Why is Westminster so worked up about a bill which stands no chance of being defeated? Despite a tiny (probably five-strong) Lib Dem rebellion against the welfare benefits uprating bill, it will certainly get a second reading and eventually pass into law. It didn't even need to be a bill in the first place. The only reason it exists is because George Osborne wanted some Commons theatre to publicise his policy dividing line. He wouldn't have risked it if there was any chance of it failing.
The benefits debate is not important because of the result, but because of where it puts political debate in the build up to the 2015 election. It's the front line of Conservative and Labour efforts to massage public opinion in their direction.
The polling on welfare is a mess, and that makes it malleable. The Tories think they're on to a winner because the public views out-of-work welfare payments harshly. Seventy-six per cent support stopping out-of-work benefits for people who refuse offers ofRead More »from The benefits battle: Labour might be at its strongest in a Tory trap