1) Esther McVey and the rape clause
At a Scottish Parliament Social Security Committee hearing Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey responded to a question about the rape clause in an application form for benefit by claiming that
“this [forced discussion of rape] could give them [benefit applicants] an opportunity to talk about, maybe, something that has happened that they never had before. So it is potentially double support there. Them getting the money they need and maybe an outlet which they might possibly need.”
Untrained benefit staff, who are under extreme pressure from the DWP to deny benefits, will not be able to “support” anyone. McVey’s comment about “double support” was flippant, dishonest and derisory. It was a deliberate statement of contempt from her to women who have been raped.
In parliament Labour MP David Lammy highlighted the racism that informed the Tories’ decision to question the legal residence of people who had moved to the UK as British citizens from various countries in the West Indies decades ago.
In 2014 the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, used the Immigration Act as a means to quietly remove a clause from a previous act of parliament that had helped to protect the legal status of people who had moved to Britain from commonwealth countries. The removal was done sneakily with no consultation and no debate. As a result of its removal, the people to whom it applies have been asked to provide decades-old documentation they no longer had in order to have access to pensions, benefits and healthcare, and their right to remain in the UK has been denied. The consequences have included deportations, denial of state pensions and denial of life-saving healthcare.
The decision to remove the clause was unnecessary and bound to lead to problems. May’s motivation to remove it was informed by the crusade she was on (and still is on) to use racism as a tool ahead of the 2015 general election when the Tories were concerned about losing votes to UKIP.
Even with the aforementioned clause removed from law, all of the people to whom it applied still had the right to live and work in Britain permanently, to claim pensions and benefits and to receive healthcare from the NHS, but the racist xenophobic attitudes that the Tories had encouraged to become ingrained in the Home Office, Border Agency and Immigration Service persuaded those agencies to find spurious reasons to deny many people their legal rights to live in the UK as British citizens.
The reaction by Theresa May to demands to address the illegal deportations and denial of access to public services was her usual tactic of stoic refusal to say or do anything, embellished by cowardice: She declined to be present in parliament when the Windrush issue was discussed yesterday and, initially, refused requests to speak to politicians from commonwealth countries in the Caribbean. The current Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, claimed she did not know how many people had been deported. The Home Office then adopted the tactic of blaming immigration staff for any wrongdoing. Shiftiness, laziness, passing the buck and shrugs were all that the relevant ministers offered.
As David Lammy made very clear, the cause of the problem is wholly informed by seven years of promotion of racism by the Tories.
After dodging the Windrush debate, the prime minister managed to attend a posthumous debate on the air strikes on evacuated buildings near Damascus, Syria. Two and a half days after the air strikes had taken place, and after it had been shown that the buildings destroyed had had no chemical weapons in them nor any manufacturing equipment, the purpose of the debate from the government’s perspective was to laugh their Tory heads off at Labour and SNP complaints and to utter prepared mock gasps at truths aimed at them, particularly the excellent comments from Labour’s Laura Smith.
The prime minister’s contribution to the debate contained no details and no proof. The mob behaviour of the Tory Bratboys was their normal display of petulance that is contemptuous of parliament. The Tories’ intent at the debate was not to answer questions, it was not to give details, it was not to explain actions; their intent was to mock and jeer, with the pre-arranged assistance of Progress MPs like Chris Leslie. For the Tories, military action is just another farce and they treat it with the same frivolity that they throw at everything else. An abject lack of emotional and intellectual maturity is always evident on one side of the House of Commons, and they have nothing else.
In media interviews both May and defence secretary Gavin Williamson used the phrase “highly successful” to describe the air strikes. Clearly, destroying a few cheaply built buildings that had no military significance is neither successful or unsuccessful; it’s just nothing.
Monday April 16th was a typical Tory day of stupidity, dishonesty, distraction, childishness, evasion, obfuscation and uselessness. The day provided a summary of the Tories’ acute ineptitude and their complete detachment. It emphasised that they are an obstacle to government.