Corbyn Vs May Round Twelve
Many will be surprised today that Jeremy Corbyn missed a chance to score a few easy goals. Not only would it have been his last chance to roast the PM on her withdrawal bill prior to the vote on Tuesday but he could have twisted the knife in regards to her being the first Prime Minister in history to be found in contempt of Parliament.
Instead, he chose to gallantly continue to raise very important observations pointed out by Phillip Alston, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur for Poverty.
Brexit and the contempt of parliament is an ongoing issue that will continue to be discussed within parliament and overshadows all the continuing strife and struggles affecting many in the country. Mr. Corbyn is right to pull these issues out of the shadows and hold them up into the light as often as possible so that the acting Government cannot get away with denying that they are a reality.
He began by asking: “When the Prime Minister read the scathing UN Report on this Government’s brutal policies towards the poorest, what shocked her more? Was it the words the UN used or was it the shocking reality of rising poverty in this country?”
Theresa May responded outrightly “I don’t agree with the report”. Off she went repeating the same soundbites we hear every week; “What we actually see is absolute poverty at record lows, more people in work than ever before, youth unemployment almost halved and wages rising”. Actually, all she did here was repeat bullet points from a Conservative social media advert.
Taking a moment to address her answers, the UN report stated the Government was in denial to how they treated the poorest in society. The Conservative’s are fixated on work and that if you are in work, you are living in the land of cupcakes and rainbows. However, in work poverty is at an all-time high. Despite the Tory soundbite to ‘make work pay’, in many cases work doesn’t pay. With the popularity of employers using zero hour contracts and paying at minimum wage, people are struggling to make ends meet, which allows for the situation we are seeing now where 60% of the children in this country living in poverty are from working families.
Jeremy Corbyn threw back that Theresa couldn’t face up to the unpalatable truth and continued by raising Philip Alston’s comment regarding Universal Credit stating that it was fast falling into universal discredit and when would she demonstrate her professed concern about “burning injustices” and commit to halting the Universal Credit roll out.
Theresa May refused to admit that Universal credit was the cause of misery for many having to deal with the new welfare system in the UK. She said “We’ve been making changes as we’ve gone through these changes” She then began to blame Labour for not supporting those changes.
Jeremy Corbyn pulled out his researched information to pummel the PM with as he raised findings from The Trussel Trust that states that the five-week wait for Universal credit is making the situations for people having to visit food banks worse. He went on to ask “if the PM would not halt roll-out of Universal Credit, will she at least immediately end the five-week wait?”
Theresa May responded by stating that claimants didn’t have to wait five-weeks for payment that they can have access to a 100% advance if they needed. Jeremy Corbyn rightly responded that this was a loan but what must be highlighted is that this loan is then taken from a payment that already fails to meet the basic cost of living and when an amount is taken away each month in order to pay that loan back, people are left in dire straits reliant on food banks and charity to get by.
Jeremy Corbyn continued on the same theme of tackling poverty highlighting the work of foodbanks. He said “Foodbanks face record demand this December. I say to her and the members behind her, food banks are not for photo opportunities for Conservative MPs, all of whom supported cuts in benefits that have led to this poverty”
He went on the attacking foot by drawing from research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who stated that in work poverty is rising in the UK. Jeremy then went on to highlight how we have the lowest growth in the G20 countries and stagnating wages.
Theresa May repeated a number of overused soundbites relating to wages growing fastest in a decade and positive employment statistics.
Taking a timeout here, as in prior PMQs sessions when Theresa May repeats these lines, knowing the background of the reasoning for how the Tories have achieved these positive outcomes is actually very ingenious. Firstly, wages growing the fastest in a decade can actually be pinned down to the public servants particularly the NHS workers receiving a pay rise this year. After pay freezes since 2010 NHS workers received a slightly larger pay rise. The NHS is the largest employer in the UK, along with the slight minimum wage increase this year this is why it looks like wages have grown the fastest in ten years. This isn’t really something to be proud of when you consider that wages are still lower in real terms compared to those ten years ago.
Secondly, employment statistics look positive as young people now have to stay in education until they are eighteen taking many young people off the unemployed figures. Along with this change in policy people only have to work one hour a week to be considered employed.
Corbyn announced to Parliament that the Bank of Englands Chief economist had described the last ten years as a lost decade for wages.
Theresa May laughed hysterically at this announcement, I doubt working families find it very funny.
When the house calmed down, Jeremy asked; “Two years ago a UN committee found that this Government’s policies towards disabled people were a grave abuse of their rights. Has that system improved?”
Theresa May responded that there was a key commitment to getting the disabled into work. She then derided Corbyn for Labours last term in Government pulling up the overused letter from Liam Bryne stating that there is no money and using that letter that was written in jest as the reason for difficult decisions that this Government has had to make.
Perhaps she should explain how this Government has spent more money in eight years of rule than any Labour Government in history, despite telling the public that we need to buckle our belts and put up with severe social cuts to save money…
The Leader of the opposition continued to raise how 4.3 million disabled people are in poverty that they have been labeled scroungers and that people not working have been labeled skivers. That this Government created a hostile environment for the Windrush and could understand why Philp Alston had stated that “Britsh compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited and callous approach”.
Jeremy Corbyn once again looked to come out of Prime Ministers Questions on top, he is in his element fighting injustices and he is chomping at the bit to fix our broken Britain and help people that are suffering due to callous policy changes inflicted upon them by this Government.