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You know that things have come to a pretty pass when Labour Party supporters turn against the poor.
This has happened at a time when the number of people with money to spare has dropped dramatically, meaning more of our people have become poor.
The change may reasonably be blamed on Labour’s adherence to Liam Byrne’s diabolical welfare policy, that aims to continue where the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats leave off – demonising people who have done nothing wrong, unless you count illness, disability and unemployment as a personal choice.
It suggests that people of good heart are leaving the party in large numbers, allowing those who are left to turn it into what its critics have claimed it to be for a considerable time now: Tory Lite.
The change is identified in a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, that showed 47 per cent of Labour supporters surveyed in 2011 thought that, if benefits were less generous, people would learn to support themselves – up from 17 per cent in 1987.
The fact of the matter, of course, is that benefits are much less generous now than they were in the 1980s. In 1987, unemployment benefits totalled around 20 per cent of the average weekly wage; now they come to around 10 per cent – around half of what they were. But Labour supporters – Labour! – say they are too generous.
It looks like the Tories really are brainwashing people with their nonsense rhetoric, as repeated in newspapers that Labour supporters shouldn’t be reading, like The Sun and the Daily Mail. That good friend of the Conservative Party, Joseph Goebbels, was right – “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Of course, Goebbels added: “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent.”
So those of us who are interested in the facts may be looking forward to hard times. It’s still better than being a fair-weather friend of social justice – only interested in the good of our fellows if it doesn’t impact on us.
But it is already impacting on everybody!
The Office for National Statistics, using Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures, has reported that the UK has plummeted down the international league table of economic well-being, from fifth to 12th within the six years up to 2011.
On a separate labour-market ranking, the country fell even further, dropping 12 places. In the labour market league table it ranked 21st out of 34 countries. Top of the league was Norway, which has just three per cent unemployment and, as I understand it, a thriving welfare state. Think about that.
The ONS noted changes to taxes and benefits as key factors in the drop.
This morning, one of Vox‘s longest-serving commentators reported that there is a change among the people around him; that those who argued against his criticism of the Conservative-led government are now turning to the Left. If so, it seems they are not turning to Labour.
Recently we have witnessed a movement to form a new political movement, representing socialist views but untarnished by the memory of New Labour’s 13 years of Neoliberal mistakes. Several contenders have cropped up but none of them will carry any weight at the next general election – instead, all they are likely to do is sap enough votes from Labour to let the Conservatives back into office again. That would be a calamity for the country.
No, the best thing to do is to take Labour back for the people it was meant to serve. First step in that direction must be to consign Liam Byrne and his vile mess of a welfare policy to the back benches, and design a new plan, attacking the causes of unemployment and workplace sickness and disability, rather than their symptoms. This is simple logic.
And we need to get people into the shadow cabinet who have actually held proper jobs. Look at Ed Miliband: Oxford graduate – short media career – Westminster job for Labour. Ed Balls: Oxford graduate (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) – short media career – Westminster job for Labour. Douglas Alexander: University graduate – six-month career as a solicitor – Westminster. Yvette Cooper: Oxford (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) – Westminster researcher job for Labour. Andy Burnham: Cambridge – researcher for Tessa Jowell. Many of these also went to Harvard.
Liam Byrne, the demon of the Labour Party: University (Politics and Modern History at Manchester) – Harvard – then work for a multinational consulting firm (Accenture) and then the Rothschild merchant bankers(!) before going to Labour to help lead its ‘New Labour’ business campaign. This man has nothing whatsoever to do with real working people.
When everybody in a particular group – in business, politics, socially, whatever – is from the same background, they tend to agree about key subjects. From the above group we can see that many of the Labour front bench have followed exactly the same career path. What do they know about working-class people? At least two of them – Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, no less – graduated from the same Oxford degree course as David Cameron, the comedy Prime Minister.
No wonder people are having a hard time distinguishing between the two main parties and want a left-wing alternative.
It’s time for Labour to grow up and realise it needs to change. It must come back to its voting base and start to represent the people of the UK once again – rather than Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard graduates. If Ed Miliband wants to keep his position, he needs to clear out his shadow cabinet and get some fresh thinkers in. Someone recently mentioned Abraham Lincoln’s ‘cabinet of enemies’, and the fact that it was good for him to have opposing views at the heart of his government.
Until we get that in the Labour Party, maybe we should agree that the ‘Tory Lite’ criticisms are accurate.
What are you going to do about it, Labour?