Tag Archives: hardworking

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.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Coalition to impose sanctions on housing benefit

130905universalcredit

Part-time workers who are judged to be doing too little to find full-time work could have their Housing Benefit sanctioned by the government when Universal Credit comes into full force, according to Inside Housing.

The revelation is the latest in a long line of benefit betrayals to be inflicted on the poor by the Coalition government. The new development also means landlords stand to lose out.

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed to Inside Housing that under Universal Credit, where a tenant is working less than 35 hours per week at minimum wage and is not eligible for JSA or ESA, then the housing element can be sanctioned instead.

It seems clear that the government is determined that it should be able to take income away from everyone who is not being properly paid by their employer. Does this seem fair to you?

Under the present system, Housing Benefit is paid direct to landlords, meaning sanctions against tenants can only be applied to out-of-work benefits like Jobseekers’ Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. The aim is to use Universal Credit to spread the threat of sanctions so that it covers people in low-paid work as well. Would you consider any government that did this to be standing up “for hardworking people”?

The article quotes a DWP spokesperson who said: “It is only right that people claiming benefits should be aware that not sticking to the rules can have a consequence.”

This, of course, assumes that a person is breaking the rules if their employer refuses to improve their working conditions… but we know that the government has altered working conditions to ensure that employers are under no pressure to do so; the benefit cap, and the one per cent limit on the annual uprating of benefits have ensured that people without jobs will become continually worse-off, so those who are in work cannot demand pay increases for fear of being handed their P45s and told that someone else will do their job for less.

Are these the actions of a government that believes we are “all in it together”?

If anybody thinks they can find justification for this behaviour, please get in touch.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Cameron’s speech: The false claims of a failing politician

Don't you think he looks old?

Don’t you think he looks old?

Was that really it?

After the barrage of new policy plans from the Labour Party last week, David Cameron’s big revelation, at the end of the most disappointing Conservative conference since – well – the last one, is a hint that the Tories want to take benefits away from anyone under 25 who isn’t in work or education, if they win in 2015?

More repression, then. In a speech that we’re asked to believe is about making the UK a land of opportunity, of aspiration? A “land of hope and Tory”?

Land of hopeless Tories, more like!

Let’s look at those options. Put someone aged between 16 and 25 back into education and you put them into debt (unless they have very rich parents) – we have the Liberal Democrats to thank for that, after they betrayed their own manifesto promise and supported a massive increase in student fees.

Force them into work and its an employer’s market, isn’t it? They can hire or fire under any conditions they like – and the minimum wage will be no problem. You don’t like zero-hours contracts? Too bad – it’s a choice between being listed as employed but unlikely to get any paying work, or losing the pittance you live on anyway. Part-time wages putting you into debt? You’ll be homeless a lot faster without any benefits!

Whatever happens, of course, the benefit bill comes down and fewer people are classed as unemployed.

Just like George Osborne’s plan to put the long-term jobless on indefinite Workfare, this will falsify the employment figures to make it seem the Conservatives have improved the economy when in fact they are making matters worse.

The rest of it was a web of lies and waffle. It has been suggested that Cameron wanted to re-use his speech from last year, rewriting it minimally in the hope that nobody would notice, and that it would be worth finding out if this is true – but that would not get to the heart of the matter, which is that the Conservative Party has completely run out of momentum.

They’re at a dead stop and all they have to support them is falsehood.

Cameron’s speech started with a claim that the Tories are on the side of “hardworking” (it’s hard-working, David – learn some English) people. While he waffled, I had a look at some of the Tory slogans and tried to match some facts to the claims. So we have:

“A tax cut for 25m people” – but they put the cost of living up and wages down so “hardworking” people are worse-off.

“The deficit down by a third” – two years ago. It has been years since they made any notable progress.

“More private sector jobs” – that don’t pay “hardworking” people a bean because they’re part-time or zero-hours. They have also cut the public sector – and given those jobs to people on Workfare.

“Welfare capped” – so poor people are forced towards destitution or suicide

“Crime down” – because police are discouraged from recording crimes against “hardworking” people?

“Immigration down” – because the UK isn’t attractive to “hardworking” foreign people any more.

To these, Cameron added:

“Helping young people buy their own home” – by creating a debt bubble and asking the taxpayer to foot the bill.

“Getting the long-term unemployed back to work” – in order to falsify employment statistics.

“Freezing fuel duty” – and doing nothing about the huge, unjustified, price increases demanded by energy companies.

“Backing marriage” – with less than 20p a day for the poor.

“Creating wealth” – for whom?

“We are clearing up the mess that Labour left” – Labour didn’t leave a mess. Bankers left the mess. Why have the bankers not been cleaned up? Why has Mr Cameron thrown money at them instead?

He referred to the fact that Theresa May (finally managed to have Abu Qatada deported. She wants to get rid of the Human Rights Act, claiming it is necessary if the government is to be able to – among other things – deport suspected terrorists, right? So her action has proved that repealing an Act that protects the rights of British citizens isn’t necessary.

“Who protected spending on the NHS? Not Labour – us.” Wrong. At last count, spending on the NHS under the Conservative-led coalition was down. The plan was to spend £12.7 billion more by May 2015, but by December last year this meant the government needed to find more than £13 billion for this purpose.

He referred to the Mid Staffs hospital scandal as a Labour disaster – look to the Skwawkbox blog for the facts (hint: it’s not as clear-cut as Cameron pretended).

“When the world wanted rights, who wrote Magna Carta?” he said in all hypocrisy. Is he telling us the British people – who demanded those rights in the first place – are now demanding that he divest us of those same rights by repealing the Human Rights Act?

“When they looked for compassion, who led the abolition of slavery?” Fine words from a man whose lieutenant, Iain Duncan Smith, has been working hard to restore slavery for the unemployed, sick and disabled – even going to the lengths of pushing through a retrospective law, after his rules were found to be illegal.

“Whose example of tolerance – of people living together from every nation, every religion, young and old, straight and gay – whose example do they aspire to?” Perhaps someone should point him to his Home Secretary’s advertising vans, which preached intolerance of anyone who wasn’t demonstrably white and British by encourage people on the street to tell anyone else to “go home” in what Owen Jones called the language of knuckle-dragging racists.

His plea for Scotland to remain in the UK must have seemed particularly hypocritical, as the man who has passed more divisive policies than any other Prime Minister, possibly in British history, called for “Our Kingdom – United”.

There was more, much more – and if you have the stomach for it, you can find it here.

The underlying theme was that he wanted to appeal to British citizens to let the Conservatives back into office with a majority government in 2015, so they could “finish the job”.

If we let his party finish the job, we’ll be left with a ruined country, a wrecked system of government, and an elite ruling class laughing all the way to the offshore bank.

I made my opinion clear in a message to the BBC’s ‘live coverage’ page (which of course wasn’t used). I’ll repeat it here:

This speech is really distressing.

Cameron has learned nothing from the last three years, in which his policies have caused suffering to millions of hardworking people.

There is nothing in his words for hardworking people to support.

No growth, no hope, no health…

No future.