Tag Archives: tax credit

Amber Rudd is right and people have been using food banks who didn’t need to: TORY MPs

He didn’t need to visit a food bank: Iain Duncan Smith – the man considered more responsible for sending people to food banks than any other – contributed a small bag of sugar, the cost of which he’ll probably claim back on expenses, to his local foodbank in a photo opportunity intended to pretend that he cares about the poor people he sent there.

The minister responsible for making sure everybody who is entitled to state benefits knows what benefits they should have has claimed that people are using food banks because they don’t know what benefits they should be getting.

Amber Rudd, who had to resign as Home Secretary over the racist Windrush scandal, appears to be trying to prove she can’t function as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions either.

She told BBC Five Live: “Sometimes I discover when I go to visit the food banks there are people in there who don’t know what access to benefits they had, which is why it’s important that there’s a good relationship between us and the food banks, which generally there is.”

This makes no sense at all.

If there is a good relationship between the DWP and food banks, and the reason for that is to ensure that people visiting food banks know what benefits they can access, then nobody visiting a food bank should be unaware of the information they need… unless the DWP isn’t doing its job properly, of course.

Let’s consider an alternative theory. The Trussell Trust published information showing that food bank use as increased by 52 per cent in areas where Universal Credit has been in place for at least a year, compared with 13 per cent where it had not been, and Ms Rudd admitted in February that “the main issue… could have been the fact that people had difficulty accessing their money early enough”.

Perhaps that is because the DWP, in fact, didn’t inform claimants of the difference between the benefits they had been getting and the amounts they would receive in the future.

There is evidence to support this. A report on the transition from tax credits to Universal Credit shows nearly half of claimants were not aware their tax credits would stop when they claimed universal credit, and 56 per cent felt they did not receive enough information.

More than a third were in financial difficulty – of whom six in 10 said their troubles started after they began claiming Universal Credit.

Now, here’s the punchline: The release of this report was delayed for 18 months. It was made available to Ms Rudd’s forerunner David Gauke (and, presumably, to his replacement Esther McVey before coming into the hands of her replacement, Ms Rudd) and to Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and they immediately decided not to publish it.

Why?

That is the question asked by the chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, Frank Field, in a letter to both (current ministers), sent on Monday (April 15).

His letter points out that the delay came at a time when pivotal decisions about Universal Credit were about to be made, and asks what actions the ministers took after reading the report, other than ordering that it be shelved.

On April 16, the Work and Pensions committee published new figures showing that the DWP had “serially botched” payment of the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance, meaning it is likely that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people were underpaid.

How many of them ended up having to visit food banks because of the DWP’s errors?

How many Universal Credit claimants had to visit food banks because they were not properly informed of what it means to go from tax credits to UC – making a mockery of Ms Rudd’s claims about users being ignorant of their entitlements?

While we’re thinking about those questions, let’s all remember that these issues were all current at a time when Conservative MPs were visiting food banks for photo opportunities, arranged to make it seem these super-rich Tories actually cared about the poverty-stricken people they had sent there.

It seems clear that the only people using food banks who didn’t need them were those Conservative MPs.


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Conservatives run up other people’s bills – unlike socialists, who always pay theirs

Voting for Theresa May’s minimum-wage Tories is like trying to dig your way out of a hole; they will only put you deeper into debt.

Yes – the headline paraphrases the late, unlamented Margaret Thatcher, but reverses her claim in the name of accuracy.

Here’s her original comment, in an infographic from Twitter – but pay attention to the weblink attached to it:

Read the article and the reason I edited the late Blue Baroness’s claim should be clear:

Companies in the UK are paying their workers so little that the taxpayer has to top up wages to the tune of £11bn a year. The four big supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons) alone are costing just under £1bn a year in tax credits and extra benefits payments.

This is a direct transfer from the rest of society to some of the largest businesses in the country. To put the figure in perspective, the total cost of benefit fraud last year was just £1bn. Corporate scrounging costs 11 times that.

