There were three women and two men in the Scottish Labour leadership contest: the media largely ignored Sarah Boyack, Kezia Dugdale, and Katy Clark: most of the mainstream publicity I saw treated the contest as if it were a race between two men, Jim Murphy and Neil Findlay.
Jim Murphy won, MP for East Renfrewshire, and currently his name gets about 2,750,000 hits on Google.
Kezia Dugdale also won: she is the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and currently her name gets about 75,900 hits on Google.
In a virtually-empty House of Commons, a handful of MPs stood up to oppose the cheap-work conservatives on the front bench, with a Labour Whip instructing party MPs to let the workfare bill pass, and cheat thousands of the poorest people in the UK out of the money the courts had ruled they were due.
The lonely Opposition in the House of Commons this afternoon:
Is it not the reality that this is a multi-billion pound failed flagship scheme, which was condemned by the Public Affairs Committee as extremely poor? Having lost a case and fearing that they will lose the appeal, the Government, instead of respecting our justice system, are abusing our emergency procedures to fix the consequences of losing? Does that show not a shocking disrespect both for our courts and for the principle that workers should be paid the minimum wage?
Read Seven Reasons Why You Should Stop Bitching About People On Benefits. Today’s debate – from Tory, LibDem, and Labour – was for the most part just bitching about people on benefits, who – sanctioned unlawfully of the money they were due – might be so impertinent as to want the money taken away from them unlawfully given back.
The idea that a day’s work deserves a day’s pay has become an ideal for radicals.
The idea that Labour ought to be the party of the left, standing in opposition against cheap-work conservatives, has … just gone, for a clear majority of Labour MPs.
A universal welfare state is the essential bedrock of a civilised country. A civilised country ensures that no one goes without healthcare because they can’t afford it, no one is treated as if worthless because they cannot work, and that anyone who loses their job needn’t fear destitution for themselves or for their family if they don’t find another job instantly. A civilised country ensures that no one needs to work when they are too young or too old or too disabled or too ill. This is not a system that can be replaced by random acts of charity: to become civilised, we pay taxes and national insurance and we all benefit.
Iain Duncan Smith became Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in May 2010 – a role he has held ever since, despite efforts by David Cameron to unseat him in the 2012 reshuffle. He has virtually no further-education qualifications and spent several months on the dole after leaving the Scots Guards in the recession of 1981. But the next year he married a very wealthy woman, the daughter of a very wealthy man, and he and his wife and four children still live in a house rented from his father-in-law on his wife’s father’s estate: he became an MP in 1992, inheriting Norman Tebbit’s safe constituency of Chingford. Whatever Iain Duncan Smith’s experience of unemployment thirty-two years ago, it’s safe to say that in thirty years he hasn’t had money worries – except when he became Leader of the Opposition and it was discovered he’d given his wife one of those plum “assistant” jobs which used to be a bonus for the spouse or child of an MP.
The court declared that the Department of Work & Pension’s workfare scheme was unlawful, because it was not being operated as described.
Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Mark Hoban, Esther McVey – every Minister involved has claimed that there is no question of JSA claimants being forced to work for commercial organisations against their will by having their benefits sanctioned if they refuse a placement.
This was evidently not true – many people sent on workfare said it was not true, though only Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson so far have been brave enough to take the DWP to court.
The court decision yesterday proved the Ministerial and DWP claims untrue and therefore unlawful, and yet the Department of Work and Pensions claim they won (and also said they were going to ignore the court’s decision to deny them leave to appeal).
Another question that should be asked is: can it be shown that Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Mark Hoban, or Esther McVey, have misled Parliament in giving evidence that has now been proved untrue?
So if the court found what they were doing to be unlawful, how could they have “won”? [As we find out in March: because they intend to pass legislation to make their unlawful actions retrospectively lawful.]
Things that will happen in 2013:
The Conservatives say:
We’re interested in what your[sic] think about benefits. That’s why we’re asking you whether or not you support two fundamental principles upon which our welfare policies are founded – many will say they don’t but many will also be in favour. Your responses will tell us what the majority think.
Go to their website, respond appropriately to their two leading questions (my answers were Yes and Yes because they so obviously want the answers No and No) and tell them what you think (300 characters maximum) in their open question:
- How do you think we could make the benefits system fairer?
Mandate a living wage: end workfare & other anti-employment practices: build enough council houses for everyone to have somewhere to live: fund welfare programmes to support the unemployed, disabled, and ill – the basic infrastructure of a civilised state.
On 31st October, funding for my post at a charity where I had worked for eight years came to an end: I was facing redundancy.
In my last week at work, I went to have my hair cut. (This is a good plan before job interviews: plus, it made me feel better.) I told the hairdresser who was cutting my hair that I was being made redundant, and she pointed out “Well, you can always get temp work in the Christmas rush!” which was an excellent point (and it was a good haircut, too).
At least, I thought it was an excellent point. But there’s not necessarily going to be much paid temp work on offer this year:
High street names such as Tesco, Argos and Superdrug have taken on young people who work for free for six weeks while claiming their benefits.
And critics fear staff at Jobcentres are under pressure to put more people into the programmes – when they could have been given jobs – to meet strict Government targets.
Under Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s back-to-work programme, young people do up to 30 hours’ unpaid work a week. Placements can last up to eight weeks and they only receive travel expenses in addition to their £53-a-week jobseekers’ allowance.