‘Red Ed’s’ war on the poor…..

Today, Ed Miliband is going to give a speech on the ‘take what you can’ culture. Now, of course, we have to wait until the speech is given to pass final judgement but I think its fair to see the signs in the Observer were not encouraging. Let’s look at the pace notes.

If it’s true that Miliband is going to compare people cheating on benefits with unscrupulous bankers then it’s a sure sign he has lost all sense of proportion. Benefit fraud counts for a fraction of the economic damage done by the collapse of the finance sector and the mind-boggling mega money that any banker, or trader etc costs the economy if they commit fraud. This is always the way with this issue though – genuine benefit fraud exists that needs to be stopped but its significance and cost is always blown well out of proportion to its actual size.

It says it all about Miliband, desperate to give his ailing leadership some kind of the focus, that he has sunk this low. It is thus unsurprising also that he should add in a commitment to ‘out-Coalition’ the Coalition:

Miliband will use Monday’s speech to claim that in government his party would pursue a more radical reform of the welfare state than the coalition, while also tackling the City’s bonus culture.

It’s hard to see how you could get much more radical this side of abolition. No reform Miliband will propose can be any good. Why? Because he is coming at it from the same fundamentally, and anti-poor, standpoint that the Coalition is. The problem with the welfare state is the ‘cheats’, the feckless poor, who ‘could work but choose not too’ but that’s logically silly given the relatively small costs of fraud. Its actually totally true that more is lost due to error – so, why is a radical shake-up of the bureaucratic administration of the welfare system never a top priority of concerned politicians like Miliband?

Not enough opinion poll points or ‘hard-man’ kudos credits from The Sun one would imagine.  Seriously though, we all know Miliband’s leadership is on the rocks but this is the lowest of the low – its crass and disgusting opportunism, another example of why those who really want to see value-driven Labour politics need to work to rid the Party of this leadership.

***Anybody under any illusions about the intent of ‘Red Eds’ war on the poor should read this piece where Liam Byrne spells out the details***


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12 responses to “‘Red Ed’s’ war on the poor…..”

  1. John p reid says :

    I thought Liam’s article was good


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    And I didnt…..


  3. David says :


    I appreciate why you guys on the left of the party want to defend people on benefits but we really aren’t going to get anywhere if we don’t get to grips with why people lost trust with us on welfare policy. I don’t think that most people are that concerned about the basic levels of benefits – unemployed people receiving £67.50 a week for example – but I think that people get angry when they see cases of people on benefits receiving more money than those who go out to work.

    For example, the coalition wants to cap the total amount of benefits a household can receive to £26k a year – that’s the equivalent of a £35k salary after tax. Labour’s shadow ministers have been objecting to the cap even though this is more than the average salary – how on earth did it become possible to claim so much? We have a similar situation with Housing Benefit, the amount that it has been possible to claim in parts of London – routinely £500 a week or more in the centre of town – is much more than most people who go out to work would be able to afford.

    It is ordinary working people on low and middle incomes (i.e. natural Labour voters) who consider this to be unfair whereas many in the party seem keen on defending the status quo. One of the key reasons that the left of the Labour Party is so unelectable is that it places absolutely no value whatsoever on personal responsibility and is indifferent to the plight of ordinary working people who work full-time, do long commutes, struggle with their bills and housing costs and then see people on benefits receiving the same money as them, or sometimes even more than them.

    Labour welfare policy should never be about victimising vulnerable people who need state support but we do need to do much more to acknowledge some of the unfairnesses that developed when we were in government and figure out policies that will fix what is a broken system. It really ought to be possible to defend the most vulnerable while also reforming the system to make sure that it is fair, that it is seen to be fair and that it pays to go out to work.


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Want me to be honest? Never heard it once during 2010 and I was heavily involved in a election campaign in Leeds North East. I’m concerned about the basic level of benefits – they are far, far too low and I would like to see the introduction of the Citizens Income.

    So what are you going to to do? Ghettoise the poor? Ethnically cleanse them out of certain areas? Have rich-only areas behind barbed-wire? The problem is your addressing this case generally not looking at specific needs, I would imagine, for example a family would need a spacious accommodation.

    They consider it unfair because people like you, and Ed Miliband find it much easier to address themselves to these irrational prejudices rather than address the actual issue which is raising the incomes of these families who are being squeezed but not because of the £1bn or so benefit fraud that goes on (which relatively speaking is small beer compared to even the amount lost through errors). These families, like you and Ed Miliband have lost all sense of rational perspective and thats the problem.

    If its not about victimising vulnerable people then why was that exactly what Miliband did his speech?


  5. David says :

    I don’t really see how Miliband was victimising anybody in his speech, he was simply reflecting the view that everyone in society from the top end to the bottom end has duties as well as entitlements which is a fairly mainstream opinion. Do you really think it’s right that it’s possible to have a higher income by staying at home than going to work. Because I can tell you that the vast majority of people in this country don’t – not because the Daily Mail and the Sun tell them so but because it’s basic common sense.

