LibLink: Sarah Teather – Grubby Osborne’s crude opportunism is capitalising on fear

teather_cleggFormer Lib Dem children’s minister Sarah Teather unleashes something of a broadside not just against the Coalition, but against all three political parties for their policies on the poorest in society, both benefit claimants and also immigrants and asylum-seekers:

There is nothing like insecurity to bring out the temptation to scapegoat. Instead of offering a bit of statesmanlike leadership, Conservative ministers have engaged repeatedly in crude opportunism, capitalising on fear. And so the battle is drawn: good against evil. Those without benefits against those who claim. Strivers against shirkers. The deserving against the undeserving.

Then, just before Easter, all parties chose to reignite that old flame: the immigrant against the local. Demonising successive groups of people makes us less empathetic, less cohesive – a vision, to me, that is the very definition of “Broken Britain”. And what of the subjects instrumentalised by this political game? They are placed further and further outside society, less able to change their own lot.

To demonstrate a tough stance against that most hated of groups, so-called “failed asylum seekers”, ministers in the last Labour government introduced a series of cards and vouchers to control what they could buy with the meagre rations we gave them. I know, from my work as a constituency MP, the humiliation, shame and practical barriers such schemes impose on those who are unable to return home for a whole host of reasons. Now local councils are using similar voucher and card-based schemes for today’s hate-group, the British poor.

You can read Sarah’s article in full in The Independent here.

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11 Comments

  • Helen Tedcastle 7th Apr '13 - 6:54pm

    Brilliant article from Sarah Teather. Osborne has gone too far. His words are divisive and nasty. Personally, I think he demeans the office of Chancellor.

  • So when you going to stop supporting the Tories in coalition? Until you do, you are part of it.

  • I was surprised by Obsbournes and, Camerons stances on this issue, especially when Ann Widdecombe had made such sensible comments that we have to work out the differences between the Philpott case and the welfare system. I like it when we get a handful of politicians get down with it, Ann Widdecombe is one of them and, I think it would have been sensible if you are in the unfortunate position of being in an Ivory Tower that you’d listen to her. Sadly this logic is lost on Cameron & Osbourne.

  • Ryan Dungallon 8th Apr '13 - 12:35am

    Good to see there is at least one Liberal Democrat who is willing to defend party principles, or should I correctly say “former” party principles.

  • Ryan Dungallon 8th Apr '13 - 12:39am

    Simon Shaw 7th Apr ’13 – 1:06pm – Its sad to see Liberal Democrats defending the indefensible.

  • The thing about this case is that it doesn’t even fit the narrative the Right are spinning around it. Aside from the fact that the guy had a long history of violence and abusive relationship towards his partners in and out of work,-as an ex-soldier in the services of the crown just like IDS ,no less.-both his wife and girlfriend were actually in work. This means they were technically the strivers Osbourne bangs on about and the benefits involved were working tax credits and child allowance, rather than JSA or DLA.
    Osbourne’s comments were in truth fairly mild, but sought, like those from too many newspaper editorials, to make, capital by beating people with the wrong stick from astride the wrong hobby horse.. I also note wryly that firemen , like the police are employed , in the public sector. So well said Sarah

  • Yusuf Osman 8th Apr '13 - 11:34am

    The problem with George Osborne’s comment was the fact he drew a link between the crimes of Michael Philpott and welfare reform. His crimes weren’t due to the welfare system but due to a floor in his own character. He would have wanted to control and abuse women without child benefit and he would have continued to father children without it too. It would b like saying we should get rid of insurance because of the few people who commit arson in order to claim, or micro chipping every person in the country to prevent crime. Both would be an overreaction as was Osborne’s linking of the two issues, following the example set by the Daily Mail. There are hundreds of thousands of us who need the support of the welfare system because of our disabilities, who are discriminated against by employers, which is the reason unemployment amongst the working age blind, just to give one example is %66, but the debate is framed by scrounging. It is hardly surprising that a member of the Conservative Party has used an extreme example to criticise the welfare system, after all that’s been the way throughout the whole debate over welfare reform. Sarah Teather was entirely correct to criticise the linkage.

  • Helen Dudden 8th Apr '13 - 2:31pm

    I do feel the situation is wrong on the subject of George Osborne and his comments. If welfare benefits were the cause of those child deaths, this would be more frequent than at present.

    The bedroom tax, I simply do not understand why other measures were not tried in the past and in the present. Firstly, to see if there was a way housing could be freed up for others in more need. House building in the social sector. Even consider the cost of housing, there has to be a way to make housing more affordable, rather than this path.

    Of course, there is always a need to economize in public spending,, but just stopping the flow, that hardly seems the answer. Well done Sarah, we simply can’t stop feeding others because they do not belong within the system, the reasons why there is problems with our borders is one question. The other is to remedy the problems, and understand the need to be vigilant.

    I feel this is almost encouraging a dislike of others, most unhealthy.

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