At Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) on 12 September, Theresa May was challenged over her government’s flagship welfare reform, Universal Credit. Her response was shameful. But perhaps even more shameful was the response of Conservative MPs to the suffering the benefit has caused.
Jeering at poverty
Jeremy Corbyn asked several questions about Universal Credit. He also set out exactly why the benefit is causing so much harm for people across the country. Possibly the most controversial of all the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reform, report after report, and even the department’s own figures have shown why there are so many problems with it.
But instead of listening to Corbyn’s question, Conservative MPs jeered as he stated the misery people are facing. Several Labour MPs called out their behaviour:
Appalling behaviour from Conservative MP’s at #PMQs today.
Screaming, shouting and trying to silence criticism doesn’t change the fact that Universal Credit is failing families across the country with child poverty rising #Disgraceful
— Jo Platt MP (@JoPlattMP) September 12, 2018
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) September 12, 2018
— Barbara Keeley (@KeeleyMP) September 12, 2018
And other commentators were equally disgusted:
Here’s Jeremy Corbyn brilliantly reeling off the disastrous Conservative record, despite the childish braying. The Prime Ministers response? Call us “institutionally racist”. #PMQs pic.twitter.com/j1fA1XRGku
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) September 12, 2018
How edifying it is to see Tory MPs screaming and braying at the leader of the opposition to prevent him from doing his job. Soon they’ll be back on here tweeting about how the ‘hard left’ is threatening civility in public discourse. #PMQs
— Hicham Yezza (@HichamYezza) September 12, 2018
— Natalie Bennett (@natalieben) September 12, 2018
Although devoid of animal noises, May’s response wasn’t much better. As if it somehow mitigated the horrific experiences of hundreds of people affected by the benefit, she reeled off three stories of people who benefited from their experience with a Universal Credit work coach.
May also claimed that “We are helping get people into work”. Although many people pointed out the flaw with that argument:
Nearly 8 million people in poverty are in work. Does the Prime Minister have any idea what she’s talking about? #PMQs
— Liam Young (@liamyoung) September 12, 2018
‘In work’ poverty is at a record high, foodbank reliance is at a record high, child poverty is rising, homelessness has risen every year since 2011 and people have been declared ‘fit for work’ and died shortly after – that’s not a record to be proud of?#PMQs https://t.co/N2ijzK5q3i
— [AJ]???️?#FBPE #JC4P45 (@SonOfBrown17) September 12, 2018
Callous and disgusting
As the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett pointed out, the behaviour of Conservative MPs would embarrass a 10-year-old. This behaviour would be bad enough on any issue. But MPs behaving like this when confronted with the misery and despair its policies have caused is unforgivable. It is callous and disgusting and should play no part in political discourse.
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