Ten Tory MPs with less than 50% of the vote.

July 10, 2014

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It is true that if you were to include the number of potential voters in each constituency, no current Cabinet Minister would have received over 50% of the vote. But with the freedom to vote, comes the freedom to not vote, and with that in mind we should look more closely at the the percentage that current Tory MPs – seeking to impose voter threshold on strike action – managed to win at the 2010 general election, among actual voter turnout.

So here’s a quick list of ten:

  • Sajid Javid – MP for Bromsgrove and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities – 43.7%.
    – A man who is in control of the state’s involvement in culture, media, sport, and has the key responsibility for equality in the UK, was elected with less than 50% of the vote in Bromsgrove.

  • David Jones – MP for Clyde West and Secretary of State for Wales – 41.5%.
    – A Secretary of State for an entire country, elected with a little over 40% of the vote.

  • Oliver Letwin – Minister of State at the Cabinet Office and Chairman of the Conservative Party’s Policy Review – 47.6%
    – Letwin – after winning less than 50% of the vote – insisted that public sector workers require “discipline and fear”. On a completely unrelated note, Letwin used £2,145 in Parliamentary expenses to fix a leaking pipe on his tennis court.

  • Mark Garnier – MP for Wyre Forest -36.9%
    On his website, speaking of strikes in November 2011, Garnier writes:

    “These strikes, which will cost the economy up to half a billion pounds, were not voted for by a majority and will hit ordinary working people hardest.”

    – Replace the words “strikes” with “Tories” in this massively ironic statement, and you have a far more honest sentence.

  • Jessica Lee – MP for Erewash & Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve – 39.5%.
  • Stephen Mosley – MP for the City of Chester – 40.6%
    – On his website, Mosley says:

    “The strike action undertaken by PCS union members in June highlighted the unconsidered approach that appears to be the default setting for many unions.
    Less than 20% of their members voted for the industrial action and less than half walked out on their responsibilities that day.”

    – Interesting admiration for majority votes, when almost 60% of Mosley’s own constituency doesn’t want him representing them.

  • Nicky Morgan – MP for Loughborough – 41.6%
    – Elected with a minority of the vote, and yet voted in an attempt to ensure same-sex couples couldn’t get married. She believes with less than 50%, she gets to regulate the love lives of others.

  • Edward Garnier – MP for Harborough, Knight Bachelor and former Solicitor General – 49%.
  • James Morris – MP for Halesowen & Rowley Regis – 41.2%
  • Paul Uppal – MP for Wolverhampton South West – 40.7%
    – Uppal voted in favour of a change to striking laws that would prohibit strikes in the transport sector unless a majority of the workforce voted in favour and not merely a majority of those voting. This same principle, if applied to Parliament, would mean every Cabinet Minister would not have been elected. The closest would have been Theresa May, though she’d still have fell short by 7%.

    – If a Conservative Party wishes to impose a 50% voter threshold on strike action, then I see no reason why there should not also be a 50% voter threshold on the ability to propose legislation and vote in Parliament. Indeed, if MPs with less than 50% of the vote in their own constituency can vote to restrict pay and pensions for public sector workers, I see no reason why those same public sector workers can’t then strike with less than 50% of the vote.

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  • Accommodation Expenses of Tory MPs who voted for the Bedroom Tax.

    November 15, 2013

    The Party of duck-houses and moat cleaning expenses voted this week to ensure that the most vulnerable families in the UK struggle to live, with the perpetuation of the hideous Bedroom Tax. So, it’s worth noting exactly how much those same Tory MPs have claimed in their own accommodation expenses.

    (For reference, ‘accommodation’ according to IPSA covers
    Accommodation, Rent, Home Contents Insurance, Telephone Installation, Approved Security Measures, Internet, Telephone, Usage, Buildings Insurance, Mortgage Interest, Telephone Usage/Rental, Council Tax, Other Fuel, Television Installation/Rental, Electricity, Residential Deposit Loan, Television Licence, Gas, Routine Security Measures, Water, Ground Rent, Service Charges).

    Karen Bradley Conservative MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, voted against Labour’s motion to repeal the Bedroom Tax, thus voting to cut £16 a week from the budgets of the hardest pressed families. Presumably to help plug the Treasury hole arising from her own accommodation expenses, seen here:

    conservatives expenses, karen bradley expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax mps

    Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. He also once blamed civil servants for the failure of certain government projects, and is particularly interested in investigating the causes of government overspending. Here, he claimed £22,000+ in accommodation expenses for a very short space of time, whilst voting to take away accommodation expenses from the most vulnerable:

    richard bacon mp, mps expenses, bedroom tax tories, tories expenses, conservative party expenses

    Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Morgan once told a room full of students at a debate I was at, that business owners make the best MPs. She got a huge boo from the audience. But I agree with her…. in a Parliament that is dedicated to the very wealthy, those sympathetic to the very wealthy to the detriment of the everyone else make the best Corporate-MPs. That’s true. For the rest of us, they are a nightmare. The Bedroom Tax is testament to that hideous Corporate-MP mentality. Anyway, Morgan, whilst ‘Economic Secretary to the Treasury’ and voting to uphold the misery that has lead to so many tragic incidents like that of Stephanie Bottrill, claimed the following in her accommodation:

    nicky morgan mp expenses, nicky morgan mp bedroom tax, bedroom tax mps expenses, mps expenses, conservative party mps expenses

    Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire and former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Here are his accommodation expenses:

    alistairburtMP, alistair burt mp expenses, mps expenses, mps accommodation expenses, bedroom tax debate

    Ian Liddell-Grainger MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset and great-great-great Grandson of Queen Victoria (as well as the great grandson of Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone) claimed £166,109 in 2007/08. After the rule change in 2010/11, Liddell-Grainger claimed £147,004, making him the 6th most expensive MP in Parliament for that year. His wife and two eldest children are registered as his staff. He also voted No on repealing the Bedroom Tax. Here are his accommodation expenses:

    liddell-grainger expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax, bedroom tax tories, ian liddell-grainger vote

    John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deepings, was chairman of the All Party group on Disability. Apparently it did nothing to soften what seems to be an inherent desire to strip those with disabilities of much needed help, whilst himself claiming a small fortune in accommodation expenses:

    john hayes mp, john hayes mps expenses, mps expenses, bedroom tax, bedroom tax vote

    Together, the expenses of these six alone could pay to lessen the horrific burden that austerity – caused by the most affluent – has placed on those who cannot afford it. We have become a country that grotesquely judges its success by how protected those with everything are, rather than those with nothing. The accommodation expenses of almost every Tory and Lib Dem MP who voted against the repeal of Bedroom Tax comes in at hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions. Here is the full list posted on change.org. If your MP voted against the repeal of the Bedroom Tax, thus voting to uphold such a cruel attack on the nation’s most vulnerable, get in contact and ask why they believe themselves justified in claiming thousands upon thousands in accommodation expenses, whilst their constituents struggle to afford to live.


    #MyDadHatedBritain

    October 1, 2013

    When the Tories unleashed the racist van a few months back, social media sprung to life in parodying it, thus rendering the miserable venture an episode in ridicule, taking the sharpness out of its nasty sting. Today, Twitter sprung back to life with similar humour, intending to render the Daily Mail’s vicious piece on Ralph Miliband, a piece worth nothing but ridicule. And they succeeded beautifully.

    The Daily Mail accused Labour Leader Ed Miliband’s late father Ralph Miliband, of “hating Britain”. So twitter users took to the social media site to confess their own worries that their father might also hate Britain. Here are a selection of my favourites:

    del

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    4

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    9

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    Wonderful. And it’s still continuing on Twitter as we speak. Ridiculing irrational slur stories, is a fine way to discredit and disempower the original piece.


    Capitalism and Language

    August 7, 2013

    It is impossible to go a day or two without being presented with language that means very little, whilst appearing to mean a lot. It gives the appearance of some sort of professionalism, but that is all it is; appearance. It exists in its own World, somewhat divorced from reality. It perhaps mimics notions of professional dress codes; professional hair cuts; making sure tattoos aren’t on display; all the signs of modern day lifeless ‘professionalism’. It is all appearance, with very little meaning behind it. It is a religion unto itself. Allow me to give you some examples I once noted down having seen on a company mission statement:

    “Our team works to prioritise mission-critical web-readiness, leveraging cross-platform web services.”

    – I have studied this wording for quite some time, and I’m still unable to tell you what it means. I think it means; “We update our website a lot.

    Orwell once took this beautiful line from Ecclesiastes:

    “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

    – And transformed it into modern, business-English:

    “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

    If we take a look at language we’re so used to hearing from the business community, from politicians, and from those who are speaking from a position of considerable privilege, we can easily note that the rhetoric tends to reflect the prevailing social and economic centres of power, used – among other things – to water down injustices within that particular system. Words and phrases are used to subtly promote the prevailing structure. The Liberal Democrats have taken to using the word “fair” to describe policies that do not fix inherent problems (like housing shortages) but do such untold damage to those who at the bottom, that repeating the word “fair” over and over seems like nothing more than an insecure exercise in trying to convince themselves of what they’re saying.

    Conservatives are wonderful at claiming to be a Party willing to take “tough decisions“. As if that’s an inherently good thing. As if “tough” translates to “right“. It ignores ideology, if you claim the decisions were tough. You might envisage the millionaire Chancellor weeping as he signs off on cuts to disability funds for the most vulnerable, as if his anti-social security ideology isn’t a factor. It’s no different to Republicans in the US claiming it a tough decision to strip women of reproductive rights. Or slave owners in the Antebellum South claiming it’s a tough decision to whip their slaves. Those with the privilege do not get to claim a decision that perpetuates that pivilege, whilst oppressing those already oppressed, is “tough“.

    In the business world, “End of play” suggests a sort of child-like fun that you must be having. ‘Flexible accumulation‘ used to suggest an inherent and unavoidable part of the system that means of production, of distribution, and so labourforce (people) are in fact all unimportant in themselves – secondary – to the most important aspect of life; the accumulation of capital (which, oddly, is deemed a natural ‘good’). And so as language analysts suggest; if workers are convinced of their own nature as ‘flexible’ they are more likely to accept that their jobs are part of that ‘flexible‘ cycle, willing to work longer hours for less. If you tell a worker he or she is ‘expendable‘ or ‘worthy, until the boss deems otherwise‘, you’re unlikely to inspire much loyalty (a loyalty, the boss isn’t obliged to reciprocate). ‘Flexible accumulation’ is a very subtle threat, hidden behind more creative language. Just today, we read that the Institute of Directors has responded angrily to suggestions that zero-hour contracts be banned, insisting that it risks the UKs ‘flexible’ labour market. Another way to describe a ‘flexible‘ labour market, is job insecurity. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; anxiety, depression, and poor health increase dramatically in those people who consider their job to be insecure. This, to the Institute of Directors, is an unimportant consequence of a “flexible labour market“.

    Burst bubble” denotes something out of anyone’s control, and so those who were at the very centre of the financial crash are exonerated by a linguistic con-trick. Those who suffered the most from the impact of the “burst bubble” tend to be those with very little political or economic power, and so it is easy to transfer the blame from those at the centre of the bubble, to those who were reliant on the bubble. The rule of divide and conquer. Ensure those on incredibly low wages, with a falling standard of living, and insecure jobs (flexible workforce) believe it is the fault of those who are poorer than they, rather than those with the power and the wealth. The poor must be ‘scroungers’ or they are ‘leechers’ or they are ‘Welfare dependent’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘immigrants taking our jobs’.

    We are bombarded with how ‘the markets‘ will react, to any social or economic change. ‘The markets‘ are treated as a mysterious, God-like entity that must be obeyed. A new Theology. Milton Friedman appears like a Prophet promising “freedom” but delivering destitution. The ‘Market‘ God is treated as if infallible. As if perfect rather than what they actually are; indifferent, amoral. For example, if I were to drive my car a mile away to the shop, I must buy a car, I must buy insurance, I must pay my road tax, I must buy petrol, I might choose to buy a new CD for the car, or an air freshener. Doubtlessly, driving a mile down the road to the shop contributes to the growth of ‘the markets’. Or, I could choose to walk the mile to the shop. I am benefitting the environment this way, it is far more healthy for me to do this, and yet, I contribute nothing to the growth of ‘the markets’ this way. In this example, my health and the health of the environment are less important, than pollution and laziness. The Institute of Directors, who care little for the health of humanity, would be thoroughly unimpressed if I were to walk to work. But for the thriving of Capitalism, especially after such a risky crises, the language used to portray ‘the markets’ must be positive and lofty at all times, whilst those that fall victim to the insidious side of market forces, portrayed as weak, lazy, and a burden. By dehumanising the most vulnerable, people are able to turn their heads when harsh economic violence is conducted against them.

    We are told that policy must be directed to benefit those we now consider “job creators“. They are our saviours. We are indebited to those people. As if their money is how wealth is created. As if they don’t just ride the tide of demand. We have called it supply-side, we have called it trickle-down, now the rhetoric has moved on to labeling anyone with money as a ‘job creator’. We are told that if we do not cut taxes for the richest, whilst slashing social programmes that those taxes fund, the ‘job creators‘ will all leave. And so, they must be given the biggest Welfare payment of all; a massive tax cut. This is the real something-for-nothing society, because the obligation for someone who has used a well funded public system and social security safety net and framework in order to gain great wealth, to pay back into that system in order for the next generation to be afforded the same opportunities, is cut the moment a government give into the threat of leaving if taxed. The poorest do not have that option.

    Interestingly, through all the media hype and demands of “catching” Welfare cheats, alongside exaggerated shock stories of parents claiming millions in Welfare, for their 40 children, in their 140 bedroom house, and their Spanish beach home, all paid for by your hard work!!!!!…. only £1.2bn was lost to Welfare fraud in 2010/11, which is 0.8% of the total benefit expenditure. If the total benefit expenditure was a £1 coin, less than 1p would be lost to fraud. By contrast Vodafone (that’s one company, not an entire Nation) was allowed to write off its tax bill of £6bn. That’s six times more than that lost to Welfare fraud across the whole country. Rather coincidentally, the head of tax policy at Vodafone is a man named John Connors. Connors used to work at HMRC and enjoys a close relationship with current head of HMRC, David Hartnett. They go for cosy lunches together, and then they casually wipe £6bn from the Nation’s second largest company on the Stock market’s tax bill. Unsurprisingly, Hartnett is the most wined and dined civil servant in the country, by corporations. I’m sure it’s just because he’s such a nice guy. Yes. That must be it.

    The Conservative Party does not like talking about individual cases of those suffering intensely due to Tory budget cuts. Iain Duncan Smith, when presented with families struggling to live, started his answer with “this is typical of the BBC“.
    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.”

    – With overwhelming evidence, and statements from those whose lives are dedicated to helping the most vulnerable, wishing to highlight the situation, you’d think the government might firstly accept their is a problem given that the 7th largest economy in the World has a rising homeless population, and secondly, set out just what the government intends to do about this horrendous situation. Instead, Grant Shapps said:

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

    During the Mick Philpott murder case, George Osborne echoed the sentiments of the right winged Tabloid press, when he hinted that the murder of children, could in any way be linked to the concept of Welfare. Social security under attack politically, needed a rhetorical bedfellow, and it was handed it with the Philpott case. Tory Councillor John Bell, ran with this:
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    – The manipulative nature of the rhetoric is evident when we note how the Daily Mail dealt with the case, in its story:

    “Michael Philpott is a perfect parable for our age: His story shows the pervasiveness of evil born of welfare dependency. The trial spoke volumes about the sheer nastiness of the individuals involved. But it also lifted the lid on the bleak and often grotesque world of the welfare benefit scroungers — of whom there are not dozens, not hundreds, but tens of thousands in our country.“

    – The suggestion being that there are two groups of people in the UK; those not on any form of Welfare, and those on Welfare who are also potential child killers. The Daily Mail headline that day, above a picture of Mick Philpott was simple:

    “Vile Product of Welfare UK.

    – Yet, when Stephen Seddon murdered his parents for his £230,000 inheritance, the Mail did not suggest this was the ‘vile product‘ of the concept of inheritance. When the Mail editors got hold of the Philpott story, their main objective was to further the demonisation of Welfare. Nothing more. Any tenuous link was going to be drawn. Capitalism, that inevitably leads to the necessity of social security is not to blame, for the Daily Mail. That social security itself, is to blame.

    When the Shropshire millionaire Hugh McFall murdered his wife and daughter, the Mail said:

    “Detectives believe the mild-mannered family man snapped as he struggled to cope with spiralling debts…..Last night his sister Claire Rheade said: ‘It’s unbelievable – he doted on his family, he would never harm them. ‘He was a gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a fly.’ ”

    – Note the rhetorical differences.
    The Philpott case: “evil“, “sheer nastiness“, “grotesque“, “scroungers“, “bleak”.
    The McFall case: “mild-mannered“, “family man“, “doted on his family“, “never harm them“, “gentle man“, “wouldn’t hurt a fly“. They mention his “personal spiralling debts” as a catalyst. Here, they limit responsibility to he alone. They could call the McFall murders a “vile product of Capitalism“. They don’t.

    To water down injustices within the system, whilst promoting the prevailing order, it is necessary to inflict linguistic damage upon those considered ‘outside’ of the system. Those who lose out. Those on the receiving end of the injustices, because to face up to the injustices puts those who gain the most, in a threatened situation. Marx was convinced that the injustices would eventually manifest in the collective consciousness of the oppressed, which in turn, would lead to revolution. Marx faltered in his underestimating oppressive discourse and how it becomes so ingrained into the social fabric (especially if it is repeated over generations) so as to threaten opposition by stigmatising it as much as possible. It represents a narrowing of both social, and political discourse. You can usually tell just who benefits the most from the prevailing rhetoric of the day, because they’re the ones with the power.


    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.


    The Deafening Silence of The Taxpayers’ Alliance.

    April 17, 2013

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    The Tax Payers’ Alliance are an interesting group of right wingers. Any sort of social program is deemed a waste of tax payers’ money, by those moral guardians over at the Alliance. Any increase in public spending, is criticised instantly as a waste of money, ineffective, and courtesy of the big bad government. They only want what’s best, apparently, for the mysterious “tax payer” God of which they pray at the alter. (Except, obviously, for Alexander Heath, the non-executive Director of the group; a man who hasn’t paid taxes in the UK for years).

    I mean, they really hate anything funded by the tax payer. One of the members of the West Midlands brance of the TPA, Peter Roberts, wrote on his blog:

    “And finally I hate buses because they are the symbol of a socialist society where people rely on the state to provide transport.”

    – Yes. They even take their time to rant about how buses are a “symbol” of socialism, silently replacing the Hammer & Sickle and the face of Che Guevara. Remember that, every time you get on a bus. You’re basically announcing your support for Stalin.

