Tag: john mann

How much longer can the corporate media continue to vilify Corbyn?

Image result for pics of corbyn

By Daniel Margrain

In 1978, the Australian social scientist, Alex Carey, pointed out that the twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: “the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”

In order to defend their business interests against the forces of democracy, the corporations that now dominate much of the domestic and global economies recognize the need to manipulate the public through media propaganda by manufacturing their consent, largely achieved through coordinated mass campaigns that combine sophisticated public relations techniques.

This is the context of the political and media establishment’s vilification of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and their plot to oust him.

Media hate-fest

What Media Lens accurately described as a “panic-driven hysterical hate-fest right across the corporate media spectrum,” began during Corbyn’s campaign to become leader. This was manifested politically after a hardcore group of right-wing MPs all refused to serve under him.

After it became clear that Corbyn had secured ‘the largest mandate ever won by a party leader’, the attacks against him became more intense culminating in what colour poppy Corbyn would wear, his refusal to sing the national anthem or whether he would wear a tie or do up his top button. All of this was granted national news headlines and incessant coverage.

Not to be outdone, in October 2015, the BBCs political editor Laura Kuenssberg featured in an almost comically biased, at times openly scornful, attack on Corbyn’s reasonable stance on nuclear weapons. The BBC then broadcast five senior Blairite Labour figures all opposing Corbyn without any opportunity for an alternative viewpoint.

letter published in the Guardian signed by various academics and media activists, including Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media Group, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, noted:

“The leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has been subject to the most savage campaign of falsehood and misrepresentation in some of our most popular media outlets. He has, at different times, been derided, ignored, vilified and condemned.”

Other manufactured anti-Corbyn stories and attempts to undermine his leadership have included fake antisemitism claims and the McCarthyite purging of Corbyn supporters.

Increase in vote share & party membership

When in September 2016, Corbyn defeated Owen Smith’s leadership challenge, the former increased his share of the vote from 59.5% to 61.8% compared with the result of the 2015 leadership election. Membership of the party is currently higher than its last peak of 405,000 members last seen under Tony Blair’s leadership.

Under Blair, the party haemorrhaged 4.9 million votes between 1997 and 2010. The man who took the country to war in Iraq under a false prospectus, and who lobbies on behalf of some of the world’s most brutal and corrupt dictators, claimed in a moment of Orwellian doublespeak that Corbyn is a disaster for the party.

Blair was not alone. Prior to the last General Election, right-wingers within the party had continued to assert that Corbyn was an electoral liability for Labour. This was despite the fact that pre-coup, Labour led the Tories in three polls in a row over 41 days.

Myth-making

It was clear that the ‘left are unelectable narrative’ was intended to play into the hands of Corbyn’s opponents. It is a narrative that is based on a myth. The notion, for example, that you have to be right-wing to win elections is belied by the fact that the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon won the people of Scotland over on a left-wing ticket. Moreover, the British public’s ‘enthusiasm’ for Blair in 1997 was not based on policies that were subsequently known as Blairite, but, rather, on a left-wing image of the kind outlined in the 1997 Labour Manifesto.

Similarly, as the June 2017 General Election neared, the public began to frame their views on Corbyn, less on what the media wanted them to believe through their propagandizing of him, and more on what they saw and heard in public speeches and debates.

They liked what they heard. The bread and butter issues resonated across the board, but particularly with the young who saw in Corbyn somebody who at last was prepared to put issues like tuition fees, education, inequality, social justice and affordable housing at the top of the agenda.

The media’s depiction of Corbyn as a bumbling idiot and terrorist sympathizer didn’t square with the reality. Thus, the closer the election got, the narrower the polls became. When Theresa May called the election last April, the Tories lead over Labour was 24 points. A week before the election, the lead had been cut to just three.

Compassion, justice & humanity

Having galvanized the young and encapsulated the wider public mood with an inspired insurgency campaign, it was clear in the early hours on 9 June 2017, that Corbyn against all the odds, had prevented a Tory majority. The electorate in huge numbers had been persuaded by the Labour leaders message of compassion, justice and humanity.

Given the level of media vilification, hostility and bias against Corbyn from the moment he became Labour leader, the election result was nothing less than astonishing. Corbyn ‘increased Labour’s share of the vote by more than any other of the party’s election leaders since 1945, with the biggest swing witnessed since the Second World War. He won a larger share of the vote than Blair in 2005.

In his constituency of Islington North, Corbyn inherited a majority of 4,456, which increased to 21,194. He added a further 10,430 at the General election. He’s one of the few Labour MPs whose vote increased between 2005 and 2010, when he added 5,685 to his majority.

The corporate media commentariat – most of whom predicted a Tory landslide – were stunned at the result. When a tweeter suggested that Corbyn’s result was “brilliant”, New Statesman editor Jason Cowley replied: “Yes, I agree.” Just three days earlier, Cowley had written under the ominous title:

“The Labour reckoning – Corbyn has fought a spirited campaign but is he leading the party to worst defeat since 1935?”

In March 2017, Cowley opined:

“The stench of decay and failure coming from the Labour Party is now overwhelming – Speak to any Conservative MP and they will say that there is no opposition. Period.”

Cowley’s views are indicative of how the elite class in general have been slow in responding to the shifting political landscape. The unrepresentative nature of TV political punditry continues pretty much as it did before the election.

But it isn’t just the commentariate and TV producers within the elite media bubble who are out of touch and aloof. The Labour party establishment who endorse the elite narrative and who were filmed predicting Corbyn’s demise and felt he was unsuitable to lead the party into the election, have without any shame or embarrassment, continued with ‘service as normal’.

Czech spy & Russia apologist

Almost a year on since the election, the elites have continued with their sustained anti-Corbyn fake news stories. One of the latest and most prominent of these was the claim Corbyn met with Czech communist spies to sell them secrets. Corbyn’s team were left with no option other than to threaten one of his accusers with legal action. With a potential libel suit hanging over him, MP Ben Bradshaw, was forced publicly to apologize unreservedly for the untrue and false accusations he made against the Labour leader.

Then in March 2018, Corbyn came under yet more attacks from his own MPs over the Salisbury Skripal poisoning case. Corbyn’s reasonable stance that prompted the attacks on him, was his request to PM Theresa May that she present to parliament evidence to support her assertion that Russia was responsible for the poisonings.

He was also criticised for reminding May that under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to which the UK is a signatory, the UK government was obliged to provide Russia with a sample of the nerve agent used, along with all related evidence uncovered in the course of the investigation.

It soon transpired that May provided no evidence regarding Russia’s alleged culpability. When Russia formally requested that the UK submit a sample of its evidence to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), May refused the request. It was subsequently revealed that on March 14, the UK government blocked a Russia-drafted UN Security Council statement calling for an urgent inquiry into the incident.

Compared with the histrionics of May and the establishment mass media, Corbyn had been far more circumspect and rational in his approach to the issue. There is a very good reason for this. Barely mentioned in the press was the fact that seven months ago, Russia had destroyed all of its stockpiles of chemical weapons.

The Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, stated:

“The completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons programme is a major milestone in the achievement of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I congratulate Russia and I commend all of their experts who were involved for their professionalism and dedication.”

Former UK diplomat Craig Murray points out with reference to the contents published in a prestigious scientific journal by Dr Robin Black, Head of the facilities Detection Laboratory, that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown. As such “the UK government has absolutely no ‘fingerprint’ information such as impurities that can safely attribute this substance to Russia.”

But even if there was evidence of a compound corresponding to a “Novichok”, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Russia was responsible for manufacturing the compound, since no Russian sample can be compared to it. In other words, May’s assertion that the Russian state was responsible for the attacks on Mr. Skripal and his daughter on the basis that ‘Novichoks’ can only be made in certain military installations, is demonstrably false.

The antisemitism accusations resurface

Once again, Corbyn defied his critics. But it didn’t take long before the attacks on him would resurface. The Labour Friends of Israel lobby inside the party which, in April 2016, had manufactured a fake antisemitism crisis, took their opportunity two years later to strike again. The catalyst this time was an anti-capitalist wall mural by artist, Kalen Ockerman, removed from East London in 2012.

The basis for Corbyn’s admiration for the work – which actually surfaced in 2015 – was the anti-capitalist themes depicted in the mural (Corbyn had previously expressed praise for a similarly themed mural by left-wing Mexican artist Diego Rivera). What was a non-issue at that time, had three years later become a major media scandal. Yet not a single commentator in the corporate mainstream had thought to ask the question why.

Furthermore, the Jewish Chronicle responsible for the ‘scoop’ back in 2015, and which asserted at the time the mural might have “antisemitic undertones”, not only attributed the claim to Corbyn’s critics, but three years later had changed their tune. They were now claiming that the mural was explicitly antisemitic and attributed the support of the mural’s supposed antisemitic themes to Corbyn not his critics.

In addition, back in 2015, the paper described the scene depicted in the mural as “a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money” not as the media is now doing, a “cabal of Jewish bankers”. Among the right-wingers who joined in the chorus of anti-Corbyn smears was former leader, Ed Miliband who accused Corbyn of not doing enough to counter the ‘problem’ of antisemitism in the party despite claims to the contrary outlined by human rights lawyer Shami Chakrabarti in her report.

Revealingly, only 18 MPs voted against Theresa May’s 2014 Immigration Act, which enshrined dogwhistle racism and the hostile environment policy. None of the 18 mentioned included any anti-Corbyn right-wing Labour MPs who supposedly care so much about antisemitism and racism within the party.

Nevertheless, in their attempts to make the fake antisemitic claims stick, some of the said Labour MPs continued on April 17 to denounce Corbyn’s handling of alleged antisemitism with rousing speeches in parliament. Corbyn critic and chief Zionist cheerleader, John Mann, recounted a story in which his wife was sent a dead bird in the post by an ‘antisemitic’ Corbyn supporter affiliated to Momentum. But it was subsequently revealed that the incident in question happened in 2012, three years before Momentum was formed and three years prior to Corbyn’s election as party leader.

Another MP and Corbyn critic who spoke during the ‘debate’ was former Israel lobby spin doctor, Ruth Smeeth who, after entering the UK parliament in 2015, continued to be funded by two leading figures from her former employer, BICOM – the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. The latest official register of financial interests for members of Parliament shows that Smeeth continues to be funded by the Israel lobby.

Vote with those you are officially opposing

The parliamentary ‘debate’ described, in addition to the recent accusations of antisemitism accompanying it, are aimed to coincide with the forthcoming local elections which Corbyn’s critics inside the party desperately want to be calamitous for the Labour leader.

Former UK ambassador, Craig Murray, recalled reporting on an Uzbek Presidential election where the ‘opposition’ candidate advised voters to vote for President Karimov. “When you have senior Labour MPs including John Woodcock, Jess Phillips, John Mann, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Ruth Smeeth carrying on a barrage of attacks on their own leader during a campaign, and openly supporting Government positions, British democracy has become completely dysfunctional”, he said.

The reason why the attacks against Corbyn have reached fever pitch is precisely because his critics within the establishment know he is highly electable and therefore represents a threat to their privileged positions both inside and outside of the party. This is probably no better illustrated than the positive reaction by the CBI to Corbyn’s February 26, 2018 Brexit speech.

In the aftermath of the speech, establishment writers for centre-right publications like the Spectator and pro-hard Brexit right-wing politicians like Jacob Rees-Mogg who, financially, stand to lose the most should Corbyn become the next Prime Minister, are the same people who appear to have undergone somewhat of a Damascene conversion to the working class cause.

Power of social media

Corbyn’s success is indicative of the power of social media to break the ability of the corporate mainstream to manufacture the electorates consent. All those within the political and media establishment motivated primarily by elite interests associated with money and power will disappear once the money dries up. Social media is leading the way in helping to dispel the myths and falsehoods for which the elites depend in order to sustain their privileged positions in society. Corbyn’s rise is indicative of how the consolidated power of the old established corporate- media hierarchies and their fake narratives are breaking down.

This is bad for the elites but good for democracy. Given that the smears promoted by the press have had virtually no effect on public opinion, and as Corbyn edges closer to the reigns of power, for how much longer will the corporate elite class be able to sustain what has arguably been the most prolonged and vitriolic reportage ever witnessed against any British political figure in history?

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Normal service resumed as the Zionist political class push the UK towards the 19th century

By Daniel Margrain

The optimism that surrounded the election of a genuine and principled democratic socialist in Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour opposition following the cynical attempts of right-wing Zionist elements within the PLP to drive a wedge between traditionalists and Blairites using the specter of antisemitism as their ideological weapon, has since receded. Corbyn’s unfortunate capitulation to the pro-Israel lobby represented by the Zionist Labour Friends of Israel that resulted in his ‘comrade’ Ken Livingston being hung out to dry, looks set to reverse the gains the party had hitherto made. The results of the forthcoming local elections will indicate the extent of the damage the calculated attacks on Corbyn’s leadership has done to the party’s fortunes.

The recent appointment of the ultra-Zionist Mark Regev to the role of Israeli ambassador to the UK, has arguably played a part in the instigation of the timely coup ahead of the said elections with the openly anti-Corbyn figure John Mann, operating as the Zionists principal henchman. The pro-Israel lobby, who have a significant financial stake in the Labour party and whose influence spreads throughout the British political establishment more generally, clearly see Pro-Palestinian Corbyn as an anathema to their wider interests viz a viz Israel. Certainly the Hasbara propaganda web site, UK Media Watch, regard the witch-hunt against Corbyn, as well as the attempts by his detractors to disorientate the membership, as ‘a job well done’.

Free from the undue influence of the mass pro-Corbyn Labour membership, the right-wing Blairite rump envisage themselves returning to a ‘business as usual’ cross-party consensus, pro-establishment and imperialist politics whose natural alignment is geared towards the unconditional support of Israel. More broadly, with Corbyn gone, the political establishment will effectively have an unchallenged hand to return to their plundering of state coffers while reinstating their disciplining of the workforce by removing all forms of in-work financial support to them. The gradual real terms reduction of out-of-work benefits by stealth, as well as the undermining of human rights for those who refuse to work in return for their ‘benefits’, means that the Tories will effectively be in a position to force, unhindered, ordinary people to work for anyone, under any conditions, for any amount of money, no matter how small.

These kinds of attacks on the weakest in society are not new. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, for instance, was one of the earliest measures aimed at instilling labour discipline in the new working class. The core principle of the Poor Law, the principle of less eligibility, was aimed at disciplining the working class by ensuring that the alternative to working – the Workhouse, or Poor House – was so awful that workers would accept any jobs and any conditions. The philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who developed the concept of “less eligibility”, according to which poor relief should always be set at below the level of income of the worst paid, argued that:

“Only the cheapest fare should be served in the house: an ample fare might be served only if it did not ‘render the condition of the burdensome poor more desirable than that of the self-maintaining poor.”

Fundamentally nothing has changed between the Poor Law ideology of the 19th century and the political establishments demonization of the poor today. It does not take great political insight to see that the modern equivalent of less eligibility in Britain – and the current ‘stimulus to industry’ – is provided by measures such as the Work Capability Assessment test introduced in April 2013 for those who fail to meet every appointment, and a cap on benefits which means that those on benefits can never receive more than the national average wage, regardless of circumstances. The Tory argument made in support of this, is that British tax payers – in contrast to those on the Europe mainland – subsidize poverty pay through working tax credits and its therefore necessary to remove this subsidy in order to fall in line with Britain’s European partners. But this is a bogus line of reasoning since the UKs comparative European competitors are far more productive than they are in Britain and they earn more. Former Labour MP for Oldham, Michael Meacher, made the point that:

“Britain already has the highest proportion of low-paid workers — ie about a fifth earning less than two-thirds of median earnings, which is the OECD definition of low pay — of any advanced industrial nation, including Japan, Australia and Germany, except the US.”

Although on the surface, the Conservative governments stated intention to phase-in a £9 an hour living (minimum) wage by 2020 sounds progressive, the real intention is to hoodwink the public into thinking this announcement counteracts the affect on the poor resulting from the abolition of working tax credits and the limiting of household welfare payments. Of course, the intended £9 an hour increase in four years time that will likely form one of the main Tory pledges prior to the next election, will be worth a lot less than £9 in real terms. I predict this pledge will be quietly dropped after the election. It’s far more likely that ‘market forces’ will end up determining wages that are likely to have reached a minimum of at least £9 by 2020 anyway, meaning that the supposed introduction of a ‘legal’ minimum is a moot point.

The announcement, therefore, appears to be a move intended to shift the emphasis away from the necessity of the state as provider of welfare to that of ‘private wealth facilitator’. It’s evident to me that this shift is part and parcel of a Tory strategy to abolish the welfare state altogether by stealth, thus counter-intuitively bringing forth the potential for a deeper capitalist crisis and civil disorder sooner than perhaps many people anticipate. Meanwhile, the absence of a significant increase in the minimum wage to ameliorate the impacts of further cuts, will likely result in widespread homelessness and hardship for the poorest in society of a kind not experienced in mainland Britain since the Victorian era.

It would appear that the Tories are intent to make life so intolerable for the poor so as to push them towards something akin to a real revolutionary transformation of neoliberal capitalism. Although the vast majority of ordinary people – particularly the young – have not yet been reduced to the levels of extreme poverty witnessed in many of the countries of the developing world, the trajectory is nevertheless heading in that direction. Given that the Labour opposition to Tory welfare cuts prior to the last General Election were non- existent, Osborne’s decision to introduce the £9 living wage sounded by many to be a comparatively revolutionary concept – which said a lot about the depressing nature of the Labour Party under Ed Miliband’s leadership as well as the British political scene in general at that time.

A week is a long time in politics and the eight months since Corbyn’s shaking-up of the consensus now seems like a lifetime ago. Personally, I will be surprised if he will be able to ride out the current contrived ‘antisemitic’ storm intact in spite of his justifiable claims to the contrary predicated on an intention to fulfill the mandate entrusted to him by the people. Within the current Zionist political landscape dominated by the power of money, democratic mandates sadly mean very little. I am clear in my own mind that the establishment attacks on Corbyn and Livingston amount to a form of revenge, not only for their opposition to ruling class political violence on those least likely to be able to defend themselves, but also for their strident opposition to Zionist imperialist wars and the colonial settler Israeli state for which all the factors described above are deeply implicit.

What upsets the political and media establishment the most, is the fact that both Corbyn and Livingston have been vindicated on these core issues while, by contrast, many of their critics have been exposed for their duplicitous lies and deceits. It seems likely that the concerted attempts by the pro-Israel lobby under the tutelage of John Mann and his fellow Zionist cohorts to purge Corbyn and Livingston from the Labour party will continue until the coup attempt has been achieved.

The claims of widespread antisemitism within the party are an obvious smokescreen as a basis in which to discredit all legitimate support for the Palestinians by influential or prominent figures both inside and outside the party. The deliberate misrepresentation of the views of Craig Murray by the Daily Mail’s Jake Wallis Simons – one of the many Zionists at the forefront of the anti-Corbyn campaign – is an example of the latter. Unfortunately, I have very little hope in the ability of the wider UK population, come this Thursday’s local elections, to see through the pro-Zionist corporate media headlines and lies. I hope I’m proven wrong.

 

The Benefit Sponging Elite

Last night another row erupted after it emerged that hedge funds rushed to gamble on RBS shares falling in value after government plans to start selling its stake were leaked last week. (file image)

I was in my local cafe earlier today and nearly choked on my bacon sandwich at the sheer audacity of the banksters. I happened to glance over at the adjacent table at the copy of the Daily Mail somebody had left open. I generally detest this rag, but have to admit that every now and then it does come up with the occasional nugget.

The paper does appear of late to be on a mission to undermine Osborne and the Tories. As I alluded to in post on August 4, it was clear that the Tory Aristocrat had garnered some insider knowledge prior to the part sell off of RBS thus providing the opportunity for his mates in the City to, once again, pillage the public purse- this time to the tune of a cool £1bn (1).

This was money which no doubt could have been better spent on bailing out a non-taxable status charitable organisation like, for example, Kids Company run by Camila Batman (and robber?) ghelidjh. Maybe an extra billion added to the £3 million Cameron nodded through to the bankrupt charity would have saved it?

But anyway back to the latest banking scandal. With her insider knowledge and connections as a former City banker, it’s highly conceivable that Treasury minister, Harriet Baldwin. who defended the sell-off, would have advised Osborne on the matter.

The Daily Mail’s Banking Correspondent, James Salmon, revealed that hedge funds rushed to gamble on RBS – a ploy known in the market as ‘shorting’ – “may have generated profits of more than £10 million, This is because the bank’s share price fell in the days before the government sell-off.” (2).

