Coffee House

Liam Byrne tries to turn David Cameron’s striver language back on him

25 November 2012

3:01 PM

25 November 2012

3:01 PM

The Leveson Inquiry will dominate this week. Inside Number 10 they regard it as ‘the most difficult’ of the three big issues dominating their time at the moment – the other two are the autumn statement and the EU Budget.

But I suspect that voters will be far less interested in Leveson and the Prime Minister’s response to it than the media and political class are. I’d be surprised if Cameron’s handling of it changed the views of voters—as opposed to those of elites— of him.


So, on The Sunday Politics today it was striking to see Liam Byrne, Labour’s welfare spokesman, trying to turn Cameron’s striver rhetoric back on him. In an interview with Andrew Neil, Byrne complained that the government is ‘short changing the strivers’ and ‘taking out on Britain’s strivers’. The basis for this claim is that the government has cut tax credits; it would–of course—point out that it has also cut income tax for all basic rate taxpayers through raising the personal allowance. But Byrne’s language, with his talk about how ‘the people who are being made to pay for [the rise in people out of work] are people in work’ who are having their tax credits cut is a bracing piece of political position.

Byrne is not an influential a figure as he once was: he has lost control of Labour’s policy review. But it’ll be interesting to see if this striver jiu-jitsu becomes a feature of Labour attacks on Cameron.

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Show comments
  • Jama A Mohammed

    so the Immigrants caused the recession……the stupidity of those on the right has no limits indeed.

  • paulus

    It might of worked if he didnt cock up the figures as A Neil led him down the garden path, and to think he was a treasury minister

  • barbie

    This from the man who told us there was no money left, and didn’t have no shame admitting it. Yes the strivers, are paying for their mistakes, mistakes this country will have to keep repaying for in decades to come. Immigration, spending policies, foreign aid, and socialistic dogma that stained schools, jobs, police, and a lot more. Political correctness gone mad, when a policeman could knock on your door for your own opinons, whether they are right or wrong. I don’t think anything this man as to say would impress me, there again he does not have to, but it makes you realise the extent of their cheek in attempting to lecture us after their record for 13 years. Sorry, its not on.

  • anyfool

    While Byrne tried weakly to call Cameron on strivers his first attack was the Tories increasing the Welfare budget when it has been reduced, he was called on this lie but as usual ignored his own deceit.
    Does it not seem to you Mr Forsyth that as a supposed conservative writer, that a Shadow Minister plainly lying is more worthy of mentioning than some feeble reflection on what might be a line of attack by Labour in the future.

  • LondonStatto

    “Byrne’s language, with his talk about how ‘the people who are being made to pay for [the rise in people out of work] are people in work’ who are having their tax credits cut is a bracing piece of political position.”

    Labour are not credible on this issue as they oppose the benefits cap.

  • Troika21

    I loath this ‘striver’s’ language. To me, it points to out-of-touch politicians who think that people respond to such simple nonsense.

    Not only that, but to paint almost everyone who is out of work as there deliberately is pathetically stupid, they are not. But those in work are not ‘striving’ – most are barely keeping their heads above water. Not waving, drowning.

    And no, Mr Byrne’s tax gimmicks are not the answer either.

  • toco10

    Let it not be forgotten Labour’s policy of mass immigration(5 million plus since 2000) means that those of us in work and paying taxes suffer the welfare payments to such people.Only five per cent of immigrants cover such welfare payments,health benefits,education and housing benefits through their efforts and economic contribution to the UK.Liam Byrne admitted as much himself when he said ‘there is no money left’ because Blair,Brown and Labour had spent it on increased welfare payments to immigrants and other mainly Labour inclined supporters.

    • Thomas Paine

      I haven’t seen these numbers – if it’s true that only five percent of immigrants are net contributors, this would be a bit of a bombshell indeed. Can you name your source please?

      • Daniel Maris

        Thomas Paine –

        Take a look at Migration Watch for sensible, non-racist consideration of mass immigration’s impact:


        Most analyses of mass immigration are in any case highly selective in my view. I have never seen any include the cost of providing 14 specialist Female Genital Mutilation clinics on the NHS for instance.

        • Noa

          Sound points Daniel, though personally I’d prefer to see ‘objective’ used rather than the PC originated ‘non-racist’.

          • Daniel Maris

            Racism is an ideology that I don’t subscribe to and I think most people in Britain don’t like. Sadly, discussion of mass immigration often gets hijacked by racist ideologues. I recommend Migration Watch as a way of avoiding that. Modern racist ideology predates political correctness by about 150 years. We did fight a rather large war against it.

            • Noa

              Well said.

    • telemachus

      We’ve done immigration to death
      Why not concentrate on the Message
      Just like Osborne stoked off growth in2010, so he is choking enterprise in2012
      The autumn statement will only be of interest if he can demonstrate pump priming growth Obama style

      • David B

        Pump prime – plan b by its old name. Brown bought 0.8% growth with over 3% of GDP borrowed, even you can see those economic maths are unsustainable. That is part of what we are now paying for. The rest is the wast billions poured into black holes by Brown from. 2000 to 2010.

    • HooksLaw

      In 2010 net migration was +252k, quotes as the largest ever. Even assuming that figure as constant then over12 years that means an increase of 3 million.

      I do not agree with labour immigration policy I think it was a shocking dereliction the way they parked British people on benefits. But the point of this last fact is that these immigrants took jobs and were not massively dependent on the state as you imply.
      I am sure I can find lots to argue with ‘Thomas Paine’ over, but can you answer is question?

