Sunday, May 27, 2007

When will Frank Field come home?

I have for quite some time now had some admiration for Frank Field, MP for the formerly Conservative constituency of Birkenhead, and had indeed wondered if there was any chance he might defect to the Conservative party.

Thanks to an interview on BBC News 24's Straight Talk with Andrew Neil, I now know that he was originally a member of the Conservative party and child poverty campaigner.

What is more interesting also was that the Child poverty action group pointed out that under Harold Wilson's government between 1966 and 1970 poverty had got worse.

It seems clear to me that Frank is a very intelligent man. I would say he is a Conservative in the best traditions of the One Nation compassionate strand. However he is currently a Labour MP for Birkenhead.

What I found most interesting was some of his comments in the interview. I am currently reading his paper on New Deal. He will go on to publish papers on other areas of welfare and welfare reform. I suggest any one who cares about these things should read them.

Some remarkable observations were these:

From earnings of about £100 to £500 per week there is very little any one can do by their own hand to improve their standard of living. That is solely in the gift of the Chancellor.

Just go back and think about that. It is simply shocking.

A single parent with two children working 16 hours per week will get about £480 per week, after tax credits. A married couple with two children (he didn't say it but I presume both are on the minimum wage) would have to work 116 hours to get the same money. He is not surprised at how many single parents there are, but how many married ones there are.

On the Margaret Hodge affair, he was not surprised at what she said, he was surprised she was being attacked for telling the truth.

He pointed out that now the Bangladeshi community in Bermondsey was making exactly the same complaints that were being made 40 years ago by the white residents 40 years ago, that the welfare system favoured new immigrants.

You can find Frank Field's website here.

I do hope he rejoins the Conservative party. From my point of view, he would be most welcome.


Arnie said...

What I found very interesting in the interview was how he discussed his falling out with Brown, and how, after he had put a point of view across relating to child poverty that disagreed with Brown's pov, Brown said 'I thought you were my friend'.

In a way this makes me feel sorry for Gordon, clearly he cares what people think about him, and about friendship with people, very admirable qualities, however the fact that he said such a thing to Field, just for disagreeing with him, indicates to me that he may have problems accepting that his view is not always the right one.

Anonymous said...

His top banner shows bits of London,the bottom one shows bits of Liverpool ,what's wrong Birkenhead is he trying to tell us something ,we are not scousers we are woolybacks and we have had road pricing since 1934 aka Mersey Tunnels,apart from that he is a good local mp in a Labour stronghold who still remember Thatcher selling/closing Cammell Laird,I don't think he will jump ship ,he's an honest mp (I never ever thought I would type that in about any mp),mcavity will go before Frank Field.

Benedict White said...

Arnie, I agree, it also turned up in Peter Oborne's hatchet job on Brown the other week.

It does not bode well. Ideas are honed through disagreement and discussion.

That said some people hope that once he gets the crown he will be a little less paranoid.

I doubt it, but we will see.

Benedict White said...

Anonymous, I can't comment on the photo's as I have never been there. I am sure he is a good local MP though.

Birkenhead used to be a fairly safe Conservative seat before 1918.

As for not thinking he would jump ship, I am wondering if he will jump back, because he was a member of the Conservative party before he was a member of the Labour party.

I take your point about Cammell Laird but on the other hand the tax payer can't endlessly support a dying industry. However what does matter is the creation of new jobs and I don't think there has been enough of that in Birkenhead.

Out of mild interest how would you vote if Frank Field stood as a Conservative?

Anonymous said...

12:10 AM, May 28, 2007

Personally I won't be voting for Labour or Conservative as I can't tell the difference between them now ,who's left of who ?,Cameron is a PR man all he is interested in, is getting the job as PM ,not a Conservative way ,he will lose in 2 or 3 years ,just because the Conservatives got 900+ councillors doesn't mean it will transfer to to a GE ,fighting your own troops instead of fighting Labour at every turn ,won't get him the extra votes because people are looking for a stable party which if you look, non of the main 3 have at the moment .

If Frank Field jumped ,I would be in shock ,but as above.

Benedict White said...

Anonymous, I don't quite agree with you about Cameron, but then I wouldn't!

I take your point about the parties looking like they are close together however,trust me they aren't.

As for Frank jumping ship, personally I have no idea. I would be very pleased if he did though.

Alan Douglas said...

Lord (Frank) Field of Birkenhead ought to be in a Tory cabinet as Minister for Welfare Reform, backed by a PM who WILL enact what he says.

Alan Douglas

Benedict White said...

Alan, I agree, though I hope we could get him sooner than that!