New Labour Shadow DWP Rachel Reeves is clear: Labour would set the struggling against the poorest


The shadow minister wants to further stigmatise benefit recipients in her party’s quest for ‘squeezed middle’ voters

'Rachel Reeves' rhetoric is going to further stigmatise benefit recipients and further discourage applications for benefits from people who need them.' Photograph: Christopher Thomond
‘Rachel Reeves’ rhetoric is going to further stigmatise benefit recipients and further discourage applications for benefits from people who need them.’ Photograph: Christopher Thomond


Natalie Bennett (Green)


The new shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves has said that Labour would be tougher on benefits than the Tories.

I really wish she had been in the South West UK Youth Parliament meeting in Taunton last weekend, as I was, and heard a speaker from the floor, who is visually impaired, explain how he had been desperately seeking a job, without success. But, he said, he wasn’t claiming jobseeker’s allowance, because he wasn’t a scrounger.

Now all credit to the Labour party speaker on that occasion, Kate Taylor, the youngest female councillor in the country (on Plymouth city council), who said what I had been going to say: “Claim that money. You are entitled to it.” I repeated that urging.

It would appear, however, that Reeves would not have said that. Her rhetoric is going to further stigmatise benefit recipients and further discourage applications for benefits from people who need them, who are – or should be – entitled to them. People like that young speaker, who had already absorbed the toxic, misleading focus of the Mail, the Telegraph, Sky and others on the few who cheat the system (while they ignore the many who don’t even claim what they’re entitled to).

Benefits are there – must be there in this rich country (we are the sixth-richest country in the world after all) – to support those who need help, those who are being failed by the economy, who through ill health or accident are unable to support themselves, who the economy is failing to provide opportunities for, or who are contributing to society through caring for others.

With nearly a million young people unemployed, and a 30% gap in the employment rates between non-disabled and disabled people, that youth parliament speaker is facing an uphill struggle, no matter how hard he tries.

He did nothing to contribute to the state of our economy. He wasn’t in charge of the banks in the noughties. He hasn’t been raking profits into tax havens and paying workers less than a living wage, or promoting the spread of zero-hours contracts. He’s just suffering the consequences in an economy in which the share of GDP going into wages – into the pockets of ordinary men and women – has been going down, as company profits have gone up.

One aspect of fixed-term parliaments that we’re just now coming to terms with is the fact that election campaigns are going to start early – very early. We’re clearly in the 2015 campaign now. The Tory party has lined itself up as the party of big business. We always knew that of course, it’s just that with its plans for corporation tax, its failure to lift the minimum wage to levels that workers can live on and its comforts for tax-evaders, David Cameron has made his allegiance to the City that funds his party crystal clear.

And Labour is going to repeat “cost of living” like a mantra. But it’s clear that it has no plans to tackle the critical structural issue that means we have an economy of increasingly low wages and insecure employment; it’s not going to encourage the small businesses and co-operatives that are being squashed under the oppressive weight of market-abusing multinationals that could provide the varied, decent employment opportunities that we need.

Labour has laid out its slate: it is going to try to set the struggling against the poorest – to further stigmatise and penalise the millions of households that are going under in this dysfunctional economy.

It’s going for the “squeezed middle” of swing voters in seats in the south of England, not telling them that their problems come from our still out-of-control finance sector, our tax-avoiding, high-profit multinationals.

Labour’s blaming the people hardest hit by our economy.

Any one of us, except the super-rich, is only one medical incident, one accident, one redundancy, away from needing the support of society to get back on our feet, or to survive for the long haul. Labour is identifying itself as a party that wants to beat down anyone in that situation, wants to demonise and stigmatise them.

The Guardian 

23 thoughts on “New Labour Shadow DWP Rachel Reeves is clear: Labour would set the struggling against the poorest

  1. owen meharry says:

    It’s easy for them to answer “We inherited it” rather than Reverse It or even Repair it or even Stand up for their voters but no they will carry on with the Tory Story and collect their wages, This is why I can never understand why people in Scotland even Vote Labour, Scotland stuck by them all thro the thatcher years and got a kick in the teeth for their efforts and we are still being kicked in the teeth. Labour a a disgrace to the people of Britain never mind Scotland

    1. Robert says:

      In the end you have Cameron well off rich in fact, and you have Miliband except for a short period before his father made his first million he lived in a council house, bet that hurt, then he moved up and he’s been living off his parents suffering ever since, he’s never had a job in his life and got into labour because of his old man, lets not expect to much from them.

  2. Thorn da Costa says:

    In this case, given how stigmatised people such as myself are already, it seems that Labour has desided to appeal to our county’s need to blame. The public don’t feel the rich are accessible in any meaningful way, so let’s focus on those that are. I think it’s a risky strategy. Aspechially as it was seen as the one chance at hope for many – be that an accurate hope or not – who would perhaps have made an effort to vote.

  3. David Moynagh says:

    Labour no longer represent the common people…. The people whos lives can be a daily struggle. Blair turned the labour party into a poor tory party and it remains like this. SNP is the only offer of hope in Scotland for the common people whether employed, retired, sick or disabled and unemployed. That is FACT.

  4. Steven Goodman says:

    Its not so much a case of – “We’re all in it together” as a case of “THEY’RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER!”….This phenomon of it doesn’t matter which mainstream party you vote for, they act the same – was America’s approach to maintaining control over the central and south Americas…After its experiment of backing fascist dictators proved to be such a PR disaster….Whats good enough for the argentinians is good enough for the brits – (Questioned aimed at the Bush Family dynasty and their buddies in the oil cabals)

  5. jaypot2012 says:

    Then this woman has no business being in the Labour party – Milliband should have known better and given us a shadow work and pensions minister!
    We need people in the opposition party to be people who have never had money, ordinary working people, disabled people and people who’s values are the same as those labour supporters from yesteryear! We don’t need rich and arrogant pigs, or someone who worked for the conservative party in a labour party!

  6. Trevor says:

    The two local Labour MPs for my area (South Shields and Jarrow) held a seminar this week along with their compliant chums in the Labour supporting unions (idiots!) deploring the savage effects Tory welfare reforms are having on the most vulnerable. Either these two are totally unaware of what their own party’s slash-and-burn welfare policies involve, or (more likely) they’re paying lip service to traditional Labour values in order to curry favour with their left-leaning constituents.

    Just the usual barefaced cynicism and hypocrisy from this treacherous party that we’ve all come to expect.

  7. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    Why Are We Waiting – A New Jesus To Save The Disabled, But Wait The New Political Jesus Can`t Help Yet, Maybe 2017 Once We Settle In.

    Action Is Needed Now for Human Rights Breeches on the Disabled by the State & that is Not A Political Issue.

  8. Karen M says:

    What is needed is a full and public debate in Parliament. Please could readers and contributors sign the WoW epetition (it’s imperfect but could be effective).

  9. jeffrey davies says:

    you cant believe any of them say one thing then say another that seat they want is calling but don’t expect the blairites to be any different than the torys more the same one suspect jeff3

  10. Christina Klein-Bissett says:

    We proprobably need to create our own party. I watched a programme on channel 5 last night and it made me cry. How can this be allowed to happen? Why are the media in this country free to paint such a onesided picture? Where are the 9 pm programmes about us and our fight for survival? I am despaired.

  11. Humanity2012 says:

    We Need a Socialist Government with Socialist Policies such as
    Redistribution of Wealth from Rich to Poor and Nationalization
    of Utilities

    We Need the Opposition to be an Opposition as the Smaller
    Parties are UnLikely to be in Office and also because it is their Duty to Provide an Opposition to the Millionaires Regime

    We Need Bigot Newspapers which Victimise the Poor and
    Vulnerable to be Boycotted Forever so that they Understand

    We Need Someone who is a Human and Lives on Planet Earth
    Not a Millionaire Cloud Cuckoo Lander with too much Wealth
    and too Little Awareness of what Poverty does to People

    A Political Revolution which Breaks the Stranglehold of the
    Filthy and Selfish Rich upon Politics and gives Us a Government
    which Serves Social Justice Not Kowtows to Big Business Slave

  12. Annos says:

    Off topic.

    With all the problems people are having I thought I would put up two posts that I saw on another site. I know so many people are short off or have no money, that is why I have put this post on.

    “The bank clerk who helped me told me that when the automated voice starts telling you the options to speak the word ‘advisor’ and you will bypass all that rigmarole and get straight through to a real, live person”

    Then I saw this.


  13. jed goodright says:

    off topic but relevant:

    Does anybody know of any research related to what can only be termed the demise of the Blue Badge? It strikes me that 1000s of people are losing their badges as they renew or not be provided with one despite appeal. Are there any figures?

    1. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

      I reckon all the Blue Badges are being used by all the DWP workers. I am sure ATOS workers all get a free blue badge as well. No room for people that really need them !! Who`s to say !!

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