British general election (8): the first leaflet of the campaign

I have just had an exchange on Facebook with Luke Parker, my Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Brent North.

I wrote:

“Thanks for your election leaflet received today – the first from any party in this election. Twice you refer to “compassionate reform of the benefit system”. I am wondering if this is an oxymoron or a euphemism. Can you explain which of the retiring Government’s welfare reforms you regard as compassionate and what future compassionate reforms you advocate?”

He responded:

“Thanks for getting in touch. As a quick overview, I feel strongly that we need to help people move from benefits to work. To achieve this we need to fix both sides of the equation: ensure that we make benefits unattractive by actions such as lowering the cap, whilst simultaneously making work more attractive by supporting policies like the London Living Wage. I believe that the process of freeing people from the benefits trap is inherently compassionate and I’m delighted that thanks to this government’s reforms, 1166 fewer people are now on Job Seekers Allowance in Brent North than in 2010 (a 43% reduction).”

My own view is that benefits should be paid on the basis of genuine need and that recent reforms have been far from compassionate. But at least my Tory candidate uses social media and responded immediately to my query.



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