A Liberal Democrat’s view of David Cameron’s welfare speech
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing
A Liberal Democrat's view of David Cameron's welfare speech
Richard Shrubb is a freelance journalist and Lib Dem activist. He claimed housing benefit in his 20s after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and moving out of his family home.
David Cameron’s attack on housing benefit recipients are not being wholly supported by the Liberal Democrats. As a card carrying Lib Dem, though not speaking for the party, you can count me against it.
As someone on the Lib Dem left, sometimes the rhetoric on “welfare scroungers” stretches my loyalty to the limit. For the party to overtly support this latest bile on preventing under 25s from getting HB would be to lose supporters like me altogether.
I was one of those on housing benefit in my early 20s. I was one of over 25 percent of welfare recipients who were mentally ill. I couldn’t live with my parents – I don’t doubt that my minor assaults on them may have escalated if they hadn’t put me on the streets.
Many people with my illness – paranoid schizophrenia – will have faced homelessness as it is. According to global statistics, one percent of the population will have an organic psychotic breakdown – that is, not induced by chemical abuse. Most of us will have our breakdowns in our early 20s.
I joined the Liberal Democrats this year, against the general rush away from the party, because of its clear thinking. Its policies are based on merit rather than which newspaper will slap them for it.
I am on the left yet can’t abide by a so-called socialist party that sells out every time it gets into government. That closes the two “main” parties to me.
Cameron is on a fad, so the BBC believes – he is trying to get support from the Tory backbenches. They murmur truculently when he takes a Lib Dem view. I am pleased he is heading to the right – it means we can take back the centre right and grow again. In making himself a darling of the right so he becomes less electable.
The Liberal Democrats have traditionally had support from the left and right alike. Sadly it alienated the left by taking office. Many will argue that we are the “milk in the black coffee” of the Conservatives. Personally, given the way the Tories say they would wish to behave I am very glad that we are in Coalition even if we are seen as selling out. The Conservatives scare me witless.
So what if Cameron heads off to the right and stays there? I’ll laugh as he scares away those who thought him a ‘social Conservative”. The fewer who vote for him as he dons his jackboots, the better. We are after all, separate parties who will fight each other in 2015. I’m relishing the battle!