Archive for October, 2015

TYT Reports ‘V for Vendetta’ Finally Screened on Chinese TV

October 31, 2015

This is a slightly more optimistic piece from The Young Turks from 2012. It seems that the Chinese government has finally screened Alan Moore’s story about resistance to a Fascist, totalitarian state. They point out it was never screened in Chinese cinemas. As they say, ‘Oops! How did that one get past (the censor).’

They point out that a lot of Western movies are available in China anyway, and it might simply be due to a new Chinese leader taking power. My guess is that it’s possibly been screened because it’s such a cult film that attempts to stop people seeing it have largely failed. It’s also possibly been made palatable by the fact that the totalitarian state is a Fascist, 21st century Britain. Even so, the precise shade of political party and geographical location shown in the movie doesn’t alter its anti-authoritarian message, or make much of it any the less relevant.

China is a one party police state, which incarcerates and tortures its political prisoners. The scenes in which the guards and staff at the concentration camp are shown disposing of the bodies of hundreds of victims of human experimentation will, amongst older Chinese, recall the mass deaths that resulted from Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

China is also a state that robs its criminals of their organs for transplant surgery before they are executed. Thus Chinese prisoners are the victims of forced medical procedures in that way, another, though possibly not an exact parallel to the horrors in the movie.

The film is similarly set after there has been a holocaust against Muslims, resulting in their extermination and the outlawing of their religion. China similarly is cracking down on its Muslims, and many of the country’s indigenous Muslim ethnic groups, like the Uyghurs, feel that they are being systematically dispossessed, marginalised and persecuted in their home province of Sinkiang.

Among those sent to the concentration camps are homosexuals. In one part of the movie, Natalie Portman’s character is incarcerated to make her experience what the state’s victims go through. During her incarceration she reads letters written by Valerie, a lesbian, who really was rounded up by the regime for her sexuality. I don’t know if homosexuality is illegal in China, but it certainly is in other Asian societies, such as Singapore, and strongly disapproved of in many nations where it is legal, such as Japan. My guess is that it is illegal in China, and that this will be another uncomfortable parallel with the current regime.

But whatever the oppressive government, the Turks’ point out that the film does have a universal message that people should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

As our government tries to shut down the Freedom of Information Act, it’s plain that they are. Very.

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The Young Turks: Verizon Patents Device to Spy on You for Advertisers

October 31, 2015

I post a similar piece from The Young Turks a little while ago on the way the American government was going to place tracking devices in people’s home appliances – TVs, washing machines, freezers, and so on, which would allow them to keep tabs on them. In this report from 2012, the Turks reveal that Verizon has patented a device which allows the TV to spy on you in order to target advertising. For example, if the camera picks up sounds of arguing, you’ll get an advert for marriage counselling. If they see ‘cuddling’, your TV will show an advert for contraceptives.

This is a serious potential infringement of civil liberties, and it’s not the first. The Turks reveal that four years previously another company had patented a similar device. Verizon are able to do so, unlike the government, which needs a warrant, because they’re a private company.

As the Turks point out, this has serious implications. They raise the obvious question: does anybody really believe that the government isn’t going to use this technology? They are, unfortunately, extremely pessimistic about the possibility of citizens resisting what Benjamin J. Grimm, your ever-lovin’ Thing, would describe as ‘a revoltin’ development’. They believe it’ll take a couple of scandals, and even, then the evidence is that people are so habituated to such surveillance, that they won’t resist.

This is one more step towards Orwell’s 1984. In Orwell’s dystopian classic, the government monitors and controls people through cameras, including in their television. Orwell’s novel was based on Stalinism and the idea of a totalitarian ‘socialist’ state. This technology is being developed for private industry, and no doubt will be adopted by our increasingly Right-wing government to protect private industry and the exploitation of the poor and unemployed by the upper classes.

