Tag Archives: Grant Shapps

Whatever Happened To The Tory Bullying Scandal?

Tomorrow belongs to me? Megalomania, bullying, blackmail and sexual assault.

As the Crown Prosecution Services prepares to announce whether it intends to prosecute over 30 Tory “individuals” (sic) for failing to correctly declare elections expenses during the 2015 General Election, it’s worth remembering the other scandal into which the Tory Election Expenses Scandal is interwoven. That scandal is the Tory Bullying Scandal.

It is worrying that for more than a year the entire story has gone quiet. Indeed, a current government minister, a former minister and the party chairman are entangled in its web.  A party worker actually committed suicide after a campaign of bullying and intimidation, and a sitting MP was blackmailed for having an affair.

Here is what we know about the Tory Bullying Scandal:

  • In 2014, Mark Clarke was appointed director Conservative RoadTrip2015 by Grant Shapps, the then party chairman. This organization,  bussed activists around the country to key marginals. RoadTrip2015 is at the heart of the Tory Election Expenses Scandal.

  • Clarke threatened to blackmail Robert Halfon, MP over an alleged sexual infidelity.
  • A file on the bullying was passed to party chairman, Lord Feldman, who failed to take action.
  • Elliott Johnson, a young party activist committed suicide after being bullied by Clarke and Andre Walker, whom he regards as a friend.  Walker himself was covertly recorded on a train plotting to smear Alison Knight, the deputy leader of Windsor Council with an associate. Walker also claimed to be Johnson’s lover.

  • David Cameron invited Clarke to Chequers to celebrate the activists’ role in the campaign’s success
  • Sayeeda Warsi, a former party chair, wrote to Shapps demanding action be taken against bullying. She claimed that she received “no satisfactory response”.
  • There was considerable overlap between Thatcherite group, Conservative Way Forward (CWF), Conservative Future (youth wing), RoadTrip2015 and Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF).  It was revealed that Clarke had sexually assaulted several female members of YBF. This forced Donal Blaney, the YBF’s leader to cancel their annual conference. Blaney was also forced to resign from CWF.
  • Shapps was forced to resign as International Development Minister.
  • Clarke was suspended and later expelled from the party.
  • The internal Tory Party inquiry found there were 13 alleged victims. The same inquiry, conducted by Clifford Chance, concluded that senior party figures were “unaware” bullying was taking place.  Elliott Johnson’s parents condemned the inquiry as a “whitewash”.

Clarke appeared on The Cat’s radar back in 2012, when he was listed as the YBF’s Outreach Officer. I’d already written a piece on the YBF and its role as the self-styled ‘madrassah’, which trained young Tory trolls activists.  Clarke and the YBF had even plotted to “take over” the City of London Corporation (Council).  Aidan ‘Nazi Boy’ Burley, the former MP or Cannock Chase, was a member of the YBF. He was also an associate of Clarke and the pair worked together in the Trade Union Reform Campaign or TURC. Indeed, given the names of those involved in the YBF (Blaney, Burley et al), it is entirely possible that this scandal also involves certain members – past and present – of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative Party. Clarke was also stepping out with Justine Greening, the current Education Secretary.

While the Tory Bullying Scandal was bubbling along, in December 2015 it emerged that Lucy Allen, the MP for Telford, had left one of her workers a series of bullying rants on her voicemail.  Not satisfied with what she’d already done, Allan added the words “unless you die” to a message from a constituent that criticized her support for bombing Syria. Allan was neither investigated nor disciplined for her actions.

This is a scandal that goes right to the heart of Downing Street. But why has this story gone so cold? Could it have something to do with the Conservative Party’s internal inquiry, dubbed by some as a “whitewash”? The corporate media dropped the story soon after the inquiry. Yet questions about bullying in the Tory Party and the connection between RoadTrip2015 and the Tory Election Expenses Scandal persist.  Will we ever get to the truth?

UPDATE 25/4/17 @ 1808

The Guardian have taken up the story and added more detail.

The Conservatives have failed to hand over a report on allegations of bullying within the party to police despite repeated requests from detectives, it has emerged.

British Transport police (BTP) have asked the Tory party to disclose the full report on the bullying inquiry, which was launched after allegations were made against the former election aide and failed parliamentary candidate Mark Clarke.

The Conservatives failed to hand over a report? Now where have I heard that before? Ah yes, last year, the Tories were rather sluggish to hand over a file to the Electoral Commission. Remember?

You can read more in The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/25/conservative-party-police-bullying-report-elliott-johnson

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Filed under General Election 2015, RoadTrip2015, Tory Election Expenses Scandal

Hard-working families…

If there is one phrase that sums up this government’s belief in the power of the sign over all else, it’s “Hard-working families”.  To this phrase are added the clauses “who want to get on in life…”, “who pay their taxes” and “who want to do the right thing”.  Sometimes they appear altogether, sometimes one or two of them are coupled to the phrase, often it’s just “hard-working families” on its own. Whatever the case, it’s quite possibly the dullest PR campaign on the planet.

This wasn’t the first government to employ the words “Hard-working families”. Oh no. That Marxist-Leninist (sarcasm), Gordon Brown, also used the same line in 2005.  It was dull then and it’s dull now.

A BBC article from 2005 says:

It is rapidly becoming the most over-used phrase of the 2005 election.

No policy announcement, whether on crime, immigration, the economy, health or education, is complete without it.

But who exactly are “Britain’s hard-working families”? And why are politicians so obsessed with them?

But tellingly,

“It has always been a Tory message,” says Times columnist and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris.

Ah, so it’s “always been a Tory message”? That says a lot about Nu Labour.

What exactly does this phrase “hard-working families” mean? Well, if one takes it literally, the connotations are rather disturbing. A family is a social unit that includes children and adults. Are you with me so far? Good.  That means that, presumably, a hard-working family will include working children too? There are laws on the statute book that limit the hours that children can work but is the current government seriously suggesting that all kids be made to work? Well, not quite but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Philip Davies or Priti Patel made the crass suggestion that children under the age of 13 be employed to de-fluff the tunnels of the London Underground, for example. Such is the Tories’ fetish for all things 19th century that I sometimes think they’d gladly welcome the return of typhoid and cholera epidemics for a little icing on the cake.

What about those family members who are too old or infirm to carry on working? For this Tory-led government, being old is no excuse and as we already know, you can now work until your drop. Happy with that?

Even those people who are seriously, in some cases, terminally ill, have also been forced into work or onto workfare, only to die a short time later. For those who really cannot work, their benefits are stopped. Then they die. But then death is probably no excuse for not working either.

Linda Wooton was lying in a hospital bed when she was informed that her benefits had been stopped. She died 9 days later.

Let’s be clear, the Tories and Nu Labour aren’t that interested in families, if they were, then they wouldn’t be doing so much to destroy them.  On the one hand Westminster politicians complain about the break-up of the family and on the other, they conspire in its demise. Can’t these people make their minds up?

I was watching The Sunday Politics on BBC1 a few weeks ago when I cauth Andrew Neil  interviewing Michael Green Grant Shapps. During the course of this 5 minute interview, Shapps used the words “hard-working families” about 12 times.  How’s that for dull?  Repeating this sentence ad nauseum/ad tedium convinces no one but the politicians themselves. In short, their catchphrases are as clapped out as their ideas…er, what ideas?

The father of public relations, Edward Bernays, would have approved of the repetitive use of this tired old phrase. Goebbels would have too.  Sorry, did I just break Godwin’s Law there? I hope not.

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Ethics, morality and the right’s economic arguments

Gordon Gekko: patron saint of greedy bastards everywhere

“Greed is good” was the quote attributed to the character Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street. But he never said those words, this is what he said,

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A

As you can see, the sentiment that “greed is good” is contained within the speech. Perhaps the most revealing part of that speech is the phrase “evolutionary spirit”. In other words, the form of capitalism that is currently  being practised is a form of social Darwinism.

Greed is a highly-regarded character flaw among the neoliberals who currently dominate economic discourses. They will tell us that those who salt their vast sums of money away into off-shore accounts are “wealth-creators”, not tax-dodgers who pay their employees peanuts and who continue to rake in vast profits while paying no corporation tax.  As we know already, this newly-coined phrase “wealth-creator” is indicative of an ongoing effort on the part of a group of pathological liars to convince us that it is in our best interests to cut our throats for the benefit of these parasites and, indeed, the nation. These wealth-creators create wealth but only for themselves. You and I will see not a penny of it.

It says a great deal about the morality of the right when they tell us that greed is “natural” and that it should be encouraged. Hayek, whose word is holy writ among neoliberals and the mendacious, self-delusional ‘classical liberals’, rationalized greed as something inherent in our make-up, which therefore meant that the small state should do all it can to facilitate it. No planning. No regulations. Just pure unabashed greed would benefit us all, he alluded.

We don’t praise or celebrate murder nor do we sanction murder as a good thing unless it has been given license, as in the case of war for example, where murder is regarded as a good thing, because it is in the “national interest”. People get medals for murder.  The greedy are rewarded with bigger tax cuts and knighthoods for their ‘risk taking’. The aftermath of the Iraq invasion showed us how both murder and the clever justification for greed could be used as a means of social control and a means to cart loot out of the country under the effective guise of the “free market”. “It isn’t greed” they’d tell us. “This is freedom”!

But why should we praise anyone who is permitted to give full expression to their greed? We don’t praise murderers unless, of course, they wear medals. Should we also allow those who burgle their neighbours to carry on because they’re showing ‘entrepreneurial spirit’? That’s another slippery concept: entrepreneurialism.  What is it? Is Grant Shapps an entrepreneur? Some, his fellow Tories, would think so. I say that he’s a crook and a parasite.

The trickle down theory has been thoroughly discredited. Even George Bush Sr had his doubts when he called it “voodoo economics”. Yet this government and its Lib Dem human shield persist with this notion that only greed can save us from our economic woes. Instead of clamping down on the cheats, they are given ever greater license to rip us off.

I find it bizarre that some of these greedy people would describe themselves as Christians but doesn’t the Tenth Commandment advise against greed? I do believe it does.

What Hayek and his acolytes propose is nothing less than a form of economic natural selection. Those that have money will survive and carry on exploiting others, while those without will either die or will otherwise be enslaved by the greedy.

Greed is no more natural to us than spree-killing. We don’t tolerate spree-killers, why should we tolerate greedy capitalists?

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Filed under Cultism, economic illiteracy, Economics, laissez faire capitalism, neoliberalism, robber baron capitalism, Spiv capitalism

The reshuffle: business as usual

Like other observers of the Westminster Circus, The Cat believes today’s cabinet reshuffle represents little change in government policy in spite of the rearrangement of faces in the various ministries and departments.  One thing is for certain, the reshuffle is a combination of political manoeuvring and blatant arrogance. It’s the government’s great big two fingers up to the people.

A few changes have indeed caught my eye. One move, in particular, was telegraphed to us a couple of weeks ago: David ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’ Laws is back, not as Chief Secretary to the Treasury but as Schools Minister under Michael ‘Pob’ Gove. It’s a perfect match. One is a pathological liar and the other is a pathological liar and a cheat. I’m certain that the privately-educated Laws will fully support Gove’s messianic zeal in smashing the state education system.

Jezza Rhyming-Slang, the government’s equivalent of Catch-22’s Major Major, is now the Health Secretary. Here he is in action.

Wags have already suggested that Jezza may offer Murdoch an NHS franchise. Dr.  Eoin Clarke reminds us that Hunt was  co-author of a book with Dan Hannan, which advocates, among other things,  the abolition of the NHS. Hunt is also involved with Hannan and Carswell’s Direct Democracy think-tank, which was founded in 2010. Here’s what the Lyin’ King said at the time,

Douglas Carswell and I are starting a new campaign: Direct Democracy. Its principles will be familiar to readers of this blog: decentralisation, the direct election of public officials, self-financing councils, devolved welfare, parliamentary control of foreign policy, elected sheriffs, a clean-up of Westminster, lots and lots of referendums – starting with a vote on EU membership.

The last paragraph is the clincher

Direct Democracy is open to anyone who wants to shift power from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to town halls, from state to citizen. Now who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?

My bold. As predictable as clockwork, the auld EU obsession rears its ugly head. You can’t fault the guy’s dedication but blimey, it gets tedious.

I’ve tried finding a website for “Direct Democracy” but every single link is broken. There is their Facebook page.  It has 535 “likes”.

The “Direct democracy” that is being talked about here is something along the lines of a Swiss style system that’s laced with night-watchman state. Think of it as a sort of Victorian wonderland  for the 21st century that’s run for the benefit of oligarchs and those with inherited wealth.

Anyway, I digress, the reshuffle… yeah, dead interesting. The Hush Puppy-wearing Big Beast of the party has been moved from the Justice Ministry and given nothing.  That’s right, he’s now a minister without portfolio. He’s now no more than a long-running soap character who’s marking time without a story-line. Clarke has been replaced by Chris Grayling, a man with no legal experience… like, he’s not a lawyer.  I know, I know, surely a legal qualification  is an absolute prerequisite for anyone who is supposed to be the minister of state responsible for,er, justice? Not in the mind of Lord Snooty! The previous incumbents were barristers. Grayling is a former media producer. What does that tell you?

Maria ‘Killer’ Miller has been moved to Culture, Media and Sport. It’s likely she’s there because she watches the occasional play, is fond of the History Channel and takes in a bit of polo. Being a mad slasher, The Killer will no doubt whip out her chainsaw and get stuck into the arts as she did with the disabled. She’s also Minister for Women and Equality. Yeah, I’m falling off my seat with laughter as I’m typing this.

Over at Transport, Justine Greening was shunted into the International Development sidings. She can’t make too much noise about a proposed third runway at Heathrow while she’s jet-setting about the globe selling arms to friendly dictators. In her stead comes former miner and scab, Patrick McLoughlin.

Grant Shapps, the notorious sockpuppeteer, spiv and rat-faced bastard, has been elevated to the chairmanship of the Conservative Party displacing Sayeeda Warsi. This should please Moonie (did I tell you Sun Myung Moon is dead by the way?) Nile Gardiner, who, among other things, has called for Lord Snooty to ditch her. Gardiner won’t admit to it, but let’s put it this way: his antipathy towards her had less to do with her incompetence than it did her religion and skin colour.

Predictably enough, there are no changes at the top. Gid stays where he is. The Lib Dem contingent remains pretty much intact.  I read a tweet earlier that said, “They’ve replaced shit with shite”. I can’t argue with that.

Finally, have a laugh at Gid being booed at yesterday’s Paralympics.

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Criminalizing homelessness will not solve the housing crisis

Grant ‘Ratboy’ Shapps, friend of the landlord and enemy of the homeless

There has been a housing shortage in Britain since the end of WWII. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the shortage was so acute, that ex-servicemen and their families took to occupying empty buildings. In 1969, the London Street Commune occupied a mansion at 144 Piccadilly to draw attention to the housing shortage.  But the idea of squatting has a much older history, that goes back to the Peasants Revolt in 1381. The Diggers, who were a proto-socialists/anarchists active between 1649 and 1650, also occupied and cultivated waste and common land and encouraged others to pull down the enclosures. But they found themselves persecuted by landowners and many were imprisoned. In the aftermath, the enclosure of common land was accelerated by the passage of further Inclosure Acts, which, by the late 18th Century, had effectively wiped out most of the common land in the country, thus forcing people off the land and into the cities.

British property laws are some of the most arcane in the world and tend to favour the landowner and other moneyed interests. In short, they are a relic of feudalism and, to my knowledge, these property laws have never once been modified. Where else in the world would you find the archaic notion of a leasehold property? We now have shared-ownership schemes which seem to be an extension of the leasehold property but with one difference: you continue to pay rent to a landlord, thus meaning that you will never own the property even if you manage to pay off the mortgage.

This government, like those before it, rather than deal with the housing crisis, prefers to take a sledgehammer to crack a nut and in the process they make people suffer. The new law against squatting criminalizes those who do not have a roof over their head. The Tories, particularly, see squatters purely as criminals. Never mind that rents in the private sector have soared, with landlords raking in massive amounts of money while ignoring the condition of the buildings that  they’re letting out. Council waiting lists are huge and Housing Associations won’t take you unless you’ve been through a local authority first. In short, housing provision in Britain is limited to those who have large salaries and if you don’t have one of those, you’re stuck.

Housing Minister, Grant Shapps,  a man not blessed with a great deal of intellectual talent (like the rest of his party) said on the BBC Website,

For too long, hardworking people have faced long legal battles to get their homes back from squatters, and repair bills reaching into the thousands when they finally leave.

No longer will there be so-called ‘squatters’ rights’. Instead, from next week, we’re tipping the scales of justice back in favour of the homeowner and making the law crystal clear: entering a property with the intention of squatting will be a criminal offence.

Shapps falls back on the well-worn phrase “hardworking people”. It’s as if to suggest that those who squat are not “hardworking”. He uses the word like a magical incantation. In many cases, squatters have actually improved the buildings that they have occupied. But never let the facts get in the way of the narrative, eh Ratboy? Better to fill up our prisons with those whose only crime is to be homeless and then slap them with a £5000 fine, thereby forcing them deeper into penury.

The government continues to lie about the scale of the housing problem. Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt (another rhyming slang) said,

Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said homelessness was at the lowest level for 28 years and the government was spending £400m a year on homelessness and £164m on bringing about 10,000 empty homes back into use.

I’d be interested to know who Blunt arrived at this figure. Furthermore, I have seen no evidence that this government is bringing empty properties “back into use”. I used to know of such a property in Hubert Grove in Clapham North in London. Out of curiosity I decided to track down the landlord, who I discovered was living in Tooting and owned several properties, all of which were in a derelict state. Landlords such as these are the real criminals.

Property in this country has always been subject to civil law. Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act comes into force at midnight, making it an offence to break into a property with the intention of squatting. Nowhere Towers wonders what other civil laws the government wants to convert to criminal laws.

There’s a sympathetic article here by Robert Elms, who was once a squatter. Indeed, I too, have been a squatter and let me tell you, it’s no fun being homeless.

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Council Tax Benefit cuts spell further hardship for the low-waged, poor and vulnerable

Are we about to see a repeat of this?

Just when you think this venal government couldn’t get any crueller, I read today that the Con Dems are to scrap Council Tax Benefit (CTB) and leave it to local councils to make their own arrangements. This is what they describe as “localism”, which in an earlier blog, I described as a “marketing gimmick to sell council cuts”. It would appear that my initial fears have been proven correct. The definition of the word, “empowerment” in the Tory lexicon, is to grant local authorities the power to screw the poor.

This article from today’s Guardian tells us that Lord Snooty faces a rebellion in his own constituency over this issue.

David Cameron is facing a revolt in his own Oxfordshire “backyard” as local Tories join a national outcry over council tax reforms that they say will cost people on low earnings more than £420 a year from next April.

Tory-run West Oxfordshire district council, which covers the prime minister’s Witney constituency, has decided to go it alone and keep the existing system throughout next year, effectively snubbing Cameron’s government.

Council Tax, like the hated Poll tax before it, is not based on an individual’s ability to pay but on local property prices, which are themselves, inaccurate. In some areas, Council Tax is high and in other areas, it is lower. Often, in those areas where Council Tax is low, services have been slashed. Take Hammersmith and Fulham, for example, a council controlled for the last 6 years by the Tories, who have cut local services and forced out community groups out of Palingswick House to make way for Toby Young’s free school. This is evidence enough of how H&F council views those who are not materially wealthy. Here the Council Tax is apparently low but only because of the cuts and the stealth taxes imposed on the local population. These stealth taxes include, ramping up parking charges and charging to cart away bulky items of rubbish, a service that was once offered for free. The borough discount leisure card was scrapped almost as soon as they took power.

The last leader of the council, Stephen ‘Dear Leader’ Greenhalgh made it clear that he wanted more rich people to move into the borough. When in power, he approved the sale of council homes and he has leant on Housing Associations to sell any properties that become void. Property prices have increased dramatically  over the last 5 to 6 years with some properties in the borough selling for as much as £1m. It is unlikely that a council, like Hammersmith and Fulham, which is wholly committed to making life easier for their rich chums, would have its own version of CTB because it despises anyone who is poor or on a low income. Instead, those on low incomes will be forced to move out of the borough.

Polly Toynbee tells us that,

300 councils must each devise their own criteria. Each becomes a mini DWP, establishing its own means test without having access to people’s earnings. Each must divide its benefit pot between varying numbers of claimants each year. Miserly authorities can keep much of it for other purposes. Each decides who is “vulnerable” or whether to include disability living allowance, child benefit or personal savings in declaring who is eligible for how much.

Hammersmith and Fulham is one of those “miserly authorities” and I can expect someone like Foghorn Phibbs or Peter Graham to trot out social Darwinian clichés in defence of the council’s niggardly attitude to those who are on low or no incomes.

I found this interesting site that was set up by the students on the MA Investigative Journalism course at City University.

Hammersmith and Fulham is the fourth most expensive borough in the country, both to rent and to buy property. New developments will not include any more council housing, but will instead provide a large number of properties for rent at the 80 per cent level. That offers little opportunity for current residents on lower incomes to afford to live in the borough independently. Coupled with the Government’s benefit cap, large numbers of people may be forced out of the area.

The scrapping of CTB is the latest in a long line of poorly-conceived ideas to have come from this government, which in spite of its protestations, remains firmly committed to supporting and extending the powers of the rich at the expense of those who can least afford it.

The Worksop Guardian reports that 5,000 families could be at risk in Bassetlaw.

The Salford Star tells us that the mayor could be forced to implement cuts that may affect 20,000 people.

Before the Liberal Democrats accepted the poison chalice of governmental power, they told us that they wanted to scrap Council Tax and replace it with a fairer system of local income taxation. This idea was quietly dropped when Nick Clegg walked through the door of 10 Downing Street.

This government’s justification for CTB cuts is best illustrated by the intellectually-challenged Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, who claims that the cuts will “make work pay and promote local enterprise”. With wages stagnant,  prices increasing week on week, banks reluctant to lend businesses money and living standards falling, how does he see this happening?

This latest wheeze from the government will force even more people into poverty and debt and may even force people out onto the streets. Indeed, this could be another Poll Tax moment for the Tories with people taking to the streets to protest and much else besides.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Cuts, Government & politics, Local government

Hammersmith & Fulham and the Tory money-go-round

It has the dubious distinction of being Private Eye’s Rotten Borough a record 13 times. But Hammersmith & Fulham Tories aren’t bothered; they revel in their bad guy role.

Recently a council property was sold at auction and was featured in BBC1’s awful Homes Under the Hammer. It was sold because the council claims that it didn’t have the money to refurbish it. But the money that it’s made on the sale will go where exactly? On council housing? No. This will become a second home for someone. Which reminds me, why would anyone want a second home in Hammersmith? It’s not Cornwall or Wales.

