Socialist Worker

Tories defeated in Lords and courts—and Wales says no

Issue No. 2489

Our House of Lords and saviours?

Our House of Lords and saviours? (Pic: parliamentary copyright)


The Tories have suffered a series of defeats over the past two weeks.

Last Monday the House of Lords voted against Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) plans to redefine the limits of child poverty.

Tory work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith thinks that by changing a definition, people won’t realise they’re poor and the Tories won’t have to admit that they’re responsible. The changes would have stopped poverty being measured by income and would have defined it by “life chances” and “social mobility”.

On Wednesday the Lords voted to reject cuts to the employment and support allowance (ESA). The cut would have meant people too ill to work would have £30 less a week.

Somehow, this was supposed to help get 1,000,000 disabled people into work. But the Tories have no intention of helping people find decent jobs.

If they did, they wouldn’t have closed down Remploy factories which employed over 1,500 people.

By Thursday the Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, announced in the House of Lords that the government was scrapping its plan to include full time carers in the benefit cap.

Rather than face another embarrassing defeat in the Lords, Freud conceded that all carers working over 35 hours per week will be exempt from the cut.

Outside of Westminster, members of the Welsh Assembly defied the Tories by voting 43 to 13 against the Trade Union Bill.

The vote has no legal force and can be ignored by Westminster. But Martin Mansfield, the Wales TUC general secretary, said that the Welsh Assembly should “immediately reinstate workers’ rights if the UK bill is forced on us.”


Profit tax is for the little companies

Atleast six of Britain’s ten biggest multinationals—including Shell, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Lloyds Banking Group—paid no corporation tax in 2014. Their combined global profits are more than £30 billion.

The disclosure comes as the Tories are embroiled in a row over a deal with Google that allowed it to pay just £130 million in corporation tax since 2005.

BAT made global profits of £4.55 billion in 2014. Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell made nearly £20 billion. Vodafone made £1.97 billion in profits.

The other companies that paid no corporation tax in Britain in 2014 were Lloyds, brewer SABMiller and drugs company AstraZeneca.

BP and drugs company Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) declined to reveal how much corporation tax they paid. GSK said it paid “some”. HSBC and drinks group Diageo paid some £238 million between them on combined profits of more than £14 billion.


Jeremy Hunt risks contempt and fatalities

Jeremy Hunt’s desire to use tragedies for his own ends has come back to smack him in the face. Hunt tweeted a link to a news report of a manslaughter trial of a doctor and NHS trust last month.

The trial followed the death of a woman who died hours after giving birth.

The judge later instructed the jury to acquit the doctor and the trust. It was also revealed that Mr Justice Coulson had ordered Hunt to delete his tweet, and put a temporary ban on reporting its existence.

Hunt’s tweet had said the case was a “tragic case from which lessons must be learned”.

Mr Justice Coulson told the court, “It is highly inappropriate. It could be regarded as a contempt of court.”

A Meningitis charity slammed Jeremy Hunt as giving “potentially fatal” advice to parents after he said they should search the internet if children get rashes.


Responsible Barbie

Women’s liberation took a leap forward last week, with the news that Barbie dolls are going to be made in different shapes and sizes.

The new dolls include “curvy Barbie”–which remains slim but not just quite as skinny as the original. Barbie boss Evelyn Mazzocco said the firm had a “responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty”.


No connection

Grant Shapps MP last week: “A national broadband network which is chronically underperforming. As a result, coverage suffers.”

Grant Shapps MP last year: “We’ve got now some of the best coverage, if not the best coverage, of superfast broadband in Europe.”


Going up

Cherie Blair’s legal firm Omnia Strategy made £668,455 profit in the year to April 2015

Going down

One minister said about George Osborne, “People look at him and don’t like him, they’re not sure why”


Bed blow to Duncan Smith

Tory axeman Iain Duncan Smith was so humiliated by a blow to his bedroom tax, he’s given lawyers a blank cheque to overturn it.

He’s fighting for the right to tax the panic rooms of domestic abuse victims and rooms for the equipment and careers needed by disabled children. The Supreme Court found that the bedroom tax discriminates against these groups after a lawsuit brought by campaigning victims.

Granting an exemption for the panic rooms would cost just £200,000—less than the public money going on legal fees to appeal the ruling.


Labour and Ukip - the People’s Coalition

Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor, has revealed just what we missed out on by ending up with a Tory government.

McBride apparently had spoken to a “Ukip figure” about a deal between Labour and the hard right party. This would have had the glorious name of The People’s Coalition.

As McBride reasoned, Ukip say they “represent working people—so do we.”


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The Troublemaker
Tue 2 Feb 2016, 16:30 GMT
Issue No. 2489
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