Saturday, October 15, 2016

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New Labour's Cuts & Scroungers Chorus

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage thinks:

New Labour's opposition to the Coalition government was pitiful.



When I hear the New Labour old guard claiming Jeremy Corbyn is a poor performer in the parliamentary chamber and not prime ministerial material, pot calling the kettle black springs to mind. For the five years of the Coalition government the majority of Labour Party parliamentarians were pretty hopeless at holding the Cameron led government to account. Throughout those years far from holding the Coalition to account, they played an important role in cementing in the public mind that it was Labour's spend thrift attitude to public services and social security which caused the 2008 recession.

They did this by refusing to challenge austerity head on, making concession after concession to George Osborne's lies.

Look at the rise in university fees fiasco. When Ed Miliband finally accused the coalition of breaking promises over tuition fees, David Cameron said that such challenges from Labour showed that "opportunism has overtaken principle as it was Labour who first introduced fees."

When senior government ministers started attacking the sick, disabled and jobless the shadow cabinet all but joined the chorus of hate. Harriet Harman said this:

Working people feel "resentful" because some benefits claimants are "not pulling their weight" and are being "let off the hook."  She suggested that: "People could go to the top of the waiting list for council housing if they are working or help in the community, while those who do not would have to wait longer."

Ed Balls: to the small minority who are playing the system, no ifs and buts - benefit cut. As Tom O'Leary pointed out of the Socialist Economic Bulletin Ed Balls went even further:

Balls promised to match Tory spending plans in the first two years. These would have been the deepest cuts to public spending in history and were so draconian that the Tories themselves abandoned them in office after May 2015. Balls supplemented this with a ‘zero-based spending review’, that is a commitment to have no commitments, not even to pensions, to social welfare for disabled people, or to the NHS.

Instead of challenging this monstrous attack on some of the most disadvantaged people in the land Balls joins the cuts and scroungers chorus.

As a Newcastle socialist said at the time:

When Miliband and Balls say they want to talk to 'hard working families', it is clear what they really mean. They consider the majority of the working class to be 'the undeserving poor' – they look down on us and blame us for our poverty. The Labour Party intends to abandon the majority of the working class - including millions in low-paid and insecure jobs, unemployed people, young people, older people, the long term-sick, refugees and low-paid migrants, unpaid carers and single parents - to the cuts and rising unemployment, while extending a sweaty palm to middle class voters.


Liam Byrne who served in the Treasury under Brown, and gifted the Coalition a free pass after Labour lost the 2010 election when he left a note to his successor David Laws at the Treasury saying:
"Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards – and good luck! Liam.

Far from being hounded out of front line politics he went on to become Miliband's shadow minister at Work and Pensions when he had this to say about many of his constituents:

Decent Labour voters see their neighbours lie about all day and get benefits while they are working their socks off, and say, “Why should I vote Labour when they let this happen?"


Of course it was not Labour voters who were complaining in great numbers, it was the right wing mainstream media, and instead of challenging them with the truth, the Blairites went with the reactionary flow, either due to belief, cowardice or hypocrisy.

The first duty of an opposition is to stop the governing party setting the national agenda. Since he has become party leader Corbyn has managed to do this magnificently. He, and his loyal colleagues have worked diligently to change the national consciousness. They have all but taken austerity as a viable option off the national agenda, and put back on it many policies which have long been regarded by the political elites and their media cronies as being beyond the pale.

If you compare this with the Miliband leadership sorry excuse for an opposition between 2010-15, they not only failed, but failed dismally to set the national agenda as the above quotes from members of Miliband's shadow cabinet shows. It's impossible to argue against the simple fact - Miliband Labour agreed with the need for austerity and benefit cuts. Is it any wonder working class voters deserted the LP in droves when they were the main target of the Coalition's austerity measures?

Indeed as painful as it is to say, Miliband Labour were all but coopted as the Tories little helpers.

Today there is a national debate taking place about a host of progressive issues which Corbyn Labour has returned to the national agenda. Services like rail, and others run by and for the public, a properly funded NHS linked in with social care for the elderly infirm, education free from cradle to grave, a foreign policy which promotes peace not war, a society free from class prejudice, an end stigmatising whether it is based on class, mental health problems, race, or sexuality, an economic policy which will have manufacturing, a living wage, independent trade unions at its core.

None of this would have occurred without Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.




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