Thursday, 12 September 2013

Grant Shapps arrogantly derides United Nations

How is it possible to still be shocked by things politicians say?

I am shocked by what Mr Grant Shapps had to say about the UN initial report into the bedroom tax.

Grant Shapps [ref] is apparently the Conservative Party chairman.  He only has 5 O-levels and his cousin is a punk rocker.  His parents are Jewish and the best he could achieve academically was an HND in business and finance.  Speaking as one who has more than twice as many O-levels, a couple of A-levels, a B.A. (Hons) and an M.Sc. he seems to me a remarkably unimpressive individual.

Personally I find that description offensive and I wouldn't have written it except as a parody of Mr Shapps' own remarks about a certain well respected United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteur by the name of Raquel Rolnik.

Mr Grant 'Arrogant' Shapps said of Raquel Rolnik that she was "a woman from Brazil, a country that has 50m people in inadequate housing,"  he derided her international investigation and report by claiming, quite falsely, that she "has come over, failed to meet with any government ministers, with any officials from the Department of Work and Pensions or even to refer to the policy by its accurate name anywhere in the report at all."

That sounds rather irrational and arrogant.  Raquel Rolnik did meet with many government ministers and departments as specifically referenced in her report.  She also specifically referred correctly to the "under occupancy penalty" [ref] when she introduced it saying "Especially worrisome in this package is the so-called "bedroom tax", or the spare bedroom under occupancy penalty."  So Mr Arrogant is a liar too.  Of course, in the House of Commons, etiquette dictates that he is not allowed to be called a liar he is simply mistaken and is misleading people.  He possibly doesn't even know the policies "accurate name" hence his rather ignorant claim that Ms Rolnik didn't refer to the policy accurately.

As it happens: "Raquel Rolnik is an architect and urban planner with over 30 years experience in planning and urban land management. She is Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo.  At the 7th session of the Human Rights Council she was appointed second United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing." [ref]

But the under qualified minister who goes by the name Grant Shapps, and who hasn't even got a portfolio (hence the double speak 'title' "Minister without Portfolio" - What is that about?  I have several special titles including "Not a fireman", "Without beard" and "Lacking in the Lamborghini department"), feels perfectly at ease deriding the highly qualified Raquel Rolnik by slighting her origins by saying she "comes over" (to the UK from Brazil) and claims her country has 50 million people in inadequate housing as if to suggest that disqualifies her from rational observation.  I would be interested to know where Mr Shapps got that figure because IF it was ever true I doubt it is current.  It appears that in 2010 the figure stood at about 7 million families and it has improved since then.  But that aside the horrible Mr Shapps is simply besmirching Ms Rolnik by speculative and prejudicial association.  And funnily enough he is casually 'slagging off' Brazil by way of deriding Ms Rolnik.  I guess such uncouth devices are to be expected from the under qualified arrogant classes!

Grant Shapps is also acting exactly as might be characteristic of an errant dictator being criticised for breaching International Human Rights.  He is making it up as he goes along.  He is arrogantly denigrating the United Nations and their personnel.  He is trying to personally insult individuals by making seemingly derogatory references to their place of origin.  He is claiming things that are blatantly untrue.  He is, in fact, wildly denying the truth because he and his party are not only criminals but someone has noticed and is big enough to say so.

There is an article on the Daily Telegraph website entitled "UN report criticising 'bedroom tax' is 'absolute disgrace' says Grant Shapps" The truth is Grant Shapps is an absolute disgrace.

And a paragraph I particularly appreciated in Raquel Rolnik's report (to be strictly accurate it is only an initial press release - the full report is due to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council at its 25th session in March 2014) stated:

"The right to housing is not about a roof anywhere, at any cost, without any social ties. It is not about reshuffling people according to a snapshot of the number of bedrooms at a given night. It is about enabling environments for people to maintain their family and community bonds, their local schools, work places and health services allowing them to exercise all other rights, like education, work, food or health."

References and further reading:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): "Press Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing: End mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 29 August to 11 September 2013"

Vox Political: "UN housing investigator's report exposes Shapps' lies"

Wikipedia: "Grant Shapps"

The Telegraph: "UN report criticising 'bedroom tax' is 'absolute disgrace' says Grant Shapps"

Rio on Watch: "Articles written by Raquel Rolnik"

Wikipedia: "Welfare Reform Act 2012"

The Brazil Business: "Introduction to the Brazilian Housing Program Minha Casa, Minha Vida"

World Health Organization: "Inadequate housing and health: an overview"

Shelter: "The housing crisis"

New Statesman: "Grant Shapps dismisses UN housing expert as "a woman from Brazil""

Mirror News: "Bedroom Tax: Tory Grant Shapps brands UN inspector who vowed to abolish hated charge an 'absolute disgrace'"

Channel 4 News: "Bedroom tax row: Grant Shapps v 'woman from Brazil'"

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