It’s the only conclusion one can infer from Keir Starmer’s decision to give Lisa Nandy a Shadow Cabinet post: that he has absolutely no intention to even try to regain Labour’s dominance in Scotland.
Nandy infamously said that the UK should “look to Catalonia” for lessons on how to defeat Scottish nationalism.
She was referring to the Spanish government’s use of force to try to stop a disputed independence referendum in Catalonia, in 2017.
Starmer’s decision to put her in the Shadow Cabinet is certain to infuriate voters in Scotland, who now see her as hate-filled and violent. Who can blame them?
And it indicates that left-wing fears are correct: Starmer is jerking Labour rightward once again – and he knows that a right-wing Labour Party cannot hope to retake Scotland from the SNP.
It also indicates that he knows his place. Without Scottish seats, Labour cannot hope to win a general election. He stands confirmed as the Labour leader who’ll keep the party in opposition to keep a socialist out of Downing Street.
What a charmer: Rachel Reeves hates people who don’t have a job – and loves a historic anti-Semite.
Keir Starmer seems to be sending mixed messages at the moment.
After practically prostituting himself to the witch-hunters of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Community Security Trust, Jewish Labour Movement and so on – who are keen to see him expel previous leader Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party, he has made Rachel Reeves Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Ms Reeves is currently infamous for praising Nancy Astor who, besides being the first female MP, was a notorious anti-Semite.
Unacceptable that Rachel Reeves has been given a #ShadowCabinet role given just under two months ago she was healing praise on the commemoration Nancy Astor – a known Nazi ideologue and supporter of Hitler.
Previously, Ms Reeves was unpopular because she said Labour should be “tougher than the Tories” on people claiming social security benefits. How was she going to manage that – by lining them up against a wall and shooting them?
"Sir" Keir Starmer has appointed Blairite dinosaur Rachel Reeves as Rachel Reeves becomes Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
If this is the quality of Starmer’s ShadCab choices, he can take his new New Labour and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.
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.
Sam Gyimah on @bbcr4today: There is a blocking minority in the Commons for every type of Brexit .. the most sensible path for both Leavers and Remainers could be a second referendum. 'The public will not forgive us if we don't level with them about the difficult choices'
Contrast this with Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the loss of Kate Osamor, who resigned as Shadow International Development Secretary after her son was convicted on drugs charges.
It was the right decision. When the right-wing media get hold of a story that is potentially damaging to the Labour Party, they tend to go big.
In this case, Ms Osamor’s son Ishmael had been convicted of possessing £2,500 worth of drugs when he was at Bestival in 2017, with intent to supply. Apparently he was looking after the drugs for friends and the “supply” part of his conviction referred to his intention to hand them back.
The Times published a story claiming that Ms Osamor had lied that she did not know anything about the conviction when she employed her son in her Parliamentary office – as she had apparently written to the court, pleading for clemency. It also reported that she had thrown a bucket of water over the newspaper reporter who doorstepped her about the matter.
So, all things considered, it seems wise for her to take herself out of public view. Here’s her statement:
An important commitment to benefit claimants from Shadow Work and Pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams.
Her use of the word “transform” may ring alarm bells, as it is the catchword used by private consultants when they change government systems without making them better.
I’ve known Ms Abrahams long enough to believe she means Labour will change the system for the better.
This is a promise to achieve that – and for government to stop letting UK citizens down. You can hold her to it.
To describe our current social security system, following six years of Conservative ‘reform’, as Kafkaesque sounds prosaic. Yet I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach shows us how in this case the description rings perfectly true. Despite having been employed as a carpenter his whole working life, Daniel faces a seemingly endless maze of barriers in making his claim for support after suffering a heart attack, with ‘advice’ delivered to him in rushed jobcentre interviews. He is told that he must sign a claimant commitment for jobseekers allowance and spend hours seeking work, despite his doctor stating he is unfit for work and still in recovery.
This is not news to those of us trying to support people through the system. In 2014, a constituent of mine suffered a heart attack midway through a DWP work capability assessment. He was rushed to hospital, only to find a letter telling him he had been sanctioned and his payments stopped for failing to complete the assessment when he arrived back home.
Sadly, his case is one of many thousands that I have received since being elected to Parliament. Loach’s depiction of the frustration caused by a social security system administered through faceless ‘decision-makers’ will be recognised by the many who have, through sickness or ill health, been forced to rely on it. The despair felt by many as their determination to fight the bureaucratic system ebbs away as ever greater hurdles are placed in their way is something I sadly see every day.
I believe there is a better way and a fairer way. I don’t want people who have paid into the system all their life, but then need support having become sick or disabled to be made to feel worthless and dehumanised by a state that should be there to support them.
Labour will transform the whole social security system. But fundamentally, I want to change how our social security system is perceived. The government has used the poisonous “shirker” and “scrounger” language to vilify people on social security as the new undeserving poor.
That’s why I used the trailer for I, Daniel Blake at the start of my Conference speech last month. The film brings the consequences of the Government’s current policies to full public attention. No longer should people who are ill and disabled be left to fight the system alone. We must all stand together to ensure that there are no more Daniel Blakes.
Congratulations to John McDonnell, in particular, on his appointment as Shadow Chancellor.
Mr McDonnell is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and a man who is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. Reports state that Angela Eagle could have been offered the job, but This Writer is glad that Mr McDonnell took it instead – even if it has led to gripes that nobody in the ‘top four’ jobs is a woman.
Instead, Ms Eagle has been named Shadow Business Secretary and Shadow First Secretary of State, meaning she will stand in for Mr Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions when David Cameron is away.
Rachel Reeves: The coalition has distorted the benefit debate so much that 64 per cent of Labour voters think benefits should be cut – and she doesn’t have the backbone to correct them.
Here’s a question that gets asked very often in any debate on state benefits: “Isn’t it right that the taxpayer should only support people who really need it?”
The implication is that the government of the day is right to restrict benefit provision.
The answer, of course, is to point at some of the cases we have known, in which benefits have been taken away from people; cases like that of David Clapson, an ex-soldier who was sanctioned off of Jobseekers’ Allowance and died of diabetic ketoacidosis three weeks into the sanction period. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit, meaning the fridge where he kept the insulin he used to treat his diabetes was not working. A coroner found that when David died there was no food in his stomach. Was the government right to restrict his benefits? Or was this state-sponsored murder?
How about severely bipolar Sheila Holt, who recently died after spending months in a coma caused by a heart attack she suffered after being pushed onto the government’s slave-labour Work Programme? Even while she was comatose, the work programme provider – Seetec – was sending her letters about her suitability for employment. There is no doubt that the stress of being forced onto the Work Programme led to her death – in fact the government has apologised for its actions. It therefore seems redundant to ask the question, “Was the government right to restrict her benefits?” as we already know the answer.
How about Karen Sherlock, who was suffering from kidney failure when her Employment and Support Allowance was cut off by Iain Duncan Smith’s minions. She died, apparently of a heart attack, after an operation was cancelled. Was the government right to restrict her benefits?
How about Stephanie Bottrill, who took her own life by walking in front of a lorry on the M6, just one month after the Bedroom Tax had been introduced by Iain Duncan Smith. Her rent at the time was £320 per month, some of which was subsidised by Housing Benefit – but the imposition of an extra £80 charge, to come from her own money, was too much for her finances to take. She left a note to relatives in which she made clear that she had taken her own life – and that she blamed the government. Was the government right to restrict her benefits?
According to the last figures available to us (from 2011 – and related to ESA alone), four more people die as a result of the government’s benefit regime every three hours – more than 200 every week. These figures are, however, more than three years old; they do not encompass the rise in suicides that takes place in the run-up to Christmas every year and they pre-date the effects of Iain Duncan Smith’s homicidal Welfare Reform Act 2012.
Meanwhile, as Polly Toynbee has pointed out in her latest Guardianarticle, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary puts her foot in her mouth every time she talks about benefits. “She has the hardest shadow post, reconciling the party’s mission to stand with the underdog while facing a public fed by a stream of statistics-free anecdotes about welfare cheats,” writes Ms Toynbee.
That’s as may be, but she should be challenging those preconceptions, not conforming to them. “When last in power Labour failed to shift the enemy’s terms of engagement, hiding its own good actions behind tough talk,” writes Ms Toynbee.
“This mirrors too much Labour policy, foggy messages hiding agonised ambivalence – and voters smell out that inauthentic verbal triangulation.”
How true those words are. This writer was recently attacked by the shadow Welsh secretary, Owen Smith, for pointing out that he had confirmed, in his own words, that Labour would not speak out against the work capability assessment (that is responsible for three of the four deaths mentioned above) for fear of the right-wing press. This effectively means that his party is asking the sick and disabled to die for Labour’s election hopes.
Mr Smith threatened me with legal action after this blog put his words into plain English. He has since gone quiet, which is just as well. Not only has there been a national debate on the subject (of which Ms Toynbee’s article is just the latest part) but at least one reader has been able to confirm that my words were accurate, after a doorstep conversation with his own Labour candidate. Other readers are encouraged to do the same.
“On benefits, most voters are conflicted,” Ms Toynbee continues. “No one, least of all those working hard for very little, wants people cheating.” That is true. But then, 99.3 per cent of benefit claimants aren’t cheating at all. This government just treats them as if they are.
“Labour can’t win this internalised tussle by replicating it, but could earn credit by encouraging the nation’s better instincts,” writes Ms Toynbee.
The shame is that all the words coming from Labour suggest it will do the former, rather than the latter.
Slippery as an eel, the submarine Chancellor has surfaced from whatever hiding-place he has been using for the last week or so, insisted that the pursuit of people who evaded tax on advice from the HSBC Bank is nothing to do with him, and re-submerged before anybody could point out that this isn’t entirely true.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne doesn’t have a hand in individual prosecutions – but he does set the conditions under which such investigations are undertaken.
Alex Little is therefore correct in pointing out that Osborne is notably not saying that HMRC will have all the resources it needs to carry out a full and exhaustive investigation into the HSBC scandal, and that he needs to appoint financial regulators who actually want to stamp out abuses, rather than those who live in sublime ignorance (such as the gentleman mentioned in Mr Little’s article).
None of the government’s actions have satisfied Labour. Chris Leslie, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “George Osborne has finally emerged, but he still hasn’t answered any of the key questions over the HSBC scandal. He cannot continue to duck responsibility for HMRC’s failure to act or the decision to make Lord Green a Conservative Minister.
“Why has there only been one prosecution out of 1,100 names? Why did George Osborne and David Cameron appoint Lord Green as a Minister months after the government received these files? Did they discuss tax evasion at HSBC with Lord Green, or did they turn a blind eye?
“And why did the Treasury sign a deal with the Swiss authorities in 2012 which prevents the UK from actively obtaining similar information in the future?”
According to The Guardian, a YouGov survey for the Times Red Box found 62% of people want the chancellor to answer these questions.
The longer he leaves it, the less electable his Conservative Party becomes…
… and the more like a gang of crooks covering their friends’ backs.
Rachel Reeves: This photo is a rare occasion in which she doesn’t have her foot in her mouth.
I’ll say it if nobody else will – Rachel Reeves is so stupid she could lose Labour the election.
Work and Pensions is a gaping policy open-goal for the Tories but Ms Reeves can’t see this and wants the world to know she’ll out-cut them on the Benefit Cap.
“Labour supports a cap on benefits. We will ask an independent commission to look at whether the cap should be lower in some areas,” are her actual words.
What stupidity. One can only imagine she is basing these comments on the fact that wages are lower in some areas than others. But prices are just as high!
Sure, it’s an important point that David Cameron’s government “has spent £25bn more than planned on welfare because of his failure to tackle the low pay that leaves millions dependent on benefits to make ends meet”. And her comments about apprenticeships may be accurate as well.
But what about all the deaths caused by Iain Duncan Smith’s homicidal benefits regime?
What about the huge numbers of people who have simply disappeared from the benefit system rather than face another round of humiliation and sanction on possibly fraudulent grounds?
What about workfare?
What about zero-hours contracts, part-time and temporary work, and all the dodges employers are using to get out of paying for holidays, sickness and the like?
What about the scandal of our low-wage economy, that keeps people on in-work benefits and denies the Treasury the Income Tax money it needs to pay off the deficit and debt?
What about the many other legitimate grounds for laying into the Coalition government?
This is utterly unacceptable – and in the run-up to an election.
What is Ed Miliband thinking, letting her keep the Work and Pensions brief?
He must get rid of her – not just for our sakes, but for his own party’s electoral chances.
At long last, Labour has launched an attack on Coalition – particularly Conservative – ‘welfare’ policies. And it’s a strong one.
Perhaps the sustained criticism of shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves has done some good because her speech today (November 26) attacks the policies of her hopeless Conservative counterpart Iain Duncan Smith in many ways and on several levels – and on all those levels, it works.
The catchline is ‘Tory Welfare Waste’, which attacks not only Duncan Smith’s profligacy in wasting no less than £25 billion on his useless schemes, but also the waste of talent – especially that of young people ‘parked’ on benefits by his system – and of their time.
As Conor Pope writes in his LabourList article about the speech, “For a Government hell-bent on an austerity agenda with such a focus on making “benefit scroungers” pay, the amount of unnecessary money they’ve splashed out on their welfare policies is startling.
“Take the now infamous Universal Credit… the DWP had aimed to have a million people on the scheme by this point, yet are currently 982,150 behind that figure. The cost so far? A cool half a billion pounds.
“Bedroom Tax, too. Another policy that strikes society’s most disadvantaged hardest and does not prove cost effective: by pushing people out of the council houses they can no longer afford and into private housing, the housing benefit bill has exploded in many places.”
And new independent research shows that the Coalition has spent £5 billion more than it planned on tax credits over the course of this Parliament.
So the Conservative-led Coalition has overspent massively, both on failed policies and the state having to pick up the tab for companies who don’t pay their workers enough to get by. The failure to tackle low pay will cost another £1 billion in the current parliament.
While all this happens, of course, the Tories plan billions in tax cuts for people earning over £40,000 a year.
As Mr Pope concludes: “Whatever happened to the balanced budgets of tomorrow? The Tories… aren’t just wasting lives; they’re screwing the economy to do it.”
Snouts in the trough: Martin Rowson’s Guardian cartoon goes straight to the heart of the matter – fracking isn’t about ending the energy crisis, or even extracting shale gas in a reasonable way; it is about GREED.
… at least, not without some cast-iron promises about how this gas is to be mined.
According to the Sunday Express(of all places), “The opposition says it will not support fracking without transparency about chemicals used in the process, monitoring of groundwater and environmental impact assessments for all drilling sites.”
“Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex, who has admitted shale gas ‘may have a role to play’ in Britain’s future energy needs, warned Labour might yet withhold support.
“He told the Sunday Express: ‘If the Government accept our amendments, there will be much more thorough regulation, but there are other issues.
“’The real test for the Government is to move beyond their rhetoric about shale as the silver bullet that will solve all our energy problems.’”
Let nobody say that Labour supports the Coalition on unregulated mining of shale gas by fracking!
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