We must challenge the biggest welfare myth of all

20th May, 2013 7:00 am

Who can forget Gordon Brown’s meeting with Gillian Duffy? Nothing has come close in recent years to symbolising the disconnect between the Westminster bubble and the working class. As someone who had to endure every painful minute of Duffygate it’s a lesson I’ll never forget.

Mrs Duffy’s memorable intervention on the campaign trail means it’s now widely accepted in our party that calling someone racist simply for raising concerns about immigration putting pressure on public services or pushing down wages is frankly ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas where we must guard against being equally tone deaf to what Labour voters are saying.

Welfare is a prime example. Week after week I knock on doors in Rochdale and everywhere I go welfare comes up as an issue. The public’s attitude to Attlee’s cradle to grave welfare state is not what it once was.

There are some – most notably Owen Jones and his disciples on the Metropolitan liberal wing of the left – who not only dismiss this view but condemn anyone who so much as whispers it. In a cruel mirror image of some of the absurd responses to working class concerns about immigration, their knee-jerk response is to portray anyone who expresses less than full confidence in our welfare state as ‘Tories’. What Jones and his disciples never quite grasp is that nine times out of ten, the people complaining about welfare on the doorstep are Labour voters.

Labour has a powerful broad church tradition and it’s this that makes us representative of people from every community. But the head in the sand approach to welfare from a loud chorus on the hard left is not serious politics, and it must be challenged. It’s not Labour politics either, and it’s certainly not Ed Miliband’s politics. We mustn’t forget the direction on welfare set out by Ed in his 2010 conference speech.

“Let’s be honest,” he said, “we also know there are those for whom the benefits system has become a trap. That is not in their interests or the interests of us as a society and we are right when we say it must be challenged. Reforming our benefits system is not about stereotyping everybody out of work, it’s about transforming their lives.”

Ed was right to say this and it’s right that Labour grasps this nettle. Because if the Labour Party can’t talk about the need to get more people into work to fulfil their potential and build a stronger society then we may as well tear up our founding principles.

People forget it wasn’t all that very long ago when we had a Labour Work and Pensions Secretary claiming that the welfare “system is crackers”. The eight principles of welfare reform outlined by David Blunkett in 2005 united around a common Labour principle, which we should never forget; that work is the best route out of poverty.

That the Tories are trying to make incursions into this territory is hardly surprising. But this is Labour territory and we should not be ceding it to a party that famously declared “unemployment is a price worth paying”. Labour understands the value and dignity of work better than any other political party. From our very reason for being founded as a party to represent the workers to our unshakeable bonds with the trade union movement, we have always understood the dignity and transformative power of work. The Tories don’t share these values. For them, the value of work is measured not so much in the dignified sweat on your brow or the strong communities it builds, but the Bentley on your drive and the gated community you can aspire to live in.

The recent pantomime TV debates between Owen Jones and Guido Fawkes, Owen Jones and Harry Cole, or Owen Jones and some other frothing right-winger created a lot of heat but little reforming light on welfare. If Owen and others think that the only people who want a stronger and sustainable welfare system are swivel-eyed crazies then they are wrong. This is by far the dominant view across the country, as every poll shows.

Our welfare system survives and endures on the basis of public support, and if that continues to haemorrhage then we can expect the language and intentions of the Tories to harden like stone. There are many myths about welfare, but the one we all have to face up to is that the status quo is working just fine. It isn’t – and the public knows it.

Reforming housing benefit, getting young people back into work, having a relentless focus on growth and delivering a work programme that supports people into proper employment are the movements where Labour is building a convincing symphony. But this has to be heard above Owen and others simply protesting against reform of any kind.

The terrible performance of this Government has insulated Labour from the kind of fierce scrutiny we can expect in 2015, but from now on we’re likely to be facing big questions on a daily basis. There are plenty more like Gillian Duffy waiting to handbag Labour politicians in Rochdale, and that’s why we need to get our message across loud and clear.

Delivering a reformed welfare system that focuses on getting people back to work will not only help rebuild confidence in Labour’s greatest achievement but also bring lost Labour voters back to the ballot box.

Simon Danczuk is the Labour MP for Rochdale

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  • leslie48

    Some good points made although I think Owen Jones is an effective speaker and counter weight to the daily Tory Tabloids. For example he is always rightly explaining the absurdity of billions of pounds of tax payer’s money being transferred to landlords via housing benefits ; its homes- especially social housing / smaller / stater homes we need particularly in the South East to help those on lower incomes to cut the massive transfer of income to landlords. But welfare is now well and truly on the agenda and we know Labour will have to shift government resources to capital spending like housing, training facilities , pre-schooling and less on social transfers like housing benefits and child tax credits.

    • “he [Owen Jones] is always rightly explaining the absurdity of billions of pounds of tax payer’s money being transferred to landlords via housing benefits”

      It’s odd how Labour MPs remain quit on this – preferring, it seems, to target benefit ‘scroungers’.

      Are Labour MPs so out of touch with the real world that they don’t realise housing benefit usually goes directly to landlords, many of whom are millionaires?

      • Mr. Danczuk obviously is out of touch.

        • Sorry Paul, but he is not out of touch. Welfare state can only survive if he continues to have popular support and is seen to be doing what it was set out to do. Bashing people who are involved in Progress or rightly disagree with you, isn’t going to make the problem go away.

          • michelle ryan

            Its just a shame that Blair and New Labour didn’t deal with the shortage of social housing and embark on a council house building programme that would have prevented the housing benefit bill from rocketing and set the minimum wage at a living wage level, which would have saved on tax credits. Instead they subsidised the private sector using tax payers money, and it is this major error that Owen Jones keeps throwing the spot light on. It is not too late for Labour to shift the burden from the state onto the private sector, thereby cutting the welfare bill dramatically

          • RAnjeh

            New Labour did renovate a lot of social housing in government and if it wasn’t for Tony Blair and New Labour there would not have been a minimum wage in the first place.

          • AlanGiles
        • Monkey_Bach

          Or little touched. Eeek.

  • Alexwilliamz

    Doesn’t welfare boil down to a couple of key issues that society needs to provide the conditions such that everyone can expect the opportunity to live a dignified life. If are economy is configured in such a way as to make a place to live unaffordable and access to meaningful employment inadequate, we are left with two choices. Provide both of these directly or hand out cash to absolve the collective responsibilty. Th welfare state has become the latter in response to neo-liberal dogma that the state should not do things like intervene in such things as paying people directly to do jobs or build houses. The market will sort it out, well it won’t. We need to be radical in this problem, in some ways other problems we face can also be solved at the same time. Expand employment, instead of cutting back things like park services we should be increasing them. A national care service needs to be established where the infirm receive more than a flying visit. And yes build council houses. Where’s the money coming from? A bit of borrowing but you would be surprised how much you are clawing back from health and welfare and even law and order budgets!

  • FMcGonigal

    In defence of Owen Jones, he does try to get the facts across when much of the media can be misleading, such as in the recent Philpott case and on Housing Benefit generally. Obviously most people want a ‘reformed welfare system’ as it is far from perfect. In fact Gordon Brown did reform the welfare system with Tax Credits directed at the less well off and low paid working families. Labour will need to propose further reforms in two years time when the Coalition’s Household Benefit Cap and Universal Benefit have established their effect.

  • AlanGiles

    Mr Danzuck yet again highlights Labour’s problem. On the one hand when Duncan-Smith panders to “popular opinion” he is the face of the “nasty” party, yet suddenly, when an example of right wing Labour say almost the same thing they are all sweetness and light and suddenly “nasty” becomes “fairer”.
    This article says little, certainly nothing new, and is yet another excuse to have a go at Owen Jones, who has more integrity in his little finger than many shadow ministers and backbenchers have in their entire body.#
    I bet this doesn’t get past the censor!

  • Alex Otley

    Housing benefit is a massive issue, but perhaps if Labour pledged to build council houses it would help ease the problems. Danczuk gives off a lot of heat here and yet doesn’t spell out what he’d do. Rather than just attacking people he doesn’t like he should come up with some ideas of his own.

    • He seems like a typical Progress chancer.

      • What a constructive comment.

        • Alex Otley

          It’s a fair observation though. Danczuk seems to be venting completely unjustified anger. The truth is that it’s the Progress wing who are most flustered over Welfare reform, because they’re trapped between Blairite reforms and Coalition reforms. They’ve put themselves in a position of having to basically agree with the direction of the government; Danczuk’s point about not ceding ground to the Tories is doublethink. By rejecting a Labourist response to the welfare issue they make themselves irrelevant to the real needs.

          • Simon has never written for Progress and has nothing to do with them. He is not part of any ‘Progress wing’.

          • That is untrue. Progress and the rest of the party have called for a Labour response to welfare reform. Rebuilding trust in the welfare state, reaffirming values such as contribution and conditionality – that is what your avatar believed in! That is not ceding ground, that is being in the real world and being Labour. Instead of meaninglessly quoting Neil Kinnock and snatching Progress’ ideas on welfare reform, make a constructive criticism.

      • michelle ryan

        Progress should be renamed Regress, back to Blair, or maybe back to Dickensian times if we carry on in this unfettered Neo-Liberal vein.

    • michelle ryan

      Absolutely Alex. Maybe he can’t come out with anything because he agrees with the Tories.

  • Daniel Speight

    What I suspect you don’t want to admit Simon is how much of the fault can be laid at New Labour’s door. It’s no good going after the Hampstead or Islington elite if you are not prepared to look a bit closer to home.

    The real crime in Brown’s bigot dismissal of Mrs. Duffy came out with John Reid’s recent admission that immigration was seen by the Brown Treasury as being a method of adding flexibility to the Labour market. It would be hard not to equate New Labour’s flexibility with an attack on wage levels.

    One of the few things that the last Tory campaign got right was ‘Broken Britain’ although they weren’t that good at admitting the part that they under Thatcher played in doing the breaking. The fact that multi-generational welfare dependency was not tackled during 13 years of Blair and Brown is a dark mark on whatever reputations they have left. If governments have policies in deindustrializing whole swathes of Britain, or even not having policies to repair the damage, then a broken Britain is what you get and what you got.

    So Simon before attacking others maybe take that closer look at home.

    • Alex Otley

      It’s laughable. I must have imagined all those times I saw Owen Jones on TV arguing that tax credits subsidise low pay and that housing benefit subsidises rip off rents. Either that or this clown Danczuk is just trying to smear somebody for factional reasons. Grassing up Chris Huhne was admirable, but other than that I’m not sure what he’s done with his time in Parliament.

      • You clearly have not seen Owen Jones on Twitter or his articles condemning anyone both on left and right for talking about welfare reform. Ridiculous.

      • michelle ryan

        I have lost count of the number of times I have found myself cheering at the TV because Owen Jones is on, speaking for people like me, who feel hopeless about the future. It is just a shame, as a Labour party member, I never feel like cheering when a labour MP is on. Come on Ed, we need a common sense approach to the ballooning welfare bill, as laid out by Owen. Decent wages that cut the tax credit bill, and decent homes, to cut the housing benefit bill.

    • Rosie2

      Multi-generational welfare dependency is a myth, another dog set free to run with the press by the Tory lie machine.
      http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/cultures-of-worklessness
      Quote
      The idea of ‘three generations of the same family who have never worked’ appeals to many, including politicians and policy-makers, to explain entrenched worklessness in the UK.
      It found that:
      Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was very rare.
      There was no evidence of ‘a culture of worklessness’ – values, attitudes and behaviours discouraging employment and encouraging welfare dependency – in the families taking part in the research.
      Working-age offspring remained strongly committed to conventional values about work and were keen to avoid the poverty and worklessness experienced by their parents

  • Frankie D.

    What a bunch of wank. You can’t win by out torying the tories.

  • Agree with this article 100%. Labour is the party of work, not the party of Owen Jones-ism. Labour promote contributory welfare, prioritise universal services over universal benefits, ideas like localisation, the jobs guarantee should be for 1 year for all unemployed not 2 years, a reform requiring people who have not made any NI contributions for two years to make a compulsory social contribution and mandatory training for the long-term unemployed. Hard-left need to recognise that fairness is also about reciprocity – that’s what Attlee and Beveridge had at the heart of their vision for the welfare state. Hope to see Simon Danczuk as a shadow work and pensions minister soon.

  • ” Metropolitan liberal wing of the left”,, a nasty epithet reminiscent of “rootless cosmopolitanism” of Stalin’s era. Writing from Tameside, the issue is jobs, not welfare. There are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applicants for every job. Spending on welfare did not cause the financial criss, the banking and financial system did..The Tories and therir allies in the press are relentlessly pushing welfare on to the political agenda to distract and divide us..don’t fall for it..

  • Dan Platts

    Good point about the Tory view of work:
    “For them, the value of work is measured not so much in the dignified sweat on your brow or the strong communities it builds, but the Bentley on your drive and the gated community you can aspire to live in.”
    But before basing too much of his political stance on the polls, Simon needs to be aware of the influence behind the polls. Views of those being polled are generated or cajoled by the right-wing press and the coalition rhetoric, to divide the underpriveleged class (the low paid workers and those out of work) and exploit the bitterness they feel about their own restricted pay and opportunity. Owen Jones should continue with his defense of welfare, and encourage people to consider the opposite view. Hopefully people will then come to understand the real situation – that simply taking from those with nothing will not simply push them into work. The jobs need to be available in the first place; the skills-training and education should be provided freely; the job allocation service should be more thorough and efficient; and the ability to take jobs away should be limited – workers rights should be maintained.

    • michelle ryan

      Great points Dan. I watched Dianne Abbott on the Daily politics the other week and she suggested that people got their views from the right wing press. Immediately she was jumped upon by Andrew Neil, ” So are you saying the public are too stupid to think for themselves?” That is what Labour MP’s get if they come out with this line, but the irony is, it is partly true. A lot of people are too absorbed in their daily struggles to think about politics (and that will only worsen as their struggles get greater with all the cuts and growing job insecurity). Its easier for them just to read the Sun’s or Mail’s editorial, and say, ah yes, them damn immigrants, single mums, workshy layabouts. Its all their fault. That is why, if Labour’s only aspiration is to be popular, rather than right and just, they will always have to move to the right. But Owen and others like him are trying to connect with the people on TV (and yes in Owen’s case through the press), getting a clear sensible message out there that has the power to open people’s eyes to the right wing propaganda they are being fed on a daily basis. Simon should be grateful to Owen for dispelling some of the myths surrounding welfare. It is telling and sad that he is not.

