Mhairi Black’s maiden speech

You don’t need a link. I know everybody has seen it. Mhairi Black’s speech rightly went viral. She chose an example from her constituency of the consequences of this government’s hateful policies, but I am surprised she didn’t have local cases of deaths following work Capability Assessments. This Johnny Void link on psychological management demonstrates that this government still has lower to sink.

In passing, I owe the Lib Dems an apology. I used to rubbish their claims to be moderating the Tories. That was before the attack on the BBC and the unions. Even Norman Fowler, who piloted Thatcher’s ‘welfare reforms’, was on the radio wondering why the last mentioned was necessary.

So I am certainly with Mhairi Black in spirit, but what effect will her speech have? I fear the answer is the same as for the anti-austerity campaign generally, as per my blog post on 7th June. The brutal fact is that the government has been allowed to turn what should be seen as the poverty trap – means testing – into being seen as a Scroungers’ Charter, so Duncan Smith’s despicable way of dealing with it is seen as necessary. The benefit cap is popular. The poverty trap created by means testing did need tackling, but not in this wrong-headed way.

Ms Black was eloquent, but she did not have answers to a problem the government is seen as trying to put right. It is such a pity that no one has told her about the Basic Income. Even a throwaway line would have been better than nothing in a speech which was watched by 10 million. Caroline Lucas agrees with me in private. She is just cautious about talking about it publicly. Obviously she still has not looked at Dynamic Benefits: towards welfare that works as I have pleaded with her to do. This includes all the evidence needed. Although it came up with the Universal Credit, it is excellent as the case for a Basic Income

I have asked Caroline to mention this to Natalie MGarry the SNP spokesperson on welfare. I have written to Ms McGarry direct, but for all I know she has put my written letter straight in the bin (her email address did not work). Ms McGarry was sitting next to Mhairi Black as she gave her speech.

Perhaps a maiden speech is not the right time to mention the Basic Income for the first time. ‘Now’ has never been the right time for 42 years, and counting. If there is an optimum time to mention it for the first time, it is in an in depth interview for which I have briefed anyone who will listen. Is there no one out there who can help? I have the idea, but I don’t know how to get it out to where it is desperately needed.

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