Mr Perrin’s blog; “A Word in Your Ear”.
Are they guilty of political desperation?
WITH the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, are the other contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party guilty of desperation in their pursuit of power? “Power! Power! we will abandon all Party principles for power”, seems to be the battle-cry of their campaigns thus far, all of them claiming that Jeremy Corbyn’s promotion of the values for which the Labour Party was originally created, such as care, compassion and fairness, makes the Labour Party unelectable. They may be right, but that is not reason enough to abandon those who rely on the Labour Party for protection from the excesses of the Conservative Party. Far better to have fought and lost with head held high, than to capitulate and cowardly don the cloak of “Blue Labour”.
Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, speaking to the Womens Institute in 1987 said "I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’
They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation”.
Messrs Cameron and Osborne, and of course Iain Duncan Smith, have enthusiastically sought to exploit the sentiment, expressed by Mrs Thatcher, through vilification of those in receipt of Welfare Benefit, be they disabled, mentally ill, poor, sick, unemployed, low paid, homeless, or suffering any other form of disadvantage.
The tone and style of Mr Osborne whilst making his most recent budget speech , the punching the air of the jubilant Duncan Smith and the cheering and waving of order papers from the baying tory backbenchers, leaves me in no doubt they are relishing the prospect of inflicting hardship and suffering upon the disadvantaged. The picture I have in my head regarding this Government’s pursuit and harassment of those receiving Welfare Benefit is akin to the sight of the rich and privileged, men and women, mounted on horseback , dressed to kill and shouting “Tally-ho” as they hound the unfortunate fox to its death. I am not being flippant in making the comparison nor do I consider it to be outrageous if one takes account of recent reports that more than 100,000 people in receipt of disability benefits have died subsequent to being assessed as fit for work, some driven to suicide.
The Government and the Department of Work and Pensions were opposed to the publishing of the figures, claiming there was no evidence that the deaths were linked to fit for work assessments, they could be right, so why were they so anxious to suppress publication, could it be that they feared there was some substance to the suggestion and the deaths were due to people feeling they were being hounded and harassed ? It is a mockery for the Government to continue to claim that “We are all in this together” when they impose strict austerity measures on public sector workers, such as a 1% cap on wage increases over the next four years, whilst at the same time accepting a wage increase of 10% for themselves and then to add insult to injury they wring their hands and say the increase is being forced upon them. If, as the Government claims, the country can only afford to increase wages by 1% for those who are paid from the public “purse” i.e. the taxpayer, the cap should apply to all, MPs would do well to recognise they are public sector workers, paid by the taxpayer and subject to the same restrictions they impose on others.
That is what “we are all in this together” really means. If MPs suffered the same hardships experienced by the less well-off perhaps they would be less enthusiastic about their austerity measures. The Conservatives were, against all expectations, able to win an overall majority mainly due to their ability to divide the nation, they demonised those on benefits and persuaded workers to believe they were bankrolling “shirkers” to lead a comfortable life at their expense. This Government vents its spleen and seems determined to exact revenge upon ordinary people for daring to take them to task over their pay and expenses allowance. They accuse their critics of preaching the politics of envy , in reply I feel fully justified in accusing them of practicing the politics of spite. I do not say that all members of the Conservative Party lack compassion, however, if you voted for and support the current Government you should not be unduly surprised if it is assumed you endorse and condone their spite.
Some members of the Conservative Party, including MPs, have registered as Labour Party supporters thus enabling them, for the princely sum of Â£3, to vote for a candidate in the Leadership election. They do so believing that by voting for Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party will remain in opposition for years to come thus ensuring the Conservatives will be the party of Government for the foreseeable future. Is it not dishonest to claim to be a Labour Party supporter when your true objective is to destroy it? Maybe the Labour Party is itself to blame by extending the vote to supporters and not restricting it to members only. As you sow, so shall you reap.
In the last few days of the Labour Party Leadership election I have this to say to the candidates. I find it sad that you believe that championing principles such as fairness and compassion are considered to make you unelectable. You must stand and fight and convince the electorate the principles and values on which the Labour Party was founded are more desirable than those of the Conservative Party. The fact that Labour lost the last election does not necessarily mean the proposals in the manifesto were without merit, on the contrary, the Conservatives stole some and included them in the budget.
I urge you all not to despair and surrender to the Conservatives, rather adopt the spirit of Hugh Gaitskell, a former Labour Party Leader, who said, “There are some of us who will fight, and fight, and fight again, to save the party we love. We will fight, and fight, and fight again, to bring back sanity and honesty and dignity, so that our party – with its great past – may retain its glory and its greatness”.
To conclude, I suggest that the maiden speech of the youngest Member of Parliament, one Mhairi Black, expresses concern and compassion for the plight of the less fortunate and vulnerable it would not shame you to follow.