Tag Archives: Welfare Reform and Work Bill

These are the Labour MPs who ran away when their constituents needed them

MPs debate the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, July 20, 2015.

MPs debate the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, July 20, 2015.

This is a roll call of shame.

The Conservative Party has launched yet another attack on the poor, the disabled and the disadvantaged in the UK and – rather than stand up for those people – all but 48 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party just stood aside and let it happen.

Apologists for these so-called representatives say there will be time to oppose particular measures in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill during the Committee Stage, but they conveniently forget that it is easier to push objections through if one has not already stood aside to let the legislation reach that stage. In short: Nobody will take these objections seriously.

Here is the list of Labour MPs who betrayed their constituents:

Heidi Alexander
Rushanara Ali
Graham Allen
Jon Ashworth
Ian Austin
Adrian Bailey
Kevin Barron
Margaret Beckett
Hilary Benn
Luciana Berger
Clive Betts
Roberta Blackman-Woods
Tom Blenkinsop
Paul Blomfield
Ben Bradshaw
Kevin Brennan
Lyn Brown
Nick Brown
Chris Bryant
Karen Buck
Richard Burden
Andy Burnham
Liam Byrne
Ruth Cadbury
Alan Campbell
Ronnie Campbell
Sarah Champion
Jenny Chapman
Vernon Coaker
Ann Coffey
Julie Cooper
Rosie Cooper
Yvette Cooper
Jo Cox
Neil Coyle
David Crausby
Mary Creagh
Stella Creasy
Jon Cruddas
John Cryer
Judith Cummins
Alex Cunningham
Jim Cunningham
Nicholas Dakin
Simon Danczuk
Wayne David
Gloria De Piero
Stephen Doughty
Jim Dowd
Jack Dromey
Michael Dugher
Angela Eagle
Maria Eagle
Clive Efford
Julie Elliott
Louise Ellman
Bill Esterson
Chris Evans
Paul Farrelly
Frank Field
Jim Fitzpatrick
Rob Flello
Colleen Fletcher
Caroline Flint
Yvonne Fovargue
Vicky Foxcroft
Mike Gapes
Barry Gardiner
Pat Glass
Kate Green
Lilian Greenwood
Nia Griffith
Andrew Gwynne
David Hanson
Harriet Harman
Harry Harpham
Helen Hayes
John Healey
Mark Hendrick
Stephen Hepburn
Meg Hillier
Margaret Hodge
Sharon Hodgson
Kate Hoey
Kate Hollern
George Howarth
Tristram Hunt
Rupa Huq
Huw Irranca-Davies
Dan Jarvis
Alan Johnson
Diana R Johnson
Graham Jones
Kevan Jones
Susan Elan Jones
Mike Kane
Barbara Keeley
Liz Kendall
Stephen Kinnock
Peter Kyle
Chris Leslie
Emma Lewell-Buck
Ivan Lewis
Ian Lucas
Holly Lynch
Fiona Mactaggart
Justin Madders
Khalid Mahmood
Shabana Mahmood
Seema Malhotra
John Mann
Gordon Marsden
Chris Matheson
Steve McCabe
Kerry McCarthy
Siobhain McDonagh
Pat McFadden
Conor McGinn
Alison McGovern
Catherin McKinnell
Alan Meale
Ed Miliband
Jessica Morden
Ian Murray
Melanie Onn
Chi Onwurah
Albert Owen
Matthew Pennycook
Toby Perkins
Jess Phillips
Bridget Phillipson
Steve Pound
Lucy Powell
Yasmin Qureshi
Angela Rayner
Jamie Reed
Steve Reed
Rachel Reeves
Emma Reynolds
Jonathan Reynolds
Geoffrey Robinson
Steve Rotheram
Joan Ryan
Naseem Shah
Virendra Sharma
Barry Sheerman
Gavin Shuker
Andrew Slaughter
Ruth Smeeth
Andrew Smith
Angela Smith
Jeff Smith
Nick Smith
Owen Smith
Karin Smyth
John Spellar
Keir Starmer
Wes Streeting
Gisela Stuart
Mark Tami
Gareth Thomas
Nick Thomas-Symonds
Emily Thornberry
Stephen Timms
Jon Trickett
Anna Turley
Karl Turner
Derek Twigg
Stephen Twigg
Chuka Umunna
Keith Vaz
Valeria Vaz
Tom Watson
Catherine West
Alan Whitehead
Phil Wilson
Rosie Winterton
John Woodcock

(Thangam Debbonaire also abstained, but this was because she has been diagnosed with cancer and was in Bristol having chemotherapy. She was ‘paired’ with a government MP so her absence did not affect the outcome of the vote.)

