Tagged: Chuka Umunna

The Mythical Centre Ground Of British Politics And The Labour Party

Guy Debord's Cat

Chucky: the Tory press’s choice for the Labour Party leadership.

As I was watching the post-election coverage on the BBC, I was struck by the number of Blairites who appeared in the studio to give their ‘analysis’. All of them, without exception, either claimed that Labour had moved “too far to the left” (laughable) or need to “take the centre ground”. The Blairite vultures are now circling the party’s mortally wounded body, ready to pick the flesh clean off the bone.

This idea that Labour needs to “move to the centre” is based entirely on the notion that such a space actually exists in British politics. Since 1994 and Labour’s decision to remove Clause Four from its constitution, the centre ground has shifted inexorably to the right. It has got to the point where the centre is now barely distinguishable from the right-wing of British politics.

It’s an absurd notion…

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Oh God – David Miliband 12/1 to be next Labour leader

A bookmaker has made former South Shields MP David Miliband 12/1 to succeed his brother Ed as leader of the Labour Party.

According to Unibet, the 49-year-old, who narrowly lost to his brother in a leadership contest in 2010, could make a spectacular return.

He rose to prominence as the head of Tony Blair’s policy unit from 1997 to 2001, when he was elected MP for South Shields.

In April 2013 he resigned from Parliament in order to become president and chief executive officer of the International Rescue Committee in New York.

> In other words, he left his constituents to their fate in order to chase the yankee dollar to the tune of £300,000 a year.

 The bye-election he triggered opened South Shields to the possibility of a UKIP MP – in the end, they took 24.2% of the vote and finished second.
I suspect Other Miliband didn’t give a shit – he was probably house-hunting in New York.

Now, with Labour reeling from its heaviest election defeat in years, the bookies are giving odds on a stunning return.

Unibet’s odds are:

BREAKING: Chuka Umunna 9/4

Andy Burnham 2/1

Yvette Cooper 3/1

Dan Jarvis 8/1

Liz Kendall 16/1

David Miliband 12/1

Source –  Hartlepool Mail, 09 May 2015

Solution To Zero-Hours Contracts Is To Rebrand Them, Says Iain Duncan Smith

Zero-hours contracts should be rebranded as “flexible-hours contracts”, Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative work and pensions secretary, has said.

Duncan Smith said the zero-hours description was inaccurate and added to “scare stories” spread by Labour and the media.

He defended the contracts – which do not guarantee any hours of work for an employee – after the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, criticised the “epidemic” of zero-hours working arrangements in the UK since the Conservatives came to power.

Miliband has repeatedly said it is not right that employees get a text message late the night before to tell them whether they have any work in the morning.

He has pledged to ban “exploitative” zero-hours contracts and make sure people are given more secure contracts if they are working for an employer for three months.

But speaking on Sky News, Duncan Smith said:

“I think, with respect, the media and others have got this completely wrong, the flexible-hours contracts I’m talking about which are named ‘zero-hours contracts’, they are taken by people who want that flexibility. The reality is what we’ve had from Labour is a series of scare stories about these.”

Speaking later on the BBC’s World at One, he said he was “genuinely furious” with the Labour party for trying to whip up opposition to zero-hours contracts.

He also refused to outline where the axe would fall in £12bn of planned benefit cuts. Asked whether he would want to cut child benefit by rolling it into universal credit, the new single welfare payment, he said:

“That’s not on the books now. Of course, a future government may well want to look at that.”

Responding to the comments on zero-hours contracts, the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, accused Duncan Smith of “trying to dress up insecurity as flexibility” and suggested he was “living in a parallel universe”.

Labour argues the number of zero-hours contracts has tripled since 2010 but the Office for National Statistics cautions that this may be because of increased awareness about what they are.

In response, the Conservatives claim zero-hours contracts account for just one in 50 jobs and that only 2.3% of workers are on zero-hours contracts.

Duncan Smith and others in the Conservative party, including the prime minister, have argued that many people are happy on zero-hours contracts.

“We know first of all that people who do them are more satisfied with their work-life balance than those who are on fixed-hours contracts, interestingly enough and the average number of hours they work is not, as some people say, tiny numbers, it’s actually 25 hours work a week. So, a tiny proportion of the population is involved in that but overall more people in work, more people have that satisfaction of security, of a good wage packet that brings them and their families hope for the future.”

Esther McVey, the employment minister, has previously tried to rename zero-hours contracts as “enabling-hours contracts”.

Source – The Guardian,  17 Apr 2015

Firms Flouting The Minimum Wage Not Prosecuted In The Past Year

This article  was written by Daniel Boffey, for The Observer on Saturday 22nd November 2014 20.28 UTC

The coalition’s record on low pay has come under attack as new figures revealed that not a single company has been prosecuted in the past year for paying less than the national minimum wage. Despite ministers’ claims that the government is getting tough on under-payers, the last successful criminal prosecution was in February 2013.

That was one of only two prosecutions during the government’s entire term of office to date, according to figures given to parliament. The cases involved the imposition of fines to the value of £3,696 on an opticians in Manchester and £1,000 on a security company in London.

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for the Office for National Statistics recently found that about 287,000 workers were paid at less than the minimum wage in 2012, although the TUC puts the figure closer to 350,000.

Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust, the charity that runs 400 emergency food banks, said that the increasing numbers of people attending its facilities was clear evidence that ministers needed to do more to protect people who were living “on the edge”.

The number of people helped by Trussell Trust food banks in the first half of the 2014-15 financial year is 38% higher than in the same period last year. The trust reported this weekend that 492,641 people were given three days’ food and support, including 176,565 children, between April and September. That compared with 355,982 during the same period in the previous year.

Problems with the social security system continued to be the biggest overall trigger for food bank use (45%), of which “benefit delays” accounted for 30% of referrals, and “benefit changes” 15%, according to the charity.

However, an emerging trend, according to the charity, is that 22% of those helped were referred because of “low income” compared with 16% of referrals in the same period last year – meaning 51,000 more people were referred to a food bank due to low income.

Mould said:

“It is up to the democratically elected parliament to make some decisions and one route is to make it less easy for people to be exploited at the bottom of the labour market. We see people forced to cycle in and out of poverty and they are so close to the edge that it is easy for them to slip under.”

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said that it prosecutes the most serious breaches of the national minimum wage “and where there is clear evidence to do so”. A spokesman said the average cost of a successful prosecution was around £50,000 and that HMRC believed it was preferable to recoup wages for workers through civil penalty powers. In 2013-14, HMRC conducted 1,455 investigations and issued 652 financial penalties.

But the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna MP, said that the coalition was not taking the action needed to enforce the minimum wage. Failing to pay the minimum wage was made a criminal offence in 2007. Under Labour, seven organisations were prosecuted, including Torbay council.

Ummuna said:

“The national minimum wage is one of Labour’s proudest achievements in government and it has made a huge contribution to making work pay, boosting living standards and tackling in-work poverty.

“It is clear that the Tory-led government is not going to take the action needed to properly enforce the minimum wage – so that is why Labour is clear that we need to see higher penalties for rogue companies who don’t pay employees the minimum wage and far more effective enforcement, including by giving local authorities new powers.“

An HMRC spokesman said that the number of staff enforcing the minimum wage now stood at 194 – 40 more than in 2009-10. He said:

“Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal and, as HMRC’s record shows, if employers break the law they will face tough consequences. We conducted 1,455 investigations in 2013-14, securing over £4.6m in wage arrears for over 22,000 workers.

“The vast majority of national minimum wage cases are dealt with using civil penalty powers, as this route is usually the most appropriate, ensures workers receive the wages they’re due, and provides the most cost-effective resolution for taxpayers. However, in more severe cases, HMRC will take criminal action and seek a prosecution.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  22 Nov 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/firms-flouting-minimum-wage-not-prosecuted-past-year/