Tag Archives: pointless

Tories promise end to benefit freeze next year. So what? That’s exactly when it was expected to end.

Therese Coffey: A meaningless non-announcement.

The Conservatives have promised to end the benefit freeze – next April. Is this another promise that will last until the end of the election?

They really must think we’re stupid. The benefit freeze was always intended to end next year. This is a meaningless non-announcement.

Once benefits do start to rise again, they will only keep pace with rising prices. There will be no increase in living standards.

Initiatives like the £10m fund to help slightly-disabled people into work means those who need extra support will continue to be left behind.

And look at the nonsense Therese Coffey spouted in support:

“We’re clear the best way for people to improve their lives is through work.” Rubbish! If that were true, no working people would be claiming benefits – but under Conservative rule, increasing numbers are having to do just that.

“Our balanced fiscal approach has built a strong economy, with 3.6 million more people in work since 2010.” Rubbish! Productivity is down, and work doesn’t pay.

“It’s that strong economy which allows us to bolster the welfare safety net by increasing benefit payments for working-age claimants now.” Rubbish! The promise is to increase benefits in April – if there’s a Tory government by then.

And why should there be?

Labour will abolish the benefits freeze immediately.

Not only that, it will scrap Universal Credit and put an end to the two-child limit on child benefit.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood pointed out the holes in the Tory offer: “Nobody will be fooled by this cynically timed announcement, which even now will leave the benefits freeze in place until next April.

“Harsh, punitive Conservative policies like the benefits freeze, the two-child limit and the five-week wait [for Universal Credit] have created a society where people are being forced to turn to food banks in ever-increasing numbers just to survive.

“We will ensure that our social security system genuinely protects people from poverty as it should.”

Source: Tories announce end to benefit freeze in move criticised as cynical | Politics | The Guardian

Ending badger culls will save the next Labour Government more than £120 million

Stop the cull - vote them out: Bill Oddie shows his support for the end of the badger cull (and also the end of Conservative-led government). This image was taken from Brian May's Twitter feed.

Stop the cull – vote them out: Bill Oddie shows his support for the end of the badger cull (and also the end of Conservative-led government). This image was taken from Brian May’s Twitter feed.

A Labour government would save £192 million from the environment, food and rural affairs budget – mostly by ending the costly and pointless badger culls, the party has revealed.

Labour would save an estimated £24.5 million a year – £122.5 million in the next parliament by ending the Government’s inhumane and ineffective badger culls.

The party would establish strategies to increase the income of arms-length bodies like Natural England, including moves towards fuller cost recovery there, which could save £40 million in the next parliament.

It would improve water quality by supporting best practice in the farming and water industries and saving £4 million a year and £20 million in the next parliament in environmental protection spending. This involves freeing up £150 million for spending on environmental protection and rural development in 2018-20 by re-allocating payments made under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Labour would increase – by £2 million a year – income from environmental protection and abstraction charges, bringing in £10 million in the next parliament, and review the cost of other DEFRA agencies – to get a better deal for taxpayers and raise the proportion of regulatory costs that are recovered from the industries under supervision.

The report on DEFRA also highlights a series of wasteful and short-sighted measures under this government, including its failure on flooding and climate change: Failing to maintain to the appropriate standard three-quarters of existing flood defences, triggering an increase in emergency spending and storing up further costs for the future, and cutting the number of departmental officials working on climate change adaptation from 38 to just six.

“This Tory-led Government never should have pressed ahead with these ineffective and inhumane badger culls when they knew from the start that this policy had the potential to make the problem of bovine TB worse,” said Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs.

“Instead of ignoring the overwhelming evidence the Government must work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of Bovine TB under control.”

zBadgerCull

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Cameron Has Killed at 2,200 People’ : Frankie Boyle at the 2014 Television Festival – Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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This follows on from the question Mike raised in the previous post Class divide in the arts – are they just for the toffs? writes the Beast, so it seems logical to post a pointer to his article here. He writes:

The controversial Scots comedian Frankie Boyle was interviewed last year at the Guardian’s International Television Festival last year by Pointless’s Richard Osman. The interview was a review of the state of television. And Boyle made it very clear that he though British television was being held back by the desire of TV commissioning editors to remain safe. Boyle made it very clear that class attitudes were very definitely a part of this.

The article is quite lengthy, and all of it is worth reading – but you should visit Beastrabban\’s Weblog to do so. The part to which the headline refers runs as follows:

Boyle gave the murderous campaign of Cameron against the disabled. He said outright that Cameron had killed at least 2,200 people ‘bottom line’ through Atos and the fit for work test. But he was never challenged. [Richard] Osman raised the topic of the Channel 4 conspiracy drama, Utopia, as an example of television tackling difficult topics. Boyle stated in his usual forthright terms that the show was rubbish. It was based very much on the type of comics produced by Alan Moore and his ilk. However, Channel 4 had taken all the good material out of it. If they were really determined to produce quality television, they’d hire Alan Moore and co. Instead Channel 4 produced endless programmes genuinely exploiting deformity and sneering at the working class, explicitly mentioning Benefits Street.

Here’s the YouTube recording of the interview. Warning: Boyle’s language is at times very coarse, and the jokes about Katie Price and Rebecca Adlington may be offensive.

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Hinchingbrooke failure means end of public tolerance for health privateers

150110hinchingbrooke

Campaigning group 38 Degrees’ response to the announcement that Circle Holdings is withdrawing from its contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

The failure of Circle Holdings’ management of Hinchingbrooke Hospital has one serious consequence for all political parties – but particularly Labour – and it is this: The British public will no longer tolerate any suggestion that private firms should participate in the National Health Service.

The reason Labour is singled out for special attention in this regard is that Labour has made the repeal of the Conservative Party’s Health and Social Care Act a key campaigning pledge (yes, it was passed in Coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but Andrew Lansley – Conservative – was the MP who spent around seven years working on the legislation in secret while his party leader promised all and sundry, with his ‘sincere’ face on, that the NHS was safe in Tory hands).

Unfortunately for Ed Miliband’s party, such promises are being met with scepticism by the people who should be Labour’s core voters. Only a couple of days ago, Vox Political posted this image to its Facebook page:

150110labourfourmonths

Here are some of the responses:

“Labour are just another neoliberal party serving the financial elite,” wrote Max Anstey. “The economic ideology ‘neoliberalism’ involves the privatisation of things. As Labour are neoliberal, they will not renationalise the NHS. A claim to ‘restore’ the NHS is not good enough from a neoliberal party. We need our public services back in our hands.”

Here’s another, by Gareth Jones: “I would love to see an honest resurgence of socialist ideals in this country. I’d love Labour to be Labour again. However, I just don’t see Ed Miliband being the one to bring it about. Ed is no Tony Benn.”

And Janet Kaiser added: “Labour (if it can still be called that) are going to do bugger-all. You can hope as much as you want, but the fact is the party has been taken over by venture capitalists and shouting the contrary is not going to change anything.”

That is the attitude Labour has to overcome. What’s sad is that it is an attitude that, in many ways, Labour has created. Only today, this blog posted a link to an article by Labour MP Michael Meacher in which he criticised his own front bench’s failure to attack the Conservatives over the economy – and much of what he said there can be applied to the NHS as well.

“Why doesn’t Labour hit out against the Tories where it could so easily secure some significant breakthroughs?” he asked. Why indeed.

The voters didn’t want private companies interfering in the NHS when they went to the polls in 2010. Now that they’ve experienced what it means – and don’t forget the Tory NHS crisis that is most clearly being seen in Accident & Emergency departments is also a symptom of this – they are vehemently against it.

Hinchingbrooke is a perfect opportunity for Labour to lay its cards on the table and promise that all of the expensive, bureaucratic and utterly pointless measures imposed by the Tories, to ensure that private firms get preferential treatment in the awarding of NHS contracts, will be removed – and to vow that the NHS will be restored as a state service providing the best care along with the best value for money.

And Labour stays quiet.

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NHS: It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it

141116milibandpromises

Has it occurred to anyone else that elections may be won or lost, not on the substance of a party’s policies, but on the way those policies are described to the public?

Putting aside for a moment the fact that David Cameron and the Conservative Party deliberately lied to the British people about their intentions for the National Health Service, were people not persuaded by their constant claims that Labour had increased expensive and unnecessary bureaucracy and ‘red tape’, and a new administration was needed to cut through it all before we choked on it?

Now, after almost five years of Cameron, we’re all a little wiser.

But it seems we still need the proper persuasion – in the right code, if you like.

So take a look at the image above, with Ed Miliband’s lynchpin policy pledges. See where he said, “I will scrap the Health and Social Care Act, which damages and undermines our NHS”?

Is that really enough to get him elected? It might be, but it probably isn’t.

How about if he said this: “Paying private companies to do what the NHS does anyway adds another layer of expensive bureaucracy to the process while pointlessly throwing away your tax money to provide their profit. I will end this.”

Or how about: “David Cameron’s government has added an expensive new bureaucratic layer to the NHS, as the inclusion of private companies means an unnecessary duplication of effort. I will scrap that.”

And perhaps: “The government’s system of Clinical Commissioning Groups overseen by Monitor to ensure that private companies get their choice of NHS contracts is unnecessarily bureaucratic, expensive, and failing the public. I will cut through this red tape.”

In fact, he could just turn Cameron’s words back on him: “Cameron’s new NHS is expensive, bureaucratic, and failing. Because of his policies, it cannot cope with demand that is lower than it was last summer.

“I will end this profligacy and ensure the NHS provides the best service in the world – together with the best value for money in the world.”

That’s what it’s all about, after all.

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