Shepherds Bush blog also has the story

I found this Telegraph article that appeared on 9 September 2011 about big construction companies funding the Conservative Party. The party has what it calls “donor clubs”  one of which is The Property Forum, which exists to bring together party bigwigs and property and construction moguls.

Mr Slade, who has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservatives individually and through Helical Bar, has claimed that the club plays a key role in shaping the party’s planning policy.

The Cowan Report also has the story.

Helical Bar, along with Grainger plc, are involved in the King Street development, which aims to transform the area around the Town Hall into a London version of Basingstoke.

Slade is also the Chairman of The Property Forum . Annual membership costs a mere £2,500, which presumably grants the donor access to a bag-carrier rather than a minister. Access to someone like that will doubtlessly cost more.

For key players within the property industry to meet senior Members of Parliament over breakfast, discuss current topics and learn about related issues.

I found this on the same page.

Unlike Labour, we are not funded by the Trade Unions. Instead, we rely on the generosity of our committed members. We want to build a broad network of donors, who pay regularly by direct debit which allows us to plan our campaigning activities with greater certainty.

Party Patrons will help us to campaign more effectively in a number of ways:

  • Transmitting our message right across the country to gain support – for the Conservative Party, there’s no such thing as a no-go area.
  • Encouraging existing Conservative voters to join the Party
  • Millions of people vote Conservative, but we want to attract more members who will champion our cause at local level.

This is shameless stuff. The Tories admit that they’re supported by unaccountable and undemocratic bodies which will then dictate policy to the party but, at the same time, attack Labour because of its links with the trade unions, which are democratically elected and accountable institutions – unlike millionaires and corporations.

Slade has been less than flattering about Housing Minister, Grant Shapps

 “He’s just a kid – why should he know what goes on in local authorities?”

Not only is Shapps “just a kid”, he’s a pretty dimwitted kid who regurgitates soundbites on command.

Slade also has a close relationship with Emperor Boris.

He is a close ally of Boris Johnson and donated £20,000 to his campaign to become Mayor of London.

He has previously claimed to have helped shape Mr Johnson’s plan to see 50,000 new affordable homes built in London.

Asked by a newspaper interviewer whether his donations were intended to influence the Mayor’s building policy, he reportedly said: “You do run the thin line of someone saying, ‘I’m only doing this to have access and influence’, but that was what politics was always about. It’s a little unfair, but there must be 20 per cent truth in it.”

“Affordable homes”? Those aren’t council houses, by the way.

Property Week carried this story in 2008.

Mike Slade, chief executive of Helical, said: ‘Despite the current market difficulties, this is an outstanding opportunity for a mixed use regeneration scheme in a borough close to home, where we enjoy other substantial interests.’

Yes, they “enjoy other substantial interests” in the borough. Might these interests have something to do with forcing people out of their homes under the pretense of making “improvements”? Remember this story from HF Conwatch?

Here’s the cabinet document relating to the disposal of Edith Summerskill House.

Nowhere Towers does not have any further information pertaining to the sale of Edith Summerskill House but we suspect that it will be sold to one of the council’s construction ‘partners’.

As we can see, the same companies that fund the Tory Party also do business with Cameron’s favourite asset-stripping council. There’s an old saying: “one had washes the other” and there is no better example if this than the connection between the construction industry and the Tory party.

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The government presses ahead with plans to make more people homeless

Rat Boy wants to take your home away

I see the Tory-led coalition are to press ahead with their plan to force new social housing tenants to accept 2 year contracts. Social landlords will be able to check the financial status of their tenants and if they are earning too much, they will be evicted after 6 months.

I listened with bemusement as I heard Grant Shapps refer to social housing as “subsidized housing” on BBC News this morning. It is obvious what Shapps and the others mean when they refer to “subsidized housing”:  social tenants are “scroungers”.

In the Telegraph, Andrew Porter writes,

The Coalition has countered criticism by pointing to the five million people waiting for a home.

That isn’t a real counter-argument yet the government thinks that by simply saying there are” 5 million waiting for a home” it will magically divert attention from the fact that no social housing was built to replace those properties that were sold under Right To Buy. There is no logic either to the plan or their thinking. But this isn’t about addressing the housing shortage as the government claims. It’s  all about punishing the poor, the low-waged and the vulnerable for the excesses of the banks.

The Right To Buy scheme was the first attempt by the Conservatives to destroy working class communities and thus have the effect of reducing the Labour vote in areas with large numbers of social tenants. This can be seen in two ways: first, it’s social engineering and second, it’s a form of gerrymandering. In the 1990’s, Wandsworth and Westminster City councils both sold off council estates in order to create obedient Tory-voting wards.

