In defence of tax credits: We must be the clear anti-poverty party

I was horrified at the proposal, contained in George Kendall’s recent article that we cut tax credits to fund lifelong learning accounts. (I assume George was also referring to Universal Credit, the successor to tax credits, and I speak of them here interchangeably.)

Like George, I’ve canvassed on council estates. I, however, recount emotional conversations with families for whom tax credits are the saviour that stands between them and impoverishment.

I remember the anguish in a mother’s voice, juggling her hospital job with caring for her two young sons, as she talked of how the Tory’s tax credit cuts could push her over the edge. How would she pay the heating bill? Would she have to take on more debt to buy her son’s new school shoes?

With us leading the battle against Osborne’s tax credit cuts at the time, it was a vote for us on the doorstep that day, and a voter I was proud we were fighting for.

Poverty during childhood causes long-term damage seen in poorer educational, health and employment outcomes. Families cannot invest properly in their children’s futures if they live in constant fear of eviction or are forced to use food banks.

But families with children are particularly badly hit by Universal Credit cuts, like the Tory’s broader welfare cuts since 2015. A useful ‘poverty calculator‘ by The Children’s Society demonstrates just how much benefit levels have fallen short of the poverty line.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that around a million more children will be in poverty by the end of this decade, with almost half this increase attributable to direct tax and benefit changes since 2015. That’s a 25% increase in child poverty, a large part of which is down to Universal Credit cuts. Failing to reverse these cuts, or cutting them further, would be disastrous for a party whose leader has just staked our claim to be the party to tackle inequality.

With two thirds of children in poverty living in a working family, people need jobs that pay higher wages. Better training for all is part of the long-term solution, so I support Vince Cable’s proposal to look at lifelong learning accounts. It’s an idea being given due consideration by the 21st century economy policy working group.

But George Kendall’s proposal to pay for this is both counterproductive and regressive: Counterproductive because tax credits help remove barriers for working people to earn more; regressive because it is effectively a hypothecated tax on the poor, taking hundreds or thousands of pounds directly from low income families (most of whom are in work).

The fact is that accepting the Tory assault on Universal Credit since 2015, or cutting it more, will push millions of children deeper into poverty. That’s why just last year, having reviewed a substantial amount of expert evidence, our party’s social security policy working group actually proposed increasing the child element of Universal Credit in addition to reversing the Tory cuts. Conference passed the motion emphatically.

Vince Cable’s call to lead on the issue of reducing inequality means we should be the clear anti-poverty party. We must stay true to the very first sentence of our constitution and exist to build a society in which “no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”. Investing in education and training for all should be a fundamental part of this. Cutting the welfare safety net for the poorest children certainly should not.

* Iain Porter is a Lib Dem member who currently sits on the party's 21st Century Economy policy working group

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44 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Oct '17 - 12:34pm

    Three cheers for Iain, and one or two, tot, for George

    I realise the ever sensible and compassionate George had it unusually ar** about elbow , and so we move on, he adds real common sense and good ideas normally.

    Iain , we are and must be the party against poverty because we care and have the realistic and economic arguments, therefore we are more believable and viable .

    Now to convince the public…?!!!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Oct '17 - 12:36pm

    Should be one or two , too, for George!

    Not one or two , tot!

    Nothing tot like , or thus , childish about Mr K !

  • @ Iain Poirter “The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that around a million more children will be in poverty by the end of this decade, with almost half this increase attributable to direct tax and benefit changes since 2015.”

    I’m sorry, Iain, but that’s a partial view. Shouldn’t it read “since 2010” ? I’m afraid selective amnesia does not impress the electorate.

  • Iain Porter 9th Oct '17 - 8:43pm

    @David Raw

    No, sorry David, your comment is incorrect. The IFS analysis focuses purely on the direct tax and benefit changes passed during the 2015-17 Parliament. To clarify again, the Tory welfare reforms passed since 2015 cause almost half the increase in projected child poverty between then and 2021.

  • Iain Porter 9th Oct '17 - 9:05pm

    @George Kendall

    George, apologies for preempting you! But thanks for giving the opportunity, with your article, to open up some debate around this. I took your article in that spirit, so no hard feelings I hope.

