The weekend debate: Was Beveridge right to oppose the creation of a welfare state?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

Though he is often thought of as the father of the modern welfare state in this country, William Beveridge in fact had other views on the matter. As he said of the Beveridge report, the aim, “was not security through a welfare state but security by cooperation between the state and the individual”. In other words, the state should assist people in achieving self-reliance (and so the contributory principle in the report) rather than being simply a benevolent charity writ large (and so his support for conditions on benefits such as mandatory attendance at work or training centres and his desire to see friendly societies provide social insurance schemes rather than having the state be the sole provider).

Was Beveridge right then? And is he right now?

Hat-tip for Beveridge quote: Duncan Brack’s chapter in The political thought of the Liberal and Liberal Democrats since 1945.

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  • It’s difficult to discuss these issues without coming over all Daily Mail.

    That said, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the quick fix solution to so many problems has been to “benefitise” it, with the result that any rational or sensible change to any benefit is seen as an attack on the poor.

    Too many unemployable miners – Invalidity Benefit

    Too many unemployed teenagers – expand University sector to an unsustainable level and warehouse them there for a few years.

    Minimum wage too low – introduce top up benefits that put the load on the state, not the employer. I find it absolutely disgusting that the state are subsidising multinational corporations that repatriate their profits overseas

    Its hardly surprising that so many rich individuals see nothing wrong with tax avoidance when they see Governments delivering financial pats on the head to such a large percentage of the population

    The result of all of this is that we no longer have a safety net, we have a duvet of a system that cocoons all of us to a greater or lesser extent and makes it far too easy to stop work, or never work without any incentive or driver to change that situation.

    For once, I hink IDS has got this about right, alhough we obviously need to see the details

  • Paul Kennedy 29th Jan '11 - 11:32am

    I’m not an expert on Beveridge’s views, and am not against social benefits being matched by social obligations, but I believe that (whether in a big society or otherwise) such obligations and benefits should be universal, with obligations based on ability to contribute and welfare benefits based on need.

    The problem with the illiberal means-tested benefits introduced by Labour is not that they provide something for nothing, but that people with disabilities, children, housing needs etc are paid NOT to work, save, negotiate a lower rent with their landlord etc, and penalised heavily (often 100% or more) if they do. Ironically the justification for this insanity is to avoid wasting benefits, but making these benefits available to the wealthy is not a ‘waste’ if we ensure that they are paying for them through other means. If we want to ask the better-off to contribute more we should do so through proportionate taxes on excessive incomes, expenditure, pollution, wealth, abilities, etc not by withdrawing universal benefits such as education, healthcare, housing, pensions, disability benefits, security and child benefit, which create a them-and-us society.

    So rather than adding conditions to means-tested benefits we need universal but basic benefits for all (except non-doms), additional help for the disabled elderly and children, and free advice and protection for residents, consumers, employees, tenants, students, etc.

    Benefits would be supported by moderate taxes on modest incomes (say 20% scrapping NI up to £50k) and a much higher rate (say 50% with no loopholes for pensions contributions etc) thereafter so as to encourage employers to take on more lower-paid workers rather than fat cats, high taxes on pollution and luxuries, making council tax more proportionate to land values, etc. NI would be replaced by an obligation to contribute to the community through volunteering, jury service etc, or (if you would rather not and can afford it) making a financial contribution. Those who misbehave would have to contribute more (with prison reserved for enforcement and protecting society from dangerous criminals).

    We should not ask only those on means-tested benefits to contribute to the community, we should all do it.

  • I see no Iceberg 29th Jan '11 - 1:24pm

    Those who strive to keep tearing holes in the safety net shouldn’t act surprised when this creates ever larger ghettos and a hugely expanding underclass. This at a time when the Bankers are back to their bonus bonanza’s while complaining that they are being unfairly maligned for their part in the wrecking of so many economies and lives.

    Blair looked on unconcerned as the gap between rich and poor widened to dangerous levels as his only priority was to keep the wealthiest and most powerful appeased, fat and happy.

    Now the gap between rich and poor looks to be accelerating who will stand up for those who have the least and the most to lose under ‘austerity’ Britain ?

    Osborne ? Cameron ? Dare I say it, Clegg ?

    The poor will end up suffering in silence unless someone in politics with courage gives them a voice.

  • If you have people claiming benefits, cleaning up parks, sweeping streets Cutting grass verges e.t.c. you are taking the work away from the existing employees who are paid for this type of work

    Matt, you might want to look up the lump of labour falacy.

  • @ad

    I’m not really sure of whether you support or denigrate the lump-of-labour argument which certainly has had a lot of right-wing support in its various emanations over the decades.

    Anyway I don’t see that it applies in this case as we are not talking about a fixed number of workers working less hours to leave a productivity gap that can only be filled by employing more workers. In any case we shouldn’t be looking backwards at discredited economic theories but addressing the really pressing need to create growth in this econony which will create more jobs.

    Matt’s argument – as I understand it – is that it’s counter-productive for people on benefits to do community projects and therefore efectively replace – probably council employees – on poor wages. In a booming economy there could be some financial arguments for this but I think the negative social arguments would easily win out.

    But in our current economy the council workers would lose their job and end-up on benefits because cash-strapped councils would have nowhere to re-employ them and there are precioius few vacancies they could move to. And thanks to latest LibDem moves they couldn’t even lodge an unfair dismissal claim if they weren’t previously employed for two years.

    So we end up with a group of benefit claimants doing the grass-cutting but sacking the people who originally did the job at minimum-wage who paid NI and tax but end up unemployed and instead of contributing to the State they end up on benefits.

    Sounds like utter madness to me and I agree with Matt on this. I particularly agree that training and education has got to be a key route to getting people into work and ultimately the best possibility of them breaking free of poverty.

  • The Last Liberal 29th Jan '11 - 5:52pm

    The wefare state has been shown to be a failure. It does nothing but encourage “laziness” and gives the idle, the fecless and the sick and disabled free money for no reason at all. I resent the fact that MY MONEY goes towards these people who have no place in society. I am more than glad that Clegg and Duncan-Smith are doing their all to tackle and eradicate this from our society.It’s time that the enmployed are left to their own devices; hunger and homelessness are the best incentives to find new work. It may sound harsh, but it is tough love. And as for the “sick and disabled”, first we know most of them are fakes. And it just isn’t my or society’s responsibility to pay to keep the sick and disabled alive. That should be down to the family. If you can’t work, sorry, but you don’t eat. It’s the law of nature and we Liberals need to face reality on this. Let’s face it: these people don’t contribute much, if anything, to society. For every person we get rid of from disability or JSA, that’s more money we can spend on Our Boys in Afghanistan or on tax breaks for people in Alarm Clock Britain who really do work. The Coalition has the right idea to whittle down the welfare state and we should all stand shoulder to shoulder with Nick and Dave as they try to Get Britain Working Again.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Jan '11 - 5:59pm

    Why do people assume that mandatory work in return for benefits has to mean doing a full-time job for the current rate of unemployment benefit? That would obviously be horrendously unfair and economically unproductive. But asking people to work a certain number of hours at minimum wage would be a different matter altogether – so if you kept the benefit rate for a single person at £65 a week, you could say, Okay, here’s 10 hours a week of work, we’ll pay you £6.50 an hour for it. In effect, instead of paying out benefits for nothing dependent on circumstances, you would be providing a Work Guarantee, where the number of hours of work guaranteed would vary depending on the claimant’s circumstances. (Or the minimum wage guaranteed: no reason it would all have to be national minimum wage rates, if that would mean undercutting wages in the area.) It doesn’t seem wholly unreasonable to me as a way of paying non-contributory benefits to people who are fit to work.

  • Sarah Reigns 29th Jan '11 - 6:02pm

    Oh he was right indeed. I, for one, am sick and tired of going into work day in day out only to have my taxes taken away to pay for the lazy, feckless unemployed, chavs, cripples, sickness-fakers and anyone else who is workshy. The welfare state has been nothing short of a disaster and there are millions of people in the country who work hard but resent our money going to pay for “sick” or “handicapped” people who, let’s be honest, contribute nothing to society. I applaud the part the LibDems are taking to dismantle the welfare state. We have to say to these people who receive benefits: sorry, but that’s the law of nature and we simply can’t afford to pay for your fecklessness any longer. People should have to, if they want, purchase their own out of work insurance. That we it is optional and people like me who work hard won’t feel resentful that our hard-earned money is being spend on some bogus motability scheme for some “disabled” person who is toolazy to walk anywhere. IDS and Clegg have my full support on this!

  • Ed The Snapper 29th Jan '11 - 9:28pm

    The jobs are simply not there for the millions of unemployed and underemployed in this country. Most of our industries are long gone or will be gone soon. Vast numbers of jobs have been automated out of existence. We simply have to accept that we will have to pay for millions of unemployed workers who will never find enough employment. Something like a citizens income policy is my preference. This avoids the pointless and demeaning process of “signing on” and “signing off”. It is a process deliberatly designed to make people feel unworthy and ungrateful. Beveridge was writing at a time when millions of workers were needed for manual and low-skilled jobs. Those jobs are long gone and there will be no jobs to replace them. We cannot all sell each other insurance or make hamburgers for each other.

  • Simon McGrath 29th Jan '11 - 9:46pm

    “Ed the snapper” if the job aren’t there how do you explain the hundreds of thousands of people who have come here and found jobs from Eastern Europre?

  • Matt – ““Community Work” or whatever they would want to call it. If you have people claiming benefits, cleaning up parks, sweeping streets Cutting grass verges e.t.c. you are taking the work away from the existing employees who are paid for this type of work, ”

    Having driven down several Motorways and Dual Carriage ways today, all of which had verges strewn with litter, it seems no-one is doing this work at all at present. So it wouldn’t be taking paid work away from anyone.

  • Ed The Snapper 29th Jan '11 - 10:02pm

    From Simon McGrath: “Ed the snapper” if the job aren’t there how do you explain the hundreds of thousands of people who have come here and found jobs from Eastern Europre? ”

    Because those jobs are not sufficient to pay a living wage for a British citizen. I do not see how a redundant British worker can support his/her family then pay his rent or mortgage plus all his other bills and debts through fruit picking, serving chips or washing cars. If anyone thinks a living can be made doing that then I invite them to try it. Now that the recession has come along most of those jobs have gone anyway and the East Europeans have been returning home in droves. It takes large-scale manufacturing industries to support a population in anything other than a basic standard of living. Those industries have now gone abroad and no doubt the fabled “service industries” will soon follow them.

  • “Sarah Reigns” – great parody lol

  • Matt. I take it you didn’t listen to Radio 5 on Thursday, where there was a woman working to try and deal with the long term unemployed, those where no-one has worked in a family for 30 years.

    She stated that these people are so completely divorced from working that they have no concept of what it means, and see benefits as a comfort blanket. Yet if they do something useful, even once, it starts to repair their self esteem.

    We have a wealth of jobs that need doing and 2.5 million people doing nothing. How stupid is that?

  • 2.5 Million people unemployed, Chasing, 375’000 jobs

    And those are ‘offical’ figures which have never been anywhere near the true value since the early 80s when the figures began to be ‘massaged’.

    Yep, that’s it. All the rest is just the usual political games. I am sure that the vast majority of the unemployed would love to work 40 hours a week. Just not for their unemployment benefit only though…

  • Ed The Snapper 29th Jan '11 - 11:24pm

    It is just not economic to get these millions of unemployed to do pitifully basic jobs. You have to match the jobs to the person, then do risk assessments, then pay the supervisors, then supply the equipment and transport, you have to supervise them, you have to ensure that they attend, you have to find those who do not turn up or call in sick, you have to impose punishments on defaulters (and have a thorough appeals process). Then you have to ensure that those conscripted into these schemes have time off for interviews and job-hunting (a very time-consuming and expensive activity as those who have tried it will know). I have supervised unpaid volunteers doing conservation work. It was expensive, hard-work and very time-consuming even though I was dealing with interested and motivated volunteers. I certainly would not want to supervise resentful conscripts drafted in to pick up litter on a motorway embankment. Would it even be economic to do so? I think not. Every conscript would know that the menial job had no future and would lead absolutely nowhere. Better for the state to build some new workplaces and make some useful products then send the unemployed to college to prepare them for new, real jobs.

  • @Simon McGrath who said: ” if the job aren’t there how do you explain the hundreds of thousands of people who have come here and found jobs from Eastern Europre? ”

    Various reasons but a lot of the Eastern Europeans are here because they are employed on starvation wages and living in squalor so that Tory landowners and farmers can increase their profits and dodge taxes and NI contributions.

    These workers are lied to in their home countries by gang-masters who give them ‘loans’ to pay for their transport here and work. They are lied to about the wages but by the time they are here it’s too late and the gangmaster holds their passport and they are warned if they go to the police they will be jailed. Often their English is non-existant – they really are modern day serfs and slaves. What is the LibDems doing about their civil liberties?

    What continually amazes me about this site is the naievety of many of the LibDem posters – I can never decide if they are actually children or have never worked in a real job with ordinary people as they display and almost total ignorance about what is going on and happening to ordinary people in this country.

    The other thing I have notriced is the right wing shift among posters and the slow disappearance of centre, centre left LibDem posters – they seem to be giving up and either leaving their party or taking no part in it.

    Now the Tories and LibDems are trying to pull British pay rates and conditions down as well and a first step is Vince Cable explaining that we can get more ‘growth’ by taking away statutory protection from UK workers unfairly sacked. Previously they were protected after 12 months now the Tories and LibDems have increased this to 24 months before they can apply to an Employment Tribunal.

    A major attack on every UK worker and the LibDem MPs are going to support this Tory savage policy. How can you lor sleep at night.

    And as others have said all these work dragooning schemes come to nothing – they were forced on a starving UK population in the Hungry 30s and now we are heading back to those days. In due course the masses will take a lead from Tunisia and Egypt and it won’t be a Bonfire of the Quangos.

  • @Matt

    It’s obvious that some of the posters here just want to punish benefit claimants and have no interest in actually trying to find ways to get them into work other than at the most menial level. Perhaps it makes them feel secure in their own lives to realise that they are way above that.

    Well anyone of us can end up back at the bottom of the heap and only when you are there do you realise that this good life on benefits is a figment of the DM and DT readers’ imagination and sadly it now seems that LibDems are joining them.

    And what about the disgrace of Sure Start for the poorest of families being scrapped and cut despite Cameron and Clegg giving personal assurances on the eve of the GE that it would be kept – just more broken promises and pledges from them.

  • Sarah Reigns 30th Jan '11 - 1:12am


    I ain’t kidding. I’m sick of having the piss taking out of me. Just the other day the Daily Mail reported that 94% of all claimants are fit to work and I bet its more than that too probably more than 96% cos some fakers must get through. I used to be in the Conservative party but I don’t like their anti-Euro stances cos my business relies on the EU lol so I started supporting the the Lib Dems when the Coalition was formed and realised both parties really do think alike apart from EU. We need to make the welfare state as small as possible and then hopefully lower taxes for the middle class and mid to large businesses. I’m part of Alarm Clock Britain and I’m glad that for once we have politicians who stick up for us finally something is being done about Labours anti-work policies!!

  • @Sarah Reigns


    I’m amazed that a go-getter like yourself could possibly support someone with as poor a work ethic as Mr Alarm Clock himself 🙂

  • I think the point about the welfare state is that there is, or should be, an implicit contract. On the one side, government undertakes to help those out of work with training and financial support to live decently and to find work. When they do, it should ensure that they can earn a decent standard of living that is BETTER than it would be if they were unemployed. On the other side, the unemployed should be obliged to improve their skills, take up work when it is available, not turn it down for no good reason and certainly not claim to be sick when they are not.

    It seems to me that there are failures on both sides of the equation at the moment. The Coalition government should be putting any spare funds it can find into helping training and improvement of skills. The budget deficit appears to be falling slightly faster than expected and an emergency “reskilling” package should be implemented, with educational assessments for all unemployed for longer than a certain period to identify their weaknesses and compulsory daytime attendance at adult education and training centres, bus fares/bicycle allowance paid. Monetary rewards for those reaching certain levels of educational and skills improvement could provide additional incentives.

    As an education “nazi” myself, I would say anyone using “it’s” wrongly, or using “loose” when they mean “lose”, as well as people who add a question mark at the end of a sentence that isn’t a question, should lose all benefits immediately. (Just joking!)

  • @matt

    Good piece matt and only one thing I would take issue with.

    The Daily Mail didn’t get anything wrong – they were just doing what they always do which is pandering to their Tory readers and making the facts suit their editorial line.

    If they had misinterpreted the stats then that would be bad enough but I’m afraid it goes much deeper and actually is a bigger threat to Democracy in this country than phone hacking at the NoW.

    They are their to justify the Tory ideology and that will never change – oh they’ll do the odd story about Tories that don’t matter to preserve a semblance of ‘balance’ but it’s all a charade.

    LibDems used to be able to see through this but the right-wingers who are either flooding in to the party or perhaps previously kept tsilent about their true feelings are now in full throttle and in control.

  • Unbelievable, seeing some posts here actually advocating hunger and homelessness for the unemployed/disabled is something I thought I’d never see here, but I suppose starvation will ‘reduce the surplus population’

  • @matt

    Can’t quite work out how the LibDems attacking the statutory rights of every worker in the UK sits within the LibDem constitution. Seems to me that making workers have to wait for 2 years instead of the current 12 months before obtaining legal protection against unfair dismissal breaks just about everything written.

    The Tories in the LibDem party will soon be rewriting the party constitution anyway. Och it would just be easier to merge the parties as you can’t get a bus ticket between their economic policies and welfare cuts anyway.

    Sure Start was another shocker as well and yet another broken Clegg pledge. I wonder how the guy can sleep at night?

  • @nige

    Look on the bright-side – more work for gravediggers 🙂

    Don’t know if we can continue with cremation though as that might be too big a strain on the National Grid and push up electricity prices. Silly me we want the prices up so people can’t stay warm – now what about that Fuel Allowance?

  • Look on the bright-side – more work for gravediggers 🙂

    Yeah probably the only growth industry, that and Victorian(esque) top hat makers.

    I must admit it’s surprising that other Liberals on the site aren’t decrying the comments above as the poster(s) claim to be in the party or has the party itself changed that much?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 30th Jan '11 - 12:38pm

    I’m afraid this is a very selective quotation and out of context quote of Beveridge which I suspect is being used for the narrow political purpose of gaining support for forthcoming workfare proposals and playing the old Tory game of blaming or associating unemployment with those who don’t want to work.

