Local group’s fury over ‘Bedroom Tax’ vote

Posted on 21/11/2013 by


North Edinburgh Women’s International Group has written to Labour leader Ed Miliband following a vote in the House of Commons last week:

Dear Mr Miliband

I am writing to you on behalf of North Edinburgh Women’s International Group  regarding reports in the  news that  46 Labour MPs failed to  turn up to the House of Commons  to vote for a motion  which  could have led to the scrapping of the bedroom tax.

We are unable to understand  how this situation could have come about.  We can only assume that the 10 Scottish MP’s who failed to vote were unaware of the 150% increase in people using foodbanks in Scotland during the last year as a result of the current programme of welfare reforms.    They  must also be unaware of  the warning from Shelter  that “for many, the safety and security of a home is under threat like never before.”

We understand that  Labour’s motion on  the scrapping of the bedroom tax was defeated by only 26 votes.  We would have thought that the  recommendation by the UN  Special Rapporteur  on Housing  calling for the bedroom tax to be suspended immediately would have had an impact on  members of the Labour Party.   This does not appear to have been the case.

We were under the impression that an important part of an MP’s job involves turning up to their workplace (ie the House of Commons) and  voting on issues  which affect the people  they represent.  We  believe that 46 of your Party’s MPs   have not been doing their job and we find this completely unacceptable.

The inaction of these MP’s demonstrates  that the Labour Party does not represent the interests of ordinary people.  It also suggests that the Labour Party does not care about the suffering and hardship experienced by many families as a result of the bedroom tax.

We are interested in finding out what the Trade Union Movement’s response is to the inaction of  the 46 MP’s who represent the Party which they fund.

We are disgusted, angry and disheartened at what has become of the Labour Party. It  is no longer the Party of  ordinary people.   Your Party has taken working class people’s votes for granted.  You  have insulted our intelligence by assuming that people would  forgive and forget  this terrible betrayal.  This is a serious error which will cost the Labour Party at election time. The excuse of Labour MPs having been paired will not be accepted.

We look forward to your reply

Your sincerely

Anna Hutchison

On behalf of North Edinburgh Women’s International Group 

One week on, the group is still awaiting a response.

Cammy Day Ward 4 Forth Ward

Forth Labour Councillor Cammy Day comments:

Responding to letter by the Edinburgh North International Women’s group

I agree with the Edinburgh North International Women’s Group in their letter dated 19th Nov in their deploring of the evil bedroom tax. As the deputy convenor of the Council’s Health, Social Care and Housing Committee I have seen first hand the damage it’s done,  but I think your letter unfairly puts the blame of the existence of the bedroom tax on the Labour Party. It was the Labour Party who voted against the introduction of the bedroom tax from the beginning. It was the Labour Party who has campaigned to bring an end to it and promised that a Labour government would scrap it right away. This policy was brought in by the Coalition Government, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. They are the ones who made this unfair and pernicious tax, a law.
At Council level the Labour Party has prevented evictions in cases caused by the bedroom tax, something I was proud to be a part of in Edinburgh. At Holyrood they have voted against it and sought to bring in legislation to prevent it. I feel your letter leads people astray in their thinking, last week’s opposition debate by the Labour Party sought to highlight and reverse the government’s position. You are correct when you say that some Labour MPs did not vote for the motion. This was a result of pairing – where MPs from both opposition and government are paired when they cannot attend (either because they are ill, or because they have constituency or foreign business). This is part of our parliamentary system.
I hope you will reconsider your verdict on the Labour Party’s position on the bedroom tax. Only a Labour government in 2015 has committed to scrapping the bedroom tax and only a Labour government will continue the fight for the ordinary working class people you speak for. That’s why I am a member of the Labour Party and the trade union movement. We must stay together in this battle for a fairer society and show the coalition government of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives for what they damage the have done by legislating for the bedroom tax to exist in the first place and their wider attack of welfare reforms.
Cammy Day
Councillor – Forth Ward
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