LIB DEM U-TURN is too little too late – My article for the Stockport Express

nick_clegg-464185The Lib Dem U-turn on the Bedroom Tax is simply too little too late. Not too long ago, Lib Dem MPs were voting to introduce the measure against Labour warnings that it would be a disaster.

Now we have been proved right, Nick Clegg is pretending he was against it all along. He didn’t even change his mind when the United Nations special rapporteur on housing called for it to be abolished because it was driving vulnerable people to the point of suicide.

Nick Clegg realised he had an election coming up and that the chances of losing northern seats like Cheadle were high enough to cause him sleepless night in the run up to May 2015. Now he’s trying to pull the wool over our eyes by suggesting not that he was wrong, but that the Tories were making him do something he did not want to do in the first place. We will be having none of it. A Conservative spokesman quoted in the papers said, ‘The Lib Dems have never demanded the restoration of the spare room subsidy in private’ – they say one thing to their Tory paymasters and another thing to our faces. They are proving something we have always known locally – the Liberal Democrats cannot be trusted.

We have an election coming and the Lib Dems are struggling to get into double figures in opinion polls. They have lost most of their left-leaning supporters to their natural home in Labour, and now they are trying to cynically woo those voters back with a panicky lurch away from the nastiness that has characterised their disastrous term in government. They have supported this policy for four years. It simply isn’t good enough.

The simple fact of the matter is that the policy does not work. An academic study last week found that in the first six months of the policy, only 4.5 per cent of those hit by the tax had been able to downsize to a smaller property. There are not enough smaller properties around to allow those hit by it to move to, leaving them shelling out cash every week through no fault of their own.

It will be very interesting to see which Liberal Democrat MPs back our call to abolish the Bedroom Tax altogether. The Lib Dems should demand its repeal now, or they should threaten to block all government legislation until it is abolished. By holding out like this – even after they have admitted the policy is wrong and hitting the most vulnerable – is a betrayal of those who are paying out week after week.

They are trying to wriggle out of culpability for this destructive policy for cynical electoral reasons. People here will be having none of it. Only Labour is setting out a comprehensive and truly alternative platform for government.

This article was originally published in the Stockport Express on 23rd July 2014

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