Later this month The Spectator brings the latest in its series of highfalutin Debate events to Gateshead, which as many of you will know, is in the north-east of England. The event sets out to answer the question:
“Labour has failed the north-east. Why does the north-east keep voting Labour?”
First of all, admission to the event will cost non-subscribers a whopping £26 - which in a region with the lowest average wage in the country – £50 a week below the national average – is not to be sneezed at.
As event sponsor, the right-wing magazine couldn’t think of a better choice than City of London investment firm Brewin Dolphin. Still, we expect they do a lot of business oop north.
But the final, most serious insult – sure to enrage the residents of Northumbria and Tyneside to the point of public disorder – is their arbitrary inclusion of a huge chunk of Yorkshire in their map of the North East.
UPDATE: Scrapbook is reliably informed that Brewin Dolphin actually does have an office in Newcastle. And one in Leeds, which presumably counts as the North East, yes?
And they wonder why the Tories can’t get traction in the North?
Former Labour MP Falkirk MP Eric Joyce has apparently been in yet another Commons bar fight less than one week after completing his sentence for a similar incident. Joyce was given a 12-month community order on March 2012 — this expired just six days ago.
The Scottish MP has refused to stand down despite being expelled from the Labour party. A source familiar with the situation in his Falkirk constituency told Scrapbook:
“People have been trying persuade him to step down but he’s having none of it. He’s even been on about standing as an independent in 2015.”
Joyce seems to have taken the maxim “fighting for your constituents” literally.
A Westminster Hall debate today on the work capability assessments conducted by ATOS was interrupted by shouts from the public gallery, as a newly-promoted Chris Grayling attempted to justify the tests.
Philip Hollobone, chairing the debate, threatened to clear the public gallery as members of the public repeatedly shouted such slogans as “Shame on you!” and “Atos kills, so do the Tories!”
ATOS, as the contractor with responsibility for the work capability assessments, has borne the brunt of criticism over the high numbers of people classified as fit to work, only to win on appeal. Almost 40% of appeals, since the test’s introduction, have been successful.The firm’s sponsorship of the Paralympic games has also come under heavy criticism.
Any hopes that Grayling’s departure for the Ministry of Justice will mean a let up for the disabled are probably misplaced, as his former boss IDS will remain at the DWP.
The Chancellor’s goodwill amongst the Tory right has been severely flagging of late, so the strong positions of Grayling and IDS will not be welcomed in Number 11, especially after they have proved resistant to the idea of further departmental budget cuts. Additionally, Ken Clarke’s apparent “oversight” role could be seen as a threat to Osborne’s economic primacy.
And it looks like Pound’s powers of precognition are right on the money, as it seems she’s being replaced by fellow Lib Dem and disgraced former minister David Laws, at Michael Gove’s Department for Education.
Scrapbook is surprised that Teather’s razor wit wasn’t enough to save her from the chop.