Not my usual story but one that I felt compelled to write about once suggested to me by a reader of my blog.
The Tory party today expected a victory in the House of Lords concerning the tax credit bill. I spent the best part of today watching it from my sick bed because I happen to be full of the flu.
I did expect him to win this but I was hopeful. The cross party opposition was strong but the rumours of threats to pass this bill from the tories did worry me. I do enjoy a good parliamentary debate and this did not fail me.
Both sides were heard. The opposition being confident with their proposals and reasonings. Very convincing evidence given and honest words spoken. Especially those spoken by Baroness Hollis. She warned the House of Lords that millions of families will soon receive cruel “Christmas letters” from the government setting out how much they would loose in tax credits.
She stated that “Those families believed the government when they said that work would pay. And the best route out of poverty would be to work because work would always pay” she said.
They believed the prime minister when he announced before the election that tax credits wouldn’t be touched. ( This was brought up several times in the debate. The prime minister clearly lied and I do think this should also be dealt with).
She spoke very clearly and the silence in the room was deafening.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said “George Osbourne has got to think again. We now need a fair settlement that will reverse this policy”
Former Tory Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson said that Mr Osbourne should think again”
Dispite the threats made by David Cameron to flood the House of Lords with more than 100 new Tory Peers it seems that members thought this too important an issue to ignore and threats were ignored.
Baroness Tina Stowell the Tory leader in the House of Lords had warned peers that it would be an “unprecedented” step for them to “challenge the primacy” of the elected commons on financial affairs.
Lady Stowell pleaded with peers that Mr Osbourne would offer ‘some concession’ if they didn’t inflict a humiliating defeat. What those concessions would be I would like to know, if indeed they existed. She went on to say “I can confirm he would listen very carefully were the House to express its concern in a way that is unprecedented for us to do so”
The Rev Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark said “families that strive, struggle and aspire will be thrown back. We risk stripping our fellow citizens of their dignity.
So what happens now? We get a breather. A break whilst evidence is collected and presented to the House of Commons and the bill will be voted on again. This evidence should have been presented beforehand but wasn’t. Probably because none of it went in favour of the tax credit cuts. A positive decision on the governments behalf wouldn’t have been made. And they were desperate to get this bill through parliament and the House of Lords as quickly as possible with the minimum fuss.
What the Tory party didn’t think of was both the public opposition to this and the cross party opposition. This wasn’t the ‘done deal’ that he wanted it to be. For many the thought of millions of people going hungry and very possibly becoming homeless was far too much for them. So they rebelled and you can bet that Mr Cameron isn’t happy.
A number 10 spokesman has said “The PM is determined we will address this constitutional issue. A convention existed and it has been broken. He has asked for a rapid review to see how it can be put back in place”
Now whilst watching this debate it was explained several times very clearly how the convention hasn’t been broken. So I will be keeping my eye on this.
So what does this mean?
It means a delay. A much needed delay. Time to gather proper evidence against this bill, time to put in transitional support to cover up to three years for tax credit claimants. I also hope that they plan to take carers and the self employed into consideration. They don’t get the new living wage and never will do. This needs to be addressed when addressing theses changes.
One thing I do know is that David Cameron will be seething. This isn’t a defeat it’s a delay and you can bet that he will fight this all the way.
He was depending on the poor to take another cut and he won’t rest until he gets his way.
Relax now, take a breather and follow this closely. We need to. Our future depends on it.