Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Don't imagine the Tories dropped their rip-off DWP charges out of the goodness of their hearts

The Tories have announced that they 're now planning to scrap their policy of charging 55p a minute for people to phone the Universal Credit hotline, and all of their other rip off DWP hotline charges.

Don't make any mistake. They're not scrapping their vindictive policy of wringing cash out of some of the poorest people in society out of the goodness of their hearts. They're doing it because they got caught, and in Jeremy Corbyn Labour have a leader who is prepared to ignore what the right-wing tabloids might say about him, and hold the Tories to account for their malice.

It's absolutely no coincidence that DWP helplines are being made free just one week after Corbyn roasted Theresa May about the rip-off charges in parliament. This Tory U-turn has only happened because Britain has an effective opposition that is holding the government to account and forcing them into one U-turn after another.

Corbyn's predecessor Ed Miliband wasn't actually such a bad guy, but unlike Corbyn he didn't have the courage of his convictions, and surrounded himself with economic right-wingers like Ed Balls and Chris Leslie.

Not only did Miliband squander the 2015 General Election by adopting Ed Balls' ridiculously uninspiring "austerity-lite" narrative when outright opposition to ruinous and failing Tory austerity dogma was required, he also allowed other Labour right-wingers to mimic the Tories in order to pander to the right-wing press.

One of the most notorious examples came when Miliband's shadow DWP minister Rachael Reeves vowed that Labour would be tougher on benefits claimants than the Tories (as if systematically abusing disabled people, using unemployed workers as sources of free labour to distribute to their corporate mates, slashing in-work benefits for the working poor, and their draconian sanctions regime weren't harsh enough already)!

Just imagine if the right-wing of the Labour Party had succeeded in their numerous plots and schemes to oust Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour leadership. 

Their desperation to appeal to the editors of the right-wing propaganda rags would have prevented them from ever being seen to side with social security claimants, so the pressure over these ludicrously unfair DWP hotline charges would never have been applied, Theresa May wouldn't have been forced into performing another screeching U-turn, and the Tories would have continued wringing money out of poor people forced to righ the DWP over stuff like the unacceptable delays in their Universal Credit payments.

The difference with Corbyn is that he doesn't give a damn if mercenary hacks at right-wing propaganda rags like the S*n, Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph are going to attack him for standing up for the millions of working and non-working people on social security. Corbyn can see that charging people 55p a minute to deal with DWP errors in the Universal Credit system is just wrong, so he stood up and said it was wrong, and as a result forced the Tories into changing direction.

Of course the right-wing tabloid hacks are going to hate him for it. Of course people who have been conditioned to despise all social security claimants (whether they're working, not working, or physically unable to work) will hate him for it. But when Ed Miliband's pro-austerity anti-welfare incarnation of the Labour Party fumbled the golden opportunity that was the 2015 General Election, they proved that Labour simply can't win elections by crudely aping the Tory party in the hope of appealing to the kind of people who are never going to support Labour anyway.

You don't hold the powerful to account by meekly imitating their policies in the hope that you get a go at being in power next. You hold them to account by identifying their malice, incompetence and greed then haranguing them over it until they're forced to change direction, then eventually after the public have seen the powerful forced into either defending the indefensible, or U-turning for the umpteenth time, they get sick and tired of it and vote for a government with some actual principles.

This latest screeching U-turn from Theresa May is proof that Jeremy Corbyn is doing an increasingly effective job of holding the Tories to account, and what Labour (and the other opposition parties) need to do now is to continue to actively oppose this absolute shambles of a Tory government, especially when their policies are unfair, incompetent, or downright vindictive. 

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.