Sunday, 24 February 2013

King Rat deserts the sinking Tory ship

The Sunday Times reports that Lord Ashcroft has had enough of flittering away his money on his beloved Tory party and will withhold funding for its next general election campaign.

"Lord Ashcroft, whose finances played a crucial role in Tory efforts to win marginal seats in 2010, has told friends he has given enough money and is unwilling to devote further resources to securing an overall majority in 2015. It comes amid mounting pessimism among Tory supporters about the prospects of victory. Although Ashcroft has not publicly expressed doubts over the party’s ability to win, privately he is said to fear Labour is likely to secure more seats. A source close to Ashcroft said: “He feels he has done his bit.” "

Perhaps he doesn't like the anti-tax avoidance/evasion rhetoric coming from Downing Street. 'Lay off that, boys, and I'll see what spare change I have come the election.' Watch said rhetoric disappear fairly sharpish. Oh, and look ye hear - there's a budget coming up. Convenient. Never mind using your considerable wealth and influence to reverse the inequalities in this country, you just go ahead and sponsor the Tories to widen the gap between rich and poor even further.

Bankrolling the Tories - now there's an honourable pastime. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Guess what happens when you go round disguising dogmatic ideological vandalism as fiscal probity

George Osborne has suffered his biggest blow yet as chancellor after the UK lost its triple-A rating, which he had repeatedly promised to protect. Moody’s, the rating agency, downgraded the UK one notch to Aa1 late on Friday night in the most serious critique yet of the government’s entire economic plan.

George Winifred Osborne: hoist by his own petard

Moody’s’ decision is highly politically damaging for the chancellor, who has pinned his credibility on retaining the trust of the bond markets. Last July, he hailed the UK’s credit rating, calling it “a reminder that despite the economic problems we face, the world has confidence that we are dealing with them”. The Conservative manifesto in 2010 promised: “We will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament.”

With the current structural deficit likely to remain until 2018 at the earliest, both of these promises have now been broken.

Financial Times (edit)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Back-to-work scheme breached laws, says Court of Appeal

University graduate Cait Reilly has won her Court of Appeal claim that requiring her to work for free at a Poundland discount store was unlawful. Three judges in London,  Lord Justice Pill, Lady Justice Black and Sir Stanley Burnton, ruled that the regulations under which most of the Government's back-to-work schemes were created are unlawful and quashed them. 

Reilly, 24, from Birmingham, and 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver Jamieson Wilson, from Nottingham, both succeeded in their claims that the unpaid schemes were legally flawed. Their solicitors said later the ruling means "all those people who have been sanctioned by having their jobseekers' allowance withdrawn for non-compliance with the back-to-work schemes affected will be entitled to reclaim their benefits".

In November 2011, Reilly had to leave her voluntary work at a local museum and work unpaid at the Poundland store in Kings Heath, Birmingham, under a scheme known as the "sector-based work academy". She was told that if she did not carry out the work placement she would lose her jobseeker's allowance. For two weeks she stacked shelves and cleaned floors. 

Wilson, a qualified mechanic, was told that he had to work unpaid, cleaning furniture for 30 hours a week for six months, under a scheme known as the Community Action Programme. He objected to doing unpaid work that was unrelated to his qualifications and would not help him re-enter the jobs market. He refused to participate and as a result was stripped of his jobseeker's allowance for six months.

After the ruling Public Interest Lawyers, who represent Reilly and Wilson, said the Court of Appeal's unanimous decision was a "huge setback for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), whose flagship reforms have been beset with problems since their inception". They said that "until new regulations are enacted with proper parliamentary approval, nobody can be compelled to participate on the schemes". 

Solicitor Tessa Gregory, said: "Today's judgment sends Iain Duncan Smith back to the drawing board to make fresh regulations which are fair and comply with the court's ruling. "Until that time nobody can be lawfully forced to participate in schemes affected such as the Work Programme and the Community Action Programme. All of those who have been stripped of their benefits have a right to claim the money back that has been unlawfully taken away from them."

Press Association