Friday, January 4, 2013

(Opinion) Labour Party: Once Again, Labour Disappoints

"Britain needs welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works, not divisive, nasty and misleading smears from an out of touch and failing government”[1]. (Ed Balls)

Once a check of the excesses of capital on the square mile and a bulwark against counterproductive tax cuts proposed by the conservative, The British Labour party is now showing insecurity about the poor. You would think it would be easy to sell classic Labour policies in an economic climate by offering some security in an age where there is little but, typical of the party, it manages to show its insecurity over backing the poor.

For a party that has done more than most to build Britain’s social safety net, it now seems keen to join the conservatives in their goal to rip it to shreds. It was reported in The Guardian today that Labour, typical of recent form, is proposing conservative friendly welfare reforms with plans in the works to make sure that “every adult aged over 25 and out of work for more than two years should be obliged to take up a government-provided job for six months, or lose benefits”[2].

Labour have fallen heavily for the simple but effective dichotomy presented by conservatives that portray people on benefits as work shy and parasitic as opposed to those in employment who work hard. Labour are way too eager to targets the unemployed in reaction to this frame as quite simply for some time, Labour has done its best to disentangle itself from its past and all the arguments in favour of working people.

This is why you rarely hear arguments against cuts other than they’re too fast or they are badly timed rather than argument based on who they may hurt or leave at an disadvantage. The Conservatives win welfare arguments simply because they know how to divide opinion better than Labour ever did. When conservatives make simple but deceptive comparison between the benefits claiming unemployed and people in work, they try to build resentment by those in work against benefit claimants, who have been painted as villains of a rhetorical gambit.

This is best illustrated by the coalition government cleverly noting that the wage of workers has been “growing less quickly than prices since 2007, while out-of-work benefits have been rising faster”[3]. Labour’s response to this rhetorical flourish is insecurity and badly thought proposal that attacks the unemployed. It’s really galling to see Labour to propose classic carrot and stick polices to the unemployed and have nothing written down in response to the still relatively deregulated financial banks and speculators.

In sum, Labour may be working people only viable channel for political representation, but what they may ask is what the party really represents when they agree with conservative policies and don’t even bother to at least cloak the Tory like language.  

[1] P.Wintour and Haroon Siddique 2013, unemployed must be working and training, not claiming’ says Labour,
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid

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