John McDonnell MP tells the Labour Party: “Let’s seize upon this opportunity” to fight poverty


6th December 2012

LRC Chair John McDonnell MP has written to every Labour MP urging them to vote against George Osborne’s Welfare Benefits Bill which would cap support for the poorest at 1% for the next 3 years.

The letter, in response to the measures unveiled in the Autumn Statement, calls for Labour to take on the Tories over welfare and poverty and to lead “a new national coalition against poverty”.

Here is the letter:

Dear Colleague,

Proposed Welfare Benefits Bill

As you know, Osborne announced that the Coalition is to bring forward before Christmas a Bill to sanction the cuts in welfare benefits set out in yesterday’s autumn statement.

We all know that there is no need for primary legislation to implement these cuts and that this is his crude and blatantly cynical attempt to lay what he considers will be a political trap for Labour.

In his crude political terms, his obvious aim is to be able to claim that if Labour votes against or abstains on his Bill then we are on the side of the so called skivers whilst the Tories are the champions of the strivers. If we do vote for the Bill he will then cite our vote as support for his attack on benefits.

Like many right wing politicians over the years, when their policies are demonstrably failing they reach for a scapegoat. It’s often the poor simply because they haven’t the power to defend themselves.

I believe that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be dragged into the gutter of politics by Osborne’s exploitation of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

Instead of falling for this grubby trap us let’s take them on, on this issue.

If we have the courage and behave astutely, we could turn this cynical ploy by Osborne into an opportunity for us to transform the debate on the issues of welfare, poverty, unemployment and fairness in our society.

This means stop all hesitation on this matter and making it clear now that we are not voting for this cynical attack on the poorest, which includes cutting benefits to many people in work and struggling to survive on low pay and often poverty wages.

It means saying now that we are taking the Tories on, on the issue of fairness.

Nobody, especially ordinary working people, likes a skiver but there are mechanisms that can deal with this and if they need improving well let’s have that debate. The fact is that it is becoming increasingly obvious to our people that it is the rich and wealthy, who are ripping us off with tax dodging. It is equally becoming obvious whose side the Tories are on.

Let’s seize upon this opportunity to highlight the real facts about the hardship that so many of our people are facing. Most of our community are under pressure. Many are only a couple of pay packets away from a life on the edge. Many others have tipped over into debt and poverty.

Let’s turn the tables on Osborne and use this opportunity to expose this reality and offer our alternative of a fair tax system and investment for growth led employment.

Let’s get out there and build the coalition of all those people and organisations who are willing to speak out on what is happening to our people. That means nationally and locally bringing together not just all the charities and campaigning organisations that take an interest in poverty and welfare but all the churches, mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras, community organisations and anyone with a conscience on this issue.

Let’s lead in forming a new national coalition against poverty and those who attack the poor.

Let’s enlist the support of people from all walks of life, including artists and performers, in the same way we did in the fight against the prejudice of the Nazis against black people and ethnic minorities.

In many ways it’s the same struggle against prejudice mobilised by cynical politicians.

It should start though by making it clear immediately that we are not playing Osborne’s cynical political games. We are not voting for his cuts to the poor.


John McDonnell MP


17 thoughts on “John McDonnell MP tells the Labour Party: “Let’s seize upon this opportunity” to fight poverty

  1. DAVID A SHAW says:

    Well said, and i support your words. Labour needs to get onto the side of the ones who are being targeted by those idle feckless eton workshy toffs.

  2. Sue Brock says:

    Well done John but what a shame that this type of letter to the Labour MPs is even necessary :0( I’m not at all sure that the Labour Party actually supports equity within society any more.

  3. Andrew Healey says:

    Well said Mr McDonnell, what we really need today is a government that actually represents the people who put it there, one that speaks the truth, not one fronted by a plastic Tory or Blair clone. The Labour party has forgotten why it was formed, McDonald and Hardie must be spinning in their graves now. The Tories are taking us back to the 19th century where millionaires use slave labour to boost their bank accounts, then hide that wealth offshore. You are put there to represent the people of this nation, not to make yourselves multimillionaires ( Blair) at the nations expense. All our services sold cheap into private hands, now we can’t stop these privately owned company’s ripping us off to the tune of billions of pounds every year. Our industries sold off cheap, no jobs, the N.H.S, being privatized, while most MPs are just waiting for the chance of the pharmaceutical companies they own to supply the very hospitals they allowed to fail in the first place.We the people know what you are all up to. Please be our voice, tell the truth as we would, bring back decency to this nation. Get your friends together cross the floor and say enough is enough.

    1. maureen ferguson says:

      Well said 54 years old deppression anxiety since age 12 due to car accident!!! drunk driver who got away with it !!!he did,. And 2 other severe ailments!! NO SUPPORT WHATSOEVER-Cant cope with all this..Please Help !!

