It’s been a remarkably eventful week in politics. We have seen furious, tantruming Conservatives threatening the unprecedented and profoundly undemocratic retaliation of suspending the House of Lords or flooding it with Tories if peers decide to proceed with the step of using the so-called “fatal motion” to halt the Chancellor’s very unpopular plans to cut working tax credits. We have seen the announcement that the Tories intend to scrap the Human Rights Act by next summer. It was revealed that the minister’s code of conduct has been quietly edited to remove obligations to uphold international laws.
This came as the Prime Minister tried to downplay the significance of the United Nations inquiry into “grave and systematic” breaches of the rights of disabled people in the UK because of Conservative policies, when held to account by Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Ministers Questions this week.
The pace of change at the hands of the so-called small state, non-interventionist Conservatives is dizzyingly fast and the undercurrents and implications have tsunami proportions.
Anyone would think that such a bombardment of releases in the news was a deliberate tactic to keep us in a perpetually diverted state of confusion; that we are being nudged away from opportunities for rational analysis and to rally and present coherent critical challenges to what is going down. Fancy that – a government that refuses to be transparent and held to account in a so-called first world liberal democracy …
However, the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has been busy writing to George Osborne, even offering to put politics aside and support him if he chooses to reverse the changes to tax credits fairly and in full.
John writes a powerful appeal to the Conservatives to do the right thing, and he shows who really is the “party for workers” – and it’s certainly not the Conservatives.
The full text of the letter is below:
It has only been three months since the Summer Budget when you chose to break the promise that David Cameron made to the British people during the election – that the Tories would not touch tax credits.
We now know that you plan to cut £1,300 from over 3 million families who are in work and doing all they can to pay the bills and get to the end of each month.
Last week you said that you were “comfortable” with this decision, and David Cameron said he was “delighted”, but the British people will not be happy that you are breaking the promise David Cameron gave to them during the election campaign and that working families are having their tax credits cut to pay for tax giveaways to a few wealthy individuals.
Now, you, me and everyone else in Westminster knows that you will have to u-turn on this issue. However, you need to do it in full. It can’t be a fudge. Not some partial reversal that scores cheap headlines, yet leaves people still worse off or lands another burden on middle and low earners or the poorest in our society. You need to drop this policy completely.
I know first-hand that for politicians the fallout from changing policy can be tough. But sometimes you have to be big enough to admit you got it wrong and do the right thing.
So I am appealing to you to put the interests of these 3 million families ahead of any concerns you may have about losing face and ahead of petty party politics. If you do, I promise you personally and publicly that if you u-turn and reverse this decision fairly and in full, I will not attack you for it.
To restore faith in our political system it’s time that politicians stopped making promises at elections that they won’t keep when in power – this is the lesson the Lib Dems learnt the hard way on tuition fees.
For the sake of those 3 million families, and the British people’s trust in politics, please see sense and fully u-turn on your cuts to tax credits.
I look forward to hearing from you.