So… who DOES represent those people, then?
Almost 11 million UK adults are either unemployed or “economically inactive”, which is a catch-all term for the sick, the disabled, or other people not in work for one reason or another. That’s close to a quarter of the entire electorate, or well over a third of the number who actually voted at the last general election.
Rachel Reeves doesn’t specify which party should speak for them, except that it’s not hers. Frankly we doubt that the Tories or the Lib Dems are in a rush to step up to the plate either, which means that the UK’s poorest and most vulnerable people are apparently to be entirely abandoned and left voiceless in their country’s parliament.
Reeves, in fairness, is merely repeating a Labour policy line that’s been around for some time. We first recorded it three years ago, in the words of the Labour MP for Glasgow South, Tom Harris:
“We were set up as the party to represent the values of working people, working being the key word. We weren’t set up as some sort of charity to help the poorest in society – the long-term unemployed, the benefit dependent, the drug addicted, the homeless.”
The simple arithmetic is that at any given moment, there are nowhere near enough jobs for the number of people who want them. However much someone wants to work, however many applications they send out, only a small fraction will ever be able to find employment at a given time.
But Labour now openly announce that they don’t give a damn for the unlucky ones who miss out in that lottery. They now proudly proclaim in public that 11 million adult British citizens – and the uncounted children dependent on them – deserve no political representation at all.
The party has washed its hands of the poor, the weak, the ill and the unfortunate.
With astonishing hypocrisy, Reeves goes on to claim that she “hoped to reverse a culture change in attitudes towards benefits claimants”. We’re not sure quite how you achieve that while treating them as second-class subhumans excluded from the political process and vowing to crack down even harder on welfare than the Tories.
People sometimes query this site’s unconcealed contempt for the modern Labour Party. It’s not something we were born with. We celebrated as enthusiastically as anyone in 1997. But when we see the party of Keir Hardie and Aneurin Bevan hijacked by the sort of careerist lowlife who would turn their back on 11 million of their fellow citizens when they needed help the most, it’s all we can do to moderate our language.
For that reason, we’re going to stop here and go and punch something.