2012 needs to see more help for the poorest in our country
December 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’m writing this the day after Christmas Day, so there’s no point in asking ‘Santa’ for any extra wishes this year…but if I could summon up some kind of mythical being who could snap its fingers and give me exactly what I want, I’d ask for simply this: much more to be done, by this Coalition Government, to help the poorest and most vulnerable in our society and more help for women who (it has been argued) are hurt first and most by the Coalition’s cuts.
Now, let’s be clear, I salute this Government for taking the hard-headed decisions needed to help bring down the budget deficit bequeathed to us by a Labour party who might have thought they were doing right by spending like there was no tomorrow but, in actual fact, were leaving a debt it would have taken generations to pay off if they’d have stayed in office.
Let’s remember that, when Labour left office in 2010, the gap between the richest and poorest people in our country had actually grown.
So, we’ll take no lessons from Labour when it comes to social mobility and the need to give a hand out and up to the poorest people in our society.
But, neither should we winch ourselves too near a Conservative Party whose right-wing is obsessed with creating a smaller State, of cutting welfare, who talk of ‘troubled families’ and ‘Broken Britain.’
To quote the Lib Dem President, from a few years back, referring to the Tories, “If Britain is broken, who the flipping ‘eck do you think broke it?”
We need a solution to these issues which is neither Labour’s chuck money at them and hope for the best, but neither the Conservatives’ everything would be o.k. if we could just shrink the State a little more.
I believe in the State and I believe there is such a thing as Society.
I believe in an enabling State that is always there to support those in genuine need.
Therefore I’m very glad that it was Lib Dem MPs and Ministers who argued for an increase in the Welfare budget recently.
Welfare isn’t an end in of itself, but it must always be there to lend a hand out and up.
Of course we need a strong and enterprising economy and, of course, that must include a strong and thriving private sector, but we must always be aware of what impact our policies are having on the poorest and most vulnerable people in our land.
We’ve made a cracking start in doing this, from the Pupil Premium, to taking the poorest workers out of tax, but there is much more to do on this agenda in 2012 and beyond.
I think most people know that I’m a Social Liberal, but I’m more than prepared to work with other wings of the party to see how we can hone more policies to ensure Britain remains a thriving centre of productivity and business, ensuring more and more people have a chance at employment, whilst also always having fairness and greater equality at our core.
That way, in my view, lies not only more electoral success, but, and far more importantly, a brighter, better, bolder Britain.