Here’s the video:

Florence on Government-Approved Pseudoscience In ME and the ‘Nudge Unit’

October 31, 2015

Yesterday I blogged on Mike’s article, criticising a highly dubious report by the Torygraph that scientists at Oxford had concluded that ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, was all in one’s mind and could be cured through a mixture of exercise and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I took the view that this was basically pseudoscience. I got two highly interesting comments from Florence confirming this and providing further information. She writes

Reports in the literature from the USA on ME / CFS, The NIH for example, cite fMRI, PET scan (imaging of brain) evidence for CFS/ MEe, along with immunologic and inflammatory pathologies, ie it is a physical disease, with measurable physical changes in the patient. There are ample published critiques of the Oxford authors’ results, analysis and conclusions, poor experimental design and methods, and fatal flaws in the execution of the studies. Not least some medical researchers have raised ethical concerns regarding the Oxford Authors earlier PACE study, which is the basis for CBT/GET therapy in the UK. Indeed the IOM proposed a new name for the disease – Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease, embedding the key concept of post-exercise malaise (mental or physical). So much for GET IN fact many of the committees and editorial boards of post-conference publications have expressly bewilderment and concern with the “UK model” of psychological illness. The prominence of this report in the national press demonstrates that these are the preferred Establishment scientists, and they are being rewarded for their work in providing (quasi) scientific support for a political view of this illness. Worrying.

In a nutshell, science has proven that ME is a real disease, and this tripe peddled in Oxford is purely politically motivated pseudoscience.

She adds

It dovetails nicely with the fake, and ethically-damned nudge unit foray into forced psychological “testing” of JSA claimants which was revealed a couple of years ago, plus the new forced CBT for JSA and ESA claimants in the Job Centres, illustrating the govt ideology that worklessness, like disability, is a psychological deficit in every individual. Many years ago I was asked to read & deliver my opinions on a number of publications by those working under Stalin (it was hard going). I took away a couple of things that remain relevant today. The Corporatist control of research, especially since Thatcher, has been quasi-Stalinist, and has been damaging to scientific research generally, but medical research in particular. Second, the current govt is following a descent into Stalinist state use of psychiatry and psychology against those it wants to control.

In other words, it’s just part of a general pseudoscientific model of illness that claims that somehow it’s all imaginary because this fits with Tory and Blairite attitudes to unemployment and those off sick through disability, in the same way that Stalinist policies corrupted science in the Soviet Union.

There are a number of very good books on pseudoscience, and the promotion of spurious, fake, and in the case of eugenics, murderous doctrines in the history of science. The one I mentioned yesterday was Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science.

Another book worth reading is Walter Gratzer’s The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-deception and Human Frailty (Oxford: OUP 2000).

Undergrowth Science Cover

This has chapters on the following fake science:

1. Blondlot and the N-Rays

2. Paradigms Enow: Some Mirages of Biology
Gurvich and his mitogenic radiation
The curse of the death-ray
Abderhalden and the protective enzymes
The case of the amorous toad
Memory transfer, or eat your mathematics.

3. Aberrations of Physics: Irving Langmuir Investigates
Capturing electrons
Allison’s magneto-optical effect.
Langmuir’s rules.

4. Nor any Drop to Drink: The Tale of Polywater

5. The Wider shores of Credulity
-This includes a number of weird ideas, including the controversy over Uri Geller and his supposed mental powers.

6. Energy Unlimited
– This is about Cold Fusion.

7. What the Doctor Ordered.
This includes a number of examples of extremely bad medicine, such as
-Ptosis, the doctrine that disease was caused by sagging organs, and which resulted in a fad of entirely
useless operation on perfectly healthy people, including their kidneys.
– Intestinal lavage, or colonic irrigation
– Surgical removal of parts of the colon to prevent aging.
– Monkey glands, or the surgical implantation of part of monkey testicles in order to rejuvenate people.
– Homeopathy.
– Drinking radium for your health.
– Lobotomy.

8. Science, Chauvinism and Bigotry.
This is about the growth of the nationalist belief of different countries in their own superiority as
scientists.

9. The Climate of Fear:
The tragedy of Soviet genetics
The spread of the contagion
Soviet physics: idealism, pragmatism and the bomb
Is there a Marxist chemistry?

10. Science in the Third Reich: Bigotry, Racism and Extinction
The Roots of Fascist biology
The Ahnenerbe: Himmler the Intellectual
Die Deutsche Physik (German Physics): Its friends and enemies
A deutsche Chemie (German chemistry)
Anti-Semitism and mathematics
The consequences of the Nazi incursion into science.

11. Nature Nurtured: The Rise and Fall of Eugenics
The birth of eugenics
Eugenics and politics in Europe and America
Eugenics in the Third Reich
Eugenic nemesis in the Soviet Union
The rise and fall of eugenics: a pathological science.