  • This is all very well & Good Simon, but to have a true debate about Welfare, you must consider ALL areas; including Disabled People & Pensions.

    This is precisely what you fail to do here, I wonder why??

  • ClearBell

    Thank goodness, Owen Jones speaks clearly and trenchantly and is happy to refute small-minded, small “c” conservative people who might or might not be Labour voters. His views are thought-provoking and challenging – and don’t pander to the rightwing shift of all political parties in this godforsaken country.

    Yes, you have to bleedin* well explain why social security is a good thing for all of us, as are universal benefits paid for from effective taxation. Labour MPs are mostly careerists of the managerial persuasion; politics isn’t in their blood at all. They can’t argue for toffee.

    I’ve only just rejoined the Labour Party after years of despair at the way they cannot argue for a compassionate and interventionist state. And reading this MP’s views about Owen Jones is just one of many reasons I am considering cancelling my membership again.

    • I rejoined also, and left.

      And I donated money on top of my membership subs. But the thought that my money could go toward tightening the Progress armlock on the PLP has caused me much regret.

      Never again.

    • michelle ryan

      Please don’t cancel it ClearBell. We need more people like you not less.

    • Dan Platts

      Agree with Michelle Ryan. Don’t cancel. Labour is our party, and cancelling your subscription will not harm the careerists, only us. The way forward is to get involved, and influence the party towards the working class, and stand up to the carrerists – don’t get disillusioned, get enthusiastic and active!

  • skarpa

    “that work is the best route out of poverty.”

    Agreed but to do that you have to make work pay and make work abundant. The neolib economic fallacies pursued by every government since 1976 make sure neither will ever happen.

    Sure people are p*ssed about seeing people on benefits apparently as well off as they are working (even if its not true) but kicking the victims of a misguided pro-capitalist economic system sticks in my throat. Small wonder Labour have lost 5 million votes sionce 97.

  • michellegraham

    ‘Nothing has come close in recent years to symbolising the disconnect between the Westminster bubble and the working class.’

    I’d suggest that this opinion piece is a surefire contender.

  • Monkey_Bach

    “Reforming housing benefit, getting young people back into work, having a relentless focus on growth and delivering a work programme that supports people into proper employment…”

    Reform housing benefit? How exactly? The Tories claimed that the benefit cap would cause rents to fall. It hasn’t. Rents have continued for the most part to rise remorselessly as will always be the case unless supply increases or rent controls are implemented. Should Labour cut Housing Benefit even more than the Coalition? Or less? What about cutting it by 10% for every claimant unemployed over a year to “encourage” them to move to an area with hypothetically more work (a Tory wish quashed by the Liberal Democrats). How about stripping it from every under 25 year old, as David Cameron has suggested doing in several recent speeches and undoubtedly would do if he could get away with it? What is actually being suggested here?

    The same criticism applies to every other point raised in the article.

    Well paid and secure work is a proven way out of poverty but in its absence simply putting more pressure on those denied such an opportunity in the belief that kicking away someone’s crutches with enable them to walk is despicable, cowardly, and cruel.

    If Mr. Danczuk could spell out better how, in his opinion, Labour could do any or all of these things I’d be better placed to judge whether the gentleman is full of wind and water or has something concrete to contribute to the debate.

    Mentioning the absolutely hopeless and entirely useless David Blunkett was probably not a good idea either. Blunkett was a complete failure in every regard as five minutes research into his “professional” and private life demonstrates. My favourite incident which demonstrated his spectacular stupidity in the most hilarious way imaginable was his appearance on Celebrity Mastermind (too oblivious of his own lack of intellect to have has the sense to refuse such an invitation) where he struggled to score a puerile 2 out of 13 on the general knowledge round (thick as a plank) and a hopeless overall score of 11 points answering questions on the Harry Potter books during his specialist round. Why anybody would listen to anything an adulterous dope like Blunkett has to say about anything is beyond me, least of all social security.

    Check out the following links and just be glad this bozo’s gone.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/01/02/david_blunkett_bombs_on_celebrity/

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3600771/David-Blunketts-Mastermind-fiasco-shows-his-greatness.html

    Eeek.

    • FMcGonigal

      “Reform housing benefit? How exactly?”

      One way would be to accept the overall limit or cap based on local rent levels but to make it more generous within that limit. In particular the rate of withdrawal of the benefit as household income increases should be less severe.

  • I could not vote for you as my MP. You seem further right wing than Cyril Smith.

    Work is a great way out of poverty for those who can work, although any holistic understanding of the current economy needs to grasp that mid-wage working and middle class jobs are being squeezed by computers and globalisation.

    But what about disabled people like me. I have AIDS and sometimes it hurts a lot. I do work part time, but I cannot guarantee that that will always be the case after 27 years of the illness (almost all of which I worked).

    Why should I be condemned to poverty because am disabled? Some people will NEVER be able to get back into work. How can you not understand that? As we are tortured by WCA (I passed it three times btw) and now ATOS-PIP.

    Most of those affected by the bedroom tax are disabled.

    I find your attitudes gross.

    • What has Simon Danczuk said that is – in your words – “gross”? I’m sympathetic to your predicament but I’m sure you’ll recognise that paying for antiretroviral treatment for an HIV positive patient for almost thirty years is incredibly expensive (do you have AIDS or do you mean you are HIV positive?). I have no problem with this and I can see nothing in Simon Danczuk’s piece that has a problem with this either. But the money has to be found from somewhere and cannot simply be obtained by taxing bankers’ bonuses.

      Having a registered disability encompasses a broad range of ailments from bad back to locked in syndrome. Clearly the latter cannnot work but the former are certainly capable of some, if not most, types of work (I know two people personally off sick long term with “back” issues who have no problem with back ache when waking to the pub). What is wrong with asking those capable of work of making some effort to find a job?

      • I have AIDS. I.e. I once had less than 200 CD cells per ml. Now it is much better. I have only used medication since 2006. Generic versions of the medicine now available in Africa cost less than a few dollars a week. We pay a premium here.

        I worked, and still work Part Time for most of the time, but frankly this can get hard.

        • Alex Otley

          The point about generic medicines is a great one. If we could reform intellectual property to enable medicines to be produced based on peoples needs that would be hugely progressive.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Yes, you are correct, but we should also be sensitive to the demands we place, as a society, on the drugs companies.

            Of course, they play games with profitability, but this is somewhat beyond that.

            We ask them to do so very many tests to ensure the drugs are not damaging, and those tests cost money. They only invest the money if they think they will make a profit. It is a hard choice: given that only one in about ten drugs ever make it to production, they have to cover the costs of testing ten drugs in the profits from one. And if they get it wrong, another thalidomide, then we seek enormous damages from them.

            If you reform the IP or generic drugs laws “too far”, you remove the incentive for the pharmaceutical companies to make new drugs at all.

          • Alex Otley

            I can certainly see that. But isn’t it also true that a lot of research takes place in public universities? I’m in no way an expert on the pharmaceutical industry, but I know from my time at university that, for example, oil companies and the taxpayer both put a lot of money into catalytic chemistry research. I know that drug companies do the same for some organic chemistry research. I’m sure a settlement could be reached that more fairly represented the taxpayer (society’s) stake in the products that stem from it.

          • rekrab

            It sure is a whopping cost that’s paid to pharmaceutical companies.
            Surely the science of how the human body best functions has moved on since those Burke and Hare days.
            Yet we still fail to provide a daily balanced diet for our citizens because to many friends prefer heaping loads into those pharmaceutical firms.
            Why don’t we provide free schools meals on a mandatory will? why do some schools fall short on P.E. and proper daily exercise?
            Ain’t there some truth in the world, that health care is just run like a huge business and it’s lost it’s fundamental reason to care.

          • The profits the drugs companies make are very high but they do invest heavily in research, often for years with no return. I do not wish to pretend multinationals are institutions of virtue and I agree they need reigning in. But this point is too easily overlooked by the Uncut brigade.

        • I did not question whether you worked or not. I also only mentioned your medical condition because you chose to base part of your argument on your personal circumstances. Drugs might be peanuts in Africa but they aren’t here. We can argue about the reasons for that but the UK government still has to pay a high price for them currently and that money has to come from somewhere. I’m amazed you’ve managed to live with AIDS for twenty years without the assistance of antiretroviral drugs but it’s not an area I’m particularly familiar with. But I’m pretty sure the care you’ve received for almost thirty years from the NHS would be in the six figures range. Again, I have no problem with this but I just hope you can understand that governments do not have a bottomless pit they can dip into and might see a need to do something about a welfare bill that consumes almost a quarter of public spending.

          • Rosie2

            Are you a Tory? Or just a really nasty person? Are you honestly proposing that *we* – this country – cannot afford to keep people alive????
            And as that quarter you quote includes pensions perhaps you have a solution for cutting that back…. humm

          • It’s called a bell curve. Some people infected with HIV get ill after six months. The average period is 11 years. I was at the far end of the other side of the bell curve.

