Steve Cardownie: Tory MSP’s foiled benefits plan was un-Christian

Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour wanted to reassess benefits after three years, assuming the claimant hadn't died.
Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour wanted to reassess benefits after three years, assuming the claimant hadn't died.
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Jeremy Balfour MSP (Conservative) surpassed himself last week (which is no mean feat given his previous form) by signalling his intention to seek an amendment to the Social Security Bill going through the Scottish Parliament.

Now Jeremy also spent some time on the City of Edinburgh Council, rising to the dizzy heights of Conservative Group Leader for a short time before being surprisingly elected as an MSP.

It was more of a surprise to him than anyone else as he had to be woken from his slumbers to be told that he had been successful, such was his assessment of his chances. He always gave the impression that he worked better in a group rather than being left to determine matters on his own and that has again been shown to be the case.

READ MORE: More than 500,000 don’t claim the benefits they’re entitled to

We are told on the Scottish Parliament website that he was educated at Edinburgh Academy and went on to study law at Edinburgh University then theology at the London School of Theology. Before becoming an MSP, he worked in the legal profession and latterly in a number of faith-based roles including ministry work and the Scottish Churches Housing Action.

I think that his background and education is worth mentioning due to his malevolent attempt to change the Social Security Bill by means of tabling the amendment mentioned above which reads: “At the end of a period of three years beginning with the day on which the individual applied for such assistance, if the individual is still living, the Scottish ministers must review the individual’s entitlement to assistance.”

READ MORE: Surge in Edinburgh food bank use as changes to benefits bite

So if you have not died quickly enough, Jeremy Balfour would seek to punish you by having your benefits re-assessed (and presumably withdrawn or reduced, or what’s the point?). So, as if you didn’t have enough to worry about, try this for size.

The powers-that-be within the Conservative Party forced Balfour to withdraw his amendment for, as Ruth Davidson well knows, it is one thing to hold these views in private but God forbid that you should make them public by proposing an amendment that was doomed to fail.

Better to wait for the right moment Jeremy, as timing has everything to do with politics. Hopefully we will never see a time when a majority of MSPs in Parliament would lend their name to such a callous and dare I say it, un-Christian policy.