Ever science Sir Francis Bacon and Descartes in the 17th century, science has been one of the most powerful forces in human society for extending human knowledge, and improving health, living conditions and industrial, technological and economic progress. But it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s made by humans, sometimes fallible human, who can make mistakes, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Some of this is caused when science is moulded by ideological, particular political forces, such as in the Third Reich and Stalin’s Russia. While these cases are notorious, the topic is still highly relevant today, when it seems that nearly every day the papers carry stories claiming that scientists have found the cure for this, or that a particular disease is in reality caused by such-and-such. In many cases scepticism is most certainly warranted. And in the cases of the model of disease now promoted by the DWP, these should be taken with a whole mountain of salt. It’s clear to me that Ian Duncan Smith’s and John Lo Cascio’s ideas on the origins of the disease in the unemployed should also be consigned to the dustbin of dodgy, politically motivated pseudoscience, to be included in future editions of book’s like Glatzer’s.

Vox Political: Oxford University Now Has ‘Voodoo Science’ Explanation for ME

October 29, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has this article reporting an article in the Torygraph, claiming that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis isn’t actually a real, organic disorder, but entirely psychological, according to academics at Oxford University. They believe it can be treated through positive thinking and exercise, recommending our old favourite, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Mike’s article begins

This is appalling. Oxford University academics are trying to tell us that sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome (otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME) can make themselves better by positive thinking.

Oh – and exercise. Have you ever tried to get an ME sufferer to do more exercise?

It seems we are heading back to the days when the condition was dismissed as “yuppie flu”.

The research so easily fits in with what the DWP and its cronies at Unum, Atos et all have been saying that This Writer half expected to see one or all of them credited as funders for the project – and was more astonished to find that it was actually funded by the Medical Research Council which, on the face of it, actually seems to be respectable.

The full article can be read at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/10/28/voodoo-therapy-is-not-the-cure-for-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-oxford-university/.

This seems to be just one part of the more widespread issue of the corporate funding and corruption of science. The pseudoscientific studies advocating CBT as the miracle cure for acute illnesses leading to unemployment have come from a department at Cardiff University set up by the very businesses, like Unum, pushing them. It’s a good question, not mentioned in Mike’s article, whether the academics at Oxford university have similar connections to those business groups.

The title of Mike’s article also recalls Ben Goodacre’s book, Voodoo Science, which is all about dodgy scientific claims based on spurious or flawed research. Since Maggie Thatcher, university science departments have been forced to work with private industry in order to receive funding. At one level, you can understand the reasoning – to get value for money in terms of innovations that can be developed into marketable products. On the negative side is the discouragement of blue-sky thinking, and the promotion of inventions and products that will benefit industry, but not the public.

And this is definitely one of the latter. You should also ask whether the scientists making the statement that ME is purely psychological have produced research that has passed peer review. In order for scientific research to be considered respectable and reliable, it has to be published in a peer-reviewed publication. That means that other scientists working in the field, or related fields, have read the article and concluded that it is good science, rather than gibberish. One of the problems of contemporary science is that it much of it seems to be driven through press release and publicity, rather than more conventional avenues of publication. For example, a few years ago, you will remember, there was massive publicity surrounding the discovery of a fossil lemur, which was held to be one of humanity’s oldest primate ancestors. The two palaeontologists making the discovery released the news in a press conference in New York. The Beeb devoted a documentary to it, and even David Attenborough was drawn, though he later excused himself by saying that if you listened to his commentary careful, it was properly non-committal and littered with ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe’s. Then came the news a few days or weeks later that the discovery was scientific nonsense. The creature wasn’t an ancestral lemur, but a type of tarsier, and so not a direct part of the line of evolutionary descent leading to humanity.

And that’s only one example. There are have been many others, mostly in the field of genetics. I’m sceptical when scientists claim that they have found the ‘gene’ for such and such a psychological disorder, such as schizophrenia, or aspects of human sexuality, like the much touted ‘gay gene’. I don’t doubt that in many cases there is a genetic component, but genetic inheritance alone does not necessarily result in a particular syndrome or psychological condition or sexuality. For example, a little while ago scientists announced that excessively violent criminals had a particular mutant gene. There was therefore a genetic reason why some crims were so violent. Another genetics scientist wrote into one of the newspapers reporting the finding to pour a bit of cold water on the ‘discovery’. Pschopathically violent criminals might have the gene, but so do half the population generally, so do probably many of the people you’re working with at the office. So, not quite the explanation for criminal violence that it claims to be, then.

