Posts Tagged ‘Derby’

Dictator Johnson Unites Country Against Him

September 2, 2019

On Wednesday there were demonstrations against BoJob’s proroguing of parliament the same day as he, or rather, the West Country’s answer to the Slender Man, Jacob Rees-Mogg, persuaded the Queen to sign his wretched order. Even more followed on Saturday, with people marching up and down the country holding banners and placards, making it very clear what Johnson is: a dictator.

Jeremy Corbyn spoke to protesters in Glasgow denouncing BoJob’s decision. The Labour leader also issued a tweet thanking everyone who had taken to the streets both their and across the country, and pledging the Labour party to oppose BoJob’s attack on British democracy and stop a no-deal Brexit.

In London, demonstrators marched on Buckingham palace to make their feelings very known about the Queen’s decision to give in to his demand to assume authoritarian rule. The were also demonstrations in Hereford, Staffordshire, Nottingham, Oxford, King’s Lynn, where the local radio station for West Norfolk, KLFM 967 came down to cover the demo; and in Trafalgar Square in London.

Please see Mike’s blog for the images peeps posted on Twitter of these demonstrations: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/08/31/britons-take-to-the-streets-across-the-country-to-stopthecoup/

One of the most sharply observed was the banner at the beginning of Mike’s article, showing BoJob wearing a swastika armband and Nazi officer’s cap, flanked either side by the evil clown from Stephen King’s It, with balloons above them showing his and Rees-Mogg’s heads. This bore the slogan ‘Before 1933 People Thought Hitler Was A Clown Too…’. Yes, they did. One of the characters in Bernardo Bertolucci’s cinematic classic, The Conformist, makes that exact same point. The film’s about a man, who becomes a Fascist assassin after believing he has shot and killed the paedophile, who had attempted to assault him. In one scene, one of the characters reminisces how, when he was in Germany in the 1920s, there was a man, who used to go round the beer halls making speeches and ranting. ‘We all used to laugh at him’, the character recalls, and adds that they used to throw beer glasses at him. He then sombrely concludes ‘That man was Adolf Hitler’. And before he came to power, some Germans used to go to his rallies just for the fun of seeing who he would abuse next. Presumably this was in the same manner that people used to tune in to the genuine comedy character, Alf Garnett, although Garnett was very definitely a satirical attack on racism and the bigotry of working class Conservatism. Another banner made the same comparison with the Nazi machtergreifung: ‘Wake Up, UK! Or Welcome to Germany 1933′. Again, this is another, acute pertinent comparison. Everything Hitler did was constitutional, as was Mussolini’s earlier coup in Italy. Democracy collapsed in those countries because of its weakness, not because of the Fascists’ strength. And they were helped into power by right-wing elites in the political establishment, who believed that including them in a coalition would help them break a parliamentary deadlock and smash the left.

Zelo Street also covered the demonstrations against Johnson’s attempt to become generalissimo. The Sage of Crewe noted that not only were people marching in London, and large provincial cities like Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Brighton, but they were also occurring in middle ranking towns like Shrewsbury, Bournemouth, Cirencester, Lichfield, Stroud, Colwyn Bay, Clitheroe, Oxford, Swindon, Middlesborough, Exeter, Southampton, Derby, Weston-super-Mare, Falmouth, Bangor, York, Poole, Leamington Spa. Cheltenham Spa, Chester and others. ‘Places that do not usually do protests’. And the protesters are not, whatever BoJob’s focus groups say, going to vote for him.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/08/stop-coup-people-speak.html

I doubt that the demonstrations will personally have much effect on Johnson himself. He’s a typical Tory, and so has absolutely nothing but contempt for popular protest. However, the march on Buckingham Palace may have made an impression on the genuine guardians of the British constitution. The monarchy is supposed to be one of Britain’s central institutions, like parliament. Prime ministers come and go, but the monarchy is a central pillar of the British constitution. And its guardians in the British establishment may not take kindly to Johnson dragging the Queen down with him. There may also be some hope in that it was popular demonstrations and dissatisfaction with an unjust policy – the poll tax – that culminated in the removal of Thatcher. I hope it isn’t long before BoJob goes the same way.