    However, I do think the principle of raising money – if we need to – by progressive tax measures is important, so wanted to lay that down for the record. We shouldn’t raise money by cutting vital immediate support for those on the lowest incomes. Particularly as funding proposals that increase child poverty are clearly counterproductive for the long-term health of our economy.

    Thanks for the link to your June article – completely agree with you there. Our manifesto was far more progressive than Labour’s when judged on tax/benefit policies, mainly due to Labour’s useless welfare policy section. And the IFS agreed then too!

    In answer to your question – you’ve set up a false choice. I think we need to invest in training, skills and other economic investment that is particularly focused on raising incomes for all. If we need to raise money for that, it should not be done by cutting Universal Credit any further. Indeed we should reverse the cuts passed since 2015. Most of these cuts have not yet really taken effect – and who knows when the next General Election will be!

  • Iain Porter 9th Oct '17 - 9:08pm

    Thanks @Lorenzo Cherin – we want to hammer home that we are the party that cares about tackling poverty!

  • @ Iain Porter

    You misunderstand. I was pointing out the bits you missed that the Lib Dems had a responsibility for between 2010-15.

  • Katharine Pindar 10th Oct '17 - 12:35am

    A very good and helpful article, Iain, and with the addition of George’s reference to the Independent article helping to prove that Corbyn’s Labour Party can’t claim the mantle, I join with Lorenzo in praise. We must continue to battle on these grounds, for the sake of the working (or would-be working) poor with no job security or adequate pay, the one-parent families dependent on benefits, the disabled refused PIP, the people expected to live for six weeks on a hand-out of half of their Universal Credit entitlement which is in any case only a loan, and all the others who fall beneath the lofty gaze of indifferent politicians.

    But while you’re on, Iain, what’s with the 21st Century Economy Working Group? After the consultation at York, which was very good I thought, and the understandable put-off from Bournemouth, I expected to hear the policy motion would be offered next year in Brighton, if not in Southport, but read somewhere it wouldn’t be till 2019. Why should that be? We don’t want the 21st century to be advancing faster than our essential economic policies! You could almost write a new economic manifesto from all the good suggestions that have been discussed here on LDV in the last few months, and I could give you probably six names of those I have personally made notes from, who I hope have been and still are in communication with your group.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Oct '17 - 2:58am

    George

    As an ex Labour moderate and Liberal Democrat of years, I regularly do as you say, put much emphasis on the welfare and poverty alleviation issues , and supported you on this agenda , only disagreeing with your recent piece in a way we have discussed.

    Out marvellous colleague herein, Katharine , is with me on this , always has been on here, and or ,I with her, she is a staunch defender of the poorest.

    Equally, she , me and many have been fair to Corbyn and the coalition, but, as Liberal Democrats, we ,ve criticised Corbyn more than the coalition, but whenever we do , we get someone on here saying, hey, what about the coalition , …….!!!

    I think there is much hypocrisy on this. Not from you or us herein though.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Oct '17 - 3:02am

    p.s.

    George , you are not being defensive if you are explaining to colleagues who are with you, what you mean, in better ways than previously, shame to lose those of us on any issue where in the detail we agree.

  • I have no contribution to make here as it’s about wealth redistribution and my interests are wealth creation but I only want to express my admiration of George and Lorenzo who have held a productive discussion between 02:16 am and 03:02 am ! I am impressed!

  • @ George Kendall Sorry, George, but you got yourself in a hole and I would suggest you stop digging. An early night might help.

    As a Lib Dem member it’s not my role to defend Corbyn, although I get fed up with some of the personalised stuff against him on here from some Lib Dems. Equally, as a Lib Dem member who happens to be a trustee of a food bank, was a Cabinet member for Social Work, and saw what was actually happening to people on the ground, I am entitled to criticise what happened on welfare on our watch between 2010 and 2015.

    To quote Matthew 7:5, the party needs to ” cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”. Until it does, nobody will listen to it.

  • Gordon King 10th Oct '17 - 9:06am

    The Liberal Democrats should lead the fight against the Tory assault on the poor. The poor cannot pay for the deficit alone. It is time the Tory’s left the economically vulnerable alone and find savings / revenue elsewhere.

  • George Kendall 10th Oct ’17 – 12:43am………@David Raw……….So you’re criticizing the Lib Dems in the last election, for only proposing to reverse some of the smaller welfare cuts of 2010-2015……….

