Universal Deceit

 

Universal Deceit 2

There was an interesting debate held in the House of Commons this week which to us at Wirral Leaks explains everything you need to know about politics (and especially local politics).

Margaret Greenwood ,Wirral West MP and Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions raised the issue of ‘The Secretary of State’s Handling of Universal Credit’ 

As you know – or at least you should know – is that that the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is Tatton MP Esther McVey who,of course was Margaret Greenwood’s predecessor as MP for Wirral West.

So everything was perfectly set for a political catfight. And as we know no catfight is complete without Birkenhead MP Frank Field getting his catty claws out. He didn’t disappoint – well he did, that’s what he always does as far as we’re concerned, but you know what we mean!

Here is our take on the debate but you can read it for yourself  here

Greenwood opens up with :

I beg to move,

That this House
censures the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the right hon. Member for Tatton, for her handling of the roll-out of universal credit and her response to the NAO report, Rolling Out Universal Credit;
notes that the Department for Work and Pensions’ own survey of claimants published on 8 June 2018 showed that 40 per cent of claimants were experiencing financial hardship even nine months into a claim and that 20 per cent of claimants were unable to make a claim online;
further censures the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for not pausing the roll-out of universal credit in the light of this evidence;
and calls on the Government to reduce the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions’ ministerial salary to zero for four weeks.

And goes on to ask :

Will the Secretary of State apologise for the two points she has failed yet to apologise for to the head of the National Audit Office?

McVey then goes on to a) show up Greenwood for the naive political amateur that she is and b) demonstrate the essential modern political prerequisite for an MP – shameless hardfacedness.

The answer is no, they will not be apologising.

As it is about apologies today—and, as I said, I made my apology straight away—let us go back to another apology. I was hoping that the shadow Chancellor would be here today, because I was waiting for years for an apology for the lynching comment against me. Of course, we never got that apology. As the Opposition spokesperson knows all about that campaign in Wirral West, perhaps she would like to apologise on behalf of her party.

McVey completely wrongfoots Greenwood by attacking Labour Party Deputy leader John McDonnell which means the Blessed Margaret can only come up with the feeble response:

The point that the Secretary of State makes had nothing to do with my campaign in Wirral West in 2015.

Of course it doesn’t and that is exactly the point! – and McVey is now allowed to plough on furrowing her own path rather than digging her own grave. However  no political pantomime is complete without a Wicked Godfather . Enter stage right Birkenhead MP Frank Field:

An apology: I was in the House when somebody repeated that campaign phrase against the Secretary of State. I was stunned by what was said, and I hope that she will forgive me for not getting up immediately to object to it. I apologise for my total failure to respond as a human being when that was said, and I hope that she forgives me if I do not actually recite what was said, because such nastiness and evil is not directed just at her; it is directed at my hon. Friend Ms Eagle, the neighbouring constituency to the one that the Secretary of State fought. What is occurring is a disgrace. How we stop it, I do not know, but we can at least apologise when it occurs. I am grateful that the right hon. Lady raised it today so that my saying that would be in order.

FFS! Frankenfield spare us the melodramatics . However what follows is a case of Esther and Frank sitting in a tree ,K-I-S-S-I-N-G …or perhaps not!

McVey responds :

I know those words are heartfelt, and I accept that apology. It took a long time for people to come forward. I would have liked those on the Opposition Front Bench to have done so, because they represent the Labour party, and I know that such a thing is not at the heart of the Labour party.

We started off with a ding-dong in the Chamber today. I do not necessarily think that we are at our best in Parliament when we have a ding-dong like that. People watching outside do not understand the real reasons why we, on both sides of the House, came into politics. I put this on the record now: let us work cross-party to get universal credit right. Let us work with third sector organisations to get it right. Let us reach out and get it right, because it affects so many millions of people. We are doing our best, and lots more people are in work, but we can do more. Let us do it together.

Meanwhile whilst Wallasey MP Angela Eagle gets completely sidelined in the debate allowing for this following lovey-dovey exchange between McVey and Field :

One last point: Back Benchers can apologise only for our own action or inaction. That is my apology.

In this debate, one wonders what truth is and what facts are. When reading the NAO report, I reached totally different conclusions to the Secretary of State. I thought the message was that the Comptroller and Auditor General was perplexed beyond belief that he could not recommend to go back or to go forward. There was a clear recommendation that we should pause, and I ask the Secretary of State for that pause—not never to resume the roll-out, but to at least to ensure that we are not inflicting unnecessary suffering, horror and hunger on our constituents, which Opposition Members have certainly registered, and which must have been registered by Members on the other side of the House.

Yes, indeed, but I am really anxious to respond to the Secretary of State’s wish that we work together. The building block of working together is to take that key sentence from the NAO report, whatever else it said, about a pause—not to scrap universal credit, but to have a pause—to make sure that in three respects we are not party to inflicting untold misery, horror and hunger on our constituents.

The first is that we do not continue the roll-out until we have universal support. We do not have universal support in the way in which all of us understand the word universal.

Secondly, on real-time information, the experience in my constituency—it must be the experience in other constituencies as well—is that real-time information is neither real nor on time. That is causing the most incredible problems with people’s claims. Might we have a pause until we make sure the Revenue can service the Secretary of State’s Department in a way that we need for a successful continuation of the roll-out of universal credit?

Thirdly, on debt, on which the Secretary of State could decide today, debts of yesteryear are being found and charged to people on universal credit. The repayment of those debts is overwhelming people. I am not saying that people should not pay their debts, but do we not think that feeding one’s children, and ensuring the rent is paid and the heating is on, ought to be at least equal in importance to the repayment of debt? Might I therefore make a plea to the Secretary of State that she looks at the rules—not to scrap the repayment of debt, but the amount that is reclaimed—on debts that most of us will have forgotten?

Photo of Esther McVeyEsther McVey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Again, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for saying that. I want to reassure him. I have not been in post that long to get to grips with absolutely everything on UC, but debt and how it is repaid is precisely what I am focusing on at the moment.

Photo of Frank FieldFrank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

That is wonderful news, but after the right hon. Lady has considered debt and decided on it there is the business about real-time information. This is not under her control as the information is supplied to her by another Department. It is not real and it is not on time, so perhaps she could look at that as the next item on the list. There is also the crucial business of universal support. I tried to claim, but I could not do it in the time. A lot of us need that support to make sure we can make a claim successfully. If we are going to work cross-party on this, there has to be give on the other side as well as on this side.

So there you have it – Greenwood’s motion gets tossed into the bog and Field and McVey carry on with their love in, with Frankenfield seemingly having no political/ideological differences with McVey about Universal Credit but merely expressing  frustration at the bureaucratic processes associated with its implementation.As far as we’re concerned he was more keen about getting his bitchy digs in about the Labour leadership than ‘the untold misery, horror and hunger’ of Universal Credit . And as for Frankenfield giving way willingly – we’re best saying nothing!

All we will say is that if Field donned a blonde wig and a pair of kitten heels would we be able to tell the difference between him and McVey when it comes to Universal Credit ?

Is it any wonder McVey gets away with it?As this Guardian article puts it  If Esther McVey’s getting away with it, things must be really bad

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #10

The-Esther-Bunny

The Esther Bunny

THE CLASH

This isn’t just an excuse to pull out one of our old Easter pictures featuring former Wirral West – and current  MP for Tatton- Esther McVey . Although we do have to say it is a particular favourite. No ,dear readers it is to draw your attention as to why you should always, always question the facts behind the headlines (and that includes ours). A story which particularly caught our attention appeared in this week’s Wirral Globe and was titled 98 benefits staff face the axe at Birkenhead jobcentre

The story featured McVey and Birkenhead MP Frank Field who appear to be currently competing for column inches (oo-er missus) .  This bogus story was peak Field/McVey  – not so much ‘Clash of the Titans’ as ‘Clash of the Titheads’ . For a start off 98 Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff are NOT facing the ‘axe’ . They are on fixed term contracts which end in ONE YEAR’S TIME.  Their contracts may or may not be renewed depending on demand for DWP services in Birkenhead. As Field and McVey both know such arrangements are what keeps the Civil Service going. It’s like suggesting that MPs who are ousted at the General Election should remain in office because the country is in a mess.

Frankenfield does his usual amateur dramatics  describing the situation as ” gutwrenching”  and cites an unverifiable yet exploitative case of a “female constituent (who) has told him she has been reduced to penury and is living on 7p a day” . Lord knows what that has to do with 98 DWP “facing the axe” other than serving Field’s personal and political agenda.

By the way this is the actual Field/McVey exchange in the House of Commons that prompted the story . Does this look like a ‘clash’ to you?

Photo of Frank FieldFrank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

I ask the Secretary of State not to give an immediate reply to this question but to ponder it. The Secretary of State has told me that the 98 members of jobcentre staff on temporary contracts in Birkenhead are going to be laid off because they have come to the end of their contract period. Unlike Gloucester, we are having real problems with the roll-out of universal credit. I had five cases last week, including one involving a woman who had been reduced to living on 7p. Might not some, if not all, of those staff be redeployed to ensure a smooth transition from traditional benefits to the new one?

Photo of Esther McVeyEsther McVey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman saying that I could speak to and work with him to see what is happening in Birkenhead. What I know is that we on this side of the House brought forward up to 100% advances, so that anyone in need of money could have it. We have also stopped the waiting days, and from April we are providing the two-week housing payment. That is what we on this side of the House have done to protect the most vulnerable, but the Opposition voted against it.

DRUGS ARE BAD – M’KAY?

We received this correspondence from one of our readers who is concerned about Merseyside Police and their approach to drug dealing on Wirral :

I have become more than aware of a number of cases over the years of law abiding members of the general public becoming increasingly frustrated at what they perceive to be the total lack of action by the Police when they are informed of
consistent drug dealing from domestic premises.

There appears to be a pattern of Police response in ALL the cases that I am aware of.

Firstly, after several complaints about lack of action by the Police, individuals find themselves having  to complain higher up the ‘food chain’  ((i.e. to the Chief Constable or to their local member of parliament ) Eventually a ‘community’ Police officer gets in touch and explains that they need more detailed ‘intel’ (Intelligence). They will want car registration numbers, times of callers, reports of ‘incidents’ (such the associated shouting outside of the various properties etc)  In all the cases that I am aware of all this information (and much more) is provided. This usually goes on for a number of months.

Then the question from local residents becomes ‘How much information do the Police actually require before they actually do something?’ This is a question no one actually gets an answer to… because nothing actually happens.

No doors are kicked in, open drug dealing continues. Nothing changes. Local residents give up. This is the pattern on the Wirral.

It seems that there is something structurally wrong with the organisation of the local Police for things like this to continue.

I am not anti Police. I know that the ordinary copper has to go out and fight with knobheads everyday. (And that they do this day in and day out. ) But there is something wrong with the set up as it stands,  concerning the response to reports of drug dealing from domestic premises.

So this is my appeal to Merseyside Police, do something, get a grip   –  or you are going to loose all the good will and respect of a lot of very ordinary Wirral people.

We gave a fulsome response to this but we’ll keep it off these pages for now – but suffice to say Wirral Leaks has a view – a dim view of what’s going on with Merseyside Police (or above a certain seniority anyway). However in the interest of balance we are pleased to bring you this report from Merseyside Police :  Investigation launched following discovery of cannabis farm -Townsend St, Birkenhead

Here we discover that Merseyside Police have a ‘Cannabis Dismantling Team’ .  Just think about that for a moment . A  whole team …… dismantling ……. cannabis. It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘high public office’ ! Shame they don’t have a Corruption Dismantling Team – but then there will never be enough resources for tackling that type of crime would there boys and girls?

KINGDOM COMEUPPANCE

We were particularly pleased to be informed about the the formation of the Facebook group Wirral Against the Litter Police. (Kingdom Security) 

We made our position clear on the matter of Kingdom Security way back in 2015 when we said :

There’s been much clamour in the local press concerning the overzealous pursuit of alleged litter louts or more accurately those who happen to be easy targets of litter Hitlers issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) at the drop of a bookmark.

Now as our readers will know we have a particular aversion to filth and detritus at Leaky Towers which may explain why we report so often on the dirty dealings of Wirral Council. Therefore whilst we realise the days of the Litter Defence Volunteers have long gone we would usually wholeheartedly applaud efforts to keep Wirral tidy. However we also realise that standards in local public life have also fallen into the gutter.So when we read that fines from FPNs issued by Kingdom Security Ltd on behalf of Wirral Council had topped well over a quarter of a million pounds in the first three months of their mutually beneficial arrangement we began to question the motivation behind the cash for trash scheme.

Is this more about swelling Council coffers than about environmental concerns ?.

Full story here :  Cash for Trash

and finally….. FUN WITH POTHOLES

We’ll leave you with this video of  Wirral pothole fillers . The original video was brought to our attention on Facebook and has since been adapted into a rather marvellous and amusing Youtube video. We don’t know whether the chaps in the video are sub-contractors or will become Wirral Council employees when BAM Nuttall hit the road in October. However in the meantime let’s enjoy their workmanship.  

 

 

 

Rich Pickings On Animal Farm

Animal Farm House

As a companion piece to yesterday’s story we have been sent a link to a story on the Guido Fawkes website by a gobsmacked Wirralian. And yes we know Guido Fawkes has an agenda, so does The Canary and so do we. Deal with it! For avoidance of doubt our agenda is to highlight that modern (and particularly local) politics is complete self serving bollocks.

However for your delectation here is the story that was brought to our attention:

Back in October Guido ran one of our “through the keyhole” looks at Esther McVey’s Wirral home, the four bedroom house was on the market for £615,000. With our help promoting the property it sold the very next month in November for just below the asking price at £605,000.

In a strange twist, the buyer of this suburban dream home was Catriona Davies, the daughter of the leader of Wirral’s Labour Council – Philip Davies* – who, in the 2010 General Election, lost out against the now-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for the Wirral West seat. She bought it for cash, no mortgage needed…

*not her boyfriend Philip Davies, the Tory MP.

Link to Guido Fawkes story : here

So much we’d like to say – much (if not all) are contained in the comments below the Guido Fawkes article.  However the story strikes us as very Orwellian. ‘Animal Farm’ made flesh with the extra frisson that Birkenhead councillor Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ daughter allegedly now lives in the house that was once occupied by the woman who thwarted his political ambitions. As we know at the subsequent General Election McVey was ousted after what was a particularly hostile campaign co-ordinated by Pip’s West Kirby neighbour , Martin Liptrot – the man who first became Pip’s personal PR guru before being appointed to a ‘transformation’ policy wonk role at Wirral Council after a couple of ‘grace and favour’ appointments.

And so it all worked out well in the end for everyone (including McVey) didn’t it ?  – as it always does with those with the ‘right’ connections , who live in the ‘right’ areas and say – but don’t necessarily mean – the ‘right’ words. For those who don’t – and who won’t play the modern political game – not so much……….

Fury Cross The Mersey

angry-get-it-right

We’ve commented before that the battle for the soul of the local Wirral Labour Party will be down to grass-roots activists throwing off the shackles of the amoral political careerists and the corrupt bullies that have brought the party so low in recent years.

Following the ousting of Jim ” Crabby”Crabtree from the Bidston & St.James ward there are further encouraging signs that the party faithful are not prepared to do as their told by their “betters” (Orwell’s Animal Farm springs to mind).

We say this as news reaches us that Mayor Joe Anderson’s nomination for Metro Mayor isn’t going down too well this side of the Mersey. Indeed we understand that there was a distinct lack of support at a recent meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Labour Party . …and Mayor Joe is not happy as his nomination could now be in jeopardy!.

Local Labour Party members have been in touch to tell us they’re perplexed by Wirral Labour “Leader” Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies’ steadfast support for Mayor Joe’s nomination which you can see here :

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxrkIjRDgrB-cU51T2xCLTk5NXJuVkVueUU4akVnY1ZxelZN

Labour party members are telling us that they can only see this support in terms of a political career move and suggest that serial political wannabe Power Boy Pip  – who let’s remember lost the West Wirral seat to Esther McVey in the General Election in 2010 and was only made leader  of the local Labour Party because Steve Foulkes was ousted in a vote of no confidence in 2012 –  is angling to be Mayor Joe’s Deputy Mayor.

It’s just a shame that his local party members are having none of it! – especially as Pip is looking increasingly like a man in need of an exit strategy before the shit hits the fan!.

But then we should thank our lucky stars as Birkenhead MP Frankenfield recently commented on the Metro Mayor post  : ” If I was 20 years younger I’d be after it!” http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14528555.Another_Liverpool_politician_joins_race_to_be_our_first__metro_mayor_/

And if that doesn’t give you nightmares we don’t know what would!.

VOTE LUCIANA!

 

Wirral Leaks – Election Special

JOSHUA JONES

Hasta La Vista Esther

The big news here on Wirral was the ousting of Employment Minister Esther McVague from the Wirral West seat. Although it must be said this wasn’t exactly shocking considering “Detesting Esther ” had recently become a local pastime and plus the fact that the national Labour Party threw everything they could at this key marginal including sending in pugnacious “Lord” Prescott who posed awkwardly in West Kirby bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “we’ll fight them on the beaches”.

It was clear from pictures from the election count that a frozen-faced McVague and her political agent Wirral Councillor Chris Blakeley , who was following her around like a depressed bulldog , knew the writing was on the wall (and we’re not talking about that unsightly graffiti in Hoylake). For all the gung-ho triumphalism of local Labour apparatchiks, we have to say it seems as though it was the UKIP vote that won it for them in the end as McVague’s vote astonishingly actually increased !!!

However, as our pre-election profile predicted – HERE

 

it’ll take more than an election defeat to keep McVague out of the political limelight. Back to her true calling of being in front of a camera with a microphone she announced: ” I’ll be back” like a Tiny Tory Terminator.

And of course she will be – she’ll land safely on her kitten heels thanks to the patronage of some powerful political friends.We predict that like a ruthless killing machine it will be some time before she’ll be terminating her lofty political ambitions.

Stu Kelly’s Blues

Locally it was the usual Labour and Conservative shoe-ins determined by the great Wirral East/West divide (and never the twain shall meet) . Shamefully Foulkesy was re-elected largely unopposed as were most of his Labour colleagues – although there was a spirited fight from the Greens in Council leader Power Boy Pip’s Birkenhead & Tranmere ward.Of course Pip benefited as usual from “The Field Factor” as locals voted in droves for anything wearing a red rosette even if the wearer of that red rosette resides in a less deprived and more salubrious and leafy part of Wirral. That is, of course, their prerogative – we just think they’re deserving of someone so much better.

However, credit, where it’s due the Labour group, pulled off a massive coup as Paul “Danceaway” Doughty ousted Lib Dem councillor Stuart Kelly from the Oxton ward. Kelly was one of the few opposition councillors who seemed ready, willing or able to mount a coherent challenge to dubious council practices so this seems to represent another victory for secrecy over scrutiny.

Stressed Eric Knows His Place

The election results provided the opportunity for new Wirral Council Chief Executive Eric Robinson to make his mark in his first public appearance as Returning Officer. However, it was apparent that Stressed Eric learned a salutory lesson about Wirral Council and where he stands (or rather kneels) as he was ousted from reading the General Election results by Mayor Foulkesy! Seems to us that Stressed Eric’s next job will involve meeting Frankenfield’s “demands” and having a cheque book thrust in front of him with the instruction: “sign here”!