Will welfare reform go through only with Tory support?

Will welfare reform go through only with Tory support?

How dangerous is such a radical package?

As fore-shadowed in the Queen’s Speech the government has published its welfare reform white paper which, amongst many measures, seeks to get tough on claimants who are able to work. There’s little doubt that this will resonate will large sections of the electorate – but could it be a controversy too far in the run-up to an election?

    Marf’s cartoon sums it up – the measure might appear to be too tough for some sections of the Labour party to swallow and that it could be challenging getting the legislation through the commons on the basis of Labour votes alone.

The Tories, as was repeated at PMQs today by David Cameron, are giving their support which could add to the embarrassment factor for Brown and the Blairite minister charged with putting the measure through, James Purnell.

An argument that we’ll hear is that it is wrong to try to punish people who cannot find work when the economy is in such a mess – a factor that has caused the head of the government’s social security advisory committee to say that it should be delayed.

This Tory tactic of supporting the government to embarrass it with its left-wingers was used three years ago when the controversial education bill was being put through. There were Labour rebellions but Tory support saw the legislation onto the statute book. Tony Blair was more comfortable with that – how will Gordon Brown respond?

Our cartoon, biting as ever, is by Marf of LondonSketchbook.com.

Mike Smithson

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