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

Handbags At Dawn On Animal Farm

HAnbags

So as Mayor Joe runs away squealing like a stuck pig threatening to take the city of Liverpool with him we seem to have a City Region Combined Authority in search of a city.  We mentioned the other day that the (Liverpool) City Region Combined Authority debacle reminded us of a non- anthropomorphic version of  George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

That analogy seems even more apt today with Mayor Joe taking the “Napoleon” role  –  the pig described in Orwell’s novel  as “a large, rather fierce-looking  Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way”

Enter stage left (pun intended) we have “Snowball” played by Power Boy Pip Davies – Napoleon’s porcine rival and the original head of Animal Farm. Then throwing themselves into the pig pen (or should that be play pen) is “Squealer” or Leader of St.Helens Council Barrie Grunewald as he is better known , who squeals at Napoleon (Mayor Joe) to “stop playing silly games”

SEE HERE

Meanwhile the City Region Animal Farm acrimoniously descends into anarchy whilst a bemused and bewildered public look on thinking  a) aren’t all these Labour Council “leaders” supposed to be on the same side ? and b) these people are supposed to be running a so-called Super -Council responsible for billions of pounds of public money?

Local Government Overlord Eric Pickles must be in his Whitehall office having more than a few belly laughs,  dunking his digestives in his Yorkshire Tea and thinking to himself that this mob on Merseyside couldn’t organise a bunfight in a bakery.

We understand why Mayor Joe has been receiving a lot of flak for his childish ,churlish behaviour which seems unbecoming for someone who harbours lofty political ambitions. However , his claims of clandestine meetings and dirty deals done behind closed doors would certainly come as no surprise to those of us familiar with the ongoing “bureaucratic machinations” which have plagued Wirral Council over recent years.

However, bizarrely given whats been happening under Power Boy Pips watch of late,  Liverpool Echo reporter Marc Waddington claims he is a safe pair hands  – SEE HERE

In his filmed commentary Marc says :  “Phil is a very capable politician and has smoothed the troubled waters on Wirral…”   ERM REALLY ?

Perhaps the most telling insight into Phil came via a comment on the Wirral Globe webiste :

“Phil Davies comes across as the sort of individual who gets out of bed in the morning and stands on an upturned plug. Then, while hopping around in agony, stands on a rake which flips up and knocks him out. And then when he finally comes round, declares: “Doing nothing is not an option.” For the zillionth time.
He’d be better off staying in bed.”

Now we know that until fairly recently Wirral could have been a foreign country as far as the Liverpool Echo was concerned , so perhaps they won’t be quite as familiar with the local political scene as we are at Leaky Towers.

Therefore we’d like to advise that beneath the apparent smooth waters there are dangerous undercurrents which may well yet turn into a political tsunami………

 

Big Brother is watching you and Wirral Leaks is watching them ….

 ORWELL

Modern technology is a wonderful thing .Where would we be without it when it comes to Wirralgate and those eye-watering recordings – having said that we would have thought from the deluge of information we’ve seen about the ISUS/BIG/Working Neighbourhoods whistle-blow that it wouldn’t take the unlocking of a Nokia phone to identify serious causes for concern (even for those highly paid executives for whom Excel spreadsheets remain an eternal  mystery)

However there are times when we do wonder whether modern technology is always put to useful purpose. For example , a sourcein the know tells us about the odd goings on at Wirral Council Solar Campus site on Leasowe Rd , and informs us that in the entrance hall there is a flat screen TV which runs looped images of what is happening in the offices.

If so – can it be true that it costs £8,000 per year to rent this system and if so what essential,enthralling images do they capture ?- the arguments over who’s turn it is to do the tea run ? ensuring that staff are not wasting precious resources photocopying their backsides ?

Talking of TV our interest was piqued by a case of some perfectly dreadful TV “personality” who was in a spot of bother for allegedly making a racial slur.  A lawyer from Equal Justice comments that : “ It is offensive,casual racism to boost ratings”.
Now what does that remind us of ?……