Is this as bad as the 10p tax?

Frank Field could rally the troops against Gordon Brown.

Frank Field could rally the troops against Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown must really wish he had never returned from holiday or at least must be seriously contemplating life maybe more peaceful if he just stayed where he went today; Afghanistan. While the big news headlines continue to be made by Afghanistan and Al Megrahi there is another potentially more explosive crisis brewing in the putative rebellion over proposals to cut housing benefit.

In one stroke the proposals could cut those on the lowest incomes (ie, dependent on benefits) incomes by as much as 20% according to homelessness charity Crisis and also encourage landlords to actively raise rent. Not really good work for a Labour government and it is far from surprising that the wagons are circling. Especially as beleaguered Labour MP’s are apparently deluged according to a report in the Sunday Herald;

“Over the summer, backbench Labour MPs have been exchanging details with each other about the high number of complaints they have received from worried constituents fearing the cuts in housing benefits.”

Ultimately, MP’s will support the leader they feel best able to preserve their job and although the Herald’s talk of a new leadership crisis is premature it isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that a maverick like Frank Field could start to rally the troops against Brown. This is going to be a consistent pattern for the rest of this government as it limp’s through it’s last days but as ever the question for us is going to be can we benefit?

Sarah Teather has done some excellent work spearheading the charge against these proposals by both spotting the manoeuvre in the first place and arguing strongly against them;

“£15 a week may be small change to ministers” but is a significant amount for struggling families.

Gordon Brown has once again abandoned the people who need the most help.”

However, as James Graham notes;

“A lack of confidence seems to also be reflected in Clegg’s obsession with spending cuts. All parties have to wake up to the parlous state of the economy and be realistic about spending, but when it comes to public services Clegg has a tendency to talk about spending cuts almost at the expense of everything else.”

At the moment our general direction is lacking so badly in the ‘positive, overarching vision’ that James rightly says we need and those wandering Labour voters will be crying out for; kudos to Teather for leaping to the defence of the people she rightly says Labour has abandoned but without that positive vision none of those people will be listening to or be swayed to vote for us.


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About darrellgoodliffe


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