Worse, this is a direct subsidy for poverty pay. If supermarkets and other low-paying employers know they can secure work even at derisory wages, since pay will be topped up by the state, they have no incentive to offer higher wages.

None of this makes sense. We are all, in effect, paying a huge sum of money so that we can continue to underpay the 22% of workers who are earning below the Living Wage – the level at which it is possible to live without government subsidies. The only possible beneficiaries are business owners.

So you can see very clearly that big businesses – which are predominantly run by people who vote Conservative, are members of the Conservative Party or are donors to the Conservative Party – are clearly refusing to pay their bills. As employers they have a duty to pay a reasonable amount to their workers.

Libertarians will undoubtedly be heading for the ‘Comment’ box to claim that all contracts are valid as employees have freely entered into them – but this of course ignores the fact that people are effectively coerced into accepting unfair wage offers because government policy on unemployment benefits forces them to accept any offers given to them, and this provides an incentive for businesses to keep those offers low.

So there is an argument that none of these contracts are valid as they are not entered into by people in equal positions. Hmm…

Socialists of course expect people to fully fund everything that benefits them. So, for example, the NHS was founded on the principle that everybody pays a little towards the health service, to ensure that all those who need its care will benefit from it. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. It’s an insurance policy – but, strangely, capitalists approve of private insurance but criticise the system that funds public services. Odd people.

Consider also their willingness to use systems and services that are publicly-funded, while taking advantage of tax avoidance schemes to ensure that they don’t have to pay for them. That’s fraud and theft, isn’t it?

We may conclude that Mrs Thatcher was lying – and so is anybody who echoes her words or their meaning.

Also that the Conservative government is acting against contract law by forcing people into unfair employment conditions.

And that businesses are unfairly profiting from these harmful contracts.

I could go on to explain how this damages the UK economy by reducing the flow of cash through it, but you should be aware of this fact already – in practice.

It won’t change under a Conservative government because Conservatives are greedy and do not understand economics. So we need to end Conservative government.

Spread the word.


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Labour research shows how deep the cuts to Universal Credit will be for working families

Look at that smug grin: Osborne knows he got away with misleading the public [Image: Reuters].

Look at that smug grin: Osborne knows he got away with misleading the public [Image: Reuters].

Gideon – that is, George Osborne – really is a creepy little liar, isn’t he?

He told everybody, in his Autumn Statement, that he was scrapping his cuts to working people’s incomes. In fact he offered only a partial reversal.

The headlines went out, people heard him say “the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in but to avoid them altogether”, and that’s what they believed.

In fact, it turns out Gideon didn’t do “the simplest thing”. He just mentioned it in passing.

And everybody was wrong-footed, including the mainstream media (not that they’d have complained, being a gang of Tory-supporting lickspittles).

Now we’re all rushing to rectify the record.

But will the general public even notice?

Labour has released research showing how new claimant families will get lower in-work benefit entitlements when tax credits are replaced by the universal credit benefit system.

Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said research commissioned from the House of Commons library shows that next year, thousands of working families will be up to £2,500 a year worse off as a result of the government’s cuts to universal credit.

“It is now quite apparent that the chancellor only offered a partial reversal of his cuts to working people’s incomes in last week’s statement. Next year, half a million families may be hit by cuts to tax credit’s successor, universal credit,” said Smith.

“This newly commissioned research shows that working families on universal credit still face devastating losses next year. A 23-year-old single parent with two children, working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage, is set to lose £2,500.”

Both the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Resolution Foundation thinktanks last week said they believe millions of working families will be worse off by 2020 because of welfare changes than they would have been under the current system.

There are 2.6 million working families who stand to lose an average £1,600 as a result of benefit changes due to come into force under universal credit, while 1.9 million would be £1,400 better off, the IFS noted.

It stressed that no family will take an immediate cash hit, but the “long-term generosity of the welfare system will be cut just as much as was ever intended, as new claimants will receive significantly lower benefits than they would have done before the July changes.”

The Resolution Foundation said the changes will cost working households £1,000 on average in 2020 and the losses could rise to £3,000 for some families.

