Tag Archives: Josh Widdicombe

The Last Leg stumbles over coverage of DWP deaths

Not one of his better moments: Adam Hills hosts The Last Leg, whose segment on Iain Duncan Smith and the incapacity benefit deaths lost its footing.

Not one of his better moments: Adam Hills hosts The Last Leg, whose segment on Iain Duncan Smith and the incapacity benefit deaths lost its footing [Image not from the September 4 show].

Thank goodness the makers of one mainstream TV programme were willing to cover the release of incapacity benefit death statistics by the Department for Work and Pensions – but isn’t it a shame the coverage was derailed because of the comment they used to start the item?

One might expect The Last Leg to cover Iain Duncan Smith’s treatment of people on incapacity benefits, but it was not a certainty – This Writer was sending direct messages to the production team via Twitter in advance of the release on August 27, with no response. Has anybody seen coverage on any other mainstream UK TV programme – a news programme, possibly?

So it was a delight to see a figure of the Grim Reaper, with a photograph of the Gentleman Ranker stuck to its face, on Adam Hills’ desk in the advert that ran ahead of tonight’s (September 4) show.

Unfortunately, the producers had chosen to start the show with a comment that proved unfortunate. A viewer had tweeted to ask if it was okay that the release of the figures showed people were more likely to die after being found fit for work by the DWP than from being murdered.

This week’s guest, Lee Mack, interjected to point out that anyone who is murdered is going to be dead anyway, and that the statistical likelihood of being murdered in the UK is very small, so the comment didn’t mean very much at all.

The point that was being made – and missed by Lee – was that murder is illegal in this country. Anybody found guilty, in a court of law, of committing murder is sentenced to life imprisonment.

But it is perfectly legal to find a person with serious long-term illnesses or disabilities fit for work, cut them off from the payments to which they are entitled – and on which they rely for their continued existence, subject them to extreme stress that is likely to worsen their medical condition and seriously disturb their mental health…

… and then wait for them to die of the worsened condition – or commit suicide – and say nature took its course.

We shouldn’t blame Lee Mack. He’s a very shallow person when he’s on shows like this – and tends to say anything he thinks will get a laugh, without considering any knock-on effects. But any one of the three hosts – Mr Hills, Alex Brooker or Josh Widdicombe – would have been well within their rights to cut him short and tell him, in the words of one of the show’s catchphrases: “Don’t be a dick!”

Who knows? The interjection might turn out to be highly lucrative for Mr Mack. The DWP, at least, owes him some form of payment for the service he performed for the government and Iain Duncan Smith.

Some of us are less well-pleased.

One problem with the figures, cited by Adam Hills, was the fact that they are so vague that it is very hard to understand what they mean. But then – as mentioned at the top of this article – the production team has a direct line of contact with the person who requested those figures in the first place.

All they had to do was ask. Why didn’t they?

Still, the story isn’t over and This Writer is working hard to get more figures, along with clarity on what is already available.

Let’s hope they get it right next time.

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Tory attack on NHS backfires badly; Hunt and Gove (and Mrs Gove) labelled ‘c—s’

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Jeremy Hunt, pretending to be in a hospital on a weekend (it was in fact a Friday). He also managed to tweet confidential patient details to the general public. This man is the Conservative Party’s choice to be Secretary of State for Health. No wonder a petition calling for him to be removed via a vote of ‘no confidence’ gained the 100,000 signatures necessary to be considered for debate in Parliament within a matter of days.

Conservative Party bigwigs seem determined to make fools of themselves, and undermine their own policies, during the summer Parliamentary recess.

Already, This Blog has recorded how Priti Patel single-handedly wrecked any credibility the government had over its claim that it will publish figures relating to the deaths of sick and disabled benefit claimants.

On Friday, it was the turn of Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove – and Michael Gove’s wife, Sarah Vine – courtesy of Channel 4’s satirical bombshow, The Last Leg. The segment was so good, it is worth quoting almost verbatim.

