Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Does Philip Davies really believe tattoos are a burden on the state?
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt.
Monday 13 January 2014
In the often unintelligible acronym- and jargon-crazed world of Work and Pensions Questions, no-one could accuse the right-wing Tory Philip Davies of not telling it like he thinks it is.
Today Davies invited Iain Duncan Smith to condemn the characters on Channel Four’s Benefits Street who complained about cuts while “being able to afford to buy copious amounts of cigarettes, have lots of tattoos done and watch Sky TV on the obligatory widescreen television.”
Did he understand the concerns of “people who go out to work who cannot afford those kind of luxuries?
His point was clear, if a little odd. Maybe Donald Trump is covered with the things, but you can’t help feeling that tattoos would come rather low down the list of enviable “luxuries” after fast cars, yachts, and Rolex watches.
As a BBC-hater moreover, Davies should be relieved the claimants are watching Sky.
And it seems a trifle inconsistent from a keen champion of the gambling industry, who said last week that criticism of fixed odds betting machines is “about middle-class people being patronising towards working-class people by telling them how they should spend their money.”
But Davies did at least lay bare his core views. You have to hope that Duncan Smith was not doing the same with his un-PC mockery of Labour’s (gay) Chris Bryant.
As in “I know that Christmas is over but I think one of the pantomimes left its dame behind on the Opposition Front Bench”. But then Duncan Smith may only have been trying to ingratiate himself with George Osborne, said not to have the highest opinion of his colleague, and the first to use the “pantomime dame” gag about Bryant.
Ministers again came under fire over Atos from MPs concerned that the company seems rubbish at deciding whether disability claimants are fit for work. This time from what could loosely be said to be its own side. The recently liberated – by being sacked as a minister – Lib Dem David Heath asked whether it would not be best to “remove the incapable Atos”.
Minister Mike Penning pointed out that Atos was first hired by Labour, which is all too true, But while Penning is a nice chap, didn’t his mum ever tell him two wrongs don’t make a right?
Meanwhile pensions minister Lib Dem Steve Webb zapped his shadow Greg McClymont who complained the government was not telling people how the pension changes would affect them.
Was he “really suggesting that we should write 40 million letters?” asked Webb. This got a big laugh from the government benches. But then McClymont was hardly suggesting that Webb should sign each one personally.
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...