NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington March 21 2016
21 Mar 2016Iain Duncan Smith Resigns Over Disability Benefit Cuts
Iain Duncan Smith's resignation on Friday is a victory for Jeremy Corbyn's strategy of relentless opposition to this government's welfare cuts.
With a possible government u-turn on disability benefit cuts being reported in the press, Labour has demanded a full reversal of the proposed cruel and callous cuts and George Osborne’s resignation.
Speaking on Saturday, our spokesperson Owen Smith MP said Owen Smith, commenting on the appointment of Stephen Crabb as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:
“To right the wrongs of his predecessor, Stephen Crabb must reverse cuts to Universal Credit that will see two million working families an average of £1,600 a year worse off, put right the injustice that millions of women approaching state pension age have suffered and he must scrap the illegal Bedroom Tax. Crucially, his very first act as Secretary of State must be to come to Parliament on Monday to announce the full reversal of cruel Tory cuts that will see 370,000 disabled people lose £3,500 a year.”
Meanwhile the Tories appear to be falling apart, with growing divisions on Europe and other aspects of George Osborne’s unfair budget (see below.)
Opposing Osborne’s Unfair Budget
This Budget was a test for George Osborne. Could he meet his targets, could he deliver a fair Budget, could he invest to build an economy for the future? On all three counts he has failed. As Jeremy Corbyn said in his response this budget is a culmination of six years of Tory failure.
Osborne’s Budget had unfairness at its very core. Tax cuts for the wealthy, paid for by those who can least afford it.
Ultimately Osborne has failed to balance the books, failed to invest in the economy and failed to improve the lives of working families across the country. Labour is standing up for a fairer economy that equips us for the future. The next Labour government will invest in a high skill, high wage economy that will provide a real future for the next generation.
You can watch Jeremy Corbyn respond to the budget here.
Government Defeated on Trade Union Bill
On the evening of the Budget the government suffered a crushing defeat in the Lords over the Trade Union Bill. Labour Lords led the charge and voted by 320 to 172, a majority of 148, to defeat the government. This is the second time that our Lords have defeated the government on the Trade Union Bill.
The plans will now return to the House of Commons for further debate and Labour will continue to stand up for working people and oppose these attacks on our right to organise.
International Development Matters – Yemen
This month we learned that British sales of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen will be the subject of a full-scale inquiry in Parliament. The government is also facing a High Court challenge to examine whether its actions break British and EU arms export laws.
The British government has licensed £6.7 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since David Cameron took office, including £2.8bn since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015.
The cross-party committee conducting the inquiry is also likely to look at the role of the Department for International Development (DfID) in sanctioning arms sales. It has emerged that DfID was not consulted on the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, even though it has a major aid programme in Yemen.
Additionally, DfID itself is due to report before Easter on the broader aid implications of the government running an aid programme in Yemen while its arms sales help fuel civil war in that same country.
On the Labour side of the House of Commons, we are in no doubt that Britain’s arms trade with Saudi Arabia is undermining the humanitarian efforts of DfID, which gave £106 million in aid to Yemen in the past year.
You can read an article I’ve written on the issue for The Morning Star here
International Development Matters- Tax Avoidance
On the eve of the budget, I wrote a Guardian piece on why Osborne must do more to crack down on tax havens – for poor nations’ sake, in which I explained that “the IMF calculates that every year around $200bn of untaxed income is taken out of poor countries by the international corporations operating on their territory. That is around 50% more than the total amount they receive in aid from rich counties.”
You can read the full article here.