Posts Tagged ‘Bromley’

Tory Voter ID Scheme Is a Devise to Stop People Voting

May 9, 2018

The council elections last Thursday were also the occasion for the Tories to test their latest wheeze regarding people’s right to vote. This purports to stamp out electoral fraud by demanding that only people carrying proof of their ID should be allowed to cast a vote at the polling station. The scheme was trialled in Bromley, Woking, Gosport and Swindon. As a result, a total 3,981 people were prevented from voting in these constituencies. People were turned away from about one in five polling stations.

Mike reported this on his blog, making the point that their were only 28 cases of voter fraud amongst 45 million people in 2917. He commented that as a scheme to allow everyone to vote, who had a right to vote, it was a complete disaster. But he went to suggest that this wasn’t the real reason for the scheme. This was to cut down on the number of people able to vote for the competing parties.

He then quoted Labour’s Cat Smith, the Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, who stated that there was no point in introducing the scheme in the first place, and that the government had ignored the warning signs to set up a discriminatory scheme which denied people their right to vote.

She demanded that the government abandon the scheme, saying “We cannot allow the Conservative Party to undermine our democracy, which is why Labour is calling on the Government to scrap their voter ID plans as a matter of urgency.”

And Mike concluded his article with the comment

If the Conservatives go ahead with this, based on the evidence we’ve seen, we’ll know they are trying to nobble democracy.

Over to you, Tories.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/05/voter-id-pilot-turned-away-too-many-people-tories-are-bound-to-roll-it-out-across-the-uk/

Actually, there shouldn’t be any doubt about this. The Tories are trying to nobble democracy. A year or so ago I put up piece about a similar scheme introduced by the Republicans in America. This altered the rules for registering to vote, ostensibly with the same intention of preventing voter fraud. In fact, it was intended to deprive the Democrats of votes by making more difficult for students, the poor and Blacks, who form a large part of the Democrats’ electoral support, to vote. One Republican in one of the southern states actually admitted this. The issue was reported and heavily commented on by some of the American left-wing alternative news sites, like The Young Turks. I’d guess that there’s a similar situation in Britain, where support for the Labour party is strongest amongst the young, the poor and ethnic minorities. All of whom might find it more difficult to produce proof of their identities than older, richer Whites.

Not that the Democrats themselves haven’t been averse to using similar methods. Counterpunch in their book, End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate reported a similar scheme introduced by them in Florida, which resulted in thousands of Blacks and Latinos being turned away.

The Tories have taken very many of their ideas from the Republicans over the pond. These include the introduction of private police forces, which was dreamed up in the 1980s by Libertarians like Rothbard, E. Nozick and Gauthier in Canada, as part of their ideal ‘minarchist’ state. Rothbard wanted to privatise the courts, which is probably too loony even for the Tories and Republicans. But you never know. Fiddling the voting requirements to stop people voting for the opposing party, all under the pretense of fighting electoral fraud, seems to be another idea they’ve adopted from the Republicans.

Cat Smith and Mike are right. This is all about nobbling democracy and denying people their right to vote. And if the Tories think it has given them a better chance at the polls, they will introduce it nationally. It has to be stopped. Now.

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DPAC Demonstration Outside Bromley Jobcentre Yesterday

September 24, 2016

I found this short video on YouTube of the demonstration held by DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) outside Bromley Jobcentre yester, the 23rd September 2016. The speakers talked about the rise in the numbers of homeless in London – about 200 children – due to the government’s welfare reforms and closure of crisis centres. They denounced the sanctions system as against human rights, and pointed out that people with disabilities and learning difficulties were being denied benefits and the means to live due to these. They also pointed out that able-bodied people in employment, but on low wages, would also be subject to the sanctions system when they are placed on Universal Credit. They will then be required to raise their income through finding another job or getting more hours. If they can’t, they’ll lose their benefits. There is also a man talking about the deaths resulting from the Canadian government’s cuts to its social assistance programmes and aid for the homeless. This has led to people dying of cold in the streets because of the extreme arctic climate, or else have been crammed, shorn of their dignity, in warming centres. The man states that he has joined the campaign, as OPAC has strong links with DPAC, and this needs to be a movement of working class people across borders.

As well as the people speaking, other demonstrators are seen holding up a long banner displaying the number of people – 7,524 or thereabouts – who have been sanctioned by the Jobcentre.

DPAC have been protesting up and down the country against the cuts, and they are very clear, including in this video, about the suffering and deaths from despair and starvation the benefit cuts have caused. Their demos have also regularly received the support they deserve from local trade unions. This demonstration is no exception. One of the speakers is a young woman from the local trades council.

The campaign against austerity is indeed truly international. I’ve blogged here about how anarchists have launched opposition strategies against the cuts to get badly needed help to the poor and homeless, based on similar campaigns in Canada. In Germany too there have also been campaigns against similar sanctions systems imposed in some German laender. The movement against austerity is international, and its growing.

Vox Political: Racist DWP Official Calls Single Mum ‘Scrounging B*****d’

August 5, 2016

This is really appalling. Mike has put up a piece about an article in the Canary about the way a woman was left an abusive message on her answerphone by a member of the DWP, after she contacted them to see what benefits were available. The woman, Cecilia Garcia, has dual Mexican-British citizenship, and had worked in finance. All three of her children were born in Britain. However, her marriage had broken up and she was having trouble paying the rent, so she contacted her local Jobcentre Plus office in Bromley.

Her call was answered by Ann Goode, who left her abusive message on the answerphone because she had not realised that she hadn’t rung off after leaving her intended reply to Garcia. She was then heard discussing the case with a colleague, in which she said that she believed Garcia was probably claiming benefits up to £1,000 a month, commented that neither of Mrs Garcia’s names were English, and stated that she resented having on her caseload a ‘scrounging b*****d who’s popping out kids like pigs’.

Mike comments that at a time when our politicians are under heavy scrutiny and strongly criticised for prejudice against individuals because of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation or their religion, this shows that DWP officials are getting away with it. He also makes the point that this is not the first time it’s happened, and warns people to watch how May’s government will sweep this under the carpet.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/05/dwp-worker-calls-a-mum-of-three-a-scrounging-bd-on-answerphone/

I’m really not surprised by this incident. Unfortunately, hostility and prejudice towards claimants is now built into the system. Blair’s New Labour was convinced that a vast proportion of disabled people claiming benefits or the long term sick were malingerers, and showed the same attitude as the Tories to cutting benefits in order to force people back into work. Thatcher was very keen on the old Victorian idea of ‘less eligibility’ – making benefits so hard and unpleasant that it would deter people from seeking help, and more or less said so in so many words. As a result, there is a harsh indifference and indeed even hostility to claimants within the DWP. And the bile and recriminations aren’t just confined to them. Whistleblowers have also said that because of poor pay and conditions, and the threat of unemployment as DWP bosses like Iain Duncan Smith consider further ways of reducing staff, there is an atmosphere of backbiting and treachery amongst the department’s civil servants.

The Department desperately needs reforming, as at the moment it is very definitely not ‘fit for purpose’. But don’t expect this from Theresa May’s new, so-called ‘caring’ Tory administration. She is just going to carry on Cameron’s – and Thatcher’s policies, which massively reward the rich and impoverish the rest of us.

From 2001: Appalling Standards and Neglect at BUPA Care Home

February 1, 2015

I’ve put up several stories recently from Private Eye covering cases of the extremely low standards of care in private hospitals. As I’ve said before, these are important as the government is desperately trying to privatise the NHS under the assumption that private enterprise is more efficient than state provision. In their edition for the 30th November – 13 December 2001, the Eye ran this story about the abuse and neglect of patients in a BUPA care home in Kent.

Less Than Super-BUPA

While one of Bupa’s directors, Des Kelly, has been advising Tony Blair on care of the elderly, a Bupa care hom ein Kent has been at the centre of grave allegations of abuse and neglect.

Seven care workers who blew the whistle on a catalogue of cruelty, ill-treatment, doping with sedatives and the withholding of drugs and treatment at the £322-a-week Isard House in Bromley are due to be awarded compensation at employment tribunal this week.

Except that the seven – six women and one man – are boycotting the hearing and will refuse any payment from the UK’s biggest private health insurer and care provider. The reason? The careworkers say that though the tribunal found in their favour, it so diluted or ignored serious allegations and evidence that neither they – nor the vulnerable elderly people they sought to protect – have received justice, and they are challenging the tribunal’s decision in court.

The care workers are outraged that Bupa continued to employ the woman at the centre of the abuse against the subsequent advice of social services inspectors, at one stage trying to conceal the fact from them that she was working at a different vulnerable old people’s home. Bupa also promoted another, who is to face further allegations from the daughter of a resident who has recently been removed from the home.

The whistleblowers allege that Bupa has effectively been let off the hook.

They catalogued a series of abuse which went unchecked for nearly a year up to April 1999 within unit three at Isard House, which houses the most mentally and physically frail. Many suffer dementia, are unable to voice their concerns or needs and are dependent on carers for their most basic daily needs. They were hit, roughly handled, shouted and sworn at, goaded and verbally humiliated. They were left to lie or sit in their soiled clothing for to 18 hours. One developed dreadful sores. One man, R.H., had to search for staff on other units to change his catheter bag, which was overflowing and causing him immense pain.

In one of the worst examples a woman, D.H., who had not been given laxatives, was found to have an impacted bowel. She was taken to hospital but never recovered from pneumonia. Another was so overdosed on the tranquiliser Largactil she became unconscious.

Some of the staff had been regularly reporting concerns of cruelty and neglect to senior managers at the home and had been assured matters would be dealt with. In particular they were concerned that the unit’s team leader had bizarrely taken up residence in the unit, and seemed to control and encourage its punitive and cruel culture.

One of the whistleblowers, Eileen Chubb, was assured that evidence was being gathered in order to deal with this woman. When it became evident that nothing was happening and that the neglect was continuing unchecked, she and another worker, Karen Hook, went to Bromley social service inspectors.

An inquiry was launched and police were called in; but, partly because of the lapse of time and the difficulties of interviewing mentally and physically helpless old people, criminal charges were not considered. Once word spread around the home that complaints had been made and the team leader at the centre temporarily suspended, however, the whistleblowers say they were ostracised and bullied by other staff. They went off sick with stress. Shortly after they had a meeting with Mr Kelly in which they detailed their catalogue of concern and upon which they were convinced he would act.

Er … except that as their later industrial tribunal, lawyers for Bupa maintained that not only were the whistleblowers’ complaints unfounded, but they knew them to be false – ignoring the fact that they were risking their jobs when they went to social services.

Bupa maintained this defence despite a damning report into the home produced by Bromley’s inspection team. After a long investigation it described how the team leader had effectively moved into the home, using it “inappropriately for her recreational purposes” and how she was “primarily responsible for allowing the climate of abuses and neglectful behaviour to exist unchecked”.

It also detailed a string of incidents – ranging from wiping a resident’s face with a flannel with faecal material on it; inappropriate restraint of residents causing bruising; residents left in urine-soaked clothing; dosing patients with sedatives “for which there is no evidence of GP authorisation” and not giving them laxatives “with the possible outcome of distress and discomfort and indicating a disregard of residents’ needs.”

It concluded: “there are a significant number of witnesses amongst care staff, relatives and others who have been interviewed and who corroborate the original allegations … inappropriate behaviour towards them did occur in the manner suggested by the witnesses who have come forward and those subsequently interviewed.”

It condemned the lack of skilled staff on the unit, the long hours they worked and recommended a full investigation with appropriate disciplinary action. It is understood that because the inquiry team found that the abuse and failures were confined to unit three, and the bulk of the other residents in the home were well cared for, there was no recommendation to shut Isard House down because it would have caused too much distress to many residents who were settled and content. The aim was to clean up the act on unit three.

But at the tribunal the findings of the inspectorate were also challenged by Bupa. According to the tribunal findings, Mr Kelly had conducted disciplinary hearings against four staff named in the report – and in particular against the team leader. He found her explanations to be “entirely reasonable” . According to the tribunal report, Mr Kelly decided there was nothing in her response which he felt would constitute gross misconduct.

Despite its assertions at the tribunal, Bupa’s Claire Cater told the Eye it accepted there were issues that were wrong on unit three and steps were taken to correct them, including the immediate suspension of the team leader. “The issue has always been to what degree,” she said. “The inspection was long and drawn out and unhelpful. We did not get the witness statements for 14 months. Our own internal investigations revealed two different groups of people saying very different things. We went through everything and where we found things were far from ideal – for example with the regime for administering and recording drugs – we acted.”

She said Bupa’s job had also been made more difficult because of the “inconsistencies” in the statements of the whistleblowers. Some of the more serious allegations, regarding the safety of clients, had not been made in their original statements to inspectors but had come a year later. Bupa had a duty to test these inconsistencies to find out exactly what had happened, she said. The tribunal had found there had been some “exaggeration” in a few of the allegations, although it accepted they had been made in good faith.

She said the social services report indicated that the team leader should be demoted and retrained, but not dismissed. (However, a statement from Richard Turner of the inspectorate team says he contacted Mr Kelly at his home and by phone when he heard the woman was to be re-employed saying “it was unacceptable firstly because she was on bail with regard to allegations of theft and secondly that in our view she was implicated in both abuse and neglectful behaviour”.)

Bupa admits that staff member at one of the homes had panicked and tried to hide the fact that she had been re-deployed by tippexing her out of the rota. The inspectorate said: “The issue of tampering with records reflected on the fitness of senior Bupa managers and that employer her in a another home for the mentally elderly infirm was a ‘breach of statutory regulations’.

According to the whistleblowers, it was this woman’s reinstatement which led them finally to resign. The employment tribunal rejected this claim, suggesting that a six-week delay between learning of her reemployment and quitting their jobs meant it could not be the “final straw” as they protested. However, this was one of several tribunal findings that the whistleblowers hope to challenge. They maintain the delay came because they hoped Bromley social services inspectors would intervene as they had before.

What concerned the whistleblowers most was that while the tribunal found it credible “that incontinent residents might not be changed quickly and a culture had built up of not changing residents promptly”, the tribunal did not find it credible that residents would be neglected to the extent that they became “filthy and sore”. Yet the whistleblowers have the care plan of one resident showing that she had a sore which went through to the bone.

In another instance the tribunal accepted that while drugs sheets revealed that medication may not have been properly administered and/or the recording was deficient, it ignored evidence suggesting records may also have been falsified. (The Eye has several examples of drug sheets, indicating they have been fabricated.)

The seven whistleblowers have asked the lord chancellor’s department to investigate their claim that dozens of pieces of evidence presented to the tribunal – in particular the evidence other independent witnesses – have been overlooked. They have also filed for judicial review alleging bias and misconduct on the part of the tribunal, saying they did not get a fair hearing. It could be argued that it is not the role of an industrial tribunal to uncover levels of abuse. However, once Bupa decided to brand the whistleblowers as liars, they maintain the tribunal should have evaluated all the evidence. hence their decision not to attend and to try to block the compensation hearing. Eileen Chubb told the Eye: “We cannot fathom why Bupa would want to continue to employ abusers. We went to court firstly for a declaration of the truth of what was going on in that home – and secondly for compensation. We will not accept compensation if the price to be paid is the truth.”

As a result of events in Isard House, she and Karen Hook have now set up the non-profit making Compassion in Care, which will publish a handbook for families on what to look for in a care home and how to keep elderly relatives safe. They fund it by working as office cleaners at night. But some good may yet come of the tribunal hearing. As a result of its scrutiny of drug and medical records, Kent police have been re-examining the drug sheets and it is understood a file has been sent to the DPP.

What is of concern is not just the poor standard of care and abuse of the residents at the care home, but the fact that BUPA appeared more concerned with its reputation and discrediting the whistleblowers than in improving the standards in the home. It should also be a matter of real concern that BUPA’s director, Des Kelly, was advising the government’s health policy at the time the abuse was occurring, and was involved in an attempts to cover up the abuse and discredit the whistleblowers.

The Eye subsequently published many more stories of abuse and neglect at care homes, and there will be more still if the government goes ahead to privatise and deregulate the NHS and care homes still further.