Tag Archives: ‘A’

PMQs: here’s how Badmouther Boris got from his exams failure to accusing Keir Starmer of IRA sympathy

Johnson v Starmer: in the PMQs battle-of-words, Starmer came out the clear winner against a prime minister that didn’t seem to know what question he was being asked to answer – let alone how to do it.

Prime ministerial failure Boris Johnson showed us all he had no answers about the ‘A’ level results scandal when he wandered off in the middle of PMQs and started accusing Keir Starmer of sympathising with the IRA – by proxy.

The Labour leader had asked a reasonable question – when did Johnson know that there was a problem with the algorithm used by Ofqual and the Department for Education to produce results, as exams hadn’t taken place?

Johnson’s response was not only an insult to everybody whose results were tainted by the system that upgraded private school pupils and marked down those at state schools – it was a direct attack on Starmer, with no reason.

He was clearly off-balance; he did not know what to say about the exams fiasco – so he groped for an attack on the Labour leader that he (or more likely his team) had clearly prepared in advance.

See for yourself:

This is Johnson’s tactic, it seems: if he’s asked a tricky question, he’ll throw a dead cat on the table.

The barb about supporting the IRA had nothing to do with anything at all – particularly not Keir Starmer who, as he said, prosecuted many terrorists in his former role as a lawyer and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was simply a means of distracting attention away from the fact that his government failed ‘A’ level students across the country and he did not have an excuse.

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Ofqual chief Sally Collier resigns – over letting Cummings chum’s company have contract?

Exams: If Sally Collier had examined Public First a little more closely, she might not have had to resign.

The big development in the ‘A’ level scandal yesterday (August 25) was the resignation of Ofqual boss Sally Collier – apparently under criticism about the algorithm that marked down students from poorer backgrounds.

That’s what Tory mouthpiece the BBC is saying:

Ofqual chief Ms Collier has been under fire for a controversial algorithm which changed GCSE and A-level marks, making them unfair, according to heads.

It also led to many A-level students losing university places they had been offered, and a crunch on degree places.

But didn’t that only happen because Ofqual had hired useless lobbying/research firm Public First, run by friends of Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove?

A spokesperson said: “Due to the exceptional circumstances presented by the cancellation of exams, the single tender justification process was used for this contract, due to the need to urgently procure the work, in line with our procurement policy.”

This comment makes it clear that Public First was hired to find a way forward for students’ exam results. It came up with the infamous algorithm and caused a scandal.

And we now know that the government paid £49,000 for that disaster.

So it seems Ms Collier has resigned, but the fault lies with James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, the people behind Public First.

Other contracts given to the firm under the “no competition” regulations which apply when a service is deemed “urgent” during emergency circumstances include £840,000 to research public opinion on government policies – including Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not bad for a firm whose registered office is a residential address – a house – in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire.

Another contract saw the company handed £116,000 by the Department of Health and Social Care to identify ways to “lock in the lessons learned” by the Government during the Covid-19 crisis.

But will the Tories learn the obvious lesson – that Public First should not be hired to carry out any work under any circumstances at all, whether in an emergency or not?

It seems doubtful.

Source: Ofqual chief Sally Collier steps down after exams chaos – BBC News

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Humiliation for DWP after years-long Bedroom Tax bid to persecute a rape victim

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. The man thrives on terrorising others.

I said it defied belief when this story first broke.

And I said it was sickening when, hearing of the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’, Iain Duncan Smith laughed.

Well, it seems the last laugh is on him.

This is a story that began in 2014 – the DWP has been torturing a rape victim for five years.

The woman, resident in a three-bedroom property with her 11-year-old son, has been the victim of rape, assault, harassment, stalking and threats to kill at the hands of her former partner.

Her council home was fitted with a secure panic room to protect her from this violent man.

A women’s refuge charity spent thousands of pounds at her property reinforcing window frames and the front door and making the back garden more secure. A panic space was installed, with alarms linked to the police station.

Then Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions imposed the bedroom tax on it, claiming it was a spare room.

The woman’s housing benefit was reduced by 14 per cent because of the bedroom tax policy.

Hers was among almost one in 20 households benefiting from similar sanctuary schemes for people at risk of severe domestic violence that have been affected by the under-occupancy penalty.

Unable to afford her rent with the added burdn of the under-occupancy charge, the woman was facing eviction when Labour raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions. Then-incumbent David Cameron said money was available for people in such a predicament.

And Mr Duncan Smith? He laughed about it. He thought it was funny that a woman who had been raped was being turfed out of her sanctuary against further violation.

The lady concerned – who has only ever been identified as ‘A’ – took the DWP to court – and won. The Court of Appeal ruled that the imposition of the bedroom tax was unlawful and discriminatory.

So the DWP appealed against the decision in order to force her to pay the charge anyway – or be evicted.

And the Supreme Court – to its shame – allowed it.

So the case ended up before the European Court of Human Rights*, challenging the breach of A’s rights and “other vulnerable women whose lives are at risk”.

Almost three years after her Supreme Court humiliation, judges ruled that the benefit cut discriminated against a domestic violence victim who was forced to pay extra for her panic room.

The UK’s Tory government has been ordered to pay the woman 10,000 Euros (£8,600) for the “damage she suffered”. If only it could come from Iain Duncan Smith’s salary.

Lawyers have now demanded the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) act to help almost 300 women estimated to be in a similar situation.

Clearly, considering the length of time it has taken to resolve this case, nobody should hold their breath waiting.

All the way back in 2014, Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “On average two women every week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Protecting abused women and their children is a matter of life and death, and we should always remember this.”

Iain Duncan Smith couldn’t care less at the time, and none of his successors have shown any change in attitude since.

Isn’t it time we stopped them from abusing anybody else?

Source: DWP Bedroom Tax dealt defeat in European Court of Human Rights – Mirror Online

*Not to be confused with the EU’s European Court of Justice.

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Sickening: Court gives Iain Duncan Smith the last laugh on rape victim’s Bedroom Tax eviction

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a 'panic room'. The man thrives on terrorising others.

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. The man thrives on terrorising others.

Judges at the Supreme Court should hang their heads in shame after they gave Iain Duncan Smith another reason to laugh at the plight of a rape victim.

The woman identified as ‘A’ didn’t have a panic room fitted in her house to protect her from a “violent partner” – as the BBC report I quoted extensively below puts it. She was a rape victim who needed it to protect her against any further attacks.

When it was revealed that she was being evicted from that house because of the Bedroom Tax, Iain Duncan Smith – the man behind the policy – laughed.

He laughed.

He thought it was funny that a woman who had been raped was being turfed out of her sanctuary against further violation.

And now the Supreme Court has given him reason to laugh again.

The solicitor for ‘A’ has said her client intended to challenge the ruling in the European Court of Human Rights, for the breach of her rights and “other vulnerable women whose lives are at risk”.

On a more optimistic note, congratulations to Vox Political reader Paul Rutherford who has – at last! – won his own case against the Department for Work and Pensions.

Paul and Susan Rutherford, from Pembrokeshire, care for their severely disabled grandson, Warren, in a specially adapted three-bedroom bungalow.

They can only care for Warren with the help of paid carers who regularly stay overnight.

Lawyers said the current regulations allow for an additional bedroom if a disabled adult requires overnight care but not for a disabled child in the same situation.

The court ruled in their favour.

No doubt Mr Rutherford will let us all know the details in the near future.

Note: The BBC report, below, inaccurately states that the Bedroom Tax is the removal of a subsidy for social housing tenants deemed to have “spare” rooms in their homes. This is a false claim. There was never any subsidy. The State Over-Occupation Charge, to give its official title, cuts Housing Benefit provided to people in social housing by an arbitrary amount, for no very good reason. People are allocated social housing according to the dwellings that are available to them and have no choice over whether the accommodation allocated to them is too big.

A woman who suffers from spina bifida and a couple who look after their severely disabled grandson have won their Supreme Court appeals against the so-called “bedroom tax”.

The court ruled that the government’s changes to housing benefit discriminated against them.

But five other people had similar challenges dismissed by the court.

The court said councils should be able to decide which tenants get discretionary payments to help them.

Disability campaigners have been protesting against the system, which removed subsidies for social housing tenants who were deemed to have “spare” rooms in their homes, since it was introduced by the government in 2013.

Dubbed the “bedroom tax” by Labour, tenants affected had payments cut by 14%.

For spina bifida sufferer Jacqueline Carmichael, 44, from Southport, Merseyside, the need for an extra bedroom was medical, he said, with judges unanimously ruling that “the scheme in relation to her is discriminatory”.

Her condition means she has to sleep in a hospital bed in a fixed position. There is not enough space for a second bed so her husband Jayson sleeps in a separate bedroom.

The court … ruled in favour of Pembrokeshire couple Paul and Susan Rutherford and their 15-year-old grandson Warren. Their case focused on the impact of the policy on disabled children needing overnight care.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Rutherford said: “It’s probably the best day we’ve had in the last three and a half years and we’re just really glad that it’s all over.

“Glad that we’ve won for everybody else who’s in our situation, because there’s quite a few out there who are”.

However, the judges rejected the cases of five others who have had their housing benefit reduced as a result of the government’s changes. They were:
Richard Rourke, 49, from Bakestone Moor, Derbyshire, who said he needed an additional bedroom to store mobility equipment. He has had his housing benefit reduced by 25%
James Daly, from Stoke, the father of a severely-disabled teenage son. He and his ex-partner share the boy’s care
Mervyn Drage, from Manchester, occupies a three-bedroom flat in a high-rise tower block, and has lived there for 19 years. He suffers from mental health and physical problems
A woman identified as “A” who had a council house fitted with a panic room to protect her from a violent partner
Plus another case made by a mother who can only be referred to as “JD” to protect the identity of her disabled adult daughter

Source: Two cases won against housing benefit cut – BBC News

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