Together We ‘Minorities’ CAN beat the Uphill Struggle for Equality



A new report from the uni of Sheffield has found Welfare reform reinforces growing class prejudice reminiscent of Victorian era –

” many people now attribute unemployment and poverty to the failings of individuals, rather than to structural weaknesses in the British economy and entrenched socio-economic inequalities. Worryingly, negative views around welfare were also extended to the physically disabled and mentally ill. The research therefore suggests that, in the aftermath of the recession, there has been a decline in empathy and understanding for some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in our society

Today the Guardian have turned over comment is free to black contributors, this is fantastic and exactly what we need more of as according to FleetStreetFox  “it’s 2014 and we’re speaking about foreigners in much the same way we did 100 years ago, with just as much nastiness, stupidity and flawed logic“. Other reports have…

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Migrants Price Local People Out Of Agricultural Jobs, #ukip? #RochesterandStrood #RochesterStrood


Do migrants price local people out of jobs in agriculture?

“The Abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board

10 May 2013

In 2010, the Coalition Government announced its intention to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board, as part of its shake-up of public bodies. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 abolishes the Agricultural Wages Board from 25 June 2013. The 31 Agricultural Wages Committees and Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees will also be abolished at the same time.

The Agricultural Wages Board, which was established by the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 (, has a statutory obligation to fix minimum wages for workers employed in agriculture in England and Wales. The rate of pay depends on the type of work involved. The Board also has powers to decide other terms and conditions of employment for agricultural workers, such as holidays and sick pay. It produces a legally binding Agricultural Wages Order, which is enforced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Order is made annually and normally comes into force on 1 October. The current Order is due to expire on 30 September 2013.

The effect of abolition is that employers will be able to take on new agricultural workers on less generous terms and conditions than under the Agricultural Wages Order, provided they comply with employment law generally, such as the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Regulations and the Working Time Regulations.

Whether existing workers are entitled to continue to be paid at the rates prescribed by the current Agricultural Wages Order will depend upon the wording of their contracts of employment. If the contract states simply that the worker is entitled only to the statutory minimum, then that will probably be treated as meaning the National Minimum Wage Regulations and so the employer is likely to be able to reduce the worker’s wages down to national minimum wage rates. If, however, the contract of employment is unclear or states that the worker is entitled to the rates under the Agricultural Wages Order, then the employer is likely to have to continue to pay the rates prescribed by the current Agricultural Wages Order until the national minimum wage rates rise to meet or exceed the levels set out in the Agricultural Wages Order.

If the employer makes unlawful reductions in the worker’s wages, it is likely to give rise to a constructive unfair dismissal claim and/or a claim for unlawful deduction from wages. Employers should therefore check their workers’ contracts of employment and take legal advice if necessary.

The changes will not affect Scotland and Northern Ireland, which have their own Agricultural Wages Boards and have no plans to abolish them. The Welsh Assembly, however, was opposed to abolition and may try to create a separate Welsh Agricultural Wages Board.”

Were there any migrants in the UK in 1948 driving down wages in the agricultural industry, particularly in the East of England? The prisoners of war had gone home. Most immigrants were heading to the urban bright lights. Working in agriculture has been poorly paid for centuries, particularly since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The beauty of the countryside hides rural poverty and has done so before Thomas Hardy put pen to paper.

The AWB survived the scrapping of the other boards by John Major and had survived the era of Mrs Thatcher (  The AWB was abolished by the Coalition on 1st October 2013 (  Perhaps someone should ask Nigel Farage if ukip would bring it back into existence and so do something practical for the rural poor?  May be Mr Fallon might think about calling for it to be brought back?  Perhaps Labour should come out fighting on the issue (  And Clegg?  Probably best if he keeps his mouth shut.  The Liberal Democrats have talked about setting regional National Minimum Wage rates.

