Thursday, 30 July 2015

Turning the Living Wage into a cheap con trick isn't making work pay.

George Osborne sold it to the country as a budget for working people, less than a month later it is turning out to be nothing of the sort.

This week it was revealed that the Living Wage, announced with a flourish in the budget as a replacement for the minimum wage along with a promise that it would rise to £9 an hour by 2020, will not apply to apprentices aged over twenty five.

A policy that left the Labour Party gasping on the bank like a fish out of water has been exposed, fittingly by Louise Haigh, perhaps the only Labour MP not busy with the undignified squabble over the party leadership as a cheap and cynical con trick.

All of a sudden the penny drops with a crash louder than a drain cover falling from the top floor of a skyscraper, no wonder the Tories have been so keen to push apprenticeships, its got nothing to do with raising the national skills base; and everything to do with creating jobs on the cheap.

How very typically Tory, like so many of the current government's policies it is strongly reminiscent of the cynicism and sly cruelty of the Thatcher years. It is not inconceivable for someone who was exploited as a teenager on a YTS scheme in the eighties to now be being exploited all over again as an apprentice; what goes around comes around and socks you in the jaw.

It is certainly a shocking betrayal of people who, as the phrase Boy George and his chums like to trot out goes, are 'doing the right thing'. An opposition that was doing its job would be tearing lumps off the Conservatives over this issue; what a shame the Labour Party, the admirably Ms Haigh aside, is too busy trying to make sure anyone but Jeremy Corbyn becomes their next leader.

Lord Sewell, before this week a man who wasn't even a household name in his own household resigned first from his post as Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords and then from the upper house altogether.

His downfall was brought about by the Sun publishing video footage of him taking drugs in the company of ladies of (ahem) dubious virtue, looking in the process like the Fat Controller going off the rails.

Lords Speaker Baroness D'Souza described his conduct as 'shocking and unacceptable' and said the Lords would 'continue to uphold standards in public life and will not tolerate departure from these standards.'

Exit Lord Sewell, pursued by a bear made out of angry tabloid editorials.

The not so noble lord was also caught on camera making disobliging comments about several senior politicians including David Cameron, that probably did more to get him into bad books than his narcotic misbehaviour; politics will forgive just about anything apart from the pricking of its practitioners egos.

It is cruel perhaps to gloat too much at the fate of Lord Sewell, behind every public meltdown is a private tragedy, but haven't we all secretly been waiting for something like this to happen?

To paraphrase the famous Peter Cook sketch after weeks of noisy Tory triumphalism and the endless turgid squabbling over the Labour leadership this is just the sort of pointless scandal we need to raise the whole moral tone of politics.

I had promised myself that I wouldn't write another word about the race to win the Labour leadership, but as Wilde would have it I can resist everything apart from temptation, this week it has provided shed loads.

The latest comic turn in this epic battle between three bald women and a trot over a comb is the possibility that the vote may be corrupted by people who want to damage the party signing up as supporters to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

This has caused Labour M Ps Graham Stringer and John Mann to call for the vote to be postponed and for the man of the hour to tell the BBC he only wants the support of people who are 'genuine Labour supporters.'

There is some grounds for this former member of the party to say 'I told you so' over all this, back in the day the party hierarchy was mad keen on dropping members with their silly ideas about having a long term relationship with the party giving them a say in its policies in favour of lots of tame supporters. These could be bussed in to pack meetings or vote how they were told to and ignored the rest of the time; big mistake.

It is wrong if the system is being manipulated by people with malicious intentions, but entirely the own fault of the New Labour types who are squealing now about them doing so. The chickens have come home to roost and are now doing what chickens do best all over their cynical manoeuvring.

Lose weight or lose your benefits is the latest message from a government that like to make hard lives that little bit harder just because they don't care.

It is the latest wheeze for victimising, I mean motivation; no I don't I mean victimizing people with addiction problems who refuse to engage with support services. Most of them won't of course, giving them a splendid opportunity to cut said services.

The consequences will be more crime, more pressure on the NHS and probably more needless deaths; but when did this witless government ever think about the consequences of its actions?

If we are going to dock the money of people who live off the state because they are spending too much of it on booze and burgers why only look at the poor? There are quite a few portly M Ps and the commons bars are seldom short of custom, never mind weighing in the votes lets start weighing the politicians before we give them their expenses.

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