Strike: yes, junior barristers are earning less than the minimum wage and, yes, legal aid cuts are harming justice. So yes, barristers need to strike.
Barristers are striking because the Tories have created a legal system that gives justice to the rich and deprives it from the poor.
Watch this clip from Good Morning Britain in which Robert Rinder explains that low pay rates for barristers carrying out public cases mean people who cannot afford to pay top dollar are receiving a second-class service from the legal system – or no service at all:
That is why barristers are going on strike.
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.
George Osborne is a liar, from a party of liars – one only has to consider the UK’s secret bombing of Syria – after Parliament voted against it – to see the truth in that.
What an amazing piece in The Guardianabout George Osborne’s call for “progressive” Labour MPs to support his entirely regressive changes to social security (the only people who call it “welfare” are Tories)!
Will people believe this pack of lies?
The article starts by saying he has urged “progressive” MPs in the Labour party to back his cuts in a major Commons vote today (Monday) on the Tories’ Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
He wants Labour MPs – but more importantly, the electorate, to think that the plan to cut child tax credits (among other measures) is what the public wants, and also builds on “mainstream Labour thinking”.
This is moonshine.
Labour believes that the profits of all our work should be shared out to ensure a decent standard of living for everybody, including those who cannot work but contribute to society in other ways. For example, if you have children, then you get child tax credits because their contribution to society has yet to be made.
Removing the tax credits and lowering the standard of living – as the Conservative chancellor’s plans would do to many people – is therefore the opposite of “mainstream Labour thinking”.
Osborne also calls on Labour to “stop blaming the public for its defeat”. This is typical Tory gaslighting. As a party, Labour has not blamed the public. The prevailing mood in the party is that Labour needs to draw the correct conclusions from the election result and create policies that acknowledge what the public wants, while fitting Labour values.
That’s real Labour values – not George Osborne’s fantasy.
You can tell that Labour isn’t doing as Osborne claims. Nowhere in the Guardian article is any factual evidence provided to show Labour has blamed the electorate for its defeat. Harriet Harman is paraphrased as having said the party needed to recognise that the electorate had sent Labour a message – which is quite the opposite.
Osborne also fails to support his claim that the majority of the electorate support his cuts. The majority of the electorate voted against the Conservative Party on May 7, with the Tories managing to gain only a 24.3 per cent share of the possible vote and a tiny 12-seat advantage in Parliament. That does not indicate majority support for the cuts programme.
The article states: “Osborne sprung a surprise in the budget by proposing cuts to the level of tax credits, but balanced these in part by a rise in the minimum wage to more than £9 an hour by 2020 for those over 25.” Notice that the tax credit cut is immediate, but the minimum wage will only rise to more than £9 per hour in five years’ time. How are people supposed to survive in the years between?
Also, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the cut in tax credits, along with the other cuts that ‘Slasher’ Osborne wants to make, will remove £12 billion from the economy – but the minimum wage rise – when it finally happens – will only add £4 billion.
So the Conservatives want Labour to support an £8 billion cut in living standards for the people who can least accommodate it.
Osborne’s argument that the responsibility for ensuring decent living standards should be rebalanced, from the state handing out subsidies towards employers providing decent wages, falls because he has no intention of making employers pay decent wages.
Osborne also writes: “Three in four people – and a majority of Labour voters – think that Britain spends too much on welfare.”
Are these the same people who think 41 per cent of the entire social security budget goes on unemployment benefits, when the actual proportion is just three per cent?
Are these the same people who think 27 per cent of the entire social security budget is claimed fraudulently, when the actual proportion is just 0.7 per cent?
Are these the people who believe George Osborne’s lies, and the lies of the Conservative Government?
In case anybody is wondering, the figures quoted above are from a TUC poll that was carried out a couple of years ago. It seems that, with the help of compliant media (such as The Guardian?) the Conservatives have succeeded in continuing to mislead the general public.
Osborne continued: “For our social contract to work, we need to retain the consent of the taxpayer, not just the welfare recipient.”
The lies keep coming: “For those that can work, I believe it is better to earn a higher income from your work than receive a higher income from welfare.” If this was true, then he would have forced the minimum wage up to a point at which people would no longer need to claim tax credits in order to receive the same amount. He didn’t; he lied.
Osborne goes on to praise interim Labour leader Harriet Harman for capitulating to the Conservatives over child tax credits. There is only one reason he would do this – to undermine support for the Labour Party by suggesting that it really is ‘Tory-Lite’. Shame on Ms Harman for allowing this to happen!
His claim, “She recognised that oppositions only advance when they … recognise that some of the arguments made by political opponents should be listened to,” would be reasonable if the argument for cutting tax credits was sound, but it isn’t – people will be worse-off in this instance. If people were to become better-off afterwards, he might have a point. As it is, it is drivel.
His very next point confirms this: “A previous Conservative opposition realised [this] 15 years ago when it accepted the case for a minimum wage.” The Conservative Party only accepted this case in 2008, under David Cameron – a Tory leader who, when campaigning unsuccessfully for the Stafford constituency seat in 1996, had said it would “send unemployment straight back up” (The Chronicle (Stafford), February 21 1996). Even now, many Tory supporters despise the minimum wage.
Osborne ended with an appeal for “moderate” Labour MPs to vote with his party.
That would be the end of any credibility Labour has remaining, as a party of Opposition.
According to The Guardian, Osborne said: “The proposals are part of a common endeavour by Labour and the Conservatives to implement difficult welfare reforms.” Again, he is trying to make the public think Labour and the Tories are the same. Labour MPs would have to be complete idiots to help him.
Some of the complete idiots in Labour who have already helped him are, according to Osborne, “New Labour work and pensions secretaries such as John Hutton, David Blunkett and James Purnell [who] all tried to reform the welfare system… Alistair Darling [who] says tax credits are ‘subsidising lower wages in a way that was never intended’ [and] Frank Field… [who] agrees the system as it stands is simply ‘not sustainable’ and the budget represents a ‘game-changer’.”
Wouldn’t social security be a little more sustainable if George Osborne spent less time obsessing about wringing more money from those who can least afford to lose it, and more time getting his extremely rich corporate friend to pay up more of the £120 billion a year they are believed to owe in unpaid taxes?
Why isn’t Labour making this point, whenever Tories like Osborne start bleating that anything is “unsustainable”?
Off-message? Natalie Bennett launches the Green Party’s election campaign on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Environmental issues were startlingly absent from the Green Party’s election campaign launch today (February 24).
Instead, party leader Natalie Bennett concentrated on policies that encroach into traditional Labour territory – a wealth tax; increasing the minimum wage to £10 by 2020; half a million new social rented homes; nationalising the railways; scrapping tuition fees; and a people’s constitutional convention “with the aim of achieving democracy for everyone”.
Of course, Labour has already announced plans for a wealth (mansion) tax; would increase the minimum wage (although not as high as £10 per hour); wants to build 100,000 homes a year (making 500,000 in a five-year Parliamentary term); would launch a national rail company to compete for franchises with the private firms; would reduce tuition fees; and wants a constitutional convention to sort out the democratic issues that have been debated since the Scottish independence referendum.
You see, the differences are all a matter of degree. The Greens would do the same as Labour, only more so. The only question is, who will provide the money?
Where were the policies to reduce pollution with green energy?
Why did the Green Party not restate its position on fracking?
Why only nationalise the railways, when other privatised utilities have been misbehaving left, right and centre?
So many unanswered questions, yet this is a party that has grown exponentially over the past year. Doesn’t it owe its new members better?
One thing that won’t be part of the current election campaign is the Green Party’s aspiration for a “citizens’ income”, replacing personal tax allowances and most means-tested benefits with a £72-per-week basic payment for all citizens, regardless of income.
Green leader Natalie Bennett was unable to explain how such a policy would be funded in a previous BBC interview. On Radio 4’s Today programme this morning she said it won’t be something for the 2015-20 Parliament, but added: “A commitment to the citizen’s income will be in our manifesto… it’s a massive change in the welfare system and it’s something we want to consult on and offer over time.”
She said it was a long term policy idea, “moving towards a system, getting away from where we are now, where so many people are living in fear of not being able to put food on the table, not being able to keep a roof over their head. Citizen’s income is an important way of moving forward with that.”
Perhaps sensitive to criticisms that she could not explain how it would be funded, she said: “We will be releasing a full costing before the election. The costing won’t be part of the manifesto. The costing will be before the election but the commitment to it [the policy of a citizen’s income] will be in the manifesto.”
Moving to Radio 5 Live, the Green leader discussed her commitment to enforcing a maximum wage ratio between the highest and lowest paid within a company. This is another good idea which Vox Political supports.
Asked whether some kind of wage cap would prevent organisations attracting the best staff, she said, “I think you have to look at how much money motivates people” – implying that the amount of money people are paid is less important to them than people are led to believe.
Moving over to LBC radio, she floundered when Nick Ferrari asked how much a plan to build 500,000 social rental homes would cost.
“We want to fund that particularly from removing tax relief from mortgage interest for private landlords,” she said. Apparently she thought that would rake in no less than £6 billion a year – but fell back on her line about “a fully-costed programme” to be released before the election.
Someone should have warned her that she can use that line too often – especially when taking it in conjunction with fellow Green member Jenny Jones’ comment at the press conference that followed: “You can ask as many questions as you like about our manifesto but we won’t be answering them today.”
So why hold the conference – and the launch – at all? Press teams left confused at the behaviour of a party that trailed so many juicy-looking policies but was either unwilling – or unable – to provide the essential details that could make them seem workable.
The BBC’s Norman Smith (whose own credibility was dealt a serious blow by Ed Miliband at a Labour campaign conference a few weeks ago) summed up the general feeling by questioning the validity of a Green Party that was no longer significantly “green”.
“Most of the things they are focusing on have nothing to do with greenery,” he told the BBC News website.
“Transport, housing, tuition fees – yes – but saving the planet seems to have been shuffled off to the side a bit.”
Won’t that alienate the Greens’ traditional constituents?
He means business: Ed Miliband announces Labour’s plans for business and industry at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands.
The Labour Party has announced a series of new policies intended to improve conditions for both small and large industries in the UK.
They are the latest in an apparently-unending flood of new policies to be placed before the public since the ‘long campaign’ began in earnest at the beginning of the year.
It seems likely that they follow on from a series of in-depth public consultations, such as ‘Your Britain’, that the party has always said would contribute to the shape of its 2015 manifesto.
For once, it seems, a political party was not lying!
Labour announced yesterday, “Ed Miliband will emphasise that Labour’s plan for creating wealth does not rely on just a few at the very top but on boosting productivity in every business and sector of the British economy.
“[He] will declare that Britain needs a better plan for prosperity than the Government’s failing plan which relies on allowing the most powerful and wealthy to do whatever they want.”
Crucially, the party is emphasising that “this modern industrial strategy is a different approach for Labour than in the past because it seeks to support working families not simply through tax-and-spend redistribution but by building a more inclusive prosperity.”
Here are the key points, as described by Labour:
Labour will back small businesses and new entrepreneurs who will provide the growth and jobs of the future.
· Cutting business rates
· Improving training and apprenticeships
· Promoting competition in energy and banking to ensure market efficiency, lower bills and better access to finance
· Handing more economic power to every part of the UK with £30 billion of devolved funding
Labour will back our biggest exporters which need certainty to invest:
· Staying in a reformed EU and not taking risks with our membership
· Building a strong economic foundation with a tough and balanced approach to cutting the deficit
· Guaranteeing Britain has the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7
· Promoting long-termism by changing the rules on takeovers
Labour will back our big employing sectors such as retail and social care by tackling undercutting, with firms coming together to raise productivity and standards:
· Industry led bodies to raise productivity, like we have now in the car industry
· Banning exploitative zero hours contracts
· Raising the National Minimum Wage closer to average earnings – £8 an hour by 2020
· Offering tax breaks to employers who adopt the Living Wage
· Making it illegal to undercut by exploiting migrant workers
Labour will back every sector of the economy by ensuring the public sector plays an active part in driving up productivity by:
· Recognising its role in supporting cutting-edge innovation and research
· Making strategic investment and procurement decisions
In a speech at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands, Mr Miliband was expected to attack the current situation under the Conservative-led Coalition government: “When working people are held back, the country doesn’t prosper as it should. When families don’t have money to spend, it holds back our economy. When there is so much insecurity in the economy, businesses can’t plan for the long term. When people don’t have the chance to develop their skills and pursue a promotion, our companies become less productive and less competitive in the world.”
He was expected to promise support for both small and large businesses: “The jobs of tomorrow will come from a large number of small businesses, not simply a small number of large ones. Our plan recognises that. We will have a fairer tax system, keeping corporation tax the lowest in the G7 for large businesses, but also cutting and freezing business rates for smaller ones. We will create a British Investment Bank, supported by a network of new regional banks and more competition in business banking on the high street, to help small businesses grow. And a new Small Business Administration to co-ordinate work across government to help small businesses succeed.”
There are also plans to decentralise power, moving it away from London, and to help businesses plan for the long term.
That’s a lot of information to absorb in one go. What do you think of it?
It is now easier to report employers who fail to pay the minimum wage. [Image: The Guardian.]
Retail giant H&M and service station operator Welcome Break have been named and shamed for failing to pay the minimum wage – along with 35 other employers.
The firms were exposed after investigation by HM Revenue and Customs. They will be fined a total of £51,000 and must also pay affected staff the £177,000 they were underpaid.
This is not an example of extraordinary work by the Coalition Government, though. It is an example of HMRC actually managing to do its job properly, despite huge cuts to its staff and harm to its working conditions.
HMRC staff are to be applauded for their sterling work; managers less so.
The 37 “named and shamed” employers are as follows:
•Kings Group LLP, Hertfordshire, neglected to pay £53,808.91 to 53 workers
•Kings Group Lettings LLP, Hertfordshire, neglected to pay £26,893.43 to 49 workers
•Chi Yip Group Ltd, Middleton, neglected to pay £15,566.78 to 13 workers
•Kingsclere Nurseries Ltd trading as Abacus Day Nursery, Newbury, neglected to pay £12,904.19 to 8 workers.
•Ms Thap Thi Ly trading as Sweet N Sour, Fleetwood, neglected to pay £11,039.14 to 2 workers
•Michael Kearney trading as Electrical Estimates, Ceredigion, neglected to pay £5,557.91 to 4 workers
•ABC Early Learning and Childcare Centre UK Ltd, Wolverhampton, neglected to pay £5,329.25 to 68 workers
•C J Hartley Ltd trading as Headwork, Sheffield, neglected to pay £4,762.64 to 4 workers
•Mrs Kelly Jayne Lockley trading as Diva Hair Design, Walsall, neglected to pay £4,103.65 to a worker
•Browncow Tanning Ltd trading as Fake Bake Hair & Beauty Boutique, Glasgow, neglected to pay £3,406.66 to 2 workers
•J Wood Joiners & Builders Ltd, Edinburgh, neglected to pay £3,373.19 to 4 workers
•Louise Ross Trading as Luxe Salon, Leeds, neglected to pay £3,368.13 to a worker
•H&M Hennes & Mauritz UK Ltd, London, neglected to pay £2,604.87 to 540 workers
•Building Projects Ltd, Dundee, neglected to pay £2,345.85 to 3 workers
•David A Farrer Ltd, Morecambe, neglected to pay £2,261.00 to a worker
•Julian’s Hair Salon Ltd, Newbury, neglected to pay £2,131.35 to a worker
•Motorists Discount Store Ltd trading as TMS Autoparts, Manchester, neglected to pay £2,025.19 to a worker
•Ms Dawn Platts trading as Level 2 Hair Studio, Barnsley, neglected to pay £1,186.89 to a worker
•Myers and Family Ltd, Wakefield, neglected to pay £1.598.82 to a worker
•Welcome Break Holdings Ltd, Newport Pagnell, neglected to pay £1,318.70 to 19 workers
•Callum Austin Ltd trading as Jason Austin Hairdressers, Kettering, neglected to pay £1,899.66 to 2 workers
•Mrs Karen Riley Trading as Crave, Preston, neglected to pay £1,179.09 to 7 workers
•RPM Performance Rally World Ltd, Maldon, neglected to pay £998.71 to a worker
•Ego Hair & Beauty (Anglia) Ltd, Colchester, neglected to pay £985.55 to a worker
•Mr Jinit Shah trading as Crystal Financial Solutions, Middlesex, neglected to pay £941.65 to a worker
•Counted4 Community Interest Company, Sunderland, neglected to pay £930.73 to a worker
•HAE Automotive Services Ltd, Harrogate (ceased trading), neglected to pay £798.16 to a worker
•Vision on Digital Ltd, Ossett, neglected to pay £683.86 to a worker
•Ultimate Care UK Ltd, Ipswich, neglected to pay £613.79 to 7 workers
•Century Motors (Sheffield) Ltd, Sheffield, neglected to pay £571.72 to a worker
•Mr D Eastwell & Mr G Brinkler trading as The Salon, Letchworth Garden City, neglected to pay £409.85 to a worker
•Rumble (Bedworth) Ltd, Nuneaton, neglected to pay £404.41 to a worker
•Shannons Ltd, Worthing neglected to pay £313.76 to a worker
•Holmes Cleaning Company, Worksop neglected to pay £240.48 to a worker
•Learnplay Foundation Ltd, West Bromwich, neglected to pay £224.73 to a worker
•Adrien Mackenzie trading as Maverick Models, Manchester, neglected to pay £205.52 to a worker
•QW Security Ltd, Hartlepool, neglected to pay £126.20 to a worker
Workers had made complaints to the free and confidential ‘Pay and Work Rights’ Helpline.
The scheme was revised in October 2013 to make it simpler to report employers who do not comply with minimum wage rules.
Keith Lindsay-Cameron writes the popular ‘A Letter A Day To Number 10’ and is a friend of Vox Political. His latest missive to David Cameron takes a similar attitude to that adopted by VP yesterday, regarding the respect we should accord to a prime minister – and a government – like David Cameron’s:
Dear Mr Cameron,
No party has ever brought politics into such disrepute as yours, the disrespect you heap on the nation on a daily basis is outrageous!
Such statements as – “people who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks” as they have “the least to lose” – David Freud.
Iain Duncan Smith – “But essentially Universal Credit as a benefit will be the benefit by 2016 and the remains of the vast, vast majority of the stock will be in place pretty much by the end of 2017.”
Iain Duncan Smith, mocking reporters over his avoiding the bedroom tax debate – “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!”
David Scott, a Tory councillor from Tunbridge Wells – “The other area I’m really concerned about is obviously the disabled. I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the minimum wage.”
David Freud – “Now, there is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour.”
Alan Mellins, a Conservative councillor from Maidenhead, on Travellers – “Execute them.”
Then there are the routine lies and falsified figures, election promise lies, welfare lies, economic lies, NHS lies, really, you name it and it’s doubtless been lied about.
Last week in Parliament Square should be held up and remembered as a beacon of what your party is all about, the oppression of the people.
Respect is earned, Mr Cameron, and by heaven the people of this country are due some respect, but you are not. You have earned all the disrespect that can be heaped upon you as a silly, ignorant, rich boy playing at politics, serving vested interests, robbing the nation and worthy of our greatest disrespect!
The tweet seems to have been deleted by a DWP Press Office that should be deeply embarrassed (but probably isn’t). The tweeter quoted above is a person who is known to this blog and who may be trusted. It did appear; the DWP did send it.
It seems clear that the intention was, as Tentacle Sixteen sarcastically denies, to put this out from a fake account, complete with fake spelling mistake, to coincide with the barrage of pro-Universal Credit propaganda currently streaming from the @dwppressoffice Twitter account like a sewage leak.
Yet again, your government is lying to you.
It cannot go unnoticed that this has come to attention as the House of Commons debates the future of Lord Freud, who foolishly said that disabled people could be made to work for less than the minimum wage. As these words are being typed, employment minister Esther McVey is speaking – a woman whose own constituents have launched a campaign to remove her from government office.
This disgraceful Coalition government’s shameless and relentless attempts to brainwash us into believing its lies, while it continues its programme of harm against the unemployed, the long-term sick and the disabled, shames us all as a nation. It is a matter of huge regret that the United Nations has agreed to postpone an investigation into the behaviour of this government until after the 2015 general election.
Labour will force a Commons vote on Lord Freud’s future after David Cameron refused to dismiss him as welfare minister for his suggestion that some disabled workers are not worth the minimum wage, according to The Guardian.
The Conservative peer has been allowed to remain in his job after apologising for the comment, but Labour will table a motion of no confidence to be voted on later this month.
Separately, the Independent on Sundayreported that a second government minister had made contentious comments over the role of disabled people in the workplace. Andrew Selous, a justice minister, was said to have told a fringe meeting at the Tory party conference that “disabled people work harder because they’re grateful to have a job”.
Let’s answer the headline question straight away – because Tories think he’s right.
David Cameron might have said the words spoken by David Freud were not government policy but they certainly seem to be the policy of Jackie Doyle-Price, Conservative MP for Thurrock, who tweeted:
As a social Darwinist (along with all Tories these days, it seems), it is to be hoped that she appreciated the justice of what happened to her next, as the Twitterverse tore her comment to shreds and then started picking the bones of the carcass. Here’s a representative example:
Some got more to the point:
Responding to a criticism that entitlement to the minimum wage should be tied to the ability to do a job to a normal standard or speed, the response was:
Meanwhile, here on Vox Political, our poll on whether Freud should get the boot, despite having apologised, has been hugely popular. At the time of writing, there have been 1,890 responses. Of these, 1,834 called for his resignation (97.04 per cent), 51 said he should stay (2.7 per cent) and five didn’t know (0 per cent) [all percentages have been rounded up or down, which is why this poll appears to have a 100.1 per cent response].
The result seems decisive. The British people have spoken.
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