On this week’s show Tiernan Douieb talks to researcher for Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) Anita Bellows about the bedroom tax, focuses on the current refugee crisis and wonders if the Google tax deal really was a ‘major victory’ for the UK.
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HEADLINES WHICH ARE MOSTLY ABOUT MICHAELS:
Michael Gove scraps Chris Graylings cuts to the legal aid system
Michael Caine says he is political left of Cameron but right of Blair
Hilary Benn says he’s not running for Labour leadership.
800,000 people have been lost off the electoral register.
Jeremy Hunt under fire from Meningitis charity
Google’s mass tax avoidance
The Refugee Crisis – David Cameron’s promises that the UK will take in 3000 unaccompanied children.
Anita Bellows on the Bedroom Tax
Best way to describe Chris Grayling’s time as Justice Secretary:
‘akin to asking a troll to look after your goat herd’
Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, a podcast that attempts to satirise the past week’s political news which is made all the easier by news headlines like ‘Boris Johnson opens super sewer’. Seriously, that’s basically a DIY joke right there. I’m Tiernan Douieb and you too can get your Tiernan Douieb name by taking my dad’s surname and the first name Tiernan. My Tiernan Douieb name is Tiernan Douieb. It totally works try it!
This week I’ll be attempting to take a leaf out of the government’s book and will try to redefine the term ‘satire’ to only mean things I do and say on this show even if they aren’t funny. Unfortunately not only have the House of Lords rejected this idea they also said ‘Who are you? Why are you bothering us with this nonsense?’ and ‘Please go away or we’ll have you arrested.’ Still, worth a try eh? I love the nonsense idea that you can redefine child poverty to not be about income, the entire area poverty is based on. Why not go all out and state from now on we’ll determine age by your hair colour and weight by how you say the word potato?
This week there’s some Googling, a bunch of refugee, er, stuff, and a great interview with researcher for Disabled People Against Cuts Antia Bellows. BUT FIRST….
HEADLINES WHICH ARE MOSTLY ABOUT MICHAELS
Remember Michael Gove? Y’know Michael Gove? The one who looks like a possessed ventroliquists dummy and wanted children to only read books he likes. Well last week that same Michael Gove, the current Justice Secretary, scrapped all the controversial cuts to the legal aid system that had caused barristers and solicitors to take industrial action last year. The cuts were proposed by the last Justice Secretary Chris Grayling who’s placement in that job was akin to asking a troll to look after your goat herd. Since Gove has taken over he’s now reversed six of Grayling’s policies including cancelling letting the Saudi government run our prison system and reversing a ban on prisoners getting sent books. All of which make Gove actually seem, well, quite reasonable. Who’d have thought it? Though it’s only time before Gove states the only books prisoners can get sent are ones he likes.
In more Michael news, after saying that he is sort of sure he’d like Britain to leave the EU, probably after his ordeal in Italy with the minis, actor MICHAEL CAINE says politically he is left of Cameron, but right Of Blair. Worst Sandwich Ever.
Not a Michael
Hilary Benn has jumped on the current Labour MP trend of announcing that he won’t be making a bid for the party leadership in a vote that isn’t happening. I hope more Labour MPs let us know hypothetical situations in which they aren’t doing things too. Emily Thornberry won’t be driving a white van in a non-existent flag race and Andy Burnham won’t be sticking to an opinion in an announcement that anyone cares about.
Taking the Michael
800,000 people have been lost off of the electoral register since the government made changes to the system. Most of those losses are in areas of high population which is where, guess who, Labour does better with seats, so it could really affect them in the next election. Add to this the proposed boundary changes which could reduce MPs from 650 to 600, mostly again, affecting Labour, and the Short Money cuts meaning other parties will get reduced funding, and it looks like the Conservatives are making sure they can’t ever get voted out. Terrifying and completely undemocratic. But on the plus side, the polls won’t be as likely to get predictions wrong ever again.
Jeremy Hunt has come under fire from a Meningitis charity after suggesting parents search the internet if their children have a rash. True. How can you tell the different between an irritating, hard to get rid of disease and Jeremy Hunt just by looking at them?
INTERVIEW WITH ANITA PT 1
Last week the Court of Appeal decided that the Spare Room Subsidy, also known as the Bedroom Tax or the ‘Overcrowding Rat Experiment but for People’, was, for two cases, discriminatory. The bedroom tax cuts residents benefits by up to 25% for having an extra room in their house that the angry thumb with a face Iain Duncan Smith, the Department of Work and Pensions and Lord Freud thinks are unnecessary. The bedroom tax has been a controversial policy from the start, wanting people to move into smaller homes that don’t actually exist and all in all costing the government a lot of money and damaging people’s lives. So this court decision is real kick in the face to the DWP, but a very necessary one for human rights. One of the cases is a woman who’d been the victim of attack and now had a panic room, and the other is a couple with a 15 year old disabled child who needed overnight care. Neither of which anyone in their right mind would deem as ‘unnecessary space’. It should be pointed out that Lord Freud himself has two large homes, one with eight bedrooms. All of which are clearly necessary for him to run around in doing evil maniacal super villain laughs in properly. The government have decided to appeal against the court decision as if to say ‘yeah the whole point is, it is discriminatory’.
So with this and the House Of Lords rejecting of cuts to the Employment Support Allowance, I thought who better to speak to than an expert on what these developments mean for disabled people. Anita Bellows is a researcher for Disabled People Against Cuts, and is constantly active in the fight against the many policies that seem to be targeted at that one area of society. Anita was lovely enough to let me interrupt her research to ask her many questions about it.
Once again, this interview contains
Today there is a good three minutes of echo during this call which I have tried to fix but can’t. So either skip through that, although you will miss some fascinating stuff from Anita if you do. Otherwise, I suggest just pretending I interviewed her in a well, which is more fun. There is also, during the beginning bit something that sounds a bit like someone fighting a wooden table. It’s not too bad but I’m concerned about the table and I really hope it’s ok.
So here’s the interview, echos and all….
INTERVIEW PART 1
We’ll have more from Anita later in the podcast, but now, lemme just search for something online….hmmm….. keys tapping…. Oh wow! Look at today’s Google Doodle! How sweet! It’s a little animation of the Google sign pissing unceremoniously all over the UK!
You know Google right? That big company that basically rules the internet and knows more about most of you than you know about yourself. As a stand-up comedian, if I couldn’t Google myself once in a while I wouldn’t know half of the abuse or poor reviews that I get. It’s very useful. Where would be without being able to translate anything, or turn your email Star Wars themed, or find that even if you search for the symptoms of having a paper cut, you’ll be told it could be cancer.
Google and the UK’s tax authorities, HMRC, recently came to the agreement that they would pay £130m in back taxes. £130m sounds like a lot right? I mean, just Google all the stuff you could buy for that amount. It’s tons. Which is why George Osborne, the closest thing we can get to a human lizard hybrid, said that the agreement was a ‘major victory’. Except really, it was more of a pyhrric victory, because between 2005 and 2014 Google made £24bn of sales in the UK and earned roughly according to Professor from the University of Essex Prem Sikka’s calculations £7.2bn in profits. Google had already paid about £70m over the ten years so that means all in all, they’d paid £200m which is about 2.8% of their profits. No I have no clue about maths, I had to Google those workings out, but even I can see that for Google, £130m in back taxes is one of the 88m search results for the word ‘peanuts’ to them.
Corporation Tax in the UK is 20% but it’s 20% of economic activity in the UK, not profits made on sales. Which means with a Googling how to shift your profits around and label them differently; those profits can look a lot smaller on HMRC paper. So what they’ve done is legal tax avoidance, not illegal tax dodging which is the sort of line that’s been drawn with invisible ink but various people are put in charge pretending they can see it when it suits them too. David Cameron has stated that the UK government are continuing to crack down on tax avoidance, but allowing large companies to pay a smaller tax percentage than small companies or individuals doesn’t seem like a good start. Not only that but one of Cameron’s hopes for EU reform is to ask the Union to remove a blacklist of tax havens where companies like Google funnel money to avoid paying even more corporation tax in the countries where they operate. In Bermuda for example, Google has amassed over £30bn in profits. It’s amazing isn’t it that it just used to be planes and boats that mysteriously disappeared in Bermuda, but now it’s anything you don’t want to pay tax on.
Other European countries including France and Italy have managed to get a lot more tax out of Google than we have and apparently see the UK as a laughing stock. Which goes to show that the stereotype that many across the channel don’t have a sense of humour isn’t true at all. It’s just that it’s hard to see the punch line when you’re often it.
David Cameron said in Prime Minister’s Questions last week that they were still doing more than the last Labour government ever did. Which is sort of true, as Gordon Brown introduced a 0% tax rate for Corporation profits under £10k. But with this Google deal, the government really haven’t improved on tax policing much. So David Cameron’s main argument appears to be, ‘we’ve not done well but you didn’t do well first.’ If your job was to clean and you didn’t bother because the person before you didn’t clean either, I can’t imagine you’d be seen as a roaring success.
Former Chancellor Lord Lawson says corporation tax should be replaced with taxing UK profits from sales specifically which could work, and is pretty much what the EU tax avoidance commission have suggested to. But until that happens, if it happens, the problem is still that nothing that Google have done is illegal. Nor does it seem entirely in the government’s interests to make it so. In an interview from 2006 Cameron complained that Google had moved their HQ to Dublin because the UK wasn’t tax competitive enough. It seems now we’re definitely at least in for a Bronze. So why, as someone tweeted at me with all capitals this week, should Google have to pay more tax than they are legally required to? Well, with the UK deficit rising and tax avoidance costing tax paxers billions per year, it means everyone else is stumping up for them. So no, they don’t have to but it’d be nice if just once in a while they Googled the word ‘morality’.
