Tories fear return of nasty party in attacks on welfare 'scroungers'

Backlash against ads grows as benefits cap passed in Commons

Rhetoric about benefit “scroungers” and “skivers” used by the Conservatives will be toned down after a backlash from their own ministers and MPs, who fear the attacks could revive the Tories’ image as “the nasty party”.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has joined the criticism of the language used by Conservative Campaign HQ and the Chancellor George Osborne. Mr Duncan Smith was appalled by a Tory online advert last month showing a man on a sofa, asking whether the Government should support "hard-working families or people who won't work".

Lynton Crosby, the Australian political strategist who starts work this month as the Tories' election campaign chief, joined Mr Duncan Smith in warning the party not to repeat the ad. Today the Tories ran a different ad, attacking Labour and saying they were "standing up for hard-working people".

MPs have voted to give a second reading to the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill by 324 votes to 268, a government majority of 56. The measure will limit the rise in most state benefits and tax credits to one per cent for the next three years. The Commons rejected a Labour amendment opposing the measure by 328 votes to 262.

One Tory minister told The Independent: "We've not got the language right at Conservative HQ and the Treasury. Some people who lose their jobs and many people on tax credits, are strivers not scroungers. Young people looking hard for their first job are not skivers; there is a danger we may make them feel like parasites, and that we look like the nasty party. The message should be that we are making work pay."

Martin Vickers, Tory MP for Cleethorpes, where 500 jobs will be lost when the Kimberly-Clark nappy firm closes a plant, said: "I support the Bill but we must not tar everyone with the same brush. Some people in my constituency who will be on benefits for a few months; in no sense will they be scroungers." Sarah Wollaston, Tory MP for Totnes, said: "We have to be very careful about the language that we use … I don't feel it's right to use words like skivers. It might rhyme with strivers but it doesn't mean that it's the right word to use for people on benefits."

Some Liberal Democrat backbenchers voted against the Bill, even though it was backed by Nick Clegg. John Leech, MP for Manchester Withington, said: "I find it objectionable that the Tories are using 'skivers versus strivers' rhetoric to justify a cut to seven million working families."

Sarah Teather, a former education minister, told the Commons that using "the language of shirkers and strivers will have long-term impacts on public attitudes". They were joined by David Ward of Bradford East and Julian Huppert of Cambridge.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, said: "I'm very uncomfortable with some of the language being used by our coalition partners, attacking people out of work... That … is completely unacceptable."

Labour adopted the high-risk strategy of opposing the measure but claims public opinion is shifting its way because two-thirds of those affected by the below-inflation rises are low-paid people in work.

Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: "They know this is a strivers' tax pure and simple and they're now desperate to hide it."

*l David Cameron and Nick Clegg are set to publish a dossier detailing progress on 480 pledges made by the coalition Government, which will acknowledge that some more than 70 targets have been missed, according to reports. The Daily Telegraph reported that the document will confirm that the coalition has failed to meet pledges in areas ranging from pensions and road-building to criminal justice, and said its publication appeared to have been delayed amid fears that it would overshadow any favourable coverage of the coalition's mid-term review.

Cameron loses second minister in two days

David Cameron's attempt to start the new year on a positive footing suffered another setback tonight when a second minister resigned from his Government.

Lord Marland of Odstock, a junior trade minister at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, is the second Conservative minister to leave the Government in as many days. It follows the surprise resignation on Monday of Lord Strathclyde as Leader of the House of Lords, which marred a relaunch of the Coalition.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Lord Marland will be stepping down as a minister in order to focus on his role in trade promotion." The former Conservative Party treasurer will continue to act as the Prime Minister's trade envoy, and will lead delegations of businessmen on foreign trips.

Andrew Grice

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit