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ESTHER MCVEY’S promotion to work and pensions secretary rightly alarmed everyone who cares about those of us who rely on benefits.
McVey’s time as employment and disabilities minister, from 2013 to 2015 was marked by sharp attacks on those without jobs and those with disabilities.
But there is another side to McVey. She flipped from attacking the poor to working for a company serving the rich.
Labour MPs pressed McVey in December 2013 on the growth of foodbanks. McVey thought it was OK.
She told Parliament that, “in the UK, it is right to say that more people are visiting foodbanks, as we would expect.”
The reason people were going to foodbanks was their own fault, a “problem that was caused by personal debt, overspending and people living beyond their means.”
McVey lost her Merseyside West Wirral seat in the 2015 election, not least because of her attitude to the poor. She soon found work.
She became a special adviser in November 2015 for Floreat Group, an “independent private investment office.” The firm said she was helping it with its “wealth management” work.
Floreat Group says it helps “ultra-high net worth individuals” — rich people — stay rich.
According to Floreat, “the aim is to ensure that the purchasing power of our clients’ wealth at least keeps pace with inflation over a long-term time horizon.”
Floreat also offers ultra-high net worth individuals a “private range of discreet services,” such as “services in areas including multi-jurisdictional legal and tax compliance” as well as “reputation management, art services, estate and horse stud management, aircraft and ship management and private concierge services.”
So from being minister for cutting poor people’s benefits, McVey became an adviser to a company helping rich people with everything from investments to tax advice to assisting them with their yachts, planes and personal butlering.
Tory boosters are trying to make a lot of McVey’s regional accent, saying it shows she isn’t posh — as if “the north” is one undifferentiated blob.
But after losing to Labour in down-to-earth West Wirral, McVey only got back into Parliament by taking over George Osborne’s seat of Tatton.
It is near Manchester but is also a solidly Tory seat of posh villages and golf courses. The real defining factor of McVey is that she ground the poor as a minister before making money serving the rich as an adviser to an investment firm.
McVey is especially remembered by disability rights campaigners for replacing disability living allowance with personal independence payments (PIPs).
The PIP regime has trapped many disabled people in a horrible round of testing and cuts. While lots of Tory-ish journalists think McVey is a “great communicator,” disability rights campaigners, including the hardworking Disabled People Against Cuts, have a better understanding of society and a proven record of exposing and fighting McVey’s nasty work.
They deserve all of our support as they expose and resist McVey’s next moves.
Follow Solomon Hughes on Twitter @SolHughesWriter.
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