Lead story

Tory divisions growing

by Daphne Liddle

DISSENT among the Tories over their plans to cut tax credits are growing after the all-party Work and Pensions Committee last week urged the Government to delay the cuts for at least 18 months while their full impact on low-paid families is calculated.

The committee warned Chancellor Osborne: “There is no magic bullet within the tax credit system. One of three things has to give: the impact on poverty, work incentives or the cost.

“We recommend that if, indeed, the effects cannot be satisfactorily mitigated, the Government pause any reforms to tax credits until 2017—18. This would allow a broader discussion of the options in their proper context.”

That committee has a Labour chair but a Tory majority, and Tory MPs are at last beginning to realise that the majority of victims of Osborne’s most savage austerity cuts are not the unemployed or those on sickness benefits but the vast majority of low-income working families — the “hard working families” that the Tories so often eulogise in their propaganda.

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Tory divisions growing

Students demand free education

OVER 10,000 students marched through London last Wednesday to protest at the Government’s decision to abolish maintenance grants for students from low-income homes and to demand a return to free higher education.

The event was organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC).

The demonstrators also marched against the discrimination directed at students from overseas, stopping outside the Home Office to make this point. The march was vibrant, loud and colourful, and included many first time protesters.

The police themselves face a new wave of swingeing cuts to their numbers and the outsourcing of some of their duties to private contractors like G4S. They nevertheless defended the Home Office that is attacking their futures.

But they were not in a good mood and the students experienced some of the most heavy-handed policing in London for some years.

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Students demand free education

Editorial

Cameron does the splits over Europe

“PRETTY thin gruel” and “Is that it?” were the words of welcome from the Tory backbenches to David Cameron’s sixpage list of demands to the European Union that are supposed to transform Britain’s relationship with the EU and unite the Tory party behind Cameron.

Cameron has promised that if his demands are not met by the EU he will join those members of his own party campaigning for a British exit from the EU in the referendum that he has pledged to hold next year. But his demands are so few, and mostly so vague or more or less in line with what the hard right throughout Europe would like to adopt everywhere in the EU, that it would be surprising if the EU did not accept these terms.

Cameron’s most controversial demand is that EU migrants in Britain should not be eligible for in-work state benefits until they have worked here for at least four years. Martin Schulz, the hugely powerful president of the European Parliament, says he thinks David Cameron’s plan to restrict migrant benefits could be illegal. But with thousands of desperate refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving in Europe every day most European governments would like to take a harder stance on benefits for all migrants — but without appearing to be as mean and pitiless as they are. They would be quite happy to be able to blame Cameron for starting the trend that they will all be happy to follow.

In Britain EU migrants claim very few out-of-work benefits or pensions, but being mostly low-paid workers they do claim inwork tax credits and housing benefits. This is not because they are lazy scroungers but because greedy employers in Britain do not pay their workers a living wage, and the Tories have fostered a vile breed of extortionate private landlords who charge impossibly high rents that normal workers cannot possibly afford without the help of benefits.

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Cameron does the splits over Europe