Five years' hard Labour: If the party isn’t standing up for wealth re-distribution then what is it for?

Did you see that ludicrous display last night, our senior reporter asks

Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham misery

Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham: exercising their democratic right to sit on the fence

Labour has never looked so feeble. This was confirmed at last night’s vote on the government’s welfare bill that divided the party and saw 48 MPs rebel against the official party line of abstaining from the vote.

The bill, which will cut the household benefit cap from £26,000 a year to £20,000 (and to £23,000 in London), is part of £12bn worth of welfare savings Chancellor George Osborne wants to make by 2020.

According to the House of Commons Library (a research facility), the cuts will mean 3.2 million workers will lose £1,350 next year, and 754,900 families will lose up to £2,184 next year.

Historically the Labour Party has aligned itself with the working poor, but Harriet Harman’s support for Osborne’s bill indicates the growing desire within the party to move to the middle ground – closer to the Conservatives.

Why? Because with a population that overwhelmingly rejected “Red” Ed Miliband at the election, regaining the centre ground seems like the clearest path towards winning power.

So instead of offering the electorate wholesale change and a new political vision, the Labour Party is scrapping over how best to deliver the Conservatives’ policies.

This desire to win power at all costs means that a significant portion of the party is merely fighting to hold the reins of power under a different coloured banner.

This is ridiculous and fails to hold the government to account – in short, renders the party utterly pointless.

A look at the contestants lining up to become the next leader of the party confirms this “power at all costs” tactic.

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall all followed Harman’s lead and abstained from voting. Among the potential leaders only Jeremy Corbyn voted against the legislation.

These are people who want to lead the party, and they’re sitting out of a crucial vote – one which should ideologically separate the left from the right. Instead of taking decisive action, they’re playing a petit political game which they hope will win them support inside the party. This, many have argued, comes at the cost of their own constituents, who elected them to represent them in parliament. Andy Burnham has come off particularly badly after publicly condemning the bill, but then toeing the party line and abstaining.

The result is that the Conservatives have never looked stronger. Labour has never been so irrelevant, and there is no move, beyond the likes of Corbyn – a highly divisive figure – to offer a real reason to support Labour.

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  • "IS THERE ENOUGH WEALTH FOR EVERYONE?" https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/enough-wealth-everyone-jackson-ritchie

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