Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Uppal and at 'em

Well, Mr Paul Uppal MP has broken his two month duck and finally made his maiden speech in the House of Commons (cost so far, £5500 salary + expenses), and it's a thriller, on the Local Government Financing Bill (which doesn't get a mention): 

I have waited patiently, deliberately not rushing to make this speech-after all, in reality, I have probably been waiting for more than a quarter of a century to make this speech. That long wait commenced during a particularly inspiring lecture by one of my A-level politics tutors on a wet Wednesday afternoon, so a few weeks, and indeed a couple of hours, are a small price to pay.
Absolutely right Paul, I feel like I've been waiting 25 years too.

I have not traditionally been an individual who has subscribed to a fatalistic view of life, but I have found my scepticism tested by the fact that my majority of 691 that has bought me to this great House is exactly the same as that of another young Conservative Member of Parliament who won the seat of Wolverhampton South West for the first time in 1950-one Enoch Powell. I make that statement with my tongue firmly pressed against the inside of my cheek and an ironic smile on my face.
Oh dear. I'd have thought that Paul would steer clear of references to the Tory Party's most famous racist. But then, his own views on race relations are very, very dodgy indeed

… the McCarthyistic mouth foaming utterances of the race relations industry, which through accusation alone can slay political careers and stifle well intentioned and principled debate. I say this because I have seen with my very own eyes the modus operandi of this circus, employing individuals to perpetuate this climate of political correctness. In reality this industry/business does dreadful damage to Britain’s race relations. It seems more concerned with securing it’s own funding streams and non jobs for it’s membership of zealots. The cost of this is all is so much more than financial, as we lose decent people and gag those who point to the emperor’s new clothes.

Is he claiming to be the heir to Powell? I hope not - Powell was evil, but he was also an intellectual and a stunning rhetorician. Uppal may be the former, but he's certainly not the latter.

He proclaims that he's the first Sikh Tory MP. Woo-hoo. Every ethnic or religious group has a individualist traitor. 

What's next?
In terms of the Wolverhampton South West constituency, perhaps one of the most impressive sights to meet anyone coming in from the city centre is the Molineux stadium, which is home to Wolverhampton Wanderers football club. I am delighted to say that I am a season ticket holder and fan, and I am even more delighted by the fact that we stayed in the premiership this year.
Hmmm. It's very unclear how long he's had that season ticket - my hunch is that it materialized the day he was adopted as a candidate. It's one of the questions I asked him 8 weeks ago. Someone else doesn't think much of his intellectual or personal qualities either:
…we made it up to Wolverhampton on Saturday to meet some of the lesser-known candidates doing the leg-work for their campaigns. There is an apparent significance to the Conservatives fielding a non-white candidate in Enoch “Rivers of Blood” Powell’s old constituency, but this kind of symbolism is lost on Dazed. The man in question is Paul Uppal, who told us on the phone that he wouldn’t be out campaigning this Saturday. It was surprising, then, that one of the first things we saw after getting off the train was Mr Uppal sat in the town centre, handing out balloons to children and canvassing for votes among the Saturday shoppers. He had already lied to us, and we hadn’t met him yet. He didn’t seem to be drumming up much support, either. Wolverhampton local and Dazed tour guide Alex Oaten explained why: “He’s standing where all the grebos and morons hang out. They’re not going to vote. It just proves that he doesn’t really know the area.” 
We encouraged some of the grebos and morons to approach their Tory candidate and put his people skills to the test. 19-year-old Sam (pictured) confronted Mr Uppal with her concerns about not being able to get a job, to which he replied with the standard Conservative policy of cutting taxes to encourage enterprise. If he was elected, he would give young people a free pitch at the market to sell things. His answer to the recession appears to be inspired by Steptoe and Son. He also looks like Apu from The Simpsons, and doesn’t like people who take notes while he’s speaking, as Dazed was. Like Emily Benn, whom we met last week, he seems comfortable talking to people who aren’t very inquisitive about how he can help them, because they just let him drone on, but you can see the shutters go up as soon as he is confronted by a notepad and pencil.
But back to the great man's speech:

The seat is entirely urban and it is also home to the Express & Star newspaper, the country's largest regional newspaper, which reaches more than 136,000 regular readers. One thing that does stand out for the Express & Star is that, uniquely, it has more than nine editions, covering local areas across the west midlands and maintaining a community base that is not just Wolverhampton-centric.

That'll be the newspaper which gave Enoch Powell a weekly column to spout his racist drivel. Commonly known as the Express and Swastika or the Depress and Scar for its nakedly hard-right views on the poor and brown. This little plug is, presumably, payback for its slavish support for Tory Scum. No mention of its cancellation of training courses, its horrendously low wages and - most notably given Uppal's praise - its closure of several regional offices and editions

Anyway, on to praising another Tory Party supporter:

The constituency is also home to the brewer Marston's, and only recently I was honoured to be present at the opening of its new visitors centre. I would heartily recommend anybody visiting Wolverhampton, including fellow Members, to sample our fine local ale during a visit to the constituency.
It's awful beer, apart from the mild. Don't trust him: Sikhs don't drink.

 One will not find a city populated by a more decent people, who always speak straight from their soul.
How would he know? As far as I can tell, he doesn't live here. He's just met the Tory supporters coralled to make him look popular. This is boiler-plate crap anyway. I'd have far more respect if he'd said 'Some of the people are decent. Others are bastards, especially those who didn't vote for me'. 

But now we're on to the meat of the speech. What's he up to? What's really on his mind about a city with the highest unemployment rate in the Midlands (7.8%) and in which a quarter of the shops in the town centre are empty?

 However, through my discussions with various individuals and numerous bodies I have uncovered a great deal of frustration with the fact that for the last six years, under the last Government, just under £100 million of private investment in health care provision in Wolverhampton had not been spent after discussion after discussion after procrastination.
To get to the nub of the issue, Wolverhampton has been involved in a dialogue with a LIFTCo-a local improvement finance trust company. A LIFTCo is essentially a PFI initiative to push forward service-led initiatives to bring about radical change in primary and social care.  
Ah, of course. He wants to privatise the NHS. Yes, the NHS that was in a disastrous, dangerous state under the Tories and is now very good indeed (although I have massive problems with the Labour Party's pro-privatisation approach). Who has he spoken to? As he doesn't name any bodies, I'm assuming that he's spoken to The Dark Place's Conservative Club. They're a representative bunch of people. I wonder if he has business interests in this direction. We won't know until the new Register of Interests is published.

Then we're into the traditional, and clichéd, attack on 

health and safety
which inevitably leads to youngsters becoming evil:

a gang and a pecking order became established, with antisocial behaviour becoming a badge of honour.
to which the solution is

if we endeavour to eliminate risk, we emasculate society and it appears that young men in particular feel that acutely. To put this as bluntly as possible, in terms of our public-private service providers we need to put radical thinking and calculated risk taking and decision making at the centre of provision.
Interesting mix of Daily Mail bullshit and speak-your-weight management balls.

Then he finds a way to explain why he won the seat by only 691 votes against an unpopular Labour Party:

I would make a plea for all Members to revisit the issue of postal voting fraud, which, I am sad to say, appears to be alive and well in many of our metropolitan areas. Since I was elected, I have been approached by numerous individuals in my own constituency who have spoken to me about the issue. In my case, it worked against me
Oh yeah? Any complaints to the police? Or is this just anecdote? I suspect the latter. The truth is that the Tories gained fewer than 1000 votes, while 2000-3000 Labour voters didn't vote for anyone this time. He didn't win: Labour lost.

In fact, according to his favourite newspaper, the only locals arrested for voting fraud are Conservatives! 

A Tory election candidate has been arrested on suspicion of postal vote fraud in the first West Midlands Police operation of its kind linked to the 2010 polls.
Gulfam Wali was held by detectives probing claims that postal votes in the Walsall ward where he stood for election were inappropriately used. He was held on suspicion of personation, which is an allegation that votes have been cast in other people’s names.
In a separate case, Walsall Tory councillor Mohammed Munir, aged 57, and his 30-year-old son Ali Hayder Munir, both of Thorpe Road in Caldmore, appeared in court last week to deny allegations of electoral fraud
Perhaps we should examine Uppal's 619 majority a little more closely. But on with his peroration.
As a child, I often faced brutal stereotyping on my daily journey to school, but even more painful was the pigeonholing inflicted on me on my first day in a new primary school: I was placed in a remedial class for a few years because the natural assumption was that I could not speak English.
But Paul - things are better now. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the race relations bodies you hate so much. 
when the Conservatives are castigated for being uncaring over the next few years, I ask hon. Members to remember that I am somebody's son, father, brother, husband, cousin and friend and that in their eyes one could not find a person further removed from that caricature.
Er… firstly, you're meant to be looking after people who aren't your relatives and friends, and secondly they - like you - don't live in your constituency. 

My verdict - dumb, dumb, dumb. Largely a collection of classic Conservative clichés mixed with a helping of shoulder-chips topped off with a large helping of lies and insinuation. I can confidently predict that Mr. Uppal will not be drafting groundbreaking legislation, publishing beautifully-crafted memoirs or scaling the heights of power, unless Tory HQ decide that they need a Sikh minister to make them look less racist. 

Sorry about the messy presentation - Blogger is resisting my efforts at neatness.

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