Tag Archives: Iain Duncan-Smith

The Tory Approach to ‘Stock Management’ in Animal Farm UK

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The three Great Offices of State as represented by the current incumbents

George Orwell’s “Animal Farm“, written as an anti-communist allegory in 1943-44 at a time when, due in part to wartime alliances, Joseph Stalin was well-regarded in the UK, remains a classic of its kind. The allegory is a versatile literary device, and in the skillful hands of Orwell it painted a bleak picture of the events in Russia leading up to the Revolution of 1917 and those developments afterwards which brought about the Stalin era. Clearly, Orwell’s target had to be one easily identifiable through the clear vision of hindsight; he had in mind what had already come to pass and was making no predictions as to any future dystopia. But history has a way of reviving familiar themes and it is hard to look at the events that have been unfolding in the UK since the ConDem alliance of 2010 seized power sans mandate – and not to credit Mr Orwell with an uncanny prescience as his work assumes a new and chilling significance.

This coalition government assumed a power it was not elected to on the back of a welter of slogans and promises; those slogans have become sick jokes, perverted out of their original bright and shiny aspect, retailed now in the bitter coin of irony and disillusion. The promises, meanwhile, lay shattered into myriad fragments, reduced to dust to be blown away by the chill wind of austerity – while the original text of vows that became lies are being erased from political web servers, lest they be waved in righteous indignation at the lumpen Untermensch and thus perhaps foment rebellion.

The 21st Century reality of Tory-fabricated propaganda in ConDem Britain is, if anything, even sneakier than the crude tactics of Squealer, the mouthpiece pig of the allegorical Animal Farm. Where Squealer teetered on a ladder with a bucket of whitewash, the better to change the sense of the First Commandment “All animals are equal” by the addition of “…but some animals are more equal than others”, the Tory revisionism is unspoken, the whitewash job more subliminal. So, the internet records are abruptly wiped and old slogans or promises such as “We’re all in it together” are simply dropped quietly, used now only as satirical barbs by those who would counter the Big Lie. And meanwhile, the MP’s get an 11% rise while belts are being tightened among the hoi polloi, the bankers get their munificent bonuses while theplebs face the “heat or eat” dilemma and present themselves at food banks – because what were previously recognised as bare subsistence-level benefits have now been heavily cut from every direction – so harsh choices must be made courtesy of the Orwellian Pigs who banquet in the farmhouse, aloof and uncaring.

Some of the repugnant individual characters in the book hardly do justice to their modern-day counterparts. At least in Orwell’s work, the pigs – on a literal level – really are pigs. The farm stock, literally, are stock – cattle, sheep, horses; the unthinking, uncomprehending functionaries exploited all these years by humans and now hoping in their trusting way for a brighter future under an administration of their alleged peers. “All animals are equal”. But, lo and behold, in modern-day Britain, real life imitates the literal level of art. The Secretary of State for Work & Pensions no longer needs to bother referring to those under his benevolent care as human beings. To Iain Duncan-Smith, they are “stock“, we hear. So our deepest fears are realised: the ruling pigs really do regard us as dumb animals to be exploited for economic success and neglected to mitigate cost – the money saved to be devoted to improving the already lavish lot of the said pigs.

“These people”, trumpets IDS in response to murmurs of mild protest, “are referred to as “stock”. So, he’s emphatic about that, he can’t see that there’s any problem with it. It’s so hard to listen to for anyone who still retains any vestigial dream of a more equal society. People in caring professions are trained not to use terms like “these people”, because it sounds so pejorative, so demeaning – as if the human beings thus discussed are in a box labelled “Problem” or “Undesirable Element”. It’s almost too horrible for words, a litmus indicator of the contempt in which this privileged man, this latter day ruling pig, holds the millions of needy and vulnerable fellow human beings currently at the mercy of his incompetent tenure in office.

The “stock” is not to be trusted. They must be kept penned up and fed on rations, lest they gorge themselves and exhaust the farm’s resources. Any gorging to be done shall be done by the ruling pigs, because some animals are more equal than others. The stock cannot be trusted to have a work ethic, and so quotas are set (we call it Workfare) and sanctions are applied to those who are unable, for whatever reason, to make their contribution. These sanctions do not apply to the pigs, because the pigs are the sort of chaps who can be trusted to work given sufficient fiscal encouragement – so it’s all about incentives there. A bushel of apples in Orwell’s book – a seven figure bonus in 21st Century Britain – if, of course, you’re “one of us”. Incentives for the few – sanctions for the masses. Carrots and sticks – the Tory pigs find it easier to rule with the latter than the former. Easier – and cheaper too.

In Orwell’s book, when through sickness or age productive work is no longer possible, the consequences depend on whether you’re stock or stockman. Faithful servant Boxer, the once-mighty workhorse, is therefore taken away when finally exhausted, to be slaughtered and boiled down for glue, amid fanciful lies about a hospital bed and a peaceful end. The ruling pigs retire to the farmhouse, don the trappings of humanity and live the high life. As a parallel, in 21st Century Britain, thousands who have been found fit for work – when they clearly are not – have either died of their condition or have committed suicide. They have become “economically neutral” in official jargon; this government don’t like to talk about people dying as a result of their policies, so have rather conveniently stopped providing statistics relating to such matters as well as making it much more difficult to uncover such statistics. But Mark Byford, on the other hand, the former Deputy Director of the BBC, was paid an eye-watering £1 million over and above his contractual entitlement because – in Orwellian terms – he’s a pig. Certainly not “stock”, anyway. The ruling animals look after their own. Some animals are, after all, more equal than others.

It’s difficult to say what the future may hold – and it may well be that we’re faced with a sort of Devil’s Alternative, looking for the least bad option the next time we go to the polls – if, that is, such quaint and old-fashioned ideas as elections aren’t done away with in the next batch of nasty little surprises the ruling pigs have for us. I am speaking allegorically, of course. But to say we’re at a crossroads is to show a huge talent for wild understatement. At the moment, official figures are being manipulated to show what the government wants us to see – if they want us to believe that the threat of sanctions, or the effects of Workfare are helping people into jobs, then that’s what those figures will say – with an utter disregard for the truth and the casual brushing-aside of any peeps of protest from those who are aware of the truth. The mainstream media, also, can be relied upon to perpetuate the Big Lie, in all of its loathsome forms – and sadly, people appear happy to swallow this bilge as long as they themselves are not directly affected by the more swingeing examples of government policy. To the despair of those who wish to see transparency in government, and the interests of all strata of society advising policy – the opposite is happening, and that trend remains on the up and up.

What seems certain is that now is no time to be thinking of a new way, or some ballot-box chicanery based on the provision of a “none of the above” option. Nothing would be better calculated to succour our current rulers than such idealistic measures; instead, what is now needed is emergency pragmatism in the quest for that “least bad option” towards the desirable end of ushering out this unscrupulous and incompetent regime. So much damage has been done already, unwittingly forecast in uncanny detail by George Orwell in the mid-forties – and in such a relatively short time – that it’s too horrible to contemplate what might happen post 2015 if Napoleon, Squealer and Co actually manage to get elected next time around. More Workfare, more poverty for those at the bottom, more ostentatiously obscene wealth for those at the top – that could be the least of it.

And ultimately, there will be many thousands more poor, sick, disabled or simply old who will die for want of fair government for all. Perhaps they will reflect as their lights go out, on the essential truth of an old Latin tag: “Qui mori didicit, servire dedidicit” (Who has learned how to die has learned how not to be a slave). For many, that might quite literally be the only way out.

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Bedroom Tax Claims Its First Confirmed Victim

Stephanie Bottrill: No Hope

Stephanie Bottrill: No Hope

Stephanie Bottrill was a 53 year-old grandmother who had lived in her terraced house in Solihull for 18 years, bringing up her children as a struggling single parent, nurturing the cherished back garden which was her pride and joy. Here she’d buried the pet cats she had loved; here was the area of calm she called her “special place”, where she could feel at peace. Then the Bedroom Tax bill arrived, and Stephanie knew she would have to pay £20 extra a week or find somewhere smaller. So, she sadly packed her bags ready to move, but nowhere suitable could be found. Resigned to her lack of options, Stephanie Bottrill sat down and wrote notes to all her family, dropped her house keys through a neighbour’s letterbox and walked down to Junction 4 of the A6 motorway where she stepped into the path of a northbound lorry and was killed instantly. She had become the first confirmed victim of Iain Duncan-Smith’s ill-advised and hated Bedroom Tax policy.

The notes that Stephanie had left behind were notes of love for her family, beseeching them not to blame themselves for her decision to end her life. She just wasn’t strong enough to carry on, she explained, and nobody was to blame but the Government. Her family have reacted with despair and disbelief that anybody could be driven to such lengths. But really, this tragic event was to be expected. A government that formulates a policy that leaves its most vulnerable citizens with nowhere to turn, no options to lead their lives in peace and security, must expect an outcome such as this. Realistically, as appalling and dreadfully sad as Stephanie Bottrill’s fate may be, she will almost certainly not be the last person to give up on life, to snuff out their own life. In the face of this Government’s callous and uncaring determination to visit all our economic ills on the heads of the poorest and least able to pay, it is horrifyingly likely that the death toll will rise, unless those in power can be persuaded to wake up, and smell the coffee.

It is difficult to imagine a more ill-conceived and irresponsible policy than this notorious and discredited Bedroom Tax. It is a policy that places those least able to cope directly into a Catch-22 situation. Unable to find the extra money levied each week – £20 is a frighteningly large amount out of a meagre weekly income. Unable to move either, because of the lack of suitable smaller properties. What is one to do? Discretionary payments can be applied for, but the budgets for these are laughably small; in practice only those with the very severest of disabilities in the most deprived of circumstances will have any chance of qualifying, and then only for a limited time. Maybe a move to the private sector rental market, but there is no security there, rental contracts are for months, not years. You are simply existing from month to month, or if you’re lucky, from year to year; you’re not living in your own home. Do the politicians who draft these measures, and who live in mansions and never worry where the next meal is coming from, have any real idea of how this might feel? The heat or eat dilemma? The pain of having to move out of a place where your children grew up, somewhere you’ve invested years of your life to make a house a home? Do they have the remotest clue?

It’s equally difficult to speculate as to what the reaction will be of Cabinet Ministers hearing news like this. Will they feel the pangs of conscience? Will they allow doubt to enter their educated and sophisticated heads as to whether these policies are really right? There is absolutely no sign of any such response. The issues confronting the poor, the dilemma of those faced with paying up or shipping out when neither is a feasible option – and there are thousands of people in precisely that situation – are a closed book to people who are in power and yet completely out of touch with the nitty-gritty of everyday life for the most vulnerable in society. That much we can say with confidence; the evidence for it is irrefutable. But an even more worrying question is: do they even care? Does anyone in this Government actually give a damn?

Stephanie Bottrill seems to have concluded, in the face of all the information available to her, that – in undeniable fact – nobody in Government does care. Nobody was prepared to lift a finger to help her in her no-win, zero-options situation. Most of us – fortunately for our peace of mind – cannot imagine the despair, the desperate loneliness and lack of hope that goes hand-in-hand with a conclusion like that. We can only accept that Stephanie’s state of mind, as she made her solitary walk to a death she felt was her only way out, was of a resolve born of her absolute conviction that the Government had abandoned her, careless of her fate, indifferent as to whether she lived or died. She made the awful decision to act on that conviction, alone and with her own indomitable brand of courage. Stephanie chose to abandon the world she felt had given up on her.

Can any of us say with any confidence that she was wrong?

Duncan-Smith Appeals Politely To Finer Instincts of “Rich Pensioners”

Duncan-Smith:  "Polite"

Duncan-Smith: “Polite”

Iain Duncan-Smith, having pandered for so long to the Daily Mail-reading citizens of leafy suburbia, gladdening their hearts with his continual broadsides aimed at “shirkers” or those allegedly living the high life on munificent benefits may just have made a tactical error, thereby rousing the ire of the comfortably-off grey vote. Perhaps encouraged by the willing acceptance by the rich elderly of the picture he has so assiduously painted of a benefits dependency culture, IDS has finally dared to think the unthinkable, hinted at just possibly touching the untouchable – even if, as it turns out, this would be consensual touching.

The suggestion of the beleaguered Work and Pensions Secretary seems, on the face of it, quite mild – especially when compared to his scathing rhetoric directed with such concentrated fire at the unemployed, the disabled and other “benefit dependents” (especially if they dare to have – horror of unjustifiable horrors – a spare bedroom!) He has only said, in a really quite wheedling, come-on-now-you-chaps sort of tone, that the “wealthy elderly” might like to do their bit and return some of the universal freebies currently available on grounds of age alone – and regardless of what might be piled up in the bank. He would, he offered, “encourage” people who do not need this type of financial help to “hand it back.” Not exactly, on the face of it, a draconian move – but it seems likely that certain Disgusted of Cheltenham types will feel betrayed by the Minister, despite his carefully-couched and indeed almost pleading remarks.

The coalition government have, up to now, been fastidiously careful not to rattle the cage of a section of society well-known for its mainly Conservative leanings. It seems likely that any dent in this traditional groundswell of support could have disastrous consequences for the Tory Party’s chances of remaining on the political map come 2015 and election time. Even now, with this hesitant suggestion of self-sacrifice for the old and rich, IDS has been quick to provide reassurance that there are no plans to introduce a means-test to exclude wealthier pensioners. What Duncan-Smith is appealing to is the theoretically noble spirit of the rich: come on, guys, let’s play our part and show those nasty little oiks down at the bottom of the pile just what the Dunkirk Spirit is all about. The thing is, he may have misjudged the mood.

I only heard one caller to a late-night BBC Five Live chat show debating this story. That was largely because this one chap was so irate, so indignant, that it proved extremely difficult to shut him up long enough to cut him off without appearing terribly rude to a nice old man. The level of animosity generated by this single outraged pensioner was a marvel to behold – it was only radio, but you could almost hear the veins in his temple throb. I was quite worried for his health, and the presenter seemed loath to provoke him further, lest he should bring on apoplexy. If that caller was in any way representative of his wealthy co-recipients of government largesse, then it could turn out that IDS has had another Bad Idea. It may be an old and fairly wizened tiger he has by the tail, but the teeth and the claws would appear to be in full working order and ready to turn on the hand that’s been feeding them.

The worrying thing (as far as this citizen is concerned) is the marked contrast in tone and approach, depending on whether IDS is imposing swingeing cuts on people whose incomes are already stretched to snapping point, or making sweetly suggestive noises about how noble it would be to forego the £300 winter fuel allowance when you have £150k in the bank. And really, the contrast could hardly be more marked, and therefore it could hardly be more repellently disgusting. The clear implication behind such radically different ways of dealing with different sectors of society is that the government view of those disparate groups is polarised to such an extent that one might almost doubt we are talking about members of the same species. The rich are to retain a choice over whether their income should remain at a level far in excess of their needs – even if a proportion of that income comes from an over-stretched welfare budget that is already pushing people – working people – into reliance on food banks. The poor have no such choice. Stringent measures are being taken, and the Untermensch at the bottom of Society’s league table can like it or lump it. There is a nasty assumption going on in Tory heads that they can trust “our sort of people”, but that the peasants have to be kept in line; give them an inch and they’ll take a bally mile, old boy.

This attitude pervades our current national mindset; even to the extent of sparing the rich the visitations of Justice when they’ve been naughty – if they happen to be well enough placed to make reparations. If two people are caught out in the same level of benefit fraud – for instance – and one can afford to repay the whole amount they’ve diddled out of the state, but the other can’t; guess what happens. It is open for the decision makers to spare the person who can repay any actual prosecution and probable criminal record. The one who can’t repay within the time limit stipulated – it’s off to court with you, and a blot on your record that will dog you for years – and you still have to pay the money back, out of whatever pittance you have left. And yet the crime is identical. That’s the only definition you’ll ever need of unfair, unjust and a travesty of the equity of treatment that should be any government’s minimum aim. It’s happened under successive administrations of whatever persuasion, and it’s a blot on our notion of fairness.

It may well be that IDS has committed a gaffe here, but equally it’s possible that, on sober reflection, the elderly rich will decide that they aren’t after all being threatened with imminent penury. And unwilling as I am to give much credit to a Minister with such an appalling record on his treatment of those who can’t fight back, I actually think this is something of a tiny step in the right direction. It is time the wealthy did more to show that they share the responsibility we all have to get out of this mess. I just wish that there wasn’t so much carrot on the one hand, and so much stick on the other.

Demand a Public Enquiry Into 1300 Deaths After Atos Medicals: Petition, Please Sign and Share

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Iain Duncan-Smith: Arrogant, contemptuous and out of touch

The petition calling upon Iain Duncan-Smith to instigate a Public Enquiry into the conduct of Atos, with particular reference to the appalling figure of 1300 deaths after Atos “medicals”, has so far attracted 4,346 signatures.  That’s not a bad start, but much more is needed.  YOUR support, and YOUR willingness to help network this petition could be vital; if a Public Enquiry could be brought about, Atos would be well and truly under the spotlight and it’s possible they may be forced to change their way of working.  It’s not over-stating the case to say that this could save lives.  YOUR signature, YOUR support could actually SAVE LIVES.  It’s that vital.

