...a blog by Richard Flowers

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Day 2176: Christmas Benefit


'Tis the season – as they say – for a spot of GOODWILL to all persons, but poor Baron Hardup, single parent, and his daughter Cinderella had nothing to look forwards to except a visit from the UGLY SISTERS: Mr Hutton and Mr Balloon!

Fortunately, a FAIRY GRANDFATHER is about in the form of Sir Mr the Merciless: no magic wand, but new Liberal policy proposals to simplify benefits, halve child poverty and end the dependency culture.

Yes, Sir Mr the Merciless has come out FIGHTING today, denouncing Mr Frown's obsessions with mean means-testing and terrible tax credits and announcing Liberal Democrat plans for improvements to child benefits.

In comparison, Mr Balloon's speech calling on charities and volunteers to come and bail him out because HE has no ideas, looks all mouth and no money.

And miserly Mr Hutton, Secretary of State for the Workhouse, threatening to take benefits away from the long-term unemployed might be appealing to the Daily Hate Mail but isn't going to win any Prince Charming awards!

As Mr David Laws comments:

"This Government has had a decade to come up with serious policy on welfare reform, but all we hear are the same old recycled clichés."

While Mr Matthew Taylor castigated the Conservatories for their empty offers:

"Simply wishing for more families to stay together achieves nothing"

Instead of empty words and punitive measures, Sir Mr the Merciless wants to look at new ways to:
  • create opportunities for employment by reducing all the ways that Mr Frown's complicated system of tax and means test penalise people who try to get into work.
  • encourage families to stay together by putting an end to the madness of a system that penalises people who are married or live together, and gives less help per person to two parent families than to lone parent families, and by giving the full amount of child support for every child.
  • provide more affordable housing, and to make sure that no one suffers from fuel poverty so that children and families are warm and safe .
  • promote a stronger, fairer welfare state, with an immediate linking of pensions to earnings and a promise that the level of all benefits should be reviewed at least once per parliament.
  • simplify the system so that people can understand it and are able to claim the benefits to which they are entitled, without the indignity of means testing.
"Gordon Frown's strategy of mass means-testing is undermining work, saving, and families," Said Sir Mr the Merciless.

"Mr Balloon's "big idea" is nothing new," he added. "It is an echo of the Victorian values and charity-driven conservatism of the 1880s. That is the past, Mr Balloon, not the future."

"I am determined to take the fight for a fairer Britain into the mainstream of British politics," he said in conclusion.

"I am determined to show that there is a sustainable way to remove the scourge of child poverty that does so much to undermine our social cohesion. I am determined to show that way is the Liberal way."

Christmas has come early for the Liberal Democrats in Parliament too, as Sir Mr the Merciless announces a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle.

With a weather eye on the possibility of a PANICKED Mr Frown calling a snap general election, his canny imperial highness has put Steve Webb in the chair of the manifesto team, and promoted Mr Larry the Lamb to be in charge of Health, while the move of Mr Ed to the role of Chief of Staff has allowed the very excellent Ms Susan Kramer vs Kramer to take over at Trade and Industry and Queen of the Blogosphere Ms Lynne Featherweight to be promoted into the Shadow Cabinet (and not before time) at International Development.

Congratulations to all of them!

(I think that MY elevation to the House of Lords Club must have gotten lost in the Christmas Post though! Hint Hint!)

And a Very Happy 21st Day of Advent to All of You at Home!

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