However, the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions hit back at the independent studies, saying it was “completely misleading” to suggest families would lose money, because the universal credit rates will only apply to new claimants.

Source: Household bills targeted by chancellor as Labour raises fears over benefit cuts

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Tax credit cuts would mean families earning just £4K per year would lose money

Nothing more to say: This Tax Credits advert was intended to warn people to keep up-to-date with information they send HMRC about their Tax Credits claim; now it seems the message is much simpler - they want to stop paying you anyway.

Nothing more to say: This Tax Credits advert was intended to warn people to keep up-to-date with information they send HMRC about their Tax Credits claim; now it seems the message is much simpler – they want to stop paying you anyway.


Families whose combined household earnings total as little as £3,850 would lose tax credits under George Osborne’s plan to cut the amount available in the future.

Analysis from the Commons Work and Pensions select committee provided the shocking figures, which contradict Osborne’s – and the Conservative Government’s – claims that they are “making work pay” for people on lower incomes.

The report has warned that only about one-third of those affected by the tax credit cuts would benefit from the increase in the minimum wage – misnamed the National Living Wage by the Tories, even though it won’t provide enough money for people to survive without claiming benefits – even by the time of its full implementation in 2020-21.

A single earner with 2 children working 35 hours would increase their net income by £323 pounds a year under the ‘National Living Wage’, but will lose £1,701 in tax credit cuts, leaving the family £1,378 worse off overall.

By 2020-21, 78 per cent of affected families would be on average £1,500 worse off in real terms as a consequence of the proposed cuts, the personal allowance increases and the National Living Wage combined.

All of the above means that increases in the income tax personal allowance and the National Living Wage “should not be confused with compensation for tax credit cuts.”

The increased taper rate of 48 per cent under the tax credit cuts combined with income tax, national insurance (NI) and implications for housing benefit mean that many individuals would keep just 7p of every additional £1 in earnings – a marginal deduction tax rate of 93 per cent.

This runs directly against the Conservative Government’s stated objective of making work pay, and makes a mockery of Tory ministers’ claims that a 50 per cent income tax rate for people on the highest incomes is too much; the super-rich would be paying slightly more than half as much tax as the poorest earners.

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Quote-miner Cameron has no answer on tax credit cuts – AGAIN

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You know Cameron has made a blunder when Corbyn aims this stare at him.

Conservatives should be in despair this week after David Cameron failed to answer concerns raised about cuts to tax credits – despite having a week to think about the issue.

All he could do was stutter about irrelevances and quote Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn out of context.

In Prime Minister’s Questions today, Mr Corbyn returned to the attack over the cuts – which will make three million families £1,300 a year worse off, on average.

“Last week I asked the prime minister the same question six times and he couldn’t answer,” said Mr Corbyn. “He’s now had a week to think about it. I want to ask him one more time. Can he guarantee that next April, nobody will be worse off from cuts to tax credits?”

Cameron’s response was a stutter. He tried to recover by reeling off his ‘comfort’ statistics: “£11,000 personal allowance… national living wage at £7.20… ” (We all know that the real Living Wage is currently £8.25 per hour – £9.40 per hour if you’re in London). Then he admitted: “We suffered the defeat in the House of Lords; we’ve taken the proposals away, we’re looking at them, we’ll come back with new proposals in the Autumn Statement.” And he ended with a jibe at Corbyn which is not worth publishing here but which got a response from the braying idiots behind him.

“This is not funny for people who are desperately worried about what’s going to happen next April,” countered Corbyn.

So Cameron tried to recover by changing the subject: “If we don’t reform welfare, how are we going to fund the police service… the defence service? If you listened to him, you’d still have families in London getting £100,000 a year in housing benefit,” he said, referring to Coalition Government changes to housing benefit rules that were supported by the Labour Party at the time, and therefore undermining his own point.

Corbyn was not to be deterred. He referred to a veteran of the first Gulf War, who is likely to lose £2,000 per year – more than the average – due to Cameron’s cut: “Is this how the government treats veterans of the Armed Services?”

All Cameron could do was serve up a poorly-reheated quote, off-subject and out of context: “That serving soldier is dealing with a Leader of the Opposition who said he couldn’t find any use for the armed forces, anywhere, at any time.”

This refers to a comment by Mr Corbyn during a Labour leadership hustings on Sky TV, in which he said the UK’s armed forces were overextending themselves by taking on foreign adventures as desired by Cameron. While he said he could not – on the spot – think of any reason to deploy the forces overseas, he qualified this by saying he knew there must be good reasons for doing so.

The result: Cameron out of his comfort zone, Corbyn victorious.

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Tories besieged as 80,000 demonstrate against government policies of cruelty

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A familiar sight: The Boys in … Fluorescent Yellow were a prominent part of the anti-Conservative demonstration – whether they wanted to protest against the Tories or not.

It has been dubbed an anti-austerity march, but that would be doing the variety of protests and depth of feeling a disservice.

The anti-Conservative event in Manchester city centre today (Sunday, October 4) attracted at least 80,000 people (don’t believe the estimates of 60,000 – police always round down by thousands) from all walks of life and for many reasons.

It was an overwhelmingly good-natured event, as the following photos demonstrate – but, as usual, there were still a few people who had to try to spoil it for everyone else.

So one conference delegate was hit by an egg, and several journalists were left shaken after a handful of idiots spat on them, calling them Tories.

Maybe they felt justified attacking the Torygraph‘s Kate McCann (they weren’t) but what they thought they were achieving by attacking the Huffington Post‘s Owen Bennett or Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick is anybody’s guess – both the HuffPost and C4News have supported critics of the Conservative Government with fair reports.

Meanwhile, the venue for the Conservative Party conference, and the nearby Midland Hotel, have been surrounded by a so-called “ring of steel”. This indicates that the 12,000 Tories who have gathered in Manchester for their annual party conference may be thinking that holding it in an anti-Tory stronghold might not have been such a good statement of power and indifference to protest after all.

Inside, Tories are dedicated to pushing through their new Trade Union Bill, which will restrict industrial action and make it possible for employers to hire agency staff during strikes; and David Cameron announced on TV earlier in the day that the Tories will go ahead with cuts to in-work tax credits. He said they were part of a package that will make people better-off, but you’d be a fool to believe him.

 

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sent a message of support to the tens of thousands of demonstrators.

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Junior doctors marching in Manchester.

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Campaigners against NHS privatisation. Notice the ‘pig’ poster in the background – that’s a story David Cameron won’t be living down any time soon.

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The Student Assembly Against Austerity was marching against racist scapegoating.

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Iain Duncan Smith might deny the accusations, but the people of the UK can make up their own minds.

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The Tories would have you believe this is the ugly face of popular protest in the UK today. What do you think?

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The marchers lined the streets of Manchester.

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Surrounded by yellow flags, teachers were speaking out for education and saying no to austerity in the Manchester sun with ATL Union.

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Get the message?

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Protesters confront Conservative Party delegates.

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Reinstated PCS rep Candy Udwin with colleagues from the National Gallery in Manchester.

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This Conservative ended up with egg on his face after brandishing a picture of Margaret Thatcher at the crowd…

 

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… and this is how at least one of his colleagues saw fit to respond.

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Migrant in-work benefit ban is about cutting your money – didn’t you know?

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A would-be migrant waits in Calais for the opportunity to cross into the UK. Would that person really want to come here, in the knowledge that claims about the wealth of the UK economy, along with propaganda about the generosity of our benefit system, are nothing more than myths?

David Cameron has found another excuse to cut benefits for the poorest in the UK.

Apparently, a manifesto promise to reduce the number of immigrants coming to the UK by ensuring they could not claim tax credits or child benefit for four years is illegal under EU law – unless he inflicts the same cut on UK citizens aged 18-22.

Cameron and his ministers must have known about the EU restrictions before including the promise in the Conservative manifesto. The alternative is that he and his government are incompetent, and they’re not about to admit that, are they?

Instead of scrapping the plan, it seems he has instructed ministers to consider how to implement a cut that will force poverty on people who are just starting out in life and need as much help as they can.

The only conclusion is that this is what the Conservative Party wanted all along.

In a document leaked to the BBC, government lawyers have stated: “Imposing additional requirements on EU workers that do not apply to a member state’s own workers constitutes direct discrimination which is prohibited under current EU law.”

It seems that, rather than stop discrimination against one group, Cameron’s preference is to impose it on as many people as possible.

After all, they’re only poor people and he is only a bigot.

You have to laugh at the response of the government’s spokesperson, as quoted in The Guardian: “We’ve already taken action to protect the benefits system and ensure that EU migrants come to this country for the right reasons and to contribute to the economy.

“Now we’re focused on renegotiating our relationship with Europe and getting a better deal for Britons, and we won’t speculate on other options.”

So, what about all those migrants sitting in Calais while they await the chance to slip into the UK unnoticed? Are they coming for the right reasons?

Of course not.

They’re coming because they have believed Conservative rhetoric about the UK economy being the powerhouse of the West (even though it isn’t), along with all the Tory-sponsored media nonsense about the benefit system being over-generous (even though it isn’t).

The migrant situation is a crisis of the Tories’ own making and they are using it to hammer their own fellow citizens. What are you going to do about it?

David Cameron won general election with series of lies? Tell us something we DON’T know!

Yvette Cooper is only half-right. Cameron certainly lied to win the election – but Labour failed to beat him because Labour did not effectively answer those lies.

Labour’s five-year-long failure to deny the claim that it had spent too much while in government is the perhaps the most obvious example.

But Cooper has chosen to highlight promises that were made to the people of the UK, which have been broken in the very short time since.

David Cameron won the general election on the basis of a series of lies, Yvette Cooper said on Thursday, as she highlighted a series of broken promises by the Conservatives.

In a sharpening of her rhetoric against the Tories, the Labour leadership contender accused Cameron of ripping up nine pre-election promises. She said he had changed tack on areas ranging from child tax credits to housing and rail electrification.

Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “We may have our own leadership election going on, but Labour can’t allow David Cameron to get away with this and carry on like nothing has happened – he is taking the British public for fools. We have to confront him directly on every lie and broken promise – that’s exactly what I plan to do in parliament and across the country.

The nine areas identified by Cooper are:

  • Cuts in child tax credits. Cooper said Cameron denied during the election that he would cut child tax credits. She said Osborne, the chancellor, unveiled £4.5bn of cuts to child tax credits in the budget which would hit women twice as hard as men.
  • Cuts to child benefit after Cameron said during the election there would be no cuts beyond a two-year freeze. Cooper says it will now be subject to a four-year freeze.
  • Cancellation of rail electrification plans.
  • Downgrading of the number of affordable homes due to be built. The Office for Budget Responsibility has said 14,000 fewer homes will be built.
  • Delaying of a decision on a new airport runway in south-east England. Downing Street says it is standing by its commitment to reach a decision by the end of this year.
  • Delay in the introduction of tax-free childcare from 2015 to 2017.
  • Shelving of an election pledge to give public officials three days off work to take part in volunteering.
  • Delay until 2020 in the introduction of the social care cap.
  • Reversal of pledge for greater government transparency after launch of review into freedom of information.

Source: David Cameron won general election with series of lies, says Yvette Cooper | Politics | The Guardian

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Mhairi Black rips off Vox Political? Where do I send the bill!

Mhairi Black, ripping off Vox Political in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).

Mhairi Black, ripping off Vox Political in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).

We’re told that Mhairi Black, the youngest new MP in Parliament at the age of 20, was still in college when she beat Labour’s Douglas Alexander in the General Election. Was she studying plagiarism?

Take a look at the following part of her maiden speech, made earlier today (Tuesday) and quoted in The Independent:

“After hearing the Labour leader’s intentions to support the changes to tax credits that the Chancellor has put forward, I must make this plea through the words of one of your own, and of a personal hero of mine.

“Tony Benn once said that in politics there are weathercocks and signposts. Weathercocks will spin in whatever direction the wind of public opinion may blow them, no matter what principle they have to compromise.

