A letter to Andrew Lloyd Webber on Tax Credits

ALWDear Andrew,

Re: Tax Credits Vote in the House of Lords

Never a fan, so this ain’t going to pull lines punning your substantial contributions to musical theatre. Instead, I’ve avoided them and and baked in a healthy dollop of fury and disgust. That is because you sir, with your 650 millions, power to make and break careers, and alchemical capacity to transmute box office manure into gold, are among the lowest of the low. You epitomise everything that is small-minded, rotten, and hypocritical about the establishment you serve. Not because of who you are, but because you’re prepared to go the extra mile in its defence. Continue reading

The Tories don’t have the political capital to reform the House of Lords

House of LordsIt takes a special kind of stupid to turn discontent over an ill-thought and mean-spirited policy into a crisis that rocks the foundations of the Mother of all Parliaments. Such is the blindness of George Osborne’s overrated “genius” that the Tories have plunged themselves into a serious political crisis. They have threatened all kind of hell fire and damnation in the event the House of Lords votes to kill or delay their cuts to tax credits. They should “think very carefully” about their position, says Dave. Ken Clarke has urged the Lords not to abuse their position, and even cuddly old John Bercow has “reminded” them of the established constitutional position. And if their Lordships don’t submit, we’ve been threatened with a shower (in both sense of the word) of new Tory peers and/or some sinister-sounding reform of the upper house. Both of which were ever likely to mollify anyone, and duly the government were handed their arse. Twice. Two delaying motions have gone through, prolonging the political pain for the chancellor. Continue reading

The Tories’ tax credit cut will cause problems for them in 2020

osborne red facedIt’s proven to be the closest shave of Dave’s second term and would have thrown the government into chaos had the ayes won it. Tonight’s vote in the Commons, brought before the House by Labour, saw the noes (i.e. keep the cuts to working tax credits) win by 317 to 295 – a tiny sliver of a margin. This is despite Tory luminaries like Boris Johnson weighing in against the cuts, and Heidi Allen – new Tory member for South Cambridgeshire – using her maiden speech to strongly intone that “to pull ourselves out of debt, we should not be forcing those working families into it.” And yet talk of a Tory rebellion proved to be tough talk, no trousers. To a woman and a man our would-be insurgents lined up behind George Osborne and endorsed the policy they had spent all day attacking. We always knew their workers’ party rhetoric was flim-flam, but the Tories are going to have a tougher time selling that now.  Continue reading

Labour must start to claw back the national narrative on austerity

Corbyn at PMQsThis week has marked the beginning of the slow process of exposing the Conservatives as they are, and it’s certainly not as the party of the working people they so ardently claim to be.

During Question Time, a small business owner named Michelle almost burst into tears as she made a heartfelt plea to Conservative Minister Amber Rudd not to remove the tax credits to which she’s currently entitled (£400 a week for rent, bills and keeping her household of five running; she makes no profit from her small business). 

She was met with a stony, embarrassed silence. During the election, David Cameron promised not to cut tax credits, and the new party of the working people clearly aren’t quite used to hearing the voices of working people just yet, nor do they want to. One Tory MP even branding the new approach to PMQs as a ‘waste of MPs’ time‘. Continue reading

What is behind Osborne’s move to the centre-ground?

George Osborne greenish hueIs the loss of Lord Adonis from the Labour side of the Lords really a coup for George Osborne? Not really. A tsunami failed to erupt from the impact point in the cross benches, sweeping away the shiny new works of our equally shiny new leadership. The political damage is limited because he’s not terribly well-known even among Labour members, let alone the electorate. And because, as a peer, he is fundamentally unaccountable. Besides, Adonis has form for trading in party memberships; and he’s more a technocrat than a politician. This is a man who likes to do things, so had Osborne made the offer to head up his new infrastructure super-quango, I would have been very surprised had Adonis refused. Continue reading