    I just love the ‘smaller welfare cuts’ bit…

    On 21st June 2015 George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith proudly announced, “In all, the last government legislated for £21bn of welfare savings”—
    £21 billion was a Treasury estimate of the effect of all the decisions taken since the 2010 election…. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, using more up-to-date figures, estimated that the policy changes actually saved £17 billion…..

    £21b or £17b that is an awful lot of ‘savings’ i.e. ‘cuts’…Hardly a record in tune with a party that claims to be the defender of welfare..

  • @ George Kendall. I’ve been a Liberal since 1961, and frankly, I’ve seen the party change from being a radical force under Jo Grimond to a one trick neo-Tory outfit under the former Deputy Prime Minister – with an enthusiasm for knighthoods and peerages. As for Sir Vincent Cable (of post office privatisation and student fees the jury is still out, although I respect his personal abilities.

    As to your downplaying the Sermon on the Mount, an advantage of a Methodist West Yorkshire radical Liberal childhood was being able to recognise what the Scots call blether when I hear it. It’s been plentiful in some Lib Dem circles in recent years.

    Finally, here’s another one for you, “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear …”. Mark 8 : 18

    @ expats Quite right.
    .

  • Sue Sutherland 10th Oct '17 - 12:47pm

    Hurray Iain, another strong voice against poverty! I hope you have many companions on the working group!
    I’m afraid David Raw is correct about the things that happened when we were in Coalition. I am disabled myself and have friends in the same situation who suffered from a callous system then, which has only got much worse under the Tories. We therefore have to explain our changed position very carefully, stating why we have changed our minds.
    With regard to the urgent need for an economic policy which provides funds to help those in need, would it be possible to offer a synopsis earlier than a detailed economic policy? I realise that the devil is often in the detail but we need to show a radical change asap, if not yesterday, otherwise Labour will continue to benefit from their two faced approach towards everything.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Oct '17 - 2:57pm

    Palehorse

    Thanks, you are excellent in many contributions. I disagree with your comments on you not wanting to add to debate on wealth redistribution, but having an emphasis ob wealth creation only. Both are very important, no wealth created, none to share fairly, it is this we need to get right, and , as I say here , to Iain , this is our forte, as a philosophy and party.

    David

    You are a little unfair to George , as often to our SDP heritage, he has much that is good in all he does .

    David, George , Sue

    The bashing of the coalition is partly correct but wholly skewed.

    The worst of the attitude of bash, those on benefits, found its implementation in policy years before.

    In the aftermath of a car accident the nearly could have killed us , a car mounted the pavement, and as pedestrians , we were the victims, with disability issues ,the result, and we were for a while , then, on benefits . Labour in Lambeth, were implementing a stricter and more unnecessary , bedroom tax style policy, worse than in Tory Wandsworth, we experienced both, on Housing benefit. True also of Nottingham , and all councils, they have often or always implemented such a policy on non social housing tenants. I know from my previous experience , and as an adviser subsequently . The coalition , in a move to make it more consistent, said no tennants who have properties deemed too large for their needs , get full housing benefit. Why that is wrong is in how it is implemented on the ground, often the fault of councils, but they always did that for tennants in the private sector. Actually it is more unfair that those in the public sector of social housing, with waiting lists , should not be subject to the same restrictions. We , despite telling the council, a Labour council, that in the aftermath of and as a result of , the car accident , needed two bedrooms as my wife had to have special orthopedic bed, were denied full housing benefit , told couples are only entitled to it for one bedroom.Years before the coalition ! Labour gave us the Work Capability Test and Atos !

  • Today’s report from my local Food Bank : “Rent arrears in East Lothian are up 29%. Landlords are now very reluctant to house those on Universal Credit.”

    Of course I shouldn’t (to use Lorenzo’s word), “bash” UC. Party loyalty ought to compel me to support it because we voted for it (indeed had part ministerial responsibility via Prof (now Sir Steve) Webb in Coalition – so it must be a right and good and proper thing, n’est ce pas ?.

    George, sorry not to regard your comment on the Sermon on the Mount as an indication of a wish to engage. If you read what you said you might see why. You imply the author on the Sermon clearly wasn’t sophisticated enough to produce fine tuned Lib Dem policy.

    As to the SDP, I was there at the time, Lorenzo and I could tell you things that would make your hair curl. Most of them shoved off to the Tories or back to Labour years ago. Not sure what happened to Rosie Barnes’ rabbit but I’m sure George could give you a list.

  • Iain Porter 10th Oct '17 - 9:47pm

    @David Raw

    “You misunderstand. I was pointing out the bits you missed that the Lib Dems had a responsibility for between 2010-15.” – That’s fine to point out welfare cuts that occurred during the Coalition, but my article (and IFS analysis) was focused on the tax credit and Universal Credit cuts since 2015 that are a significant factor behind the unprecedented projected increase in child poverty. It was these recent cuts that George Kendall was talking about in his article I was responding to.

    As we’re on the topic though, @expats is right that the Coalition welfare cuts of 2010-15 saved the Treasury more money than the welfare cuts since 2015 (£21bn vs £13bn using contemporary estimates). Clearly the Coalition cuts were devastating for many people. However, the child poverty figures show that the Coalition cuts did not actually cause anywhere near the same levels of increase in child poverty rates as the Tory 2015 cuts will.

    And, I guess this ties in with both @David Raw’s criticism and @Sue Sutherland’s good point that we do need to have a proper explanation for people who question why we cut welfare in Coalition but now rail against welfare cuts. An answer is, possibly, that we accepted as part of the Coalition that some welfare cuts were necessary. £21bn was a hell of a cut, but that was our limit. And we stopped the Tories doing much more. It is not hypocritical to say that that was enough and to then oppose the hefty £13bn more from the Tories (almost two thirds more again on top of where we left it in 2015). In the same way that I think the public generally accepted a bit of austerity in 2010, but the mood now seems to be turning towards “that was enough, any more is going too far”.

    And we should probably look forward as much as we can to what we should do in the future and the things we disagree with that the current Government has done. Not getting stuck looking back two Governments ago. (By the way, I also personally disagree with many of the Coalition welfare cuts like the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap. Thankfully, it is now party policy to reverse these.)

  • And to reiterate @George Kendall – I completely agree with you shouting about Corbyn’s hypocrisy on this. And why @expats is again unhelpful criticising the Lib Dem’s attempts to defend welfare:

    The Lib Dems now have the most progressive tax and benefit policies out of the main parties. Labour would still implement almost all the 2015 Tory welfare cuts and would keep almost all the Coalition cuts. The Lib Dems would reverse almost all the Tory cuts, and some Coalition cuts, which overall forms a substantial proportion of the total cuts since 2010.

  • While I’m on it, one of the Tory welfare cuts with the most impact on many families is the freeze to benefits while living costs continue to rise. Corbyn’s Labour refused to cancel the freeze. Lib Dems committed to cancelling it*.

    And the ‘two-child limit’ – which again has quite a large impact on families with children in the long-run. Labour would not reverse it. Lib Dems would.

    I invite any Labour sympathiser who attacks the Lib Dems to defend this outrageous hypocrisy.

    (*Even better, the Lib Dems committed to making housing benefit (LHA) rise in line with rents again, not just CPI. The freezing of LHA rates while rents continue to rise is likely to cause huge increases in evictions and homelessness.)

  • @Katharine Pindar regarding the 21st Century Economy Working Group – I’m afraid, with good reason, we were told our policy paper would be delayed to Brighton (Sep 2018) due to the snap general election. I’ve not heard anything to suggest it will be delayed to 2019 – where did you hear this?

  • @ Iain Porter I commend your wish to tackle poverty Ian, especially if the blinkers come off about what actually happened in the 2010-15 period.

    I understand the average house price in Sevenoaks and Swanley (where I think you practice your politics) is £ 1,043,000 – nearly ten times that in Falkirk, (£ 148,000) and Hartlepool where it is £ 128,000.

    You say, “The Lib Dems now have the most progressive tax and benefit policies out of the main parties.”

    Given that you sit on the party’s 21st Century Economy policy working group, could you tell me what plans the Liberal Democrats have to tackle this increasingly bizarre two nations society we have nowadays.

