An injury to one is an injury to all….
Often debates about the direction Labour should travel boil down to who Labour actually represents. Ed Miliband has made the point that Labour’s collapse in support amoung the C2’s D’s and E’s is what cost it the election and this is undoubtably true. However, this government is making the question of who we represent something of an academic question since it is not just those traditionally lower down the scale who are under attack. The great mistake this government is making is to unite all those who are not fantastically well-off against it.
You only have to take the much trailed this morning attack on ‘middle class benefits’; of course, in airy theoretical terms making benefits only available to those who strictly speaking need them is a good thing. However, the practice of ‘means testing’ is that it hits the poorest the hardest and stigmatises them further. Furthermore, it’s all very well withdrawing these benefits in the expectation that the ‘middle classes’ income will maintain them but given the depressed state of wages that is a bold assumption. In all probability these cuts will drive their standard of living down until they are tilting dangerously close to social free-fall; this absurd government is creating the reverse of a meritocracy.
You would think the Liberal Democrats, the Party of ‘fairness’, would do something to stop this but you would be wrong. The Daily Telegraph reports that they are pushing the Conservatives to make the qualifying age for the winter fuel allowance even higher. Simon Hughes is being optimistic in expecting Labour will be interested in a deal with his Party following the next election. The raising of the bar for the winter fuel allowance shows the danger in allowing the retirement age to rise or be abolished; this government will use that move to wriggle out of supporting the needy saying the private sector will provide as it always does, not mentioning that this provision is very unreliable indeed.
We need to represent our ‘core vote’ but realise that the attacks from this government though they are falling the hardest on them are also a much wider attack on the vast majority of society.