Crony capitalism, stealing Russia and the prophet Sedarisby Prospect / March 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Winning the welfare war
Peter Kellner (“A quiet revolution,” March) paints a picture that no MP in touch with constituents would doubt. Public opinion is on the move, and I welcome the change in views. But Kellner opts for greater means-testing as the only option. The alternative is to rebuild an insurance-based welfare.
Means-testing is seen by many of my constituents as an attack on their moral economy: people are rewarded because they can claim need and not because they contribute. It is difficult to overestimate the impact of Labour’s dance with means-testing on our supporters.
The government’s strategy of a universal credit is no more than a frenzied version of that of Gordon Brown, and is likely to blow apart on day one. Labour’s task is to set out an alternative vision of a “something for something welfare state,” and set out the initial steps to achieve this long-term objective.
The electorate won’t vote for tax increases but the selfsame voters do not see national insurance contribution increases as tax increases. Labour needs to set out an alternative route. I believe the electorate will wish to buy in to this vision providing we ensure that the new insurance scheme is owned by them, and not by the treasury.