Tag Archives: holiday

Don’t let them get away with it: next time Tories mention £63m fund to feed kids, remind them it has been SPENT

Money, money, money: and none of it is for hungry children. The £63m fund mentioned so often by Boris Johnson and others was not for that purpose and was all spent before they even started talking it up.

You know that £63 million fund Conservative ministers like Robert Jenrick, Nadhim Zahawi, Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson keep saying is available to feed poor children over school holidays?

It was all spent weeks ago.

It came to only a few hundred thousand pounds per council.

When they Tories provided it in July, it was with a proviso that the money had to be spent within 12 weeks.

And it wasn’t specifically for feeding hungry children anyway.

Here’s Peter Stefanovic:

Don’t let them get away with it.

Next time a Tory minister turns up on the media peddling this lie, complain.

Complain to that minister personally, and also to the media outlet, be it the BBC, Sky News or some local radio station operating out of a Portakabin.

Let’s expose these liars and child-starvers for what they are.

Note: This Site has been reminded that a handful of Conservatives voted in favour of feeding children during the school holidays, in rebellion against their party’s line that called for your kids to starve. Obviously they should not be targeted during protests. The are:

Caroline Ansell( quit Government post)
Robert Halfon
Jason McCartney
Anne Marie Morris
Holly Mumby-Croft

No doubt there are perfectly good reasons to criticise the above-named people as well – they are Tories, after all – but this isn’t one of them.

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Part-time prime minister Johnson is off on his holibobs again

On his bike: this is an old pic but you can bet Boris Johnson couldn’t wait to run away from all the chaos he has caused.

Do you find it as disturbing as I do that Boris Johnson disappears on holiday whenever the going gets tough for his government?

He ran away when the country faced a huge flooding crisis back in February – can you remember that far back?

He’s away again now, in the middle of the furore over school exam results.

And he even took paternity leave at the height of the Covid-19 crisis, when his ministers were running around like headless chickens, cutting a swathe of death through the UK’s elderly and disabled population – and National Health Service workers.

He said he would go to Scotland for his break, but it would be more appropriate for him to visit in his official capacity – to apologise for, and explain why, his Scottish Conservative leader’s absence from a VJ Day anniversary event to act as a linesman in a football match.

It seems Johnson is not the only part-timer on the Conservatives’ team!

And it might do him some good to have to explain absenteeism by another member of his team.

In fact, if you are a Scottish reader of This Site and you happen upon Johnson in your day-to-day business, why not challenge him over this – and take video of it if you can?

Meanwhile the Twittering classes have been having fun:

Oh… flooding back again, is it? No wonder Johnson has cleared off again, then.

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Is the government cutting school meal vouchers for ALL deprived kids?

No square meals: vulnerable children will be forced to go hungry during the school holidays because the stingy Tory government wants them to starve.

School meal vouchers for deprived children in at least one council area are being stopped – because it’s half term.

Isn’t that typically short-sighted of the Conservative government (Westminster funds the scheme)?

The coronavirus crisis means more people than ever are short of cash, and this will only tip the most vulnerable even further into poverty.

This is a decision to starve children – and for no reason at all.

Here’s the Liverpool Echo:

Children in one of Britain’s most deprived boroughs will have to go without free school meals over half term.

Knowsley Council said it was unable to extend its voucher system over the break as the government would not fund the scheme outside term time.

Cllr Jayne Aston, the borough’s finance chief, said: “Despite our best efforts, and those of other organisations, we have been unable to persuade the government to recognise the challenge many families are facing and fund the vouchers over the school half term break.”

Although the government agreed to fund free school meals during the Easter holidays, it has so far refused to extend provision into either half term or the summer break.

How many children in other council areas will be affected by this?

And how much harm will the Tories cause by making them starve?

Source: Government won’t fund school meal vouchers for deprived kids over half term – Liverpool Echo

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After lying about Corbyn in the #EUreferendum campaign, where was Jo Swinson during #StopTheCoup? ON HOLIDAY.

This is damning.

Did you notice, during social media coverage of yesterday’s (August 31) #StopTheCoup demonstrations, that took place across the whole of the United Kingdom and involved hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million people, that some used the hashtag #WheresJoSwinson?

Well, now we know.

She was on holiday.

And, as some say, the optics are really bad because of her lie about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the EU referendum:

Would you like it from another source?

https://twitter.com/crashingbore123/status/1167913221971275776

And one more:

Now, there’s nothing wrong with going on holibobs every now and then (if you can afford it these days!) but some times are inappropriate.

MPs have just had a lengthy summer break. As leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ms Swinson knew that the result of the Conservative leadership election was likely to put someone in charge who would make changes that require a concerted show of opposition from, well, the Opposition.

