard.

    Very easily done by a slip of the tongue.

  4. AndyH September 24, 2015 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    “Conservatives believe that nobody should be able to claim more in welfare than the average family earns by going out to work”

    So this means if you are working, and are subject to the bedroom tax, the housing benefit cap and the tax credits cut, this is because your wages are too low to live on. How comforting.

  5. mrmarcpc September 24, 2015 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    The tories are without honour, decency, class, respect, humanity, are pure devious, evil, Nazi scum and the everyday muppet on the street that lives and breeds in our country will believe any old b******s they’re told, are all like mindless, dense sheep who keep falling for the tory 3 card trick, did back in Thatcher’s time and nothing’s changed since, they fall for all their lies, fall into one large ignorant blob of stupidity and respond to what they’ve been told, without knowing the full facts that the government are keeping from them, everybody should stand against their deceitful tyranny as one like we are doing, the idiots out there should grow a brain and join us!

    • Mike Sivier September 25, 2015 at 10:13 am - Reply

      You’re not going to persuade anyone around by calling them idiots.

  6. Adam Clifford September 24, 2015 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    JC really needs to write down his policies with an indication at what point of development it is,what it seeks to acheive,and it’s direction of travel so there is no ambiguity.Developing and modelling policy is a very useful thing to do

  7. mili68Mili September 25, 2015 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Tweeted @melisssacade68

  8. Psic88 September 25, 2015 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Quote from the NS article:
    ”When Corbyn used his speech at the TUC conference on 15 September to declare his support for the abolition of the household benefit cap …”
    Is this wrong?

    • Mike Sivier September 25, 2015 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      That’s his personal support for it; it’s not Labour policy, nor was it presented as such. Read the words you actually see, not the words you want to see.

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