    The Beveridge report was written in 1942 – and my guess is that given the circumstances at the time anyone who was voluntarily unemployed would be seen as fair game. And of course if Beveridge considered “voluntary” unemployment to be such an issue one might have expected him to push the issues in subsequent years when he joined the Liberal Party, became a Liberal MP and even its leader – but somewhat surprisingly he didn’t. It may be that he was slightly more concerned about using Keynesian economics to reduce the extent of involuntary unemployment and to achieve the 3% unemployment level he wished to see set as target in “Full employment in a Free Society 1944” . Oh for such a principled approach from the current Liberal Democrats.

    Might I suggest that in future liberals try and look at the overall messages of their “heroes” such as Keynes, Beveridge and John Stuart Mill before using selective quotation as a means for justifying the behaviour of this coalition. If you wanted to take this game to a ridiculous extreme you could even use Beveridge to make a case for supporting eugenics – which he did for a short period in his earlier life.

  • Simon McGrath 30th Jan '11 - 1:15pm

    Rather baffled by the comments about immigration from E Europe. How can you explain that during the economic boom time somewhere around 600,000 people came here, not speaking English in many cases and got jobs wjile millions stayed ‘unemployed’. If young people from Polamd can move across Europe to London is it so unreasonable to ask why young people from Wales and N England can’t do the same?
    @toryboys fascinated to hear that Beveridge became Leader of the Liberal Party, something which has been missed by party historians.

  • I would imagine Beveridge’s views on cutting investment and stifling growth would be very different to the current government.

    Yes, idleness was identified as a potential problem during the inception of the welfare state, over the last thirty or so years, governments have encouraged it, I doubt Beveridge would agree with their approaches either.

    As you point out Mark: “was not security through a welfare state but security by cooperation between the state and the individual” this is cooperation between state and the individual, this is why yhe current government have got it all arse about face, they’re cutting at the wrong time, the circumstances aren’t in place for growth to create jobs for people to have the opportunities to be told they’re not really playing their part in this partnership.

    Unemployment has been used for way too long as an excuse for governments not to aim for full employment, because it’s seen as less expensive, it’s an example of people knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.

  • “The other thing I have noticed is the right wing shift among posters and the slow disappearance of centre, centre left LibDem posters….”

    An interesting observation EcoJon. I think you probably understand from your long experience with the Labour Party how it is for those of us on the social liberal (I won’t say ‘left’ because that’s a well-worn debate in itself) wing of the party. I felt genuinely sorry for long-term socialists who had perhaps given a lifetime’s work to the party they passionately believed had and would improve the lives of their fellow citizens only to see most of what they had struggled for betrayed by a group of arrivistes who, in some cases, had no roots in or understanding of the Labour Movement. To have remained a member of the Labour Party over a period of years you would have had to have been anti-EU/want to see Britain at the heart of Europe; believe in the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy/be intensely relaxed about individuals becoming filthy rich; support unilateral nuclear disarmament/support the renewal of Trident; + Iraq. At least, I felt, I didn’t have to make compromises on that sort of scale when the Liberal Party merged with the SDP. Now I do, and it is incredibly uncomfortable. I am not a coalition loyalist, so I am not going to come on here and defend Tory policies which in other circumstances I would be fighting, but probably like many others on the social liberal wing of the party I am coping with the situation to an extent by being in denial that many of the things that the coalition is doing are going to have as devastating a consequence as the Labour Party says they are; or additionally assuring myself that the short-term pain is necessary in order to deal with the disastrous economic situation, and that the policies being pursued by the coalition are not part of a nefarious Tory plan to drastically roll back the boundaries of the state. I know that this is probably self-deception, but I am about to write a cheque to renew my membership. Labour Party members have been through the nightmare years of Blair and Brown and are experiencing a surge of optimism that they can now get their party back: I want to still be there when there is a chance to get my party back!

  • @Sarah Reigns

    I sincerely hope that you or any of your family never find yourself in the position of needing to “purchase their own out of work insurance”.

    To explain why I say this I will give you an example from my own past experience. My mother, who worked as a SRN for the best part of 32 years (never went on strike despite low pay and long hours) contracted breast cancer at the age of 43. After having a whole and part of a breast removed she understandably had to take time off work. During this time she also underwent re-constructive surgery due to infection and complications but to also regain some semblance of “being a woman”.

    After 2-3 years she returned to work at the local hospital but not as a hands on practical nurse. All the time the spectre remained of the cancer returning to finish her off but mum just got on with life the best she could but the whole experience changed her physically and mentally for the worse.

    Eventually, my mother found she could not cope with the house she lived in at the time and decided to sell up and move to a smaller house. When mum eventually applied for a mortgage she found she could not get any form of life assurance to pay for the endowment or to underwrite the repayment option. All this because she had been unfortunate to have contracted cancer…She would have been turned down for any sort of Private Health Insurance too for the same reasons.

    The above illustrates, I hope, why “cripples, sick and handicapped people” (to use your words) need a welfare state for support.

    Your views would not seem appropriate to that of any the mainstream parties in the UK at present and if you are deluded enough to think your views are then try writing to each and kindly publish your replies somewhere for us all to see.

    Finally, you mention that you are in business for yourself, good for you. Let’s hope you do not lose your business and decide to move into politics. There are no parties right wing enough to support your position since April 1945 and we all know what happened to them.

  • Sarah Reigns 30th Jan '11 - 3:01pm

    @matt, @hainart

    No, I am NOT kidding. And you guys had better pay more attention to our leader, Nick Clegg. The welfare state is done for and even he says so. In his recent article for the Sun he rightly pointed out that those of us who don’t want handouts are more important. We cannot afford the welfare state at all any longer. Too bad, so sad for the scroungers and the “disabled” who contribute NOTHING to society. We are moving towards the US model in almost everything, especially health and thats a good thing the NHS should be privatised. I’m now in the LibDems because I see the party is right-of-centre, pro-capitalism, pro-worker. Not like all those pathetic wishy-washy views you had before the coalition lol you may not like it but your party has changed and now supports the REAL PEOPLE, people like me who create wealth and by the way I will never need out of work insurance as I am worth millions. The LibDems are even proving they stand up for business by removing “rights” from workers like making it 2 years before they can take me to tribunal AND they’re going to make it easier for me to sack people. Hopefully we’ll get rid of a lot of health and safety which causes me to lose money as well.

    I say Nick Clegg is the best thing to happen to us, he is modernising the Party. And soon Britain will be back to prosperity with people like me back on top and the scroungers and sick-fakers on the bottom where they belong!

  • ‘The Last Liberal’ and ‘Sarah Reigns’ are trolls who do not represent the views of Liberal Democrat and are posting their obnoxious views here to discredit the Liberal Democrats. They are therefore not worth engaging with.

  • @Sarah Reigns

    You are obviously trying to wind us all up aren’t you? Go on admit it and go away so people can have a sensible discussion here without your poisonous input. Your’e wrong Sarah, end of story….

    Nick Clegg, and believe me I am no fan, would recoil in horror at your views (“handicapped, sick and cripples”) as would David Cameron. Remember his son. I am no fan of Cameron either but my heart went out to him when he lost his son as it would any parent to lose a child in any circumstances.

    There are people like you who are allowed to vote that share the same views as yourself but fortunately for all of us you are in the minority. You can have your points about those who have no wish to work (chavs etc, to again use your words) and that group of people require attention from government as commentators have pointed out above.

    Where I take a dislike (to put it mildly) regarding your views is that you lump the most vulnerable people in society as undeserving of welfare because they had the misfortune to be born disabled or to fall sick through no fault of their own.

    I have a son who is autistic (disabled) and you say that he should fend for himself as he will not contribute anything.

    By your warped logic life should be a free for all, the survival of the fittest. Believe me if that is how life becomes you will need more than Nick Clegg to look after your business.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 30th Jan '11 - 4:24pm


    Thanks for spotting what I really meant – but the basic point that Beveridge had a plaform in active politics and used it to argue for a reduction in involuntary unemployment – rather than arguing against the welfare state and adopting the Tory line of blaming unemployemnt on the voluntary unemployed still stands. The the coalition goes on the more I’m coming to the conclusion that the natural predecessors of the LibDems were the National Liberals rather than the Liberal Party, which was an honorable institution and actually gave something to national political life.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 30th Jan '11 - 4:39pm

    @Sarah Reigns

    You are giving us trolls a bad name – either the LibDems have gone beyond the parody stage or you were born without the compassion gene,

  • david thorpe 30th Jan '11 - 5:13pm

    it should be based on universality of need,
    not universality of entitlement, which is what happened under labour with things like winter fuel payments and child tax credits
    both of those are miles from anything beveridge advocated, as I blogged on this site at the time of the debate on child credits

  • Eddit Holbert 30th Jan '11 - 5:13pm

    We can all tut at “Sarah Reign”‘s views, and we can all pat ourselves on the back about what a great man Beveridge was, and we can all say that Nick and Dave would be horrified at her views, but the evidence of what is being done right now, in government, does not support this. We are, as a party, supporting policies which take money away from the most vulnerable in society. We are removing mobility payments for those in care homes, making them virtual prisoners. We are scrapping DLA and replacing it with something very feeble. We’re redusing housing benefit for those who are disabled or sick through no fault of their own. Disability rights campaigners are highlighting these problems but every time one of them speaks here I see they get shouted down and called “Labour Trolls”. Hell, we’re even taking rights AWAY from workers by making it easier for them to be sacked and taking away their right to tribunal until they’ve been employed for 2 years. How can any of us support this crap? Are we not Liberal Democrats? Or are we right-wing Tories? We know for a fact there are many Tories who feel the same as this “Sarah Reigns”. We can shout “pupil premium” til we’re blue in the face but that won’t help the disabled who are in danger of losing their homes.

