Monday, 31 October 2011
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
A senior Liberal Democrat has described a proposal to scrap unfair dismissal and allow managers the right to sack unproductive staff without explanation as "madness". In a report seen by the Daily Telegraph and commissioned by Downing Street, the venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft suggests British workers should be banned from claiming unfair dismissal so companies can sack them and find more capable replacements, saying this would boost economic growth.
The document has generated a furious response from trade unions. Downing Street declined to comment on the contents of the report other than to say it was not "a final document". But Norman Lamb, the chief parliamentary and political adviser and parliamentary private secretary to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said taking away protection from unfair dismissal would damage the economy because it would increase workers' fears that they could be arbitrarily sacked.
"I think it would be madness to throw away all employment protection in the way that's proposed, and it could be very damaging to consumer confidence," Lamb said. "What we are talking about here is every single employee in the land being in a position where their employer could arbitrarily terminate their employment – and the impact that could have on consumer confidence, fear of losing your job, would potentially be very damaging. I just think it's also not right to throw away that sort of scheme of protection."
He warned that the "law of unintended consequences" could mean staff who criticise or challenge their employers could be dismissed as a result, pointing out that existing laws already enable employers to get rid of staff where there is clear evidence of underperformance. "The existing law gives employers far more rights than many actually recognise, and it's easing the way to use those existing rights much more easily that I think is the right way forward," he added.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
- 66% had increases costs, including travel to hospital and/or an increase in household expenses
- 43% of all cancer patients are anxious due directly to their financial situation
- 17% of those financially affected cut back on everyday essentials such as food
- 5% skip meals to save money
- 7% are scared of losing their home
- 29% of those financially affected have spent all or some of their savings
- 9% have borrowed money to cover the extra costs of cancer
Macmillan policy analyst Tom Cottam said many people with cancer are very concerned about the changes to benefits: "A significant number, over two fifths, felt really quite anxious [about] their financial situation and how the reforms are going to affect them. People with cancer are already feeling the pinch as a result of increased costs, such as travelling to hospital, paying parking charges when you get there, extra fuel that's required because they spend so much time at home; also having to leave work quite often to undergo treatment."
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Friday, 14 October 2011
I warn you that you will have pain - when healing and relief depend on payment.
I warn you that you will have ignorance - when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right.
I warn you that you will have poverty - when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a Government that won't pay, in an economy that can't pay.
I warn you that you will be cold - when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don't notice and the poor can't afford.
I warn you that you must not expect work - when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don't earn, they don't spend. When they don't spend, work dies.
I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light.
I warn you that you will be quiet - when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient.
I warn you that you will have defence of a sort - with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding.
I warn you that you will be home-bound - when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up.
I warn you that you will borrow less - when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.
If Margaret Thatcher wins, she will be more a Leader than a Prime Minister. That power produces arrogance and when it is toughened by Tebbitry and flattered and fawned upon by spineless sycophants, the boot-licking tabloid Knights of Fleet Street and placement in the Quangos, the arrogance corrupts absolutely.
If Margaret Thatcher wins -
I warn you not to be ordinary.
I warn you not to be young.
I warn you not to fall ill.
I warn you not to get old."
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
A senior Tory councillor was facing suspension today for saying the party "may as well legalise marriage with animals" after David Cameron backed gay weddings. Party chiefs were set to discipline James Malliff after he posted the comment on Twitter. Labour condemned the "sick" remark and demanded Mr Cameron sack him immediately.
Mr Malliff, who is cabinet member for the big society and localism on Tory-controlled Wycombe district council, has deleted the tweet but not before screen grabs were taken and shown to the Evening Standard. In a post directed at former Conservative MP Paul Goodman, who had asked whether legalising gay marriage could lead to multiple sharia marriages being made lawful, Mr Malliff wrote: "There is no doubt the PM is wrong on this issue. We may as well legalise marriage with animals, crude I concede but no apology."
Labour MP Clive Betts said: "This sick comment shows once again that the Tories are out of touch and out of date. It's clear that the Tories haven't changed. If James Malliff doesn't resign immediately as a cabinet member and a councillor, David Cameron must sack him." A Conservative party spokesman said action was being taken against Mr Malliff, adding: "This language is completely unacceptable."
Another tweet on his feed reads: "Great keynote address by David Cameron, not sure about legalising gay marriage though, what happened to sanctity of marriage #odd". Cllr Malliff apologised and said he had not intended to cause offence. "I respect the rights of people to hold different views to my own. It was not an anti-gay statement, more a comment about where we draw the line." He said he had apologised locally and felt that had "put it to bed".
UPDATE 13/10/11 at 10.20am:
Mr Malliff has now been suspended. Gay rights group Stonewall said: “We warmly welcome the decision of the Conservative Party to suspend Councillor Malliff. It’s extraordinary in 2011 that he is prepared to insult so many of his council taxpayers in this way.”
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Dr Sarah Wollaston, the MP for Totnes, alleged that a “shocking” number of MPs have “no idea” what they are voting for in the Commons as they just follow the orders of their leaders. Dr Wollaston, 49, who won her seat at last year’s election, said the party should recruit candidates from a wider range of backgrounds to raise standards in Parliament.
“Who would go to see a surgeon who had just drunk a bottle of wine at lunchtime?” she said at a fringe meeting hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank. “But we fully accept that MPs are perfectly capable of performing as MPs despite some of them drinking really quite heavily.”
Dr Wollaston called for such behaviour to be “challenged”. She said: “It’s really shocking that so many MPs have no idea what they are voting for when they walk through the doors of the lobbies. I think we need to change the culture in Westminster.”
The Conservatives are now "the party of the poor," Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said. He told a meeting at the Tories' annual conference that his party, rather than Labour, had the best policies to tackle inequality. The previous government had spent "vast sums" but made the gap between rich and poor worse, he said.
However, Mr Duncan Smith conceded the coalition's changes would take a "little while" to bear results. Addressing a meeting arranged by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, which he himself established, the minister said: "We are the party focused on the poor, so it follows that you might legitimately say that we are the party of the poor."
Even though Labour had tried to lift people out of poverty, "some of the people in the people in the deepest poverty went backwards" under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, he added. "Labour spent vast sums of money and left income inequality in the worst state since I have been born," said Mr Duncan Smith, who was Conservative leader from 2001 to 2003.
The coalition was "dealing with causes of social breakdown", whereas predecessors had pursued a "containment policy". This meant they had spent "a lot of money to keep people inactive and depressed about their lives".
Putting this right would be "like turning a super tanker around" and it was going to be a "little while" before the results of his policies became obvious. But he said the welfare-to-work programme and a plan for a Universal Benefit payments, due to start coming into effect in 2013, would succeed in getting more people into employment. "Things the last government talked about we have managed to do," he claimed.
Mr Duncan Smith also spoke of the difficulties of working within a coalition government, arguing: "We won't compromise on much by the end of it. The reality is it is all about timing." He took a swipe at "sneery" newspaper columnists who criticised the government's plan to favour marriage in the tax system and who claimed that people would not walk up the aisle for a few extra pounds a month.
"People who have money make stupid arguments like that," he said, adding that the focus of his department's efforts was on "couple formation" rather than marriage. If they were to stay together for an extended period of time that would be a great leap forward," he said of couples on the breadline.
Saturday, 1 October 2011