(Natascha Engel and Lindsay Hoyle could not vote because they are Deputy Speakers and are automatically paired with government MPs.)

(Fabian Hamilton was, we’re told, recovering from surgery. Otherwise, according to a commenter, he would have voted against the Bill.)

(Lisa Nandy was on maternity leave.)

(Christina Rees was abroad on an all-party working group, according to a commenter to the blog.)

If your Labour MP is among the above, then This Writer encourages you to contact them and request an explanation for this betrayal. You may also ask them to explain why they think they should be trusted to fulfil the role expected of them in Parliament, which is to oppose the Conservative Government’s destruction of the Welfare State and the fabric of British society. You may even wish to request their resignation (although this is only likely to succeed if enough people in the same constituency make the same demand together).

The cowardly rejection of responsibility by the above-named Labour MPs has already earned the contempt of many very well-known figures in the Left of politics.

Harry Smith, the 92-year-old who spoke movingly in support of the NHS at last year’s Labour Conference, tweeted: “To abstain against austerity is to accept austerity.”

He added: “During days of Thatcher Labour fought her tooth & nail & stood up for the vulnerable but today we washed our hands of them.”

Owen Jones, the 30-year-old Leftie columnist, tweeted: “Abstaining on the Welfare Bill means saying you are on the fence about driving the kids of low-paid workers further into hardship.”

You can have this, from Green MP Caroline Lucas: “Labour frontbench defends indefensible & accepts principle of arbitrary benefit cap – how much extra child poverty are they relaxed about?”

Even Abby Tomlinson, the teenage creator of ‘Milifandom’, had to speak up against the abstention of her idol: “Really worries me that MPs would compromise their principles just to toe party line. If they think the bill is morally wrong – oppose it.”

Fortunately for the future of the Labour movement, there were some who were prepared to stand up, not only against the vile Conservative legislation but also against the wrong-headed complicity of their own party leadership – 48 of them.

Leading the rebellion was Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn. He made his views clear in a statement: “We introduced tax credits to fill the gap between wages and the cost of living. Osborne’s proposals do nothing to close that gap, while taking away the vital lifeline that tax credits have provided.

“Research by Savills shows that the lower benefit cap would make all of London and most of southern England uninhabitable for families – based on three-bed properties at market rent.

“Disabled people were hardest hit by welfare cuts in the last Parliament. Reducing ESA rates to JSA levels will send more disabled people into poverty at a time when poverty in disabled households has hit record highs.

“Freezing working-age benefits for four years will mean more homelessness, more people using food banks, more child poverty and more misery. This Bill is the unspeakable attacking the vulnerable. It is indefensible.”

In contrast, Twitter user David George King told another leadership candidate, Andy Burnham: “You’ve a bloody cheek claiming you think this tax credit cut is wrong then abstaining – total copout.” Burnham, like fellow leadership candidates Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, abstained and let the Tory Bill proceed.

Debbie Abrahams, who has done such sterling work keeping my Freedom of Information request on benefit-related deaths in the public eye, said, “This is a wicked Bill.”

And John McDonnell made his own feelings even more plain: “I would swim through vomit to vote against this Bill.”

What a shame so few of their fellow MPs were prepared to take a principled stand. Labour desperately needs a leader who will purge the party of its dead weight – and only one candidate had the courage to stand against the tide this week.

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall need to discover that they can’t expect the support of the people if they are happy to stab the people in the back.

If nothing else, this vote has shown that Jeremy Corbyn is clearly the man who should be leading Labour out of the dark.

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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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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?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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