Welfare campaigners hail Black’s maiden speech

Img 1931

​Campaigners say SNP MP Mhairi Black is their greatest hope in fighting welfare cuts after a rousing speech in parliament  

15th July 2015 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

Anti-poverty campaigners in Scotland are hailing 20 year old politician Mhairi Black as their brave new hope after a rousing maiden speech in the House of Commons.

Black, the UK’s youngest elected MP, systematically attacked the UK government’s policies on welfare, the austerity agenda and economic reforms then spoke passionately about how her background volunteering for a charity had shaped her thinking.

The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South addressed issues including benefit sanctions, the budget, and gave an emotional account of the effect these were having on constituents.

As a charity volunteer shortly before being elected as an MP, Black said she witnessed a “grown man burst into tears” after going five days without food. 

Found to be 15 minutes late for a JobCentre interview, he was then sanctioned for 13 weeks.

She continued: “When the chancellor spoke in his budget about fixing the roof while the sun is shining, I would have to ask on who is the sun shining? When he spoke about benefits not supporting certain kinds of lifestyles, is that the kind of lifestyle that he was talking about?”

Black’s constituency Renfrewshire has the third highest use of foodbanks use and food reliance is increasing she said.

And she warned: “Foodbanks are not part of the welfare state, they are symbol that the welfare state is failing.”

Campaigners against welfare cuts took to social media to praise the speech.

Frank Carmel, a campaigner for the Anti-Bedroom Tax Alliance, said on Facebook: “We’ve found our saviour – a young woman who has no fear but will instil it into the opposition."

Jess McCorkadale, who campaigns for Boycott Workfare, said Black’s words were what “everyone decent person in Scotland was thinking.”

She added: “Mhairi’s words are simple but true. The truth she so eloquently delivered is brutal in its honesty. No longer can the House of Commons have it all its own way. Black is going to be a big fly in the government’s ointment and is our biggest ally.”

Later in her speech, Black also offered an olive branch to the Labour Party in a bid to fight cuts to the poorest.

“I reach out a genuine hand of friendship which I can only hope will be taken,” she said.

And Black pleaded: “Let us come together, let us be that opposition, let us be that signpost of a better society. Ultimately people are needing a voice, people are needing help, let’s give them it.”

21st July 2015 by Bob

Only 50-odd Labour MPs actually voted against the UK Government's welfare reform proposals. Against the wish of the Labour hierarchy who wanted them to abstain. Whatever happened to the People's Party?