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Conservatives are winning hands down on welfare. The bishops in the House of Lords led a successful rebellion against the totemic £26,000 benefits cap—their aim was to prevent child benefit from being limited along with other welfare payments. But the government may force the cap through the Lords anyway. Labour and the Lib Dems are quiescent. Jobless, and poor people more generally, rarely vote, making them politically, as well as economically, marginal. The recession has not made people in work feel more generous to those out of work.

The sense that people should “pull their socks up” has a long…

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