Just over 100 years ago, one of the greatest Liberals said that his budget was a war budget. A Budget to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. It was a budget which was designed to increase taxes on the wealthy, and redistribute the money to the poorest in society. In short, the People’s Budget of 1909 began the welfare state. Lloyd George was all for increasing the taxes on the rich-if it meant providing protection for the poor.
A generation later, and another Liberal, William Beveridge wrote a report, more properly The Report to the Parliament on Social Insurance and Allied Services, which proposed an extension to National Insurance, a creation of a National Health Service, Child Benefit and the creation of the welfare state as we know it.
It now seems the inheritors of this great Liberal tradition now wish to dismantle the welfare state. They want to remove the protection for the poor, they want to repudiate the notion of a safety net. They want not to wage war on poverty, but to wage war on the poor.
It seems that although Labour did not create the welfare state, it is up to us to defend it – alongside those liberals who still want to work in the tradition of men like Lloyd George and Beveridge.