Tag Archives: Opposition

If Starmer hadn’t whipped Labour to abstain on #spycops bill, this support for murder, torture & sex crimes would have been defeated

Keir Starmer: he probably thought he was being smart but all he really did was get it wrong again.

Well, isn’t this interesting?

The tweet isn’t quite correct; only 20 MPs voted against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill that would authorise people from the Financial Conduct Authority (for example) to commit crimes up to and including murder, rape and torture in the course of an investigation – and they were all from the Labour Party.

But only 182 Tories voted for it.

If Keir Starmer had not whipped Labour MPs to abstain – and take note that exactly 182 of them did – then this endorsement of crime by a criminal government would have been stopped in its tracks.

Defenders of the Bill have claimed it isn’t as bad as some of us are saying – that spies working for the various government agencies would need approval to commit crimes before carrying out the acts for which the planned law would grant them immunity.

But the safeguards against abuse are said to be “very vague and very broad” and, as I mentioned in a previous article, there is the issue of “mission creep”: agents will end up committing ever-more-extreme crimes because they are told to do so on the spur of a moment, creating precedents to stretch what is permissible until it covers anything at all.

Take note: Starmer used to be a human rights lawyer.

But he just gave an insult to human rights a free pass to the next stage of becoming law.

And his supporters are trying to flood the social media with claims that he is a good thing. #StarmerOutstanding, they say.

He is outstanding. He is an outstanding threat to the well-being of you, me and everybody we know.

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/


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Are we really supposed to believe Labour’s leaders have changed over ‘welfare’?

Helen Goodman: Her amendment of the Conservative Government's 'Welfare' Bill is the best choice for Labour MPs.

Helen Goodman: Her amendment of the Conservative Government’s ‘Welfare’ Bill is a better choice for Labour MPs than that which was tabled by the party’s interim leader, Harriet Harman.

The news media are working hard to believe Labour has changed tack over the Government’s latest ‘Welfare’ Bill, after a rebellion by MPs – but has it?

It seems the party’s leaders have tabled an amendment to the Bill, saying what Labour will support and what it won’t – but child tax credits, the issue on which Parliamentary Labour Party members rebelled, is not mentioned at all.

Instead, it opposes the abolition of child poverty targets and cuts to Employment and Support Allowance.

Meanwhile, shadow ‘welfare’ minister Helen Goodman has tabled an amendment of her own, supported by more than 40 of her fellow Labour MPs, calling for the Conservative Welfare Bill to be rejected in its entirety.

Vox Political urges Labour MPs to support Ms Goodman’s amendment, rather than Ms Harman’s.

Interim leader Harriet Harman had initially proposed that Labour should abstain, rather than voting on the ‘Welfare’ Bill. This would ensure that the Conservative cuts are passed in their entirety.

Defending this proposal, she said on Sunday that, having been defeated in two general elections, Labour could not adopt “blanket opposition” to the proposed changes. This is a false argument. It assumes that the voting public avidly supports the removal of public money from people who need it. When was this proved?

Only 23 per cent of the electorate supported the Conservative Party at the election; 76 per cent opposed its policies. The vast majority of the UK population is against the Tory proposals. Labour MPs should bear that in mind – constantly.

Look at the words Harriet Harman used to justify her abstention call: “We’re not going to do blanket opposition because we’ve heard all around the country that whilst people have got concerns, particularly about the standard of living for low income families in work, they don’t want just… blanket opposition to what the government are proposing on welfare.”

So her solution is to let the Conservative Government pass legislation that will reduce the standard of living for those families? It doesn’t make sense.

If Labour’s vote on the ‘Welfare’ Bill is divided, perhaps that is what the party needs. It will show a public that mostly despises the Conservatives and the selfish changes they have imposed – which divert money from the poor who need it to the rich who don’t – that there are some members of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition who do still oppose Conservative neoliberalism.

It will also show the Labour Party that the way forward is to ditch the silly idea of ‘triangulation’ that suggests the Opposition party should support government policies, because making yourself like your opponent makes you more electable. This is silly, childish nonsense.

It also proves a well-used saying that it is madness to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Labour tried it in 2010 and again in 2015. It didn’t work.

Time to do what Labour’s supporters – especially those who have drifted away, thinking the party was too much like the Tories – want.

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Who voted to put fatcat energy bosses before their constituents? Here’s the list

130925energy

The Coalition Government has vetoed a proposal by the Labour Party to put people before profit and give the energy regulator for Great Britain a statutory duty to ensure that energy suppliers pass on price cuts to consumers when wholesale costs fall – if those suppliers fail to act.

The proposal was put to the House of Commons by Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint, and was dismissed with 305 votes against and 228 for – a difference of 77.

Of course, that wasn’t the point of the exercise.

The point was to show which of our MPs actually wants to help struggling households cope with the ever-increasing cost of living by helping them cope with their energy bills… and which of them would rather siphon your money into a Big Six shareholder’s pocket as profit (possibly with an eye on a possible seat on the board during their retirement).

Vox Political has the names of all those who voted. They are presented below in alphabetical order. If your MP appears in the ‘Ayes’ column, then they did right by you.

If your MP appears in the ‘Noes’ column, then they betrayed you. You may wish to consider voting for somebody else on May 7.

Here’s the list:

AYES
Abbott, Ms Diane (Labour)
Abrahams, Debbie (Labour)
Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob (Labour)
Alexander, rh Mr Douglas (Labour)
Alexander, Heidi (Labour)
Ali, Rushanara (Labour)
Allen, Mr Graham (Labour)
Anderson, Mr David (Labour)
Ashworth, Jonathan (Labour)
Austin, Ian (Labour)
Bailey, Mr Adrian (Labour/Co-op)
Bain, Mr William (Labour)
Banks, Gordon (Labour)
Barron, rh Kevin (Labour)
Bayley, Sir Hugh (Labour)
Beckett, rh Margaret (Labour)
Begg, Dame Anne (Labour)
Benn, rh Hilary (Labour)
Berger, Luciana (Labour/Co-op)
Betts, Mr Clive (Labour)
Blackman-Woods, Roberta (Labour)
Blears, rh Hazel (Labour)
Blenkinsop, Tom (Labour)
Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben (Labour)
Brennan, Kevin (Labour)
Brown, Lyn (Labour)
Brown, rh Mr Nicholas (Labour)
Brown, Mr Russell (Labour)
Bryant, Chris (Labour)
Burden, Richard (Labour)
Burnham, rh Andy (Labour)
Byrne, rh Mr Liam (Labour)
Campbell, rh Mr Alan (Labour)
Campbell, Mr Ronnie (Labour)
Caton, Martin (Labour)
Champion, Sarah (Labour)
Chapman, Jenny (Labour)
Clark, Katy (Labour)
Clwyd, rh Ann (Labour)
Coaker, Vernon (Labour)
Connarty, Michael (Labour)
Cooper, rh Yvette (Labour)
Corbyn, Jeremy (Labour)
Crausby, Mr David (Labour)
Creagh, Mary (Labour)
Creasy, Stella (Labour/Co-op)
Cryer, John (Labour)
Cunningham, Alex (Labour)
Cunningham, Mr Jim (Labour)
Cunningham, Sir Tony (Labour)
Curran, Margaret (Labour)
Danczuk, Simon (Labour)
David, Wayne (Labour)
Davidson, Mr Ian (Labour/Co-op)
Davies, Geraint (Labour/Co-op)
De Piero, Gloria (Labour)
Denham, rh Mr John (Labour)
Dobson, rh Frank (Labour)
Doran, Mr Frank (Labour)
Doughty, Stephen (Labour/Co-op)
Dowd, Jim (Labour)
Doyle, Gemma (Labour/Co-op)
Dromey, Jack (Labour)
Dugher, Michael (Labour)
Durkan, Mark (Social Democratic & Labour Party)
Eagle, Ms Angela (Labour)
Eagle, Maria (Labour)
Edwards, Jonathan (Plaid Cymru)
Efford, Clive (Labour)
Ellman, Mrs Louise (Labour/Co-op)
Engel, Natascha (Labour)
Esterson, Bill (Labour)
Evans, Chris (Labour/Co-op)
Farrelly, Paul (Labour)
Field, rh Mr Frank (Labour)
Fitzpatrick, Jim (Labour)
Flello, Robert (Labour)
Flint, rh Caroline (Labour)
Flynn, Paul (Labour)
Fovargue, Yvonne (Labour)
Francis, Dr Hywel (Labour)
Gardiner, Barry (Labour)
Gilmore, Sheila (Labour)
Glass, Pat (Labour)
Glindon, Mrs Mary (Labour)
Godsiff, Mr Roger (Labour)
Goodman, Helen (Labour)
Greatrex, Tom (Labour/Co-op)
Green, Kate (Labour)
Greenwood, Lilian (Labour)
Griffith, Nia (Labour)
Gwynne, Andrew (Labour)
Hain, rh Mr Peter (Labour)
Hamilton, Mr David (Labour)
Hamilton, Fabian (Labour)
Hanson, rh Mr David (Labour)
Harman, rh Ms Harriet (Labour)
Harris, Mr Tom (Labour)
Havard, Mr Dai (Labour)
Healey, rh John (Labour)
Hepburn, Mr Stephen (Labour)
Heyes, David (Labour)
Hillier, Meg (Labour/Co-op)
Hilling, Julie (Labour)
Hodge, rh Margaret (Labour)
Hodgson, Mrs Sharon (Labour)
Hood, Mr Jim (Labour)
Hopkins, Kelvin (Labour)
Howarth, rh Mr George (Labour)
Irranca-Davies, Huw (Labour)
Jackson, Glenda (Labour)
James, Mrs Siân C. (Labour)
Jamieson, Cathy (Labour/Co-op)
Jarvis, Dan (Labour)
Johnson, Diana (Labour)
Jones, Graham (Labour)
Jones, Susan Elan (Labour)
Jowell, rh Dame Tessa (Labour)
Kane, Mike (Labour)
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald (Labour)
Keeley, Barbara (Labour)
Kendall, Liz (Labour)
Khan, rh Sadiq (Labour)
Lammy, rh Mr David (Labour)
Lavery, Ian (Labour)
Lazarowicz, Mark (Labour/Co-op)
Leslie, Chris (Labour/Co-op)
Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma (Labour)
Lewis, Mr Ivan (Labour)
Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn (Plaid Cymru)
Love, Mr Andrew (Labour/Co-op)
Lucas, Caroline (Green)
Lucas, Ian (Labour)
MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan (SNP)
Mactaggart, Fiona (Labour)
Mahmood, Mr Khalid (Labour)
Mahmood, Shabana (Labour)
Malhotra, Seema (Labour/Co-op)
Mann, John (Labour)
Marsden, Mr Gordon (Labour)
McCabe, Steve (Labour)
McCann, Mr Michael (Labour)
McCarthy, Kerry (Labour)
McClymont, Gregg (Labour)
McDonagh, Siobhain (Labour)
McDonald, Andy (Labour)
McDonnell, John (Labour)
McFadden, rh Mr Pat (Labour)
McGuire, rh Dame Anne (Labour)
McInnes, Liz (Labour)
McKechin, Ann (Labour)
McKenzie, Mr Iain (Labour)
Meale, Sir Alan (Labour)
Mearns, Ian (Labour)
Miliband, rh Edward (Labour)
Miller, Andrew (Labour)
Mitchell, Austin (Labour)
Moon, Mrs Madeleine (Labour)
Morden, Jessica (Labour)
Morrice, Graeme (Livingston) (Labour)
Morris, Grahame M. (Easington) (Labour)
Munn, Meg (Labour/Co-op)
Murphy, rh Mr Jim (Labour)
Murphy, rh Paul (Labour)
Murray, Ian (Labour)
Nandy, Lisa (Labour)
Nash, Pamela (Labour)
O’Donnell, Fiona (Labour)
Onwurah, Chi (Labour)
Osborne, Sandra (Labour)
Owen, Albert (Labour)
Pearce, Teresa (Labour)
Perkins, Toby (Labour)
Pound, Stephen (Labour)
Powell, Lucy (Labour)
Qureshi, Yasmin (Labour)
Raynsford, rh Mr Nick (Labour)
Reed, Mr Jamie (Labour)
Reeves, Rachel (Labour)
Reynolds, Emma (Labour)
Riordan, Mrs Linda (Labour/Co-op)
Ritchie, Ms Margaret (Social Democratic & Labour Party)
Robertson, John (Labour)
Robinson, Mr Geoffrey (Labour)
Rotheram, Steve (Labour)
Roy, Mr Frank (Labour)
Ruane, Chris (Labour)
Ruddock, rh Dame Joan (Labour)
Sarwar, Anas (Labour)
Sawford, Andy (Labour/Co-op)
Seabeck, Alison  (Labour)
Sharma, Mr Virendra (Labour)
Sheerman, Mr Barry (Labour/Co-op)
Sheridan, Jim (Labour)
Shuker, Gavin (Labour/Co-op)
Skinner, Mr Dennis (Labour)
Slaughter, Mr Andy (Labour)
Smith, Angela (Labour)
Smith, Nick (Labour)
Smith, Owen (Labour)
Spellar, rh Mr John (Labour)
Straw, rh Mr Jack (Labour)
Stringer, Graham (Labour)
Stuart, Ms Gisela (Labour)
Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry (Labour)
Tami, Mark (Labour)
Thornberry, Emily (Labour)
Timms, rh Stephen (Labour)
Trickett, Jon (Labour)
Turner, Karl (Labour)
Twigg, Derek (Labour)
Twigg, Stephen (Labour/Co-op)
Umunna, Mr Chuka (Labour)
Vaz, rh Keith (Labour)
Vaz, Valerie (Labour)
Walley, Joan (Labour)
Watson, Mr Tom (Labour)
Weir, Mr Mike (SNP)
Whitehead, Dr Alan (Labour)
Williams, Hywel (Plaid Cymru)
Williamson, Chris (Labour)
Wilson, Sammy (Democratic Unionist)
Winnick, Mr David (Labour)
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie (Labour)
Wishart, Pete (SNP)
Woodcock, John (Labour/Co-op)
Wright, David (Labour)
Wright, Mr Iain (Labour)

Tellers for the Ayes:
Bridget Phillipson (Labour)
and
Nic Dakin (Labour)

NOES
Adams, Nigel (Con)
Afriyie, Adam (Con)
Aldous, Peter (Con)
Amess, Sir David (Con)
Andrew, Stuart (Con)
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James (Con)
Bacon, Mr Richard (Con)
Baker, Steve (Con)
Baldry, rh Sir Tony (Con)
Barclay, Stephen (Con)
Barker, rh Gregory (Con)
Baron, Mr John (Con)
Barwell, Gavin (Con)
Bebb, Guto (Con)
Beith, rh Sir Alan (LD)
Bellingham, Mr Henry (Con)
Benyon, Richard (Con)
Beresford, Sir Paul (Con)
Berry, Jake (Con)
Bingham, Andrew (Con)
Binley, Mr Brian (Con)
Birtwistle, Gordon (LD)
Blackman, Bob (Con)
Blackwood, Nicola (Con)
Blunt, Crispin (Con)
Boles, Nick (Con)
Bone, Mr Peter (Con)
Bottomley, Sir Peter (Con)
Brady, Mr Graham (Con)
Brake, rh Tom (LD)
Bray, Angie (Con)
Brazier, Mr Julian (Con)
Brine, Steve (Con)
Brokenshire, James (Con)
Brooke, rh Annette (LD)
Browne, Mr Jeremy (LD)
Bruce, Fiona (Con)
Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm (LD)
Burley, Mr Aidan (Con)
Burns, Conor (Con)
Burns, rh Mr Simon (Con)
Burstow, rh Paul (LD)
Burt, rh Alistair (Con)
Burt, Lorely (LD)
Byles, Dan (Con)
Cable, rh Vince (LD)
Cairns, Alun (Con)
Carmichael, Neil (LD)
Carswell, Douglas (UKIP)
Cash, Sir William (Con)
Chapman, Jenny (Labour)
Chishti, Rehman (Con)
Clappison, Mr James (Con)
Clark, rh Greg (Con)
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth (Con)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey (Con)
Collins, Damian (Con)
Colvile, Oliver (Con)
Cox, Mr Geoffrey (Con)
Crabb, rh Stephen (Con)
Crockart, Mike (LD)
Crouch, Tracey (Con)
Davey, rh Mr Edward (LD)
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth) (Con)
Davies, Glyn (Con)
Davies, Philip (Con)
de Bois, Nick (Con)
Dinenage, Caroline (Con)
Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen (Con)
Doyle-Price, Jackie (Con)
Drax, Richard (Con)
Duncan, rh Sir Alan (Con)
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain (Con)
Dunne, Mr Philip (Con)
Ellis, Michael (Con)
Ellison, Jane (Con)
Elphicke, Charlie (Con)
Eustice, George (Con)
Evans, Graham (Con)
Evans, Jonathan (Con)
Evans, Mr Nigel (Con)
Evennett, Mr David (Con)
Fabricant, Michael (Con)
Fallon, rh Michael (Con)
Farron, Tim (LD)
Field, Mark (Con)
Foster, rh Mr Don (LD)
Fox, rh Dr Liam (Con)
Francois, rh Mr Mark (Con)
Freer, Mike (Con)
Fullbrook, Lorraine (Con)
Fuller, Richard (Con)
Gale, Sir Roger (Con)
Garnier, Sir Edward (Con)
Garnier, Mark (Con)
Gauke, Mr David (Con)
George, Andrew (LD)
Gibb, Mr Nick (Con)
Gilbert, Stephen (LD)
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl (Con)
Glen, John (Con)
Goldsmith, Zac (Con)
Goodwill, Mr Robert (Con)
Graham, Richard (Con)
Grant, Mrs Helen (Con)
Gray, Mr James (Con)
Green, rh Damian (Con)
Greening, rh Justine (Con)
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic (Con)
Griffiths, Andrew (Con)
Gummer, Ben (Con)
Gyimah, Mr Sam (Con)
Hague, rh Mr William (Con)
Halfon, Robert (Con)
Hames, Duncan (LD)
Hammond, Stephen (Con)
Hands, rh Greg (Con)
Harper, Mr Mark (Con)
Harrington, Richard (Con)
Harris, Rebecca (Con)
Hart, Simon (Con)
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan (Con)
Hayes, rh Mr John (Con)
Heald, Sir Oliver (Con)
Heaton-Harris, Chris (Con)
Hemming, John (LD)
Henderson, Gordon (Con)
Hendry, Charles (Con)
Herbert, rh Nick (Con)
Hinds, Damian (Con)
Hoban, Mr Mark (Con)
Hollingbery, George (Con)
Hollobone, Mr Philip (Con)
Holloway, Mr Adam (Con)
Hopkins, Kris (Con)
Horwood, Martin (LD)
Howarth, Sir Gerald (Con)
Howell, John (Con)
Hughes, rh Simon (LD)
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy (Con)
Huppert, Dr Julian (LD)
Hurd, Mr Nick (Con)
Jackson, Mr Stewart (Con)
James, Margot (Con)
Jenkin, Mr Bernard (Con)
Jenrick, Robert (Con)
Johnson, Gareth (Con)
Johnson, Joseph (Con)
Jones, Andrew (Con)
Jones, rh Mr David (Con)
Jones, Mr Marcus (Con)
Kawczynski, Daniel (Con)
Kelly, Chris (Con)
Kennedy, rh Mr Charles (LD)
Kirby, Simon (Con)
Kwarteng, Kwasi (Con)
Lamb, rh Norman (LD)
Latham, Pauline (Con)
Leadsom, Andrea (Con)
Lee, Dr Phillip (Con)
Leech, Mr John (LD)
Leigh, Sir Edward (Con)
Lewis, Brandon (Con)
Lewis, Dr Julian (Con)
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian (Con)
Lidington, rh Mr David (Con)
Lilley, rh Mr Peter (Con)
Lloyd, Stephen (LD)
Lopresti, Jack (Con)
Loughton, Tim (Con)
Luff, Sir Peter (Con)
Lumley, Karen (Con)
Macleod, Mary (Con)
Main, Mrs Anne (Con)
Maude, rh Mr Francis (Con)
Maynard, Paul (Con)
McCartney, Jason (Con)
McCartney, Karl (Con)
McIntosh, Miss Anne (Con)
McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick (Con)
McPartland, Stephen (Con)
McVey, rh Esther (Con)
Menzies, Mark (Con)
Metcalfe, Stephen (Con)
Miller, rh Maria (Con)
Mills, Nigel (Con)
Milton, Anne (Con)
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew (Con)
Moore, rh Michael (LD)
Mordaunt, Penny (Con)
Morgan, rh Nicky (Con)
Morris, Anne Marie (Con)
Morris, David (Con)
Morris, James (Con)
Mosley, Stephen (Con)
Mowat, David (Con)
Mulholland, Greg (LD)
Mundell, rh David (Con)
Murray, Sheryll (Con)
Murrison, Dr Andrew (Con)
Newmark, Mr Brooks (Con)
Newton, Sarah (Con)
Nokes, Caroline (Con)
Norman, Jesse (Con)
Nuttall, Mr David (Con)
Offord, Dr Matthew (Con)
Ollerenshaw, Eric (Con)
Opperman, Guy (Con)
Ottaway, rh Sir Richard (Con)
Paice, rh Sir James (Con)
Parish, Neil (Con)
Patel, Priti (Con)
Paterson, rh Mr Owen (Con)
Pawsey, Mark (Con)
Penning, rh Mike (Con)
Penrose, John (Con)
Percy, Andrew (Con)
Perry, Claire (Con)
Phillips, Stephen (Con)
Pickles, rh Mr Eric (Con)
Pincher, Christopher (Con)
Poulter, Dr Daniel (Con)
Pugh, John (LD)
Raab, Mr Dominic (Con)
Randall, rh Sir John (Con)
Reckless, Mark (UKIP)
Redwood, rh Mr John (Con)
Rees-Mogg, Jacob (Con)
Reevell, Simon (Con)
Reid, Mr Alan (LD)
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm (Con)
Robathan, rh Mr Andrew (Con)
Robertson, rh Sir Hugh (Con)
Robertson, Mr Laurence (Con)
Rogerson, Dan (LD)
Rosindell, Andrew (Con)
Rudd, Amber (Con)
Russell, Sir Bob (LD)
Rutley, David (Con)
Sanders, Mr Adrian (LD)
Scott, Mr Lee (Con)
Selous, Andrew (Con)
Shelbrooke, Alec (Con)
Shepherd, Sir Richard (Con)
Simmonds, rh Mark (Con)
Simpson, Mr Keith (Con)
Skidmore, Chris (Con)
Smith, Chloe (Con)
Smith, Henry (Con)
Smith, Julian (Con)
Smith, Sir Robert (LD)
Soames, rh Sir Nicholas (Con)
Soubry, Anna (Con)
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline (Con)
Stanley, rh Sir John (Con)
Stephenson, Andrew (Con)
Stevenson, John (Con)
Stewart, Bob (Con)
Stewart, Iain (Con)
Stewart, Rory (Con)
Streeter, Mr Gary (Con)
Stride, Mel (Con)
Stuart, Mr Graham (Con)
Stunell, rh Sir Andrew (LD)
Sturdy, Julian (Con)
Swales, Ian (LD)
Swayne, rh Mr Desmond (Con)
Swire, rh Mr Hugo (Con)
Syms, Mr Robert (Con)
Thornton, Mike (LD)
Thurso, rh John (LD)
Tomlinson, Justin (Con)
Tredinnick, David (Con)
Turner, Mr Andrew (Con)
Tyrie, Mr Andrew (Con)
Uppal, Paul (Con)
Vaizey, Mr Edward (Con)
Vara, Mr Shailesh (Con)
Vickers, Martin (Con)
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa (Con)
Walker, Mr Charles (Con)
Walker, Mr Robin (Con)
Wallace, Mr Ben (Con)
Walter, Mr Robert (Con)
Ward, Mr David (LD)
Watkinson, Dame Angela (Con)
Webb, rh Steve (LD)
Wheeler, Heather (Con)
White, Chris (Con)
Whittaker, Craig (Con)
Whittingdale, Mr John (Con)
Wiggin, Bill (Con)
Willetts, rh Mr David (Con)
Williams, Mr Mark (LD)
Williams, Roger (LD)
Williams, Stephen (LD)
Williamson, Gavin (Con)
Willott, rh Jenny (LD)
Wilson, Mr Rob (Con)
Wollaston, Dr Sarah (Con)
Wright, rh Jeremy (Con)
Wright, Simon (LD)
Yeo, Mr Tim (Con)
Young, rh Sir George (Con)
Zahawi, Nadhim (Con)

Tellers for the Noes:
Harriett Baldwin (Con)
and
Dr Thérèse Coffey (Con)

Basically, if your MP is a Conservative or a Liberal Democrat, they don’t represent you; they represent corporate bosses.

Also, how interesting to see the two UKIP turncoats, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, voting with their former Tory colleagues again. “The People’s Army” – what a joke.

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DWP debate highlights Duncan Smith’s failure to perform

“This particular Secretary of State, along with his Department, is pushing people through [the] cracks and hoping that the rest of the country will not notice that they have disappeared.” – Glenda Jackson MP, June 30, 2014.

Yesterday’s Parliamentary debate on the performance of the Department for Work and Pensions under Iain Duncan Smith was more like a trial, with witnesses lining up to condemn the accused.

If the man this blog likes to call RTU (Returned To Unit) thought he would be able to show that his behaviour had improved, he was sorely mistaken – as the comment above illustrates.

It is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.

But we were discussing the debate as a trial. Let us first look at the evidence in favour of the government.

There. That was illuminating, wasn’t it?

Seriously, the government benches were unable to put up a single supportable point against the mountain of evidence put forward by Labour.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary-in-a-State, resorted yet again to his favourite tactic – and one for which he should have been sacked as an MP long ago – lying to Parliament. He accused Labour of leaving behind a “shambles” – in fact the economy had begun to improve under intelligent guidance from Alistair Darling. “The economy was at breaking point,” he said – in fact the British economy cannot break; it simply doesn’t work that way. His claim that “We were burdened with the largest deficit in peacetime history” is only supportable in money terms, and then only because inflation means the pound is worth so much less than it was in, say, the 1940s – or for the entire century between 1750 and 1850. He called yesterday’s debate “a cynical nugget of short-term policy to put to the unions,” but the evidence below renders that completely irrelevant.

He said complaints about long delivery times for benefits were “out of date” – a common excuse. He’ll do the same in a few months, when the same complaint is raised again.

“Universal Credit is rolling out to the timescale I set last year,” he insisted – but we all know that it has been ‘reset’ (whatever that means) by the government’s Major Projects Authority.

He said there had been four independent reviews of the work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, with more than 50 recommendations by Sir Malcolm Harrington accepted by the government. This was a lie. We know that almost two-thirds of the 25 recommendations he made in his first review were not fully or successfully implemented.

He said appeals against ESA decisions “are down by just under 90 per cent” – but we know that this is because of the government’s unfair and prejudicial mandatory reconsideration scheme – and that the DWP was bringing in a new provider to carry out work capability assessments. Then he had to admit that this provider has not yet been chosen! And the backlog of claims mounts up.

He tried to justify his hugely expensive botched IT schemes by pointing at a Labour scheme for the Child Support Agency that wasted hundreds of millions less than his Universal Credit, without acknowledging the obvious flaw in his argument: If he knew about this mistake, why is he repeating it?

Conservative Mark Harper said Labour opposed the Tories’ most popular scheme – the benefit cap. That was a lie. Labour supported the cap, but would have set it at a higher level. We know that the Coalition government could not do this because it would not, then, have made the huge savings they predicted.

Now, the evidence against.

First up is Rachel Reeves, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions: “After £612 million being spent, including £131 million written off or ‘written down’, the introduction of Universal Credit is now years behind schedule with no clear plan for how, when, or whether full implementation will be achievable or represent value for money.

Over 700,000 people are still waiting for a Work Capability Assessment, and… projected spending on Employment and Support Allowance has risen by £800 million since DecemberThe Government [is] still not able to tell us which provider will replace Atos.

Personal Independence Payment delays have created uncertainty, stress and financial costs for disabled people and additional budgetary pressures for Government… Desperate people, many of whom have been working and paying into the system for years or decades and are now struck by disability or illness, waiting six months or more for help from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Work Programme has failed to meet its targets, the unfair bedroom tax risks costing more than it saves, and other DWP programmes are performing poorly or in disarray.

“Spending on housing benefit for people who are in work has gone up by more than 60 per cent, reflecting the fact that more people are in low-paid or insecure work and are unable to make ends meet, even though they may be working all the hours God sends.

“More than five million people — 20 per cent of the workforce — are paid less than the living wage. Furthermore, 1.5 million people are on zero-hours contracts and 1.4 million people are working part time who want to work full time.

“This… is about the young woman diagnosed with a life-limiting illness who has waited six months for any help with her living costs. It is about the disabled man whose payments have been stopped because he did not attend an interview to which he was never invited.

“The Government are wasting more and more taxpayers’ money on poorly planned and disastrously managed projects, and are allowing in-work benefits to spiral because of their failure to tackle the low pay and insecurity that are adding billions of pounds to the benefits bill.

“The Government are careless with the contributions that people make to the system, callous about the consequences of their incompetence for the most vulnerable, and too arrogant to admit mistakes and engage seriously with the task of sorting out their own mess.

“What this Government have now totally failed to do is to remember the human impact, often on people in vulnerable circumstances, of this catalogue of chaos. Behind the bureaucratic language and spreadsheets showing backlogs and overspends are people in need who are being let down and mistreated, and taxpayers who can ill afford the mismanagement and waste of their money.

“To fail to deliver on one policy might be considered unfortunate; to miss one’s targets on two has to be judged careless; but to make such a complete mess of every single initiative the Secretary of State has attempted requires a special gift. It is something like a Midas touch: everything he touches turns into a total shambles.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State will spew out dodgy statistics, rant and rave about Labour’s record, say “on time and on budget” until he is blue in the face and, in typical Tory style, blame the staff for everything that goes wrong.”

Julie Hilling (Labour) provides this: “The Government do not know what they are talking about… They talk about the number of jobs being created, but they do not know how many of them are on zero-hours contracts or how many are on Government schemes or how many have been transferred from the public sector.”

Stephen Doughty (Labour/Co-op): “another stark indictment of their policies is the massive increase in food banks across this country.”

Helen Jones (Labour): “When I asked how many people in my constituency had been waiting more than six months or three months for medical assessments for personal independence payment, the Government told me that the figures were not available. In other words, they are not only incompetent; they do not know how incompetent they are!”

Sheila Gilmore (Labour): “Although the problems with Atos were known about—and it is now being suggested that they had been known about for some time—a contract was given to that organisation for PIP. Was due diligence carried out before the new contract was issued?”

Gordon Marsden (Labour): “Many of my constituents have been caught by the double whammy of delays involving, first, the disability living allowance and now PIP. They have waited long periods for a resolution, but because a decision is being reconsidered, their Motability — the lifeline that has enabled them to get out of their homes — has been taken away before that decision has been made. Is that not a horrendous indictment of the Government?”

Emily Thornberry (Labour): “I have been making freedom of information requests.. in relation to mandatory reconsiderations. When people get their work capability assessment, and it has failed, before they can appeal there has to be a mandatory reconsideration. The Department does not know how many cases have been overturned, how many claimants have been left without any money and how long the longest period is for reconsideration. It cannot answer a single one of those questions under a freedom of information request.”

Natascha Engel (Labour): “The welfare state is designed as a safety net to catch people who absolutely cannot help themselves… That safety net is being withdrawn under this government, which is certainly pushing some of my constituents into destitution.”

There was much more, including the devastating speech by Glenda Jackson, partly in response to Natascha Engels’ comments, that is reproduced in the video clip above.

The vote – for the House of Commons to recognise that the DWP was in chaos and disarray – was lost (of course). A government with a majority will never lose such a vote.

But once again, the debate was won by the opposition. They had all the facts; all the government had were lies and fantasies.

By now, one suspects we all know somebody who has died as a result of Coalition government polices on welfare (or, preferably, social security). Two such deaths have been reported in the Comment columns of Vox Political since the weekend, and it is only Tuesday.

That is why it is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.

Share it with your friends, use parts of it in letters to your local papers or radio stations, even mentioning it in conversation will help if the other person isn’t aware of the facts.

Don’t let it be suppressed.

You don’t want to do Iain Duncan Smith’s work for him, do you?

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Labour must turn and fight now – or give up its electoral hopes altogether

Struggling to make an impact: Ed Miliband must reject the Tory Party's narrative about the need for austerity and bring forward a vision for the future that really does make us 'One Nation' again, rather than hanging on David Cameron's neoliberal coat-tails, as many former Labour voters believe.

Struggling to make an impact: Ed Miliband must reject the Tory Party’s narrative about the need for austerity and bring forward a vision for the future that really does make us ‘One Nation’ again, rather than hanging on David Cameron’s neoliberal coat-tails, as many former Labour voters believe.

The political debate is all about the Labour Party again today – as it has been since the Budget.

The newspapers and websites are full of advice for the party, which is now clearly seen to be struggling to gain any kind of a foothold with electors who have become disillusioned at what might best be called the Party of Very Little Opposition.

Labour “must adopt new principles” according to an alliance of thinktanks and party intellectuals who have written to The Guardian; Ed Miliband has been told “don’t play safe” with the party’s manifesto according to an article on the same paper’s site.

The BBC News site has words from left-wing MP John Mann, calling on his party leader to stop trying to be “too clever” and be “much clearer” in setting out his policies.

We can probably discount the Telegraph article by Dan Hodges, claiming that Labour is “closed for business”. It plays to right-wing readers’ prejudices just a little too much.

Will Ed pay any attention to these pleas? Evidence suggests he will not.

I should clarify from the outset that, as a Labour member, I want the Party to win in 2015 (and also to gain the lion’s share of the vote in May’s European elections).

But Miliband seems to be living in a world of his own, insulated from the rest of the Labour Party – not to mention supporters of Labour ideals who are not members – by a small group of (not-so-special) advisers who, it’s claimed, intercept any decent ideas before they get to the party leader and spin them until they turn to drivel. Whether this is true or not seems immaterial as this is the perception of the general public.

And perception is everything.

As I write this article I have just received a comment stating that “Miliband’s strategy for the next election seems to be a) to accept the Tory frame of reference for any given argument and b) to then concede the field of battle on that issue, whatever it is, without a shot being fired.” This is a common complaint, and Labour has no answer to it.

Why do Miliband, Balls, Tristram Hunt (notably), Rachel Reeves (lamentably) and all the other Labour frontbenchers blithely accept the Coalition’s terms of reference on any issue, against the wishes of their own backbenchers, their party as a whole and the public at large?

Are they really just a gang of greedy moneygrubbers, determined to screw the country for whatever they can get? That in itself would be a betrayal of Labour Party ideals and their constituency parties should deselect them if members believed that to be the case for one moment.

Are they a gang of neoliberals, their political philosophy so close to that of the Conservatives that you can’t get a credit card between them? This rings threateningly true in the cases of Oxford PPE graduats Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, ex-Bank of England employee Rachel Reeves and Tristram Hunt. But Ed Miliband is (famously) the son of a Marxist. He, above all, should know better.

The trouble is, David Miliband is the son of the same Marxist and he was as much a part of the neoliberal New Labour Red Tory deception as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Oh look – another comment has just arrived. “More people don’t bother to vote because they feel that we as a people have moved on and all we really want is people who will represent us honestly, by majority and with no hidden agendas, backhanders or lobbyists pulling the strings. I don’t see any evidence that the present government or the Labour Party are capable or willing to do just that… They should have the courage to change and become the voice of the people.”

Become the voice of the people. The meaning is clear – Labour is not currently representing anybody at all.

Is this true? Let’s look at some of the other comments on my (left-leaning, let’s not forget) blog. These are from people who are generally sympathetic to Socialism and who should, therefore, see Labour as the natural home of their vote. What do they say?

“[Is it] any wonder [that] 1. People don’t vote because they are seen as “all the bloody same”? and 2. The perceived differences have become so minuscule?”

“Until Labour wakes up and realises it is the welfare cuts that are a major concern to most of us and to anyone who has a conscience, they will lose the next election due to apathy.”

“Labour have to do something different to what they have up to now but they don’t seem to want to. Are they scared of being in government over a country in the state it is?”

“Labour have had four years to do something – anything – to fight against the welfare cuts, and to help the people they are supposed to be the party for! They’ve really done nothing when all is said and done.”

If Ed Miliband was reading this, I would be asking if he was getting the message yet (are you, Ed?) and what he proposes to do about it. You think not? Let’s have some more comments from people who should be supporting Labour – I’ve got plenty of them!

“There has been absolutely no fight in this opposition and I am ashamed of them.”

“People need a reason to apply their votes to Labour and Miliband-Balls are not providing them with one. They are sleepwalking into another hung Parliament and a very real risk of the Tories teaming up with UKIP. Then we’ll really see Nazism grip this country.”

“The would-be voters demand change and need bold new policies to blunt the Tory cutters. If the Labour Party cannot come up with policies which are radical then they don’t deserve to be in power at the next election, or ever.”

“Ed Balls worries me because he seems intent on copycatting Osborne. For example Osborne says he will run a surplus by the end of the next Parliament and Balls promises the same. Osborne say he will be introducing a Benefit Cap on social security spending on working age benefits (which could have devastating effects and lead to real terms cuts in benefits for years on end) and Balls says that Labour will vote with the Coalition to introduce it.”

“Surely we need some clear red water between Labour and the Tories? Surely Labour needs to differentiate itself more from the policies of the Coalition?”

“I sent an email to the Labour Party asking for its policy on TTIP (the rightly-feared Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will force employment standards down to third-world levels, or below), amongst other things. They were decidedly equivocal and I felt no reassurance at all. I think it’s about we faced facts, Labour aren’t being coy in a pre-election year to avoid frightening the horses, they really are just another pack of neoliberals.”

This is how left-wing voters (and the squeezed-middle waverers to whom Ed Miliband keeps trying to pander) see the modern Labour Party: Carbon-copy Tories with no fresh ideas who aren’t worth the effort of voting.

If any of Ed’s shadow cabinet is okay with that description, he needs to sack them and bring in someone with a clue. And he needed to do it last year.

If the Conservatives win in 2015, it seems clear that responsibility will lie as much with Labour’s failure to provide any clearly-visible alternative.

We have already seen carnage inflicted on the poor, the sick and disabled, and a Conservative-only government (or in collaboration withUKIP) would increase that bloodshed tenfold (senior citizens take note: the bribe you were given last week was a trick and if you vote Conservative, many of you will not live to rectify your error at another election).

Unless Ed Miliband sorts out his party – pronto – that blood will be on his hands as well, and the people will not forgive him.

Note that I did not say they won’t forgive Labour. I said they won’t forgive Ed Miliband.

Words cannot describe the way people feel at what has been done to them by the Coalition. If Labour reveals even the slightest element of complicity, I wouldn’t give a farthing for Miliband’s safety.

That goes for the rest of the shadow cabinet too.

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Food bank debate shows yet again the government’s argument has no substance

131219foodbanks

By now, we should all know how these Opposition Day debates go – but Wednesday’s discussion of food banks was one of the best examples I’ve heard.

The form goes like this: The relevant Labour shadow minister launches the debate, quoting the facts that support the argument (in this case, that the rise of food banks is a national disgrace and the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government’s policies have caused it), the government denies the charge – always with the same feeble excuses, backbenchers queue up to tell their own damning stories of what has happened to their constituents… and then the government wins the vote because its members have been whipped to vote against the motion, rather than because they believe it is wrong.

The food bank debate was textbook. Not only did it carry all these features, but:

  • The Secretary of State responsible, Iain Duncan Smith, declined to speak at all, but turned tail and ran after listening to only a small number of speakers.
  • Minister of State Esther McVey, who spoke in his place, delivered what Labour veteran Gerald Kaufman described as “one of the nastiest frontbench speeches I’ve heard in more than 43 years”.
  • As one story of government-created hardship followed another, Conservative MPs laughed. Clearly they are enjoying the suffering they are causing across the UK.

Each of these is a damning indictment of the depths to which the Coalition has driven British politics. But the debate is only half of this matter. Now it is our duty to publicise what happened. Many people may not know about this, or may not understand its significance.

They need to understand that food bank use has risen exponentially under David Cameron’s Conservative-led government, from 41,000 people in 2010 to half a million by April this year, one-third of whom were children. People are resorting to them because the cost of living is rising while wages have stagnated and social security benefit payments have been delayed or slashed. The government promised to publish a study on food banks in the summer of this year, but has delayed publication with no stated reason. The government department responsible – DEFRA – did not even put up a minister to speak in the debate.

Probably the most damning indictment was the vote. The Coalition government defeated a motion to bring forward measures that would reduce dependency on food banks. The obvious conclusion is that this government is happy to be pushing ordinary working and jobless people into crushing poverty – and intends to continue putting more and more people in the same situation for just as long as it possibly can.

We heard that:

  • People in Slough are fighting each other over discount fruit and vegetables in the local Tesco.
  • Food banks are visited by skilled workers who are unable to get jobs because of Coalition government policies.
  • Serious failures including administrative error in the benefit system mean one-fifth of the people visiting food banks are there because the Department for Work and Pensions has been unable to do its job properly.
  • The Bedroom Tax has hugely increased the number of people using food banks.
  • “The working poor are emerging as the Prime Minister’s legacy, as millions of people live in quiet crisis.” (Labour’s Jamie Reed).

In response, the Tories trotted out the old, old arguments, trying yet again to sell us the long-disproved claim that Labour forced the country into poverty by mismanaging the national finances. We heard, again, the turncoat Lord Freud’s claim that people were visiting food banks because the items there were free (ignoring the fact that everyone who visits a food bank is referred by a qualified organisation, and verified as being in crisis). We heard, again, the suggestion from our ignorant Education Secretary Michael Gove, that people are turning to food banks because they cannot manage their own finances (good management makes no difference if costs outweigh income; but then he clearly hasn’t been educated well enough to understand that).

Esther McVey’s speech showed clearly why she should have remained on breakfast television, where comparatively few people had to put up with her. She accused the previous Labour government of a “whirl of living beyond our means” that “had to come to a stop” without ever pausing to admit that it was Tory-voting bankers who had been living beyond their means, who caused the crash, and who are still living beyond their means today, because her corporatist (thank you, Zac Goldsmith) Conservative government has protected them.

She accused Labour of trying to keep food banks as “its little secret”, forcing Labour’s Jim Cunningham to remind us all that food banks were set up by churches to help refugees who were waiting for their asylum status to be confirmed – not as a support system for British citizens, as they have become under the Coalition’s failed regime.

She said the Coalition government was brought in to “solve the mess that Labour got us in”, which is not true – it was born from a backroom deal between two of the most unscrupulous party leaders of recent times, in order to ensure they and their friends could get their noses into the money trough (oh yes, there’s plenty of money around – but this government is keeping it away from you).

She said the Coalition had got more people into work than ever before – without commenting on the fact that the jobs are part-time, zero-hours, self-employed contracts that benefit the employers but exploit the workers and in fact propel them towards poverty.

She lied to Parliament, claiming that children are three times more likely to be in poverty if they are in a workless household. In fact, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in-work poverty has now outstripped that suffered by those in workless and retired households; children are more likely to be in poverty if their parents have jobs.

She attacked Labour for allowing five million people to be on out-of-work benefits, with two million children in workless households – but under her government the number of households suffering in-work poverty has risen to eight million (by 2008 standards), while workless or retired households in poverty have risen to total 6.3 million.

She claimed that 60,000 people were likely to use a food bank this year – but Labour’s Paul Murphy pointed out that 60,000 people will use food banks this year in Wales alone. The actual figure for the whole of the UK is 500,000.

She said the government had brought in Universal Credit to ensure that three million people become better-off. There’s just one problem with that system – it doesn’t work.

She said the Coalition’s tax cuts had given people an extra £700 per year, without recognising that the real-terms drop in wages and rise in the cost of living means people will be £1,600 a year worse-off when the next general election takes place, tax cuts included. She said stopping fuel price increases meant families were £300 better-off, which is nonsense. Families cannot become better off because something has not happened; it’s like saying I’m better off because the roof of my house hasn’t fallen in and squashed me.

Then, on top of all that, she had the nerve to tell the country, “Rewriting history doesn’t work.” If that is the case, then hers was one of the most pointless speeches in the history of Parliament.

Labour’s Jamie Reed had the best comment on the debate. He said: “The final verdict on any Government is based on how they treat the poorest in society during the hardest of times,” after pointing out that “the laughter from some of those on the Government benches … says more than words ever could.”

On a personal note, my own MP, Roger Williams, spoke about the food bank situation in Brecon and Radnorshire. It is gratifying that he is proud of the food bank set up by New Life Church, here in Llandrindod Wells – I well remember the telephone conversation I had with the organisers, in which I encouraged them to set it up. I am glad they took up the baton – and that he has appreciated their work.

Rather more worrying is the suggestion that he considers a possible new food bank in Brecon to be only the second in our constituency. There are food banks in many other towns, including Knighton, Ystradgynlais and Hay-on-Wye – with satellite facilities in smaller towns and villages. It is disturbing that the MP does not seem to know this.

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No justice for legal aid as Grayling ignores thousands of consultation responses

Blind Justice: In Tory-led Britain, it's also deaf. And ignorant. In fact, can it really be described as 'justice' at all?

Blind Justice: In Tory-led Britain, it’s also deaf. And ignorant. In fact, can it really be described as ‘justice’ at all?

A story has appeared on the BBC News website, stating that elite barristers have joined the chorus of opposition to the government’s plan to cut legal aid for criminal cases by almost a quarter.

It states that the Treasury Counsel, a group appointed by the Attorney General to prosecute the most serious crimes, has followed the lead of the Bar Council and the Law Society in saying the plan to cut £220 million from the annual £1 billion legal aid budget is unsustainable.

This is accurate, but fails to address the most damning indictment against Chris Grayling and the Ministry of Justice in this matter.

According to the Treasury Counsel’s written response: “HM Government has indicated that it rejects or can ignore much of the content of the thousands of Consultation Responses, …particularly as to the future effect on the supply and quality of criminal advocacy services from the proposed changes to legal aid funding.”

It continues: “Criminal legal aid remuneration is identified as an appropriate target for ‘reduction’: this is based on a ‘belief’. The belief is that ‘further efficiency and cost savings in criminal legal aid remuneration” are both possible and sustainable’.”

This means that Chris Grayling and his cronies have decided to ignore evidence-based opposition to their plans because of an unfounded, unquantifiable “belief” that cutting funding will not affect the quality of the legal advice available in criminal cases.

If this matter were itself a court case, it could be settled with a simple question: When has this ever been proved in the past?

Can you think of any time when cutting budgets has not harmed a service – or actually improved it? Of course not.

The response – written by people who are appointed by the Coalition Government’s own Attorney General, let’s not forget, and who may therefore be taken as broadly sympathetic to its aims, continues: “The Minister of State said, ‘This is a comprehensive package of reform, based on extensive consultation. I believe it  offers value for the taxpayer, stability for the professions, and access to justice for all’… yet the Impact Assessment attached to the new Paper simply makes no attempt to evaluate or monetise the behavioural changes that will most certainly result from its proposals.

The entirely obvious and predictable outcomes are lost quality and reduced supply. These are airbrushed in the Impact Assessment by repeated “steady state” assumptions. The behavioural changes are not then, uncertain. Neither will any steady state remain. They are, though, unpalatable; they will not improve the public interest.

“In a telling acknowledgment of this, the Ministry in its new consultation paper wholly abdicates its responsibility for this assessment by first making neutral assumptions and then asking the consultees what the impact will be. The Minister of State has lifted his telescope to his bad eye.

The assessment of the Treasury Counsel is that cumulative changes since 1997, and a real terms cut of nearly half since 2007, mean Grayling’s proposals “will do significant harm to the operation of the criminal justice system… In particular, they will have both an adverse and disproportionate effect on the supply of such services by the acknowledged experts – the criminal Bar”.

Not only that, but the response says the cuts could be achieved in less harmful ways, such as “the proper working through of existing changes. Or, for example, in the proper letting and administration of government contracts for CJS services; court interpreters, custodians and other activities are telling examples of incompetent administration and wasting money – and these on services ancillary to the main process, that are provided by trading companies rather than professionally regulated people.”

In other words, allowing the market into the Criminal Justice Service (that’s the ‘CJS’ in the quotation) has lowered its quality and increased its cost.

The bottom line: “We consider that the proposed reductions, in whichever iteration, are unnecessary, have an effect much larger than claimed and will produce unsustainable results.” In terms of quality of service, it seems that it is the government’s proposals that are unaffordable.

The Attorney General himself, Dominic Grieve, indicated his own lack of enthusiasm for the proposals in a letter to the Bar Council in June. This accepted that opposition to the proposals cannot be explained away by self-interest, acknowledging that there is serious and principled opposition to the proposals which cannot be attributed to mere selfishness.

“Many… took the view that these proposals would cause the edifice to collapse,” he wrote, adding that he would continue to draw Grayling’s attention to the concerns that had been expressed to him.

It seems, considering the latest developments, that the Ministry of Justice not only has a bad eye but also a deaf ear.

What a shame its members are not speechless as well. For the sake of balance, here’s what a Ministry spokesperson had to say: “At around £2 billion a year we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world and even after our changes would still have one of the most generous. We agree legal aid is a vital part of our justice system and that’s why we have to find efficiencies to ensure it remains sustainable and available to those most in need of a lawyer.

“We have engaged constructively and consistently with lawyers – including revising our proposals in response to their comments – and to allege we have not is re-writing history.”

Is it constructive for a government department to ignore evidence that it has specifically requested?

Is it consistent to run a consultation process, and then throw away the results because they don’t agree with ministers’ “belief”?

Of course not.

Grayling’s plans are ideologically-based and entirely unsupportable and should be laughed out of court.

Has the Coalition set Labour an impossible task – to rescue politics from corruption?

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: "They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don't believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden."

Not a good egg: Ed Miliband was hit by an egg on his first campaign visit after returning from holiday abroad. The thrower, Dean Porter, said: “They do nothing. The government do nothing. The shadow government do nothing. I don’t believe him at all. If you are poor, you are considered a burden.”

Yesterday’s article, DWP denials: They would kill you and call it ‘help’ received an unprecedented reaction – considering it was only intended to prepare the way for a larger discussion.

In less than 12 hours the article went viral and galvanised many of you into vocal support, sharing your stories of government (and particularly DWP) ill-treatment and urging others to follow this blog – for which much gratitude is in order. Thanks to all concerned.

The aim was to show how low politics and politicians have fallen in public estimation. The general consensus is that our politicians aren’t interested in us. They make promise after promise before elections – and the party (or parties) in office often set up tax breaks for sections of society their focus groups have told them are needed to secure a win. After they’ve got what they want, they don’t give a damn.

Look at the Coalition. The consensus is that this is a failed government. That it has broken one promise after another. That its ministers are liars and its Prime Minister is the worst charlatan of the lot.

That its rallying-call, “We’re all in it together”, refers only to Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament and their close friends in the most lucrative (and therefore richest) industries, along with the bankers (of course), and that they have all dug their noses deep into the trough and are (to mix metaphors) sucking us dry. Look at the way Mark Hoban employed his former employers to rubber-stamp the DWP’s new plans for the Work Capability Assessment.

In short: That the Coalition government is the most incompetent and corrupt administration to blight the United Kingdom in living memory, and possibly the worst that this land has ever endured.

We fear that these tin-pot tyrants are carrying out a eugenics programme to kill off people who have become sick or disabled; we fear that their economic policies are designed to put anyone less than upper-middle-class into the kind of debt that current wages will never permit them to pay off – a debt that can then be sold between fat-cat corporations who will hold the masses in actual – if not admitted – slavery; that they will dismantle this country’s institutions, handing over everything that is worth anything to their buddies in business, who will make us pay through the nose for services that our taxes ought to cover.

And yet a recent poll suggests that we would prefer this corrupt gang of asset-stripping bandits to run the economy of the country (into the ground) rather than give Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Labour Party, an opportunity to restore the country’s fortunes.

Are we all going schizoid? Are we really saying that, while we don’t believe the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could organise a binge in a brewery without stealing the booze from us while we’re drinking it, we do believe them when they say the current economic nightmare was because Labour mismanaged the economy?

(In case anyone hasn’t really thought it through, the current lie is that the international credit crunch that has cost the world trillions of pounds was caused, not by bankers (who have never been punished for it) but by the UK Labour Party giving too much money away to scrounging benefit cheats. In fact, only 0.7 per cent of benefit claims are fraudulent and, while they cost the taxpayer £1.2 billion a year, that does not justify the £19 billion the Coalition has given to its private, for-profit friends to make a pretence of dealing with it.)

Are we really saying that even though we all now know that George Osborne’s economic policy is nonsense, based on a theory that has been comprehensively rubbished, we’re all happy to give him and his miserable boss David Cameron the credit for the slight improvement in the UK’s economic fortunes that we have seen in recent months? It was always going to improve at some point, and the current upturn is more likely to be part of that kind of cycle than anything Osborne has done.

If we really are saying that, then we all need to put in claims for Employment and Support Allowance, on grounds of mental instability!

That’s not what’s going on, though.

It seems far more likely that the general public is having a crisis of confidence. As a nation, we know what we’ve got is bad; we just don’t have confidence that we’ll get better if we put our support behind the Opposition.

This is the Coalition’s one great success: It has damaged the reputation of politics and politicians so badly that nobody involved in that occupation can escape being labelled as corrupt, or liars, or worse.

And Labour is doing far too little to fight that.

A BBC article on the problems facing Labour states that the Coalition has sharpened up its messages on, among other things, welfare and immigration. The message is still the usual hogwash; the problem is that Labour has made no meaningful response. Her Majesty’s Opposition appears to have given up Opposing.

Is this because the main political parties are now so similar that Labour is now supporting Coalition policies? That would make sense in the context of statements made before the summer recess by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, in which Labour appeared to capitulate over welfare and the economy, even though the Coalition had lost all the major arguments.

When they did that damned stupid thing in that damned stupid way, Vox Political was the first to say “watch their poll lead disappear” – and it has more than halved from 11 percentage points to five, according to The Guardian.

This lackadaisical attitude from the Labour leadership has not gone unnoticed among the backbenchers and the grass roots, and the last few weeks has been notable for the rising chorus of dissent against Ed Miliband’s leadership. Some have described the Labour front bench as “Plastic Tories”.

Even Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham took a pop, saying Labour needed to “shout louder” and produce attention-grabbing policies by next spring – or lose any chance of winning the 2015 election.

Miliband’s response to that was to claim that Burnham was really saying the Labour Party was “setting out how we would change the country”. This is nonsense. He was saying that was what Labour needed to do, and Miliband rendered himself untrustworthy by suggesting otherwise.

It is very hard to put your support – and your vote – behind somebody you don’t trust, who seems completely unable (or unwilling) to fight your oppressor on your behalf; in short, someone who seems just as corrupt as the government in power. At the moment, Ed Miliband doesn’t stand for anything – so there’s no reason you should stand up for him.

What, then, should Labour do?

Easy. The party needs a clear, simple message that everybody can understand and get behind; one that members can support because it reflects Labour beliefs rather than whatever Coalition policy currently seems popular, and above all, one that comes from verifiable truth.

He could take a leaf from Paul O’Grady’s book. In a clip on YouTube, the entertainer says: “We should be vocal in our fight against oppression. We should let them know that we are not taking these draconian cuts lightly!

“We should fight for the rights of the elderly! Of the poor! Of the sick! And of the children!”

Rapturous applause.

Labour needs more than that – but a commitment to protect those who have been most harmed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat doomsday spree would at least be a start.