 

 

 

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Chris Williamson Rebuts Jon Snow on Venezuela

March 12, 2019

I don’t quite know what’s going on in Venezuela at the moment, but from the little I have seen on the alternative news channels it seems that the lamestream news are very definitely not telling us the truth. According to some of their reports, the ongoing campaign to topple Premier Maduro is just another case of the US engaging in regime change against a Latin American nation that refuses to accept its place in the American Empire.

In this clip, posted on YouTube by Philosoraptor on the 9th February 2019, Chris Williamson, the now-suspended MP for Derby, replies to Jon Snow about the crisis in the South American country. Snow argues that the chronic shortages and civil unrest are all the fault of Maduro’s regime. The sanctions imposed by America are quite correct, and so are the calls for Maduro to resign and hand over government by America, Britain and other nations.

Williamson begins by describing the British government’s recognition of Juan Guaido, Maduro’s rival, as a democratic outrage. He has never been elected head of the Venezuelan national assembly and he did not stand against Maduro in last year’s election. He also flatly contradicts another contributor to the programme, who claimed that the elections had been rigged. Williamson states that he has spoken to observers from 86 countries, who have said that it isn’t true. It’s supposedly impossible to rig the elections as each voter must bring ID and each vote is twinned with their fingerprint.

Snow then moves on to ask him how it is that one of the richest countries in Latin America is now bankrupt. Whose fault is that? Williamson replies that Venezuela has very real problems, but goes back to talking about the conduct of the elections. Snow talks over him, asking him ‘Whose fault it is?’ Williamson says he’ll come back to that, and states that Jimmy Carter called the Venezuelan elections the safest anywhere in the world. As for the fault for the country’s wretched state, Williamson explains that Maduro was dealt a very bad hand. He came into office when the price of oil had collapsed, the country was then hit with street violence by right-wing forces supported by the US. This was exacerbated by Barack Obama signing an executive order declaring that Venezuela posed an extraordinary threat to the US. And Donald Trump has ratched up the sanctions even further. A UN special Raporteur has said that the sanctions are illegal and could constitute a crime against humanity. Williamson goes to say that the UK ought to be pressing the US to withdraw the sanctions, but he is once again talked over by Snow.

Snow goes on to say that Venezuela is a country on its knees when it should be towering high, brought down by maladministration and protests, and asks him what his solution would be.

Williamson states that his solution would be that rather than behaving as Trump’s poodle, the UK should be calling on him to withdraw the sanctions and try to bring the factions around the table and reach an amicable solution. Maduro himself has called for talks to stop the violence and bring an end to its economic difficulties.

Snow then interrupts him, telling him that he’s talking as if it’s just Britain on its own. But Britain is joined by many other countries – Sweden, France, and others like Italy.

Williamson responds by pointing out the nations that are also supporting Venezuela, like Mexico. He corrects Snow on Italy, and Snow changes this and says ‘Spain’. Williamson goes on to mention Bolivia, Russia, China, Italy as supporting Maduro. It is ironic that Spain opposes Maduro, as when the Catalans declared their independence and had their referendum, the Spanish state sent in the troops and security service, meted out extreme violence on the Catalan people and put their leaders in jail. This hasn’t happened to Guaydo in Venezuela.

Snow then challenges him on the human rights record of China and Russia, two of the countries supporting Madura, to which Williamson responds by pointing once again to Mexico, Bolivia and Italy. Snow goes on to state that Williamson and Corbyn ‘are in a very nasty corner now’. He says once again that Venezuela’s terrible state is due to the people who ran it and the people who support it, and asks him if it isn’t time he changed sides. Williamson says that he won’t get behind Donald Trump, but is once again shouted over by Snow, who asks him if he’s getting behind Maduro’s gross human rights abuses. Williamson responds by saying that no-one is going to support human rights abuses, and they should be called out wherever they occur. But he goes on to tackle the media’s bias, saying they’ve been a bit ‘one-eyed’ in its reportage. He’s seen footage of government supporters beaten to death, set on fire and decapitated. This needs to be called out as well, but it is tacitly supported by the US, which is financing this kind of abuse.

Snow talks over him again, telling him that he will also see the three million refugees that Channel 4 has covered pouring into Columbia, and asks him what he has to say about them. Williamson replies by saying that people in Venezuela are understandably worried about their safety and are leaving the country. But in the past millions of people have travelled in the opposite direction from Columbia into Venezuela. Venezuelan society is divided. The poor working class and the Black community predominately support the Maduro government. The middle class and elites predominately do not. We need an end to the economic sabotage, an end to the sanctions from the United States, and we need the UK to use its good office to bring about a peaceful solution to stop it from escalating out of control. The United States actions in Latin America are appalling. They wanted to make the economy scream in Chile, and that’s what they’re doing in Venezuela. At which point Snow ends the conversation, telling him he’s had a good go to make his case.

It’s very clear from this interview where Snow’s personal sympathies lie and what his views are. But Williamson has a point. I’ve seen reports from sources like The Jimmy Dore Show, which state that some of the footage used of protests from the lamestream media is fake. An anti-Maduro demonstration, which supposedly was filmed in Venezuela, was actually staged in Columbia. As for America’s opposition to Maduro, some of this seems to come from the country’s defiance of US global economic policy. I think the country refused to get behind some of America’s demands for changes in global oil output. I also remember that they sided with Russia, Iran and several other countries in deciding to change from the Dollar to another currency as the medium of payment for oil. The petrodollar is the method by which America refinances its debts, and the moment that collapses a fair chunk of the American economy is destroyed. Hence some of the bitter opposition to Maduro and Obama’s declaration that Venezuela is a grave threat to American national security.

Quite apart from the fact that America’s long history of intervention in Latin America is appalling, with liberal and socialist regimes overthrown and brutal Fascist dictators installed in their place, all to protect American economic and corporate interests.

This interview also illustrates why the Blairites and the Israel lobby were so desperate to have Williamson suspended for supposed ‘anti-Semitism’. There’s an interesting piece by one of the journos in the alternative news media, that argues that the elite in this country hate Corbyn because he is the closest this country has to an anti-imperial candidate. His sympathies are for the poorer countries, abused and exploited by the Developed World. And so they’re determined to prevent him getting into power by any means necessary.

Williamson has been one of his staunchest supporters, and by standing up for the countries bullied and invaded by the US-led West, he too has become a target.

 

 

Labour Wins in the Council Elections

May 5, 2018

I’ve had a look at the election results according to the I newspaper today, Saturday, 7th May 2018. The I’s attitude is that all the parties are claiming the results are good for the, with the exception of UKIP, who seem to have been decimated. The headline on the front page is ‘Everyone’s A Winner…apart from UKIP, who lose more than 100 seats’. And no bad thing either, in my opinion. Their attitude is that Labour did well, but didn’t make the spectacular gains that were expected. The lib Dems have also increased their share of the vote, and look like they may hold the balance in determining which party gets into power, just as they did at the 2010 election.

The article ‘All Three Main Parties See the Bright Side Despite Setbacks’ by Nigel Morris on page 6 states

A BBC projection of the English local election results put Labour and the Tories each on 35 per cent support, with the Liberal Democrats on 16 per cent. Repeated at a general election, the United Kingdom would be heading for another hung parliament, suggesting that public sentiment has barely shifted since Jeremy Corbyn wiped out Theresa May’s Commons majority last year.

It would also suggest the Liberal Democrats could decide which party leader was handed the keys to Downing Street, as they did in 2010.

After declarations from all but one of the 150 authorities holding elections, Labour had gained 59 seats but lost control of one council overall. The Tories recorded a net loss of 31 seats and two councils, while the Liberal Democrats gained 75 councilors and four councils. however, the night ended in disaster for the UK Independence Party which was virtually wiped off the electoral map with the loss of 123 seats.

The article then quotes a polling expert, John Curtice, who said that the Tories had gained a small swing from Labour since the seats were fought four years ago, but that it was impossible to say in this situation that one party was ahead of the other and that it was a draw.

The article also states that Labour failed to gain some target constituencies in London, such as Barnet, Wandsworth, Westminster, and Hillingdon, but still retained its dominant position in the capital. It gained Plymouth, and became the largest party in Trafford in Greater Manchester. However, it performed ‘weakly’ in Dudley, Derby and Redditch, which the I declared suggested that it did badly in pro-Brexit areas.

The I also noted that as well as gaining Plymouth and Trafford, Labour also took Kirklees in West Yorkshire, but also lost Nuneaton and Bedworth. The Tories increased their majority in Barnet, which has been blamed on the anti-Semitism allegations against Labour. (p. 7).

On page 8 there’s the election results. Labour has 73 councils, the Tories 46, Lib Dems 9, and there are 21 with no overall control.

Labour also has 2,299 councillors, the Tories 1,330, the Lib Dems 536. There are 96 independents, 39 Green, UKIP 3, and one councillor described as ‘other’.

Labour and the Tories are neck and neck at 35 per cent in the projected share of the national vote, Lib Dems at 16 per cent, and 14 per cent ‘other’.

While this isn’t the spectacular landslide people were predicting and hoping for, it’s still a good, solid election result, especially considering the massive vilification of Corbyn and the attempts to undermine his leadership and programme through the anti-Semitism smears.

There is, of course, much room for improvement, especially if the Lib Dems are expected to decide who gets into parliament through a coalition. Cable has said he won’t go into coalition with Labour. I’m not surprised. For all he cited the supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour ranks as his reason, the reality is that the Lib Dems are now a Thatcherite party little different from the Tories. They were all too keen to go into coalition with the Tories in 2010, and, despite their claims, did absolutely nothing to hold the Tories back from their extremist policies. In fact they were more extreme when it came to the tuition fee increases.

We need to smash both Tories and Lib Dems to get a Labour government we deserve and Corbyn in No. 10.

Guy Debord’s Cat: Edwina Curry Claims to be Another Poor Pensioner

May 2, 2017

Another Tory, who lies about food banks also surfaced two months. Edwina Curry responded to comment by Buddy Hell of Guy Debord’s Cat on Twitter with the statement that she was a 70 year old pensioner, who occasionally works for the BBC and is on low pay and benefits.

The Cat had remarked that it was all right for her to sneer, as she didn’t have to rely on benefits to top up poor wages from work. And that was her response.

The Cat comments further on her reply that

She’s on low pay and she receives benefits? I doubt that. As the poster below remarks, she receives a generous final salary pension to which all former MPs are entitled. Although she may not be, in her words “filthy rich”, she has the kind of income that many pensioners can only dream of. Her appearance on I’m A Celebrity netted her a cool £100,000. As for her appearances on the BBC, let’s put it this way: she won’t be earning peanuts. Currie and her second husband also own two (possibly more) properties.

He also speculates that perhaps she thought he’d forgotten her comments about salmonella in eggs and her four year affair with John Major.

he concludes

If Currie thinks her pension isn’t enough for her to live on, maybe she could get a job at her local supermarket? Just a thought.

See https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/edwina-currie-just-another-poor-pensioner/

No, Edwina Currie is very definitely not a poor pensioner. In fact, from what I’ve seen of her performances on television, she has absolute contempt for them, just like she and her party has for anyone else who’s poor. About a decade ago she turned up on the Clive Anderson show. Anderson asked her about the furore she caused when she was in Major’s government. The government had decided to cut pensioners’ winter fuel allowance. This understandably upset very many people. Curry’s response was to tell them to ‘wrap up warmly’. She repeated her comments, and added a snide remark about how it would ‘teach them’.

This offhand sneer at poor senior citizens went down as well as you would expect: the audience started booing.

This provoked an amazed response from Curry – she started peering around with the kind of fixed smile people put on when they know something’s not quite right, but don’t understand what. She really, really couldn’t understand how anyone could find her comment offensive.

She’s another one who’d fail the Turing test. In fact, there are probably ZX81s still out there, with 1 byte of memory, that stand a better chance of passing for human.

She also comes across as incredibly thick. She’s an Oxford graduate, and presumably had a very expensive education, but you do wonder how she got in. Way back in the 1990s, when Have I Got News For You was still more than halfway funny, she tried locking horns with Ian Hislop. Answering a question about some legal tussle she’d been involved in, she looked across to the editor of Private Eye and remarked ‘Aren’t you glad I didn’t sue you?’

To which Hislop frostily replied ‘Aren’t you glad, my dear!’

I think she’s now an MP for Derby. She turned up a few years ago on a documentary about starvation in Britain and the rising use of food banks. She was interviewed to give the Tory line. So standing in the middle of a bank’s stores, she repeated the lie that people weren’t using them because they were starving, but because it was cheap food.

Wrong. You can only use a food bank if you’ve got a chit referring you from the Jobcentre.

This was pointed out to her by the presenter. But, like a good little follower of Goebbels on the art of political lying, she repeated the lie.

She also made another appearance on a chat show a few years ago, in which she made much of her Liverpool roots. She put up on the accent, and tried to pass herself off as a real ‘Dicky Sam’.

Liverpool’s a great city. It has given the world the Beatles, Hornby Railways and Meccano. It has a brilliant museum and art gallery, and was one of the first museums in Britain to open a display on its role in the slave trade. In the 19th century, it’s literary and philosophical society was a major centre of scientific research in England. It has also produced the great writer and playwright, Alan Bleasdale. Unfortunately, Edwina Curry has also appeared to lower the tone.

She’s another Tory liar with a contempt for the poor, who tries to hide it behind further lies.

Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics

April 5, 2017

by Richard Seymour (London: Verso 2016).

I bought this last Friday, as I wanted something that would help me refute the continuing lies about the Labour leader: that he is a Trotskyite, his supporters have infiltrated the party, and that he is too left-wing to lead the Labour party to victory in 2020. The book does indeed provide plenty of information to refute these accusations, though I’m not convinced of its over all thesis. The book’s blurb states that Corbyn’s election as leader is just the latest phase in the party’s degeneration. Flicking through the book, it appears that his main point is that the Labour party has never really been a Socialist party, and that apart from the great victories of Clement Atlee’s administration, it’s record has been largely one of failure as it compromised its radical programme and adopted conventional, right-wing policies once in office. At one point Seymour describes the idea of Labour as a Socialist party as a ‘myth’.

I was taught by historians, who did believe, as Seymour does, that the British Labour party was influenced far more by 19th century Nonconformist Liberalism than by continental Socialism. And certainly when Labour took power in the 1930s, it did disappoint many of its voters by following the-then economic orthodoxy. There is a difference between Labourism and Socialism. However, the party included amongst its constituent groups both trade unions and Socialists, and stated so. However, I haven’t read the sections of the book where Seymour lays out the arguments for his view that the Labour party is degenerating – along with, he says, western democracy. But he does have some very interesting things to say about Corbyn’s supposedly ‘Trotskyite’ views, and the whole nonsense about Far Left infiltration of the party.

Corbyn’s parents were middle class radicals, who met when they were campaigning for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Growing up in rural Shropshire, he worked on farms. He was radicalised while working as a volunteer for Voluntary Service Overseas in Jamaica, where he became aware and appalled by ‘imperialist attitudes, social division, and economic exploitation.’ He was a trade union organisers for the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, and then the National Union of Public Employees. He’s teetotal, and did not take part in the ‘hedonistic pleasures of the counterculture’. He is a member of the Bennite wing of the Labour party, the Socialist Campaign Group, which Seymour states has consistently opposed the government regardless of whichever party is in office.

His former partner Jane Chapman states that he is ‘very principled, very honest … a genuinely nice guy.’ Since 1983 he has been the MP for Islington North. Seymour notes that even his most ‘sceptical’ biographer, the Torygraph’s Rosa Prince, acknowledges that he ‘is known as a “good constituency MP”‘. He takes great pains to help his constituents, and is ‘universally considered to do an exemplary job’.

Apart from being anti-austerity, he has also actively campaigned against attempts to limit immigration, and rejects the New Labour tactic of trying to take on board some of UKIP’s militant nationalism. His first move as the new Labour leader was to attend a pro-refugee rally in London.

His other policies are left-wing, but not extreme Left by a very long way. Seymour writes

The agenda on which Corbyn was elected is not, however, the stuff of which revolutions are made. he has pledged to end austerity, and in its stead implement a People’s Quantitative Easing programme, with money invested in infrastructural development, job-creation and high-technology industries. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won office on an agenda like this. Even the OECD is anti-austerity these days. He promises to address the housing crisis through extensive home-building, to fully nationalise the railways, and to bring all academies back under local democratic control. These objectives are to be funded, not so much by squeezing the rich like a sponge to water the gardens of the poor, as by closing tax loopholes, stimulating growth, and spending less on controversial programmes like Trident.

This is in most ways a classic social-democratic remedy, which could easily have come with some Wilsonian vocables about ‘the white heat of technological revolution’. The problem for the establishment is not necessarily Corbyn’s agenda. It may be too radical for today’s Labour party, today’s media and today’s parliamentary spectrum, but business could live with it, and the consensus would shift if Corbyn gained popular support. (pp. 8-9)

So where did this bilge that he was a Trot come from? Some of it came from the fact that his rallies were partly organised an attended by ‘accredited helpers’, people who were not Labour members, but who gave their time and effort alongside those who were. The only evidence that there was a ‘far left plot’ was the call by a tiny Marxist grouplet, the Communist Party of Great Britain. This has only 24 members, at the most, and whose weekly news-sheet is regarded as the Heat magazine of the Far Left. (P. 30).

So where do the new members comes? Many of them are simply Labour members, who drifted away or became inactive thanks to the managerial, autocratic attitude of the New Labour leadership. They were tired of being ignored, and regarded only as useful for leafletting and so on. And what really annoyed many grassroots members was the scripts the leadership insisted that canvassers should follow when talking to people on doorsteps. A significant number are also young people, who have joined the Labour party because for the first in a very long time there is actually a leader, who means what he says and talks straight in language ordinary people can understand, rather than the waffle and management-speak that constitutes the rhetoric of his right-wing opponents.

Much of the hostility against him in the press and the New Labour coterie comes from his support from two of the largest trade unions, Unite and Unison, which has had the Sunday Times and other rags screaming hysterically about the threat of renewed union militancy.

But what really terrifies the Right – including the Blairites – and the media-industrial complex, is his style of campaigning. Blair and the other parties adopted a style of government based on industrial management, using focus groups, and with news and the party’s statements all carefully marketised and timed according to the news cycles. Corbyn doesn’t do this. He actually turns up at rallies and events up and down the country, and speaks to the people. Corbyn himself said that he went to 100 meetings during his leadership campaign, and by the end of that year would have gone to 400-500. (P. 7). Seymour states that on one Saturday in August, Corbyn spoke to 1,800 people in Manchester, 1,000 people in Derby, 1,700 in Sheffield’s Crucible and a further 800 outside. By the end of the month 13,000 people had signed to volunteer for his campaign. 100,000 people signed up as registered supporters, and 183,658 as active members of the Labour party.

Like his American counterpart, Bernie Sanders, Corbyn is also massively popular on social media. Marsha-Jane Thompson states that within four weeks of setting up his Facebook page, they went to 2.5 million people. The page reached 11 million people every day. As a result of this, when they announced a meeting in Colchester on Facebook, all the thousand tickets were gone within 45 minutes. Seymour also notes the deference given to the traditional media has broken. over half of Corbyn’s supporters received most their information about his leadership campaign from social media. And the attacks on him in the mainstream press and news have compounded a sense among his supporters that not only is Corbyn genuine, but the traditional media is untrustworthy. (p.23).

This is important. It isn’t just that Corbyn and his supporters represent a challenge to the neoliberal consensus that private industry is automatically good, and those on welfare have to be ground into the dirt, starved and humiliated in order to please bilious Thatcherites and their vile rags like the Scum, Mail, Express, Torygraph and Times. It’s because he’s actually going back to doing the traditional hard work of political oratory and speaking to crowds. Not just relying on his spin doctors to produce nicely crafted, bland statements which the party masses are expected to follow uncritically.

And the newspapers, TV and radio companies don’t like him, because his success challenges their status as the approved architects of consensus politics. When 57 per cent of his supporters get their information about him from social media, it means that the grip of the Beeb, ITV, Channel 4 and Murdoch to tell people what to believe, what to think and what counts as real news is loosening drastically. And if no one takes them seriously, then their ability to act as the spokesman for business and politics is severely damaged, as is the ability of the commercial companies to take money from advertising. What company is going to want to spend money on ads following ITV and Channel 4 news, if nobody’s watching. And the businesses spending so much on advertising to take over the functions of the welfare state, like private hospitals and health insurance, are going to demand lower rates for their custom if fewer people are watching them and the mood is turning away from the Thatcherite and Blairite programme of NHS privatisation.

RIPA and the Further Erosion of Free Speech and Democracy

November 27, 2014

The Coalition’s ‘Secret Courts’

Mike, Tom Pride, the Angry Yorkshireman, Johnny Void and other left-wing bloggers too numerous to name have all raised the serious concerns presented by the Coalition’s legislation expanding Britain’s surveillance state. These have included secret courts, a Kafkaesque travesty of justice waiting to happen, where the defendant may not even know the charges against them if this is deemed a threat to ‘national security’.

Internet Censorship

Under the pretext of trying to protect vulnerable children from online pornography and paedophiles, the Coalition has also tried to introduce censorship onto the internet with measures so loose and ill-worded that it threatened to stifle mature political discussion and contemporary pagan religion and alternative spirituality and occultism. Tom Pride suffered censorship at the hands of the Net because his blog had ‘adult content’. It has, but not quite in the way the term’s used by censors and the media, where it’s become a euphemism for nudity and sex. Pride’s ‘adult content’ is more in the way of dealing with adult issues using satire and scorn.

This has been waaaay too much for the forces of the Right. More recently he’s had Daily Mail journalists harassing his friends and trying to out him as a Conservative Brit living in Poland. This shows, if nothing else, how desperate they are to smear him.

Police Harassment of Greens and Film-Makers for UKIP and the Frackers

And then there was the case of the local Green activist, who had his collar felt by the rozzers on the behest of the local branch of UKIP. And last week NetPol, the campaign against police surveillance, reported the case of a documentary film-maker, who was interviewed by the police because she had been filming an anti-fracking demonstration, and was therefore considered a dangerous terrorist.

Derby Council’s Surveillance of Workers Talking to Journos

This fortnight’s issue of Private Eye (28th November – 11th December 2014) carries another sobering story about the way RIPA, the new legislation introduced by the government to allow the authorities to snoop on ‘terrorists, fly-tippers’ and people, who don’t clean up the mess when their dogs foul the pavement, has been used in Derby to spy on a local journalist doing her job. According to a speech to the House of Lords by Lord Black of Brentwood, the disgraced former head of the Telegraph group, Derby city council tried to use the new powers to spy on a group of serving and former council employees, who met Kirsty Green, a reporter from the Derby Evening Telegraph, in Starbucks. A senior council employee apparently stumbled on the meeting when he went in there. He reported it to the council, and then invoked the act to have two ‘investigators’ come to engage in ‘direct surveillance’ as part of ‘an internal personnel investigation’. The spies were, however, recognised by the group when they entered the shop, and Green and the employees left.

The Eye’s piece concludes that this episode is ‘more Clouseau than Ceaucescu, perhaps, but sinister nonetheless.

Local Councils and the Campaign against Free Speech

In fact, this has been only one of a number of case where local authorities have wasted time and tax-payers money clamping down on local dissidents, like some jumped-up petty Gestapo. The more infamous cases include how one northern city spent hundreds of pounds of council tax trying to find out who the ‘Mr Monkey’ was posting critical pieces on the internet so they could sue him and close him down. Private citizens and shopkeepers have been threatened when they put up posters criticising the local authorities on the windows of their own homes or businesses. Ten years or so ago, one of the councils in Kent got very stroppy with one individual who dared to put up posters denouncing a technology deal between the council and Richard Branson.

Hitler is Alive and Well and Living in Compton Dando

One of the most ludicrous and petty attempts to stifle free speech in a very local area was reported by the Eye a few years ago. A Conservative member of the parish council for Compton Dando had been infuriated by anonymous posters put up around the village portraying him as Hitler. He therefore demanded the police find arrest the culprit. Such is the vanity and totalitarian need to control of even some of the most minor politicos. Of course, it goes without saying that by demanding the police act to arrest a political opponent, the Conservative councillor therefore proved his opponent’s case: he was like Adolf.

There’s thus the real danger that RIPA will lead to more attempts by the authorities to stop the free discussion and criticism of their rule. It’s another step in the gradual erosion of free speech in the UK.

Atos and the Death of Colin Traynor

February 24, 2014

I and very many other bloggers have posted pieces on the people, who have died after having been found fit for work by Atos. Quite how many is unknown, as the DWP refuses to release the figures. Mike and other inquirers have had their requests for this information repeatedly turned down. The first time this was because the Department claimed it was too much work for one person. After others also requested that the information be released, the Department decided to shift the goalposts, stating they refused to do so because the request was ‘vexatious’. See Mike’s posts on this over at Vox Political. Jayne Linney on her blog has estimated that the total number of people, who’ve been effectively killed by Atos and the DWP, may be as high as 38,000 per year. Stilloaks on his website has put up the names and short biographies of at least 45 people, who’ve died through having their benefit withdrawn thanks to this callous and murderous company. Most harrowing of all these cases is that of a young mother, who committed suicide, killer herself and her baby. At the anti-Atos protests last Wednesday the protestors in Derby laid a wreath for the company’s victims.

This video was posted two years ago on 26th September 2012. It’s a report by Channel 4 News into the death of Colin Traynor, a young man with epilepsy. Despite the severity of his condition, he was nevertheless examined by Atos and duly found fit for work. His health began to decline and the fits became more frequent, until his parents found him dead in his room. They feel that the stress of being found fit for work and having his benefit cut exacerbated his condition. To make matters worse, they then received a letter afterward saying that his appeal had been upheld, and the sanction overturned.

Here’s the video.

It can be found on Youtube as ‘Atos Killers’ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mGZZ4TmEGA.

Channel 4 News invited someone from the DWP to appear on the programme and give their side of their story. No-one did. Instead they released this bland statement:

A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough face to face assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist. We encourage people to provide as much evidence as possible when they apply for Employment and Support Allowance, and often people, who are found fit for work only provide the necessary evidence when they ask for a reconsideration or an appeal.

This is a distortion of the truth. The assessment is designed so that it finds the maximum amount of people fit for work. As numerous whistleblowers have said, the company has a quota system set by the government to find as many people as possible fit for work. Moreover, it has been my experience, and those of so many others, that Atos will lie and falsify the results of the examination to get the results they want.

As for the statement that it’s the fault of the claimants themselves that they failed the test, because the didn’t provide sufficient information, not only is that blatantly untrue, it’s a case of classic misdirection with the government once again blaming their policies’ victims.

The DWP also denied that the system was designed to save money, but intended to help as many people as possibly get back into work rather than languish on the dole.

More lies. Clearly it’s intended to save money. How could it be otherwise, when Cameron has stated that his government’s goal is to reduce state, and particularly welfare spending, in order to pay off the deficit. As for helping people into work, it does nothing of the kind. If that were the case, you’d imagine that the policy would be combined with a detailed programme of support to get someone into work, perhaps by providing suitable counselling and medical supervision, special equipment at work, and working hours or conditions adapted to suit them. No, there’s none of that. Nor will there ever be, for that would be state interference with the employers’ sacred right to treat their workers as shabbily as possible. It would also mean spending money, which is something else that gives Conservatives a sharp dose of the back door trots. Those fit for work simply have their benefits cut off, and are thrown out to find a job for themselves.

Then there’s that statement by Atos

Although we cannot comment on individual cases, we want people to know that our trained doctors, nurses and physiotherapists strictly follow the guidelines given to them by the Government when conducting assessments and make no decisions on a person’s eligibility for benefits.

Which is pretty much what they say whenever a tragedy like this occurs. They can’t get out of it so easily. As I’ve said before, they are complicit with the process because they have accepted the work and the government’s quotas. They are also aware that anyone found fit for work will lose their benefit. As for the assessment itself, this has absolutely nothing to do with the medical skills of their staff. It is purely a questionnaire, which could be administered by an ordinary civil servant.

So this is simply yet another case of someone dying through Atos’ decision, and the usual lies and half-truths by the company and the DWP to try to exonerate themselves from this incident.

Rosette Laid for the Victims of Atos in Derby

February 20, 2014

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I received this comment from CMG on my post ‘Rollcall of the Poor and Disabled, Killed by the Government’s Policies’:

These victims of austerity, ATOS and the DWP were commemorated along with Karen Sherlock, Denis Jones and Tim Salter with this wreath laid at the Derby ATOS demonstration: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151892512222595&set=o.259364897425986&type=1&theater

Thanks for keeping their memory alive.

The Facebook address leads to a photograph of the Rosette laid for the victims of Atos and the government’s welfare reforms. In the centre of the rosette is a form of the dedication to the dead read out annually for the victims of the First and Second World Wars at the Cenotaph, adapted for these new victims of government indifference and cruelty:

Atos shall not weary them, nor IDS condemn. At the going down of the sun, we shall remember them.

Each of the ribbons surrounding this dedication has the name of one Atos’ victims.

It’s a small, but moving and all too necessary token of respect for the people, who have died in poverty and despair as a result of the government’s welfare reforms. Please go to the Facebook page above to see the original.

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