An Enquiry would seem appropriate in any case, for an organisation which has been branded “Not fit for purpose” by the British Medical Association, and which has itself recently issued a wheedling apology to the people it has wrongly found fit for work. The apology is aimed at the survivors of the Atos experience, you understand. Sadly, it is too late to apologise to the 1300 who have died.

The petition I’m asking you to sign can be accessed here. Please click the link, sign the petition, and share it as widely as possible. Share this article too, and follow this blog. It’s all about networking and it all helps  Just maybe, if things go well, we can make a difference. A lot of people are out there, counting on your support to start some sort of change for the better. Help them, in memory of the 1300 who have paid the ultimate price for official incompetence and callous disregard for how human beings are being treated.

Iain Duncan-Smith treated a previous petition started by Dom Aversano, calling on him to do as he said he could and live on £53 a week, with the utmost arrogance and contempt, dubbing it “a stunt”. This is the measure of the man’s utter disregard of public opinion, or indeed anything that doesn’t help advance his own malicious agenda.

Don’t let him get away with it again.  Become pro-active.  Make this man see that the voice of the people will not be ignored.  Sign and share, and make a difference today.

Please.  Share If You Care.

Demand a Public Enquiry Into 1300 Deaths After Atos Medicals: Petition, Please Sign and Share

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Iain Duncan-Smith

The petition calling upon Iain Duncan-Smith to instigate a Public Enquiry into the conduct of Atos, with particular record to this appalling fatality rate has so far attracted 4,346 signatures.  That’s not a bad start, but much more is needed.  YOUR support, and YOUR willingness to help network this petition could be vital; if a Public Enquiry could be brought about, Atos would be well and truly under the spotlight and it’s possible they may be forced to change their way of working.  It’s not over-stating the case to say that this could save lives.  YOUR signature, YOUR support could actually SAVE LIVES.  It’s that vital.

An Enquiry would seem appropriate in any case, for an organisation which has been branded “Not fit for purpose” by the British Medical Association, and which has itself recently issued a wheedling apology to the people it has wrongly found fit for work. The apology is aimed at the survivors of the Atos experience, you understand. Sadly, it is too late to apologise to the 1300 who have died.

The petition I’m asking you to sign can be accessed here. Please click the link, sign the petition, and share it as widely as possible. Share this article too. It all helps, and maybe if things go well, we can make a difference. A lot of people are out there, counting on your support to start some sort of change for the better. Help them, in memory of the 1300 who have paid the ultimate price for official incompetence and callous disregard for how human beings are being treated.

Iain Duncan-Smith treated a previous petition, calling on him to do as he said he could and live on £53 a week, with the utmost arrogance and contempt, dubbing it “a stunt”.  This is the measure of the man’s utter disregard of public opinion, or indeed anything that doesn’t help advance his own malicious agenda.

Don’t let him get away with it again.  Become pro-active.  Make this man see that the voice of the people will not be ignored.  Sign and share, and make a difference today.

Please.  Share If You Care.

Iain Duncan-Smith: Anyone Can Live On £7 A Day

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Iain Duncan-Git

Iain Duncan-Smith could live on £53 a week I reckon, just as most of us could feel quite excited about the prospect of going on a survival course or boot camp or something similar. He’d think of it as a change, something exciting, a sort of toff’s challenge. It’d be a thing for him to do, and something he’d be able to drone on about having done at his club, or whilst having a snifter at the 19th or whatever. He could do it – say for a week or a fortnight, or even a month, and then write a book about it and we’d never hear the last of it.

So make the bastard do it for a year with no get-outs, cut him off from his well-stocked freezer and cocktail cabinet and his fat wallet and bank account, and dump him in a three-bedroomed flat on a sink estate, complete with 25% bedroom tax. See how he fancies that.

Not one little bit, is my guess.  But I’d love to see him try.

Tories Need to Learn That Carrots Sometimes Work Better Than Sticks

Peter Lilley

Ex-Cabinet minister Peter Lilley has unwittingly put his finger on a possible answer to the “spare bedrooms” issue, which has been used to justify the iniquitous Bedroom Tax. Interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live, the former Social Security Secretary attempted to defend savage cuts to Housing Benefit by remarking that his constituents are always complaining that they’re overcrowded in their one-bedroom social housing units. Why then, argued Lilley, is it fair for other tenants to “under-occupy”, and have one or two “spare bedrooms”?