Reading a message the show had received on Twitter, host Adam Hills said: “Hannah asked, ‘Is it okay that Jeremy Hunt breached patient confidentiality and still continues to criticise NHS doctors? #dontbeadick #dontbeajeremyhunt’?”

The question alone encouraged the studio audience into a loud and sustained round of applause.

“Hmm!” said Mr Hills. “I think that just measured the temperature of the room! Yes, the man who is his own rhyming slang upset more doctors than an outbreak of ebola this week, when he criticised NHS staff for not working seven-day weeks – to which most NHS staff replied, ‘Dude, we totally do’.”

Co-host Josh Widdicombe pointed out that what’s needed is more doctors, but Jeremy Hunt isn’t prepared to provide the money for it; he just wants them to work longer. “The ideal scenario would be: Each hospital has one doctor who never goes home.”

And Alex Brooker, the other co-host, added: “The way I see it is, a doctor is working all the time because, even when they’re not in the hospital, if they go to the supermarket and someone collapses, they can’t turn around and go, ‘I tell you what, a few hours ago when I was in, I could have helped you!'”

“Lozzle McFozzle said, ‘Is it okay that Jeremy Hunt attacks doctors for supposedly not working weekends, shortly before his eight-week holiday?'” continued Mr Hills.

“Jeremy Hunt tweeted a photo of himself in a hospital on a Saturday, but came under fire when a quick look at the rosters behind him showed it was actually a Friday. Mm-hm!

“A quick look at the confidential patient details behind him showed that he had also tweeted confidential patient details.

“In Jeremy Hunt’s defence, he says he’s trying to forge new contracts that will make the NHS safer – but doctors claim they are already providing five-day-a-week care on four-day-a-week funding. If you make them work seven days a week but with no extra funding, it actually makes the NHS less safe.

“Some doctors have even suggested this is all part of Hunt’s plan to undermine the public’s trust in the NHS, so he can eventually privatise the whole thing. And bear in mind, this is a guy who co-authored a book about dismantling the NHS – and we’re surprised that he wants to dismantle the NHS? It’s like getting freaked out when the author of 50 Shades of Grey breaks out the handcuffs. You’ve read the book, you know what you’re in for; you’re going to get screwed and it’s probably going to hurt!”

Alex Brooker cut in again: “I find it so incredible that we’re even talking about this… For a country’s economy to work, the workforce is absolutely fundamental, and what can be more important than keeping that workforce healthy? So what is more important, to spend money on, than the NHS? ‘Cos they’re not putting it into the schools. So at what point do you think, ‘We should probably scrimp on one thing that completely makes the country run and our economy work’?”

“Meanwhile, a petition to call a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Jeremy Hunt has reached over 100,000 signatures, which means it must now be considered for debate in Parliament,” said Mr Hills.

Moving on, he stated: “Someone called Shab said, ‘Is it okay to NOT feel sorry for Michael Gove, who’s been left on crutches this week?’

“Justice Secretary Michael Gove hurt his foot over the weekend but couldn’t get an X-ray until Monday morning. His wife claimed, in an article, this was proof that the NHS needs to be open 24/7 – but forgot to point out, he didn’t actually go to an NHS centre. He went to a minor injuries unit which was established to ease the pressure on accident and emergency, who deal with accidents and emergencies!

“If Michael Gove really needed to be seen over the weekend, he would have been sent straight to A&E where there are 24-hour-a-day radiologists.

“This is not proof that the NHS needs to be open seven days a week. This is proof that Michael Gove needs to go home, take a tablespoon of cement and harden the f**k up!

“As for Jeremy Hunt, everybody wants a seven-day-a-week NHS but you don’t get it by degrading doctors and making them look workshy. Many doctors are on call at weekends, they earn below minimum wage for that work and they often work unpaid overtime beyond all of that.

“In the words of a letter written by a doctor this week, called Karan Kapoor, ‘We don’t go on strike, we don’t hold the country to ransom, we don’t compromise patient care because we were meant to go home two hours ago; instead, we go above and beyond. Without this silent and diligent commitment, the NHS would have crumbled many years ago’.

“This is for Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Michael Gove’s wife: You are badmouthing some of the hardest-working, best-qualified people in Britain, who are also woefully underpaid; the people who may one day need to save your lives. You’re not just being dicks, you’re being a massive pack of…”

(Cut to a clip of BBC Breakfast News presenter Bill Turnbull misreading a news piece earlier in the week) “C***s.”

Just to make sure the point hit home, the show had one more dig at Jeremy Hunt up its sleeve:

For further background reading, try this article. Undoubtedly there are many others.

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A #legup from ‘The Last Leg’ – is it all that it seems?

Guest Joanna Lumley, with The Last Leg's co-hosts Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, agreeing that #LegUp is a good idea. But is it?

Guest Joanna Lumley, with The Last Leg’s co-hosts Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, agreeing that #LegUp is a good idea. But is it?

On the face of it, it seems like a very good idea.

On Channel 4’s The Last Leg yesterday evening, Adam Hills revealed a plan to counteract the severely detrimental effects of George Osborne’s budget, from the ground upwards.

He said the budget removed government help from those who need it most, and reasoned that – if the government won’t provide, then ordinary people should step in and fill the gap.

He proposed a Twitter hashtag, #LegUp, where people could request – or offer – a ‘leg up’ from others who can provide it – or to others who need it.

The idea went viral within minutes, and within hours it was a global trend.

And that’s really good… BUT:

Isn’t this doing what David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ tried to achieve, back in 2010?

#LegUp has people doing – for no reward – what public services used to provide at a cost of millions of pounds, before the Conservative Government took it away.

Isn’t it doing David Cameron’s dirty work for him?

This Writer doesn’t think that is the intention. Look at The Last Leg and you’ll see that this is absolutely not a Tory-glory show!

Perhaps #LegUp is just a place to start.

If the premise was taken further, and into specialised areas, it may be possible to use it to starve Tory-supporting businesses; if their services can be provided freely via #LegUp, there would be no need to pay for them.

Plus, of course, there would be no tax gain from the services provided – that’s one huge difference from Cameron’s ‘Big Society’, which was intended as a way of helping Tory-donor businesses profit from the shrinking of the state.

Eventually – if it doesn’t prove to be a flash-in-the-pan fad – #LegUp could become an economic system of its own, paying lip-service to the economy that has been taken over by the greedy, while taking away the liquidity it needs to survive.

That would put ordinary people in a much better position to bargain with Chancellors like the mendacious Osborne.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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A message for rich tax-avoiders from The Last Leg

After Wossy said his piece about tax dodgers, Alex Brooker asked, "Are we not going to talk about that jacket?"

After Wossy said his piece about tax dodgers, Alex Brooker asked, “Are we not going to talk about that jacket?”

This is preaching to the converted (obviously) because Vox Political readers all pay their taxes, even those few of you who are actually rich, as currently defined in our society. Right?

It is therefore with a sense of sharing that VP is posting the “Rich people – pay your tax!” rant by Adam Hills (with Alex Brooker, Josh Widdicombe and Jonathan Ross) from last night’s Last Leg.

Please – if you know a rich person and suspect they are avoiding paying their full whack of tax – share this article with them. Ask if they or their family use any of the tax-supported services mentioned in the piece.

Ask them if they want to be followed around by the phrase “Do your bit – don’t be a d*ck!” for the rest of their natural lives.

Here’s the clip:

Sadly it seems the team at The Last Leg has not uploaded the equally excellent comments by David Mitchell (he said that legal loopholes allowing tax avoidance meant the government was “taxing conscience” – the more of a conscience you have, the more you pay – and that isn’t right: “We’re discouraging people from having a conscience by taxing it, & that is f***ing bonkers!”) but it is to be hoped that someone else has recorded them and will share them.

The full episode is (of course) well worth watching and may be seen here.

The message is clear for tax dodgers of any kind: We won’t pay for you any more.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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