Rupa Huq is inauthentic

Rupa with bikeI noticed a tweet today from the Labour candidate for the Ealing Central & Acton constituency Rupa Huq offering some pledges. Ah! I thought. Some meat to get into at last. I will get back to her pledges but the first thing I noticed about her website was the photo showing Rupa with a bike at the Bike Hub at Ealing Broadway. I have often bumped into Rupa and I have never seen her on a bike. This does not make her a bad person. I have an old Holdsworth racer that I use rarely when the weather is fine. It doesn’t really make me a cyclist – or a bad person that I don’t cycle much. When I saw the photo of Rupa with a bike my first impression was “fake”.

When I looked again and saw it was a huge, fancy road bike with those lay downy elbow support things I knew it was a posed picture with someone else’s bike. At least when council leader Julian Bell and Labour transport spokesman Bassam Mahfouz endlessly pose on their bikes you know they do actually cycle regularly.

There is something inauthentic about Rupa. She keeps telling little lies.

One of her favourite ones, repeated only this week is that she has had any role in local politics. She spent one year as Deputy Mayoress to Labour Councillor John Gallagher in 2010/11. John didn’t have a partner so Rupa was his official wife for the year. This role involved riding around in the Mayor’s car and eating vol au vents at official functions. Rupa wants people to think she has played a substantive role in local politics. She hasn’t. She is fibbing.

If you want to read something really embarrassing about this period in her life read this in the Guardian. Please!

Rupa keeps missing out information about her schooling. She is up front about going to Montpelier Primary School but keeps missing out the elite Notting Hill and Ealing High School in her CV. Maybe leave out both or discuss both but to mention one and not the other is to seek to deceive.

Her third fib is the whole Dr Huq thing. Sure she has a doctorate and she is a bright woman no doubt. But, if you are going to talk about the NHS as your main campaign theme and call yourself Dr, then you invite people to make an assumption about you that simply isn’t true.

Yes, Rupa is a local woman and capable I am sure but she comes across as being inauthentic.

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Don’t believe Labour’s tax con

Labour spokespeople are consistently talking about the way they will close the deficit over the next Parliament. They talk about three routes:

  • Sensible cuts
  • Making the rich pay more, and
  • Making work pay.

Peter Brookes cartoon

The sensible cuts line was best debunked by this cartoon by Peter Brookes in the Times. Apparently when the Tories cut it always harrowing and unfair. The Labour axe is so much more fragrant and “sensible”. The reality is that Labour will probably not cut as much as the Tories will as they ultimately don’t see the need even if they could get cuts past their union backers. The biggest “cut” they will make is by ramping up council tax to pass the burden of paying for local services from central government to Council Tax payers. So not a cut really but a tax rise for council tax payers. More on this another time.

Making the rich pay more is Labour’s get out of jail free card. The Mansion Tax, non-doms (today’s easy target that will more likely reduce the tax take), 50% rate, bankers’ bonuses, etc. They all sound grand. They all sound like someone else is going to pay and that regular people can really have free loveliness at no cost to them. In reality all of these changes are likely to disincentivise risk takers and wealth producers and make us all poorer. Good politics but bad economics. Ultimately all of these measures are likely to have only a negligible effect on the overall tax take.

The making work pay line is Labour’s latest magical money tree. They know that they cannot admit that taxes will rise and that they have to try to capture some financial credibility. The idea simply is that by mandating higher pay this will flow through to a higher tax take. It is a nice idea. Companies pay higher wages and we will all live happily ever after. The trouble is we already have too low a productivity in this country and Labour are going to ramp the cost of labour. What effect will this have? Businesses will start to shed labour. Unemployment will rise. Sure some workers will be better off. The state will have to pick up the tab for the unemployed. Maybe the tax take will rise, but so will the benefits bill. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Ultimately the UK tax base rests on the VAT, NI and income tax that ordinary people pay. If Labour fails to cut and keeps spending and borrowing then ordinary people will pick up the tab. The non-dom thing, and all the rest of it, is just a distraction from the main event. Who do you trust? Do you trust the people making up stories or the ones telling it straight?

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The Ealing jobs miracle

Yesterday the Gazette reported that the number of people on JSA had gone down by 25% in Ealing in the last year. I figured it was worth looking back a little further. All you have to do is go to the ONS’s nomis database.

Ealing Claimant count

In May 2010 the claimant count (those people on JSA) was 8,810. In February, the last month for which data is available the claimant count was 5,350. That is a fall of 39% with the Tory-led Coalition as our friends like to call it.

Ealing Youth Claimant Count

The picture with youth unemployment is even better. In May 2010 the youth claimant count was 1,780. In February, the last month for which the data is available the youth claimant count was 850. That is a massive fall of over half, 52%, with the Tory-led Coalition.

Both graphs make it clear that the Tory-led Coalition’s jobs miracle has happened for young and old, for Londoners and across Great Britain.

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Southall councillor and accountant gives efficiently. What does Sarfraz Khan want for his money from Rupa Huq?

A quick check on donations registered at the Electoral Commission to the Central Ealing and Acton CLP shows that Rupa Huq’s campaign received a donation of £3,000 from Weaver Rose Accountants Ltd, Weaver Rose House, Southall UB1 3DN on 24th October 2014.

Who or what is Weaver Rose? It is essentially a one man band accountancy shop run by none other than Southall Broadway Labour councillor Sarfraz Khan.

On his website Sarfraz Khan offers himself as a tax consultant. Obviously it is much more tax efficient to give Rupa Huq cash though his company than to fund her out of his taxed income. But being tax efficient is fine if the cash is going to the Labour party isn’t it?

20110415_Weaver_Rose_1186

Sarfraz Khan was elected as a councillor in 2014 but a history as a political wannabe.

Ealing is a big place but is already too dominated by Southall and its bizarre politics. We know Rupa Huq is in Julian Bell’s pocket who in turn is beholden to Southall MP Virendra Sharma, his employer in his second job. Now it traspires that Rupa Huq depends on money from Southall too.

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Councillor Manro might like to sort out Ealing Council’s use of zero hours contracts before he starts repeating dodgy stats

Labour local councillor Shital Manro has a passing interest in economics. He is a nice chap and we often debate economic issues on Twitter. A bit trainspotterish I know but call it a hobby.

Shital highlighted this picture yesterday which was originally published by a Labour PPC called Amina Lone. I don’t know if she just republished something that she didn’t understand or whether she created it. Anyway it is total nonsense and whoever created probably did so knowing it was nonsense.

The underlying data comes from the ONS. You will search their document in vain for this picture. The reason ONS didn’t make a chart out of their data is because it would be misleading and show a trend that does not really exist. The data comes from the Labour Force Survey and records how many people report that they are on Zero Hours contracts. Because these arrangements have been in the news, especially in 2013, more people are reporting that they are employed on this basis. No-one really knows how many people are on these arrangements, which are ill-defined. More here from Full Fact.

Anyway, a quick look at the graph and the fact that the number more than doubled between 2012 and 2013 tells you it is a glitch in the data and not a real effect in the labour market. Employment practices and people’s behaviour simply don’t change that fast. The data the graph was made from has this caveat at the top:

Zero hours health warning

Councillor Manro might like to check for himself if the council still has 303 staff on zero hours contracts. When this was all in the news in August 2013 this is what officers told us was the situation in Ealing.

Ealing Council zero hours

In many cases these flexible contracts work well for both sides. The government is seeking to ban exclusivity (which is self-defeating if you think about it). When Shital has sorted out Ealing Council he can come and tell us.

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Situation hyperbolical. Less cheap shots please. Labour’s Rupa Huq knows better than this

Today the Labour candidate for Ealing Central and Acton, Rupa Huq, has produced a typically sided piece for the ealingtoday.gov.uk website which I guess will be reprinted verbatim by the online version of the Gazette at least.

SaHF FAQHer party’s misrepresentation of the changes to the local health system, known as Shaping a Healthier Future, are debunked by the NHS itself here.

Labour refuses to acknowledge that the closures we have had locally under the Shaping a Healthier Future programme are not as extensive as they make out and would have happened anyway under a Labour government, being as they are merely the delayed local roll out of Labour’s own £20 billion Nicholson Challenge programme kicked off by Andy Burnham in 2009.

On the whole Rupa Huq seems like a nice lady so it was very disappointing to see her use the death of a child to weaponise the NHS as an issue yet again. She might have troubled to look up the name of baby Muhammad Hashir Naveed who died when his parents erroneously took him to a closed A&E facility at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield. It really wasn’t very classy.

NHS White Paper 1944As a Conservative and a huge fan of the NHS I was also disappointed that an academic can tell such a one-sided story of the foundation of the NHS.

Huq said:

Labour founded the NHS in 1948 to Tory opposition then and only Labour can rebuild and protect the health service now by taking the strain off our hospitals by funding an integrated care system, where residents can see their GPs before they find themselves in hospital and by reversing the break up and sell off the NHS.

So voters need to remember all this as they cast their vote on 7th May and support Labour as the only party who created the NHS and who will stand up for it because if the Tories sneak back into power with their plans for more cuts and closures it’s no exaggeration to say that there is a serious risk that there won’t be an NHS in this country anymore in the sense envisaged by its founding father Nye Bevan and that would be no less than situation critical.

The NHS was the product of a long running debate through much of the first 40 years of the 20th century. During the war the consensus emerged that there should be a comprehensive health service free at the point of use. This consensus was crystallised in the 1944 NHS white paper produced under Conservative Minister of Health Henry Willink. The Conservatives went into the 1945 election offering this in their manifesto:

The health services of the country will be made available to all citizens. Everyone will contribute to the cost, and no one will be denied the attention, the treatment or the appliances he requires because he cannot afford them.

We propose to create a comprehensive health service covering the whole range of medical treatment from the general practitioner to the specialist, and from the hospital to convalescence and rehabilitation; and to introduce legislation for this purpose in the new Parliament.

Yes, the Conservatives did vote against Bevan’s bill because it ignored the white paper which envisaged local authorities being in control and opted instead for the massively centralised NHS controlled by central government that we have being trying to get away from ever since. I am sure that Rupa Huq has enough book learning to know she is making cheap points on the foundation of the NHS and its more recent finances.

The NHS has been safe in Coalition hands for the last five years and will thrive under a Conservative government for the next five.

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Rupa Huq silent on £1,000 Blair donation

The scurrilous Guido Fawkes blog has been traducing Labour’s candidate for Ealing Central & Acton today. They say:

Rupa Huq, Labour’s candidate in Ealing, was also a fierce Blair critic, arguing the “legitimacy” of the Iraq War has been “demolished”.

The blog misrepresented what Huq said in an old blog post of her own.

Of course Rupa Huq has never said anything incendiary about Tony Blair and or Iraq. She rarely says anything at all, let alone anything controversial.

Rupa Huq is on the list of 106 target constituencies to which Tony Blair has given £1,000 per seat. So far two candidates have refused Blair’s cash.

We can assume that Huq will keep the money and keep quiet – that is what she does.

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Council hiding rise in CPZ abuse by staff

20150115_114930Today the Council has announced that its parking permits and vouchers are to be dematerialised from 6th April.

This will save the council money but it is not of obvious benefit to residents. In the matter of the widely abused service vouchers it will be a positive disbenefit. Residents will no longer be able to spot that business permit and service voucher users are clogging up their roads for commuting purposes. This problem is particularly acute in Zone W around the Council’s own Perceval House offices and in Zone JJ where social housing provider A2Dominion seems to enjoy protected status.

Service vouchers

If you look at the council’s own figures the use of service vouchers has jumped by one third in only two years in spite of a 20% price increase. Every other category of permit or voucher is declining or stagnant. You can only conclude that these vouchers, which are widely abused by Council and A2Dominion staff, are priced wrong. Or something more distasteful is happening.

There is no way the economy has grown by one third to drive this increase. It isn’t down to one third more people having tradespeople visit their homes in CPZs. It is a function of Council and A2Dominion staff circumventing the intention of CPZ which is to keep commuters out of residential areas. The word has got out amongst these workers that they can game the system. The Council must know from its own data that this is going on.

The move to dematerialise CPZ permits in April will make it hard for residents to spot that business permits and service vouchers are being used or abused. These permits should remain paper based until the Council can convince people it has got a grip on this issue.

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The wealth lifecycle and why the left keeps getting it wrong

Tuition fees

Ed Miliband’s ill thought out proposal to restrict high rate relief for people saving for a pension and to dish out £10 billion to rich kids is the latest example of the left not understanding the wealth lifecycle. There are all sorts of stupidities in this decision – why not fix the student loan system rather than keep it in reduced form? Making the universities dependent on the state for funds will end in tears (for the universities). I could go on but what about the savers that Miliband is hitting?

When you analyse wealth by looking at the 1% or the top decile or the top quintile you quickly lose sight of the fact that most people move through a wealth lifecycle. They start in the bottom quintile when they leave school with no savings or graduate with debt. In their 20s they might get into the second quintile. In their 30s as they save for deposits they might move up again. In their 40s as their pension savings and property wealth start to accrue they move up another notch. In their late 40s, through their 50s they will be at the height of their careers and for the first time in their lives maybe paying top rate tax. At this stage in life they start to think about their pensions and want to pile money into them to provide for their increasingly long retirements. Now Ed Miliband says no.

Now Ed Miliband says I will break the decades old compact between the saver and the state – if you save for your old age you can do it tax free but I will tax you when you draw your pension. Miliband is essentially saying to the middle aged who have worked hard for 20-30 years and maybe haven’t gone to university you will subsidise those young people who have been to university and done well. It is unfair. And if we keeping messing with pension savers we will come to regret it.

Overwhelmingly the wealthy are not aliens. They are us, just older.

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The doctors blow it

No more games

The doctor’s union, the BMA, is spending some £100,000s if not millions of Pounds on its No more games campaign. It was kicked off last week with posters. I was only dimly aware of it until one of their paid for ads was pushed into my face by Twitter at doctors’ expense.

There are three planks to the BMA’s campaign. The first is public health. It advocates minimum pricing of alcohol and plain packages for cigarettes. Both of these are quite attractive policies in some ways but they are hard for politicians to push through. The second plank is protecting funding and the third is keeping the private sector out of the NHS.

This is hugely disappointing. The doctors fail to mention quality of patient outcomes and innovation. You might hope that the representatives of the scientists, the doctors that care for us, might have some ambition to ferociously drive towards higher quality and new ways of doing things, but no. They are spending many £100,000s of their members’ money to basically ask for more cash and keep things the same. Maybe they want NHS coal to be dug in NHS mines to fire NHS blast furnaces to make NHS steel for NHS scalpels? They may as well ask the world to stop turning.

When the BMA talks about funding it can’t bring itself to acknowledge Simon Stevens’, the new chief executive of NHS England’s, NHS Five Year Forward View. All the three main political parties are very near to being on the same page as Stevens so it is bizarre indeed that the doctors are not. The Labour government kicked off the £20 billion Nicholson savings in 2009 and the Coalition has presided over their roll out. Stevens accepts that another £22 billion of savings are required even if whoever is in government agrees to find £8 billion of new money which itself is a huge sum to find. The Stevens prescription sees the need for further restraint hand in hand with massive change and innovation. It seems that doctors’ real motive is not cross party agreement, which may well follow Stevens’ impressive lead, but their own lack of appetite for change and willingness to lead the NHS through continuing change.

The video of Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, using the phrase “petty point scoring” will come to be regretted by many doctors I suspect. The NHS consumes 10% of GDP and about 1/6th of all government expenditure. The idea that it will not be at the centre of political debate is ridiculous. If doctors want health to be out of politics they need to get off the public payroll. The political class in the form of Messrs Straw and Rifkind have ably demonstrated their shortcomings today but with this campaign so does the medical profession.

The doctors had a chance to spend their money on leading and setting the terms of the debate. Instead we have an expensive whine.

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