Take action: this Bill is before the Commons TODAY (Tuesday 19 March). Caroline Lucas’ office has confirmed to us that a group of MPs will be trying to push it to a vote and voting against. Make sure yours is one of them, especially if you have a Labour MP. The name of the Bill you want them to oppose is the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill. You can call your MP by phoning the Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000, or email them: most have an address listed here. Labour are supposed to be the Opposition. Let’s remind them of that.
Just days after it emerged that despite ostensibly campaigning against the Bedroom Tax, Labour actually support it; a new blow for anyone who hoped Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition might actually… oppose something.
The Guardian reports that Labour will be backing draconian emergency legislation being rushed through by Iain Duncan Smith to allow the government to keep benefits they withdrew because claimants failed to keep up with a Workfare scheme – even if it later turns out it was illegal to force them onto the schemes in the first place.
The law is a response to the government’s humiliation at the hands of Cait Reilly, the geology graduate forced to work without pay in Poundland who successfully challenged the DWP in court.
Not only is this a petty and venal response to being defeated by a citizen with right on her side, it is, as the PCS union point out, a worrying precendent: if a majority government can overturn legal decisions that go against it by fast-tracking retroactive legislation, it is effectively above the law.
Please write to your MP via the PCS union’s website – especially if they’re Labour – urging them to derail this legislative fast-track and have this Bill debated and defeated. But learn the bigger lesson too: Labour think the only thing that’s really wrong with this government is that they’re not in it.
Update: Guardian journalist Shiv Malik has tweeted that Labour now plan to abstain on the legislation, allowing it to go through without having to take responsibility.