Instead of allowing councils to build more homes, their solution is to ignore the housing shortage. It’s not much of a solution when you think about it.

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Boris Johnson: the fallout

Yesterday Boris Johnson claimed that he was against any “Kosovo style” social cleansing of London. His words immediately found their way to their intended target: David Cameron who was out of the country on business. His choice of words was also seized upon by Nick Clegg who described them as “outrageous” while Vince Cable, the pre-election hero, accused him of  being “ludicrously inflammatory”. Yet the government has failed to present a decent counter-argument to the charge that their proposed cap on housing benefit won’t force many people out of London to the periphery. The Housng Minister, Grant Shapps was in denial,

“Just because you are on housing benefit, that shouldn’t give you the ability to live somewhere, where if you are working and not on benefit you can’t. We’d all love to live in different areas, but I can’t afford to live on x street in y location. The housing benefit system has almost created an expectation that you could almost live anywhere, and that’s what has to stop.”

Myths and tropes.

The Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Colin Barrow, claimed on the BBC that people from lower incomes deliberately target his borough because of its stylish properties. Oddly enough he provided no evidence for this assertion. Remember this is the same council that sold off loads of council homes in order to gerrymander certain wards. It also sold off 3 cemeteries for 5p each.

But has Bojo gone all One Nation on the Tory Party? When someone like Johnson comes out with a statement like the one he did yesterday, you have to spend time looking for the reasons behind it. First, the mayoral elections take place in 2 years time.  He has Ken Livingstone snapping at his heels and he wants to try and steal as much thunder from his as he can. Secondly, he is well aware that London relies on a lot of cheap labour and he wants to ensure that there is a massive pool of cheap labour for London’s businesses to draw from. He isn’t doing this for altruistic reasons; his reasons are the same as any other capitalist exploiter of labour.

The press have taken up differing positions: much of the right wing press is reporting how Johnson has been slapped down by Downing Street. Others tell of how Cameron and Johnson are on a collision course over benefits. Kennite claims that his hero has recanted his words. He says “I confess, however, to less sympathy for the capital’s unemployed”.  Alors, quelle surprise! He then goes on to repeat every single right wing cliché in order to bolster his case, like this one,

Of course, everyone has the right to live where they choose. But nobody has the right to require the rest of us to pay for their choice. And on the whole, the real losers will be not the poor, but the private landlords who have bought up council houses and made fortunes from the taxpayer. As the state is by far the biggest customer in their market, they’ll have to cut their rents, helping every tenant – subsidised or not – and further reducing the number who lose their homes.

Maybe he didn’t see the Panorama programme about the dodgy landlords who make a fortune out of Housing Benefit? When have private landlords ever reduced their rents? Someone is being a little naïve here.

Meanwhile the Hon Tobes and The Independent point to the rivalry between Cameron and Johnson that dates back to their time at Eton and Oxford.

One final word: to say that the government’s proposals don’t represent a form of social cleansing would be dishonest. But for the government and its apologists to deny that the effect of the Housing Benefit cap will not force those on low incomes to move elsewhere is equally dishonest.

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Heard the Tory joke about social mobility?

I is biggin' up my estate and my bloods, innit?

Yesterday, David Cameron announced that council homes should not be for life. It’s fine for him to say this, he is the illegitimate descendant of royalty and, like his toff pals in the cabinet,  has never had any need for social housing (or welfare benefits). But the question remains, why force people into buying property when they clearly cannot afford to do so? There is no logic and no sense to this announcement. Why am I not surprised?

Earlier on BBC Breakfast, the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, attempted to soften his leader’s line by saying “If you live in a council house now, this won’t affect you”. I’m not sure what’s going on here. First Cameron says that the security of tenure will be removed from social housing tenants, then his minister says that it isn’t.

Shapps also said that the government would make it possible for council tenants to swap homes. I hate to burst your bubble, Grant but this already exists and it has existed for some time. I understand he’s talking about a “wider swap choice” but what does he mean by “choice” anyway? Is this a sugar coating?

“That’s why I’m putting tenants in the driving seat, with a new opportunity to see people like them looking to exchange social homes not just in their area but across the country, through a new National Home Swap Scheme.”

Ah, yes…the old canard of devolving power from the centre. So how will this new National Home Swap Scheme differ from those schemes already in place? Offering ‘choice’ of swap schemes will not solve the housing crisis.

Cameron has admitted that there will be a ‘big argument’ (I think that’s an understatement). The Independent notes that,

The “big argument” that the Prime Minister foresaw began almost as soon as he had spoken, with critics pointing out that his government plans to push house building down to its lowest level in almost a century, when there are already 4.5 million on housing waiting lists. Next year, it is expected that fewer than 100,000 new homes will be built, for the first time since 1923, because of cuts in public spending. The National Housing Federation has forecast that the cuts will add 350,000 to the already swollen waiting lists.

A comment on this article reveals some shocking ignorance about council house allocation.

The reality is that people who have just arrived in this country are often pushed to the front of the queue.

Wrong, there is no active policy among local authorities that discriminates foreigners over those who have lived here all their lives.  This kind of myth feeds into the governments opposition to social housing.

A spokesperson for Shelter said,

“We do not believe the big question in housing policy is security of tenure for new tenants. The prime minister has sidestepped the fundamental cause of our housing crisis – the desperate lack of affordable housing supply.”

Quite, the housing shortage is not being addressed. It is being sidestepped, ignored and dismissed.

Nick Clegg, take note: there are rumblings of disquiet in your party, as this blogger argues,

It’s not simply the homeless or those in desperate need of a decent home. Many families will never be able to afford to buy their own home, yet face many years in unsuitable and overcrowded accommodation because of a shortage of affordable homes to rent.

As this blog points out, things would be no better under Labour.

We knew we were in trouble no matter who won the last election.

Another four years of New Labour and the injust and intrusive ‘Big Brother’ state and the continuation of the destruction of the Labour movement, or the toffs of the Conservative party with their sole interest, the propping up of the rich to the detriment of the poor in our society…

This blogger reminds us of where it all started

The Conservatives have always hated this, thinking that tenants in council housing always favour Labour. Thatcher tried to get around this by offering council tenants the right to buy their own homes. And those tenants living in very nice council estates snapped the offer up, but millions of others, living in less desirable housing, did not. Indeed, all Thatcher really achieved was in trapping those at the very bottom of the social housing ladder where they were forever. Because, having sold off the desirable council properties, her government stopped building any new council housing.

Of course the real rationale behind this is to create more Tory voters, this is what Thatcher thought when she introduced Right to Buy. The same blogger notes what Shapps said in defence of this new announcement,

“It is time to consider whether our affordable housing system can be better used and whether one of the benefits would be greater social mobility.”

This is not designed to create social mobility at all. That is a myth and smacks of Orwellian doublespeak but then, I have already identified two recent examples of the Conservative penchant for Orwellian language.

Let’s remind ourselves where the current mood for ending social housing comes from: the Tory-controlled London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Johann Hari writes,

People who took this at face value were startled by the first act of the Conservatives on assuming power – a crackdown on the homeless. They immediately sold off 12 homeless shelters, handing them to large property developers. The horrified charity Crisis was offered premises by the BBC to house the abandoned in a shelter over the Christmas period at least. The council refused permission. They said the homeless were a “law and order issue”, and a shelter would attract undesirables to the area. With this in mind, they changed the rules so that the homeless had to “prove” to a sceptical bureaucracy that they had nowhere else to go – and if they failed, they were turned away.

There is no such thing as ‘caring conservatism’; it is, like so many other slogans, a meaningless coupling of words.

I found this riposte to Hari from Hammersmith & Fulham councillor, Harry Phibbs (Phibbs by name…).

The reduction in the number of homeless hostels reflects anachievement in reducing the numbers in temporary accommodation. This is in line with the “good practice” objective the Government has set for Councils to stop using hostels. Does Hari think families should languish in hostels?

Nonsense, you’ve simply displaced the homeless to neighbouring boroughs by reducing the number of homeless hostels.

Here’s Phibbs in another blog

Would it be politically acceptable to end the security of tenure for Council tenants? The moral case that help should go to those in greatest need is strong. But what of the politics? I think the crucial point is for the changes to apply to new tenancies.

I find it amusing the way in which Tories will talk about ‘morality’ as though they had a monopoly on the word. But, as Nietzsche reminds us, when people talk about morality, they’re referring to their morality (or their own amorality) which they try to will force on others.

Phibbs again,

Hari’s claim that holding polo in Hurlingham Park has been at the expense of facilities there is the opposite of the truth. The deal with the World Polo Association is bringing in £170,000 in revenue to the Council over three years plus projects to improve the park and the opportunity for children from local primary schools to have free tickets to the tournament and attend sessions to learn polo themselves. The Labour councillors have just responded with a lot of ignorant class prejudice but the open minded can see the benefits.

I find the use of the phrase “ignorant class prejudice” ironic given the fact that this government is now engaged in an ideological battle to destroy the working class and remove from them any dignity or self-respect that they have. The desire to forge new model Tory voters out of working class people can only end in catastrophe.

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