  • @Palehorse “I have no contribution to make here as it’s about wealth redistribution and my interests are wealth creation.” I’m sorry to hear that, as I’m afraid how wealth is created and how it is distributed are very much linked. Anyway, I won’t be joining George and Lorenzo at 3am tonight!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Oct '17 - 12:08am

    David

    You did not engage with my points on the policies before the coalition and during.

    You may like to say what you do about the irrelevant contribution in your not so humble opinion of the SDP, I think , Barbara Pearce , the extraordinary Chairperson of Nottingham Lib Dems, and Paul Holmes, and Shirley Wuilliams and Roy Jenkins and…Vince Cable, each from the SDP , says otherwise, a pity you do not see anything but perfection from the Liberals of old, and see nothing but something worth criticising about the SDP and Liberals now !

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Oct '17 - 1:19am

    I am proud again to be a Liberal Democrat when I read through the comments on this thread – so much necessary good information provided on cuts to welfare, past and present, so much good policy discussed, and so much goodwill evinced towards the sufferers. I am glad to realise that our planned welfare provision is so much more generous now than Labour’s, and at being able to evaluate the cuts and compromises of our Coalition years fairly and with less denunciation than sadness. You in particular Lorenzo (and thank you for your kind words about me, though I provide far less in this discussion than Iain and George) fill me with wonderment, hearing the story of your struggles after the accident, and reading your fair-minded remarks that show no bitterness despite what you both have gone through.

    But nobody on this thread should feel a need to criticise another, since you all show, whether Christians or not, true Christian compassion. This emphasis on caring and helping must be central to our Liberal Democrat message now, and we must demand to be listened to on this, as well as helping practically, as David for example so obviously does.

    Iain, I think I must have heard of the delay to your Working Group report from someone on Federal Policy Committee, but I will enquire on their Facebook page now, and hope it is denied. As Sue says, we need the substance earlier. However, we already have good policy on welfare, as passed in Brighton, as described in the Manifesto, and as spelt out so helpfully in detail here. There was also the valuable emergency motion on Universal Credit passed at Bournemouth, with which to try to combat this latest outrage, and on this we can work with Labour.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Oct '17 - 2:40pm

    Katharine

    That,s very good of you , your comments make a real difference, and your manners, and those of our other Catherine, Jane Crosland, always following up on a contribution, never ignoring them, speaks volumes, especially compared to many who do not bother with such necessities in my view , as niceties !

  • @ Katharine I’d like to add to Lorenzo’s comments and say how much I appreciate your kindness, optimism and good nature. You’re what is called in Hudders ‘A good lass’. And thanks for your good wishes for the wee ones.

    Lorenzo, I didn’t respond because we’ve had a worry about one of our baby grandson’s. Things seem a bit better today although he’s in St. Thomas’s with his Mum. I’ll deal with it some other time if you don’t mind.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Oct '17 - 3:43pm

    David Raw

    I did not mean, David, to criticise you, in praise of Katharine, I was giving my oft felt view of good manners , which are often ,and understandably lost in these stressful debates as everywhere,today.

    I would like to say , often comments are missed unintentionally , thus I only now see your s on your daughter and grandchild, and add my good wishes too.

    And , David, it was reading your comments here about your heart transplant that has to some extent worth mentioning, changed my mind in your direction on organ donation. policy.

  • George, I think you misunderstand the nature of LDV. Why would most people post in agreement with the writer of an article? People engage with the debate in the comments section and criticise what the author has written. You should not have expected people to comment in agreement with your factually incorrect article to attack Labour. In the comment section of your article https://www.libdemvoice.org/54704-54704.html, I did engage pointing out Labour were not doing as much as us. I don’t get passionate about what members of other parties propose. I do get passionate about what our members propose, because I expect much better from our party and its members than I do from members of other political parties.

    We allocated £9.345 billion to restoring some of the Tory and Coalition welfare cuts. Labour only allocated £4 billion. They had implementing the PiP legal ruling but we didn’t, but we, as has been said, had ending the Benefits freeze, reversing restricting Tax Credits to the first two children and had nearly twice as much to reserve the cuts to Universal Credit.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Oct '17 - 8:57pm

    Thanks to two good people, Lorenzo and David, for your kind words to me, and best wishes to the wee’n, who I hope is safely out of St Thomas’s now. Michael, I think you meant to write ‘to reverse the cuts to Universal Credit’ when a literal slipped in, ‘reserve’, but I was glad of your summary, as you will now gather.

