The Liberal Democrats imposed the Bedroom Tax on local authorities and their social housing tenants – so why are they trying to blame Labour for a mess that they created?
Something has just happened that Vox Political predicted more than two years ago. The shock is the identity of the perpetrators.
According to the Welfare News Service, the Liberal Democrats are blaming Labour-controlled councils for inflicting the Bedroom Tax on their residents. That’s right – the Liberal Democrats who, in their entirety as a Parliamentary party, voted to support the Conservative Party in forcing local councils to administrate the hated charge.
“In a blog posted on their national website, the Lib Dems claim that “Labour councils chose to punish their residents to score political points” in a deliberate attempt to scupper the housing policy,” states the WNS blog post.
“What, exactly, the party means when it accuses Labour councils of punishing its own residents is unclear. But the sheer audacity and ignorance shown by the Lib Dems will anger all of those who have experienced financial hardship, lost loved-ones, or who have been forced out of their family home as a result of vicious cuts to vital housing support.”
It continues: “Not a single Lib Dem MP voted against the ‘bedroom tax’ in February .”
The fact is, the Bedroom Tax – like the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (otherwise known as Eric Pickles’ revival of the Poll Tax) – the intention was to force local authorities held by other parties, which were statistically likely to have more voters on social security benefits than the more affluent councils held by the Tories, to enforce these unfair rules on these most vulnerable of citizens. The Conservative – Liberal Democrat government could then blame the party running the authority for bringing it in, diverting any adverse reaction away from themselves – the true instigators.
So who, exactly was trying to score political points, again? Here at Vox Political, the assumption was always that the Conservatives would be the ones pointing the finger.
Instead it’s the Liberal Democrats, and – as is now fairly typical for the Yellow Turncoats – they’ve made a mistake. It would have been better to attack Labour over the previously-mentioned Pickles Poll Tax, about which Vox Political stated on August 23, 2012: “Councils could choose to reduce spending in other areas or increase their revenue through council tax but, as these will affect groups other than current benefit recipients, I think we all know which way our councillors will be pushed. Either way, the local authority will take the blame – or at least, that’s what the Coalition hopes.”
Let’s leave the last words to the WNS: “If the Liberal Democrats had just an ounce of respect for the people whose lives they have thrown into turmoil, they would admit the Bedroom Tax is wrong and work with Labour, and other political parties, to end this disgraceful policy once and for all. Unfortunately it appears as if they are more worried about losing face than the shocking impact of the Bedroom Tax on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society.
“Is it any wonder that so many Scots want out of the UK?”
They state: “We ask kindly that you remove this page as it incites hatred towards our staff and members. Thank you.”
The wording carries an implicit threat of litigation, as an administrator on Atos Miracles explained: “They are threatening to take legal action on those allegedly defaming them, as it incites hatred towards their staff. So can we take legal action for how they’ve treated the sick/disabled and vulnerable?
“As someone said, you take one of us on, you take all of us on.”
The post continued: “We have a right to our opinions, just as they think they have a right to (in conjunction with the cowards at the DWP) bully, disrespect and shamefully and callously treat the genuinely sick/disabled!
“People have died at the above’s hands. That is the reality.
“So, OH Assist, Atos, or whatever name you will now practice under…
“See you in court.”
Vox Political has not received any messages from OH Assist or Atos – which is curious as the DWP, at least, reckons this blog is about a “‘cover-up’ of the number of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died” following Atos assessment.
Perhaps this is tacit admission of the validity of the articles on this site – who knows?
If that is true, it seems strange that they do not appear to have considered another fairly obvious conclusion – we all talk to each other.
Vox Political considers that any attack on sites that criticise Atos – under any of its many names – for the horrific results of its work capability assessment ‘medical’ tests is an attack on us all, and stands ready to assist any colleagues who come under such fire.
To OH Assist, we say: “What’s the matter, fellows? Aren’t you aware that UK law allows anyone to provide their opinion, or fair comment, on any subject, person or company, providing it is supported by factual evidence?
“If you were able to provide information that the number of deaths following Atos assessments dropped after November 2011 (the last month for which figures have been provided) you might have a leg to stand on. These figures would have to be verified by an independent source like, perhaps, the UK Statistics Authority in order to give them meaning.
“Why don’t you just come up with some evidence to show that you haven’t done what everybody believes?”
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Enemies of the people? Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and the entire Labour shadow cabinet have created a strategy that will lose them the next election and could plunge us into decades of servitude under Tory ‘austerity’. THIS MUST CHANGE. If they refuse to adopt policies in line with the wishes of the majority of Labour members, they’ll have to go.
The way things are going, we all need to reconcile ourselves to the possibility that the Labour Party won’t win the 2015 election.
This will not be because the Conservative Party has better policies (it doesn’t) or because it has won the ideological argument about austerity (it hasn’t – the state of the economy clearly demonstrates this).
It will be because Labour’s leaders are doing their absolute best to distance themselves from everything that makes the party a distinct political force.
They seem to think turning Labour into a pale copy of the Conservative Party will win over voters from the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, while retaining the party’s current grass roots. It will do neither.
Considering the situation as it stands, one has to ask: Is it time for a ‘no confidence’ vote in the entire Labour front bench?
Look at the cock-eyed way they are handling the row over candidate selection in Falkirk. This is a silly sideshow that has been blown out of proportion by the other Parliamentary parties in an attempt to capitalise on discomfort that Labour did not have to endure.
On the face of it, the problem is that a union (Unite) allegedly tried to rig the selection process for a candidate in the next election. Unite’s stated strategy, according to the BBC, is to “shift the balance in the party away from middle-class academics and professionals towards people who have actually represented workers and fought the boss” – in other words, away from the career politicians and so-called ‘Blairites’ who currently occupy every noteworthy position in the shadow cabinet.
Why is this important to the largest union in the country? Well, let’s look at the reason the Labour Party was formed in the first place – to provide a voice in Parliament for the unions’ aim, which has always been to improve conditions for workers and working-class people in the UK.
It has become transparent, over the last few weeks, that the current Labour Party’s shadow cabinet has no interest in that ambition. If it did, it would not have given up the argument over austerity, saying it would continue Coalition economic policies if elected. Instead, it would abandon austerity in favour of a programme of investment in employment-generating, economy-boosting programmes that would bring a greater return into the Treasury than it would cost.
It would also be announcing policies to change the direction of the Coalition’s murderous – thousands of people have died because of it – attack on people receiving benefits, particularly the long-term sick and disabled. Instead, incredibly, Labour supports this policy.
Clearly Labour’s leaders will not retain their voter base if they continue in this fashion.
I’ll come back to the Unite situation in a moment, but let’s stick with the WNS article because it features revealing comments from ordinary people about the cack-handed way Labour is handling cuts to social security benefits, following the leaders’ admission that they will not promise to reverse any coalition policies.
One person described it as “Labour’s cowardly cop-out on welfare”.
John Currigan of Tipton said: “Old Labour values have been consigned to the political scrapheap.”
Neil Anderson of Machynlleth said Labour’s “now-Tory attitude to social security means I will definitely never vote for them again”.
Phillip Hurley of Pontyclun voiced a fear that has been growing in many minds: “I think they wanted the Tories to get in, knowing they would make these cuts that they [Labour] were afraid to implement.”
At a time like this, with former supporters openly voicing their disgust with a Labour Party that has been gleefully running to join the right wing of the political spectrum ever since Tony Blair became leader, is it any wonder that dismayed union members may have tried to stop the rot?
(We must be honest with ourselves; Labour is rotting from the inside, and will continue to rot, as long as right-wingers who do not support the party’s original purpose are sitting around the shadow cabinet table.)
Len McLuskey, leader of Unite, says he personally had nothing to do with any attempt to influence the vote on a new Falkirk candidate by signing up 100 or more members to the constituency party, and at this time I am prepared to believe him.
The dissent against the Labour leadership’s wrong-headed, potentially-disastrous, and above all, STUPID policies has come from the grass roots; the working classes; the people they are – on the face of it – supposed to be representing. That is why it seems likely that, if this plan was carried out, it was hatched by people in the grass roots of the union and not its bosses.
There is hope; it seems that our political commentators are aware of the problem, and serious questions are being asked in Labour’s backbenches.
Owen Jones, that paragon of principled left-wing opinion, wrote in The Independent on Sunday, under the headine What’s killing Labour? A thousand failures to oppose the cuts: “Labour’s leaders… fail to challenge myths, and even occasionally feed them. It is utterly self-destructive.
“They think they are buying back credibility, rather than shoring up policies that should be seen as sunk, ruinous, shredded. By failing to offer a coherent message, they risk a sense of ‘at least you know where you are with the Tories’ bedding in.
“But the cost is not only to Labour’s electoral prospects: it will be to the working, disabled and unemployed people whose pockets will continue to be emptied.
“Our futures and those of our children are at risk. That’s not hyperbole. It’s the appalling truth.”
And in his blog, headlined Labour members in the country are crying out for policies they can believe in, Michael Meacher MP wrote: “I have just attended my party’s monthly General Committee meeting in my constituency and the mood was more despairing than any I can remember. They simply cannot understand how the party leadership can be accepting time after time whatever callous and unjust cuts Osborne throws at us – bedroom tax, withdrawal of benefit for the first seven days of unemployment, and now a welfare cap which even the Tories themselves haven’t yet defined.
“Is there no limit to how far this surrender goes, they ask?
“They don’t want to talk of betrayal, but they are bewildered, hurt, disoriented and despairing.
“None of them want Labour to out-Tory the Tories over cuts. They want three things: that Labour has a positive vision for the next Labour Government that they can believe in, that Labour has a plausible alternative to endless austerity, and that Labour campaigns across the country with bold policies to build the alliance to throw out the most vicious Tory government in modern times.”
I DO want to talk of betrayal – because that is precisely what we are all facing: Betrayal by party leaders who claim to be on the side of the workers and the working-class, but whose leaders have cheerfully joined the Westminster Gravy Train and are lapping it up as though this nightmare ‘austerity Britain’ is a party that will last forever.
Here in the country, Mr Meacher is quite correct: We ARE crying out for policies we can support. Labour’s leaders aren’t simply failing to give us those – they are actively REFUSING to mount any meaningful opposition, in the face of the overwhelming wealth of weaponry they could use.
The fact is, the vast majority of Labour members do not support the policies being foisted on us by the leaders. They are a shambles; they will be a disaster for the country, whether Labour is returned to office at the next election or not (and on these policies, as mentioned above, I don’t think they will). While the leaders persist, stubbornly, in forcing these policies on us, we have a classic case of “the tail wagging the dog”, and we cannot allow this to continue.
I have no confidence that they can win the next election. Even if they did, I have no confidence that they will pursue any policies that will benefit the UK as a whole. We will be swapping one gang of self-interested gangsters for another.
So I repeat: Is it time for a ‘no confidence’ vote in the entire Labour front bench?
If so, who wants to put the process in motion and how soon can we get it done?
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