Getting welfare politics right and wrong

Harman’s interview on the Andrew Marr show where she challenges Labour to leave its comfort zone by being shit to welfare recipients is a disgrace and arguing for abstention on the Tories new welfare bill. I am one of many who argue that Labour should come to terms with losing the 2015 election before we elect a leader, but the Harman leadership repeats the mistake of 2010, by having the Leadership election immediately and then in lieu of a debate we have a brutal illustration of the power of Labour’s leader position exercised by someone who only holds the position on an interim basis. This is deliberate, some in the Leadership don’t want to share that power with either the long term membership or its newly energised members. They substitute a personality beauty contest for a rigorous and accountable policy framework which dis-empowers the activists. She’s wrong on policy and wrong on strategy.

On the specific questions of child poverty and so called welfare, Labour’s candidates for the leadership have stated their opposition to Harman’s position.

I am personally furious that in the middle of what passes for a debate, she announces the right answer.

With respect to asking us to leave our comfort zone, she ignores the fact that even the renationalisation of electricity, rail and the post office would be very popular and certainly outside much of the Labour Leadership’s comfort zone. She fails to see that many of those who stayed with the Tories were scared. Scared of becoming poor. The answer, I believe is that the arguments and policies making a high wage, high skills economy, which we failed to articulate, and a safer, kinder, regulated Labour market that will make a difference, which may have been too focused. By announcing support for the Tories benefit cap, and the restriction on child benefit she pre-empts amd rejects other potentially more powerful answers.

If anyone needs to get real on Labour’s loss, it’s the children of triangulation and the focus group.

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