Vicious, poisonous and nasty

House of Commons

Yesterday during business questions I welcomed the fact that, after months of prevarication, the government has decided to bring forward legislation on equal marriage.  But I pushed the Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, to ensure that we do not have a repeat of some of the outrageous and offensive remarks made recently in debates, such as those made by one member who equated same-sex marriages with polygamy and incest!

After the latest revelation regarding Maria Miller’s special adviser I reminded the Leader of the House that while the Labour party supports a statutory underpinning for media regulation to protect the victims of press intrusion and guarantee the freedom of the press, the government seems to want to threaten the press with statutory underpinning to control the news agenda.

This week saw the European Union awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  The prime minister said when the prize was announced he thought the award should be presented to school children from across the EU. This week he sent the deputy prime minister to collect the award, what shall we read into that?

Next week will see the remaining stages of the growth and infrastructure bill taken in the Commons.  I asked the Leader of the House to ask the part-time chancellor to make a statement updating us on how the infrastructure measures announced in the budget are going.  The government has a growth and infrastructure bill but out in the real world there is no growth and not enough infrastructure being built.  This PR prime minister’s solution is a rag bag of measures to cover up the fact the government has no plan for growth.  Given that I wonder if in the next Queen’s speech we can look forward to:

  • a united coalition bill?
  • a ‘big society’ success bill?
  • and a ‘we’re all in this together’ bill?

During the autumn statement the chancellor claimed that the changes he was making affected those ‘living a life on benefits. Still asleep when their neighbours go out to work’. As the PM refused to say so yesterday, I asked the Leader of the House to confirm that 60 per cent of the people hit by the chancellor’s real terms cut in support payments are actually in work?  The politics of divide and rule that the chancellor practises is predicated on vicious, poisonous, nasty little caricatures.

I asked the Leader of the House for a debate so we can find out whether:

  • the mother on maternity pay is a shirker;
  • the father on the minimum wage getting tax credits is a shirker;
  • the cleaner who gets up at 5am is a shirker;
  • and someone on sick pay recovering from an operation is a shirker.

These are the people who are hit by the chancellor’s proposed cuts. People who are doing the right thing, people who are trying to get on in life. At the same time this government is handing out a huge tax cut to their millionaire mates. So there you have it; this government thinks millionaires are the strivers, while workers on the minimum wage are the shirkers.

Angela Eagle is MP for Wallasey, shadow leader of the Commons and writes the weekly Business of Parliament column for Progress. She tweets @AngelaEagle

Photo: UK Parliament

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