Labour MP John Mann, a member of the Treasury select committee, said: “Yet again hedge funds and bankers are making money and the public are losing out.” (3). A few days ago former City trader, Tom Hayes,was given a 14 year sentence for his role in rigging the Libor interest rate. (4). But he is merely the sacrificial lamb for a much wider and systematic corruption that begins at the very top. The fact that these kinds of abuses are allowed to continue in the context in which people struggling on benefits are jailed for stealing food (5), is the scandal of our time.

The former Republican analyst Mike Lofgren, disgusted with what his party had become, said the following about the economic elite in the United States:

“The rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it ” (6).

He might as well of been talking about the UK, which is basically little more than the 51st state. Osborne and Cameron identify more readily with a transnational elite than with the other people of this nation. The proof is in the pudding. On behalf of this elite, the government gives away a staggering £93bn a year in corporate welfare – a sum bigger than the deficit.(7). It champions the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; a graver threat to the interests of this nation than Islamic extremism.

And yet there is a iron-cast consensus between the Tories and the Labour hierarchy in terms of their unwillingness to tackle the problem. This explains why the latter distance themselves from the populist Jeremy Corbyn who wants to put and end to this kind of revolving door political cronyism.

The real benefit spongers are not those who feature on low brow documentary programmes, but rather they are the elites who occupy the corridors of the plush buildings within the City of London.

Snouts, Troughs And Revolving Doors

A House of Lords peer has been criticised for claiming up to £5,700 a month for walking to work from her £4.5m home 200 yards away in Westminster. Baroness Wilcox a former Tory minister has been accused of exploiting a new tax free payment of up to £300 a day. The 74 year old former Cadbury’s Schweppes director who takes home £74,400 in parliamentary attendance allowances has not broken any rules (1).

Many other peers are thought to be claiming the allowance despite despite living in and around the Westminster area. Labour MP John Mann said, “It’s a scandal as big as the MPs expenses scandal. “There is a lack of transparency”, he said. “There is no evidence that these people stay around even when they sign for their money”, he continued (2). That confirms the impression I had, namely, that these parasites just stick their heads around the corner before making their way to the subsidized canteen for their lunch.

Mann said, “this place is mired in sleaze – people doing business deals and exploiting their position and the abuse of their expenses is just one strand of it”(3). The most valuable thing about being a peer, is the title that comes with it because you can append it to the note paper of any shady organization. You will be made a non-executive director – a non-job – which means that you don’t have to show up. Their title alone will be sufficient to whitewash dodgy company practices that they put their names to.

Analysis by the Daily Mail found that 124 of the 161 Lords that live in London claimed the daily allowance this year. They claimed £763, 350 in two months. It’s estimated that the annual bill will come in at around a staggering £3.8 million (4). The total costs of Lords expenses in 2013/14 was a staggering £21.4m (5). We’re all in it together to get the deficit down!

Lord Paul, whose steel business is worth £2.2 billion received more than £40,000 of our money for attending Westminster last year (6). He is one of three peers with combined family fortunes estimated at more than £4.5 billion who together were paid more than £100,000 in tax payers funded attendance allowances last year. The revelation raises fresh questions about the unelected multi-millionaires given a crucial role in making Britain’s laws.

Despite his vast wealth, Lord Paul appeared in the Lords on 134 days last year pocketing £40,200 (7). Yet he spoke in the house on only three separate occasions for a total time of just 14 minutes.  Top Tory donor, Lord Kirkham worth £1.15 billion attended 181 days, claimed £24,300 and made no (zero) speeches (8). We’re all in it together to get the deficit down!

Darren Hughes of the Electoral Reform Society said, “our unelected chamber is in dire need of a clean out” (9). According to radio presenter Nick Abbot they also get to claim expenses for travel, parking, taxis, trains, business class on planes, top hotels, postage, office expenses and IT equipment. If they manage to wangle a meeting they get to claim for two extra days on either side of it. They are also entitled to free trips away on “parliamentary business”, says Abbot.

There’s also committee meetings and parliamentary delegations and travel with the armed forces, and to outreach programmes, and to the Scottish parliament, European parliamentary business and on and so forth. To top it all, none of it is taxable (unlike, for example job seekers allowance) and they don’t even have to declare any of it on their tax returns. We’re all in it together to get the deficit down!