THE TORY government was delivered a massive blow on Monday evening when it was defeated by 278 votes to 0 when MPs voted for a Labour motion in the House of Commons to extend the Universal Credit top-up beyond March 31.
The PM withdrew his amendment to the resolution when defeat became obvious after six Tory MPs declared that they would defy Tory Party orders to abstain, and vote for the Labour Party motion.
Former Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb was among the six Conservative MPs to rebel, along with Peter Aldous, Robert Halfon, Jason McCartney, Anne Marie Morris and Matthew Offord!
PM Johnson then withdrew his amendment to the motion when a big defeat became inevitable.
Ahead of the vote, Crabb had insisted that, although there were ‘difficult pressures on the Chancellor’, extending the increase for 12 months was ‘the right thing to do’. Dozens of Tory MPs said that they were ‘deeply uneasy’ about ending the £20 weekly increase to Universal Credit (UC).
The cabinet minister with responsibility for benefits, Therese Coffey, was arguing that the uplift should not be dropped in April, while charities were pleading with the government to keep the support in place, describing it as a lifeline for more than 5.5 million families who receive the standard UC allowance.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation stated that about 16 million people would be directly affected if the £20 was rolled back.
It stated that 500,000 more people would be driven into poverty, including 200,000 children, while a further 500,000 of those already in poverty will find themselves in even worse hardship.
However, these concerns were not the decisive ones for the Tory Party. More important was the fact that their general election success in the North was based not on traditional ‘beat the working class’ policies, but on workers deserting the Labour Party and voting ‘Johnson’ to get out of the EU.
At the time, Johnson said that these masses of workers were only ‘loaning their vote’ to the Tories and that they would have to work hard to keep their support.
In fact, his announcement that Universal Credit would be cut has shattered Tory MPs in the North frightened that they would pay the price for the attack on the benefit by losing their seats.
They moved to save their new ‘livings’ by voting on Monday with Labour MPs for the Labour motion to reverse the proposed £20 a week cut in UC which would plunge millions into poverty – including their own constituents.
The Tory Party has been unbalanced by the need to commence austerity attacks on workers, including the millions of workers that broke with Labour to vote Tory to get out of the EU. The Tory leaders are not the only people who have been badly shaken by the refusal of their MPs to vote to cut UC.
The leaders of the trade unions, from the TUC General Secretary O’Grady to leaders of the giant trade unions like Unite, have also been very loud in their support for Johnson and Chancellor Sunak’s furloughng policies that have seen the government spend some £290 billions trying to keep the UK capitalist economy going.
They have been especially alarmed by Tory signals that the March 3rd Budget will have to begin clawing back the vast sums that have been expended to keep capitalism going, this time by bringing in ‘fire and rehire schemes’ all over industry as well as making vicious and savage budget cuts.
Their reaction has been typical of the trade union bureaucracy. It is to try to get closer to the Johnson-Sunak Tory leadership than ever before. They are getting ready to try to negotiate the vast cuts to come, not to resist them and defeat them.
Workers in the TUC trade unions must now get ready for the huge battles that are just ahead.
They must demand that the TUC trade unions tell the Johnson government that if they do not immediately guarantee the £20 a week UC top-up, they will call a general strike to bring the Tories down and go forward to a workers’ government and a planned and nationalised economy.
The Tory split over UC has shown that the class enemy is split and divided. The Tories and the bosses must be finished off by the TUC calling an indefinite general strike!