Owen Jones on Saturday morning:
Until last week, I doubted we could win the poisoned welfare state debate. Changed my mind. With courage, honesty and determination we can
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) April 6, 2013
24 hours later and the Labour leadership was signalling a sea change in their welfare policy, falling in line with public opinion. There have been rumblings about a new stance on the left towards welfare, but this weekend heralded a concerted effort to change the narrative. Hence the number of Labour MPs queuing up to praise Simon Danczuk’s Telegraph piece this morning. Danczuk had some choice words for the party’s out of favour media darling:
“Seeing people that are capable of working languish for years on benefits is not something the Left should be proud of. It’s something we should be fighting. Otherwise why call ourselves the Labour Party? Anyone who has lived with or spent time with people capable of working that have been parked on benefits for a decade or more will know the tragedy I’m talking about. We should all experience the feeling of satisfaction after a hard day’s work, the pride at getting a promotion, the sense of achievement from making a difference in the workplace. But for those trapped in welfare dependency these experiences will never happen. This is a criminal loss of human potential and something everyone interested in progressive politics should rail against.
But where are the jobs? That’s the continual refrain I hear these days from the likes of Owen Jones, as though we should accept that parking people on welfare for years on end is the done thing. This seems to be the only defence mounted by Jones et al to welfare reform. But what defence did he have when there were jobs available under the last Government? No doubt he would have resisted reform then as of now. The left has to accept there are some people on the dole that don’t want to work, and we need to have a plan to get them into work. Where families haven’t worked for years on end this is not just a tragedy for the adults in the household, it’s a tragedy for the children as well. What kind of message does it send out to them when they’ve never known any adult with a job?”
With 67% saying the welfare system needs to be overhauled and 79% backing Osborne’s £26,000 benefit cap, this is common sense realpolitik from Labour. Better to u-turn now than closer to the election…