Labour has brought back into existence a Welsh Agricultural Wages Board in the teeth of fierce opposition from the heirs of Thatcher ( Incidentally, the leader of the Tory antis in the Welsh Assembly is a farmer, but she was not campaigning on behalf of herself, it seems. She also declines to say how much she receives in the way of agricultural subsidies (aka taxpayers’ money) from the European Union. She benefits from an AWB for farmers, just like ukip’s former candidate in Clacton, another farmer.  And ukip has announced (see Agriculture and Fishing) that it will replace taxpayer funded subsidies for farmers via Brussels with taxpayer funded subsidies direct from the UK Treasury.

Of course, Farage and fellow travellers on the right say migrants push down wages in agriculture so everyone agrees with him, seemingly across the political spectrum. This theory supports the views of opponents of the EU and anti-neo liberals. It gives reporters, looking for a simple narrative, a ‘common sense’ story to present, requiring no research apart from a vox pop. At the margin may be migrants in some localities have moderated wage rises, but there are other more significant issues affecting the state of agriculture and impacting on workers within the industry.  Issues that cannot even be tenuously linked to migration; a major one of them being our demand, as consumers, for cheap food. These issues do not fit the preferred story. They will feature in further posts on my blog shortly, along with other related labour market issues from elsewhere in the UK economy.

Finally, ukip, like the Countryside Alliance before it, is looking to cynically exploit the plight of the rural poor for its own ends.  ukip is going after the votes of the landed gentry and foxhunting class and that class have no interest in improving the conditions of their employees and tenants.  If they did, then surely they do not have to wait for ukip to win power to do so?

#ukip Out To Worsen Conditions Of UK Born Temporary (Farm) Workers! #GE2015 #RaceForNumber10


In his often-quoted speech in 1909 on Second Reading of the Bill (that became the Trade Boards Act 1909), Winston Churchill, then President of the Board of Trade, explained that the Boards were necessary to ensure that workers received a living wage in industries where the bargaining strength of employers greatly outweighed that of employees:

“It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions. It was formerly supposed that the working of the laws of supply and demand would naturally regulate or eliminate that evil ……………. Where in the great staple trades in the country you have a powerful organisation on both sides, where you have responsible leaders able to bind their constituents to their decision, where that organisation is conjoint with an automatic scale of wages or arrangements for avoiding a deadlock by means of arbitration, there you have a healthy bargaining which increases the competitive power of the industry, enforces a progressive standard of life and the productive scale, and continually weaves capital and labour more closely together. But where you have what we call sweated trades, you have no organisation, no parity of bargaining, the good employer is undercut by the bad, and the bad employer is undercut by the worst; the worker, whose whole livelihood depends upon the industry, is undersold by the worker who only takes the trade up as a second string, his feebleness and ignorance generally renders the worker an easy prey to the tyranny of the masters and middle-men, only a step higher up the ladder than the worker, and held in the same relentless grip of forces – where those conditions prevail you have not a condition of progress, but a condition of progressive degeneration.”

The 1909 Act was the first national minimum wage legislation in Britain.  Churchill’s Boards were superseded by Wages Councils established under the Wages Council Act 1945.  Legislation introduced by a Liberal Government, built upon by a Labour Government leading to, amongst other things, the Agricultural Wages Act 1948.  The Wages Councils consisted of representatives from both sides of industry, together with independent members. They had the power to set detailed minimum rates of pay, including shift premia, for different age groups and types of worker as well as complex holiday entitlements relating to length of service.

At their peak, in 1953, (under a Conservative Government headed by Winston Churchill) there were 66 Wages Councils, covering about 3.5 million workers.

In March 1985, the Conservative Government, as part of its policy of deregulating the labour market, published a Consultation Paper which proposed that the Wages Councils should either be abolished altogether or radically reformed. There was considerable opposition to outright abolition, from employers as well as employees, and the Government opted for radical reform.

The Wages Act 1986 preserved the 26 Councils (down from 27 in 1981) then in existence but prevented any new ones from being established. It removed young workers under the age of 21 from the scope of the Wages Councils altogether and ended the Councils’ power to set minimum holiday entitlements, separate pay rates for different occupations, and premium rates for unsocial hours or shift work. As a result, Wages Councils were only able to set a minimum hourly basic rate; a minimum overtime rate; the number of hours after which overtime must be paid; and a daily limit on the amount an employer could charge for any living accommodation he provided. Employers who failed to pay these rates were liable to a fine and for arrears of wages underpaid. The law was enforced by Wages Inspectors employed by the Department of Employment, but their numbers were cut during the 1980s and early 1990s and they adopted a policy of ensuring that minimum rates were paid by persuasion rather than coercion. Prosecution was rare, despite many instances of underpayment.

In December 1988, the Government once again issued a Consultation Paper which suggested that the Councils should be abolished. The response did not reveal enormous support for abolition even from employers’ organisations; and, in March 1990, Michael Howard, then Secretary of State for Employment, announced that he had decided not to proceed with abolition “for the present”.

It remained Conservative policy that Wages Councils should have “no permanent place in the labour market.”  Although the Conservative Manifesto for the 1992 Election did not mention abolition, the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill, published on 5 November 1992, contained legislation repealing the Wages Councils altogether. Section 35 of the Act, which abolished the Councils, came into effect on 30 August 1993.

The only remaining area in which a minimum wage was enshrined in law after 30 August 1993 was agriculture. The Agricultural Wages Board, as indicated above, was established under separate legislation, the Agricultural Wages Act 1948. The government had considered abolishing this too, but, in the face of opposition from both sides of the agricultural industry, it backed down.

William Waldegrave, Secretary of State for Agriculture, announcing this decision, said, “It is clear from the responses to consultation that there is wide acceptance, from both sides of the agricultural industry of the present arrangements. We do not therefore currently intend to change the existing statutory framework. However, since the Government believe that statutory wage fixing arrangements can introduce flexibilities which prevent rather than encourage job creation, we shall continue to keep the future existence of the AWB under close review.”

After the Wages Councils were abolished, there was growing evidence of jobs being offered below the old minimum rates and little evidence of increased employment in the deregulated industries. For example, a Low Pay Network study, “After the Safety Net”, analysed almost 6,000 jobs offered at Jobcentres in the catering, retailing, clothing manufacturing and hairdressing sectors in April and May 1994. Over a third of the jobs on offer paid less than the old Wages Council rate uprated by inflation. In retailing, the figure was over 50%. The network also found a net loss of 18,000 jobs recorded in the retail and catering sectors between September 1993 and March 1994, despite the removal of minimum wages.

See Research Note 92/75 on “Wages Councils”, Research Note 92/95 on the “Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill 1992/3” and Research Paper 95/7 “A Minimum Wage”.

Between 1993 and the introduction of the NMW, only the AWB set pay rates for any group of workers in the UK work force.  The NMW when enacted covered many more workers than the Wages Councils, but did not replace the AWB which continued to set rates above those set by the NMW.

Of course, ukip, unlike all the other major political parties has yet to commit to increases in the National Minimum Wage and/or call for employers to pay the Living Wage.  In fact, ukip has yet to say whether or not it stands by its previous view that the NMW should be repealed.

ukip has said it will repeal the Agency Workers Directive (see Employment and Small Businesses) that, enacted in UK law as the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, seeks to level the playing field between temporary/agency workers and permanent employees.

I guess ukip thinks all the working people for whom they claim to speak, including agricultural workers, are in permanent employment?  In addition, on taking power, ukip would review all legislation and regulations from the EU and remove those which hamper British prosperity and competitiveness (see Protecting Jobs and Increasing Prosperity).

Given ukip’s commitment to repeal the Agency Workers Directive, is it not reasonable to assume that other employment legislation, including Health and Safety laws will be repealed so as not to hamper British prosperity and competitiveness?

Check out my next blog post to learn why I have made particular reference above to the Agricultural Wages Board!

PS Municipal regulation of wage levels began in some towns in 1524 and I do not think, were he alive today, that Churchill would be a member of ukip.

Immigration, xenophobia and racism…


Paul Bernal's Blog

Every so often, these days, someone says something about immigration that makes me think about racism, xenophobia, or both. Often it’s someone from UKIP, but recently Tory politicians have been joining in pretty regularly – and even Lib Dems and Labourites have been triggering the same reaction in me. Whenever I mention this on Twitter, in amongst the other reactions there will pretty much every time be someone who says something like ‘why does someone wanting to limit or control immigration have to be racist or xenophobic?’

The answer I generally give is that of course they don’t – but these days, all too often, the reasons behind such statements have racism or xenophobia in the background. That is, not all those people wanting to control or limit immigration are racists or xenophobes, but a lot of xenophobes or racists use the relative respectability of opposition to immigration as a…

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Knights of the ISC Round Table….


Paul Bernal's Blog

Yesterday I took part in the ’round table sessions’ of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament’s ‘Privacy and Security Inquiry’. It was an interesting event – and an enjoyable one, though I hope that doesn’t mean that I’ve already begun the process of being ‘captured’ by the intelligence community. The round table sessions are part of the bigger inquiry – accompanied by public evidence sessions which are continuing through the week.

The whole thing was very informal – I found myself sitting next to Sir Malcolm Rifkind and opposite Lord Lothian around a small, round table, one of three such tables in the room. Yes, the round table sessions really involved round tables. Essentially, we had an hour to chat about whatever issues we felt mattered to the inquiry – we had been invited on the basis of the written evidence we had submitted to the inquiry, back in February…

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Scheme Helps Disabled People Enter Local Politics


Same Difference

When prospective councillor Tom Garrod went door-to-door canvassing aged just 18, his first experience did nothing to calm his nerves. He asked to speak to the householder; “I was told they had passed away yesterday,” he says.

But it was only a minor setback for Garrod. Living with cerebral palsy, he also had to be creative to get his message across. As the condition alters his speech, he had to abandon telephone canvassing. “People thought it was a prank caller,” he laughs. But he made up for it by making good use of his digital savvy, spreading his ideas through social media – something he says older councillors weren’t able to do so easily.

The young Conservative was elected to Norfolk county council, in 2009. Now aged 25, Garrod’s experiences have helped shape a new scheme aimed at encouraging more people with disabilities to become councillors.

The scheme is part…

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Mensch Labels #ukip #Labour’s Little Helpers in Bid to Aid #Tories & Damage #SNP #RochesterandStrood


Britain’s New Political Force Isn’t UKIP – It’s the SNP

“As I write this Douglas Carswell hasn’t yet been elected in Clacton but he will be. He will be UKIP’s second MP (Bob Spink was the first) but first elected MP. But Clacton is a special case; Carswell has a big personal following. I have no time for him whatever and I can only help he has the integrity his friends claim he does. If that is true, he will not remain silent in a party that is racist, sexist and allows the condoning of child abuse, blaming the victims. We’ll see.

The real UKIP test comes in Rochester and Strood, where my friend Mark Reckless defected without the same personal following. I will always like Mark, having known him since we were at the same Oxford college together at the same time (OK OK he’s younger) and ran together on the same slate in the Union (roofing materials cough). But I fear Mark has made the mistake of his life. He is an able barrister and he has been a leading light on the best Select Committee in Parliament at the moment, the Home Affairs Select Committee. But UKIP help Labour and prevent the chance of any EU Referendum at all. I am so sorry that Mark was deceived into going with Farage, and I both hope, fear and believe he will lose his seat. I hope it politically because Ed Miliband must not be helped into power by UKIP voters – there will be no EU referendum and it will be  total disaster. I believe it because I can read the polls and the mood, I think (it’ll be close for sure), and I fear it, because ukip are a party without loyalty or principles. When Mark loses they will blame him, cast aspersions on his work as an MP, toss him to the wind and move on without looking back like they do to any candidate who gets in Nigel’s way.

But enough of Labour’s little helpers. Let’s look north, where I think the unnoticed revolution is going on. And it’s not purple – it’s plaid. In fact, it’s tartan.  (Dear Louise, how Scottish is tartan?)

The Scottish Referendum seems like yesterday north of the border and for us in rUK too it was the election of the year. Few nights will ever be as emotional. And yet a London-centric media has taken its eye off the Glasweigan ball. That’s a mistake.

The SNP have packed on tens of thousands of new members – that’s actual paying members who have gone so far as to sign up – imagine the latent support behind these numbers. I read somewhere that it might be a hundred thousand. Labour is in trouble in its Scottish heartlands. Real trouble, not just Holyrood trouble where they are used to getting their arses kicked, but Westminster trouble. John Curtice said they might pick up as many as 26 seats. I think they may also lose one or two to the Tories and LibDems – yes, you heard me correctly. Passions for YES and NO raged immensely, and where the SNP hold Westminster seats in areas that were strongly NO they are vulnerable. Ruth Davidson took back some of her ‘Tartan Tory’ mantle from the so-called Tartan Tories. There’s a long way to go to detoxify the Conservatives in Scotland but she gained wide respect in the IndyRef.

But let’s develop the idea of the SNP storming the Westminster elections. Every seat they gain will be a one for one loss to Labour.  Labour down 26 and the SNP up 26, for a max gain of 32 seats. That would give the SNP parity with the LibDems.

Semi-jokingly I suggested future SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon as Deputy PM under Cameron. There was a lot of kicking the football around on Twitter from SNP members, but let me develop the idea.

I am NOT suggesting that the SNP go into coalition with the Conservatives – it would be toxic for both parties north of the border. Ruth Davidson needs those Unionist votes to start rebuilding in SNP WM areas. And SNP are banned from propping up the Tories, their left-wing support wouldn’t like it.

But I AM suggesting a scenario where Sturgeon can demand a DEAL with an rUK Conservative majority – after all the Referendum itself happened because Alec Salmond and David Cameron made a binding deal. A deal isn’t a coalition and the SNP wouldn’t need to prop up the Tories in this scenario – because devo-max and English votes for English laws would have meant that the SNP was “mainly governing” Scotland via Holyrood, and in rUK, the Tories would no longer need any Scottish votes (or even be able to use them) – on devolved matters for Eng Wales and NI. Cameron would still need other parties like the DUP and probably even the LibDems for comfort, but Sturgeon’s SNP would not be involved.

Scenario goes like this – Tories largest party, no majority. SNP offer a deal whereby Sturgeon becomes Deputy PM as being able to command the second party of United Kingdom government, with or without a WM seat of her own. She need not have one, and she can always take a peerage if she likes, a nice Scottish peerage obviously 🙂. Sturgeon and Cameron horse-trade over devo-max and the financial settlement for Scotland in exchange for immediate, first-order-of-business “English votes for English laws” legislation. EVEL has been long planned by the Tories and has been in the last three Tory manifestos. This constitutional deal done, Sturgeon repairs to Scotland to govern. Ruth Davidson opposes her now on tax, spend and policy as well as Unionism (because we assume the SNP will still aim for full independence).

South of the border Cameron governs with a coalition but one where the Tories can set more favorable terms.

In defence and foreign affairs, areas that all agree would remain United Kingdom competencies, Sturgeon would have the right to be consulted first, to have SNP seats in the ministries and the SNP would have a direct voice at the global table, as the LibDems do now. I cannot frankly imagine that the SNP view would be more left-wing than the LibDem view on either area of policy. In this area, Cameron would have to seek to have Scotland on board respecting the SNP’s primacy in the country.

That, then, is my vision of a revolutionary government – not a coalition, no propping up needed – a government that represented a deal between independent actors, even political opponents, to make constitutional changes that the SNP and Conservatives both believe in for Scotland and also for England.

Labour is the enemy of the SNP when it comes to devo-max or any version of devo-max. The more autonomy Labour allows in Scotland, the greater the demand in England for English votes, which deprives Mili of his Scottish block vote. It says much for Labour’s weakness in England that Ed Miliband thinks he can’t govern England, Wales and Northern Ireland without the votes of Scots MPs on matters that will never affect their constituents. Put another way, Miliband doesn’t want to introduce laws for England he knows English voters will approve of.

Fair play to the 45, they have no objection to English voters getting our own devolution. The SNP don’t vote on English only laws unless it will affect Scotland – that’s to be decided in the initial horse-trading before EVEL passes. Sturgeon would be a conquering heroine in Scotland with the prestige of deputy PM of the UK and the delivery of the best possible deal for Scotland. Rather than ‘propping up’ Cameron or any coalition, she’d follow SNP creed of leaving the sassenachs to sort themselves out. And Labour’s offer to Scotland of tiny changes while chopping England up into already-rejected-in-a-referendum “regional assemblies” would get the contempt it deserved – north and south of the border.

WhoKip? The SNP is the real story this year – and they didn’t quit and go home when they lost that vote. Trust me, the 45 are just warming up.”

Ms Mensch may be many things, some day I really must find out what she really excels in, but political sage is definitely not one, but obviously political fantasist is.

Ms Mensch damns Nicola Sturgeon with faint praise, if she thinks Ms Sturgeon would fall in with Ms Mensch’s flights of fancy.  Flights designed to put the party, Ms Mensch deserted in its hour of need, firmly back in Government for ever more.

Ms Mensch, where do you live now? I only ask, but I gather New York is in the Colonies is it not?  Not in the rest of the UK or even the British Empire, despite you asserting that, “The Scottish Referendum seems like yesterday north of the border and for us in rUK …”  I guess living high up in skyscrapers a lot of the time does funny things to the brain.  Can you Louise, see the Home Counties from atop the Empire State Building?  I assume, given your current state of lightheadedness, that you have missed a vital stage out of your scenario:

“A deal isn’t a coalition and the SNP wouldn’t need to prop up the Tories in this scenario – because devo-max and English votes for English laws would have meant that the SNP was “mainly governing” Scotland via Holyrood, and in rUK, the Tories would no longer need any Scottish votes (or even be able to use them) – on devolved matters for Eng Wales and NI. Cameron would still need other parties like the DUP and probably even the LibDems for comfort, but Sturgeon’s SNP would not be involved.”

Ms Mensch, the whole of the House of Commons has to vote in support of legislation in order to get “devo-max and English votes for English laws”.  You are expecting Ms Sturgeon to take the word of a man whom she is about to put into Downing Street that he would follow through in full on these matters?  A man who said the NHS is safe in my hands?  A man who said, read my lips, there will be no top down reform of the NHS!  A man who said, I feel your pain, for I too have claimed DLA …  Have you never heard of once bitten by a rabid dog, next time bring a shot gun?  And be honest Ms Mensch, in which order would Mr Cameron put the legislation?  Devo-max first or English votes for English laws?

Ms Mensch avoids saying what even most people know her proposal means, “Vote SNP, Give Cameron the Keys to Number Ten!”  Ms Mensch thinks that the SNP would be happy to engage in a re-run of 1979 and risk all in the process.  Moreover, that the SNP would acquiesce in an arrangement that leaves Cameron in a position to call the next General Election at a time of his own choosing.

Nicola Sturgeon, a canny party leader if I ever saw one, will have a much better hand of cards in a card game with Labour than with the Tories.  In addition, I cannot see her repeating the events of 1979 when the minority Labour Government was defeated in a vote of no confidence, thereby triggering a General Election.  The SNP went into the lobbies with Mrs Thatcher, then went into the General Election with 11 MPs and came out the other side with only 2 MPs.  The Tory Party remained in power for 18 years and devolution was off the agenda for the same period.  I can well imagine Ms Sturgeon doing her utmost to avoid a similar outcome.  An outcome that would hand the keys of Number 10 to David Cameron, damage the SNP’s future electoral chances in Scottish and Westminster elections and postpone any further chance of more devolution and/or another independence referendum.

I also fail to see why the SNP, however many seats it wins next May, would not support Labour at Westminster after next May, particularly given the plans the party had to develop the Environmental Business Sector in Scotland after Independence.  Ms Mensch may not have noticed that her party has now decided to label all such sound policy as ‘green crap’.  The only party that shares Cameron’s dismissive, reckless view is ukip.  And Ms Mensch conveniently ignores the prospect of her fantasy including a handful of ukip MPs being joined at the hip to the Tory Party.  One more reason for the SNP not to do what Ms Mensch thinks would be in her, sorry, their party’s best interests.

Ms Mensch is, of course, still a Tory after all, albeit one who now lives permanently in the USA and cannot spell centre properly, “Center Righty is US politics blogging from one socially liberal, fiscal conservative point of view”!  Ms Mensch wants to see the fortunes of her party restored across the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland.  There is no benefit for the SNP in that happening.  I suspect Ms Sturgeon has three words for Ms Mensch, confidence and supply.  Confidence and supply means no coalition and no supporting legislation to which the SNP is opposed, but it does mean stopping Cameron bringing down the Government whilst continuing to pay the salaries of public servants.  Such an agreement would draw in the Greens and Plaid Cymru, giving all three parties some power without much in the way of responsibility.  Who knows, may be Calamity Clegg, given the second chance of a C & S agreement (Whirling Shirley thought it a sound idea in September 2010) might do the right thing this time?

A minority Labour Government supported, but not unquestioningly, by the Greens, PC, SNP and possibly the Liberal Democrats may just be the re-alignment on the centre and centre left that UK politics needs.  And, before I forget, as everyone else seems to do, the SDLP is not called the Social Democratic and Labour Party for nothing.  The SDLP is Labour’s sister party in Northern Ireland hence that is why Labour does not campaign for seats there.  The SDLP sits with Labour in Opposition and with Labour in Government, but it does not, however, offer its unquestioning support.

When it comes to Northern Ireland and her fantasy, Ms Mensch seems happy to revive the Troubles just to see her party in power.  What concessions does she think the Unionist Parties would want for their support in her scenario?  If anything proves that Ms Mensch has only a superficial understanding of political history then it is her idea that her party by seeking to relive its ‘glorious’, blood soaked Irish adventures would actually make the UK a more harmonious union.  Why do the phrases, same old Tories (Irish outlaws) and divide and rule spring to mind?

One last thing, Ms Mensch, if you had been paying closer attention to the Yes Campaign’s arguments you would have noticed two things, they were not just about the SNP and that Labour does not need its block of Labour MPs to win a majority at Westminster.  For the moment, that prospect is improving as, far from there being a Revolt on the Right in the UK, we now seem to be seeing a Re-alignment on the Right.  Mr Farage is going to give us a PR style General Election, despite your party’s best efforts not to see PR used in General Elections.  After all, was it not you, in your fantasy, who labelled ukip as “Labour’s little helpers”?

I would suggest to Ms Mensch that she spend more time at ground level before blogging further on topics that she only had a rather tenuous grasp of when she was a politics lite, A list Tory MP.  However, I fear that I cannot soar to her heights in order to offer her my bon mots.  I am left to reflect that once upon a time the citizens of New York used to tar and feather Tories, after the citizenry had gained their Independence, of course …

Daily Telegraph Commentator sees opportunity for Tory comeback in Scotland as part of fallout from Referendum vote

Northern Ireland 2010 Election Results

Prime Minister ‘wooing’ Democratic Unionists in case of hung parliament

Cameron plays down ‘wooing’ claims after DUP drinks party

#WOW #ukip Supports #BenefitCap? Why? #GE2015 #ESA #WCA #JSA #PIP #DLA #IS #BedroomTax #ThanetSouth


“UKIP supports a simplified, streamlined welfare system and a benefit cap.”

Welfare and Childcare

ukip says, “More detailed announcements will be made in the run up to the 2015 General Election.”

Will those detailed announcements clarify if these policy ideas are no longer under serious consideration?

“Roll the mass of existing benefits into simpler categories, while ensuring every UK citizen receives a simple, non-means tested ‘Basic Cash Benefit’ (BCB)

Roll key benefits – such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Student Maintenance Grant – into a single, flat-rate BCB set at the same weekly rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support.  For students, the BCB will be termed ‘Student Vouchers’ or ‘Training Vouchers’

Allow part-time and temporary workers to continue claiming BCB until their wages reach UKIP’s proposed £11,500 personal allowance so they can take jobs without being heavily penalised by the system

Merge Child Benefit, the Child Trust Fund, Child Tax Credits and the Education Maintenance Allowance into an enhanced Child Benefit, payable for each of the first three children in a family (as of October 2014 now only the first two children in a family)

Merge Early Years’ Funding, Sure Start, the childcare element of Working Tax Credit and the tax relief on Employer Nursery Vouchers into a flat-rate, non-means tested ‘Nursery Voucher’ to cover approximately half the cost of a full-time nursery place.”

From Welfare to Workfare
A Welfare Policy for an Independent Britain
A Policy Statement
January 2010

Up until now ukip has kept under tight wraps any suggestion that these policy ideas are, at least, not still under serious consideration.  A policy to oppose (not repeal) the Bedroom Tax and some vague assertions do not a comprehensive Social Security policy make.  In addition, the simplistic Income Tax cut for people on the National Minimum Wage (earning more than their current Income Tax Allowance), that ukip thinks will benefit all those in that position, is a clear sign that ukip has next to no understanding about how our tax and Social Security systems interact, often to the disadvantage of those in work on low incomes.  Often, people in work have to claim Social Security to even receive the same level of income as they would if they were not in work.

ukip’s enthusiasm for non means tested payments would mean more higher income taxpayers having a much bigger share of the Social Security budget than now and some of those on lower incomes receiving a great deal less than they currently do, both directly and indirectly.  Even David Cameron would be eligible to receive a BCB.

I take it no one in ukip has heard of ESA?  That its recipients are split into two groups and that, under these proposals, those entering the Support Group in the future would be receiving less money than those in the group now.  I am assuming that they would not apply their proposed changes retrospectively.

ukip needs to learn that a policy to oppose (not repeal) the Bedroom Tax will be perceived as no more than a cynical ploy to garner votes unless ukip comes up with more detailed Social Security policy than in is contained in its Doncaster statements.  In addition, am I right to think that this statement is a bit ambiguous:

“UKIP opposes the bedroom tax because it operates unfairly, penalising those who are unable to find alternative accommodation and taking insufficient account of the needs of families and the disabled.”

and that, if the tax were operated fairly (in ukip’s opinion) then ukip’s opposition to the tax would turn into support?

I mean why not just say ukip would repeal the Bedroom Tax (full stop)?

Oh (and before I forget) I hope ukip now understands the widespread opposition to Workfare, that 50% of people in receipt of Housing Benefit are in work, that most of the other claimants are pensioners and people on ESA and that the money for Council Tax Benefit is only ring-fenced for pensioners.

“Require those on benefits – starting with Housing and Council Tax Benefit recipients in private rented homes – to take part in council-run local community projects called ‘Workfare’ schemes. The schemes will be in addition to council jobs”

One might almost think that ukip’s Social Security ‘experts’ are not as expert as they think and have possibly never had recourse to claim Social Security.  If they want to design a new system to help people to move from Social Security into paid work, may I suggest they Google Benefit Trap?  It is obvious they and their supporters have not heard of the trap, given their touching faith in the idea that cutting the Income Tax paid by those on the National Minimum Wage will make all of those currently paying Income Tax no worse off than they are now, if not better.

I have news for ukip, not even Iain Duncan Smith would touch your Social Security ideas with a barge pole and that really is saying something!

UKIP and the Pervasive Politics of Contemptible Cowardice




Today I wake up and find out that the nation that issues me my passport now has an elected representative from UKIP.  I feel a bit dirty, I have to say.  Having a representative from UKIP sitting at Westminster makes Britain a weaker and more disgusting place that it was previously.

UKIP are of course wrong about everything.  If climate change denial were their only wrong policy – it would still be very wrong to ever vote for them.  But they are wrong about Europe, about immigration, about inequality, about public services.  They are wrong about power and responsibility.  They are, meanwhile, factophobes, too cowardly to respond to the evidence that would threaten their core prejudices.

UKIP construct and then exploit a wholly spurious “liberal consensus” which only they it seems are brave enough to challenge.  They present themselves as the only people brave enough to tell the truth about…

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