Letter from David Williams QC, Wycombe Labour's Parliamentary candidate on Steve Baker's sleepover for the homeless while voting for the bedroom tax.
In November, the BFP published an article about a sleepover to raise funds for a homeless charity. Steve Baker, Wycombe’s MP, was one of those reported as sleeping out and “braving the elements” as “temperatures plummeted”.
In December, the Labour Party forced a vote to abolish the bedroom tax. They were defeated as Tories and Lib Dems united to vote to keep the tax. Steve Baker, Wycombe’s MP, was one of those Tory MPs who voted to keep the bedroom tax. He didn’t abstain or simply choose not to attend but made a positive choice to vote against the measure.
The bedroom tax is one of the most vicious taxes this Coalition Government has imposed since it took office. It has caused untold misery to thousands of vulnerable people, including the sick and disabled. It has forced them to use food banks and borrow from loan sharks. It has split families up and put vulnerable people on the streets.
However he continues, very publicly, to support charities in Wycombe looking after the homeless or providing food banks while voting consistently in Westminster to impose yet more hardship on the poor and vulnerable.
How does he square this circle? Is it simply hypocrisy and cynicism? Or is it to do with a far more fundamental and deep-rooted belief in libertarianism and the free market which dictates that the borders of the state should be rolled back and individuals and communities should look after themselves? If so, this seems to represent a return to Victorian values where welfare provision was left to charity and the enlightened rich. With the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting a return to 1930’s levels of public spending if the Conservative Budget plans are implemented, perhaps this is exactly what Steve Baker has in mind.
We know that Steve Baker is one of the most right wing free-market Tories in Parliament from his voting record and his speeches in Parliament. It is time he told the people of Wycombe what would happen if his views on the economy and the free-market were implemented. He might also recognise the real impact of the cuts he has supported and the impact they have had on people in Wycombe, particularly women and children and the vulnerable.
At a time when we celebrate hope for the future and goodwill to all we need charity and clarity this Christmas.
David Williams QC
Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Wycombe