If David Cameron continues in the same vein as this week he will become the Liberal Democrat's greatest asset. His 17 point plan to curtail welfare benefits reveals that "compassionate conservatism" was always a façade and the "nasty party" lurks strong and virulent under a very thin veneer. Daftest of the proposals is that to stop all (my emphasis) housing benefit to the under-25s. That would include those already married or in partnerships, and possibly with children, those who have done what Cameron is fond of calling the "right thing", got on their bikes and found work away from the family home, and the many, especially those brought up in the care system, without a conventional family home.
This outburst is a reminder to the electorate of what the Tories would be like now without their present Liberal Democrat brake, and what they will be like if they ever win an over-all majority.
Way back in the 60s either Professor Titmus of Professor Townsend, I can't remember which, but both respected experts on poverty, wrote that "when the economic history of this era come to be written the problem of the skiver will not merit so much as a footnote," Yet then as now populist politicians and newspapers deploy the myth of an army of unemployed and layabouts milking a system financed by decent hard-working citizens (people like us, as the Daily Mail would imply). Recipients of welfare benefits are, I am convinced, overwhelmingly decent and desperate to join the ranks of the hard working and well paid, if only circumstances permitted and the economy provided he opportunity.
We must not let malcontents and misfits, who undoubtedly exist but who are a tiny minority, become the tail which wags the policy dog. Cameron's efforts to deflect the blame for our present economic difficulties from the fat cats who caused them to their most vulnerable victims is despicable. The Liberal Democrat party should take this Cameron-given opportunity to define the clear yellow water which separates the party of Beveridge from the party of "devil take the hindmost."
The answer to excessive expenditure on housing benefit is not to punish those who can't afford shelter without it, but to build more
homes in order to bring prices down and, in the meantime, impose rent controls to curb the excesses of
A further gift-horse is Cameron's pillorying of comedian Jimmy Carr's aggressive tax avoidance whilst at the same time conveniently ignoring similar arrangement by a pop singer who happens to be publicist for the a Tory party, and with no mention whatsoever of aggressive tax avoidance by prominent individuals (eg Lord Ashcroft) and companies who make considerable donations to the Tory party whilst reducing their tax liabilities by a considerable amount, if not eliminating them altogether.
Surely the electorate must note and take account of such laughably blatentl hypocrisy.
So rock-on, Mr Cameron, please.