Tuesday, 14 June 2011

He's back but he's no brighter: it's Paul Uppal MP

Evidently invigorated by the prospect of Parliament's 3 month break (no doubt to be spent toiling away on behalf of his constituents), Uppal's had a burst of energy.

As usual, his interventions swing from snide and unintelligent point-scoring
As usual, my hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. Does he not highlight the fact that this is a moment for the Opposition to decide on which side of the fence they stand? They talk about reform, but it will be interesting to note how they vote today and on Wednesday.
to the verbose ridiculous
We received representations from various groups on the merits of paying housing benefit directly to landlords, principally from Citizens Advice, Crisis, the National Landlords Association, the Residential Landlords Association, Shelter and the British Property Federation. As the hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said, and as was said in Committee, there are persuasive arguments about paying housing benefit directly to landlords.
I see. So in a debate about Childcare, he finds a way to shoehorn in the self-interested demands of the property speculators (without mentioning, of course, that he is a multimillionaire property speculator whose All-Party Parliamentary Group is funded by the British Property Federation.
I have come to the conclusion that if we are sincere about the aim of this Bill of getting people off benefit and into work, the first step is not only getting people into work, but individuals taking responsibility.
The point that was missed in that exchange was the pernicious nature and corrosive effect of what we have seen over the past few years; this is not just about getting people into work. We have arrived at a situation in which not only are there people who have never worked, but there are whole families who have never worked.
'Come to the conclusion'? 'Sincere'? Sorry Paul, you don't have that kind of credibility. Poor Uppal: so desperate to persuade everybody that there's a massive class of 'undeserving poor' stealing all our money - and that unemployment is nothing to do with an economic system which a) doesn't care about the working classes and b) needs a pool of unemployed people to depress wages. He is literally incapable - like all Tories - of thinking structurally, so blinded is he by individualism.

Luckily, there's a Labour MP (Karen Buck) on hand to insert some lovely facts into his moral panic:
the number of people growing up in households where nobody has ever worked through two generations is 20,000 at the most, which is 0.1% of people on working-age benefits? That is far too many, but it is only 20,000 people.
But true to form, Uppal has to lie by deliberately distorting what she said:
There are people living cheek by jowl with the 20,000 families that she has mentioned, who are aware of the situation.
See that? We go from 20,000 people to 20,000 families. Then we dive into Uppal's fantasy world (much like David Cameron's imaginary black correspondent) in which he only ever meets people who experience exactly the kind of anecdotes he needs:
A constituent spoke to me who comes from one of the handful of families on her road who actually work. The rest of the families on her street have made a conscious life choice to live off benefits. [ Interruption. ] Ms Buck may nod, sigh and take a deep breath, but I am faced in my weekly surgeries by people who live in the real world—people who have to deal with the hard reality of life. My constituent had to face ridicule for going to work. That is the situation that we have.
Now what tips me off about this little dream is the 'faced in my weekly surgeries': this is a man who does his best to deny access to constituents. Then there's the nasty-minded, Daily Mail style vagueness. This isn't evidence: it's an attack on his constituents. I'd love to know which street he's talking about. I've lived in one of the poorest streets in the constituency, and know that it reflected the economic truth about the UK: that the vast majority of the poor are in jobs.

There may be a tiny pool of people who 'choose' to live off benefits, but I doubt they all live on that street. UK unemployment and housing benefits are low. You'll get enough to eat and a horrible house. It's not a life of luxury, whatever you may read in the hysterical newspapers, and even low-paid jobs are financially better. I simply do not believe that a constituent 'had to face ridicule for going to work'. What, the neighbours would turn out at 8 a.m. to give him the slow handclap, pointing and laughing? Chants and witty songs? This is a fantasy.

And then we move on to the humbug: it's back to his favourite subject, himself:
As I have said before in this House, I have experienced poverty in my life. I have not read about it in a book or dealt with it at arm’s length from behind a desk; I have seen it with my own eyes and experienced it in my family. That is why I am passionate about it and why I was proud to sit on the Committee. Too often, the issues that we talk about are detached from the reality of life. This legislation is not about appealing to red-top newspapers or making grand-standing statements, as was said in Committee, but about tackling the issue head-on. Hon. Members have talked about the number of jobs created over the past decade that were taken by foreigners who came to these shores with an ethos of working. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberconwy mentioned eastern Europeans. My family have gone through that experience. We came to this country with an ethos of working; that was our aspiration. The idea that we could claim benefits and use the system to support us was anathema to us. That idea is what this Bill tackles.
Ah yes, the mythical legend of the Man Who Had Nothing, though he's never keen to mention that he's a multimillionaire, nor where the seed money for his parasitical business came from (my suspicion is family money). If he was poor, it was for 12 seconds as a baby.

As if he isn't regurgitating the red-top agenda… And then his Tory friends join in with this magical 20,000 people which turns into 20,000 families - shame nobody pointed out the error.
I have been listening carefully to my hon. Friend’s powerful speech. Does he agree that 20,000 families who have never worked is simply 20,000 too many?
And then comes the big finish
Let me make it absolutely clear that I am not criticising individuals and families; it is the system that is corrosive. If the system is corrosive and, to quote my constituent, rewards idleness, what do we expect of human beings? I have faith in the British public. We have budding entrepreneurs and young people who have aspirations to achieve the best that they can. However, through unintended consequences, aspiration has been undermined, particularly over the past 10 years. I have seen that so often when I meet young people. They have a choice between work and a life on benefits. They have looked me in the eye and said that a life on benefits is not such a bad option.

Now, British libel laws are biased in favour of the liar, so that's not a term I'll apply to Mr
Paul Uppal MP. But I have very strong doubts that anyone has 'looked [him] in the eye and said that a life on benefits is not such a bad option'. Can you imagine actually managing to meet your MP and making that kind of statement? To a Tory?

Then his friends come out with the same sort of unsourced, 3rd-hand anecdotal rubbish which would attract an automatic fail in a first-year essay, and he responds in kind.
I thank my hon. Friend. Sometimes we in the House have to face uncomfortable truths. We may not like them, but they are the reality that we have to face. I believe that the Bill, in its entirety, goes some way to addressing such problems. I have said before, and will say again, that it is very easy to talk the talk in opposition, but the Government are walking the walk. We are delivering something that is popular not just with Conservative voters but with Labour voters. There is consensus across the board on the issue, and it unites most voters whom I have met, whichever party they vote for. They have seen the reality of what we have done to introduce an ethos of work, aspiration and ambition. 
I am glad that I am part of a Government who are taking the difficult decisions and doing the important things. This is a seminal Bill, and people will look back on it as one that changed this country for ever. I know that I may have veered away from my original comments on new clause 6, and I am sorry about that, but sometimes we have to say it as we see it. I, for one, am glad that we have introduced the Bill, and I think it will make this country a better place.

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