Issue 159: 2018 06 21: Diary of a Corbynista

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21 June 2018

Diary of a Corbynista

Mrs May’s Credibility Gap

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart14 June

The Supreme Court has found in favour of Gary Smith and against Pimlico Plumbers.  He argued that he had worked for the firm for 6 years without receiving the normal employee benefits such as holidays and sick pay.  The company’s defence was that he was self-employed and a supplier rather than an employee.  Such arrangements have long been a bone of contention for HMRC which undertakes periodic ineffectual crackdowns.  Some companies prefer to use self-employed workers in order to avoid national insurance payments and other statutory obligations and it is certainly the case that many workers enjoy the flexibility and often the tax advantages that self-employment can confer.  However the problem domain includes the zero hours contract issue.  The government says it has created jobs but detractors denounce the precariousness of many of them.

Why should we care?  The people taking such jobs are grown-ups.  But often they have no option and find themselves tied to a low wage employer and doomed to a regime of poverty and near slavery.  We should all be worried that this is creating groups in society resentful of their limited life chances.

15 June

Stand by for a campaign of smears and threats against the 20 or so Conservative MP’s who wanted to support the “meaningful vote” amendment on Tuesday.  Most of them were persuaded not to by government assurances that there would indeed be a meaningful vote but that more work was required on the wording of the amendment.

In the event the government revised the wording to say that there would not be a meaningful vote.

So the government and its media friends will be seeking to dissuade the rebels by fair means and foul from voting against the government when the EU Withdrawal Bill returns again from the Lords,  containing the two new competing versions of the “meaningful vote” amendment.

16 June

The big news in this week’s Maidenhead Advertiser is the return of a popular dog show at the Waltham St Lawrence fete.

Down the order, an article by Stephan Delahunty describes some less euphoric happenings at St Edmund Campion Catholic Primary School where parents have been asked to donate many essential items including toilet paper.

Concerned parent Catherine del Campo commented:

It doesn’t sit right with me that the government can find £50m for grammar schools when others are begging for toilet paper.

Kate Foreman, business manager at St Edmund Campion, said this was the first year the school has received less funding from the Education Funding Agency when compared to the previous year.  A further £70,000 had been lost due to the Government’s decision to cut the Education Services Grant.

Not much point taking it up with the local MP as it is Theresa May’s constituency.

The factoid constantly trundled out by government spokespeople is that they are spending more on schools than ever before.

So that’s all right then.

17 June

Before the 2017 election the Prime Minister told a nurse that she could whistle for a pay rise because there is no Magic Money Tree.  The DUP deal had us wondering whether she had located the fabled big woody plant and she confirmed today that this is indeed the case.  There is a Magic Money Tree, except we now call it the UK contribution to the European Union.  She has fallen into line with her Foreign Secretary who before the Brexit referendum told us that leaving the EU would release £350 million per week to spend on the NHS.  The PM’s announcement comes at the end of a week when her personal integrity has been questioned by her MP’s.  We can each take a view on whether any commitment made by this Prime Minister is worth a light.  We shall see what Hammond’s November statement actually delivers.

In the Andrew Marr show she made a short term delivery commitment:

In the week beginning the 9th of July we’ll publish a white paper which will set out in more detail the ambitions that we have for relations with the European Union in future.

This is a bit of a coincidence as in the same timeframe I shall be publishing my own ambitions for relations with Julia Roberts.

I suspect that the credibility of the PM’s plans and her chances of success are about as good as mine.  Let’s both be positive.

Meanwhile the campaign to rubbish the dissenting Tory MP’s is well into its stride, this article in the Times about Philip Lee making a leadership bid being typical.

18 June

Activate, the Conservatives’ attempt to compete with Momentum has died on its feet so they are using the BBC to target the youth vote via its Newsbeat offering on Radio 1.

Newsbeat has on a Labour supporting student to blame Corbyn for the anti-Semitism which is apparently rife in some universities and then asks Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust if she thinks there could be a link between this and allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour.

She says: “I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some relation”.

How does the BBC get away with promulgating the absurd notion that Corbyn is responsible for anti-Semitism in the universities and pushing it as fact at the nation’s youth?

19 June

In Kind Direct is a charity which solicits goods from corporations and distributes them to around 100 charities providing front line services to the poor.

They have undertaken a survey of 2,000 parents of primary school children and published a report highlighting the characteristics of the Hygiene Poverty afflicting our green and pleasant land.

18 per cent admit their child now wears the same underwear at least two days in a row;
43 per cent say they’ve had to forgo basic hygiene or cleaning products because they couldn’t afford them;

26 per cent have to wear the same shirt or blouse for at least a week and 3 per cent for a fortnight or more;
One in five parents admits they can’t afford to wash their children’s clothes as often as they would like (19 per cent);
14 per cent confess they have struggled to afford soap or shampoo.

The report is published on the same day as the Prime Minister’s declaration of love for the NHS.  One wonders whether the Brexit Dividend will stretch to lifting children out of poverty or any of the many public services left to atrophy in the name of austerity.

20 June

In the Commons Nick Hurd a Home Office Minister said the government was setting up an expert panel to explore the possibility of licensing cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy and other conditions.

On Daily Politics, Hannah Deacon spoke of her battle to obtain cannabis oil for her son Alfie’s treatment.  Here are a few of the things she said.

I met her [Theresa May] on the 20th March.  She said to me they would find a way legally to create a licensing application so that Alfie could have the medication he had been prescribed in Holland. I felt in my heart that she really wanted him to have it.  She looked me in the eye and said we will do this sympathetically, we will do it compassionately and we will do it speedily.

It’s been 3 months and we’ve been through a horrible arduous process.  It hasn’t been compassionate and it hasn’t been speedy.  We are calling upon her to act and do what she said she would do.

My son is a 6 year old child with severe epilepsy he is not a political football.

I was promised help sincerely and I feel like I’ve been played.

As is her way the PM said what was necessary to kick the can down the road and move on.

Dominic Grieve and many others might well say to Hannah:

Welcome to our world.



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