Yesterday New One Nation Labour did something shameful.
It agreed to an emergency session in parliament to change the law ex post facto in order to ensure that some of the UK's poorest people were done out of a payment to which the law said they were entitled. And then, whilst not voting with the government Labour ordered its members not to vote against them, allowing it to pass with ease. A few decent Labour MPs who remember what Labour used to be about defied the party and voted against the Tories.
The DWP failed in their responsibilities to explain properly the slave labour element of Workfare programmes, in which unemployed people are sent to work for nothing for certain down market grasping stores, and the penalty for refusing to do this work, or being dismissed from it, is sanctioning and removal from entitlements.
The Court of Appeal in London found this to be illegal and clearly the unemployed people who had been sanctioned were entitled to reclaim the money that had been taken from them illegally.
Approximately 230,000 people were owed on average around £550 each.
With help from Labour, the government were able to get rid of that particular debt and deal with the judgement that it had broken the law... by changing the law retrospectively.
When I started work in the employment business in 1996, there was a Tory scheme called "Project Work". It took long term unemployed people from the register for three months during which they were paid a "training allowance" (the same as their JSA +£10) and, following two weeks' induction, put them into "work" for 18 hours a week.
Major's Tories had wanted to put them into factories and shops, but the unions, and Labour were resolutely against this, on the basis that a post filled by someone still on the dole, denied that post to a genuine jobseeker and subsidised the company by providing it with free labour.
If a business required workers it should recruit them and pay them, the thinking went. As a result of this, work experience in 'Project Work' had to be in charities, churches and the likes.
Clearly New One Nation Labour no longer care about that. I can't help but think that it is time that the unions looked hard at how much they want to keep supporting this party.
Ironically, perhaps, the decision to back this, while it must have been backed by "Red" Ed!!!, came from Liam “I am afraid there is no money. Kind regards – and good luck!” Byrne, the man who rented an apartment at £2,400 a month plus £400 a week for food, and tried to add room service to his expenses bill.
On a wider, and much more frightening level, the UK government has just crossed the Rubicon. With an unwritten constitution, parliament has set a precedent. Whatever displeases it can now be removed with retrospective legislation. The possible consequences of this are incredibly frightening.
The sooner we are out of this undemocratic union, the better.