Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/876/21630
Unite to fight divided Tories
- Brutal tax credits attack halted - for now
Tory tax credit cuts to make millions poorer - but show divisions at the top
- Hands off tax credits - defend all benefits
- Build a mass movement, including co-ordinated strike action, against all cuts
- £10 an hour minimum wage now
Tory plans to cut tax credits are causing uproar throughout society. But divisions at the top show just how weak this government is. Even some Conservative MPs, in no way sympathetic with the poor, are afraid the government is going too far. There is huge relief that the attack has been delayed by the Lords. But the government is still trying to find a way to push it through.
Michelle Dorrell, a single mother of four in the audience of BBC Question Time, condemned the Tories with the cry of "shame on you!" A small business owner and Conservative voter, Michelle shouted she would never vote Tory again.
Other tax credit recipients have spoken to the Socialist and the establishment media about their desperation. It will be impossible to manage their finances if these cuts take place.
Gordon Brown introduced child and working tax credits during the last Labour government. They are a form of state subsidy to bosses in place of forcing them to pay a decent minimum wage.
Tanya Meyers, a single mother with three kids, spoke to the BBC. She gets £140 a week in child tax credits, paid to low-income parents. Tanya said: "We need it to feed the kids and [cutting] it will literally drive me nuts."
Four million families rely on child tax credits.
Working tax credits, for low-paid workers who meet certain criteria, boost minimum-wage incomes by £1,305 a year. 3.5 million will be affected if these are cut.
Donna Lowe works at Primark on the minimum wage. She told the BBC that "if the tax credit is stopped then my wages for a 20-hour week will only cover my rent - and there will be nothing left for anything else."
It is clear to more and more people that the Tories are over-reaching themselves.
Some of the capitalist press is even calling tax credit cuts Cameron's 'Poll Tax moment'. This refers to when Thatcher took on the whole British working class at once with an unfair flat-rate tax. 18 million organised non-payers - led by supporters of Militant, forerunner of the Socialist - put paid to the tax and Thatcher's career.
Divisions at the top over this attack further expose the political bankruptcy of the establishment's ruling institutions.
The BBC's Daily Politics show on 23 October shone a light on this. Presenter Andrew Neil was joined by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lib Dem peer Dick Newbie.
Rees-Mogg's argument was that the House of Lords had no right to amend tax legislation. This is enshrined in Henry IV's "1407 primacy of the House of Commons" rule that tax law must not originate in the Lords. Rees-Mogg added that "this was confirmed by the 1678 Commons declaration of privilege".
Traditionally, the Lords chooses not to block legislation promised in a government's election manifesto. This is called the 'Salisbury Convention'. Since tax credit cuts were not in the Conservative manifesto, it does not apply.
So Rees-Mogg advocated that the way to stop the Lords blocking the cuts was to appoint another 150 Tory peers on £300 a day!
Lord Newby said the Tories had "blocked the Liberals' efforts in the coalition government to end these powers and reform the House of Lords. And the Tories are now saying we can't use them anyway."
Varoufakis, asked to comment, said: "This is what I love about this country. It's the delicious contradictions and irony.
"Here we have the unelected representatives of the established order, being told off by the elected representatives of the established order - for trying to look after the under-privileged, to prevent the end of tax credits.
"The idea that the way to preserve privilege - by attacking the unelected representatives of privilege against the elected representatives of privilege - is to flood the House of Lords with unelected representatives of privilege that are on the side of the elected ones - is fantastic."
In The Socialist 29 October 2015:
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