Here’s some ridiculous pro-Starmer propaganda from LabourList:
New polling has found that 47% of businesses say perceptions of the Labour Party have improved under the leadership of Keir Starmer, changing for the better compared to when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.
So 53 per cent of businesses say perceptions of the Labour Party haven’t improved. That’s the majority, isn’t it?
Look further down the article and you find that only one-third of businesses think Starmer is right for the job – meaning two-thirds don’t.
And young businesspeople still prefer Corbyn – although only by a larger minority: 46 per cent to 25 per cent who prefer Starmer – who is said to be “favoured” by those aged over 35, although the site does not provide any figures. Ashamed?
It all seems academic in any event, as a clear majority of businesspeople – 55 per cent – said a Tory government under that hopeless idiot Boris Johnson would be better for large businesses than anything Starmer had to offer, while 45 per cent of small- and medium-sized business leaders preferred Johnson, against just under 23 per cent for Starmer.
Those are terrible figures – and this poll was taken before this year’s Labour conference. I wonder how much worse Starmer would fare now.
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Jennie Formby: She acts fast when there’s an opportunity to look tough, but when those decisions turn out to be wrong, she’s nowhere to be found.
When less than 200 MPs, peers and staff wrote to demand Chris Williamson’s re-suspension after his Labour membership was restored following an investigation into false allegations of anti-Semitism, general secretary Jennie Formby acted at once. Now more than 6,000 party members have demanded that this decision be reversed, and she has done nothing at all. Why?
To put this in proportionate terms, more than 30 times the number of Labour members who had Mr Williamson re-suspended have said the decision should be reversed. Labour is supposedly a democratic party and the will of the majority should prevail. But Ms Formby has done nothing.
The figures come from a LabourList weekly survey, which also revealed that an even larger majority of respondents believe that Labour’s disciplinary process – which sends serious cases to the “quasi-judicial” National Constitutional Committee – is subject to political interference and should be scrapped in favour of an independent process. The treatment of many cases – in which mere accusation was taken as an assumption of guilt – led to the NCC being dubbed the “National Kangaroo Court” by many, including This Writer.
And this is not the only development. The Labour Party of Northern Ireland has published a statement on Mr Williamson’s suspension, along with a motion that may be taken as a model for other Labour constituency parties.
The statement quotes in full the words said by the MP which have been selectively quoted by his critics, and also quotes analysis of anti-Semitism in the party that shows it is a negligible issue with only 0.05 per cent of members being said to have engaged in any activity that could even be claimed to have been anti-Semitic. This compares with a national average of around five per cent (which in itself is a shocking figure).
It continues: “All anti-semitism should be considered a scourge and a problem that needs addressing. However, it is a fair comment to say that the Labour Party does not have any form of particular problem with anti-semitism . It is also fair to say that Labour Party members are not to blame for the narrative that suggests that there is a particular problem with anti-semitism in the party.
“It logically follows that members of the Labour Party should not feel that they should be apologetic about something that has been shown to be false.
“It does not diminish the scourge of anti-semitism to state these things. Members are entitled to feel proud of the Labour Party’s history of anti-racism and support for minority communities and for all of those facing discrimination and oppression. They are entitled to encourage others to join the party and to support it on the basis of its anti-racist and wholly inclusive credentials.
“Any member is entitled to say that those who are agreeing and apologising for the Labour Party having a particular problem with anti-semitism, is a concession to falsehoods and distortions. In a climate where such falsehoods and distortions proliferate, members are entitled to challenge the narrative. They are entitled to scrutinise complaints. They are entitled to adopt an inquisitorial approach to allegations. Every member who is accused is entitled to the absolutely fundamental principle of justice; that they are considered innocent until it is established otherwise.
“Most of all, every member is entitled to be subject to the democratically determined rules and procedures governing the Party and to demand that those rules and procedures be upheld and not be subject to the arbitrariness of public opinion and pressure.”
In my own case, I was treated as though I were guilty from the moment I was falsely accused. Chris Williamson has had the same treatment. So have many others.
And those who endorse the falsehoods and distortions are still being given the oxygen of publicity by mass-media news organisations. Only last week, Labour Lord Falconer appeared on the BBC’s #PoliticsLive to deplore Mr Williamson’s perfectly reasonable comments as anti-Semitic and to damn him further by association with (among others) Jackie Walker, who had been accused of saying that Jews were chief financiers of the slave trade – except, of course, we know that she didn’t say that. The other person in the video is Tosh McDonald, a friend and supporter of Mr Williamson.
I reckon Charlie Falconer knew that what he was saying wasn’t true. Ms Walker would have made it perfectly clear in her defence and I made it perfectly clear in mine (two of the charges against me related to my support for her). He referred to notes, so he should have had that information. And now, of course, the BBC has confirmed the falsehood of the claim.
Yet Lord Charlie Falconer has faced no censure whatsoever for his words. When will his party membership be suspended? When will his misbehaviour be investigated? When will questions be asked about his motivations?
I reckon we all know the answer to that: Never.
Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, was bombarded with tweets demanding action to reinstate falsely-purged party members including myself, Ms Walker and Mr Williamson after the BBC’s admission. To my knowledge, she has not responded in any way at all. She is running away from her party’s mistakes prejudice.
Perhaps she’ll respond if a party member – or several of them – makes an official complaint.
Who’ll give it a go?
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This blog was going to let Jeremy Corbyn’s Andrew Marr Show interview pass without comment – it’s a BBC show and therefore unlikely to have anything approaching useful to say. It seems others couldn’t bring themselves to exercise such restraint – to their shame.
According to the Graun, here’s Conor Pope of LabourList, which styles itself as ‘Labour’s biggest independent grassroots e-network’:
What’s he trying to say? That Corbyn should be in another party, not Labour, if he’s going to spout such strong, traditional Labour views?
Corbyn was elected Labour leader with an overwhelming mandate. The Labour Party wants his policies. So, if Mr Pope has different opinions and cannot reconcile them with the prevailing view, perhaps he should go to a different party himself – along with anyone who agrees with him.
And perhaps he should stop writing for LabourList – along, again, with anyone who agrees with him. That site needs to represent the views of the Labour Party, not just a few creeps who think they’re part of some non-existent elite.
I’ve been wondering for some time exactly who LabourList is supposed to represent. Perhaps its time we were told.
Having had dealings with SNP supporters, this blog can do little but agree with LabourList‘s Mark Ferguson, who writes that any potential post-election deal with the SNP must be ruled out because it is “undesirable…counter-productive and unworkable, [would] cause enormous damage to the country (possibly splitting it in two) and severely harm the Labour Party”. He writes:
Failing to rule out a deal hands the SNP a compelling narrative between now and May.
Want rid of the Tories and a Labour government in Westminster? The SNP will claim that you can get that if you vote for them, and that (because they only care about Scotland) they’d get the best deal for Scotland. It’s not true of course, because the best way to deliver for Scotland is through a strong Labour majority government.
An SNP group in Westminster (led by Salmond) would constantly be on manouveres to embarass Labour, to try to convince the Scottish people that Labour are the bad guys, to create splits and divisions and to bring about – by hook or by crook – the only thing that really matters to them: Independence.
Why should Labour work with a party – and allow effective power of veto over elements of government policy – that doesn’t even believe in the country or the body that is being governed?
How then could we explain to the electorate of England and Wales that we had put the desire for a Commons majority before our desire to exclude people whose entire political credo revolves about not caring what happens in England and Wales?
Why on earth would Labour agree to a deal that would damage the party in Scotland whilst simultaneously alienating the rest of the UK for a generation?
No doubt the anti-Labour brigade will roll up to trash this article but it deserves an airing, if only because so many children are in poverty and homeless already.
According to Shelter, the number of homeless families increased from 80,000 at Christmas 2013 to 93,000 last Christmas – that’s a rise of 16.5 per cent.
But the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats want to tell you that poverty has dropped, because it is calculated as a percentage of wages, and wages have fallen – meaning fewer people earn the lowered amount that now counts as the poverty level.
Against that background, here’s Fiona Twycross, writing on LabourList:
One of the greatest confidence tricks of this government has been the demonisation of the poor and the remarkable feat of setting people on low income against each other while overseeing a continued rise of inequality. This inequality means that just two days in to the working year, on ‘Fat Cat Tuesday’ as it was dubbed by the High Pay Centre, top executives had earned £27,000, the equivalent of a year’s average earnings. Meanwhile, the number of people in work but earning poverty pay is rising.
After a week when some commentators have suggested there is little difference between the main parties, it is worth reminding ourselves of the need to place our Labour values to the core of what we say over the next few months. Not just for those conversations we will be having on the doorstep but to remind ourselves why we have to fight for a Labour victory.
Child poverty is not inevitable. It is possible to reduce it. Labour reduced the numbers of children living in poverty by 800,000 when we were in power. Not only does the Government have a statutory duty to end child poverty by 2020 [it seems the plan is to cut wages to a point where even the lowest-paid no longer count as in poverty, according to the yardstick mentioned above – meaning we’ll all be struggling], from a moral perspective as well, it has to be our goal to eliminate it.
I am tired of people suggesting that it might not do us any harm to be in opposition for a few more years. It might not do some of us harm individually but it would do massive harm to the most vulnerable in society. If we are unhappy at what has happened to the fabric of our society in the past five years, we need to be clear that a future Conservative-led government or coalition would take us further down their road to ruin.
The legacy of poverty in childhood stays with people throughout their lives. With millions of children already living in poverty, and all indications showing that many more are likely to join them unless the political direction of travel in this country changes, we are facing the fight not just for a Labour victory but for these children to have a better future.
How much longer must we tolerate this spiteful little thug?
From LabourList: “A victim of domestic violence – for her own safety, she’s known only as A – is taking the government to court. The reason? Because she’s being hit by the Bedroom Tax.
“The ‘spare room’ that the government want to penalise her for having is a specially adapted ‘Panic Room’. It’s there to provide a safe space for her and her child if her abusive ex-partner – who has raped and assaulted her – tries to cause her further harm. It has been specially adapted as a safe and secure space by the police.
“And yet the government want to hit her with the Bedroom Tax, because – as far as they’re concerned – she’s not making full use of her ‘spare’ room.
“Unfathomably, Iain Duncan Smith is defending the DWP and the government – having argued (without success) at a hearing in June that it should be dismissed.
“Today Ed Miliband rose in the chamber to challenge David Cameron on this grotesque case – the cherry on top of the disgusting Bedroom Tax cake. And what did the Prime Minister do? He defended the decision. He claimed that money had been made available for such cases.
“And yet if that’s the case why is A having to go to court to defend her own home? To defend her own safety? To defend her child?
This government are willing – way beyond the point where any rational person has departed from their argument – to argue in favour of the Bedroom Tax. The lives ruined and the families crushed under the weight of this draconian legislation are collateral damage. And all because they’re unwilling to accept that there simply aren’t enough affordable homes in the UK – or do anything about this fact.
“And how did Iain Duncan Smith, the villain (quite literally, a villain) of this piece react to Miliband’s questioning? According to Labour MP Fiona O’Donnell, the response of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was to laugh.
As Ed Miliband spelled out the horrendous case – which this government are responsible for, caused and defends – of a woman trying to stay safe from her abusive, rapist ex-partner, Iain Duncan Smith laughed.
If you were trying to sum up the ills of this government in one simple act, that laughter might just be it.
The National Housing Federation ran a campaign against the ‘bedroom tax’ while the legislation was going through Parliament – but the government was blind to the concerns of this expert organisation.
Tomorrow (Friday) the Labour Party will do something it hasn’t done in a fair few years – support a Parliamentary Bill put forward by a Liberal Democrat!
Andrew George’s Affordable Housing Bill seeks to soften the effects of the Bedroom Tax by exempting households in which disabled people have had adaptations made to the building, and in which any person in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (but notably not Employment and Support Allowance) is not able to share a bedroom with a partner, meaning that all bedrooms are occupied, if only by the claimant and their partner.
It would also force the Work and Pensions Secretary to review the number of affordable homes and intermediate housing available, assessing the need for such dwellings, progress made in meeting this need and the potential to do so, the role of registered providers and community land trusts, and whether he should act to meet any need revealed by the review.
This could doubly harm the Conservatives as David Cameron went on record during Prime Minister’s Questions many times as the Bedroom Tax passed into law, to say that it would not affect the disabled. Clearly his statements were false; clearly he was lying to Parliament.
It is also public knowledge that the Conservatives were well aware of the lack of appropriate housing for people to downsize into, once the Bedroom Tax came into effect and they were forced to pay for rooms the government now considers to be under-occupied. The plan was never to get people to move into more appropriate accommodation; it was always to force people – who had been allocated housing on the basis of what was available at the time – into a benefit cut created by conditions that were not of their making.
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves, writing on LabourList, stated that Labour will support Mr George’s Bill. “Though most MPs will have commitments in their constituencies, I and other Labour MPs will be present in the House of Commons chamber to support the Bill so that it has the best chance of progressing through to its next stage,” she wrote.
It is to be hoped that any absent MPs will have ‘paired’ with opposing MPs, in order to ensure that no side has an unfair advantage when the matter comes to the vote; it is bad enough that the government scheduled the Bill’s second reading for a Friday, when most MPs have constituency duties.
Labour has lately come under fire from certain individuals – including readers of this blog – who are living under the delusion that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition has supported the Coalition government with regard to the Bedroom Tax. Let’s put that to rest with a few more words from the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary:
“Labour has been clear and consistent in its opposition to the Bedroom Tax.
“We said it was cruel and unfair, taking an average £700 a year from half a million low income households. The government has admitted that two thirds of those hit have disabilities, and another 60,000 are carers. All the evidence from housing and disability experts showed that most would have nowhere else to move to.
“We also said it was unworkable and could end up costing more than it saved, with people unable to keep up with their rent, destabilising the finances of housing providers and risking costly eviction proceedings, or ending up with private landlords where rents and housing benefit bills are higher.
“Our fears were confirmed by the government’s own independent evaluation of the policy slipped out over the summer. This revealed that just 4.5% of affected claimants had been able to move to smaller accommodation within the social sector, that 60% had fallen behind with their rent after just six months, and that there was “widespread concern that those who were paying were making cuts to other household essentials or incurring other debts”.
The Affordable Housing Bill is scheduled to be the first discussed in the September 5, 2014 session, and it should be possible to watch the debate at http://www.parliament.uk or the BBC’s Democracy Live site from 9.30am onwards.
‘To see ourselves as others see us’: It is hard to stand on a platform when you can’t even stand – but the social media are giving disabled people a stronger voice and a chance to take the spotlight, rather than the sidelines.
The Labour Party is likely to scrap the hated Work Capability Assessment for people claiming sickness and disability benefits, replacing it with “something that looks very different” – but you haven’t heard anything about it on the news, have you?
Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Kate Green, said she would be treating with “great seriousness” the Beyond the Barriers report by the Spartacus online campaigning network, which concluded that the WCA is “inaccurate, unreliable and invalid” – but you won’t have heard anything about that on the TV or radio, or read it in the papers either.
Vox Political found it on the Centre for Independent Living’s website, The Fed Online, after being pointed to it by a link on social media. The article – from Friday (April 11) – said Beyond the Barriers was “backed by evidence from more than 1,200 sick and disabled people”, and drew on the best of the systems used by seven other countries.
It said the report “demands a new system that is ‘radical and ambitious’ and ‘inspires, enables and encourages’ disabled people, rather than the current ‘punishing, penalty-based system'”.
Kate Green said she would not want to scrap the assessment immediately, but would want to replace it as soon as possible.
She criticised the points-based format of the current, computer-based test, and its focus on a one-off “snapshot” of each claimant’s condition – which takes no account of fluctuating ailments.
But she also warned that the Department for Work and Pensions has been pushed into a “very fragile” state by its Conservative Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, with his hopeless Universal Credit project and problems with the new Personal Independence Payment and ESA – both of which were related to the work capability assessment.
She said a Labour government would have to be careful not to “knock the whole department over completely” with any changes.
This blog would rather have the whole DWP dismantled, with its work turned over to a new organisation – or several. It seems clear that the attitudes of the department’s heads, along with the damaging work ethic they have propogated, make the DWP unsustainable in its current form.
LabourList, the UK’s top political blog, added its support to Beyond the Barriers, with columnist Luke Akehurst stating: “It cogently promotes a viable policy alternative which protects the interests of disabled people without being profligate with public money.”
He continues: “The report calls for: ‘Work for those who can. Security for those who can’t. Support for all.’
“This is the language of Labour’s values. We could do a lot worse than implementing this report’s proposals if we get into government.
“Read the report. Get angry about what the Government has done to disabled people. And get organised to ensure our Party takes these excellent ideas, from disabled people themselves, seriously.”
How sad that Beyond the Barriers – and Labour’s reaction to it – has been ignored en masse by the news media. It seems a sensible response to this issue is unwanted in those areas.
And a senior member of the Labour Party supporting this sensible attitude would be a long way off-script for the right-wing press, whose mogul bosses need to depict Labour as even more crazed than the loonies in blue ties that their papers and TV stations support.
Still, there it is.
This blog now awaits the fevered response from commenters who have remained determined to trash Labour’s policies.
Let’s see you get your ignorance out, in the face of all the evidence.
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Finger-wagging rant: One tweeter commented, “You just KNOW IDS wanted to call Owen Jones a pleb back there…”
Iain Duncan Smith probably went home last night feeling satisfied that he had done his job well, putting forward his case for benefit cuts that will push thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of people out of their homes, on the BBC’s Question Time. After all, he had the last word, didn’t he?
Perhaps he didn’t count on the absolute twatting he received from the inhabitants of the social media.
Those who had seen the show wasted no time in putting forward their opinions about the clash between Smith and socialist “braying jackal” Owen Jones. Here’s what happened and what they said.
The question that sparked the clash was about whether the Work and Pensions Secretary’s plan to cap benefits would push large families out of their homes in London.
Yvette Cooper, also on this week’s panel, said the full consequences of the benefit cap and other measures being pushed through by the government were pushing up homelessness. “We’ve seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of families – families with children – living in bed and breakfast accommodation… That costs us a huge amount more… It’s a mix of the housing benefit changes but also the benefit cap – the way they have been introduced.”
Then Owen Jones stepped into the ring: “The reason this whole debate has become so toxic is a cynical demonisation campaign of people on benefits by the government,” he said. It’s as if he has been reading this blog.
“What they have tried to do is redirect people’s justifiable anger over ever-declining living standards from those at the top who’ve caused this crisis to people’s neighbours down the street. The working poor against the unemployed over benefits. Non-disabled people against disabled people. Private sector workers against public sector workers over pensions.” Absolutely correct, as pointed out and reiterated here many times in the past.
“Housing benefit is not going into the pockets of tenants, it’s lining the pockets of wealthy landlords charging extortionate rents,” he said, going on to utter something indistinct because others were talking over him. The impression I got was that he was saying successive governments, New Labour included, didn’t build council housing.
He went on to point out a statistic that the Tories have worked very hard to bury: “Most new claimants of housing benefit are in work; they don’t have enough money to pay extortionate rents.” Again, factually correct – and one must ask why employers do not pay enough. Why do they ask the government to subsidise the workforce?
“If we built housing in this country, we’d bring down the welfare bill, stimulate the economy, and create jobs.”
Having scored his first few points, Mr Jones went for the knockout blow. Although blocked in his first attempt to mention the disabled, he tried again: “There is a point that has to be made about the treatment of disabled people in this country, and there are two names I want to give Iain… Brian McArdle, 57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos. Another example – Karen Sherlock.”
For those who don’t know, Karen Sherlock was a desperately ill woman, suffering from kidney failure, whose Employment and Support Allowance was cut off by Iain Duncan Smith’s minions. She died on June 8 this year, apparently of a heart attack, after an operation was cancelled. Read her story here.
This is where IDS lost it. Irately wagging his finger in Mr Jones’s general direction, he barked: “We’ve heard a lot from you. I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration. We are changing their lives; I’m proud of doing that. Getting them off-benefit is what we’re going to do.”
What he didn’t say was, “We’re changing their lives for the better.” As for getting them off-benefit – that’s a threat, if there are no jobs for them to take (and there aren’t – or at least, not enough).
And that was the end of the programme. Owen Jones later commented that, as chairman David Dimbleby was finishing up, “a protestor yelled about Atos and left – not sure that will come across because it descended into total chaos.” It didn’t, but it would be interesting to know what their point was.
Jamie Laverty made a point about it: “Woman shouting about Atos on BBCQT – how symbolic. The BBC fails to listen to the people whilst giving the Tories a soapbox.”
Then came the verdict. Nathaniel Tapley saw through the Secretary of State straight away: “IDS thinks it’s unreasonable for anyone to receive more than £35,000 pa from the state. And claimed £98,000 in expenses last year.” Hypocritical? I think I’ve written a blog about that…
‘The UK today’ tweeted: “Only the wealthy moan about benefits for the poor but don’t complain about the bankers and shareholders who created the present problem.”
Mark Ferguson of LabourList tried sticking to the thrust of the question: “Shockingly, London MP IDS seems totally ignorant about the impact of his own government’s housing benefit cap in the capital. Astonishing.
“Build more houses, lower the cost of renting, save money on benefits. It’s not f*cking rocket science is it?”
To Iain Duncan Smith, it is. He’s a Tory, Mark! You’re suggesting they lay out money on public works. They don’t do that! Their plan is to hold money back, and use it to say they’ve balanced the books a bit more. Pointless and utterly unworkable in the long-term, but it is what it is.
Jenny Landreth made the point that’s been on everyone’s mind about housing benefit: “Do benefit claimants profit from their rent being paid? No. Landlords do. They are the reason the rents are high. HELLO?” Exactly right. Perhaps it’s time to change its title to one that is more appropriate, like Landlord’s Benefit?
John McDonnell MP applauded Mr Jones: “Well done for getting the tragedy of Mr McArdle and barbarity of Atos on the record. We must never forget or forgive this cruelty.”
Finally, there came the comments on the cabinet member himself.
Zoe Williams, Guardian columnist, tweeted: “‘we’ve heard a lot from you’ IDS says to Owen jones. Only narrowly avoids adding ‘oik’.”
Matthew Walker added: “IDS has finger wagging rant at Owen Jones – he just needed to finish with ‘you need a damn good thrashing, lad’ and it would have been perfect.”
Simplem+ths: “All that remained was for IDS to say ‘shut it you fu#@ing pleb best you learn your [email protected]#ing place'”.
And the amusingly-named ‘Jeremy Twunt’ concluded: “You just know IDS wanted to call Owen Jones a pleb back there…”
Isobel Waby went for the jugular: “Iain Duncan Smith is an insult to the British people. How dare he undermine the British people, insulting our sick, disabled, unemployed kids?
“He should be sacked NOW… MPs’ inhumanity to the less fortunate.”
And Gracie Samuels made the most telling point: “The lying bastard he’s killing people, BBCQT, and we were not allowed to discuss it.”
But Diana Foster put viewers’ fear into words when she tweeted: “Disability hatecrime up, IDS gets final say – giving impression he’s whiter than white and no disabled people are affected by reform. Disgusting.”
Well, if Mr Smith (I never call him ‘Duncan Smith’ because that kind of attempt at a double-barrelled name is nothing other than pretentious) is reading this, I wonder if he’ll still be putting that appearance in the ‘plus’ column. The net result, according to the public is that he is ignorant, cruel, an insult to the British people, inhuman, a lying bastard and disgusting. Wag your finger at that, Iain!
Since IDS got the last word on television, let’s give the last word here to Owen Jones: “Blimey, thanks everyone. But what a a shame that stating the bleeding obvious on telly is such a revolutionary act.”
Today’s blog entry will be relatively short. I had an operation on my leg yesterday (September 4) and it seems to be affecting my ability to think.
… And if you think that’s bizarre and illogical, let’s have a look at the decisions made by David Cameron in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle!
Firstly, the really shocking news: George Osborne is remaining as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not really news, I know, but at the outset it makes a mockery of a process that is supposed to be about improving the government of the UK. Osborne’s policies are a disaster; he has sent British industry nosediving while increasing borrowing by £9.3 billion in the last four months. He was booed when he got up to give out medals at the Paralympics and he was booed at Prime Minister’s Questions today. But he remains in the Number Two government job.
Also remaining in post are Home Secretary Theresa May and Foreign Secretary William Hague; Education Secretary Michael Gove surprisingly keeps his brief, despite having proved by his activities that he is not up to the intellectual challenge (see previous Vox articles).
And Iain Duncan Smith will remain at Work and Pensions – oh yes he will! – despite having been offered Justice by David Cameron. This shows the weakness of the Prime Minister. As LabourList’s Mark Ferguson put it: “Cameron tried to move IDS. IDS said no. Cameron said ‘ah…um…ok’. Weak, weak, weak.”
Fellow Tweeter Carl Maxim added: “Iain Duncan Smith was offered a job at Justice but refused to take it. Therefore his benefits should be cut.”
And a fellow called ‘Woodo’ tweeted: “Gove and Duncan-Smith to stay in roles to ‘get the job done’. ‘The job’ being making educating poor kids harder and killing off the disabled.”
Biggest winner in the reshuffle has to be former Culture moron – I mean secretary – Jeremy Hunt, who has been moved up to take the Health brief. This has been seen as a reward for his work on the phone hacking controversy that led to the departure of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson from the Downing Street press office, and to the Leveson Inquiry into the behaviour of the media.
This seems a nonsensical move. Leveson has ordered not only Cameron, but Cameron’s friends Coulson, Rebekah Brooks (who now faces criminal charges for her part in phone hacking), and Hunt himself to give evidence in hearings that were highly embarrassing for those under scrutiny.
Hunt’s own close connections with Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns the papers that were mainly responsible for the crimes, is well-documented, and led to this tweet from James Lyons: “BREAKING – Rupert Murdoch to buy the NHS.”
This may not be far from the truth. Hunt co-authored a book dealing with the NHS at length, with Daniel Hannon MEP who called the NHS a 60 year mistake. The book states: “Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain“.
He reportedly tried to remove the NHS tribute from the Olympic Games opening ceremony and his record in government is as dodgy: he voted to halve the time allowed for an abortion from 24 weeks to 12. His support of homeopathy has also attracted ridicule from some quarters.
Hunt’s arrival at Health follows the ejection of Andrew Lansley, the man who worked for eight long years on his Health and Social Care Bill, that effectively privatised health care in England. This work constituted the biggest lie this government ever sold to the public – that the Conservatives would safeguard the well-loved 64-year-old national institution. His reward? Demotion to become Leader of the House of Commons.
Former employment minister Chris Grayling, a man who believes bed and breakfast owners should be allowed to ban gay couples, has been promoted to the Justice brief. In response, one tweeter asked if Cameron will be building more prisons.
This means the oldest Cabinet member, Kenneth Clarke, has been ejected from Justice. David Cameron reportedly tried to sack him outright, along with departing Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi, but ended up compounding his weakness by creating new roles for them instead. Clarke will be a minister without portfolio (although it is believed he’ll be sticking his oar into Osborne’s business at the Treasury), and Warsi will be minister for faith and communities.
Nick Parry tweeted: “Now ‘Baroness’ Warsi really knows what it’s like to be Northern and working-class – she’s been made redundant by the Tories.”
And Rory Macqueen asked: “Who has replaced Warsi in the <issue off-the-shelf statement about “Labour’s union baron paymasters”> role? It looks really challenging.”
That would be tireless self-promoter and foot-in-mouth artist Grant Shapps.
Scraping the bottom of the barrel… The new Transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, is afraid of flying.
And the former minister for the disabled, Maria ‘Killer’ Miller, is the new Equalities minister. She’ll be victimising women, gays and ethnic minorities as well, from now on. If you think that’s harsh, bear in mind that she voted for a (heavily defeated) proposal to stop abortion providers like Marie Stopes counselling women, and is on record as being in favour of defining homophobia, racial hatred and prejudice as ‘freedom of speech’.
Beyond that, we’re into comedy territory. For example, Mid Wales Labour member Ryan Myles said: “Apparently David Cameron was planning on moving Eric Pickles but couldn’t afford the crane.”
All in all, it’s been a wholesale replacement of anybody with talent, by idiots. The tweeter who identifies himself with Yes Minister lead character Rt Hon Jim Hacker MP summed it up perfectly: “Expected a night of the long knives, may just be a morning of insignificant pricks!“
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