The problem is, of course, that as in all its dealings with the poorer end of society, the Coalition has decided that the bludgeon is the most effective instrument of Government. Hence the rightly-hated Bedroom Tax; ill-conceived, improperly thought-out, poorly presented and unfair to the nth degree. No account is taken of whether there is a genuine option for people affected to move to smaller properties, nor of whether the cost of this undertaking is feasible for them. Any consideration of the distinct needs of the disabled, which may medically justify the use of separate bedrooms for couples, has been specifically ruled out.

A possible answer – a fair, practicable answer at that – lies within the rhetoric of Lilley’s attempted justification of the unjustifiable. If, as he says, there is still a big problem of people suffering from overcrowding, and being in need of larger properties currently under-occupied by smaller families – then why not simply engineer some means whereby these two groups can be made aware of each other and thereby facilitate property swaps? A large part of the reason why the “under-occupiers” won’t be moving is the lack of availability of smaller properties. If “swaps” could be facilitated, on a large enough scale, then we could have a mutually satisfactory solution to the problems of both groups. It would be necessary of course to incentivise such a plan – perhaps a transitional payment and/or financial assistance with removal costs and other formalities. It’s a question of square pegs in square holes – the solution should be neat and simple. But the Government don’t see it that way, because they’re instinctively suspicious of the motives of the poor, who they see as wishing to hang on to their “something for nothing” at all costs, and they are therefore determined to hammer these unfortunates who have no scope to either move on, or pay the rent arising out of the imposed cuts in Housing Benefit.

The whole issue comes down to this Government’s pathological preference for the stick over the carrot. They are bolstered in this instinct by the leanings of their natural supporters, Mail readers and the like, who wish to see “the smack of firm government” applied to anyone who has been sufficiently demonised by a press that seems intent on disseminating Tory propaganda. The ultimate aims of the Bedroom Tax haven’t been all that well clarified either. We hear about the “unfairness” of under-occupation, but it’s being acknowledged that a primary goal is to save on the Housing Benefit bill, with half a billion pounds being mooted as a first year economy. How does this help get larger families into larger properties? Cutting the income of the “under-occupiers” is hardly the best way of persuading them to incur removal costs to move to a smaller property, possibly in the private sector at a higher rent – because all the over-crowded families are in the one-bedroom social housing properties. It’s a real mess, round pegs in square holes, square pegs in round holes, and no strategy to facilitate any sort of reversal to mutual advantage.

Iain Duncan-Smith

Ministers right now are in a full state of alert, ready at the drop of a hat to respond to annoying and inconvenient criticism from the likes of church organisations, fully primed to do their best to defend the indefensible, as Peter Lilley was clumsily attempting to do. To this end, they are prepared to come out, bare-faced with the most unconscionable rubbish. Iain Duncan-Smith, a man who recently claimed £39 expenses for one breakfast, has asserted that he would be able to live on benefit subsistence levels of £53 weekly. Utter nonsense, of course, but this is a symptom of desperation in the face of a tidal wave of opposition, for a government that will brook no alternative. The problem these ministers have is that they are increasingly aware the measures they’re being asked to speak up for are bad policies, and – much, much worse for any mid-term government – bad politics. The current administration are wide-open to charges of callousness, misrepresenting salient facts about poverty and an abject failure, indeed refusal, to listen to any source – however well-informed – that doesn’t unswervingly endorse their chosen path. That’s the kind of leadership that got Thatcher removed – and David Cameron, if he hasn’t already given up hope of winning the next election, increasingly looks in dire need of a Plan B.

Practically, I believe that what I might be tempted to term “The Lilley Plan”, allied to sensible investment in the construction industry, could go a long way towards solving the conflicting issues of over-crowding and under-occupancy – as long as it would be properly funded and incentivised. It’s still a matter of trying to get people to move out of homes they may have lived in for years after all; which is still uncomfortably close to social engineering. But if carrots are tried, for once – instead of the endless battalions of Tories wielding sticks – then maybe some progress could be made, and there would be benefits too for the wider economy of more investment in construction; jobs, taxes raised, housing options created, growth – that sort of thing. They’re all distant and unattainable dreams for the Coalition at the moment, but maybe, just maybe, a little more of an imaginative approach to government might reap some reward.

But it is the Tories we’re dealing with here, and they’re brought up from the nursery to think they know best so – you know – don’t hold your breath.