Tag Archives: Stephen Crabb

Former Work & Pensions Secretary wants Universal Credit raise for families? Tough.

Did Stephen Crabb not read the memos when he was running the department responsible for benefits?

The Tories aren’t interested in keeping families out of poverty! They’re all about putting families in poverty – so they spend the rest of their lives working their fingers to the bone to get back out again (something they’ll never do, because they are more profitable for employers if they’re in debt).

A Conservative MP has called on the UK government to increase benefits for families for a year.

Stephen Crabb said increasing the child element of universal credit would help families at risk of poverty from the coronavirus crisis.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary said many families faced losing their jobs and a “big drop” in income.

The UK government said it was committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and had taken “significant steps”.

Crabb’s old minister – the DWP – soon put him straight:

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “The UK government is committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and has already taken significant steps including ending the benefit freeze and increasing work incentives.

“We understand the current challenges many are facing which is why we injected £6.5bn into the welfare system, including increasing universal credit and working tax credit by up to £1,040 a year, as well as rolling out income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters.”

Translation: “We made a show of putting money in. We know it isn’t enough. Tough.”

Source: Tory MP Stephen Crabb calls for universal credit increase for families – BBC News

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Hypocritical Tories try gaslighting us with foodbank photocalls – but is something more serious behind it?

Tory porn: The ever-increasing food bank queue is entirely due to Conservative Party policies like Universal Credit and any claim to be concerned is the height of hypocrisy.

What is going on at the Trussell Trust?

Britain’s biggest food bank charity was once one of the wolves at the Tory government’s door; now it seems to be Theresa May’s poodle.

Has it been nobbled with another of the Tories’ famous gagging contracts, in which charities are blackmailed into promising not to criticise or embarrass the government or face the loss of funding? That seems possible – the Conservatives were threatening it, way back in 2014.

As Mrs May and her vile government of the privileged stares into the abyss being opened up by their failure of a Brexit deal, down which their support is likely to fall, it seems clear that they need to build up their profile if they are to have any chance at all in a snap general election.

So a series of photo opportunities in which MPs like Dominic Raab, Claire Perry, Ross Thomson and Stephen Crabb pretend to care about the people their policies have forced into food poverty – most obviously wherever Universal Credit has been rolled out – presumably seems a worthwhile wheeze. And Tesco seems to be getting a lot of free advertising from it!

We all need to be aware that they aren’t showing they care about us.

They’re taking the piss out of the poor – and they’re doing it to a script:

Click on the images in the tweet above to see a series of identical tweets from Conservative MPs working to that script.

But if they think we’re too stupid to see through this grotesque attempt at gaslighting, they need to think again. Witness:

Charlotte, who writes the Poor Side of Life blog which features true stories of people living at the sharp end of cruel Conservative policies that are geared towards harming the poor, also tweeted:

Hasan Patel told us:

Video legend EL4JC stated:

Ray Tallis pointed out:

Clare Hepworth directly addressed prime minister Theresa May:

She added, more generally:

Individual MPs came in for specific criticism, including Stephen Crabb:

Dominic Raab set himself up for particularly harsh – and totally deserved – criticism:

In response, David Schneider tweeted: “In predictable news, man who failed to realise we’re an island fails to realise connection between Tory policy and the poverty caused by Tory policy.

John Clarke suggested: “Alternative Headline: ‘Dominic Raab thanks turkeys for voting for Christmas!’ Dominic added: “Thank you, turkeys, I mean that most sincerely. No need for you to thank us humans for providing you with warm accommodation and a painless death at this time of year.”

Rachel Clarke (I have no idea if they’re related, although I doubt it) pointed to the facts: “Mr Raab, you cannot be unaware that the Trussell Trust’s own stats show >50% increase in food bank use in areas where universal credit was rolled out. Your policies have *created* this crisis and your faux concern is the height of hypocrisy.”

Libelling Tory misandrist Claire Perry, who falsely accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism and regularly accuses men who take a different opinion from her own of “mansplaining”, was out opening a food bank in Devizes. She never thought for a moment that the opening of a food bank is no cause for joy. Fortunately James Colwell was available to explain – not “mansplain” – it to her:

https://twitter.com/J_A_Colwell/status/1069143080178200578

Dave Ward added: “Look at the state of this. A Tory MP smiles as she opens a foodbank. A true measure of an improving society would be closing foodbanks not opening them. They truly have no shame.”

Woflie wondered: “Doesn’t Claire Perry realise that every food bank that opens is proof that the Tory Government is failing? Is she really that stupid?”

Answers please to [email protected] on Twitter.

And Frances Ryan, who writes so movingly about the Tories’ benefit brutality, added: “Tories having a brilliant time at food banks is my new obsession.”

It was up to Steve Peers to make the obvioius overarching point – and he made it well:

“The only photo that could leave a positive impression is a Tory MP with a food bank closing due to a genuine lack of need for it.”

So these food bank photo op Tories have all failed.

Instead of making themselves look like champions of the people, they have drawn attention to their own heartlessness.

Related to this is the emergence of new Tory general election candidates. Put this together with the food bank photo opportunities and it suggess they have to be getting ready for something – right?

The Labour Whips’ Twitter feed came out with the obvious: “Nothing to see here, just Theresa May and the Tories getting ready for that General Election she says won’t happen…”

But here’s a thing: Commentators across the mainstream media are telling us that, even if Mrs May loses a vote on her rubbish Brexit deal, she won’t lose the “no confidence” vote that the Labour Party will inevitably demand afterwards.

If that were true, we would not be seeing this attempt to charm the public.

I would certainly advise constituency Labour parties to make sure they have a prospective Parliamentary candidate in place. If this means deselecting one of the centrists who have been such a hindrance to Labour since 2015, they need to get on with it now.

It would be grimly humorous if the Tory attempt at jollying up the public was what alerted us to their election plans.

Why are people turning the Tory sexual harassment allegations into a joke?

Damian Green isn’t laughing – he’s tooling up with lawyers to fight allegations of inappropriate behaviour after he was named on the Tory sex spreadsheet [Image: Peter Nicholls/Reuters].

“Yes, that’s right,” said Mrs Mike. “Everybody’s making a big joke about it – and that is what allows it to continue.”

I had just pointed out the cover of the latest issue of Private Eye to her. Here it is:

Is it funny?

If you think so, ask yourself: Would you feel the same if you were a victim of the (alleged) monsters who have inflicted themselves on unwilling victims and forced them to stay silent? That is what has happened in some of the cases on the Tory sex spreadsheet – and never forget that there may be other cases yet to come to light.

Come to that, how about asking whether any other victims of sexual attack – of any kind – thinks it’s funny?

So, did Ian Hislop (the Eye‘s editor) shoot himself in the foot with that cover? It’s a good question. Perhaps it would be a good idea to use that cover as a yardstick for prevailing attitudes. Does a significant proportion of the public feel outraged? Or are they laughing along?

Michael Gove is probably hoping they’re laughing, after his rape “joke” attracted a storm of criticism – and absolutely nothing by way of reprimand from his boss – last weekend.

Labour’s Dawn Butler has drawn attention to it in a letter to Theresa May that asks what the minority prime minister is doing about the scandal – especially as all the activities that have been identified were known to Mrs May, some of them for a considerable period of time, and she did nothing at all to stop them or bring the perpetrators to justice. Doesn’t this make her an accessory to every crime?

Is this the behaviour of anybody you would want to have as prime minister?

Ms Butler writes:

After your spokesperson expressed your “serious concern” at reports of sexual harassment in Westminster on Friday, it was disappointing to hear the comments of a member of your cabinet, Michael Gove, on Radio 4 the next day, which made light of sexual abuse and rape. Abuse is the never the woman’s fault, and insinuating that those who experience it and come forward have lost any of their “dignity” is inherently wrong and harmful. What action has been taken so that Mr Gove and others understand that “jokes” like his make it harder for those who experience harassment to feel like they will be taken seriously if they speak out?

It’s a good letter, calling for robust action to ensure that members of all political parties (not just the Tories) know exactly what to do if they are sexually harassed.

And it attacks the culture that allows these abuses and then makes jokes about it like the Private Eye cover above.

But it doesn’t go far enough. Perhaps Ms Butler is being diplomatic.

Personally, This Writer thinks it is time the police were dispatched to the Whips’ Office and to 10 Downing Street and searched both buildings for any and all evidence about MPs’ and ministers’ sex crimes.

I do not believe Theresa May will tell the truth about her involvement in these activities. I do believe she and her cronies will try to hide – or destroy – any evidence before the authorities have a chance to find them.

Look at what she has done since this scandal broke: Nothing. She has passed the buck to the Speaker’s office. She has asked for an investigation into whether a minister broke the ministerial code (which doesn’t appear to cover such matters) at a time when he wasn’t a minister. She has not suspended the whip from any of the politicians who have been named.

The problem of abuse and harassment of women isn’t restricted to those who make unwanted advances on women; it extends to a culture that has tolerated or made light of abuse for far too long. All political parties have a responsibility to act thoroughly and properly where instances of unacceptable behaviour come to light, and to take appropriate action.

Therefore, I was extremely concerned by reports in Sunday newspapers that your chief of staff and chief whip made you aware of allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Ministers and Conservative MPs. Can you confirm if you were made aware of allegations about members of your party or Government, and what action you took, if any?

Can you explain why the investigation into Mark Garnier appears to be confined to whether he broke the Ministerial Code at a time when he wasn’t a Minister? Further, can you confirm that both he, and Stephen Crabb, will be investigated by the Conservative Party and have the whip suspended while investigations into their conduct take place?

Sunday newspaper reports claim that you are concerned that taking action against ministers could risk the Government collapsing. All party political considerations should be put to one side to ensure we take serious action. I am hopeful that if we do, this could prove to be a turning point that sees us make progress in tackling the sexism and misogyny that pervades our society.

Source: Put aside party political interest to tackle sex pest claims – Dawn Butler letter to PM | LabourList


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‘Pestminster’ scandal means Theresa May must tell us – IMMEDIATELY – what she knows and when she was told

Theresa May: The minority prime minister has serious questions to answer [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].

Michael Fallon has owned up to touching Julia Hartley-Brewer inappropriately, marking him out as possibly the first sex pest on the Tory spreadsheet to be identified.

Perhaps he thought there was no point trying to deny it – after all, we already know he had to be peeled off a female Russian agent while drunk, and also that he referred to a female journalist as a “slut” – to her face, not recognising who she was.

To This Writer, it suggests that he is the person described as “perpetually intoxicated and very inappropriate with women” on the spreadsheet.

I may be wrong! In that case, I stand ready to be amazed at the name of someone whose behaviour is even worse.

The recipient of Mr Fallon’s unwanted attention was Julia Hartley-Brewer, a very strong supporter of the Conservative Party who has played down the incident:

Note that her tweet clearly identifies Mr Fallon as the man the Sunday Times claimed “placed his hand on the thigh of a senior female journalist in full view of his frontbench colleagues at a party conference dinner some years ago and announced: ‘God, I love those tits.'”

But Ms Hartley-Brewer stated: “I believe it is absurd and wrong to treat workplace banter and flirting – and even misjudged sexual overtures – between consenting adults as being morally equivalent to serious sexual harassment or assault.

“It demeans genuine victims of real offences… I have not been a victim and I don’t wish to take part in what I believe has now become a Westminster witch hunt.”

Others may have a strong opinion about that!

Perhaps Ms Hartley-Brewer was able to put off a sex pest, but others – in a similar situation – may not be able to do so. Perhaps she did not consider that when she wrote her tweet.

As a man writing about this subject, perhaps I should pause and make it clear that I have spent a considerable time thinking about what may be deemed appropriate behaviour, and what may not.

I would agree that workplace banter should not be equated with serious sexual harassment or assault – but what do you call workplace banter? I would imagine it would be joking about another person – perhaps about their sexual nature, life or abilities – in a way that the other person does not find offensive (or at least, they can get their own back), and I would strongly suggest that it would be with at least one other person present and aware of the behaviour in question. Even then, there is a danger that it could cross the line. Workplace banter should not be a sexual advance, I think.

Flirting should be obvious as such, and it really shouldn’t be possible for anyone to infer threat from it. I have enjoyed flirting with other people very much, and would be absolutely desolate if any of the people with whom I enjoyed those moments considered them anything more than humorous and complimentary. The key is that both people should be at their ease, I think.

As for misjudged sexual overtures – would inappropriate touching come under this heading, or is it going too far? I think the answer to that question is found in the overall demeanour of the person making the overture. If they’re aggressive in any way, then perhaps it’s a little more serious than a misjudgement.

In the case of Mr Fallon, we have examples of the language he is alleged to have used – and it seems entirely inappropriate to me. If I was trying to attract a woman sexually (and I admit it has been a while, as Mrs Mike and I are quite happy in that department, thank you very much), then I would not make a habit of using words like “slut”, or phrases like “God I love those tits”!

Also mentioned by Ms Hartley-Brewer are the words “witch hunt”. Let’s consider that aspect of this story.

The Independent has run an article claiming: “May knows she can’t sort this out: she’s the figurehead of a boys’ club whose male members would scream ‘Witch hunt!’ if she ever dared to try”.

The piece imagines that Mrs May takes a dim view of various potential shenanigans, before making the very serious point that bemusement at the behaviour of her errant MPs is “no excuse to tolerate abuse”.

It continues: “While the case of Mark Garnier, minister for ‘Brexit trade’ … has no criminal implications [he described his behaviour as “good humoured high jinks], it is less hilarious than our more Neanderthal MPs will think. In the hours since the Mail on Sunday broke the story, the gallant Garnier has admitted addressing his secretary as “sugar tits”, and sending her into a Soho shop to buy a brace of choicest vibrators on his behalf.

“Even Chuckles Gove, the Rumpelstiltskin of sexual wit, couldn’t spin that into comedy gold. And whether or not this is a relatively trivial abuse of the power imbalance between male boss and female employee, it simply isn’t funny.

“With Stephen Crabb … it is worse. Having quit his leadership bid when outed for sexting, Crabb now fesses up to having sent “explicit messages” to a woman of 19 he interviewed for a job in 2013 when a minister for Wales.  What he calls ‘foolish’, I call ‘an abuse of power for which the Speaker should drag him from the Commons by the penis, promising to remove it with rusty garden secateurs if he ever tries to return’.”

And the article concludes, in agreement with This Writer, that the problem lies in a whips’ office that covers up MPs’ behaviour – especially if it is criminal – in order to use it for political gain.

Theresa May, who receives weekly reports on these “Ins and Outs”, is a part of this process.

The Independent piece states – again rightly – that “wherever there is strong evidence of a sexual offence, moral or criminal or both, it should be removed from the whips’ safe and exposed to the cleansing light of day… But I don’t imagine May will do that. She can’t afford to, as the figurehead of a boys’ club whose male members would scream “Witch hunt!” if she did, and the hostage of a tottering Government that could fall at any time for any number of reasons.”

I think the Independent is far too lenient on Mrs May. She has serious questions of her own to answer – starting with how long she has known about the sexual harassment allegations against her MPs and cabinet ministers – of whom we are told at least six are implicated, among 21 serving ministers, ex-Cabinet ministers and a permanent private secretary.

Will Downing Street answer? No.

A spokesperson for Theresa May today repeatedly refused to say when the prime minister first heard about dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behaviour made against Conservative MPs and serving cabinet ministers.

May’s spokesman told Business Insider that May acted once the allegations were “made public” but was unable to say when the prime minister was first informed about them.

So she was quite happy to let these people carry on with their nasty pastimes while the wider public remained unaware – and is only acting, half-heartedly, now that the revelations are starting to fly. Now that they – and she – have been found out.

This fits the “boys’ club”/”witch hunt” scenario, certainly – but then there’s the allegation that her advisors, silenced a survivor of historic child sexual abuse in order to keep Mrs May’s way clear to Downing Street during the 2016 Conservative leadership selection process (we can’t call it an election).

Sharon Evans claimed that the contracts panel members were made to sign by the Home Office were used to stop them from speaking openly about “very serious allegations about very public figures” – allegations which she says were taken back to the inquiry leaders, but ‘nothing was being done about” them. She said:

I suggested that we wrote to Theresa May, who was the Home Secretary, to express our concerns. At the end of the day I was taken to one side and it was made clear to me – this is what I was told – that Theresa May was going to be Prime Minister, that this inquiry was going to be part of this, and that if I didn’t toe the line and do as I was told, if I tried to get information out I would be discredited by her advisors.