But when the moment came, she was nowhere to be seen.

What a hypocrite. Liberal Democrats must be cringing with humiliation.

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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Priti Patel received £17,000 payout – from the public purse – after being forced to quit Cabinet role

No wonder she was smirking: Priti Patel leaving 10 Downing Street after being forced to resign.

This is despicable.

The public have been made to pay the cost of a “golden handshake” for Priti Patel, who was forced to leave her job in disgrace.

Ms Patel was told to resign after it was revealed she was trying to carry out her own foreign policy, independent of the Conservative government, holding meetings with senior Israeli politicians while supposedly on holiday.

This Writer thinks a prison sentence would have been more appropriate.

Priti Patel walked away with a pay-out of nearly £17,000 after being forced to resign as International Development Secretary , the Standard reveals today.

She received the sizeable “termination” payment despite admitting she blundered by holding unauthorised meetings in Israel last summer, including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Brexiteer Ms Patel was humiliatingly summoned back to London from East Africa in November to be axed from the Cabinet by Theresa May. At the time ministers are dismissed or resign, the Cabinet Office refuses to disclose if they are given pay-offs, despite them being funded by the taxpayer.

It still will not say if Boris Johnson received a payment when he quit as Foreign Secretary last month over Mrs May’s Chequers Brexit blueprint, or if David Davis did when he stood down as Brexit Secretary.

But details of the payment to Ms Patel are in the Department for International Development’s recently published annual accounts for 2017-18.

Source: Priti Patel received £17,000 payout after being forced to quit as International Development Secretary | London Evening Standard

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Mealy-mouthed, lying politics: Tories congratulate themselves for a law that has nothing to do with them

Liar: Theresa May merrily passes off EU directives as her own laws.

How will the Conservative Government be able to pat itself on the back for implementing new laws that help people, after Brexit has happened and the organisation imposing those laws – The European Union – no longer has any power in the UK?

And will it matter, considering the fact that many of us have already cottoned on to what they have been doing?

The latest wheeze was the implementation of an EU directive to protect package holidaymakers, which the Tories announced as if it were their own:

The backlash was immediate:

The Mirror article is handy as it carries a list of other EU directives that Tories have shamelessly passed off as their own.

But be warned: Although we are wise to this trick, many people may not be. As Tom Pride stated (above), around 40 per cent of the UK electorate still think voting Conservative is a good idea.

So please, if you happen to meet one of these deluded individuals, introduce them to this handy rule of thumb:

If a new law makes you worse-off, it was probably introduced by the Conservatives. If it actually helps you, it most likely came from somewhere else.


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Vox Political vindicated on unemployment figures

austeritydolequeue

How pleasant to see Vox Political‘s concerns about the massaging of UK unemployment figures being taken up by the kind of people the mass media actually respect.

A report on the BBC News website states that Conservative Party claims that unemployment has dropped by around 60 per cent in some areas is based on “wrong data” – in other words, the Tories are lying.

This blog has been saying that for a very long time!

The story says Tories have been using Jobseekers Allowance figures – the so-called Claimant Count – to justify their claims, but the independent Office for National Statistics showed only a 20 per cent drop in those seats. The ONS said online: “the number of unemployed people in the UK is substantially higher than the claimant count”.

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (and well-known to readers of this blog), said: “Many people who are unemployed don’t claim JSA… JSA figures at the local level are accurate, but it is not correct to confuse JSA rates and unemployment.”

In the BBC story, a Tory spokesman said the concern over the data was “nonsense”. He said: “This unemployment measure is provided by the independent House of Commons Library – and for constituencies they are the most up to date and most reliable numbers to use.”

Yes, the House of Commons Library does provide figures – with a caveat that they do not include the number of unemployed people claiming Universal Credit, and there is no date set for when those figures will be included in the Claimant Count (as reported by David Hencke in November last year). The current way of calculating these figures is misleading from the start.

In an article from the same month, This Writer made some other pertinent points:

“If employment has increased – and there’s no reason to say it hasn’t – we can also conclude that the reason employers are more willing to take people on is that they can pay peanuts for them and rely on the government to top them up with in-work benefits. It seems likely that the work was always there but employers weren’t going to take anybody on if it meant increasing the wages bill and reducing the amount of profit available to them. Now that zero-hours contracts are available, along with part-time schemes that deny people pensions and holiday pay, it’s a different matter.

“The number of people who were self-employed increased by a staggering 186,000, to reach 3.25 million, while people working as self-employed part-time increased by 93,000 to reach 1.27 million. That’s 4.52 million – almost one-sixth of the total number of people in work. If you think that’s great, you haven’t been paying attention. Remember this article, warning that the increase was due to older people staying in work? And what about the catastrophic collapse in self-employed earnings we discovered at the same time?

“How many of these are people who have been persuaded to claim tax credits as self-employed people, rather than jump through the increasingly-difficult hoops set out for them if they claimed Jobseekers’ Allowance – and do they know they’ll have to pay all the money back when their deception is discovered?

“The number of people in part-time employment has also increased, by 28,000 to reach 6.82 million. Are we to take it that this means under-employment has increased again?

“Public sector employment has fallen again. If you want to know why the government keeps messing you around, there’s your answer. There aren’t enough people to do the job. This month’s statistics show 11,000 fewer public sector employees than in March, and 282,000 fewer than this time last year.

“Unemployment is said to have dropped – but remember, this is not counting people who have been sanctioned. A recent study by Professor David Stuckler of Oxford University suggests as many as half a million people could have been sanctioned off-benefit in order to massage the figures, meaning that the total listed – 931,700 – is probably wrong. Remember also that Universal Credit claimants aren’t counted, nor are those on government work schemes – another 123,000 people.

“This means the actual unemployment rate is likely to be double the number provided by the official statistics.

“And what about people on ESA/DLA/PIP?”

In January this year, This Writer added: “New research by Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has shown that only around one-fifth (20 per cent) of people who have been sanctioned off of Jobseekers’ Allowance have actually found work, leaving 1.6 million in limbo; they’re off the benefits system but researchers can only surmise that they are relying on food banks.”

And in February, Vox Political had this point to make: “We also know that many thousands have died – through suicide or complications of their physical conditions (if claiming incapacity benefits) after receiving decisions that were not only wrong, but may have been fraudulent.”

Whichever way you slice it, the Tories aren’t being straight with you.

You can trust Vox Political to give you the facts, though.

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Huge increase in zero-hour contracts – in a ‘booming’ economy?

[Image: Eoin Clarke.]

This graph is now out of date but shows the rapid rise of the zero-hours contract. By the end of 2014, the number of people on zero contracts was 697,000, according to the ONS. [Image: Eoin Clarke.]

Here are a few figures from the Office of National Statistics:

  • Number of people employed on a “zero-hours contract” in their main job was 697,000 for October to December 2014, representing 2.3% of all people in employment. In the same period in 2013, this was 1.9% of all people in employment (586,000).
  • The number of people saying they are employed on “zero-hours contracts” depends on whether or not they recognise this term. It is not possible to say how much of the increase between 2013 and 2014 is due to greater recognition rather than new contracts.
  • Number of contracts that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours where work was carried out was 1.8 million for the fortnight beginning 11 August 2014. The previously published estimate was 1.4 million for the fortnight beginning 20 January 2014.
  • The two estimates of contracts should not be directly compared. They cover different times of year so changes in the numbers may reflect seasonal factors.
  • On average, someone on a “zero-hours contract” usually works 25 hours a week.
  • Around a third of people on “zero-hours contracts” want more hours, with most wanting them in their current job, compared with 10% of other people in employment.
  • People on “zero-hours contracts” are more likely to be women, in full-time education or working part-time. They are also more likely to be aged under 25 or 65 and over.
  • Over half of businesses in Accommodation and Food Services and a quarter of businesses in Education made some use of no guaranteed hours contracts in August 2014.

This is at a time when the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said the UK has bounced back strongly from the recession and has one of the strongest economies in the G7 nations.

Admittedly, the OECD has said productivity – stagnant for many years now – must improve in order for living standards to rise, but this is not part of the zero-hours plan. The Conservative-led Coalition wanted to put as many people as possible into jobs of any description, in order to claim a drop in unemployment – but zero-hours contracts, while helping businesses by eliminating in-work benefits like sick pay and holiday pay, do not help productivity at all; they use more people to achieve the same result.

In the case of the UK, it seems, they have been achieving worsening results, as dipping tax receipts have made all-too-clear. George Osborne claimed a surplus in January, but this is clearly a manufactured result, formed from panic after the last few tax revenue figures became public.

So what does Labour say about all this?

Scottish Nationalists will be surprised to learn that the party Pete Wishart believes is “cuddling up to the Tories” was unequivocally critical.

“The Tories’ plan is failing working families,” said Chuka Umunna, shadow business secretary.

“While they prioritise a few at the top, for others there’s a rising tide of insecurity. Ministers have watered down every person’s rights at work and zero-hours contracts have gone from being a niche concept to becoming the norm in parts of our economy.

