I wrote about the so-called welfare cap yesterday. I was, of course, not alone in identifying it as a crass political exercise that makes no management or economic sense and which does as a result pander to the very worst aspects of Westminster politics and Daily Mail nastiness. That did not stop most Labour MPs voting for if, following a line that they'd first thought it up so it had to be OK. I think it obvious I disagree.
“Yes, we are the party of welfare, and we’re proud to be so. Let me tell you why.
“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that, if you have a stroke tonight, you should have poverty added to your misfortune.
“We’re the party of welfare because, if you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease tomorrow, we don’t believe that you should worry about eviction as you wait six months for an assessment, only to be denied the support you so obviously need.
“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that when 1700 people apply for eight jobs at Costa, or when 1500 people queue for hours to apply for 40 jobs at Aldi, there is a big problem with people being ‘workshy’. We don’t believe unemployed people are to blame for unemployment.
“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that if a person loses their job, they need to have their distress exacerbated with the threat of benefit sanctions if they are late for a Jobcentre appointment.
“We’re the party of welfare because we don’t believe that ‘hardworking people’ and people in receipt of benefits are somehow two different species.
“So yes, we are the party of welfare, because we’re the party of humanity, compassion, and fairness, and we do not view people who are poor or in difficulty with thinly disguised suspicion and contempt.”
I wish I had heard the Labour front bench say that yesterday.
I wish too that they spoke with such candour day in and day out.
People are, rightly, disenchanted with a political system in the UK where it appears all politicians even remotely close to power spend their lives appeasing those with money. Instinctively people know democracy was meant to hold power to account. That power was that of the King; then of the executive, and now it is as much the power of money that has to be held to account as anything else. And that is not happening.
That is why people don't trust politicians. They are not standing up for those for whom they should and are obedient to those they should make greatest demand of. That's the sickness at the heart of our politics and democracy. It's the sickness that has to be eradicated to create a society really worth living in. That's one where everybody counts.
Labour should be saying that. It is its job.