Tuesday 14 June 2011

Liberal Conspiracy ask Liam Byrne to listen to us!!

Finding this article on http://liberalconspiracy.org was en extremely nice surprise. A million thanks to Don Paskini and Sunny Hundal. 

How Liam Byrne could help save his career through welfare reform

by Don Paskini     
June 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Liam Byrne is currently one of Labour’s most important politicians. He combines his role in co-ordinating the party’s policy review with leading for Labour on Work and Pensions. His 
hobbies include “banging on” about immigration, deficit reduction and welfare reform.

But in fewer than eighteen months, his political career is almost certainly going to be over. Here’s why and how the principles of responsibility and reciprocity could help him save his job, while at the same time helping reform the welfare state for the better.

Every two years, Labour elects its Shadow Cabinet. Last time, Liam finished in 19th place, scraping into the Shadow Cabinet by just one vote. Next time, competition will be even fiercer, as some of Labour’s rising stars put their names forward, and David Miliband may return. It may be that even if he doesn’t get elected by fellow MPs, he will be offered some kind of role through the “Affirmative Action for special advisers and management consultants” programme which Labour has run in recent years.

We’ve heard from Liam and from Ed Miliband that Labour’s approach to welfare is going to be built around “responsibility”This approach draws on research done by the Fabian Society.

Once you get past drivel such as Ed Miliband’s charming anecdote about how he met a disabled scrounger and carried out an impromptu assessment of his capability to work, there is plenty of merit in the idea that greater reciprocity in the welfare state could help to rebuild public support and make the system work better for everyone. But it will require a lot more 

Ed Miliband’s idea of adjusting social housing allocations policies is

(a) something which is already happening and
(b) the housing policy equivalent of rearranging deckchairs as the ship sinks – given the huge shortage of affordable housing.

Or take Liam Byrne’s idea that people who aren’t making an effort to look for jobs should have weekly appointments ignores the fact that

(a) this can already happen,
(b) it doesn’t work very well, and
(c) the way welfare to work provision is funded on payment for sustainable job outcomes

means that there is every incentive to see people who don’t want a job as infrequently as possible, and instead to focus on people who are work ready and want to do so.

No one should reasonably expect Labour to have a fully worked out set of proposals yet, but it will be Liam’s job to work out some of these details.

Now, he might well make a right Purnell of doing this, coming up with a set of unworkable, incompetent proposals which are designed to sound tough and nothing more. And no matter how “tough” the proposals, the Tories will come up with something “tougher” and more vindictive. We’d like to offer him an alternative.

Sue Marsh and the Broken of Britain have done some outstanding work on gathering ideas on how the current system isn’t working and what should be done instead to help sick and disabled people. Kate Green MP is an expert in what works in tackling poverty, and has called for the “moral imperative” of addressing the barriers to work rather than attacking the workless.

Plus, there’s a lot to be learned from Labour’s record in government in cutting child poverty, which researchers from America describe as almost miraculous.

So here’s our deal, based on the principles of responsibility and reciprocity. Liam Byrne could spend the next few months listening to the people who are hardest hit by the government’s cuts, working with groups like Broken of Britain, listening to Kate Green’s advice to stop demonising people who are out of work, and coming up with common sense policies such as reforming ESA and getting rid of Atos; policies which really help people into work and supporting them in work; and which help make sure that people who can’t work have an adequate income to live with dignity.

If he can show that he really, really listened, we’ll encourage Labour MPs to vote for him in the next Shadow Cabinet elections.

As Liam says, we need “a bargain that rewards the people who do the right thing”. If he does the right thing and listens to people living in poverty, then his reward would be greater support from the Labour grassroots and greater job security.


  1. Those who are ill and disabled know who they are and the DWP and ATOS know who they are and all they need do is to stop mucking about and victimise those back into work who cant and for many reasons cant

    Those who would like to try to get back into work need as much help as possible from everyone concerned for you need to keep that persons morale up at all times to be effective otherwise their illness or disability will come back with a vengeance but at least they have tried and that in itself is a good thing

    For those others who don't try the DWP should not victimise them by phoning them up with threats and the like but should except the fact from their doctor that they are ill or disabled and do not wish to go to work and that should be good enough. To continue to harass a sick or disabled person any further should be seen as a case for police intervention to protect that person from killing themselves or others as that is the likely outcome and could only possibly be the only outcome

    Both ED and Liam need to understand illness i know it's hard Ed and you to Liam but can assure you if you live long enough your get to experience it first hand and then like everyone else i have met over the years who experience long term illness they always say the same "oh i see i didn't know it was this bad" well Liam and Ed it is and if your unlucky you'll wish you were never ever born

  2. Ed's vision for the future is based on his values—values of family, fairness, community and decency at work. Ed has said many times that he learned these values from his parents during childhood; having both fled the Nazis during the second world war, they taught their son "never to walk by on the other side".

  3. Fantastic article by Don Paskini inspired by you and yours Sue!

    Great piece of career advice to Liam Byrne and let's hope that he is cynical enough to go against all his instincts and do the right thing... I don't care about his soul just that he puts the right policies in place.

    Well done to you, the Broken of Britain and Liberal conspiracy .

  4. As Ed points out on his main front page his parents fled from the Nazis during the second world war. Well Ed the sick and disabled cant do that they cant flee they have to have what's given in what for many are difficult circumstances and year on year having to keep jumping through hoops only to left with a body like mine in some cases looking like i have just come out of a Japanese/German prisoner of war camp

    Well I'm glad your parents made it out OK pity i wont be able to do the same

  5. Great article. But in the meantime and lets be honest about this who is going to speak up for us now.

  6. Hello Sue,
    I read your comment elsewhere that Ed Mil is failing to grasp there are 5 million votes at stake.
    But this would not include those able-bodied who have a close friend or family member who is sick or disabled,
    or those who are perceptive enough to *get* that illness or disability can strike anyone at any time.