An interesting interview with the Tory Liberal Government’s flagship Minister
The Willesden and Brent Times on their website are reporting that the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Hampstead and Kilburn seat has stepped down because she has accepted a politically restricted job – LINK
I think this is fair enough and it is a personal decision for her and I can imagine it was one that took lots of thought and consideration. However, I am somewhat puzzled by her resignation statement. The quote reads,
“This has come about because I have been offered a job in government in which I will be working to give the Liberal Democrats a stronger voice within the Coalition in key areas where I have expertise. However, as this job is politically restricted I will not be allowed to continue as a parliamentary candidate.”
How can you accept a politically restricted role and yet make a public statement that you will be using your new job to enhance your Party within Government through being appointed in a politically restricted job?
It just does not make any sense.
The graph above published in the Guardian shows the change in spending power in pounds per person, compared to the England average. It shows a redistribution in resources from Labour areas to Tory Councils. It is no surprise that Newcastle City Council has called for an independent method of funding allocation to local Councils to end political bias in Council funding from central Government.
An interesting front page of the Independent today. It confirms what many have been saying all along. That this Tory Liberal Government are using specific examples and making out as if this is the norm. As if everyone on benefits is workshy and sleeping happily in the home with their curtains drawn while people get up early to go to work in dark hours of the morning.
Indeed this article by Ramesh Patel, a Conservative himself, calls on David Cameron to apologise for his deficit arguments – LINK. He even refers to the Nazi tactic at the end of his article pushed by Joseph Goebbels, that if you repeat a lie over and over, people start believing it, no matter how ridiculous it is – LINK.
In Brent, most people affected by the benefit changes are in low paid work. The Independent article (available online – LINK) says that two thirds of those affected by the cap are in work.
It’s sad that people are believing these Tory Liberal distortions. The article says that polling reveals three in five believe the system has created a culture of dependency. Brent Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Paul Lorber talked of this culture of dependency at the last Full Council meeting and has done so before, so even a senior Brent Lib Democrat is explicitly using this line of attack.
What we need is a better understanding on the lives affected by these changes. The atmosphere and toxicity that currently exists in society today in the UK towards people who receive benefits, not helped by Government and some parts of the media, is detriment to a peaceful society.
Much has been made about Sarah Teather’s now public opposition against the Government’s flagship Welfare Reforms. It featured prominently in the Guardian as a lead story over the weekend where she claimed that what the Government, which she was a part of, was immoral and divisive – LINK.
When it came to the vote for the Welfare Reform Bill, the Brent Central MP was a notable absentee. However, her voting record on the amendments from the Lords paints a different picture.
She voted loyally with her Tory Liberal pals on the Welfare Reform Bill Clause 11 about Housing costs – LINK
3B Page 5, line 21, at end insert—
In relation to a dwelling of which the landlord is a local housing authority or a registered provider of social housing, and no suitable alternative accommodation (as defined in regulations to be made under this section, and provided by any such provider) is available, regulations under this section shall not permit the housing cost element of the universal credit to be less than the actual amount of the liability in a case where a household has no more than one spare bedroom, and—
(a) the claimant is subject to no work related requirements in accordance with the provisions of section 19;
(b) the claimant, or a child or a young person for whom either or both the claimants is responsible, is in receipt of disability living allowance, or personal independence payment, or attendance allowance or an increase of disablement pension where constant attendance is required; or
(c) the claimant is a war widow or widower; or
(d) the claimant routinely provides foster care placements.
(3B) In subsection (3A), “claimant” means a single claimant or joint claimant.””
26B Page 52, line 36, at end insert—
“( ) In relation to a dwelling of which the landlord is a local housing authority or a registered provider of social housing, and no suitable alternative accommodation (as defined in regulations to be made under this section, and provided by any such provider) is available, regulations under this Welfare Reform Bill 3 section shall not permit the AMHB to be less than the actual amount of the liability in a case where a household has no more than one spare bedroom, and—
(a) the claimant is subject to no work-related requirements in accordance with the provisions of section 11D of the Welfare Reform Act 2007;
(b) the claimant, their partner or a child or a young person for whom the claimant (or their partner) is responsible, is in receipt of disability living allowance, or personal independence payment, or attendance allowance or an increase of disablement pension where constant attendance is required;
(c) the claimant is a war widow or widower; or
(d) the claimant or their partner routinely provides foster care placements.”
Lords Amendment 3B and 26B that was voted down by Sarah Teather
In short, disabled people who have had their properties adapted or live in accessible accommodation face the prospect of being penalised for having an extra room. This will have a detrimental impact on people who have had their own property made accessible for their individual needs and could lead to people having to move and make their new property accessible! In addition, people who are wheelchair users and may need the extra room for storing equipment such as mobility scooters and standing frames also will be adversely affected by this Government’s damaging policy. This Lords amendment on the Welfare Reform Bill, which Sarah Teather voted down would have protected the most vulnerable in our society from what is being called the ‘Bedroom Tax.’
On reading the New Clause 2 on Childcare (Welfare Reform Bill (Programme) (No. 2)) she voted loyally with Government (LINK) She voted with Government on (Programme) (No. 2) Schedule 1 Universal credit: supplementary regulation-making powers (LINK) and also on (Programme) (No. 2) on Financial conditions (LINK)
Sarah Teather may have been absent for the Welfare Reform Bill vote, but her voting record on clauses and amendments tells a different story. To coin a phrase that London Assembly Member Tom Copley used, Teather’s crocodile tears on the Government’s welfare reforms is pure Lib-Demmery at its worst.
The Liberal Democrat Press Office has decided to attack Labour through its Twitter feed. They highlight the popularity of Independent candidates at the Police Commissioner elections today and use it as a vehicle to attack Labour specifically forgetting that people that when people vote for Independents, they also do not vote for Tories, UKIP, the Lib Dems and other political parties.
Data compiled by the Guardian has exposed the Tory Liberal cuts to Councils – LINK
It shows that Brent people have been disproportionately affected by the cuts to local Councils.
New data reveals that Brent’s budget has been cut at £120.21 per resident whereas the national average is £60.90 per person. Extraordinarily, North Dorset, a Tory controlled Local Authority has had its Budget cut by £2.70 per person. This is absolutely outrageous.
Why have Sarah Teather and her pals forced Brent to have to cut more than others? If Brent Tory Liberal Councillors do blame Labour for creating the deficit as they have done at Council meetings and the Coalition Government are holier than thou, are they still defending the level of cuts to Brent compared to others and supporting the damage made to Brent while other Councils are being given much more generous settlements?
Is it right that Brent residents have to pay more for paying back the budget deficit? Did they create the crisis? Was it Gordon Brown who created deficits in nearly every major country in the Western world by building and refurbishing schools and hospitals? or was there a global economic crisis?
Sarah Teather must explain why she chose to cut money away from Brent services more than services in other areas. Why does she feel it is right to make cuts to Brent Council of £120 per person and to North Dorset a measly £2.70 per person.
These are questions that all the Brent Tory Liberals are yet to answer.
Maybe there was a rational reason why the Tory Liberal Minister could not attend the debate and vote on the NHS and local hospitals.
However, it is good that attention was paid to Central Middlesex Hospital in the debate.
Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North said,
Barry Gardiner: Thank you, Sir. I shall try to respect your advice.
In November 2011, the following announcement appeared on the Central Middlesex hospital website:
“A and E at Central Middx Hospital is temporarily closing overnight between 7 pm and 8 am starting from Monday 14 November 2011.
The urgent care centre next to A and E will remain open 24 hrs a day 7 days a week to treat patients with minor injuries and illness.
We are making this temporary change to ensure we continue to provide a safe service to patients during the winter months.”
In those three paragraphs, we hear twice over that that overnight closure is temporary, which gave minimal comfort to my constituents in Brent who used the facility. The overnight closure is indeed temporary. On 2 July, a consultation entitled “Shaping a healthier future” was launched in north-west London, and residents can submit their views until 8 October this year. The consultation, promoted by a transitional body called NHS North West London, aims to centralise and rationalise hospital services in the area. Each proposal outlined in the consultation includes the closure of the A and E at Central Middlesex—not overnight provision, but the 24-hour facility—for good.
The motion speaks of
“the growing gap between Ministers’ statements and what is happening in the NHS”.
I may have trouble agreeing with that, because it depends on which Minister and which statements. The Minister of State, Department for Education, the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), received an e-mail from me today advising her that, if called to speak, I would quote her in this evening’s debate. I wanted to do so, because she made the following three statements. First:
“The Tories would be a disaster for the NHS, they plan a part privatised service”.
The second quotation:
“These cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest”.
The third quotation:
“The government must take urgent steps to safeguard our local NHS”.
Those three quotes date respectively from 2003, 2007 and 2007, when the hon. Lady was campaigning to keep open the accident and emergency centre at Central Middlesex hospital—campaigning for something which she, in her government, is now closing. No wonder her latest comment is:
“This flawed consultation, which does not allow residents to say that they want to save the A and E, is a kick in the teeth for all local people.”
I do not speak Parseltongue—I do not understand it—but I deplore the pretence of opposing a policy that you are pushing through in government. That is really disgraceful.
Even Tory MP for Ealing, Angie Bray MP spoke out against what is happening. She said,
Angie Bray: As my right hon. Friend is aware, the proposal is to downgrade four accident and emergency departments across London that are all right beside my constituency. Does he agree with my constituents that losing four accident and emergency departments is disproportionate and will mean a significant loss of service for them locally?