Monday, 29 April 2013


My least favourite MP and yours, Mr Paul Uppal, excelled himself in the smarm and self-interest stakes this week. Here he is, rooting for massive tax cuts for his corporate friends and grovelling to his Tory overseers:

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Amess. On a confessional point, you were my mentor in the last general election and in no short part do I hold my presence in this Committee and in this august chamber down to your guidance. I am for ever in your debt.
On the specific point that my hon. Friend was making about the simplification of tax, does he welcome, as I do, the fact that reducing corporation tax to 20% will actually make corporation tax much more consistent? We currently have a top rate of tax for large companies, and for small companies there is an intermediate and marginal rate. The fact that we are reducing it to 20% in one swoop is, in essence, making the corporation tax system as a whole much simpler.
That's right: 'simpler'. So it's not a massive gift to companies which in any case avoid paying taxes on an industrial scale, it's just 'simpler'. Of course, you could have a 'simple' corporation tax of 30% or 40% too (like income tax), but that would be to breach the bounds of rightwing discourse. When they say 'simple',  they mean 'lower' for tax and 'none' for environmental, health, safety, equality, discrimination and employment law. 

What else has he been saying?
his debate reminds me of my time on the Welfare Reform Bill Committee, where there seemed to be a general consensus on both sides that whatever the nature of jobs, even part-time micro jobs, they are an essential step in getting people out of poverty and into the habit of work. Moreover, many part-time jobs lead on to full-time jobs, so it is a win-win situation for everybody.
Yes, he slaved for years on that Committee, and all he has to show for it is a belief in 'part-time micro job' and a completely unsupported assertion that 'many part-time jobs lead on to full-time jobs'. Which is almost certainly untrue: both here at the university and in the service sector as a whole, the new poison is 0-hours contracts, which leave you in limbo. You might be called in to work, but you might not. You can't get a second job because it might stop you doing random hours on your first one. Pizza Hut is one such disgusting exploiter. They're the kinds of jobs people are getting these days. As a nation, we should be proud. 

And finally:
I represent an urban west midlands seat, where I hold a weekly surgery. Something that comes up again and again for many of my constituents, who are in this age group, is the generational deficit. If we do not live prudently and within our means as a Government it is the younger generation, the children of those constituents, who will have to pay. Have the Opposition done an impact assessment on the people who will have to pay the bill? 
That's a weekly surgery 'by appointment', lasting 2 hours. When he talks of the generational deficit, he's quietly referring to the constituents he hopes will save him: the rich pensioners on the western edge of the city, people who like to think that they got rich entirely on their own. Paul, like them, got a free education, healthcare, and all the other advantages of the social-democratic state. Now they want to remove it for the younger generations while protecting their own non-means-tested TV licences and bus passes. 

If Paul wants to live 'within our means as a Government', why is he cutting corporate taxes, cutting high-earners' taxes, and voting to spend £80 billion on new nuclear weapons? Why did he connive in the sacking of thousands of tax collectors, while allowing the Big Four accountancy firms to write new legislation?

No, what Paul wants is a Dickensian society in which poverty is associated with personal failure. No safety net, no human rights (he's opposed to them too) and no society. All dressed up in the discourse of prudence. 

Thankfully, Paul won't be an MP much longer. He has a majority of 691, acquired running against Gordon Brown's unpopularity. If that's the best he could do in 2010, I don't think he'll be troubling the public after 2015. 

Talking of revolting Tory hypocrites, guess who I spotted at the train station yesterday? Camera crew, sneer, revolting pink blazer?

Don't know who took the picture: nicked from a local Facebook site. 

Yes, Michael Portillo, making another of his programmes about how great railways were until his government sold them off. Was he in town to apologise for the destruction wrought on the city by his neoliberal economics? Don't hold your breath.

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