      • toco10

        5 million is a conservative figure over the period but be very careful to include immigrants to the UK from the EU and elsewhere plus their family members who benefit from housing,child allowances,education,healthcare etc.The 5% economic contributor figure, given family members may be optimistic and I have seen lower numbers quoted where the relatively few extremely rich Indian and Russian account for the majority of inward wealth creation.Finally what contribution would a migrant make even if employed at say an annual salary of circa £20,000 against all the welfare benefits received and paid for by the British taxpayer?

        • Rahul Kamath

          Still waiting for the source of the 5% assertion. Does it exist?

      • sarahsmith232

        why are you writing about net increases? so what if 2 million British retirees left the country during the Labour years, the point is 5 million immigrants set up home here. makes no difference how many elderly Scottish/Welsh/Lancashire pensioners left the country to anyone that’s seen their once nice, pleasant area turned into a pound shop/kebab shop/crime ridden 3rd world hell hole because of immigration.
        i just revisited a place i lived in that was nice and was annihilated by mass immigration, the place has got even worse, even more pound shops open now. i noticed a lot of the new flats obvioulsy aren’t selling, some that were built years ago have still got ‘last few remaining flats’ ad’s on them. the place had been really popular in the 90s, now no one is touching it. hardly suprising.

  • Daniel Maris

    Labour productivity increased hugely under Labour up until the crash of 2008. So, given real wages for median earners never tracked that increase, one can see tax credits as a mechanism for ensuring some return for workers on those productivity increases. Now under this government, labour productivity seem to have stagnated and is currently on a downward trend.

    • HooksLaw

      Interesting you should talk about ‘productivity’.
      Where did it all go?

      ‘Between 1997 and 2007 – prior to the financial crisis – the UK had the 2nd largest increase in spending as a share of national income out of 28 industrial countries for which we have comparable data. Over the period from 1997 to 2010 – including the crisis – the UK had the largest increase. This moved the UK from having the 22nd largest proportion of national income spent publically in 1997 to having the 6th largest proportion spent publically in 2010.’ (IFS 2010)

      Equally interestingly the IFS point out,
      ‘If the Government had managed to maintain the “bang for each buck” at the level it inherited in 1997, it would have been able to deliver the quantity and quality of public services it delivered in 2007 for £42.5 billion less.’

      This points straight to not just excessive spending under labour it points to lack of spending control and a waste of our productivity.

      • Daniel Maris

        2010 is not a good reference point. With the largest banking sector, proportionately, of the big developed countries, we had to sink a lot of public money into saving the banks- unless we were prepared to take the consequences of a complete bank failure.

        I have never heard the IFS make a good call on anything. Did they predict the crash? Here they are speaking in Jan 2008:

        “That said, longer-term fundamentals continue to look relatively sound.”

        They predicted real consumer spending would continue to increase at 1-2% over the next couple of years!

        I don’t have to believe anything IFS tell me.Like doctors burying their mistakes, economists bury their cr*p forecasts.

  • HooksLaw

    There is nothing new or original about this, its the usual labour hypocrisy. You might be better suited to expose that. As you do point out we ha ve seen a massive increase in allowances.
    Was Brown’s abolition of the 10p band a help to strivers?

  • Colonel Mustard

    How’s your morning cappucino and afternoon espresso these days Byrne – prepared and served to your demanding satisfaction or has all the money gone? You do realise that “mandarin” is just a term and not meant to provide a model for the likes of you. The UK is not Imperial China in 1799.

    • telemachus

      Do not knock this man

      Last month he said this on Today:

      “The truth is the world of work has changed very radically since social security was set up back in the 1940s and for many people in work they don’t actually feel they get much out for the pressures they have to contend with in everyday life, so I think that fractures support and I think that’s why we do have to reinvent social security for modern times and the world today”

      Sounds like you wrote the script Mr Colman

      • Fergus Pickering

        I have no idea what that means. What does it mean?

        • RealTory

          It means that the CP cut and paster is frenetically trying to salvage something from the Rotherham car crash. Lost cause as UKIP will win and the left have been exposed for the nasty nazi fascists they are.

      • Colonel Mustard

        “Do not knock this man”.

        This is the man who produced a set of written instructions for his staff “Working with Liam Byrne” that would “embarrass the most demanding showbiz diva”. He knocks himself by his own arrogance.

      • Colonel Mustard

        PS How do you decide which commentators to stalk? You do realise stalking became a crime today don’t you? Have you ever considered that over 95% of your comments are in hostile response to others rather than the subject of the blog?

        • telemachus

          I just looked at the thread
          It appears to have Byrne in the title
          I may be wrong but I thought your post was derogatory to Byrne
          I looked at my repost and detect relevance to both your post and the thread
          But I may be wrong

          • Noa

            Byrne baby, Byrne.

  • RealTory

    Could someone explain tax credits to me? I have paid tax all my life and have had occasional refunds but isn’t a tax credit just welfare by another name? And weren’t tax credits a bribe to Brown’s client state to ensure they voted labour? And isn’t Liam Byrne the prat who spent all the money and left a note to that effect? And is this the Spectator or am I in some parallel reverso Common Purpose universe? Answers fron the CP troll telemachus not required.

    • Fergus Pickering

      The answer to all your questions is YES, but you know that, don’t you? I must say the term ‘tax credit’ annoys me, but really I am getting too old to be annoyed by that sort of thing.

    • HooksLaw

      You were going well until you hit the ‘common purpose’ button.

      If you look here you will see that the USA has a mass of tax credits

      • AnotherDaveB

        The key point is “refundable tax credit”. Its not just offset against your tax liabilities, you can be posted a cheque by HMRC even if you have no earnings.

        • RealTory

          Precisely my point – the irony obviously lost on (sometimes sound) Hooker. The tax credit has nothing to do with ‘tax’ – it is a bung to the low paid to ensure they vote labour to continue to receive it.

  • Bluesman

    Did he say where he left the money, or does he still say there is no money left?