I have just emailed my MP to urge her to vote against the Tories’ ‘benefit cap’ tomorrow in the House of Commons, despite the shameful support being given by the Labour frontbench. This policy is morally repugnant and economically stupid. By its definition it will transform social security from a needs-based to a cost-based system.
I am writing as a constituent and a member of Newcastle Central CLP regarding the vote in the House of Commons tomorrow on the Government’s proposed ‘benefit cap’.
I urge you to vote against this proposal, and I am deeply disappointed that our leadership have unilaterally declared that our party will be supporting this policy. I understand that there are already a number of your colleagues (including Diane Abbot, John McDonnell and Ian Lavery) who will be voting against.
I have two reasons for objecting to this policy – the first being a moral issue. The ‘benefit cap’ is another attempt by the Tories, and the Right within our party, to demonise social security recipients and is part of an ideological plan to revert social security back to pre-Second World War ideas of ‘deserving poor’ and ‘undeserving poor’. Our party should be challenging this narrative and highlighting that the majority of social security expenditure goes to pensioners and the working poor. This policy is not compatible with Labour principals of fairness and social justice. For our front bench it forms part of a misguided belief that to stand up for the poor and to defend social security based on the principle of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need’ is not an election winning strategy without any regard for the devastating effect this government’s reforms are having on the poorest. For the Tories this is a further part of their ideological drive to dismantle social security.
My second objection is an economic one. If you feel unable to vote against this policy on the basis of the moral argument, please can I urge you to consider the economic idiocy of having an arbitrary cap on social security spending. An arbitrary cap on how much the government can spend on social security take no account of changing circumstances. If unemployment were to rise, or wages fall even further, it is surely reasonable to assume that social security payments will increase. If unemployment falls, wages were to rise, or prices were to fall, then clearly social security spending will fall. It is a ridiculous notion that government can cap social security spending.
This policy, by definition, will mean a fundamental transformation of social security from needs-based to cost-based – and for that reason I politely ask that you vote against it tomorrow.
I am copying this email to several other Labour MPs to urge them to also vote against.