At today’s Education Oral Questions in the House of Commons, Michael Gove was asked about the impact of the impending reform where anyone receiving housing benefit and deemed to have a ‘spare’ bedroom will have their income docked. ‘Spare’ bedrooms include those occupied by people’s children away at university, those serving in the military, children who only live with a parent for part of the week, and foster children. The docking is significant – 14% for one room, 25% for two – and is causing considerable distress among vulnerable groups.
“I don’t know why the honourable lady, and indeed her honourable friends, keep referring to this bedroom tax. It is not a tax. It is timely and necessary action to deal with our out-of-control welfare bills, and that action is needed because of the way that our economy was driven into the ground by the Labour Party.
Thirteen years during which no effective welfare reform took place and in which time money was spent on a series of vanity projects which only left the country saying “thank heavens that a coalition government has two parties clearing up the mess left behind by that crew of socialist wreckers on whom we wish nothing, NOTHING, but a rapid path to contrition”
The phrase was delivered with venomous emotion and met with jeering bewilderment by the party opposite. On Twitter a few people pointed out that “wreckers” is a favourite Ayn Rand term.
For me the most disappointing part of the whole quote is the idea that Labour spending 13 years rebuilding hospitals and schools was a vanity project. To those who spent the early 90s rubbing shoulders with newspaper moguls maybe it seemed frivolous.To those of us who spent the 90s living in broken towns denudated by Conservative policies, it felt really rather necessary.