Saturday, 23 March 2013

Labour joins the sinking ship


Tuesday 19 March 2013 is a date that will sit high on the wall in the Labour Party’s hall of ignominy (and a big hall it is). A few weeks ago, Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson won a ruling in court that their work at Poundland under the Workfare programme, again forced and unpaid work, was illegal because they were not informed that they could refuse the work.

Thousands have suffered benefit loss for refusing unpaid work under the Workfare programme so the ruling indicated that these people, among the poorest in society, were entitled to a rebate of their benefits.

The Condems were furious with the courts for permitting benefit claimants some rights and choice. Iain Duncan Smith, the sad failure of a minister at the Department of Work and Pensions, brought emergency legislation before Parliament to reverse the court decision and deny the rebate of money to the poorest. 

Shamefully and pathetically, Liam Byrne and Ed Miliband led Labour MPs into abstention so allowing the emergency law to pass. The poorest in our society needed to be protected at this moment and the Labour Party sat on their hands. Their argument was only that it was ‘a very difficult decision’ which will cost them nothing but cost the poor a huge amount.

Respect stands with the 44 Labour MPs that rebelled and voted against the emergency law. We stand with Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson, who will now take the case to the Supreme Court. Workfare is an expensive and embarrassing failure that should cost the ConDems dearly. Tragically, Labour has deserted the poor and jumped aboard this sinking ship.

Respect will invest in public works programmes that create jobs, public services that communities dearly need and new green technologies that provide a sustainable future and more jobs. Respect is committed to increasing benefits and wages to boost the economy and create new jobs. It is committed to repealing Workfare and investing the money in real jobs that pay and offer dignity. Wasting money on private contractors that do nothing or worse than nothing does no one any good. We need to invest in the poor and the unemployed with training, jobs and boosting benefits.

by Chris Chilvers
Respect Party National Secretary