A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Slack reporting

Watching Question Time I'm irritated by the way in which shorthand is used for political issues that distorts what they are really about.

Two examples on tonight's programme:

- Panelists implying that Caroline Flint wants council tenants evicted if they are unemployed. Actually what she said was that part of the deal if you are given a council property is that you should have to seek work - which is contentious but not as draconian as it has been suggested. Is there anyone who really thinks that if you are able to work, there should be an option of not seeking work? My problem with her proposal is not the forcing of people to seek work, it's the targeting based on housing tenure - the potentially workshy are not confined to council estates, they also rent privately (through HB) or live in owner-occupied homes courtesy of parents and partners, or their own homes purchased before they stopped working.

- Panelists implying that the 4 Euro referendum rebels (Hoey, Field, Stuart and whoever the other one is) are being threatened by the Chief Whip because they want a referendum on the EU treaty. They are not. They are being carpeted because the campaign they are backing is specifically putting electoral pressure on Labour MPs in marginal seats - and a fairly basic rule of membership of the PLP is that you don't try to reduce the chances of other members of it getting re-elected.


Anonymous Andrea said...

"Panelists implying that the 4 Euro referendum rebels (Hoey, Field, Stuart and whoever the other one is"

Graham Stringer from Manchester Blackley

12:02 am, February 08, 2008

Blogger donpaskini said...

If Caroline Flint didn't want people to think that council tenants would be evicted if they were unemployed, then she should have briefed her press department so that they could have explained that to journalists who rang up, rather than them saying that 'they could neither confirm nor deny' that that was what she meant (i.e. she hadn't bothered to run it by them).

Presumably, unlike Flint, you know that nearly all new council tenants are either parents with very young children or people with an addiction or mental health problems. Which of those groups do you think ought to be forced to seek work?

12:12 am, February 08, 2008

Blogger Jack Ray said...

of course, everybody on jobseekers is already obliged to seek work. So quite what all this has to do with the Housing Secretary is beyond me.

2:49 am, February 08, 2008

Anonymous Ian G said...

"Panelists implying that Caroline Flint wants council tenants evicted if they are unemployed. "Actually what she said was that part of the deal if you are given a council property is that you should have to seek work"

So if, in the opinion of whoever, tenants breached that agreement you would have to evict them. And then what?

I'm sorry, but if Flint didn't know exactly how this would be spun in the media then you really wonder if she's capable of being a minister.

9:57 am, February 08, 2008

Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Luke, Flint's appalling comments are straight out of the Daily Mail right-wing thinking set. They are 'as draconian as it has been suggested'. It's equivalent to what we called the tied cottage system or wages serfdom.

And your clarification that "Actually what she said was that part of the deal if you are given a council property is that you should have to seek work" makes things no better or more unacceptable.

As for "Is there anyone who really thinks that if you are able to work, there should be an option of not seeking work?". Well yes there is , me to start with. I want to know what sort of work you are talking about for a start. I more than welcome the freedom to choose not to work if it is badly paid/and or dangerous (or even unpleasant) or generally harmful to long term wellbeing. But actually, it's no good then going and qualifyiong what was meant because such loose and divisive and ignorant policy babble should be no part of a Labour Governemnt in the first place.

As for Flint herself -what an unedifying excuse for a Labour Minister for Housing when she has to admit that she was 'surprised' at the levels of 40% unemployment among social renting households. Where has she been living? - Certainly not among reall people living in social rented housing.

The levels of unemployment that, dear Carolyn, many of us real workers well knew about, are a direct result of successive Governments' downgrading and residualisation of 'social rented' housing to be the option for only the lowest members of the social-economic ladder.

Luke if this is her level of policy thinking, why don't you suggest to Carolyn that she make it a rule that you undertake to maintain good personal hygiene standards if you want a social rented house? It would be no less a piece of intrusive and objectionble social engineering than the work proposal.

Meantime up here in Glasgow's East End we had Tory Ian Duncan Smith presenting (again!) a very credible report on tackling poverty and the need to truly empower community organisations... I mean it was I.D. Smith who was doing this... and on the same day that Flint's lamentable reactionary drivel came out!

11:39 am, February 08, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I agree with you about the n4 Euro-rebels - they are not doing anything constructive.

But to be honest, Flint and the party should have thought through the likely interpretation of what was said. There is a case given the area-based nature of social exclusion, but the way it came over was simply punitive.

2:37 pm, February 08, 2008

Anonymous David Floyd said...

I don't see how Flint is the victim of slack reporting.

She deliberately indulged in redtop friendly kite-flying which - as you say - doesn't seem to represent a significant change in policy but does promote a more negative view of people who are already portrayed negatively enough in the media as it is.

A system that actually did promote a specifically different system for people actually living in social housing as opposed to others receiving housing benefit would be an incredible combination of the nasty and the absurd.

6:12 pm, February 08, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Caroline Flint knew very well what she was saying....her statement was clear that unemployed people living in council accommodation would have to actively seek work or risk losing their council homes.

For those of you that need a lesson in law, what she was implying is illegal. The state has the legal obligation to provide housing to families...no matter what. If they choose not to look for a job then thats a matter for the benefits agency and not the housing authority.

As for the Euro, I admire any Labour MP that stands for honesty and truth. This week the author of the treaty and an independent european panel has said that the failed constitution and the treaty and almost identical. So Labour should be giving us a referendum final.

What are Labour scared of...why won't they let us make our own minds up.

12:03 am, February 09, 2008

Anonymous jdc said...

If I was throwing people out for disloyalty I'd chuck out (Europhile, incidentally) Charles Clarke before I thought about the MPs who think we should do what was in our manifesto!

9:40 pm, February 09, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Most people want a to vote on the treaty why not give them the vote. Labour were elected on this basis.

Anyone who argues that the treaty is not the constitution hasn't read it.

FACT 1. The author agrees that the constitution and the treaty are the samething...apart from 10 changes out of 250 laws.

FACT 2. The European court has now ruled the two things are virtually identical.

Labour are liars and are denying the British people the right to vote. Basically Labour are facists.

1:15 pm, February 10, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truth is the work shy are not worth bothering about. Whatever category they go in for benefits. What would be worse is spending even more money on them to 're train' and even more money chasing them up to make sure they are going for interviews and turning up for work (like the school attendance officer...)

10:18 pm, February 10, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

The mistake was offering a referendum in the first place.

No referenda, ever

4:27 pm, February 12, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

So a promise is not a promise under NuLabour...more like NuFacist.

10:40 pm, February 12, 2008


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