Why the Labour Party needs poverty

A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed that, despite the overall number of children living in poverty in the UK falling to 3.7 million, the number living in poverty in working households has risen to its largest ever total.

The study shows that fewer youngsters of the unemployed are living in poverty, but 2.1 million children living in homes where at least one parent works are impoverished. That is 58% of the total.

Co-author of the most recent report, Tom MacInnes, explained why the figures for child poverty in working households had risen.

“This is due to a number of factors – wages being frozen, the cost of housing increasing, money spent of travelling to work and child minding costs all on the rise.”

When you’re stuck in the benefits trap, none of these things are usually important. Before my business took off six years ago, I was in and out of the benefits system after leaving full-time employment. I just couldn’t afford to take a low-paid job. With the sort of wages I was offered I could just about have paid the rent, rates, bills and bus fares, but I required many hundreds of pounds a month for loan and credit card repayments. I had to try and make the business work and thank God it did.

The obvious answer to why Labour needs poverty is because poor people tend to vote for them in the belief that it’s the only major party which cares about them. The ten percent tax debacle which targeted the poorest workers ought to have put them straight on that once and for all. If the poor ever did get real help then Labour would have lost their “core” voters.

I am reminded of Iain Duncan Smith’s famous retort when talking to voters in Easterhouse, a poor housing scheme in Glasgow’s East End. He was warned, “We’re all Labour here,” to which IDS replied, “Yes, and look where it’s got you.”

Easterhouse is just one of many sprawling, neglected parts of the UK where charities, government-aided groups and community-minded individuals try to salvage something from the terrible waste of human potential which exists in these places.

The government’s main job seems to be restricted to handing out beer vouchers; dispensing antidepressants; treating alcohol dependency, drug abuse and STDs on the NHS and indoctrinating the children, albeit in modern schools, but which will have to be paid for at a premium one day and increase overall poverty.

This situation is inevitable with a socialist/large state government because they have to tax us till the pips squeak. I was not a fan of Margaret Thatcher, but she came out with some cracking one-liners, like this, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

As with most systems of government, the masses are allowed just enough money to survive, so the ones at the very bottom will really struggle.

After three terms of Labour, you would think that their voters would be living la dolce vita. After all, the Party cares so much about “fairness” (it’s in their DNA) and education, health and the police are priorities – at least, according to the rhetoric just before an election, even though it’s clear they have made a mess even of those things they are most “proud” of. But like a lie repeated often enough, it becomes the truth for those who can only think in terms of Left/Right and Labour/Tory.

In 2008, Labour MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins, wrote a piece for the Socialist Campaign Group News entitled Increased poverty is New Labour’s shame. He writes,

New Labour has many sins of commission to its shame, but its greatest sin of omission is its failure to deal with poverty. The gap between the rich and poor in Britain is now wider than it was under the Tories before 1997.

Despite all New Labour’s claims to have tackled poverty, with increased pensions and the winter fuel allowance, the minimum wage, and the morass of means tested credits the poor had slipped even further away from the better off than under the Tories.

All this occurred before the recent surge in the cost of living from rising oil and food price rises, and before the abolition of the 10 per cent tax rate which had the effect of raising taxes on the lowest paid to fund tax cuts for those on middle and higher incomes.

Despite his realisation that the Labour Party doesn’t remotely do what it says on the tin, he stood for re-election in 2010 and won with 49.3% of the vote and is surely one of the few Labour MPs in England to have increased his share of the vote from 2005.

Turkeys voting for Christmas.

Also in 2008, I wrote about the press release from The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) entitled, Poverty and inequality rise again as benefit payments lag inflation and incomes grow fastest for the rich.

The biggest surprise in today’s data was the increase in pensioner poverty, which rose by 200,000 AHC and 300,000 BHC. [I.e before/after housing costs.] We had expected an increase of 100,000, reflecting the abolition of age-related winter payments.

And this was when the government was still spending our money like it grew on trees.

Kate Green, Chief Executive of the charity Child Poverty Action Group, said,

It’s a moral disgrace that we still have one of the worst child poverty records in Europe. Other countries do better, so why should British children suffer? We can end our child poverty shame and we must.

Douglas Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has just given a speech at their AGM. It must be great offering new ideas on tackling poverty after his party has just spent half a generation in government and left the country bankrupt.

Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth were given permission to take the Labour Government to court over its refusal to meet its legal duty to end fuel poverty.

Special Adviser for Help the Aged, Mervyn Kohler, said: “Fuel poverty is seeping into the lives of more and more households. Older people in particular are at risk.”

Christ told his disciples, “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.” (Mark 14:7)

The UK is meant to be one of the world’s most prosperous countries. There is no need for millions of children and old folk to be living in poverty. Modern politicians seem to have done little but ensure that the Lord’s words remain true.

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3 Responses to Why the Labour Party needs poverty

  1. Great post – and indisputable. We should re-christen the Labour Party the Poverty Party. The irony of it is that their senior rankers are very wealthy – either from inherited money or from shady dealing and kickbacks. Where did Lord Prescott obtain his wealth? Was he a captain of industry and enterprise? When you look at all the socialist regimes that have obtained absolute power, they’ve all kept the serfs down in terms of money, education and aspiration – and discouraged initiative – unless it has brought political glory upon them and advanced their vote tally. Socialist politicians are the most loyal and effective tools of the elite who set their agendas.

  2. len says:

    Tony Blair is reputedly worth £45 Million Pounds.The Kinnock`s are not doing too badly either according to the Times(2009)They have already received up to £8m of taxpayers’ money in pay and allowances, he as a European commissioner and she as a member of the European parliament.

    So Labour Politicians (at least) seem to be doing very nicely out of Socialism!.

  3. Stewart Cowan says:

    CC, Len,

    It’s crazy. These people have made an absolute fortune by being the supposed link between those with money and influence and those they are meant to represent, who have very little.

    And some people still think there is a great socialist Utopia waiting to happen, if only the rich were dealt with!

    I bet they can’t even see the irony.

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