Tag Archives: spat

Will PFI campaign be derailed by MP’s spat with blogger?

Stella Creasy [Image: Nicola Tree/ Getty Images].

This is all a little silly.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has launched a campaign to stop companies that have signed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals with the government from benefiting from falls in the rate of Corporation Tax.

Ms Creasy says it is important because, when these deals are signed, the rate of tax companies will pay is directly part of deciding if they represent value for money.

On her Facebook page, she explained: “If I buy a toaster and then its on offer a week later I don’t get the difference back so why should these companies get such a windfall – either they come to the table to renegotiate these contracts and the cost of them to the public sector or we should be willing to legislate. Help us secure support from more MPs for this.”

She linked to a Guardian article which elaborated:

Companies that built and run NHS hospitals under private finance initiative (PFI) contracts will have made about £190m in unexpected windfall profits by 2020 because of George Osborne and Philip Hammond’s cuts to corporation tax, research suggests.

Analysis by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest found that more than 100 PFI operators in the NHS collectively saved an estimated £84m between 2008 and 2015 and are due to gain another £106m between 2016 and 2020 because of the falling corporate tax rate.

The PFI companies are making bonus profits because the corporation tax rate has fallen from 30% when the majority of their contracts were negotiated to 19% now and is due to drop as low as 17% by 2020. Some companies may be deferring their tax liabilities to later in their contracts when the rates will be lower.

She also discusses the matter in a Twitter thread:

For many of us – especially those who never like the idea of PFI in the first place – this is a worthwhile cause. These companies are already making a fortune at the taxpayer’s long-term expense; why should they receive millions more – apparently in breach of their contracts – because of Tory tax changes?

But there’s a snag.

Ms Creasy’s campaign seems to have been overshadowed by her inability to answer a simple question: Whether she thinks it is acceptable for Labour MPs to be friends with – and socialise with – Conservative MPs.

Our fellow leftie blog, the Skwawkbox, raised this issue a couple of days ago after discovering that Ms Creasy had attended a gig with Tory MP Therese Coffey on December 16.

In light of Ms Creasy’s fellow Labour MP Laura Pidcock’s well-publicised belief that Labour MPs should not “hang out with Tory women” who are “no friends of mine” and “an enemy to lots of women”, Skwawkbox blogger Steve Walker asked for Ms Creasy to comment.

In response, he received a torrent of evasion – and, to be honest, abuse. See for yourself, here and here.

Her bizarre attitude has been bolstered by an article in the Huffington Post that supports her attitude of indignation that a blogger should call her out on this matter.

Isn’t this hypocritical of the HuffPost, which was quite happy to quote the Skwawkbox interview with Ms Pidcock, where she first made her comments about Labour MPs fraternising with the Tories? This Writer thinks so.

It seems the aim is to divert attention. Ms Creasy seems so desperate to avoid telling us whether she thinks it’s okay to hang out with her political enemies, she’ll try to point us at anything else.

So she has claimed Skwawkbox was attacking her taste in music, then that the blog is misogynist, and finally that the blog was trying to undermine her PFI campaign.

I’m sorry, but it seems Ms Creasy has managed that, all by herself.

And it seems she has succeeded in hoodwinking people. Look at the following tweet, from another respected blogger, Tom Pride:

The issue isn’t musical taste, Tom.

It’s whether this particular person on the Left actually has any interest in opposing the Tories.

From my point of view, there is a simple way out, of course.

It is for Ms Creasy to swallow her pride, apologise for making a mountain out of a molehill, answer the question she was askedand clarify exactly whose side she’s on.

Then, perhaps we can all get behind her worthwhile campaign.

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PIP policy hitch while Tory boys bitch

Stumble in the (political) jungle: Who wants to see two Tory clowns drawling weak attempts at wit when their party's policies are bringing the country to its knees?

Stumble in the (political) jungle: Who wants to see two Tory clowns drawling weak attempts at wit when their party’s policies are bringing the country to its knees?

Even boxing promoters would have had a hard time talking up the ‘spat’ between the so-called Grey Man and the Quiet Man of politics.

The hyperbolic talents of Don King would be hard-pressed to hide the fact that what Sir John Major and Iain Duncan Smith need, more than anything else, is a sense of proportion. People are suffering, and all they do is squabble.

It was Major who opened hostilities. In a speech on Tuesday, he questioned Smith’s attack on the British social security system, saying: “I truly wish him well. But it is enormously complicated and unless he is very lucky, which he may not be, or a genius, which – the last time I looked – was unproven, he may get some of it wrong.”

We were to see evidence of this very quickly, as the government has been forced to announce that its plan to shift people from Disability Living Allowance to the new Personal Independence Payment has been delayed. Instead of rolling out across the whole of England, Scotland and Wales next week, it will now happen in only certain areas.

If their condition changes, claimants in Wales, the East and West Midlands and East Anglia will transfer to PIP. Otherwise, everybody will remain on DLA.

The announcement echoes one earlier this year, in which Smith’s much-trumpeted Universal Credit rolled it, not so much with a bang as with a moan – in just one pilot area, where only the simplest cases were handled.

For those affected, this can only be a relief. PIP will be payable to fewer people than DLA because it has tougher requirements. For example, people used to qualify for the mobility component if they could not walk 50m; under the new benefit this has been cut to 20m for no good reason.

Sir John’s remarks revived hostilities between himself and the Work and Pensions Secretary that have been dormant since the early 1990s, when Smith was one of a group of Tory rebels who campaigned against the decision to sign the Maastricht Treaty for European Union integration.

In an interview at the time, Sir John described his opponents as “bastards”. He repeated the phrase in Tuesday’s speech, admitting its use was “unacceptable” – but then he added that his “only excuse was that it was true”.

Smith, nicknamed ‘Returned To Unit’ (or ‘RTU’ for short) by this site in recognition of his many failings and unanswered questions about his army career, responded by telling the Evening Standard: “I just say I think we should all look at each other and be a little more pleasant.”

Is that so, Iain?

May we take it that this is a new policy, and you will be telling staff in all your Job Centres and every DWP office, up and down the country, that they should be more pleasant to the people who have to use the excuse for a service that they provide?

Are they now to stop trying to bully people off Jobseekers’ Allowance any way they can, and to actually start treating their fellow citizens with the respect that has been missing from those places since you took over as Work and Pensions Secretary?

Perhaps the private Work Programme providers you pay to take these people off the unemployment statistics will start actually trying to help our unemployed people, instead of putting them on pointless courses in things they know already and pocketing the lion’s share of the cash?


Well, that’s no surprise to anyone. You don’t listen to anything but your own beliefs. It’s long past time you grew up and admitted the failures inherent in Universal Credit, PIP and all your other reforms. In other words, get your priorities right.

And Sir John? That goes for you, too. You have no right to the moral high ground when your government set the scene for many of the problems we have today.