If true, why would Theresa May do this?

As the evidence mounts, it seems reasonable to conclude that the rot is not limited to “workplace banter”, “flirting”, or even “inappropriate sexual advances”, but goes much further and involves people in positions of enormous power – possibly even the person with the most power.

That is why it now seems increasingly possible that this so-called “Pestminster” crisis could topple the minority Conservative government.

Not only has the Conservative Party lost its credibility as a responsible party of government but serious questions – indeed, the most serious questions – must now be asked of that party’s, and the government’s leader. Now – not at her convenience.


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Tory sexual harassment spreadsheet names 36 MPs and Theresa May knew about them all

If Theresa May thought this was permissible, perhaps she isn’t the right person to decide whether Conservative MPs are guilty of sexual harassment or worse [Image: Getty].

That’s right – thanks to her weekly briefing – the “Ins and Outs” report, Theresa May has known all about the 36 Conservative MPs who are sexual predators.

Now, according to the Guido Fawkes blog, it seems her aides have provided a handy spreadsheet for her, listing them by name and detailing what they have done – and continue to do.

Unfortunately, the right-wing blog has blacked out the names of those involved. While we know they have accuracy issues over there, it is to be hoped this is simply to avoid legal challenge in the absence of the corroborating evidence needed to back up the allegations. Here’s the redacted list:

As you can see, there are a lot of blanks to be filled in.

The Sunday Times has gone a little way towards remedying this. With its website hidden behind a paywall, This Writer has to rely on the good graces of people on the social media to provide information like the following:

For those who can’t read text in image files:

Two senior cabinet ministers have been named by female MPs, researchers and journalists as serial sex pests.

One man who is now a serving cabinet minister placed his hand on the thigh of a senior female journalist in full view of his frontbench colleagues at a party conference dinner some years ago and announced: “God, I love those tits.”

A second senior cabinet minister had an affair with a junior female aide who is also an MP. Downing Street is concerned that if either man is forced to resign it will destabilise the government.

Female MPs were this weekend also sharing details of a former Tory minister who propositioned his young secretary by asking her to “come and feel the length of my dick”. When the same MP was first elected, his female colleagues told each other: “Don’t get into a lift with him.” He then formed a “shagging double act” with a party grandee who has now left the Commons.

On the Labour benches the MPs facing exposure include one who was thrown off a foreign trip for making “inappropriate” approaches to a young woman and an MP who has been tipped as a leadership contender, who is known to female researchers as “Happy Hands”.

A Liberal Democrat peer’s career is also in danger after inviting a succession of female journalists to lunch while insisting that they wear knee-high boots and short skirts.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has acted swiftly to make clear his party’s position:

But the Tories aren’t nearly as forthcoming. The reason? Consider this:

This confirms that the situation in the Conservative Party hasn’t changed since the 1970s, when Tim Fortescue was a party whip. He explained the situation in the 1990s:

And what is Theresa May doing, now that she knows we know at least part of what she knows?

She’s passing the buck, writing to the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, as follows:

She writes:

“I am sure that you will share my concern at recent media reports regarding the alleged mistreatment of staff by some Members of Parliament.”

Meaning: “We’ve been trying to keep it quiet but the media have found out anyway.”

“I believe it is important that those who work in the House of Commons are treated properly and fairly, as would be expected in any modern workplace.”

“I was quite happy to keep quiet about my sex pest MPs before, but now it is more convenient to make a show of taking action.”

“Much has already been done including a 24/7 external confidential phone line as well as an online portal and an HR Advice Service for MPs. However, I believe that we must now go further.”

“… for the sake of appearances.”

“As you know, there is a suggested disciplinary procedure provided by IPSA as part of the standard contract. However, it does not have the required teeth as contractually an MP does not have to follow the procedure.”

“I was perfectly happy with this up until now, as it suited my own purposes.”

“I do not believe that this situation can be tolerated any longer. It is simply not fair on staff, many of whom are young and in their first job post-education.”

“Not that I cared much about that before yesterday.”

“I know that Government Chief Whips Gavin Williamson, Mark Harper and Sir George Young (now Lord Young of Cookham) have been at the forefront of efforts to bring clarity to this area.”

“Gavin Willliamson has been bringing me clarity on a weekly basis with his “Ins and Outs” reports. I knew about all the activities of my MPs and did nothing because it suited my purposes.”

“In 2014 the Conservative Party offered MPs a code of conduct on a voluntary basis. However, this does not have legal standing and is therefore not fit for its intended purpose.”

“It was never intended to be.”

“The Conservative Party is determined to protect those staff who work for MPs, but in order to do so effectively I believe that we must establish a House-wide mediation service complemented by a contractually binding grievance procedure available for all MPs irrespective of their party banner.”

“These procedures would kick any grievances into the long grass, and we could force confidentiality on those taking part.”

“It is vital that staff and the public have confidence in Parliament and resolving this employment irregularity on a cross-party basis can play an important role in this.”

“Appearances are everything.”

A commenter has stated that this should propel Mrs May out of Downing Street.

That will only happen if the public continues to highlight her hypocrisy on this issue – most particularly by seeming to harbour sex criminals.


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Theresa May has weekly reports on her ministers’ sex pest activities – and does nothing. Let’s consider the reasons

Sexual harassment can be as apparently innocent as touching somebody on the shoulder – but the allegations against Conservative ministers go much further than that [Image: The Times of India].

We should not be surprised that Theresa May receives reports on the unwanted/illegal sexual activities of her ministers (called the “Ins and Outs” report, in extremely poor taste).

UK television viewers were primed for it, all the way back in the early 1990s, when a scene in the original House of Cards TV series showed Francis Urquhart (played by Ian Richardson) blackmailing another member of his Parliamentary party, who had committed a sexual indiscretion, into voting a particular way in the House of Commons.

And former Tory whip Tim Fortescue spoke out about the practice in 1995:

And Diane Abbott – the victim of more online personal abuse than all other current MPs put together – has said that Westminster has long harboured a culture of sexual harassment:

We know that Mrs May has these weekly reports. We know she does not punish MPs whose names are contained in these reports. And we know that she is in a very difficult position, at the head of a minority government that could be toppled at any time by a rebellion from her own benches.

Given that we know all these things, are we not entitled to know what she does with the information in these reports?

Did she know about Stephen Crabb and Mark Garnier, for example?

Mr Crabb – a man who once claimed that homosexuality is “curable” – has been accused of “sexting” a woman after he rejected her application for a job in his office.

And Mr Garnier allegedly called his female secretary “sugar tits”, and gave her money to buy two vibrators at a sex shop in Soho – standing outside the store while she did it.

Click on their names (highlighted above) for the full stories if you haven’t read them.

As Mr Garnier is a minister for international trade, an investigation has been launched into whether he has breached the Ministerial Code. This Writer has no doubt that he will be found not to have done so – partly because I can’t find anything in the Ministerial Code covering sexism and/or sexual indiscretions, and partly because the ultimate judge in such cases in the prime minister – Theresa May.

And it seems likely she already knew about Mr Garnier’s behaviour via the weekly “Ins and Outs” report.

Let us remember: Blackmail is a crime. It would be inappropriate for me, or anyone else, to accuse the prime minister of engaging in such an activity without evidence.

That being said, given the information available, we are well within our rights to ask whether she has received information about ministers who have been implicated in inappropriate sexual activities – and what she has done with it.

Perhaps Mr Corbyn could ask her about it, at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.


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Cameron’s candidate list is like his cabinet: full of empty suits

David Cameron and Tory election candidate Chris Davies: A suit full of hot air next to a suit full of nothing at all.

David Cameron and Tory election candidate Chris Davies: A suit full of hot air next to a suit full of nothing at all.

Here’s one to file under “missed opportunities”: David Cameron passed within seven miles of Vox Political central and we didn’t know about it.

He made a surprise visit to the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, Radnorshire, to talk about some agricultural scheme – but we don’t need to discuss that. Nor do we need to discuss the fact that the bronze bull statue in nearby Builth Wells town centre was found to have had its tail ripped off shortly after the visit; it would be wrong to suggest that the comedy Prime Minister was responsible but if he starts sporting a uniquely-shaped swagger stick, well, you read it here first.

We don’t even need to discuss the fact that Cameron arrived by helicopter, which is an exorbitantly expensive form of travel. Yr Obdt Srvt was watching a documentary about a Doctor Who serial made in 1969 and featuring a helicopter – just starting the rotors cost £70, which was a lot more money then than it is now! Next time you hear that there isn’t enough money around, bear in mind that this government always has the cash to hire out a pricey chopper!

No, Dear Reader – what was really shocking was the fact that Cameron allowed himself to be photographed with Chris Davies, the Tory Potential Parliamentary Candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire – a man who this blog has outed as having no ideas of his own, who parrots the party line from Conservative Central Headquarters and who cannot respond to a reasoned argument against the drivel that he reels off. Not only that but the new Secretary of State for Wales was also at the Showground – his name is Stephen Crabb and he is on record as saying that the role is “emptied and somewhat meaningless”.

Bearing this in mind, those who didn’t attend the event, but would like to recreate the spectacle of David Cameron flanked by Messrs Davies and Crabb, can simply fill a few children’s party balloons with hot air, arrange them in a roughly human shape, and put a suit on them – that’s Cameron – then add two more, empty, suits on either side.

Discussion of empty suits brings us inexorably to the dramatic cabinet reshuffle Cameron carried out last week, in which he replaced his team of tired but recognisable old fools with a gaggle of new fools nobody’s ever heard of. The whole situation is reminiscent of a routine that Ben Elton did back in 1990, when he was still a Leftie comedian.

Still topical: Ben Elton's 'cabinet reshuffle' routine from 1990.

Still topical: Ben Elton’s ‘cabinet reshuffle’ routine from 1990.

The parallel with today is so close that the routine may be paraphrased to fit the moment:

These days the cabinet minister is a seriously endangered species, constantly culled by the boss… How stands the team today? All the personalities have been de-teamed, and Mr Cameron was rather left with a rack full of empty suits. So he reshuffled Philip Hammond, a suit full of bugger-all from Defence across to the Foreign Office. Then he reshuffled Nicky Morgan, a skirt-suit full of bugger-all who had been at the Treasury for 13 whole weeks. She was reshuffled to Education and is also now Minister for Women and Equalities. A suit full of bugger-all called Wright, who nobody had heard of that morning, became Attorney General. This is the British cabinet we are dealing with; not the local tea club.

Now Nicky Morgan, come on, be honest, six months ago, who’d heard of her? Hardly anyone. Since then she’s been Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Education Secretary; nobody can say the girl hasn’t done well because she has. She reminds me of Jedward – everyone’s saying, ‘She may be rubbish but at least she’s trying!’

Who the hell is Jeremy Wright? He’s the Attorney General, that’s who. When he leaves home for work in the morning, even his wife doesn’t recognise him! ‘Bye bye darling – who the hell are you?’ … I confidently expect to see Keith Lemon elevated to cabinet status, with Gary Lineker becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer due to his amazing powers of prediction (“The Germans really fancy their chances, but I don’t see that”). He’ll be joined at the Treasury by financial wizard Jimmy Carr. Katie Hopkins takes over as Iain Duncan Smith so no change there.

140724cabinet3

This isn’t a party political thing. There have been lots of towering figures in cabinet before. Tebbit! Heseltine! … Lawson! You may not have liked them but at least you’d heard of them! These days, what have you got? The only reason a ‘dramatic’ reshuffle is ‘dramatic’ is because it takes so long to prise all their faces off the team leader’s backside, that’s why! They’re all stuck down there like limpets; they’re clinging on to the mother ship! If they all breathed in at once, they’d turn him inside-out.

That’s why they all speak so strangely – their tongues are all bruised and knotted from the team leader trying to untangle the top Tory tagliatelli flapping about behind.

Cabinet government is one of the safeguards of our precious democracy. It involves discussion, consensus, and it has produced great cabinets on both sides of the House. Churchill – the largest, perhaps the greatest political figure in the last century – a Tory, he was a constant thorn in the side of his boss, Baldwin. Wilson included Tony Benn, even though they were never friends, let’s face it. Heath employed Mrs Thatcher. They all understood that cabinet is a microcosm of democracy – but these days, it’s different. Nobody must dissent in cabinet. And nobodies are exactly what we’ve got.

There was more talent and personality in JLS – and at least they knew when to quit.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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