A Conservative MP decided to take to Twitter to complain about being given a £54 parking ticket. But somewhat predictably, things didn’t work out well for him.
Shed a tear for the Tory MP
Just had to pay a parking fine for being 10mins late when in Devon, genuine mistake but caught on ANPR. Is it me or is £54 unreasonable?
— Will Quince MP (@willquince) August 5, 2017
Quince said he got the fine after being 10 minutes late returning to his car in a privately-run pay and display car park. He claims the company running the park used Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras (ANPR) to identify his tardiness. And he said that, while he has paid the fine, he wanted to know if other people thought £54 was unreasonable.
But Twitter being Twitter, users didn’t give Quince quite the response he’d hoped for.
One user pointed out that the Conservative government’s benefits sanctions regime is just as harsh:
Your party believes that being 10 mins late is excuse enough to sanction JSA claimants.
— Jonny Brogdale (@Govtandpolitics) August 5, 2017
Another user also had little sympathy for Quince’s predicament:
I am seriously aghast at this tweet!Truly astounded that you are moaning about a fine YOU caused by being late!Whipround anyone?
— @JellyBabybot #FBSI (@IronsideSam) August 6, 2017
And one Twitter account put some perspective on Quince’s fine:
— Pumpkinpie (@Pumpkinpiez1) August 6, 2017
But perhaps some perspective for Quince may be useful. The Tory MP earns £74,962 a year plus expenses, meaning the £54 fine was 0.07% of his salary. Here’s the state of play for other people in the UK:
- Since October 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has given [spreadsheet table 1.5] over 2 million sanctions to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants; almost 178,000 [spreadsheet table 1.5 row 29 column BC] of those for between three months and three years [pdf p10]. The DWP can issue sanctions to claimants for lateness, and people will lose 100% of their £73.10 a week income.
- In July, over 70 NHS workers were issued with parking tickets worth £39,000 for parking at work. Each ticket was £128, and an average nurse earns £23,319 a year; meaning each ticket was 0.5% of their salaries.
- HMRC could fine [pdf] a tax credit claimant £300 for being a month late in reporting a change of circumstance. The maximum amount someone can earn to claim full child tax credits is £16,104; meaning the fine could be at least 1.8% of their annual income.
- Former DWP minister Iain Duncan Smith claimed he could live for a week on the £54 Quince’s parking ticket was worth.
Cue the world’s smallest violin
Quince claimed he was “getting lots of foul mouthed abuse from Corbynistas”. But it’s unclear from the responses to his tweet just where that abuse was. Also, he went on to say that people on lower incomes are “disproportionately” affected by car parking fines. But if Quince wishes to discuss how poorer people are “disproportionately” affected by policies, he may wish to look at his own Tory government’s record. Because since 2010:
- 400,000 children are now living in poverty, a figure which rose 100,000 in 2015/16. 67% of those are from working families.
- Food bank usage has risen, with over half a million people reliant [paywall] on just the Trussell Trust for food packages.
- In two reports, the UN has heavily criticised the Tories for “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights. The government, meanwhile, has severely cut their benefits.
- The past year has seen strikes by junior doctors, rail workers, teaching assistants, library workers, and other public sector staff. Their pay increases have mostly been capped [paywall] at 1%.
- Homelessness has risen by 54%.
- The government has cut the number of people getting social care by 26%. And it has cut £50m from children’s mental health services.
There appeared to be little sympathy on Twitter for Quince’s situation. But when you have a Conservative Party which has meted out some of the most draconian policies in recent history onto the poorest and most vulnerable in society, a Tory MP bleating about a £54 car parking ticket is about as hypocritically self-indulgent as you can get.
– Read more from The Canary on poverty.
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