Friday News Review

Charities, anti-poverty groups and churches also reacted with anger to claims by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, that the Tory-LibDem Coalition would not punish people trying to find work. Critics pointed out that ministers plan to dock 10% of housing benefit from anyone who has been unemployed for a year, no matter how hard they are looking for a job. Other proposals outlined yesterday include withdrawing unemployment benefit entirely for up to three years from those who refuse job offers, and forcing some unemployed people into unpaid manual labour. Unions accused the Coalition of a campaign to create a new class of “undeserving poor” to mask swingeing public spending cuts that could leave tens of thousands of Scots out of work. Charities also warned that penalising the “workshy” would hurt children not responsible for their parents’ actions. – The Herald

Iain Duncan Smith is not a bad man. Since he visited the Easterhouse estate in Glasgow, his politics have been about battling poverty. The trouble is, he is part of a Tory government set to bring back the inequality of the 80s. Everyone agrees the welfare system needs fixing. Complicated tax credits should be replaced by a universal credit with fewer forms and fiddles. And the workless need to be shifted off Incapacity Benefit and into jobs. But where will these jobs come from? By the Government’s own admission, their cuts will cost half a million public sector jobs, with another half million likely to go in the private sector. Worst of all, the Government is scrapping the policies which help people back into work. So, out goes the Young Persons Job Guarantee and out goes the Future Jobs Fund. In Stoke-on-Trent, this put 500 into employment. –The Mirror

Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, a former Work and Pensions Secretary, questioned whether the reforms would work. “A higher proportion of people in Wales depend upon benefits both because of Wales’ legacy of heavy and dangerous industry history and high unemployment,” he said. “For these reasons, there is a real danger the Government’s new welfare proposals will hit Wales harder than any other part of Britain. Everybody supports a simpler system of benefits which helps to make work pay. “When I was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions I made changes which did precisely this. But forcing people off benefit, or making cuts in their payments, when there are no jobs available would be punitive. “I fear the Government’s new regime will usher in a new poor law causing widespread misery and injustice in Wales.” – Western Mail

Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts were branded “horrific” yesterday – by the pal who inspired him to reform the welfare system. Bob Holman, the community activist who famously toured Glasgow’s Easterhouse scheme with the former Tory leader in 2002, attacked Con-Dem plans to stop benefits for claimants who refuse a job. He said: “It’s horrific. There are many vulnerable people who are not able to work who will be made to work. “They face breakdown and going into an institution, which will be more costly. “What about their children? They will face even more poverty. Kids on the bottom rung already have inadequate food and clothing. – Daily Record

Cameron defends snapper

Mr Parsons had planned to be on the plane this week accompanying Mr Cameron on a five-day trip to China and South Korea. However, after the controversy over his appointment grew last week he was stood down. Government sources admit that he will now have to spend time on other Whitehall projects so that Mr Cameron’s assertion that Mr Parsons will work across different departments is seen to be true. Last week at Prime Minister’s Questions Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, taunted Mr Cameron over his “vanity” photographer and the decision to promote Mr Parsons on to the Government payroll. To compound Mr Cameron’s problems it emerged that other “vanity” staff were now being put on short-term civil service contracts. They include Nicky Woodhouse, a filmmaker who in Opposition produced the Tory leader’s “WebCameron” broadcasts. – The Telegraph


Labour “had to act” in response to a court verdict banning Phil Woolas from politics for three years, shadow cabinet minister Caroline Flint says. Ms Flint told BBC Question Time Mr Woolas was a friend and that she was “concerned” for him, but she defended the party’s decision to suspend him. Mr Woolas is seeking a judicial review of last week’s election court verdict. It ruled Mr Woolas had made false statements in his winning campaign for the Oldham East and Saddleworth seat. – BBC

It’s total hypocrisy of the Lib Dems – the dirty tricks party – to accuse Labour of telling untruths about a parliamentary candidate. In the Bermondsey by-election of 1983, they urged people to vote for Simon Hughes, “a straight guy”, rather than Labour’s Peter Tatchell, who made no secret of being gay. And we all know the rest of that little story. Politics is a rough old game. People say harsh things about one another, especially in hard-fought elections. The fact that the weapon of an election court trial has not been used for 99 years tells us that such rough and tumble has been widely accepted. But this dangerous legal precedent will encourage well-off Tory and Lib Dem MPs and their smartass lawyers to overturn the will of the people expressed in the ballot box. This is nothing less than democracy for sale. – The Mirror

The most extraordinary thing about the Woolas debacle has been the reaction to it. One national newspaper published a leader condemning the judges’ decision. There has been a wave of sympathy from fellow MPs of all parties. Charles Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, is reportedly advising Woolas; Cherie Blair sent a friendly note and Gordon Brown is said to be supportive, as is David Miliband, the former foreign secretary. Inside the rarefied atmosphere of the House of Commons, the persecuted party has been Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader. With Ed Miliband on paternity leave, she sacked Woolas as soon as the court judgment was made. But poor Harman, who appears to have behaved impeccably, was practically lynched for her pains at a meeting of the parliamentary party. – The Telegraph

One Response to “Friday News Review”

  1. The Cabinet Office already had one person who worked as a photographer and filmmaker, a Civil Servant who was not parachuted in by a political party.

    He is now losing his job and being replaced with TWO people. He was not given the opportunity to apply for either job because neither were advertised, they were just handed to people who CCHQ approved of.

    That is the real scandal here.

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