Before you even press the ‘play’ button, you can see the stupid in the text. “Labour has turned its back on investment” – what? Labour has a huge investment programme planned! The details are in the party’s 2017 election manifesto.
“Growth” – except under the Tories, economic growth has stagnated and we are well behind the other G7 countries.
“Jobs” – well, zero-hours, part-time, non-paying jobs, maybe. Labour believes that people should receive a decent wage for a decent day’s work, rather than existing on subsistence pay that subsidises fatcat executives’ bonuses (think of Carillion).
Okay, now let’s press ‘play’.
The first thing you hear Mrs May say is, “The vast majority of people in this country in employment are employed by the private sector.” Yes indeed. That has always been the case.
“But the Shadow Chancellor calls businesses ‘the real enemy’.” Justifiably. Conservative policies have made it possible for bosses to cheat workers, cutting pay by – what? – 10 per cent over the last few years while executive pay skyrocketed. And the fact that people are now so cheap has discouraged firms from investing in new equipment, leading to the so-called “productivity gap” that Chancellor Philip Hammond falsely blamed on disabled workers.
“Labour want the highest taxes in our peacetime history.” For people whose salaries are in the top five per cent in the UK – those who have profited from the exploitation of the workforce. That seems fair to This Writer.
“Labour policies would cause a run on the pound.” Whereas all Mrs May has to do is make a speech about Brexit to create the same effect.
Then she utters the line quoted in the text of the tweet, which we’ve already covered, before concluding: “A Labour Party that will always put politics before people.”
No, Theresa. That would be you and the Conservatives.
Something has certainly malfunctioned in her somewhere.
Perhaps Maybot should pack herself back in her box and return herself to her manufacturer. She is faulty goods.
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Jeremy Hunt shuffles uncomfortably under the gaze of his fellow MPs as Jeremy Corbyn asks why he is piloting a pointless scheme to harm NHS patients while claiming to be eliminating almost-non-existent ‘health tourism’.
Theresa May consolidated her position as the UK’s most pathetic excuse for a prime minister yet, with a crushing defeat at the Dispatch Box under the questioning of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
(Wasn’t he supposed to be the inept one?)
Mr Corbyn made strong points and supported them with solid facts. Mrs May provided no answers and seemed utterly lost.
Mr Corbyn began: “The government’s sustainability and transformation plans for the National Health Service hide £22 billion of cuts from our service, according to research by the BMA. That risks ‘starving services of resources and patients of vital care’. That comes from Dr Mark Porter of the BMA. When he calls this process a mess, where is he wrong?”
Mrs May ventured this reply: “The National Health Service is indeed looking for savings within the NHS which will be reinvested in the NHS. It is this government which is providing not just the £8 billion which the NHS requested, but £10 billion of extra funding… and sustainability and transformation plans are being developed at local level, in the interests of local people, by local clinicians.”
“It’s very strange the prime minister should say that,” mused Mr Corbyn. “Because the Health Select Committee… says it is actually £4.5 billion, not £10 billion. There’s quite a big difference there.”
So she was being economical with the truth about the amount of money being put into the NHS – and, by the way, is that NHS England or the health service across the whole of the UK? Mrs May doesn’t seem clear about that and the UK Statistics Authority certainly seems confused.
Mr Corbyn continued: “Part of the reason for the strain on our National Health Service is that more than one million people are not receiving the social care that they need. As a result of this there has been an increase in emergency admissions for older patients. What action will the prime minister take to stop the neglect of older people, which ends up forcing them to take A&E admissions when they should be cared for at home or in a care home?”
“The government has introduced the Better Care Fund… the Social Care Precept for local authorities, and we’re encouraging the working together of the health service and local authorities, to deal with precisely the issues he’s raised on social care and bed-blocking,” Mrs May blustered, unaware of the hammer-blow that would shatter her protestations very shortly.
She blundered on: “But I will just say this to the Right Honourable gentleman: Er, we’ve introduced the Better Care Fund and the Social Care Precept. Let’s just look at what Labour did in their 13 years. They said they’d deal with social care in the 97 manifesto, introduced a Royal Commission in 1999, a Green Paper in 2005, the Wanless Review in 2006, said they’d sort it in the CSR of 2007, and another Green Paper in 2009. Thirteen years and they did nothing.”
