Friday, 31 August 2012

£10bn more welfare cuts must be stopped

Yesterday the Guardian ran with the story of a leaked treasury memo making tentative plans for £10 billion worth of additional welfare cuts:
George Osborne is drawing up plans to announce up to £10bn of extra cuts in welfare spending next year, according to a leaked account of a briefing to senior civil servants
As Lib Dems we cannot let this happen. There's been speculation that there might be a deal for Clegg getting his wealth tax in exchange for the tories getting £10 billion of cuts to welfare but that had damn well better not happen. There is no equivalence between them. A multi-millionaire only being able to afford to buy one less yacht a year does not make up for, or equate to, a disabled person being left without enough money to buy food.

Welfare was hit disproportionately hard in the first round of cuts. And, because politicians and the DWP are too scared and too cowardly to touch pensions even slightly, which make up 42% of the welfare budget, and because stuff like fiddling with child tax credit pisses off middle class people who have voices to complain, the bulk of the cuts was passed almost entirely on to disabled people (12% of the welfare budget) and housing benefit simply because these were the groups of people too weak and too voiceless to put up a fight. It was an act of typically vile tory cowardice and spitefulness.

And if the DWP couldn't think of anything better to do than pick on the weakest and most vulnerable last time then why on Earth would they be any better this time? All they'll do is exactly the same thing and pass cuts disproportionately onto those with the narrowest shoulders to bear them.

Plus, to pass an additional £10 billion of cuts on to welfare, something which by definition helps the most vulnerable in society, when passing far smaller cuts on to absolutely everywhere else would be absolutely wrong. You cannot try and make the most vulnerable pay for the deficit and you cannot load those with the smallest shoulders up with the heaviest burden. You cannot do that because it is utterly immoral and wrong, and because it will end in disaster.

Already there are people starving or unable to afford to heat their homes as winter comes along. Already you have a record number of foodbanks and hundreds of thousands of some of the most vulnerable people imaginable already facing a daily struggle just to survive.

If these people, who are already barely managing, and failing in some cases, to keep their heads above water are hit with yet another blow then it will sink them with truly horrific human consequences. And when we have tragic stories of people pushed beyond all ability to cope flooding the newspapers then it will already be too late to undo the damage.

Liberal Democrats cannot allow the tories to make these additional cuts. To do so would be un-Christian, immoral, callous, cruel and plain old-fashioned wrong.

I don't believe for one second that we will allow these cuts to be made but, if somehow we do, then these cuts won't just push vulnerable people over the edge, they'll also push angry people over the edge. If Clegg thinks he has a rough time of it now with half of the party wanting him to go before 2015 let's see how he'll like it when people like me are infuriated to the extent that we're willing to speak out publicly and condemn him directly. Let's see how he likes it when people like me who have just about held our peace switch to publicly baying for his blood. And let's see how his loyalists in the party like it when we get virtually wiped out in 2014 and 2015.

Because, if we let these cuts pass then that's what's going to happen. We can weather and survive our current unpopularity but if we pour another gallon of petrol onto the fire by allowing the tories to well and truly take the boot to the poor, in violation of every principle our party was founded on, then, quite frankly, not only will we be unable to survive the storm but we'll also not deserve to survive it either.

I'm not kidding.

There are some red lines which you simply cannot cross if you believe in fairness and standing up for vulnerable people. And allowing these additional, disproportionate cuts is the biggest red line I've seen in my lifetime. Our party should cross it at its peril.


  1. From last Sunday's Times...Tim Farron, the party president, said he would not tolerate cuts for the disabled, pensioners and the unemployed as growth stutters and tax revenues fall.

    Farron urged Osborne to plug any funding gap in his autumn statement with increased taxes on the wealthy and on the banks, which Farron holds responsible for the economic crisis.

    “It’s an issue of justice that if these folks [bankers] rightly are seen to have caused the problem they should disproportionately pay for the cleaning up,” he said.

    1. That's encouraging - but Tim Farron is still only a backbencher. And it's the Quad who makes the decisions. As I said, I don't think these cuts are going to happen but the risk is there. And I really hope the Lib Dem leadership realises what those cuts would actually mean in reality.

  2. Are you insane? Of course the cuts are going to happen (with the full backing of Clegg, Alexander and Cable). Oh and all the other traitors.Do you really think they actually care what will happen? They have sold their souls for pieces of silver and because of it Libdems are hated by the majority. I feel sorry for all the grassroots but I havent heard any real shouting from them. The poor and disabled are having to fight for themselves.
    Either DO something real to stop them or suffer the consequences. The same as everyone else. Politicians at the top are a bunch of self serving parasites...and you by doing nothing substantial are enablers!

  3. There's no need for these cuts at all. Osborne has £31 billion sitting quietly in the Asset Purchase Office at the Bank of England, interest on the gilts bought with money created from thin air by the BofE in the process we call Quantitative Easing. Read more about it here Osborne and his Piggy Bank Somebody needs to stand up in Parliament and ask Osborne while he's still making cuts on the basis we're skint when in fact we're anything but.

  4. I don't understand how more cuts could be enforced to Welfare without them contravening the Human Rights Conventions, particularly the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Reductions of 20% when the fraud rate is less than 1% will stop genuine people with Disabilities from being able to live independantly. Stating in advance what savings you are aiming to achieve.... is that not discrimination?

    Excellent piece by the way!

    1. the disabled no longer HAVE any human rights. If they did then this would not be happening. Next they will be handing out euthanasia packs, and more sadly - we, the disabled will fin outselves actually using them :-( living in fear every single day is no way to live or even survive. 'Great ' Britain is no longer great and is no longer humane in so manyways yet the rich still get richer and the poor - nobody seems to care

  5. I am expecting trouble has it is.Try and make another $10,000,000,000-00p cut to welfare and expect warfare from the lower classes.Riots happened in the past when the poor had enough and history always repeats itself.The Condems have gone to far already,enough to cause civil unrest.Its like the Tory Posh Boys want trouble.They are egging the poor on.Tax breaks for the Rich and cuts for the poor.

    IDS may think he is Joseph Goebbels with his propaganda drip drip drip in the media.He goes with Goebbels ideology of the bigger the lie the more its believed.But the Truth will out.And one day,IDS Greyling,et al will be before a Commons select committee to justify their propaganda.

    South Africa tried apartheid.This Government of Posh Boys,Clegg Included are going for fiscal apartheid.Were those in work are treated better than those out of work.They brand the unemployed,sick,disabled has scroungers,stoking up hatred.

    What goes around comes around,every dog has its day,and these posh boys are about to get bitten.

  6. oh mygoddddddd

  7. Well said, as usual, George.

    Here's another piece from the Guardian which fits with your comment of "It was an act of typically vile tory cowardice and spitefulness".

    Vile and spiteful, indeed. I am glad that you are shouting out about it - but what about your MPs and Ministers? They just head nod everything through for the Tories.


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