Tell Labour to get off the fence and commit to repealing the ‘bedroom tax’

According to a report (Anne Black, NEC member) from the Labour Party’s national executive committee on March 19th, Ed Balls had this to say about the ‘bedroom tax’.

“Ed Balls described the tax as wrong morally and economically. The government knows there are not enough smaller properties for those trying to downsize, and people pushed into private renting may actually end up claiming more housing benefit. A few concessions had been extracted for foster parents, some disabled people for families with members in the armed forces and separated couples with children, but resistance would continue, with 55 local demonstrations in a weekend. The community charge was doomed once everyone started calling it the poll tax, and hopefully the spare room subsidy would go the same way.”

So he’s obviously against it? Well, yes and no. He’s against the Tories doing it, but…At the NEC “many members urged him to pledge to reverse the bedroom tax”. However, despite it being “morally and economically wrong” he couldn’t possibly make a commitment two years in advance of the election.

And ‘red Ed’, what did he say? Another NEC member (Christine Shawcross) reports him as saying

“We have taken a strong line against the bedroom tax but can’t say now that we’ll repeal when the Tories might do something worse – we need credible positions to break down cynicism.”

Credible with whom? If Labour is not prepared to commit to repealing the ‘bedroom tax’ should it come to office then logically it suggests that they could leave it in place. What credibility will they have if they are prepared to leave in place something which is “wrong morally and economically” which penalizes the poor? Certainly none with those affected. They might draw the conclusion that their ‘opposition’ to the legislation is just opportunist Tory bashing. They might draw the conclusion that they are not really serious about opposing it.

Anybody who thinks the ‘bedroom tax’ is unjust should email Ed Miliband and Jack Dromey (he’s a shadow minister responsible for housing) and tell them that if they think it is “wrong morally and economically” then they should get off the fence and make a public commitment now that if they are elected to office they will swiftly repeal the ‘bedroom tax’.

Martin Wicks

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