Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The benefit cap and media bigotry

A letter to the Guardian from John McDonnell MP

Thanks to Tom Clark for his exposure of the implications of the benefit cap the coalition is introducing in its welfare reform bill (The truly nasty cap fits, 16th June). On the government's own estimates, 50,000 families will have their benefits cut, even though they complied with every duty placed upon them to seek work. Many families with children who are already struggling on benefits will be forced into further poverty.

The Labour leadership declined to support my amendment to remove this dreadful proposal from the bill for fear of the reaction in sections of the media, which the Tories would exploit. If Labour is to restore its credibility with the electorate, we need to demonstrate that we have learned from the mistakes of New Labour, and show how we can lead this country once again.

There can be no better way to demonstrate that we have changed than standing up against media bigotry against the poor. Real leadership is sometimes demonstrated by standing up for what is right, and turning a minority opinion into majority support.

John McDonnell is the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington