Bernadette Meaden's blog

Why we need a Leveson Inquiry for the banks

On the eve of the local elections, some extraordinary remarks by a Minister probably got less attention than they deserved.

Defence Secretary and multi-millionaire property developer Philip Hammond tried to shift the blame for the financial crisis in the direction of ordinary UK households, saying, ‘the banks had to lend to someone’ and the people who took out loans were ‘consenting adults’.

Payday Loans: Join the fightback

The UK has become a magnet for payday loan companies that target the poor. Other countries limit the interest these companies can charge, but here in the UK the sky’s the limit, so more and more firms are moving in to make a killing. Along with the increasing demand for food banks, the proliferation of these companies on our high streets sum up what a harsh and unforgiving place Britain has become for the poor.

Why individuals, as well as systems, need economic scrutiny

When we talk about issues of economic justice, it’s nearly always a broad discussion of unjust structures and systems rather than individuals, and on the whole that’s probably the way it should be. But does that in effect mean that the super-rich, the one per cent, are allowed to be comfortably anonymous and unaccountable? And should they be allowed to remain so?

If the PM 'did' God it would make a nice change

The Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ asked, ‘Is it OK for Prime Ministers to do God in public?

I would be delighted if they ‘did’ God: it’s when they talk about God I feel nauseous.

The alternative to individual rich interests is people power

In the cash for access row the Conservatives have portrayed Labour’s relationship with the unions as equivalent to, and just as insidious as, their own relationship with a handful of rich donors. This is highly disingenuous. The Downing Street dinners only illustrate what we have all known all along: that rich people naturally gravitate towards the Conservative party, but whoever is in power they will always, as individuals, try to wield a disproportionate influence in their own interest.

Forensics, interpretation and changes to criminal justice

Britain’s criminal justice system leaves a lot to be desired, being founded on an adversarial rather than a restorative approach.

There are some areas, though, in which the system has worked well: two of these areas are forensic science, and the supply of professional interpreters for people who don’t speak English.

Welfare has become a dirty word

As the Welfare Reform Bill passes into law, it seems welfare has become a dirty word, something to be ashamed of. Unless you’re rich, that is.

Marie Colvin, truth and remembrance

In November 2010 Marie Colvin spoke at a service in St Bride’s church London, held to honour the 49 journalists, photographers and support staff killed in war zones since the turn of the century. She spoke about the risks she and her colleagues take to bring us the truth about what is happening to innocent victims of conflict around the world.

Government responsibility for unemployment includes how the unemployed feel

In a recent BBC debate on unemployment, there was an unbearably poignant moment, when a middle-aged man, Michael, was asked how he felt about being unemployed. ‘I feel humiliated’ he said, close to tears, ‘I feel like it’s my fault’.

He went on to tell of a young woman he knew who had killed herself because she despaired of ever getting a job.

Time for the Lib Dems to rethink their place in the Coalition?

With Chris Huhne’s resignation, it is generally agreed that the Liberal Democrats have lost their strongest voice in Cabinet, and will be even less able to exert influence over government policies. His seat as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was barely cold before Conservative backbenchers were pressing for a reduction in subsidies for renewable energy.