Tag Archives: unfair

If #JeremyHunt thinks #Covid19 restrictions are #CrushinglyUnfair then why is he writing about it and not getting the Tories to change?

Hypocrite: Jeremy Hunt presided over the long-term dismantling of NHS services which were auctioned off to private companies, who then turned those services into postcode lotteries, provided only where they thought they could make a profit. And now he is complaining about an NHS service becoming a postcode lottery.

Jeremy Hunt seems to be revelling in the fact that he Matt Hancock has replaced him as “Worst-ever Health Secretary”.

After being removed from the government by Boris Johnson, he’s now a backbencher, albeit one who chairs the Commons Health and Social Care committee.

One would have expected him to toe the Johnson line, having been responsible for much of the harm done to NHS healthcare in the last 10 years.

Instead, he seems to be trying to carve out a new careers as a ‘voice of reason’ in the Conservative Party – hence his article in today’s (September 20) Fail on Sunday.

In it, he attacks the current Covid-19-related restrictions on people’s movements. Here’s the line that has created all the reaction, referring to the fact that mothers are being told they must give birth alone:

For families, it simply feels crushingly unfair and illogical that six people can meet in a pub and 30 people can go shooting, yet mothers have to go through one of life’s most harrowing and precious milestones alone.

Apparently he is supporting a Fail campaign to “end lone births”, saying that the rules are being imposed arbitrarily:

A postcode lottery is unacceptable on a matter of this importance.

Wasn’t he the health secretary who turned much of NHS care into a postcode lottery, across England (and in other UK countries whose NHS use English facilities)?

Yes he was.

It seems hypocritical for him to complain, because it is. And the public have seen it:

The public have also noted some “crushingly unfair” aspects of Mr Hunt’s own behaviour:

And they want to know why the limit of Hunt’s opposition is an article in a right-wing rag:

Last word must be the following. At a time when Labour has just unveiled its new slogan, Mr Ball points out that the Tories could roll out a new, accurate slogan of their own:

Source: JEREMY HUNT: It’s crazy that six people can meet in a pub while mums endure lone births  | Daily Mail Online

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/


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Theresa May announces watered-down Labour policy on unfair evictions. Hers won’t be

Congratulations to Theresa May for announcing a new Conservative policy! It’s just a shame she stole it from Labour and watered it down.

Here’s her announcement as it appeared on Twitter:

The press release states: “Private landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their homes at short notice and without good reason, in the biggest change to the private rental sector for a generation, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has announced (15 April 2019).

“As part of a complete overhaul of the sector, the government has outlined plans to consult on new legislation to abolish Section 21 evictions – so called ‘no-fault’ evictions. This will bring an end to private landlords uprooting tenants from their homes with as little as 8 weeks’ notice after the fixed-term contract has come to an end.

“This will effectively create open-ended tenancies, bringing greater peace of mind to millions of families who live in rented accommodation.”

It won’t, though. Landlords will simply put up the rents on tenants they don’t want, and price them out of their homes. This is a pretence at taking action that won’t actually change anything at all.

This is a Labour policy that the Conservatives have watered down and put out in the pretence that they are “on your side” (as Mrs May herself protested in a poor performance on TV recently).

Consider this BBC news story from September 2018 – nearly seven months ago:

“Labour says it would scrap laws allowing private landlords to evict tenants without giving a reason.

“The law, in force since 1988, is thought to be the biggest cause of homelessness.

“Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey announced the policy at the party’s conference in Liverpool.

“Mr Healey also unveiled plans for a £20m fund to set up “renters’ unions” to support tenants in disputes with landlords.

“So-called “no-fault” evictions – when landlords throw people out of their home without saying why – have been growing in recent years.

“The party’s policies include:

  • A new levy on second homes that are used as holiday homes
  • Reversing cuts to legal aid for housing related cases
  • Introducing three-year tenancies
  • Banning letting agent fees
  • New minimum legal standards to ensure homes are “fit for human habitation”
  • Giving cities the power to introduce rent controls”

I seem to recall the Conservatives having prevented moves to stop so-called “revenge” evictions in recent years, and also preventing a law to ensure homes are fit for human habitation. The Tory benches in the House of Commons are full of private landlords.

Shadow housing minister John Healey was remarkably restrained in his response to Mrs May’s announcement. He restricted himself to pointing out the faults in the watered-down policy she is offering:

“Any promise of new help for renters is good news but this latest pledge won’t work if landlords can still force tenants out by hiking the rent.

“For nine years, the Tories have failed to tackle problems facing private renters. Tenants need new rights and protections across the board to end costly rent increases and sub-standard homes as well as to stop unfair evictions.

“Labour is committed to giving renters the rights they deserve, including control on rents, indefinite tenancies and new legal minimum standards.”

Other commentators have been less kind.

I myself, for example, called it: “Another watered-down Labour policy. Time to give up and go.”

Rachael Swindon put her finger on the problem: “You’ve not thought this out (shock). The landlords will just put the rent up, forcing more homelessness, and more dependency on the state. Who actually comes up with these ideas? Honestly, you’re utterly useless.”

Paul Wingrove made a pertinent point: “Would be better if you acted to deliver all the social housing you have been promising for bloody years!”

And Jamie Aspin put into words what we are all thinking: “We could do with an eviction or two on Downing Street!”

Strangely enough, it seems Mrs May could actually be thinking the same thing.

Writer/actor David Schneider responded: “Brace yourselves. General election incoming…”


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Conservatives run up other people’s bills – unlike socialists, who always pay theirs

Voting for Theresa May’s minimum-wage Tories is like trying to dig your way out of a hole; they will only put you deeper into debt.

Yes – the headline paraphrases the late, unlamented Margaret Thatcher, but reverses her claim in the name of accuracy.

Here’s her original comment, in an infographic from Twitter – but pay attention to the weblink attached to it:

Read the article and the reason I edited the late Blue Baroness’s claim should be clear:

Companies in the UK are paying their workers so little that the taxpayer has to top up wages to the tune of £11bn a year. The four big supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons) alone are costing just under £1bn a year in tax credits and extra benefits payments.

This is a direct transfer from the rest of society to some of the largest businesses in the country. To put the figure in perspective, the total cost of benefit fraud last year was just £1bn. Corporate scrounging costs 11 times that.

Worse, this is a direct subsidy for poverty pay. If supermarkets and other low-paying employers know they can secure work even at derisory wages, since pay will be topped up by the state, they have no incentive to offer higher wages.

None of this makes sense. We are all, in effect, paying a huge sum of money so that we can continue to underpay the 22% of workers who are earning below the Living Wage – the level at which it is possible to live without government subsidies. The only possible beneficiaries are business owners.

So you can see very clearly that big businesses – which are predominantly run by people who vote Conservative, are members of the Conservative Party or are donors to the Conservative Party – are clearly refusing to pay their bills. As employers they have a duty to pay a reasonable amount to their workers.

Libertarians will undoubtedly be heading for the ‘Comment’ box to claim that all contracts are valid as employees have freely entered into them – but this of course ignores the fact that people are effectively coerced into accepting unfair wage offers because government policy on unemployment benefits forces them to accept any offers given to them, and this provides an incentive for businesses to keep those offers low.

So there is an argument that none of these contracts are valid as they are not entered into by people in equal positions. Hmm…

Socialists of course expect people to fully fund everything that benefits them. So, for example, the NHS was founded on the principle that everybody pays a little towards the health service, to ensure that all those who need its care will benefit from it. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. It’s an insurance policy – but, strangely, capitalists approve of private insurance but criticise the system that funds public services. Odd people.

Consider also their willingness to use systems and services that are publicly-funded, while taking advantage of tax avoidance schemes to ensure that they don’t have to pay for them. That’s fraud and theft, isn’t it?

We may conclude that Mrs Thatcher was lying – and so is anybody who echoes her words or their meaning.

Also that the Conservative government is acting against contract law by forcing people into unfair employment conditions.

And that businesses are unfairly profiting from these harmful contracts.

I could go on to explain how this damages the UK economy by reducing the flow of cash through it, but you should be aware of this fact already – in practice.

It won’t change under a Conservative government because Conservatives are greedy and do not understand economics. So we need to end Conservative government.

Spread the word.


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Constituency boundary changes: Unfair, undemocratic and unlikely to be approved

Boris Johnson: This is probably what he looked like, the moment he realised his own party’s proposed boundary changes mean he would lose his seat.

One of the few joys of the years since the Conservatives tricked their way back into office is their complete lack of success at gerrymandering the boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies to suit them.

First they had to rely on the Liberal Democrats, who abandoned them when the Tories refused to support reform of the House of Lords.

Now they have to rely on the Democratic Unionists, who have never supported the Tory proposals.

The Tories are desperate to rig the next election as the average age of their party’s members is 72, and they have utterly failed to attract support from the young.

The revelation that Boris Johnson would probably lose his Parliamentary seat, if the changes go through, is a double-edged sword; some members of the public might support them for that reason – others might not.

Mr Johnson himself probably wouldn’t approve – and it seems a considerable number of his fellow Conservatives feel the same way.

And Labour?

Let’s see what Cat Smith has to say about it:

“Labour stands ready to work with all parties to ensure that a boundary review can go ahead in a way that benefits our democracy, not just the Conservative Party. However it has been clear from the start that the Tories have only been interested in their own political advantage rather than what is in the best interests of the country.

“To lose 50 MPs at a time we are repatriating powers from Brussels as we leave the European Union risks leaving the UK Government struggling to keep up with the day to day requirements of legislation.

“They need to drop their unfair, undemocratic plans, as well as ensuring the review is based on the most up-to-date register and that there is appropriate flexibility to take into account community ties and geography.”

Good points – especially concerning the fact that the proposals use an out-of-date version of the electoral register from 2015. Many more people have registered to vote since then – mostly spurred to do so by Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

So you can see why the Tories wouldn’t want to update their ideas.

It all boils down to mathematics – and the numbers are against Mrs May.

She doesn’t have enough support, even from her own MPs, to push through this legislation.

So This Writer reckons it will be shelved – again.

And anyway, who says we’ll have to wait until 2022 for the next election?

Revised proposals for the shape of parliamentary seats at the next general election have been published.

The proposed constituency boundaries in England, Scotland and Wales have been drawn up on the basis the total number of MPs will be cut from 650 to 600.

Parliament approved the principle of reducing the size of the Commons in 2011, intended as a cost-saving measure in the wake of the expenses scandal.

But it is uncertain whether the Commons will end up backing the detailed plans.

If they do so, the proposed new constituencies – recommended by independent bodies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – will take effect in 2022, the scheduled date of the next election.

Prime Minister Theresa May is reliant on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for getting legislation through the Commons after her failure to win a majority in June’s snap election.

The DUP opposed the last boundary review when it was put to a vote in 2013, while many Conservatives are thought to have reservations about the scope of the shake-up, which could lead to a scramble for seats as a host of constituencies are abolished.

Source: Boundary changes: Latest plans for Commons seats published – BBC News


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Lie after lie over sanctions and FoI: Duncan Smith’s head should roll

The inhumanity of Iain Duncan Smith: He is pictured laughing at the plight of a rape victim who, under his 'reforms', has to pay bedroom tax for the panic room she needs in order to be safe from her abusive, rapist ex-partner.

The inhumanity of Iain Duncan Smith: He is pictured laughing at the plight of a rape victim who, under his ‘reforms’, has to pay bedroom tax for the panic room she needs in order to be safe from her abusive, rapist ex-partner.

Iain Duncan Smith must resign after he disgraced himself yet again, with a leaflet containing fabricated comments from non-existent DWP benefit claimants, according to a leading Opposition MP.

Debbie Abrahams, who has been a leading light in the fight to force the Conservative Government to reveal the true number of people who have died following Duncan Smith’s “welfare reforms”, said the Work and Pensions secretary’s behaviour was a “disgrace” and his position was untenable.

But don’t take This Writer’s word for it – here’s Ms Abrahams herself (all boldings mine):

“As a member of the work and pensions select committee, I have called for Iain Duncan Smith to resign following revelations that his department created a leaflet about sanctions containing made-up quotes attributed to non-existent benefit claimants.

“I instigated an inquiry into the use of sanctions by the work and pensions committee, which reported in March this year, and I believe after being caught out so publicly it must be impossible for Iain Duncan Smith to continue as work and pensions secretary and he should do the honourable thing and resign.

“This is yet another example of not only his incompetence, but what can only be described as very shady and unscrupulous behaviour not befitting a Member of Parliament let alone a Secretary of State leading a Government Department.

“Once again, Duncan Smith is caught trying to paint a particular picture of social security claimants. He is a disgrace and should do the honourable thing and resign. When his own department have to resort to this sort of tactic, in a desperate attempt to make it appear as though the system is working, no-one can be left believing that his draconian social security sanctions regime is fit for purpose.

“Only Mr Duncan Smith seems to believe that unfair and inappropriate use of sanctions on vulnerable social security claimants is acceptable. And now he’s shown that he thinks it’s acceptable for his department to produce literature that is fabricated in a desperate attempt to make people believe his sanctions regime is working fairly.

“It beggars belief that David Cameron can, in the light of this embarrassing debacle, continue to back Mr Duncan Smith as a credible work and pensions secretary when he has presided over such a catalogue of errors.

“In the last few weeks alone, the independent Social Security Advisory Committee has produced a report which says that the Government’s sanctions regime should be given ‘an urgent and robust review’.

“And following the Government’s appeal against the Information Commissioner’s ruling compelling the Government to publish figures on the number of people on Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance who have died between November 2011 and May 2014, including those found fit for work, a Tribunal has now been set for November 10 to hear why Iain Duncan Smith has refused to publish these data.

“I will never forget the fact that not only did Iain Duncan Smith defy the Information Commissioner’s ruling to provide these data on deaths of people on social security, but that he stated to me, personally, in Parliament, it did not exist. But then, just two days later, the Prime Minister said to me, again in Parliament, the data would be published, only for the DWP’s appeal documents to defy him as well, stating publication was not in the public interest!

“The select committee inquiry which I instigated reported in March and the mountain of evidence that was put before the select committee by religious organisations, academics and charities, not to mention those actually affected by inappropriate sanctions themselves, pointed overwhelmingly to a system that is inhumane and deliberately created to skew unemployment figures.

“The sad truth is that Iain Duncan Smith is doing everything he can to cover up the mess he has created.

“This is a mess that is ruining innocent people’s lives and, as the evidence suggests, even killing some.

“The only credible reason he’s going to such lengths to hang on to his job is because he knows he has so much to hide.”

A petition on the Government website, calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Iain Duncan Smith and his removal from office, may be signed here.

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SNP starts to crumble as councillors quit – one citing vote-rigging

[Image: BBC]

[Image: BBC]

How humbling for the Scottish National Party that, after its Yes campaigners complained about vote-rigging in the Independence referendum, two SNP councillors have quit, citing undemocratic behaviour and – you guessed it – vote-rigging.

Cllr John Taggart (Murdostoun) walked out after a row over the selection process for Motherwell and Wishaw. His statement reads as follows: “The reason behind my resignation is that I feel that democracy within our party is under serious threat, when HQ in Edinburgh decided to refuse to reveal the breakdown of the votes cast for each candidate involved in the Westminster ballot for the Motherwell and Wishaw Westminster candidacy.” That’s vote-rigging, then.

“I am a committed democrat and I believe that when an election is carried out, people expect to see full and proper disclosure of the results, this is one of the fundamental tenets of a democratic society, and we all should all be extremely concerned of decisions taken at HQ in Edinburgh which allows the dark veil of secrecy to descend on our democratic processes.”

Cllr Alan Beveridge (Airdrie North) said in his statement: “I have been alarmed by the climate of fear, intimidation and false allegations which operates within the SNP locally.

“I have raised these matters directly with SNP headquarters but much to their shame and my disappointment, they have totally failed to address any of my concerns.

“Therefore I feel I have no alternative but to resign from the party.

“I have agonised over whether or not I should speak out in public, but I felt a sense of responsibility to my constituents that they should be made aware of the reasons behind my decision.

“I spent an entire career in the police force protecting the public and doing my very best to treat people with fairness.

“I joined the SNP fully expecting people to be treated the same way, however in the past few months I have been shocked at the way some members of the local branch have been treated and by the failure of SNP headquarters to respond to the concerns which I have raised.

“This is not the party I thought I had joined and I cannot continue to be a member of such an organisation.”

Both statements are published in the Scottish Daily Record (although not exclusively there). No doubt SNP supporters will try to attack this source; they would do well to note that this article quotes only the councillors’ words.

It seems the SNP may not be the standard-bearer for decency and morality in politics that its ill-mannered supporters claim.

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The Conservative Party – nasty, stupid and clumsy

Is this the face of a 'Caring' Conservative? Or is he nasty and clumsy? And if he is, does that mean the supporters behind him are stupid?

Is this the face of a ‘Caring’ Conservative? Or is he nasty and clumsy? And if he is, does that mean the supporters behind him are stupid?

Independent luminary Andreas Whittam Smith reckons the Conservative Party in its current form is both nasty and stupid – and also clumsy, if his latest article is to be believed.

Nasty because of its aggressive behaviour – such as the decision to withdraw support for rescue operations that save thousands of migrants from drowning as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Or because of benefit assessment policies that mean people living with progressive and degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease and rheumatoid arthritis are being subjected to what a group of charities describes as “upsetting and unnecessary” examinations to see whether they will recover enough to look for work in the future – a pointless exercise because their conditions are flagged up from the start as progressive and degenerative; they’re never going to get better.

Or because, after the Resolution Foundation found that one-in-five employees (4.9 million people) earned less than the living wage, George Osborne is promising that if the Conservative Party wins next year’s general election, then most welfare payments that the working poor rely on – including child benefit, tax credits, jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit and income support – will be frozen in April 2016 for two years. They are currently rising by 1 per cent a year. He will make the working poor poorer.

zTorypromise

Clumsy because they have imposed unpopular decisions on the people in an unfair way. Mr Whittam Smith defines fairness in terms of “the four main elements that go into creating a sense of procedural justice: Those concerned should have been able to play an active part in the process. The rules should be applied with sensitivity to individual situations. Decision-makers should be impartial and fair. And the agents of the system with whom people have to deal should treat them with respect.”

He continues: “There is no evidence that people living with progressive and degenerative conditions or members of the working poor or families struggling to pay care bills for elderly relatives have been consulted. There is no evidence of sensitivity to individual situations or else the bedroom tax legislation would have recognised the special difficulties of disabled tenants who are unable to share a bedroom and would have taken into account where homes have been specially adapted.

“As for the agents of the system with whom people have to deal, outsourcing many of these tasks has not produced happy results. Naturally the outsourced staff work by the book. They cannot be flexible or understanding. They are chiefly concerned with getting the job done as quickly as possible so as to reach the profits targets set by their employers. And then, in the final analysis, claimants are not dealing directly with the state at all but with a sort or mercenary army. Mutual respect cannot exist in these circumstances.”

Let’s expand on the last point for a moment, and connect it with the previous points about benefit assessment, with this snippet of information: An academic report from Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Stirling has confirmed that the Tories’ welfare reforms are not helping people to find work.

According to Alan Wyllie on the A Working Class Man blog, the report showed:

  • “The current welfare system is not helping people find work. Those who had moved into employment found work independently and not due to Jobcentre Plus services;
  • “There was limited support on offer to help recipients of out of work benefits move into work. Those participating in the Work Programme did not report that it was helpful;
  • “Most people wanted to work but issues such as childcare, illness and training made it difficult for them to do so;
  • “The current welfare system also does not appear to meet its aim of ‘make work pay’. People who had moved into work felt only slightly better off and continued to find it difficult to make ends meet;
  • “Benefit freezes or restricted increases have meant falling real-term incomes, with many study participants finding it hard to meet basic needs.

“The report concludes that: ‘Participants with a health condition or a disability, and those who were lone parents, reported that they wanted to be in work but faced considerable barriers to doing so, which were unlikely to be addressed by increasing conditionality.

“’According to the views of participants, stronger conditionality is unlikely to get more people into work, due to a lack of suitable work and barriers in the areas of education, skills, employability, childcare and health.’

“The researchers found that claimants who did not abide by the new conditions faced serious consequences.

“’The impact on benefit recipients who fall foul of new rules – or who are affected by a mistake on the part of a benefits agency that is not their fault – can be severe,’ they said.”

That’s nasty – not only have benefit changes been forced onto people without any regard for them, but they don’t even work.

However, this – moving back to Mr Whittam Smith – may be the Tories’ downfall. He points out: “Nowadays we are no longer a homogenous mass but an agglomeration of minorities. In my own circle of family and friends, for instance, there are people who are disabled and others with serious illnesses. There are those who are single parents, others who are retired. There are middle-aged people with back-breaking mortgages, others who are and young and ambitious. There are regular Church-goers as well as non-believers. There are people in jobs, and people who cannot find work. There are Londoners who can’t conceive of living anywhere else (I am one of these), and people who resent the capital city and all its works.

“Each of these minorities has its own particular concerns and needs, prejudices and resentments, but yet feels sympathy for any group that is badly treated.

“The Coalition led by its Conservative ministers has often gone about its work in an unfeeling, insensitive manner. And for that shortcoming there could be a price to pay at the next general election.”

Quite so – especially as they came into government under the banner of ‘Compassionate Conservatism’. What a terrible joke.

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Incomes increased for the richest last year, but fell for everyone else (surprise!) – Inequality Briefing

The richest fifth of the UK population saw their incomes increase by £940 in 2013. But incomes were down by £250 for the other 80% of the population… and by £381 for the poorest fifth, according to Inequality Briefing.

Before Vox Political readers start commenting in their droves that this is nothing new and no surprise to anybody: It is important to keep this in the public eye. The Coalition government came into office stating that austerity cuts were necessary but would be fair, and these figures are a constant reminder that they are in fact anything but fair.

Here’s a graphic for you to share:

[Image: Inequality Briefing.]

[Image: Inequality Briefing.]

The website states: This data compares the ‘equivalised disposable household income’ for 2011/12 and 2012/13. It was published by the Office for National Statistics as part of ‘the effects of UK tax and benefits on household income 2012/13 study.’ ONS have found that the recession did have a small effect on reducing inequality, but it now looks as though inequality maybe set to increase. The figures are available online via http://www.ons.gov. uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-333039

To download the full pdf, click here

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Breaking News : Government Reviewer Opposed Rollout of ESA

In 2008, Labour introduced a new out of work sickness benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, to replace the old Incapacity Benefit.

The new system of application and assessments was much tougher, and politicians originally hoped that up to a million people could be moved from the benefit.

However, by 2010, it was clear there were significant flaws in the process. People with mental health and fluctuating conditions were not being fairly treated and successful appeals against “fit for work” decisions soared to 40%.

Professor Harrington was asked to review the new benefit and make recommendations for improving it. As the election took place in 2010, crucially, only new claimants were being assessed. ESA was yet to be rolled out to the more complicated, and often longer term, Incapacity Benefit claimants, though trials were underway in Burnley and Aberdeen.

Most people claim out of work sickness benefits for short periods – perhaps to get through a sports injury, accident or one off surgery – and stop their claims within 2 years. However, this will always leave a few people with serious, life limiting conditions who will need to claim the benefit for longer periods. Over the years, those claims build up, increasing the proportion who need long term support.

When the coalition came to power in May 2010, they immediately announced that they would go ahead and start to reassess those already claiming Incapacity Benefit.

I could never understand this decision. Why would you take a failing benefit and roll it out to almost 2 million of the most vulnerable claimants? Not only that, but at first, just 25,000 people per month were being assessed, but the government constantly increased and increased the numbers until today, nearly 130,000 assessments are carried out every month.

Why?

For the answer, please visit Sue Marsh’s Diary of a Benefit Scrounger where the full story is revealed – that Professor Harrington never approved the migration of IB claimants onto ESA, that the decision was politically-motivated and that millions of people are being rushed through a failed and unfair assessment system.

The government will not want anyone to know about this and the mainstream media are unreliable when it comes to exposing such behaviour. As Sue states in the article, “We must be our own media”. Please therefore publicise the link to her blog on all the social media available to you.

Let’s put pressure on these white-collar thugs to answer for their actions.

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Dilemma for private bosses as Labour unveils transparency plan for public service work

An end to the corporate backhander? [Picture: This Is Money}

An end to the corporate backhander? [Picture: This Is Money}

A Labour government would make private companies who provide services at the taxpayers’ expense obey public sector transparency rules, it has been revealed.

The change means firms and charities that sell services to the state – for example, all the private companies now working in the NHS – would lose their right to commercial confidentiality.

The Freedom of Information Act would be extended to cover them and they would have to reveal their commercial secrets if a FoI request required them to do so.

If enacted, this is likely to be more effective in creating transparency of lobbying than the Parliamentary Bill of the same name that is currently working its way through Westminster.

The policy was revealed in a Sunday Times article which is paywall protected. Labour has yet to release an announcement on its website.

The article quotes shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan, who said: “More and more of our public services are being delivered by private companies and charities, out of reach of freedom of information. We must demand the same openness from them as we expect from government. It’s not on to let these organisations hide behind a veil of secrecy.”

Bravo.

The new policy comes after a 10-minute rule motion by Labour’s Grahame Morris began its journey through Parliament earlier this month. Such motions rarely get very far because the government of the day usually opposes them in the later stages and there is often too little time to complete the debate.

But these bills stimulate publicity for their cause, and it seems clear that the Labour leadership has taken this particular cause on board.

So it should – concerns are high that unfair advantages are being handed to, for example, the private healthcare companies, who are then able to hide the facts behind the veil of commercial confidentiality. Why should they be allowed to do this when they are providing a public service, funded by the citizens of the UK?

Existing NHS operators do not have the advantage of commercial confidentiality and must provide details of the way they operate if a FoI request is submitted to them. This makes them vulnerable during the bidding process for NHS contracts, as private operators can ask about the current providers’ operations and then undercut them to get the work.

Then there’s the so-called “revolving doors” practice, in which government advisors move to lucrative contracts in the private sector, often after providing advice that changes government policy in favour of their new employer. Mr Morris’s motion noted that “at least five former advisors to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are now working for lobbying firms with private healthcare clients”.

This is a corrupt practice – the firms gain an unfair advantage because they have, if you like, a spy in government manipulating affairs to their advantage. Nothing is done about this at the moment, nor will the Labour proposal change that situation – but we will all be able to see who the spies are.

It would probably be advisable for a future Labour government to put powers in place to reverse any change in the law due to corrupt advice intended to engineer a commercial advantage to a private company. Restricting the movement of government employees to other jobs would be problematic, but if it is known that any changes they effect will be reversed after such a move, then the exercise would become pointless.

Companies would not be able to pay a person to influence the government while they remained in the taxpayers’ employ, as this would be a clear case of bribery and corruption.

A previous VP article on this subject mentioned the idea of the level playing field – and Labour is to be praised for producing policies intended to restore that principle to government in the face of Conservative and Liberal Democrat efforts to skew the field in favour of their corporate chums.

And the corporates themselves? Well, their bosses are likely to be furious and it’s possible that all kinds of threats will come in Labour’s direction.

That’s fine. A Labour government can take any such complaint in stride by launching a programme to revise government tax strategy with regard to corporates, and bring any complaining company to the top of the list.