I’ve just seen this extraordinary interview in the Guardian with Labour’s Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary. It starts out ok with Reeves saying the right things…
“I think it is a sign of failed welfare state that so many people are using them. I want to see the number of people going to food banks fall under a Labour government,” Reeves said in an interview.
That’s fine. Unless you’re a Tory, KIpper or a Orange Book Lib Dem, then you’re going to be against the idea people are so desperate they have to use food banks, and a Labour MP should say these things. This is good.She then talks about sanctions…
“Sanction policy has been about getting people off benefits rather than getting them into work and it has had a devastating impact on a lot of people and their families.”
Again, this is good. Coalition sanctions are purely about ensuring figures are fixed and that the ‘feckless’ are punished but then Reeves throws a spanner in the works.
Under Labour she expected the use of sanctions to fall. “There will still be sanctions. If it is clear that someone is deliberately trying to avoid work then they shouldn’t be getting benefits. But if somebody is five minutes late for an appointment because it is snowing and their bus has been cancelled … those people shouldn’t be sanctioned.”
Err, ok, just fall, not be eliminated or even that your party should create jobs? But the best is yet to come as Reeves kicks on…
However, Reeves said Labour did not want to be seen to be the party of the welfare state. “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,” she said. “Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”
Read that again. This is one of Ed Milliband’s top people saying that Labour (the party of Bevin, Attlee and Hardie) aren’t going to represent people on benefits or people struggling or out of work? That. Is. Extraordinary.
As pointed out in this piece about the same article on Wings Over Scotland, there are around 11 million people unemployed or on benefits of some description in the UK, many use benefits to help supplement poor pay from their job. As pointed out, the Tories don’t represent these people, the Lib Dems don’t, UKIP certainly don’t, and the Greens try but are in a major transition in England and Wales, though are much more together in Scotland.The only parties in the UK that seriously talk about representing these people are the SNP and Plaid Cymru and they only represent a fraction of the UK’s population.
So we have a situation where a high ranking member of Milliband’s shadow cabinet not only shows a lack of knowledge of Labour Party history and ethos, but speaks of sanctions while showing a contempt for 11 million human beings in the UK. This is Labour in the 21st century. I find those people clinging onto Labour as a party of the left to be fooling only themselves, and as the election comes closer it really is a choice of red or blue Tories with the only real hope for things not being dreadful is a minority Labour government supported by the SNP/Plaid/Greens. The options of a full Tory, or full Labour government are just too horrendous to consider, but I’m no longer going to tolerate Labour tribalists defending a party that has the likes of Reeves within it’s ranks. Frankly, fuck them.