50% food bank growth: Osborne introduced benefit delay last year

  • Largest food bank operator report 50% rise in users
  • Government claiming benefit claim processing has improved
  • But Osborne deliberately introduced seven-day delay

Osborne food bank

With the number of people using food banks rising 50% in the last year, the government are indignant at the suggestion that their policies have anything to do with it.

The BBC reports:

“There is no robust evidence that welfare reforms or benefit administration are linked to increased use of food banks,” said a spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

She also maintained that the amount of time taken to process payments had improved.

Some 92% of payments were now made within the target time of 16 days, a 6% improvement on the time taken five years ago, she told the BBC.

So, errr … what about George Osborne’s announcement at the 2013 Spending Review that the newly unemployed would be forced to wait seven days before being elligible to claim benefits?

“We will also introduce a new seven-day wait before people can claim their benefits. Those first few days should be spent looking for work, not looking to sign on.”

And three months before that they scrapped crisis loans for desperate families.

The only people benefiting from these policies are payday lenders.

Esther McVey tweets political attack during Hillsborough service

esther-mcvey-hillsborough-tweet

From a strong field, the political gaffe of the day award goes to Merseyside MP Esther McVey, for posting a political attack tweet during the Hillsborough 25th anniversary service.

In the as yet un-deleted tweet, the employment minister tweeted a link to a press release on her website entitled “Wirral Labour can’t be trusted.”

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The ill-timed message coincided almost exactly with Andy Burnham’s moving speech at the service, held at Anfield.

It took Radio 5Live’s Nicky Campbell to point out the incredibly poor timing of the tweet for an MP from Merseyside.

Scrapbook assumes a grovelling apology is to follow shortly.

Lembit Opik now hosts a pro-Iranian propaganda ‘comedy’ TV show

lembit-opik-iran-propaganda

The latest bizarre career move in the increasingly implausible life of Lembit Opik is a foray into Iranian propaganda, cloaked under the veil of a ‘comedy’ news programme.

At least Scrapbook think’s it’s supposed to be comedy, it’s hard to tell with Lembit.

He’s taken on hosting duties on News At When, which airs on a recently launched Freesat channel called London Broadcasting Partners. The show’s described as “Britain’s first satirical pro-Iranian politics show” – and, somewhat chillingly, as “Iran…with a smile.”

The alleged comedy show includes a character called ‘Mr West’ who is shown blaming Iran for various day-to-day inconveniences, and is characterised by a series of overly long, stony silences. Presumably to allow the viewer to laugh at the jokes. Only there aren’t any jokes.

The skit ends with Lembit’s co-presenter declaring “That poor old chap needs to stop obsessing about Iran.”

As yet, The British, pro-Iran answer to The Daily Show has failed to set the world on fire. At the time of writing, the debut episode had clocked up a whopping…419 views on YouTube. And at least three of those were Scrapbook doing research for this story.

This isn’t Lembit’s first journey into the realm of Iranian propaganda – a few years ago, he was given his own show on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s favourite TV channel, Press TV.

You’ll probably remember Press TV as being the Iranian Government-owned channel which got fined £100,000 and lost its broadcasting licence after it aired an interview with Maziar Bahari, an imprisoned Newsweek journalist, that had been conducted under duress.

In the opening of the show, faux-exasperated at Opik’s poorly timed ‘comedy’ interruptions, his co-host asks: “Are you done?”

We wish, mate. We wish.

From duck islands to Tracey Island: Nigel Farage expenses car crash

Nigel Farage asked to explain why his office electricity bill is £3,000 per year:

Murnaghan: “What are you doing in there? What are you running in there?

Farage: “Running machines, running banks for computers. Doing things! Doing things! Doing things that use a lot more electricity than many household chores do”

Murhahan: “It sounds like Tracey Island. You’ve got banks of computers?!”

Nigel Farage shamelessly defended spending £60,000 in taxpayer-funded EU allowances on UKIP’s party offices.

Speaking on Sky News, he said claims he was using expenses improperly were “erroneous” and he could spend the £3,850-a-month he gets from Brussels “as I see fit” – without even having to produce receipts.

Since becoming an MEP in 2009, he has pocketed £60,000 in allowances from the EU, which he says he’s spent on running costs for the party’s offices in Lymington, West Sussex.

Despite the office being a rent-free “gift” from UKIP supporters, Farage says the office costs about £3,000 a year in electricity alone – and spends about £1,000 a month in other expenses.

Scrapbook rather likes the idea that UKIP could operate out of a hidden paradise peninsula filled with super-secret “machines.”

Well, he does look like a Thunderbirds puppet, after all…

Vile Facebook messages of ‘social cleansing’ Tory Councillor

tory-councillor-tom-davey-facebook-sick-jokes

A Tory councillor made sick jokes about domestic violence, complained about lesbians, the disabled and black people getting an easy ride, and labelled benefit claimants “scum” on Facebook, Political Scrapbook can reveal.

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The posts, made by Cllr Tom Davey of Tory-run Barnet Council, were revealed just days after he was caught advocating ‘social cleansing’ in a shocking video.

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In Davey’s status updates, which he made during his time at LSE in 2008, he moaned that his jobhunting might be easier if he were a “black female wheelchair bound amputee who is sexually attracted to other women.”

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In another post, he joked he was “more excited than Harold Shipman in a nursing home.”

Speaking to Scrapbook, Davey said the sick joke was “probably misjudgement in hindsight” – but that despite being open to tens of thousands of people in the LSE Facebook network, it was a private joke between friends.

He admitted:

“I have a very dry sense of humour”

tom-davey-domestic-violence-joke

Defending perhaps the most disgusting post, in which he says he is “smacking his bitch up…that’ll teach her for ironing loudly whilst the football is on” – Davey said he was being “ironic.”

“I don’t like football and my wife doesn’t do the ironing. If you think it’s a joke about domestic violence, fine.”

Brazenly unapologetic, Davey said it was entirely appropriate to make joke about mass murderers and domestic violence in an essentially public forum.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of those things in that context.”

Given his recent outburst in a public meeting, it seems context doesn’t matter an awful lot to Mr Davey

Hypocrite Farage admitted: ‘We trousered EU expenses to fund UKIP’

While today’s Times front page (£) brings news of a prospective fraud investigation into Nigel Farage’s office expenses, observers will remember that the UKIP leader has already admitted milking the European expenses system … errr, last week.

“If you are accusing me of taking the wherewithal provided by the European Parliament for us as MEPs and using it politically to campaign against Britain’s membership of the European Union … Well, if you think that’s wrong that’s your decision”

This was on the same day he was accusing Maria Miller of “taking the mickey out of the system”.

Prosecutors failed to consider key charge in Hancock ‘harassment’ case

  • Mike Hancock accused of sexually harassing vulnerable adult
  • As councillor Hancock has legally-binding duty of care
  • CPS did not consider offence of ‘misconduct in public office’
  • Local police in cover-up scandal over separate sex abuse case

Mike Hancock cover-up in Portsmouth

With Liberal Democrat MP and councillor Mike Hancock accused of sexually harassing a vulnerable adult who asked him for help, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to consider a key potential charge in the case until prompted by a member of the public, Political Scrapbook can reveal.

In December 2010 the CPS decided not to prosecute the Portsmouth MP over allegations of sexual assault. As he was also a senior councillor in the city, however, investigations into his behaviour proceeded under the auspices of Portsmouth City Council’s Standards Committee and policies for adult safeguarding.

Local councillors and council staff — in contrast with individual MPs — operate one of the key agencies with a statutory responsibility for protecting vulnerable adults from abuse. Again in contrast with MPs, councillors are ‘public officers’ who can be prosecuted for misconduct in public office.

But this is not a charge which police and prosecutors considered until they were prompted by an ordinary member of the public in 2012. A response from a CPS lawyer seen by Scrapbook and published below claims that Hampshire police had provided insufficient evidence for a misconduct charge – despite a QC commissioned by the council subsequently finding “compelling prima facie evidence” that Hancock had pursued a sexual relationship with the woman concerned.

With an apparent schism between the Hampshire Police and a specialist QC appointed to examine the Hancock allegations, confidence in the local force’s handling of the episode won’t be helped by emerging allegations of a top level cover-up in a separate case of alleged sexual abuse. Hampshire’s chief constable has been accused of ordering a whitewash over rape claims at a special school in the county.

Hancock denies the allegations in his case but is not out of the woods.

He’ll shortly be facing a private prosecution brought by his alleged victim.

More: Letter from CPS in full »

Chaos of Lib Dem membership dept casts doubt on ‘growth’ statistics

  • Lib Dems claim growing membership and ‘feel-good factor’
  • Confusion as to who is member, who has left (and when)
  • Members ‘lapsed by accident’ given renewals without payment
  • Ex-members from 1990s sent ‘cancellation notice’ in error

Paddy Ashdown's 1990s membership list

With the party in the polling doldrums, attempts by the Lib Dems to spin other metrics of support began at the end of 2013 with the disingenuous claim that they had ‘increased their membership while in power’as opposed to finally stemming the haemorrhage:

This continued with stats for the first quarter of 2014:

“This is great news and a further sign that the feel-good factor is well and truly back in the Liberal Democrats.”

But the accuracy of these figures has been questioned by former party members commenting on the website Lib Dem Voice, claiming to have received communications offering them ‘membership renewal’ in lieu of donations they had previously made:

“the caller advised me that ‘our records show that you once gave a donation to the Liberal Democrats; as such you are entitled to membership’. She seemed nonplussed when I advised her that I had been an active member and an officer of my Local Party for many years prior to making the decision to cease my membership of the Party in 2011, that I had made no donation to the Party since and that I had absolutely no wish to rejoin.”

A second reader claims:

“I allowed my membership to lapse (after 30 years). Got a letter saying ‘You haven’t renewed. Maybe it was an oversight on your part? We’re giving you free membership for a year unless you write (no telephone or online option) to this address quoting this 16-digit reference number to say you don’t want it’.”

In a detailed response on the same website, Lib Dem HQ’s head of membership claimed that the confusion was down to “an administrative issue” which meant that some membership renewal payments were treated as donations by accident — with the individuals concerned seeing their memberships lapse.

The solution implemented was to assume that 700 former members who had donated to the party in an unspecified time period had actually intended to renew — and to automatically give them a membership unless they objectedBut at least some of the membership cards issued to these individuals state that they are not renewals but ‘new’ members — who may have counted towards claims of ‘new members’.

Confidence in the accuracy of membership figures will be further undermined by an email sent out to to former members in the past few days saying that their “membership of the Liberal Democrats has been cancelled” – even though they had left the party as long ago as the 1990s.

Lib Dem membership cancellation email

The words ‘piss up’ and ‘brewery’ spring to mind.

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