Labour activists are reacting with fury at Ed Miliband’s plans to ban jobless young people from claiming benefits.
He told a press conference today, Thursday, that a future Labour government would take away job seekers allowance from under 21 year olds. Instead, they will be forced to claim a new “youth allowance” that would depend on how much education they had and how much their parents earned.
He also said Labour would impose a regional benefit cap and make claiming job seekers’ allowance more dependent on how long a person had worked. Labour MP Katy Clark warned that benefit cap would “mean that some of the most vulnerable will miss out,” she argued.
Labour-supporting trade unionists are also up in arms.
Joan Pritchard-Jones, a care worker and Unison union member from Bolton, told Socialist Worker, “Welfare reforms should make things better not worse. You can’t penalise young people for there being no jobs for them and no real chances for employment.”
Joan said that pledging to get rid of university fees and create real jobs and apprenticeships would be a better solution.
Disability campaigner Sue Marsh was also outraged.
She said, “Labour will not win votes by being tougher than the Tories on welfare — or rather, tough but not quite as tough as the Tories by a fag paper. And specifically, they will not make any friends at all by being seen to hit a group that is already one of the hardest hit under the coalition.”
This isn’t the first time Miliband’s strategy of playing to the right has backfired in recent weeks.
His decision to pose with The Sun newspaper stunned Labour activists, particularly on Merseyside. Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson made a damning public criticism, and one councillor resigned.
Diane Abbott MP has slammed Miliband for pandering to anti-immigrant racism.
And according to the Financial Times newspaper, even one former cabinet minister has criticised the plan to stick to Tory cuts targets, asking “Why on earth would people want to vote Labour?”
Whether or not Miliband’s attacks help his party poach votes from the Tories in the short term, the real danger is that Labour will strengthen the right wing arguments that divide our class and strengthen its enemies.
Reprinted with permission