Tag Archives: Prime Minister’s Questions

Coronavirus: Johnson is floundering toward lifting the lockdown too soon because he wants happy headlines

Boris Johnson: this is an old image but it perfectly sums up the character he displayed in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Let’s give Boris Johnson a new nickname. After his performance in Prime Minister’s Questions – and a recent viewing of a favourite comedy movie – This Writer believes he should be called Flounder.

I’m not saying that because he resembles the stupid-but-saveable character in the movie (the Parliamentary version of which would no doubt be entitled Animal House of Commons) – but because it’s how he spent his first session answer questions from Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader.

Starmer’s no silver-tongued sweet-talker; he’s a plodder. But he plodded rings round Flounder as the prime minister desperately sought an upside to the catalogue of catastrophes we know as his record of handling the coronavirus crisis.

Faced with the government’s failure to hit its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day – and the obvious fact that the claim to have done so on April 30 was a lie, Flounder set a new target of 200,000 by the end of this month (while health secretary Matt Hancock blanched visibly behind him):

For clarity:

Latest figures show 69,463 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday, well short of the 100,000 benchmark.

The total was 84,806 up to 9am on Tuesday, 85,186 up to 9am on Monday and 76,496 up to 9am on Sunday.

Perhaps realising he had dug another ditch for himself to die in, Flounder latched on to the only other big question – when he is likely to lift the lockdown.

So he took a gamble and hinted that something might happen on Monday:

There’s only one problem with that: the figures suggest that it is far too early to even think of lifting the lockdown.

The UK is still experiencing more than 6,000 new coronavirus infections per day, along with more than 600 deaths. Those with the intelligence to understand what this means know perfectly well what lifting the lockdown will signify:

For clarity:

Suicide by the Tories, maybe.

For most of us, the victims of their policies, it will be mass murder.

Flounder will end up, as John Crace states in his Guardian commentary (that was overly obsequious to Starmer, in This Writer’s opinion), “with blood on his hands that no amount of washing for 20 seconds while singing Happy Birthday can get clean”.

Some might call it pointless death, but that would not be true.

If Flounder lifts the lockdown, and it triggers a second peak in coronavirus infections and deaths, it will happen for just one reason:

Boris Johnson was struggling, and thought he could help himself out with a happy headline.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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


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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

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

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

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

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


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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Corbyn humiliates Johnson over Greggs bonus – that might as well be a donation to the government

Remember the £300 bonus Greggs bakery was offering to staff?

The one that Ally Fogg on Twitter said might as well be a £7 million donation to the Treasury because most employees are on Universal Credit and the system will claw back the cash?

Jeremy Corbyn does.

Having researched the issue, he has worked out that most workers will retain only £75 – a quarter of the bonus. The rest will go to the Treasury.

So he took Boris Johnson to task over it in Prime Minister’s Questions on January 22:

All he got back – all we got – was more bluster and bumbling from an amateur politician who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It’s clear that the only people taking home more of our workers’ pay are in the Tory government.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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


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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

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

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

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

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


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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Prime Minister’s Questions with Mrs Mike

Dominic Raab: If he had heard some of the things Mrs Mike said about him while he was standing in for Boris Johnson at PMQs today, his ears may well have turned blue and fallen off.

Mrs Mike swears at politicians.

Admittedly, she only swears at them on the TV – she would never be so rude to their faces (except in certain extreme cases, or the case of certain extremists) – and mostly during Prime Minister’s Questions.

I’ve been looking for a way to share this with you for a considerable period of time – partly because I think the reaction of someone who isn’t a professional pundit may be informative – and finally wore her down with a promise to ‘bleep’ out some of the words she uses with appropriate sound effects.

Thus was born PMQs with Mrs Mike.

This is a pilot project; a first effort to see how it goes, if you like. It happened on a day when Boris Johnson was dodging the bullets, having arranged to make his speech to the Conservative conference at the same time like the coward he is.

Instead, Dominic Raab took the flak from my significant other. What follows is a selection of her output, taken from questions by backbenchers.

Here’s the clip:

Constructive criticism will be welcomed as I’m hoping to make this a regular occurrence.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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


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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

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

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

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

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


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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Tory double standards: Abuse them and the police are called – but they can abuse anyone freely

Pointing the finger: A Conservative MP shouts at Commons Speaker John Bercow during discussion of the Grieve Amendment.

Conservative MPs have been at their abusive worst in Parliament – heckling Speaker John Bercow over his decision to allow a vote on the so-called Grieve Amendment, and hurling insults at Jeremy Corbyn, ironically as he called for a “safe space” from such behaviour during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The hypocrisy comes into sharp focus when one recalls that only two days before, Conservative MPs wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, demanding stronger policing of the area outside the Palace of Westminster to prevent abuse of the kind directed at Conservative MP Anna Soubry by (right-wing pro-Brexit) protesters on Monday.

Note that I put “right wing pro-Brexit” in parentheses because there seems to be a concerted effort to airbrush this fact out of the record, along with the abuse of left-wing journalist Owen Jones by the same people. We’ll come to that shortly.

First, let’s consider yesterday’s Parliamentary antics, starting with the Grieve Amendment. Tory backbencher and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve had proposed an amendment to legislation that gives the government 21 days to say what happens next if its Brexit deal is voted down, and a further seven sitting days (days in which Parliament is in session) in which to hold a vote.

The amendment reduces the time allowed before a statement is made to just three days. It isn’t binding, but it would be extremely damaging to Theresa May if she failed to do so.

MPs objected because they claimed the original legislation was unamendable. Mr Bercow held a different view:

Let’s see if I can dig out some examples of the behaviour he had to endure. Here’s Arj Singh:

That’s mild. Try this:

Mr Clarke’s reference was to the right-wingers who abused Ms Soubry and Mr Jones, and hints as to the attitudes he saw being expressed around him.

Then we had the hypocrisy of the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom:

Here’s the icing on this particularly rotten cake – the moment when Tory MP Adam Holloway accused Mr Bercow of trying to sabotage Brexit, claiming as evidence that the Speaker has a pro-Remain sticker on his car. The slapdown was brilliant:

https://twitter.com/SidUnite/status/1083002551493189637

It seems clear that the behaviour of these Conservatives lowered the tone of debate in the Commons and arguably harmed the reputation of Parliament itself – although some would say that this cannot happen as they have already damaged it irreparably:

The arguments over the Amendment were – sadly – only a sequel to a similar unseemly display during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn mentioned the intimidation of Ms Soubry and Mr Jones on Monday. The prime minister said politicians and the media should be able to go about their work without harassment and intimidation.

Sadly, her backbenchers did not pay any attention to her (perhaps cementing our opinion that she is no leader) and poured abuse at Mr Corbyn while he agreed with her. He said: “We also have to be clear that intimidation is wrong outside this building as it is wrong in any other aspect of life in this country, and we have to create a safe space for political debate.”

By this point, the level of heckling had reached a point beyond which he could not continue, so he pointed it out: “You see what I mean, Mr Speaker; I am calling for a safe space for political debate.”

The Tory perpetrators may have enjoyed themselves but the public drew the appropriate conclusions, as the following comments bear out:

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/1082976660322955264

And of course, that is what they have been trying to do.

Possibly worse than the habitually abusive behaviour of Tory MPs is the apparent attempt to pretend that the only person suffering abuse on College Green on Monday was Ms Soubry.

I myself was so surprised to see her mentioned on the BBC’s lunchtime Politics Live show – and not Owen Jones, who is a frequent panellist there – that I actually raised the matter with editor Rob Burley. Here’s the dialogue:

What do you think of that?

More concerning still were the efforts to mitigate the effect of Mr Burley’s choice – which was to play up the effect on Ms Soubry and play down that on Mr Jones – by members of the public. Here’s one such comment:

Owen Jones himself put that comment in its place, in a response to information from Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick that – as with the BBC – attempted to excise the abuse of Mr Jones from the record:

Left-wing members of the public have made it clear that they are not going to accept this kind of misreporting from the mainstream media:

If you are confused as to the reason television news reporters have tried to play down the targeting of people who represent the Left by people who are for all intents and purposes fascists, I refer you to this perceptive comment by Mr Jones, that makes it clear that the mainstream media have legitimised it:

The attitudes we have seen are sickening: Right-wing MPs have shown they are happy to abuse others before TV cameras in the Palace of Westminster, while decrying the same behaviour against their own by members of the public who were filmed on mobile phones, as their cronies in the mass media do their best to make it seem that they are the victims – when in fact they have stoked the extreme attitudes that lead to such abuse, threatening behaviour and, ultimately, violence.

These are our elected representatives but if this is how they conduct themselves, they do not represent me. We must demand better.

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


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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

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

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

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

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


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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

PMQs drama: Corbyn outplays May – and her poodle press – by highlighting poverty

Strong words: But it was clear that Mr Corbyn had the upper hand.

What kind of idiot thinks Jeremy Corbyn is going to waste Prime Minister’s Questions on Brexit when he’s supposed to be debating it with Theresa May in a TV special?

Idiots like the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and Nick Robinson, and The Sun‘s Tom Newton-Dunn, that’s what kind.

If he had talked about Brexit, then Mrs May would have had an excuse to say there was no point in a separate televised debate, which has been the subject of considerable argument in recent days – it would have got her off the hook.

So instead he reminded us all of what the Tories are doing in the background, while Brexit takes up all our attention – driving most of the UK into grievous poverty.

It’s a good policy when there’s a chance we’ll have a general election in the very near future.

Here’s Peter Stefanovic to explain what happened:

https://twitter.com/PeterStefanovi2/status/1070308305606795265

And now here‘s The Canary‘s Steve Topple to explain how the mainstream media reacted: “But…! But…! Corbyn should have gone for #Brexit at #PMQs – says the Westminster bubble who’ve never been in poverty in their lives.”

That’s right, the idiots carped – and got what they deserved on the social media. Here’s Laura Kuenssberg:

Clare Hepworth OBE responded: “This is UNBELIEVABLE it is SURREAL! Politics Live & L. Kuenssberg actually criticising Corbyn for majoring on poverty.”

Wolfie was more on-the-nose: “Absolute bollocks. Several hours were spent on Brexit last night, and it will be debated for days to come. UC and poverty is killing people now, and Jeremy Corbyn is right to highlight it. Heaven knows, you at the BBC won’t.”

Tom Pride went for satire: “BREAKING: comfortably off BBC journalist pampered in her luxurious Westminster bubble can’t understand why anyone would want to talk about families struggling to make ends meet. More soon …”

Here’s Nick Robinson:

Adam Bienkov was incisive: “The outrage every time Corbyn asks about something other than Brexit at PMQs says a lot more about the obsessive one-track mind at Westminster than it does about the Labour leader.”

Corbyn Supporters 50+ spelt it out – personally: “Your tweet so clearly demonstrates your unconscious incompetence and it’s preventing you from realising that Jeremy Corbyn is more politically astute than your level of understanding allows you to contemplate. In other words – you’re an ignorant, pompous ass.”

Tom Pride was on a roll: “BREAKING: comfortably off BBC journalist pampered in his luxurious Westminster bubble can’t understand why anyone would want to talk about struggling families. More (lots more) soon …”

Now here’s Tom Newton-Dunn:

Jack Pottinger countered directly: “It was brilliant political judgement. While all this Brexit nonsense plays out real people are suffering due to political decisions made by this government.”

Tom Pride had, by now, settled into a pattern: “BREAKING: out-of-touch, comfortably off journalist pampered in his luxurious Westminster bubble can’t understand why anyone would want to talk about families struggling to make ends meet. More soon …”

At least Anna Soubry had an excuse, as she could be said to have had an ulterior motive:

So Evolve Politics got straight to the substantive issue: “And anyone would think you’re perfectly happy with the sickening levels of poverty and homelessness your government has created.”

That’s right – she is.

If you doubt that, consider the 87 per cent rise in child homelessness reported by Shelter.

Or think about the “lost decade for wages” described by Jeremy Corbyn in the clip below. Watch Theresa May’s reaction carefully:

She laughed. Like so many Tory MPs, she thinks it is funny that so many people are being bled dry. And this disgusting reaction was seen by millions of disgusted viewers:

The Tory media poodles want you to think Mr Corbyn failed to land a killer blow, but the following sounds like a sucker-punch to me:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1070299716481634304

Why else would so many people have taken it up and repeated the reference to a sickening public relations stunt by Conservative MPs over the weekend? Take a look:

And what did Mrs May have to say in reply?

So we see that, far from scoring an “own goal”, as some news-hacks have claimed, Mr Corbyn sidestepped an attempt to get Mrs May out of the televised Brexit debate to which she had challenged him, raised an issue that highlighted despicable behaviour by her government and Tory MPs generally, and delivered a crippling criticism of that behaviour.

That strikes This Writer as a good job, well done.

And for those who are still unconvinced that Mr Corbyn did the right thing: Consider the following tweet from campaigner Paula Peters, whose opinion on the government’s mistreatment and impoverishment of people with disabilities is always well worth learning:

It seems Mrs May has scored enough own goals herself to make such an uprising – at the ballot box – a distinct possibility.

Let us hope we all have a chance to demonstrate our opinion of her, and the privations she has inflicted on us, in the very near future.

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


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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

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

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

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

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


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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Tories in tatters over NHS as stormin’ Corbyn trounces Theresa May

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'.

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.”

Oh really?

“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!

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.

161123-health-tourism-cartoon

“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.”

Yes indeed. What a shame her party – the Conservatives – comprehensively trashed the UK’s economy in order to hurt the poor.

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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


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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

At the last PMQs of 2015, Corbyn won out with substance over style | Voices | The Independent

151104corbynsideeye

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.

Source: At the last PMQs of 2015, Corbyn won out with substance over style | Voices | The Independent

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Quote-miner Cameron has no answer on tax credit cuts – AGAIN

151104corbynsideeye

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.

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

DWP blamed by second coroner for incapacity benefit claimant suicide

The late Julia Kelly

The late Julia Kelly

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?

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Serial shaming for Iain Duncan Smith in Prime Minister’s Questions

151021IDSshame

Shame: Iain Duncan Smith.

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.

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

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

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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

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

HWG PrintHWG eBook

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

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook