Tag Archives: off

Bake Off judge quits Tories over food standards. She was fine with all the other horrific policies

The media – in this case, the Mail – want to draw your attention to the fact that Bake Off judge Prue Leith has ended her membership of the Conservatives over a policy that her Tory MP son supports.

Isn’t it more revealing that she was only upset by the policy that directly affected her?

The Tories could do anything to other people and she didn’t mind at all.

Austerity has killed many thousands – Leith was quite happy about that.

Homelessness and hate crime did not stir her from her work.

She didn’t even bat an eyelid when her son voted to starve English children who have been forced into food poverty by the Conservative Party’s policies.

But the possible arrival of diseased foodstuffs from the United States has outraged her enough to quit her party membership.

I don’t know…

Does she really think the population of the UK need to be protected from low-quality foods, after thinking they didn’t deserve protection from Tory-led austerity, hate and starvation?

Or is it a pose she thinks she has to take as a media personality on a food-related TV show?

Here’s the relevant part of the story:

Prue Leith has quit the Conservative Party after the Government blocked an attempt to enshrine high food standards in law.

A Conservative source told The Mail on Sunday Ms Leith has … cancelled her party membership after growing unhappy with the Government’s stance.

Ms Leith’s son Danny Kruger, the Tory MP for Devizes in Wiltshire, voted with the Government on the Agriculture Bill, defeating an amendment that would have protected British farmers.

And here’s the public reaction:

Yes indeed.

I have never watched Bake Off.

Considering the fact that it has employed a person like Leith, I can honestly say:

I won’t be watching Bake Off in the future, either. Who knows what other abhorrent views are held by the people working on it?

Source: Prue Leith quits Conservative Party in protest at Government’s stance over foods standards | Daily Mail Online

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Coronavirus: NHS debt write-off is further evidence that the Tories only see it as a money machine

Matt Hancock: he has cancelled £13.4 billion of NHS debt – but now we find that it didn’t really exist anyway, except as a way of penalising patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced last Thursday that the government is writing off £13.4 billion of National Health Service debt.

Why has no Tory health secretary ever done that before?

There can only be one answer: because they simply didn’t want to.

As Richard Murphy states in his Tax Research UK article, the NHS wasn’t actually in debt to anybody – the money was owed by the government to the government. It was an item of book-keeping.

That book-keeping element was created to introduce hugely-expensive bureaucracy into the health system, that “diverted massive effort into corporate management, PR, and accounting when none of that was needed” as a precursor to full privatisation.

And it also removed the “national” element from the health service because trusts that run deficits are penalised by the Tory system; they have to try to recover the deficit and if they fail to do so, then they are told to recover more the following year.

This meant they were increasingly less likely to be able to provide the health care that patients needed; the money had to go to debt recovery instead.

That means the NHS is no longer a service to improve public health; it is a service to provide money to the Tories.

(And that’s before we even mention the cash that’s being leached away in contracts with private companies, that ends up in shareholder dividends instead of in treatment for patients.)

It’s as Noam Chomsky stated when he described the steps leading to privatisation: you defund, the system stops working, people complain, then you say the public system doesn’t work and commercialisation is the only way forward.

In other words, the Tories have been creating a lie that looks plausible, in order to fool us all into accepting the imposition of a private health service that we won’t be able to afford.

Hancock has written off the debt in order to make it possible for health trusts to buy in the resources they need to fight the coronavirus – which is good, right?

But when the crisis is over, the Tory system will still be in place, putting trusts in the most vulnerable parts of the UK back into debt and increasing health inequality.

Mr Murphy says the answer is to restore full nationalisation to the health service – ending the pointless bureaucracy that negates huge chunks of the annual NHS budget.

At a time when we’ve seen how the Tories left the NHS unprepared for coronavirus, he makes a good point.

Source: Writing off NHS debt of £13.4 billion is a charade. What is required instead is the renationalisation of the NHS: nothing less will do

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Tory corruption: Rich MPs get food and drink debts written off. If you’re poor, you have to pay!

Parliament: Apparently it’s not where the country is governed, but actually a place in which the filthy rich are encouraged to steal money from the very poor – nowhere more blatantly than in the bars and restaurants.

It’s the highest office in the land, yet who do we vote into it? The lowest excuses for humanity.

The Torygraph, of all mainstream rags, has revealed that four MPs, along with a peer, 21 tradespeople and a member of staff at the Houses of Parliament, have had outstanding food and drinks bills written off, to the value of more than £17,000.

They had refused to pay.

MPs earn a minimum of £77,379 a year, and peers take home £305 for every day they attend Parliament. But apparently that isn’t enough for them and they need to default on the bills in that organisation’s bars and restaurants – establishments that are subsidised by your taxes, remember.

Imagine if you had racked up a huge bill at such an eaterie – and then failed to pay. Do you think the owners would write off your bill?

No?

Do you think you’d be taken to court and forced to pay a lot more instead?

It seems more likely, doesn’t it?

So the question arises: Why are these – unnamed – culprits being allowed to force us – the taxpayers – to foot the bill for their gross indulgences?

I don’t know about you but I think that’s misuse of my tax money. We already pay these entitled oafs enough, especially considering the state of the nation, which is thanks to them.

It’s another example of Tory corruption. They allow this because they think our money belongs to them.

We need to find out who the thieves – yes, they’re thieves – are.

And we need to clear them out of Parliament.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

It’s all falling apart for Theresa May

Even the backdrop fell to pieces during Theresa May’s conference speech.

The ‘F’ fell off the slogan behind her. changing it from “A country that works for everyone” to “A country that works OR everyone”.

It rendered the line meaningless but is symbolic of a speech in which Mrs May’s voice cracked dozens of times and which she must have been delighted to have finished.

The ‘E’ subsequently fell off the other end of the slogan’s bottom line, after Mrs May had (mercifully) stopped talking.

What a disaster.

ADDITIONAL: I just found this image on Facebook, which sums up the whole fiasco:


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Cameron’s lies show he must go NOW, not later – and all the other Tories with him

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

David Cameron took to the stage and lied bare-faced to a no-doubt hand-picked audience of hired-handclaps in the finale of one of the most heavily stage-managed – read fake – Conservative Party conferences in history.

Not for the Tories, the open debate and honest disagreements of Labour! Even Boris Johnson’s dissent over tax credits was a cynical piece of attempted-press-manipulation (he voted in favour of the plan to cut tax credits a few weeks ago).

So Cameron mouthed a series of lies, platitudes and nonsenses similar to those of George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith on Monday and Tuesday.

“The British people are decent, sensible, reasonable, and they just want a government that supports the vulnerable, backs those who do the right thing and helps them get on in life. Good jobs; a decent home; better childcare; controlled immigration; lower taxes so there’s more money at the end of the month; an NHS that’s there for them, seven days a week; great schools; dignity in retirement,” he said – and that’s probably about right. But then he said: “That is what people want and that is what we will deliver.” A monstrous lie.

Cameron’s government:

  • Attacks the vulnerable (look at tax credits if you like, or the row over the many deaths of incapacity benefits claimants that could have been avoided if Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith had wanted to);
  • Backs tax fraudsters (the HSBC scandal);
  • Offers poor, zero-hours-contract jobs;
  • Pushes the poor out of their homes (bedroom tax).
  • The UK has been rocked by huge paedophile scandals on Cameron’s watch;
  • The Conservatives have failed to control immigration;
  • Lower taxes mean fewer public services because the money isn’t there to pay for them. The main beneficiaries are the very rich;
  • The NHS is facing its biggest-ever crisis thanks to Tory mismanagement – which is all part of Cameron’s plan;
  • Our schools are being sold off to private companies who intend to profit from them – your child’s education is of secondary interest; and
  • The Tories are being encouraged to cut benefits for pensioners – who will either be dead by 2020 (because of the removal of their benefits?) or will have forgotten who robbed them.

So Cameron’s first claim about the joy of Conservative government was a tenfold lie. It’s impressive – for all the wrong reasons.

And he knows he’s on shaky ground now. A new power has risen in the Labour Party to challenge the basis on which Cameron’s policies are founded – and did exactly that, on the doorstep of the Tory conference, this week.

So Cameron attacked Jeremy Corbyn with all the venom he could muster: “Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader. But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a ‘tragedy. No. A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York.” He was saying that Jeremy Corbyn is soft on terrorists and unsympathetic to their victims. Another lie.

Jeremy Corbyn wanted Osama Bin Laden to face justice for his many crimes. He wanted the man to pay for all the deaths he caused, and he wanted the terrorist alive to provide details of his network of co-conspirators.

By attacking Corbyn’s stance, David Cameron was in fact saying that both he and the Conservative Party support the murder of Bin Laden, rather than his capture, and that they are glad Bin Laden’s co-conspirators were allowed to continue, in freedom – perhaps to form IS or Boko Haram.

But we all knew that Cameron is a liar.

So here’s a statement that he made in the belief that it is true (we have to assume he intended to lie with the others): “I’m starting the second half of my time in this job.”

For the good of the United Kingdom – and the wider world – we must work hard to turn that statement into a lie.

Cameron doesn’t deserve to be Prime Minister of Britain for the next five minutes, let alone the next five years.

But the only way to get him out is to attack him, on every level, at all times, and all together.

Expecting someone else to do the heavy lifting won’t be any good at all.

So why not start by reading Cameron’s speech – The Guardian has a transcript here – and then getting in touch with your local newspapers, MP, TV stations, and Cameron himself and raising any or all of the moments at which he lied to the nation.

Put them all on notice. We know they are not to be trusted.

We know they have to go.

We have to make sure that happens soon.

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Why should we endure this disrespect from a public servant?

Awkward indeed: Iain Duncan Smith spent today's meeting with the man he tried to blame for the Universal Credit fiasco - DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux - sitting next to him. When Debbie Abrahams laid into Mr... Smith with the words quoted in the article, Mr Devereux was staring directly at him with an enormous smile on his face.

Awkward indeed: Iain Duncan Smith spent today’s meeting with the man he tried to blame for the Universal Credit fiasco – DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereux – sitting next to him. When Debbie Abrahams laid into Mr… Smith with the words quoted in the article, Mr Devereux was staring directly at him with an enormous smile on his face. [Image: Political Scrapbook]

“I can say with the strongest feeling my concern about the hubris you have demonstrated and your tone to this committee. You haven’t explained – certainly to my own satisfaction, and I am sure anybody that has been watching will draw their own conclusions – you have not made any satisfactory explanation about how you have informed, and kept this committee informed, about the difficulties that the Department was experiencing. There has been obfuscation, smoke-and-mirrors, even up to a few weeks before the report from the National Audit Office. The memorandum that was released in August was clearly saying that everything was fine and dandy. It is, clearly, not. I’ll give you one more opportunity to answer, so you can explain to this committee why there is such poor information provided by your Department.”

These were the words of Commons Work and Pensions committee member Debbie Abrahams to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith, just a quarter of the way through today’s (Monday) clash over Universal Credit and his Department for Work and Pensions’ appalling book-keeping.

Mr… Smith’s response typified the attitude that she was decrying. He said: “Well, I just don’t agree with you, and I don’t agree that we have done anything else but be open and honest about what the issues are, as and when they have been identified, and what we would do about them, as and when we had made our decisions about that.”

Oh, is that so? One of the first questions asked in the meeting was why Iain Duncan Smith did not tell the committee he had decided to conduct a ‘red team review’ of Universal Credit when he gave evidence to it in September 2012. He said the results had not been ready at the time: “With respect, I don’t have to tell you everything that is happening in the Department until we have reached a conclusion about what’s actually happening; I think I will take those decisions myself and account for the decisions that were taken.”

(He said “with respect” a lot. It became clear that he meant the exact opposite.)

Listening to the evidence again, it seems he tied himself in a knot, because he said the review had reported back in July of 2012, meaning there would have been plenty of time for him to make a full and formal account of his actions to the committee, long before September of that year.

His response? “It was an internal review.”

When committee chair Dame Anne Begg said the committee should have been told the plans were being reviewed as a matter of courtesy, and the September committee meeting would have been the perfect opportunity to explain that a review had taken place, “but at that session you were bullish about how successful everything was, Duncan Smith responded: “With respect [see what I mean?]… I don’t think this committee can run the Department.

This initial exchange set the tone for the entire meeting. Committee members asked questions and Duncan Smith treated them with discourtesy bordering on contempt.

He did not tell the committee about changes to the programme for rolling out Universal Credit because they were not fixed when he met the committee, he said – avoiding the fact that he could have at least said changes were taking place.

Universal Credit costs had not been written off, he said; they had been “written down” (meaning they were said to be worth less money now than when they were introduced). This seems like nonsense to anyone who has seen reports of the sums of money involved – anything from £40 million to £160 million.

Asked whether Universal Credit is still dealing only with single people at the moment, Duncan Smith sidestepped the question and responded that it was being rolled out in phases. Clearly he does have something to hide, even though he began his evidence by saying there had been no attempt to sweep anything “under the carpet”.

He said the whole (improbable) edifice would be working by 2016 – apart from cases involving the most vulnerable group, who receive Employment and Support Allowance. This is an extremely optimistic appraisal, as Duncan Smith is unlikely to be in office by then, and a future government may decide to scrap the whole project as a hopeless waste of millions of pounds.

There is no point in covering details of the whole meeting because you get the gist already. Iain Duncan Smith was determined to deny that he or his Department had committed any mistakes or wrongdoing, while giving away ample evidence that this was exactly what they had done.

And he was rude – at one point he told Glenda Jackson: “I have no idea what you’re asking… You lost me about five minutes ago.” Her equally abrasive reply, “You’ll have to try harder,” was drowned out as he muttered, “It sounds like a foreign language to me.”

The tone of the meeting was not lost on those who were using the Internet to watch it. Their attitude can be summed up in tweets from ‘Tentacle Sixteen’, who commented, “You’re not supposed to have a look of horror on your face when asked if you’ll make details of a public project public.”

He continued: “The most worrying thing out of this select committee so far is IDS’ constant assertion that he doesn’t have to tell people everything.”

And he concluded: “You’re a f***ing public servant IDS, you bloody do have to tell us everything.”

This is exactly the issue.

The information content of this meeting was zero – or as close to it as possible. What we got was a display of posturing, “hubris” – as Debbie Abrahams rightly identified it – and further obfuscation of the facts.

What the meeting did reveal was everything we need to know about Iain Duncan Smith. Here is a man who understands nothing about being a public servant. He thinks that, sitting in a plush Whitehall office, with civil servants running around clearing up his various disasters, that he is somehow above the rest of us and doesn’t have to justify himself.

He’s completely mistaken. He is there as our servant – to act in a way that suits us, not him. It is disrespectful of him to treat us this way.

But he just doesn’t get it.

If enough people had seen his performance today, he could have single-handedly lost the next election for the Conservative Party.

(If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can watch the meeting for yourself, here.)

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions.
Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy Vox Political books!
The second – Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook
The first, Strong Words and Hard Times
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Public and private debt reach record levels under ConDem Coalition

inflation

Household debt in the UK has reached a record £1.43 trillion, according to the BBC. What a marvellous achievement for Gideon George Osborne to put next to his already-record public net debt of £1.212 trillion (excluding interventions) or £2.184 trillion (including them).

If you’re surprised at that, don’t be – he needs to pretend that there isn’t any money so he can cut any services that are still left in the public domain after the fire sale of the last few years.

The Tory plan was always to increase private debt. Of course it was – if you cut public spending for people on the breadline, then they go into debt. Why do you think Wonga.com’s owner Dawn Capital is such a prolific contributor to Tory Party funds, with £537,000 in known donations this time last year?

The rich are shielded from debt problems in the same way they are shielded from taxation, thanks to the way our tax laws have been rewritten in their favour – all their money is safely tucked away in tax havens and can’t be touched.

On average, each adult in the UK owes £28,489. Some owe much more than that, though. Yr obdt srvt doesn’t owe a bean to anyone, despite being very poor, so that’s already £28,489 to be spread among everyone else. Mrs Mike isn’t in debt either.

The BBC report cautiously suggests that the record debt level “might increase concerns that the UK’s economic recovery [you know, the one they keep talking about on the news and in Parliament as if it actually exists] is based on increased borrowing, rather than growth sustained by rising incomes” – which of course is correct.

According to The Money Charity, total net lending by UK banks and building societies rose by £1.9 billion in September 2013 – that’s just in one month.

Over the four quarters to Q2 2013, they wrote off £3.67 billion of loans to individuals. In Q2 2013, the daily write-off was £7.61 million.

Based on the latest available data, every day in the UK 285 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt – that’s one every five minutes; 84 properties are repossessed; 1,447 people lost their jobs and eight people became unemployed for more than 12 months; 141 mortgage possession claims are issued and 113 mortgage possession orders are made; and 431 landlord possession claims are issued and 319 landlord possession orders are made.

The benefit system helps nobody. It has been redesigned specifically to push people further into debt – the cap on benefit rate increases to one per cent per year means people are two per cent worse-off for every year it continues, while inflation remains at current levels.

It is in this atmosphere that words written in this blog more than a year ago come back to haunt us all: “What do people do for money when the State fails them and they can’t get work? They fall into the debt trap.

“High-interest, doorstep lending to poor people is Britain’s latest – perhaps only – boom industry. In other words, the government’s sick benefits regime is forcing the poor into debt to organisations that will take away everything they have left, in order to make up payments on a loan whose interest rate they probably made up on the spot.

“And when they’ve taken everything, what do you do then?

“Do you really want your kids to starve?”

Why blame the civil service, Mr… Smith? They only do what you tell them to!

Don't blame Whitehall: Civil servants are highly-trained experts in their field; Conservative politicians are amateurs with opinions. Who do YOU think is responsible for the cock-up called Universal Credit? [Picture: Daily Telegraph]

Don’t blame Whitehall: Civil servants are highly-trained experts in their field; Conservative politicians are amateurs with opinions. Who do YOU think is responsible for the cock-up called Universal Credit? [Picture: Daily Telegraph]

Isn’t it a shame for the Tories that they hung their ‘welfare’ ‘reforms’ on an incompetent like Iain Duncan Smith?

Accused of wasting £140 million of taxpayers’ money on his white elephant Universal Credit scheme (or is it scam?) he can at least take comfort that the latest report followed his lead and fell back on what is now becoming a Conservative Party Standard Excuse: Blame the civil service.

That won’t wash, though. The real reason, as detailed in this blog previously, is lack of interest by Conservative Party ministers like Smith himself.

We call him ‘RTU’ because we believe his incompetence as an Army officer led to him being ‘Returned To Unit’ and eventually shuffled out of the service and it is this history that seems to be repeating itself here.

Let’s have a look at the “alarmingly weak” management for which the Secretary-in-a-State was rightly criticised by the Commons Public Accounts Committee this week.

We know that the project is now well behind schedule, despite protestations to the contrary from RTU and the Department for Work and Pensions. A planned pilot roll-out in April was restricted to just one Job Centre, where they handled only the simplest cases, working them out on spreadsheets because the IT system is open to fraud.

Since then it has been started in Hammersmith, in London, where its success or failure is not yet known.

It is now doubtful whether the project can still be delivered, on-budget, by its 2017 deadline. If it is, what kind of service will it provide?

Of the £2.4 billion set aside, £425 million has already been spent and a sum between £140 million and £161 million is likely to be written off, depending on whose figures you believe.

We know that a secretary was allowed to sign off £23 million worth of purchases because RTU’s systems were so lazy. Does anybody even know what this money bought?

“From the outset, the department has failed to grasp the nature and enormity of the task; failed to monitor and challenge progress regularly; and, when problems arose, failed to intervene promptly,” said Public Accounts Committee chair, Margaret Hodge. She described the system’s implementation as not only poor but “extraordinarily” poor.

And she said the pilot scheme was not a proper pilot, as “It does not deal with the key issues that universal credit must address: the volume of claims; their complexity; change in claimants’ circumstances; and the need for claimants to meet conditions for continuing entitlement to benefit”.

The report by the committee singled out the DWP’s permanent secretary, Robert Devereux, for particular criticism, saying he only became aware of problems in ‘ad hoc’ reviews, because reporting arrangements were inadequate and had not alerted him to problems. Even after he knew of major problems, he did not closely monitor the project, the report stated.

It seems Conservatives on the committee wanted more criticisms to be included, and The Guardian has stated that senior Tories have said they would accept Devereaux’s resignation, if offered.

Let’s face it: we’ve been here before.

Michael Gove’s Education Department is now in a terrible mess because he brought in a gang of “advisors” to operate “above” his officials – who have meanwhile faced huge cuts in their workforce and a disastrous fall in morale. Gove brought his ignorant mates in to force their foolishness on the professionals, as this blog reported in June.

That was when The Spectator weighed in against the civil service, lodging an advance claim that if Universal Credit flops it will be due to the civil service, but if it succeeds it will be a victory for Tory ministers alone.

what a lot of nonsense.

Civil servants do what elected Members of Parliament tell them to do. They pay attention to the wishes of their political leaders and apply their considerable expertise to the problems set for them, in order to produce the required result, within budget, while complying with the strictures laid down by those political leaders.

They are very good at their job.

If they are failing, then the problem must lie with the politicians. If a goal is unrealistic, then blaming the ‘help’ is totally unproductive – it only serves to make them hostile.

And, let’s face it, we’ve all seen sheep with more intelligence than Iain Duncan Smith.

*If you have enjoyed this article, you may wish to consider picking up the book, Vox Political: Strong Words and Hard Times. The site is not professional and receipts from the book are its only means of support. Its 350 pages contain a great deal of information that should be just as useful as this article, and it may be bought here, here, here, here and here – depending on the format in which you wish to receive it.

Are you going to let David Cameron abolish your rights without a fight?

Skewed view: This image (not mine) provides a startlingly accurate representation of the way British Conservatives see Europe. Do you honestly think they can be trusted to honour the human rights that European laws have granted us?

Skewed view: This image (not mine) provides a startlingly accurate representation of the way British Conservatives see Europe. Do you honestly think they can be trusted to honour the human rights that European laws have granted us?

You do realise what David Cameron means when he says he wants to re-negotiate our membership of the European Union, don’t you?

For a start, he means he wants to abolish laws that protect the human rights your ancestors fought tooth and nail to win for you.

He won’t make any deals in your interest. That’s not in his nature.

If he gets his way, you could lose the right to:

  • Written terms and conditions of work, and a job description – and the right to the same terms and conditions if transferred to a different employer.
  • Four weeks’ paid leave from work per year.
  • Not be sacked for being pregnant, or for taking time off for ante-natal appointments.
  • Come back to work after maternity leave, on the same pay, terms and conditions as before the leave started.
  • Health and safety protection for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding mothers.
  • Parental leave.
  • Equal treatment for workers employed through an agency.
  • Tea and lunch breaks during the working day for anyone working six hours or more
  • One day off per week.
  • Time off for urgent family reasons.

In addition, Cameron could relieve employeers of the legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers, including undertaking risk assessments, acting to minimise risks, informing workers of risks, and consulting on health and safety with employees and their representatives. In his cost-cutting brave new Britain you’d just have to take your chances.

Health and safety representatives from trade unions could lose the right to ask employers to make changes in order to protect workers’ health and safety, and they would lose their protection against unfair treatment by their employer for carrying out their duties in relation to this.

The ban on forcing children less than 13 years of age into work could be lost, along with the limit on the hours children aged 13 or more and young people can work.

Children who could then be forced into work, regardless of the effect on their education, would have no rules protecting their health and safety, and the rules that say they can only be employed doing “light work” could also be abolished.

Protection from discrimination or harassment at work on grounds of gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation – direct or indirect – could be dropped.

And the right of disabled people to expect their employers to make reasonable adjustments for them at work could also be abolished.

These are just your rights at work!

Cameron himself has said, as leader of the Opposition: “I do not believe it is appropriate for social and employment legislation to be dealt with at the European level. It will be a top priority for the next Conservative government to restore social and employment legislation to national control.”

And as Prime Minister: “Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.”

To find out what he meant by those words, we must turn to the former leader of the British Conservative MEPs, Martin Callanan, who said: “One of the best ways for the EU to speed up growth is to … scrap the Working Time Directive, the Agency Workers Directive, the Pregnant Workers Directive and all of the other barriers to actually employing people if we really want to create jobs in Europe.”

Of course, they distort the facts. These rules aren’t barriers to employing people at all; they are structures within which people may be employed responsibly.

The Tories want to ban responsibility in the workplace. They want a return to dangerous employment conditions, abuse of workers and the removal of any legal protection from such abuse that they may have.

They will tear apart your rights at work.

So, if you are living in the UK and you’ve got a job, please take a moment to consider what this means for you. You might agree with the Coalition on its benefits policy that has led to thousands of deaths of sick and disabled people; you might agree with its bedroom tax and too-low benefit cap that has led to a rapid rise in debt and homelessness among the unemployed and those on low wages.

But now you know they’re coming for you, too.

What are you going to do about it?

Are you going to sit on your thumbs and do nothing – just meekly wait for them to rock up and tell you they’ve abolished all your rights at work and you can now go and slave for them in appalling conditions with absolutely no legal protection at all?

In other words, when it’s you that’s threatened, are you going to let it happen, just like you let it happen to the sick, disabled, unemployed and low-waged?

Or are you going to take action and make a difference?

It doesn’t take much. You could write to David Cameron and to your MP at the House of Commons. You could email them – just look up the addresses on They Work For You, or you could add your name to the letter being created by Unions Together. Yes, I know Mr Cameron says the unions are a bad thing, but in this case the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

As the leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, Glenis Willmott MEP, says: “Our rights at work are not ‘red tape’ to be slashed away. Don’t let Cameron and the Tories get away with this great European scam.”

The only place benefit reforms are fair is Iain Duncan Smith’s mind

Getting ready to rumble: These Bedroom Tax protesters aren't going to take the government's changes lying down - oh, sorry. This is Ant and Dec. But a video of Bedroom Tax protests, set to their 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble', would make a strong point.

Getting ready to rumble: These Bedroom Tax protesters aren’t going to take the government’s changes lying down – oh, sorry. This is Ant and Dec. But a video of Bedroom Tax protests, set to their ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’, would make a strong point.

Newswatchers woke this morning to an announcement from DWP dictator Iain Duncan Smith that changes to the UK’s social security system that came into effect today are “fair”.

Was this an April Fool? One might reasonably think so, since he also trotted out the long-discredited line that it was about making sure “people find work always pays”. We all know that work won’t pay until people receive a living wage – the amount of benefit paid out by the government has nothing to do with that at all.

The measures, which are designed to put the squeeze on people who are genuinely poor and in need of state help, will actually ensure that families are around £900 a year worse off (some say “than when the Coalition entered government in 2010”, but some don’t).

The fact that they attack the poor shows that this government is intentionally ignoring the point – which is that those who caused the economic crash in the first place (bankers and the very rich) should by paying off the debts.

Instead, this government is giving a £100,000 tax handout to anyone on the top tax rate. Mr Smith’s ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ schemes drain hundreds of millions of pounds from the taxpayer and nearly £1 billion from the economy every year, while paying the vast majority of that money to rich business bosses, who ensure it is never seen again.

And Smith himself appears to have become confused about what he is trying to achieve. In the Telegraph, four days ago, he said: “If you listen to what I am saying, you will understand the reality is that this country is not cutting welfare, it is managing the growth at a lower level.” So the bill is increasing, is it?

But on the BBC website today he is quoted as saying the government was “trying to get control of the welfare bill and make sure it lowers.”

What is he doing, then – managing an increase or forcing a cut? Either way, the wrong people are being made to suffer.

In the same BBC article, a Liberal Democrat pensions minister called Steve Webb said the bedroom tax was supposed to help a quarter of a million people in Britain who are in “cramped, overcrowded accommodation – desperate for a family home and there aren’t enough homes and we’ve got to make better use of the houses we’ve got.”

Did the interviewer press him to admit that the Conservative policy of selling off council houses during the 1980s and 1990s was wrong? No. Opportunity missed there, BBC!

Remember: There isn’t enough social housing because the Tories sold it all off and pocketed the profit, rather than using it to build more. That’s why there isn’t enough to go around now. They created this situation.

And, if you’re in the overcrowded accommodation to which Mr Webb refers – or a victim of the Bedroom Tax, you are going to pay for it.

The simple fact of the Bedroom Tax is that it is a trap. The government says people can avoid paying it by moving to smaller accommodation, but this avoids the reality that such properties are not available – figures released by the Labour Party show that 97 per cent of the 600,000 affected households have nowhere else to go.

They have no choice but to take the loss in benefits and pay the difference themselves, while they appeal against the decision to include their household in those affected. Current advice is for everyone affected by the Bedroom Tax to appeal. Why make it easy for them?

The BBC website report goes on to damn the government’s other so-called “reforms” (the Conservatives use this word wrongly. A reform would make something better. These are simply cuts).

“It has been estimated that two million low income households [in England] will pay more, as a result of changes to council tax benefit,” the article states.

“Also from this month, most working-age benefits will increase by just one per cent – less than the likely rise in the cost of living.

“And later this month, an overall limit of £500 a week on claims is beginning in four London boroughs, and will come into force across England, Scotland and Wales over the coming months.”

Fair?

Only in the warped recesses of Mr Smith’s mind.

Those of you who watch the pop charts will know that Ant and Dec are enjoying considerable success with their new version of Let’s Get Ready To Rumble.

I mention this because there has to be enough footage of Saturday’s anti-bedroom tax demonstrations to make a decent video to synch up with that perfectly-titled track.

Would anybody like to put one together and post it on YouTube? It could be a smash hit.

In more ways than one.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political needs your help!
This independent blog’s only funding comes from readers’ contributions.
Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy Vox Political books!
The second – Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook
The first, Strong Words and Hard Times
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook