Why is Sir Keir Starmer QC a moral coward and a lousy electoral politician for not putting down a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson? He’s no heir of Major Clement Attlee that’s for sure …

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Mogadon Man

“Sir Keir Starmer has all but withdrawn his previous calls for Boris Johnson to resign as he said the country needs “unity” in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Now is not the time to call for PM to quit – Starmer

Putting down a Vote of No Confidence in Boris Johnson’s Leadership

Sir Keir Starmer QC does what he does best, arguably all of which he is capable, and takes Boris Johnson to pieces at the Despatch Box.

Johnson has to sit for hours and endure a debate about himself and his character.

Many Tory MPs have to squirm to give Johnson vocal support, even those who have come to hate him.

Fabricant and Dorries make themselves look prats, again.

The Tory whips use up more of their power to intimidate recalcitrant backbenchers, threatening and pleading with them to sit throughout the debate and vote for Johnson.

Tory MPs known to have submitted letters to the backbench 1922 Committee, calling for a vote on the fitness of Johnson to lead their party would be taunted by Opposition MPs to speak in support of Johnson in the debate.

All of this would take place before the world’s media and attract way more interest amongst voters than any performance of Starmer’s at PMQs.

But Starmer would lose the vote cry Starmerites who frequently whine about Labour not getting enough media coverage.

Attlee and Morrison did not expect to win the division during the Norway Debate in May 1940 when Chamberlain had a bigger majority in the House of Commons (242 seats) than Johnson has today (81 seats) and we were actually at war.

They knew they were putting down a marker.

“In view of the gravity of the events which we are debating, that the House has a duty and that every Member has a responsibility to record his particular judgment upon them, we feel we must divide the House at the end of our Debate to-day.”

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing …”

If you do not think Sir Keir Starmer QC would win the argument in the light of the world’s media and screw Tory MPs to the sticking place, even those who have come to despise Johnson then maybe it is about time Starmer resigned in favour of, say, Yvette Cooper?

One has to question the future of a leader of the Labour Party who is a moral coward, who knows sod all about electoral politics and is in thrall to a bunch of white, mostly elderly, many Leave voting, some racist folk in a Leigh café.

Incidentally, no one ever dared to say to Major Clement Attlee, the second to last man off the beaches at Gallipoli, that he was any sort of coward.

Aneurin Bevan did not join the wartime coalition Government. He remained on the Opposition benches and sometimes even criticised the Government not for continuing to fight the war, but for the manner in which they were going about it.

He reminded people of that for which they were fighting, suffering and dying, a functioning democracy even in a time of war. Something we have seen in Ukraine where Parliamentarians have met under the threat of death from Putin’s thugs to carry out their democratic duties.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s instinct at the first whiff of grapeshot is to beat a sensible retreat when past Labour leaders would have marched towards the sound of the guns.

Someone once said that wars are not won by evacuations.

Sooner or later Sir Keir you have to turn and fight.

Better to do it on a ground of your own choosing than on a field of battle that favours Johnson.

“Lord Patrick Cormack, who had been an MP for 40 years before joining the Lords, said the setting up of a national government should be considered given the huge significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think the time is coming when we should think of a national government,” he told ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston, as he praised Mr Starmer’s response to the Ukrainian president’s address.”

ITV News Politics, Tuesday 8th March 2022

Why is Sir Keir Starmer QC a moral coward and a lousy electoral politician for not putting down a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson? He is no heir of Major Clement Attlee …

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Mogadon Man

“Sir Keir Starmer has all but withdrawn his previous calls for Boris Johnson to resign as he said the country needs “unity” in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Now is not the time to call for PM to quit – Starmer

Putting down a Vote of No Confidence in Boris Johnson’s Leadership

Sir Keir Starmer QC does what he does best, arguably all of which he is capable, and takes Boris Johnson to pieces at the Despatch Box.

Johnson has to sit for hours and endure a debate about himself and his character.

Many Tory MPs have to squirm to give Johnson vocal support, even those who have come to hate him.

Fabricant and Dorries make themselves look prats, again.

The Tory whips use up more of their power to intimidate recalcitrant backbenchers, threatening and pleading with them to sit throughout the debate and vote for Johnson.

Tory MPs known to have submitted letters to the backbench 1922 Committee, calling for a vote on the fitness of Johnson to lead their party would be taunted by Opposition MPs to speak in support of Johnson in the debate.

All of this would take place before the world’s media and attract way more interest amongst voters than any performance of Starmer’s at PMQs.

But Starmer would lose the vote cry Starmerites who frequently whine about Labour not getting enough media coverage.

Attlee and Morrison did not expect to win the division during the Norway Debate in May 1940 when Chamberlain had a bigger majority in the House of Commons (242 seats) than Johnson has today (81 seats) and we were actually at war.

They knew they were putting down a marker.

“In view of the gravity of the events which we are debating, that the House has a duty and that every Member has a responsibility to record his particular judgment upon them, we feel we must divide the House at the end of our Debate to-day.”

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing …”

If you do not think Sir Keir Starmer QC would win the argument in the light of the world’s media and screw Tory MPs to the sticking place, even those who have come to despise Johnson then maybe it is about time Starmer resigned in favour of, say, Yvette Cooper?

One has the question the future of a leader of the Labour Party who is a moral coward, who knows sod all about electoral politics and is in thrall to a bunch of white, mostly elderly, many Leave voting, some racist folk in a Leigh café.

Incidentally, no one ever dared to say to Major Clement Attlee, the second to last man off the beaches at Gallipoli, that he was any sort of coward.

Aneurin Bevan did not join the wartime coalition Government. He remained on the Opposition benches and sometimes even criticised the Government not for continuing to fight the war, but for the manner in which they were going about it.

He reminded people of that for which they were fighting, suffering and dying, a functioning democracy even in a time of war. Something we have seen in Ukraine where Parliamentarians have met under the threat of death from Putin’s thugs to carry out their democratic duties.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s instinct at the first whiff of grapeshot is to beat a sensible retreat when past Labour leaders would have marched towards the sound of the guns.

Someone once said that wars are not won by evacuations.

Sooner or later Sir Keir you have to turn and fight.

Better to do it on a ground of your own choosing than on a field of battle that favours Johnson.

“Lord Patrick Cormack, who had been an MP for 40 years before joining the Lords, said the setting up of a national government should be considered given the huge significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think the time is coming when we should think of a national government,” he told ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston, as he praised Mr Starmer’s response to the Ukrainian president’s address.”

ITV News Politics, Tuesday 8th March 2022

Sir Keir Starmer QC went to Grim Oop North Land with Lisa “Down Your Way” Nandy to play a discarded Faragiste card on the state of UK manufacturing. Now they’ve got Angela Rayner at it …

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It is a classic journalist’s and politician’s mistake to measure the importance of manufacturing to the economy of the United Kingdom by the number of direct jobs within it.

The latest politician to make that error is Sir Keir Starmer QC, who recently went Oop North to the very part of England in which a significant number of manufacturing jobs and companies just happen to be located, to pledge a revival in manufacturing under a Labour Government he led.

A revival in the context of Hard Brexit.

The casual observer might be inclined to think UK manufacturing in 2022 was a basket case.

Au contraire, Sir Keir …

Faragiste card?

Well for a while, Nigel Farage too used to run UK manufacturing down, in fact, in 2014 Farage made much of ukip’s plans to make our country a great trading nation again.

An early sighting of Global Britain?

To be fair to Farage, he did, a month or so after announcing his party’s trade ambitions, do something few in the media or politics ever do and revised his view of UK manufacturing and its place in the world.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s chief policy adviser, Claire Ainsley, whom he appointed on becoming Labour leader, is a Brexit advocate.

Ainsley has no background in trade, commerce, industry, economics or, it would seem, basic research.

Ainsley’s last taste of political campaigning was at university when as a member of the Socialist Worker’s Party, she campaigned against the Labour Government elected in 1997.

Ainsley compared the conflict in Kosovo to the Vietnam War and tried unsuccessfully to convince her student union to formally condemn the US-led intervention in Kosovo. “People see that what Nato is doing is wrong,” she told Nouse, the university’s student paper, at the time.

I trust that she is now in line with Labour’s position on NATO in 2022.

One would hope Lisa Nandy and Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, with their Parliamentary seats in the North West and Yorkshire, respectively, would be better informed about the state of UK manufacturing at least in the places they represent.

Seemingly not, given Nandy was Starmer’s minder during his procession through the North and Reeves recently told the Financial Times that Labour was now pro business, planned to reverse a decade of lost growth with capital (not revenue) spending and wanted partnerships with businesses, but that the UK would not rejoin the Single Market in her lifetime.

A renaissance in UK manufacturing when manufacturing in the UK is being hard hit by the Hard Brexit Labour has now adopted as policy seems highly unlikely.

Would our economy be safe in the hands of folk who seem woefully ignorant about its fundamentals?

Starmer’s pledge, combined with Hard Brexit might well appeal to folk like those pensioners in that café in Leigh, but it is not a credible one for the young; the working aged, especially those in work in manufacturing and business people.

Did Farage change his position, because he thought he might come across as unpatriotic in a place like Leigh, perhaps be seen as running Britain down or because he knew he was making one claim too many about the benefits of Brexit or a combination of both?

Whatever the reason for Farage’s change of position in 2014, Sir Keir Starmer QC’s pledge in 2022 to revive a relatively healthy industry sector, slowly being ground down by Hard Brexit, is hardly grounds for folk in business in England to vote Labour at a General Election.

And just to confuse matters further, there are currently 1.298 million unfilled vacancies in the UK as of March 2022.

And, despite that, the leader of the Labour Party and his advisers want not to fill those jobs, but to create more vacancies …

Late Breaking News

“Research carried out by the Labour Party has found that more than 230,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost across the UK since 2015 as Angela Rayner prepares to set out the party’s vision to “make Britain work for working people”.”

More than 230,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2015, Labour research finds

I wonder what happened between 2016 and 2021 …

“This is Doctor Frasier Crane, sorry, Lisa Nandy, I’m listening, Leigh …”

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“When I talk to all the people who have children who’ve had to move hundreds of miles away for work, who don’t know they’ll see their grandchildren and are growing older alone at the other end of the country. It breaks my heart.”

Lisa Nandy blasts Tories

Does Lisa Nandy know any young folk; people of working age or businessmen and women?

Worthless traditions of the ignorant tight ass club

I have no problem with my party consulting voters, informally or formally.

I do have a problem, I do object to my party outsourcing its conscience and, seemingly, much of our policy making to, say, a bunch of mostly white old folk, many Leave voting, some racist, in a café in Leigh.

Standing there in public like you suddenly realise you have got your flies undone; apologising for your principles; reinforcing victimhood and despair, reflecting back the worst natures of some of the electorate, like you might just be agreeing with them is not leadership.

I call that an abrogation of responsibility, a lack of leadership.

Leadership is about setting out that for which you stand; making, arguing your case and ensuring it is the right offer for the country, the whole of the country.

If I were regenerating Leigh, I would want to involve the locals in the process from beginning to end.

I would want to take an inclusive approach and that means not biasing the process of engagement in favour of one particular group.

It also means having a conversation not simply taking down dictation.

And a conversation sometimes means, sensitively, challenging what you hear, and undertaking sense checks.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s fans believe their idol, who will not have a free and frank exchange of views with voters in a Leigh café would make a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson.

Not exactly a high bar, at a time of crisis.

Possibly the QC would best Vladimir Putin if he could get him into court?

Claire Ainsley, a Brexit supporter, whom Sir Keir Starmer QC appointed his chief policy adviser on becoming leader, was conducting similar focus groups in late 2019 to that of Nandy’s in Leigh earlier this year.

They were on the theme of moving on from Brexit.

Their members were drawn from overwhelmingly white local authority areas.

For those of us who have worked in socio-economic regeneration over the years, the participants trotted out the usual guff, the usual prejudice; the odd pearl of insight; the odd revelation; the useful alternative view; the usual ignorance about where they live and the usual evidence of how little they know about business and their local labour market.

Sir Keir Starmer QC has begun to mouth some of the lines from those focus groups.

The wrong lines.

The Blue Labour, Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be lyrics, singing a song that was a hit before many Leigh voters were born.

Lisa Nandy is a long standing champion of Blue Labour within the Labour Party and is now Labour’s point woman for the next General Election.

English Labour’s self styled expert on levelling up.

I recently came across Nandy’s plan to level up the (English) Midlands.

It is good to know she has finally found us.

Nandy’s plan was published in the Birmingham Evening Mail to coincide with the Erdington, Birmingham by election.

Now, as it happens, I was born and brought up in Birmingham and have lived here most of my life.

For much of my 27 year career in the Civil Service, I worked in socio-economic regeneration, what we adults like to call levelling up, as a Jobcentre official.

And for a lot of that time, Erdington was in my bailiwick, especially when I was the Employment Development Manager for the East Birmingham and Solihull Regeneration Zone, a regeneration vehicle of Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands.

Oh, and I am a lifelong member of the Labour Party, sometime activist, as well as having worked as a volunteer in Jack Dromey’s office for a good few years, ending my time there after the 2017 General Election.

I campaigned in the constituency whilst working for Jack Dromey.

Both sides of my family are from Kingstanding, a Red Wallish council ward within the Erdington constituency and I live just across the border from the ward in a neighbouring constituency.

However, even I lack the arrogance, sorry, the confidence of a Nandy to knock out a regeneration plan for a by election campaign.

Lisa “Down Your Way” Nandy is not a first offender, though.

Nandy, by the way, is from Manchester via Wigan.

Let us consider Nandy’s Five Point Plan for Erdington.

“First, jobs. Good opportunities must be spread throughout the country and indeed throughout our big cities, so young people have choices and chances and don’t find themselves having to get out to get on. With the right investment and community-led regeneration, jobs and opportunities will begin to thrive. Last week I saw exactly this in Grimsby, where a major local employer was investing in green technology for the future and providing secure, well-paid jobs for local people.

Labour in government would take this example and put clean-energy rocket boosters on it. We’d invest £28 billion each year in green projects across the country, creating more jobs and apprenticeships in industrial and coastal towns.”

We wait with bated breath for the detail as to how the ex SpAd with no background in business would honour these pledges in the context of a Hard Brexit.

What is a good job opportunity?

How does one define community led regeneration when all the people associated with your think tank on Small Towns have no insight into socio-economic regeneration?

Nandy does at the beginning of her article describe, “Places that once powered the country have been neglected. GKN on the Chester Road in Erdington is moving operations abroad. Dunlop Goodyear moved out of the area years ago.”

A nice bit of local colour.

Nandy omits to mention that the 519 jobs at GKN are being transferred to Poland.

To be within the Single Market, outside of which Sir Keir Starmer QC says Britain will be for the rest of Rachel Reeves‘ life.

It comes to something when a Labour leader feels incapable of making the case for joining a (trades) union in 2022.

How one wonders will Sir Keir Starmer QC react when a manufacturing worker and shop steward who has lost her job to the Hard Brexit he has embraced, bursts through his cordon of minders and asks what Labour in Government would do for her future job prospects?

Mumble unsympathetically, “Buy, make and sell more in Britain” or pledge to “Make (Hard) Brexit Work”?

Sir Keir Starmer QC has hardly been a great advocate for business since he became Labour leader in April 2020.

Brexit is not mentioned once in Nandy’s article.

Green jobs?

“… manufacturer of cutting edge green radiators says the expansion of his factory in Birmingham will now take place in Poland.”

Brexit: One year on, the economic impact is starting to show

Incidentally, as of March 2022, the UK has growing labour and skill shortages and 1.298 million unfilled vacancies, a UK record, but Nandy clearly likes a challenge so she aims to top that number.

You will notice the classic ignorant politician’s reference to apprenticeships?

Ainsley’s focus groups swooned at their mention, but being good, honest folk, horny handed men and women of toil, they felt too many employers wanted degrees as entry level qualifications.

A line Sir Keir Starmer QC, Oxford University, has begun reciting himself.

Improving the quality of management unsurprisingly did not come up in Hastings or Leigh.

“Second, thriving high streets. We need to see local economies growing, with good local businesses. That means no more papering over the cracks. It’s why Labour has set out plans to help 100,000 new small businesses get off the ground.”

Let me get this right, Labour’s answer to folk losing their jobs and people transferring business operations, if not businesses abroad or going bust is to go out of its way to encourage people to start up in business?

The attrition rate for new business start ups is about 60% by the end of the third year after commencement.

Nandy’s 100,000 might be 40,000 by the start of their fourth year of life.

I am assuming we are talking about 100,000 new start ups across the United Kingdom during a four, maybe five year Parliament.

There are 2,480,140 micro-enterprises in the UK.

“Third, our suburbs, towns and villages must be better connected through better transport links, digital infrastructure and affordable housing. For too long, we have missed out or seen promises rowed back on.”

Hard Brexit limits what may be practically achieved.

You may not lay bricks in a time of scarce bricklayers, HGV drivers and, well, bricks. Neither Labour nor the Tories are willing to publicly admit how much circumscribed they are by the deal the one negotiated and the other endorsed.

Labour and the Conservatives are trying to con voters into believing they may deliver outside of EU and in the context of a Hard Brexit, many policies that are only really deliverable with EU or at least SM/CU membership.

At a time when sizeable numbers of Leave voters say Brexit is not working for them.

“Fourth, power. For years, people have felt that politics simply isn’t interested in them. That too often, politicians come in and tell them what they need. This must end. Labour would hand communities the power and money to decide for themselves, ending the system where they had to go cap-in-hand to Westminster to do things they knew would work.”

There are some types of devolution Nandy likes and there are others as she has publicly stated she most certainly does not.

Twice recently in a list of places Nandy says are ripe for levelling up, she has included nowhere below a line between Wigan and Grimsby, but has included Aberdeen which the last time I looked was still in Scotland.

Michael Gove too hankers to extend his brief beyond England and is using the United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund as a means to sideline the devolved administrations.

Do we see an area of common ground developing between Nandy and Gove?

Nandy has a novel take on localism, seemingly chatting with some old fogies in a café in Leigh, Lancashire, and then drawing up socio-regeneration plans for places like Yorkshire.

Gove with his eye on Number Ten, in contrast, communes with the thoughts of prominent Italians of 15th Century Italy.

Nowhere in Wales features on Nandy’s lists, but there be dragons or more accurately adults (in the Labour Party) who know about taking a measured, informed, inclusive approach to socio-economic regeneration.

“And finally, safety. Labour will bring back neighbourhood policing to ensure our town centres and shopping areas are safe and welcoming rather than plagued by anti-social behaviour. The Tory record on crime is appalling, with criminals being let off and victims let down.”

Machiavelli once wrote that “The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the men (and women) he has around him …”.

How then should we judge Sir Keir Starmer QC, based on the quality of those he has appointed to be around him?

We have been told, the membership of the Labour Party by our leadership that we must now kowtow to the Red Wall and embrace Hard Lexit to win power, but taking an extreme position on trans rights that most in the trans community do not seem to hold themselves will not, it seems, be a vote loser in, say, Leigh or Nandy’s Wigan?

Maybe I have misjudged some of those habitues of that café in Leigh?

But, if I have then so has Nandy and that bodes ill for Labour’s Red Wall First strategy.

Maybe they are not all socially (or economically) conservative?

I am sure they do not want to eat crap, even on the off chance of being able to sell some more steel to the USA!

Sir Keir Starmer QC likes to wax lyrical about his Dad having been a toolmaker

If English Labour’s incapable of riffing off Ukraine to make case ahead of next General Election for UK to join Single Market and Customs Union, what’s the point of those in business and those of working age voting Labour in England?

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If the English Labour Party is incapable of riffing off the crisis in Ukraine to make the case ahead of the next General Election for the UK to seek to join the Single Market and Customs Union, if Labour won office then what is the point of those in business and those of working age voting Labour in England?

It comes to something when a Labour leader feels incapable of making the case for joining a (trades) union in 2022 when he is betting the farm on pitching to pension age working class voters who remember and lived through the days of mass trades union membership when they were in work.

It is a tradition in my family to join a trades union on starting work as much, if not more for practical reasons than ideological ones.

We give up a smidgeon of personal sovereignty, if I get the usage right in this context, to join a collective body and benefit from the vastly greater leverage that the combination has when negotiating pay and conditions, on behalf of its members, than those members would have if they individually sought to do so just for themselves.

“Unity is Strength!” as the motto of the Transport and General Workers Union put it.

Ernest Bevin, the working class man who founded the TGWU in 1922 was Labour Foreign Secretary in Clement Attlee’s Government between 1945 and 1951.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with Article 5, the principle of collective defence at its heart was very much Bevin’s brainchild:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

The North Atlantic Treaty, Washington D.C. – 4 April 1949

Bevin did not seek special recognition for his role in founding NATO, but the treaty’s signing was, without doubt, the climax of his career as Foreign Secretary and a greater personal achievement than even his founding of the TGWU.

It was, as Attlee put it, “the termination of many months of skilful and patient negotiations by the Foreign Secretary.”

The treaty personified the best of the Labour and trade-unionist tradition in many ways. It was born of a belief that people deserved to live in peace and prosperity in a free world and that only by acting collectively could this right be preserved against outside aggression. The strong would not look away when the weak were attacked but instead would come to their aid. It represented a desire for peace whilst recognizing that geopolitical realities might force Britain to fight to ensure peace in the event of a Russian attack on a member state.”

“I’ve ad enough of this, I ave”: Bevin, NATO and the Russian Threat

As we have seen from the world beating trade negotiations undertaken by the UK Government since Brexit, particularly with the EU the UK has been in the position of an individual worker negotiating their pay with an employer who holds all the cards.

Trades unions not only apply a force multiplier to the numbers of their members in negotiations on their behalf, but are also able to employ skilled, full time professional negotiators to represent their members.

We have had, to date, the likes of Lord Frost, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss.

And the Labour alternative hardly inspires confidence

” “I taught diplomats from all around the world,” he said. “I taught for many years American politics, British politics, European politics, Soviet politics, and so our relationship with the rest of the world has always been something that is a deep passion and interest of mine.”

And he said his experience representing the former industrial seat of Torfaen in South Wales, an area that still produces steel, would also stand him in good stead for the role. “My father is retired now but he was a steel worker, which is why the issue of steel tariffs means so much to me,” he said, noting that exports are crucial for manufacturing.”

UK Labour would push for US trade deal

The largest single sector of UK manufacturing, food production, employs 100s of 1,000s.

There are at most 30,000 direct jobs in the British steel industry.

Labour would risk 100s of 1,000s of manufacturing jobs to may be sell a bit more steel to the USA.

Our economy would clearly be a lot safer as part of a union than in the hands of either party as matters now stand.

Crises like those over Ukraine are best addressed by organised combinations of nations, not by ad hoc arrangements.

Sir Keir Starmer QC’s fans believe their idol, who will not stand up a bunch of white, mostly elderly, many Leave voting, some racist folk, in a Leigh café would make a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson.

Not exactly a high bar, at a time of crisis.

Possibly the QC would best Vladimir Putin if he could get him into court?

Sooner or later, Sir Keir Starmer QC has to summon up the courage to tell the dwindling band of diehard Brexit fanatics, some of whom are his own advisers, backbenchers and Shadow Cabinet members, that they have had their fun and that they do not get to have a veto over the future of our country.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was “civis Romanus sum”. Today in the world of freedom the proudest boast is “I am from Kyiv”. (Now with added Schwarzenegger …)

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No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Meditation XVII, John Donne

Let them look to Kyiv

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was “civis Romanus sum”.

Today in the world of freedom the proudest boast is “I am from Kyiv”.

There are many people in the world who really don’t understand – or say they don’t – what is the great issue between the free world and Vladimir Putin.

Let them look to Kyiv.

There are some who say that Putin is a reality we must accommodate.

Let them look to Kyiv.

And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere “We must work with Vladimir Putin”.

Let them look to Kyiv.

And there are even a few who say that it’s true that Vladimir isn’t a nice man, but you know faults on both sides and is he really our problem.

Let them look to Kyiv.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect.

Freedom is indivisible and when one person is enslaved who are free?

All free men and women, wherever they may live, are citizens of Kyiv.

With due apologies to John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, A Strategy of Peace, 1963

Putin’s war against Ukraine.

What can you do to support Ukraine and Ukrainians?

Putin’s war against Ukraine. What can you do to support Ukraine & Ukrainians?

Are the middle class chaps in management why the middle class chaps in think tanks, in politics and amongst the Commentariat cannot solve the UK’s productivity conundrum?

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“The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated methods on either side of industry … in the Cabinet room and the board room alike those charged with the control of our affairs must be ready to think and to speak in the language of our scientific age.

For the commanding heights of British industry to be controlled today by men whose only claim is their aristocratic connections or the power of inherited wealth or speculative finance is as irrelevant to the twentieth century as would be the continued purchase of commissions in the armed forces by lordly amateurs. At the very time that even the MCC has abolished the distinction between amateurs and professionals, in science and industry we are content to remain a nation of Gentlemen in a world of Players.”

“The white heat of technology” Harold Wilson, Scarborough, 1st October 1963

And in a similarly serious vein …

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: “City’s a funny place, you know, Prime Minister. If you spill the beans you open up a whole can of worms. I mean, how can you let sleeping dogs lie if you let the cat out of the bag? Bring in a new broom and if you’re not very careful you find you’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater. If you change horses in the middle of the stream, next thing you know you’re up the creek without a paddle.”

James Hacker: “And then the balloon goes up.”

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: “Obviously. They hit you for six. An own goal in fact.”

A Conflict of Interest, Yes, Prime Minister

Harold Wilson became leader of the Labour Party in 1963 after the death of Hugh Gaitskell. His challenge to the Tories, now led after the retirement of Harold Macmillan by the aristocratic Sir Alec Douglas-Home, was mounted with dramatic effect at the Labour Party conference, an annual platform for a major speech by the party leader.

In a speech that was rewritten during the small hours of the morning of 1st October 1963, Wilson summoned Labour to embrace the cult of the new and to harness the white heat of the technological revolution, and identified himself with the technicians and white-coat workers. There should be more scientists in government, he urged, more investment in scientific research and a new minister of technology. There was no room in the Labour movement for Luddites or antique working practices.

Moreover, in Labour’s National Economic Plan drawn up by Labour in Government in August 1965, the party spoke not just about training, but made specific reference to “provide better training for managers” as well as “to improve efficiency in other ways”.

How often in 2022, do we hear of the quality of management or its lack being a factor in poor productivity, if not the prime factor?

Enterprise is the economic factor that brings together the other three, land, labour and capital, to produce goods and services.

Surely the better the management, the better the combination of factors and thus the better quality and quantity of the goods and services produced?

The lead actor in the production to improve productivity in any workforce, whether it be in the private, the public or voluntary and community sector, is the employer of the aforementioned workforce, not the Government, except, of course, where the Government is itself the employer.

Productivity improvements take place and may be most accurately measured at the business or business unit level.

I was once asked for my view on the first response from Dorkins to The Economist: The Productivity Puzzle:

“I don’t get what the huge productivity mystery is supposed to be. The UK is a country in which productive work is not really rewarded due to the system of rents (high near employment centres) and taxes (mostly raised from labour). Many people quite sensibly respond to this by avoiding heavily taxed productive work as much as possible (e.g. doing the minimum number of hours required to qualify for tax credits) and instead focus their efforts on extracting rents from other people (e.g. arranging their living arrangements to maximise benefit and tax credit income, becoming BTL landlords).

Maybe if there was some kind of reward for productive work (higher net income, better standard of living, ability to buy secure housing) then people would do more of it?”

The neo-liberal fallacy in a nutshell?

The assumption people act like calculating machines, 24/7, and so make such fine (selfish?) calculations at each and every opportunity.

Incidentally, if this year I earn £20,000 gross and £18,000 net and you cut my taxes next year so I net £19,000 for working no harder, why should I work any harder than I do now?

I am £1,000 better off without working my fingers any further to the bone. 

Neo-liberal argument hoist by its own petard?

Poor productivity in the UK economy, as measured at the national level, is most likely to be down to ongoing poor investment in and management of research and development, land, labour and capital.

It is logical to remark that no matter how much money, say, you invest in research and development, if it is not managed well and its fruits properly exploited then you will not get the best return on your investment.

Deming, amongst others observed, that most workers only have control over about 10% of their workload and so their productivity is not within their capacity to improve, except very marginally. 90% of their workload is determined by those above them in the management chain.

British management, which notoriously cuts investment in capital and labour (and advertising), research and development, at the first sign of a downturn in the economy, has the major responsibility for the poor productivity of its staff.  And in 2008, and thereafter, it yet again cut significantly its investment in staff training.  You reap what you sow.

Real world economics has a tendency to trump neo-liberal theory every time, perhaps because it studies the real world and then theorises rather than trying to impose its (politically motivated) theories on the real world?

Mind you …

Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Didn’t you read the Financial Times this morning?”

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: “Never do.”

Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Well, you’re a banker. Surely you read the Financial Times?”

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: “Can’t understand it. Full of economic theory.”

Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Why do you buy it?”

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: “Oh, you know, it’s part of the uniform. Took me 30 years to understand Keynes’ economics. Then when I’d just cottoned on, everyone started getting hooked on these new monetarist ideas, you know, “I Want To Be Free” by Milton Shulman.”

Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Milton Friedman.”

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: “Why are they all called Milton? Anyway, I’ve only got as far as Milton Keynes.”

Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Maynard Keynes.”

Sir Desmond Glazebrook: I’m sure there’s a Milton Keynes.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Yes, there is, but it’s …”

Yes Minister, The Quality of Life

In this instance, it helps if one understands what economists mean by productivity:

“An economic measure of output per unit of input.  Inputs include labor and capital, while output is typically measured in revenues and other GDP components such as business inventories.  Productivity measures may be examined collectively (across the whole economy) or viewed industry by industry to examine trends in labor growth, wage levels and technological improvement.

Productivity gains are vital to the economy because they allow us to accomplish more with less.  Capital and labor are both scarce resources, so maximizing their impact is always a core concern of modern business.  Productivity enhancements come from technology advances, such as computers and the Internet, supply chain and logistics improvements, and increased skill levels within the workforce.”

Read more at: Productivity

You will notice that working harder and/or longer hours do not figure in the above!

Neither does increasing the number of entrepreneurs as that might actually reduce productivity averaged out across the economy.

Improving productivity is about working smarter not becoming a latter day Stakhanovite.

And as most workers are hemmed in by management, restrained from working smarter then we return to the lead actor in the production to improve productivity.

Why then is he, even in 2022 it is more likely to be he than she, not the subject of learned discussion, reports and seminars; questions and debate in the House and informed comment on all media?

Nothing to do surely, with the fact that the higher up the management chain one goes and remember the top tier sets the direction and management style of most organisations, the more the folk in business look, sound and behave like those working in think tanks, politics and the media?

Same educational, class and social backgrounds.

The Old Boys Network, in fact.

“Decent chaps don’t check up on decent chaps to see if they are behaving decently. If you go to the sort of chap that chaps trust, you can trust him to be the sort of chap to see that the chaps don’t get involved in any scandals.”

“If you’re incompetent you have to be honest, and if you’re crooked you have to be clever. See, if you’re honest, then when you make a pig’s breakfast of things the chaps rally round and help you out.”

“Well (if you’re crooked), if you’re making good profits for them, chaps don’t start asking questions; they’re not stupid. Well, not that stupid.”

“(Embezzlement?) Usually it’s just a chap who’s advanced himself a short-term, unauthorized, unsecured, temporary loan from the company’s account, and, uh, invested it unluckily. You, know, horse falls at the first fence, that sort of thing.”

Sir Desmond Glazebrook A Conflict of Interest, Yes, Prime Minister

One would not want to let the side down by washing a decent chap’s dirty laundry in public, drawing attention to his flaws where the other ranks might see them, would one?

I mean they might start talking about the need to improve the productivity of the officer class.

One might well describe this as poor quality outsourcing, especially as the contractor is known to have a preferred, we assume quality, supplier known as Nanny who usually does all of his intellectual heavy lifting for him.

Sir Keir Starmer QC likes to wax lyrical about his Dad having been a toolmaker back in the day, but he is not very concerned about toolmakers working for a living in 2022 …

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I have a confession to make, despite being from the same class background as Sir Keir Starmer QC and having subbed a fair few chaps to toolmaker jobs back in the day, I had to look up toolmaking as an occupation.

I was pleasantly surprised back in 2008 to learn that the United Kingdom was a big exporter of precision machine tools to Germany.

And, despite a fall off in trade for a while, has remained so until recently.

Hard Brexit, however, has made it hard for German companies to source machine tools from the UK and they are now looking elsewhere within the Single Market for manufacturers and suppliers.

Labour’s swivel eyed response to this state of affairs is the mantra of “Buy, Make and Sell More in Britain (to boost British exports)” which is about as credible as Goodness Gracious Me’s Aubergine Woman saying she may make it at home for free with a small aubergine.

Labour’s economic policy, its panacea, for now, is a curious cocktail of mercantilism mixed with autarky and a subjective analysis of the economy in 2022. It is almost as though Rachel Reeves has not read an economic text written after 1775.

And as for John Redwood …

And …

Then, again …

Jobs good, jobs in manufacturing better (unless you are from a middle class background) on Planet Reeves, Nandy and Starmer.

If mekkin’ things is all it is cracked up to be by the likes of Boris Johnson, Starmer and Rachel Reeves, how come they went into journalism, the law and the Government Economic Service, respectively, on graduation from that well known Further Education College, Oxford University?

Buy, make and sell more in Britain amounts to no more than Rachel Reeves bullying the public sector into trying to source more British goods and services, however defined.

The public sector is, of course, a well known purchaser of capital goods and semi-manufactured items.

Precision machine tools are, by and large, high value items that are not produced in high volumes. Companies need to be able to sell them easily into large markets to make a good return on their investment and, well, to just stay in business.

The idea that firms producing high value items for selling into the Single Market may refocus their efforts on selling ever more into the home market to make up for lost export sales revenue is nonsensical. It also seems to imply they do not sell as much into their home market as they might.

It is almost as though Team Starmer believes businesses have been hypnotised by EU membership into not profit maximising. That they have foregone easy profits at home for a lesser return abroad.

If British companies permanently locked out of the Single Market and Customs Union are seeing lower export sales then they have less need of goods and services produced by other businesses wherever they are geographically located.

Buy, make and sell more in Britain is predicated on the idea that greater home production of goods and services for the public sector, I stress the public sector only, will somehow be a more than adequate replacement for lost overseas trade.

What businesses losing sales revenue, directly and indirectly, due to harder export conditions, our non EU trade is also suffering alongside EU trade, would do whilst they await the economic miracle of Labour’s Four Year Public Sector Procurement Plan is a question seeking an answer.

Maybe Labour would subsidise British companies to stay afloat in the meantime?

For the uninitiated, BMSMB is the Preston Model writ large.

I half expect the SNP to unveil before the next Westminster General Election, Buy, Make and Sell More in Scotland. Only for Labour to try to claim that the policy will not work at the level of a nation, but would UK wide and is at the level of a city in Lancashire.

I suspect Rachel Reeves believes greater production of, for example, precision machine tools might make them cheaper and more competitive on the world market.

Yes.

However, there is no guarantee that cutting the cost of manufacturing a high value, low volume product will significantly increase the demand for it.

The same argument applies to the impact of the fall in the value of the pound.

Just because something is marginally cheaper in price, it does not automatically follow that will result in increased sales.

By how much would a machine tool have to fall in price for a manufacturing firm wanting one for an existing production line to then buy two and set up a new production line in which to use the second machine?

A fall in the value of the pound pushes up the cost of the goods and services we import to help produce goods and services for visible and invisible export.

Some Lexit and Brexit supporters thought the pound weakening (in their language) against other countries would be a Brexit benefit.

Just one more thing they got wrong.

When he was Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, presumably on the advice of one of his teenage scribblers, did once say to a group of business people that the fall in the value of the pound against the dollar and the euro was an unalloyed Brexit bonus, good for exporters.

So much for Labour under Starmer moving on from Corbyn’s relationship with and understanding of business.

Sir Keir Starmer QC whilst pledging a revival in British manufacturing, it is not actually the basket case he and his advisers seem to believe it to be, remains adamant the Labour Party will never contemplate seeking to join the Single Market and Customs Union whilst Rachel Reeves is, sorry, Lisa Nandy is, sorry, whilst he is Labour leader.

So much for caring about British toolmakers in work, today, in 2022, and business more widely.

Reeves rightly observes here …

… that there are growing labour and skills shortage across the UK economy and in all of its three sectors. 1.318 million unfilled vacancies in March 2022, a new monthly record.

February 2022 was a new monthly record.

Notwithstanding that, Reeves, like Priti Patel, has set her face against any replication of the conditions of Freedom of Movement for inward (im)migrant labour.

Skills and labour must, too, be made at home.

Incidentally, Sir Keir Starmer QC, still a practising barrister, by the way, has pledged a Labour Government he leads to seek to negotiate mutual recognition of qualifications with the EU.

In other words, Sir Keir Starmer QC wants to negotiate an improvement in the terms of trade for his middle class dominated profession, a return to the Single Market for their labour, whilst insisting he will not do the same for men and women at work and in business and in his father’s manufacturing trade about which he reminisces so fondly to the pleasure of his adoring middle class followers.

My lord, I pray in aid this as further evidence of the accused’s confusion about trade, commerce and industry.

I also offer it up as further evidence of a suggested lack of emotional intelligence.

Circumstances that may show good reason for a refusal or failure to apply for or accept if offered a job vacancy … in other words, grounds for an appeal.

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I have imposed in the dim and distant past benefit sanctions.

Most of them were administrative sanctions in that the Government said if you have been unemployed and signing on for X months and were unwilling to undertake one of a number of options after this interview then your adviser is required to mandate you to attend a short course.

Non attendance at such a course invites a sanction if you fail to attend.

I rarely applied any other type of sanction, although I did talk people through the possible consequences of following a particular line of action with regards to their entitlement to benefit.

I even mentioned daily signing on a few occasions.

I was and am of the opinion that sanctions are very much a last resort.

I did not and do not, in particular, approve of the draconian sanctions regime that came in when the Coalition took power in May 2010.

Jobcentre staff started to penalise people for turning up 5 minutes late to sign on.

One bloke was on the wrong side of a railway level crossing when the barriers came down and he was sanctioned for a few minutes tardiness.

A Member of Parliament here in Birmingham raised this case if memory serves me correctly in Parliament.

An individual signing on at Sparkhill Jobcentre was required to attend an hour long jobsearch session at the office at 14:00. As it happened it fell on his fortnightly signing day and his normal signing time was 14:30.

He arrived before 14:00 and asked the staff what he should do. Instead of signing him there and then, they told him it would be ok if he signed on after 15:00.

When he returned to do so, he was told he was over 30 minutes late and had incurred a sanction, but not to worry he had a right of appeal against it.

A tick in the box of the running total of sanctions.

Understandably, the gentleman in question approached his MP who was compiling a list of these cases.

Sparkhill Jobcentre was developing a reputation, both within and without of Jobcentre Plus, for such disproportionate and inequitable treatment of clients.

I must stress that I do come from a particular working class background, not dissimilar from that of Sir Keir Starmer QC, that takes the view that you do not get owt for nowt so I have no time for those who say sanctions should be scrapped in their entirety.

We believe in a hand up not a hand out.

Of people taking the opportunities available to them and not bemoaning their lives, if they choose not to do so.

But we also believe in no one being left behind.

Help for those who can, support for those who cannot.

Each giving according to their means and receiving according to their needs.

There are a tiny, tiny, tiny number of toerags who do play the system and who will, on occasion, sit in a Jobcentre loudly telling the world and partner what they are not doing to look for work.

The world and partner being the vast majority on benefit doing their utmost to find work.

What message does it send to those folk that someone may break the rules without the risk of any penalty?

Administrative and petty sanctions are easy to apply.

Refusal of (Suitable) Employment sanctions are not, because they involve employment opportunities and quite often a third party, namely an employer.

I have copied and pasted the following sections from Decision Maker’s Guide Volume 6 Chapter 34: Sanctions

I have italicised and highlighted certain sections that may be of particular use when appealing such sanctions. Take advice before doing so.

Unreasonable physical or mental stress

34309 Sometimes a particular employment would be likely to cause unreasonable stress without being likely to cause actual significant harm but the claimant perceives it will. For example, claimants may be likely to suffer unreasonable

1. physical stress if they

  • 1.1 are disabled and take employment which is physically hard or
  • 1.2 take employment which means they have to work at night, but they find it difficult to sleep during the day or

2. mental stress if they work somewhere they dread, for example an abattoir or an undertaker’s or

3. distress because a certain type of work exacerbates experiences of anxiety or mental distress, for example a person with social anxiety or a history of agoraphobia who is expected to deal with large numbers of people.

Note: Often this is a very individual and personal thing and may not have been identified as a restriction with their advisor. What one person can cope with will not be the same for another person and the DM should consider each case on its individual merits and circumstances and what is reasonable in the individual’s case.

34310 Where the claimant genuinely believes that a particular employment is likely to cause

1. significant harm to the claimant’s health or

2. the claimant unreasonable physical or mental stress the DM should take this into account when deciding whether or not the claimant has good reason (see also DMG 34236).

34311 – 34312

Sincere religious or conscientious objection

34321 If a claimant refuses to comply with a requirement because of any religious or conscientious objection, which the claimant sincerely holds, the DM should take this into account when deciding good reason. Claimants cannot show good reason just by saying, for example, that they conscientiously object to doing a certain employment. They must

1. show that one or more of the terms and conditions of the employment conflicts with the principles of their religion or belief and

2. give enough evidence to satisfy the DM that their religious or conscientious objection is sincerely held and

3. show that the conflict between the principles of their religion or belief are reasonably unavoidable.

Note 1: The degree to which the claimant’s beliefs are commonly held or considered reasonable byothers is immaterial. The belief held must be in respect of a weighty and substantial matter.

Note 2: It may well depend on the specific job involved and the capacity of the employer to organise how certain tasks are performed when considering good reason.

34322 A principled objection is not the same as a conscientious objection. The terms and conditions of the employment must require the claimant to act in a way which is contrary to their ethical or moral principles (1).

(1 R(JSA) 7/03)

34323 The following are examples of religious or conscientious objections which may provide good reason

1. an objection to employment that involves the handling or supply of alcohol, cigarettes , tobacco or certain food products (e.g. pork)

2. a religious objection to being in employment on a particular day each week

3. an objection to employment with something which may be used to destroy life, whether human or animal

4. a religious objection to being in employment with members of the opposite sex (but also see Note 3 and Example 6).

Note 1: This is not an exhaustive list or specific criteria that mean a claimant would have automatic good reason but examples of some of the more commonly raised religious or cultural beliefs. The DM should consider any issue raised by the claimant in consideration of good reason however the DM would have to be satisfied that all the criteria at DMG 34321 are met for it to be good reason due to a sincere religious or conscientious objection.

Note 2: Where a restriction or limitation on ASE or availability has been agreed on the JSAg, the claimant will not have to show good reason (also see DMG 34214). The claimant must show that they have reasonable prospects of obtaining employment with all restrictions (also see further guidance in DMG Chapter 21).

Note 3: Good reason would not be allowed where there is direct impermissible discrimination (i.e. unlawful discrimination based on characteristics protected by law, such as race, colour, national origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity etc)1. However. whilst a religious requirement might be indirectly discriminatory to another protected group, that is not the question at hand. The question at hand is whether an employer can accommodate the religious belief. For example, in some religions men are not allowed to work in close quarters with women or groups of women who are not members of their own family and vice versa. Whether good reason can be shown may well depend on the specific job and the capacity of the employer to organise how tasks are performed to accommodate the religious belief. The DM should consider all the facts and circumstances and what is reasonable in the individual case and whether all the criteria at DMG 34321 are met (see Example 6).

1 Equality Act 2010

Example 1

Aabish is a practising Muslim. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam and some Muslims also refuse to handle it. Aabish has good reason for not applying for an advertised vacancy in a local off-license. The job will involve handling and selling alcohol which cannot reasonably be avoided in this particular job.

However, one of the major supermarket chains is also recruiting for till operators. They have a written policy to respect the wishes of any employee not to handle specific products for religious or cultural reasons and where any employees who have religious beliefs about certain products or what foods or drink they could handle, would place them on a till where the product is not usually served, such as clothing, or on tasks away from a till.

Aabish would not be able to show a good reason for failing to apply for a job at the supermarket based on her religious beliefs regarding alcohol.

Example 2

Yuraj refuses to apply for a vacancy at a building site as he will be required to wear a hard hat at all times for his own health and safety. Yuraj is a Sikh and his beliefs require him to wear a turban which means he cannot meet the requirement to wear a hard hat. Yuraj would have good reason not to apply for the vacancy.

Example 3

Billy is offered a job as a waiter in a restaurant at a casino. He states he has an objection to gambling, it is against his moral principles. Billy’s opinion of gambling is irrelevant to the people gambling. His duties as a waiter in the restaurant will not require him to act in a way which is contrary to his beliefs with regard to gambling and therefore he would not be able to show good reason for refusing the job on that basis.

Example 4

Akinta is referred to a MWA scheme placement for 4 weeks. At the end of the third week he asks if he can be excused the morning off his placement on Friday to attend prayers to participate in Eid. Akinta is a practicing Muslim and Eid is one of the most important religious festivals for the Islamic faith. The DM considers it would be reasonable that Akinta be allowed ‘time off’ his placement to attend the religious festival Eid.

Example 5

Isaac is a practicing orthodox Jew. He refuses to accept a job offer as a care worker as the employer will not allow him to follow his religious observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Even though Isaac had offered to work longer hours Sunday through to Thursday, the employer states they have a duty to make sure the children in its care have proper supervision on Saturdays and they do not have the number of staff available on their payroll to allow him to have every Friday afternoon and Saturday off work. He would be required to take his turn to work Saturdays pro rata.

Isaac has an agreed limitation on his JSAg to restrict his job search to meet his religious observance and has demonstrated that even within the restraints of his religion he has reasonable prospects of securing employment.

Isaac does not have to show good reason for the failure to accept the job.

Example 6

Nazir is a machine operator and has worked in a small factory for 5 years on a bench by himself away from other operators.

Due to a reorganisation of the factory floor and how tasks are to be performed Nazir is told he will have to go work as part of a team comprised of women co-workers.

Nazir explains to his employer that his religion forbids him from working in close quarters with women who are not his own family and requests that he be allowed to continue to work by himself or in a male only group.

The employer says they cannot accommodate Nazir’s request as they do not have enough male operators to make up a team, the new processes are to cut costs and it is no longer possible to provide him with space separately on his own. The policy is to make all the operators multi skilled and flexible rather than to concentrate on being skilled in just one part of the process.

Nazir leaves the job.

When considering whether Nazir has good reason for leaving the employment the DM considers that in his circumstances it is a reasonably held and bone fide religious belief and as the employer cannot accommodate Nazir’s religious beliefs to ensure he has no direct interaction with women he has good reason.

Whilst the religious requirement may be discrimination to women that is not the question. The question is whether the employer can accommodate Nazir’s religious belief as the rule requiring him to work directly with women indirectly discriminates on the basis of Nazir’s religion.

34324 – 34325

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Circumstances that may show good reason for a refusal or failure to apply for or accept if offered a job vacancy

34340 Other circumstances the DM may take into account when determining the doubt relating to a refusal or failure to apply for or a failure to accept if offered a job vacancy which an Emp O has notified is vacant or is about to become vacant includes

1. any restrictions the claimant has been allowed to place on their work search, having regard to any discrepancy between these and the requirements of the job, although minor differences may not count (see DMG 34341)

2. expenses unavoidably incurred (e.g. childcare and travelling expenses), or that the claimant had to or would have had to, incur if they had taken the job, if they amounted ,or would have amounted, to an unreasonably high proportion of the income they would have received. The proportion that is considered reasonable increases the more they are paid (see DMG 34346 et seq)

3. any other factor that appears relevant (see DMG 34416).

Note: For guidance on what constitutes a refusal or failure see DMG 34721 et seq. Also see guidance at DMG 34928 where the refusal or failure is to carry out a JSD which relates to an employment vacancy.

Restrictions on work search

34341 It is extremely important for advisers to ensure that any job vacancy is weighted to the specific claimant and their personal circumstances and any limitations or restrictions identified in the JSAg taken into consideration.

34342 The JSAg sets the context of the claimant’s jobsearch. Types of jobs recorded on the JSAg as the types of jobs the claimant is looking for are not necessarily restrictions. Jobs identified are the best prospects at the time the JSAg is signed and that may change with time, however, the advisor should update and amend the JSAg at the regular job search fortnightly review.

Example:

Samara has been claiming JSA for 3 months. She agreed on her JSAg that the type of work she was looking for was office work, receptionist or bank clerk. Samara is notified by her advisor of a vacancy for a retail job at a local supermarket and she fails to apply for the job stating it is not the type of job she is looking for. The DM considers Samara does not have good reason for failing to apply for the vacancy.

34343 – 34345

Employment expenses

34346 The DM should take into account when deciding good reason any expenses which

1. claimants have to meet only for the purpose of the employment and

2. would be an unreasonably high proportion of the expected pay from the employment.

34347 Expenses which can be taken into account include

1. travelling expenses to and from the place of employment by a route and means appropriate to the claimant’s circumstances

2. the cost of tools or equipment which the claimant has to provide

3. the cost of essential protective clothing, not provided by the employer4. the cost of a criminal record check (known as a disclosure).

34348 Deductions from wages of tax, NI and occupational pension contributions cannot be taken into account. This is because they are not expenses incurred for the purposes of the employment.

34349 – 34350

Child care expenses

34351 The DM should take into account when deciding good reason any child care expenses which

1. are or would be necessarily incurred as a result of the claimant being in the employment and

2. did or would represent an unreasonably high proportion of the remuneration which it is reasonable to expect that he would receive from the employment.

34352 There are no rules for deciding whether expenses would be an unreasonably high proportion of remuneration. Each case must be decided on its own facts. But the greater the level of remuneration is, the more reasonable it is for the expenses to be a higher proportion of it. The DM should also consider support available towards childcare from UC or other sources.

34353 The DM should consider employment expenses as in DMG 34346 and child care expenses as in DMG 34351 separately. They should not be aggregated when considering good reason.

34354 – 34359

Unreasonably high proportion of pay

34360 The expenses must be an unreasonably high proportion of the expected pay for good reason to apply. Other issues about the level of pay or the claimant’s income or outgoings cannot be taken into account. For example, the claimant cannot show good reason by arguing that the expenses are unreasonable because the claimant’s

1. wages would have been the only income the household has or

2. household expenses are particularly high.

34361 There are no rules for deciding whether expenses would be an unreasonably high proportion of pay. Each case must be decided on its own facts. But the greater the level of pay is, the more reasonable it is for the expenses to be a higher proportion of it.

34362 If the claimant would have an expense

1. for only a short time, for example where the claimant would have to pay for transport to work initially, but then works transport would be provided after a time or

2. as a “one-off”, for example cost of tools It would be reasonable for the claimant to spend more to meet such an expense than would be the case if the expense would last as long as the employment. The DM should also take into account that the claimant may be able to meet such expenses through the Flexible Support Fund.

Note: The Flexible Support Fund comprises of resources available to Jobcentre Plus Managers to cater for a variety of local needs for claimants.

34363 – 34365

Employment of less than 24 hours a week

34366 If a claimant refused to apply for or accept a job involving fewer than 24 hours work a week they may be able to show good reason (see DMG 34368).

Note 1: Claimants are not automatically allowed good reason and the DM should consider each case on its individual merits where the claimant raises the hours issue as the reason for not applying for a vacancy.

Note 2: This does not apply if the claimant refuses or fails to carry out a JSD although a claimant may be able to challenge the direction as unreasonable (see DMG 34908)

34367 This guidance also applies when considering whether employment is for less than 16 hours a week. If

1. it has been agreed that the claimant can restrict their hours of availability to less than 24 hours in a benefit week, for example because of caring responsibilities and

2. the employment on offer is for less than 16 hours a week the claimant may have good reason for refusing or failing to apply for or accept that employment.

34368 Claimants should not be mandated to vacancies of

1. less than 24 hours where that is not appropriate or

2. where a claimant has a pattern of availability of less than 24 hours, to vacancies where the hours are less than 16 hours a week.

If the number of hours are not shown on the advertised vacancy and the claimant has raised the hours as the reason for not applying for the vacancy then the JCP adviser or member of staff in the Jobcentre must seek to establish the hours before the referral to the DM is made.

34369 The DM must only then consider hours on the basis of good reason as a fact of the case rather than an automatic allowance, bearing in mind that the hours alone may not in itself count as good reason. The DM should consider all the available evidence and information the claimant presents covering the reasons for their actions and the circumstances in which they were in. The number of hours is just one factor the DM should consider in the overall picture of the claimant’s circumstances.

Note: This also applies to vacancies advertised in UJ – see further guidance at DMG 34911.

Example 1

Alexander is notified of a job vacancy. At his next fortnightly job-search review he confirms he did not apply for the vacancy because he couldn’t be bothered. He didn’t think he’d like the job. The DM considers Alexander did not have good reason for the failure to apply for the vacancy.

Example 2

Sergei fails to apply for a notified job vacancy and states that when he checked out the details of the vacancy with the employer it was for 10 hours a week and his JSAg shows he has a pattern of availability of over 24 hours a week. The advisor has confirmed with the employer that the vacancy was for 10 hours.

The claimant has good reason for not applying for the vacancy.

Example 3

Remi has an agreed limitation of looking for work for up to 20 hours per week on his JSAg. He fails to apply for a notified job vacancy which is for 20 hours a week. He can show no good reason for the failure.

He states his reason was he forgot about the vacancy and when he remembered the deadline date to apply had passed. The DM considers Remi does not have a good reason for failing to apply for the vacancy.

Example 4

Francis fails to apply for a vacancy. He says the reason he didn’t apply for the vacancy was the travelling distance which is 80 minutes each way from his home and he cannot afford the costs of the travel. He does not mention the hours. In consideration of good reason the DM considers the travelling time in itself does not provide good reason as it is less than 90 minutes (see DMG 34261). In consideration of good reason the DM thinks the hours may be a relevant factor and asks the jobcentre to contact the employer for the number of hours involved. On checking, it is confirmed the vacancy is only for 20 hours per week – 4 hours per day over 5 days. The DM decides that we would not reasonably expect a claimant to travel 80 minutes to work for 4 hours a day followed by a return journey of 80 minutes and taking into account the travel costs in comparison to possible earnings. Francis is looking for full time work and it is not practicable or reasonable in the circumstances. The DM considers in this case Francis has good reason for not applying for the vacancy.

Example 5

Horace’s JSAg shows that he has no restrictions and is available for work for 40 hours per week, Monday to Saturday. A suitable vacancy is put into the Saved Inbox of his UJ account and the advisor informs Horace he must apply for the vacancy before the closing date. No hours are provided.

Horace applies for the job and is called for an interview.

The employer advises JCP that Horace has been offered the job but he has refused it on the grounds that there are not enough hours for him. The maximum number of hours they can offer him at the present time is 18 hours per week.

As the vacancy was outside his agreed availability on his JSAg and Horace says this is the reason he refused the job, Horace has a good reason for the refusal and cannot be sanctioned for refusing to accept the job.

Shifts or rota systems

34370 If the employment on offer requires work on a shift or rota system where the claimant would have to work for 24 or more hours in some weeks, and less than 24 hours in others, the hours should be averaged. A claimant who refused or failed to apply for or accept employment averaging less than 24 hours a week may have good reason, and the DM should not impose a sanction.

34371 – 34375

Other circumstances that may amount to good reason

34376 The DM should

1. consider all matters put forward by the claimant and

2. decide whether or not to take them into account when deciding good reason.

34377 Account should also be taken of any other factor that appears relevant. In particular when the terms of a job on offer break the laws on

1. minimum working conditions or

2. they knowingly connive with an employer or agency in a

  • 2.1 tax avoidance scheme or
  • 2.2 PAYE is not being properly accounted for.

Attitude of claimant’s trade union

34378 The fact that

1. the prospective employer is on the “black list” of the claimant’s trade union (1) or

2. the claimant refused the employment on union instructions or advice (2) does not, of itself, provide good reason.

(1 R(U) 1/52); (2 R(U) 9/64)

Possible return to previous employment

34379 The fact that a claimant

1. has a previous employment that has not ended and

2. may at some time return to it does not of itself provide good reason for refusing other employment (1).

(1 R(U) 1/52)

Laid off and short time workers

34380 If claimants

1. are laid off and

2. are being allowed to and do in fact restrict the employment they are willing to take to

  • 2.1 the job they are laid off from or
  • 2.2 casual employment within daily travelling distance of home and

3. refuse or fail to apply for or accept employment because it does not meet any of the restrictions claimants imposed within 2.1 to 2.2.

they will be considered to have good reason. The DM should not impose a sanction.

34381 If the claimants are

1. on short time and

2. are being allowed to and do in fact restrict the employment they are willing to take to

  • 2.1 the job they are on short time in or
  • 2.2 casual employment within daily travelling distance of home for the hours they are not working in their short time employment and

3. refuse or fail to apply for or accept employment because it does not meet any restrictions claimants impose within 2.1 to 2.2 they will have good reason. The DM should not sanction them.

Decision of Employment Tribunal pending

34382 The fact that a claimant is waiting for the result of an Employment Tribunal hearing on unfair dismissal does not of itself provide good reason for refusing other employment.

Claimant already working

34383 A claimant who is working and is still entitled to UC does not have good reason for refusing other employment just because the claimant would have had to give up their existing job. But see DMG 34384 if the claimant’s reason for refusing other employment was that notice had to be given to end the current job.

34384 If the other employment offered would only have lasted for a short period, and the claimant would then have been unable to return to the previous work, the claimant may have good reason. It is for the DM to consider all the facts and circumstances of the individual case on its merits.

Example

Jack, who is working 10 hours a week at NMW rate is offered four weeks employment of 39 hours a week in the same type of employment, with a different employer. He is not sure that his current employer will take him back on when the new employment ends. Jack has good reason for failing to apply for the vacancy

1 R(U) 34/56

Temporary employment

34385 Subject to DMG 34384 the fact that the employment offered is only temporary does not of itself provide good reason1. It is for the DM to consider all the facts of the individual case on its merits and apply a common sense approach in the individual’s circumstances and apply the reasonableness test in consideration of good reason. Temporary employment can assist the claimant by

1. updating existing skills

2. learning new skills

3. becoming more confident

4. improving their CV

5. showing employers they can keep regular hours and stay committed to a task

6. meeting people who can help them find work

7. giving them something to talk about in a job interview and

8. gaining references to improve their prospects of further employment.

Note: For the purposes of a failure to apply for or accept if offered, any employment opportunity, regardless of the duration of the employment, the sanction duration is for a fixed period. The failure is not a failure prescribed for in relevant legislation2 which allows for the sanction to be reduced (see DMG 34097 et seq).

1 R(U) 35/52; 2 JSA Regs, reg 69(3)

Definite chance of other employment

34386 If the claimant has a definite chance of other employment that

1. will start in the very near future and

2. is likely to last at least as long as the employment offered and

3. will be lost if the claimant accepts the employment offered

this will be good reason. Whether a chance is definite must be decided on the individual facts of the case.

Personal preference

34387 Claimants do not have good reason for refusing employment because they

1. would prefer another type of work (1) or

2. wish to find employment for themselves without the help of Jobcentre Plus (2).

(1 CU 3/48(KL)); (2 R(U) 29/53)

Other more suitable people unemployed

34388 A claimant does not have good reason for refusing employment just because there are other unemployed people who are more suited to the vacancy. The question is whether the claimant has good reason for refusing it taking into account all the individual circumstances of the case.

Job vacant because of a trade dispute stoppage

34389 Claimants cannot be sanctioned just because they refuse or fail to apply for or accept a job that is vacant because of a stoppage of work due to a TD. This applies even if the fact is not known at the date of refusal, but comes to light later. If a sanction has already been imposed, the adviser should let the DM know of the change so that he can consider revising or superseding the decision.

34390 For the job to be vacant because of the TD stoppage

1. the stoppage must exist at the time the vacancy is notified or offered. It is not enough that there is a TD, or that a stoppage seems imminent and

2. the vacancy must have been caused by the stoppage. This will not be the case if the vacancy

  • 2.1 was caused by the illness of an employee, even if there is a stoppage of work at the employer’s premises or
  • 2.2 arose normally after the stoppage had ended and the places of the employees affected by the TD had been filled or
  • 2.3 arose because an employee left a job where there was no stoppage in order to take a job where there was a stoppage.

34391 – 34394

Employment which the claimant has previously left

34395 If the claimant has in the past left, or been dismissed from

1. the same employment and

2. employment with the same employer that fact is not in itself good reason but the circumstances in which the previous employment ended may give the claimant good reason for refusing re-employment (for example consideration should be given to any mental or physical health issues or any of the circumstances in DMG 34236).

34396 Where the claimant refuses re-employment the DM should consider

1. all the circumstances surrounding the termination and

2. the effect of the termination on the relations between the claimant and the employer.

Objection to employer or fellow employees

34397 A claimant may refuse employment because

1. the claimant objects to the employer or other employees or

2. it would mean working with a person whose conduct is known to be offensive.

34398 In extreme cases the claimant may be able to show that such employment would be likely to cause

1. unreasonable mental stress (see DMG 34309) or

2. be grounds for a sincere religious objection (see DMG 34321).

Otherwise, such an objection will only be good reason if it is so great that it would be unreasonable to expect the claimant to work in those conditions.

Example

Terry has previously left employment because of a personal disagreement with a colleague. She is offered a job by a different employer, but finds out that the colleague she had the disagreement with is now working there, and will be her supervisor. She is still on bad terms with the ex-colleague. She turns the job down. The DM considers that Terry has good reason.

34399 Unless there are exceptional circumstances, an objection to an employer because that employer has previously sacked the claimant does not provide good reason if there are no other reasons to consider.

Claimant does not have necessary equipment

34400 Claimants sometimes say that they are available for a particular type of employment where it is customary for employees to have their own tools, special clothes etc. If claimants do not have such tools, clothes etc, this will not generally be good reason. But in some cases there may be special reasons which will be good reason. For example, a claimant’s tools are accidentally destroyed or stolen, and the claimant cannot replace them at once. But the DM should also take into account that the claimant may be able to buy such tools and equipment with help from the Flexible Support Fund.

34401 It is important to remember that health and safety is the responsibility of employers (class 1 employment) and that the provision of suitable protective equipment lies with the employer (1). Any available information concerning provision of equipment or tools should be used to decide whether a jobseeker has good reason for refusing vacancies offered.

(1 Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992)

34402 – 34405

Seafarers

34406 Seafarers may refuse an opportunity to go back to sea because they want to

1. change their occupation or

2. take shore leave which they are due, and by the time the leave is finished the chance of employment is lost, for example because the ship has sailed.

34407 It is difficult for seafarers who want to change their occupation, particularly if they are abroad or at sea, to find alternative employment to start as soon as their contract ends. If they

1. have taken whatever steps they could and

2. seem to have reasonable prospects of finding other employment fairly quickly the DM should accept that they have good reason.

34408 The DM should take into account that seafarers are entitled to some leave after voyages. But this does not mean that they have good reason for refusing chances of employment during any period of leave, regardless of the circumstances. They must show that they have not acted unreasonably in relying on UC.

Working time regulations

34409 The Working Time Regulations 1998 provide that a worker’s working time, including overtime, shall not exceed an average of 48 hours for each seven days (the average being calculated over a 17 week period) except where a worker has agreed with his employer in writing that this limit should not apply in his case.

34410 A jobseeker has good reason for refusing employment of over an average of 48 hours per week if he gives the number of hours as his reason for refusal, irrespective of whether he selected the vacancy himself, applied for the job or attended an interview being fully aware of the hours required.

Anti-social behaviour order, community order or community disposal

34411 Claimants may refuse employment because it would mean that they would break their anti social behaviour order, community order or community disposal taking into account any necessary travelling time. If claimants have tried unsuccessfully to get their order or disposal varied they would have good reason for refusing employment.

Claimant given incorrect details of employment

34412 Claimants may refuse or fail to apply for or accept a vacancy, and it may later be found that they have been given incorrect details about the vacancy.

34413 The DM should impose a sanction if

1. the claimant cannot show good reason for refusing a job on the terms wrongly notified and

2. the actual terms of the job would have been more favourable (1).

(1 R(U) 20/55)

34414 The DM should not impose a sanction if the claimant can show good reason for refusing a job on the terms they were wrongly notified. The DM does not need to consider whether the claimant could have shown good reason for refusing the job had the actual terms been known.

Example

An adviser informs Dan about a vacancy as a packer in a local meat factory. He mistakenly tells Dan the rate of pay is £10 per hour. The actual rate is £12 per hour. Dan refuses to apply for the vacancy because in his last job, which ended two weeks ago, as he was paid more than £10 per hour as a packer. When considering good reason the DM treats the vacancy as if it was paying £10 per hour.

Zero hours contracts

34415 A claimant should never be mandated to apply for or accept a zero-hours contract but if the details of the zero-hours contract comes to light after the claimant starts work or during the application process then they will always have good reason for leaving voluntarily or due to misconduct, or for failing or refusing to accept the contract and a sanction should never apply.

34416 A zero-hour contract is a contract of employment used in the UK which is not defined in legislation and whilst meeting the terms of the relevant legislation (1) by providing a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment, contains provisions which create an “on call” arrangement between employer and employee. It does not oblige the employer to provide work for the employee. The employee agrees to be available for work as and when required, so that no particular number of hours or times of work are specified. The employee is expected to be on call and receives compensation only for hours worked.

(1 ER Act 96)

34417 Zero-hour contracts may be ideal for some people such as retirees and students who want occasional earnings and are able to be entirely flexible about when they work, but people in the general working population, including those with mortgages and responsibility for supporting a family, run the risk of unpredictable hours and earnings. The possibility of the use of such contracts by management as a tool to reward or reprimand employees for any reason or no reason raises issues about how workers can adequately assert their employment rights or maintain decent employment relations. Therefore there can be no mandation to any zero hours contract (exclusive or not) and there can be no sanction imposed for Refusing Employment, Leaving Voluntary or losing work because of misconduct.

Employee Shareholder Contracts

34418 Employee Shareholder Contracts are entirely voluntary and JSA claimants must not be mandated to apply for such vacancies. For further guidance on Employee Shareholder Contracts see DMG 34335.

Other reasons

34419 The reasons mentioned in this chapter are not exhaustive. The DM must consider any other reason the claimant puts forward for refusing or failing to apply for or accept employment applying the test of reasonableness in consideration of all the facts and evidence in the individual case. The DM should not just consider one factor but should consider the overall picture of the claimant’s individual circumstances.

Note: Where the claimant changes their mind or the vacancy is withdrawn there will be no refusal or failure and no need to consider good reason (see DMG 34723 and DMG 34724).

34420

Circumstances that do not show good reason

34421 A claimant cannot refuse to apply for a job because of the rate of pay offered, except where this is below the NMW, (see DMG 34423) or because

1. of their income or outgoings or those of any member of their household (either as they were or would be if they took the job or carried out the work-related requirement. ‘Outgoings’ excludes expenses (such as for childcare) taken into account that would be an unreasonably high proportion of the claimant’s income

2. they argue they need a high wage because they have a large mortgage or an expensive lifestyle.

34422 The DM must disregard anything relating to the level of pay in the employment in question when deciding whether the claimant has good reason. The fact that the pay offered was

1. lower than the pay the claimant had previously received or

2. not enough to cover the claimant’s financial commitments or

3. lower than the pay received by most other employees in that occupation or

4. less than the claimant is getting in benefits are all related to the level of pay, and must be disregarded.

National minimum wage

34423 Claimants have good reason for refusing employment if they do so because

1. the national minimum wage applies to them and

2. the employment does not pay at least the national minimum wage that applies to them.

34424 – 34425

End.

Reducing the possible length of a Permitted Period from 13 Weeks to 4 Weeks

Determining Entitlement to a Permitted Period