I am studious in my fact-checking and correcting any errors I make. I can be proud that no welfare minister or their supporters can ever prove me incorrect in my critical analyses of the claims they make and the policies they push. I can not however say that they can not prove me wrong on anything because yesterday in the House of Lords, David Freud proved me wrong: there is an Us and Them. There are malicious people that know exactly what they're doing and Freud is one of them. He'd never have a fight unless he won either way. I'll get to the point now.
EDIT: If anyone asks, my balls up on Amendment 45 and some interpretations were deliberate. In these stories, names are often changed to protect the innocent, k?
The Crime: After the 'Hat-trick' victory in the Lords where the government was defeated in trying to block three crucial amendments to their changes to ESA in the Welfare Reform Bill, a recess was taken and the debate resumed at 8:32pm. Some more amendments were moved and others were not moved without any divisions(they only vote when an unnumbered amount of peers disagree, they must then be counted). Then at around 9:15 David Freud moved Amendment 45A, the purpose of which was to kill his brother: Amendment 45.
The Victim: One of the three 'Hat-trick' amendments was Lord Patel's Amendment 45, which was simply "Leave out Clause 52". What Clause 52 was going to do was remove automatic eligibility to contributions-based ESA for disabled children when they become adults.
The Assassin: After Lord Patel had tabled Amendment 45 during the committee stage, Freud got to work and withdrew Clause 52 and re-tabled it as Amendment 45A. I'm not a lawyer but by the looks of it, 45A is exactly the same as Clause 52 in effect, it's just that 45A of course comes after 45. If Amendment 45 won the vote, then 45A would be right there to bump him off and take his place.
The Good Cop: Lord McKenzie smelled a rat and made a complaint to his superiors that he suspected an officer was dirty, ordering a hit on a successful amendment late at night when there weren't enough on duty. A lot of peers had gone home since the recess finished. He called out Freud:
"This amendment was in the same group as the amendment on which the Government were defeated but runs contrary to the decision that the House made previously. The assumption is that this matter will not be pressed. Otherwise, the Government give us no alternative but to force a vote on it."The vote was all McKenzie had but Freud had back-up and whips. Freud replied "Yes, my Lords, we would like to take this to a vote" and it was a massacre: McKenzie only had 49 not-contents for back-up to protect one of the Hat-tricks. The body of Amendment 45 was pulled out of the river with 132 votes in him, all of them contents.
The Motive: It was quickly determined that the Coalition's MO was to bump off all of the Hat-trick's, it was just a matter of which one was next: Amendment 38 or Amendment 38A? Amendment 46 was next on the house's list to be moved, but there was a shock when right after 9:30pm Freud and the government benches said "not content". McKenzie was first on the scene.
"Forgive me—are we not dealing here with Amendment 46, which the Government have accepted is consequential on Amendment 36A?"That's right, Freud has said the Coalition would not try to get to Amendment 36A by hurting 46.
The Twins: When the Hat-tricks were being made, the first was 38. He may have looked like 38A but they weren't related. But they dated a pair of twins who didn't look at all alike: Amendment 36A and Amendment 46. Amendment 38 treated 36A real good; said he could get her ESA time-limit from 365 days to at least 730, a full two years and Lord Patel had already got him made. That was great for Amendment 36A because what 36A did was link what ever the time period rules for ESA were to what ever the rules on conditions relating to youth were. Amendment 38A followed suit to mutually work with Amendment 46, doing for Cancer patients what his brother and her sister did for children.
The Trap: With Amendment 45 gone and the original Clause 52 back in place disguised as Amendment 45A, Baroness Lister had Amendment 46 tail 45A, safe in the belief that Freud had assured her that 46 would be left alone. The thing was Amendment 46 included the same wording as 45: "Leave out Clause 52" because Lister was on to Freud. Freud's amendment that killed 45 would be ineffective if 46 passed but Amendment 46 also needed to pass because 36A and 38A depended on 46. For 36A to link the rules on time-limiting ESA to 'condition relating to youth' required a benign occupant at Clause 52 like Amendment 45 or 46. Amendment 38A made it so no time-limit would apply at all to those being treated for Cancer or those with a limited capacity for work because of Cancer and 36A made sure that would apply to youth. Amendments 38A, 46 and 38 all allowed the time-limit for contribution-ESA to be lifted to two years rather than one, for Cancer patients to not be affected by time-limiting at all and for that to apply to disabled children if they don't make it into the Support Group but are found to have limited ability for work-related activity and the lynchpin for making sure children got that was 36A.
The Manhunt: All four of them co-depend on each other but none more than 36A and 46, which is why Baroness Hollis brought up what Freud had said earlier that evening:
"My Lords, I was the person who drafted Amendment 36A. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, clearly introduced it as the paving amendment to Amendment 46. So the Government cannot do as they are now suggesting."Freud was ever a snake in the grass with his reply:
"My Lords, let me read out what I said in my speech. I said that I confirm that the Government see Amendment 46 as linked to Amendment 36A, but separate Divisions will be required on all amendments in this group."Heads I win, tails you lose. Freud was basically stating that he expected to be able to flip the coin as many times as he wanted until he won. Peers would have to vote again on the same issue until the right result came in because he was moving them forward again with his amendments and opposition to technical amendments even after peers had voted on and agreed the principle amendments they were based on. McKenzie made that point right there and Freud was quickly exposed by McKenzie and Hollis as a back-stabbing worm. But if McKenzie's impression of a bad cop was scary, it was nothing next to Hollis' good cop:
"I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Freud, does not wish to appear to be subverting the view of the entire House, which was expressed in the full knowledge that the amendment which we voted on was devised—I devised it—as a paving amendment to a substantive one, so that we could debate it in good time. Most of the population of the House has gone home, believing in good faith that the previous vote has established the principle—as it has. However, the noble Lord is trying to renege on that by forcing a vote despite the late-night keeping of the roster. That would be quite improper and quite unprecedented, and I strongly suggest that he think again."Freud dug himself deeper and it came to Lord Bassam mentioning "My Lords, this is somewhat unprecedented" and suggesting an adjournment, he realised all eyes were on him and he had no safehouses left. The entire house was about to be brought into great disrepute and the Coalition would be the family that took the rap, they'd sooner cut him loose than allow that. Freud had no choice and told his men to stand down and release the hostage.
Amendment 46 passed with no opposition. She would go on to take the deceased 45's place as lead singer of the Hat-tricks. Amendment 45A having failed to maintain Clause 52 would disappear and later be found dead, possibly killed by Freud's goons to cover his tracks. Amendment 38A, racked with guilt over the Cancer patients found fit for work decided to quit drinking and focus on his career as a Hat-trick, saving 7000 people on chemotherapy from means-testing. Him and 46 never got back together but she's visits rough neighbourhoods in the work-related activity group to get kids addicted to time-limits off them when they get older. Amendments 38 and 36A live in the rules on time-limiting for ESA, which 38 extended to two years as he promised he would. They got married and have a lot of kids; 15,000 of them, all with some lifelong congenital or developmental disabilities and 36A keeps them well away from time-limits. They have a dog named McKenzie, named in honour of a great cop they knew. David Freud remains at large, but his MO and associates are known. Journalists are warned not to approach unarmed...with extensive Facts and questions about welfare reform. Freud is believed to remain a member of the shadowy Coalition crime family, making fraudulent bills. Stay safe. Stay vigilant. And remember..
It will always be Us and Them.