Posts Tagged ‘Esther McVie’

Chris Smith: People Want the Advertising Standards Authority to Act on Political Claims

September 26, 2017

This is another fascinating little video from RT’s Going Underground. Host Afshin Rattansi talks to the former cabinet minister under Blair, Chris Smith, above his decision to oppose the Invasion of Iraq, his work in the Advertising Standards Authority, and Brexit.

Smith was Blair’s Culture Secretary, and the author of a book, Creative Britain. The cover showed him wielding a professional movie/TV camera. He states he opposed the Iraq invasion because it was ‘obviously the wrong the policy’. He also states that during his time with the Advertising Standards Authority, people wrote in asking them if they could possibly act against the misleading political advertising in elections. Smith states that this is sadly impossible. Their constitution limits them to commercial advertising only, and they have no power to prosecute or punishment politicians that lie.

On the subject of Brexit, he and Rattansi clearly hold different views. Smith appears to be a Remainer, while Rattansi believes that the EU is unreformable. Smith states that it was ludicrous to leave such a powerful grouping of countries. As for reform, this very much on the agenda now, with Macron advocating a series of them. After leaving office, Smith was elevated to the Upper House, and Rattansi asks him how the Lords will handle the government’s Brexit legislation. Smith states that they won’t challenge democracy, but they will scrutinize it very thoroughly to make sure that Britain gets the very best deal. And he states clearly that they will also examine very carefully the government’s Repeal Bill, which gives the government massive powers in all areas of life.

This interview is worth watching for Smith’s statement how people have written to him and the other members of the ASA because of the lies disseminated by the political parties. He didn’t mention them, but the most flagrant falsehoods have been made by the Tories and UKIP. Mike, Johnny Void, Tom Pride, and the Angry Yorkshireman, as well as DPAC, Stilloaks and others too many to mention here have spent years debunking and critiquing the lies spouted by David Cameron, Theresa May, and their Lib Dem enablers before the coalition broke up. The worst and most pernicious of these lies has arguably been against the disabled, defending a brutal and malign assessment system, which has seen millions of genuinely disabled people thrown off the benefits they need, simply because Blairite, and then Tory dogma, dictated that they had to be malingerers. This has left thousands in desperate poverty, and in hundreds of cases it result in that person’s death from starvation and misery. And despite the fact that some of these poor souls actually wrote down before they ended their lives with their own hands that they were driven to do so by the assessment system, Iain Duncan Smith, Damian Green, Esther McVie and the rest of the vile crew infesting the DWP have denied that there is any link between their deaths and the work capability assessment.

And the lies the Tories are spreading against the disabled are whipping up hatred against them. Thanks to the rags like the Heil, Scum and Depress informing their readers that the benefits system is awash with fraud when it really isn’t, disabled people have been subjected to increasing abuse and physical assault. Many of Mike’s disabled readers have posted comments describing their own experiences, or those of the people they care for. And I’ve heard the same thing from disabled friends of mine.

And then there’s the lies told by the DWP to defend the indefensible sanctions system, which has seen millions thrown off much-needed welfare support and onto food banks to keep body and soul together. These are imposed for the most trivial reasons, such as being a few minutes late. In very many cases there were extremely good reasons why the person could not make their interview: they were in hospital, or there was an emergency with a sick child. It makes no difference. They’re still sanctioned. Whistleblowers have said that there is a quota in place, so that Jobcentres must get a set number of people off their books. Those clerks, who have stopped the most people from receiving benefit get rewarded with Easter eggs and marshal’s stars. But the Tories go on lying about this as well.

Last week, the head of a jobcentre in Scotland claimed that Jobscentre staff weren’t cruel and heartless, but carried out their duties, including the imposition of sanctions, in ‘a supportive way’. You what? Too many people have made it clear that the treatment they receive by these wretched petty bureaucrats is deliberately demeaning and humiliating for this to be remotely credible. I’ve experienced it myself. And Thatcher even said that she wanted the welfare system to go back to the old attitude that the poor were to be discouraged from relying on the state aid to become more self-reliant and look for work. This is less eligibility, the ideology on which the workhouses were run.

