David Cameron has resurrected his “Big Society” idea, long after it was discredited the first time. It was widely mocked, and quietly dropped from any Tory publicity. Until now.
Now Cameron has claimed divine inspiration, despite his government’s various attacks on the very people Jesus was supposed to have been most concerned about; the poor, homeless, the hungry, the sick and disabled.
The only fundamentalist position he hasn’t adopted seems to be homophobia.
He also wants people to think of him as “a giant Dyno-Rod”, but if there’s a Biblical reference to professional drain-cleaners, it’s passed me by.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the merest hint of wrongdoing by a Cabinet Minister would be a matter for resignation, if only to avoid undermining the government as the MP fought to clear their name.
These days, it seems, politicians can be caught with their hands in the till, and not only will they carry on as normal and refuse to resign but, as in the case of Maria Miller, make things worse by trying to intimidate the very people investigating her.
Not only did she have her special advisor threaten the Telegraph, for whom MP’s expenses is something of a crusade, she managed to bully the Commons Standards Committee into reducing the amount of ill-gotten gains that she had to repay from £45,000 to a mere £5,800. And even that wasn’t enough – she tried to get it reduced further, to £4,000!
The Prime Minister has given her his full backing, a phrase which used to be a prelude to a sacking. That appears to be another thing that’s changed, though. David Cameron has cited the independent, non-MP, members of the Standards Committee, and their casting vote, as evidence that Miller’s wrongdoing was a trivial mistake on her part.
In fact, the lay members of the Standards Committee don’t have a casting vote. They don’t have a vote at all! It was Miller’s fellow MPs who sought to minimise the damage to her bank account. Cameron either lied (par for the course for this government), or he showed a serious lack of judgement. Either way, he’s done his own career some damage.
Now all that’s needed is for someone to notice.
More on this story from around the web:
As Atos desperately try to extricate themselves from the Work Capability Assessment contract. Capita stands ready to take up the reins. The coalition government, and IDS in particular, must think that, as Atos have made such a mess of the job, Capita will give them some breathing space, and any difficulties would be described as “teething trouble”.
The problem is, Capita have already blotted their copybook in their dealings with people on benefits. This is the company that’s responsible for Voice Analysis Tests, which several councils are eagerly spending millions of (taxpayer’s) pounds buying.
Lie detectors aren’t noted for their reliability when they’re used in controlled circumstances, but these are telephone tests. They supposedly detect stress in a callers voice but, even if they work, they won’t be able to tell what causes the stress. It might be that the caller is lying, as Capita claim on their website, but people on benefits, at whom this pseudo-scientific technology is aimed, have many other reasons to be stressed and, when you throw illness and disability into the mix, there are even more.
Whether Capita is as bad as Atos, time will tell. There’ll be a lot of us watching.
It’s over a year since I posted about the bogus jobs on Universal Jobmatch (and I wasn’t the first to notice even then), and the mainstream media have at last noticed the problems too, at least some of them. Even the BBC are reporting the story.
When it was pointed out that some of the “jobs” advertised weren’t compliant with the DWP’s own rules, the response was not, as we have a right to expect, to tighten up enforcement of those rules nor, as we’ve come to expect from IDS, to change the rules. The rules were simply hidden, as if pretending there wasn’t a problem at all would make it go away. Yet catalogue jobs still infest the site. Just one page contains a block of Avon “jobs”:
If you narrow the search to local jobs it is often worse. I’ve seen several pages in a row filled with “jobs” advertised by Avon, Kleeneze and others.
Bullying young people into working in the sex industry seems to be OK with the DWP too. Although their now invisible* rules say otherwise, it seems to be acceptable to advertise “escort” services, at least until there’s an outcry. Then the advert is taken down, and assurances are given that the DWP “regularly monitor the site and remove jobs that don’t meet our rules, such as duplicate advertisements or jobs for franchises.”
Such assurances ring more hollow every time.
*Correction: The relevant rules are visible again, but numbered differently. Who knows how long they’ll stay this time, so I’ve taken a screenshot and highlighted the one that refers to catalogue “jobs”.