1) ‘That’s rich’ – Osborne feigns concern for energy costs to consumers. Election time is here.
Chancellor George Osborne and the Tories attempted to double back on energy policy they had promoted and voted for to feign concern for the public. Unsurprising that this has happened four months before the election, as Michael Meacher explained in his post last week:
“It’s really rich that Osborne has tweeted: “Vital this (drop in the oil price) is passed on to families at petrol pumps, through utility bills and air fares”. He’s spent the last 5 years lambasting Labour in support of the Tory free market mantra that the State should get out of the way and leave it all to the markets. Now rather pathetically he’s pleading with market operators to show a dose of fair play rather than exploit a windfall for their own interests which is the natural instinct of capitalism. It takes some gall for Osborne to try to jump on the bandwagon at the last minute, four months before the election, when he’s been aggressively promoting ruthless self-interest throughout his chancellorship.”
Osborne’s gesture is made even more hypocritical and insincere when taking into account the Tory participation in the vote AGAINST giving the UK’s energy regulator a statutory duty to pass on energy savings to customers when wholesale prices fall. You can see a list of who voted against and for on the Vox Political site here.
The cost of this self-interest goes much further than hypocrisy before an election. Last year, there were 18,000 excess winter deaths in the UK, with more than 6,000 dying from the impact of a cold home.
2) Manifesto calls on next government to end homelessness
A manifesto sent to politicians by Homeless.org calls on those seeking the next government to vow to end homelessness by focusing on five key areas. “Let’s Make the Difference” uses the experiences of those who have been homeless, and the services that support them, to understand what is needed from government.
The manifesto says that it is ‘unacceptable’ that people are sleeping rough in Britain today. And they are right. We have the resources to house every person in this country, yet homelessness is rising, increasing in cost to the public purse and the mental and physical health of those out on the streets.
3) Greens have more members than UKIP
The number of Green Party members overtook UKIP numbers last week.
“On Thursday morning Green Party sources said it had 43,829 members as of midday. Ukip’s reported membership is 41,966.
Green Party sources also claimed to have put on 2,000 members yesterday, in what potentially is its biggest one-day surge in numbers ever.”
The news comes as The Green Party leader Natalie Bennett battles for a spot on TV debates.
Ofcom ruled that the Greens were not a ‘major party’ in the way that Lib Dems, UKIP, Conservatives and Labour are. However, following this increase in members many are calling this ruling into question.
David Cameron said that he would not take part in the debates if the Greens were not included, and has been accused of using this as an excuse to avoid the debates. Clegg said the idea of Cameron’s concern for a fair debate with the Greens included was ‘laughable’.
4) Farage faces challenge from FUKP
Al Murray’s comic character, The Pub Landlord, has announced he is standing for election in Thanet alongside Nigel Farage, for the Guv’nor’s newly formed Free United Kingdom Party “because it’s time for a man waving around a pint offering some common sense solutions.”
The landlord sets out 13 points as his manifesto in this following video, assuring voters he will “make Thanet the capital of the UK” with “pints for 1p” adding:
“Let it be known that like many of the Parliamentary hopefuls in the forthcoming election, I have no idea where South Thanet is – but did that stop Margaret Thatcher from saving the Falkland Islands? No.”
5) Government names and shames 37 National Minimum Wage offenders
The government released the names of 37 employers who failed to pay the National Minimum Wage to employees on 15th January. Business Minister Jo Swinson released names and penalties totalling £51,000 for the employers who owe £177,000 collectively. This follows the release of 55 other offenders since the ‘naming regime’ came into force in October 2013.
Employers face fines of up to £20,000 for paying below the minimum wage, currently set at £6.50 for those aged 21+. Jo Swinson has announced that government are now looking to apply this penalty per employee rather than per company.