Has he done much this week? Well, he's asked if the government has assessed the impact of withdrawing lots of student visas, as well he might, given that The Hegemon's VC signed a letter to the press about it a few days ago. Doesn't he look dynamic? (The answer is that the government held one of their secret consultations and we can all sod off).
But to be fair to Mr. Uppal, he's upped his workrate to a magnificent 2 questions this week. It will not surprise his fans to learn that this property speculator millionaire is fully in favour of all the savage and reactionary attacks on welfare proposed by nasty young men in thinktanks and presented by the Minister as intelligent ideas, rather than binning them as the youthful excesses of spoilt and inexperienced toffs.
Being Uppal, the point of the speech is to treat his colleagues to the sound of his dulcet tones and polish the myth, hence pointless nonsense like this:
I would not expect anything else from a fellow Wolverhampton Wanderers fan; that is the least I would expect from him.
Er yes, I always assess a person's intelligence from their choice of football team. That's really important in an elected representative, and not a smarmy attempt to appear 'down' with the oiks at all.
Wolverhampton South West is a no-nonsense constituency, full of decent, hard-working folk who say it as it is and always wear their heart on their sleeve. The sentiment that has been repeatedly expressed to me is that the Bill has been a long time coming. Its central ethos is that work always pays. I shall sum it up by recalling my personal experience of my father.
What this means, of course, is that he's spoken to some local Tories who hate the poor. In the middle of a massive depression caused by the tricky financial shenanigans of Paul and his colleagues, they're still going to blame the unemployed for losing their jobs. And then we move to the real heart of the speech: Paul himself.
My father came to this country with less than £5 in his pocket and no idea where he would sleep that night. He took that risk not only because he wanted to live in a country that had choice, freedom and opportunity, but because he wanted to work. Within 48 hours of his arrival, someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Do you know you can actually claim benefits?" That was anathema to him; it was not even in his mind. He came with the ethos of working, and working is what he has always done. That story has been replicated by those of scores of my relatives, who came over to work and had the ethos of working hard at their core.Now, I'd never dream of calling Paul Uppal a liar or an embroiderer, but it seems rather too convenient. Just like David Cameron's black friend:
"I was in Plymouth recently and a 40-year-old black man ... said, 'I came here when I was six, I've served in the Royal Navy for 30 years, I'm incredibly proud of my country. But I'm so ashamed that we've had this out-of-control system with people abusing it so badly'."The immigrant who joined the navy at the age of 4.
It also reminds me of this:
If the scant details about Uppal's background are to be believed, his parents arrived as part of the flight of Asians from Kenya after Idi Amin turned on them (the British Empire had shifted them from India). Would you begrudge a family with £5 some benefits? I wouldn't, but it appears that if people like his parents turned up now, he'd lock them up and deport them.
Then we're into classic Norman Tebbit dreamland, in which the only bar to work is individual weakness (and not the fact that 2.5 million people are after 0.5 million jobs). And look, more really convincing examples from Tory Propaganda Central Casting. If you're one of Paul Uppal's school friends, do write in.
I went to a state school. My friends divided into two camps: those who had the ambition to move on, and those who, even then, in the late '70s and early '80s, would tell me to my face that they envisaged that the rest of their life would be on benefits, and that they were quite happy to live that way. The Bill, through its ethos of making work pay, tackles that problem head-on.
I do wonder where Uppal raised the money for property speculation. It wouldn't have been family support would it? Surely not the kind of financial help that the poor can't generally access? No, Paul wouldn't be that duplicitious… would he? This is the kind of detail that Uppal can't provide: he's a fixed-ideology man, not a 'respond to situations thoughtfully' type of guy. He's decided that everyone without a job is a workshy scumbag. The end.
To her eternal credit, the member who spoke next was kind enough to pass over Uppal's contribution in silence rather than embarrass him with a detailed fisking. I'm not that kind.