“Then, there are signposts – signposts that stand true, and tall, and principles. They point in a direction and they say ‘this is the way to a better society and it is my job to convince you why’.

“Tony Benn was right when he said the only people worth remembering in politics are signposts.”

Now read this Vox Political article from yesterday, Labour is a ‘headless chicken’ over tax credits.

This Blog’s piece relies heavily on Tony Benn’s ‘weathercocks and signposts’ analogy to make its point about the interim Labour leader’s attitude to the proposed cut in tax credits. While Mhairi Black’s words weren’t exactly the same, it wouldn’t take a genius to read this piece and – if you’re an admirer of the great man, put together something similar using his words.

Is it really feasible that she could have come to this choice of material, in this context, independently? Nobody else has.

Such similarity – in subject matter, tone, and the material quoted – suggests a rip-off. If this is the case, Mhairi Black should be lucky to get off with a stern warning.

Instead she’s the toast of Twitter!

How disappointing.

Of course, we’ll never know if she didn’t write her speech independently. If this is the case, she’s hardly going to admit it – and This Writer isn’t going to take any further action because it wouldn’t be worth it.

But This Blog is part of my livelihood and if it seems to me that someone is harming that livelihood, then I’ll call “foul” on it.

As for you Mhairi Black – if you did rip off This Blog, shame on you.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Labour MPs shout down Harman’s proposed support for child tax credit cut

Embattled: Harriet Harman.

Embattled: Harriet Harman.

The Parliamentary Labour Party turned against interim leader Harriet Harman when she called on members to support her claim that they should not oppose the Conservative Government’s plan to cut tax credits, thereby increasing poverty – including child poverty.

At a PLP meeting yesterday, 20 members spoke against her call for the party to abstain on the government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill next week. Only five supported her refusal to table reasoned amendments.

And it seems likely that she was set to face more anger at a Shadow Cabinet meeting this morning.

According to George Eaton in The New Statesman:

  • Labour whips expect 60-80 MPs to vote against the welfare bill in defiance of Harman’s stance.
  • There was “no consensus on the child tax credit changes”.
  • Harman’s critics will be looking to her replacements for a clear commitment to pursue a different course.

The article states that rebel Andy MacDonald said the Tories’ proposed two-child limit on tax credits was a regression to the days of “Mao Tse-Tung and King Herod”.

And Frank Field, former welfare reform minister and current work and pensions select committee chair, shouted at Harman that Labour had to defend the “three million strivers” who faced losing £1,000 from tax credit cuts.

Harman is said to have warned the meeting that “If we oppose everything, people will not hear those things we are opposing and why”. Clearly, then, she is in favour of the kind of “triangulation” this blog was discussing yesterday. It represents an abandonment of principles – don’t forget that Labour introduced tax credits – that This Blog cannot support.

Harman is also said to have pointed out that Labour voted against 13 social security bills in the last Parliament but that only its rejection of the bedroom tax was noticed. In fact, this is probably over-optimistic. How many times have commenters to this blog and others claimed that Labour MPs sat on their thumbs throughout the whole of the Coalition Parliament and failed to oppose any of the changes? Those people were, of course, absolutely wrongVox Political has chronicled Labour’s opposition to the Tories’ dismantling of social security in considerable detail, but it seems the public prefer a juicy lie to the hard facts.

In fact, this demonstrates very clearly that Labour should oppose more Tory policies. Yes, campaign against the lowering of Employment and Support Allowance, the scrapping of maintenance grants for poor students, the abolition of child poverty targets and tax credit cuts such as the reduction in the income threshold – but don’t abandon children to poverty and destitution; that is not the Labour way.

One thought that is of particular concern to This Writer concerns what will happen to young people who become impoverished as a result of the Tory plan. What will they have to do in order to survive? At a time when child abuse is high on the polical agenda – the inquiry into historical child sex crimes has only just opened – it seems this Conservative Government is opening the door for further such incidents – aided by an interim Labour leader who has faced accusations of her own in regard to such matters.

Doesn’t it?

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