            I worked in America for much of the time, and paid for my health insurance there.

            I have also paid for a pension for years. (The US FICA system has an agreement with the UK system), but it is very unlikely that I will live to receive anything.

            Labour is about social solidarity or it is about nothing.

          • Thanks for putting me straight on AIDS. But who pays for your medical care isn’t really germane to the discussion as I have no problem with the state paying for the healthcare of its citizens. You say “Labour is about social solidarity” but what do you mean by this? I would agree with that statement but I don’t think I’m showing a lack of social solidarity because I do not want to defend some jackass who can’t be bothered to get off his backside and do an honest day’s work

          • I checked, btw, on the cost of my meds. They are expensive. They cost the NHS about $20 a day. (They
            cost Americans $60 a day). Is that too much to keep me alive?

          • And my point was, using myself as an example, was why exactly are disabled people expected to live in poverty in a welfare state.

            We need to be like Denmark.

          • I don’t disagree. Where have I said the disabled should be made to live in poverty?

          • Danczuk says being in work should always pay more. I can see this (that’s why we need a living wage) for people on simply out of work benefits, but very many people are disabled to some degree. Why should they have to live in poverty. I am not talking about “bad backs”, but let me say bad backs can be a real issue.

            My sister has two collapsed vertebrae as well as many other issues. She basically floats along on medication to stop the pain, and other medication. She gets some workmen’s compensation for work induced damage. Still she would love to get out of the house and work: she feels isolated and lonely. But she can’t. Why should she live worse than *anybody* who is in work?

            Meanwhile, there is huge unemployment. The 600,000 advertised jobs are often zero hours or OTE agency jobs, not real full time jobs with holidays etc. Why should the kids of parents who simply cannot find work get nothing for Christmas?

            Meanwhile, other members of my large extended family have worked for decades paying in to National Insurance and paying taxes. My Uncle Jeff did not see a doctor for 60 years and never claimed any benefit. I suppose if my extended family had pooled all its resources (as with the Amish in the US), we could easily care for all our relatives, inc me and my sister. But we did not: we committed, like almost everyone else, to the National Insurance system because it is fairer and helps those without families. (My Uncle Jeff is an old Bennite btw).

            Danzcuk wants to limit the welfare state. I want to support the cradle to grave security (and not just a safety net) that a proper welfare state provides.

          • ClearBell

            Sorry – you seem pretty much a Tory to me in every post you make: face it now – otherwise you may continue to confuse anyone reading this web site. Expensive ill people, lazy people on benefits……you have swallowed rightwing propaganda hook line and sinker.

            For a compassionate and more equal society those who can pay taxes to the state and this should be redistributed because we all will need care and support and medicine and education and water and energy and whatever – need I go on.

          • I’m sure you will.

          • ClearBell

            Yes, you’re right (in every way).

          • John Reid
  • Paul Lawrence Hayes

    “The public’s attitude to Attlee’s cradle to grave welfare state is not what it once was.”

    Perhaps that’s because Labour politicians (and others) have abjectly failed to counter and sometimes even contributed to the breathtakingly immoral and irrational propaganda levelled against the social security system ‘recently’. I’m pretty sure the public would respond accordingly if only they were given a fair chance to choose between facts and reasoned arguments and lies and fallacies.

  • Mr Arthur Cook

    Thank you for this. It confirms what many have come to understand. “Labour” is dead. In its place is a corporate club of political climbers who have no grounding in history, faith in founding principles and credibility in the eyes of our people.

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  • Quiet_Sceptic

    Part of the problem is that there are no longer any fundamental principles behind welfare, there is no clear guiding principles. It’s 50 years of politicians patching, we’re to back where Beveridge started, a system with distorted incentives, unjustified differences support, no overall vision or plan.

    You read the Beveridge report and it’s clear what he intended; social insurance and the whole system rests on that underlying principle, benefit for contribution. Equality of treatment; the pensioner equal to the ill or disabled, equal to the unemployed worker, no one more or less important or valued, all receiving the same level of benefit. Most to be covered by National Insurance, means tested benefits only for the very few.

    Before we can reform welfare we need to decide what principles the welfare state should be based upon.

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  • Rosie2

    Simon Danczuk
    I have read this diatribe three times now and still dont know what the hells-bells you are saying. But for sure, do not lambast Owen Jones, the only person on the left who speaks his mind rather than some party issue crib sheet.
    I *think* you are advocating harsher benefits (?) if so, go read this and then hang your head in shame, because its your kind of attitude that lets this kind of thinking run wild in the press.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/austerity-has-hardened-the-nations-heart-8622568.html

    Benefits are to low. To Low. Not enough to live on. As a high tax paying, card carrying Labour supporter I expect our party to do something about that!! Not jump on the passing Tory bandwagon…
    Housing benifit to high? Cap It! Then build social houses in enough quantity to burst the housing bubble and do away with the need for BTL’s profiteering

    If I have miss read you then sorry for the rant, but please be clearer in what you say to avoid misunderstanding.

