Thursday, 28 July 2011

WARNING : Purnell contagion. Stay in you homes.

I know. It's not an epidemic we thought we'd have to deal with again.

We thought we had become immune.

Sadly, there he was last night on Newsnight, slimmer, but as snake-charmingly mesmeric as ever.

My logical brain shrieked "But listen to what he's not saying" but my media-generation brain shrieked back "But he's saying it so well." The sheer competence and confidence of the man is compelling. He answers questions unflinchingly, still prepared to "think the unthinkable" yet somehow making the unthinkable sound so very reasonable.

A lesson really, in New Labour policy development 2006 - 2010. Think up a really whizzy policy. Only focus on the positives of that policy. If it involves pushing a few thousand souls into poverty and despair, tell people it is all about alleviating poverty. If it attacks single mothers or working women, make sure the interview says how very good it will be for gender equality. If it will disadvantage pensioners, call it the "Fair Deal for Older People"

As we can now see, Cameron has taken the genre and made it his own.

I was shocked after Newsnight last night. I wondered if even I could spend an hour in a room with him debating welfare policy without signing up to some strange cult. I could see clearly how successive politicians might think he was the answer to all their prayers. After I'd stuck forks in my leg to break his spell, I thought of all the people who would be disadvantaged by a contributory based welfare state.

-Women who look after children, therefore not paying in as much as their male counterparts.
-The sick and disabled who became incapacitated at a young age. (note, the poster boy for crip-bashing didn't mention us once)
-Low paid workers when compared to those on higher incomes (of course)

But it's OK, he argued, why should we help all poor children? If their parents show no "responsibility" they should take the consequences. (Which were of course scores of dead children, but see what he did there? Not a peep)

Some already argue that perhaps he has had a Damascan epiphany, mesmerised by his silky charm. I would argue that the Pernicious Mr Purnell has analysed very carefully where the welfare cards are about to fall and ensured that he is the Ace of Spades when they do. Spades. You know, for digging great big holes to hide the "undeserving" in, and bashing the non-compliant over the head with.

He suggested people had fallen out of love with the Welfare state, but could learn to love a "Protection State." Using the model above, it seems that this translates to "Removing protection from those we don't like much" See what he did there?


  1. makes my skin crawl horrid little man

  2. Purnell does not appear to have worked outside politics, except for a sojourn at the BBC. When he discusses child poverty, he clearly thinks of it as a statistic, another chess piece in the Westminster game. If you think that way, instead of a suffering child, I think you may have disqualified yourself from the human race.

    The Labour Party has an opportunity for some redemption on welfare, here. Ed Miliband has been spouting some right-wing drivel on this subject. He has a choice, now, to abandon that avenue or align himself with the sort of lying, tabloid politics so exemplified by the Daily Express and Daily Mail over the past couple of days. Analysis of those headlines showed them to be laughable. Given the troubles of the government and the revelation of right-wing thinking as, in some cases, plain murderous, Labour could turn a corner.

    But look to Purnell as a guide. If he creeps back into a position of power, it will clearly be 'business as usual'.

  3. A local political journalist tweeted that Purnell was 'dominating' the debate and that he was a serious loss for Miliband. Worrying.

  4. Is he still in the Labour Party, even the Tories are to much to the left for Purnell, perhaps UKIP or even the BNP would be more his bag.

  5. I hoped we'd seen the back of Purnell, too. But he might as well still be in government. Did you hear George Osborne on Radio 4 one o'clock news on Tuesday? He clearly stated that the proposed welfare, health, pension, planning and education reforms were key parts of the Tory strategy for economic reform – i.e. pushing neo-liberal economic reshaping onto another level. In this context rubbishing welfare recipients and reducing access to and the value of benefits is “pour encourager les autres”. Any effective safety net will make us much less willing to enter the beckoning low wage economy and squalid, help-yourselves-or-perish “big society”.

    Next it will be cutting the minimum wage. I know we've heard all this before but the way he rattled it off (unchallenged, of course) made it clearer to me, as if I didn't know, how the whole Tory strategy hangs together and which direction it is heading. However, it is generally presented (and opposed) as each “necessary reform” in isolation, with its own propagandised rationale.

    We must oppose welfare cuts by all and any means, but the whole, wider, welfare state is being attacked from many directions at once and it is all co-ordinated and intentional. What on earth are the Lib Dems doing supporting this – do they not understand? And where is the Labour opposition to this? Help!

  6. Brilliant posting - Purnell was so appalling my teeth ached by the end of it. The language of the deserving and undeserving poor should be anathema to Labour especially when applied to children. What is wrong with the man? Thanks for raising this and you are quite right - the Labour leadership should be distancing themselves very publicly from this nonsense.

  7. I have just discovered this Blog today and just wanted to let you know that you are my new hero!

    Sam @

  8. I'm in danger of constantly repeating myself. The government and their newspapers supporters the mail and sun etc. are out to destroy the sick and disabled and that's a fact

    As long as we understand that fact we may now try to move forward
    Likewise if you have one hate of a type of person it's invariably you will also have another ? And who's that i hear you say ?
    Well that my friends are the immigrants there still around oh yes but the right wing newspapers don't like them and have informed the government to stop all immigration so now we have the government with not one hurdle to deal with and that's to get rid of us but now they will have to try to get rid of the immigrants somehow to please the newspapers

    Well i can make it easy for David Cameron you cant either get rid of immigrants or stop them migrating here and you will never ever be able to achieve that so most important goal in your life ?

    Likewise with the sick and disabled sure you'll kill off a few you may get lucky even and kill of many but the overall outcome is that both you and the newspapers will fail in your objective and there will be nothing you can do about it

    So my advice to the government and newspapers and all other right wing think tanks is to stop now from today the constant persecution of the sick and disabled and learn that your hatred of us with lies and falseness is not the way forward and as we have just seen in Norway how much more wickedness do we need to see or read about before it's to late before another disaster takes place

  9. One other thing i need to add in that the likes of Parnell and all of the other journalists who constantly day in day out keep harping on the some old topic of the sick and disabled are regarded by all Psychiatrists up and down the country as being mental and in these cases very dangerous to society as all they do is spread evil and are fixated year in year out with the same topic which is far far from normal

  10. Neoliberalism is a collection of economic policies (in the UK adopted by all three main political parties) that has spread its poison from country to country over the last 25 years. Neoliberalism clearly treats its poorest citizens badly, by allowing for the increased disparity of the distribution of wealth ("the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer")
    It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right-wing.

  11. Purnell's inthepoclket of the insurance companies, that's all thjis is. If there's no welfare state there'll be lots of advertising needed by these companies and that's the angle for the press, lots of advertising coming their way. Purnell last night on the box, Martin Glover today in the Mail (read it? It's appalling nonsense). Hey disabled folk, it isn't personal, it's just business!


  12. If we ever were in love with the welfare state,why don't we love it these days,one might ask?
    Personally,I often feel ashamed of being dependent of it.
    There's the work ethic-so it feels shaming to not be working,even though I dont have a choice.
    There's the yearning for independence-I require people to help me with things.I dont particularly feel deserving of it,though,it is my right and I am not a cheat.
    There's a shamefulness to do with being poor,as well.
    So,there is an association in my mind between my unwelcome circumstances and the entity that has,so far,been there to protect me.So,it gets to be the object of contempt.
    This may be inevitable.
    Is it this factor,along with the effect of the relentless attacks on the system from a right-wing media bent on dismantling it,that makes it hard to love the Welfare State-whether you are a recipient,or consider yourself not to have benefited from it?
    Anyway,Purnell talks b******s.
    How about responcibility from the employers?We need decent pay levels so that people really do come out of poverty when they get a job.
    And I don't recall full employment during New Labour's time.If you designed your economic policy around it,you would have these garaunteed jobs-but you probably wouldn't need to force people to take up the jobs you created.They'd want them anyway.
    That may seem idealistic,but it hasn't been tried for a few decades...

  13. Can't say I share the appreciation of the pug faced 70's teddy boy's 'charm' but it does show in stark relief that in terms of welfare we are now excluded from Westminster representation. The Coalition as we know is at war with us and the Labour party elite are are just offering a different brand of ammunition. Political support exists at the local level but once you hit the upper echelons of politics and media we are being very effectively othered.

  14. "Protection State"...see what he did there?

    As in Income Protection Insurance ...they are waiting in the wings to sell, sell, sell.

    Watch out for ads on tv coming your way soon.

    Not a peep about those who can't afford it, or those who would never be accepted because of pre-existing conditions.

    I kept thinking who does he remind me of...? Then it came to me - Kaa, the snake in Jungle Book, take a look

  15. Personally I thought it was brilliant. Universal childcare, unemployment contributions based on what you paid in rather than a flat rate (how is it fair that I who have worked for 10 years and paid my NIC for that time get the same welfare payments that someone who hasn't worked a day in their life gets?), getting rid of the 50+ benefits currently on offer. Fewer, better benefits is the way forwards.

    Fortunately public opinion is on his side. Those that choose work will get better. I hope if Labour ever get in again they bring some of these policies in.


  16. And what if you are in a position where you can't 'choose work'? Just because you have the misfortune to be ill or disabled you not only have to suffer the pain and limitation of that on your life, but also have no right to the same welfare payment as anyone else? I think that is called discrimination.

  17. "And what if you are in a position where you can't 'choose work'"

    Then you don't matter.I think all parties have made this abundantly clear.

  18. Ah! Thanks for explaining that.