Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Indyref - forcing more accountability in Westminster?

"Dear Dave,
How long has it been since I've been in touch? Ages, I know... I'm sorry, but can you blame me? The last few PMQs before the Summer recess were SO depressing - all those dodged questions and dodgy statistics, instead of the transparency you keep promising. Then there's the continued dismantling and sale of NHS and education, plus the only banking initiatives you've successfully delivered involve food handouts - who wouldn't be feeling down?
Do you want to guess what nearly made me throw the towel in completely, Dave? It was the news that Boris is back (well have you seen THAT Eddie Mair interview?) and as your partner, in a tennis match bought by the wife of Putin's former deputy finance minister. All to bankroll your election campaign. Shameful. You know the Conservative Party Summer Ball gives one a real sense of the decline in UK democracy and the value of my vote. You very nearly made me cry.
But thank God for the Scottish people - what an inspiration!!! Turning out in their millions they've given me renewed hope, as has the sight of Westminster's three main Parties sweaty attempts to lovebomb Scotland to keep us together. What's so exciting, regardless of whether or not Scotland gains independence, is that the Referendum has brought the possibility for change to all of us in the UK who want a political system based on equality and social justice rather than the Market, cash for access and the Finance Sector. Scotland has reminded the rest of us of the power of each man or woman's vote. Once the count is over, maybe England will start asking more of Westminster. Just imagine how accountable you'd have to be if England woke up to that power the way Scotland has. Wouldn't it be fabulous if 97% of the English population registered too and engaged with the political debate? You guys would have no time for tennis then.
Yours etc,"

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Letter 135: The uncomfortable truth; Tories believe in free speech, unless you're Oxfam or the Trussell Trust

"Dear Dave,

Did Conor Burns get your blessing to refer this poster to the Charities Commission on the grounds that it was too political? Do the Conservatives expect charities to stop drawing attention to poverty and the causes behind it, simply because it embarrasses your government? Seriously, what's politics coming to - next we'll be hearing that someone at the DWP could turn ugly and threaten to close down the Trussell Trust over campaigning on food poverty. Now that really would be bullying behaviour, wouldn't it?

Yours, etc"

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Letter 134: Transparently, it's time for Dave's tax returns to be published

"Dear Dave,
In the name of transparency, please won't you publish your Tax Returns, so I won't have to sign this e-petition: to encourage you to do so? Surely you've nothing to hide...
(After all, if we're all in it together, what's 50p between friends?)

With best wishes, etc"

Friday, 6 June 2014

Letter 133: Yes, the Coalition has increased growth, but in all the wrong areas.

"Dear Dave,
You probably don't want to hear this, but there seems to be real confusion over the speech you wrote for the Queen. Is it as you say, "the packed programme of a busy and radical government", or as the Leader of the Opposition claims, evidence "that you are presiding over a zombie parliament which has run out of ideas"? This morning I listened to Radio 4's Today programme, in the hope of some clarity. Pundits there described it as "Queen's Speech lite" suggesting that you're playing safe because there's so little that the Coalition Government can agree on having fallen out on so much already.
There is one thing both sides of the Coalition cling to, which is your claim that through commitment to austerity we can have growth. But in all honesty, growth could be problematic for you too. Back in April the Huffington Post highlighted a few awkward facts about your GDP growth figures. Employment is also troubling, as your boasts of job growth aren't what they seem. Though you insist that the best way out of poverty is work, since 2010 the number of people working zero hours contracts has increased to 1,000,000, three in four housing benefit claims are now made by people in work and the surge in self employment you so proudly announced recently masks the decrease in traditional employee jobs. It would seem that the growth you prize is to be found in the increase of working poor and children living in poverty. Maybe it's Ed who's right after all; those 11 Bills in your Queen's Speech don't begin to address the UK's problems at all.  

Yours, etc"

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Letter 132: Universal Credit woes swept under Election14 woes.

