Talking Politics: Jobseekers bill is demonisation of poor

No Bedroom Tax protest at Halifax Town Hall.
No Bedroom Tax protest at Halifax Town Hall.

Over the last three years some of the poorest sections of our communities have come under sustained attack from the Government.

And, true to form, it happened again last week.

The job seekers back to work scheme bill might sound innocuous enough.

However, beneath the surface lay some appalling measures that will leave the poor poorer. The bill is designed to retrospectively reverse the court ruling over the “Poundland” case, where two workers successfully challenged a government scheme which required them to work for free in menial jobs or lose theirs.

However, the Government has stepped in with new retrospective legislation and moved to prevent 250,000 exploited jobseekers from receiving money back in rebates.

So the exploitations that were taking place, and rightly overturned by the court ruling, will now return.

Many of my constituents will lose out. I thought the measure was wrong and I was one of 44 Labour MPs who voted against it.

It’s a crude piece of legislation, more about the demonisation of the unemployed than anything else.

This is not something that will benefit people in our town. Sitting on my hands was not an option. There is no middle way with this Government’s welfare policies.

Abstaining on such important measure just means fighting arguments on Tory ground.

Labour needs to mark out its own territory on welfare policies. The starting point for that should be to support those people who most need the return of a Labour Government. That’s what I did last week in opposing this awful coalition workfare bill.