Today, the Guardian published an interview of Rachel Reeves, in which she says of the Labour party: “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,……. Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”
This is a huge disappointment for those who had been expecting the Labour party to take a principled stand against what the Coalition is doing to unemployed and disabled people who cannot work, lone parents, carers and pensioners who rely on benefits and to voice their concerns and anger.
Forget it. The Labour Party does not represent you.
But that is not even the worst. Rachel Reeves seems to think that you cannot be claiming benefits and working at the same time, although some disability benefits like the Independent Living Fund, Disability Living Allowance,Personal Independence Payment and Access to Work are designed precisely with this in mind. All parents raising children are entitled to Child Benefit, although it is now mean-tested. Do we have to assume that Rachel Reeves will forfeit her allowance when she has her baby? Should we assume that neither David Blunkett nor Ann Begg had or have to rely on some form of disability benefits to support them in their Parliamentary life?
Is the assumption that claiming benefits only happens to others, slightly apart from the rest of the human race, and who don’t deserve to be represented although they are already the most politically marginalised and unrepresented group?
Maybe before speaking, Reeves should have had a chat with Yvette Cooper. Yvette Cooper could have told her that when she was struck by ME, she had to claim disability benefits during six months because she was too sick to work. She was lucky to totally recover after 4 years, but when she needed it, the state was there to support her, and I am not sure she would have been very pleased to be told at the time that her own party did not represent her anymore because she could not work. (see below for more information)
Rachel Reeves made a huge faux-pas today, which might not gain the Labour Party any extra votes from the Tory party, but which has lost for Labour the last hopeful voters who still believed that the Labour Party was the party of compassion and solidarity and who discover that it has lost its soul.
On 21st October 2009 while Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper made the following statement to the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME. Of particular interest are Yvette Cooper’s comments about her uncertainty about if she would have qualified for ESA at the time, when she knew she was unable to work, and also a recognition all the way back in 2009, six years ago, that the WCA was flawed when dealing with fluctuating conditions.
We are pleased to note that Yvette Cooper is restored to health, not only being able to hold down a demanding job, but also now having the spare energy to be able to run away from difficult questions about WCA: