Archive for the ‘Welfare Benefits’ Category

Protest Against the Cost of Living in Northern Ireland

September 26, 2022

There have been marches against the cost of living in London and Ireland. There’s foorage and discussion of the marches against it in Dublin and Cork on YouTube. I found this video of another such protest in Belfast. The protesters carry placards demanding the nationalisation of the energy companies and also attacking the tax cuts for the rich. One of the speakers, a man, attacks the Stormont administration for not passing the measure that would help out ordinary working Ulstermen and women. He also talks about the £300 payment that some people in the province will receive. He doesn’t begrudge anyone getting the money, but as inflation is running at over 1000%, people should get a thousand pounds instead. A female speaker attacks the tax cuts and points out that it will be working people that end up paying.

This comes from the Daily Mail, who must have had to restrain themselves at the sight of working people protesting in favour of nationalisation and against the rich getting tax cuts. But the speakers are absolutely right. Bravo and respect to them, and everyone across Britain, Ireland and Europe who’s protesting against such policies.

Are the Tories Really Preparing a ‘No Confidence’ Vote against Truss?

September 26, 2022

This is the headline I saw on a video from one of YouTube’s rightwingers earlier this evening. I hope so, and given that Truss and Kwarteng’s massive tax cuts have given the screaming terrors to the financial markets, with the result that pound is only a few pence away from dollar parity, so they should. But it wouldn’t surprise me either if they all stick to her, repeating the line like a mantra that it’s a great budget which will boost the economy. It isn’t, and it won’t. It’ll just lead to more misery and cuts to the welfare state and the NHS as the working class will be hit in order to pay back the loans the Tories will have to take out.

Well, get Truss out and the rest of her wretched party.

Wednesday’s Online Meeting about Statutory Sick Pay

September 23, 2022

Wednesday evening, I went to a Zoom meeting organised by the Centre for Progressive Change about campaigning for much needed reforms to Statutory Sick Pay. The Centre for Progressive Change is a new organisation, and this is their first campaign, so they want to make a mark. As far as I could make out, the campaign is being led by the cleaners and their union, although other unions are also involved. At the moment there are a large number of workers, who aren’t getting statutory sick pay. I’ve forgotten the precise figures, but it’s something like a third or above. If they do qualify for it, they have to wait three days to receive it from the day they sign off sick, and the amount paid, £99 a week, isn’t sufficient to cover people’s needs. They are therefore campaigning for the amount to be raised, and for it to be paid from the first day of ill health.

They also mentioned cases where workers were denied time off work and SSP by their employers, even though they were perfectly entitled to it. This included one young man who came down with cancer a year or so ago. An operation was scheduled, but he was told he would have to isolate for a week or so before the operation to make sure he didn’t catch Covid and would need two weeks off work to recover. When he told this to his HR manager, who had previously been kind and supportive, he was told that the manager couldn’t run a place like this and so couldn’t take the time off work for isolation. Nor was he going to receive sick pay when he took time off work to recuperate. The boss told him instead that he’d have to take unpaid holiday.

This clearly isn’t acceptable.

The meeting itself was bilingual in English and Spanish. There was a button for simultaneous translation, so if you didn’t speak whatever language was being spoken at that moment, you could press a button and get the translation. It felt rather like being at the UN when the various ambassadors and officials there get the translations of speeches through their headphones. I was puzzled why it was in English and Spanish when we’re no longer in the EU, but it may just be that so many of the cleaning staff and other low wage workers involved in this campaign are Spanish.

They’ve got a petition to persuade the government to pay increased SSP and are also trying to get people to organise to see their local MPs about it. I’ve signed it because of the cost of living crisis and Truss’ renewed assault on working class wellbeing.

For more information, go to their website athttps://www.centreforprogressivechange.org/

Online Meeting for Campaign to Increase Sick Pay at 6 O’Clock Tonight.

September 21, 2022

I realise that this is very last minute, but I got the news about it only yesterday evening. The Megaphone sent me the email below that the Centre for Progressive Change are holding an online meeting at 6 this evening about their campaign to raise sick pay.

The below is a message from a new campaign to win sick pay for every worker. Can you support this important cause by joining their campaign? See below. 

Dear David,

Whether you’re going through treatment for a long-term illness or you catch a virus, being ill shouldn’t mean not being able to pay the bills.

But a third of us only get statutory sick pay. That is just £99.35 a week, which is nowhere near enough to pay the bills.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 21st September at 6pm, the Centre for Progressive Change are launching a new campaign for better sick pay.

They are organising to extend sick pay to all workers and to bring sick pay in line with the living wage. Will you join the campaign?

Can you join the call at 6pm tomorrow (Wednesday) to hear the plan? Register here.

Will you write to your MP to see where they stand on sick pay, and invite them to a meeting to discuss it?

We demand better. Join us to win these changes to support workers during the cost of living crisis and keep working people healthy.

In solidarity,

Beth

Centre for Progressive Change

Via Megaphone UK

I’ve registered to go to the meeting but haven’t committed myself to the letter just yet. I’ll let you know what’s discussed.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Denies Workers Have a Moral Right to Paid Holidays

September 15, 2022

That was the title of a video I found on the Net the other day. The thumbnail showed the Minister for Bring Back Boy Chimneysweeps talking to someone. The video wasn’t very long either, just under a minute and a half. I didn’t bother watching it because it seemed to me to be an extract from a conversation Rees-Mogg had had in which he said just this. And it doesn’t surprise me. After all, Priti Patel and, I think, Liz Truss, were both part of the Britannia Unchained group of profiteers and exploiters, who believe workers should work harder and have less rights to match those in the Developing World. The Conservatives have always admired American capitalism, and American workers don’t have the right to a paid holiday. Unlike in Britain, where it’s been a part of the welfare state since forever and a day. This is the state Rees-Mogg and Truss want to take us back to, folks, as part of their admiration for American free market capitalism. And with the monstrous Therese Coffey now head of the NHS, I’m very worried for the welfare state and Britain’s working people.

Johnson Scheme to Cut Joblessness by Limiting Time on Benefit Utter Failure

August 20, 2022

Here’s another article from the Groaniad revealing the failure of another Tory policy. In this case, it was the Prime Minister’s ‘flagship’ Way to Work scheme. This sought to encourage the unemployed to find work by ending jobseekers’ allowance after four weeks, unless they started looking for work outside their normal line. The article. ‘Boris Johnson’s flagship jobs scheme was a failure, new figures reveal’, by James Tapper, begins

‘Boris Johnson’s flagship jobs scheme appears to have failed, despite his claim that it helped half a million people into work.

The Way to Work scheme set a target to support 500,000 people into employment by cutting jobseekers’ benefits after four weeks unless they applied for work outside their normal occupation.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics released last week show that the number of unemployed people finding work actually fell by 148,000 compared with the six months before Way to Work began, despite record numbers of job vacancies.

The government is also facing questions about why it set a target of 500,000 when, on average, nearly 1 million unemployed people have found work during similar periods each year since 2001.

On 28 July, the official statistics watchdog challenged the Department for Work and Pensions on why it had not explained how its target was set or measured, a month after the government’s triumphant claims.

Ed Humpherson, director general of the Office for Statistics Regulation, wrote: “There is no clear explanation of how the Way to Work target was defined, how it would be measured, and the methods used to support claims … that the target has been reached.

“It is difficult to attribute and quantify publicly the impact of a campaign like Way to Work in the absence of a clearly defined and published target, and details about how the target will be measured and reported, at the start.’

For more information, go to: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/boris-johnson-s-flagship-jobs-scheme-was-a-failure-new-figures-reveal/ar-AA10SvzG?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=2d1fefce6f644195b785eb5932dc78b5

This scheme looks like it was based on the guff I heard when I started work, that’s there’s plenty of work around if you only look for it. It was the attitude of the clerks in the Benefits Agency when I was signing on there several years ago. They did not like me looking for work in my own line, that is, as an archaeologist and academic. In fact one young woman asked me exasperatedly why I didn’t go for something like a cleaning job before looking for more suitable work. In fact I understood at the time that you were allowed a few weeks to look for suitable work before they started insisting you try for anything at all. She and her colleagues hadn’t told me, but when I brought it up she didn’t deny it. She just said that it wouldn’t have been for as long as I thought. This tells you all you need to know about what used to be the Benefits Agency: they’re not interested in helping people find suitable jobs, just in getting you off their books. Perhaps the girl was frustrated at not getting a gold star and freebies as whistleblowers revealed clerks were being rewarded with for throwing people off benefits. I can think of a couple of reasons why I shouldn’t immediately have gone for a cleaning job: it puts somebody much more suited for the work out of a job. And that’s even if I got it, as having postgraduate degrees would almost certainly make me overqualified. Quite apart from the fact that I wanted to get a job as an archaeologist as quickly as possible.

They were also very annoyed by me not following Iain Duncan Smith’s pet scheme to get people to post their job searches online or something similar, so they’d be in public record. I resented this intrusion on my privacy, so simply brought in hard copies of the various jobs I’d applied for. Perhaps they got a gold star and prezzies for all the poor souls they forced into IDS’ wretched scheme.

As for limiting the time people can spend on jobseekers’ allowance, this seems to be another idea imported from America. Like the Welfare to Work scam Blair set up as part of his New Deal. As I understand it, in America unemployment benefit is only given for a few weeks while they expect you to find a job. Or it was thirty years ago. Perhaps it has changed since or varies from state to state.

Whatever the reason or rationale given for it, Johnson’s scheme has been an utter failure, as so many other Tory schemes are, all the way back to Thatcher’s privatisations. Well, in a few weeks’ time we’ll be saying goodbye to him.

Too bad we won’t be saying it to his foul party.

Liz Truss Co-Author of a Report Which Demanded Savage Cuts and a £10 Charge to See the Doctor

August 19, 2022

This is another piece from the Mirror which reveals precisely what a prize right-wing scumbag Liz Truss is. According to the article, ‘Liz Truss report demanded vast cuts and £10 fee to see GP – ‘true colours’ in full’ by the paper’s political editor Dan Bloom, the Tory leadership contender was the joint author of a 2009 report published by the think tank, Reform, calling for massive cuts to public spending. This included cutting pensioners’ benefits, doctors’ pay by ten per cent, and imposing a £10 charge for seeing the doctor.

The article begins:

‘Liz Truss is accused of showing her “true colours” in a paper that called for vast spending cuts and a £10 fee to see your GP.

The runaway favourite to be Prime Minister was one of seven people who wrote a 44-page slash-and-burn policy document for the 2009 Budget.

The ‘Back to Black’ paper for the Reform think tank recommended cutting £28bn in a year by introducing “user charges for GPs” and whittling 10% off doctors’ pay.

It also demanded ministers “remove pensioner gimmicks” to save £3.2bn, force civil servants onto a four-day week with a 20% pay cut, and hike the pension age at the last moment.

And it called for major military projects to be axed – including the Royal Navy’s planned aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Despite her being Deputy Director of Reform at the time, Ms Truss’ campaign bizarrely claimed: “Co-authoring a document does not mean that someone supports every proposal put forward.”

Despite saying it shouldn’t be in 2009, a Truss ally insisted the likely Prime Minister does believe in an NHS free at the point of use – and she’ll not cut GPs’ pay or defence spending as PM.

Ahead of tonight’s Tory hustings in Manchester, an ally argued: “The purpose of a think tank is to put forward bold, radical ideas in the hope the government will pick up one or two.”

A campaign spokesman added of the document written 13 years ago: “This is a nearly two decade old document written against the backdrop of Labour bankrupting the economy.”

But Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Liz Truss’s track record shows her true colours. She is out of touch and out of step with the public.’

The article can be read at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/liz-truss-report-demanded-vast-27781979

Ah, we’re back to the old ‘high spending Labour’ refrain, in which Labour is accused of bankrupting the economy and that savage cuts to public spending, meaning primarily the NHS and the welfare state, are needed. Do I believe that somehow, in the past thirteen years, she’s had some kind of conversion to Nye Bevan’s vision of an NHS that provides everyone with care, free at the point of use?

No. Because she’s a liar in a party of liars.

Remember the last election when an independent fact checking organisation found that while Labour had made no untrue statements, the number of lies the Tories told was off the scale in the thousands?

And the Tories don’t believe in the NHS. Not since Maggie Thatcher wanted to privatise it, but was only prevented by a massive cabinet revolt. Since then they’ve privatised everything they could, starting with the ancillary services and progressing to the medical services, as these have been contracted out to private medical companies and hospitals. And the other year various Tory scumbags were demanding an expansion of the list of services for which fees could be charged.

If she doesn’t believe in these cuts now, it’s only because that they’re a political liability. It looks to me very much that she strongly believed in them when Cameron was in power and Gideon, sorry, George Osborne was chancellor.

You cannot trust her with the NHS.

You cannot trust her to look after the elderly.

And you cannot trust her on defence.

Get her out, and her foul party with her.

Explaining Simon Webb: History, Race and the Manipulation of History

August 12, 2022

Several of the great commenters on this blog have questioned why I have put up so many pieces about Simon Webb. Gillyflowerblog in particular asked how anyone, who called himself a socialist, could follow Webb in some of his assertions. It’s a fair question, and deserves an answer. Webb is a Torygraph-reading man of the right. He is staunchly opposed to immigration and multiculturalism, which he regards as destroying traditional British culture. He believes that racial differences in IQ are real and based in genetics, citing scientific papers showing that Black people have more of the genetic markers for schizophrenia than Whites. I’ve no doubt that this is true, but schizophrenia is not intelligence. Furthermore, a greater biological inclination to schizophrenia does not necessarily rule out environmental factors. A mentally vulnerable person may remain psychologically well in the absence of emotional stresses that could drive them over the edge. If there are more Black people needing treatment for psychological problems, it may be because of the particular stresses faced by the Black community, such as poverty, greater unemployment, lower educational and career prospects, racism and the destruction of the Black family and the violent drug gangs operating in many Black communities.

Genetic Basis for Racial IQ Differences Questionable, If Not Disproven

He also believes, almost needless to say, in the bell-curve nonsense, in which Blacks are genetically less intelligent than White, who are genetically not as bright as Asians. In fact Thomas Sowell, who talks favourably about the book, has demolished some of its arguments. There’s no difference in average intelligence between Whites and Asians. The tests that showed it used out of date and biased IQ tests, which skewed the results. However, Asians peoples like the Chinese and Japanese do perform above the level of Whites with the same IQ score. As for Blacks, the average Black IQ is 85, but this is the same or actually better than many White groups when they started IQ testing. Jews, who are now judged one of the most intelligent sections of society, also had the same IQ level, as did various peoples from southern and south-eastern Europe. Their IQs have risen, and so the unspoken implication is that there is no reason why Black IQs shouldn’t. Individual Blacks may score extremely highly. One example is a nine year old Black girl, who had an IQ of 160-80 on one set of tests, and something very close or above 200 on another. Black children raised with White families, such as the mixed race children of German civilians and Black American troopers in the army of occupation after the First World War, had the same IQs as Whites. There are cultural and environmental factors behind the lagging Black IQ, it seems, rather than genes. Although even if there is genetic cause, Black educational performance can still be raised simply by improving teaching methods.

Causes of Economic and Political Crises in African Countries after Independence

Webb has also published videos looking back to a year in the 60s when he claims everybody was talking about repatriation and discussing the decline of South Africa after the abolition of apartheid, and the collapse of Zimbabwe in starvation and dictatorship under Black majority rule. To be fair, this is part of a general trend in African nations after they gain independence. Sowell talks about this in Conquests and Cultures, showing that in all too many cases the economies of the newly independent colonies declines, sometimes catastrophically. This is because the indigenous Africans who take over don’t have the cultural capital and technical skill to run these countries. Sowell has also argued in various videos that the collapse of democracy in many of these nations and their descent into dictatorships is because they haven’t had time during the period of White rule to absorb properly the conqueror’s democratic institutions and traditions. This is probably true, but I’m not sure how much democracy there was in practice when these nations were under the rule of colonial governors. And Webb’s videos on South Africa and Zimbabwe look like nostalgia for White rule and the social order in these countries when Blacks were inferior and knew their place.

He appears also to be a small government Conservative, who says he wouldn’t vote for either Labour or the Conservatives, and laments their supposedly high-spending policies. He is sceptical of the rise of mental illness and the number of people claiming disability for it, presumably feeling, like so many of the right do, that these people should just pull themselves together. Until, of course, it happens to them or the people in their class. Then it’s different.

Webb and Black History

But Webb’s specific focus is on history and debunking what he considers to be historical falsehoods. These are, almost totally, those of Black history. But I do wonder if Webb wasn’t at one time an idealistic anti-racist. I think he’s said that at one time he may have had a Black girlfriend, and among his friends are a number of Black ladies, whom he’s helping home school their children. He’s put up pictures of himself surround by Black children, so I don’t believe he’s racist in his personal relationships. He’s also no anti-Semite, and has posted a number of videos attacking anti-Semitic conspiracy theories such as the lie that the Jews are responsible for mass non-White immigration in order to destroy the White race. One of his most recent videos examines the origins of anti-Semitism. He also defends Israel and its claim to Palestine. He is also not an opponent of Islam as a religion. Another video he posted has as its title the description of Christianity and Islam as two aspects of a single jewel. He states that when he was home schooling his daughter, he took her to various places of worship, including a mosque. All this drives the Nazis and anti-Semites who comment on his videos right up the wall as they call for him to join Patriotic Alternative. Or suggest that he must be Jewish himself, or promoting their propaganda.

As to whatever made him like he is now, I wonder if it was simply the pressure of living in one of the deprived, Black majority areas of London. He seems to know places like Haringey extremely well, talking about how murders were extremely common there at one time as well as the problems caused when one of the local police forces declared they weren’t going to arrest people for cannabis possession. This, he states, resulted in drug dealers running up to people’s cars and banging on the roofs to get attention. If this did happen, along with the other problems of crime and violence, then perhaps seeing the very worst aspects of parts of the Black community eroded all the youthful idealism and anti-racism.

He has published videos denying that some of the great African cultures should properly be regarded as civilisations, because they had no written language, philosophy or science. They are not monuments to Black achievement in his eyes, because very many of them were based on the culture of Arab colonists. And the various histories of Black inventions are riddled with lies and appropriate the scientific achievements of Whites.

Genuinely Great and Forgotten Figures of British Black History

He wasn’t always quite so focused on race. An early video simply discusses the reasons the British shelled their cities during the Second World War. Another video asks whether the Victorians really were all that racist, citing as an example an Indian rajah who became a Tory MP. This could easily be a legitimate part of the Black history activists wish to be taught in schools. Much of this is about rediscovering and reclaiming lost Black historical figures. The classic example is the nurse Mary Seacole, but others include the son of a British planter and a Caribbean slave, who had a glittering political career and ended up as the Lord Lieutenant of one of the Welsh counties. This gentleman was the subject of a BBC Radio 4 programme a few years ago, though I’m afraid I’ve since forgotten his name. But those interested might be able to find him by Googling.

The Great Civilisations of Black Africa

As for Black African civilisations, it’s true that many were culturally influenced from elsewhere. The ancient Sudanese, for example, took over much of ancient Egyptian culture, including the use of hieroglyphs. These people invaded the Land of the Nile several times to claim the throne as pharaohs, before eventually being overthrown in their turn and expelled. They built pyramid monuments for their dead, and were a literate culture. Unfortunately their language was not related to any that have survived today, and there is no Rosetta Stone giving their ancient texts in their language and those which are known, thus allowing the language to deciphered. Scholars are therefore in the frustrating situation of being able to read their inscriptions, but have no idea what they say. We’re faced with a similar situation regarding the ancient civilisation of Meroe, also in that part of Africa.

Many of the great civilisations of Africa were part of the Islamic world. These included Mali in West Africa, and the Swahili in what is now Tanzania. I think their written language was Arabic, in the same way that medieval European civilisations used Latin as the language of religion, government, philosophy, history and science. But that doesn’t detract from their achievements or the sophistication of these cultures. Medieval books from the library of Timbuktu’s madrassa shows that the scholars there were copying and studying scientific texts from the wider Muslim world. One Black historian presenting a programme on Black African civilisation showed such a book. This had a diagram, which she was told showed that Muslims in the region knew that the Earth went round the sun. That’s entirely possible. One of the ancient Greek scholars presented an alternative to the geocentric universe of Ptolemy, in which the Earth did revolve around the sun. But all the other planets still revolved around the Earth. In east Africa, the Amharic, Tigrinya and Tigre languages in Ethiopia are based on the south Arabian language introduced by settlers from that part of Arabia. But even if that part of modern Ethiopian culture isn’t indigenous to the continent, it still doesn’t detract from the achievements of Ethiopian civilisation.

All Civilisations Advance by Borrowing from Each Other

Back again to Thomas Sowell, who states very clearly that cultures across the world borrow from each other. Europeans, for example, adopted gunpowder and paper from China and the numbers system, wrongly called Arabic, from India. Europe was able to rise because of its geography. The east-west nature of the Eurasian landmass meant that inventions in one part of it, such as China or the Middle East, could easily pass to other parts. Thus Europe was able to benefit by adopting and improving on inventions produced by other peoples. Africa lagged behind because it was cut off from the rest of the world by oceans on three sides and the Sahara desert on the north. There were few navigable rivers, so that trade and communication was difficult, unlike in western Europe, where there were many so trade, and hence industrialisation and economic development was easier, along with the passage of ideas and culture. Africa also suffered from highly variable rainfall, which can make agriculture and sailing on the navigable rivers difficult. In some places the soil is unsuited to agriculture, thus making it suitable only as pasturage for nomadic peoples, who are able to move on to better, more fertile land after it becomes exhausted. And the disease environment makes it unsuitable for pack and draught animals, unlike Europe. Goods therefore have to be carried by porters, which is much more expensive than horse or river transport. This also limits the value of goods that may be transported. Because these high costs, only very valuable goods could thus be transported across land. Which probably explains why Africa’s exports tended to be gold, ivory and slaves. Africa was held back, not by any lack of intelligence by its people, but simply because of the isolation created by its physical environment, just as nations and countries elsewhere were similarly aided or held back in their social and economic development by the same geographical factors, even if they were on other continents.

Also, some of the cultures that did not have a written literature could nevertheless be extremely sophisticated. I read somewhere that in one of the African city states, members of it aristocracy would engage in a ceremony in which they would perform a ritual dance accompanied by music. At various intervals they were expected to stop, and point to one of the city’s 17 shrines. If they didn’t point accurately, it would bring disgrace. But Webb is right in that Europeans took some time before they recognised some of the states as civilisations, not just from cultural prejudice but because of the differences between African and European ideas of civilisation. For example, several of the cities Europeans believed were the capitals of these kingdoms weren’t centres of government in the European sense. They were religious centres, which might be abandoned for most of the year.

Falsehoods and Mythmaking in Black History

But if some of his history is wrong or questionable, I think he has a point with others. There are problems with the accuracy of part of Black history writing. This can be seen at some of its most extreme in Afrocentric literature. This can range from claims that are controversial, but which can nevertheless be defended, to racist fabrications. At its heart, Afrocentrism holds that ancient Egypt was a Black civilisation and that it laid the basis for subsequent western culture. It’s a fair question whether the Egyptians were Black. They certainly depicted the men as reddish brown in colour and the women as yellow, in contrast to Europeans, who were painted pink. Herodotus describes them as Black. As for their influence on European culture, Basil Davidson in one his books states that he took the view because this is what the Greeks and Romans believed. On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians also show Caucasian heritage and the Greeks seem to have taken much of their mathematical and scientific knowledge from the ancient near east, and particularly Phrygia in what is now Turkey. However, some Afrocentrists have gone on to argue that ancient Egypt also conquered the rest of Black Africa, where they were responsible for all its peoples’ cultural achievements, and that the original peoples of Britain, China and just about everywhere else were also Black, based on long discredited 19th century White writers.

And there are severe questions about other Black history writing. Webb put up a video last week criticising the claim that the phrase ‘the real McCoy’ was based on a 19th century Black engineer, citing Brewer’s History of Phrase and Fable. I’ve come across the same assertion in a book Black Pioneers of Science and Invention. This also claimed that the refrigerator was also a Black invention and that open heart surgery was invented by a Black doctor over here during the Second World War. This man performed an emergency operation on a man injured during the Blitz. Webb denies that he invented the operation, but states that he was the first to perform it in Britain. Which is still a proud achievement. Not as spectacular as inventing it, but still very impressive.

Mary Seacole – No Nurse, But Pioneering Black Female Entrepreneur

And then there’s the matter of Mary Seacole. For many Blacks, she was a pioneer of modern nursing equal to Florence Nightingale. To her detractors, she was a businesswoman who went to the Crimea to open a hotel for the British officers. She may have done a bit of nursing on the side, but that wasn’t the real purpose of her time there. Webb sides with the latter view, citing her autobiography. And again, I think he’s right. But that doesn’t mean that Seacole should be written off as a lost Black historical heroine. Even if she wasn’t a nurse, she’s still important as an entrepreneur. For Black Conservatives like Sowell, what Blacks need is not state handouts, but to develop the entrepreneurial skills to enable them to allow them to rise economically and socially, as other ethnic groups like the Jews, Chinese, and Japanese have also done. You don’t have to be a Conservative opponent of state aid and the welfare state to adopt such a view. The motion put before Bristol city council the other year by the Labour deputy mayor Asher Craig and Green party councillor Cleo Lake for the payment of reparations for slavery wanted such monies to be given to Black organisations to develop self-reliant and sustainable prosperous Black communities. Which entails encouraging and supporting Black entrepreneurs in those communities.

Invented and Exaggerated History A Response to Continued Racism and Exclusion

In many ways I’m not surprised that various Black writers have made exaggerated claims for Black civilisations and Black inventiveness. They aren’t alone in appropriating great figures from other ethnic groups. Mussolini, for example, claimed that Shakespeare was Italian. Well, some of the Bard’s plays, like Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet are set in Italy, but I think this may partly reflect the dominance of Italian renaissance culture. Some of the claims about historic Black communities in Britain, which present them as far larger and more numerous than they probably were, seem to me to be an attempt to assert their right to live in this country in the face of still being regarded as somehow foreign and not really belonging. I’ve met Black people, who do feel like that. They were ordinary people with White friends, and not angry radicals. And the promotion of Black cultures and civilisations as sophisticated and advanced seems to me to be partly a reaction to the previous generations of historians and academics, who dismissed them completely. It makes depressing reading going through the book Colour and Colour Prejudice by the last governor of Ghana and seeing one scholar after another make this assertion.

Black Commenters also Against Memorialisation of Violent Thugs as Victims

I also think Webb has a very serious point when he questions some of the assertions and memorialisation of Black persecution. For example, David Olasuga and Reni Edo Lodge were present at a ceremony a few years ago, where a memorial was laid at the docks in memory of Philip Wootton, who was a victim of lynching in the 1919 race riots. Except it seems from contemporary newspaper accounts that Wootton was a violent thug involved in fighting between a group of West Indian, Swedish and Russian sailors. During this a policeman was stabbed several times and there was an attempt to garrotte him. The West Indian gang shot several times at the police after fleeing back to their lodgings. Wootton attempted to escape out the backdoor, but was spotted and pursued by an angry mob towards the docks, where he slipped and fell in. This is very different from the victims of other lynchings, like young men who were killed for having a White girlfriend, or who spoke insolently to a White man.

For some Blacks, violent thugs like Wootton should definitely not be defended or promoted by the Black community. One of the Black American YouTubers got very angry and tearful about the BLM protests last week against the shooting of Tekle Sundberg. Sundberg had had some kind of episode and started shooting through his apartment wall, trying to kill a young mother and her two children. Fortunately the woman and kids were able to flee. The cops turned up and after a six hour stand-off, shot him dead. His adoptive White mother tearfully claimed that it was a racist shooting, as White perps would have had longer to comply. Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter turned up and started a protest to the justifiable fury of Sundberg’s intended victim. The Black YouTuber commenting on this angrily denounced BLM for celebrating criminals like Sundberg. This, he believed, was why everyone else looked down on Blacks.

Checking Reni Edo Lodge about Medical Experimentation on Blacks

As for Reni Edo Lodge, Webb stated that in one of her books she claims that Blacks in Britain were experimented upon and denied medical treatment. This is a serious claim and deserves to be investigated. It did happen in America. I’ve seen YouTube posts about the horrendous experimentation on pregnant Black women by a particular 19th century surgeon. In the ’90s there was outrage when government files released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the American state had been conducting nuclear experiments on the poor and people of colour with neither their knowledge or consent. In the same decade, the American conspiracy journal, Steamshovel Press, carried an article by one man, who stated that he found Black Americans more likely to believe that AIDS was a germ warfare experiment escaped from Fort Dettrick because of the Tuskegee experiment. This was a nasty medical experiment in which a group of Black sharecroppers were infected with syphilis and denied treatment in order to investigate the disease’s spread. In return their funerals were paid for and their families looked after.

I am not aware that any similar experiments were done over here, apart from the nuclear tests on British servicemen, which wasn’t, I believe, racial. If such experiments didn’t happen, then Lodge is writing fake history. Dangerous fake history – it’s addressed to an audience that already keenly feels that British Blacks have been victimised and persecuted, and such claims only exacerbate such feelings. As if the terrible conditions in many Black communities aren’t bad enough already without inventing even more abuse and discrimination. That’s why I wrote to Lodge’s agent last week requesting Lodge to state where she got these claims from. If she can support them with government documents or properly researched secondary literature, well and good. I’ll support her claims. But if she can’t, then she’s manufacturing false history and in doing so actually making race relations worse.

Conclusion

This is why I’m interested in some of Webb’s videos. History is important, which is why there is so much interest now in Black history. It’s an attempt to recover forgotten Black politicians, nobles, writers and inventors in order to provide role models for contemporary Blacks, in the hope that this will inspire them to do better at school, and in the outside world.

But this has to be good, truthful history, whoever writes it. Otherwise, even if it’s being written with the best of intentions, it’s just propaganda. And that’s wrong, whether done by Whites, Blacks or whoever.

Neither Sunak or Truss Have Anything to Offer the Working Class

August 12, 2022

The media’s still trying to work up some kind of popular enthusiasm for the Tory leadership battle. They’ve been televising debates between the various contestants, whose thoughts on how they’re going to tackle the cost of living crisis and other issues are also plastered all over the papers. The two were in Cheltenham last night for a debate in front of the Tory faithful there, and the BBC local news for the Bristol region was duly covering it.

But this is a leadership contest in which everyone but a small fraction of the population are just spectators. Which one of them becomes Tory leader is a matter for the Tory party, not the general public, and so while the leadership debates give the general public the chance to see what the candidates stand for, or claim they stand for, and give the media political pundits an opportunity to speculate about what this all means, this mass coverage doesn’t actually affect the public very much. People outside the Tory party naturally have no opportunity to choose the next Tory leader. Nor will we probably get to choose whether they’ll be prime minister or not. The usual process now seems to be that instead of having a general election to decide whether a new party leader should be PM, the prime ministerial successor is inserted into office during the term of his immediate predecessor and an election held later to decide whether he or she should continue to rule. Meanwhile the party continues to govern. Thus have the Tories clung on to power over the past ten years, despite prime ministers entering and leaving 10 Downing Street as if through a revolving door. I assume that this is what will happen with Johnson and whoever is due to succeed him. Johnson will give up office, they’ll take over, but it’ll be sometime before there’s a general election to decide whether this successor should carry on in government. It’s all done to avoid the perils of a proper general election involving both the head of the party and the party itself, when both may find themselves out of power and sitting on the opposition benches. Thus is democracy in Britain manipulated to the ruling party’s advantage.

As for Sunak and Truss, neither of them has anything really to offer working people. Sunak says he’ll cut inflation, which would help admittedly, but not as much as is needed by people on very low pay, benefits or absolutely zilch, thanks to benefit sanctions, facing rising fuel and energy prices. It’s a policy directed primarily at economists and financiers, but not the starving hoi polloi.

And neither is Truss going to help. She’s announced that she’s going to cut taxes. This will be spun by the Tory papers as somehow meaning ordinary people will be richer. But it won’t mean that. When the Tories cut taxes, it is always for the very rich, never for the poor. And when their taxes are cut, it means that there’s less money coming into the exchequer to support the NHS, public services and the welfare state. So expect there to be more cuts there. And as for cutting down on the bureaucracy in the NHS, this has mushroomed because of the piecemeal privatisation Truss and the rest of the Tory right are so frantically, pantingly keen on. But this is not going to reversed, because the Tory line is that privatisation cuts bureaucracy. What will happen instead is that more services will be privatised and thus remaining will be cut.

It doesn’t matter which one wins, Tweedlesunak or Tweedletruss. They will both continue the campaign of privatisation and impoverishment to the mendacious cheering of the Tory media.

Mad Right-Wing YouTuber Alex Belfield Found Guilty of Stalking

August 6, 2022

Oh ho,, here’s a turn up for the books! Hat tip to Gillyflowerblog, one of the great commenters here, for this interesting snippet from BBC News. For a few weeks now, internet radio host, YouTuber, and friend of right-wing celeb and former Apprentice contestant ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins, has been on trial on a charge of stalking. Some of this harassment goes back decades to when Belfield was taken on at Radio Leeds in the 1980s, but didn’t have his contract renewed after a year. He then went on a campaign of abuse and intimidation against his former colleagues and bosses.

Not that you would think this by the way Belfield, who calls his wretched programme ‘The Voice of Reason’, spins it. As one of this many critics on YouTube put it one video, Belfield has presented the trial as he was taking his former colleagues and victims to court, rather than the other way round. In fact Belfield has consistently presented himself as the working class underdog in his bizarre dispute with the Beeb. If you listen to him, he’s just an ordinary, working class lad from a pit estate, who was sneered at discriminated against by ‘Guardian-reading, oyster-eating, champagne-guzzling Naga Manchushi types’, who are naturally university-educated, as well ‘Celia Imrie-type BBC diversity managers with clipboards’. HIs channel’s content is the usual right-wing targets – channel migrants, whom he dubs ‘dinghy divers’, immigration, welfare scroungers, the trans craze and various gay or sexually ambiguous celebs he describes as ‘swishies’ and ‘a bit light on their feet’. Oh yes, and he’s also frequently demanded the privatisation of the NHS to improve services, despite the fact that it’s privatisation that is killing the health service, and that privatisation will result in the creation of a for-profit health service which many of his listeners will be unable to afford. Precious little of what he says is original. If you have the feeling you’ve seen it before, you probably have. Most of it seems to be drawn from the pages of that day’s Heil, or whatever has been going around YouTube at the time. Just as much of Simon Webb’s stories seem to be drawn from whatever is in that day’s Telegraph.

The BBC report on the verdict begins

A former BBC radio presenter has been found guilty of stalking four people including broadcaster Jeremy Vine.

However, Alex Belfield was found not guilty of stalking four other people he was accused of targeting.

Belfield, who now runs a YouTube channel called The Voice of Reason, told jurors he had legitimate reasons for his online communications.

The 42-year-old, from Nottingham, is due to be sentenced on 16 September and has been warned he could be jailed.

Belfield was not accused of physically stalking the complainants, who were mostly current or former BBC staff.

Instead, he made YouTube videos about them, posted messages on social media, and sent emails either to them or about them.

In his closing speech to jurors at Nottingham Crown Court, Belfield said he had a right to freedom of speech, and some of the communications were in his role as a journalist, holding the BBC to account.

The full wording of the charges stated that he “pursued a course of conduct that amounted to harassment” of the complainants, which “amounted to stalking” and caused them “serious alarm or distress”.

He was found guilty of this offence in relation to only two of the complainants – BBC Radio Northampton presenter Bernie Spedding, who is known as Bernie Keith, and videographer Ben Hewis.

In relation to Jeremy Vine and theatre blogger Philip Dehany, he was found guilty of two lesser offences of “simple” stalking, which does not require serious alarm or distress to be proved.

The verdicts in relation to each complainant were:

  1. Rozina Breen – not guilty
  2. Liz Green – not guilty
  3. Helen Thomas – not guilty
  4. Stephanie Hirst – not guilty
  5. Bernard Spedding – guilty (majority verdict)
  6. Ben Hewis – guilty (unanimous verdict)
  7. Philip Dehany – not guilty to the charge on the indictment but guilty of the alternative charge of “simple” stalking (majority verdict)
  8. Jeremy Vine – not guilty to the charge on the indictment but guilty of the alternative charge of “simple” stalking (unanimous verdict)’

The report concludes that there is a chance Belfield will get a custodial sentence.

See: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-62393949

If Belfield is going to head off to chokey, it’s going to mess up some of the events he’s advertised on his channel. He’s been appearing as a kind of double act in theatres across Britain with Katie Hopkins. He obviously won’t be able to do this if he’s jailed. Nor will able be able to use the money he’s been given from his followers’ donations to go on expensive holidays to places like Vegas, from which he then posts his YouTube videos saying how much he’s enjoying his break. This has also annoyed some of Belfield’s detractors, who rightly point out that many of Belfield’s viewers are probably on much lower incomes. They’ve given him their hard-earned money in the expectation that Belfield himself is hard-up, and needs the cash to continue broadcasting. But Belfield appears to live in a very grand house, complete with baby grand piano. His videos about his wonderful holidays seem designed to alienate people by rubbing their noses in how well Belfield is doing living off their money. It looks like a massive grift.

As for what Belfield will do now, I expect he may well appeal. And I don’t doubt that we’ll get a lot of complaining about how the trial was biased and he is being persecuted by them because he’s telling the truth. In other words, the same spiel the notorious islamophobe Tommy Robinson spins whenever he lands up in jail.