The 2015 UK election campaign is likely to be a hotbed of political humour and Vox Political needs a good laugh. Please send us any likely candidates for laughter so we can pass them on to the general public.
The Beast has presented some more information to add to the lengthening list of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s crimes against common people.
In his latest article, he states: “The extremity of his [Rees-Mogg’s] right-wing views are shown by his membership of the Traditional Britain group. This is another bunch of rightists, who stand for the restoration of the traditional feudal hierarchy, the absolute destruction of the welfare state and the privatisation of the NHS, and absolutely no immigrants. And particularly not Muslims. They were last seen a few years ago on the fringes of UKIP’s annual conference. You also see them posting on the anti-Islam, ‘counter-jihadist’ site.”
So there you have it. He seems like a prime candidate for defection to UKIP, alongside Carswell and the Reckless one.
If you live in North East Somerset then, next time you spot Jacob Rees-Mogg, why not go up and ask him about his membership of Traditional Britain, and its aim to destroy the fabric of the nation as it has been built up since World War II?
Put him on the spot and he’ll tell you – all by himself – why he shouldn’t be your MP.
Locked out: Cameron will talk himself out of Downing Street if he carries on making stupid mistakes.
It seems the Conservatives can’t make a single claim without having it shot down by the fact-checkers these days. What does that say about David Cameron’s integrity?
Yesterday, standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street (a big no-no during an election campaign), he told the world that if Ed Miliband took up residence there, the cost would be “over £3,000 in higher taxes for every working family to pay for more welfare and out-of-control spending. Debt will rise and jobs will be lost as a result”.
The £3,000 figure was a cumulative increase over parliament and not an annual increase.
The figure also assumed that all of the burden fell on only 17 million working households, and not on the 26.7 million total households in the UK.
If the figure was recalculated on an annualised basis, households would beonly £560 a year worse off.
In a note, the thinktank said: “There is little value in bandying around numbers which suggest either party would increases taxes by an average of £3,000 for each working household. We don’t know what they will do after the election. But neither of the two main parties has said anything to suggest that is what they are planning.”
Incredibly, George Osborne refused to admit that the game was up and kept digging. He declared that the Tory figures “were based on what the Labour party has voted for in parliament. They voted for a £30 billion saving and Ed Miliband has said half of that should come from taxes – that is £15 billion – and then you take the working families and you come up with that number, £3,000, for the next parliament.”
No, thicky! It’s time for another point-by-point rebuttal:
Firstly, Labour did not vote for a £30 billion saving. Osborne keeps trying to put this one over on the voting public but you’d have to be really stupid or a supporter of the SNP, Plaid Cymru or the Greens to believe it or repeat it. Labour voted in favour of the Charter for Budget Responsibility and its aim to balance the budget within a rolling three-year period. There is no mention of £30 billion of savings in that charter.
Secondly, why is Osborne only including working families among those facing a rise in taxation? Everybody pays taxes. Is he trying to demonise people who don’t have a job, either through sickness/disability or because the Conservative drive to kill British industry has deprived them of any opportunities (Tories started dismantling our industries in 1979, in order to create insecurity among the workforce)?
Finally, a £3 billion tax rise, divided among the 26.7 total households in the UK, means a total tax rise of £112.36 per household – but Labour probably won’t hit every household. Raising the highest band of Income Tax back to 50 per cent will raise a huge amount, alone – remember, the richest are twice as rich now as they were in 2009. while working families have around half as much, if that, after living expenses are deducted from their income.
The last point is most relevant: Labour won’t tax everybody; they’ll rebalance taxation to ensure the richest pay their fair share. That’s what the Tories fear; what they are desperate to avoid.
They’re hoping that, by telling you a lie about £3K extra in taxes, they’ll be able to prevent their own supporters (and themselves) from having to pay their way.
Conservatives would much rather make you pay their dues for them.
Martin Freeman explains the differences between Labour and the Tories in a new video.
The stars have come out to support Labour.
Both Martin Freeman (Watson in the BBC’s Sherlock – among many, many other great roles) and David Tennant (currently enjoying ratings joy in the second season of ITV’s Broadchurch; formerly the star of the BBC’s Doctor Who) appear on Labour’s latest YouTube video, talking about the ideological differences between Labour and the Conservatives.
At first glance, this might seem to support the “stark contrast” between just two choices that David Cameron suggested today, but it seems to this writer that supporters of the other parties will find the comparison just as useful. Where do their own values lie? Some might be more extreme than the Tories; many may be further to the Left than Labour.
It seems worthwhile to have someone stand up and say how this translates on the ground. Here’s the video:
Amazing though it may seem, people are still posting claims on the social media that Labour supported the Bedroom Tax. Labour has never done so.
The Bedroom Tax was one of the measures in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, that passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on June 15, 2011 by a majority of 288 votes to 238 against. Labour MPs accounted for 224 of the 238 opposing votes. The Parliamentary Labour Party consisted of more than 250 MPs at the time, and the absences may be ascribed to participation in other business such as debates in Westminster Hall.
This has not stopped people from posting ‘disinfo-graphics’ such as the following, in attempts to besmirch Labour’s good name:
At the Welfare Reform Bill’s third reading on June 15, 2011, Douglas Alexander, Gordon Brown, Brian Donohoe, Frank Doran, David Hamilton, Jimmy Hood, Ann McKechin, Jim Murphy, and Pamela Nash all voted against introducing Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments and against restricting housing benefit for those in social housing deemed to have excess bedrooms
Anas Sarwar was absent. He was speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on Caring Responsibilities and was therefore unable to attend. It seems unlikely that his absence would have affected the Coalition’s 50-vote majority, but in any case it is likely that he took advantage of the practice of ‘pairing’ – coupling up with a member of the Coalition who would also be taking part in other business – in order to ensure that his absence did not materially affect the result.
Before anyone starts writing in to point out that the article to which this is attached refers to a different debate, let’s straighten out that little misunderstanding: It was an Opposition Day debate which Labour had no chance of winning – Coalition members were whipped to vote against the motion and opposition parties can never win against a majority government in a whipped vote. The numbers of those who voted on either side indicate that – again – other business was taking place and MPs had ‘paired’ in order not to affect the result unfairly.
That’s how things work in Parliament, in order to ensure fairness and also allow the business of the Houses to take place in a timely manner.
So let’s kill these silly accusations off once and for all.
Jacob Rees-Mogg and his nanny: The parents should take the blame, though.
What on earth is Jacob Rees-Mogg doing in Parliament during the 21st century? He belongs in the 19th.
It’s hard to know where to start, when discussing this particular wet-wipe. Perhaps the best way to do so would be to point out that a new constituency had to be created before he could actually win a Parliamentary seat – and even that is only a Tory marginal, perhaps because The Guardian‘s criticism that this candidate’s highly privileged life ran against the Tories’ then-current narrative of social inclusion rang true with the electorate.
In 1997, Rees-Mogg attracted ridicule after canvassing a working-class neighbourhood of the Labour seat of Central Fife with his nanny. Rumours he had gone around the constituency in a Bentley were dismissed by Rees-Mogg as “scurrilous” – he insisted it had been a Mercedes.
In 2001, he stood for The Wrekin in Shropshire – and lost again, this time to Labour’s Peter Bradley, who managed a 0.95 per cent swing to Labour against the national trend of a 3.5 per cent swing to the Conservatives.
He finally achieved his ambition of a Parliamentary seat in 2010, in the newly-created North East Somerset constituency, with a majority of just 4,914. It seems he was not above a few dirty tricks to achieve this, however: In December 2009, a pamphlet which purported to show him talking to a local constituent and calling on the Government to “show more honesty” was criticised after it emerged that the “constituent” was a London-based employee of his investment firm.
“The Honourable Member for the Early 20th Century”, as Parliamentary sketch-writers are said to describe him, then embarked on a voting career that seemed to have very little to do with his party’s policies and a lot to do with his own extreme right-wing views. He voted against the government whip on the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, the October 2011 European Union Referendum Motion and the House of Lords Reform Bill 2012.
His main claim to fame appears to be in the art of the filibuster – talking-out a Private Member’s Parliamentary Bill in order to prevent it from going to the vote and progressing further. Examples of this include his speeches on the Daylight Savings Bill 2010-2012 and the Sustainable Livestock Bill 2010-12.
In his speech on the Sustainable Livestock Bill, he recited poetry; spoke of the superior quality of Somerset eggs; and mentioned fictional pig the Empress of Blandings, who won silver at the Shropshire County Show three years in a row, before moving on to talk about the sewerage system and the Battle of Agincourt.
He also attempted to amend the Daylight Saving Bill to give the county of Somerset its own time zone, 15 minutes behind London.
In February 2012, Rees-Mogg made the record books with the use of floccinaucinihilipilification, an Eton college neologism meaning “the habit of considering as worthless”, in the House of Commons, which became the longest word in Hansard.
Perhaps a future Prime Minister should consider a Bill to outlaw filibustering, in which case Rees-Mogg, if he retains his seat, will become a prime candidate for floccinaucinihilipilification himself.
Examples of his right-wing chauvinism abound. For example, in a debate on London Local Authorities Bill on December 7, 2011, he said that council officials who have the power to issue on-the-spot fines should be forced to wear bowler hats.
He supports zero-hour contracts, arguing that they benefit employees – including students – by providing flexibility and could provide a route into more permanent employment. He rejected criticism by Vince Cable and others that they were exploitative as “the standard response of the Left”.
In December 2014, Rees-Mogg was reported to the Parliament’s standards watchdog for speaking in debates on tobacco, mining and oil and gas without first declaring he is founding partner and director of Somerset Capital, which has multimillion pound investments in the sectors. However, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, displayed the lack of judgement which has made her justifiably infamous in some sectors by deciding that no wrongdoing had been committed and so no investigation would take place.
How would North East Somerset residents vote if they knew Jacob Rees-Mogg’s voting record? Let’s find out.
He is very strongly against increasing income tax paid by the extremely rich; strongly against a bankers’ bonus tax; strongly supports cutting Corporation Tax (even though this does not make companies more likely to invest in the UK or its workforce); and supported the increase in VAT very strongly. Clearly this extremely rich Tory has no objection to taxing the poor to pay for himself.
Like so many of his fellow Tories, he is very strongly in favour of the current government’s creeping privatisation of the NHS, and the opportunities for profit that it affords to private shareholders at the expense of care.
He very strongly supports the Bedroom Tax.
He very strongly supported cuts to social security benefits including Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, the Personal Independence Payment and so on.
He very strongly supported the benefit uprating cap, ensuring that benefits do not rise in line with prices.
He voted very strongly to make local councils responsible for helping people afford council tax – and for reducing the amount available for such support.
He very strongly supported the twin drains on the education budget that are privately-run ‘Free Schools’ and privately-owned ‘Academy Schools’; he voted very strongly for the increase in undergraduate tuition fees to £9,000 per year; and he voted to end financial support for 16-19 year olds in training and further education. This toff Tory only wants education to be available to those who can pay for it.
He is a strong supporter of military operations overseas.
He voted strongly for replacing Trident with more nuclear weapons.
He is against further EU integration and voted moderately for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
He voted very strongly against same-sex marriage and equal rights for gay people.
He is against localism and has voted to reduce both the powers of local councils and their funding.
He very strongly supported the waste of money that is Police and Crime Commissioners.
He voted very strongly against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords and making it a wholly-elected house – as a backward-thinking Tory toff, you couldn’t expect anything else. He strongly supported the restriction of Legal Aid that has made justice available only to the rich.
He strongly supported the invasion of privacy that allows the security services to monitor and keep information about your communications.
He very strongly supports secret courts. This is a right-wing would-be dictator who wants to ensure that the proles are monitored and controlled.
He voted very strongly for the botched privatisation of the Royal Mail – and very strongly for the sale of England’s state-owned forests.
He opposes green energy generation.
He strongly supported the badger cull.
If you live in North East Somerset, you need to know this information.
Vox Political readers are invited to distribute it to friends and relatives who live there.
How many of these will have a say in the next UK government, because Labour and the Conservatives won’t offer what the electorate wants?
According to the BBC, “David Cameron is to tell voters they face a ‘stark choice’ between him and Labour’s Ed Miliband as the election campaign officially gets under way.”
Really? So it’s just a two-horse race again, is it? This writer disagrees.
People are sick of the Tories’ right-wing politics, that take from the many and give to the few – overbalancing the economy in the process. How many measures have been put in place to keep the ship of state from overturning since George Osborne became chancellor? Too many.
Tories have inflicted a massive rise in appallingly poorly-paid jobs, triggering consequential rises in housing benefit claims and food bank use.
They say they have cut the national deficit by half, but in numerical terms it is only down by a third, and now it is rising again. The national debt has doubled under the Conservatives. Responsible government? Not a bit of it!
Meanwhile, Labour has a better offer, but simply isn’t saying what people want to hear – basically out of fear that it will scare them off. Ever hear of the ‘Overton Window’? It’s a concept devised by American conservatives to describe what is deemed politically possible at any time. At the moment, that window opens onto ideas that are very much in the right wing of the political spectrum, presenting the illusion that they are moderate, middle-ground views.
Owen Jones, in his latest book The Establishment, makes the point clear: “When Labour’s Ed Miliband proposes a temporary energy price freeze – a welcome, albeit pretty unremarkable, policy – it is portrayed by media and right-wing politicians as crypto-Marxism, even though most voters support a far more radical option: renationalising the energy industry lock, stock and barrel.”
This criticism can be applied to many Labour policies: They are timid. They are too concerned with what can be seen through the Overton Window. They are made in fear of a backlash from the right-wing press.
So when Labour says it will “reform” the work capability assessment, this flies in the face of public opinion that demands its abolition altogether and reform – real reform – of the benefit system as a whole, to serve the British population and not private industry.
When Labour says it will make public spending cuts – but they won’t be as harsh as those imposed by the Conservatives, this flies in the face of public opinion that demands an end to austerity altogether; in fact, it seems possible that Labour can achieve its plans simply by reversing the tax cuts for the very rich that the Tories have made over the last five years.
Neither of the ‘Big Two’ parties are offering what the public wants – and this means the door is open for the smaller parties.
“With the polls so close, with the inexorable decline of the big two parties, with the widespread hunger for a different type of politics the range of election outcomes is bewildering. They go way beyond single party governments led by David Cameron or Ed Miliband or another coalition with Nick Clegg.”
They do indeed. With the rise in support for the SNP in Scotland – due to a collapse of confidence in a Labour Party that many Scottish voters no longer see as representing them (we’re back to that Overton Window again; it seems Labour has been looking through it in the wrong direction), Labour is unlikely to win a majority as matters currently stand. The Tories can’t win one in any case.
So we’re looking at coalition deals, confidence-and-supply votes, and the possibility of extremely unstable governments for the foreseeable future.
It seems unlikely that these will have any staying power. The Coalition went the distance because the Liberal Democrats turned out to be more yellow than their party colour, and did whatever their Tory masters told them, simply to hold on to a bit of power, some ministerial salaries and a few ministerial cars.
Future partners in government could include the nationalists (Welsh and Scottish), the Greens, the DUP – and they’ll all be much more strident in announcing what they want because they’ll know that, without their support, the government will be powerless to act.
The ‘Big Two’ parties need to learn a lesson from this (although they probably won’t).
This is what happens when you offer people what you want, rather than what they want.
Judge Dredd: The Cop. Script by Al Ewing; art by Ben Willsher.
Sometimes, when you’re a blogger, an article comes along when you think you’re doing something else – for example, catching up on a little light reading.
Yes, even hard-nosed political bloggers like This Writer have to kick back and have a little ‘me’ time now and then – in this case, with the Judge Dredd Megazine, issue 356, dated February 17, 2015.
In the lead story ‘The Cop’, we see title character Judge Dredd’s domain – the Mega City One of a future North America – struggling to cope with the effects of a disaster. Already you can see parallels with the Great Recession of 2007 onwards.
Citizens are encouraged to help clear damage from buildings, making them usable again, in return for food rations. No effort – no food. This is actually described in the story as a ‘Work Programme’!
Then the story focuses in on “those adults who are unable to work”; one such person is thrust out of the line of workers by a classic bully-type character. Ordered to explain what’s going on, the character – clearly in bad shape, his body withered and weak – states that he has a condition in which half his body doesn’t function properly. He explains that he reported for ‘disability testing’ (a Work Capability Assessment).
“I waited six hours an’ then they told me to come down here!” the pitiful creature, named Carmody, explains. “Said if I could wait that long, it meant it couldn’t be that bad–”
Captions provide us with Judge Dredd’s reaction: “More than credible. He’s heard stories like it a thousand times.” How many times have we heard or read similar stories about so-called healthcare professionals and their assessments?
“Admin call it ‘creative bureaucracy‘ saving… by the cold application of red tape and the occasional Catch-22. In the current climate, ‘criminal negligence’ might be more appropriate.” In comics, you see, there’s no space for diplomacy or political correctness; they say what they see. Criminal negligence is as good a description of Coalition Government policy towards the sick and disabled as any This Writer has seen.
The Judge decides that the sick guy has a good case and makes provision for him to receive food anyway. What happens next is something that would make the right-wing press proud.
“HE’S FAKIN’ IT!” screams a man in the crowd. “I seen that guy yesterday pullin’ the same scam! He’s a fake!”
The caption points out what we already know: “The accusation’s obviously false. Dredd doesn’t need a lie detector to know that. But the mob hears what it wants.” Another parallel with the UK of the present-day.
The result? Instant riot – put down with rubber bullets – for which the Mega-City always has enough money: “Maitland in accounts had … made the budget adjustments. Feeding the cits was all well and good, after all — but first things first.” Boris Johnson’s water cannon, anybody?
Getting back to Carmody – who’s been injured and is just about to be carted off in an ambulance – it turns out he recognised the man who started the riot: “Suh-sure. He tuh-tried to sell me… I dunno, he cuh-called it insurance.”
Back to the captions: “The cits are angry, resentful, looking for someone to blame— anybody will do. So whisper in the right ear— make an accusation at the right moment that some poor sap’s not pulling their weight— and you’ve got a whole city ready to do your legbreaking for you.” As the right-wing press have been working hard to demonstrate over the last few years.
Of course, this works equally well with the ‘chequebook euthanasia’ argument that has been put forward in this blog. Whisper in the ear of someone who’s depressed that maybe they should take the easy way out; relieve the burden on their relatives/friends and the taxpayer – and they’ll probably top themselves while the balance of their mind is disturbed. Isn’t that right, Iain Duncan Smith?
“Meanwhile, your own hands stay clean– an incitement rap at the very worst. It’s some smart thinking, all right. Organisation thinking.”
Okay, in the story, the bad guys are known as ‘the Organisation’. It’s a comic-book. In the real world, they mean the Establishment; the neoliberals whose thinking informs the government’s. As this blog has noted previously, the government’s hands stay clean if an ESA claimant goes out and commits suicide after a Work Capability Assessment – at least, that’s how ministers would like us to see it. “An incitement rap at the very worst.”
And in the meantime, down goes the benefit bill.
The script for this mini-classic is by Al Ewing. It seems clear that, like another comic scriptwriter called Al – Alan Moore – he knows the score.
It’s one of the great things about the comics counter-culture. It isn’t monitored and censored anything like as heavily as mass cultures like TV.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.