The benefits culture remains Glasgow’s shame, and it is not confined to my city; many other post-industrial areas of Britain suffer the same malaise of second and third generations of families being brought up to believe a life on benefits is acceptable. …
Politicians are not expected to talk about moral absolutes. Raising questions about other people’s choices, after all, could offend someone and nothing is less acceptable these days than causing someone offence.
I certainly seem to have offended a lot of people in the past few days.
I was severely criticised by some on the Left and a number of women have contacted me to say they felt insulted, pointing out that since becoming single parents at a young age, they had gone on to further and higher education and made a success of their lives.
Which is brilliant. I have nothing but admiration for them.
But I was very specifically criticising our acceptance of those young women who lose all their educational and career opportunities because of their pregnancies and who spend the rest of their lives on benefit.
That is the challenge – to criticise welfare dependency, without being seen to criticise everyone who has been on a benefit.
So why are so many on the Left angry at me?
For some it is because they don’t feel it is a problem; they believe that, as a rich society, we can afford to fund this ‘lifestyle choice’.
Others are uneasy at a Labour politician making judgments about other people’s choices; I have ‘no right’ to put greater value on one person’s choices than on another’s, it seems.
In NZ, you would be out on your ear.
But I’m attacking no one. I am pointing out that we have an unacceptably high level of teenage pregnancies. I am stating a fact that, for many of these young women (and far fewer young men), parenthood will mean fewer opportunities and a higher chance of life on benefits.
There is no doubt that raising yet another generation of young men in fatherless homes is a recipe for social disaster.
Yes, I’m generalising and, yes, there are plenty of homes where the absence of a violent, abusive father is a blessing to the mother and children. But common sense dictates that, in general, children benefit from having the love of a mother and a father.
Yet what kind of society have we created when the above statement will inevitably be seen by some as offensive, narrow-minded and intolerable?
As for the accusation of giving comfort to the ‘Right-wing’, when did it become ‘Left-wing’ to tolerate such a colossal waste of lives?
Why is it ‘Left-wing’ to allow millions of people to remain on benefits instead of working? When did ‘Labour’ stop meaning ‘work’ and start to mean ‘benefits’?
Comrade Bradford needs to talk to this poor misguided soul.
There are many others who believe the gradualist approach to moving people off benefits and into work is the right way to go.
But my instinct tells me more radical measures will have to be introduced to see the step-change needed to make a real difference to the number of claimants. …
But if more extreme measures, such as financial penalties for long-term claimants, need to be implemented in future, they will need public support. That means being absolutely honest about the scale of the problem and the devastation that long-term benefit dependency can cause.
Devastation is the right word. We have a welfare state to be there for those in temporary need, and also for that small minority who can never be self sufficient. But the problems caused by families never knowing a work culture is immense. It shows in our crime and our education stats. And our child abuse stats.
As I said, how reassuing to hear such words from a Labour MP – even one from Glasgow! His majority by the way is 10,802 – he got 47% of the votes to 19% for the Lib Dem candidate.