    I was out for an hour this evening, canvassing in Cockermouth with Rebecca their Lib Dem town and county councillor, and we had a long talk on the doorstep with an intelligent, likable lady who had actually suffered a wait of 13 weeks for her Universal Credit first payment, the first five of which were caused by a delay in applying while she took her 15-year-old son to hospital to see to a minor injury caused playing rugby. The lady is looking for another job locally, but is obviously on hard times, thinking she may have to move from their small house, though she was not self-pitying, and very articulate on the evils of Brexit. Rebecca recruited her as local deliverer, and I mentioned this discussion on LDV and said I would email her the information comparing the Lib Dem and Labour manifesto pledges on welfare, which I shall now do. I have just been through your comments again, taking notes to send to her, so thank you, gentlemen all, for so well informing me. We have a big job to do to help sufferers such as this lady, and will need to work closely with but also influence Labour on reversing benefit cuts and protecting the poorest.

  • Bravo @Katharine Pindar – great solid work on the doorstep!

    Not really one for a leaflet but… this graph from the IFS election analysis summed up the contrast between each party’s manifesto in how they affected people across the income spectrum (hint: doesn’t look good for Labour or Tories):

    https://twitter.com/TheIFS/status/868023274491576320

  • @David Raw – the IFS graph I just posted is also relevant to your post too. It shows how “the Lib Dems now have the most progressive tax and benefit policies out of the main parties.”

    The work of the 21st Century Economy working group isn’t really about tax and benefits. Its remit is essentially industrial policy – what Government can do to support the right kind of economic growth and spur innovation. The “right kind of growth” is, however, a very important part of this and we’ve focused strongly on the importance of inclusive growth – growth that allows prosperity to be earned across every region of the country and across every segment of the income distribution. I won’t go into all the details on this thread, not least because policies were still in development stage at the point the work was frozen for the snap election. But areas covered included e.g. challenging entrenched concentrations of market power, redefining growth targets, gig economy, lifelong skills and training, empowering dynamic local people-led growth, national infrastructure investment, innovation policy, intellectual property, automation, etc…

    I agree with you David about the absurd disparities in the housing market across the country. And also note that high house prices are a huge problem for young people, particularly in areas where prices are very high, making it impossible for many people who grew up in these areas to remain there.

    I actually think our broken housing market holds back our economic growth, as well as being a huge source of unjust inequality. Alas, this is deemed to be housing policy, not economic policy, and so is outside the remit of my policy group (although obviously Lib Dems have some decent policies on housing too!).

  • @ Katharine Pindar

    I am happy for you to read my “restoring the cuts” as reversing. However, I am not sure I made a mistake if you cut something and someone wants to restore what was cut are they not reserving the cuts? However, your word choice is clearer than mine. Thanks.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 12th Oct '17 - 8:45am

    Lorenzo, thank you so much for your comment at 2.40 yesterday. Due to lack of time in the last few days, I hadn’t been able to comment on this article before, but I hope to be able to do so properly soon. I’m so very sorry to hear about the way you and your wife were treated after your accident. In so many ways, Labour have shown no more compassion than the Tories.
    David Raw, I’m not sure whether you saw the comments I made on another article recently, but I do hope all is well with your daughter and the twins. My own twins were ten weeks premature, and needed special care for six weeks (twenty-five years ago), so I very much understand what an anxious time this must be.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Oct '17 - 2:13pm

    Catherine

    That,s so lovely of you, to see that and comment.

    It would be true to say Labour were a mixed lot, locally often even more inconsistent than nationally. The tax credits and the New Deal errors aside which were there initially, became terrific ways to support people, and were part of an ethos and policy implementation I was a staunch supporter of. They lost their way, not unique to that party or era, ours did so in the coalition, the Tories often do it too !

    The Major government , as with the first and part of the second, pre Iraq , Labour governments, were pretty decent to people, and for all her many draconian aspects, Thatcher never targeted people at the bottom on benefits, she was far more interested in the middle , the public sector being dismantled, effecting those with jobs !

    We really do need the kind of government , that is , kind !

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