  • robertcp

    The biggest myth about the British benefit system is that it is generous. It is not. You can survive on benefits but forget about a social life or holidays.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      The benefits system is not meant to pay for a social life or holidays.

      • Monkey_Bach

        Eh? Are you serious when you say that benefit claimants shouldn’t have a social life or a holiday? Since we all live in a country with Bank Holidays and unavoidable interconnectedness with others pretty much nobody can avoid having some kind of a social life or taking a holiday now and again by accident or design. Still. At least your comment made me smile, even though it wasn’t supposed to.

        (I voted you up to reward you for your silliness.)

        Eeek.

      • robertcp

        I was stating a fact and not expressing an opinion.

  • Amber_Star

    Young people know they will never be able to work their way out of poverty in the UK. There are almost no openings into jobs which will allow them to work their way up. If they start their working lives on minimum wage, they will likely end it earning about the same. Without redistribution via a welfare system, they will never have enough income to even rent a family home; without a home, how can they aspire to marry & have children?

  • rekrab

    Simon, I suspect come 2015, the public will judge labour as aiding and abetting this coalitions criminal acts on welfare and the NHS.

    I also suspect that at some point the trade unions will have no other choice than to form a pressure alternative to the labour party, as UKIP have pressured the Tories to the right, then we need a new political party to pressure labour to the left.

    If those dominate views on welfare cuts are present? are they so selfish too call for the kill of the poor while they shore up their low interest rate gains?

    Simon, the pieman would like to give you a pie, right in the coupon.

    • John Reid

      The trade unions have formed opposition to Labour over the last 18 years, Socialist Labour, Socialist alliance ,TUsC, SWP, they’ve hardly pushed Laobur to the left,even at their peak in 2001

  • John Reid

    Maybe it’s the Tories who stolen Labours I dea, not out Trying to Tory them, Ken Livingstone got. Right wing American to sort o ut the transport, then, after Ken lost, Boris who had upto that point criticised Kens transport policies is now nicking them, crime prevention jas always been the toris strength, yet from 94-2010 labour was the party of law, did that mean we were unsuccessful as put Torying, the Tories, or isn’t crime an issue that has left ,right divides

  • Monkey_Bach

    Thing is “housing benefit reform” isn’t about helping everybody that needs it to secure suitable and affordable accommodation but about cutting the amount spent on housing benefit. Since I can’t see how your suggestions would reduce said budget much I suspect they would be non-flyers as far as every political party is concerned. Blame the afflicted for their misery and treat the symptom not the cause is sadly the order of the day.

    The real solution of course would be to commit to build a very large number of affordable rented houses, flats and bungalows and curb the excesses of private landlords. I Labour says this it had better really mean it this time and not weasel out of it and break it promises as it did repeatedly during the New Labour years under that magnificent pair of liars Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

    Eeek.

    • FMcGonigal

      Building public housing is essential of course but would also require a massive budget. The problem with any benefit is that if it TOO universal some will say: “those on reasonable incomes don’t need it”. If is TOO focused on the less well off those just above the limit will feel that they are no better off for working.

  • Monkey_Bach

    “Hope to see Simon Danczuk as a shadow work and pensions minister soon.”

    Never mind the quality feel the width… or should I say “thickness”. Even though the modern Labour party has a shallow pool of talent to recruit its executive from I still reckon they could do a lot better than Danczuk.

    Eeek.

    • Still ‘Eeek’-ing, I see. By the way, have you finally found about Clement Atlee?

    • John Reid

      Yeah Frank Field

      • Monkey_Bach

        The Kenneth Williams lookie-likey? More chance of him having an original idea than that happening. I mean even Tony Blair gave St. Francis of Birkenhead the elbow! Eeek.

        • John Reid

          Or to Quote Tony Benn leaving parliament to spend more time on Politics

          • Monkey_Bach

            There is, as they say, a first time for everything. Eeek.

  • “the party of work”

    Steady on, Renie. Mention the word ‘work’ too much and you’ll frighten your New Labour careerist mates – they’re looking for easy access to the House with cushy opportunities in the private sector thereafter.

  • Theoderic Braun

    Gillian Duffy is the kind of woman who, in the past, might well have asked a passing politician a question like “What are you going to do about the blacks?” or “What are you going to do about the Irish?” and yet, because of a faux pas by Gordon Brown, this woman seem to have been invested with undiminishing political gravity.

    Man, am I sick of hearing about Gillian Duffy! To be honest I couldn’t give a fig what the old girl thinks about anything and am dismayed that, three years after the last general election, her petulance with Gordon Brown still seems to be influential. For goodness sake give Mrs. Duffy a rest and the rest of us a rest from Mrs. Duffy.

