Labour MPs absent in bedroom tax vote

Richard Neville, Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation press officer

On 12 November the Labour Party put forward an opposition day motion in the Commons calling for the immediate ending of the bedroom tax, any costs to be covered by reversing tax cuts for the wealthiest.

For six hours the Commons debate heard tales of the suffering imposed on working class communities despite being laughed at by Tory MPs. No cabinet ministers were present.

Welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith, on a junket to Paris, missed the debate and vote. This coward couldn’t even bring himself to defend his policy, which brings such misery to hundreds of thousands of people, 80% of whom are disabled in Scotland.

Many Labour MPs also didn’t bother to show and voice their opposition to the bedroom tax.

Bin the Bedroom tax Renfrewshire, in which Socialist Party activists play a vital role in forcing concessions from the local council for tenants, are shocked that Douglas Alexander, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, did not show up for the debate proposed by his own party.

It is claimed that since there was an MP from each party on the same delegation as Douglas Alexander, the vote was not affected. But if that was so what was the point in Labour having a six-hour debate.

If he can’t be bothered to go to Westminster to fight for Renfrewshire residents facing a choice this winter of heating, eating or keeping a roof over their head, then what do we pay him his hugely inflated salary for?

We need political representation for the working class at all levels of government. Socialist Party activist Jamie Cocozza is standing in the Shettleston byelection in Glasgow as part of the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to try and gain that voice for our class.

But we need more people like him, who are sick of austerity, cuts and the constant assault on our pay and living conditions, to stand up and be counted.

Now that we’re told the bedroom tax is here to stay until at least 2015, those opposing it will be forced to act.

The Labour Party must instruct all its councils to refuse to implement it and use their reserves and borrowing powers to remove the bedroom tax liability from affected tenants.

The Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation must continue to assemble its anti-eviction army, ordinary people, who are willing to engage in a campaign of civil disobedience, in order to protect people in their homes.