Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Raising the Minimum Wage is a moral duty

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The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world and the third largest in Europe, behind France and Germany, with predictions being made we could even overtake Germany by 2030.

So why are we still not paying our unskilled and semi-skilled workers enough to eat and heat in Britain today? The Minimum Wage – the hourly take-home pay set by law – is £6.31 for over 21s. This is immoral considering the inflation-busting cost of energy and food we have seen in this country over many years and boosted by the Labour Party-induced crash of 2008. And this does not even take into account the exorbitant rents and house prices.

It seems George Osborne – at least on the surface – thinks the same. The Chancellor has signalled he intends to raise the Minimum Wage to £7 an hour. This will still leave many living from hand to mouth and still heavily reliant on housing benefit and tax credits to make ends meet but it is a start.

I personally am in favour of the ‘Living Wage’ being enshrined in law. This would be £8.80 in London and £7.65 in the rest of the UK. 

This isn’t a Right versus Left argument (anymore). Labour’s Ed Miliband’s advocates a Living Wage as does Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson who has said he is in favour of people being paid a decent wage for a decent day’s work:

“Paying the London Living Wage is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too.”

We don’t know how Boris (if he was ever in national power) would implement a Living Wage. We do know Ed Miliband would bribe businesses by offering a tax rebate if they sign up to his policy.

But I don’t think businesses should be bribed one penny. The Living Wage should be legislated and let the businesses suck it up. Oh, what’s that? Do I hear some sections of the Tory squirearchy, who opposed the Minimum Wage at its inception, braying it would lose jobs? No it wouldn’t. Read the first paragraph of my post again. Britain is awash with money – it’s just mainly funnelled to the top 1% or to the Exchequer in middle-class tax intake. It is disappointing to read Ipswich’s very own Ben Gummer is not even in favour of raising the Minimum Wage let alone imposing a Living Wage. I personally like Ben so I won’t try and guess why he thinks this – I am happy for him to use the Comments to let us all know.

Raising the Minimum Wage then looking at introducing a Living Wage is a win-win scenario. It means more people paying tax and less money spent subsidising wages through tax credits and rents through housing benefit. In an economy which is the third largest in the EU single market, it is frankly obscene the British Government is forced to subsidise unskilled and semi-skilled workers’ wages with tax credits. This will not end overnight but we must travel in the direction of businesses paying their workers a decent wage commensurate with the profit they make for their owners.

Coupled with the Government’s policy on welfare, soon to be capped at £26,000 and hopefully being pushed lower in the coming years, a raised Minimum Wage will help to show the thousands languishing on benefits that work pays. And it may just help with the number one concern of British people after the economy: uncontrolled immigration. With more incentive given to the indigenous workforce for taking unskilled jobs, it will make Britain less attractive to temporary foreign workers.

The politics of New Labour and Gordon Brown never wanted to deal with the problem of low pay, happy instead to pay unskilled people off with tax credits and benefits, even ghettoising them into whole neighbourhoods. But the politics of George Osborne (even if it is insincere) may help to make this country a more moral place to live.


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The scandal of low pay

Observer_21_7_13_FrontpageOn Saturday evening, I was scrolling through my twitter feed and I saw The Observer frontpage with the headline: ‘The scale of low pay in Britain is a national scandal’. And you know what? I agreed with every word of the headline and story from this left-wing Sunday paper, sister title of The Guardian.

Putting aside for one moment the grotesquely generous benefits system we have in the United Kingdom where millions of people can live comfortably off the taxpayer whilst watching daytime TV all day, it is also grotesque that businesses pay so little to millions of workers they cannot afford to simultaneously heat their homes, feed their kids and save for a rainy day.

During Labour’s rule between 1997-2010, the UK was the fourth richest country on Earth and that is why the Labour Party were able to get away with boosting the benefits systems to such a ridiculous level. We are now the seventh richest country on Earth (I wonder why?) and thankfully the welfare trap is now being tackled by Iain Duncan Smith on the Conservative side of the Coalition Government. But it is not just the bone idle who are claiming benefits. So are people in work.

In-work benefits such as assistance with housing and tax credits had to be brought in to subsidise the businesses who are paying so little to their employees. In short, some businesses are so greedy they don’t even pay their staff enough to live on.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu

The man who calls this a ‘national scandal’ – which it is – is none other than the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. From my experience, I find Archbishop Sentamu a sound man who is a conservative and most of the time I agree with him. Some would say he has become left-wing with his comments on low pay but I agree with them wholeheartedly and I’ve never been accused of being a centrist never mind left-wing.

Businesses who pay such low wages to the extent the worker can’t pay for the essentials in life are immoral because the money is there to pay them more – it’s just squirrelled away into the executives’ bank account. Unskilled workers have had their wages deflated by mass immigration (where there is a thriving black market of workers who will toil for below minimum wage, never mind a living wage) and even in skilled and management jobs wages have not kept up with inflation for nearly fifteen years whilst the price of food, fuel and services have rocketed.

John Sentamu is beginning his chairmanship of the Living Wage Commission and over the next twelve months he and his colleagues will be investigating how the living wage can be brought about for everyone, with a particular focus on how business can be helped to pay a living wage for those who work for them.

The BBC have also recently raised the topic as a back-story to their two-part documentary Nick and Margaret: We All Pay Your Benefitswhich ably made the point the benefits system doesn’t work. One chap in the programme works as a plumber and in episode two he is partnered up with a man who is living on benefits to act as his mentor to help him embrace the world of work once again. It transpires during the programme the plumber earns less than the man living on benefits. Is it any wonder the man on benefits will not pick up any old job? Why bother when you can bring in more from state handouts.

Now this is certainly a problem with the benefits system but it is also because of the scandal of low pay. Even the Government’s welfare reforms are only bringing the benefits cap down to £26,000 – tax free.  You would have to be earning £35,000 at work to make £26,000 a year. As my hairdresser said to me the other day: “Earning £18,000 in Ipswich is a lot of money”. Well it is not a lot of money at all if you a) look at the price of food and fuel and b) if you can claim £26,000 off the taxpayer.

So the question of low pay is a complicated one. But this does not excuse businesses from paying wages so low they don’t cover the cost of living. Because the money is there to pay the workers. Business executives need to seriously question if they need to pay themselves so much compared to their employees. In the corporate world the difference in wages between the CEO and the receptionist is obscene: we are talking millions of pounds. But even in small to medium sized business here in Ipswich the difference is highly questionable.

Is it really necessary to own a helicopter if your call-centre staff can’t afford to heat the house and feed the kids simultaneously?


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Labour encouraged Shameless Mick

ImageA mainstream national newspaper today published a picture of a Land Rover in a disabled parking spot with the snarling headline: “DESPICABLE”.

If only the Labour stalwart Daily Mirror used such vitriolic language to describe the needless deaths of thousands of people at the hands of NHS nurses and doctors or even the way Mick Philpott, for instance, installed two women as cash cows to milk the benefit system claiming another several hundred pounds off the State for every child born, which he duly pocketed himself. Or maybe they could stretch to use the word “DESPICABLE” to describe Philpott’s disdain for his children he killed, so much so that when the eldest child, Duwayne, was dying in hospital, Shamless Mick was kicking off in the corridor about the “crap” hospital who had not provided them with food. No?

Instead, Labour’s favourite red-top used the word “DESPICABLE” to describe Chancellor of the Exchequer getting back into the car his police protection officer had parked in disabled bay at a service station.

The silence from Labour politicians and their Hard-Left allies over the scandal of thousands of people needlessly dying in NHS hospitals is deafening but when it comes to defending a welfare system which allows one man to father 17 children and claim the cost of their upbringing entirely from the taxpayer, receiving £100,000 tax-free, you can’t get the likes of Ed Balls and Owen Jones off the airwaves.

New Labour deliberately grew the welfare state between 1997 and 2010 to hide their economic incompetence in creating real jobs and to build a client-state who would duly vote Labour to ensure their benefits were not stopped by the “Tories”.

Labour’s ideology has cost the taxpayer hundreds of billions of pounds and condemned millions to a life of dependency and idleness.

Labour may not have created a monster like Mick Philpott but they didn’t stop him (and in fact encouraged him) extracting as much money from the welfare system as he possibly could until he was stopped by the judiciary after killing six of his children.

Now that’s despicable.


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UK Welfare State was already infamous before ‘Shameless Mick’

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‘Shamless Mick’ Philpott and his children he killed

The death of six children caused by their parents is an incredibly sad story and this is my overriding thoughts after the conviction of Mick and Mairead Philpott for manslaughter on six counts at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday.

But is also the worst indictment of the welfare system in this country, that a couple could claim £60,000 – tax-free – a year in benefits, could boast about it TWICE on national television, and then through – in part – motivation to get a bigger house from the local council they set fire to their council home, just hoping their children got out alive. They didn’t.

The jury agreed with the prosecution that Philpott’s motivation was money: massive handouts from the taxpayer.

Trial judge Mrs Justice Thirlwall has reserved sentence until tomorrow morning and her words will no doubt be listened to carefully for signs the judiciary believes the welfare system is now dangerously out of control. Even the minister responsible for welfare reform admits he is not reducing the benefits bill to the taxpayer contrary to the fake bleating of the Left. But as the judiciary in the main is part of metropolitan liberal elite, I wouldn’t hold your breath for harsh words from the judge on the hand-out culture we have in this country, never mind a harsh sentence which Mr and Mrs Philpott and their accomplice, Paul Mosley, truly deserve.

This case is the glaring light on a failed system which William Beveridge never wished for or envisaged in his 1942 Social Insurance and Allied Services report which led to the welfare state being put in place by the Labour government after World War II. It was meant to be a safety net if a person lost their job so they didn’t starve. It was never meant to be a way of life. It certainly was never meant to allow someone to take home more money than an average worker, which was a deliberate policy by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown between 1997-2010 to create a Labour client-state and voting fodder.

The Government, for all the announcements over the last few days, have not actually implemented the so-called ‘Universal Credit’, which should stop people being better off on benefits than in work. The computer system which will administer this complex programme is not built yet.

Why should we think the scrounger-state will ever be dismantled?


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Ed Miliband’s Government wouldn’t be much different

Iain Duncan Smith tried so hard but has failed to decrease the welfare bill

Stifled: Iain Duncan Smith has conceded benefit bill will rise

The only Tory policy the coalition may have implemented was in fact a lie all along.

Last week, Iain Duncan Smith was heckled whilst delivering a speech in Scotland by “anti-cuts” activists. The video of the episode spread through the internet more because the Work and Pensions Secretary fought back. But when I watched it, what IDS actually said struck me: “If you listen to what I am saying, you will understand the reality is that this country is not cutting welfare, it is managing the growth [in benefits] at a lower level.”

At the time, I hoped it was just Mr Duncan Smith being a skilled political operative by shutting down the socialist hecklers so he could get on with his speech. But it was only a hope and today the truth has been unveiled by IDS himself.

The Work and Pensions Secretary has confirmed what we feared and has told the Daily Telegraph that unlike other European nations, the “reality is that this country is not cutting welfare” because the Coalition Government is simply “managing” the increase in handouts.

He added: “all those on benefits will still see cash increases in every year of this Parliament”.

This is the nail in the coffin for the Conservative Party at the next General Election as it was the only Tory policy that traditional (i.e. those with principles – age is irrelevant) Conservative-members and Tory voters were holding on to to motivate themselves to cross the Conservative box on polling day. With this flagship policy being exposed as a lie, the game is up. This now makes it more likely Ed Miliband will win a majority in the Commons and become the next Prime Minister in May 2015 or failing that the Liberal Democrats will form a Coalition with Labour, most likely with Vince Cable at the helm of the Yellow Peril.

But will it matter? It’s not as if David Cameron and George Osborne are turning the economy around: the single most important task they have to do and the whole point of David Cameron jumping into bed with Nick Clegg (rather too keenly many backbench Tories think). The country was crippled by debt when Gordon Brown was ousted and instead of cutting the debt, the Coalition is adding a whopping £600bn of national debt onto the pile by the next General Election. This is not only taking Britain into a lost decade of stagnant growth but is highly immoral as the Government is borrowing on the backs of our children and grandchildren to placate the millions of benefit scroungers of today (what are Dave and George frightened of – it’s not as if they vote, never mind vote Tory?!?!).

Every one in three pounds taken from you in income tax is handed out to benefit claimants. And to make it even more sickening, the Coalition is – in real terms – cutting the police and armed forces to pay for it.

Defeat in 2015 is now certain. John Major was right about some parts of the Party being “bastards“. However, this time it is the Liberal yellow-peril loving Cameroons who are taking the Party into the abyss. I don’t blame IDS – he will have tried so hard but he was never one of the Notting Hill fellows!

What have these bastards done to our beloved Party?