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Mr Miliband makes a Balls up on benefits.

I am sorry Mr Miliband but you concede too much and too easily. You accept the false government logic about 'fairness'. You should have stood your ground about the value of universality in benefits. Why? Because, as you know, it is often the best way to ensure that those who DO deserve and need benefits get them, and the wealthiest pay back in taxes.

This is particularly true for the elderly. Why on earth are you getting so concerned about wealthier pensioners also receiving winter fuel allowance?You have chosen the soft option, the easy politically expedient option; but it is an unjust option. For the sake of saving the tax payers a measly, piddlingly ridiculous amount, you introduce a threshold around which their will be injustice. It is known that the elderly are reluctant to apply for means tested benefits.

Your position becomes corrosive. You should have been willing to argue the unfairness of the governments case on benefits. Now you have made that argument all the more difficult by conceding on universality. Oh and of course the more wealthy elderly pay more taxes.

You will also be aware, Mr Miliband, that many elderly people do not claim the benefits to which they are entitled. It is estimated that the cost to the treasury would be some £5 billion should they do so. It should be of greater concern to us that so many pensioners struggle unnecessarily. Saving £100 million on winter fuel payments to the wealthiest really does nothing to address the real issues of pensioner poverty.

Labour should be leading the challenge to the government, not blindly accepting the warped premises of Ian Duncan Smith. Running scared of opinion polls shows a lack of political courage. What voters need is a clearly thought out alternative to the slash and burn approach of the coalition.

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