Mhairi Black smashing the Tories and the DWP is one of parliament’s finest moments

Mhairi Black in parliament
Support us and go ad-free

On 2 November, SNP MP Mhairi Black gave her verdict on 2018’s Autumn Budget. Her analysis slated both the Conservative Party and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). And her impassioned response has to be one of parliament’s finest moments. Because she slammed the benefits system as “downright stupid”, “ignorant, cruel and a deliberate misconception”.

“Scratch beneath the surface”

Black’s speech focused on what happens when you “scratch beneath the surface” of the budget. She described a budget:

Soaked in ideology, backed by mistruths

Speaking about the DWP’s most controversial benefit, Universal Credit, Black was adamant that it is “not fit for purpose”. And she tore shreds out of chancellor Philip Hammond’s assertion that he’d managed to ‘fix’ the numerous problems with the benefit:

The chancellor has announced a boost to the work allowance as an answer to these problems and he expects credit for it. But… scratch beneath the surface and we find that this boost only reverses half of the cuts that were made in the 2015 budget.

The living wage

The MP also took aim at the government’s record on the living wage. Because as she pointed out, the ‘living wage’ is nothing more than a rebranding of the minimum wage. And as the Living Wage Foundation highlights, the amount people actually need to live is much higher than what the government sets.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Black stated:

They’ve slightly increased the minimum wage and it still doesn’t meet the cost of living. And no amount of rebranding will make anyone forget that.

Given that when she was elected in 2015, she was the youngest MP to enter the Commons since 1667, she is well placed to take on the age discrimination element of the living age. Currently, those under 25 are entitled to 50p less an hour than those over 25:

As a 24 year old, I would challenge anyone… to justify why I should be paid less than anyone else… because if the law doesn’t apply to me, why should it apply to anyone else out there?

“The claim that really sticks in my craw”

However, it was Hammond’s claim that the government ‘supports families’ that Black said “really sticks in my craw”, given the two-child cap on benefits. Her reasons were explicit:

Because if it was true that the chancellor is supporting families, if that was true, he would not make women have to prove that they were raped in order to get benefits for their children.

This seemed to make some Conservative MPs uncomfortable:

I see that not many Tories are giving me eye contact

She then said:

Over 73,000 households [are] receiving less tax credits than before. And what is this government’s response? And this is a quote: ‘people on welfare need to make decisions about the number of children they may or may not have’.

And she didn’t pull any punches in her assessment:

That statement is as barbaric as it is downright stupid. Nothing more ignorant, cruel and deliberate misconception to hide behind… Life does not happen like that.

Austerity rebranded

Black concluded by saying that Scotland did not have the powers to fix the problems because benefits were seen as “too important to be devolved”. And she was fierce in her message to Conservative and Labour politicians:

So don’t dare turn around and say that Scottish people should fork out more money to plug holes in policies that they didn’t vote for.

Her conclusion, meanwhile, was damning:

Let’s be clear. This budget delivers austerity and simply gives it a different name.

Black’s passion and commitment are clear in every word. She spoke for just over four minutes and not a word was wasted. And in a parliament that the shadow education secretary recently described as a “pantomime”, this is desperately needed.

Get Involved!

Support The Canary so we can keep bringing you truly independent journalism.

Featured image via screengrab

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed