Yes - of course Labour has a duty to oppose unfair measures... but to do this effectively, Labour has to be strong, Labour has to be united, and Burnham, in his abstaining, was trying to keep Labour strong and united - because those people need it to be.
Let's Stop Thinking Labour's Only Choice Is to Accept the Status Quo or to Give Into Tory Welfare Plans
Labour is not in a good place today - people are feeling bruised and confused about what we are in favour of and what we are against. We need to sort it out - pull our party together and start challenging the Tories instead. That means stronger opposition to the Tories plans, but also setting out an alternative Labour approach. The reality is that Labour did oppose the Welfare Reform Bill yesterday; we voted for a Labour amendment that would have stopped the whole Bill altogether. But that's got completely lost in the muddle over the second vote which was an unsuccessful compromise to try to hold the Parliamentary party together. So what do we do now?
It seems like things can't get any worse. But trust me: if the Labour Party doesn't elect someone capable of giving them direction and demonstrating some form of ideological resolve, things are going to get a hell of a lot worse. Who knows? By the next general election, Labour could even go the way of the Liberal Democrats.
The instruction of the whip was to abstain, and I'm still yet to hear a strong argument as to why that would have been the right way to vote. One of the arguments put to me by a whip was we would be voting against at third reading, so it was ok to abstain at second reading last night. If we opposed the bill then why not simply vote against it? For me Labour stands with the many who work hard in work, out of work, and in their own businesses to ensure that they, and their families, have a roof over their heads, food on the table, and that their kids can go on the school trips.
A damning picture of communities stricken by poverty, crime and unrest, tenants savagely competing "Lord of the Flies" style
Now would be a really good time to take a step back and ask why the welfare bill has kept rising. That's been because more people are making benefit claims due to the recession and as a result of rising rents and living costs, not because of overly generous uprating.
George Osborne is set to drop his controversial plans to end housing benefit for the under 25s after a Lib Dem revolt, reports