Now it may be that the research on ME in the Torygraph is fine and respectable, but more than a little scepticism is warranted, especially as this is in an area, in which government and big business are pouring vast sums in order to cut the welfare budget and boost corporate profits. Just because something’s published in the broadsheets and claims to be science doesn’t mean that it’s as well established as Newton’s Laws or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. And this in particular looks like prize rubbish.

The approach the authors of this research recommend is actually quite dangerous. Go down through the comments to the article to find first-hand accounts from people with the disease or similar illnesses on the dangers they have suffered from treatments like that recommended by the scientists of the Oxford study. From their experiences, I’d say that this looks like well-argued, but dangerous pseudoscience.

20 Million Hours Of Forced Unpaid Labour: How Much Lower Can So-Called Charities Sink?

October 29, 2015

This is another important exposure of the workfare industry by Johnny Void. He reveals just how valuable the Community Work Placements are to George Osborne’s backers in big business. 25,000 people have been placed on them since they were unrolled, and the scheme has saved business a whopping £130 million in wages. Those on the scheme can be forced to work far longer than criminals sentenced to community service. The penalty for not going on one of these is sanctions – the complete stoppage of one’s benefit, which has led to deaths. Johnny Void also reports that workfare schemes are so unpopular that many firms, such as Sue Ryder, vocally distance themselves from it. It’s interesting that one of the aspects of the recycling ‘charity’ that Mike over on his blog identified as a possible workhouse was the fact that it supplied workfare-style labour to other firms. One of the commenters to Mike’s blog was so concerned about this, that she prompted the finance officer at the local council to investigate it. Johnny Void here points out that many of the ‘charities’ that use workfare are also recycling companies.

My reblog of Mike’s article yesterday prompted a series of comments from an embittered New Labourite, who supported such private-public partnerships and who hated Jeremy Corbyn. He maintained that as someone who had previously been a work coach, he knew from talking to the homeless exactly what they needed. And so he vociferously approved of the firm Mike had blogged against and similar ventures.

This is indirect contrast to the information presented by Mr Void. Mr Void has blogged extensively on the needs of the homeless and the unemployed, which are very much in opposition to the ‘tough love’ now being advocated by homelessness charities hoping to enrich themselves at the expense of both the public and the very people they claim to represent. I don’t know Mr Void’s background, but he seems to have considerable personal experience in this area. I therefore recommend that if you want a good account of the reality of the exploitation of the poorest sections of society without corporate lies and doubletalk, you read him.

the void

ymca-no-payThe DWP have finally released some information on the performance of Community Work Placements, the mass workfare scheme first announced by George Osborne way back at the 2013 Tory Party conference.

The placements were finally launched in 2014 and require unemployed people to carry out six month’s unpaid work under the threat of brutal benefit sanctions – benefit sanction that are known to kill.  This work must be with a charity or a company which offers a ‘community benefit’.  In reality this has meant many people working unpaid for private, profit making companies who can claim to be a bit green or environmentally friendly, such as recycling businesses.  Many others have been sent to work in charity shops.

Despite the scheme having been in operation for over 18 months, the DWP are not telling us whether anyone has successfully found real work as a result of their placement.  This is…

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IDS Makes Food Banks Part of the ‘Welfare State’

October 28, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has reported that IDS, in his comments to the Commons, seems to see food banks as part of the welfare state, despite his previous denials. Mike’s article Are food banks a part of the benefit system now DWP advisors are being sent there? begins

Iain Duncan Smith has indicated that he considers food banks to be a permanent part of the benefit system now, while answer questions posed by the Commons Work and Pensions committee.

He said he was “fully in support of food banks” and added that, “where people go to food banks because of problems with the department, the department tries to pick up those problems.”

He also said he was visited by representatives of a food bank before the summer break, who said some individuals had a problem with benefit payments.

He said he tried putting a benefits adviser in the food bank when it is open, so he or she can look into these cases. If the initiative works, it will be rolled out nationally.

As with so much by this vicious and mendacious government, I’m not actually surprised by this. Maggie always wanted to replace the welfare state with private charity, and it seemed to me from the start that what the Tories have wanted is to replace payments with food stamps, like in America. This has just confirmed it.

Oliver Cameron Plans to Purge Parliament

October 28, 2015

Since the Lord’s threw out Cameron and co.’s plans to end tax credit for the low paid, he and Tories have muttering about how ‘undemocratic’ they are and how the Upper House needs to be reformed. Among those to join in the fulminations against the Lord’s was Bojo. According to the Tories, the Lord’s are only there to advise on amendments to legislation.

Not quite. They’re part of the system of checks and balances that were built in the British constitution. Part of this is the separation of powers – the legislative should be separate from the executive, and all that. They have always had the power to block legislation, but if I recall correctly they can only do so three times. Nor is their objections to legislation passed by a Tory dominated parliament anything even remotely unique. I can remember when the Lord’s under Thatcher regularly blocked her bills, causing her to rant even more about ‘Wets’.

Cameron’s ignorance of the British constitution isn’t surprising. This is, after all, the man, who said he didn’t know what the Magna Carta was on American TV. He probably thinks ‘constitutional checks’ should be spelt with ‘que’ in the second word, and are what he and his lackeys get paid by corporations for passing laws in their interests. Like all the Tory MPs, who blocked attempts to curb tobacco and alcohol advertising, because they sat on the board, or received donations, from the breweries and companies like British American Tobacco.

As for reforming the House of Lords, this is another piece of Tory hypocrisy. Remember when Tony Blair introduced his reforms for the House of Lords, so that the second chamber received ‘people’s peers’ nominated by Blair himself? The Tory press ranted at the time about this foul attack on the British constitution. The Lords, according to some on the right, like Roger Scruton, if memory serves, were held to be supremely fitted for their role, as they had been brought up to it through breeding and education. It was almost a eugenics argument, that somehow the peerage were all members of some master race. I’m sure that’s how they view themselves, but it certainly not obvious from some of the prize items on display in Cameron’s cabinet. Like that scion of the Baronet of Ballymoney, George Osborne.

There were even dark comparisons with Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell also attacked the English constitution by getting rid of the House of Lords, and altering the conduct of elections so as to exclude his enemies in the lower house. Quite apart from killing half the population of Ireland. He virtually ruled as a military dictator until his death and the restoration of the monarchy.

Now Cameron, from the party that has always defended aristocratic privilege, has decided that the House that enshrines the privilege is ‘undemocratic’ and needs to be reformed. How things change! There are further comparisons with Cromwell. The Lord Protector also hated and abolished the Anglican Church. Cameron has also had a battle with the churches. In the case of Cromwell, it was because the Church of England was, in his opinion, too close to that of Rome. Cameron is much less sectarian – he’s been under fire from just about all of them, because of the terrible effects of his reforms on the poor.

As for being a democratically elected lower house, even that claim is dubious. Much of the country stayed away from the polls, meaning that the result would be invalid under the government’s trade union legislation. Further reforms from the Tories could lead to as many as 10 million people losing their right to vote. The anti-racist organisation, Hope Not Hate, has started a campaign to get people to register. See their report at http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/voter-registration-report/.

So this is just more hypocrisy and attacks on democracy and the constitution from a party, which has always hated the proles voting, and really can’t stand it when their own side, the Toffs, side with them.

For many British, and particularly Irish historians, Cromwell was a figure of hatred and revulsion, a proto-Fascist military dictator, complete with short hair cut and the goose-step. Cameron is becoming increasingly like him. How long before he starts calling himself ‘Lord Protector’, after the great revolutionary?

More Lies from Osborne – ‘We’re Working for a High Wage Economy’

October 28, 2015

Is George Osborne capable of uttering even one sentence without lying? From the evidence presented on last night’s news, it appears he finds even this basic exercise in honesty difficult. Osbo and the Tories are furious that the Lords had the temerity to throw out their cut in tax credits for the low paid. In an interview on the Beeb’s Six O’clock news last night, Osbo sought to reassure working Britain his plan to make the poor pay more tax so the rich don’t have to was right and good. During his spiel he mouthed this sentence

‘We’re working for a low-welfare, high-pay economy’.

This is clearly a half-truth, if not in part an outright lie. Yes, it’s true they’re working for a low welfare society. They’ve cut benefits left, right and centre, making the poor even poorer and driving many into poverty and destitution. But a high pay economy? Really?

No. Not really. Not at all. The Tories have been urging wage restraint since before Thatcher’s time. It’s following the great Tory idol that they and the Blairites have adopted a policy of keeping wages at or below the rate of inflation. The only time they got close to advocating high wages was when the election was looming, and Cameron went around telling employers to pay their workers more. This vanished shortly after they won, and in any case, the employers comprehensively ignored it. They never meant it in the first place, though I don’t doubt that it’ll be swallowed hook, line and sinker by the people who read the Sun, Sport and Express.

In the meantime, the Tories will just keep lying to us. I’d say that the mendacity of this government is truly astonishing, but the sheer level of lying done by them has exceeded my boggle factor, so that nothing they do now surprises me. Disgusts and appals, but not surprises.

Warning – New Nigerian Banking Scam

October 28, 2015

The fraud email scammers are at it again. Remember the scam where you get an email telling you that a relative has died, and left you a lot of money, and that all you have to do to claim it is to send the details of your bank account? And if you do so, you find that the scammers immediately clean out your account? I’ve just had one of those, claiming to be from a ‘Morgan Dave’ of the investment branch of Barclays. Here’s the email I got:

I am Mr. Morgan Dave, the Executive Director, Cooperate and Investment Banking, Barclays Bank London Branch. I have a proposal for you but I do not know if it is against your ethics. I hope you will accept my mail in good faith, if not please do not reply.

Following the recent announcement by the Central Bank of England that all funds in dormant accounts for over 15 years be moved to the Treasury, I have decided to send you this mail.

I discovered a dormant account in our database with the same last name as yours. It will be in my interest to transfer this 6,600,000.00 GBP you’re your account as the next of kin to the fund. If you can be a collaborator/partner to this please indicate interest immediately for us to proceed.

Remember this is absolutely confidential, as I am seeking your assistance as the beneficiary of this unclaimed fund. I cannot be directly connected to this fund because we are not allowed to operate a foreign account as staffs or board members.
Your full name as in ID and also direct cell phone numbers will be necessary for this effect. I have reposed my confidence in you and hope that you will not disappoint me.

I certainly do intend to disappoint Mr Dave, assuming that’s his real name. This is a clearly a scam. I know that most of the readers of this blog will be pretty savvy about frauds like this, but this always the chance that somebody might be taken in, so be warned.

Vox Political Reports the Return of the Workhouse

October 28, 2015

This is truly chilling, and should frighten and upset anyone, who has any idea of history, or has simply read Dickens. Mike over at Vox Political has this piece reporting the conversion of a former bus depot in Blackburn into a recycling centre and accommodation for the homeless. The inmates will not only be given a roof over their head, but also training, education and work experience et cetera.

Mike’s report begins

Yes, you read the headline correctly. As originally reported on this blog in November last year, a former bus depot in Blackburn seems set to become the first new workhouse the UK has seen since before the Second World War.

Amazingly, Labour-controlled Blackburn with Darwen Council has approved in principle the sale and conversion of the Transdev/Lancashire United garage in Manner Sutton Street in Eanam on the edge of Blackburn town.

“SENIOR councillors have approved the framework of a deal to transform a semi-derelict former bus depot into a charity and recycling centre.

Under the scheme, up to 10 otherwise homeless people would live at the site under supervision.”

A charity calling itself Recycling Lives would run the site as a recycling centre for metal, scrap cars, tyres, plastics, televisions and redundant household items.

You can expect more of this as the government’s decimation of the NHS and the welfare state continues. The workhouses are usually considered something from the 19th century, but they continued in England right up to 1947. They were only ended by the creation of the welfare state.

And I’m not surprised that it was a Labour council, which approved the scheme. I dare say that as it was presented to them, it seemed very left-wing and progressive: housing, training and support for the homeless and unemployed, as well as recycling, so appropriately Green and environmentally friendly. And of course, there are enough Blairites still in the Labour party, who think hitting the working class as hard as possible and cutting benefits to the poorest is perfectly acceptable if it wins the support of the aspirational middle classes and the approval of Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre.

This shows just how far back our political class is willing to take us. All the way back to the 19th century. And if you have any doubt just how nasty and degrading these institutions were, remember that when they were set up they were called ‘The new bastilles’. They were a product of the Liberal administration, and even the Tories in some areas were so horrified by them that they refused to build them.

This is a vital issue that I intend to blog about in the future. In the meantime, Mike’s article can be read at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/10/28/workhouse-deal-is-signed-between-council-and-charity/. Go and do so. This is a warning of what will come.