Wither Labour?


          Yesterday’s speech by Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister, Chris Bryant, was a masterclass in how Blair style spinning can miscarry. Briefing  the newspapers in advance of the speech, a technique developed to try to secure more and better coverage, is often a double edged sword. Yesterday it was a spectacular boomerang which came back to damage its sender.

           Over the week-end we were told that Labour would launch an attack on companies that used recently arrived migrant labour in place of local talent to drive down wages and worsen employment conditions. By Monday morning, still before the speech, the author was telling us that he no intention of fingering named companies for bad labour practices, and went out of his way to praise Tesco as a good employer. We were all left wondering who he  has in mind to prove his case, and why he cannot cite individual examples of the bad practice he condemns.

            We were also left wondering why Mr Bryant wished to make this point, when his party had been so keen on giving our borders over to  the EU and allowing in many more people over a prolonged period, people who of course wanted and needed jobs. Is Labour going to follow this up with apologising for giving away so much power to the EU over migration and recommending we re-establish our own policy and controls? I doubt it. Surely Mr Bryant must understand that under the EU rules Labour signed up to, any UK company has to treat fairly any job application by someone from another EU country?

           Many others have written extensively about the sloppiness and mismanagement of this incident. I want to use it to illustrate  something else. Mr Miliband’s Labour is very unlike Mr Blair’s Labour in opposition. Mr Blair went out of his way to woo the private sector. He saw a Labour government has to get on with big business, and needs to reassure voters with a different view of free enterprise from that of the left wing core of the Labour movement. Mr Milband’s Labour party delights rather in finding more and more ways to attack large companies, often in preference to  attacking   the Coalition government.

          The best example of this is Labour’s one senior figure who has civil servants reporting to her and a serious role in influencing the public sector. Mrs Hodge, as Chairman of the PAC, works with the National Audit Office and is meant to be the prod, spur and auditor of the public sctor. Her main aim should be to expose waste and worse in public sector bodies, and draw attention to places where goverment fails to deliver value for money or good results. Instead Mrs Hodge spends  much of her time trying to find ways to expose all the things about large private sector companies which the Miliband tendency do not like.

          I have no time for businesses which rip off the public, damage competition, or otherwise act against the public good. Parliament has a role to set out a fair framework of law for the private sector, enforce competitive markets and to supervise the enforcement of that law. Mrs Hodge has enjoyed bringing the four large accountancy firms, Starbucks, Google, Amazon, BT and others before her committee. She seems  more interested in putting private sector companies on the spot  than in pursuing waste, fraud and bad spending within the £700 billion spend of the public sector.  

          Labour front benchers are also often happier exposing alleged or actual bad practices of private sector companies than saying how they would curb excess public spending, raise efficiency and quality in the public sector, and reform badly performing public services. They are quick to criticise pay day loan companies, private sector health providers, private sector landlords and private sector utilities. They have been less noisy about hospitals that have high death rates, schools that fail to educate children to a decent standard, Councils which charge too much and tax too much, or social workers who have not been able to save children at risk. 

                Where  private sector  companies are letting people down or doing the wrong thing of course government and the law enforcement system has a role to play. Of course government and Parliament should deal with abuse.  For Labour it seems like a default position to avoid talking about any possible imperfections in the large public sector. It is in the provision of public services where government and opposition have most influence and should have most responsibility. Labour’s wish to talk more about bad things in the private sector, and to ignore deep problems in  the public, is so unlike the Blair winning formula.

To govern the country a party needs to show balance and judgement.  A party also needs to understand that it can and should  amend and or enforce the law where the private sector errs, but where the public sector errs it is uniquely responsible and has a wide range of powers to sort it out.

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  1. Nina Andreeva
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    JR do not get carried away with the idea that Milliband and Co are not up to it. I do not think that most of the regular commenters here have forgot how just inadequate and unsuited for their jobs are Cameron and Osborne either. The problems that the international economy faces have not gone away either and when they come back they will provide plenty of opportunities to show just what their level of competence is.

    I would not consider Labour to be terminally ill either. How many party members has Dave signed up (or more truly lost) since he became leader? Also Labour’s payroll vote will not go away either. In some respects you seem to be feeding it. The BBC reports this morning that in my native NE (among other usually rundown areas) that the property market is picking up. How is this happening if incomes are usually derived from the civil service or benefits? Remember the biggest bits of the benefits machine are based in the NE being at Longbenton for NI records and Child Benefit in Washington. Where are the cuts? Finally you have the boundary changes to get over too, so just do not write them off yet

    • waramess
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is a bit like the “expensive energy policy party” saying the “anti business party” is lacking in judgment

    • Hope
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Rail fares increasing way above inflation and will no improvements to service. The minister claimed investment is being made, he seems to forget how his colleague wasted millions on the franchise bid process and how the government made a total cock up of the situation. He also seems to forget the vast sums being spent on the EU project to build HS2 and he still cannot produce an accurate figure for its build, £40 billion to date and rising, for one rail journey to save thirty minutes on one route! If he and his boss Cameron drove on the M 4 or 5 or 6 at the moment he might see that the roads are a little overcrowded because of their mass immigration policy they have failed to sort out and swathes more are due here in eight months or so. Energy policy still a complete mess and costing us all a fortune. Add to this the economy and the EU and then the public see that the coalition has not done anything different to Labour. All they have done is continued the same as the previous bunch of incompetents. Blair started wind farms, Milliband was the energy secretary and what has the coalition done? Followed his plans! Former labour ministers writing reports for Cameron, Labour minister acting as social engineering guru. social engineering guru dumbing down university entrance rather than raise school standards. Unnecessary involvement in Middle East wars, and so it goes on, same old same old.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and Cameron has not even been able to arrange a level playing field for the election. The battle is surely lost without a Ukip deal and even then with Cameron’s proven ratting it will be nye impossible and no realistic better leaders around alas.

      • Hope
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Farage is a better leader and speaks common sense. Look at his recent view on tax breaks for married couples. I like his view on economy, EU, energy, defence, education, immigration, tax and traditional families. The sort of things the Tory party used to stand for. Furthermore, I trust what he says. Whereas in contrast I would not believe a word Cameron or Clegg says. On performance to date who could?

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          Farage has even less chance of leading a majority government in 2015 than Cameron does, though he may well beat him in May 2014 in the Eu pretend democracy MEP level.

        • David Price
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          There is no evidence at all that Farage is a “better” leader, he has had several MEP’s defect so there are some issues there. He has not had to deliver on any of his promises so as yet he is untested and unproven.

          Views mean nothing, what has Farage achieved materially for the UK in the EP?

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

            Well Farage is clearly not in any position of power at all, even if he had all the MEPs for the whole of UK he would still be powerless.

            But what has Cameron achieved materially for the UK as Prime Minister? He could not even beat the sitting duck Gordon Brown in the last election due to his “modernising, lefty, pro EU drivel and EU ratting”, he has not even got a fair voting basis for the next election and has ratted on IHT too. What chance has a proven ratter got at the next election with pro EU, high tax borrow and waste and fake green expensive energy policies?

          • David Price
            Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            I’ll not defend Cameron’s record but Farage is certainly no white knight and the continual fluff and bluster from UKIP supporters is tedious to say the least not to say hypocritical considering UKIP have political positions in the EP. UKIP representatives have been riding the EU gravy train for quite some time so exactly what have they material achieved for the UK?

            Perhaps if the UKIP MEPs all quit and contested UK parliament seats wherever and whenever they could we’d get a better perspective on UKIP performance and intention. After all, their stated goal changed from simply getting the UK out of the EU to simply getting in to power.

            Many UKIP supporters have pestered our host to turn his coat, abandon the people who voted for him, to take a hit for the country. Well, why don’t the UKIP grandees take a hit for the country and show what they are made of? If they have no effective power as MEPs why don’t they do something to prove they truly believe in independence from the EU and resign from the EU teat?

            Reply Indeed, if you simply want to vote us out of the EU you have to do that at Westminster. It cannot be done from Strasbourg.

  2. Jerry
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Yes but what is the GOVERNMENT doing, Tory MP’s like you love to mention what Labour can’t do or hasn’t done or what you would have preferred them to have done but you never seem to list what the government has been (or will be) doing, what did the government do in the last three years to bring companies with ‘creative’ tax affairs to account, what has the government done to stop “waste, fraud and bad spending within the £700 billion spend of the public sector“, after all Mrs Hodge can do nothing more than ask questions and write a report, only the GOVERNMENT can actually change things…

    In less then two years Tories like you will be asking us ‘Plebs’ for our support, we won’t want to hear what Labour could not do (because they are our of government), we will want to know what the government, the PM, has done and proposes to do.

    Reply I do usually write about the governent and what is doing and what it could do better

    • Tad Davison
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Not nearly enough Jerry, is the simple answer!


    • Acorn
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Jerry it is certainly becoming easier to see the results of wrong headed thinking on austerity.(Vox EU asserts ed) “How much of the poorer [GDP] outturn can be attributed to the fiscal policy choice of instigating austerity during a bad slump? The answer, using our model as described above, is about 60%. Without austerity, UK real output would now be steadily climbing above its 2007 peak, rather than being stuck 2% below.”

      Reply Real public spending rose and made a positive contribution to output in the first 3 Coalition years.

      • Jerry
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply: That would be why the economy, at best, seems to have flat-lined then, even on the more recent revised figures (rather than being in negative growth territory).

        I really do wish politicains would catch up on the IT revolution, never has that saying about some of the people some of the time and all of the people all of the time been more true…

      • forthurst
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        “Reply Real public spending rose and made a positive contribution to output in the first 3 Coalition years.”

        who needs sticking plaster when the economy can be bound up with red tape?

        • waramess
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          Public spending rose and made a real contribution…….. Surely public sector spending is a consumption of resources, not a contributor.

          Just goes to show how the GDP figures can be distorted. Normally public spending is counted because it is taken from the private sector and so should be considered as part of the overall product but, this time the public sector printed the stuff.

          So, whenever the government now needs to show growth in GDP all it needs to do is print some more and consume. Clever stuff.

          Repkly Buying health care or education with public money rather than private money correctly counts as additional output, just as Eton and BUPA contribute to our GDP.

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 16, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Nonsense what was needed was real cut backs in state waste and spending and balancing reductions in tax to release the private sector. Neither happened.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Well Labour are indeed useless but only very slightly worse than Cameron’s dreadful Tories.

    I too have no time for businesses which rip off the public, damage competition, or otherwise act against the public good. But many do payday lenders, much of the legal profession, parking clamp muggers, banks that charge hugely for going 1p over the limit, dodgy insurance policies, monopoly suppliers of water. At least Plymouth council is doing something against payday 4000% APR lenders even if Cameron will not.

    Indeed some industries like wind, PV, daft energy certificates and similar rip the public off with government grants, legal protections and much encouragement.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Of course the biggest rip off industry is government, where you might have to pay perhaps £200,000+ PA in all your huge taxes and yet only receive perhaps £10,000 PA in rather second rate public services and infrastructure. The rest given to augment the feckless or just wasted by Osborne mainly on complete nonsense.

      • Hope
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        EU budget now£20 billion net. £13 billion on overseas aid and increasing, EU spends a sixth of the budget so Cameron does not even have a say on where it all goes. This is our money he is wasting, borrowing with interest to give away!

  4. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    John – If Mrs Hodge is guilty of the charges you lay against her then what are her colleagues on the Public Accounts Committee doing to alter her focus? Are there not Conservative MPs who are members of that committee?

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Guido Fawkes has been talking about Margaret Hodge for some time now.

      Why is she allowed, under this government to Head up a Committee anyway?

      Of course the Labour Party is attacking big business! Guess who pays about 90% of their income? Now let me see….

      Reply The PAC is always chaired by an Opposition MP with the intent that they will hound government mismanagement of the public sector.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    JR: “Mr Milband’s Labour party delights rather in finding more and more ways to attack large companies, often in preference to attacking the Coalition government.”
    Probably because the Coalition government is little different from them.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      I think people need to wise up and realise that they are effectively being run by the “guild of politicians” no matter who they vote for. All you need to join, as founder member Geo Osborne will tell you, is a PPE degree (or a 2.2 in history in his case) along zero life experience, having lived off daddy’s money or trade union member subs which provided you with a sinecure before you got elected.

      The overwhelming problem for us, and the cheap foreign labour debate highlights it, is that none of the guild have come up with a suitable alternative to the neo lib economic experiment that blew up in their faces in 2007/8. Until someone thinks differently life in the UK is going to get progressively worse.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I listened a to a little bit of the debate on BBC radio yesterday whilst in the car.

    What I found interesting was the seemingly disbelief by the BBC comentators of the actual real life situation with regard to the scale of immigration, low paid jobs, exploitation of some immigrant workers, and the knock on effect that this has for legitimate very small businesses, the self employed, and existing workers in this Country who are having to compete in business with such.

    It was as if they (the BBC) were totally unaware that for years some people have been paid below the minimum wage (but that is against the law they said) and many were living in overcrowded accomodation, some by choice, others under gangmasters control.

    If Chris Bryants cock up speech puts this subject right into focus, so that we can have a serious discussion and debate, then he has, by default, done the Country a great service.

    Perhaps it may also focus the Governments mind on the next group due to enter our Country en mass next year, and what they now urgently need to do about it.

    Perhaps even the BBC may wake up and smell the bacon.
    Or is that asking too much.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      Every single employer round here pays the basic wage. They have to. Otherwise the Unions and the Government and the EU will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

      The people who gain are the Agencies. They indeed pay the basic wage. Then there is housing. Then there is transport to and from work. Then there are long periods when the work dries up and no wages are paid, of course.

      Add to this a lot of swindlers in Eastern Europe etc who will deliver people to England with all sorts of promises and then, literally, dump them on the pavement or in the woods.

      PS There are some good agencies too!

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink


        The fact is that many do work for a rate below the minimum wage.

        Its a case of take it, or leave it for many.

        There is no minimum wage for self employed people.
        Thus workers are listed as self employed, when in reality they are nothing of the sort.

        In other cases accomodation and utilities can be included within the payment calculation, which makes working out an hourly rate almost impossible if the theoretical cost set against that accomodation is calculated as high.

        Yes I know it should not happen, but it does.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      @alan jutson: The only way the UK will get to grips with the ‘problem’ of immigration is if we stop filling our own kids heads with the idea that they can all go to university and earn £??,???K plus salaries doing white collar desk jobs that bring with them the latest iPhone, iPad and fast car etc. Until we start telling school kids that their lot WILL – most likely- be cutting cabbages or “working down pit”, that they can’t really afford to go to university (never mine that they are not actually academically suited or good enough), that the the best the majority will get in further education is a trade day-release apprenticeship linked to them actually bothering and being prepared to do a 4.5 day week, hands on and probably dirty job….only then will we be able to stop having to rely on the migrant labour who don;t carte what they do just so long as it pays the NMW.

      Don’t blame the immigrant for what this country has brought upon its self, you need to go and ask the UK employer why they take on migrant workers, doing so is very illuminating but depressing (for the future of this country)…

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink


        Absolutely agree with you about unrealistic promises being made?promised to students.

        Foreign labour is often taken on because it is believed they have a better work ethic.
        Which is true in very many cases.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        Well you can tell young people that but all it will do is convince them that there’s no point working in the UK so they either won’t try or will emigrate to somewhere with better job prospects.

        You can’t expect those who have worked hard and gotten a decent education to start at the bottom with all the people who couldn’t be bothered to do anything at school.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          @U5: If these kids are good enough they should go to University, the point I was making and which you missed is that many of these kids are not, it is a lie that education has all of a sudden got so much better (in the last 20 years) that hoards of kids are now University fodder – or more to the point that5 hoards of kids have gone from having practical skills to a world of academia, hence why we now have -what the critics call- “easy” subjects that would have been courses offered by Further Education Colleges rather than Universities, if at all…

          Above all, politicains should not use either University or College places as a means to keep the 16-24 year olds off the unemployment statistics!

    • Mark B
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      The BBC will NEVER wake up ! The only way to deal with the BBC is to abolish the Licence Fee (TV Tax) and make it subscription access only like other media providers. Once they are made to face commercial realities like the rest of us, they will learn to think like the rest of us. If not, then we just switch them off by voting with our feet/money.

      • Jerry
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        @Mark B: Oh dear, not that silly argument again, by the same logic if the TVL is scrapped then we will need to scrap advertising on TV also as far more people are made to pay for TV that they do not watch, do not want to watch and in some cases can’t watch even if they wished [1] via the cost of advertising than they do on the TVL fee.

        Oh and the TVL fee is not a tax (although it might be a duty, akin to the VED, or the duty on alcohol), no one is forcing anyone to own, never mind use, television receiving equipment, having to contribute to TV advertising is far more of a tax on the consumer, having to pay for it via the check-outs whilst doing their weekly shop – even if, as I’ve said, the shopper doesn’t even own a TV.

        [1] at least without even further expense, such as having paid for adverts shown on subscription only TV, or because they might be totally blind

        Reply What a strange argument – you can always buy products from companies that do not spend money on tv advertising if that offends you, but you cannot own a tv without paying the Licence fee even if you never watch BBC.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          @JR reply: …and by that logic no one is being forced to use a TV for receiving broadcast television!

          • libertarian
            Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            Er Jerry

            I want to use a TV to receive Non UK broadcast TV but I still have to have a BBC licence , I want to use a smart TV for internet usage but I’m forced to have a BBC licence. Don’t think your point stacks up

          • Bob
            Posted August 14, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            The TV Licence is a hang over from the early days of broadcasting, before digital and satellite.

            Time to consign it to room 101.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            @Bob: The way the RF is broadcast is irrelevant, it is about content, what needs to be broadcast (PSB), what would otherwise be uneconomic for commercail broadcasters to broadcast – there is an argument to be had about what the BBC does and how much the TVL is but unless all the commercial broadcasters are going to provide free air-time (or a levy placed on their income to fund PSB stations) then there is little scope for the TVL to be abolished.

            Please don’t suggest that UK television should be consigned to a fate typical of US television… 🙁

          • Jerry
            Posted August 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            libertarian: Tuff, or are you next going to claim that VED shouldn’t apply to you ‘cos you drive a foreign car!

            Oh and you can use an IP connected TV, you just can’t a/. have the aerial connected and b/. watch any programme if it is being simultaneously broadcast over the air (IP TV’s are no different to using a computer in this respect).

        • uanime5
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Actually John you can own a TV without a TV license. You only need a TV license if you want to watch live broadcasts using any device.


  7. David Hope
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    It is almost comical that the party that allowed and encouraged millions of people to move here, is now complaining that British companies are employing them.

    Margaret Hodge is hypocritical, and I don’t at all like the way Labour get so angry at private companies then say there are no problems with the NHS where people are actually dying.

    All that said, I do think some of the criticism of the tax system is valid. Whilst I would rather see lower flatter taxes for all, you can’t have a situation whereby the big chains pay way less tax than independents. It just isn’t a fair system and is more corporatist than capitalist.

  8. Paul H
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Very well said. The Bryant episode (I listened to the Radio 4 interview and was hysterical with disbelief) shows what can happen when you put politics ahead of principle, convenience ahead of consistency, spin ahead of substance.

    Unfortunately most politicians are cleverer than Bryant and can usually get away with it, Hodge being a case in point. Cameron and Osborne are no better.

    Incidentally, I have occasionally wondered what would happen if one those companies summoned before Hodge said “This is the PUBLIC Accounts Committee. We are a private company. Mind your own business.” Certainly the Standing Order 148 does not seem to give the PAC the right to pry into the private sector.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      @Paul H: “Certainly the Standing Order 148 does not seem to give the PAC the right to pry into the private sector.

      It does if the private company has any dealing or contract with any public body or government department etc, also as these UK owned or UK based private companies will be subject UK tax regulation if PAC can’t get these companies to give answers then there are other -just as ‘enquiring’- select committees who can summon them to appear. They can by all means filibuster a question but they sure can’t hide from them…

      • Handbags
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        Jerry – your comments are always full of poison.

        What’s wrong?

        Tell us something about yourself.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

          Handbags: “Jerry – your comments are always full of poison.

          No more than anyone else, it’s just that I don’t take the cream being offered without questions…

      • Edward2
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        That is not entirely correct Jerry
        The PAC’s original remit was to examine how well the Government spends its money and to examine if it gets value for money.
        The latest Chair is using this remit increasingly to examine private and public companies instead.
        It is being diverted for a lot of its time onto issues which are not really what this PAC should be examining in my opinion.
        The power to summons people is rather vauge, as the most it can do is to hold someone in contempt for refusal to appear or to answer questions..
        There is no real power to imprison or fine.

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    He who pays the Piper calls the tune…

  10. MickC
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Indeed, Blairs government got on only too well with big business-to the detriment of the majority of the populace who feel they have been ripped off regally by the said big business.

