Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Labour, according to a piece in the Guardian, wants to reduce the number of food banks in the UK if it comes to power. Rachel Reeves, or as we call her, Labour’s Iain Duncan Smith, says that their use is a sign of a failed Welfare State.

Well, what can we say? Whoops of joy from us at Munguin’s Republic. A real radical government that would like to see the use of food banks reduced!

There are, rather surprisingly in our opinion, no government statistics on the use of food banks, but the Trussell Trust says that 913,138 people used them in 2013-2014. And there are other food banks providers, besides Trussel.

What other changes could we expect from reeves? She would, she says, immediately instruct Jobcentre staff that they would not be rewarded for the numbers of sanctions they distribute. Mr Duncan Smith has always denied that staff are currently rewarded for this, so unless he is lying, I can’t see that it will make much difference. The management of the job centres need to get cost reductions somehow.

Just in case you thought she was being all soft and human about it, Reeves says: “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,”  “Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

So there you go. Straight from the horse’s mouth and echoing the sentiments of hard right winger, Tom Harris, if you are out of work, Labour is not the party for you. Rachel, of course, may never have met an ordinary person in her life, having attended a posh girls school and gone up to Oxford for her education.

She famously said that Labour would be tougher than the Tories when it came to cutting the Social Security bill so how are they going to be harder and softer at the same time?

As you might expect in the current climate, EU citizens would lose entitlement to benefits for the first two years in the UK. Although, as most EU citizens in the UK work, it’s unlikely that that will make a huge difference, and it may have a reciprocal effect on UK citizens living in the EU. 

She would maintain the benefit cap brought in by the Tories with the intention of reducing it, everywhere except London. So, that's tough if you live in another area with high rents and costs.

She has also indicated that she would legislate to remove the bedroom tax from the statute book, but failed to make it clear whether this was the bedroom tax that the Tories introduced for social housing, or the one that Labour introduced for privately rented accommodation.

She has also said that she would stop the roll out of the Universal Credit fiasco that Iain Duncan Smith has overseen, and hold a review of the policy.

Essentially, it seems, she agrees with the principles in IDS's scheme, but is somewhat dubious about whether or not it can be delivered and whether they can get the notoriously dodgy IT to actually work. 

Her aim is to cut the “welfare” bill by £8 billion, but when she outlines how she intends to meet that target her ideas descend into the realms of fantasy.

 “The big savings to be had are by tackling the root causes of the benefits bill. If every young person who can work is working and if people are paid a wage that they can afford to live on, so they don’t have to draw down on housing benefit and tax credit, then that’s going to save a lot more money than all the talk in the world about shirkers and scroungers.”

Ahhhh Rachel. Where do we start? 

Things must be very simple in your rose coloured, perfect world of Westminster. 

The trouble is that many young people can’t find work, because they are woefully under qualified, unsuited to the kind of work that is available or blighted by illness, addiction or criminal records. Employers are fussy about these things.

Employers are also fussy about paying bigger wages. They have been used to getting away with paying the minimum wage of £6.50*, well under the living wage of £9.15 in London and £7.85 elsewhere. (Although this is clearly ridiculous, as the cost of living is not universal across the rest of the union.) As Labour's own goal is a minimum wage of £8 by 2020, I seeing a disjunct there.

Young people of course are not the only ones who have a problem getting work. Older people often find that they are barriers to work too. Lack of IT skills, lack of stamina, out of date attitudes, lack of street cred in a young person's world. (Seriously, which clothes shop is employing 55 year olds to sell kids fashions? Employers are fussy about this too. It's called image!)

Often when people do find a job, the work is badly paid, or intermittent, with zero hour contracts, on which they cannot afford to live and this makes them dependent on benefits. In many cases they earn less per week than their rent and council tax. 

Because of the lack of council housing, many are forced into privately rented accommodation. And thanks to the mad system, introduced by Labour, of setting an area maximum rent allowance, paid without question or inspection of the property, many of the rents set by these private landlords for slum property, are astronomical.

There seems to me no doubt that a preposterously low minimum wage, and ridiculously low expectation of any increase in it must be accompanied by some very serious control of rents, and a massive building programme of REALLY affordable rented accommodation in the public sector all over the union.

You can’t feel but feel that Rachel has a lot to learn before she takes up a job of this magnitude.

(*Minimum wage will raise to £6.70 in October. It is currently €145 per month, less than minimum wage in France and €165 less than in the Republic of Ireland.)


  1. Where to start? Even so called full employment has a built in 2-10% unemployment rate. As for reason why folk are unemployed. Funnily enough it's not always a fault of the person. Did you know that you are more likely to be unemployed if you are a disabled graduate (even where the disability doesn't stop you working) than if you have no educational qualifications at all? And you of you are over 50 you are as likely to be unemployed as working. There is discrimination in the work market.

    My (lay) understanding of Labour Party history is that it was set up for the working CLASS ie those who needed to work or (pre-Beveridge) they starved to death/entered workhouse because they had no access to private income. The Ragged Trousered Philothropist covered in great detail the plight of those in low paid insecure work and those who didn't get even casual work.

    Labour was set up for the benefit of those without private wealth. It used to care about those who either couldn't work (e.g. illness) or couldn't find work. But what do I know, I'm not a private school educated Oxbridge graduate.

    1. I know PP. I started on this and thought, I could write a novel on it. I've worked with unemployed people and it's heartbreaking to see them stuck between the job centre on one hand with their idiotic sanctions, and employers who clearly have no intention whatsoever of employing people like them, who haven't worked for a while because they have been sick or who are over 50 or who live at the wrong kind of address.

      Yes, I agree about the Labour Party. You can only imagine what Mr Hardie and Mr Maxton would make of that kind of statement. We are not a party of the unemployed. But I've heard it before from Tom Harris, and although to be fair I've never heard Jim say something like that, his politics seem to be along the same right wing lines as Harris and Reeves. She seems to mix in the same company as our Jim... friend of Israel type of groups, although I think she is not a member of the hard right wing Henry Jackson Society.

      Indeed, what would we know about the Labour party. We don't really move in the Miliband, Blair, Balls circles.

  2. "(*Minimum wage will raise to £6.70 in October. It is currently €145 per month, less than minimum wage in France and €165 less than in the Republic of Ireland.)"

    Umm, doesn't that mean that the UK's minimum wage is less than *half* of the RoI's minimum wage?


    I keep hearing about "north of Hadrian's wall" as a description for Scotland. Does that mean we've annexed some of the north of England and Berwick is finally all on one side of the border?

    Not that I'd mind that, it'd give us the rest of the UK's oil fields, I'm sure the people there would love to be under Hollyrood policies rather than Westminster ones. I'm just not seeing it on the maps...

    1. Yeah... that was a pile of nonsense. I'm sorry.

      Minimum wage in UK as of October is £6.50 (€9.05). It is €9,61 in France and €8,65 in Ireland. The amounts I quoted (in mangled form) earlier were based on monthly earnings. And they are incomparable because people work fewer hours in France (and possibly Ireland). Apologies.

      Yes, I don;t think that people in the south of England (where the journalists and the BBC and the politicians foregather really have a clue about the border, or what Hadrian's Wall was about.

      Remember some nutter wanted to organise a long line of people along the wall before the referendum... To what end I have no idea!

  3. Whaddaya mean "unless he's lying..." It's IDS - of course he's lying.

    1. Ha ha. Munguin wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      No. Of course he's lying. It's what he does and seemingly has always done. He truly is one of the nastiest lying cheating rat bags in politics.

  4. Labour, the party of the people. As long as those people are the middle classes in marginal seats across middle England.

    1. Not quite Chipping Norton, but not far off it.

  5. Tris

    Did you see ashcrofts new polls suggesting dear old McVey
    is on course to lose her seat in the general elction...

    wont that be nice

    1. More than nice Niko. I'll throw a party if that heartless bitch gets her marching orders. Hope it is a crushing and humiliating defeat. She deserves nothing less.

  6. What an appalling comment for a Labour MP to make. If they do not represent the weakest in society then who does. Labour have truly lost the plot if they sanctioned this effluent to spew out of her mouth.
    No wonder Labour is dead in the water up here.

    And nice to see our 'completely independent' Scottish Labour leader deny any SNP coalition now he's allowed to.

    1. Hi Alistair...

      Like I said, can you imnagine what the early Labour leaders, the men who slogged to get the Labour Party established, would ahve made of the fact that they don;t give a damn about the unemployed.

      They used to. They used to care about the old too.

      Now its the bankers.

      He's a bloody joke is Murphy. NOBODY tells him what to do, erm except anyone in London and his hard right wing Thatcherite minder McTernan.

      Branch office supervisor, just like the rest of them, but not as bright. By comparison Johann, Iain and Wendy are political giants.

  7. Tris

    The Labour Party died along time ago and what they don't get is that many people in Scotland are sick of posh millionaires kids, who have had the best of everything, telling people who have nothing that they have too much. I am so sick of the Labour Party it actually makes me sick. I hate the Tories but have never expected anything different from them, but I hate Labour more, they are worse. They are worse because they lied for years to anyone who will listen, they have played on people fears, they live in a surreal world now. Reeves makes Lamont look good, she is an awful person and I had actually forgotten about her because she has been out of the headlines for so long, by letting this awful woman talk it tends to make me think that the Red Tories really do want to lose this election.

    However, and as I keep harping on about, we are partly to blame because many of our fellow citizens keep voting for these people. The SNP, Greens, SSP and Plaid are far from perfect, and I have many reservations about the SNP. I actually wish I had the time to get involved with the party and challenge the things I don't like, but they are a hell of a lot better than the greed is good parties who hate poor and vulnerable people. I despise them with everything I have, they are a stain on us all.

    People have got to start voting for what they want and not what they are told. The other parties also have to break away from the crap soundbites that are far too often everywhere, really crap leaflets that are again soundbites, talk of balance of power and deals with Labour etc. I would prefer the SNP to say their will be no deals with any of them, however many seats we get, we will only vote with the other parties on things that improve Scotland or bring more diddy powers to Scotland. The SNP need their line in the sand as they are falling into the same trap that the YES side did during the referendum, they are not being different enough.



    1. It's true. With Tories you get what you expect to get.

      The party was set up for the super rich and privileged and really that's who they look after. But the labour party was, as PP points out, set up to help the poor who were badly treated by British state. People who weren't represented by the Conservatives or the Liberals/Whigs.

      Now Ms reeves tells us that's not who they are for.

      Well at least now we know.

      It's important that as many people as possible know that Ms Reeves and her colleagues represent people who are working. Not people who are poor for whatever reason. So don;t go to labour moaning about the fact you can;t get a job, or the job pays less than your rent and you're obliged to go cap in hand after a 40 hour week. Don't, whatever you do, expect them to stand up for you if you've become sick, or disabled or, heaven forbid, if you have the temerity to get old and find your pension pot has been eaten up by an incompetent financial company.

      Nope. They won't be there for you. It would spoil their image in the South East of England.

      One of the reasons I don't get that much involved in a political party is that I have very little in the way of discipline. There is much that I dislike about all of them, and I'm not too good at hiding my feelings, and not brave enough, or thick skinned enough to be the person who is always out of step.

      Best to sit here quietly and agitate for what I want... I have to say that in general terms, I'm happy with the direction that Nicola is going, and the way she impresses people with her sound politics and economics.

  8. "And there are other food banks providers, besides Trussel." I love that line!

    It makes it sound like unfettered capitalism is working perfectly, giving the starving a free market in foodbanks, with a range of providers of emergency rations for them to choose from. Margaret Thatcher would be so proud of her political soulmates* in today's red tory party.

    *Although I think 'soul' and Thatcher do not go well together.

    1. And after posting that, imagine how it felt to read this totally apposite article by Mark Frankland (who actually runs a foodbank):


      In it, he talks about the Trussell Trust effectively charging £1500 to set up a 'franchise'!

    2. Aye, David, it sounds like it should be followed by "terms and conditions apply"...

      My real point of course, was that the figures for food bank use as supplied by Trussel, could not be said to be the total number, as there are many smaller organisations operating locally in churches, mosques, community centres etc.

      If you leave out the word "soul" which, as you point out has no place in the same narrative as the words "Mrs" and "Thatcher", she would be very proud of the party which she felt she was responsible for creating. New Labour.

    3. Just seen your second post there and read the link to the MARK FRANKLAND article (which can be found in the sidebar for those who have difficulty with copy and paste).

      I'm totally flabbergast. I agree completely with you ... amazingly apposite.

  9. err Tris

    "(*Minimum wage will raise to £6.70 in October. It is currently €145 per month, less than minimum wage in France and €165 less than in the Republic of Ireland.)

    Should that not be €145 per week?

    1. Yeah Panda, Err is the word!!!. I made a mess of all that. I think I must have had too much Whisky in my whisky...

      Illy mentioned it and I tried to clarify it a bit in my response above.

  10. I think that anyone wishing to come into politics fresh from University should be sent packing. I also think that all those people who want Labour to be a socialist party need to rid themselves of people like RR. I have unfortunately heard and read what she thinks, trouble is that being Tory is not the bad word it is here, I am sure she appeals to those of a certain type normally found in the leafy areas of the South East of England.
    I for one would rather the SNP have nothing to do in any fashion with these reprobates, you cannot trust a word out of their mouths.

  11. Tris

    I have been having loadsa problems posting on the W o S site and was sooooo carries away with the simplicity and immediacy of posting here that I didn't read the comments forst.

    I had assumed that you would have corrected something that someone to which I am sure had you had been alerted .

    Anyhooes, I am back. and feeling very guilty.

  12. Any to do a "look a squirrel" I am eating a saucisse couenne, with steamed carrots, onions and haricots beurres washe down with a botlle of Charles Heidsieck Monopole Premier Cru wot I found in my cellar. It was that last of a parting gift from my old employer 8 years ago.

    Just had to drink it before it went off.