A dose of sanity

December 2, 2008 at 10:11 pm | Posted in British Politics, New Labour, Social Policy, Working Class Britain | Leave a comment

I’ll try, at some point in the next few days, to write something about Labour’s proposed welfare reforms which doesn’t just amount to rocking backwards & forwards whilst muttering “it’s just not fair” over & over again.

But until then, this post from Don Paskini is probably the sanest, most constructive suggestion I’ve read so far:

Rather than simply opposing the welfare reform bill when it is announced in the Queen’s Speech, I hope lefties will support putting amendments to it which would make it more effective at doing what we all agree is needed – providing support for people to get jobs and allowing community-based voluntary groups to help deliver services and get funding to help the people in their communities. After James Purnell has spent a few months giving speeches about how the status quo is not an option and how we need to be more radical in removing the barriers which stop people getting jobs, let’s see how he votes on, say, an amendment to make childcare free and more widely available for working parents, or to reduce the cost of transport or housing, or to make work pay with a ‘living wage’ for all workers, or to tackle discrimination amongst employers against disabled people, or any of the other sensible and moderate ideas which would remove some of the barriers to work which people experience.

There are better and more popular ways of reforming the welfare state then handing over billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to firms which are dependent on corporate welfare in the form of government handouts while at the same time taking from the very poorest in our society. I do think it is possible to get a majority of Labour MPs to understand this over the next few weeks and months and to persuade them to support some genuinely radical welfare reform, rather than playing ‘follow the banker’ and implementing David “I knew nothing about welfare” Freud’s proposals.

In the same way as Parliamentary amendments were needed to soften the harm done by the abolition of the 10p tax rate, I suspect the same will be required of these welfare reforms. Hopefully the pressure among grassroots activists, trade unions & pressure groups like Compass will be enough to encourage Labour backbenchers to get behind them.

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