    If you won’t listen to the fairness angle then perhaps you should consider the “benefits trap” angle. There are certain circumstances where someone who moves from welfare to work will lose through HMRC:

    20% of what they earn (after the tax allowance) on income tax
    11% through National Insurance
    39% through the withdrawal of tax credits

    Then of the 30p in the pound left over they will lose further means-tested benefit entitlements at the taper rates at:
    65% for Housing Benefit
    20% for Council Tax Benefit

    That combined 85% reduction from their remaining 30p in the pound leaves them with 4.5p in the pound left. That’s a marginal tax rate of 95.5% imposed on people towards the bottom of income scale. And that’s before they’ve paid for extra travel costs and childcare costs. Not to mention the worry that if they come off benefits to go back to work and then later lose their job then it could take weeks to reapply and be accepted for benefits again.

    Individual circumstances vary of course but surely you can see that for some people it simply isn’t worth their while going back to work. That doesn’t help anyone, least of all the poor who end up in long term worklessness, socially isolated (ghettoised too perhaps?) often with a detrimental impact to their physical and mental health and more likely to end up with drug or alcohol problems. People have become trapped by the system because it penalises people who try to better themselves. In that respect I don’t blame the claimants, I blame the policymakers.

    But of course, the left doesn’t want to listen to arguments like that – they’d rather stay on their moral high horse so that they can feel like the good guys, be content to perpetuate more welfare dependency with all the harm to people that that involves and throw around ludicrous phrases like “ethnically cleansing” (what does ethnicity even have to do with this by the way?) and “barbed wire” as if wanting to change a system that doesn’t work equates to some sort of fascist ideology.


  6. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Oh really. So, he, didin’t accuse somebody who was genuinely disabled by his own admission of being irresponsible then?

    No I don’t that’s why I support the introduction of a Citizens Income and the introduction of a legally enforceable living wage – everybody is supported so they can live, and everybody gets a massive raise, id say that’s a win-win.

    Again your not telling me anything other than why we need a *compulsory living wage* so errrr ye.


  7. David says :

    Well the case raised in the speech didn’t include enough detail to judge – he just said there was a guy who had been injured at work, had been on IB for a decade and there were probably other types of job he could do. He didn’t elaborate but maybe for example he wouldn’t be able to do a heavy lifting job but he would be able to do a desk job. And if he could then perhaps he should. Why not? Better than paying him to sit at home year after year.

    I really don’t see why the left has got so upset about this, it was fairly mainstream stuff from Miliband yesterday and his best speech in ages.


  8. darrellgoodliffe says :

    He did not say *probably* he said in his completely unqualified medically opinion he was fit to work. A call he has no basis to make as he is a too bit politician and incidentally, the leader of the Labour Party whose medical knowledge probably extends as far as how to apply a band-aid and thats it. He then had the cheek to go on an
    d brand him irresponsible.

    It was an absolutely disgusting speech….revolting a Labour leader should say that…


  9. David says :

    Oh dear, well if you believe that people living on public money who could work but don’t shouldn’t have any sense of duty to the rest of society and that suggesting otherwise is “disgusting” and “revolting” then I guess we’re not gonna get even close to agreeing. Just so long as you realise that this view puts you so far away from the mainstream that if this mindset were to prevail in the party then we’d have no chance of winning an election. You guys really are the Tories best friends, I hope Miliband does more to face down the left of the party or the rest of us will have to put up with Cameron and Osborne for a long time to come.

    The relevant quote from the speech was:
    “I met someone who had been on incapacity benefit for a decade. He hadn’t been able to work since he was injured doing his job. It was a real injury, and he was obviously a good man who cared for his children. But I was convinced that there were other jobs he could do. And that it’s just not right for the country to be supporting him not to work, when other families on his street are working all hours just to get by.”

    There isn’t enough information to know the nature of this guy’s injury or what work he could do – it’s just an example in a speech. But Miliband isn’t attacking him or calling him irresponsible, just saying that if there is work he is capable of doing then he should. It really isn’t that bad.


  10. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Now thats not what I said is it. Funny because all I saw on Twitter was abject rage at Miliband and rightly so.

    No, your wrong the relevant passage comes after he talks about Southern Cross where he says *both* [the people who run Southern Cross, and the disabled man] are irresponsible. Quoting the passage before to try and prove your right really doesnt cut it now does it. He also didn’t say *if*; he said, in Miliband’s opinion there *was* work he could do so I ask again, how is he qualified to make that judgement?


  11. David says :

    There isn’t enough information about the man’s case for us to make a judgment either way – the example in the speech is not important, the principle is what matters and that is that if you can work you should try to find work and if you choose not to bother and live off the taxes of other people then you are failing to meet your responsibilities. That’s not a controversial statement for most people – most people are used to earning a living for themselves. They believe that welfare should be a safety net for people who have lost their jobs or fallen on hard times with extra support for people who can’t support themselves because of serious illness or disability. They don’t regard it as something that people can just choose to live on permanently or that should pay out more than the average working person could afford.

    If you don’t agree with that then you’re entitled to your view, but you’re certainly in the minority so maybe the left ought to lay off on all the shouty, over the top ‘social cleansing’ rhetoric aimed at people who have valid reasons for wanted to reform the system.


  12. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Maybe your right but if that’s the case are you going to call Ed Miliband out for making that judgement, the one you argue shouldn’t be made?

    I want to reform the system as ive already said numerous times, just not the way Ed Miliband does.


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