When I was younger, I claimed housing benefit and JSA solidly for a year. I did it so I could live in a place where I could find a job I could turn into a meaningful career, a meaningful existence. I grew up in an area short of prospects, short of jobs. I did not have parents who could fund a year long series of internships. I had to rely on the state to get me on my feet.
Working-age benefits will now be frozen for two years, a measure which follows an earlier 1% uprating cap from 2012. This is a way of cutting 'by stealth', i.e. letting inflation do the job that Osborne and his colleagues should be doing.
A cynical reading of the Chancellor' speech, therefore, would note that having announced that £25billion of spending cuts are needed, he only detailed where £3billion would be found. What about the other £22billion? It's a safe bet that we will not hear much about them before the general election.
Are we asking for radical change to the constitution of the UK? No - we're asking for a truer democracy, one where everyone gets and feels involved in the creation of their community. By returning the power to change things to those that need it most, this could well be seen as a great change so the question becomes 'Are we asking for radical change?' Yes - we're asking for a truer democracy.
A quick scan through the Twittersphere reveals plenty of expressions of disgust about Newmark's behaviour, but relatively few about the questionable morality of what is effectively a sting operation. If the editors of the Sunday Mirror had any integrity, they would sack the journalist responsible. They don't, so they won't.
Unlimited immigration from the EU is not a good thing. Immigration is, according to the polling, the second most important issue in British politics today - behind only the economy. In his Conference speech Labour's Ed Miliband, the man hoping to be our next Prime Minister, 'forgot' to mention both the economy and immigration. Understandable perhaps, given Labour's record on both issues when they were in government.
Six weeks ago, I wrote: "We should be in no doubt: we, the West, are back in Iraq." And so it has come to pass. It is difficult to see how it could have been otherwise, once the murderers of Islamic State (or Isis or Isil, take your pick) started killing American and British journalists and aid workers on video. ... We have entered a bizarre Alice in Wonderland world in which Washington, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh and Doha all seem to be lining up on the same side. The Saudis, Qataris and Emiratis even seem to have deployed some of their own aircraft, which I suppose at least proves that they do know what they're for.
Migrants that are accepted to enter Britain should be self-sustaining. Under a Ukip-supported government they would not be able to claim any type of benefit within their first five years here. They would also have to prove before entry that they have private health insurance. We believe that migrants have to pay in before the government pay out.
Yes, the conference in Manchester has had a certain air of expectation that Labour will win in 2015. There is not, however, the excitement that one would expect at the Labour conference preceding their entry to government, and Miliband's speech did not inspire in the way a man giving his last speech as Leader of the Opposition should do.
Miliband's speech was strong on recognising the problems that society faces: his enthusiasm for meeting "real people" on his walkabouts can leave him in little doubt that the crisis many face is a real one. But a nine pence an hour real increase in low wages over the five year term of a Labour government is no substitute for the far more radical solutions that will be necessary to achieve the social justice for which he clearly yearns.
To save lives and protect human rights, the genocidal fundamentalists of ISIS must be stopped. But not by the West and not for the reasons often advanced by David Cameron and Barack Obama... The truth is that if the US and UK are serious about fighting ISIS they should start by aiding the people on the ground who know the region best, have local roots and who are already leading the fight against the jihadist menace - the peshmerga army of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq and guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party and allied movements in Syria.
The Scottish independence debate prompted numerous claims from the left of the Scots actually having a chance to decide their own future. This isn't a new complaint - many groups, Occupy and the People's Assembly among others, have been posing it, especially since the economic collapse.
The most important legacy of the Scottish referendum will be how vividly it made real the huge disenchantment with both our politics and our politicians today. But voters for Yes were not simply rejecting a Westminster elite they perceive as out of touch, remote and uncaring, they were also voting to embrace a more positive vision of Scotland...
Ed Miliband has put the future of the NHS at the heart of Labour's campaign to win the 2015 election. Investing in more nurses, doctors and midwives were central to his party conference leader's speech on Tuesday.
The short term heat may be on Labour, but in the long term it will be turned on the wider political class. The stakes could not be higher. The successful implementation of devolution could entrench the union for another generation...
The welfare budget alone costs the country £275billion every year and is rising. The costs of bureaucracy, fraud and social welfare would be on top of that. The time is upon us when we must think again about the value of work and the needs of the human. The Citizens Income marks out the way to a more hopeful, equitable and positive future.