Take Me To Your Leader Writer

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...has written more leaders (newspaper editorials) than anyone alive or dead, an honour still to be recognised by the Guiness Book of Records or the Nobel judges. I have produced them for the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Mirror, Today, the Sunday People, the Evening Post (Hemel Hempstead), the Caithness Courier and the Student (Edinburgh). My creed is: Have opinions, Will travel.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Throwing the poor to the sharks

It has always baffled as much as outraged me that usury against the poor has been allowed to continue into the 21st century.
Most of us who pay 20-something per cent interest on credit cards would describe that as close on usury but those rates are nothing compared with the extortionate ones forced on the very poorest people. These run to hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of per cent.
Everyone knows it goes on. At least, they should.  MPs get told about it by their constituents and the media report it with a certain regularity. Though adverts for the usurers appear even more regularly in the papers and, apparently, on the television.
Even it we can understand why the loan sharks weren't cracked down on during the Thuatcher and Major years, it is beyond shameful that 13 years of New Labour did nothing to protect the poor from these vile firms.
The other night Labour MP Stella Creasy attempted to introduce a measure that would have set caps on interest. Hardly controversial, you might think. Surely we are all in favour of that.
And in the course of rather a good, passionate debate, all who spoke did say they were in favour of doing something about the rates charged to the poor for these outrageous loans.
So the Commons accepted Ms Creasy's proposal? Afraid not. It was voted down by 271 to 156 as Conservative and LibDems united to let the sharks carry on sharking.
The minister responsible - Ed Davey, a decent Liberal Democrat before he got into bed with the Tories - used as an excuse for their inexcusable actions that they needed to "gather evidence and assess it". How much more evidence do they need? How much more assessing?
What this was about was allowing a vile, cruel fraudulent industry to continue to exploit and ruin the lives of the poorest people in the country.
The excuse given by one Tory was that he wasn't in favour of more regulation. So why bother having any laws at all? Let's get rid of the regulations that apply to murder,  burglary and rape; will that make him and his kind happy?
It should be the primary role of government to protect the weak in society. A clear majority of MPs failed to meet that responsibility on Thursday.

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