    We need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and pull our fingers out from you-know-where. We are, in government, enacting policies that will HURT the poorest, the disabled and the weakest in society. Our party’s goal was always to protect these people. We’re doing the opposite and we’re letting it happen. Shame on all of us who call ourselves LibDems.

  • David Allen 30th Jan '11 - 9:58pm

    Beveridge pioneered a major welfare reform. He also wrote in wartime when unemployment was not a concern and when everybody was expected to help the war effort. Naturally he will have sought to maximise his support by arguing that benefits could be conditional rather than automatic. Indeed, it will have seemed obvious in wartime that benefit recipients ought to give something back in return.

    What we have found out since then is that it is broadly not practical. If you ask benefit claimants to take over paid work that people are now doing, you simply drive those people out of their jobs – Matt’s point. If on the other hand you try to get them to do jobs that are currently left undone, like litter clearance, it actually isn’t free, it costs a lot of money you don’t have – as explained by Ed the Snapper.

    If you’re a professional, like Mark Pack, you know these things. So when, Mark, you call for benefits to be contingent on some sort of workfare, you know very well that it ain’t going to happen. You are covertly supporting the view that if we can’t get claimants into workfare, it’s OK to stop paying them welfare and let them starve.

    Which party are we, again, please?

  • @ Eddit Holbert
    I can only agree with your last post, it just about sums up my feelings, the Tories where always going to do these things (against the vulnerable/disable blaming the poor for being poor etc ) just look at their history however when the coalition was formed I did have hopes that the Party would have a moderating influence and I generally supported it but, for me at least, it became clear very quickly it wasn’t going to happen and I no longer support the Party whilst this coalition and it’s current policies towards the vulnerable/working classes are being pursued.
    Just what has happened to the Party? it speaks volumes that posters such as Sarah Reign and The last Liberal feel this could be their political home, yes their views are an anathema to Liberals (or should be) but still I do have to ask myself just how far has the Party shifted to the right?

  • “Just what has happened to the Party? it speaks volumes that posters such as Sarah Reign and The last Liberal feel this could be their political home, yes their views are an anathema to Liberals (or should be) but still I do have to ask myself just how far has the Party shifted to the right?”

    It speaks volumes about your inability to see through caricature sock-puppets created by left-wing tyrols.

  • David Allen – I’m curious to know your views on productive work and the individual responsibility of the able-bodied to improve their own situation.

  • Tabman,

    You may well be right to think that “Sarah Reigns” and “The Last Liberal” are caricatures created by trolls. You’ll notice that some of the Labour posters on this site, Matt for example, have come to the same conclusion. However, it is really not possible to be sure. There are some real people around with weird opinions who will genuinely applaud when our party now attacks welfare, with dog-whistle phrases such as “alarm clock Britain” for example.

    Perhaps the Voice editors could comment? If “Sarah Reigns” or “The Lost Liberal” can be identified as trolls from their contact details, perhaps the editors could let us know?

  • “see through caricature sock-puppets created by left-wing tyrols.”

    LOL. I hope your right, but you cannot deny that such views/people exist, maybe they are hooking onto the party maybe not, it’s still worrying not to mention very offensive no matter what their political agenda maybe.

  • David Allen 31st Jan '11 - 1:01pm


    To answer your curiosity: I believe that we should have strong incentives to encourage those who can work to do so. We do have strong incentives. In fact, we have excessive social inequality and ample rewards for success.

    Of course it is a pity we have so many people on benefits. All parties have tried and largely failed to reduce the numbers, because of annoying and boring practical difficulties, which some would like to pretend are not there. But it is dishonest to pretend that they are not there. Simply cutting benefits now will not suddenly drive people to find jobs which don’t exist.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Jan '11 - 1:32pm


    If you actually look into the issue of “voluntary” unemployement you will see that it is actually a lot more complex than it is made out by many on the right. The are a wide variety of reasons why it happens – early retirement, poor training, lack of self confidence and esteem – and the problem cannot be addressed by “stick” approach of reducing benefits/workfare, and can be quite costly to address effectively.

