Doubtless, the permanently disabled and those dying of cancer will be reassured to learn that “Many Liberal Democrats have been uncomfortable voting with the government, but feel forced to do so if they are to abide by their coalition commitment to bring the deficit under control” (Coalition’s welfare reform plan hit by £1.6 bn Lords defeat, 12 January). Some of us were under the misguided impression that the “only obeying orders” defence, now being used by Liberal Democrat MPs and most Liberal Democrat peers, was ruled out at the Nuremberg trials.
Even if, like Clegg and his crew, one were to assume that Keynes was wrong and Herbert Hoover and Heinrich Brüning were right to pursue deflationary austerity policies in the middle of a world depression, one might suggest Trident could be cut and spending on the Olympics and the jubilee reduced or cancelled rather than making the most vulnerable in society pay for the bankers’ crisis.
Dr Tobias Abse
Goldsmiths, University of London
(Dr. Tobias Abse is a professor at Goldsmiths College of the University of London. An expert on fascism, Abse has written extensively on the rise of the Fascist Right in Italy prior to World War II – BT)
Thank you for introducing both morality and sanity into the media coverage of the welfare reform bill (Editorial, 6 January).
Unlike the shrill red-tops and overbalanced BBC, you at least recognise the massive social policy reverse represented by the punitive plan to put an annual cap of £26,000 on any family’s total social security benefits. This would break the link between a family’s needs, determined primarily by the number of children it has, and entitlement. It is an affront to decency, let alone social justice, because it purposely penalises those in greatest need. It would put the clock back to 1975, when the hated wage stop was finally abolished. Under this rule the benefits of unemployed people were capped at the level of their normal earnings, which echoed the Poor Law principle of “less eligibility”. Its current reincarnation should not be a matter of party politics but a moral issue, plain and simple, which unites all fair-minded people in horror at what is being contemplated.
Alan Walker, University of Sheffield