This is how Cameron should be interviewed between now and when he steps down:
David Cameron is spreading promises around like a muck spreader on speed. His latest set of promises, his 20:20 vision (or mirage, if you prefer) for black, Asian and minority communities is yet another example of a pledge he cannot honour, because by 2020 he will not just not be Prime Minister, assuming he still is after May 7th this year, but he will have stood down as leader of the Tory Party well before then.
He cannot, therefore, promise “that by the end of ” this “decade 20 per cent of selections for seats, where Conservative candidates are standing down, would be reserved for minority candidates.” He barely persuaded his party to support some of his A List candidates when he was at the top of his game and basking in the Tory Party’s optimistic expectations of victory in the 2010 General Election. “The highest-profile example” of an A Lister was “the chick-flit (sic) novelist Louise Mensch who quit as the MP for Corby last month, leaving her party facing near-certain defeat in the resulting by-election.”
Where are the Robin Days of today to challenge David Cameron about the credibility of all these policies behind which he stands four square. Is there no one going to point out that if these pronouncements are not endorsed by May, Osborne and Johnson then the guarantee that the Tory Party will honour David’s pledges ends when he leaves the political stage?
A revamped public employment service should be charged with playing the lead role in tackling discrimination in the labour market as well as ensuring compliance with legislation relating to the National Minimum Wage, employment agencies, health and safety and the Working Time Directive.
If all vacancies being advertised within the United Kingdom (see previous post in this series) have to be notified to the public employment service then ensuring compliance should become much easier than it currently is now.
Recruiting by word of mouth is, by its very nature, discriminatory and, although it may not be impossible to end it completely, a government committed to equality of opportunity should legislate to limit its pernicious effects on social and economic mobility.
Whether you are a Cameron obtaining preferment through contacts made at Eton and Oxford or a white male who wangles a job in logistics, courtesy of family connections smiled on by management and trades unions, you are obtaining an unfair advantage in the labour market.
A Secretary of State for Work and Pensions committed to opening up the labour market to all those looking for work cannot ignore a significant barrier to full participation in that market. What you know should trump whom you know. I gather it used to be the case in Germany that all vacancies had to be notified to the German equivalent of our Jobcentre network. Is there any reason why that should not happen in the United Kingdom?
Today I learnt of some new developments in the universal credit roll out. These changes are devastating and they left me lost for words. I’ll explain now but please share.
When universal credit first came out you could not apply for it if you were already claiming housing benefit. There was a glitch in the system and the computer said no. They’ve sorted this so here goes.
They are now transferring people onto universal credit from JSA. There’s no option to say no, they are simply changing their claim. Their existing claim will be shut down, as will their claim for housing benefit. The claimant will also have to go to the local council offices to sort out the council tax payments, if not they will be left with a massive bill.
Why am I so worried? If you are already in debt with your rent due to the bedroom…
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, it was the summer of love of 1995 …
Everyone, one hopes, has at least one summer of love that is all their own. At such times, one walks on air, the simple becomes sublime, every day is sunny and it really is a good time to be alive. During that summer of 1995, one was infatuated. One chooses one’s words with care. One likes one’s ears unboxed, one’s face unslapped, one’s jaw undislocated and one’s dangly bits unbruised. However, one thought the following anecdote worthy of recounting.
During that glorious summer, I was part of a four strong External Relations Team made up of two female Marketing Officers, one male Disability Employment Adviser and yours truly, an Inner City Officer. We were based at Washwood Heath Jobcentre, but outstationed for a while at the old Sparkbrook Unemployment Benefit Office on Armoury Road as our home office was partially rebuilt.
Our patch was almost coterminous with that of the Hodge Hill Parliamentary Constituency and our employer base was over 800 businesses. A handful of our businesses were large, employing thousands of people, but most were quite small in comparison and some of the larger ones of those included local schools and a Department of Social Security Office amongst their number. One company with whom we were working closely that summer was Tasty Bake, one of the UK’s leading sausage manufacturers.
