Tag Archives: Chancellor

Rachel Reeves wants to be the UK’s first female Chancellor. Is that all?

Rachel Reeves: the smile is fake, the eyes are blank and the brain is empty.

Is this the limit of this Labour bigwig’s ambition? To be the UK’s first-ever female Chancellor of the Exchequer?

She says she’ll end the gender pay gap – we’ve heard that before.

She criticised the traditional note from outgoing Chief Secretaries to the Treasury (that says there is no money), claiming there should be an apology attached to it. Ridiculous; it’s not meant to be taken seriously, even if the Tories pretended to in 2010, just to make Labour look bad.

And she pontificated on a vague ambition to improve childcare for working parents – particularly mothers.

So it’s all very wishy-washy apart from the desire to be the first female Chancellor.

What do we think of that?

Does that response seem about right to you?


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Work Capability Assessment to be scrapped for benefit claimants. But what will replace it?

Uncannily accurate: The Conservative government’s genuine policy towards PIP claimants may as well have been as it appears in this cartoon from 2017. But what will replace the assessment system it satirises?

I should be pleased.

This Site has campaigned against the Work Capability Assessment for sickness and disability benefits, practically since I started publishing it at the end of 2011.

In my opinion, it has been misused, as a tool to force people who are too ill to work onto job-seeking benefits that carry sanctions if a claimant fails to carry out particular tasks – tasks which the long-term sick and disabled are often clearly incapable of doing.

In many cases, the results have been fatal. I know this because it took me two years to force the Department for Work and Pensions to release figures showing that 2,400 people died within a limited period (two weeks) after being found fit for work, between dates in 2011 and 2014.

That’s right – these people had been found fit to go to work by this hopelessly flawed tick-box assessment system, and then they had proven themselves to be nothing of the sort.

And the Tory government carried on as though nothing was wrong.

I also have personal experience of the system’s flaws. After my partner – Mrs Mike; remember her? – was wrongly put in the work-related activity group for Employment and Support Allowance, she appealed in the hope of being relocated to the support group.

Instead, whoever received her letter slapped a “Do Not Contact” tag on her file for no discernible reason and allowed her claim to end after 12 months, while she waited – in considerable confusion and distress – for a response that was never going to come.

Fortunately, I was around to kick up a stink and get the situation sorted out. But that just highlights the fact that many thousands of people don’t have that kind of help at hand.

And now, we’re told, the Work Capability Assessment is to be scrapped.

But we’re not being told what will replace it.

This Independent article has comments from a couple of organisations that have a stake in what happens:

Trades Union Congress general secretary Paul Novak [said:] “Scrapping the work capability assessment will be welcome if it means an end to assessments that cause anxiety instead of helping people achieve their aspirations,” he added, while urging greater investment in public services to get people off NHS waiting lists and reduce barriers to training.

James Taylor of the disability equality charity Scope said axing the assessment was “the minimum change needed to even begin improving a welfare system that regularly fails disabled people”, and stressed the need for “a more person-centred system” offering “specialist, tailored and flexible” support.

“Those that want to work should be supported. But for some, that’s not an option and disabled people shouldn’t be forced into unsuitable work,” he said. “There is a lot of work to do for the government to restore trust in our benefits system.”

Notice that they both mentioned ways of getting more people back into work; this is Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s aim with the changes to the benefit system.

And that’s why I fear for the future of sickness and disability benefits in the UK.

I think the odious Hunt is planning another push to put sick people into jobs they can’t do. If I’m right, his plan will fail on many levels.

Is Jeremy Hunt about to announce an end to the energy price cap?

Jeremy Hunt: is he really a serious Chancellor?

If he lays all the burden on the poor, we’ll know that Jeremy Hunt is not a serious Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But then, he wasn’t a serious Health Secretary either, if you consider the damage he did to the National Health Service.

He seems likely to end the energy price cap next April. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because the cost of gas is plummeting:

This change won’t be reflected in prices for a little while, but it should be by April. If prices don’t come down, then the government will need to take action to compel the energy firms to rein in their greed.

That will be fun to watch!

Other measures are expected to u-turn on more of the measures in previous Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘fiscal event’ in September.

But how is he going to fill the £70+ billion hole in the public finances that was created by Kwarteng?

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Start the week with a laugh: here’s Liv Struss announcing her new Chancellor

It’s a new week, so let’s start by reminding Liz Truss of the worst moments of the last one – like her train crash press conference announcing that she had sacked Kwasi Kwarteng and was bringing in Germy Hunt as her new Chancellor:

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That blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Liz Truss press conference – in full

For those of you who love the detail, here’s a full video clip of Liz Truss’s press conference this afternoon (Friday, October 14) in which she u-turned on cutting Corporation Tax and… didn’t do much else.

If you stick it out to the end, you can enjoy the sound of a stunned reporter asking, “Aren’t you going to say sorry?”

It’s the highlight of the event.

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Kwarteng is OUT as Chancellor – as Truss scrabbles to save her own political skin?

They used to say a week was a long time in politics; now it’s down to just half an hour.

When I started writing this article, it was about the press conference Liz Truss has announced, in which she is likely to reverse several – or all – elements of the disastrous ‘fiscal event’ of September 23.

But this has been superceded already – with the announcement that Kwasi Kwarteng has become the UK’s second shortest-serving Chancellor, being out after only 38 days in the job.

As I write this, it isn’t clear whether he has been asked to resign or sacked outright.

Truss herself didn’t have many options after she painted herself into a corner during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

She had previously said she would cut taxes for the already-obscenely rich. This meant she would have to finance the change with more borrowing – or cut public services.

But at PMQs on Wednesday, she said she would not be borrowing – nor would there be any public service reductions.

That left Truss with nowhere to go – and everyone knew it.

Kwarteng himself has been in Washington DC for a meeting with the IMF (some have speculated that he went there cap-in-hand, as Denis Healey did, back in the 1970s) – but has been recalled to London.

This triggered speculation that he is to be asked to resign, as Priti Patel was after it was discovered that she had been trying to run her own personal foreign policy alongside the Israeli government while acting as International Trade Secretary.

And now he’s gone:

Apparently The Times is suggesting Jeremy Hunt could be the next Chancellor.

What next?

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Kwarteng’s speech: all excuses – no substance

Having sat through Kwasi Kwarteng’s speech as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I tend to agree with Professor Tim Wilson.

It was all excuses; there was no substance – no new policies, nothing to announce at all.

And the delivery was shocking.

Here’s the quick summary:

And now here’s the long-seeming speech itself:

One point I would add: “Getting Britain Moving” is a terrible slogan for a party – and a Chancellor – that has endangered the ownership of millions of homes across the country by his own economic incompetence.

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More Tory than the Tories: that’s Labour’s new shadow chancellor

Keir Starmer must be really desperate to divert blame for Labour’s diabolical performance in the English local elections off himself.

He has launched a shadow cabinet reshuffle that has already been dubbed a right-turn so hard it would give you whiplash.

Nowhere is this clearer than in his appointment of Rachel (more Tory than the Tories) Reeves as shadow chancellor.

Ms Reeves is the Labour politician (never forget) who, as shadow Work and Pensions Secretary back in 2013, vowed to be “tougher than the Tories” on benefit claimants.

The former banker said a Labour government with her as Work and Pensions Secretary would be tougher than the Tories on benefit claimants, in order to reduce the national benefits bill – a bill which, by the way, has always been entirely affordable.

Two years later, in 2015, she unilaterally cut millions of UK citizens and voters from Labour’s target electorate by saying the party did not want to represent people who don’t have a job.

“We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,” she said.

“Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

So, according to Ms Reeves, nobody currently claiming Universal Credit because of the Covid-19 crisis should expect help from Labour. Have I got that right?

I’ll admit, that’s an extreme conclusion to draw, but it is clear that, as Labour MPs go, Reeves is an extreme right-winger.

Don’t forget that the Tories have modelled themselves as “the party of the workers” in recent years. They love working people because working people generate the profits their donors send to their offshore bank accounts.

In promoting Reeves, Starmer has sent a very clear message to the electorate – that we can all go to hell as far as he cares. He’s in politics for himself and nobody else.