“The ONS’ findings today that there are now 1.8 million zero-hours contracts and that the number of people reporting they are on a zero-hours contract for their main job has risen by almost 20 per cent is yet another stark illustration of a recovery which is not working for working people.”

He said: “Labour’s Better Plan for Britain’s Prosperity would ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, prohibit employers from requiring workers to be available on the off-chance they are needed, ensure zero-hours contract workers who have shifts cancelled at short notice receive compensation and give employees who consistently work regular hours the right to a fixed-hours contract.

“Ministers have sat on their hands and opposed our plans, in the face of rising insecurity for people.”

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Keep talking, Iain – your idiot ideas will run your party right out of office

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by 'pigeon post'.

Honest appraisal: The national opinion of Iain Duncan Smith is reflected in this comment, delivered direct to the Work and Pensions Secretary by ‘pigeon post’.

Iain Duncan Smith typifies the classical definition of an idiot – and his latest speech will prove it by ignoring Britain’s real problems in favour of self-centred, ideologically-motivated foolishness.

The Greeks used to believe idiots were ignorant people, incapable of ordinary reasoning, whose judgement in public and political matters was poor – but who refused to change their minds.

If you don’t think that’s Iain Duncan Smith, take a look at parts of his speech, as quoted in today’s (Monday) Daily Torygraph.

First off, take a look at the headline: “Cutting benefits is vital for economy, says Iain Duncan Smith”. Why? That money goes out to people on extremely low incomes who cannot save it and must use it immediately, to service their needs. They spend it straight away, boosting the economy as it then passes through the system. Taking it away from people will only stall the system so Duncan Smith is wrong from the start.

This is why we call him RTU, or Returned To Unit, on this blog. It’s a phrase referring to his Army career in which he did not achieve promotion to Captain despite training at Sandhurst. This kind of failure, in the Army, leads to a soldier being RTU’d as a failure.

Look at his main claim – that immigrants have taken British jobs, not ahead of British people, but because British people refused to take them, preferring a life on benefits. The man is delusional.

Does he not understand the hell into which he has turned the benefit system? Getting any money out of the Department for Work and Pensions at all is a minor miracle in the age of RTU! The disabled are forced to wait months at a time, without any means of support, while hired hands from private profiteer companies mull over whether the DWP should bother to help, while people who are actively seeking work are sanctioned by Job Centre Plus for attending job interviews rather than signing on.

Those who do get work are either encouraged into self-employment at extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions, zero-hours contracts at extremely low pay with no holidays or pensions, or part-time work with extremely low pay and no holidays or pensions. The figures make it seem that full-time work is increasing but these are reversed when self-employment is removed.

He is trying to say unemployment surged upwards after 2008 because people were refusing work, in line with the Conservative Party’s current attempt to re-write history. In fact it increased because of a recession engineered by greedy bankers that cost many thousands of jobs and had nothing to do with migrant workers or the preferences of the people affected.

In fact, the way to get British people back to work is the exact opposite of what RTU has been doing, and the exact opposite of what he is proposing.

The Conservatives have been pushing wages down, and squeezing benefits with below-inflation rate rises in order to make it possible for them to say they are “making work pay”. Anyone can see through this lie – just because work pays slightly more than benefits, that doesn’t mean it pays enough.

Look at the way the number of people claiming in-work benefits at the moment has shot through the roof, because employers refuse to pay even subsistence wages any more. That is a complete answer to the nonsense in RTU’s speech.

But he wants to make matters worse by lowering the Benefit Cap further – from the already-below-what’s-needed £26,000 per family to £18,000 – the average amount of take-home pay, according to new figures his party has plucked from its posterior.

It is an idiotic move; taking money out of the economy will stall it.

If he were to encourage firms to pay the Living Wage, ensuring that workers do not have to claim benefits at all, he would find that all the issues he mentions would disappear.

Sure, some people would want to remain on benefits – there is an acknowledged 0.7 per cent rate of fraud and error, after all (yes, just 0.7 per cent, and RTU spends billions trying to say it is worse) – but most are desperate to be self-sustaining and would take work that allowed them to achieve that aim.

These people would still be low-earners, meaning the money would still be spent into the economy straight away on necessities, and to pay off debts accrued under RTU’s disastrous regime – and this means it would provide much-needed lubrication for the economy.

They would also be paying Income Tax, rather than claiming benefits, meaning funds would pour into the Treasury rather than out of it.

All the talk of economic recovery indicates that employers are in a much better position to provide the Living Wage, now, than they were over the last few years, so why isn’t Iain Duncan Smith suggesting so in his speech today?

Simple.

He’s an idiot.

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UKIP: They don’t like it up ’em!

