Deconstructing Rachel Reeves: how to reframe the social security debate

It didn’t last long. The cheering had barely died down after Liam Byrne’s removal as Labour DWP spokesman when along comes his successor, Rachel Reeves, apparently using much of the same rhetoric.  It wasn’t that she didn’t have important points to make – about the fact that Tory austerity has contributed massively to the overall […]

Delaying signing-on for a week: getting the facts

George Osborne’s 2013 spending review announced, among other things, a raft of measures branded as “supporting work”.  These include more regular signing-on, mandatory language training and, most notoriously of all, a seven-day delay before signing-on.  This package overall is claimed to save the exchequer £300m per year – £245m in 2015-16 coming from the seven-day […]

Labour and benefits: a regressive policy

In the last few days, Labour has begun to clarify its policy on benefits.  It’s far from encouraging.  There is still little to suggest that the party has not broken out of its dangerous tendency of allowing the Tories and their media to set the agenda, and the implications of its  announcements are that many […]

Labour, spending and benefits: how to miss that open goal

Forget the funeral: this has been an atrocious week for the Con Dem economic experiment.  First, the UK’s credit rating has been downgraded by another ratings agency, thus demonstrating that even against its own success criteria – Osborne has repeatedly stated that his aim was to maintain the UK’s AAA rating – Coalition Economics is […]

The peculiar obsessions of Liam Byrne

Once again, the opinions of Labour’s DWP spokesman Liam Byrne are causing controversy – this time a short piece in the Observer that starts off surprisingly well with quite a cogent critique of the failings of Coalition welfare policy, before shooting himself spectacularly in the foot by proposing a raft of solutions demonstrating his acceptance […]

Tough on Frosties, tough on the causes of Frosties?

A statement by Labour Health spokesman Andy Burnham to the effect that a ban on high-sugar and high-fat foods, including breakfast cereals like Frosties, should be investigated, has led to a tide of ridicule across cyberspace, along with some fairly predictable responses about the nanny state and political correctness gone mad.  It’s unfortunate that what […]

Tory benefits campaign: ideology as a bridge of lies

The Conservative Party has launched a campaign which seeks to distinguish between hard-working families and scroungers, through a poster depicting an unshaven person lounging  on a sofa in contrast to a modest 2.4 children family who emphasise the virtues of diligent work.  It is all of a piece with George Osborne’s rhetoric about those who […]

Cameron’s immigration lies

It must be local election time.  The garden is sprouting, the birds in the garden are nesting, and David Cameron is playing the race card. Of course, being Cameron, he’s doing it in a relatively subtle way – not for nothing was he known as “Satan” in his days in public relations.  But the speech […]