Tories forced to think again

by Daphne Liddle

JEREMY Corbyn has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to guarantee that nobody will be worse off as a result of cuts to tax credits.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday in the House of Commons, the Labour leader told the PM he had lost the backing of Conservative supporters over the draconian reforms.

Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne are still reeling from the vote in the House of Lords on Monday that will delay the imposition of the planned tax credits by at least three years.

The £4.4 billion cuts were due to be implemented in April 2016 and would have reduced tax credits paid to low paid workers by around £1,300-a-year — much more for some people.

Now the Tories have been sent back to think again and their plans are in disarray and they are refusing to answer questions.

Cameron claimed that the low-paid people would benefit from a higher tax threshold (which would actually benefit those on higher income much more) and from free childcare.

But this flies in the face of the calculations of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that millions of people would be a lot worse off in spite of the 20 pence-an-hour higher minimum wage and other minor tax adjustments.

During Prime Minister’s Question Time Corbyn accused Cameron of not answering his specific question. “What exactly does the Prime Minister mean?” he asked. “He must know the answer.”

He also said the premier had “lost the support of many people who were actually quite sympathetic to his political project”.

Cameron said Corbyn would have to wait for George Osborne’s Autumn Budget Statement. Cameron also threatened that “every penny we do not save” from welfare would have to be found elsewhere.

On Monday evening the House of Lords voted by 289 votes to 272 to support a delaying motion tabled by Labour peer Baroness Hollis of Heigham.

During a lengthy speech she told the Lords: “My amendment to the Motion is not fatal. It does not challenge the financial privilege of the Commons and it does not deny the Government their welfare savings. Instead, it delays this SI (statutory instrument) to ask the Government to provide transitional protection for existing families who are doing everything that we asked of them, who trusted the Prime Minister’s word that tax credits would not be cut and who trusted Parliament — us — when we said that we would make work pay.”

Even former Tory Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson conceded that Osborne should think again. “There are aspects to these measures which need to be reconsidered,” he said.

Another motion in the Lords by Baroness Molly Meacher delaying the tax credits until a full analysis of their impact had been done was also passed.

George Osborne tried to make a constitutional crisis over the unelected House of Lords delaying legislation passed by the elected House of Commons and Cameron spoke of created hundreds of new Tory peers.

Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, said if George Osborne had “listened to evidence” on cuts in the first place he “wouldn’t be in this mess”. He said: “Instead of manufacturing a phoney constitutional crisis, why won’t he put his toys back in the pram and appreciate that he needs to go back to the drawing board with his failed policy which hits working people the hardest?”

The Tory Cabinet has come under repeated heavy fire, not just from Labour but also from the press and some its own MPs for blatant lying: making promises before last May’s election that Cameron would not cut working tax credits and the immediately after election doing just that.

In the House of Commons Shadow Chancellor John Mc- Donnell said: “George Osborne has got to think again. We now need a fair settlement that will reverse this policy.”

McDonnell offered an apparently reconciliatory hand to Mr Osborne saying he would applaud any motion to “reverse the cuts to tax credits fairly and in full”.

“But can he assure us that whatever proposals he brings forward he will not support any that an independent assessment demonstrates will cause any child to be forced to live below the poverty line,” he said.

And of course Corbyn and McDonnell offered a number of options to recover the £4.4 billion — including postponing tax cuts for the rich and forcing giant companies to pay their due taxes.

They demonstrated that it is possible to throw the Tories into disarray by making a strong stand against their worst austerity cuts — something unfortunately that their predecessors Ed Miliband and Ed Balls never tried.