INTERVIEW WITH ANITA PT 2
Here’s part two of my interview with Anita Bellows from DPAC. This part contains a little more echo. Sorry, sorry sorry sorry
Who is Lloyd Freud? Why did I say that instead of Lord Freud? Though I did look up Lloyd Freud and he’s a US musician who makes psychedelic tunes and after having a listen I’d say he’s not really fit for work either.
Thanks to Anita for our excellent chat. She can be found on Twitter @anitabellows12. You can also follows DPAC at @Dis_PPL_protest or on their website at dpac.uk.net.
Since speaking to Anita it’s been reported that the DWP will be spending more to appeal the bedroom tax ruling than it would be to abide by it. Essentially paying extra to make certain people poorer. I do that when Iain Duncan Smith made a speech at the Conservative conference last year to find ‘the root cause of poverty’ he didn’t rule himself out of being one of the main culprits.
Two different newspapers last week gave completely different headlines on the same day. One suggested that the Prime Minister had said the UK would take in 3000 unaccompanied refugee children and the other said he’d rejected calls to do exactly that. In a total press anomaly, both were sort of right, with Cameron saying we will take in refugee children from Syria, but not any from Europe as he wouldn’t want to create a perverse incentive for them to come to European countries. Other than, you know, it’s a place that Europeans aren’t currently bombing. It’s a strange line of thought, pretending that rejecting refugees is for their own good. In 2014 the Home Office said they wouldn’t rescue shipwrecked or drowning migrants because it’d just encourage more to do anything they can to escape their war torn terrifying lives for survival, as though they wouldn’t have contemplated doing it before but as one of their chums had a rocky start but then a lovely ride on a Navy boat, hey I’ll give it a go. Why not use this thinking in other areas of life. For example: Why try and save Ebola or Zika victims? Surely it just encourages other people to get it.
These news stories came a day after David Cameron referred to ‘a bunch of migrants’ when speaking about Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Calais. Corbyn had said that the conditions in the camp were dreadful and disgraceful with little access to food and no access to medical care. Plus, no clear cycle lanes. So at Prime Minister’s Questions on Holocaust Rememberance Day, a day that warns against the poisonous words and passive acceptance of discrimination which marked the beginning of the Holocaust, David Cameron spoke of Corbyn’s visit as Jezza meeting with a ‘bunch of migrants’. Bunch in itself isn’t a terrible word. The Munch Bunch for example were some of the happiest animated pieces of fruit you’ll ever see. But it was the manner in which it was said. And Cameron also knows that refugees don’t have a collective term because no one in a powerful position has ever cared about them enough to make one.
It seems bizarre that the Prime Minister wants to add to the bombing of Syria but then doesn’t want to help provide homes to any of those that are displaced by the bombings. It’s a bit like a global version of the bedroom tax. It also doesn’t make much sense that ISIS are the enemy, but we don’t want to help people fleeing them. It turns out your enemies enemy isn’t a friend at all. Just an associate you’d try and avoid making eye contact with at a party. There’s so much anti-refugee rhetoric in the UK at the moment. Refugees that are given shelter organised by G4S are always placed in homes with a red door, asylum seekers in Cardiff have to wear compulsory wristbands, both of which make them a target for abuse and all of which escalate it by pointing out how different they are. It’s not just the UK either. Denmark has just voted to confiscate belongings and assets from refugees seeking shelter, so that they pay their way. I don’t know what’d be more welcoming than fleeing a war zone, risking your life and then turning up to a safe place and having to hand over the very last things you own in life. That’s a luxury holiday right there. You wonder if Denmark’s next policies are to ensure all candy is stolen from babies and anyone down is immediately kicked. Of course it’s not quite as black and white a policy as that, but again, it just reinforces the image of refugees taking from us rather than needing our help.
The refugee crisis is only going to get worse with more and more displaced families everyday so a solution has to be found. Treating other human beings as sub-human isn’t the way forward. ‘Why do they have to come over here?’ as though if war broke out here you’d happily stand still until you died, is an ignorant way to look at it. Plus I’m sure those same people would be more upset if refugees didn’t want to come here. ‘Yeah Syria is awful but Britain? Nah mate.’
10,000 refugee children have gone missing since arriving in Europe and Interpol believe some have been taken for sex work and slavery. After the break up of Yugoslavia Britain took in 84,000 refugees and in the last 12 months alone we’ve taken in 25000 asylum seekers. The Home Office has several housing provisions in place and various experts say that feasibly the UK could take 320,000 refugees without it being a burden on our society. So really the UK should help take them in from wherever we can and try and see this situation as what it is. Other human beings in need of help. Helping ‘a bunch of humans’ really doesn’t sound too bad does it?
Right I am now off to Belgium. Not planning to do EU negotiations though I will bring back at least something nice for my girlfriend from the table. Instead doing gigs. Not in Flemish. I know, going to a country, expecting work and not learning the language? What would the Prime Minister think?
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