Friday, January 27, 2012

Archbishop blasts clerics who oppose welfare reform and declares REAL moral scandal is our £1 trillion debt

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey today launches an astonishing attack on the five bishops trying to derail the Government’s £26,000-a-year benefit cap.

In an article for the Daily Mail, Lord Carey insists the sheer scale of Britain’s public debt – which yesterday hit £1trillion – is the ‘greatest moral scandal’ facing the country and warns the welfare system is rewarding ‘fecklessness and irresponsibility’.

He is scathing about all opponents of the proposed limit on benefits – who include Labour peers and Liberal Democrat rebels – but reserves his most outspoken criticism for the Anglican bishops, who led the rebellion in the House of Lords.

He said they encouraged the culture of welfare dependency which led to ‘poverty of aspiration’, and warned them that they could lay no claim to the ‘moral high ground’.

‘If we can’t get the deficit under control and begin paying back this debt, we will be mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren,’ he writes.

Lord Carey hails Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith as a ‘committed Christian’ who is trying to reform a welfare system which is ‘fuelling vices and impoverishing us all’.

Downing Street insisted last night that its plan to impose an annual limit on welfare payments would be implemented ‘in full’ despite the dramatic defeat in the Lords. Labour leader Ed Miliband’s decision to try to derail Government plans for a cap, designed to ensure workless households cannot receive more than the average working family, was branded a ‘total disaster’ by his own shadow ministers.

Amid accounts of chaos and confusion in the run up to a crunch vote, several frontbenchers expressed despair that the party had appeared to put itself on the side of benefit claimants over working families.

Labour issued a tortured explanation of its stance, claiming it did not in fact support bishops’ plans to exclude Child Benefit from the cap, but wanted an opportunity to return the legislation to the Commons to make different amendments.

In his attack on the bishops, Lord Carey says it is clear that the welfare system ‘desperately’ needs to be reined in and insists it is ‘obvious’ that employment must pay more than a life on benefits.

‘Considering that the system they are defending can mean some families are able to claim a total of £50,000 a year in welfare benefits, the bishops must have known that popular opinion was against them, including that of many hard-working, hard-pressed churchgoers,’ he writes.

‘Yet these five bishops – led by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds – cannot lay claim to the moral high-ground.

‘The sheer scale of our public debt, which hit £1trillion yesterday, is the greatest moral scandal facing Britain today. If we can’t get the deficit under control and begin paying back this debt, we will be mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren.’

Lord Carey is particularly scathing about the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, who led the Lords revolt by invoking the Bible and Jesus’s concern for children. ‘I can’t possibly believe that prolonging our culture of welfare dependency is in the best interests of our children,’ he writes.

The Cabinet discussed Monday night’s defeat in the Lords when it met yesterday. It agreed to reverse the amendment when the legislation returns to the Commons.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: ‘I think the vast majority of people think it is fair to say that you can’t receive more in benefits than if you were to earn £35,000 before tax.

He added that the Government had already increased out-of-work benefits by 5.2 per cent for this year, saying: ‘We want to make sure that those who are vulnerable are properly supported but that at all times in the welfare system there are incentives to work and that it pays to work.’

But Enver Solomon, policy director at the Children’s Society, warned the Government not to ignore the Lords’ vote. He said: ‘Children should not be held responsible and penalised for the employment circumstances of their parents.’

Labour peers backed the bishops’ amendment, to exclude Child Benefit from the cap, despite the party saying it supported the principle. It said it would aim to add additional safeguards when the proposals return to the Commons.

But one Labour frontbencher said: ‘Do you imagine my constituents are going to understand the idea that we support a cap but have voted against it? They will just think we support unlimited handouts for people out of work. It is a total disaster.’

Conservative Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon said: ‘Ed Miliband has failed the key test of his leadership. He has promised to “take the tough decisions” on reforming welfare. But his party in the Lords supported a wrecking amendment to ensure that some families get thousands of pounds more in benefits than the average family earns by working.’


Eight out of ten Brits claiming benefits ARE fit to work, according to new incapacity tests

Eight out of ten people tested for new incapacity benefits were found to be fit for work, official figures revealed yesterday. The Department for Work and Pensions decided that 57 per cent of claimants were no longer eligible for the hand-outs. A further 21 per cent could carry out some sort of work with the right support.

Just one fifth of claimants – 22 per cent – were found unable to do any form of employment.

Around 1.5million people who have been claiming Incapacity Benefit are being reassessed for its replacement – the Employment Support Allowance – to see if they are able to carry out work.

The latest figures show the numbers claiming ESA and Incapacity Benefit have dropped to their lowest level since 1996 following the introduction of the tests.

There are still 2.6million people claiming the benefits, nearly a million of whom have been on them for more than a decade.

Figures relating to claims lodged between March and May last year show that 38 per cent were dismissed at the first stage – before face-to-face assessments were carried out – while 48 per cent were subjected to further consideration. A further 14 per cent of claimants are still being assessed.

The latest analysis also shows there has been a decrease in the number of people claiming for drug and alcohol-related conditions – from 105,110 in May 2010 to 100,120 in May last year.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: ‘These reforms are changing the landscape of our country. ‘By concentrating on what people can do, we will help people back into work and out of the trap of benefits that has blighted communities.

‘We want to help everyone who can be in work to get there, not just for themselves but for their children. It is clear that the majority of new claimants to sickness benefits are in fact able to do some work.’

But critics have warned that the new testing regime is flawed – and a report by MPs on the work and pensions select committee recently found that large numbers of seriously unwell claimants have been wrongly refused support and high numbers of appeals have proved successful.

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted the new system is much better at putting people through their ‘paces’.

Claimants who pass the first stage of assessment are then placed in three groups: Those who need permanent support, those who might be able to work after a few months and those fit to work. If placed in the latter category they are told to resubmit a benefits application – but this time for Jobseekers Allowance.


Sisterhood beware - silencing ideas stymies progress

When debate is marked by personal vitriol, people opt out and keep quiet -- comment from Australia

I have long considered myself a feminist and been disturbed by the parts of the sisterhood who operate like the nasty in-group in primary school. You can't be our friend because you don't wear the right pink dress. You can't be our friend unless you toe the approved party-line on abortion, childcare or sexual clothing. It is astounding to watch grown women engage in exclusionary behaviour that most of us outgrew by age 10.

But they have been at it again in the debate over the feminist credentials of Melinda Tankard Reist.

Anne Summers wrote in The Sunday Age that Tankard Reist can't be in the feminist club because she is pro-life. Summers said the core principle of feminism is women's independence, financial and reproductive. That might be Summers' definition, but it's not mine, nor would it be many other women's. Definitions aside, why can't Summers just reiterate the arguments in favour of free, legal and safe abortion, instead of seeking to ostracise someone with whom she disagrees? "You're not my friend" does not counter any anti-abortion argument. It is a non-sequitur.

Kate Gleeson, an Australian Research Council Fellow in politics at Macquarie University, then called for Tankard Reist to explain herself in The Age - in particular her work for former senator Brian Harradine.

Gleeson said that many feminists were "suspicious" of Tankard Reist because she "identifies as a pro-life feminist". Lots of people have advised politicians with whose policies many of us disagree. Why Tankard Reist has to explain herself any more than any other adviser is beyond me. And why any of us should be "suspicious" of her just because she thinks differently from us beggars belief. I don't believe in god but I feel no need to be suspicious of those who do.

Like Tankard Reist, I have been on the receiving end of the self-appointed sisterhood's ire. I used to write about motherhood and childcare; about the importance of women having time away from work to care for their own children; about the need for child-friendly work practices, as opposed to employer-friendly long hours of care and short periods of leave. Ideas that are commonplace now, but 15 years ago, fresh out of '80s feminism, were rare, if not among mothers, at least in public forums.

I used to write about that, but not now. I stopped because along with other academics I know, I couldn't be bothered dealing with the vitriol, as opposed to refutation of ideas. The insistence on playing the player, not the ball. I stick to property law these days. My ideas on strata schemes don't seem to leave anyone reaching for their garlic and crucifix.

The problem with exclusionary vitriol is that it lowers the level of public debate.

First, many people, much smarter and more insightful than me, step out of the arena. Public debate is carried on by the small pool of people thick-skinned enough to weather, or perverse enough to like, the nastiness. Now that unaccountable bloggers, sneering and abusing from the safety of their bedrooms, have entered the fray, the pool of contributors to civil public debate is even smaller.

Second, shooting the messenger fails to engage with the question at hand. "You're wrong because you don't think like us" only convinces the converted.

Finally, silencing ideas stymies progress. The essence of any functioning democracy is the ability to get as many ideas on the table as possible and then thrash them out without fear or favour. The humility to admit that you might be wrong, that someone might be able to change your mind by presenting you with a new idea, is the hallmark of a healthy intellect.

The alternatives to democratic debate are cults or repressive religions. Devotees want to be told what to think and tenets of faith must not be questioned, on threat of excommunication. I have often thought this is what some women want from feminism.

I do not know Tankard Reist and I am not pro-life, but I defend her right to express her opinions, call herself a feminist and prosecute her beliefs. That includes her right to advise senators with whom I might also disagree.

The real test of tolerance is tolerating those with whom we strongly disagree. And we will never have a right to express our own contested ideas if we do not defend others' rights to do the same.


Australians love one thing more than beer - freedom

That must be sour news to Leftists

WE love our beer, we love our beaches and we love our barbecues. But, like the swaggie who sprang into the billabong back in 1895, we love our freedom most of all.

We asked you to name the three things that made it great to be an Aussie, and got more than 15,000 responses. Sam Kekovich can rest easy: barbecues, meat and mates all got significant support.

But freedom topped the list - and there was daylight between that and the second most popular response, beer.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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