Here comes the hammer (boldings mine): “As the prime minister well knows, health spending trebled under the last Labour government – and the levels of satisfaction with the National Health Service were at their highest ever in 2010. This government’s choice was to cut social care by £4.6 billion in the last Parliament, at the same time as they found the space, shall we say, to cut billions in corporate taxation bills. That means it’s affecting patients leaving hospital as well. In the last four years, the number of patients unable to be transferred from hospital due to the lack of adequate social care has increased by one-third.”
So it doesn’t matter what Theresa May says her government has introduced; the service it provides is much, much worse than that offered under the last Labour government. That is unquestionable.
Mr Corbyn pressed on: “Will the prime minister ensure her government guarantees all of our elderly people the dignity they deserve?”
“I recognise the importance of caring for elderly people and providing them with the dignity they deserve,” said the prime minister, immediately prior to evading the question completely, going back over her previous assertion and changing the subject (which, as we all know, is a false argument).
“He says this government has done nothing on social care. I repeat, this government has introduced the Social Care Precept, that is being used by my local authorities and by his local authority, and we’ve also introduced the Better Care Fund.” That’s the recapitulation of what she had already said.
Let’s look at that Social Care Precept. It allows local authorities to increase council tax by up to two per cent in order to fund adult social care, meaning that this service has now become a postcode lottery.
Oh, and the Social Care Precept was announced at the same time the Conservative Government said the local government central grant is to be cut by more than half, from £11.5bn in 2015/16 to £5.4bn in 2019/20, a drop of 56 per cent. Meanwhile, councils were expected to increase self-financed expenditure (from revenue and business rates) by 13.1 per cent over the same period, making council services another postcode lottery.
Was it wise of Theresa May to draw attention to this monumental increase in unfairness across the UK?
The Better Care Fund is a pooled budget, initially £5.3 billion, announced in the June 2013 Spending Round and intended to save £1 billion by keeping patients out of hospital. As the number of patients who could not be transferred from hospital due to inadequate social care has increased by one-third in the last four years, it is clear that the Better Care Fund has failed.
In fact, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the Healthcare Financial Managers Association surveyed the plans for saving money through integration financed by the BCF in December 2015 and concluded that 80 per cent were likely to fail and that many were hampering progress, “giving integration a bad name”.
Mrs May continued: “But if he talks about support for elderly people I would remind him: Which government is it that has put the triple-lock in place for pensioners, that ensured the largest increase in pensions for elderly people?” And that’s the change-of-subject. Mr Corbyn was not discussing increases in pensions for senior citizens who may be perfectly healthy.
Our verdict can only be that, even though Mr Corbyn didn’t actually say the Conservatives have done “nothing” on social care, the result of their efforts is in fact worse. His response – “The precept is a drop in the ocean compared to what’s necessary for social care” – is mild, in that context.
Moving on to specifics, Mr Corbyn said: “I’m sure the whole House will have been appalled by the revelations in the BBC Panorama this week, showing older people systematically mistreated. The Care Quality Commission’s assessment is that care homes run by the Morleigh Group require improvement and has issued warning notices. The commission goes on to say that the owner has allowed services to deteriorate further, and has ‘utterly neglected the duty of care to the residents of these homes’. What action is her government going to take to protect the residents of those homes?”
Look at this stuttered, barely-intelligible response:
“The- the- Right Honourable gentleman mentioned-raises the issue of the quality of care that is provided in homes and the way that elderly people are treated. I’m sure everybody is appalled when we see examples of poor and uh, uh terrible treatment that is given to elderly and vulnerable people in care homes.
“What we do about it is ensure that we have the CQC which is able to step in, which takes action, which has powers to make sure that nobody-nobody in the chain of responsibility is immune from legal accountability. But we know that there’s more that can be done, and that’s why the CQC is looking into ways in which it can improve its processes, increase its efficiency.
“The, er, my-my honourable friend Minister for Community Health and Care is going to be writing to the CQC shortly, to look at how we can improve, to see what they do. It’s the CQC that deals with these issues. Is there more we can do? Yes, and we’re doing it.”
In other words, her government is taking no action at all.
Oh, and the CQC? It deliberately suppressed an internal review that meant it was found unfit for purpose in 2013. Are we sure we want to trust this organisation now?
“Yesterday, the government proposed that patients may have to show passports or other ID to access non-emergency healthcare,” said Mr Corbyn. “Has the government considered the impact of this on elderly people?
“The last census showed that nine-and-a-half million people in this country don’t have passports. Rather than distracting people with divisive and impractical policies, could the prime minister provide the NHS and social care with the money that it needs, to care for the people who need the support?”
Mrs May’s response was very silly indeed: “Over the course of this Parliament, the government will be spending half a trillion pounds on the National Health Service.”
And it is clearly not enough! How much goes into the pockets of private health bosses?
“The Right Honourable gentleman asks about a process to ensure that people who are receiving NHS treatment are entitled to receive NHS treatment. For many years there has been a concern about health tourism, about people turning up in the UK, accessing health services, and not paying for them.”
No, there hasn’t!
Theresa May is wrong: I have never heard anyone express concern on health tourism. It's fabricated racism to disguise cuts and privatisation
The only people talking about health tourism are Conservative MPs or Tory government spokespeople – and that includes the right-wing media like the Daily Heil and the Torygraph. You’ll hear people talking about it but, when pressed, they’ll say they heard about it through these sources and haven’t actually witnessed any themselves.
In real terms, there isn’t any health tourism. But if people are being asked to produce passports when nearly one-sixth of the UK’s own citizens don’t have them, you can see how it would ease pressure on the NHS.
The only problem is, the health of the nation would fall off a cliff.
“We want to make sure that those who are entitled to use those services are indeed able to see those, free at the point of delivery, but that we deal with health tourism and those who should be paying for the use of our health service,” dissembled Mrs May. Of course she doesn’t want to see anything of the sort.
She wants poor people to go away and stop asking for the service their taxes support.
But don’t just accept This Writer’s comments. Mr Corbyn was able to deliver his second series of hammer blows in response to Mrs May’s words (boldings mine): “Sir Simon Stevens told us… that the next three years are going to be the toughest ever for NHS funding and that 2018 would see health spending per person cut for the first time ever in this country.”
So Mrs May’s comment about the amount being spent is worth nothing.
“The NAO [National Audit Office] reported that the cost of health tourism is over 100 times less than the £22 billion in cuts that the NHS is facing from this government.”
So there is no reason to make a fuss about it – unless it is to hide the enormity of cuts to the health service.
“The reality is… under this government, there are 6,000 fewer mental health nurses. There are a record 3.9 million people on NHS waiting lists. All of us who visit A&E departments know the stress that staff are under and that the waiting time is getting longer and longer – and that there are one million people, in this country, not receiving the social care that they need.
“So instead of looking for excuses and scapegoats, shouldn’t the prime minister be ensuring that health and social care is properly resourced and properly funded to take away the stress and fear that people face in old age over social care and the stress that is placed on our very hard-working NHS and social care staff?”
Mrs May could do nothing other than reiterate her discredited claims about the amounts her government is spending.
But she added: “We can only afford to pay for the National Health Service and for social care if we have a strong economy, creating wealth.”
Jeremy Corbyn likened Theresa May to Baldrick, saying her “cunning plan” was to have no plan at all [Image: Daily Mirror].
Forget Brexit or Heathrow’s forthcoming new runway – Prime Minister’s Questions today was all about mental health.
Karl Turner told a packed House of Commons that his 25-year-old nephew, Mattie, had recently died while waiting six months for a ‘talking cure’ appointment to help him handle depression. He said these treatments were often a dangerous waiting game and a postcode lottery, and asked what Theresa May was doing to sort it out.
She stuttered through a non-answer about having established parity of esteem between physical and mental health treatment but accepted there was more to do, and moved on – only to be stopped in her tracks by Labour’s Alison McGovern, who wasn’t satisfied.
The Conservative manifesto promised shorter waiting times for people with mental health problems, but prescriptions for anti-depressants are on the rise and waits for treatment are lengthening, she said. Was the Tory manifesto just words, or would the PM ever deliver?
Mrs May, out of her depth, reiterated her previous statement.
Help came – too late, from Tory MP Helen Whately, who quoted Mrs May’s commitment to improved mental health on the day she became prime minister, and asked a hastily-prepared planted question about the Tory government’s five-year plan for mental health.
Mrs May responded with words from a piece of paper that had been slipped to her, showing an increase in appointments of 40 per cent since 2010, but the damage had been done. If she needs a planted question and the help of hastily-scribbled statistics to get her out of a hole, she won’t hold public confidence.
There were other disasters. Fellow Conservative Dr Tania Mathias backstabbed Mrs May over her decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow, when air pollution standards were already being breached.
Mrs May said air quality standards could be reached, but bizarrely reached toward road transport to help justify herself. Apparently electric vehicles on the roads will help Heathrow airport meet its air quality requirements!
It wasn’t all grim, though. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn enjoyed rubbishing Mrs May’s strategy on Brexit. After hearing her stuttering about “being very clear” on her aims for Brexit (while being about as opaque as she could be, he said: “I thought for a moment the prime minister was going to say ‘Brexit means Brexit’ again. I’m sure she’ll tell us one day what it actually means!”
Some commentators have accused Mr Corbyn of missing an open goal by neglecting to ask her about her speech to Goldman Sachs bankers, in which she outlined her concerns for business of the UK were to leave the EU after the referendum that, at the time, had yet to be held. But Mr Corbyn was skilful to avoid that; critics would only have attacked him on the grounds that times have changed.
A much better tactic was to say: “When you’re searching for the real meaning and the importance behind the prime minister’s statement, you have to consult the great philosophers. The only one I can come up with is Baldrick, who says, ‘Our cunning plan is to have no plan’.”
Mrs May’s attempt at a riposte – that the actor playing Baldrick (Tony Robinson) was a member of the Labour Party – was subsequently torpedoed by her own supporters, who gleefully undermined their leader by showing that Sir Anthony does not support Mr Corbyn.
Mark Wallace, executive editor of ConservativeHome, showed how far out of his depth he was by re-tweeting this comment from Sir Anthony:
To those tweeting me about 'MSM', Corbyn faces no more hostile media than every Lab leader in history. He's just inept at dealing with it
After a fairly quiet week for the Labour leader, PMQs this week was a restrained but solid victory for Corbyn. Cameron was left to play the rhetorician yet again in his failure to offer sincere-sounding responses, and his perceived lack of humanity. Consistently, throughout his opening series of PMQs, Corbyn has managed to honour his promise to speak on behalf of normal people.
Almost 100 days after becoming leader of the Labour party, Corbyn has appeared consistently competent in debate with the Prime Minister. The new politics has been about moving the political discourse into the living rooms of Britain, rather than out of reach of all but the most seasoned Etonites.
While many commentators may not enjoy Corbyn’s sombre PMQs appearances, and prefer the sparring banter they saw between Osborne and Eagle last week, it’s important to remember this isn’t an entertainment show: it’s real life. Can we really celebrate the idea of spectacle over substance?
In many ways, this week’s session followed the same lines as every other Cameron-Corbyn spar: serious questions with mention of actual humans, versus rhetoric-driven replies that fall back on the state of the economy. As we enter the Christmas period, those who suggested Jeremy’s leadership must consider this.
Faced with the relentless attacks that come from the media and, in many cases, inside his own party, Corbyn is biting back in his signature manner. And transforming PMQs into People’s Questions has been one of his greatest moves.
You know Cameron has made a blunder when Corbyn aims this stare at him.
Conservatives should be in despair this week after David Cameron failed to answer concerns raised about cuts to tax credits – despite having a week to think about the issue.
All he could do was stutter about irrelevances and quote Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn out of context.
In Prime Minister’s Questions today, Mr Corbyn returned to the attack over the cuts – which will make three million families £1,300 a year worse off, on average.
“Last week I asked the prime minister the same question six times and he couldn’t answer,” said Mr Corbyn. “He’s now had a week to think about it. I want to ask him one more time. Can he guarantee that next April, nobody will be worse off from cuts to tax credits?”
Cameron’s response was a stutter. He tried to recover by reeling off his ‘comfort’ statistics: “£11,000 personal allowance… national living wage at £7.20… ” (We all know that the real Living Wage is currently £8.25 per hour – £9.40 per hour if you’re in London). Then he admitted: “We suffered the defeat in the House of Lords; we’ve taken the proposals away, we’re looking at them, we’ll come back with new proposals in the Autumn Statement.” And he ended with a jibe at Corbyn which is not worth publishing here but which got a response from the braying idiots behind him.
“This is not funny for people who are desperately worried about what’s going to happen next April,” countered Corbyn.
So Cameron tried to recover by changing the subject: “If we don’t reform welfare, how are we going to fund the police service… the defence service? If you listened to him, you’d still have families in London getting £100,000 a year in housing benefit,” he said, referring to Coalition Government changes to housing benefit rules that were supported by the Labour Party at the time, and therefore undermining his own point.
Corbyn was not to be deterred. He referred to a veteran of the first Gulf War, who is likely to lose £2,000 per year – more than the average – due to Cameron’s cut: “Is this how the government treats veterans of the Armed Services?”
All Cameron could do was serve up a poorly-reheated quote, off-subject and out of context: “That serving soldier is dealing with a Leader of the Opposition who said he couldn’t find any use for the armed forces, anywhere, at any time.”
This refers to a comment by Mr Corbyn during a Labour leadership hustings on Sky TV, in which he said the UK’s armed forces were overextending themselves by taking on foreign adventures as desired by Cameron. While he said he could not – on the spot – think of any reason to deploy the forces overseas, he qualified this by saying he knew there must be good reasons for doing so.
The result: Cameron out of his comfort zone, Corbyn victorious.
So you thought Mary Hassall was the only British coroner to have blamed a benefit claimant’s death on the DWP? Think again.
To This Writer’s shame, the case of Julia Kelly was reported in This Blog, earlier this year – but I did not recall that Northamptonshire County Coroner Anne Pember’s report had conferred responsibility for her death on the Department for Work and Pensions after the case of Michael O’Sullivan was reported last month.
Mr O’Sullivan committed suicide in late 2013. North London coroner Mary Hassall, at his inquest early the following year, recorded that his death occurred as a direct result of being declared “fit for work” in a DWP work capability assessment, made in response to his claim for Employment and Support Allowance.
Julia Kelly took her life in November 2014. At her inquest in March this year, according to the Northampton Chronicle, “Coroner Anne Pember, recording her verdict of suicide, said she also believed that the ‘upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life’.”
Ms Kelly had been forced to give up work in 2010 due to pain caused by a car crash (which was not her fault) five years previously. In 2013, she was involved in a second crash and had to undergo a six-hour operation on her spine as a result.
Together with her father, David Kelly, she formed a charity – Away With Pain – to help fellow sufferers of chronic back pain.
But then the Department for Work and Pensions told her she had to repay £4,000 in Employment and Support Allowance payments, saying she had failed to declare capital funds.
It seems the government department was referring to money held by the charity, rather than funds owned by Ms Kelly herself.
Ms Kelly, who had fought for every penny of her benefit at three tribunal hearings, was bombarded with a series of repayment demands. According to her father, it was this relentless stream of brown-envelope letters that pushed her to suicide.
He told Channel 4 News about it. Take a look at the report:
A few months later, the DWP started stridently claiming that no causal link had been shown between claims for incapacity benefits and the suicide of claimants, in response to demands from almost 250,000 petitioners – and more than 90 MPs including the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn – to publish the number of claimants who have died on benefits.
We all know the DWP was lying, thanks to Ms Hassall’s report on Michael O’Sullivan.
The facts about Julia Kelly mean we must now question the magnitude of the lie.
We know the DWP examined the cases of around 60 people who committed suicide after their benefits were withdrawn or reduced – that fact was most recently mentioned in Prime Minister’s Questions, in the House of Commons on Wednesday (October 21) – but the Department has refused to publish its findings.
All Cameron would offer was that he would “look … at” the question asked about publication. He can look at it all day without doing anything about it, of course.
Meanwhile, serious questions are arising as we learn more about these deaths and the extent of the DWP cover-up.
How many people have died due to the reduction or withdrawal of incapacity benefits?
How many of these deaths happened long enough after their benefits were withdrawn that the DWP never bother to record them – on the grounds that it was none of the Department’s business (this is what happened with Mr O’Sullivan)?
How many more coroners’ verdicts have implicated the DWP in the deaths, but have been quietly swept under the carpet?
And – as the United Nations investigates possible grave and systematic violations of incapacity benefit claimants’ human rights – what can be done to secure the release of the facts?
No doubt the secretary-in-a-state about work and pensions won’t admit it, but any cabinet minister who comes under such a sustained assault during questions to the Prime Minister must be doing something wrong.
Iain Duncan Smith was attacked over the United Nations’ inquiry into the possibility that the UK has committed grave and systematic abuses of the human rights of disabled people, over suicides committed by benefit claimants due to DWP decisions, and over the vertiginous increase in food bank use. Just because David Cameron had to field the question, that doesn’t mean the Gentleman Ranker shouldn’t take the blame.
All this, on the day his new mascot (ha ha), a demonic-looking furry something called, ironically, Workie, made its debut in a nationwide TV advertising campaign costing more than £8.5 million. That’s money that could clearly have been better-spent elsewhere.
First up was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, quoting a party supporter he named ‘Louis’. Prefacing his question with the comment, “This is deeply embarrassing to all of us in this House and, indeed, to this country as a whole,” he read out the following:
“The United Kingdom is currently being investigated by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because of allegations of ‘grave and systematic` violations of disabled people’s human rights.
“This is very sad news indeed, but it is even sadder that we need to be investigated because of violations that have occurred. Will the Prime Minister commit to co-operate fully with the inquiry and publish in full the Government’s response to it, so that we can ensure that people with disabilities are treated properly and legally and given full respect by and opportunities in our society?”
Cameron, perhaps briefed by his Work and Pensions secretary, would not. First, he twisted the question, trying to make it about the number of disabled people who have gained work under the Conservatives (tens of thousands, he reckoned. How many lost their jobs when the Tories closed Remploy, again? Nearly 2,000? And how many of those tens of thousands have gained permanent work? He didn’t say.
He continued: “Of course I will look at any United Nations investigation, but sometimes when you look at these investigations you find that they are not necessarily all they are originally cracked up to be.” Like Tory promises on tax credits (for example)?
“There are many disabled people in our world who do not have any of the rights or any of the support that they get here in Britain, and I think we should be proud of what we do as we co-operate with this report.” Shifting the goalposts, there. Bad conditions endured elsewhere in the world are not an excuse for a Conservative Government to worsen conditions here.
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, touched on a favourite subject of This Writer when he said: “Information has recently been released showing that a coroner has found that a 60-year-old disabled father of two from north London, Mr Michael O’Sullivan, committed suicide following his work capability assessment. The coroner warned that there is a risk of further deaths. The Department for Work and Pensions has reportedly undertaken 60 investigations into suicides that occurred after benefits were withdrawn or reduced, but it has so far refused to publish what it has learned. Will the Prime Minister publish those findings?”
This was something of a missed opportunity as Mr Robertson could have asked why nobody has been prosecuted for causing Mr O’Sullivan to take his life. Never mind; This Writer has something in the pipeline about that, which will hopefully bring out some useful information.
Cameron didn’t have any: “I am aware of the case the hon. Gentleman raises, although I am sure he will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to discuss the specifics of the cases. Suicide is always a tragic and complex issue. We should take these matters incredibly seriously.” More seriously than this Prime Minister, certainly.
“I will look very carefully at the specific question he asks about publication.” But will he actually publish anything? And if so, will it be as opaque as the death figures the DWP released on August 27?
“We have changed the work capability assessment to lead to significant improvements, following a number of independent reviews, to make sure that people get the support that they need, and I think that is vitally important.” No – because the work capability assessment is still based on a disproved theory that illnesses and disabilities are all in benefit claimants’ minds.
Finally, Labour’s Jo Stevens pointed out: “Food bank use has risen by 1,665 per cent since the Prime Minister took office in 2010.”
HOW MUCH? Let’s have that again:
“1,665 per cent”
Is that one of the achievements that make Cameron “proud”, as he stated in his response to Mr Corbyn?
Back to Ms Stevens: “In Cardiff Central, I meet people every week who rely on food banks to feed their families. Does the Prime Minister know how many more families will be relying on food banks as a result of his Government’s cuts to tax credits, and does he care?”
He didn’t, so he quoted some figures about unemployment instead.
“Of course, I do not want anyone in our country to have to rely on food banks,” he lied (if he doesn’t, why have his policies led to such an exponential increase in their use?) before going on to highlight other Tory economic policies, at least one of which – the so-called National Living Wage – demonstrates perfectly why we cannot trust Tories.
A living wage is one that provides enough for people to cover all their costs without going into debt or resorting to benefits – unlike the forthcoming Tory version. If they can lie about that, they can lie about everything else.
And David Cameron, speaking for Iain Duncan Smith, is a dab hand at dishonesty.
Protection: Members of the Conservative Government need large numbers of police to protect them from disabled people in wheelchairs [Image: Paula Peters].
Conservative MPs cowered behind the House of Commons doors and prayed they would be strong enough to keep out the horde of disabled and wheelchair-using protesters who were trying to push their way in.
They had to call in the police to hold back the mob as they blockaded Prime Minister’s Questions, just after midday today (Wednesday).
The activists from Disabled People Against Cuts, other organisations, and individuals were campaigning against the closure of the Independent Living Fund – the Conservative Government’s latest (although long-planned) blow against those who minister had believed were not strong enough to stand up for themselves.
This video link to the BBC News report provides a more accurate picture of British disabled people and their strength:
The Daily Telegraph (of all papers) was first to report the events:
“Onlookers said that dozens of police officers attempted to restrain the demonstrators… One woman was led away by police as she tried to get into the chamber.
“Mary Johnson, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said: ‘We tried to get down there because the Government needs to listen. We tried to get into the chamber but we were stopped by police.’
“She said she witnessed one protester being ‘dragged away by police’ claiming officers’ behaviour was ‘disgusting’ and that they had been ‘pushing wheelchairs around’.”
Mile-wide: Mr Miliband explained his idea to bridge the gulf between the public and the Prime Minister to Andrew Marr.
Ed Miliband engaged in a particularly compelling piece of kite-flying today (July 27) – he put out the idea that the public should have their own version of Prime Minister’s Questions.
Speaking to Andrew Marr, he said such an event would “bridge the ‘mile-wide’ gulf between what people want and what they get from Prime Minister’s Questions”, which has been vilified in recent years for uncivilised displays of tribal hostility between political parties and their leaders (David Cameron being the worst offender) and nicknamed ‘Wednesday Shouty Time’.
“I think what we need is a public question time where regularly the prime minister submits himself or herself to questioning from members of the public in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesdays,” said Mr Miliband.
“At the moment there are a few inches of glass that separates the public in the gallery from the House of Commons but there is a gulf a mile wide between the kind of politics people want and what Prime Minister’s Questions offers.”
What would you ask David Cameron?
Would you demand a straight answer to the question that has dogged the Department for Work and Pensions for almost three years, now – “How many people are your ‘welfare reform’ policies responsible for killing?”
Would you ask him why his government, which came into office claiming it would be the most “transparent” administration ever, has progressively denied more and more important information to the public?
Would you ask him whether he thinks it is right for a Prime Minister to knowingly attempt to mislead the public, as he himself has done repeatedly over the privatisation of the National Health Service, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax, food banks, fracking…? The list is as long as you want to make it.
What about his policies on austerity? Would you ask him why his government of millionaires insists on inflicting deprivation on the poor when the only economic policy that has worked involved investment in the system, rather than taking money away?
His government’s part-privatisation of the Royal Mail was a total cack-handed disaster that has cost the nation £1 billion and put our mail in the hands of hedge funds. Would you ask him why he is so doggedly determined to stick to privatisation policies that push up prices and diminish quality of service. Isn’t it time some of these private companies were re-nationalised – the energy firms being prime examples?
Would you want to know why his government has passed so many laws to restrict our freedoms – of speech, of association, of access to justice – and why it intends to pass more, ending the government’s acknowledgement that we have internationally-agreed human rights and restricting us to a ‘Bill of Rights’ dictated by his government, and tying us to restrictive lowest-common-denominator employment conditions laid down according to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a grubby little deal that the EU and USA were trying to sign in secret until the whistle was blown on it?
Tory right-whinger Peter Bone is the latest MP to face questions over his expenses.
The inquiry will focus on expenses relating to the upkeep of his second home between 2005 and 2009. As such, the investigation will be carried out using the system that was in place before it was reformed after a string of scandals in 2009.
Both George Osborne and Maria Miller had their expenses examined under this system, so we can expect Bone to get away with any wrongdoing as well.
From evidence that has emerged in the Osborne and Miller investigations, it is clear that the pre-2009 investigation system was completely useless except as a way of whitewashing MPs’ reputations.
Of course, Bone is a frequent contributor to Prime Minister’s Questions, where he often claims to have been prompted into making a query by his wife.
In the unlikely event that he is found guilty of a misdemeanour, will he be blaming that on Mrs Bone as well?
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