Friday, July 09, 2010

House Points: Sharon Hodgson shows the wrong route for Labour

My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News.

I wanted to say something about the way that Labour talks all the time about "child poverty" and defines it as living in a household with less than 60 per cent of median income.

In doing so they are dodging or disguising the debate about equality that we should be having. And they are sentimentalising the issue. Whatever definition of poverty we accept, it is not children who are poor but their parents.

But the space ran out.

Hodgson inanities

It’s worth paying Sharon Hodgson some attention, and not just because she sounds exactly like Catherine Tate’s character Geordie Georgie, the inveterate fundraiser. ("Let's say no more about it because I wouldn't want it to come between us, pet.")

For the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland North has been everywhere since the general election. Here she is taking part in a Westminster Hall debate on free school meals: ““The Lib Dems are taking the food out of the mouths of children in poverty, and this is what they have actually come into politics for."

She also turned up in the public gallery when the the Speaker's committee for Ipsa (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) considered that body’s budget. The Guardian reported that she was one of several MPs who “sat in the audience of yesterday's committee meeting heckling the three most senior Ipsa figures”.

Now she is promoting a private member’s bill that would make it illegal to resell tickets for concerts or sporting events in any public place or online.

“I think it’s a matter of social justice that if you want to go to an event it shouldn’t just be down to how much money you have, “Hodgson told the Evening Chonicle. “I know youngsters in my constituency who save up their pocket money or their wages for weeks on end ... but are then left disappointed when they sell out and they can’t afford the inflated prices.”

As a map of the route Labour should not take over the next few years, it would be hard to better Hodgson’s views. There is the ludicrous partisanship, the bovine opposition to reform and the determination to keep the poor as a client class for the Labour movement.

Take the question of free school meals. Every child who receives them now will continue to do so under the coalition government. What has been scrapped is a loosely costed Labour plan to extend them further.

And how will the youngsters she cares about be any better placed if they miss out on buying a ticket for a concert and then find it is illegal to buy one anywhere else?

When we hear less of Sharon Hodgson, it will be a sign that Labour is prepared to provide grown-up opposition.


Jonathan Wallace said...

You may want to add the following Hodgson policies to you otherwise superb coverage of this ridiculous Labour MP:

her demand for more chocolate on flapjacks given to children in schools;

her demand that cinemas be forced to allow people to bring their own food and drink into their premises.

Both were close to her heart in the last Parliament when we in Gateshead had the misfortune to have her as one of our MPs. Even the Gateshead Labour party saw sense and dumped her as candidate for a man nearly twice her age. Unfortunately for Sunderland, she cropped up their as MP.

crewegwyn said...

Other than certain events (e.g. football) where there may be crowd control issues, I have never understood the antipathy toward reselling tickets at above their market value.

In principle, how does it differ from selling a rare stamp, or a low-production model of car, or a prize-winning dog, at an increased price?

The seller has it; the buyer wishes to acquire it. What's the issue?

Or am I just some ranting libertarian?

Anonymous said...

Lib Dems should concentrate on their own shame for sleeping with tories, instead of attacking those who are trying to change things for the better.

Anonymous said...

nobody listens to lib dems anyway. They could be speaking jibberish and the tories would still politly nod their heads because their the only ones that need them.

Anonymous said...

the determination to keep the poor as a client class for the Labour movement.

So true!

dreamingspire said...

From reports heard and seen, it appears that event tickets are being sold in bulk to people who tout them, making obscene profits for doing very little. Now I have no objection to a free market, but a singular event is not what the free market is about, not at the level of individual tickets changing hands - the market works at the level at which you decide which event to attend. So I believe that we should drive these profiteers away by insisting that the names of attendees be registered when the tickets are bought and that ticket exchanges are at face value only (with the new attendee being registered). And group bookings will have to be accompanied by agreement not to resell, with accompanying penalties if you do. Of course today we do not have a robust and cost effective way to do this, but the technology of eID can do it - except that this country doesn't do eID, so its time to learn from the Baltic states and, soon, Germany.

dreamingspire said...

As for Labour and inequality, I'm sure they justify their statist policies by saying that they want to create equality of opportunity by sending the country bankrupt so that we are nearly all equally poor. In nature there ain't no equality of opportunity for a significant proportion of the population of many life forms - its a fact of life.