Author Archives: Nick Rider

The best way to answer Coalition guilt-shaming is to challenge austerity and poverty today, head-on

The election of a new Liberal Democrat leader has been followed by a predictable burst of accusations and guilt-shaming – mostly, but not only, from Labour sources – regarding the Lib Dems’ part in the Coalition, cuts and austerity. Responses on Liberal Democrat Voice and in other Lib Dem groups have often followed a familiar pattern too. A fair amount of irritated defensiveness. A lot of detailed discussion of the financial situation in 2010, deficit levels, etc. Sometimes a feel of this being a rather theoretical economic argument a bit far away, only raised to torment us.

I think this is to miss the point. The best way to get over endless guilt-shaming and raking-over of the Coalition is not to get sucked into circular arguments over just what part any Lib Dem minister played in this or that decision in 2014 but to say very clearly we’ve moved on, there are urgent matters to be dealt with, and that today, in the here and now, 2019, the Liberal Democrats see poverty as a real crisis, care about it and are prepared to tackle it.

What doesn’t leap out from current Lib Dem responses is any sense of urgency. An urgent awareness that there is an atrocious crisis of poverty in this country, and it’s getting worse. Galloping homelessness, thousands dependent on food banks, more and more people in work but so poorly paid and so insecure they barely keep going. Public health indicators that had been improving for decades now stalled or going backwards, as the United Nations’ Alston Report on Poverty in the UK highlighted.

And behind this worsening poverty are some very old ideas, like the assumption that anyone in need of support is potentially a ‘scrounger’ culpable for their own poverty who needs to be kept in check through such things as the benefit sanctions regime.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 62 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Feb - 3:41am
    @ Joe, "There are indeed many economists and commentators that find the claims of MMT rather naive......" As Ms Rice-Davies once famously exclaimed in the...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 18th Feb - 2:14am
    Katharine, it is a fair point about young renters. The UK has been unusual in this respect insofar as younger people have in the past...
  • User Avatarn hunter 17th Feb - 11:18pm
    Marc Poll. Yes I don't know how to communicate sometimes. I have been a clerk (pen pusher!),care worker,voluntary youth worker and a postie and joined...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Feb - 10:53pm
    Addendum - the last paragraph above includes the statement, that 'by November 2017 there were one million claimants for housing benefit', which should have included...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 17th Feb - 10:38pm
    @ Nigel Jones. Great to hear you place such emphasis on inequality, Nigel. I hope you can link up with Katharine Pindar and Michael Berwick...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Feb - 10:32pm
    On providing more housing, it does seem that reforming the 1961 Land Compensation Act is key for us, according to Vince Cable last year and...