  4. Findlow says:

    Thank you John McDonnell – you represent the true heart of what the Labour Party is meant to be. I hope you and like-minded MP’s such as Michael Meacher can have some solid influence in banishing the worst of the Blairite legacy.

  5. Dick Clark says:

    This is what we need – positive, aggressive politics that address the TRUTH, rather than just smoke and mirrors and dishonesty – just as long as you can follow it up with firm, equally positive actions; otherwise you’re just wasting your time and everyone elses.

    May I make a plea, that you speak out loud and clear against the demonising of the unemployed, the sick and the disabled. In particular, shout to the bloody rooftops that 99% of these people are NOT workshy skivers; rather, they are just the same as anyone else fortunate enough to actually have a job. This government seems intent on destroying jobs and then calling any and every person they have cast to the scrap-heap ‘workshy’, ‘skivers’, accusing all and sundry of hiding behind closed curtains (and maybe that’s because they’re made to feel ashamed by this wicked rhetoric?). This government are creating the deepest poverty seen in this country in the last 100 years and we desperately need men of honesty, integrity and above all real courage and conviction to stand up against it.

  6. Andrew Healey says:

    Dick Clark December 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

    This is what we need – positive, aggressive politics that address the TRUTH, rather than just smoke and mirrors and dishonesty – just as long as you can follow it up with firm, equally positive actions; otherwise you’re just wasting your time and everyone elses.

    Now all we need is another 9 million or so who think as we do and we have cracked it.Never say die keep up the fight.

  7. Steve Nicholson says:

    At last, common sense prevails.. I don’t want New Labour, or God forbid Blue Labour (Tory Lite), I want True Labour – showing some moral courage & having the bottle to shout down the Tory lies, whilst fighting to protect those most in need of protection in society!!!

  8. jed goodright says:

    I think you give John McDonnell too much credence
    The labour party are not going to challenge the governments welfare bill because they want to do exactly the same thing
    labour have BETRAYED and BETRAY working people and the oppressed in this country

  9. jeffery davies says:

    about right jed goodright they started this and now the torys whip us harder but wonder whot happened to the labour party we know blair turned it into the little tory party and nnow it cant find its way back nah they started this hatred of the sick and disabled even pushing some onto the unemployed nah its time we had decent people who ruled us not tory jeff3

  10. Thomas says:

    Labour was destroyed by Blair, who went changeling like into the party and turned it into a right wing one.

  11. K Peake says:

    The system is rigged. The extraordinarily privileged and expensively educated 7% keep control and everyone else down by occupying 50% of the senior, decision-making roles in Westminster and Whitehall. The more kindly among them need a nudge to give a sh** about the failing country they are fortunate enough to own and run. Sign the petition:

    The DWP once accommodated braincells and was encouraging employers to make it physically and environmentally possible for disabled people to work with them, as well as to have the odd nervous breakdown, hospital appointment and collapse without being booted back onto welfare again. They called this excellent scheme “Positive About Disabled People”. To sign up you needed only to be capable of acknowledging that health conditions existed and willing to accommodate them.

    However, it works, which is terribly confusing and threatening, and it requires skilful management, so it was abandoned in favour of stigma, persecution, slave labour, genocide and a fight to the death to become an undeveloped nation (

    Yet they managed to sell the idea to 250 employers before wandering off in the direction of the Nuremberg rally, and here are those 250 employers willing to have any of the 1.3 million disabled jobseekers among us sit alongside them in their offices and communicate with them over the internet (this is more than the brain-dead DWP or Work Programme will tell you so be sure to share this list of disabled-friendly employers):

    Notice the only large media outfit on the list is Channel 4. Notice the complete absence of the press who claim we are work-shy cheats but don’t and won’t or haven’t thought to, if you want to be nice about it, employ us themselves. They have held this position passionately for years now, never thinking to so much as glance over their offices or employment practises or the history of disability despite several decades worth of research available to them at the click of a button and despite obviously not having any personal experience to draw from or any imagination or many brain cells and despite claiming to be journalists.

    The UK press are charlatans at play which is to be pleasant about them. The fact that their stupid, incoherent, juvenile and unpleasant “position” continues to hold water tells you all you need to know about most of them and why it is deadly necessary for us all that they are made to be responsible. This would be nothing at all to ask of any decent person.

  12. Linda says:

    What people want is decently paid jobs. Everything that is good comes from that. Those of us who are too sick or too disabled to work should not be harassed or made to feel like scroungers for simply wishing to be able to live and pay our bills. Especially when we are well aware there aren’t enough jobs for the able bodied, never mind the disabled.

  13. Ann Bywater says:

    As an ordinary Labour Party member I feel strongly about this. If the Labour Party leadership does not oppose this bill I will not be renewing my membership.

  14. Jan Tchamani says:

    I’ve nothing to add except I’ve been reading the above posts and feel privileged to be among such intelligent, wise and knowledgeable people on this site. Thank you.

  15. Serenity says:

    He’s whistling in the wind where labour are concerned, talk too the hand the face aint listening stylee!

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