The careless Liam Byrne
Generally, when most people undertake a review of something, they expect that a review is completed and then some conclusions are reached. However, if his interview in Progress is anything to go by, Liam Byrne is taking the same approach as somebody who reads the end of the novel first and starting with some conclusions and then conducting the review.
Byrne, you will remember, is the person who rather stupidly left a note for the incoming government, dryly quipping ‘there is no money left’. Not exactly a sensible political judgement and I have to say I am less than impressed with some of his conclusions reached thus far. Let’s take the idea of ‘contributory welfare’ for example, this idea is something of an oxymoron. People who can afford to pay into the so-called ‘lockbox’ are unlikely to need as much help as those who cant. Economically, it doesn’t actually make the sense Byrne suggests it does either because it takes even more money out of our economy at precisely the point when the problem is not enough is flowing around it.
Obviously, morally, it is also going to create a two-tier welfare state which is going to fundamentally disadvantage and impoverish people already in quite a large hole as it is. It take’s the safety net provided by the welfare state and rips a giant hole in it. In that regard it’s a negation of the founding principles of the welfare state we created and is a further step down the road of its dismantlement. If he is going to conduct a review then fair enough but you would hope that this is a genuine process of consultation and debate not a forgone conclusion. Perhaps it would be advisable if Mr Byrne avoided making rash decisions and letting his mouth run off way in front of his head for the time being. If he did that he might have more of value to contribute to this process than to make it look like a stitch-up.