    Camerons government is doing exactly the same-and people still feel they are being ripped off. “a party which looks after the rich” is how the Tories are generally viewed-and it is difficult to disagree.

    Not being quite so cosy with big business will, in fact, be a rather good vote winner for Milliband.

  11. Mark B
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    John redwood MP said;

    “Surely Mr Bryant must understand that under the EU rules Labour signed up to, any UK company has to treat fairly any job application by someone from another EU country?”

    No ! The rules are covered by the EEA Agreement/Single Market (signed under Margaret Thatcher) and the free movement of people (one of the four pillars) from EU and affiliated EFTA member states. The only blame that can be laid at Labour’s door, and this can be laid at previous governments as well as this one, is to allow non-EU immigrants into this country. Also, Labour did not sign up to restriction on access of Polish workers’ too the UK unlike Germany, France, Italy etc.

    All political parties have indulged in immigration to get cheap labour for business. No regard as to where they are going to live or how the support services are going to cope is made.

    We can, under exceptional circumstances, restrict Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants into this country in 2014. But our Government (sic) will not tell the people this, much less do it. Because it would me going cap-in-hand too the EU Commission and asking permission, which they are entitled to refuse. Should they refuse, it would show us and the world that we have no control over our borders and our country, and that our Government (sic) is nothing but a farce. Political dynamite.

    The facts are out there. You just got to know where to look.

    Reply On the contrary, Labour’s signature on federal treaties undermined the borders opt out the UK enjoyed under the Conservatives.

  12. WLLL
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    (queries tax arrangements of a named individual ed)

  13. gj wyatt
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Is that a deliberate spelling mistake in the title?
    Nice one JR.
    But it’s an injunction, not a question.

    Reply No, it is not a spelling mistake. It is a question.

    • gj wyatt
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      whither Labour with withered policies?

  14. Richard1
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Interesting comment on the Chris Bryant fiasco by Dan Hodges, the Labour-supporting journalist. He points out that its not incompetence which is the concern about Miliband but his overweening self-righteousness and hypocrisy. It was Labour laws that allow unlimited immigration from EU countries. The absurdity of Mrs Hodge doesn’t get enough prominence in the media – the PAC is needed to do a job but she uses it for populist anti-business grandstanding. Are there not enough sensible backbenchers to get rid of her and put in someone who will do the job? There needs to be much better Parliamentary scrutiny of govt spending not her politicized nonsense.

    I see it is now clearly established by the data that the BBC has a left-wing bias. Perhaps that’s why we don’t hear enough on these subjects.

  15. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    No Labour or Tory government is going to make any changes.

    If you vote for either of them in 2015, you know what you are going to get. More of the same.

  16. Vanessa
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I agree with Paul H about meddling in private companies – it should be none of the Government’s business. But the energy companies, all now privately owned and our water companies, all now privately owned SHOULD be under government control.

    How dare they charge us for their investment in wind and for the subsidies they have to pay. Water is now so expensive and London is going to be charged for a SUPER-SEWER which is only because of EU directives and should not be paid for by the customers. We pay enough to the EU and they should pay for it as well as for all the windmills because it is their directives which make them necessary.

    • David Price
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      All Thames Valley customers are being stung for the London super-sewer, not just the London customers who will benefit from it.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Well the cost of sewers does make up the majority of a water bill for some reason. I think it has something to do with water being metered, while sewerage isn’t.

      Thames Water is also increase their costs because some customers haven’t been paying their bills. Unsure who increasing the cost of these bill will fix this.

      Reply Cleanign dirty water to return to the system is more costly than filtering almost clean water to supply.

  17. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I have just been informed, Mr. Redwood, that you and your colleagues require another £280 from me. Should I drop it round the constituency office, send it directly to ‘bongo bongo’ land or contribute to a fund to provide better housing for all the people you are allowing to come to an already seriously overcrowded, under housed, country?

    Ahhh no – it appears I have pay £280 to have a little piece of coloured paper to put on my car windscreen. Still, it’s only money and you guys have a lot of things to waste it on.

    • alan jutson
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink


      “you guys have a lot of things to waste it on”

      Yes, anything but the roads !

  18. REPay
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    A useful expose of Patricia Hodge and the Labour Party mindset which was also a Brownite mindset:
    1. Private business is useful only insofar as it pays tax and employs people – not a good in itself.
    2. The “public realm” as Brown used to style it, is the real business of the UK. As he once described it is full of hard-working people with no thought of personal reward. By inference the private sector is full of self-serving money-grubbers, whose only value is the tax they pay.

    I am sure rebalancing will happen as the EU erodes London’s position as a financial services. If we are lucky shale gas, which as a by-product attracts manufacturing – plastics and energy intensive industry cf Pennsylvannia. I am dubious about the educational basis for the know-how jobs that Gordon Brown was always talking about but never able or willing to quantify. (A man who believed tipping money onto issues would automatically bring forth positive results – as I suspect do Balls and Miliband.)

    Is there any chance of her committee members reigning in the grandstanding Hodge? Her own fortune comes from a family business which maybe explains why she is so sanctimonious about business, doing penance for the lefty sin of having an entrepreneurial father!

    I am just listening to the affable Chris Mullin telling the BBC that Labour has nothing to apologize for about the state of public finances, it was the bankers…this was of course unchallenged by presenter Martha Kearney.

