Labour’s welfare conundrum

If the leadership intends to carry on 2012 in the fashion Liam Bryne has started it today then you’d be forgiven for wishing for 2013 already. Both Bryne and Ed ‘slayer of evil scroungers’ Miliband obviously make-up welfare policy with the essential help of a colour-by-numbers guide to policy making.

However, Bryne’s concern for ‘hard working, traditional Labour families’ reflects, superficially a political dilemma Labour finds itself in. How do they be the voice for the voiceless and also those ‘core’ Labour families?

The answer is much easier to come-up with when you join the dots of how things work in the wider world – not in the pages of a colouring book. People capable of doing this can see that the concerns and situations of these two groups are not mutually opposed but, in fact, inextricably linked. Part of the cause of welfare dependency, for example, is not just the number of vacancies but poverty pay and rubbish conditions. Work simply doesn’t pay for a lot of people and its this that contributes greatly to a ‘culture of dependency’. Unbelievably, our leaders want to make this problem worse by saddling people in-work with another burden in the form of more ‘contributions’.

Another problem is the re-calibration of the welfare state to supplement the falling incomes of those *in-work* to the disadvantage of the truly needy. Here some inventive thinking is required with regard to the targeting of help.

The leaderships rhetoric precludes a sensible debate on these issues – when you assume ‘scrounging’ is the product of ‘evil’ you have entered the realm of utter stupidity. You also insult the genuinely needy who really can’t work and need our help – when is a Labour leader going to tell the simple truth that these people *do* exist and need our help? By pandering to tabloid rhetoric the leadership has once again dis-honoured the Party.

It is a sign of the utterly desperate nature of the leadership that it has resorted to these measures. The welfare conundrum is a complicated one for which easy solutions do not exist. Labour’s current solution is to fall into the trap of assuming tabloid editors make good policy makers and to fail to challenge the entrenched prejudice of those they aspire to represent. Its a disgusting spectacle – one that is un-worthy of a Labour leadership.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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