It seems that the English Health Secretary has been caught out after he made “errors” by neglecting to declare his interest in a company, set up with his wife, which bought up luxury flats.
According to the Guardian, Hunt said that “his failure to declare a business interest with both Companies House and the parliamentary register of MPs’ interests was down to “honest administrative mistakes” and that he did not gain financially as a result.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Jeremy has rightly apologised for an administrative oversight, and as the Cabinet Office have (sic) made clear there has been no breach of the ministerial code.
“We consider the matter closed.”
Oh well, that’s OK, isn’t it? Because, in fairness, people do sometimes make mistakes. Honest ones. And why, just because Mr Hunt is very rich and very powerful, and clearly has something on the Maybot (given the fact that she tried to sack him in the last reshuffle and ended up promoting him instead) would that be any different?
And, surely, there is no doubt that we should give people the benefit of the doubt?
Of course not…
So, in that case, some of these decisions, made by agencies of the self-same government may surprise you…
For some time it has been the government’s policy that it is good for people with disabilities to have a job, earn money, take themselves out of poverty and dependency. (Not that having a job in the UK does any of these things, but we are talking about the UK government here, so don’t expect any kind of sense or decency.)
There was nothing stopping people, they reckoned, getting out there and getting on with it. And so they redesigned the medical examinations system for Disability Benefits.
Instead of looking at a person’s illness or disability, considering how they would manage a job and whether they would be likely to be offered a job, or whether their disability would be considered too much of a liability to a potential employer, they looked at whether or not a person was capable of doing anything at all, whether or not anyone would be likely to employ them to do it.
If they could walk a few steps, sit up, move even a little, that was it. Off disability benefits and onto the lower paid job seeking benefits. The real, indeed the only, aim was to save money.
We’ve all seen the ridiculous examples of people whose disabilities make it hard enough just to get through the day without having a job to do, being taken off their benefits and told to look for work. And it is interesting that over 50% of those who appeal against that withdrawal, have the decision overturned by the legal system (which, unlike Jobcentre and the private companies it employs to carry out these tests, does not have targets to fulfil).
So, until recently the government was blaming disabled people for scrounging from the system and being a burden to the country.
Now, apparently, thanks to the drive to get people with disabilities into work, more people with disabilities are working. So is the government happy?
Britain has a productivity problem. Brits simply produce less per man hour than workers in other large economies. I’d say there were a large number of reasons for this.
British infrastructure is poor; connectivity is abysmal; management is crap; employee incentives, at the bottom end of the market, are dismal. I’ll stop there because I’m running out of negative adjectives, but you get the drift.
Dead end jobs with no security, short-term and zero-hours contracts, bad management, wages which leave people having to collect social security top-ups, firms struggling to get things moved or to do business on a slow (and sometimes non-existent internet or mobile phone cover) are all either disincentives to hard work or blocks to achievement.
Many people hate their jobs and hate their employers, are bored and dissatisfied. They know they may not be there this time next month. Why would they work hard?
But dear old Philip Hammond (we call him Smiler Hammond at Munguin Towers for his cheery smile and jolly ways) has decided that these things aren’t the real reason for the fact that we get precious little done here.
Yep, that’s right. Britain’s productivity crisis is about the fact that more people with disabilities are working, but presumably not at the pace that able-bodied people would work… QED. Seems if you have a disability, it’s going to be your fault, one way or another.
Come on people, let’s get the hell out of this sickening country while we can.
And when I say well, I don’t mean that things are going well. I just mean W-e-l-l…
You see, we have in the UK:
the slowest wage growth since Napoleonic Wars;
the worst productivity for 2 centuries;
a national debt which has doubled in 7 yrs;
the highest inflation rate for 5 years;
the lowest ever UK credit rating;
the highest ever trade gap;
a budget deficit still £50 billion, despite 7 years of austerity;
debt standing at £1,940,773,400,000 and climbing at £5,170 per second, so heaven knows what it will be when you read this.
Additionally, hospitals, GPs, schools, roads, transport, council services are all chronically underfunded and collapsing under the strain of cuts and of trained and qualified people leaving the sinking ship. And of course, to save money, the government is going ahead with the disastrous, underfunded, badly set up and even worse managed Universal Credit, which sees people wait for months for their benefits, a part of a benefits system to which may be attributed the deaths of thousands of people.
As if that were not enough, the UK is dealing with the most difficult and complex issues it has faced, at least since world war two.
And in charge (and I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek), while all this goes on, we have a bunch of squabbling, badly behaved, incompetent pests, who find it hard to keep their trousers on, and dependent for their majority on a party made up of people who really believe that the world started 6,000 years ago and that the Giant’s Causeway was created late on THAT Saturday night, after which God rested!
So all in all, not too well, rather than well, I’d say… but what do I know?
I’m just gonna sing a wee song with my musical director here.
Those of you who have followed Munguin’s New Republic, and his old one too, for a long time, will know that I’m a ridiculously big fan of Petula Clark, who, over the years I’ve been to see in hundreds of places and on a few occasions got to sing with. Today (Nov 15) is Petula’s birthday. Not that I suppose she’d thank me for mentioning it, but it’s her 85th birthday.
She is celebrating it in the way she does best. She has kicked off a concert tour of the USA with a new English language album “Living for Today”, so she’ll be singing, which is what she likes to do better than anything else.
She’s just spent the summer in Québec making an album of French Canadian songs with young upcoming Québecois writers and producers. When she finishes the USA tour she will be touring Canada with her new French album. By the time all this is over she’ll be pretty nearly 86 years old.
She has now been in show business for 77 years.
You may or may not like her music, but what you can’t ever knock is her boundless energy and enthusiasm.
It’s my favourite rendition. Somehow the enthusiasm of the players matches my feelings of pride when I hear it, and the uncertainty of where exactly the music is leading us to reflects perfectly the atmosphere of “lost and abandoned” that a lot of us feel.
But the question is, do the Libyans know that the mad mop head that just arrived from London isn’t actually the Queen of England?
And are the Libyan people suitably grateful for the intervention of Britain (and France and the USA) in their affairs?