Posts Tagged ‘Gavin Kelly’

On welfare, Labour needs to be the party of work

07/01/2013, 07:59:11 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour debating the Conservatives on welfare is not a clash between two settled bodies of opinion. As public opinion evolves, so does internal debate within both parties. Casualties will come from “friendly fire” and the fog of war is thick.

There are those within Labour who think that George Osborne has snookered our party with the welfare uprating bill. In contrast, others think Osborne has overplayed his hand and we will be rewarded for principled opposition to the bill.

The latter are in sympathy with the rhetorical question of John Harris: If every Labour politician cannot oppose Osborne’s strivers and skivers plan in its toxic entirety, what exactly are they here for?

The former both dismiss this as naive and discount the capacity of the more nuanced opposition that Gavin Kelly has articulated and which Labour’s guarantee of a job for those out of work for 2 years is a variant of.

This guarantee seems a step away from the Harris position, which rejects absolutely the welfare uprating bill, and towards a position that argues the bill is unnecessary as there are better means of reforming our welfare system. Taking this step has the advantage of reducing the extent to which we seem to defend a discredited status quo. Equally, it will disappoint those attracted to a more visceral rebuttal of Osborne.

While there is diversity of opinion within Labour, it would be mistaken to think that the Conservatives are united. Indeed, they are at war, if a Peter Oborne piece from just before Christmas is to be believed. Soon after Christmas a cabinet minister was speaking in less than glowing terms about Iain Duncan-Smith’s universal credit. “The information technology for the new system is nowhere near ready. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”


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