The Guardian Oct 2013 – ‘Labour will be tougher than Tories on benefits, promises new welfare chief’ – The article (see link below) was commenting on the views of Rachel Reeves MP; she’s now Labour’s Shadow Chancellor –
I must admit I’ve had a big downer on Reeves ever since October 2013 because, in my view, desperate poverty, which neither Labour nor Tories are willing to address, is actually just as much if not more so within the ignored part of our population, the non-working poor.
The reason Labour and Tories ignore the non-working poor is that they’re significantly less likely to vote. Yes I know that’s an appalling situation but it is how our antiquated political system works. Presently, pretty much the only focus of both our main parties is on the working-class right-wingers as they’re seen as key to who wins swing/marginal constituencies. If you don’t live in a swing/marginal seat where that section of the electorate holds sway then the politicians of Labour and the Tories really aren’t bothered what you think.
I realise that measuring poverty is often difficult but my own test of it growing across the UK is the need for foodbanks. Launched in the year 2000, Salisbury Foodbank was the first Trussell Trust foodbank in the UK. I think there are around 1,200 of their food banks these days. So to my mind poverty is growing and our two major political parties pay lip service to tackling it.
The solution is pretty clear to me, it’s Universal Basic Income (UBI). I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it. The only good news on this front is that the Welsh Government has said it will conduct pilots to try to develop a formula – payments and taxation – to find a workable form of UBI. We’ll see, it could be a kicking the can down the road exercise but at least they’ve listened.
The story is on Richard Kemp’s blog site accessible via the link above
Richard and I have our differences as free thinking Liberals but I think he has really hit the nail on the head here with regard to Labour all but abandoning the poor.
For me it started back in 2013 when Labour MP’s began to seriously get behind welfare cuts. The Guardian newspaper link below gives the detail:-
It was a starting point from which Labour has not really backtracked even under its supposedly socialist leadership as Richard Kemp details.
For me the big issue of recent times has been Labour’s reversal of policy to back Brexit. What on earth made them do this when they know that Brexit will hurt us all but the poor and disadvantaged the most beats me. If that’s not abandoning those with little or nothing I don’t know what is.
The best you can say about the modern Labour Party is that it sees itself as the political party of those who have something but not of those who have nothing. Is there any wonder that UKIP tried to fill the void vacated by Labour with their racist propaganda.
And if you don’t believe me just take the time to read Richards blog because it shows only too clearly how in Parliament Labour has been walking away from those with little or nothing.
The bottom line for me is that we can’t call ourselves a civilised society when our two major political parties are in effect vying for who can cut those with nothing adrift most ruthlessly.
It’s time to welcome the Labour Party back to what it should be, a socialist party. For far too many years it has looked and felt like a Tory Party MK11 otherwise known as the Red Tories.
I am not a socialist and am certainly not in any way a supporter of the Labour Party yet I am strangely pleased that it has seemingly gone back to its roots. In recent years I have seen Labour at a local level opposing every measure of austerity yet at a national level doing the exact opposite as the likes of Rachel Reeves attacked the welfare system in ways I found appalling. So here is an opportunity to make Labour honest as opposed to off to the left locally and off to the right nationally.
The election was an odd affair where Labour seemed hell bent on doing itself as much damage as possible. 3 candidates from Labour’s right wing – all far to far to the right for me – and one of the socialist tradition.
Burnham was the worst of the lot for me as he seemed to put himself forward as a person who stood for whatever voters wanted of him. Would it be unkind to say he looked every inch a popularist? Oddly, I represented Aintree, where Burnham hails from, on Sefton Council for a dozen years.
For all Corbyn’s faults and I suspect there are many he came over as the best available candidate despite Labour’s big guns doing all they could to hole him below the waterline. But the more they attacked him from the right the stronger his support grew from the left.
Of course he is an unlikely Prime Minister but so was Miliband. Will Labour win in 2020? Very, very unlikely but that was always going to be the case no matter who became their Leader. Trouble is Labour’s right wing are seeking to blame Corbyn already for his not winning in 2020 in the hope they can destabelise his leadership sooner rather later.
The big challenge for Labour now though is electoral reform which they have in the many always resisted as it was not in their narrow political interests. Yes, Labour has to embrace PR but that’s a big ask for the old Labour war horses; yet even that old prize fighter John Prescot seems up for it.
We now have a obviously Liberal Lib Dem Party under Tim (a bit of a leftie) Farron as opposed to a party of the middle ground as it had become since Charles Kennedy stepped down as leader. And it seems we have what could turn out to be socialist party in Labour under Corbyn. Yet the Tories remain an odd conundrum. Cameron is firmly a prisoner of the right and UKIP and looks a poor leader these days constantly being blown by the wind. Will the Tories go further right under Osborne or popularist under Boris when Cameron hangs up his hat or is advised to sling his hook?
I have the feeling that Farron and Corbyn may well shape a new way forward for the left but of course we on the left will never agree – we never have – and that’s why the Tories do so well.