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

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
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 apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition