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Former prime minister Theresa May seemed to have developed a backbone when she stood up to Boris Johnson over his Brexit u-turn – but that’s only if you haven’t noticed her betrayal of the dead of Grenfell, that happened less than 24 hours before.
As the Johnson government introduced new legislation into Parliament, contradicting the withdrawal agreement that Johnson himself negotiated and signed, Mrs May had this to say about it:
Theresa May asking Brandon Lewis how other countries can trust us if we are going back on international laws that this government signed up to. Remarkable that the previous Prime Minister has to ask such a question. Deeply worrying for our country.
But while we may praise Mrs May for her response to the withdrawal agreement, er… withdrawal, she has disgraced herself over the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
May was prime minister when the London tower block was engulfed in flames, due to the fact that it was covered in highly-flammable cladding.
She said at the time that she would work to make sure no such tragedy ever happened again.
Well, cladding on another London block caught fire with the same effect between then and now – fortunately with no fatalities.
And yesterday, Mrs May happily voted to ensure that the recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry – including the removal of such cladding from private and publicly-owned residential properties – will not be implemented by the government:
Last night, Theresa May was one of the 308 Tory MPs who voted down the Grenfell Tower inquiry recommendations https://t.co/Fyc0gIJTSy
“We must ensure such a tragedy never happens again. We, in Parliament, must do all we can to help them.” Theresa May just voted against implementing the Grenfell Inquiry recommendations. Never trust a Tory.
If a government minister says she has accepted all recommendations in an independent review, then it turns out that two of them have been even partially rejected, then she has lied.
Perhaps Sarah Newton should be dragged back to Parliament to explain why she has said one thing and done another?
One wonders whether she’ll try to get away with saying it was a mistake.
The minister for disabled people has refused to approve two key recommendations made by the independent reviewer of its new disability benefit, which would have made it easier for claimants to protect themselves against dishonest assessment reports.
Among the recommendations made for improvements to personal independence payment (PIP), Paul Gray said earlier this year that all assessments should be recorded, although claimants should be able to opt out if they wanted to.
He also said that all PIP claimants should be given a copy of their assessment report when receiving the letter from DWP telling them if their claim has been successful.
But despite telling parliament that she had accepted all Gray’s recommendations, Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, has failed to accept either of these suggestions.
But it says that “given the scale of the challenge” of providing copies of assessment reports to every claimant and “the high cost to the taxpayer… this is not an option we will be pursuing.”
On automatic audio recording of assessments, having already completed one pilot of audio recording of 400 assessments, DWP now says it is “looking at a further feasibility study”.
Providing copies of assessment reports to all claimants and audio-recording assessments would both be likely to make it harder for assessors working for the discredited outsourcing companies Atos and Capita to produce dishonest accounts of assessments.
Evil eyes: Esther McVey seems to get a perverse thrill from pretending her government’s policies are helping people; it is more likely they are driving the needy to despair and suicide.
Note to Iain Duncan Smith: It is not a good idea to try to inspire confidence in a £multi-billion “money pit” disaster by wheeling out Esther McVey to lie about it.
The woman dubbed “Fester McVile” by some commentators has accumulated a reputation so bad that the only way she can hide the metaphorical stink from the public is by associating with …Smith himself, in whose stench she seems almost fragrant. But not quite.
This is a woman who has lied to the public that it is impossible to carry out a cumulative assessment of the impact on the sick and disabled of the Coalition’s ‘final solution’ changes to the benefit system.
This is the woman who, in the face of public unrest about the prevalence of zero-hours contracts, announced that Job Centre advisors will now be able to force the unemployed into taking this exploitative work.
She has previously misled Parliament over the loophole in Bedroom Tax legislation that meant the government had removed Housing Benefit from thousands of people who were exempt from the measure – including Stephanie Bottrill, whose suicide has been attributed to the pressure of having to survive on less because of the tax. Asked how many people had been affected by the loophole, McVey played it down by claiming she did not know the answer, while other ministers suggested between 3,000 and 5,000. In fact, from Freedom of Information requests to which just one-third of councils responded, 16,000 cases were revealed.
Mark Hoban stood in for McVey to trot out the lie that independent reviews of the Work Capability Assessment had identified areas of improvement on which the government was acting. In fact, out of 25 recommendations in the Year One review alone, almost two-thirds were not fully and successfully implemented.
In a debate on food banks, McVey’s lies came thick and fast: She accused the previous Labour government of a “whirl of living beyond our means” that “had to come to a stop” without ever pausing to admit that it was Tory-voting bankers who had been living beyond their means, who caused the crash, and who are still living beyond their means today, because her corporatist (thank you, Zac Goldsmith) Conservative government has protected them.
She accused Labour of trying to keep food banks as “its little secret”, forcing Labour’s Jim Cunningham to remind us all that food banks were set up by churches to help refugees who were waiting for their asylum status to be confirmed – not as a support system for British citizens, as they have become under the Coalition’s failed regime.
She said the Coalition government was brought in to “solve the mess that Labour got us in”, which is not true – it was born from a backroom deal between two of the most unscrupulous party leaders of recent times, in order to ensure they and their friends could get their noses into the money trough (oh yes, there’s plenty of money around – but this government is keeping it away from you).
She said the Coalition had got more people into work than ever before – without commenting on the fact that the jobs are part-time, zero-hours, self-employed contracts that benefit the employers but exploit the workers and in fact propel them towards poverty.
She lied to Parliament, claiming that children are three times more likely to be in poverty if they are in a workless household. In fact, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in-work poverty has now outstripped that suffered by those in workless and retired households; children are more likely to be in poverty if their parents have jobs.
She attacked Labour for allowing five million people to be on out-of-work benefits, with two million children in workless households – but under her government the number of households suffering in-work poverty has risen to eight million (by 2008 standards), while workless or retired households in poverty have risen to total 6.3 million.
She claimed that 60,000 people were likely to use a food bank this year – but Labour’s Paul Murphy pointed out that 60,000 people will use food banks this year in Wales alone. The actual figure for the whole of the UK is 500,000.
She said the Coalition’s tax cuts had given people an extra £700 per year, without recognising that the real-terms drop in wages and rise in the cost of living means people will be £1,600 a year worse-off when the next general election takes place, tax cuts included. She said stopping fuel price increases meant families were £300 better-off, which is nonsense. Families cannot become better off because something has not happened; it’s like saying I’m better off because the roof of my house hasn’t fallen in and squashed me.
Her talents won exactly the recognition they deserved when her Wikipedia entry was altered to describe her as “the Assistant Grim Reaper for Disabled People since 2012, second only to Iain Duncan Smith. She was previously a television presenter and businesswoman before deciding to branch out into professional lying and helping disabled people into the grave.”
In her food bank speech, she also said the government had brought in Universal Credit to ensure that three million people become better-off. There’s just one problem with that system – it doesn’t work.
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