Tasty Bake had been having problems with high staff turnover with many staff leaving soon after they started work with the company. Making sausages was well paid work, but it was proving not to be to the taste of many of the new recruits. One of the two Marketing Officers (no name, no pack weighted down with rocks drill) had successfully persuaded Tasty Bake to use Work Trials to ensure that those they wished to take on and who wished to work for them would be able to cope with working in a sausage factory.
We had to regularly visit the business to monitor the Work Trials, pay travel expenses and meal allowances as well as discuss with the owners as to how well matters were progressing. During the height of the summer of 1995, I took over those duties whilst my marketing colleagues were on annual leave. As a consequence, one glorious sunny day I had to I walk the ‘mean’ streets of Alum Rock from the Jobcentre to Tasty Bake, Panama hat on head and wearing a lightweight suit, a man who was not himself mean, who was neither tarnished nor afraid … the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world (with due apologies to Raymond Chandler).
On arrival at the company, my up beat self image nose dived almost as soon as I was ushered in to meet the management. Their sense of disappointment at my appearance was palpable. Concern was expressed about why my colleague (and friend) was not there. I am sure their concern for her health was genuine, up to a point. My colleague, to quote Mr Chandler again, “was (and is) a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.” I am many things, but aesthetically pleasing I am not!
On returning to the office, I remarked to the Vacancy Section Supervisor that I was seriously considering hiring a blonde wig and wearing it, along with a skirt suit next time I went to visit Tasty Bake. The feedback I received from my colleague was less than complimentary and something was said about my needing to shave my legs …
‘Chauvinistic’ ukip men put off female voters, says senior (male) party figure
ukip economics spokesman Patrick O’Flynn says comments such as Nigel Farage’s about breastfeeding might be alienating women …
ukip still has a problem with men in the party sometimes displaying “boorishness” and “chauvinism”, according to one of its most senior figures.
Patrick O’Flynn, the party’s economics spokesman, said it needed to work harder at challenging the minority within ukip whose comments could put off potential female voters.
He was speaking in London on Wednesday (8th April 2015) at the launch of ukip’s policies for women, alongside the party’s policy chief, Suzanne Evans, and justice spokeswoman, Diane James.
A long list of ideas designed to appeal to women was unveiled by James, who argued that ukip “recognises very much the huge contribution women now make to UK society”.
The MEP for South East England said the party was fully committed to keeping maternity and paternity leave, increasing levels of free childcare and addressing the problem of female genital mutilation, which had become an “accepted cultural practice for some of our ethnic compatriots”.
ukip would also abolish VAT on sanitary products, James said, although she suggested this was something the audience should “grin” about and not consider to be too much of a serious point.
The party has been criticised over the years for comments made by its leader, Nigel Farage, who has suggested mothers returning to work in the finance industry were worth less to employers than men, and that women could “perhaps sit in a corner” when they were breastfeeding. Two years ago, ukip kicked out its then defence spokesman Godfrey Bloom after he jokingly referred to a room full of women as sluts – the last in a string of sexist comments.
James made a plea for people to draw a line under the Bloom incident, saying the party had moved on and she was not prepared to take further questions on the issue.
Evans said the fact that ukip tended to be more popular among male voters was down to “pure propaganda” generated by the media and political rivals.
But O’Flynn said: “I would be slightly more self-critical than Suzanne. Nigel himself has said sometimes ukip has resembled a rugby club on tour. That is becoming less and less true. The two absolute top-ranked female politicians sitting alongside me today are two of the main reasons for that.
“But we need to work harder and there are still occasions when people, men in the party who should know better, have occasionally resorted to boorishness or chauvinism. When that happens I make sure I express my own displeasure.”
Making the case for ukip to broaden its appeal, he said: “We’re a very fast-growing party and increasing our attraction. It is clearly daft for us to see a political context where we’re not maximising our support in every potential group. As set out today, there is no reason why we should be lagging with women voters. We still are. We’ve got to work harder on addressing those issues and we are doing that.”
Farage was not at the event; he has been touring key seats this week.
Asked why he was not present for the launch of policies for half the population, James said: “As far as I’m concerned, he is doing exactly what the other political leaders are doing and what voters would expect him to be doing. They want to meet him, they want to discuss with him directly and he is putting himself in areas where exactly that kind of interaction could happen.”