If you want to get along in Tory Britain, don’t be young. Or old. That’s the helpful advice coming from the top this week.
Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith wants to introduce a two-child policy for the poor, denying benefits to anyone with the audacity to be born third or fourth in line.
Taking inspiration from cartoon bully Eric Cartman, Duncan Smith railed against “the clustering of the large families down at the very lowest incomes”.
In his rush to find an extra £10 billion worth of welfare cuts, he seems to have forgotten the child benefit he received for all four of his own children.
But despite finding time to sound off against the poor, he refused to appear at the Scottish Parliament’s welfare committee to explain why he wants to push 100,000 people in Scotland off disability living allowance. So did Atos, the firm he hired to do his dirty work.
Meanwhile life peer Lord Bichard wants to bring in national service for the elderly. He said pensioners should have to work to earn their pensions.
Let’s leave aside for now the fact that pensioners have had to work for decades for their deferred wages. And the fact that almost a million young people are queuing up for those jobs.
Lord Bichard could probably do with a friendly warning about being careful what he wishes for. He said that “If you are old and you are not contributing in some way or another maybe there is some penalty attached to that.”
He asked “Are we using all of the incentives at our disposal?” And what’s this 65 year old’s positive contribution to society?
After retiring early from a long career as a senior civil servant, he now acts as an advisor for the Ten Group, a company specialising in “lifestyle and corporate concierges”.
But perhaps he hasn’t been incentivised enough. As far as we can make out, no one has made any attempt to take away his retirement income of more than £100,000 a year.
Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel spent £4 million getting hitched. But the magic wouldn’t have been complete without humiliating a few homeless people back in LA.
One of Justin’s pals paid them £25 to record messages wishing they could join the happy couple at their Italian resort—instead of sleeping on the streets. Hilarious, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Good news first
David Cameron was very pleased with himself last week for massaging the growth figures into something that almost passes for good news in the media.
He didn’t expect the bad news to follow so quickly behind it. Cameron now faces an investigation into whether he broke the law by revealing the figures early.
Pippa’s wisdom is worth every penny
“In most ways I’m a typical girl in her 20s trying to forge a career,” says Pippa Middleton. But what’s less typical about the royal sister-in-law is her book deal. She got a £400,000 advance to share what she learned from her parents’ multi-million pound party tat factories.
Happily, the family business website gave her a glowing review. And the 417 page opus doesn’t just contain endless glossy photos of Pippa—including five on the cover alone.
Where else could you find such pearls of wisdom as having a bonfire on bonfire night, or an explanation of what conkers are? And all for just £25.
But there’s bad news for Pippa’s sister, Kate. She maintains that regal skin tone with £150 facials of bee venom.
But those bees are in mortal danger. New research reveals they are more than twice as likely to die from pesticide exposure than previously thought. But the government has so far refused to bring in regulation.
Unethical methods of a ‘dipstick’ tsar
The government’s troubled families tsar used unethical research methods in her high-profile report this year. Louise Casey found the 16 families she interviewed through intervention projects run by local authorities.
These projects had the power to sanction the families, so they can’t be considered to have taken part freely. And details about the number, gender and age of the children could make the families identifiable.
Lecturer Nick Bailey says the report breached a number of ethical guidelines.
The Tories have an original response to this and other criticisms. Despite having presented the report as an authoritative piece of research justifying their harsh policies, they now say it wasn’t “formal research”.
It was instead more of a “dipstick”. Well we’re glad that’s settled.
Know your enemy
Peter Lilley is a Tory MP who has just been appointed to the energy committee. The “global lukewarmist” objected to the Climate Change Act because “it is now snowing outside”.
He is best known for his 1992 “comedy” song about benefit claimants he’d execute—such as “ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing list”.
Eddie Stobart Ltd are an inexplicably popular haulage baron. It took on the contracts of 180 Tesco drivers in September—and is sacking them all.
The company is a “Ltd” not a “plc” because it’s registered in Guernsey where tax on profits is lower. Boss Andrew Tinkler takes home a quarter of a million pounds a year.
Businessman who bulldozed neolithic ruins
The giant Priddy Circles of Somerset have been around as long as Stonehenge. But they were irreversibly damaged when retired boss Roger Penny hired contractors to “tidy” them.
He’d bought the world renowned site as a pension investment. Penny has been fined £2,500 for his vandalism, plus £44,500 for restoration and costs.