I completely missed the story of Alec Shelbrooke’s withdrawal of his hated benefits cash card bill last month. Shelbrooke, whose waistline grows bigger each day he sits in the Commons, is no friend of benefit claimants or trade unionists.
The idea behind the cash card was to limit the kind of items that benefit claimants could spend their welfare payments on. This is from the BBC website:
Mr Shelbrooke told me he has widespread support from ordinary people and has been unfairly portrayed as a right-wing Tory who believes idle scroungers should be stopped from living a life of unearned luxury.
His view is that benefit claimants will be far better off if they are unable to buy what he calls “NEDD items”- things that were, in his words, “non-essential, desirable but often damaging”.
Perhaps he should take his own advice and spend less time gorging himself with the subsidized food and drink that is paid for with our taxes? Just a thought.
He also feels that there has been a lot of deliberate misinterpretation of his proposals particularly by benefits campaign groups and Labour politicians.
“I made it clear this would apply to all claimants in work and out of work, and would cover all benefits other than disability payments and the basic state pension,” he told me.
“Yet time and again I have seen criticism based on how this will degrade the lifestyles of groups that I specifically exclude from my proposal.”
No, there has been no “deliberate misinterpretation” and it’s fanciful and delusional to think that opposition to the tax is based on wilful misinterpretation. This bill was predicated on Shelbrooke’s and his fellow Tories’ class disgust. He also claims that “most of the public” supports his idea. Of course, he would deny that consent for cuts and the Bedroom Tax was manufactured by the Tory press, the BBC and ITV in the first place.
I took a look at his blog. Here he says:
Primarily there are two critical points to the bill. The first is that all benefits paid by the government, whether people are working or not, should be on a debit card (that would also allow cheaper energy deals to be used) would remove any stigma. The second is to stop people buying cigarettes, alcohol, gambling and satellite TV with the card. Indeed, I describe the essentials it should be used on as food, energy, transport, clothing and housing. In all of the abuse I have received from people opposed to the idea I still haven’t had one person tell me how smoking, drinking and gambling help to raise someone out of poverty.
My bold. The trouble is, his government is not committed to raising anyone out of poverty. Their rationale is to force people into working for nothing and castigating the working poor for claiming benefits.
Further down his blog, I found this.
Raising the debate itself led to death threats to my office and a torrent of foul language and statements being levelled at me from the Left. How do I know they are from the Left? Primarily because they did it on twitter and their profile name gave them away as to their political leanings. But is it acceptable in our so called mature society to call me a fascist, a hater of the poor and most offensively of all eluding to Nazism though making the suggestion that I should get “all benefits claimants to wear yellow stars”? I can take as many insults as you throw at me, but how dare people use the murder of six million people as their insult simply because they’re incapable of constructing a plausible argument, which can stand up to debate on their so-called ‘holy grail of the country’. Quite frankly, it’s base, contemptible and disgraceful.
There’s something inside me that says Shelbrooke is being over-dramatic. “Death threats”? Really? Funny how the press has never once mentioned it. He also complains that he has been attacked on Twitter by “the Left” but why would anyone on the Left support his proposals? They wouldn’t. But suggesting that the Left should say nothing and support his crazy plan is nothing short of delusional. Indeed, in making his dubious moral points, Shelbrooke displays the lack of critical thinking that is endemic in today’s Britain.
Here, he defends the wrongheaded and hated Bedroom Tax.
I cannot tell you how many private home owners have asked me why they should pay tax on their empty rooms. Of course they will not. The use of the word tax is misleading for a start, as tax is money taking by the government from what you earn, not reduce the amount of money they give you in the fist place. I have heard countless examples in the House of Labour MPs describing parents of service personnel in social housing, keeping a room free for them when they are at home, and loosing £14 a week. Our service men and women do a fantastic job and no one disputes that, but they do a job for which they are paid and I don’t consider it unreasonable to suggest they use £14 of their salary to pay for a room in the home of their parents, who are on State benefits. Remember these are benefits paid by the government because it is deemed people cannot afford the cost on their own.
He really isn’t as smart as he likes to think. This is a tax and no matter what Shelbrooke or his fellow Tories say to allay our fears, nothing will change that. The intention behind this tax has always been transparent: it’s an attack on those people who live in social housing and the class disgust that underpins the now dead bill is palpable.
This scaremongering, playing to the most vulnerable in society, lowers the level of debate so low that disgusting language and insults are now deemed to be acceptable by the Left.
Here, he pretty much hoists himself by his own petard. He inadvertently acknowledges that those who are a most likely to be affected by the Bedroom Tax are the vulnerable. It is right that those on the Left articulate the concerns of those who will be affected by the tax. As for “scaremongering” that’s what his party does so well.
The last sentence of his blog is unintentionally hilarious.
The left should be ashamed of the way they have dragged down the democracy of our country, although that assumes they ever really valued it in the first place.
He loves assuming the moral high ground. I saw him do it in the Benefits Uprating Bill. But this sentence also assumes that we live in a democracy. The Tories didn’t win the 2010 General Election and they have no real mandate. In other words, their welfare ‘reforms’ are undemocratic. Shelbrooke can’t see that because, like his fellow Conservatives, he lacks the capacity for self-reflexivity and believes he, like them, is born to rule.
Essentially the cash card scheme was another plan to carve up slices of public services and sell them off to the highest bidder. Mastercard and Allpay were lining up for a piece of the action in case Shelbrooke’s bill became law. Indeed, the report into these cards was financed by Mastercard. The Cat asks if the report was financed by Mastercard, then what else have they financed?
For all their whining about the “nanny state”, Tory MPs like Shelbrooke are more than happy to force the “nanny state” on to the most vulnerable and those whom they hold in disgust.
The Cat thinks Shelbrooke needs to take a long hard look at himself in the mirror… if he can find one big enough, that is.