Behold! Cameron Jesus.

April 10, 2014

Christ_Pantocrator_Deesis_mosaic_Hagia_Sophia

There is a worrying trend among high ranking members of the Tory Party recently, to insist upon all of us, that the UK is a Christian country. Baroness Warsi doesn’t seem to understand secularism, whilst Eric Pickles thinks non-Christians should be quiet and accept we’re inferior. The Prime Minister today reiterated Pickles’ comments , and so by extension of this anti-secular, Christian-privilege position, it further implies that those of us who aren’t Christian, are not to be considered as valuable or as ‘British’ as Christians. Perhaps we should be thanking Christians for allowing us to live on land that they themselves have decided that they own. Or perhaps they should try to grasp the concept that in an Enlightened world, it should be quite obvious to all that a piece of land does not belong to any religion, instead belonging to the great melting pot of all who live in it and contribute to it.

Today, the Prime Minister took their new found obsession with Christianity a step further, by claiming his flagship ‘Big Society’ (a creative code for ‘cutting the state in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest, and hoping everyone else will have time to run libraries and care for the sick and disabled, whilst working longer for less pay’) was invented by Jesus, and that he is merely carrying on the work of Christ. The absurdity of such a statement lends itself wonderfully to social media parodies. And so:

cameronjesus

When religion and politics cross paths, the result is usually disastrous for all the wrong reasons. This time, was one of those rare occasions when the mixing of religion and politics produced a disastrous response for all the right reasons. Well played Twitter, well played.


The Grant Shapps Embarrassment.

September 12, 2013

The Conservative Party must be thoroughly embarrassed with their Chairman this week. Grant Shapps has not only begun an ill-informed argument with an informed UN Official and international housing expert of 30 years experience, appointed by the UN, for her vital report into the horror of the Bedroom Tax, he did so with what seems to be completely invented reasoning.

Upon reading the report by the UN special rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik into the dehumanising, and poverty-inducing effects of the Bedroom Tax, Shapps said:

“It is completely wrong and an abuse of the process for somebody to come over, to fail to meet with government ministers, to fail to meet with the department responsible, to produce a press release two weeks after coming, even though the report is not due out until next spring, and even to fail to refer to the policy properly throughout the report.”

– This is almost entirely ill-informed, and wrong. Raquel Rolnik absolutely did meet with not only DWP officials, but also two Ministers to discuss the report, neither of which had any problem with her “coming over” to conduct research. Not only that, but she acted well within her remit. There is no debate. She’s right, and he’s having an ill-conceived tantrum.

Secondly, Shapps complains that she isn’t using the name of the policy properly. What he means by this is, the “Spare Room Subsidy”. A name that no one uses, because it is a brazen insult to the intelligence of the electorate. A name that isn’t actually based on anything remotely reasonable, because there is no law that grants a subsidy based on a spare room. So the manipulative name is simply what Conservatives wishing to water down the damaging effects of the policy wish to call it. The rest of us don’t. He can whinge that we’re all not willing to polish his turd, and insist that it has a “proper name” all he wants. No one has to accept that name as fact. Rolnik is entitled to call it whatever she feels it is, and she clearly agrees that it is a Bedroom Tax.

Rolnik appeared on Channel 4 news last night, and responded to equally ill-informed Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, by insisting that it is her obligation and her UN mandate to highlight those significantly harmed by government policy on housing. A much needed role. Nadhim Zahawi then complained – echoing Shapps – that she hadn’t met officials from the DWP. She responded by saying that the UK Government arranges her specific meetings during UN fact finding missions, and that she had in fact met with officials from the DWP. So, discrediting Zahawi instantly.

Rolnik then further backed up her point:

“I requested to meet with the highest possible officials, and I met with the DWP, and had more than one meeting with the ones in the DWP who are responsible.”

– It turns out she not only met with officials from the DWP, but she also met with Don Foster and Eric Pickles. Two Ministers. I predict that Shapps will next register his disgust that she hadn’t specifically spoken to the Prime Minister. He’s likely to get more absurd by the day, as his case slowly crumbles beneath him.

Shapps then unable to defend his discredited reasoning, and not willing to apologise for lying, went for the typical ad-hom attack, shamefully insulting Raquel Rolnik based on her nation of origin:

“How is it that a woman from Brazil – a country that has 50 million people in inadequate housing – has come over, failed to meet with any government minister, with any official from the Department [for] Work and Pensions [DWP] or to refer to the policy by its accurate name… She has come over with an agenda and clearly has an axe to grind.”

– Suddenly, he’s mentioning specific departments. Predictably, after being proven completely wrong, he’s now dropped his claim that she hadn’t met with any ministers. But demands she see officials from a specific department. A department that she in fact, did meet with, did request a meeting with Iain Duncan Smith. It seems the Tories don’t know what their argument is.

But when we cut underneath the surface layer, just a little, it isn’t difficult to note that Grant Shapps wants a UN report to reflect Government bias, rather than focusing on the effects felt by the most vulnerable.

Shapps’ also dropped his criticism of her conducting a report, that is actually within UN framework for her to conduct in the first place, because again, he was wrong. And I can guarantee, had her report shone a positive light on the Bedroom Tax, Shapps wouldn’t be on the ill-informed offensive that he’s now on, embarrassing himself everytime he opens his mouth.

Secondly, it is irrelevant where she is from. She is a respected member of the UN team with decades of experience around the World. She is the UN special rapporteur on housing. She knows what she’s talking about. She’s an expert. Being Brazilian is irrelevant, and to attack her for where she was born is a very weak line of attack from a Tory Chairman quite obviously losing the fight. She isn’t just “a woman from Brazil”. And perhaps being from a country that has inadequate housing, and suffering terribly for that, makes her far more able to understand the horrendous situation the most vulnerable people in any country face, when very wealthy people in very big houses conceive of such a heartless policy. It is also irrelevant where Rolnik is from, because Shapps is completely unwilling to listen to the plethora of charities and experts from Britain who register disgust and concern about the Bedroom Tax.

Shapps has since wrote a letter demanding an investigation, to……. Ban Ki Moon. The Secretary General of the UN currently working to try to resolve a crisis of unbelievable magnitude in Syria, will now have to deal with a whimpering Tory throwing his toys out of the pram for not being allowed to influence a UN report. In his letter, Shapps writes:

“I believe that the Special Rapporteur’s report has been influenced by political bias and suggest that the UN withdrawn her claims”

– Naturally he doesn’t actually elaborate on that ‘political bias’. It is eerily similar to Michael Gove’s continued insistence that if teachers disapprove of his changes, they must be Marxists. Reds! Reds everywhere! If you’re going to write a horrifically condescending letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations insisting that a respected member of his team is influenced by political bias, perhaps it would be to your credit, to prove that assertion. Otherwise, you’re just having a tantrum.

Rolnik travelled around the UK speaking to the only people that matter; those affected by the policy. Those who have been driven to food banks, and those who spend every waking hour worried about their future, and how they will afford to live. These are human lives that Conservatives like Grant Shapps would like to completely destroy with impunity. Rolnik concluded that the Bedroom Tax breached the human right to basic housing, because there are not enough smaller properties to downgrade to. And she’s correct. We all know it. Which is why it is a tax.

Earlier this year, Shapps said:

“It is wrong to leave people out in the cold with effectively no roof over their heads because the taxpayer is paying for rooms which aren’t in use.”

– People would not be ‘left out in the cold with effectively no roof over their heads’ if government policy had not, according to figures by the Department for Communities and Local Government, forced a 14% leap in households registered as ‘homeless’. The largest in nine years. Let’s not take lectures on homelessness from a Party that is responsible for rising homeless rates. A report from the same department also showed the number of people sleeping rough had jumped by a fifth, in a year.
Leslie Morphy the Chief Exec. of Crises said:

“Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.”

Similarly, the Chief Exec. of Shelter, Campbell Rob said:

“These figures are a shocking reminder of the divide between the housing haves and have nots in this country,”

Similarly, Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link said:

“This comes at a time when reduced funding has already hit services and further cuts are expected this year. Our research indicates that there are now fewer projects, fewer beds and more of our members are turning people away because they are full.”

Predictably, as with every overwhelming indication that Conservative policy is failing the most vulnerable, the Party refused to accept that the situation could ever be blamed on them. Grant Shapps said:

“the debt-laden economy we inherited is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country”.

– So, charities, The British Academy of Childhood Disability, the UN, those most vulnerable, as well as the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist and United Reformed Churches and Church of Scotland all calling these policies completely unacceptable and unjust, Grant Shapps still insists he is right, and will not be swayed by attempts to reintroduce a human aspect to the debate. The refusal to even acknowledge the damage austerity poverty-driven policies have on the most vulnerable, and his indifference toward the problem, choosing instead to try to score, weak and cheap political points, or to attack a nation of origin, should be enough to disgust anyone with even a fundamental sense of social justice.

Rolnik said:

“During these days of my visit, the dramatic testimonies of people with disabilities, grandmothers who are carers for their families, and others affected by this policy, clearly point to a measure that appears to have been taken without the human component in mind.”

– And she’s absolutely right. Conservatives tend to get very defensive when presented with the human cost of their dire policies. The insistence that cutting housing benefits for those considered to be in a house with one bedroom more than they “need”, will save £500,000,000 highlights the mentality of the party of Grant Shapps. Money first.

In March this year, grandmother Stephanie Bottrill committed suicide, after telling neighbours that she couldn’t afford to live any more. She could not afford the cost of living in her house, a home she had lived in for 18 years, because a government of millionaires decided she had too many ‘spare’ bedrooms (let’s not forget that Lord Freud, staunch defender of the Bedroom Tax, lives in a massive country estate). Grant Shapps and others like him, do not like attention drawn to the human cost of this dreadful and dehumanising policy. They wish the debate to be centred purely around money. The argument for freeing up housing, falls down because the supply of social housing is woefully inadequate. There is no other argument. The Bedroom Tax is a further attack on the most vulnerable, for no discernible reason. There is no positive to take from the policy. When this is the case, it is natural for the Conservative Party to resort to absurdities, and ad-hom abuse. You can almost set your watch by it. Shapps didn’t disappoint on this one.

It is one in a long list of embarrassments for Grant Shapps, who previously admitted to editing his own Wikipedia page to remove embarrassing gaffes, he’s changed his mind about where he was born depending on where he was standing for election, and according to his name badge at a Las Vegas internet conference in 2004, he is actually “Michael Green, a ‘multi-million-dollar web marketer’”. Whilst Shapps was inventing fake names for his dodgy business ventures back in 2004, Raquel Rolnik was focused on international housing concerns.

Rolnik is right to focus on the human aspect of the Bedroom Tax – an aspect that the utterly horrendous Grant Shapps, in his quest to apply unnecessary and heartless pressure to the lives of the most vulnerable, will never understand nor be the slightest bit concerned about. The human aspect is an aspect that has been missing from the debate on the Bedroom Tax and from the Conservative Party in general for far too long.


The Human Cost of the Bedroom Tax

July 30, 2013

In May this year, Liverpool’s Riverside Housing Association called for the urgent help of the Samaritans, to deal with the rising number of people on the brink of suicide because of the misery inflicted by the Bedroom Tax. The country’s most vulnerable – and subsequently, the easiest for a Cabinet of millionaires to belittle, humiliate, and immiserate – are having to pay (some, with their lives) for the failure of the Banks, and the offshore donors love affair with the Conservative Party.

In March this year, grandmother Stephanie Bottrill committed suicide, after telling neighbours that she couldn’t afford to live any more. She could not afford the cost of living in her house, a home she had lived in for 18 years, because a government of millionaires decided she had too many ‘spare’ bedrooms.

Today the High Court ruled that the Bedroom Tax legally discriminates against people with disabilities, and so, could not be overturned by the Judiciary. The case brought by ten families who will suffer from the Bedroom Tax, had asked the court to determine that the rules do not recognise additional needs required by disabled people and families. The ten households that brought the case argued that the Discretionary Housing Payment was woefully inadequate. Shelter agreed. As did other charities in the sector. The wealthy judges, unsurprisingly, didn’t.

Firstly, it is important to note that the Court did find that the policy was discriminatory toward some disabled people. Try to remember that, when you hear the joyful response from Conservative MPs. They are expressing delight at the fact that they now have a legal right to discriminate against people with disabilities. This is the nature of the Conservative Party in 2013.

In the coming days, we are likely to hear analysis on policy, on the Court’s role in challenging policy, we’re likely to hear how the bedroom tax is ‘already helping’ bring down costs, we’re likely to hear about logistics, and how unaffordable the housing situation is in the UK, we’re likely to hear about how the DHP is incredibly well funded and how Iain Duncan Smith finds everyone working at Shelter to be secret Marxists. All faceless, soulless discussion that works only to dehumanise the consequences of the policy. We’re likely to hear all of this, from very wealthy individuals, in very large houses, coming from the gleaming faces of Iain Duncan Smith and others like him, who do not have to deal with the horrendous circumstances they choose to inflict upon the most vulnerable. For example, this charming chap:

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– On a side note, disabled people aren’t the only people Bob Blackman insists are less than human. He also told BBC News that gay marriage legislation was wrong “on principle”, insisting it could only work between one man and one woman….. The Mirror then exposed Blackman as a cheat. So, let’s be clear, Bob Blackman and others like him, enjoy inflicting misery on others. He has no principles. He has hobbies. Those hobbies include contempt for anyone who isn’t Bob Blackman.

What we are unlikely to hear, are the human stories from those who will be most affected by today’s decision. Those that are forced to make heartbreaking decisions. FutileDemocracy spoke to two of those people, and so here are their stories, in their own words:

Jacqueline Leeson, in Lincolnshire has two children; Ashley and Jake.
Jacqueline told me:

“One child is suspected autistic spectrum, he has social difficulties, he also suffers from short term memory, dyspraxia of the mouth and petit mals, he has a life threatening allergy to grass and is asthmatic, my other son has short term memory and also is asthmatic, my son with the social difficulties spends much of his night time talking in his sleep, falling out of bed, crying out and making dashes to safety from his night terrors, he’s now 11 and always been this way, I have a three bed house.

“A short time ago I managed to find an exchange to Cornwall to another three bedroom house. It was the closest I could get back to my family and it took over a year to find this exchange, the school down there had autistic and a short term memory units meaning both of my children would have been supported, where I live now none of this is available at all, in fact hardly any support in these area’s are available.

“Cornwall council deemed I was going to be over housed and removed me the move even though my children had been accepted in the new school and the disability care was already being arranged.

“The bedroom tax has lost my children’s right to a better education and have their disabilities supported, I’ve also lost my partner as he’s working in Somerset as there is no work up here for his industry and the distance was too far for him to travel.
My family have split up, my children have been left with the bare minimum chance of success and I’m still nearly 300 miles away from my disabled Mum who is very poorly, all because of the bedroom tax.
Jakes also had his DLA slashed as well by about £75 a week.”

– The Bedroom Tax – especially when taken with other harsh cuts – in this situation, not only punishes Jacqueline and her children, who are in a situation not of their own making, for wishing even a slightly better situation for herself and her children after years of difficulty. It is also a notice that the future must be bleak also. That their suffering is necessary. That Conservative policy, does not care much for family. That successive governments’ failure to deal with a housing crises, whilst Minister’s in control of policy – like the Bedroom Tax – such as the truly insufferable Lord Freud sat back relaxed in the comfort of luxury, knowing they didn’t have to act, because it didn’t affect them.

Freud isn’t the only one.
Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg insisted that the Bedroom Tax was necessary to deal with the 2,000,000 people on social housing waiting list, by evicting those in houses that have one too many bedrooms than necessary. Incidentally, Nick Clegg, upon his appointment as Deputy PM, gets to live here, somewhere among the 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening…. and he lives here, free:

Upon appointment as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was given this 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening, to live in for free. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: By Dhowes9.

Upon appointment as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was given this 3,500-acre, 115 roomed estate at Chevening, to live in for free.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: By Dhowes9.


– Though, he does have to share the 115 room Estate, with Foreign Secretary William Hague. So, he only has 113 spare rooms really.

Sue North-Blake and her husband are having to cope with cutting down on the most fundamental necessities, like food, and heating. Their choice is; cut out meals, or leave their home. This is the reality of the choice handed to families that have to deal with the hardship of disabilities, by a government of multi-millionaires who themselves, own multiple mansions.

My disabled husband and I live in a two bed bungalow. I am his full time carer. Because of his disabilities I use the second bedroom. It is NOT spare!. We applied for the DHP but were turned down because the council counts DLA as income, and said we should be using that to pay for the room.”

“So we had to cut down on food, and in the winter the heating will just not go on. Yet if we had a night carer come in we would be able to have 2 bedrooms! The government is discriminating against married couples who need two bedrooms for medical reasons.”

So, the legacy of the Bedroom Tax is one which promotes further hardship for those in the most vulnerable of situations. Conservatives and their voters should of course be ashamed, but it isn’t surprising. This is what Conservatives do. They measure the success of a government, by the wealth of its richest, rather than the poverty of its poorest. The real shame, should be reserved for the Liberal Democrats, whose support is necessary to enact such horrendous policy decisions.

It is worth noting just who the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, actually is. She spouts the usual “Labour’s legacy” defence whenever questioned on the human cost of her soulless policies. Do we really believe that if Labour had left a strong economy, a Tory government wouldn’t be doing the exact same as what they are doing now? Do we really believe that this is all due to addressing the deficit, rather than a Conservative ideological dream? Do we really believe that having spent thirty years extolling the virtues of leaving the most vulnerable to suffer by themselves, this is happening because it is ‘necessary’ rather than a Conservative ideological dream? Well, one must examine Esther McVey’s ideological leanings, for the answer. And it comes all too easily.

It is unsurprising that McVey feels it necessary to inflict more misery upon those who need the most support, given that she is a keen supporter of ‘Conservative Way Forward’, a group that dedicates itself to the further realisation of Thatcherite principles. Thatcher; ideologically dedicated to removing as much State support for the most vulnerable as possible, promoting the truly monstrous ‘care in the community’ scheme, alongside horrendously degrading and humiliating procedures in order to receive Disability Living Allowance. McVey is one part of the Thatcherite poison that infects the government and its disabled policy. The new PIP rules set to replace DLA, contain some awful details, when examined,(for example, the truly horrifying new rule that to qualify for Motability support, one must be unable to walk more than 20 metres) but again, when these people control the country, it is of no surprise that disabled people suffer the most. I’m sure joyfully slashing support for those already having to cut down on food, and having to deal with unheated homes, and care for disabled family members, pushing more and more to the brink of suicide, comes easy to the heartless Esther McVey, and the £51,737.22 she claimed in expenses alone for 2012/2013.

Hitting the Conservatives with real life stories of the misery that they purposely inflict upon the most vulnerable families, highlights just how monstrous their dehumanising policies are in the 21st century. Especially from a Party whose donors cash in so heavily on that misery.


Trolling Racist Van.

July 29, 2013

Stewart Lee once said that if ‘political correctness’ had achieved one thing, it had forced the Conservative Party to cloak their inherent racism behind more creative language. This July confirmed that Lee may be onto something. The Tories have evolved from this catchy little 1964 Tory campaign leaflet distributed in Birmingham at the time:

toryrace1964conservativerascismmigrant

To their new, far more subtle campaign, featuring more creative, yet similarly dirty language and imagery:

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The campaign has drawn condemnation from all sections of the political spectrum. From Lib Dem coalition partners like Business Secretary Vince Cable, who called the vans “Stupid and offensive”, to, amazingly, far right, anti-immigration Nigel Farage who quite rightly noted:

“The danger is that the kind of message that is being sent from these billboards will be taken not just by illegal immigrants but also by many people of settled ethnic minorities as being some sort of sign of open warfare.”

Even leader of Redbridge Council, Conservative Keith Prince was unhappy with his horrendous colleagues at the Home Office:

“If we had been consulted, we would have warned strongly that, whatever effect this campaign might be intended to have on people who are in the country unlawfully, that message is far outweighed by the negative message to the great majority of people, from all backgrounds, who live and work together in Redbridge, peacefully, productively and lawfully.”

One cannot help but wonder if Lynton Crosby has recently invested in the van industry.

It was of course, only a matter of time before this wretched little campaign fell victim to both Photoshop, and prank calls. And rightfully so. So here are a few of my favourite racist van trolls:

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ferge

BQWLs8BCIAECZBE

BQVVxMOCIAICRxo

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sketch

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BQLpCXrCEAATCb4

Racist van 8

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As with all failing Tory campaigns, this particular nasty campaign complete with a thinly veiled, menacing threat – naturally used to pass through poorer, multi-ethnic areas of London – is already being touted as a success by the Home Office, without actually producing evidence to confirm. Child-like, EDL-style fear tactics, with NF procured phrases like ‘go home’, designed to spark up community mistrust, suspicion and division, rather than measured and humane approaches, to, well, anything, seems to be the basis by which all Tory policies are formulated.


The Party of Poverty.

July 12, 2013

Back in 2008, before the rise of food banks, before homeless rates sky rocketed, before the most vulnerable were forced out of their homes for having been deemed to have one bedroom too many by Conservatives with twelve bedroom country estates; the Tories attempted to reposition themselves as “the party of the poor“. Oliver Letwin told the New Statesman that year:

“It is one of the ironies of the political scene that the leading advocates of radical change to achieve progressive goals are now to be found in the Conservative Party.”

Naturally, the public didn’t agree, and so in 2009 the Conservative Party again attempted to position itself as the “party of the poor“. In a speech that year, David Cameron told us that the Conservatives were now:

“best-placed to fight poverty in our country”

Naturally, the public didn’t agree, and so in 2011 the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith said:

“We are the party focused on the poor, so it follows that you might legitimately say that we are the party of the poor.”

Naturally, the public didn’t agree, and so next week, according to The I, the Tories will launch a campaign designed to try to shake off the ‘rich, posh‘ image (reality) and replace it with yet another attempt at a “We’re the party of the poor” narrative (fiction). It is therefore wise for us to note exactly how the most vulnerable have fared so far under a Tory government:

Chris Mould, the executive chairman of Trussell Trust; a charity that runs over 300 food banks across the country noted the sharp rise in the use of foodbanks by the most vulnerable, hurt by round after round of deep, sharp Welfare cuts by a Party funded by millionaires. It is estimated that around 500,000 people in the UK currently feel they have to resort to using food banks. Mould said:

“The only people who seem unable to accept there is a social crisis driven by the cost of living is the Government.”

– This was in response to the truly reprehensible Lord Freud, who, on questioned in the Lords about the rise of food banks to support the least vulnerable, essentially told those using foodbanks, that they don’t need to, and are just greedy for free food:

“If you put more food banks in, that is the supply. Clearly food from a food bank is by definition a free good and there’s almost infinite demand.”

– This, despite reports by Church Action, Oxfam, among many charities, that note that welfare cuts, insecure work, job-seekers allowance sanctions, and rising costs of living impact the most vulnerable to the point where a foodbank is a measure of last resort. Oxfam said:

“Cuts to social safety-nets have gone too far, leading to destitution, hardship and hunger.”

– In response, the Department of Work and Pensions, incredibly let those 500,000 people in desperate need of food know that:

“Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities.”

– As with education, as with the NHS, as with the ramifications of deep austerity, the Conservative Party (and I include Liberal Democrats in the category of ‘The Conservative Party’) are in such vast denial when presented with the evidence for the failure of their policies, and the impact it has on the most vulnerable, that we should really be questioning just how such an extremist government is able to find itself electable at all. There is absolutely no way dismantling a safety net, and plunging the UKs welfare system back into the Victorian era, can be spun to appear beneficial to the poorest.
– Party of the Poor.

The Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) Project, in March, published its report into poverty in the UK. The report – ‘The Impoverishment of the UK‘ – found that one in three people couldn’t afford to heat their homes throughout the winter in 2012. It found that 9% of people cannot afford to heat the living areas of their homes, up from 3% in the 90s. It found that 9% of households cannot afford to offer each opposite-sex child in the house of 10 years or over, their own bedroom, up from 3% in 1999. It found that one in three, cannot afford to save. It found that half a million children live in families in which the parents often go without food themselves to ensure their children eat. It found that 13,000,000 do not have adequate housing facilities. It found that 8% of children cannot afford to go on school trips, up from 2% in 1999.
Professor David Gordon, head of the project, said:

“About one third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living. Moreover, this bleak situation will get worse as benefit levels fall in real term, real wages continue to decline and living standards are further squeezed.”

– Party of the Poor.

The Guardian reported the desperation of disabled people whose needs are considered “moderate“, given that their social centres face closure up and down the country as local councils battle to save money. Amanda Preston, of Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services said:

“I am really worried that by trying to make savings now we are pushing vulnerable people towards a crisis point, when any savings made now will be eaten up by the care and support they will need then.”

– This, after Peterborough Council decided to end services for those considered to have “moderate” needs. Campaigners estimate that around 105,000 disabled people in the UK will go without much needed care, due to cuts made to local services.
– Party of the Poor.

Perhaps the most putrid Tory policy – defended by Liberal Democrats – is its most infamous in decades.
ITV broadcast the story of Tony, Diann, their three year old daughter Shanice, and their 15 year old daughter Stephanie. Stephanie has 1p36 deletion syndrome, and a mental age of four. She struggles with words, and mobility. All three bedrooms in their house are currently occupied. Stephanie requires her own room, because she wakes up around 5am and can become loud and violent due to her illness. But under the rules of the ‘Bedroom Tax’, the two daughters will be required to share a bedroom, because they’re both under 16. That, or face a huge cut to their Housing benefit payment. They will be deemed to have a spare room. Tony and Diann say the cut would mean cutting down on meals.

Maria Brabiner has lived in her home since 1978. It is indescribably cruel of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to wish to see her kicked out of the security of the house she has made a home, all because of a spare room. Do you know why she now has a spare room? It is because her mother, whom lived in the room, died recently. Miss Brabiner said:

“I’m scared of what’s going to happen to me, I’m worried about whether my electric will be cut off, whether my gas will be cut off.

– This is economic violence, by perhaps the two nastiest Parties we have seen in the UK, being forced upon a woman whose mother has recently died, and whose house is more than just a house; it is a home. Worse still, it is being forced on her, by a Cabinet of multi-millionaires, backbenches pushing for a massive pay rise for themselves, with multiple houses that remain unoccupied and included acres of land that could be used to build new houses on.

Upon hearing that local authorities might re-designate houses to help the most vulnerable avoid the crippling Bedroom tax, Lord Freud sent them this memo:

I would like to stress that if it is shown properties are being re-designated inappropriately this will be viewed very seriously. If the Department has cause to believe this is the case we will commission an independent audit to ascertain whether correct and appropriate procedures have been followed. I wish to state clearly that these audits would be separate from the subsidy audits already undertaken, which carry out sample checks on the assessment of Housing Benefit.

Where it is found that a local authority has re-designated properties without reasonable grounds and without reducing rents, my Department would consider either restricting or not paying their Housing Benefit subsidy.

– Party of the Poor.

The number of children living in absolute poverty between 2011 and 2012, rose 300,000 on the previous year, according to the Department of Work and Pensions.
– Party of the Poor.

In March 2012, according to figures by the Department for Communities and Local Government, local authorities registered 48,510 households as homeless, representing a 14% leap. The largest in nine years. A report from the same department also showed the number of people sleeping rough had jumped by a fifth, in a year.
Leslie Morphy the Chief Exec. of Crises said:

“Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.”

Similarly, the Chief Exec. of Shelter, Campbell Rob said:

“These figures are a shocking reminder of the divide between the housing haves and have nots in this country,”

Similarly, Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link said:

“This comes at a time when reduced funding has already hit services and further cuts are expected this year. Our research indicates that there are now fewer projects, fewer beds and more of our members are turning people away because they are full.”

– Predictably, as with every overwhelming indication that Conservative policy is failing the most vulnerable, the Party refused to accept that the situation could ever be blamed on them. Grant Shapps said:

“the debt-laden economy we inherited is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country”.

– The refusal to reverse course, or to even acknowledge the damage austerity poverty-driven policies have on the most vulnerable, and his indifference toward the problem, choosing instead to try to score, weak and cheap political points, should be enough to disgust anyone with a sense of social justice.
– Party of the Poor.

Conservatives; where creating poverty, homelessness, rough sleeping, rising food banks, attacks on the disabled, forcing people out of their homes for having a tiny extra room, parents going hungry to feed their children, and pensioners not being able to heat their homes, whilst ensuring tax breaks for the wealthiest is synonymous with being the “party of the poor“.

Austerity is poverty.

Please use #PartyofPoverty hashtag on twitter, to engage in a rebranding of the Tory Party. Thanks.


The curse of the Tory Donors

July 10, 2013

Labour Leader Ed Miliband took a gamble this week with plans to reform Labour’s historic ties to the unions. From constant attacks surrounding the unions’ influence over the Labour Party in recent years, the Conservative Party play a very risky game given their relationship to very wealthy donors. A main complaint we often hear from the Tories’, is just how undemocratic the election processes within unions are. And this may be true. But again, the Conservatives play a very risky game in highlighting the undemocratic nature of unions, given that 52% of the British public did not vote Tory at the 2010 election; only 36% of a turnout of 65% did vote Tory; they didn’t manage to command a majority; they didn’t put their new coalition agreement to a vote; they didn’t run on the basis of a complete restructure of the National Health Service; and they didn’t explain where cuts would fall prior to election. As undemocratic processes go, the Tories between 2010 and 2013 have led the way on that one.

But the biggest risk the Conservative Party has taken recently, has been to highlight the links between the unions and the Labour Party. And here is why:

The Solicitor General and MP for the constituency of Harborough, Edward Garnier opposes, and voted strongly against practically all smoking regulations, in Parliament. Edward Garnier was treated to a £1,132 invitation to the Chelsea Flower Show, by the World’s third largest tobacco company, Japan Tobacco International (which owns Silk Cut, Mayfair, and B&H). Along with a couple other Tory MPs (also voters against smoking regulations), JTI spent around £14,000 wining and dining their new friends in government, in 2011. A month later, six of the MPs invited by big tobacco to the Chelsea Flower Show, tried to block a bill in Parliament banning smoking in private vehicles that had children present.

In November 2009, six months before the general election, and Andrew Lansley’s promotion to Health Secretary, John Nash of private health care provider Care UK donated £21,000 to Lansley’s personal office. This was the same year that Care UK received a large number of complaints – from demoralised staff, as well as patients – due its lack of acceptable care, losing contracts along the way. As Cameron – opposition leader at the time – was out insisting that the NHS was safe in his hands, that the Tories were now the party of the NHS, his Shadow Health Secretary was being bankrolled by a private health provider that was involved in a string of controversy, including an incident in which two bodies were left unfound for two days at Lennox House in Finsbury Park. Care UK now has a lovely little tax arrangement with HMRC by which, it takes out loans via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, and so lowers its tax bill (presumably so it can use the saved money, to fund the Tory Party). For a few Care UK horror stories, see here, here and here.
Dr KRH Adams Bolton, a Health consultant for 26 years in Bolton, wrote this of Care UK:

“They do not manage complex cases. They do not have intensive care facilities. They do not have the research and teaching responsibilities that the real NHS has. I would also question if the CARE UK staff have the same training and experience as a real NHS consultant.”

Care UK Hertfordshire received over 2000 complaints in 2009. In Harrow, Care UK received a zero-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, listing 20 failings, not once but on two separate visits. Not only that, but the miserable company has just won a £53m contract to provide healthcare to prisons.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism conducted research that found the Conservative Party between 2005 – 2010, reliant on hedgefunds, bankers, and investment executives for Party funding with just 10 donors from the City donating around £13,000,000 to the Tory Party in just five years. The biggest individual banking donor, was Michael Farmer, founder of hedge fund RK Capital Management. Coincidentally, he is co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Coincidentally, Farmer funded his son’s membership to the elite, violent, Bullingdon Club. Peter Cruddas, founder of CMC Markets gave £215,243. Coincidentally, he is an ex-co-treasurer of the Conservative Party, who once boasted that a large donation to the Tory Party would secure access to the Prime Minister and gain influence at No 10’s Policy Committee. There appear to be a lot of unfortunate coincidences when it comes to Tory Party donors.

Another ex-Tory Party Treasurer is Michael Spencer. Spencer and his business partner David Roland (David Roland is worthy of an article all by himself) donated more than £2m to the Tory Party in 2010. Spencer threatened to move his company’s operations out of London, if a financial transaction tax was introduced. Another wealthy Tory who doesn’t wish to be included in the “we’re all in this together” mantra, whilst threatening the jobs & the livelihoods of the staff he couldn’t care less about, in the process. The putrid Michael Spencer is the personification of Tory Party “values” in 2013.

On to David Roland. Roland, a Tory Donor who was set to become Party Treasurer in 2010 before revelations about his dodgy business deals, forced the Party to cancel his appointment, though not cancel his next £1mn donation on top of his previous £3mn donation the year before.
Rowland bought a lead smelting plant in Idaho which had, before he bought it, caused a massive environmental disaster, leading to acute respiratory health problems for children in the surrounding area, and the deaths of thousands of animals. Rowland bought the company, used the money set aside for the clean up to secure a property deal in New Zealand, and then sold the company. He tried to hide it, by moving the funds to Bermuda, but the US Justice Department blocked it after mass protests and political pressure. Apparently the Right Wing are convinced a single mother claiming a little extra in benefits each month, is monstrous, whilst David Rowland, some sort of hero. Rowland moved to Guernsey to avoid tax in the UK. So arrogant is Tory Donor – David Roland that he unveiled a statue on Guernsey… of himself. Len McCluskey not starting to look so bad afterall.

Jeremy Isaacs donated £190,000 in the past five years to the Tories. He was head of the Asian and Europe part of the Lehmann Brothers company; a company that helped plunge the World into financial meltdown.

Every employee in the country might not be too pleased to know that the man who wrote the government report on the need to strip workers of their rights when it comes to unfair dismissal, Adrian Beecroft, donated over £500,000 to the Tory Party, whilst personally investing in payday loan company wonga.com. Beecroft insisted in his report that the government should make it easier for companies to fire employees (thus, further helping companies like wonga.com), claiming it would promote economic growth. He provided no evidence for that claim. I’m not sure it’s right that very wealthy Tory donors, with links to predatory companies that benefit hugely from austerity, like wonga.com should be allowed to create government policy. As well as the Tories not having a mandate to do any of what they have so far done, the public certainly didn’t vote for an awful man like Beecroft to oversee certain policy making endeavours.

Those that stand to gain from the destruction of the public sector, are guilty of the exact same crime that the London rioters are guilty of; attacking the community that they live, for their own selfish benefit. Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5,000,000 to the Tory Party in 2001, is quoted as saying of party donations by individuals:

“absolutely natural and unobjectionable” for big donors to gain influence over policy”.

Lord Blyth. He used to be chairman of Boots, and then Chairman of Diageo – the company who make Guinness. Under his leadership, Diageo restructured its model, to avoid paying any tax in the UK.

In 2012, searchthemoney.com found that the Conservative Party was using a loophole in the donor system, to channel millions of pounds of donations into its coffers, with donors able to remain annonymous if they donated through a private club. If a donor gives more than £1500, they cannot remain anonymous. If they funnel the funds through a club, they can give up to £7500 without being named. Through this, the Carlton Club has donated over £500,000 to the Tories, without having to name individual donors. The local Party of Education Secretary Michael Gove has received over £100,000 from clubs, that don’t have to name their donors.

When Tory backbenchers wave their papers in Parliament in a show of euphoria at the Chancellor’s child impoverishing cuts, we know that they are cheering the further enriching and empowering of their very very wealthy, tax avoiding donors.

I am positive that I would rather a Party represented by Unions, and its members; those who fought for better working conditions, better pay, equal rights in the workplace, the end of child labour, the working week, minimum wage; than hedgefund managers, extremely wealthy, shadowy figures, and dangerous private healthcare and tobacco companies who keep their funds offshore, threaten to leave the country if they have to endure any sort of austerity, and sell access to the Prime Minister for large donations. The hypocrisy of a Tory leadership waging a ‘moral’ campaign against union activity with the Labour Party, is astounding. These are people that should not be allowed anywhere near political power. The Party of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.


The Greatest Prime Minister of the 20th Century

April 13, 2013

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“Style, is normally seen in terms of sweeping gestures, the dramatic entrance, the flair for histrionic glamour in the spotlight. But style can be equally powerful when it exploits non-style”
– Political Journalist James Margach.

The year was 1967. England was triumphant in its securing the first and only World Cup win in the summer previous. The Beatles were at the height of their studio success with the release of Sgt Pepper. London was swinging. And Temple Church near Westminster was preparing to say a final goodbye to the arguably the greatest Prime Minister the United Kingdom ever had: Clement Attlee.

The funeral was a small gathering of family and friends. No press, no Royal acknowledgement, no grand seven hour Parliamentary tribute special, and no outward display of intense hatred from half the country, for the man who shaped the country and the World following the end of World War II. A simple goodbye, for an outstanding Prime Minister, key reformer, and Statesman.

Clement Attlee was never seen as a figure that would amount to much in the political arena. He was fond of established institutions, from an upper middle class family, studied at Oxford, and was never ashamed that he came from an affluent background. He was a conservative, in all but economic principles. He was also not considered Prime Minister material.
Future Chancellor under Attlee, Hugh Dalton, on hearing that Attlee had won the Labour leadership in the ’30s remarked:

“It is a wretched, disheartening result, and a little mouse shall lead them”.

– Attlee was unimposing, quiet, shy, and considered very unimpressive. And yet this ‘little mouse’ was a man who would change the face of Britain, and shape public discourse and the role of the State and the Individual, to this day. Winning an unexpected landslide victory in 1945, and reshaping Britain for the next seven years.

It is said that after the quiet, and modest Attlee’s surprising win at the ’45 general election over a Conservative Party led by Winston Churchill, he stood in silence with the equally as shy and quiet King George VI for six whole minutes at Buckingham Palace, before Attlee finally said “I’ve won the election“, to which the King replied “I know“.

His economic assistant at Number 10, Douglas Jay famously noted that:

“He would never use one syllable when none would do.”

Attlee’s social democratic leanings shaped his view of what was needed for the country following the terrible economic woes of the 1930s and the heavy loss of the war. Those social democratic leanings took shape following his years working in London’s East End and experiencing the horrors of extreme poverty. In 1950 Attlee remarked:

“I get rather tired when I hear that you must only appeal to the incentives of profit. What got us through the war was unselfishness and an appeal to the higher instincts of mankind.”

– This belief, that the amplification of the appeal to profit is not necessarily the fundamental trait that incentivises mankind, was the basis for his entire Prime Ministerial legacy.

On coming to power, the unimposing Attlee set about radically restructuring the entire country following the war years. His was to be a socialist government, for the people, and for the sake of equality. He was to pursue this radical aim with vigour, a clear juxtaposition to his personality, which paradoxically complemented it also. He came around at a time when the people demanded an end to austerity, and absolutely no return to the economic misery of the 1930s. Labour offered something new. Security.

To achieve his goals, Attlee appointed a pretty strong Cabinet. Towering figures like the radical Aneurin Bevan to head up Health, Herbert Morrison – grandfather of future Labour grandee Peter Mandelson, headed up the Foreign Office. Atlee Appointed Ministers louder than he, more abrupt than he, more imposing than he. And yet, he kept them in check. Attlee was a philosophical man, a man of debate. He said very little. His Cabinet were the people to turn his plans into a reality. The Labour Government set about putting the wonderful 1942 Beveridge Report, which recommended a socially secure country, as a way to break the horrors of poverty and lack of necessity, into place.
This was the birth of the modern Welfare State.

Social Security, the report said, must be achieved as a contract between the State and the Individual. The individual worked, and the State provided back up for when times got tough. No one would be left to fend for themselves. We truly were, all in it together. It was a ground breaking idea. The Attlee government used the report as the basis for one of the most comprehensive shake ups and social experiments in the history of the UK.

Social Security was not universal, nor comprehensive, and what existed of it, was dying, prior to the Attlee government. Under funded charities trying to cope with the pressures of people coming home from war, a lack of jobs, homelessness, and health issues. Some were palmed off onto other Government Departments. It was in a broken state, and people were left to rot. And so, The National Insurance Act in 1946 established the bulk of the brand new Welfare State. It insured everyone in Country, from cradle to grave, establishing Widow’s Benefits, Unemployment Benefits, Sickness Benefits, and Retirement fund, all for a small National Insurance contribution from the Nation’s workers. All workers paid a contribution, and as a result, were protected during tough periods in their life. A modern National safety net had been created.

Alongside the National Insurance Act came the Industrial Injuries Act, which provided assistance to anyone out of work due to injuries at work. The ‘Death Benefit’ gave help to widows in planning a funeral. The National Assistance Board was set up to assess those who hadn’t contributed through National Insurance, but still required help getting into work, to support them along the way. Unemployment between 1950, and 1969, averaged just 1.6% (social economics leads to idleness? Really?). Financial distress caused by long term unemployment, had been dealt with wonderfully. Secured jobs, people felt a breath of relaxation that if all failed, a safety net would protect them until they could get themselves back on their feet. Power over their own lives, was being handed back to the people who had it the least, and needed it the most. This is the legacy of Attlee.

The National Assistance Act in 1948, replaced broken and completely irrelevant “Poor Laws”, establishing a National safety net for people who didn’t pay National Insurance; the homeless, single mothers, the elderly, and the disabled, obliging local authorities to grant accommodation to those in most dire need.

After providing a Social Safety Net, the Attlee government got on with a massive house building project in order to rebuild Britain following the second World War. Between the end of the war and 1951, around 1,000,000 new homes had been built to deal with the shortage, as well as projects to rebuild those damaged during the war. 80% of the new homes, were council houses, to deal with housing the least wealthy and the most vulnerable.

And then came perhaps the greatest legacy of the Attlee government. The NHS.

Before the NHS, healthcare was largely paid for by the individual as if it were a luxury. Expensive treatments were solely the right of the wealthy. Some provisions were available, in parts of the Country, largely in London, for the poorest.
The Health Minister, Aneurin Bevin, fought a raft of opposition against the National Health Service Act from its birth in 1946, to its passage through Parliament and implementation in 1948. The point of the NHS was as beautiful as it was simple:

“free to all who want to use it.”

It didn’t quite end up as fully planned, for the very basic notion of a universal healthcare system is something ingrained into the minds of all of us who consider healthcare a right and not a luxury. The NHS is still a national treasure. The Attlee government had to backtrack slightly on free prescriptions including glasses. This caused the Health Minister Aneurin Bevan, to storm out of government. Despite the back track the framework remained intact. A universal healthcare system, free at the point of use. The NHS would also cover mental health within that framework. A section largely ignored prior to the Act.

The government nationalised 20% of the economy, as part of decisive social and economic reforms demanded by post-war voters. Whenever Conservatives insist that the Attlee regime created a Socialist economy, it is necessary to point out that 80% of the economy, was Capitalist. The very essentials that are based on need rather than consumer wants, were nationalised; coalmines, healthcare, gas and electricity. All of which had been rotting terribly, underperforming privately, and offering no safety, or decent pay for workers. Nationalisation worked to change that. This was a consensus followed for the next thirty years by both Labour and Conservative governments. Much of that consensus died in the 1970s. The strife of that decade was used as an excuse by the New Right to destroy Attlee created consensus. Other clear causes of the economic struggles, specifically, inflation, of the 1970s – the Oil crises following the OPEC trade embargo, the Iranian revolution, and the disastrous ‘Competition and Credit Control’ policy of the Tory Heath government – were ignored, and instead the system of Welfare, nationalisation and the very concept of compassion and community itself was blamed and ripped to shreds; the attempted destruction of the entire post-war consensus, was disastrous. It didn’t save Britain; it rightly identified a problem with certain aspects of the consensus, attached the blame to the wrong place, and presented a solution that has been even more disastrous than the original problem.

It is perhaps the greatest respect to Attlee, that a modern day Conservative Party, feels that it had to use left leaning rhetoric to appeal to a vast sway of the public that would not elect it, had it revealed its own intentions to reignite the flame of a much despised Thatcherism three years ago. In 2010, the Tories presented themselves in a very Attlee-esque light: “Progressives“, “Compassionate“, “Helping the poor“, “The NHS is safe with us” was their battle cry; and what a far cry that is from the Thatcherite policies that the election winning rhetoric was used to mask.

It is true that the economy struggled during the Attlee years, owing almost entirely to the pressures caused by mass unemployment and economic crises of the 1930s, the destruction of major towns and cities during the war. Though, industrial production alongside manufacturing output greatly increased under Attlee, so too did volume of exports which increased 73% between 1945 and 1951. By the time Labour’s seven years in power was up, the country was turning around. An economic boom in the 1950s and 1960s existed on a new settlement based on a Social Security system, better wages and conditions for workers, a vast improvement in quality of life, government investment, and a National Health System all carved out by the Attlee government.

He of course, made mistakes. The de-colonisation of India, whilst a great venture that almost certainly wouldn’t have taken place had the deeply Imperial minded Churchill won in 1945, was not conducted fairly, nor sensitively enough. The hastily drawn up lines carving up Hindu India, and Muslim Pakistan, lead to thousands of deaths and conflicts lasting years. Attlee took the lead in Cabinet meetings surrounding Indian independence. He had supported India’s Independence for many years, and yet failed to provide for it adequately.
It is also the case that Attlee was not too great at Cabinet meetings in general. Among other, the Minister for Fuel and Power, Hugh Gaitskell complained bitterly that:

“Sometimes Cabinet meetings horrify me because of the amount of rubbish talked by some ministers who come there after reading briefs that they do not understand…. I believe the Cabinet is too large.”

This concern plays out across government, when we note that during Chamberlain’s reign, there were just 13 committees, 8 of which were ad hoc. During the war years, a further 400 War Cabinet Committees were created. Attlee failed to get this government-by-committee under control. That being said, he was still able to hold control of Cabinet, and make swift decisions.
Also, had Attlee not reversed on his NHS promise of free prescriptions, Bevan and others may not have resigned forcing him to go to the polls.

Despite losing the election in ’51, which allowed Churchill’s Conservatives to swing back to power, it is untrue that Attlee’s government were unpopular by ’51. Their share of the vote was down just 2%, and yet the election results show that whilst the electoral system gave Churchill’s Tories a greater share of the seats in Parliament, Attlee’s Labour Party actually won more votes than the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party combined, polled 48.8% whilst the Conservatives polled 48%, and won more votes than Labour has ever won before or since. Labour won the 1951 election, the electoral system failed miserably. Gaining a majority of the popular vote is even more of an achievement, given that Attlee’s seven years were the longest uninterrupted years for a Prime Minister, since Asquith in 1908-1916. The Attlee government was not unpopular in 1951.

Christopher Soames, son in law to Winston Churchill, and sacked from Thatcher’s cabinet, once remarked on Thatcher’s government:

“Every time you have a Prime Minister who wants to take all the decisions, it mainly leads to bad results. Attlee didn’t. That’s why he was so damn good.”

– A fitting eulogy.

A million new homes, A National Insurance System that included; a National Health Service, Child Benefit, Help for the Homeless, Sick Benefits, Unemployment Benefits, Pensions, Widows Benefits, huge improvements to workers pay and conditions, the De-Colonisation of the British Empire. All of this was achieved at a time when the a third of the Nation’s wealth was lost to the war, and a practically empty treasury. The achievements of a government that lasted just seven years, and heralded in a ‘golden age’ of souring wages, minimum inflation, and low unemployment following a horrendous war and crippling austerity, are astonishing. His insistence that the State has a decisive role to play in the well being of the people, that compassion must not be drowned out by profit, and that we are not simply individuals at war with each other, is the legacy of the greatest Prime Minister the United Kingdom has ever known; Clement Attlee.


George Osborne’s Credit Rating Words of Wisdom:

February 22, 2013

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“We will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament…”
– The Conservative Party Manifesto 2010.

This evening – a day after it was noted that Osborne will embarrassingly reveal that borrowing this year will go up – Moody’s Ratings Agency has downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AAA to AA1. Moody’s stated the reason for the downgrade was:

The key interrelated drivers of today’s action are:

1. The continuing weakness in the UK’s medium-term growth outlook, with a period of sluggish growth which Moody’s now expects will extend into the second half of the decade;

2. The challenges that subdued medium-term growth prospects pose to the government’s fiscal consolidation programme, which will now extend well into the next parliament;

3. And, as a consequence of the UK’s high and rising debt burden, a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government’s balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016.

The problem Moody’s sees, is lack of growth. The government have relied too heavily on austerity, and not on growth in any meaningful way. And austerity, without growth, is a failure. Austerity may work at times of prosperity, but when wages are worthless, when growth is stagnant or receding, it simply fails. It has failed again. Therefore, the Chancellor has failed. Moody’s continues:

When Moody’s changed the outlook on the UK’s rating to negative in February 2012, the rating agency cited concerns over the increased uncertainty regarding the pace of fiscal consolidation due to materially weaker growth prospects, which contributed to higher than previously expected projections for the deficit, and consequently also an expected rise in the debt burden.

– Here, they are clear. Moody’s is concerned that continued austerity, despite “weaker” (a euphemism, for no growth, stagnation, and recession) growth than ‘expected’, has led to rising debts. It failed miserably. The statement from Moody’s is one long winded way of saying, the Tory plan A failed. It will continue to fail.

So what was the Chancellor’s response to the news that his plan has failed? Well, he seems to be under the impression that the downgrade simply means he’s doing a wonderful job, his plan is working, and will continue without any changes to it whatsoever:

Far from weakening our resolve to deliver our economic recovery plan, this decision redoubles it.

We will go on delivering the plan that has cut the deficit by a quarter, and given us record low interest rates and record numbers of jobs.

– Let’s be clear, ‘record number of jobs’ simply means, people working, regardless of whether they are paid or not. Unpaid work, to me, is not “employment”. Nor is anyone “employing” you if your jobseekers allowance is only being paid under the condition that you stack shelves for multinational companies using free labour. There are still 2,500,000 unemployed, chasing 500,000 jobs. That’s not a record number. Of the 500,000 jobs the Government claimed to have created, 1 in 5 of those are on unpaid work schemes, and most still claim jobseekers allowance. You know, the people forced to work for multinational Companies, who apparently do not have to rent their labour (this is reprehensible Capitalism, but not unexpected from the Tory Party), because the government claims to be paying their wage, through unemployment benefit. People on ‘job hunt workshops’ receiving no pay or training are also counted. So let’s be clear; the Chancellor just invents whatever he feels comfortable with at the time, to make himself sound impressive. The problem is, sometimes those invented comforts come back to bite you.

The Chancellor is missing the point and completely ignoring what Moody’s actually said. They do not believe that austerity, at a time when growth is slow or regressing has worked. In fact, it has made matters work. That has been the legacy of the past three years of Tory government. Osborne insisting he will continue on this path, suggests he thinks his policy has worked; that a downgrade simply confirms his plan is the right one. So let’s take a look at his thoughts on the Credit Rating over the past few years:

George Osborne’s Words of Wisdom

When Standard and Poor’s first put the UK on a watch list for our Credit Rating, the then Opposition Chancellor George Osborne made his feelings known about what should happen, even for being on the list, to the Labour Government:

“It’s now clear that Britain’s economic reputation is on the line at the next general election, another reason for bringing the date forward and having that election now… For the first time since these ratings began in 1978, the outlook for British debt has been downgraded from stable to negative.”

– Please note, that before today’s Downgrade, Moody’s put the UK back on negative outlook in February 2012. On Osborne’s watch.

Also when in opposition, the Chancellor told us just what losing the AAA Credit Rating would mean for the entire nation, and particularly the Government:

“….now Britain faces the humiliating possibility of losing its international credit rating.”

Also pre-election, Osborne lets us know that investment into the UK would be very difficult if the Credit Rating was downgraded:

“What investor is going to come to the UK when they fear a downgrade of our credit-rating and a collapse of confidence?”

It seems in opposition, the Chancellor could not keep quiet about just how important it was to keep our AAA Credit Rating, at the risk of the destruction of the entire Nation! And how only he could stop the doom!

one of the things I’m very keen on doing, and that’s putting it mildly, is to preserve Britain’s international credit rating. You know it’s absolutely essential we don’t have the downgrade that hangs over the country at the moment.”

In 2011, the Chancellor was keen to tell us how great his policies are, and how safe they have made us! HURRAH!

“Our credit rating had been put on negative watch. Now, however, thanks to the policies of this coalition Government, Britain has economic stability again.”

– That was mid-2011. By early 2012, we were back on negative watch again. Thanks Coalition!

in 2010, he gave us a benchmark by which to judge him as a Chancellor. He also gave us strong assurances of what the Coalition “WILL” do.

“Our first benchmark is to cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain’s credit rating. I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success. Protecting the credit rating will not be easy… The pace of fiscal consolidation will be co-ordinated with monetary policy. And we WILL protect Britain’s credit rating and international reputation.”

July 2012, Osborne tells us just how important retaining the AAA Credit Rating is:

“A reminder that despite the economic problems we face, the world has confidence that we are dealing with them”.

Moody’s is of course, untrustworthy and rather awful at what they do, given that a couple of weeks before its predictable death, AIG was rated AAA by Moody’s. That however, misses the point. George Osborne is the man who held the judgements of Credit Ratings Agencies up to be important references on how well a Government is performing economically, using them to continuously attack the Labour Government. He must face his own words. His own words, that simply add to his loss of all credibility this evening.

We must add ‘Downgraded Credit Rating’ to the list of Osborne’s failures as Chancellor. And the list is pretty long for a Chancellor who hasn’t yet been in the job for three years. The failure stems from the fallacy, that by cutting the public sector, the private sector would sweep up all those lost jobs. By taking money away from the poorest, and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, we’d see new businesses everywhere, and job creation in abundance! Of course, none of that actually happened, or anything like it. Instead we have recessions, falling wages, people kicked out of their homes for having a spare room, banks not lending, the unemployed in payless jobs for multinationals, rising child poverty, borrowing and the deficit rising, and now a downgraded Credit Rating.

The Chancellor has to be sacked. His list of failings is immense. By contrast, Andrew Lansley was sacked as Health Minister, simply for not ‘explaining’ the NHS reforms adequately enough. The problem the Prime Minister has with Osborne, is that sacking the Chancellor, is an admission that the economic plan set forth from the moment they were elected, has failed.

If the Tories and Lib Dems thought they had inherited a mess in 2010, it is going to be a hell of a lot worse for those elected in 2015.

– So, given that over the past four years he has insisted that our Country is doomed if we lose Triple A, that it’s a complete embarrassment, that the Government of the time should call an election due to the economic failure they preside over simply for being ‘watched’ and not downgraded, that his policies saved the credit rating, and then as that rating is downgraded today, insists its just proof that his plan has worked……. how on earth is this man still the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Surely by his own standards, he has failed miserably?


The Tory Hypocrisy

December 21, 2012

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Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke apparently isn’t satisfied with completely ripping the bottom out of the entire public support system, immediately after his Party’s social engineering project threw millions out of work and onto the benefit system. Apparently that’s not enough. He wants to go one step further. If you claim any sort of Welfare, he wants to tell you what you are allowed to spend it on. So I thought i’d make sure Shelbrooke was being consistent in his apparent moral outrage at misspent tax payer’s money. After all, if we save enough by forcing poor people to only eat bread and water, we might be able to afford to give Starbucks another wonderful Corporate tax break, on tax that they don’t actually pay anyway.

Interestingly, a quick bit of research (and this is my interpretation of the research only) brings up Mr Shelbrooke’s own expense claims (MPs in-house-socialism).
Between April 2010, to March 2011, Shelbrooke claimed: £38,914.52
Between April 2011 to March 2012, Shelbrooke claimed: £38,666.06
Between April 2012, to the present day, Shelbrooke has claimed: £14,541.57
Altogether, since winning his Seat in 2010, Alec Shelbrooke, the man who is hugely unhappy at wasting taxpayers money, has claimed a total of: £92,122.15. This is on top of his MPs salary of £65,738. a year.

Maybe you’re thinking all of those claims are necessary, for him to run his office? To an extent, you would be right. He needs to cover the cost of the running of his office, and I accept the legitimacy in that. But maybe you’re presuming that it’s perfectly acceptable for the tax payer to be funding the council tax on his second home, or maybe you think he’d be unable to perform his duties as MP-with-an-ideologically-dogmatic-hate-for-poor-people, unless the tax payer fund the £1,300.00 on his monthly flat rental? (That’s a pretty expensive flat. I’m sure he could find cheaper accommodation elsewhere?)
Here:
accom
– Is there REALLY no cheaper flat that he could rent? Actually, yes. Here, I found a few. Saves the taxpayer a fortune. £750 a month, on the Old Kent Road. Perfect!
In fact, of Shelbrooke’s expenses since 2010, he has claimed the most for Accommodation, than he has for Office costs, travel costs, and Staffing costs. For 2010-2011, he received £14,300.00 in Accommodation.

Here’s another interesting talking point; Alec Shelbrooke has claimed a number of times, for his TV licence. Here is just this year alone:
shelbrooke
– So, naturally, being inquisitive, I thought i’d raise this with Shelbrooke over Twitter (admittedly, I could have been a lot more diplomatic; call it heat of the moment):

s1

Shelbrooke, to his credit, replied.
s2
– Interesting statement, and on the surface, appears reasonable. But, if you look on the Parliamentary Standards website, you will come across a “Definitions” page, explaining the terms used on the expenses forms. Here:

Accommodation Expenses
Most MPs outside the London Area need two residences in order to conduct their parliamentary
duties at Westminster and in the constituency. IPSA will fund the costs of one of these locations.
This may include rent or the cost of hotel stays. For some MPs re-elected in 2010, mortgage interest
will continue to be reimbursed for a transitional period, ending in August 2012. Costs of council tax,
service charges, utilities and telephone/TV/internet connections are also reimbursed. Cleaning,
gardening and furniture costs are not.

Office Costs (Previously CORE & GAE)
This covers the basic costs of having an office: rent, business rates, utilities and day-to-day running
costs, including office equipment, various services, basic security, and non-political communication
costs. Constituency surgery venue hire is included here too.

– So, by Shelbrooke’s reply, it would seem that his TV licence should, if it were claimed purely to show Parliamentary proceedings for the benefit of his staff, be made out as an ‘Office Cost’. Yet, if you cast your eyes to the expense claims I posted above, you will see it classed as “Accommodation”. Just to clarify that:
ipsa
– Now, I am not saying that he’s lying. It may have been falsely attributed. He might have just put it down as “Accommodation”, for no real reason. But it’s worth thinking about. If Shelbrooke has claimed for a TV licence in his home (perhaps the same home, that we’re all helping to fund by paying his council tax, and rent every so often), then I am not entirely sure where he gets the nerve to tell benefit claimants (and remember, it isn’t just the typically referred to Tory definition of a benefit claimant – sitting on the couch whilst everyone else funds their lifestyle of pissing away £50 notes – it is everyone who claims any sort of benefit) that they aren’t entitled to luxuries. Even if TV is within the rules of Accommodation costs covered by expenses, he is being hugely inconsistent in his own moral outrage.

Here is another wondrous example of his hypocritical moral outrage at wasting tax payers money. A man earning £65,000 a year, allegedly charges the tax payer for his TV licence and his rent every so often, works at a place where alcohol is subsidised by the tax payer, feels the need to fill out a Parliamentary expenses form to pay for his food and drink…. worth £15.
food
– That’s a pretty expensive meal. Why? Wait a while, go out, with your own fucking money, and buy a cheap meal from somewhere in London. Thereby saving the taxpayer, and not appearing like a massively hypocritical fool.

Shelbrooke isn’t the only Tory to be have been horrendously hypocritical, with a sense of “I deserve” about them. In June 2010 David Willetts referred to students as a “burden” on the tax payer. Interesting stuff from an insufferable millionaire whom allegedly claimed, according to the Telegraph, £125 from the taxpayer for lightbulbs to be changed in his mansion, and £2,191.38 for the cleaning of a shower head, £1,100 for food, and a further £5,107.25 for plumbing repairs. That’s over £8000 in total, which could pay for a University Student’s tuition fees for two full years, after which time the Student will leave university with a better understanding of his or her chosen field of expertise, and the market will gain a new professional. Or, we could have a clean bathroom complete with a brand new lightbulb in THE MILLIONAIRE, Mr Willetts house. Tough call.

David Willetts is a burden to the taxpayer.

If you happen to be a victim of the disastrous failure of far-right economics, forced by a Government of multi-millionaires, that didn’t have a mandate to do it, and you’re now unemployed through no fault of your own………. a man from that clique of the modern day Nobility, wants to make sure you are not allowed a shred of human happiness, and any dignity that you feel you are losing due to not being able to find work, he believes should be amplified. Your misery at being jobless, apparently must be enhanced by your misery to only buy things that ‘Lord’ Shelbrooke, with his tax payer funded flat, his tax payer funded TV licence, and his tax payer funded expensive meal (allegedly), thinks is appropriate. So shut up, and learn your place, you miserable unemployed pleb.

Everyone who has lost their job as a result of Tory economic mismanagement and dogmatic recession-inducing extremism, when receiving your benefit, should note that this overly privileged authoritarian Tory wishes to have the power to tell you what you should and shouldn’t buy. He wants to tell you what constitutes “luxury”. But we should not expect any different. This is what Tories do. They are not compassionate, they are not progressive, they are a Party of millionaires, for millionaires. Remember this in 2015.

Let’s give MPs a Welfare Card.
They can only stay at cheap hotels in London, when they’re in the capital – thus sparing the tax payer, rent payments, and council tax on second homes.
They can only buy lunch, up to the price of, let’s say, £3. This covers a Tesco Meal Deal. Perfect.
Let’s stop subsidising the Commons bar. They can pay for it themselves. But not with their new MP Welfare Card.
And they most certainly cannot claim for a TV licence.
I would support that. Very much so.


The November 30th Strikes

November 23, 2011

Conservative Party hypocrisy reached a new high today, when The Sun published an article in which David Cameron calls on public sector workers to defy their unions, by not going on strike on November 30th. The phrase the Prime Minister used, which really quite sums up the sort of post-modern irony that seems to run the veins of the Coalition, was a beautiful:

“most did not vote for this”

He is of course referring to the vote for public sector strike action on the 30th November over pension reform.

Unison vote: 245,358 voted in favour, 70,253 against.
National Association of Probation Officers Union: 80% vote for strike action.
The National Union of Teachers: 92% in favour.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union: 4 to 1 in favour.
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP): 86% In favour.
Society of Radiographers (SOR): 84% in favour.
Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP): 64% in favour.
Among others.
Over three million will strike. The Prime Minister believes it is illegitimate to strike, because most public sector workers didn’t vote in the ballot. This of course, simply adds to the breathtaking level of hypocrisy in the Prime Minister’s already weak argument.

It is true that most public sector workers didn’t vote. Even so, the unions that did have a huge turnout, were almost identical in respect to results, as those with low turnouts. For example, whilst Unite only managed a 31% turnout with a result of 75% in favour; the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) managed to get 66% turnout with a result of 86% in favour. Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) managed a turnout of 66.3% and a vote of 79.19% in favour. I’d say it’s pretty conclusive. But it strikes me as insanely ironic that Cameron would even have the nerve to bring up democratic legitimacy. The irony is beautiful. The turnout for the public sector strike vote among unions was around 27%. Pretty small overall. That being said, only about 2% actually voted against strikes. A stark contrast to the 67.6% of people who voted for any Party other than the Conservative Party in 2010. If we’re talking legitimacy after a vote, I’m pretty sure I know which is truly illegitimate, given the scale of reform since 2010.Let’s apply Cameron’s wording to the election and its aftermath:

The tripling of Tuition fees.

“most did not vote for this”

The abolition of 150 PCTs/Control of budget handed over to GP consortiums.

“most did not vote for this”

Rise in VAT, which the Tories said “We have no plans for” and the Lib Dems described as a “Tory bombshell waiting to be dropped”.

“most did not vote for this”

Radical pension changes.

“most did not vote for this”

On the last point, the radical pension changes can not in any light be considered ‘fair’. If we look at what the Government is saying; that a teacher retiring on £37,000 will now get a pension of £25,000, as opposed to £19,100 under the current scheme… sounds like a pretty good deal. But here’s the problem; for a pension of £25,000, the NUT says a teacher would have to work to 68, rather than 60 for the pension of £19000. What this means is if a teacher were to retire at 60 under the new proposals, he/she would receive £13,800…… £5300. Work for eight years longer, pay more, get less. That’s the new scheme.

Danny Alexander told the House of Commons on the 2nd November:

“Yes, we are asking public service workers to contribute more. Yes, we are asking them to work longer, along with the rest of society, but we are offering the chance of a significantly better pension at the end of it for many low and middle income earners.”

– Interestingly, this is nonsense. The document that Alexander is referring to, is the ‘Public Sector Pensions: good pensions that last’ (what a vomit-inducing title), in it we are given the example of a 40 year old male civil servant with 18 years of service, and would only have to work 18 months more – to the age of 61 years and 6 months – to get his existing pension deal. If he were to retire at 67, he’d have £3700 more than under the current scheme. Here’s where it is nonsense. Channel 4 pointed out that if you use the calculator on the Civil Service website, that man would actually only take home £2,567 more. 30% less than Alexander suggested. To even get near to the same pension as they’re currently due, the average civil service worker would have to work close to five years more than now. In contrast, Downing Street has been redecorated to the tune of £680,000 of public money, since May 2010. Just saying….

Baroness Warsi warned:

“Millions of public sector workers could be forced to strike against their will.”

– Oh the hypocrisy. Thousands of students will now face crippling debts, against their will. A report on Radio Leicester this morning highlighted the problem caused by deep austerity (remember, MOST voted against deep austerity in 2010) by showing that since this time last year, homeless rates have tripled in Leicester. Libraries have closed against their will. By June, 240,000 public sector workers had lost their jobs, against their will. GPs are being handed 80% of an NHS budget, against their will. Baroness Warsi really is a disaster.

Overall, the government intends to increase public sector pension contributions by 3.5% by 2015. The TUC says that this amounts to a 3% wage cut. They call it, a tax on working in the public sector. It essentially raises around £3bn a year. Coincidentally, the Chancellor ruled out a tax on bankers bonuses, that would have raised £2bn a year.

It would appear that the Coalition don’t understand. The High Pay Commission this week found that Executive pay is astronomically high, rising hugely even during recession, whilst the rest of the Country had to deal with rising inflation and flatlining wages, followed now by public sector pension attacks and the burden of the nation’s debt placed onto the shoulders of the Nation’s 18 year olds. Barclay’s bank saw its Chief Executive pay increase 5000% in 30 years, whilst its average employee saw his/her pay increase just 3 fold. In 1980, the average pay of the man at the top was 13 times more than the average employee…. now, it’s 169 times more. Collective, The report ends with:

“Stratospheric increases in pay are damaging the economy – distorting markets, draining talent from key sectors and rewarding failure. There appears to be little truth in the myth that pay must escalate to halt a talent drain in executives.”

– Executive pay is in no way linked to company performance. For example, as share index of FTSE 100 companies rose just 7%, average pay for bosses rose 32%, average pay for their employees rose just 2%. Renumeration committees are sordid little greed affairs, and it all remains very very private. It is wrong. So, given that Chief Execs. of financial institutions; a sector that caused the entire globe to become engulfed in the flames of sovereign debt crises, have been given massive tax breaks, and have seen their pay increase beyond anyone’s idea of a reasonable level whilst they ride the tide of consumer demand calling themselves, quite amusingly, “job creators” at every possible turn to defend their obscene life styles, knowing full well they have a plethora of multi-millionaires in the Cabinet to defend them…… the rest of the working World is expected to sit down, shut up, and take the Tory-led economic raping like a good little bitch.

The 0.1% at the very top, are taking even more, funded by cuts to wages like that of the public sector pension reforms. Teachers and nurses are funding the luxurious lifestyles of Britain’s banking chiefs. The Government absolutely fully supports this.

This is why I fully support the strikes next week.


What Tories Say

August 19, 2011

“Our members are the most socially-engaged, the most civic-minded, the most neighbourly bunch of people in Britain.”
David Cameron, 2010.

It wasn’t long after not winning the election (or before actually), that the Tories who had clearly been told to keep quiet for the past few years whilst Cameron built up his “progressive, green Conservative” persona, managed to make it known just how much contempt they have for anyone who isn’t them. I thought i’d provide a definitive list of the things Tories say:

“You might ask how all the single mothers congregating with their push-chaired spawn are able to afford both their beer and their tattoos – I have a horrible idea I am paying for both.”

– Recently suspended for calling the rioters “jungle bunnies”, Tory Councillor on Dover District Council, Bob Frost.

“Good candidate, shame he’s black.”

– Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on an interviewee for a position as Chief Exec. of Monmouth County Council.

“half a wog.”

– Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on a slightly tanned work colleague.

“I think I have behaved impeccably. I’ve done nothing criminal. Do you know what this is about? Jealousy. I’ve got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral, but it’s a 19th century merchant’s house. It’s not particularly attractive, but it just does me nicely and it’s got room to actually plant a few trees. I still don’t know what all the fuss is about. What right does the public have to interfere in my private life? None! It reminds me of an episode of Coronation Street.”

– Tory MP for Totnes in Devon, Anthony Steen when questioned about his expenses claims, of which he claimed £87,000, for servicing his stately home, including 500 trees.

“There is a real danger that the abolition of section 28 will lead to the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle as morally equivalent to marriage.“

Theresa May, the Equalities Minister. Seriously.

“Evidence is quite clearly emerging that man is not having the impact on the climate that the EU climate alarmists claim.“

The website of “Freedom Association“, of which Tory MEP Roger Helmer is a key member. He is our East Midlands MEP. We received his campaign leaflet, of which it said:

“Conservatives played a key role in making new laws to cut carbon emissions and promote renewable energy“.

This part of the leaflet, was a major factor for the campaign, given that it had an entire section dedicated to:

“tackling climate change”

– We can always trust the Tories to have a public agenda that soon gets trumped by their private agenda. The leaflet then tells us just how busy and relevant their work in the European Parliament has been!

“You can still buy your fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces thanks to Conservative MEPs“

– No more sleepless nights for me!

“Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really.”

– Tory Councillor Gareth Compton of Birmingham County Council, talking about writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. You can bet if she’d have said the same thing about him, most Tories would be up in arms about the disrespect a Muslim is showing to England.

15 hours in Council today. Very hard hitting day and the usual collection of retards in the public gallery spoiling it for real people.

– Leader of Kingston Upon Hull County Council. The “retards” being protesters, angry that the 15 hour day he had to so horribly endure, ended by him and his councilors making 1300 people redundant. They must have spoiled the joy on the faces of the miserable Tories who take such delight in instant job destruction.

“I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”

– Tory MP Chris Grayling. By his logic, businesses should be allowed to turn away anyone they don’t like the look of. If you’re Black, Grayling’s logic says that if a shop owner doesn’t want you in their shop, for being black, tough. A Gay couple shouldn’t have to worry that they might get turned away, for no other reason that the B&B owners religious bigotry. Same old Tories.

“Given some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.
If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.””

– Tory MP Philip Davies cloaking his apparent desire to see disabled people in the UK treated as a source of cheap labour, in bubble wrapped manipulative, like-he-gives-a-shit language.

“if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

– Tory MP Philip Davies, after an act of vandalism which was later proven to have not involved any Muslims at all.

“Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?”

– Tory MP Philip Davies.

“I can understand how it looks, but it is being a bit too politically correct.”

– Tory Councilor for Bolton, Bob Allen’s half arsed apology, in which, like every Right Winger when they’ve said spewed some deeply offensive moronic bullshit, blaming political correctness, after he posted a photo of a gorilla next to comments about an Asian colleague.

“IF YOU DON’T PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS YOU WILL RECEIVE 3 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ABSOLUTELY FREE.”

BNP Tory Councillor Simon Farnsworth for Ribble Valley council, at the end of a racist email joke sent to Tory colleagues. Then forwarded by Councilor Ken Hind. My favourite, is Hind’s apology:

“I am privileged to name amongst my friends and associates many who are of Asian or African origin.”

– He can’t be racist! He knows a black person!

“I object to being required to embrace an agenda that actively supports and positively discriminates in favour of people who I consider to be sexual deviants and who engage in practices contrary to my religious beliefs.”

– Tory Councillor for Derbyshire County Council, Patrick Clark, on Homosexuality. Another brilliant excuse:

“The term deviant just means different, it was not derogatory.”

Conservativehome.com, quick to distance themselves from Clark’s comments, went full force with their attack on his 1950s style homophobia and dogmatic religious nonsense:

The “sexual deviants” reference was pretty unfortunate

– YEAH! That told him!

“All women should be sterilised”

Tory Candidate Ross Coates offering his gem of wisdom on the “problem” of women getting pregnant at work.

“close to the minimum wage”

– Tory MP David Wilshire, describing his £64,000 a year salary.

“Recruiting ethnic people into key public sector organisations— in place to protect us—is a risk.

– Tory MP, and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on revelations, which not surprisingly turned out to be entirely false, from the Daily Mail that the police force had been infiltrated by Muslim Extremists working for Al Qaeda.

“I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless.”

– Tory MP and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on his time in the Armed Forces.

“The witch hunt against MPs in general will undermine democracy. It will weaken parliament – handing yet more power to governments. Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler’s gas chambers.”

– Tory MP David Wilshire, comparing MPs during the expenses scandal, to Hitler’s Nazi Germany. This is a few weeks after it was revealed he had claimed over £100,000 for the running of his own company. Apparently, we should be proud of that essential democratic tradition of profiting from public funds during economic downturns.

“Should rioters also lose benefits? I approach this question with a belief that loss of benefits for a significant period might be a deterrent to some rioters, irrespective of whatever other punishments the courts may rightly impose.”

– This beautiful statement was made, as I was writing this. Tory MP James Clappison calling for rioters to have their benefits cut. Interesting moral crusade, given that Clappison claimed over £100,000 despite owning 24 houses, a cricket club, 75 acres of land and a farm. His claims include TV licence, a cleaner, and Sky TV. The hypocrisy is outstanding. Actually, it makes my head want to explode. I cannot comprehend the upper class stupidity at this level. They are oblivious to the real World. To be fair to Clappison, he is trying to join the 21s….actually, the 20th Century, by claiming £295 in 2007….. for a VCR.

“Yes, if you can believe it, homosexuality will be on the curriculum for students studying maths, geography and science.
This plan is ludicrous and pushes political correctness to new bounds
I would have thought raising educational standards and teaching our children to read, write and add up is far more important than imposing questionable sexual standards on those too young to understand their equality czars.”

– Apparently Tory MP Richard Drax (full name: Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax) doesn’t think teaching children the importance of social acceptance is a reasonable idea. He seems to believe we either teach kids that homosexuality is not a great taboo, or we teach them how to read. Apparently we can’t have both. He then claimed he had meant that kids just wouldn’t understand teaching homosexual issues. Meanwhile, Tory Schools Minister Michael Gove said that our history class rooms should:

“celebrate the distinguished role of these islands in the history of the world, a beacon of liberty for others to emulate”.

– If that isn’t propaganda of the worst type, I’m not sure what is. I wonder if children will understand that?

Cameron’s morality machine 2011, is in full swing!


The Osborne Delusion

August 17, 2011

I am not going to comment on the Clive Goodman letter, needless to say, Cameron’s decision to bring Coulson into the heart of government, is just another example of the blatant hypocrisy the Prime Minister is exhibiting recently, in his new self appointed role as guardian of all morality.

So I will focus my attention on the Chancellor instead.

Every couple of years a mad American Christian will insist that the end of the World is fast approaching. They will it, because their religious delusions, they believe, could not possibly fail them. Logic and evidence are shunned for dogmatic religious doctrine that they refuse to give up on, despite the failure time and again of their religion to provide any substantial justification for its existence and its claims. George Osborne is a Tory whose doctrine is about as far right economically as one could possibly get. He will insist his doctrine is the only one that works, despite its massive failures time and time again. Neoliberalism is a religion, George Osborne is a manic preacher who cannot let go.

It was more than obvious before the general election, to most free thinking Englanders, that George Osborne’s assessment that the UK was on the brink of bankruptcy was entirely false. The 6th largest economy in the World, with a triple A credit rating coupled with low inflation and falling unemployment, after the deepest recession in living memory, is not on the brink of bankruptcy. It was a nice little phrase to use in order to attempt to win an election….. which they didn’t.

We knew that England wasn’t Greece. We knew that 80% of our debts matured in 14 years as opposed to Greece’s 3 years. We knew that Greece is in the Euro zone and so has no exchange rate flexibility. We knew Greece is ranked 109th in the World for ease of doing business, with the UK ranked 4th. We knew that Greek public debt is 142% of GDP whilst the UKs was 76%. We knew that Greece was a CCC rated country according to credit rating agency Fitch, whilst the UK was AAA rated. We knew that what George Osborne was saying, his comparison of the UK to Greece, was simply the case of the Tory machine trying to win an election.

But it didn’t stop there. He’s still at it. Either he knows he’s very very misleading, or he’s genuinely insane. Osborne has been insisting recently that he has apparently saved the economy from total collapse. He claimed recently, in an article in the Telegraph, that:

In retrospect, the use of political capital to implement immediate efficiency savings, pass the emergency Budget, agree the most difficult Spending Review for generations and put in place long-term fiscal reforms to pensions was an excellent investment in our country’s economic stability. Thanks to these decisions, the credit rating agency Standard & Poors took the UK off negative outlook and reaffirmed our AAA rating.

– The problem with that statement is, Standard and Poors reputation as a credible source for credit ratings, is rather inadequate. Ezra Klein writing in the Washington Post, said of Standard and Poors and the bursting of the credit bubble:

Standard Poor’s didn’t just miss the bubble. They helped cause it

– They did this, by assigning Triple A credit ratings, to collaterised Debt Obligations, that were risky enough to cause the entire system to crash. Investors bought up the CDOs thinking they were safe, when in fact they were standing on the edge of a cliff, with a hurricane behind them.
Just this month, the US Treasury found that the downgrading of the USA’s Triple A credit rating by Standard & Poors was based on a $2tn mistake in their calculations. The US Treasury said:

The magnitude of this mistake – and the haste with which S&P changed its principal rationale for action when presented with this error – raise fundamental questions about the credibility and integrity of S&P’s ratings action.

– To use Standard and Poors as a sign that our credit rating was saved by the Tories, Osborne is quoting a woefully incompetent source.

So how well is “Plan A” working?
Osborne claimed that Britain was leading the way in growth. He also claimed the latest 0.2% growth figures for the second quarter were a good sign. Here is how that “good sign” looks on a graph:

– Do you see the blue line edging ever so slightly downward? How in the first quarter of 2011, growth was at 0.5%? How it fell 0.3% and how Osborne thinks that’s a “good sign”?
0.2% is apparently great news, for Osborne, yet when growth in January 2010, under Labour, was 0.1% following the recession, Osborne said this:

If you’re looking for the reason why the British economy couldn’t have weaker growth at the moment, literally statistically, it’s only 0.1%, the reasons for that is that businesses are uncertain about the future, there’s no government plan for the recovery, there’s no government plan that is credible when it comes to dealing with the deficit and answering those things would help job creation.

– So the difference between terrible economic growth, and fantastic news, is +0.1%? Fickle Osborne. What about his insistence that the UK is leading the way out of the mess in Europe? Well, whilst the UKs second quarter growth figures were 0.2%, the second quarter growth figures for Italy were 0.3%. Spain was 0.2%. Poland was 1%. Ireland was 1.3%. Finland was 0.8%. Estonia was 2.4%. Sweden (with its large tax rates and well funded public sector) was 1%. In fact, the entire Euro zone growth was 0.2%. Suddenly, Osborne acting as if he is Superman is a little bit more comical than when he blamed the snow.

The inflation rate – the Consumer Prices Index – rose by 0.2% in July from June. It is now at 4.4%. Clothing and footwear measured for CPI saw the biggest rise on record.

The BBC reported today that rail users will see prices increase by 8% next year due to the inflation statistics. A great example of the “efficiency” of the privatisation project over the railways.

The Office For National Statistics revealed that manufacturing in the UK fell by 0.4% in June, and the trade deficit in goods and services grew from £4bn in May to £4.4bn in June. The ONS also point out that overall production output in June 2011 was 0.3 per cent lower than in June 2010. Mining took a hit, at 13% lower production levels than June 2010.

Imports are down. Exports, due to austerity across the World, is down. So to base a Nation’s recovery on manufacturing (Osborne insisted on an export led recovery), whilst exports are down – leading to the fall in production, is walking a very very thin tight rope. We will be relying on the service sector, because the manufacturing base of the UK was absolutely destroyed under the previous Tory administration.

According to today’s figures, unemployment rose to 2.49 million, a rise of 38,000 in the three months to June. Soon to hit the 3 million mark? Unemployment among 16-24 year olds rose to 949,000, up 15,000. Welcome to the 1980s.

The Council of Mortgage lenders said that repossessions had dropped by 24% to 36,300 in 2010. That figure is now rising, and is expected to reach 40,000 by the end of 2010.

Doingbusiness.org ranks countries by their ease of doing business. In 2010, under Labour we were ranked 4th in the World. In 2011, we are ranked 4th in the World. Absolutely no change. Despite drastic cuts, tax breaks, the desirability to do business in the UK has stayed the same. Yet, ease of starting up a business in 2010, we were ranked 16th. Now, in 2011, after the Chancellor saved us…. we are ranked 17th. Brilliant. We dropped a place.

The big six energy companies have announced plans to increase prices. Npower stated it would increase electricity prices by 7.2% and gas by 15.7% by October. This increase comes after they announced first quarter profits, up by 130%. The rise will add an average £140 onto bills. And Npower’s hike, is the lowest of the big six (other than EDF, who haven’t announced yet).

The Office of Budget Responsibility, created by Osborne in May 2010, said that the target of 1.7% growth this year, was highly unlikely, and that growth would be relatively weak. The Chancellor announced a target of 1.7%…. the Chief of the OBR said there there “aren’t many people” expecting that to happen. To hit 1.7% growth rates, the UK needs 1% growth rates over the third and fourth quarter. Given that it was 0.2% in the second quarter, it would appear that the Chancellor was so miserably wrong, it actually hurts to think of how we managed to be stuck with such a person in charge of the Nations finances.

According to BBC Panorama, when adjusted for inflation, the average UK employee takes home £1,088 a year less than two years ago.

So, to sum up, inflation is rising; if it hits 5% the increase in earnings compared to the increasing in prices will reach 3%, exports are down, unemployment is getting worse, manufacturing is falling, train prices are beyond ridiculous, wages are stagnant, disabled children in poor areas are suffering more, people ARE losing their homes, growth is all but flat lining, and energy and gas prices are going to bankrupt most of us. Is this what leading the way to recovery is like? Can we swap it please?

With stagnating wages, rising inflation, rising unemployment and harsh austerity, is it any wonder that growth figures are so low? Where does the demand come from, when people have no money, no help, and are constantly afraid of losing their jobs and their homes? Is it any wonder that imports are down? There is no demand. When the Government “saves” money, so does the public. Under the atmosphere of stagnating wages, rising energy and gas prices, high inflation and harsh austerity, it is indescribably insane of the Chancellor to have expected growth of 1.7%.

Phrases like “difficult decisions” for millionaires like Osborne, who watch the poorest, riot in London from his holiday home in California, are beginning to sound very tiresome. It is impossible to justify taking vast amounts of money from disabled children, from EMA, and at the same time back the bail out of Portugal and invest in a war in Libya that has achieved absolutely nothing. To continue to allow the very wealthiest to get away with tax avoidance, by changing the rules on profit brought back to the UK so those profits are now not taxed at all, whilst keeping VAT high, is not a plan to deal with the economic woes of the Country, it is simply Tories being Tories. We’re in safe hands, as long as George “I avoid paying £1.6m tax on my trust fund…we’re all in this together” Osborne is in control.

Is there any good news? YES!!!…….. oh wait, no, no there isn’t.


Cameron’s (im)moral crusade.

August 16, 2011

The rioting appears to have sparked a debate about the social implications of a culture focused on consuming. The Prime Minister has been forced onto the ropes, bruised and battered, agreeing tentatively to an inquiry into the underlying causes of the riots. Ed Milliband surprised me yesterday, made me sit up and take note of him, in a way that no Labour leader has done in quite some time. In his speech, Milliband said:

‎”People who talk about the sick behaviour of those without power, should talk equally about the sick behaviour of those with power.”

– It is perhaps a little opportunistic of him to have waited so long, to have been a Brownite and not said a word, to have spent the past year as leader of the Labour Party, not really separating himself from his predecessors. Silly little concepts like Blue Labour followed the post-97 tradition of capitulating to the Right on social issues, when they had the opportunity to take the title of “Progressives” away from a deeply regressive Liberal Democrat Party, made me wonder if I could bring myself to vote Labour again. But Milliband seems to be trying to distinguish himself now, from both the New Labour legacy, and the ToryLib Coalition – which, if you watch Simon Hughes speak, is slowly crumbling. So whilst opportunistic, Milliband has created a gulf between himself and the Government, the lines of which were forever blurred when Blair and Brown held the keys to power.

David Cameron, by comparison, is apparently on a rather ironic moral crusade to instill moral values into poorer communities by the time the Parliament is at a close. A particularly ironic statement he made was that the riots can partly be blamed on:

A culture that glorifies violence

– Ironic, because in five weeks time London will host DSEi 2011, the biggest arms trade fair in the World, just a few short months after a disastrous rush to intervene in Libya.

Cameron thus far has offered no solutions. The only thing of substance he managed to muster, was the idea to take benefits away from rioters. Cuts being the cause of the unrest in the first place, Cameron’s solution is more cuts? His ironic moral crusade is vile. I say ironic for a few reasons. Firstly, where was this moral outrage when the Banks were destroying the World? I don’t remember Cameron ever demanding that those responsible for the financial breakdown and its transformation into a sovereign debt crises, come out the massively inflated bonus packages of the crooks who caused the mess. Secondly, it is easy, as a Government with no mandate to do what they’re doing, to see physical violence as the collapse of the moral fabric of England, to watch the looting of private business and express outrage. It is easy to do what Republican Americans tend to do, and scream and shout about the need for smaller government, whilst threatening to evict families from their homes if their children were involved in rioting, or banning social networking and having security services monitor it closely. Their idea of Government is just as big as it ever was under Labour, the difference is the Tories seem to believe that thugs looting the private sector, is somehow worse than the Government absolutely gutting the public sector. But then I guess the aforementioned Bankers, according to the Telegraph, have bankrolled over half the funding of the Tory party in the previous five years to the tune of £43mn.

By contrast, A disabled children’s charity called “The Children’s Society” cannot afford political influence like that of the Banking sector. It is no surprise then, that the Children’s Society found that due to public sector cuts, when a disabled child reaches the age of 16, some families could be up to £22,000 worse off. That’s just for one child with a disability. Two or three children with disabilities in the same family; the damage caused by cuts is unthinkable; unless you’re Tory, in which case it’s a “difficult decision” but “necessary”. Perhaps agreeing to tax on wealth being brought back from tax havens be entirely scrapped; marking the biggest change in Corporate tax rules, in years, so that the richest tax avoiders get away with paying nothing when they move back, represents a “difficult decision”? The curse of the nasty party. I am ever more unsure how anyone can justify taking so much money away from families who need it the most. It represents looting of the worst kind.

In 2010, before the election, Gordon Brown suggested that Sure Start would be under threat under a Tory government. Clearly he was ignored, as Cameron and his Party of the family, said:

“Yes, we back Sure Start. It’s a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this. centres do not need to close”

– Well, the lying, nasty party of big business, between July 2010 and July 2011, has closed 20 Sure Start Centres…. that’s in just one year. The average cut to Sure Start per child is £50 across the Country. Though, in the poorest areas; Tower Hamlets and Hackney for example (coincidentally, where rioting took place), the average cut will be £100 per child. Yet, in the richest areas such as Richmond, it will be £30 per child. In contrast, here is the holiday home that Cameron stayed in during the riots; isn’t is lovely?

A few chavs stealing Nike trainers from Foot Locker isn’t even a drop in the ocean of the destruction caused both by Government cuts, and by those rich few in the Private Sector who happen to be the traditional support base of the Conservative Party.

Those that stand to gain from the destruction of the public sector, are guilty of the exact same crime that the London rioters are guilty of; attacking the community that they live, for their own selfish benefit. Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5,000,000 to the Tory Party in 2001, is quoted as saying of party donations by individuals:

“absolutely natural and unobjectionable” for big donors to gain influence over policy”.

It is no surprise then that the NHS reforms are market orientated reforms, in which private equity firms and individuals who have donated to the Tory Party in the past stand to make a fortune. Perhaps we should investigate the absolutely immoral behaviour of Tory Donors?
Take Lord Blyth. He used to be chairman of Boots, and then Chairman of Diageo – the company who make Guinness. Under his leadership, Diageo restructured its model, to avoid paying any tax in the UK. The amount it should be paying, given that 30% of its production is in the UK, would cost 20,000 families to fill the gap left by Corporate theft committed by a company that was run by one of the Tory Party’s top donors.

Short Selling stocks no doubt was one of the major causes of the financial crises. People lost their homes and their jobs, their lives, the means to feed their families, because Hedge Fund short sellers gambled on the failure of the economy. John Nash is a Hedge Fund manager. He also ran Care UK. A Private healthcare company. He also donated £21,000 to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s private office whilst still chairman of Care UK. In June 2011, NHS Buckinghamshire announced that Care UK had “won” a contract to provide a Musculoskeletal Service costing £2,000,000. Since 2010, Care UK has seen a rise in profits of £1.6m, with a rise in turnover of £94m. Quite a large increase. Especially when one considers that since 2009, countless councils have cut all ties with Care UK for frankly awful service. Take Islington, who ended their contract with Care UK in 2009, stating:

“We have made the decision carefully and decided that clients’ needs will be better served with a different model of care from another provider. We look forward to announcing publicly the new contract partner in due course.”

– Lennox House in Finsbury Park, run by Care UK, came under fire when two care home resident’s bodies were left in their bedrooms for over two days.
Dr KRH Adams Bolton, a Health consultant for 26 years in Bolton, wrote this of Care UK:

They do not manage complex cases. They do not have intensive care facilities. They do not have the research and teaching responsibilities that the real NHS has. I would also question if the CARE UK staff have the same training and experience as a real NHS consultant.

Care UK Hertfordshire received over 2000 complaints in 2009. In Harrow, Care UK received a zero-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, listing 20 failings, not once but on two separate visits. Not only that, but the miserable company has just won a £53m contract to provide healthcare to prisons.
Given that the Tory Party are clearly the new guardians of morality, why would they choose to offer any contracts whatsoever, from a Private Healthcare provider who have failed in their duty to provide quality healthcare where ever they can be found infecting our health system, if it not for the fact that donations equal influence over policy? There is no other reason.

David Rowland, a Tory Donor who was set to become Party Treasurer in 2010, before revelations about his dodgy business deals and immoral attitude toward the Planet forced the Party to cancel his appointment, though not cancel his next £1mn donation on top of his previous £3mn donation the year before, is really not a great person to have on your side when you’re preaching morality. Rowland bought a lead smelting plant in Idaho which had, before he bought it, caused a massive environmental disaster, leading to acute respiratory health problems for children in the surrounding area, and the deaths of thousands of animals. Rowland bought the company, used the money set aside for the clean up to secure a property deal in New Zealand, and then sold the company. He tried to hide it, by moving the funds to Bermuda, but the US Justice Department blocked it after mass protests and political pressure. Rowland moved to Guernsey to avoid tax in the UK. So arrogant is this thieving immoral shit, that he unveiled a statue on Guernsey… of himself. Cameron appears to be obsessed with looting the public sector, whilst unveiling tax exiles, and immoral Corporate fraudsters, as the answer to the troubles of the Conservative Party. Blatant hypocrisy.

Jeremy Isaacs donated £190,000 in the past five years to the Tories. He was head of the Asian and Europe part of the Lehmann Brothers company; a company that helped plunge the World into financial meltdown.

Hedge fund managers like John Nash are not a productive force. They make nothing. The gamble on the lives of millions. They are dangerous and unnecessary. The World would carry on without them, just fine. And yet seven of the top ten Tory donors, are hedge fund managers. In fact, Stanley Fink, who donated almost £2m to the Tories, is considered the “Godfather” of hedge funds. £13m from ten bankers, contrasted with £11mn from the Union Unite – with its two million members, as opposed to ten men – to the Labour Party and suddenly the influence of the Unions is about as relevant as Nick Clegg.

So, given the rhetoric on instilling a sense of morality, and knowing this must extend to every part of society, including the super rich, and the banking industry and its bonus culture that created such a mess in the first place, what are the Tories doing? Well, before the election, David Cameron said this:

where the taxpayer owns a large stake in a bank, we are saying that no employee should be paid a bonus of over £2,000.

– After the election, Stephen Hester of RBS was able to collect a £2.1m bonus. His salary and other payments, means he took home over £6m for the year. Brilliant. Eric Daniels at Lloyds; £1.45m bonus. Brilliant.

In 2009, George Osborne demanded that the Labour Government put a stop to ALL retail banks:

“paying out profits in significant cash bonuses. Full stop.”

– After the election, and after Osborne now has the power to stop it… full stop… Bob Diamond of Barclays is to take home around £4m in cash bonuses.

And most scandalous of all, especially for a Government that promoted honesty and transparent government, was the rather shocking revelation from a leaked Treasury paper, that whilst the Tories were telling the public they would seek to create new tough rules on banking bonuses across Europe; they were secretly lobbying to make sure the law never passed through the EU Parliament. The Government failed, and the directives passed the EU Parliament despite the Treasury in the UK working its hardest to fight it. Then, in true Osborne style, he said in the Commons, after the directive that he tried to destroy passed the EU Parliament:

on 1 January this year we introduced the most stringent code of practice of any financial centre in the world.

– Not only is he taking credit for something that he tried to destroy, it also isn’t true in itself. The EU originally wanted a 20% cap on upfront cash for bonuses. Osborne pushed for it to be raised to 40%. Under the rules for the UK, bonuses are not considered “large” until they reach £500,000. Significantly more than the EU. Certainly less than the £2000 Cameron was demanding before the election.

So, will Cameron be insisting these people are evicted from their homes? Or banned from the Internet, or imprisoned? Well, his spokesman said this:

“We’ve made a broad statement which is about the need to see some restraint and some responsibility from the banks, but we are not going to set bonus pools for individual banks,”

– The concept of morality from a Tory perspective, is evidently unnerving, dangerous, and breaks the immoral barrier down within seconds. We now have to deal with five years of a Party that is far more destructive, wedded as it is to big business, and dangerous than it ever was before, under a Chancellor whom, every day, seems more and more deluded and out of his depth.

The rioters are from a class that has been ignored, abused and disenfranchised for decades. The solution doesn’t lie in punishment alone, the solution lies in sorting out the immoral practices of the people at the very top first. The REAL trickle down affect. We need, as a society, to see looting by the wealthy as being just as wrong as looting by the poor. It is ironic, hypocritical and if it wasn’t so unnerving and dangerous, it’d be laughable, that a Prime Minister, from a Party with such a shady record on its ties to dodgy businessmen and a cabinet full of millionaire Parliamentary expenses abuses, would have the nerve to insist he is the one to instill moral guidance upon us all.


The wisdom of Philip Davies, MP

June 22, 2011

Twitter Philip Davies MP

A couple of nights ago, Twitter was alive with the news that Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davies had stood up in the House of Commons and said this:

“If an employer is looking at two candidates, one who has got disabilities and one who hasn’t, and they have got to pay them both the same rate, I invite you to guess which one the employer is more likely to take on.

“Given that some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable that, given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same, they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.

“My view is that for some people the national minimum wage may be more of a hindrance than a help.

“If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.”

Philip Davies ideal England is one in which sweatshops, full of people with disabilities create cheap goods for the overly privileged Tory benches to feed from, whilst the sweatshop bosses drive up to the gates of Downing Street in their brand new Mercs, accompanied by a lovely big donation for the Tory Party.

Perhaps we could use the £161,300 in expenses he claimed rather dubiously in 2009, on top of his £65,000 a year salary, to pay people a better salary? On the subject of his expense claims, he claimed the most of all Bradford MPs, and claimed £10,000 more on his second home allowance than Bradford North MP Terry Rooney. I am not entirely sure how that’s warranted, or helps him does his job to a greater degree. Incidentally, claimed for more in second home allowances than my dad makes in a year. Unsurprisingly, he clings onto this gravy train by opposing much needed Parliamentary reform. The lobby for Parliamentary reform, Power 10 label Philip Davies as one of the six MPs who will happily block reform of Parliament. This isn’t surprising, given just how much he has financially benefited from the current corrupt nature of Parliament.

Nevertheless, there is an unnerving essence to a member of our national legislature, insinuating that a person’s worth should be based solely on their physical or mental capability, and then using defensive rhetoric, heartfelt sentiment, to sound as if he only wishes to help disabled people, rather than line the pockets of his Party’s donors, and make it easy for employers to exploit without worry. It is equally as unnerving for a politician to tacitly suggest that wage discrimination is not only acceptable, but entirely the fault of those who are being discriminated against. His words sound as if he is suggesting being disabled is a lifestyle choice, that requires a bit of a punishment. That punishment should apparently be an agreement to work for less money that one needs in order to live, along with the added expense that comes with certain disabilities.

It would be right to point out that those with disabilities, who Davies wants to be paid less, did not cause the financial problems we’re now in. Ironically, for Davies, it was the private sector’s excessive greed (of which he clearly has no problem in promoting) that caused the mess, through unproductive excess profit being used – not to pay people better even when it had accumulated enough to easily manage paying more – but on dodgy asset deals. The problem in 2007 wasn’t that there appeared to be a lack of capital caused by the need to pay disabled people, or anybody a national minimum wage, but by the fact that there was an abundance of concentrated excess capital that wasn’t being put to good and productive use. Wages were stagnating for the majority of people, whilst wages at the very top climbed higher and higher. That, is entirely the fault of the private sector. Is Davies saying that if we dropped the minimum wage, wages would flourish, failed Tory economics would be proven right, and disabled people would be working shorter hours, for a loyal boss, who paid wonderfully? Because I foresee a bunch of employers driving even bigger Porsche’s whilst their £2 an hour disabled employees can no longer afford adequate care. Davies certainly didn’t offer any added benefits that some disabled people may require due to being paid below minimum wage. Grants for specialised equipment? Incomes and the ability to pay for necessary care and equipment cannot always be planned for even on a week to week basis, for those suffering certain disabilities. To promote the idea of wage discrimination against those with disabilities, at the same time as cuts to Disability Living Allowance take hold

It is a minimum wage for a reason. Do we really believe employers wouldn’t use an “opt-out” for their own advantage? Wages at the top are already obscenely high in the private sector. In 2009, for example, the chief executive of the Anchor Trust, which provides home for the elderly, took home £391,000. Anchor Trust is a charity! Whilst donations are down and employees are facing redundancy it is ludicrous for a CEO of an organisation that so many people rely on, to take home almost £400,000 a year.

I continue to be of the opinion that if an employer cannot afford to pay somebody a decent enough wage to live on, he/she shouldn’t be running a business. They are a danger to the public. £5.89 is not a lot of money, and to suggest that the rest of us are entitled to at least that, whilst a disabled person is entitled to less, purely because of a natural affliction is sensationally regressive.

The far right narrative is the problem, not minimum wage legislation. Philip Davis is attempting to remove responsibility for fair pay away from the employer, and onto the employee. Citizens UK found that of the companies in London willing to sign up to paying their lowest paid members of staff a “National living wage” rather than a “National minimum wage”, of £8.30 an hour, they managed to lift 3500 families out of poverty in 2009. It didn’t have an adverse affect on prices, in the same way as the minimum wage introduction in the late 1990s didn’t have an adverse affect as many Tories claimed it would. Campaigners for a National Living Wage are screaming out at Tesco, who have failed to ensure their cleaning staff are paid a fair living wage, despite the company making £3.8bn profit last year. Employers do not, ever, take paying their staff a respectable wage seriously. Ever. Surely if they were made to pay more, of which they can definitely afford, the money would be divided among a workforce who would pay more tax, and use the added disposable income on goods and services from businesses across the Country, rather than wasting it on the very very small band of wealthy elites?

A study in America called “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” , found that job applicants with a white sounding name are 50% more likely to be asked back than an applicant with a white sounding name. The researches sent out 5000 applications in sales, marketing, clerical and customer service positions. The names they used were a mix of white sounding names, and black sounding names. The report showed that white applicants with stronger resumes than other white applicants received 30% more callbacks, whereas black applicants with stronger resumes than other black applicants received just 9% more callbacks. It proved that regardless of credentials, black applicants were 50% less likely to get a callback than a white applicant. I wonder if Philip Davis thinks black Americans should agree to work for less money than their white counterparts, purely because they are black? What about a black person with a disability? Back to slavery?

We should though, not be surprised by the ignorance that Philip Davis displayed. Here is an MP who voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which state that it is unlawful to discriminate when selling goods or services, education or facilities based on sexuality. Davies therefore thinks it is acceptable for a school to expel a gay student. Or for a shop to ban a lesbian lady purely for her sexuality. He also voted against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords. So, he wants more freedom for shop owners to ban people based on sexual orientation (individualism and all that Libertarian bollocks) yet that same individualism, he doesn’t extend to the most privileged of people passing that privilege onto their children, who may or may not have worked or produced anything worthwhile in their entire lives? Oh the hypocrisy.

In 2011 he even invented his own logic based on a lie, when it comes to making cigarette packaging plain:

“I believe that the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes is gesture politics of the worst kind. It would not have any basis in evidence and it would simply be a triumph for the nanny state and an absurd one at that.”

– The objection I have with the line “it would not have any basis in evidence” is that it does have basis in evidence. Cigarette companies spend millions on their packaging, and over the last couple of decades, they have used the idea of “light” packaging to sell products to people who believe smoking “light” fags, means less danger. A 2004 British Medical Journal research article found that:

The increase in lung cancer risk is similar in people who smoke medium tar cigarettes (15-21 mg), low tar cigarettes (8-14 mg), or very low tar cigarettes (≤ 7 mg)

– So smoking a cigarette from a package that claims to be “ultra light” means nothing. But do people really believe “ultra light” means they are at less of a risk of developing lung cancer? Does the advertisement on the packaging work? If it does, then Davis is either a liar, or a massive idiot. Well, surprisingly……. he’s a liar or a massive idiot. A University of Toronto research paper, titled “‘Light’ and ‘mild’ cigarettes: who smokes them? Are they being misled?” published in 2002 found that:

In 1996 and 2000, respectively, 44% and 27% smoked L/M (light and mild cigarettes) to reduce health risks, 41% and 40% smoked them as a step toward quitting, and 41% in both years said they would be more likely to quit if they learned L/M could provide the same tar and nicotine as regular cigarettes. These data provide empirical support for banning ‘light’ and ‘mild’ on cigarette packaging.

– The policy of plain packaging is absolutely based on evidence. It is time we started to ignore the “nanny state” hysterical screams from manic, misinformed, ignorant right wingers.

Not only that, but in 2006, after an act of vandalism was initially blamed on a group of Muslim men, Davies said:

“if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

– It later turned out that the act of vandalism was caused by white men. Davies did not apologise, nor did he take the same tough far-right, BNP-esque line with the white vandals as he had done when he imagined the vandals were all muslim.

You might think the incessant stupidity stops there. You’d be wrong. In 2009 Davies asked:

“Is it offensive to black up or not, particularly if you are impersonating a black person? Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?

Maybe he would be happy for black people to take a pay cut after all.


The hypocrisy of the Guardian.

April 3, 2011

In 2009 The Guardian ran a
series of stories surrounding Corporate Tax Avoidance and its worse
adherents. One of the Guardian’s chief reporters on the situation
is Richard Brooks. Brooks, in 2009 wrote this:

The Guardian’s investigation aims to shine some light into this
dark corner and challenge an ultimately anti-democratic tax
avoidance industry. The practices exposed merit comparison with the
excesses of the financial sector (many of which also include a fair
measure of tax avoidance). Moves towards more responsible,
better-regulated business in the wake of the financial crisis
should cover tax avoidance too

They exposed
companies like Diageo PLC who, through complex methods and
exploited loopholes, avoid great swathes of tax whilst the wages of
the average worker remain stagnant. As noted in previous blogs,
whilst benefit cheating costs the UK £900mn a year according the
Government’s own figures, Corporate tax avoidance costs the UK
£25bn. It is quite obviously time to close every loop hole that the
treasury can find. The Guardian is correct. So it might come as a
bit of a surprise that whilst the Guardian is on an apparently
righteous mission to rid the World of tax avoidance, the Guardian
Media Group (the parent company of the Guardian) is one half of a
partnership which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands. The GMG is
tax avoiding. GMG and private equity firm Apax, set up Eden Bidco
in the Cayman Islands in order to purchase a company called Emap.
Apax at the time of the acquisition had a man named Adrian Beecroft
as its Chief Investment Officer. Beecroft is now on George
Osborne’s “Independent Challenge Group”, which states as its
mission:

The group will have a remit to think
innovatively about the options for reducing public expenditure and
balancing priorities to minimise the impact on public services.

Perhaps not setting up vehicle companies for
tax purposes by a multimillionaire, would be a good start in
achieving their aims. Perhaps not appointing other members like
John Nash, the Chairman of Private Health Care provider Care UK
would be a good start in achieving their aims. Coincidentally, John
Nash’s wife, Caroline Nash, gave £21,000 in a personal donation to
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s election campaign, and have
together given more than £200,000 in donations to the Tory Party.
Care UK has recently been awarded a £53mn prison healthcare
contract. Suddenly the word “independent” in “Independent Challenge
Group” is looking rather tedious. The Guardian tried to absolve
itself of all wrongdoing by stating that it was Apax who insisted
on the creation of Eden Bidco and its tax structure, in order for
the deal to buy out Emap to go through. It would appear that Apax
have been rather naughty for some time, and that the
multimillionaire Beecroft who is now advising the Government on
spending has a bit of explaining to do, because one search of the
Cayman Islands Company Register shows the following companies set
up in the Cayman Islands:

APAX CAYMAN SIX
LIMITED 110745 APAX CAYMAN TEN LIMITED 110850 APAX CAYMAN THREE
LIMITED 110724 APAX CAYMAN TWELVE LIMITED 110852 APAX CAYMAN TWO
LIMITED 110717 APAX CSG HOLDINGS LIMITED 34379 APAX EUROPE VI NXP
FOUNDER GP LTD 174622 APAX EUROPE VI NXP FOUNDER L.P. 18092 APAX
EUROPE VI NXP FOUNDER MLP CO LTD 174678 APAX FINANCIAL CORP 221135
-SO 22113 APAX GLOBIS PARTNERS & CO., LTD. 88778 APAX NXP
US VII, L.P. 18065 APAX PARTNERS & CO (GERMANY) II LTD.
72401 APAX PARTNERS & CO (GERMANY) LIMITED 36877 APAX
QUARTZ (CAYMAN) GP LTD. 195012 APAX QUARTZ (CAYMAN) L.P. 21487 APAX
US VII GP, L.P. 17341 APAX US VII GP, LTD. 163273 APAX US VII
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS, L.P. 18392 APAX US VII, L.P.

For the Guardian to take a righteous stand
against Corporate tax avoidance, whilst firstly doing business with
a prolific Corporate tax avoiding company, and secondly actually
setting up a tax avoiding company themselves, is mightily
shameful.