By Ian Hamilton
For two thousand years there has been no one so disdained as the informer. Two thousand years ago Judas informed on his Teacher to the Pharisees: then he took his thirty pieces of silver: then he repented and gave the money back: then he hanged himself: then the Pharisees wouldn’t touch the money and the thirty pieces of silver went to buy The Potter’s Field. Now Jim Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, wants to make a Judas Iscariot of us all.
Do not think I imagine things. On 9th February of this year 2010 he is quoted in the Herald as saying that anyone knowing of benefit cheats should report them. In return the informer will get a share of the money saved by the Department of Social Security. He wants this proposal to be part of Labour’s election manifesto. He has put the idea up to Ed Milliband who is to run Labour’s election campaign. He would turn us into a nation of bounty hunters. There will be an informer among us all. Is this how we wish to live, rich and poor alike?
In a poor family where there is even a little carelessness the children go hungry. In a rich country where the greedy take too much the children go hungry. In this rich land of Scotland one quarter of our children live in poverty. Is it too much, Mr Murphy, to ask you to think of them? Can you not imagine what it is like when someone is tempted to get a little more? Can you imagine how your fellow MPs felt when they were led into temptation? Can you see no difference between them and the working man out of a job who cheats to get a little more? I reproach you. You never reported your fellow MPs although you should have known what they were at.
There are times when I can find something to laugh at in the antics of myself and others. Unlike so many I am not too offended by the greed of our bankers. If we are daft enough to offer them millions they would be daft if they didn’t take them. I would throw a stone through Sir Fred’s window if I happened to be passing that way but I would do so with a certain amount of good humour. ‘There you are,’ Sir Fred I would say. ‘From Paisley to Paisley,’ for I too was once a Paisley schoolboy.
But I am hit with a sort of horror by the cold cruelty of Jim Murphy. There is no laughter in what I write. The Labour Party once existed to look after the weakest in society. It set up the Welfare State, an example to the world. We of the left, whether of the Labour Party or in the SNP truly believe that it was a terrible heresy to say, ‘The poor ye shall always have with you.’ We hope to abolish poverty, at least in Scotland. Now we are invited to spy on the poor and told to keep an eye on what they get. Worse the poor are invited to spy on one another and are to be bribed with the pieces of silver that even the Pharisees wouldn’t touch and that went to buy the Potter’s Field.
Mr Murphy MP, Cabinet Minister, Secretary of State for Scotland, successful man,
I look on what you say and I despair.