Ultra-right-wing blog Guido Fawkes took a rare step towards criticising the government, with an article attacking the gender pay gap among Cabinet ministers.
“Following the government announcement today that they will force companies to disclose their gender pay gap,” writes Guido, “it seems only right to look at how David Cameron performs on the same metric.
“After carrying out an extensive gender pay audit, Guido can reveal that female members of the Cabinet are paid a shocking 8.4% less than their male counterparts. Men in the Cabinet are paid on average* £126,478 , while women on average* are paid just £116,693…”
Really? That seems a little low. While applauding Guido’s honesty in pointing out this sickening Tory misogynist discrimination, one wonders whether he has included all income claimed by these ministers.
*Calculation based on the mean average wage by gender for all who attend cabinet.
Mhairi Black, ripping off Vox Political in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).
We’re told that Mhairi Black, the youngest new MP in Parliament at the age of 20, was still in college when she beat Labour’s Douglas Alexander in the General Election. Was she studying plagiarism?
Take a look at the following part of her maiden speech, made earlier today (Tuesday) and quoted in The Independent:
“After hearing the Labour leader’s intentions to support the changes to tax credits that the Chancellor has put forward, I must make this plea through the words of one of your own, and of a personal hero of mine.
“Tony Benn once said that in politics there are weathercocks and signposts. Weathercocks will spin in whatever direction the wind of public opinion may blow them, no matter what principle they have to compromise.
“Then, there are signposts – signposts that stand true, and tall, and principles. They point in a direction and they say ‘this is the way to a better society and it is my job to convince you why’.
“Tony Benn was right when he said the only people worth remembering in politics are signposts.”
This Blog’s piece relies heavily on Tony Benn’s ‘weathercocks and signposts’ analogy to make its point about the interim Labour leader’s attitude to the proposed cut in tax credits. While Mhairi Black’s words weren’t exactly the same, it wouldn’t take a genius to read this piece and – if you’re an admirer of the great man, put together something similar using his words.
Is it really feasible that she could have come to this choice of material, in this context, independently? Nobody else has.
Such similarity – in subject matter, tone, and the material quoted – suggests a rip-off. If this is the case, Mhairi Black should be lucky to get off with a stern warning.
Instead she’s the toast of Twitter!
Of course, we’ll never know if she didn’t write her speech independently. If this is the case, she’s hardly going to admit it – and This Writer isn’t going to take any further action because it wouldn’t be worth it.
But This Blog is part of my livelihood and if it seems to me that someone is harming that livelihood, then I’ll call “foul” on it.
As for you Mhairi Black – if you did rip off This Blog, shame on you.
This Writer has grave concerns. Is this a programme that tries to brainwash people into thinking that they’re healthy when they’re not – like the DWP’s own work capability assessment?
Your comments are requested.
The ‘Press Pause to Play’ programme was piloted in Swansea towards the end of last year, helping people with anxiety and depression through a combination of psychology, physiology and neuroscience.
Run by a specialist stress and anxiety management company, the programme reportedly saw 50% of participants successfully run to work.
By partnering with the Department for Work and Pensions, the company – ‘Start Smiling Again’ hope to achieve similar results across Wales by rolling the programme out to a number of job centres in South Wales.
David Don’t cry about it, David! Cameron whinges after being outflanked by the SNP.
The Conservative Government has responded to the Scottish National Party’s announcement that it will oppose changes to the Hunting Act – by postponing tomorrow’s (Wednesday) ‘free vote’ on the matter.
It seems if MPs are likely to freely vote against David Cameron’s wishes, he’d rather they didn’t vote at all. Someone should tell him, that defeats the point, really!
His tactic – shelving the vote until such time as he believes he has the advantage – copies that of European Parliament President Martin Schulz over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Faced with strong opposition for the part of the proposed TTIP deal that would allow corporations to take legal action against countries if national legislation was likely to affect profits (ISDS – it stands for Investor-State Dispute Settlement) – no matter whether it was in the best interests of the population or not – Schulz shelved a vote that had been scheduled for earlier this year.
The TTIP vote eventually took place last week, overshadowed by the Greek referendum and clouded by political sleight-of-hand that meant important amendments to the agreement like the cancellation of ISDS were not considered – replaced by watered-down options that left the underlying principle of corporate power over nation states intact.
In line with the European Parliament model, you can expect the hunting vote to return to Parliament in a different form, once Cameron and his cronies have worked out another dirty trick to slip it through unopposed.
This week’s vote had been intended to neutralise opposition from the SNP with a claim that it would bring England and Wales in line with the situation in Scotland – but the Scottish Nationalists said they were reviewing the ban north of the border and it would not be right to allow the law in England and Wales to change while that was going on.
The Prime Minister has not taken this with good grace.
Fellow Tory hunt supporter Owen Paterson chimed in to say the SNP had shown “extraordinary hypocrisy” in voting on a matter that affects England but not Scotland, and claimed they were “playing games in order to antagonise the English.”
And SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had already explained her party’s decision to take part in the hunting vote, saying there had been “overwhelming demand” from people in England.
The English, like the Welsh and the Scots, support the continuation of the hunting ban.
What a shame David Cameron cannot live with that.
Looking forward, we should probably expect fox hunting to return at a point after Cameron manages to force through another controversial plan – English Votes for English Laws (EVEL). He had to shelve that one last week.
Perhaps Ms Sturgeon is right, and he really is “not master of all he surveys in the House of Commons”.
Cameron on the run: The only hunt that the public is likely to support.
UPDATE: David Cameron has withdrawn the planned vote on fox hunting from tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Parliamentary schedule. So much for it being a ‘free’ vote – if he can’t win, he’s not going to let it happen. In fact, his tactic deserves further scrutiny so expect another article shortly.
The Scottish National Party will vote against a bid to relax the fox hunting ban in England and Wales, according to their Westminster leader, Angus Robertson.
David Cameron has been hoping that his announcement of changes, to bring the law in England and Wales in line with that in Scotland, would make it impossible for the SNP’s 56 MPs to oppose them in a debate and free vote tomorrow (Wednesday).
But the Scottish Nationalists, currently in charge of the Scottish Parliament, said they are considering a review of the existing ban north of the border, amid concerns that it is not strong enough.
In that context, Mr Robertson said, it would be in Scotland’s interest for the existing ban in England and Wales to be maintained.
The current version of the proposals, contained in a Statutory Instrument, would relax the law to allow foxes to be hunted by packs of dogs in England and Wales to protect livestock, game birds and wild birds, while “having regard to the terrain” and provided it is “carried out as efficiently as possible”.
Supporters have claimed it would also allow the removal of diseased or wounded foxes – an assertion that provoked anti-hunt supporter Dr Brian May to denounce them as “lying bastards” on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last week.
Mr Robertson said: “The Tory government are refusing to agree to any amendments to improve the Scotland Bill – and imposing English Votes for English Laws to make Scotland’s representation at Westminster second class.
“In these circumstances, it is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban – in the process, reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is.”
This is the kind of opposition to the Conservative Government that we need to see.
If the SNP continues in this manner throughout the remainder of the current Parliament, then many of its critics (including This Writer) will be forced to revise their opinion.
The Parliamentary Labour Party turned against interim leader Harriet Harman when she called on members to support her claim that they should not oppose the Conservative Government’s plan to cut tax credits, thereby increasing poverty – including child poverty.
At a PLP meeting yesterday, 20 members spoke against her call for the party to abstain on the government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill next week. Only five supported her refusal to table reasoned amendments.
And it seems likely that she was set to face more anger at a Shadow Cabinet meeting this morning.
Labour whips expect 60-80 MPs to vote against the welfare bill in defiance of Harman’s stance.
There was “no consensus on the child tax credit changes”.
Harman’s critics will be looking to her replacements for a clear commitment to pursue a different course.
The article states that rebel Andy MacDonald said the Tories’ proposed two-child limit on tax credits was a regression to the days of “Mao Tse-Tung and King Herod”.
And Frank Field, former welfare reform minister and current work and pensions select committee chair, shouted at Harman that Labour had to defend the “three million strivers” who faced losing £1,000 from tax credit cuts.
Harman is said to have warned the meeting that “If we oppose everything, people will not hear those things we are opposing and why”. Clearly, then, she is in favour of the kind of “triangulation” this blog was discussing yesterday. It represents an abandonment of principles – don’t forget that Labour introduced tax credits – that This Blog cannot support.
Harman is also said to have pointed out that Labour voted against 13 social security bills in the last Parliament but that only its rejection of the bedroom tax was noticed. In fact, this is probably over-optimistic. How many times have commenters to this blog and others claimed that Labour MPs sat on their thumbs throughout the whole of the Coalition Parliament and failed to oppose any of the changes? Those people were, of course, absolutely wrong – Vox Political has chronicled Labour’s opposition to the Tories’ dismantling of social security in considerable detail, but it seems the public prefer a juicy lie to the hard facts.
In fact, this demonstrates very clearly that Labour should oppose more Tory policies. Yes, campaign against the lowering of Employment and Support Allowance, the scrapping of maintenance grants for poor students, the abolition of child poverty targets and tax credit cuts such as the reduction in the income threshold – but don’t abandon children to poverty and destitution; that is not the Labour way.
One thought that is of particular concern to This Writer concerns what will happen to young people who become impoverished as a result of the Tory plan. What will they have to do in order to survive? At a time when child abuse is high on the polical agenda – the inquiry into historical child sex crimes has only just opened – it seems this Conservative Government is opening the door for further such incidents – aided by an interim Labour leader who has faced accusations of her own in regard to such matters.
MPs are being urged to support a Parliamentary motion calling on the Conservative Government to publish death statistics relating to people on benefit, in line with This Writer’s Freedom of Information request that was granted on April 30.
Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons, allowing MPs to draw attention to an event or cause.
MPs register their support for EDMs by signing them. According to the Parliament UK website, the first signature on this motion belongs to Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn.
The EDM, number 285, was tabled yesterday (July 13) by Marie Rimmer, who put Iain Duncan Smith on the spot in a Commons debate a few weeks ago, alongside Debbie Abrahams.
It states: “That this House notes that on 30 April 2015 the Information Commission took a decision that the Government must disclose the number of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance claimants who have died since November 2011 until May 2014 within 35 calendar days; acknowledges the petition signed by over 230,000 members of the public calling for this data to be released; further notes that even though the 35 day deadline has passed this data has not been released; has concerns that the data released may be a standardised figure rather than a full picture; and therefore calls on the Government to ensure the release of this data in full and without further delay.” [Bolding mine]
The tabling of this motion, and Mr Corbyn’s support for it, puts the issue of benefit deaths right at the top of the political agenda.
The last time the government published the death figures relating to Employment and Support Allowance, the main incapacity benefit, they showed that 10,600 people had died within 11 months, between January and November 2011. Note that figures for the traditional “suicide season” of December that year were omitted.
The public has had no further information on ESA-related fatalities for three and a half years. It is therefore impossible to calculate whether changes to the benefit system brought in by Iain Duncan Smith have been effective – or whether they have contributed to an increased death toll.
The fact that Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn has been the first to support this motion means that, if he becomes Labour leader, the party will make this matter a priority. None of the other candidates – so far – have expressed any interest in the plight of the long-term sick and disabled.
Vox Political therefore urges readers to contact their MPs – of whatever party; Conservatives are also concerned about this issue; and urge them to support EDM 285.
In addition, those of you who are members of the Labour Party are urged to support Mr Corbyn in his bid for the leadership.
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