As for the official unemployment figures, this have been subjected to political interference ever since Thatcher came to power nearly four decades ago. They are so unreliable that I give absolutely zero credence to the Tory claims that our unemployment rate under them is somehow miraculously low. Mike has himself put up the arguments from other economists and political activists showing that the real figure is much higher.

And the Tory Brexiteers are lying again now. Remember how BoJo the Clown told us that we gave £350 million a year to the EU – which was itself a lie – and then said on the Leave Campaign’s battle bus that if we voted to Leave, it would all be spent on the NHS? That was a lie. We left, and it hasn’t been. And Boris the Menace then went on air and the press to huff and puff in his Eton-cultured voice to say that he hadn’t made that promise at all. They just meant that it could be spent on the NHS, and things like it.

And now he’s back, repeating the same lie. He really has absolutely no shame. I’d say it was amazing, but it really isn’t. He’s a liar from an entire party of liars. These are people so crooked, that to borrow a phrase from Hunter S. Thompson, they have to get their aides to screw them into their pants in the morning.

It’s time to stop the lies, and end the culture of lying. It’s time to vote for Corbyn and a revived Labour party and get them into government.

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RT Report: 90 People a Month Dying After Being Found Fit for Work

August 14, 2017

Mike over at Vox Political blogged about this issue last week. In this piece from RT, the presenter interviews journalist Steve Topple over the official figures that 90 people a month are dying after being found fit for work under the Work Capability Test. In one instance, a man, Lawrence Bond, collapsed and died of a heart attack right outside the jobcentre. He had been found fit for work, despite having an underlying heart problem. Topple also goes further, and cites other, highly disturbing figures that show the immense harm the tests are doing to disabled people. Oxford University found that 590 people had taken their own lives due to them. The tests are also linked to 270,000 cases of mental illness, and the prescription of 800,000 drugs for people suffering from the stress of these tests.

Topple and the present also discuss how the tests were introduced by New Labour back in 2008 as a way of redefining disability. Topple states that we do need to cut the welfare bill, but the tests are a blunt instrument that harms the disabled.

Topple also makes the point that the tests themselves are uneconomical. They’re more expensive to administer than whatever savings are produced from them. Mike and the other disability bloggers and activists have pointed out that this isn’t about saving money. It’s about penalizing and harassing the poor and disabled, simply for being poor and disabled. It is part of the principle of less eligibility, the ideology behind the workhouse, which Maggie Thatcher so enthusiastically embraced as one of her vile ‘Victorian values’.

They also make short work of another scandal – the DWP’s refusal to hand over the precise figures on the pretext that this would damage ‘commercial confidentiality’. The document being requested is Maximus’ – the company that has been administering the tests since 2015 – own internal report into the results of their tests across regions. Topple states that in refusing to publish the report, the DWP is acting directly against the orders of the Information Commissioner, who has demanded that the figures be published.

The claim of commercial confidentiality is a nonsense anyway. If a company is performing the work of a government department, then it should be open to public scrutiny in the same way a government department is. If you want to argue philology here, the Latin phrase for ‘state’ was ‘res publica’, the ‘public thing’, which became our word, ‘republic’. By implication, if a company is therefore working as part of the res publica, it should be open to inspection by the public, as free citizens.

Of course, this is all deeply abhorrent to the DWP and its heads, Iain Duncan Smith and now Damian Green. These two and their underlings and fellow ministers have been determined to cull as many of the disabled as possible in what Mike has called ‘chequebook euthanasia’, while hiding the figures from the general public. Mike has said many times on his book about the immense struggle he has had getting the true figures from the DWP, who refused, stonewalled, and challenged his requests for them. Just as they did to other disability bloggers and activists.

To see the names and biographies of some of the people, who have been killed by this vile policy, go to Mike’s blog, as well Stilloaks, Johnny Void and Another Angry Voice, and see DPAC’s website for their criticisms and campaigns against the DWP.

As for the Department itself, I fully concur with Mike: it should be broken up, and the worst offenders in it, those determined to make the lives of claimants as miserable as possible, should be sacked with no chance of a golden handshake. Frankly, if there was an real justice, Smith, Green and the Wicked Witch of the Wirral, Esther McVie, should be behind bars on a charge of corporate manslaughter.