UKIPpolicies

Was anybody else astonished to read, on Facebook this afternoon (May 12), that police had visited a person who had posted a version of the above meme on Twitter, and told said person to remove it as UKIP had made a formal complaint?

The truth of the matter became irrelevant very shortly after, when the image was merrily shared and re-shared across the social media by those of us (let’s face it; a version is directly above these words. VP is as much a part of this act as anyone) who weren’t going to put up with even the rumour of such heavy-handed behaviour.

Shortly afterwards, the referenced version of the meme appeared – it’s what you saw when you loaded up this article.

Readers with good taste in comedy will recognise our headline as a catchphrase of Lance Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army, made with reference to the German Army and to the “fuzzy-wuzzies” – as Jones refers in casually racist (yet of-the-times) terms to his erstwhile opponents when he was fighting colonial wars in South Africa. Although they’re not likely to enjoy being ranked alongside either of Jones’s targets, UKIP supporters proved that they really don’t like it up ’em – and responded with fury.

“This is not doing the right thing by Britons by posting propaganda rubbish like this one,” wrote one outraged ‘Kipper’.

Propaganda?

That would be “misleading information that is systematically spread”, according to the VP dictionary. Thank goodness we can look up the websites referenced on the image and make up our own minds! But it should be noted that anyone trying this should hurry – some of the sites mentioned have already been changed.

For example, VP is informed that Amjad Bashir has changed his website to remove the reference to maternity pay and other employment rights. Fortunately, another member of our online community had the presence of mind to keep a copy of the site as it was before the edit, and created an image that demonstrates the differences.

140512amjadchanges

The point is confirmed on UKIP member Keith Rowe’s website, where item 3.2 states: “UKIP proposes to vastly simplify this legislation. It would be up to each employer to decide whether to offer parental leave.” That would mean the end of Statutory Maternity Pay.

Further down, Mr Rowe confirms UKIP’s plan to raise Income Tax for most of us, while also cutting it for the richest people in the UK: “The cornerstone of UKIP’s tax policies is to roll employees’ National Insurance and basic rate income tax into a flat rate of income tax of 31 per cent for all sources of personal income (except pension income).”

On holiday entitlement, Mr Rowe tells us: “UKIP would put an end to most legislation regarding matters such as weekly working hours, holidays and holiday, overtime, redundancy or sick pay etc.”

UKIP supporters would argue strongly that the party does not intend to speed up privatisation of the NHS, and Mr Rowe’s website expends a large amount of verbiage trying to obfuscate what is intended. But the gist is here: “UKIP will abolish the complex competitive tendering rules which currently make it very difficult for smaller companies to bid; as a result of which, a small number of large companies have a disproportionate share of NHS business. In addition, the UKIP will require the NHS to use people with commercial experience to negotiate with the private sector.” This means that UKIP would continue the Coalition policy of inviting private companies to bid for the right to provide NHS services, making a profit from the taxpayer in doing so.

The section entitled ‘Looking Ahead’ suggests worse to come: “UKIP would like to offer people a choice of how they wish their health care to be delivered… We believe that other models are worth considering to see whether lessons can be learned from abroad… which appear to offer more choice, shorter waiting times and objectively better health outcomes at comparable cost and have been praised for their lack of bureaucracy.”

On climate change, the UKIP leaflet referenced in the meme states: “UK’s cuts in CO2 emissions will have no meaningful effect on global climate and … the Climate Change Act’s unilateral action is in vain”. Further on, it states: “We criticise the EU for creating serious market distortion by favouring some low-carbon technologies (wind, solar) over others (e.g. nuclear). There are, however, some clear priorities: gas, nuclear, and coal.”

UKIP’s own ‘issues’ page makes it clear that the party will “remove the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights” (even though this would be a travesty – the UK was instrumental in setting up that institution and wrote much of its rule book).

Coming to marital rape, if the reference in the meme does not provide help, then try this link. It shows that, of the 14 MEPs who voted against ‘Combating violence against women’, which included “to recognise sexual violence within marriage as a crime and to make rape within marriage a criminal offence”, nine were members of UKIP. Thanks to Rachel Harvey (on Facebook) for this information, and for sourcing the image on maternity pay.

Ms Harvey adds: “The ‘no’ vote to rape within marriage being a criminal offence was also a no vote to making FGM [female genital mutilation] illegal. Such lovely blokes these UKIP MEPs.” Indeed.

Admittedly, policies are mentioned for which proof is not directly available at the time of writing (although any help with this would be appreciated). Nevertheless it should be clear that the image at the top of this article is absolutely not “propaganda rubbish”.

It is a genuine attempt to alert the British voting public to the true nature of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

And no – I didn’t create it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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