Thursday, 27 June 2013

Uppal: a lesson in evasion

Those of you with nothing better to do might recall that I rather suspected Paul Uppal of telling porkies in Parliament, given that he always manages to find constituents to quote who completely agree with him, and speak in fully-fledged parliamentary language.

The latest excrescence was his claim that young constituents feel completely trapped by state subsidies.

My constituency has a rich industrial heritage, but many young constituents come to me and say that at so many points in the history of the constituency they have been dependent on the public purse and whatever quango or mechanism. I think people are looking forward to some aspect of private sector entrepreneurship to provide a route out of the poverty that exists in so many of these industrial constituencies.

I was intrigued. Who are these kids? What do they mean? How many of them are there? Are they referring to the scrapped Educational Maintenance Allowance, which helped people stay in school or college? The one the Tories scrapped? I think we can all imagine what 'private sector entrepreneurship' routes out of poverty means: it means more children up more chimneys. Let's not forget, of course, that the Conservative Party opposed the National Minimum Wage and some of its MPs want it abolished.

So I wrote to Mr Uppal on this subject, and also took the opportunity to ask him to release the constituency's unemployment figures since he took office. All the other MPs in the city do this: it's collected and sent to them by a government agency.

I also asked him, given that he'd mentioned the new Jaguar Land Rover engine plant in the city, whether it was an example of private sector entrepreneurship, or heavily-subsidised by the local taxpayers through the area's councils.

Here's the letter I sent him:

Dear Mr Uppal,
I note your recent speech in parliament expressing the desire of 'many young consituents' to escape dependency on the public purse and quangos. Could you please enumerate to me how many young constituents have expressed this desire and how they experienced this 'at so many points in the history of the constituency' given that they are 'young'. To what organisations and mechanisms do you think they are referring? 
Secondly, could you please make public the unemployment statistics for the constituency since your election in 2010? I gather that constituency break-downs are provided for each Member of Parliament and that other MPs in the city make them public. 
Finally, I note that the biggest investment in the city for some years (Jaguar Land Rover) was achieved through the incentives provided by Wolverhampton City Council, South Staffordshire Council, Staffordshire County Council and Advantage West Midlands. Given your professed opposition to quangos and state subvention for the private sector, will you be lobbying for an end to this taxpayer support?
So: I asked him for details on these youngsters' claims; the constituency's unemployment profile; and some recognition of the state's role in landing the area's only big investment.

Can you imagine what the reply was? Honest and straightforward?

Don't be silly.

On the question of what exactly these youthful idealists had to say about being 'trapped' in dependency:
I have met with [oh dear: only Americans and illiterates add the preposition] many young constituents during my weekly surgeries and my frequent visits to schools… the future of the city is often discussed… The views of many young people in the constituency are reinforced by the City Council's 'City Strategy'. Their assessments highlight the city's over-reliance on public sector employment, the lack of private sector jobs, and the gap between skills and those required by the emerging knowledge-based economy'. 
So that's bollocks. Uppal's surgeries are by appointment only, and held during the week: I can't see many kids skipping school to earnestly express their Ayn Randian opposition to child benefit and the EMA. I note he can't say how many have expressed these views to him, though I rather wonder if his sample runs to the two slightly creepy Young Tory interns he uses as muscle on his rare public appearances.

I can't think why the city is over-reliant on public sector jobs. Oh hold on, I can. Is it because successive governments – not solely but mostly Tory – completely abandoned the industrial areas while pursuing a policy of making Britain a land fit for Hedge Fund Traders? Might it be because the Tory industrial complex shifted all the jobs overseas where they can pollute and exploit out of sight? Could it, even, be connected to the fact that the Tories have utterly wrecked this country's economy? Could be, you know. Could be.

OK, question 2: what's happened to unemployment since Paul Uppal became the MP? Simple question. He just has to photocopy the quarterly briefing sent to him.

Oh no.
The employment rate for Wolverhampton fell significantly since early 2006, at least a year before the first impacts of the recession were felt in other areas. During the three years between 2007 and 2010, nearly 4000 jobs were lost. The unemployment rate in Wolverhampton South West is currently 9.1%. 

Just a couple of points here. Firstly, he shifts neatly from 'Wolverhampton' to Wolverhampton South West: neatly avoiding the specific constituency's profile: it's far from clear that unemployment was rising in the constituency between 2006-2010. Then there's the abrupt shift from trends to a single figure. It's awful that unemployment is 9.1%. But Uppal's carefully evaded my question. I wanted to know what the rates were in the period since he was elected. Instead, he's carefully claimed that the place was doomed by the previous government, without letting on that unemployment has been steadily rising since he took office. He has personally made the situation worse for the people in his care, employed and unemployed, while getting richer and richer himself.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call disingenuous.

As for my question about state subsidies for business: he didn't weasel his way out of that one. He simply ignored it. Silence. Not a word.

He's got to go.


Anonymous said...

Uppal is a class A ignorant shit. He should be made to response to his questions with simple answers. At least he won't be voted in again.

Sheldon Cooper said...

Politicians like this are liars and fools. Arrogant specimens who take on the job to increase their sense of self-worth or social standing. Not because they actually give two shits about their constituency and want to make a difference. I find it very admirable that you have had the balls to actually challenge him and make him explain the Parliamentary mumbo jumbo bullshit language they use to fob off citizens. Even if he did weasel out of your questions and avoid some altogether. Hats off to you sir.