"Dear Dave, 
So your plans for the Coalition's final year in office were set out today in the Queen's Speech... Forgive me if I don't give it my full attention, something else is distracting me...
What's all this about bad news regarding Universal Credit that Iain Duncan Smith was accused of hiding whilst the local and European elections were taking place? There was a report published - described by The Independent as "damning " I believe, which showed that Mr Duncan Smith's project isn't going as well as he'd like us to think. Is it true that Downing Street released the Major Projects Authority report on the day of the local election results to minimise adverse publicity? Surely not, when you aspire to be the most transparent government. Ever. 
Has the MPA rated Universal Credit as "red" and does this signify that it is"unachievable within reasonable timescales and to a reasonable budget without urgent remedial action"? Lots of questions I know, but then UC will cost a fair whack to implement won't it? There was some suggestion that it would be £12,800,000,000 - over £10.000,000,000 more than the DWP said in 2010. Taxpayers have a right to know what's going on - after all, they're paying for his folly...

Yours with best wishes, etc"  

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Letter 131: Who let foxy old Farage in the hen house, Dave? Look in the mirror, Dave.

"Dear Dave,
Now voting is over, I hear that you're trying to shift the country's attention to growth. Unsurprising, considering the Coalition has lost 13 councils and 426 seats, whilst Labour's gained 5 councils and 339 seats. Like many, I was revolted by that pernicious UKIP election campaign. It was intentionally divisive and misleading - but it's not just UKIP that's played on people's fears, is it? I'm tempted to ask: do you ever wonder if the drip, drip, drip of ugly dog whistle politics (including that of your "go home vans") has backfired on you? Were I a Westminster politician, I'd be alarmed that turnout is so low. I'd also be shamed that the electorate's trust is diminished to such a degree that UKIP can grab so much media and voter attention despite it's vote falling from 23% to 17%. But who let the fox in the hen house? Dog whistle politics in the Westminster Bubble has helped build a platform for UKIP. Instead of saying that you "share their pain" on immigration, maybe it's time to cut the tough talk. Just admit that both the EU and immigrants contribute more than they could ever detract from the UK and elevate the quality of your political debate.

Yours, etc"

Friday, 18 April 2014

Letter 130: Parents are becoming enemies of promise now, Dave

"Dear Dave,
There seem to be alot of teachers in Brighton this Easter... It must be the annual NUT Conference. They're rather chipper - do you think they've heard that an increasing number of parents are enemies of promise now, having doubts about Michael Gove's education reforms?
What could be the cause of the growing opposition? The rise in the number of unqualified teachers in state-funded schools? Or maybe that families are being asked to provide contributions for basic materials normally covered by school budgets? Imagine - people struggling to put food on the table and now they have to equip the classroom with pens and paper too! Could it be that voters are angry Michael has approved plans to spend £45 million on a school for just 500 children. That's SIX times the average cost! Any you talked about learning to do more with less!
Public distrust points to your Education Minister's politicising of education and a lack of transparency, I think. Ask David Laws if you don't believe me - he's already said how "challenging and at times disruptive" the "permanent revolution" can be. By the way, why are struggling free schools being earmarked for special attention? Not a leak in the flagship, surely? If only there was a secret document that could explain it all...

Yours with best wishes, etc"

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Letter 129: The Lord said "Suffer the little children" & lo, CameronJesus took him literally & caused foodbanks 2 proliferate

"Dear Dave
I am totally baffled by your logic (and I'm sure I'm not alone) Could you possibly explain the following? Recently you said,"The Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens" and that "Jesus invented the Big Society 2000 years ago; I just wanted to see more of it."

How can it be then that under your Government, there has been such a massive growth in the need for food parcels? It is beyond shameful Dave, that one million have been handed out in the UK to date. Not quite what Jesus meant by "suffer the little children", you know. Add to this the startling contrast of how you treat your own. Your support of Maria Miller, combined with Iain Duncan Smith's new plans for dealing with ordinary people claiming benefits they are not entitled to, suggests your Government will always have the rich (rather than the poor) with you.
Make no mistake, the huge increase in the need for food parcels and food banks is not a sign of increased civic responsibility, regardless of your insistence. It is a sign of the failure of your economic and social policies. You seem to be paying down the deficit on the backs of the poor - what would Jesus say? I doubt he'd think that passes the "smell test". Reflect on that over Easter as well as finding "time for our whole country to reflect on what Christianity brings to Britain". I'm also praying that you'll see Easter as an opportunity to honestly assess just what your moral mission and welfare reforms bring to the UK's most needy and vulnerable.
Yours, etc"

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Letter 128: George's Budget's not great

"Dear Dave, 
Come play with voters, while George's budget is  disassembled and we wait for someone to crowd fund Grant Shapps' #torybingo poster to display outside Gala halls and Poundland shops:

2.For the

39.Tax havens 
are fine

20. We’ve
got plenty

24.Olde people
 vote more

30. Bullingdon   Bertie

35. Food banks mushroom & thrive

63. Empathy

64. Cuts for
the poor

10. The rich 
gain again

75. Bringing
Dickens alive

1. NHS

38. Longer

48. Dismantle

78. Disabled     can
34. Living

44. Ignore
 young  &

6. More

74. Take from
poor, give
rich more


22. Deficit

4. More

68. Your
can wait

27. Rich

104. Cuts for
the poor

Shall I get the beers in?
Yours with best wishes, etc"


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Letter 127: International Women's Day, Coalition style

"Dear Dave and Nick,
Thanks for this: 
@David_Cameron "On #IWD we celebrate the achievements of women and must redouble our efforts to end discrimination and persecution around the world." 
And this: 
@nick-clegg " helps remind us that we should always support greater equality and promote the achievements of women"
On International Women's Day, it would be reassuring to know that you've got my back. We're going to need all the help we can get, since your tax and benefits changes seem to impact women four times harder than men. Oh blimes, as members of the Quad, you both signed those changes off, didn't you? And what's this? A new £20 billion black hole in public finances? Which we all know you'll be backing George to pay for with more cuts and tax rises.... Sigh. You do know actions speak louder than words, don't you?

Yours with best wishes, speaking as one of the many UK women on a low income,etc "

Friday, 7 March 2014

Letter 126: The protest against cuts to legal aid is a fight for social justice

Dear Dave,
Have you looked outside your window today? What a marvellous turnout of barristers, solicitors and general public opposed to the cuts to legal aid. I just wanted write and let you know that though I couldn't be in London to march with them, I totally support their actions and am there in spirit. It seems I'm in good company. As John Cooper, QC rightly said: "You don't have to be a lawyer to care what happens to justice." My particular concern is the effects of the cuts on abused womenthough there's a much wider impact than just on that vulnerable group. I read in the Guardian that Doreen Lawrence believes that without legal aid, she and her husband might not have been able to continue their campaign for justice. Powerful and timely endorsement. And on the other side of court, shouldn't everyone accused have access to a competent defence lawyer, not just the wealthy?

Yours etc"

Letter 125: It's transparent this government has an immigration problem it wants to hide

"Dear Dave,
I'm going to ask you a question (no, not about domestic help). If you could choose, which would you say is the more embarrassing; that immigration has little effect on unemployment, or that Downing Street has been blocking the civil servant report showing this

Tricky choice though it is, I'd say the latter. Now we know immigration has little effect on unemployment, some good can come form the knowledge. You can stand up to your backbenchers and apply for that EU flood relief. That way you can offer the people of Somerset a better deal that the £20 million announced by Owen Paterson today Plus it's a blessed relief to see the dogwhistle politics shown for what it really is. The misinformation can stop, if only for a little while.

As a voter, I'd say blocking the report concerns me most. You yourself said that trust in politicians is important and I share your belief. So when searching a little deeper, I was dismayed to find six more reports that the Huffington Post say you've suppressed, here:
Transparently, you have a problem.

Yours, etc"

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Letter 124: Well hug a husky! Conservative Party the "Workers' party"? Don't tell their donors...

"Dear Dave,
Hurrah! The Conservative Party has decided to reposition itself as the "Workers' party"! Does that mean we'll see an end to charging employees for taking their employer to tribunal? No? How about those cosy Leaders Group donors dinners, surely they'll stop? Is it true that, in the last 18 months alone, 72 members of the Group have managed to dine privately with you and/or other senior Ministers? I've read that includes a dozen hedge fund managers and five bankers. Eew, hard to explain away. Will those suppers be curtailed now yours is the Party of the People? No? Do tell me it's because you've had an epiphany and we'll be seeing you on a tour of the country, visiting areas of social deprivation, shouting from the roof tops that you're now spearheading the campaign for the Living Wage with said donors dosh as the startup money. Wrong again? Darn it...
So... is the Conservative Party is the Worker's Party? Not when Tory donors have been given NHS contracts worth £1.5 billion under your health reforms, no.

Ok people, move on please. Nothing to see here, just a weak election idea spinning itself into the ground...