Vox Political: 30,000 People Killed in 2015 alone by the Tories

June 8, 2017

Mike also has a powerful piece from the social media, giving the number of people killed by the Tories’ austerity policy in 2015: 30,000. The person posting this compares it with the 30 people murdered by terrorists this year. That’s 30.

It’s 30 too many, but its less than the numbers killed by the Tories by a factor of a thousand.

And that was only in 2015.

The source of the stats for those killed by Tory inflicted poverty is not a blogger, but Oxford University. And so, the person who posted this concluded, it’s the Tories you should be terrified of.

And Kanjin Tor, from whom the Tweet comes, states that the right-wing is immune to facts.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/06/08/tories-killed-30000-in-a-single-year-vote-labour/

Mike and other bloggers like him, such as Johnny Void, DPAC, Another Angry Voice and Stilloaks, to name only a few, have covered the numbers of people killed by cuts to welfare benefits, inflicted by Ian Duncan Smith, Damian Green and the Esther McVie, the Wicked Witch of the Wirral. They have put names to face, and produced artwork and videos commemorating them.

And this does not include the people, who’ve died through cuts in medical or social care, but simply through being thrown off benefit. And the numbers there were horrific enough.

If we assume that the Tories are killing 30,000 people a year, then it means that since 2015 another 45,000 or so have died, in addition to the 30,000 that year.

This cannot go on for another five years.

Stop the carnage. Stop the deaths. Vote Labour.

The Culpable Silence over the Genocide of the Disabled

March 20, 2017

Two weeks ago Mike over at Vox Political posted a piece about how he had praised on Twitter the Last Leg for its hosts describing the Tory government’s lethal policy of throwing disabled people off benefits for what it was: a disabled genocide. Alex Brooker and the show’s main man, Adam Hills had said of the policy

“At first these cuts looked like a good plan experiencing teething problems, then it started to feel like a badly executed system but now – it’s beginning to look a lot like disabled genocide.”

“This government is slowly killing off a generation of disabled people.””

He continued: “The only question is are they doing it on purpose? Because if you are, why stop at sanctions?

”Why not round us up put us on a reservation and sterilise the drinking water because that is literally more humane than what you’re doing right now. For any Conservatives watching that is not a genuine suggestion.”

Brooker and Hills then urged the government committee meeting to examine the issue not to issue bonus for swift assessments, but to punish people when they do so wrongly.

Mike makes the point that his blog had also been describing the Tory policy as a genocide for years. Mike also hoped this would spark a debate, but noted that the social media was far too much a minority pursuit to do so on its own. He hoped mentioning the Last Leg, a popular comedy news review show on Channel 4, would do something to get more people interested. Unfortunately, Mike was disappointed. After only a couple of days, the story had been overtaken by the controversy surrounding Emma Watson showing much of her bosom in one of the fashion magazines.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/03/05/praise-for-the-last-legs-attack-on-disabled-genocide-but-was-it-only-words/

I am not surprised there has been this silence over the organised murder of the disabled. Much of the supposed news content of the mass media is, as Mike and the other bloggers have pointed out time and again, ad nauseam, about provoking hatred and demonising those on benefits and particularly the disabled. Mike has frequently cited the statistic that while fraud accounts for only 0.7 per cent of benefit claims, the general public seem to have swallowed the media’s lie so that they believe 25 per cent of all benefit recipients are scroungers and malingerers. One of the worst offenders in this regard is the Daily Hail, where these stories are a constant staple of its ‘journalism’. The TV companies aren’t much better, however. Over the past few years we’ve also seen the emergence of ‘poverty porn’ TV series, like Channel 4’s Benefits Street, looking at the lives of Britain’s poorest people on welfare. These series also regularly show amongst their cast of real-life characters, at least one person, who is committing fraud. It wasn’t a coincidence that one of these series was produced by the TV company owned by Esther McVie, Cameron’s ‘Wicked Witch of the Wirral’, who was briefly in charge of throwing the disabled out off benefits and out of their homes when she was at the DWP.

The media’s and general public’s lack of reaction to the claim that Britain’s disabled people are being systematically targeted for extermination by an uncaring government reminded me of the controversy in America way back in the late 1980s and early 1990s about claims that there was a secret government plot to exterminate the Black population. Many Black Americans were so convinced of this, that Jack White, a journalist at Time magazine, wrote an article rebutting it with the title ‘Genocide Mumbo Jumbo’. Harry Allen, the ‘media assassin’ with the Black rap outfit, Public Enemy, was then asked to write a response to it. Adam Parfrey included the resulting article ‘How to Kill: Are Afrikan People Subjects of a Genocidal Plot?’ in his book Apocalypse Culture (Los Angeles: Feral House 1990) 229-44.

Apocalypse Culture is an anthology of essays and articles on fringe and extreme issues in America during the late ’80s and first year of the ’90s. Many of the articles are written from an occult perspective, or that of new religious movements, the paranormal, and extreme or fringe political movements so that the authors include the late head of the Church of Satan, Anton Szandor LaVey and the founder of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammed, as well as Oswald Spengler, the conspiracy theorist John Shelby Downard and the chronicler of weird phenomena, Charles Fort, and the Red Brigades. This is genuinely transgressive writing. While I don’t agree with the occult and am not a member of a new religious movement or hold the extremist political views of some of the authors, this does not mean that I don’t think that some of the writers have a point.

Allen in his article interviewed Jack White and Asiba Tukahache, a First Nation American woman, who stated that she’d been aware of the genocide of Black people since 1973. Clearly the organised campaigns that have been inflicted on Black people and Indigenous Americans are different from the British government’s attacks on the disabled. Nevertheless, some of the observations Tupahache and White make do seem to parallel some of attitudes and the process of discrimination that disabled people on this side of the Pond are experiencing. For example, Tupahache remarks on the way racist portrayals of Blacks were still considered acceptable on television, and the way monuments to her people on Long Island were being obliterated in the 70s, at the same time Roots was on TV and everyone was talking about slavery. She said that what first brought this issue to her attention was

‘Seeing an ‘Inky’ Warner Bros. cartoon caricature on television. I was just amazed that the cartoon was still being shown, and just how easy it was for that to be shown, and no one objected. No one seemed to think anything was wrong. I started making photographs, taking pictures, shooting off the television-Flintstones cartoons, shooting ads out of magazines, billboards and everything. Just feeling like there was something I was going to do with it, just to tell everybody how wrong it was and how abnormal it was to pretend, or at least not know, that anything was wrong, when it really was a very hurtful thing. I didn’t what I was gonna do, I knew I was gonna do something, and I just started collecting stuff, and it turned into boxes…

I think the turning point was when some land markers were going to declare on (sic) of our ancestral areas Long Island’s first Black national land mark. It kind of flipped my brain inside out, trying to deal with the panic and outrage of my relatives, while at the same time trying to understand and cope with deaf, dumb and blindness of a public, who I thought wanted to know the truth, but who, in fact, only wanted to know what they wanted to hear. 1977, right after Roots was televised, and everybody was slave wild. And it was bicentennial time, and nobody wanted to hear about this obscure idea of a people called Matinecoc getting in the way of their slavery revelry and their bicentennial minutes.

Tupahache was nevertheless successful in bringing the issue to a large number of people, and said in the interview that she was overwhelmed by the public’s response. She stated that it had received

Very positive reactions, for those who have seen it. And I guess that’s probably what really overwhelmed me the most. The first week I sold a hundred copies of it, after a radio discussion on a show called Night Talk. I didn’t really understand the impact that it made on people, but it did [make one]. And just the process of sending them out to people, then finding it had been understood and useful was kind of a transition right there, because I had spent all the time gathering the evidence, figuring it out, writing it all out, and then sending it out. Saying goodbye to it.

She also makes the point that many people in Nazi Germany also did not believe that their government was trying to exterminate people because of their race.

Well, you have an environment of extreme terror. People are responding in terms of genocidal acts of aggression against them, because of how brutal things are and can be. And also, as DePres has said in his book, that a lot of people refused to believe that it was going on in Nazi Germany too.

And it was just that people who, quote, ‘live decently’, unquote, don’t want to think that there is anything going on around them that could mean a guilt on their part, or an examination of their lives, or a questioning of their own motives or failure to do something about it. But that has its opposite reaction: For all of that denial, you also have that very same panic and fear. Not that the fears of the people are unfounded, when I talk about panic, but from the absolute fright of what’s going on =which is so obvious to them, but is totally deniable and invisible to others who seem to wilfully not want to address it or change it.

