After IDS: some questions for Labour’s Parliamentarians

With the Tory Party apparently in meltdown following Ian Duncan Smith’s resignation, it’s easy to miss how the events of the past few days affect Labour too.  I’ve already blogged about how the terms of Duncan Smith’s resignation letter expose the cuts and austerity agenda as a matter of political choice, not economic necessity; the […]

The Duncan Smith resignation: fundamentally shifting the economic debate

With the departure of Ian Duncan Smith from the Cabinet, commentators are spending much time and effort analysing how the balance of politics within the Conservative Party has changed.  However, the text of Duncan Smith’s resignation letter raises some absolutely fundamental economic questions – and these have big implications for Labour too. The key paragraphs […]

Benefits and depression: Tory cruelty plumbing new depths

Just when you think the Tories can’t get any more cruel or inhuman, they demonstrate the depths to which they will sink.  The Telegraph reported yesterday that Tories are considering withdrawing benefits from those off work due to depression unless they receive mandatory “treatment”. The news that depression is treatable because Ian Duncan-Smith says so […]

Abolishing the universal state pension – the new Westminster consensus?

Over the weekend, Ian Duncan Smith made widely reported comments that wealthy pensioners should be prepared to return some of their benefits – notably winter fuel payments and free bus passes.  This morning on the BBC Today programme, Labour DWP spokesman Liam Byrne (unsurprisingly) refused to defend the principle of universality. Nick Clegg and his […]

Tea Party at the DWP: why the Coalition is desperate to redefine child poverty

The DWP has recently consulted on changing the way in which child poverty is defined, seeking – quite consciously – to broaden the definition away from that of relative poverty.  It’s a move that has attracted controversy among those working in the field, who argue that it is right to consider factors other than income […]

Welfare reform and the cultural production of ignorance

I’ve recently encountered an important and fascinating paper by Tom Slater of the Edinburgh University Institute of Geography which considers welfare reform and mythmaking.  It’s important because it goes right to the heart of the way in which policy is made on this – for the Right at least – totemic issue, and reveals much […]