Yours etc"

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Letter 123: Less bashing the Bishop Dave, face up to the disgrace of Foodbank proliferation

"Dear Dave
Having watched you bash the Bishops last week over their concern for the most vulnerable in society, I was heartened to see on your Twitter timeline a Conservative survey to find out what voters are really worried about. After all, no one likes a politician who wears blinkers, or who remains deliberately out of touch do theyI must say though, your survey is quite disappointing. It's worryingly narrow and the language is rather loaded. Take Question 1, where "Welfare (making work pay)" is an option. What does that actually mean? If you really wanted to make work pay, you'd stop subsidising employers by topping up wages with with working benefits.You'd insist on a Living Wage and you'd also challenge all the fibs and myths about benefits, unemployment and the working poor instead of perpetuating them. But I digress. 
BRITAIN ISN'T EATING <-- This is what I'm worried about right now and it isn't on your survey. I worry about all the consequences, intended or otherwise that Nick and yourself seem able to talk away (of Welfare reform). Things like the news that one in 6 GPs has been asked to refer a patient to a food bank in the last year, or that 1000s of HIV patients are going hungry as benefit cuts hit. Or that rickets, a disease associated with Victorian poverty is on the increase. I've hear that you think your Welfare changes give people hope. The reality is as the Churches say: THOUSANDS ARE GOING HUNGRY BECAUSE OF BENEFIT CHANGES. Join their call for urgent action: You need to check out what Rachel Reeves has said about your reforms. She could help you design your next survey, so it's not quite so blinkered, too.
With best wishes, etc"

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Letter 122: The Coalition's in a Pickle on Defra cuts and floods

"Dear Dave and Nick,

Gosh, what a Pickle! Last week Somerset, today the Thames Valley. Listening to Eric on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, I couldn't help wondering if your Minister's keenness to use UK flooding as a political football might result in an own goal. Sure enough, Lord Smith's robust response to Eric's finger pointing led us right back to your Chancellor's decisions to make cut backs: 

"When I hear someone criticising the expertise and the professionalism of my staff in the Environment Agency who know more about flood risk management - a hundred times more about flood risk management than any politician ever does - I'm afraid that I'm not going to sit idly by. The Environment Agency is bound by the rules that are laid down by Government. So when someone says that they followed the advice of the Environment Agency, what they were actually doing was following the Treasury rules which are laid down which say how much we can spend and how much we can't spend on any individual flood defence scheme."

And it struck me; water levels, child poverty, homelessness, food bank dependency, all rising under your Coalition government, all impacted very badly by austerity measures. Now you're living with the impact of cutting DEFRA's budget, surely you see that you're also storing up Big trouble for Society with your other cost cutting, short-term policies?

Yours, etc"

For further advice:

(Thanks to @THemingford for his help)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Letter 121: The GE countdown continues; Osborne on NMW, banker bonuses & peanuts

Dear Dave
Gosh it really IS election time isn't it? Last week, LibDems were grumbling because you seemed keen to nick their ideas on fairness. Sneaky. Then today just as Ed Miliband was spellchecking tomorrow's major speech on the Economy, George Osborne rushed in to announce that your Party would back a proposal to increase in the National Minimum Wage from £6.31 to perhaps, maybe, or even possibly, £7 by October 2015.

Well, whoop-de-woo. Though George may think he's stolen everyone's thunder, it's not enough. Far from it. How generous is he really being, when the NMW has been cut by 5% in real terms since 2010 and besides, you'll end up getting a fair bit of that money back into Treasury coffers since, once the NMW goes up, benefits for the working poor go down?

As your Chancellor works hard to show who's side he's on, here's a sobering thought: in April 2013, a minimum wage earner would need to work 380 hours a week to match the annual salary of a top earner on the 99th percentile. I doubt 69p extra an hour is going to shave many hours off that figure, nor distract too many of us from bonus season and tax avoidance.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Letter 120: Combover Cronyism, because David Cameron's worth it

"Dear Dave,
Several years ago, my mother-in- law received an MBE for services to counselling. It was generally agreed that, for her commitment to people struggling with PTSD, she richly deserved recognition. I asked her what she thought of your barber receiving the same award for services to (your?) hairdressing... But after reading that a number of senior Conservatives and party supporters were also recognised in the New Years Honours List, maybe instead I should have asked the people delivering your takeaway. I bet they're gutted that they weren't remembered too.

With best wishes, etc"