  19. uanime5
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Surely Mr Bryant must understand that under the EU rules Labour signed up to, any UK company has to treat fairly any job application by someone from another EU country?

    When the UK joined the EU we gave up some power over our borders as freedom of movement (of workers) is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU. However this doesn’t apply to non-EU migrants, which the UK can restrict.

    Mrs Hodge has enjoyed bringing the four large accountancy firms, Starbucks, Google, Amazon, BT and others before her committee.

    I’m not sure why you’re criticising Mrs Hodge’s work in bringing large companies to account over their large scale tax avoidance. Especially since this negative publicity resulted in some companies avoiding less tax, which resulted in an increase in the Government’s tax revenues.

    They have been less noisy about hospitals that have high death rates, schools that fail to educate children to a decent standard, Councils which charge too much and tax too much, or social workers who have not been able to save children at risk.

    The hospitals had a high death rate because they were understaffed, so the solution is to hire more nurses and doctors.

    Schools aren’t educating children to a decent standard because they cannot get decent teachers. They cannot get decent teacher because teachers are constantly abused by the Government for failing to meet the constantly changing objectives, forced to spend a year and £9,000 to train to be a teacher, are given a high workload (creating lessons, teaching, and marking), and could earn much more while working fewer hours in any other industry. So if the Government wants better teachers, especially STEM teachers, they should start paying all applicants to become teachers, and give them a salary and working conditions that will encourage people to become teachers.

    If the Government didn’t keep cutting council’s funding and forcing them to pay for all the problems caused by benefit sanctions then councils wouldn’t need to tax so much.

    If social workers weren’t so overworked they’d have more time to spend on each individual person, reducing the chances of abuse being missed.

    So given that most problems in the public sector are caused by either by the coalition’s policies or the policies of their predecessors (which they haven’t changed) the coalition should be thankful that Labour isn’t condemning it more strongly.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that post Uni
      I’ve got it now, the solution to every problem is……..send more money.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        Just like in the private sector, except everyone gets more money rather than just the senior executives.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          Well not always Uni.
          The private sector, and in particular the SME sector, is very good at doing more for less (without reducing customer service and quality) where I feel the public sector always cries out for more money as the first solution.
          Like you, I feel excessive salaries especially in businesses that are not performing better are wrong.

    • Cary
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      “I’m not sure why you’re criticising Mrs Hodge’s work in bringing large companies to account over their large scale tax avoidance”

      Firstly because avoiding tax is not illegal and, secondly, if it were then Margaret Hodge should be calling HMRC to account for not exercising their public duty to pursue those failing to pay their dues.

      (followed by a personal attack on Mrs Hodge for her past performance at Islington Council which I have not time to check ed)

  20. Tad Davison
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s in Labour’s DNA John, and you won’t change that any time soon. Profit will always be a dirty word to lefties, regardless of whether or not that might ultimately provide a dynamic rather than turgid economy. Their preferred model it seems, is something akin to the old Eastern European satellite soviet state, where everything is centrally controlled, and there was an absence of incentives. No wonder there was such a drink problem in such places, as people needed to blot out the realities of their grey and dour lives.

    I agree that companies need to do their bit and pay their fair share in taxes, but I wonder if the overall tax burden wouldn’t be less for everyone, if our public services (for which Mrs Hodge and her committee is supposed to provide an oversight) were better run?

    As for Mr Bryant, I know of instances where managers at a very big employer, disregard applications for work from British people as they aren’t considered reliable and hard-working enough. Whilst in office, Labour committed some massive travesties against our own people, and the latter needs to remember that come the next general election.

    Tad Davison


    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      @Tad Davison: “Profit will always be a dirty word to lefties

      It’s not the profit per se but were the profits go…

      • libertarian
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        And where exactly DO profits go Jerry?

  21. forthurst
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Why would anyone get out of bed for less than the average wage? Why is Iain Duncan Smith setting his benefits cap at the average not the far fairer and almost certainly substantially lower median wage as it will not be distorted by City ‘earnings’? There is a majority of conservative MPs on the PAC, so why is it following the diktats of its notoriously controversial Chairman?

    The Conservative party needs to start doing instead of continually bloviating about how awful Labour and its people are. Give people a positive reason to vote Conservative, just one. From a legislative and adminstrative point of view Labout bequeathed an Alp, and the Conservative party behaves as though its out for a Sunday afternoon stroll. It’s time to get real and to ditch the Manchurian candidate masquerading as an English Conservative PM.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      I suspect the average wage (£26,500) is being used because the unemployed wont be able to live in London if they only get the median wage (£21,326). It also might lead to people questioning why the median wage is so much lower than the average wage.

  22. Atlas
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Bryant’s doings – Shakespeare would have called them “A comedy of errors”.

    Labour seem to heading towards the bath plughole again after having pulled back from it several months ago.

    John, a quick question – to what extent can the members of the PAC influence their Chairwoman?

    Reply It depends on their powers of persuasion.

  23. Leslie Singleton
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Wither or whither?–Could be either at a pinch

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Wither. Please. It must be ‘wither’.

      Oh Lord, if it is ‘whither’ they might reinvent themselves again, get in for another 13 years and really finish the job they started.

  24. peter davies
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    It is well known what a dreadful bunch of people that sit on the labour front bench – unelectable in my opinion – but as has been said the coalition are not much better given the way they focus on issues like windmills and gay marriage when there are fundamental issues like energy and EU induced costs that are a huge impediment.

    On your point I would say that Mr Bryant probably isn’t that smart to be making such an issue out of this when only a matter of weeks ago I saw newspaper articles quoting Lord Mandelson saying that labour sent out search parties around the world looking for immigrants to fill entry level jobs or words to that effect – thats even before you talk about EU policies.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Unsure if MPs can be described as “unelectable” when they’ve won at least one election.

  25. Pleb
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    17 months to go gentlemen.
    When will the knives become evident?
    I watch with interest.

  26. Dan H.
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    The basic problem Labour have is that they are still heavily controlled by the unions. Originally unions came into being as a necessity as there was a near-complete lack of employment law in place, and workers needed some form of protection. As employment laws became better balanced, the need for unions diminished and as can clearly be seen, the levels of union membership dropped in line with this.

    This has left the Labour Party in a bit of a pickle. The Tories are financed by big business, the Lib-Dems by idealists and the like and poor old Labour are left dancing to the tune of mostly just the public service unions. If you cast your mind back to the WikiLeaks disclosure of American diplomatic estimates of who the next Labour leader would be, you will recall that Ed was nowhere in the running in the opinion of trained diplomats. That Ed won is testament to how horribly union involvement skews the internal politics of the Labour Party; it forces sub-optimal decisions onto the Party.

    This can be seen in the voting records of the Labour Party at general elections. Over the last thirty-odd years, Labour has had no fewer than seven leaders. Of these just one single leader was a demonstrably successful vote-winner, and that was Tony Blair. He achieved repeated electoral victories by the simple yet effective tactic of gagging the vast majority of the Labour Party, to prevent the rank and file and even most of the prospective MPs from losing the election. This is a measure of how badly out-of-touch Labour are now: to win elections enforcing media silence is the only way to do it.

    The major problem Britain has now is not that the Labour Party may win an election, but that a certain David Cameron may lose an election. Losing an election is a purely voluntary thing where Cameron is concerned; he knows how he can win and what it’d take to achieve a victory. Problem is, he doesn’t want to call an IN/OUT referendum on EU membership, he doesn’t want to halt the Green energy gravy train, and he cannot bring himself to go all populist all of a sudden. As has been said before, time will tell.

    • Nina Andreeva
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Eh where have you been living since Blair became PM? Labour being dominated by the unions well thats news to me! None of the Conservatives laws on limiting union power were repealed. The unions also appear to have had zero influence on Labour’s policies either as witnessed by the record levels of social inequality achieved by Blair and Brown. Let alone them being able to stop the problem encountered by their members in trying to sell their labour in the face of a cheaper Eastern Europe alternative. If anything the unions provided the wherewithal for the working class to be battered over the head with a blunt instrument.

      Mind you the above is hardly surprising when you consider that the union leaders have almost performed a similar transformation (to better off lifestyles ed). Look at the six figure pay packets way out of line with what their members earn. (or look at choices of restaurant and holiday etc -ed)

      (Links to articles about a Union leader and the press ed)
      Reply The issue is how much influence the TUs have now over Mr Miliband’s Labour party. Mr Blair’s disagreements with the Unions were famous and well publicised at the time. The issue of how much to pay Union leaders is a matter for the Union members to decide. What Union members do with their money is surely up to them.If Union members want well paid leaders then we should expect those leaders to spend their money.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Dan H.: “The basic problem Labour have is that they are still heavily controlled by the unions.

      As indeed the Tory party are controlled by the “Bosses”, if we are going to make sweeping generalisations, and don’t forget that the Labour Party was set up by the Unions – it is their party to control!

  27. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    We were promised a bonfire of the quangos. We didn’t get it.

    We were promised a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. We didn’t get it.

    We were promised the deficit would be eliminated by the end of this parliament. It won’t be.

    We were promised immigration down to ‘the tens of thousands’. We didn’t get it. We will get a lot more immigration next January. The government will wring its hands while this happens.

    Really, what is the point of the Tory party?

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Mike Wilson: You missed the most important one out, we were promised a strong Tory majority, we got a coalition…

  28. RB
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    “I have no time for businesses which rip off the public, damage competition, or otherwise act against the public good.”

    Mr R I am delighted to hear this. Can you therefore get on top of the gas. electricity, water and train operators?

    Repkly If you have evidence of anti competitive conduct then submit it to the Competition authorities.

    • David Price
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      There is no competition possible in water, it is a monopoly. I have no choice but to be fleeced by Thames Water to fund a London “super sewer” that will provide me neither service nor benefit. Even worse, they also intend to fleece me to cover lost revenue because they are incapable of recovering monies owed by defaulters. Yet the company quite readily found funds to pay it’s foreign shareholders.

      If there were true competition in this resource I would have a choice, as things stand I have none.

      Reply Competition can be introduced into the water industry, as I have often advocated. They have done so in Scotland for business users, but we need to take that further.

      • David Price
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        The sooner there is real competition that forces fair pricing, a customer focus and proper investment the better.

      • Jerry
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply: The billing can have competition added but the supply of the actual service is not so easy, there is only one electricity cable, one gas pipe, one set of phone lines, one water supply pipe, one waste-water sewer in my street, if the service/cost of using those private providers -even though I can choose who I am charged by- is poor then how do I have a choice other than one by a certain Mr Hobson? Sorry but what you7 talk of is nothing but faux competition, yes the Utilities company name on the head of the Bill can be changed but the actual service provider can’t.

