MP resigns as Tory over lobbying claim – it must be time to sign the anti-corruption e-petition

Tory MP Patrick Mercer has resigned from the Parliamentary Conservative Party to “save … embarrassment” over a BBC Panorama programme alleging he had broken lobbying rules. Mercer, MP for Newark, will remain as an Independent but will not stand for re-election in 2015. The coalition government is committed to setting up a statutory register of lobbyists – companies who influence government policy, often by paying current and former MPs for advice and guidance. But, you know, it’s one of those matters that just doesn’t seem to make it onto the…

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Waiting for the ‘snail media’ to catch up

“On Tuesday, this was a serious Conservative Party policy proposal, being reported in national newspapers. Now, it’s ‘never’ going to happen,” trumpeted web campaigners 38 Degrees in an email last night. They were, of course, referring to the Tory idea that it would be all right to restrict consultations with an NHS doctor to three per year per person – presumably the Rupert who dreamed it up thought everybody who mattered would have private health insurance instead, and this seems to be borne out by the material in the rest…

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The European courts have their priorities wrong. Why aren’t they stopping the disability deaths?

The UK Coalition government is to face trial by the European Court of Justice over an alleged failure to correctly assess the benefits EU migrants are entitled to claim. This is very laudable, but begs the question: When are the European courts going to address the Coalition’s transgressions against its own citizens? I refer, of course, to the continuing scandal of Employment and Support Allowance, the disability benefit that isn’t (according to the government’s plans for another so-called benefit, Universal Credit). Vox readers are, by now, well aware that the…

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Another ‘snout in the trough’ gets a sweetheart deal

Dave Hartnett, the former tax executive responsible for the hugely controversial “sweetheart deals” that allowed multinational corporations including Vodafone and Starbucks to avoid paying billions of pounds in taxes to the UK treasury, has started work with Deloitte, the accountancy firm and auditor of – guess who? – Vodafone and Starbucks. Hartnett quit as Permanent Secretary for Tax at HM Revenue and Customs and then took on the one-day-a-week role (according to, among others, The Independent). Deloitte – one of the so-called ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms at the heart of…

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Thinktank’s schizoid report will not help Osborne to secure more cuts

How can the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development tell George Osborne that he should invest in infrastructure projects but continue with his policy of cutting public spending, when the first public spending he cut was infrastructure projects? Is this a sign of the delirium into which the western economies are sinking, partly through slavish adherence to neoliberal nonsense – in the face of all the facts – and party through a lack of raw intelligence? The OECD, according to The Guardian, has revised down its economic growth forecast for…

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Why did the DWP push ahead with illegal sanctions, knowing they don’t do any good?

Today’s article on the Skwawkbox blog is extremely interesting, for anyone with an interest in the public services and the welfare state. It seems the Department for Work and Pensions has pushed ahead with a regime including the Work Programme and the sanctions imposed for those who refuse to take part, and even changed the law to reinforce its position, despite having documentary proof that is two years old, showing that these policies do more harm than good and are not in the national interest. You can read the article…

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Disabled Boy Left Fighting For His Life Following Hackney Homes Eviction

This is a prelude to many more – possibly worse – such events happening as bedroom tax evictions start to take place. Here we have a 16-year-old, disabled youth left fighting for his life, due to the callous actions of social housing staff in Hackney, and despite the fact that his family continues to be entitled to social housing. From what we see here, it seems that, following the death of this young man’s father, the heads at Hackney Homes decided the family home of the previous 40 years was…

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Universal Credit: government closer to recognising failure?

“In September they [our old friends the DWP] were telling us everything was great then too: so either they were lying then or they are lying now or they have been lying all along… millions of people could face misery.” An even-handed appraisal of the precarious project we know as Universal Credit – and of the position of its architect, Iain Duncan Smith. It’s a quick read and I recommend it. Thanks to the Skwawkbox blog for finding it.

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Conservatives want to stop you seeing your doctor

We always knew that the Tories don’t give a damn about the fundamental principles of our National Health Service – for example, the one that says access to healthcare should be based on clinical need. The papers today are reporting on a Conservative Party document which proposes a cap on the number of GP consultations you will be allowed to have every year. The attitude seems to be that allowing people to see their doctor as many times as are needed is a luxury that the UK cannot afford. From…

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