    But the problem has always been there and you have to ask why those on the right (now including some LibDems) feel that now is the time to raise the issue when involuntary unemployment is on the rise. Sarah Reigns may be a poor parody – but the fact that she has got such a reaction does suggest that there may be a grain of truth.

  • @tonyhill

    I read your response and yes the experiences are similar. Personally I left the LP when Blair became Leader and have only just rejoined as I believe that Milliband is possibly capable of being different. I would have rejoined under Brown but personal circumstances got in the way. Joining under Brown was purely on a personal level because I know he has principles and that he is basically a decent human being although he does have a lot of faults, but don’t we all.

    During my time out of the LP I still worked for candidates at all levels who I knew personally and who had principles they would stick to. The carpet-baggers never seemed to make that cut 🙂

    At the end of the day whether to stay or go has got to be a personal choice. Looking at everything that the LibDems have done since the GE I might have stayed if I had been a member but unless you are one it’s a question without a real answer.

    I suppose the sticking-point would have been the Tory Coalition – I would have worn a Confidence & Supply position but probably not what was agreed. However, if I had stayed then I think I would still have been there – not giving any support to Tory ideology but just enduring and doing what I could to retain a social conscience.

    I wouldn’t probably have gone on tuition fees because we still don’t have sufficient information to actually work out the effect on poorer kids and the ‘exceptional circumstances’ definition is a key factor to me which we have yet to get. I would have fought for tuition fees to have been redlined in the coalition agreement and await the biographies with interest to see the excuses. However, I would probably have gone following the HoC vote when I believe principles went out the window and political expediency won the day.

    But I do know that if I had still survived as a member I would have gone over Cable’s announcement to raise the unfair dismissal bar from 12 to 24 months and effectively remove statutory protection from every UK worker. And the crass excuse that it will promote ‘growth’ is unreal. How can Cable say that the 12 month period stops employers from hiring workers. Of course it doesn’t as an employer has 12 months to form an opinion and terminate employment if they wish without an legal probs.

    No what is going on is purely Tory ideology at work to increase the bar to 24 months to keep a dowmward pressure on wages and to ensure workers keep their heads down and accept reduced wages and conditions. It also prevents workers leaving an employer for a better-paid job because they would then have no employment protection for 2 years – would you move? I know I wouldn’t.

    There’s always a tipping point – well there is if you’ve joined a party out of personal conviction and not just to have a career. But time will tell.

  • I appreciate your response as always, EcoJon. Perhaps because I am an employer rather than an employee, and have been at the receiving end of an entirely unjustified action for constructive dismissal, my views about this aspect of coalition policy are not quite the same as yours.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Jan '11 - 9:00pm


    A unjustified action will still be an unjustified action if the employee has been employed for 25 months – what people find unsatisfactory is that justifiable actions cannot take place if the employee has been there for 12 to 24 months. I can see the argument for a trial period for both the employee and employer but sureley 12 months is enough to work that out. I do actually believe there are some cases where employees bring actions that are unjustified (or more usually threaten to do so – so they they get offered healthy payoffs)- but the answer there is to deal with what is considered an appropriate cause and what isn’t directly rather than messing around with periods of employment. What will happen next if the current logic is followed will be an increase to 36 months and beyond, because there will still be some unjustified claims from thise employed for up to 3 years.

  • 12 months is more than long enough for a “trial period” within which the employee has no legal protection. On the other hand, 24 months is arguably too short a period within which to grant an unscrupulous employee the nuclear option of a legal action for unfair dismissal. Is the answer to seek some sort of halfway house, a kind of “small claims court”, whereby an employee dismissed after (say) 6 – 30 months could sue for a smallish fixed penalty only?

  • @tonyhill

    I have been an employer as well Tony and also taken an ET against an employer as well as reporting on ETs on and off for a long time.

    So I’ve got quite a mixed view on them. The big money payers are the discrimination cases and I don’t think the time bar will apply to them so that won’t save unjust claims with a big compensation potential.

    Decisions can be a bit capricious because a helluva lot of emphasis is put on the ‘feel’ that tribunals get about the witnesses and I have often felt that the tribunal system actually accentuates this flaw whereas a chairman sitting alone seems to act more on the actual evidence. The chairman of course is legally quaified.

    I have seen so many determinations that defy the evidence and any logic but they happen both ways.

    However, what really annoyed me about Cable was the growth excuse. I don’t know if you’ve seen the figures published but the 200,000 jobs created by the private sector in the last 12 months which Cameron crows about – well only 6,000 are actually fulltime.

    The rest are partime or temporary or short term contract and agency – so saying a 12 month period would affect them is just nonsense.

    It’s scary when I listen to Pfeizer scrapping 2,400 good full-time jobs down south today and then look at the 6,000 full-time jobs which it took 12 months to create and I wonder how many of these are low quality supermarket shelf stackers etc

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