New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
20 October 2015updated 26 Jul 2021 11:33am

The Conservative assault on tax credits reveals David Cameron’s true face

So much for being a compassionate Conservative.

By Liam Young

“You are going to cut tax credits after you promised you wouldn’t. I work bloody hard for my money, to provide for my children, to give them everything they’ve got, and you’re going to take it away from me.”  That’s what Michelle Dorrell, the Question Time audience member who confronted Tory minister Amber Rudd said.

No wonder that Rudd bowed her head in shame. Her party is presiding over the greatest assault on working people since Thatcher’s poll tax. A mother cried out for help on national television and all she got was silence.

Admittedly, it was a better response than the Conservative laughter that greeted the poverty crisis at PMQs last Wednesday. This is modern Britain, and we have a woman crying on television because the government is about to take thousands of pounds a year from her because she is working and trying to create a better future for her children – while the government’s own backbenchers sit and laugh.

This is supposed to be the demographic that the Tories represent. Indeed, the audience member spoke of how she voted Conservative at the last election. She knew that she had been taken for a ride. She recognised the mistake she had made. Some said, well that’s what you get for voting Tory. I say that is not good enough. This is a family that we need to be reaching out too and I believe that it is Jeremy Corbyn who will do so. The work penalty is clearly making its mark, and Corbyn’s clear opposition to it – from being the only leadership candidate to vote against the Tory proposal when others abstained, to the coherent policy we have today.

Until last week, senior Tory figures had refused to accept that millions of people would lose out due to their work penalty. But Treasury minister David Gauke has made it clear that there are at least “some” who will be worse off. And so, the mask is slipping. Corbyn raised the case of Kelly, a single mother, working 40 hours per week whilst also caring for a disabled child who was set to lose over £1,800 a year. What sort of aspiration does that support? Like the woman on Question Time, this is someone who has risked it all, who has “played by the rules”, who is out their fighting for a better life.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

And what is the Tory response? Hit her, and hit her hard. And when people like her dare to complain about it, what should be said? Well as we saw on Thursday night – absolutely nothing. Even Tory members know that this policy is indefensible. The Tories cut corporation tax for businesses that earn one hundred thousand times what the average worker earns, and yet pay less tax than the average worker through complicated avoidance measures. The Tories are happy to label refugees and migrants as the demise of our economy, yet recently the health secretary lifted the cap on migrant nurses because we desperately need them to keep the NHS going. Now, they support the huge cut for the wealthiest one per cent in terms of inheritance tax, but they slash the pay packets of normal, working people.

This savage Tory party is not the government of working people; it is the problem for working people. Ignore Cameron’s fine words at his conference. Look instead at Michelle Dorrell’s words. The nasty party is well and truly back in power, and I am pleased that Corbyn is finally challenging the myths that they propagate head on. Just a few days ago, commentators were heralding Cameron as the leader of the new left. I hope in light of the truths surrounding how many will suffer under this latest assault on the working poor, they will choke on their words.

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors