Settlement: Prince Andrew (the accused) and Victoria Giuffre (the accuser). To the right (trimmed out of this version of the image) is Ghislaine Maxwell, now convicted of trafficking underage children to Jeffrey Epstein for sexual abuse. Andrew now says he “regrets” his association with Epstein. It has been claimed – but not proved – that the image is a fake.
Prince Andrew has reached an out-of-court settlement with Virginia Giuffre that will end her abuse claim against him – but will leave questions about his own conduct hanging in the air.
Ms Giuffre had brought a case of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the Prince.
It was claimed she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and others to Andrew, who was alleged to have sexually abused her when she was under the age of 18. Court documents referred to three separate occasions in which Ms Giuffre accused him of sexual misconduct.
She had claimed the Prince had sex with her against her will at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home.
She also alleged he forced her to engage in sex acts against her will at Epstein’s mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
And he was also alleged to have sexually abused Giuffre during a visit to Epstein’s private island, Little St James.
Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed but it appears to involve substantial sums of money including a large donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights. This amount may be revealed when the charity’s annual reports are released.
He has stated that he accepts that she suffered, both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.
The Prince has not admitted any guilt or apologised for any of his behaviour.
But he has acknowledged that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked “countless” young girls over many years and has said he “regrets” his association with that man.
To demonstrate this regret, he has pledged to support the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and to support its victims.
There appears to be nothing in the settlement – no non-disclosure agreement – stopping Ms Giuffre from publishing her claims in the future.
International lawyers have said they think Andrew’s lawyers were left with little option other than to make a deal, considering the weakness of his legal position and fears over his performance in the witness stand.
They have said the settlement may cost him at least £10 million, in line with settlements of previous cases involving wealthy individuals.
The agreement raises more questions than it answers.
Most obviously, Prince Andrew’s personal reputation has not just been dragged through, but has arguably been drowned in the mud – as has that of the UK’s Royal Family, by association.
Adverse publicity has already led to Andrew being stripped of all his royal patronages and military affiliations, with the Queen’s approval. He has also agreed to stop using the style His Royal Highness in an official capacity.
It had been feared that a court case would overshadow the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations this year, with details of the Prince’s personal life examined and his denials of ever meeting Ms Giuffre challenged.
If an agreement could have been reached, why did this not happen earlier?
Is it because the Prince was facing the prospect of sitting for a deposition – giving sworn evidence – at which he would have been questioned under oath by Ms Giuffre’s legal team? Did he have reason to fear the possibility that information may be uncovered that he doesn’t want to see the light of day?
Who is paying? It has been alleged that the Queen herself has put up some of the money for Andrew’s defence, and his representatives have declined to comment on the source of funds for the donation. Ultimately, are the citizens of the UK paying to whitewash this privileged man’s name?
Does Prince Andrew think this will all go away now, and he can resume work as a member of the Royal Family as if the court case didn’t happen? Commentators are already saying that this is unlikely – meaning his future is still in doubt.
York MP Rachael Maskell has called for him to stop using his title as the Duke of York, to show respect for the people of the city.
And concern has been raised over the possibility of him appearing alongside the rest of the Royal Family at the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service next month; with vindication impossible if a trial does not happen, it is not known whether the claims of sexual assault were accurate – and this may overshadow the occasion if Andrew is allowed to participate.
Perhaps the Prince hoped that, by reaching a settlement, he would be able to draw a line under these accusations and move on.
In fact, it seems he has merely extended the controversy well into the future.
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Accused and accuser: Prince Andrew (left) is said to have sexually abused the woman now known as Virginia Giuffre (right) while she was still a child – and is doing everything he can to avoid facing trial for it. This in itself casts suspicion on his claims of innocence. And it may be bringing the UK Monarchy into disrepute for protecting him.
Let’s start this article with the important question: is anybody tracking down the perverts who had sex with underage girls provided by Ghislaine Maxwell?
It’s all very well saying that the procurer has been convicted so the route via which these vile creatures gratify their disgusting desires has been cut off – but it only means they will find other ways.
Police – in America – are going through the now-infamous black book kept by Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein, but they are treating the associates listed within merely as possible witnesses, rather than as possible suspects (until and unless evidence is found to justify criminal proceedings).
That may come as a relief to people like Keir Starmer’s recently-appointed henchman Peter Mandelson, who has 10 entries in the book (suggesting that he wanted the paedophile pair to be able to get hold of him wherever he may have been), and newly-to-be-knighted Tony Blair, who has an entry in the book himself.
It may not be so much of a comfort to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, who appears in the book 16 times and is accused of child sex offences.
And the repercussions may undermine the foundations of the UK Monarchy – an institution that has survived for almost a thousand years. That’s plenty of time to fall into filth and corruption – and to hide it by abusing the privileges that come with the highest position in the land.
It’s being reported that Andrew has just begun to show concern that his alleged crimes may bring down the Monarchy. It seems he had not previously spared a thought for the fact that being involved with people in a paedophile ring (whether he was a part of it or not) might bring that ancient institution into disrepute.
In This Writer’s opinion, the acts that have really put the future of the Monarchy in question are his attempts at evasion – his refusal to travel to America to face charges is not the behaviour we would expect of an innocent man; I understand he has claimed that his accuser should not be permitted to continue with her case because she now lives in Australia, not the USA (but that should have nothing to do with it; this is an international sex crime case and it seems logical to base the prosecution in the country where the offence was allegedly committed); and it seems he has also put forward a claim to have been in a UK branch of Pizza Express with one of his daughters at the time of the alleged offence – although nobody has come forward to corroborate the claim (and members of the public would certainly remember, even from 21 years ago, if a Royal walked into their local fast food joint).
His continued attempts to avoid justice are hugely harmful to the UK Monarchy because it makes the Queen complicit in the alleged crimes; Andrew is seen as having committed them (whether he really did or not is immaterial to this part of it) and then gone running behind his mother’s skirt tails for protection from the consequences.
Bear in mind that both Epstein and Maxwell, along with another sex offender – the US film producer Harvey Weinstein, were photographed at the 18th birthday celebrations of Andrew’s daughter, Princess Beatrice. It seems that Royalty and sex crime are well-entwined.
In his evasion attempts, Andrew is hugely aided by the UK’s mass media organisations – particularly the BBC. Maxwell was the daughter of a newspaper magnate (who was himself disgraced after he fell off his yacht and died, when it was found that he had been stealing from the Mirror Group’s pension fund). This means she is well-known to many of the journalists who have been writing about her – and their work has reflected their own sympathy for this child abuser.
The hypocrisy enough to send you reeling: the same people who took glee in claiming that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should take responsibility for his brother Piers advocating criminal damage of Covid-19 vaccine-supporting MPs’ offices have conspicuously failed to suggest that Boris Johnson should take similar responsibility for his sister Rachel’s article, It’s hard not to pity Ghislaine Maxwell.
This Writer has absolutely no pity for anybody who uses children to gratify their (or other people’s) perverse sexual desires.
The BBC’s editorial position has also been characterised as calling for us to bless this poor lost soul – with manipulative choices of verbiage. So when referring to the girls or children who were abused in Maxwell’s paedo ring, the BBC describes them as “underage women”.
And there is worse. Coverage refers to Maxwell by her first name, as though she’s our friend; her victims are described as “accusers”; after previous reports of similar crimes referred to “grooming gangs”, there is no such attempt to whip up outrage here (quite the opposite); and there are no calls to interrogate participants in the abuse (going back to the black book).
The BBC went too far when it booked people who are known to be sympathetic to Maxwell, to comment on the case in its news programmes.
The backlash, after Epstein’s former lawyer Alan Dershowitz – himself now accused of child sex crimes – appeared on BBC bulletins, giving a sympathetic view of Maxwell and insisting on both his own and Andrew’s innocence, was huge.
The corporation’s bosses had to issue a statement admitting that Dershowitz’s appearance had not met BBC editorial standards, and that the matter would be investigated to find out “how it happened”.
The statement led to what some have described as “the Twitter burn of the year” – from the Sunday Sport‘s Twitter feed: “That’s putting it mildly. It didn’t even meet OUR editorial standards.”
Of course we all know how it happened. Dershowitz was booked by a BBC booking agent who – knowing that he is himself a suspect – contacted him or his agent/manager and asked to interview him. They then falsely presented him as an independent legal expert. It was deliberate – and deliberately misleading.
And now the BBC has lost any right to claim that its news coverage is impartial in any way, as people across the UK are accurately accusing it of deliberately protecting the rich and privileged at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.
I say accurately because, having admitted its fault over Dershowitz, the BBC compounded the mistake by booking Maxwell’s brother Ian, who was interviewed about his sister the very next day.
Of course he made a big fuss about claiming she was innocent – on a news platform that is watched and believed by 70 per cent of the UK’s population. Think about that.
A former BBC political news editor, Rob Burley, has claimed that failures like the Dershowitz booking are results of budget cuts at the corporation – to which critics responded by pointing out that such errors exclusively benefit the UK’s rich and powerful elite. They quoted a current saying: “It’s not a bug; it’s a feature” of the BBC.
Even former BBC reporters like Adil Ray have railed against the corporation’s biased coverage. In a tweet, he stated: “When I filmed a doc on the sexual exploitation of young girls by some Pakistani men it would not have been acceptable to hear a defence from their brothers. Why is it ok now?”
The answer is obvious: families of abusers who travel on buses, instead of luxury cars or yachts, simply don’t get that platform. And the question isn’t why the former don’t – it’s why the latter do.
And let’s face it – the BBC doesn’t have a good record of identifying, accusing and denouncing child sex offenders. Look at the way Jimmy Savile was protected for decades. He was a close friend of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, of course.
Sadly, this deference to the rich and powerful isn’t limited to the BBC and Rachel Johnson – whose bias towards Maxwell is likely to be due to the fact that the child sex procurer was at Balliol College, Oxford, with her own brother: UK prime minister Boris Johnson.
See how the people in this group link up and protect each other?
Returning to Andrew, it’s one reason we should be grateful that proceedings against him are taking place in the United States; it is unlikely that the UK’s compromised legal system would ever have even accused him. It didn’t accuse Savile during his lifetime, after all.
And let’s remember that Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick is another alumnus of Balliol College, Oxford, who may well have known Maxwell there at some point – either as a student or as a former student.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how accusations against this fellow Balliol alumnus may have been taken by a Dick police administration, because we have the evidence of the Christmas 2020 parties that allegedly involved fellow Balliol alumnus Boris Johnson to help us.
That’s right: if Ghislaine Maxwell had been accused in the UK, the police would probably have responded by saying they don’t investigate incidents from more than a year ago.
Below please find material from Twitter that may provide valuable further information:
Ghislaine Maxwell deserves to go to prison, but where the fuck are all the men who actually had sex with these girls???
Julian Assange faces 175 years in a Supermax prison for exposing the crimes of the powerful, but Ghislaine Maxwell only faces "up to" 65 years in prison for running an international child-sex trafficking ring for the global elite?
Interesting how people were screaming at Jeremy Corbyn for the actions of his brother Piers, are now silent on that fact that Boris Johnson’s sister literally wrote an article “It's Hard Not to Pity Ghislaine Maxwell"
For anyone in any doubt about whom the @BBC serve the #Maxwell case exposes its role in defending the establishment. It’s not independent it’s not neutral it’s a tool of the powerful to influence how we think.
The framing of this case & the language used @BBC is a reminder of how the narrative is being controlled. First names of the guilty; accusers not victims; no "grooming gang" outrage; no drive to interrogate those who participated; sympathetic spokespeople. https://t.co/vpc9vXsjde
Not satisfied with giving Alan Derschowitz a platform to attack Desmond Tutu as an "anti-Semite" and a "bigot" the BBC two days later give him a platform to defend Ghislaine Maxwell… POST CONVICTION!!!! Horrendous from the beeb
Even longstanding critics of the BBC were shocked by its decision to interview Alan Dershowitz following the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict. What does this tell us about the state of the organisation? (Thread) pic.twitter.com/gvfBWikhsY
Ian Maxwell is on r4Today defending convicted sex trafficker #ghislanemaxwell just now. Can you imagine the #bbc giving the family of a convicted Pakistani grooming gang leader a similar platform to defend a relative?!
Why is @BBC giving airtime to the Maxwell family on their main news bulletin? Ghislaine was found guilty of sex trafficking. The Maxwell family cannot accept the verdict. Families of abusers who travel on buses, not luxury cars or yachts, do not get this platform.
Why is the BBC now running an interview with Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother, pleading her innocence, on its main bulletin on R4? Would they do that for any other child sex offender found guilty in a court of law?
BBC & others running interview by brother of convicted #ghislanemaxwell, claiming her innocence. In 2011, when I filmed a doc on the sexual exploitation of young girls by some Pakistani men it would not have been acceptable to hear a defence from their brothers. Why is it ok now?
Does anyone remember the relatives of the Rochdale child abusers being given prime BBC slots after a guilty verdict to protest their innocence and undermine the testimonies of the victims? https://t.co/WiRqDLxbJD
Confess I'm genuinely surprised by the ongoing tone of the BBC's coverage of Maxwell's conviction. Mostly because it's hard to see who benefits. My best reading, it's not conspiratorial, it's a reflection of the deeply embedded deference to power & wealth across the organisation.
Of course the BBC News framing of Ghislaine Maxwell is appalling, they've been doing it for decades to protect the establishment, they lied about Scottish Independence, they lied about Jeremy Corbyn, etc Analyse any BBC News story and it's twisted to protect the powers that be.
Memo to @BBCNews : You can be rich, expensively educated and a criminal. It seems that you find that hard to believe, but trust me, just open your eyes and you will find the evidence all around you. And some are even convicted, however unlikely you think that to be.
It is surely now time for all those politicians and other public figures that have visited one of Epstein’s or Maxwells homes to be investigated for possible involvement in child sexual abuse. Can we now start to put together a list of U.K. residents known to be associated.
The conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell is welcomed. I will state I believe after 3 years work on this case, I believe she was the chief and the former taxi driver Epstein the functionary. I now call on the Met Police to reopen their 1994 investigation into her activities in London.
It’s amazing and shocking to think that after the disastrous impact of the Jimmy Saville cover up on the BBC, they’re still going with the “let’s be soft on famous paedos” strategy. pic.twitter.com/VltDlePCMP
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.
He’s right about the cronyism. The New York Times – a US newspaper and one from a country that supports private enterprise over socialism – recently ran an article examining the phenomenon.
Its findings were an indictment against Boris Johnson and his ragtag gaggle of freeloaders, for whom the phrase, “We’re all in it together,” actually means, “Everyone for themselves!”
Under the heading Waste, negligence and cronyism: inside Britain’s pandemic spending, the paper stated: “In the desperate scramble for protective gear and other equipment, politically connected companies reaped billions.”
It began: “When the pandemic exploded in March, British officials embarked on a desperate scramble to procure the personal protective equipment, ventilators, coronavirus tests and other supplies critical to containing the surge.
“In the months following those fevered days, the government handed out thousands of contracts to fight the virus, some of them in a secretive “V.I.P. lane” to a select few companies with connections to the governing Conservative Party.”
The paper said it analyzed the roughly 1,200 central government contracts that have been made public, together worth nearly $22 billion (£16.28 billion):
About $11 billion [£8.14 billion] went to companies either run by friends and associates of politicians in the Conservative Party, or with no prior experience or a history of controversy.
Meanwhile, smaller firms without political clout got nowhere.
It said the procurement system was cobbled together during a meeting of anxious bureaucrats in late March, and a wealthy former investment banker and Conservative Party grandee, Paul Deighton, who sits in the House of Lords, was later tapped to act as the government’s czar for personal protective equipment.
Eight months on, Lord Deighton has helped the government award billions of dollars in contracts –– including hundreds of millions to several companies where he has financial interests or personal connections.
It looks like we should start making a list of names in advance of a future corruption inquiry, and this Lord Deighton should be at the top of it!*
That’s if we ever get all the information…
Citing the urgency of the pandemic, the government cast aside the usual transparency rules and awarded contracts worth billions of dollars without competitive bidding. To date, just over half of all of the contracts awarded in the first seven months remain concealed from the public
The paper mentions some of the firms with Tory connections that received funding:
Uniserve Group: Awarded $1 billion in PPE contracts, the company is among the biggest winners. Its founder is an adviser to a pro-Brexit think tank panel chaired by two prominent government ministers.**
Randox Laboratories: Awarded $646 million in testing contracts. Owen Paterson, a government minister [and another name for our list], is a paid consultant for the firm.**
Deloitte: Awarded a contract to consult on PPE procurement retrospectively and without competition. The company has made non-cash donations to the Conservative Party and others.**
Around $6 billion went to companies that had no prior experience in supplying medical personal protective equipment. Fashion designers, pest controllers and jewelers won lucrative contracts.
PPE Medpro: This company won its first contract barely three weeks after it was set up. It went on to win nearly $274 million in PPE contracts.**
Ocean Footprint: The marine equipment supplier was awarded a $7 million contract without having any prior experience in supplying medical PPE.**
PestFix: The pest control supply firm won more than $470 million in PPE contracts. It supplied 600,000 face masks that could not be used for their original purpose.**
More than $5 billion was awarded to companies with histories of controversy, from tax evasion and fraud to corruption and human rights abuses.
KPMG: Its UK arm recently faced a negligence lawsuit over alleged accounting failures linked to the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion.**
Serco: Awarded $285 million for testing and contact tracing. The company admitted… defrauding the government and paid a $30 million fine in 2013.**
Honeywell: Embroiled in two global bribery probes. The UK PPE czar is a shareholder.**
All of the companies named by the NYT have denied wrongdoing, and there is no evidence to suggest that government officials were engaged in illegal conduct.
But there is ample evidence of cronyism, waste and poor due diligence. Some of it has been documented by the British media, but the scale of the problem is wider than previously known.
Officials ignored or missed many red flags. Dozens of companies that won a total of $3.6 billion in contracts had poor credit, and several had declared assets of just $2 or $3 each. Others had histories of fraud, human rights abuses, tax evasion or other serious controversies. A few were set up on the spur of the moment or had no relevant experience — and still won contracts.
The paper contacted the Department of Health and Social Care, which led the Tory government’s pandemic procurement. In denial of all the evidence, a spokesperson said that “proper due diligence” was carried out for all contracts.
How can it have been?
Did this person mean that they ran all the necessary checks, saw the information that showed the firms were not suitable to receive these huge contracts (and this huge responsibility), and handed over the cash anyway?
If so, then the government was negligent. Considering the system as described here, this seems likely:
Junior staffers reviewed thousands of proposals and passed on a chosen few to their bosses, who often had only a day to sign off on contracts, according to a government official involved in the process. Some businesses said they were left waiting months as their proposals went unanswered. Others said it was difficult to keep up with what the government wanted, with safety specifications sometimes changing after deliveries had already been made.
Normally, companies would bid on individual contracts with requirements published in advance. But given the government’s frenzied need for supplies, most companies simply submitted broad proposals through a government website. Government officials then decided yes or no, or in some cases approached companies themselves.
The race to procure PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – is a very clear example (and a sore point for the government).
The necessity to have such equipment easily available in readiness for the arrival of a pandemic infection like Covid-19 was highlighted by Exercise Cygnus in 2016 – the Tory government’s own simulation of the effect of a pandemic on the UK which predicted that the NHS would collapse due to lack of resources – and by top medical journal The Lancet, which published a direct warning to Boris Johnson that he needed to secure “supply chains of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, hospital supplies and the necessary human resources” on January 24.
Johnson ignored the warnings. In fact,
Ministers could have avoided the panicked spending spree, critics said, had they not ignored their own pandemic preparedness plan and sold off stocks of P.P.E. from rainy-day reserves in the first three months of the year.
So the government’s claim that
the huge global demand for P.P.E. had created “a highly competitive market” and that it used “the quickest and most accessible routes” to buy protective gear
appears to be nonsense.
Having given way his own supply of PPE, Johnson then had to scrabble to buy some back. You can bet he had to spend more doing this than he raised from the sale, too – those are the laws of supply and demand and as a Tory, he should have known such things. But his people’s behaviour was actually worse:
In choosing speed over due diligence, however, ministers squandered millions on “unsuitable” items, including some that did not meet safety standards, according to the National Audit Office.
The government said that only a tiny portion of the supplies, 0.5 percent, had been found unfit for their intended uses.
Yes, but then the government said it followed due diligence in awarding contracts to unsuitable firms as well, so its people are hardly to be trusted.
The VIP lane
As if the above information wasn’t bad enough, Matt Hancock (another name for our list) secretly authorised a so-called “VIP lane” for favoured companies to win procurement contracts, in April.
proved to be 10 times more likely to win contracts than those outside that group, according to the National Audit Office.
The government did not carry out systematic company checks, including for potential conflicts of interest, until it had already spent nearly $2 billion, auditors found. Officials did not always document who recommended a company or why it was awarded a contract.
This site has already documented the story of Ayanda Capital. Awarded $340 million (£251.6 million) to supply personal protective equipment, it eventually delivered 50 million masks worth more than $200 million (£148 million) that could not be used for their original purpose, because the ear loop fastenings did not match the government’s new requirements.
One of the firm’s senior board advisers was Andrew Mills (another name for our list) who also worked on the government’s Board of Trade, meaning there was a clear conflict of interest even though we don’t know what part he played in the awarding of the contract, if any.
Ayanda has said the masks met all the government’s requirements when the order was placed and – considering the evidence that requirements were likely to change after contracts were signed – it is entirely possible that this is true. It is the fault of Boris Johnson and his government that this process failed. They chose to employ firms that were unable to provide the equipment that was needed.
many companies and business people, often better qualified to produce P.P.E. but lacking political connections, had no access to the V.I.P. lane. Multibrands International, a British manufacturer that had been producing P.P.E. for China since December, was among them. Its owner, Rizwana Hussain, spent months trying to reach government officials through public channels.
Ms. Hussain had offered to supply the government starting in March, her emails show. She was still at it in early May when news broke that 400,000 protective gowns that the government ordered from Turkey had proved to be unusable. “I was so upset thinking, ‘Why are we listening to these disastrous happenings when we’re here and are offering our help?’” Ms. Hussain said.
She said that although her company could produce large quantities of P.P.E. at its factories in China and India, she never heard back from the government.
Government officials said the high-priority lane was set up to efficiently prioritize credible offers of PPE for the National Health Service, and that all proposals, whatever channel they went through, were assessed by the same standards. Does anybody really believe that?
But they have not released the names of the nearly 500 companies that made the V.I.P. list., fuelling questions of cronyism.
It seems clear there is enough evidence here – or lack of it, in many instances – to justify an inquiry. This Writer, being a lay person, is unsure what form such an investigation should take. Judicial review? Public inquiry? Perhaps somebody with more specialised knowledge could let us know.
We already know that Johnson will try to brush this scandal under the carpet (his carpets must be bulging with the amount of mess he has hidden beneath them).
It is our responsibility to ensure that he doesn’t get away with it.
*The New York Times had quite a lot to say about Lord Deighton:
Two of the contracts linked to Lord Deighton were P.P.E.-related. One, for $78 million, was awarded to Honeywell Safety Products, a subsidiary of Honeywell International, a company he holds shares in.
He also holds shares in the consulting firm Accenture, which was awarded a $5.6 million contract to help develop England’s ill-fated contact tracing app and detect fraud in procurement. Another company he has a stake in, UBS, won $770,000.
Neither Lord Deighton nor the companies would divulge the size of his share holdings.
A $406,000 contract was awarded to a consulting firm, Chanzo, to help set up and run the P.P.E. procurement system, including providing a chief of staff for Lord Deighton.
Chanzo’s founder and chief executive, Jean Tomlin, is a long-time business associate of Lord Deighton, and worked with him on the Olympic committee. Ms. Tomlin is also a fellow director at Hakluyt, a corporate intelligence firm founded by former British intelligence officers, which Lord Deighton chairs.
Lady Alison Deighton, his wife, is a former director of N.M. Rothschild, which won a $770,000 contract for consulting services. Another consulting contract of the same value went to Moelis & Company, an investment bank where one senior adviser and Labour peer, Lord Charles Allen, was also on the Olympic committee board with Lord Deighton.
** The article also provides the following information on the companies it names:
PestFix said it had repurposed its business during the pandemic to supply medical P.P.E. and said the government changed its specifications after it had supplied the face masks. PPE Medpro said that it was awarded contracts based on the considerable experience and expertise of its staff. Uniserve Group said that its director had no connections to the Conservative government. Deloitte said that its U.K. arm does not give cash contributions to political parties. Ocean Footprint said it had previously sold masks to the boat-building industry. Serco said that it “took significant steps to reform itself” after the 2013 fraud scandal. Randox Laboratories did not respond to questions and Owen Paterson declined to comment. All other companies mentioned in the article either declined to comment or did not respond to questions.
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Philip Davies: ‘Feminist zealots want women to have their cake and eat it’
If the so-called ‘York Tories’ are determined to invite the Shame of Shipley, Philip Davies, to speak, This Writer would like to encourage opponents of the move to emulate students at Brunel University, when some nonentity called Katie Hopkins spoke there.
Here’s what they did:
How about it, York?
The University of York Conservative and Unionist Association has been criticised for inviting a “misogynistic” Member of Parliament to speak on campus in a forthcoming academic term.
The society, better known as the York Tories, has received criticism on social media for extending an invitation to Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, to speak on campus.
Davies has represented his constituency of Shipley for over ten years. He has been a vocal supporter of the case for leaving the European Union. Davies was returned to his seat in the most recent election, albeit with a smaller majority.
The York Tories announced yesterday that Davies had been invited to speak on the 9th of February 2018. However, some students reacted with anger at the group’s decision to welcome him to the campus.
One student described Davies as “the most misogynistic MP”.
Davies is well-known for his criticisms of feminism and the modern feminist movement. The MP was criticised for speaking at the International Conference on Men’s Issues, an event produced by the political party Justice for Men & Boys, in 2016, in which he told the attendants that feminists “fight for their version of equality on all the things that suit women – but are very quick to point out that women need special protections and treatment on other things.”
The York Tories themselves have been subject to accusations of sexism in recent months. In November 2016 a Nouse report stated that a “culture of sexism” existed in the society. Finn Judge, who had attended a York Tories AGM and now edits Nouse, told the paper at the time of an atmosphere engineered to make female members uncomfortable during the society’s elections.
Ian Lavery launched his ambitious Bill to abolish the Bedroom Tax yesterday. [Image: Daily Mirror]
Make no mistake about it – the purpose of the legislation tabled yesterday (Wednesday) by Labour’s Ian Lavery is to discover how many Liberal Democrat MPs are redeemable and how many have been irreversibly corrupted by their current alliance with the Conservatives.
The Bill to abolish the hated Bedroom Tax is unlikely to gain Royal Assent unless Liberal Democrats who supported the imposition of the Bedroom Tax reverse their point of view. There is even the possibility that some Conservatives may now realise that they, as Mr Lavery put it, “underestimated the real consequences of walking through the Government Lobby to support the introduction”. He also said: “It is an olive branch… I would hope that my Bill would receive support from members in all parties.”
MPs voted almost unanimously for the Bill to be brought in, with 226 votes in favour and only one against – but readers of this blog will be familiar with the fact that this happened with Michael Meacher’s motion for a commission of inquiry into the impact of social security changes on poverty. The House approved; the government did nothing.
So don’t get your hopes up too high.
Mr Lavery was the only person to speak on the subject, and his words are well worth noting here.
“The full and sole intention of this Bill is to sweep away the dreaded bedroom tax,” he said.
“It seeks to restore justice for up to 660,000 people — some of our country’s most vulnerable citizens, two-thirds of whom are disabled. They have been inhumanely let down by the Government’s reforms to housing benefit in the social sector. The tax has caused heartache and devastation to thousands of residents up and down this country. It is a tax whose forced implementation has put extreme pressure on councils, housing associations and social landlords. It is a tax that has put extreme pressure on the ordinary working people who are forced to deal with those unable to move and those unable to pay.
“On the introduction of the tax, Ministers argued that the changes would encourage people to downsize to smaller properties and, in doing so, help to cut the £23 billion annual bill for housing benefit; would free up living space for overcrowded families; and would encourage people to get jobs. Significantly, it has achieved none of those objectives.
“At the same time, the Department for Work and Pensions has trumpeted the measure as ‘returning fairness to housing benefit’. The words ‘fairness’ and ‘bedroom tax’ should not be uttered in the same sentence.”
He said: “This tax is a problem in each and every constituency up and down the country; this is not simply a problem in Labour-dominated authorities. I was contacted only last week by a distraught resident from the Tory shires who is hoping that my Bill will be successful, because he, a disabled man, is living in a three-bedroom property and has just received an eviction notice for bedroom tax arrears. He is not alone. The bedroom tax sufferers in Liberal Democrat and Tory constituencies number around 250,000. Perhaps we should ask them whether they think this abominable tax has restored fairness to housing benefit.”
Mr Lavery said his Bill seeks “to restore fairness and to end the misery that the bedroom tax has caused”. He said there are hundreds, if not thousands, of “appalling” examples of suffering, mentioning (but not naming) mother-of-two Stephanie Bottrill, a woman suffering a crippling illness who committed suicide after realising that she could not pay the bedroom tax. Her family received correspondence later saying that she should have been exempt from the charge.
He also mentioned a case he said was “hard to comprehend; it really is difficult to try to get to grips with”. He said: “The family of the 1999 child of courage, who spent years battling multiple cancers, is suffering at the hands of this horrible reform. These people are not living a life of luxury in palatial properties; they are living in a place in which they feel safe and which they call home. It is time to listen. I am sure that most fair-minded individuals would agree that a bedroom is not spare when carers sleep in it, when couples use it because one of them has health problems and they cannot share a bed, or when it houses vital medical equipment, yet this indiscriminate tax deems it so.
“The reality is that yet another measure introduced by this Government is in total and utter chaos. It lies in tatters, with the victims left to pick up the pieces. As thousands suffer, there is a real risk that the bedroom tax will end up costing more than it saves. The National Housing Federation has said that the savings claimed by the Government are ‘highly questionable’, partly because those who are forced to move to the private rented sector will end up costing more in housing benefit.
“Surely, as politicians and members of the general public, we are entitled to question the motives behind the introduction of the bedroom tax. The tax does not deal with the problem of under-occupation. In fact, the Government’s costings on the yield raised from the bedroom tax explicitly assume that people will not move into smaller properties. There are simply not enough smaller properties for people to move into.
“Some 180,000 households were deemed to be under-occupying two-bedroom homes, yet only 85,000 one-bedroom homes became available during the whole of 2012. The savings projections of the Department for Work and Pensions assume that not one of the 660,000 households affected would respond to the policy by moving to a smaller home. Put simply, this is yet another example of the Government balancing the books on the backs of the disabled and the vulnerable. The tax must be scrapped now.
“Housing associations say that tens of millions of pounds are likely to be lost through the build-up of arrears. Reports this morning estimate that 144,000 people have fallen behind with their rents since the introduction of the bedroom tax and that 14 per cent have received eviction notices [20,160].
“Was that really meant to happen? Was this eviction of the poor really the plan of the Government?
“In October, research by the University of York, which was based on data by the housing associations that have tenants affected by the bedroom tax, suggested that the policy could save up to 39 per cent less than the DWP had predicted. In the past week, it has emerged that more than half of the £500 million that the Government claim will be saved by the hated tax will be spent on re-housing disabled people. These are vulnerable people who already live in properties that have been adapted for their needs and who have built up local support networks with their friends, family and neighbours. The future for them lies in communities that are unknown and foreign to them. They have been cast out like the proverbial dog in the night.”
Interrupted when he mentioned the loophole that exempted Stephanie Bottrill from paying the bedroom tax – another member said that the loophole had been closed – Mr Lavery continued: “As Ministers scramble to mop up the mistakes, another challenge to the hated tax has arisen. A judge has overturned the tax in the case of a Rochdale man who argued that one of his bedrooms was used as a dining room. The appeal was upheld on the basis that the dictionary definition of a bedroom is a room that contains a bed that is used for sleeping in. An avalanche of appeals is on its way.
“I am proud to see that, only last week, the Scottish Labour party shamed the Scottish National party into abolishing the bedroom tax. I must put it on the record that I am also proud that one of the first acts of a future Labour Government will be to end this full frontal attack on the vulnerable. However, we cannot afford to wait until the general election of 2015. I urge the supporters of this tax to think again.
“The question is this: Are they happy to see the misery and social disruption of the vulnerable and disabled? I began this speech by expressing the view that those who voted in favour of introducing this dreaded bedroom tax may have underestimated the human suffering that it would cause. That is no longer in any doubt, so I urge them all to do the honourable thing and support my Bill.”
That really is the question for members of the public to consider, along with MPs. If your MP votes against Mr Lavery’s Bill, then you will know that they are, indeed, happy to inflict misery and disruption on the vulnerable and disabled.
Do you want to live in a country where people like that are allowed to rule?
Make no mistake: This legislation is unlikely to succeed without support from people who previously helped bring the Bedroom Tax into law. As such, it might not work.
But this is also legislation that should help you decide how you will vote in May next year.
We can hope that our MPs – and you yourself, dear reader – choose wisely.
The Bill will have its second reading on February 28.
Labour’s Chris Bryant took the opportunity afforded by Mr Lavery’s motion to bring a point of order – that Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and Lord Freud had been using false statistics. He said: “Earlier this year, when asked how many people had been affected by the loophole in the bedroom tax legislation, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions… said that the number was between 3,000 and 5,000. In a written answer, the Minister of State… (Esther McVey)… said that she did not know how many had been affected. Lord Freud, a Minister in another place, said that it was an insignificant number. Today, however, he told the Work and Pensions Committee of this House that the number was 5,000.
“We have been doing their work for them, and from Freedom of Information requests to local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, we already know, from just the third that replied, of 16,000 cases.”
Debbie Abrahams, a member of the Work and Pensions committee to whom Lord Freud provided the false figure, said committee members will be pursuing the matter.
Doesn’t he look like a puppet? In fact the correct term is ‘marionette’ – for a puppet on strings, worked from above. But who’s pulling Nick Clegg’s strings this time?
The Government is running an independent study into the impact of the Bedroom Tax, in order to find out if it is really possible for social housing tenants to move into smaller accommodation to escape its effects. The result should more likely be feared than welcomed.
Nick Clegg announced that the study was taking place in response to a Parliamentary question from Harriet Harman – but was immediately undermined by the Department for Work and Pensions. A government spokesman said the DWP routinely commissions research on new policies and an independent consortium was already carrying out evaluation work.
Clegg had to say he was taking action after his own party voted to change its policy on the Tax – the Liberal Democrats now oppose it – but this is not cause for celebration.
Who will carry out this independent study? We are told it is an “independent consortium” but what does that mean? What will be their terms of reference? What questions will they be asking and will they be the questions that need to be asked?
Observers should be raising serious doubts about all of these because this is not a government with a good track record on evidence-led policy.
We all know what this is about – the government’s hugely flawed scheme to claw back Housing Benefit cash from social housing tenants, taking 14 per cent of payments from those with one spare bedroom, and a quarter of the benefit from anyone with two. The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme for local councils was boosted to £60 million in anticipation of extra demand from struggling tenants.
It is true that evidence about the policy is conflicting. Lord Freud, introducing it in the House of Lords, apparently refused to listen to arguments that there were too few single-bedroom properties into which under-occupiers could downsize. Now he is blaming local authorities for the shortage.
The government said the policy would save £480 million, but the increased cost of DHPs must be subtracted from that, and also the costs of people who do manage to downsize. This could range from just four per cent of the 660,000 affected households to 20 per cent, depending on who you believe – a recent study by the University of York suggested that 20 per cent of households intended to move (which isn’t quite the same as actually doing it), but this was based on evidence from just four housing associations.
It seems unlikely that one-fifth of everyone affected nationally is moving to a different property – but even if they were, this would not create a saving for the government because it would have to pay out, not only increased Housing Benefit for those who have moved into smaller but more expensive private rented housing, but also Housing Benefit for people moving into the now-vacant larger social housing.
And then there are the people who cannot downsize but cannot afford the rent if their Housing Benefit is reduced. Recent reports had 50,000 households facing eviction – around one-thirteenth of the total number affected.
If they become homeless, local councils will have to find temporary accommodation for them – and this is paradoxically much more expensive than putting them in social housing, because they have to go into bed-and-breakfast rooms. Homelessness was already on the increase before the Bedroom Tax was introduced, rising from 44,160 households in 2011-12 to 53,540 in 2012-13.
How pleasing it is to see the Archbishop of York agrees with the view, long-held by Vox Political, that British workers should be paid a living wage, and that the taxpayer should not be subsidising big business!
Archbishop John Sentamu is to chair a year-long commission investigating the need for a living wage. In The Observer, he wrote: “The holes in millions of paycheques are being plugged by in-work support to the tune of £4 billion a year. But why aren’t those who are profiting from their workers paying up? Why is government having to subsidise businesses who don’t pay their employees enough to live on? It is a question we need to answer and act on – fast. The cost of living is rising but wages are not. In the rush for profit, and for high pay at the top, too many companies have forgotten the basic moral imperative that employees be paid enough to live on.”
Needless to say, there are also detractors. A commenter known as ‘neilcon’ pointed out: “The high cost of running a small business in this country is one of the main reasons why the hourly rates are so low. If you employ someone at £8 you then have to pay a further 13 per cent to the government in employer’s National Insurance contributions for the privilege of employing someone; you have to supply that person with suitable equipment for their work.” The commenter reeled off a few other business-related expenses before going on to “the issue of the banks utterly refusing to lend to small businesses, the high cost of renting office premises, business rates on your office premises to the government, the high cost of VAT, together with clients trying to squeeze the final price as much as possible and the very late payments by bigger companies.
“The real cost to an employer of an £8 per hour wage is calculated at about £15 to the business.”
I can sympathise with this sentiment. It doesn’t let off the bosses of larger companies, who have huge salaries and no excuse (FT 350 companies, for example) but they might have a reasonable excuse for not raising pay, if smaller companies say they’ll go out of business if the higher cost is forced on them.
But the simple fact is that the cost of living is too high and – if they had to rely on wages alone – millions of working people, up and down the country, would be unable to pay their bills…
He wrote: “More than £100 a year of an average household [water] bill, that is about 30 per cent, goes on profit, compared with 9 per cent in the energy sector which is itself known for egregious profiteering.
“In the last 10 years, water bills have risen by a massive 64 per cent, compared with an increase of just 28 per cent in average earnings. In the last three years alone, average earnings have fallen by 7 per cent while water bills have continued to rise remorselessly. There is no competition in the water industry and the only potential constraint is the industry regulator, but he has chosen to succumb to corporate lobbying in allowing water bills to continue to shoot upwards to feed fancy executive bonuses and big dividend handouts.”
The last sentence tellingly brings us back to the huge profits taken by executives. It seems that a few things are going on:
1. The privatisation of the national utilities – water, electricity, gas (and, some would say, telecommunications) – has failed in its stated aims, which were to democratise capitalism by making it possible for everybody to be a shareholder, to keep bills low, and to end government subsidies for these organisations. Instead, shares have been drawn into the hands of a very few rich investors, bills have risen far beyond wages, and government subsidies have either increased massively (rail) or companies have used the tax system to avoid paying the amount due on their profits (Thames Water and its ‘super sewer’).
2. Company bosses, keen to drive up their share prices in order to create larger dividends for their shareholders and higher salaries for themselves, have successfully held wages down in order to achieve this. As ‘neilcon’ pointed out, lower wages mean less spending on National Insurance, meaning that keeping the employee payout down by pennies per person leads to many pounds in increased revenue.
3. The government is unwilling to do anything about this because it wants to keep wages depressed as much as possible. This is the reason it has cracked down so hard on benefit payments – not because of fraud (which is minimal) but in order to create an urgent need among the unemployed to find work, and terror in those who have jobs that they could be replaced if they complain about the increasingly meagre pittance on which they are being told to survive.
There are many subtle sub-consequences as well. You may wish to raise some of them in the ‘comments’ column.
What’s the answer?
This may come as a surprise, but the best place to start might be with the private utility companies. An ultimatum to put their houses in order and charge a reasonable amount, rather than extorting money out of a captive clientele, might produce results – especially if the alternative is re-nationalisation.
This might take the pressure off the smaller private companies by actually reducing the amount calculated as the living wage; with lower utility bills, the amount of money needed for a working person’s survival will also drop.
If the government and the utility companies got their sums right, this could mean the need to subsidise working people’s pay would be wiped out, meaning a large saving on the tax bill. Feed this through to working people in the form of a tax cut and, again, smaller private companies would benefit (along with everybody else, of course). An alternative of using the money to help pay off the deficit would be unhelpful – we need more, and healthier, businesses in this country, employing more people. Get that sorted and the deficit will come down in any case.
On a completely different tack, what about Landlord Subsidy (otherwise known as Housing Benefit)? Why not put a cap on rents, thereby ensuring that the government is not subsidising the rapidly-increasing pace of (some) landlords’ greed?
Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen under the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government – and it seems the Parliamentary Labour Party is to keen to become the Plastic Tory Party to take a stand; it will be up to its backbenchers and the party’s grassroots members to force a policy change.
At the end of the day, wages might still have to rise, due to matters unforeseen in this article.
But a plan that acknowledges the mistakes of the past and aims to redress the shocking way that the supply of money has overbalanced to favour a tiny minority – to the detriment of the vast majority – would constitute the first steps on the way to a nation that can not only provide Archbishop Sentamu’s living wage, but also help our struggling small businesses.
Return of the savage: Iain Duncan Smith is using his benefit cap to claw back workers’ rights. YOUR rights.
It’s as if they’re having a competition.
After Liam Fox, the disgraced former Defence Secretary with nothing at all to gain from his outburst, made a fool of himself by making a series of outrageous demands about government spending (the BBC website picks out “We need to begin a systematic dismantling of universal benefits and turning them into tax cuts”), Iain Duncan Smith stepped into the breach to “dismiss” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning – despite its firm basis in fact – that benefit changes will drive more children into poverty.
Clearly the man this blog refuses to call anything but Smith is getting worried that he might fail to retain Vox Political‘s coveted Monster of the Year award in the face of such strong competition – don’t forget Theresa May weighed in with a plan to strip everyone in this country of their hard-won human rights – that he felt it necessary to step up.
We’ll put the rabid Fox down first. Vox correspondent Big Bill called it right when he said Fox was already damaged goods.
“He can be sent out to air these ideas without any further potential loss to the party,” Bill wrote.
“If Cameron started airing them or Osborne, there’d potentially be loss to their status, I imagine Tory thinking has it, and they’re too valuable to waste but Fox is already a political phantom, no more than the fading echo of a career mournfully walking abroad at Westminster.
“If more opprobrium’s heaped on his head, well, then, the party’s learned those ideas won’t fly and no loss to anyone. If by any chance they start to be taken seriously then these ideas will indeed be taken up by Osborne and Cameron.”
Judging from the comedy Prime Minister’s response, the ideas didn’t fly at all and in fact went down like the R101.
But let’s not waste the opportunity to pour scorn on Cameron’s comments. Having already fallen foul of the facts in the past, he simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to show that he hasn’t learnt anything and loves the taste of his own shoes.
“There is one piece of advice I won’t take. That’s the piece of advice saying ‘You ought to cut the National Health Service budget’,” said the PM, past the foot he’d just wedged in his mouth.
How quick he was to forget that Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to caution the government that its claims of increased spending on the health service, year on year, during every year of the current Parliament, were inaccurate. Mr Dilnot stated that the figures show a real-terms cut in expenditure between the 2009-10 tax year when Labour was in power, and 2011-12.
Camoron has never acknowledged this fact, even though it comes from an authoritative source. Maybe he’s no longer capable of listening to anything but the voices in his head.
He continued, saying it was “absolutely right that we have got a plan to get on top of our deficit”. Nice one, Call-Me-Dave. It is indeed, absolutely correct that you have a plan to get on top of the deficit. It’s also absolutely right that your plan does not work; will never work; will in fact make the deficit worse. It’s a plan to give you an excuse to shrink the state.
In that sense, Cameron’s difference of opinion with Fox is a sham. Perhaps he’s using Fox’s words to make his own scheming seem less objectionable.
Too bad. After nearly three years of this red-faced buffoon we can all see through him like a fishnet negligee.
And now, let’s turn to another Tory who won’t listen to anything but the voices in his head – Iain Pretentious Smith.
He has responded to calls from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, along with no less than 43 other Anglican Bishops, to reconsider benefit changes that will push an estimated 200,000 children into poverty. These are figures from The Children’s Society, which is a charity that deals with issues affecting deprived children every single day of its existence and should therefore, reasonably, know.
The letter states that the decision to increase financial support for families by no more than one per cent per year for the next three years, regardless of the rate of inflation, “will have a deeply disproportionate impact on families with children, pushing 200,000 children into poverty. A third of all households will be affected by the Bill, but nearly nine out of 10 families with children will be hit.
“These are children and families from all walks of life. The Children’s Society calculates that a single parent with two children, working on an average wage as a nurse would lose £424 a year by 2015. A couple with three children and one earner, on an average wage as a corporal in the British Army, would lose £552 a year by 2015.
“However, the change will hit the poorest the hardest. About 60 per cent of the savings from the uprating cap will come from the poorest third of households. Only three per cent will come from the wealthiest third.”
Only three per cent from the wealthiest households? It seems we’ve discovered why this plan is so attractive to the Party of the Rich.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – who has yet to be enthroned – added: “As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.
“It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.” (Labour Party – and especially Liam Byrne – please note).
It was pleasing to see these words from the new Archbishop, who is clearly unafraid to enter political debates, despite the undue flack received by the former Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams. The Church should speak up to protect those in society whose voice is not strong.
Of course Smith – a Catholic whose behaviour should have had him excommunicated from his own faith – was having none of it.
“I don’t agree that the way to get children out of poverty is to simply keep transferring more and more money to keep them out of work,” he said, possibly revealing a little more than he intended. It seems Mr Smith thinks that, rather than receiving benefits to support them, poor children should be sent out to work. Is he advocating a return to the despicable conditions of the 19th century, in which children were sent up chimneys to clean them?
Don’t put it past him – look what else he had to say!
He said this: “We are doing the right thing in bringing in the benefit cap. For the first time ever, people on low and average earnings will realise at last that those on benefits will not be able to be paid more in taxes than they themselves earn.”
Exactly. Those on low and average earnings will realise that, if they get the sack, they will not be able to cover their current outgoings, meagre though they may be.
The intention behind the benefit cap is – as Vox Political has stated in the past – to silence those on the lowest wages from seeking any improvement in their pay and conditions, and even stop them from complaining if their bosses decide to cut those things.
It is a wholesale – and despicable – betrayal of the vast majority of the British people.
Don’t you forget it.
*He might as well be saying that; it’s what his statements indicate.
The petition is up and taking signatures. Please sign and share.
Two things happened yesterday evening to convince me that the fight to root corruption out of the House of Commons is not only necessary but urgent.
First, the inaugural ‘mass tweet’ by supporters of my #CleanHouseOfCommons petition – I know it’s a mouthful but clarity was required – took place between 9 and 10pm and was a modest success. We got 45 extra signatures and put it back into the top 10 trending petitions on the government’s website. Another 30, or thereabouts, have signed since then (at the time of writing).
That might not seem many to the casual reader, but it’s a good start. This is a petition that has no mass-media support, nor is it boosted by an endorsement from anyone who could be described as a celebrity. It is gathering signatures by word of mouth (or rather, in this internet age, via Facebook shares, Twitter re-tweets, other social media and possibly email as well).
This is why I keep having to emphasise the importance of spreading the word. It isn’t enough to sign a petition like this and expect everyone else to publicise it. If you believe in the cause it puts forward, please, tell the people you know. Say, “I’ve just signed a petition to stop MPs lining their pockets with private, corrupt side deals while they’re supposed to be serving the public – and I think you might want to do the same”. It takes a few seconds and the effect could be enormous.
Secondly, there was an exchange of views on the BBC’s Question Time, which started less than an hour after the mass tweet ended.
Questioner Elliott Hill asked: “With public scepticism towards MPs, similarities between the major parties and a decrease in party membership, is party politics dying?”
This was an opportunity to explore the reasons people are turning away from politicians – and corruption, the fact that politicians are using their positions to make decisions that people don’t want (but that are profitable for them personally), had to be high on the list.
George Galloway made the point about corruption by drawing attention to Parliamentary expenses: “We have a Parliament full of expenses frauds. We have a Parliament that’s almost always on holiday. Since I was elected 11 months ago, Parliament has been on holiday almost 50 per cent of the time – and the rest of the time, they’re filling in their expenses forms.”
Fraser Nelson (and I’m not a fan) made a good point about party funding: “Politicians go on about constitutional reform, but only the type that favours their own party. If you think the situation is bad now, then wait until they get state funding for political parties… It should never happen because they should be forced – all of them… to go and find ideas that people think are worth supporting. Either do that or go bust.”
In other words, once their funding is coming direct from the taxpayer, individual opinions won’t matter at all. They won’t listen to you if they don’t need to – and then they really will be rigging the system to make as much out of it for themselves as they possibly can.
These were views that the audience wholeheartedly supported. Look at this response from one audience member: “If you say you’re all fighting for the people, when do you listen to the people that you are there for? You’ve got to listen to the people – what they want.”
Or this one: “Isn’t it our democratic system that is broken? I go to a polling booth and have to vote for the best of a bad bunch… It’s not who I want to vote for, but who’s going to stop a different party getting in.”
Or this one: “Politicians are playing their own game – ‘If it’s in their favour, we’ll vote against it’. That’s playing against what the public need.”
Another audience member said: “Before an election, all parties promise this, that and the other, so they vote them in, and then after, they renege on what they promised.”
A perfect example of of this – politicians pandering to the public in order to gain popularity – then followed when the panel was asked where Richard III should be bured – Leicester (where the recording was taking place), York or London.
Every representative of the three major parties – Mary Creagh, Maria Miller and Susan Kramer – said Leicester, and received huge applause from the audience in return.
It was a prime example of the current political system in action (or inaction): Say what people want to hear – then do whatever suits you personally. In this case, the decision won’t even be up to them, so it was a conscience-free response.
The message was clear: Your MPs are not in Parliament to represent your interests. Your MPs are there to represent themselves and, where it suits them, their party.
The only way to make them do their job – as it has always been described to you – is to make it impossible for them to line their own pockets.
That’s the debate I’m trying to open up with the e-petition. It’s at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44971 – if you agree with the Question Time audience, then please do something about it. You can’t make a difference by doing nothing.
And would you want to be responsible for allowing the corruption to continue?
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