Posts Tagged ‘Council Tax’

Ken Surin’s List of Theresa ‘Goody-Two Shoes’ May’s Lies and Attacks on the Poor and the Welfare State

May 9, 2017

More from a contributor to Counterpunch, though this time it isn’t about the lies, smears and bullying of the Israel lobby.

Ken Surin is a British academic, who now lives and teaches in America. He’s written a list of articles attacking Theresa May for her lies, U-turns and her attacks on the poor, working people and the welfare state. And her plans to sell off whatever remains of the NHS to private American healthcare companies as part of a Brexit deal.

He calls her ‘Goody-Two Shoes’, because that’s how May described herself: she says she was a ‘goody-two shoes’ in school.

Her first U-turn affected him personally. He lost his right to vote in 2002 when Blair decided that Brits who had been away for more than 15 years shouldn’t have the right to vote in British elections. May then declared that if she got in, she’d repeal it. Now that she’s in power, she hasn’t. She’s a liar. But then, what do you expect from the Tories?

He also states that he’s not surprised the Tories have got a 17 point lead over Labour. They’ve been undermined by the antics of the Blairites, the Zionist lobby’s maligning him as a anti-Semite, because he’s a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the loss of northern working class voters to UKIP, and, most significantly, the massive right-wing bias of the media.

A study by the LSE showed that on average, only 11 per cent of newspaper articles accurately reflected Labour policies. And in the case of the Daily Heil and Express, that ratio falls to zero.

He states that May is simply an opportunist, as shown by the way she voted Remain in the Brexit referendum, but to stay in power has turned her party into ‘UKIP-lite’.

And then he gives the following list of some her lies and U-turns.

The Tories were fined £70,000 last month by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare more than £275,000 in election-spending in the 2015 election. A dozen police forces have passed files relating to these expenses to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS had intended to decide by the end of May if there were to be prosecutions for these violations, but an election in 2017 would probably take the wind out of attempts to prosecute 20 Tory MPs (or thereabouts) for their fraudulent activity in the 2015 election– “that’s history now”, many are likely to say.

If May called an early election for this reason, it would only demonstrate the flexibility of her principles.

May’s most recent budget dissolved into chaos when an increase in national insurance for the self-employed broke a 2015 election manifesto pledge. The ensuing public outcry panicked May and her colleagues into a U-turn, and the proposed increase was rescinded.

Since 2010 the Tories have promised to increase spending on the National Health Service every year, and that funding for schools would increase per student. In its report card after the most recent budget, The Independent said:

The public sector has been another loser. The NHS, which was in the black in 2010, faced a £1.85 billion deficit in 2016, the largest deficit in its history. As a result, waiting times are up, and the NHS is facing, what the British Red Cross have described as a ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Conditions in the NHS have led to an exodus of doctors. A third of Accident and Emergency doctors left the UK to work abroad between 2010 and 2015. There is a similar pattern in education, where 10,000 teachers left the profession in Cameron’s first term. In both sectors, real terms cuts in spending has increased workloads to a point where many professionals are no longer willing to continue.

Running down public services has hit some groups much harder than others. Austerity has hit women’s incomes twice as hard as men’s. Cuts to lone parent benefits since 2010, for example, have fallen disproportionality on women, for the simple reason that women make up 90 per cent of lone parents. At the same time, as women tend to be low earners they have benefited far less from tax cuts than men.

This is followed by a list of motions she has voted for, in which she has consistently supported the rich, and attacked the poor.

As home secretary, May introduced laws forcing internet service providers to help the UK’s spy agencies hack into computers.

Despite moving her party to the right so it can campaign as UKIP lite, May’s record on immigration when she was home secretary prior to becoming prime minister would certainly not please UKIP voters. May vowed to cut net immigration down to the “tens of thousands”, only to have it increase to a record high of 330,000.

May voted for the notorious “bedroom tax”, which reduced housing benefit for social-housing tenants deemed to have unoccupied bedrooms.

She voted against raising welfare benefits so they remained in line with inflation.

She voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability.

She voted for making local councils reduce the amount spent on helping those in financial need pay their council taxes.

She voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits.

She voted against smoking bans and the hunting ban.

She voted for increasing the rate of the highly regressive Value Added Tax (VAT)

She voted against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000.

She voted against a banker’s bonus tax.

While she voted for the bedroom tax to be imposed on people in social housing, May voted against the mansion tax, i.e. the annual tax on the value of expensive homes.

She voted for more restrictions on trade union activity.

May voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS.

She voted for raising England’s undergraduate tuition fees to £9,000 per year.

She has always voted for academy (i.e. private) schools.

While all the above has been transpiring, a massive upwards transfer of wealth from lower-tiered income earners to the top has been occurring. According to the Social Market Foundation, in the UK:

… the average wealth of the best-off one-fifth of families rose by 64 per cent between 2005 and 2012-13.

However, the SMF found the poorest 20 per cent are less financially secure than they were in 2005, with their net wealth falling by 57 per cent and levels of debt and use of overdrafts increasing. Homeowners have raced ahead of people in rented accommodation….

The Equality Trust, citing 2014 data from the Office for National Statistics, said the majority of the UK population (66%) hold no positive financial assets at all, while the remaining 34% hold £9trillion in such assets.

He also cites a report that May wishes to sell off the NHS by the Independent.

The Independent has just reported that May, who is desperate for trade deals to replace those made under the auspices of the EU, which will of course no longer exist after Brexit, is willing, as part of a deal with Trump, to sell-off the NHS to those most villainous of business enterprises, the American “healthcare” corporations.

Surin states that ‘this is class war by another name’, a sentiment expressed by Owen Jones in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class.

Surin says about May herself

Going solely by the immense distance between what she professes in public and how she votes, Theresa May is an absolutely bare-faced phony. Her voting record, displayed above, confirms her fundamental and vital support for Tory austerity policy.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/08/with-theresa-goody-two-shoes-may-what-you-see-on-tv-wont-be-what-you-get/

Don’t be deceived by the media and the Tories. May will kill off the welfare state and the NHS, just as Margaret Thatcher wanted and the Tories and Blairites have been conspiring to do over the past forty years.

Vote Labour, and vote for Corbyn.

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Congratulations to Paul and Sue Rutherford on Successful Appeal against Bedroom Tax

January 27, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has offered his congratulations to one of his readers, Paul Rutherford. Mr Rutherford and his wife, Sue, are the grandparents of a disabled lad, who needs special overnight care in an adapted room. This did not impress the authorities, who decided that they were underoccupying their council house, and so should pay the bedroom tax. Fortunately, common sense has prevailed, and their appeal against it upheld.

I also offer my congratulations to Mr and Mrs Rutherford, and their grandson. Mike hopes that Mr Rutherford will send him his account of the matter some time. I hope so too, as their experience could possibly benefit many others in the same situation.

The story’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/27/victory-for-vox-political-reader-in-bedroom-tax-appeal/. Go read it and enjoy someone managing to stick it to the DWP.

Your Unrepresentative Representative: Esther McVie in Wirral West

March 25, 2015

Mike in his series exposing the lies, hypocrisy and sheer malignancy of Tories in marginal constituencies has also turned his attention to Esther McVey. McVey’s views and the policies she embraces are so unpleasant, that she has been dubbed ‘Fester McVile’. It seems, however, that from the number of falsehoods she has spun to justify herself and her continuing punitive attitude towards the poor and less fortunate, that she should equally be called ‘Festering Lie’. And Mike goes on to list the lies she has told.

She said it was impossible to hold a cumulative impact assessment into the effect of government welfare reforms. Untrue.

She also lied, and denied the existence of a loophole in the bedroom tax legislation that meant the government removed housing benefit from people, who were actually exempt. At least one person, Stephanie Bottrill, committed suicide because she feared she could no longer support herself because of the reduction in her benefit. She also denied she knew anything about how many people were affect by the loophole. Mike cites FoI requests that show that at least 16,000 people have been affected.

It was Mark Hoban, rather than Lie, who came out with the next whopper. He claimed that independent reviews of the work capability assessment showed that the government was working to improve it. Studies instead showed that almost 2/3 were either incompletely or inadequately put into practice.

It’s on the subject of foodbanks that she really begins to lie. She claimed that the government’s austerity programme was due to uncontrolled spending under Labour, and not from the greed and venality of out-of-control bankers. She then declared that foodbanks were Labour’s ‘nasty little secret’, until Jim Cunningham set the record straight by pointing out that under Labour they were set up to support asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their cases, and not poor citizens.

She’s repeated the lie that the Coalition came about to solve ‘the mess we’re in’, rather than as the result of a cynical political deal by two parties desperate for power. She claimed that 60,000 people would go to a foodbank in 2014. Jim Murphy pointed out that that was an underestimate. It’s the number of people in Wales, who would be forced to go to them. In 2013-14 the minimum number across Britain was 913,138.

She attacked Labour for allowing five million people to be supported on benefits for being out of work, with two million children living in families without jobs, and claimed that children were three times more likely to be in poverty if they lived in households where the parents were unemployed. Another lie. The Joseph Roundtree Foundation found the number of working households in poverty has risen to 8 million, while unemployed households in poverty is now 6.3 million.

She boasts that the Coalition has got more people into work than ever before, but doesn’t mention that this is nearly all zero-hours, part-time or self-employed contracts that deprive workers of certain basic rights and pay low wages. She claimed that the tax cuts meant families were better off by £700 per year, but in fact low wages and the cost of living means that people or £1,600 worse off.

And when you examine her voting record, it’s pretty much the same tale that emerged with Anne Soubry, Nick de Bois and Kris Hopkins: she supported the cuts to all the welfare benefits, including benefit uprating cap, and legislation making councils responsible for their citizens ability to pay council tax, while depriving them of the funds to do so. She also strongly supported the Bedroom Tax.

She’s against tax increases for the rich, wants to see corporation tax cut, and also supports increasing VAT. She is also in favour of further military action overseas, but against strengthening the military covenant. In education she support the privately run academies and free schools, voted to raise tuition fees, and end state support for 16-19 year olds in education. She also supported the privatisation of the Royal Mail and Britain’s forests, and is against localism and the devolution of further powers to local authorities. She is also in favour of deregulating gambling and allowing rail fares to rise without government restrictions. And she’s also a supporter of the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS.

She was also one of those in favour of the police and crime commissioners, the secret courts, restrictions on legal aid, and the expansion of government surveillance. She doesn’t support equal rights for gays and same-sex marriages. She’s also voted both for and against a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

Mike’s article begins:

There is little that this blog can add to the litany of outrage against the woman who has been dubbed ‘Fester McVile’ by commentators who are feeling kind towards her.

In a previous column, this blog stated that the employment minister, who works under Iain Duncan Smith, “has accumulated a reputation so bad that the only way she can hide the metaphorical stink from the public is by associating with …Smith himself, in whose stench she seems almost fragrant. But not quite”. How accurate those words are.

This is a woman who has lied to the public that it is impossible to carry out a cumulative assessment of the impact on the sick and disabled of the Coalition’s ‘final solution’ changes to the benefit system.

This is the woman who, in the face of public unrest about the prevalence of zero-hours contracts, announced that Job Centre advisors will now be able to force the unemployed into taking this exploitative work.

She has previously misled Parliament over the loophole in Bedroom Tax legislation that meant the government had removed Housing Benefit from thousands of people who were exempt from the measure – including Stephanie Bottrill, whose suicide has been attributed to the pressure of having to survive on less because of the tax. Asked how many people had been affected by the loophole, McVey played it down by claiming she did not know the answer, while other ministers suggested between 3,000 and 5,000. In fact, from Freedom of Information requests to which just one-third of councils responded, 16,000 cases were revealed. Esther McVey is a very strong supporter of the Bedroom Tax.

Mark Hoban stood in for McVey to trot out the lie that independent reviews of the Work Capability Assessment had identified areas of improvement on which the government was acting. In fact, out of 25 recommendations in the Year One review alone, almost two-thirds were not fully and successfully implemented.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/03/24/will-wirral-west-divest-itself-of-esther-mcvey/

Read it and decide for yourself if this is a woman, who should be anyway near power and public authority.

Kris Hopkins, the ‘Slimy, Nasty’, Unrepresentative Representative for Keighley

March 24, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political continues his exposes of the nastier Tory MPs now occupying marginal constituencies. In his post, Keighley’s chance to end the hypocritical claims of Kris Hopkins, he attacks Kris Hopkins’ lies and hypocrisy, particularly about the current state of housing in Britain. Hopkins is housing minister, and has boasted of the numbers of new homes the Tories have built, without also mentioning that this is the lowest since before the Coalition took power. Mike also notes the way he claimed the government had helped hardworking people, despite the fact that this Christmas, 80,000 children were homeless. His reaction to that was simply to shrug it off, stating that the government had given a billion to local councils to tackle the problem, and he was confident that they had met their statutory obligations. Or some such verbiage.

Mike’s article begins

Even one of his own Tory colleagues has described Kris Hopkins as one of Parliament’s “slimiest, nastiest MPs”, so voters in his marginal Keighley constituency should relish the chance to kick him out in May. Right?
Before becoming the Coalition’s housing minister, Hopkins’ only previous claims to fame were allegations that “gangs of Muslim men were going around raping white kids” (thanks to Johnny Void for that one) and a Twitter spat with the equally-odious Philip Davies.

Hopkins called for Conservatives to unite behind David Cameron in 2013 – to which Nadine Dorries (who was responsible for the “slimiest, nastiest” comment) responded, “pass the sick bag”.

As housing minister, he has claimed that more than a third of a million new homes were built between 2010-13, including 150,000 affordable homes – but neglected to mention that this is the lowest level than in any period prior to the Coalition Government. Vox Political reported it as “not an achievement. It is a disaster”.

“Our policies on housing are working,” said Hopkins in a press release. “Housebuilding is growing at its fastest rate for 10 years, and the tough decisions we’ve taken to tackle the deficit have kept interest rates low and are now delivering real help to hardworking people.”

Oh really? And what was his response to the revelation that 80,000 children were homeless due to Coalition Government policies on Christmas Day, 2013, mere months after he had taken up his post?

He couldn’t care less. “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms,” he sniffed. “I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation.”

When his voting record is examined, he is a fanatically pro-rich and with same bitter, punitive spitefulness towards the poor and less well off as Nick de Bois and Anne Soubry.

He opposes increased taxation for the rich, including the mansion tax, doesn’t want corporation tax increase, but does support increasing VAT.

He also supports the piecemeal privatisation of the NHS and the bedroom tax. Mike also points out that he is an opponent of localism, and actually voted to reduce funding to local authorities. He also supported cuts to all the welfare benefits, the benefits upratings cap, and like Soubry and de Bois he wanted to make sure councils had the responsibility for making sure their residents could pay the council tax, and reduced the amount of money paid to council to ensure they could.

He is also massively in favour of further privatisation, supporting the privatisation of the Royal Mail, the sale of the forests, and private free schools and academies. He also voted in favour of raising tuition fees and ending financial support to 16 -19 year olds in education.

And like much of his grotty party, he support further military action overseas and nuclear weapons.

He was another supporter of the government’s plan to extend injustice further by restricting legal aid, and setting up secret courts, as well as the snooper’s charter that allows the government and security services to tap our telecommunications without warrant.

And he’s also in favour of the badger cull, unregulated gambling and allowing the rail fares to rise unchecked. Clearly he’s unconcerned about the poor quality of the service on the railways, which came in with privatisation, and couldn’t care two hoots about the dangers of gambling addiction.

Nadine Dorries was right to refer to him as one of the ‘slimiest and nastiest’ politicians.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/03/23/keighleys-chance-to-end-the-hypocritical-claims-of-kris-hopkins/

Read it and make your own decision.

Another Unrepresentative Tory: Enfield’s Nick de Bois

March 23, 2015

NickDeBois

Nick de Bois pretending to care about the closure of Chase Farm’s A&E.

Mike over at Vox Political has started turning his ire on hard-line Tories in marginal constituencies, whose voters may not be quite aware of how exploitative and nasty their candidates’ views and voting records are. He started off with Anne Soubry in Broxtowe in his piece Broxtowe: Do you really want Anna Soubry as your MP? Now he turns his jaundiced gaze to Nick de Bois, the Tory MP for Enfield in Nick de Bois: Enfield’s unrepresentative representative.

He starts by pointing out de Bois’ hypocrisy in his campaigning against the closure of his local hospital’s, Chase Farm’s, A&E department after he voted for the very government measures that have led to its closure. He is also, like 91 other Tory MPs, a senior employee of the private healthcare firms hoping to profit from Cameron’s piecemeal privatisation of the NHS. Mike’s article begins

Here’s a fork-tongued MP who deserves to see voters turn their backs on him: Nick de Bois.

Before becoming an MP, he was the majority shareholder in Rapier Design Group, an events management company heavily involved with the private medical and pharmaceutical industries. As an MP, he strongly supported the privatisation of NHS services that has drained money from the system and imperilled the future of Accident & Emergency services in hospitals across the UK.

That did not stop him from attacking the decision to downgrade Chase Farm Hospital in his own constituency of Enfield North. Describing it as “the wrong decision” he claimed that “Chase Farm needs 24-hour A&E, end of story”. In that case, why did he vote for the very measures that led to it being downgraded?

He took Enfield North in 2010, after the seat had been held for 13 years by Labour’s Joan Ryan with majorities in the thousands. His is just 1,692.

How would residents vote if they knew Mr de Bois’s voting record? Let’s find out.

It’s pretty much to be expected that he is as strongly pro-rich, and has the same contempt and spite towards the poor as Anne Soubry.

He’s against increasing the tax burden on the rich, wants to cut corporation tax, and is favour of increasing VAT. He also supports the privatisation of the NHS, cutting welfare benefit across the board, and capping benefits below the rate of inflation. He also voted in favour of making sure that local councils should ensure people could afford council tax, and then voted to cut that support.

He is like his colleague Soubry in that he support further British military actions overseas and nuclear weapons. Like her, he supports private Free Schools and Academies, and also raising university tuition fees to £9,000, as well as ending financial support to sixth form students.

He’s also against localism, but for police and crime commissioners. And yes, he was in favour of the privatisation of the Royal Mail and Britain’s forests.

As for injustice, he was very strongly for it. That’s injustice, note, not ‘justice’. He doesn’t like the plebs having access to the courts, nor for your right to open, public trial. He voted for the restrictions on legal aid, and for the Coalition’s Kafkaesque secret courts.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/03/22/nick-de-bois-enfields-unrepresentative-representative/. Like Anne Soubry’s constituents, his need to see his voting record, and judge if they want to return him to parliament.

Vox Political Asks the People of Broxtowe If They Really Want Their Tory Candidate

March 21, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has post this piece, whose very title asks a very, very good question Broxtowe: Do you really want Anna Soubry as your MP?. Soubry is a right-wing, true-blue Tory reactionary, who now occupies the seat. It had been Labour since 1997, and although now Tory, is a marginal.

He points out just how right-wing and nasty her views and voting record are. She has voted for the punitive welfare cuts that have sent hundreds of thousands into poverty, including the bedroom tax. Against this, she supports tax cuts for the rich, and the transfer of the tax burden to the poor through raising VAT. She also supports the privatisation of the NHS, the forests, Royal Mail, and Britain’s schools. She doesn’t, however, seem to believe that further and higher education should be free, as she voted for raising tuition fees and ending the support for ‘A’ level students. She also support further military actions overseas and purchasing Trident. As for justice, she supported the ending of legal aid, secret courts, and the further expansion of the powers of the security services to spy on citizens’ private emails and telephone conversations without warrants. She is also an opponent of devolving further powers to local authorities, as well as a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Given this record, it’s to be expected that she also hates green energy and supports the badger cull.

The article begins

Anna Soubry has been among the more vocal Conservatives in the Coalition government – which is interesting as she represents the extremely marginal seat of Broxtowe.

The seat had been Labour-held since 1997, and it seems likely that the Tory victory here in 2010 was a sign of dissatisfaction with the then-current Labour government, rather than interest in anything the Tories had to offer.

How would residents vote if they knew Ms Soubry’s voting record? Let’s find out.

She is against increasing income tax paid by the extremely rich; against a bankers’ bonus tax; supports cutting Corporation Tax (even though this does not make companies more likely to invest in the UK or its workforce); and supported the increase in VAT. Clearly she believes in taxing the poor to pay for the rich.

She is strongly in favour of the current government’s creeping privatisation of the NHS.

She strongly supported the Bedroom Tax.
She strongly supported cuts to social security benefits including Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, the Personal Independence Payment and so on.
She strongly supported the benefit uprating cap, ensuring that benefits do not rise in line with prices.
She voted very strongly for making local councils responsible for helping people afford council tax – and for reducing the amount available for such support.

She is thus a typical member of Cameron’s Tories, who believes in grinding the poor into desperate poverty and rolling back the frontiers of the state in order to make life even better and more profitable for the rich.

Mike states that people of Broxtowe need to know this information.
They do. Then they can judge if they really want this woman to represent them.

Government Terrorising Poor with Debt Collection Agencies: Leoni al-Ajeel’s Story

May 31, 2014

This morning I reblogged Mike’s post from over at Vox Political on the government’s use of debt collection agencies against people, who have been overpaid tax credits due to mistakes by the Inland Revenue, ‘Tax credit debt collection is a double-edged attack on the poor’. Many people have experienced problems with the authorities claiming that they have mistakenly overpaid benefit claimants, and threatening them with legal action. One of those, who have been a victim of this is Leoni al-Ajeel, one of the commenters on Mike’s blog. In her comment on Mike’s post, she gives her account of her struggle with the authorities, who repeatedly claimed that they had overpaid her. She writes

I also have debt with Tax credits, I received a letter saying I owe them £997 and I must pay it back. This is not the only letter I got, I got letter from council saying I had an overpayment of £1,500 in rent and I owe council tax for the amount of £616, so I am left paying all this debt plus rent council tax in my new home. I received a rebate twice from council tax saying I paid too much, one was for £98 then the second was for £100 then to get a letter after I had moved saying I owe £616 is ridiculous. So someone made the same mistake twice leaving me to pay for their mistake. They know all your income etc but yet we are punished for their mistakes. I am beginning to wonder if I owe any of this money they say I do because you get no explanation even though you ask for one. So now I am left with all this debt I never had before and struggle to pay this debt plus all the council tax and rent I have to pay in my new home. I was debt free but not now they have pushed me into debt, its disgusting that they can get away with this, should it not be them that is penalized for making these mistakes not once but twice. I work 30hrs a week and have to pay just short of £25 a week council tax and £56 a week rent and I am on minimum wage, plus the council tax and rent from old house.

And I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever that there are many thousands more like Leoni, forced into debt and fear through no fault of their own but that of bureaucrats in the Civil Service.

And this is, of course, another example of the Tory and Tory Democrat government’s massive double standards. As Mike points out in the above article, the Tories are persecuting the poor, who cannot fight back, while hundreds of millions of tax revenue has been lost through off-shore tax havens, set up to make their rich donors’ earnings more ‘tax efficient’.

It’s time this was reversed. The legislation giving such powers to debt collection agencies the right to persecute the poor should be immediately repealed, and the original leeway allowing for overpayment of tax credit to the poor through simple official mistakes – not fraud – should be reintroduced. And most of all, the Tories and their Lib Dem accomplices should be thrown out of office, and their rich paymasters forced to pay their fare share of the nation’s debts. Debts that they, after all, in the case of the bankers, created.