Sunday, 1 February 2015

Esther McVey - and related matters

On Wednesday morning, 4 February, if you are not otherwise occupied, I suggest you watch Esther McVey give evidence to the Work & Pensions Select Committee on the whole issue of sanctions.  If it isn't on the BBC parliament channel it will be on the government's own parliament website.  The committee has been taking evidence on the effect and workings of the sanctions regime, and they've been hearing the truth from the right people.  So let's see if McVey will repeat her lie in the House of Commons that "sanctions are only used as a last resort".  Even if the rather restrained Chair, Dame Anne Begg, doesn't go for her I'm sure Glenda Jackson, Sheila Gilmore and Debbie Abrahams will.  Radio 4 did an excellent File on Four programme while the previous evidence sessions were going on, and the mainstream press have begun to see the light.  The sad truth is, though, that nothing will come of this if a Conservative government is elected.

And that brings me to another reason why February is important.  On 5 February it's National Voter Registration Day, a day of action to get people who haven't already done so to register to vote in May.  Please, if you're one of those who haven't bothered, get online and sign up to register.  Go to the website and it will take you through it.
Oh, I know I'll get comments saying someone wouldn't dream of voting, for all the usual reasons.  But whether you vote or not, you'll wake up on 8 May with an MP in your constituency and a government in Westminster.  If you want change - and don't we all - look at Greece.  Peacefully and democratically the Greek people have voted in an anti-austerity government.  And now Spain looks like going the same way.  It can be done.  Sermon over.


  1. Employment minister Esther McVey is blaming over-zealous front-line Jobcentre staff for unfair benefit sanctioning practices instead of taking responsibility for the culture that she has created. The DWP ministers have the authority to crack down on this type of malfeasance, but have chosen not to do so because it's being committed at their behest.

    When McVey testifies on benefit sanctions policy this Wednesday before the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Chair Anne Begg should not be deferential to her witness but instead should channel her inner Margaret Hodge and furiously demand to know who within the DWP ordered Jobcentre sanctioning targets (or the equivalent) and unjust and fraudulent benefit sanctions.

    I highly suspect that it was either top DWP officials or the DWP ministers themselves.

    It's a shame that McVey's testimony will be the final oral evidence session of the inquiry. Testimony from whistle-blowing Jobcentre managers could have provided answers to some very important questions.

    As for evidence of Jobcentre malfeasance, please see;;;; and the harrowing blog pieces from

    Full disclosure: Since January 2012, I have been reporting voluntarily to the UN’s human rights office, in Geneva, on the welfare crisis for Britain’s sick and disabled.

    (Montreal, Canada)

  2. Sick of the Work Programme2 February 2015 at 06:33

    Just correcting you on your dates here, Historian- 5th February is actually Thursday, not Wednesday. Also, as the General Election is on 7th May, it is on 8th May that people will wake up to discover which MPs have been elected ;)

  3. According to my on screen TV guide it will be broadcast live from 9.30 on the parliament

  4. Listening to McVey first on TV and now online. A few hastily scribbled snippets:

    McVey refused to answer questions fully or at all, using international comparisons as a convenient cop out.

    She also said sanctions were part of a ''mutual obligation''. McVey kept mentioning sanctions for 4 weeks and 13 weeks but glossed over longer periods up to 3 years.

    McVey also said sanctions had a ''positive impact on people moving into work'' and that they acted as a ''deterrent''.

    McVey is being as evasive and vacuous as ever.

  5. More claptrap from the odious McVey:

    She (McVey) was dismissive as a Labour MP informed her of a woman who discharged herself from hospital just so she wouldn't miss an appointment and thus receive a sanction!

    When told about the rise in food banks, McVey said ''it was wrong to politicise'' food banks.

    McVey's partner in crime, Chris Hayes - Director of Labour Market and Int'l Affairs, DWP claimed that ''it was wrong to link sanctions to suicides''.

    Astonishingly, McVey had the brass neck to state that their were ''no targets or harassment'' regarding the use of sanctions.

    She also claimed ''people would know about a sanction within 5 days''. A neat trick considering many jobseekers have no idea they've been sanctioned in the first place!

    McVey claims that sanctions have reduced by ''7,000 in the last year''.

    Claims yet again that sanctions ''are a deterrent''.

    1. Hold your fire on this. I'll be posting about it soon.


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