        Reply There can be more than one cable, there can be radio links as well as wires, there can be plenty of com petition in producing the water/elecricity gas etc

        • Jerry
          Posted August 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          @JR reply: Yeah, like we were all going to have access to cable TV, like we are all going to have super fast fibre broadband etc. – that is until the commercial companies realise that installing such infrastructure is uneconomic and thus will not return a profit. As for your silly comment about the use of RF, well…

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply: Alleges anti competitive actions in a specified sector without itemising them. Please send in your evidence to the authorities if you have a good case.

      • Jerry
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        @JR censorship: Joseph Goebbels would be proud…

        • Edward2
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          You ought to be thanking our host Jerry, for taking his valuable time to edit posts, saving you from the chance of being sued for making allegations against named companies.
          There have been recent cases where web comments have led to actual damages being enforced so we all need to take care.
          Just because we use “nom de plumes” on here does not stop legal action being taken.
          And your response was, I felt, dreadful and in very bad taste.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

            @Ed2: As you don’t know what I was talking about you need to be very careful yourself…

          • Edward2
            Posted August 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            Comparing JR’s careful editing to one of the world’s most notorious Nazi propaganda mass murderers is not reasonable
            In fact it is quite outrageous.
            You should start your own blog under your own name and stand bravely behind all you say then Jerry.
            Hope you have lots of money set aside for any court cases that might arise.
            But as a guest on here you need to accept that our host has to take care and decide what is said on this site.

            Reply Thank you for that. I would not have allowed such a comment about anyone else, as I am trying to protect contributors here from possible legal action. I am not planning action myself as I trust people will see the comparison as ludicrous.

      • Jerry
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        John, the fact that you don’t even allow me to mention the technology, because it would ID the company name, makes it self evidence that the sector is anti competitive, there doesn’t need to be any specific actions.

        Reply There do. You need to report abuse of market position.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          @JR: We both know who I am not allowed to mention, so either your knowledge of the sector in which this company operates is either very lamentable or you have decided that in 2015 the Tory party will need all the help it can get!

          The fact that you seem to be denning that -to draw a parallel- just because there is only one suppler of “Martian Widgets” in the UK there is nothing anti competitive going on even though it is in the power of the government to make sure that there was at least two suppliers – I bet (to pick up on your current blog) if BTC was still in existence and I was demanding that their monopoly in transport was broken-up by the government action you would have been more than happy allow me to make my case without all this cloak and dagger silliness – hence why I consider that your ‘moderation’ of me is more political censorship then legal necessity… But much kudos to you for allowing my fit of peak, one-liner!…

          Reply: I just apply the simple rule that I do not post unsubstantiated allegations about individuals, institutions and companies, nor allegations that may have some substance but where I do not have time to assess them. We have seen recent examples of people reposting and retweeting allegations that have turned out to be unfair and expensive to the posters.
          In the case you mention I do not think you have sent in serious allegations of anti competitive behaviour. If you have any such evidence you should send it to the authorities to evaluate,. I have no wish to protect any monopoly that is behaving badly, but in this case I do not either think it is a monopoly nor think I have seen any evidence of bad conduct.

          • Jerry
            Posted August 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            @JR reply: Like many a Tory (and in the past, like many a Blairite Labour MP), more like you don’t want to know…

  29. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    As far as I can see there is good and bad in both private and public. yet my personal bad experiences have been exclusively bad. The wrong attitude seems to prevail in the private sector with hierarchical despots very concerned about their own petty power.
    We cannot stop the relationship between the blue chips and the public sector now. They are co- dependent. We have gone too far with the PLC’s to go back.
    Withering catfish is the menu for both sides of the house .The powers of persuasion appear to be very closely tied with personal ambition , there seems to be hardly “a fag paper between them”

  30. Leslie Singleton
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Just read Ms Riddell in the Torygraph, their resident left wing counterweight. No wonder Labour are getting in to trouble. What she says on so called Zero Hours Contracts (they are no such thing of course) is baloney because it is unarguable that some people (never mind the employers of course) certainly do benefit from and value them and till somebody comes up with a replacement they are without doubt better than nothing, not to mention that they are voluntary. And as regards immigration the woman doesn’t seem able to distinguish between whether such is legal or illegal.

    • Jerry
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      @Leslie Singleton: You really should get out more, the Zero hour contract is very much a reality and is very much alive, but then you seem to think that by reading a biased column in a right wing newspaper pretending to know what the left-wing is thinking/doing that you are informed – thanks for showing up just how ill-informed you really are!

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted August 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        Jerry–Eh? I didn’t say, nor even close, that Zero Hours Contracts were not a reality. What I did say was that for a certainty they benefit at least some people. I think what you are trying to say (though honestly it is hard to tell sometimes) is that you would prefer it if the jobs market were such that they were not necessary but even then some people would prefer them rather than 9 to 5. And they are NOT “zero hours” in any meaningful sense as regards hours actually worked. Once again trying to interpret what you have written I think you are trying to say that there is no commitment to more than zero hours. So what, in the sense that how much commitment would there be if they were abolished–then and only then would the position really be zero hours

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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