National politics

Hague’s law


At the Tory conference today William Hague was fuming about a claim made by the Prime Minister. Early in his speech at last week’s Labour conference Gordon Brown reeled off a list of Labour’s achievements:

You know because if anyone says fight[ing] doesn’t get you anywhere, that politics can’t make a difference, that all parties are the same then look what we have achieved together since 1997: the winter fuel allowance, the shortest waiting times in history, crime down by a third, the creation of Sure Start, the cancer guarantee, record results in schools, more students than ever, the Disability Discrimination Act, Devolution, Civil Partnerships, peace in Northern Ireland, the Social Chapter, half a million children out of poverty, maternity pay, paternity leave, child benefit at record levels, the Minimum Wage, the ban on cluster bombs, the cancelling of debt, the trebling of aid, the first ever Climate Change Act.

You can see the BBC video of Brown’s speech here (if you want). You can hear him claim the Disability Discrimination Act for Labour 1:38 in.

The reason Hague is peeved is that it was he himself who designed and passed this legislation in the mid-nineties as Minister of State at the DSS with responsibility for Social Security and Disabled People. The Disability Discrimination Act emerged in 1995, see here, and was amended in 2005, see here.

Does Brown think that Labour’s social achievements are so thin he has to nick some Tory ones or does he think that only Labour can make any social progress so the DDA must be a Labour achievement?

It would be easy to go through Brown’s list and deconstruct it – it does not stand much scrutiny. By way of example let’s look at Brown’s claim for peace in Northern Ireland, a process started by Margaret Thatcher, in spite of the Grand Hotel bombing, and carried forward by John Major. Tony Blair played a valued part in closing the deal on 10th April 1998 when the Belfast Agreement was signed. But to sustain his claim Brown has to explain how Blair got an agreement from a standing start in 11 months from an election. He didn’t and Gordon Brown is simply not telling the truth. Again.

2 replies on “Hague’s law”

Minister James Purnell on 14 January 2009 said as he introduced a new Welfare Reform Bill :
The Government’s welfare reforms are the biggest shake-up of the benefits system for 60 years.
This Bill will allow us to bring about the most radical reform of the welfare state for generations. When times are tough, it is more important than ever that we provide people with the extra help they need. The Bill included a requirement for the long-term unemployed to “work for their benefits”.

Using similar language about helping people into work, and to avoid frightening the dissenters and now that there are barely any miners left, Mr Cameron is attempting to sell us a massive change re Incapacity Benefit – indeed a vote winning central plank of new Tory policy.

It was last year the Labour Party implemented that change – including the loss of £25-00 per week (which is probably hypothecated to pay for the cost of the new ESA software). In fact Mr Cameron’s change is not much more than a tweak except as regards timing.

Now who is stealing the emperors’ clothes?

But before you try getting at me, just think for a moment about the bigger picture. Which is we the public who vote or not you into power, are cynically used to these tricks, because they have been going on since time immemorial in the struggle to gain the centre ground.

That is the real area where we sigh for change.


Here is an extract from Yahoo News today

Just one in six applicants for a new sickness-related benefit were deemed too ill to work, according to Government figures.

The data suggests many of the 2.6 million people currently claiming incapacity benefit could face changes to their payments as part of new assessment procedures being rolled out across the country.

Researchers found that 36% of claimants tested were actually capable of working – more than double the proportion arising under the old Incapacity Benefit (IB) test.

I think the Labour Party got here first.


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