Letter: You were warned

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am surprised that any readers of your newspaper are surprised at the actions of the Government in reframing the welfare state (letters, 8, 11, 13, 17, 19 December).

Long before the May elections, it was two articles in this newspaper that prompted me to study New Labour thinking and for the first time in my life to vote Labour.

The first of these was by Tony Blair, in which he argued that the old politics of right and left was gone. The future differences (in terms of practical policies) would be of priority and emphasis.

The second was an article by Frank Field setting out his views on the welfare state and welfare reform. The telling section for me was his comment that the current system of welfare gives rationality to choices and actions by individuals which, by any sensible measure, are in fact irrational for both the individual and society.

The clinching argument was Tony Blair's speech at the launch of the final report of the Commission on Social Justice in 1994. "Beveridge's first- generation welfare was designed to pick up the pieces when things went wrong ... Second-generation welfare is about giving people a hand-up not a handout"

It was these (inter alia) that gave me the confidence that New Labour would have the strength of purpose to challenge the shibboleths of the welfare lobby and take hard decisions in the wider common interest and the best interests of those in need of state help.

The policies of the current government were well telegraphed before the election and are being consistently implemented after it. I cannot help but feel that many of those who now have a problem used their vote in May against something rather than for.

Paul Kelly

London SW19