‘Thicky’ Nicky Morgan: Look at those staring eyes – no intelligence there!
Mums have pilloried Thicky Nicky after she tried to justify privatising every school in England and depriving us all of the right to object.
Mumsnet commenters objected with gusto and the Education secretary was left in no doubt that her plan is a complete flop – and will cost the Tories many thousands of votes.
The education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has come under fire from furious parents on Mumsnet following a guest post in which she defended government plans to force all schools to become academies.
Hundreds of parents responded to the post which went up on Friday after the publication of the education white paper and continued to attract comments over the weekend and into Monday.
Reaction from contributors was almost uniformly hostile, condemning the plans as “horrifying” and Morgan’s post as “patronising”. Many said they had signed a petition calling on the government to scrap its plans to turn all schools into academies.
The education secretary wrote in her post that she wanted to explain what academisation meant and why she thought it was the best way forward. “We need to put our trust into the hands of the people that know best how to run our schools – the teachers – and the academy system does just that.
“It gives schools greater autonomy to make the decisions that are right for their community and pupils. After all, we have the finest generation of teachers ever and being part of an academy helps put the power back in their hands.”
“What a load of absolute crap,” responded one contributor known as mercifulTehlu. “If I were even considering voting Tory next time, this above all else would stop me. Paying big bosses of academy chains hundreds of thousands of pounds while being unwilling or unable to recruit, pay and retain qualified and experienced teachers? No thanks.”
“Complete and utter rubbish,” said GingerIvy. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself for peddling this as an improvement for children’s educations.”
“I am struggling to write something that wouldn’t earn me a deletion,” said yesterdayoncemore. “There is so much wrong with the white paper, I don’t even know where to start. Gove, Morgan and the Conservatives have ruined my children’s futures.”
David Gauke: Nothing to say but at least he turned up.
That’ll be the end of George Osborne’s dream of leading the Tories, then.
As predicted, the Chancellor didn’t turn up to answer an Urgent Question in Parliament about how he’ll balance his Budget, now that the changes to Personal Independence Payments aren’t taking place. It leaves £1.3 billion per year to be found.
Instead, Treasury minister David Gauke turned up and refused to answer any questions about the black hole in the Finance Bill – a hole totalling £4.4 billion by the end of the current Parliament.
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, said Osborne’s refusal to appear was an insult to Parliament.
He said an enormous hole had appeared in the Budget within five days of its announcement, leaving the whole process in chaos.
Shouldn’t the Chancellor rip it up and start again?
And he wanted a reassurance that there would be no further cuts to disability benefits for the life of this Parliament.
Gauke had nothing but platitudes in response – and many of his statements were wrong.
Inequality set to rise over the parliament. Incomes of poorest 25 per cent of households set to fall over the parliament – according to the Resolution Foundation.
He said child poverty has decreased. It has risen.
He said the proportion of tax paid by the richest one per cent had increased. But has it increased in real terms?
He said nothing about where the government was going to find £4.4 billion by the end of the Parliament.
So Labour MPs piled on the humiliation while a notably low number of Tories stood up to defend their absentee Chancellor.
George Howarth noted that Harold Wilson once said a week in politics was a long time. He asked, how long does a long-term economic plan last? Three days? Four?
Osborne is not fit for the job, according to Yvette Cooper.
Yvette Cooper asked where the revised Budget scorecard is, and added that Osborne is not fit to be Chancellor if he can’t respond to an Urgent Question.
Osborne’s absence was also highlighted in the social media. “George Osborne. The elephant not in the room,” tweeted Michael Deacon.
Back in the Chamber, Chris Leslie was asking how MPs could possibly be expected to vote on the Budget if the numbers were being re-written.
Again, Gauke had no answer.
He tried to say spending on disabled people had increased, but everybody already knows this is because, while more people are receiving benefit, they are being given much less money.
On Twitter, Fwestivus added: “Disability benefits spending has increased? Oh like assessments costing £600m more than they save and spending the rest fighting appeals?”
After 45 minutes of debate – half as much again as was scheduled, we had no explanation of how the £4.4bn black hole will be filled, and no confirmation it won’t come from elsewhere in the DWP budget.
We can only conclude that the Tories don’t know what they’re going to do.
Happier days: Mr Obama was more at home with David Cameron when they and Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt took smiling selfies disrespectfully at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
This is posted in response to a request from a commenter.
It’s worth noting that the UK’s record on interventions in foreign countries is appalling. Where was the exit strategy for the first Gulf War, or the second? What about Afghanistan?
Libya is not the only country suffering due to UK interference – not at all.
Barack Obama has sharply criticised David Cameron for the UK’s role in allowing Libya to become a “shit show” after the fall of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an unprecedented attack on a British leader by a serving US President.
Mr Obama said that following a successful military intervention to aid rebels during the 2011 Arab Spring revolt, Libya was left to spiral out of control – due largely to the inaction of America’s European allies.
Singling out the British Prime Minister, he suggested that Mr Cameron had taken his eye off Libya after being “distracted by a range of other things”.
Mr Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, then the French President, pushed hard for the bombing raids on Colonel Gaddafi’s forces that led to his fall, but since 2011 Libya has sunk further into violence and civil war, and latterly has become a focal point for Isis in North Africa.
Runner: George Osborne outside Parliament. You won’t see him inside that building today.
All we need now is for the Tories to slip out a bit of bad news in the hope that nobody’s watching.
(So let’s all keep an eye on the government’s ‘announcements’ website: https://www.gov.uk/government/announcements )
The further Budget disintegration constitutes two climbdowns – the Conservative Government will not oppose a Labour amendment to block a rise in VAT on solar panels, nor will it fight a Labour amendment to end the so-called ‘tampon tax’ when MPs vote on the Budget (or perhaps that should be if they vote on it).
The decision means the UK will have to negotiate the changes with the European Union as they mean this country will be reneging on previous agreements with that organisation.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has been granted permission to ask an Urgent Question in Parliament regarding the Budget this afternoon (March 21). The move was intended to draw George Osborne out of hiding but it seems this has already been deflected by the Tories; Treasury git David Gauke will be providing the answer as Gideon is far too busy working out how he’ll wind up the Budget debate tomorrow evening (March 22).
This is the first time a Chancellor has done this since the 1990s and is a clear sign of cowardice on Osborne’s part today. He is too scared to face his critics.
Finally, here’s a point of interest thrown out by the government. In a desperate attempt to fight claims that the Budget is regressive because it helps the rich more than the poor, a spokesperson for 10 Downing Street said top earners are paying a higher proportion of Income Tax. Apparently the top one per cent of earners now pay 28 per cent of the total Income Tax take.
Where it all falls down, of course, is in what the Conservatives have been doing to make this statistic happen. They have been raising the threshold at which lower earners pay Income Tax for the last five years and this, coupled with the long-term stagnation in lower-paid earnings, means far fewer people are paying tax at all. Meanwhile, higher earners have enjoyed huge tax breaks as well.
So the bigger picture may be that, accounting for inflation, higher earners are paying much less in real terms – the actual amount has fallen – while the proportion has increased.
It’s exactly the kind of statistical legerdemain that we have come to expect from a Tory Government that will say anything to save itself from embarrassment.
Where’s George? Osborne has been in hiding since his latest attempt at a Budget failed.
The Conservative Party is continuing to unravel.
While arguments are raging about Iain Duncan Smith, fresh concerns are mounting over the absence of George Osborne and his failure to offer solutions to the problems that he has created.
New Work and Pensions secretary Stephen Crabb was today expected to announce that changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that had been planned to take £1.3 billion per year from disabled people will no longer take place.
This means there’s a big black hole in the budget that must be balanced before it can be approved by Parliament. Budgets have to balance, as Paul Mason reminded us in a tweet today.
And the Office for Budget Responsibility would be unable to sign off on the third fiscal target – the benefit cap – as current spending forecasts mean that cap will be breached.
And where’s George Osborne? He appears to have done the kind of disappearing act for which Iain Duncan Smith used to be famous. When the going gets tough, the Tories run and hide.
It is all adding up to a huge mess for the Conservative Party.
David Cameron was expected to stand before Parliament and defend his record of “compassionate Conservatism” this afternoon (March 21).
That should provide good comedy value for anybody able to watch, who has a bleak sense of humour.
For the rest of us, it may be worth asking how long this chaos can be allowed to continue.
We need a competent government and the Conservative Party can’t provide that.
The prime minister will address angry Conservative backbenchers in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon when he gives a statement on the EU summit. He is expected to mount a defence of his government and one nation Tory credentials after excoriating criticism from Duncan Smith, who said at the weekend that the unfair balance of welfare cuts risks dividing the nation.
Stephen Crabb, the new work and pensions secretary, will also confirm to parliament that the government is scrapping the disability cuts included in the budget, which prompted Duncan Smith’s resignation.
However, MPs demanded to know why Osborne has not answered questions about the budget and was not set to address parliament until Wednesday.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, challenged the chancellor to explain to MPs how the holes in his budget would be filled and repeated calls for him to consider standing down.
“The budget doesn’t add up. The chancellor of the exchequer should come back to parliament and explain that,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“Far from just Iain Duncan Smith resigning, if a chancellor puts forward a budget – as he did – knowing full well that he is making this huge hit on the disabled, then really it should perhaps be him who should be considering his position.”
Someone should have told Stephen Crabb that disability is not all fun and games [Image: His Facebook page].
More evidence has emerged that Stephen Crabb could be a worse Work and Pensions secretary than the last creep.
In a Facebook post published in March, he claimed that his constituency office had been vandalised by people who were outraged that he had voted to support the £30-per-week cut in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) payments for people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG).
He went on to claim that people in the WRAG “are able to work”.
What a mistake to make!
People in the WRAG are most certainly not able to work! If they were able to work, they would not be receiving the benefit. The rules are very clear.
The group is supposed to be for people who are not able to work, but whose conditions may improve in the future, enough for them to return to a job. The DWP therefore demands that they undertake activities intended to make them ready for that day.
Crabb seems to have mixed ESA with Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and its replacement, Personal Independence Payment (PIP). These are the benefits that are intended to help people with disabilities continue living as normal a life as possible, including helping them hold down a job.
It is terrifying to think that a future Secretary of State for Work and Pensions voted to cut benefit payments because he did not understand how they work.
A decision was taken by MPs to change the benefit awarded to a specific group of people who receive Employment Support Allowance. These people are in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and they do have a disability or illness but are able to work.
The overwhelming majority of people in this group say they want to work, and so I think it is right that we do all we can to help them get back into work.
The truth is that not all disabilities prevent people from working. A great many disabled people get enormous fulfilment from being in work.
Letting rip: Jeremy Corbyn savaged Piers Morgan for misrepresenting Labour’s response to the Budget.
It’s just a shame the injury was only inflicted metaphorically; This Writer is sure we’d all like to see Morgan’s head roll.
The incident occurred on ITV breakfast show Good Morning Britain, where Jeremy Corbyn was attacking the Government over the £4.4 billion cuts to Personal Independence Payments that – we are told – prompted the resignation of former Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
Anybody who saw Corbyn’s barnstorming response to George Osborne’s Budget statement last Wednesday will know that Morgan was talking nonsense, and Corbyn himself did not hesitate to put the hated TV presenter in his place.
The ex-Daily Mirror editor said:
“What the party seems to be crying out for, whether it is on disability payments or Europe, what they are not hearing is you being a big beast in the jungle, smashing your chest and ripping into the Tories. It’s being left to the Tories to do all the ripping for you.
“When you watched even Iain Duncan Smith, the ‘Quiet Man’, roaring like a lion yesterday on television, did a little part of you not think: ‘I’ve really got to stop being so quiet because people are mistaking my quiet nature for a lack of passion and a lack of fire in my belly.’”
But Corbyn rejected the claim out of hand.
“Piers, I’m not clear where you’re getting this stuff from.
“We have stood up to try to defend the worst off in society, the most vulnerable in society. We have attacked this Budget for what it is – at the very core of it is unfairness and injustice within our society. That is what the Tory Party is about. That is what Iain Duncan Smith is about. That is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer is about.
“His Budget unravelled within hours of him presenting it, as his budgets usually do. Duncan Smith then had to resign. It’s time George Osborne considered his position because he’s put forward something that simply does not add up.”
The BBC’s Sunday Politics programme has received a rap on the (metaphorical) knuckles from shadow disabilities minister Debbie Abrahams over its coverage of Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation.
Ms Abrahams said Duncan Smith’s claim that he did not support Conservative Government policies – policies that he had happily pushed through Parliament and promoted, in the face of strong evidence against them – did not stand up to scrutiny, she said.
On Twitter, she said Sunday Politics should not “make statements as fact which can’t be backed up. Just because IDS gave his reasons for resigning doesn’t mean they’re true.”
The Freedom of Information request to which she refers in the statement was submitted by This Writer, so I can provide evidence to support Ms Abraham’s assertion.
Meanwhile, Tom Pride, of the blog Pride’s Purge, has helpfully supplied information on Duncan Smith’s Parliamentary voting record, to help us judge whether he supported Tory policies or not:
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