No Mr Alexander, we will not ‘work with this government’….
It’s heartening to see that when this government attacks the welfare state or benefit claimants in general the Labour Twitterverse generally explodes in outrage. However, sadly, the same cannot be said of our leadership and it certainly cannot be said of Douglas Alexander whose current role involves shadowing Iain Duncan Smiths Department for Work and Pensions. Events like this tend to suggest that the cultural chasm that exists between Labour’s members, activists and the lofty-leadership still exists. So it is that George Osborne, potential tax-dodger, compares benefit cheats to ‘muggers’ and uses widely discredited figures about the cost of benefit fraud and the response that sallies forth from the opposition benches is for Mr Alexander to don his hair-shirt and promise ‘co-operation’ with the government.
Of course, in all fairness to the man, he is only following the example set by Ed Miliband at PMQ’s when, worryingly, he seemed to indicate broad support for reforms to things like the Disability Living Allowance. No thought being given to the consequence of these reforms however ever actually occurs at the top of the Party. The only calculus ever used is the electoral one ie, how many votes are in it for us? Since these reforms are likely to hit sections of society that are less likely to vote their interests are dismissed in favour of those of people who probably think the onerous burden of actually paying tax, especially to support those doing less well in society, in the first place is mugging enough.
This kind of short-sighted opportunism has made our Party the prisoner of so many vested interests and is precisely the reason that the ‘core vote’ isn’t awfully bothered about voting for us anymore. It’s precisely the kind of thing Ed Miliband was talking about in the lead-up too his election as leader and it is precisely the kind of thing he has yet to show any subsequent conviction in tackling.