  • Because I you no doubt disagree with me I must be a nasty person. Think what you will but don’t make infantile remarks about me – where have I proposed killing people because they are too expensive for the state? That seems pretty nasty to me.

    • Rosie2

      Suggest you go back and read what you said. You might have had something quite nice in mind at the time, but you put very badly in writing.

  • Monkey_Bach

    The “Eeek” is a deliberate and contrived effort on my part to annoy anal retentive, unimaginative, right-wing bladders full of hot air (and usually full of themselves) with rudimentary senses of humour. If it were possible to trawl through all of my posts you would see that only that type of person mentions or echoes the “Eeek” when replying to my posts. Intelligent, humorous, imaginative, warm-hearted, humble, left of centre types aren’t ever bothered by it and probably see it for what it is.

    But thank you for proving my point.

    Eeek.

    (Deleting posts riddled with spelling mistakes is cheating.)

    • RAnjeh

      I have to admit you do crack me up! If you think I am rightwing and you are ‘left of centre’, you must think that Karl Marx was a centrist. Then again you’re not very good at your history, all you can do is make puerile insults which is quite frankly embarrassing PS: 1940-1945 are the exact dates, you do know why the Coalition was formed?

  • John Reid

    Mrs Duffy was concerned about immigration to the point of a community that possibly through not their won fault has a culture so different aggresivley interms of taking what they want, that,it could be considered,dangerous, if there was A laobur supporter like Duffy who as you put it said ” What you gonna do about the Blacks” it was a mixture of creating ghetto’s by inviting people from the Commonwelath to come here, to working class areas ,for them to do jobs other people didn’t wat to do,I dont think comparing the Windrush generation or some popel attitude to tehm is comparable with Mr’s Duffy and, Gordon was wrong to call her off camera a bigot, Your sick about heraing for her, she wa A alobur voter with a genuine concern, d’you not want labour party supporters who show’d genuine concern about immigration

    • AlanGiles

      In this weird attempt to turn Labour into a mixture of UKIP and the Conservatives in Havering, it is worth pointing out that of the 30+ councillors on Havering Council, three of them are Labour. Three
      I don’t think Mr Reid’s strategy is working

      • AlanGiles

        I owe Mr Reid an apology. There are 5 Labour councillors in Havering, not 3 as I stated.

        http://democracy.havering.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?VW=TABLE&PIC=1&FN=PARTY

        However, I would still respectfully suggest to him that by using tabloid press rhetoric, employing expressions like “loony left”, and making it quite clear he only has time for the right wing of the Labour party, he does not make his local party very welcoming for those would-be members who would not identify
        themselves with “his” wing of the party”. Might I suggest a more inclusive policy rather than denigrating those with more traditional views?.

        Pandering to the tabloids does not seem to be very productive in Havering, nor, I imagine, in other places as well.

    • Theoderic Braun

      The idea that someone as thin-skinned and ignorant as Gillian Duffy has any influence at all as far as Labour policy goes is scarey. I want the country governed by rational men and women who are in full possession of the fact and will make the best possible choices in respect to everybody’s interest, i.e., the polarised opposite of limited touchy people like Mrs. Duffy, whether she previously voted Labour or not.

      I Labour voters switch to the Conservatives, particularly the kind of Conservatives that head the Tory party at the moment, because they believe that they will be harsher on immigrants and decrease their entry into the country the must be complete and utter morons and deserve all they get in the aftermath.

      I want brilliant and compassionate people to rule us not Gillian Duffy.

  • Monkey_Bach

    True but the focus these days is simply trying to trim social security in various ways with in-work benefits targeted as much if not more than out-of-work benefits.

    As wages remain static and rents increase more and more workers of modest means will be compelled to apply for housing benefit of face eviction. The trouble is tapering withdrawal of benefits so that both the workless and working are protected from homeless is a very difficult thing and complicated to do without a staggering bureaucracy, which can cope with the ever changing circumstances of claimants, to back such a system up. You can see this happening in the systemically flawed and failing Universal Credit programme, which I believe will never be fit for purpose and is, even as I type these words, on the brink of crashing, burning, causing much embarrassment to the powers that be as well as terrible, unnecessary misery as far as those repeatedly let down by said system and the DWP are concerned.

    IDS and David Freud are centres of pestilence.

    Eeek.

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  • ClearBell

    Haven’t cancelled yet. Am trying my best to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I know the Bullingdon bullies have centuries behind them of knowing how to groom those they consider to be the servant-classes. But people from a very similar background to mine with such “orange liberal views” are doubly shaming to me, in that they seem to just want power above all else (understandable) and cannot admit to themselves they have swallowed the right-wing hook-line and sinker.

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