On 18 October, the UK’s youngest MP delivered a speech apparently so blistering that the Conservative benches tried [5.30] to shut her down. But one line was all Mhairi Black needed. She branded [03:44] the government a:
pious loan shark.
The SNP MP expanded:
except that instead of coming through your front door, they are coming after your mental health, your physical wellbeing, your stability, your sense of security – that is what the experience is for all of our constituents.
In the Commons, MPs were preparing to vote on pausing the rollout of Universal Credit, the government’s six-in-one flagship welfare reform. Later that day, the Conservative government lost the vote 299-0. But every Conservative MP except one abstained. This means the opposition day motion is non-binding for the government, rendering the opposition victory purely symbolic.
“Forcing people into hunger does not incentivise work”
For many ordinary people, Universal Credit actually represents a huge cut to their support. Overcoming [5;37] shouts from the Conservative benches, Black attacked the government line that Universal Credit gets people into work:
Plunging people into debt does not incentivise work. Forcing people into hunger does not incentivise work. Causing anxiety and distress and even evicting some families from their homes does not incentivise work.
“Arrogant and idiotic”
During her speech, Black also linked [4.11] Universal Credit to the Conservatives piling on public debt:
We’re not dealing with the national debt, we’re simply shifting it onto vulnerable households.
The Conservatives have added £813bn to the national debt since 2010.
Packaged as a modern reform, Universal Credit will actually leave many ordinary people with less money overall. So it is in fact more Conservative austerity. With this in mind, the 22-year-old MP said that to continue with the rollout is “callous” at worst and “arrogant and idiotic” at best.
Watch Black’s blistering speech here:
– Find out more about the Citizen’s Advice campaign on Universal Credit here.
Featured image via screenshot