Why do I say this? Simple.

Commentators are going to be so horrified that Reeves is now in one of Labour’s top jobs that they’ll forget about Starmer’s abysmal election. Or at least that’s what he’s hoping, I reckon.

It mustn’t work. Labour’s election campaign was run from Starmer’s office and as leader he is ultimately responsible for it. The buck stops with him and he should not be trying to pass it onto those he has sacked already or will sack in the immediate future.

And Reeves will be a terrible shadow chancellor. Critics may have attacked former shadow chancellor Annaliese Dodds for failing to challenge the Tories adequately – but, again, it is likely that she was hamstrung by Starmer.

Reeves is likely to agree with every single penny-pinching policy the Tories produce for the purposes of garotting us.

Finally, let’s not forget that by promoting Reeves, Starmer is contradicting his own policy on anti-Semitism because – as we all know – Reeves is a supporter of anti-Semites.

She infamously praised Nancy Astor who, besides being the first female MP, was a notorious anti-Semite, Nazi idealogue and supporter of Hitler.

That’s the extent of Rachel Reeves’s right-wing tendencies. Starmer should be expelling, not promoting her.

Source: Labour reshuffle: Anneliese Dodds out in Starmer’s post-election reshuffle – BBC News

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Will Starmer really sack Annaliese Dodds because he won’t take responsibility for his own record?

Fake: Keir Starmer seems keen to pretend that Annaliese Dodds is responsible for the poor position Labour has taken in the polls since HE became the party’s figurehead. Or is he faking it, and will deny any truth to it if the suggestion backfires?

It’s being mooted that Keir Starmer is set to sack Annaliese Dodds as Shadow Chancellor because Labour has plummeted in the polls. Isn’t that his fault?

Apparently it will be claimed that Dodds – who has been nigh-on invisible for the last year or so, unlike Starmer – has failed to effectively communicate Labour’s “vision”.

That would be a fair comment if Labour currently had a “vision” to communicate – but Starmer has stamped on all attempts to signpost where Labour is going, instead pursuing a policy of jumping on every bandwagon he can find.

It is Starmer’s Labour that has dropped in the polls; and Starmer himself has also plummeted.

So it is Starmer who should accept the roasting that has been dealt out to him on the social media since the alleged sacking-to-be seeped into public knowledge yesterday (March 28). Here’s a sample:

What’s the betting that this doesn’t happen now, and that Starmer had leaked it just to see whether it would take some of the heat off of him?

It wouldn’t be the first time he has adopted a Tory tactic!

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Sunak says home workers should spend cash they’ve saved when the pandemic ends. Including him?

Rishi Sunak’s last big idea was ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ – which pushed up Covid-19 infections dramatically. Now he wants us to spend all our savings to buoy up the economy after the crisis ends – but you’ll notice he hasn’t announced that he’ll do the same.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that people who work at home, and who have saved significant amounts of money during the Covid-19 pandemic, should spend it all when the emergency is over.

Does that include him?

He works from home – he lives at 11 Downing Street. And we all recently learned that he has enormous amounts of cash saved up, via his wife’s £430 million stake in her family firm.

So we should welcome his demand – right?

Well… maybe not.

He hasn’t said that he will be leading by example, after all.

He has merely demanded that people like This Writer – I work from home (although I can’t say I have built up large amounts of savings) – splurge everything that we have. He hasn’t mentioned anything about doing the same himself – or that other super-rich Tories should do so.

So this is just a call for people – who are normally poor but have become slightly richer – to throw away everything that they’ve saved.

And people have cottoned on to his con:

Personally, I am looking forward to Sunak’s announcement that he has spent his vast wealth to help regenerate the UK’s economy – and to seeing evidence of this spending.

When he has done this, I hope to see this example leading other super-rich members of the UK’s communities to do the same.

Only when they have put their cash into restoration work should the demand trickle down to those of us who are less rich than Rishi and his Tory chums.

That’s right – trickle down. This is one instance where the “trickle down” effect might actually work in the way Tories and other neoliberals used to pretend; not with money gathered by the super-rich trickling down to benefit poorer people, but with cash spent by them revitalising the economy for everyone.

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