Tories Philip Davies – the Friday morning filibuster king who takes joy in “talking out” legislation, not because it is bad but because it doesn’t come from the Conservative government – and Esther McVey – whose attacks on benefit claimants are notorious – have come under fire because of the free perks they have taken for themselves.
They have claimed £18,000 worth of VIP goodies on top of their £82,000 salaries (plus expenses).
And they were among 65 Tory MPs who have taken the bulk of freebies available – £160,000 worth between May and July alone.
In contrast, 23 Labour MPs have taken nearly £32,000. That puts Davies and McVey’s greed in context: between them they have claimed more than half as much as all the Labour MPs put together.
Among the gifts are several from gambling firms, coming at a time when the government is reviewing betting laws, provoking speculation on whether they came with strings attached.
Davies should be even more embarrassed because some of these gifts came from Entain, a company for whom he was paid almost £50,000 as an advisor last year, when it was known as GVC Holdings.
Here are the details:
Married Tories Esther McVey and Philip Davies take £18k of VIP tickets in two monthshttps://t.co/YsmWUwVDFg pic.twitter.com/aVWCkylFoW
— Mirror Politics (@MirrorPolitics) August 31, 2021
Now you know the story, here comes the fury as people responded to this astonishing display of scrounging by members of the party that accuses people in extreme poverty of scrounging:
I worked in the call centre of a bank & if any staff member accepted £18k worth of free gifts from corporations, we could've been jailed in accordance with The Bribery Act. So how the hell can MPs like Esther McVey just accept any gifts they like? How is this not corruption?
— RD Hale (@RD_HaIe) August 31, 2021
How indeed? Davies said his contract with GVC Holdings explicitly stated that he must not lobby on the firm’s behalf while employed by it – but he isn’t employed by it any more. And in any case, RD Hale’s comment shows that others would be imprisoned simply for accepting corporate gifts. Why not Davies and McVey?
Others have focused on McVey’s pronouncements on people who have to claim benefits in order to make ends meet because their wages don’t cover their costs – meaning that the government pays a de facto subsidy to under-paying employers.
If the sustainability of your business is dependent on paying poverty wages to your workers which then have to be topped up by the government using tax money that you wriggle out of paying… then your business wasn’t really viable to begin with.
— Ragged Trousered Philanderer (@RaggedTP) August 31, 2021
So the benefits paid to working people in extreme poverty are intended to help business bosses profit – not the struggling workers. Meanwhile MPs’ salaries have nearly doubled in the last 25 years:
When MPs received 8 pay rises in ten years from £65,738 to £81,932 plus expenses and subsidies. Extra £16,422 on top if chair of select committee. £300 per day in lords. Whilst citizens use food banks. Kids hungry. Something is very wrong with system 😠#GeneralStrikeNOW pic.twitter.com/fr0kAkxt8M
— Teri 💙♿️🇵🇸🇮🇪 (@MettlesomeTeri) August 31, 2021
So MPs are on an extremely good screw – and those like Davies and McVey are scrounging more freebies out of corporations (that may even be profiting by paying low wages and expecting their employees to claim benefits). Meanwhile the same MPs are happy to demand that benefit claimants must take the worst-paying jobs available, or lose those benefits:
Universal Credit claimants who refuse to accept a zero-hours contract job offer, without good reason, can be subject to a sanction. Says scrounger Esther McVey
— sue#NHSLove💙💙💙#FBNHS (@SueSuezep) August 31, 2021
Esther McVey and her husband Philip Davies are tories who quite happily blamed benefits claimants as workshy scroungers/cheats etc, they played this narrative to the hilt, now we find out they've scrounged £18k worth of freebies over the recent past, despicable tory scum..
— Loz Argyle ⚓ (@ArgyleLoz) August 31, 2021
Now, of course, the government is preparing to remove the £20 “uplift” that was provided to UC claimants during the height of the Covid-19 crisis.
A cabinet minister, Therese Coffey, has said the Tories will go ahead with the £20 a week cut to the ‘uplift payment’ next month. It will push 500,000 people further into poverty. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is spending £250m on a new yacht ‘to show off to the world.’ Show off what?
— Paul Delaney (@coaimpaul) September 1, 2021
Many struggling daily to make ends meet,have rug pulled from under their feet and food taken off their table with Universal Credit cut. Meanwhile Esther McVey and her old man get £18k of VIP freebies. There is something very wrong with this country.
— Matthew Payne (@Matthew82069336) August 31, 2021
Let’s put this in a little more context:
Making the £20 uplift permanent would cost £6bn a year.
Helpful reminder that UK Billionaires added £107 billion to their wealth this year.
Don’t let anyone tell you it is not affordable.
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) August 30, 2021
ToryFibs is slightly mistaken; making the £20 uplift permanent would not cost any money because there are hidden costs associated with cutting incomes to a point where people cannot afford the cost of living.
But we can see that the UK’s billionaires are raking in the cash as a result of not having to pay a living wage to employees.
And saying that the “uplift” costs a huge amount of money is a handy propaganda tool – that, it seems, has been used to good effect by certain news reporters…
Is there a better demonstration of the media bias and inequality in the UK than listening to a @BBCr4today presenter like Justin Webb, on a salary of over £250,000, demanding to know where the money will come from if people on Universal Credit aren't to lose £20 per week ?
— Monsignor it's all Corbyn's fault. (@ItCorbyn) September 1, 2021
… who are also doing very well for themselves.
And the assumptions about the amount that people need, in order to meet their living costs, has raised questions about other government payments. So the government’s claim to have legislated to ensure that people receive a “National Living Wage” has come under attack, not just because it isn’t enough, but because it reflects badly on the UK’s woefully low state pension:
Good point was just made. If £1,500 a month is now a 'living' amount according to the Govt then why are pensioners only getting £500 – £700 ?
— Jen Wood – est optimum simpliciter (@unojen_wood) August 28, 2021
So you can understand why people are furious at Davies and McVey.
While most of us struggle to survive in jobs that force us to claim benefits that still won’t cover our living costs after the Tories cut the uplift, in order to subsidise big businesses that are raking in the profits, the same firms are handing out free luxuries to these hugely well-paid Tory MPs. And when we retire we will have to try to survive on even less.
The whole system reeks of corruption and Davies and McVey stink worst of all.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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I can well understand people being “furious” about this, I was furious, and gravely disappointed, when the majority of Shipley voted Conservative all those years ago. It’s a mixed population of Middle Class and Working Class people, a funny little place that apparently was the inspiration for Trumpton. Davies is a very typical Tory, not a nice man, his sickening greed, hypocrisy, and bare-faced cheek do not surprise me.