    So, given their vocal interest in any slight government funding for any project, ever…. we would expect them to remain consistent, and at least have a say over the £10m tax payer funded funeral for Margaret Thatcher. A funeral, which, according to a ComRes Poll 60% of the public do not believe the tax payer should have paid for. Great time to show that the Tax Payer’s Alliance isn’t just a Tory Party mouthpiece masked as a ‘grass roots, non-partisan’ Alliance of those concerned about misspent public funds.

    Here then, is a comprehensive guide to the work of the Tax Payers’ Alliance over the course of the past month.

    This a list of the items that the TPA has had an opinion on, over that month:

    Business rates on empty buildings
    Prison gymnasiums
    Prison therapy programmes
    Prisoner rehabilitation programmes
    Prisoners’ access to legal aid
    Prisoners’ access to air freshener
    The Bedroom Tax
    Rise in the tax threshold
    The Health and Social Care Act
    The Welfare Reform Bill
    GLA staff internet browsing history
    MPs expenses tribunals
    Cosmetic surgery on the NHS
    Working trips by the Science and Technology Facilities Council
    International Development spending
    Housing benefit for prisoners on remand
    Sentences for benefit fraud
    Compensation payments for injured children
    Scrapping the development of a police computer
    A grant to KPMG to set up a Glasgow office
    The Cyprus bailout
    Welsh councils’ spending on gifts for guests
    Refreshments at meetings with Mayor Rahman
    Demolition of derelict homes in Stoke
    University Vice Chancellors’ pay
    Medical negligence law suits
    Accident at work compensation
    Fitting council vehicles with GPS
    The appropriate number of children for people on benefits
    Gagging clauses for BBC executives
    A subsidised bar in Whitehall
    Charges for green waste collection
    Windfarms in the South Pacific
    Decisions of the Financial Services Authority
    Councillors’ pensions
    Advice offered by NHS Online
    Headteachers attending conferences
    Trainee doctors’ wages
    Health support for obese children
    The BBC iPlayer
    The BBC’s disciplinary procedures
    The Youth Police and Crime Commissioner Paris Brown
    Gender realignment surgery
    and…
    The stuffing of William Hague’s snake

    Here is a list of items the TPA has not had an opinion on, and has in fact, remained completely silent on, over the past month:

    Margaret Thatcher’s £10m tax payer funded funeral.

    – There must be some sort of mistake. Perhaps they’re just taking their time to write a well reasoned and eloquently presented response to the entire debacle. That must be it. Or perhaps every member of the TPA is currently on holiday without access to news. Or maybe too busy collectively weeping and mourning, their thoughts too occupied with grief to comment on the expense itself. That has to be it. I’m sure when the grief subsides, they will be vocal in their opposition to such an elaborate and overly extravagant day-long tax payer/socialist funded Tory Party Political Broadcast, of which 60% of the public they claim to represent, didn’t want to fund.

    That being said, if they were in fact, too grief stricken to comment at all, we would expect their website to be bereft of any update since April 8th. And yet, oddly, we see five stories on their site since that day. A story about how shit and wasteful Owen Jones is. A story about how shit and wasteful Cardiff Council are. A story about how shit and wasteful Police and Crime Commissioners are. A story about how shit and wasteful Wales is. No story whatsoever, about the funeral expense.

    So the one lesson we can all take from the TPA, and their ongoing campaign, is quite simple. Tax payers’ funding this…

    Untitled-5

    …. is acceptable, and represents good value for money. Not Socialism. But tax payers’ funding this….

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    ….. clearly a symbol of the Soviet Union of Great Britain, taking away your freedoms. It even has the nerve to be red.

    The TPA are that excitable about every form of tax and spending in the UK (except extravagant socialist funerals for leading proponents of right winged, small-government dogma), that a spoof generator exists in which you too can come up with a generic ‘outraged’ TPA quote!
    I typed in “England” and got this rather apt response.

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    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.