There’s another form of absolute terror! When you totally rearrange what’s going on around you into “Mumbo Jumbo”, or to trivialise it, to the point of contempt, is another form of denial. To say it isn’t rue, to trivialize.

White and Tupahache also differed in their attitude to whether genocide was possible in a democracy. Tupahache did not believe it was, while White admitted it could. When asked if it was possible in the United States, he replied

Well, I think it’s probably unlikely. But sure, why not? I mean, probably not in the United States, but you’re asking in principle, right? In theory? Sure, I think it’s possible. I think that’s why in societies like this one we have constitutional protections: To protect minorities, because I think it’s always possible. I mean, the mass hysteria that attended the rise of Nazism in Germany could conceivably take rise in any society in the world, if had sufficient friction, and the right ethnic group, and the right sort of numbers involved. Again, I say, I don’t think that pertains to the United States, but it’s conceivable it could occur somewhere else, and probably has. I don’t know that it has but it probably has.

Some of the difference between White’s and Tupahache’s view of whether there is a Black genocide in America comes from their difference in attitude to what constitutes it. For White, it seems to be a matter of the use of physical force. For Tupahache, it comes through a system of racialization that denies people their nationhood and connection to the land, which makes them other than human, and which also leads the victims to blame themselves for the brutality that is inflicted upon them.

Reading these different, it’s clear from Tukahache’s experience that disabled people in Britain are not alone in finding that a public that considers itself liberal and informed does not want to hear about or discuss the way they are being systematically discriminated and killed through the withdrawal of the support they need. People don’t see it, because, like the racist images of Black people in mainstream culture, they don’t see anything wrong with it and don’t connect it to mass death.

The public is being told by the mass media that welfare recipients, and particularly the disabled, are all scroungers and malingerers, so they think that if people are being thrown off benefit, they’ve only themselves to blame, because they’re obviously a scrounger or malingerer. And like the Nazis, the Tories have been very carefully to keep the numbers of people they’ve killed from reaching the public. You look at the articles posted by Mike over at Vox Political about his struggle to get the information from IDS’ DWP. The Department refused again and again, decried his requests as ‘vexatious’, and did everything it could to block or evade answering the question. And it’s still doing so.

And my guess is that much of this indifference also comes from the was accusations of Fascism have become so routine, that there is a tendency not to take it seriously. For example, one of the people, who took the opportunity to pose on the empty fourth plinth as a public work of art, was a disabled woman in a wheelchair. She dressed in Nazi costume, and sat in her chair, on top of the plinth, as a protest against the government’s treatment of the disabled. This was reported in the Independent, and then, I think, forgotten. Yet another person from a minority making an hysterical and inflated claim to persecution.

My guess is that for most of the public, discrimination against the disabled is probably connected with issues of accessibility and jobs. These are issues of frustration and injustice, yes, but not at the same level as being herded into gas chambers, shot, or dragged into reservations or forced labour camps. And because of that – because the organised campaign to deny disabled people the funding they need to live, let alone live with dignity – it is easy for the public and the media to dismiss any complaints about genocide as grossly exaggerated. More inflated hyperbole from grievance-mongers.

Except that this is a genuine grievance, and the disabled are being genuinely killed by the government’s callousness and determination to save money, even if it means death to those refused it.

As for the issue of racial genocide, I’m afraid that now, after a quarter of a century, that seems far more possible in Trump’s America than it did when the article was first published. Trump’s administration is racist in its determination to deport and ban Latin American and Muslim immigration, and it includes people, who are genuinely racist and hold views that could reasonably be considered Fascist and White supremacist, like Steve Bannon, Richard Spencer and Sebastian Gorka. They need to be stopped, before they start killing people.

As for raising awareness of the genocide against the disabled in this country, Stilloaks, Atos Miracles and DPAC are publishing details of the people the government are victimising and throwing off benefit. I hope the Last Leg will continue to cover this issue, and persist in calling it what it is so that the Tories can’t get away with denying what they’re doing. There are artists out there, who’ve also made it the subject of their work. Johnny Void had on his site a few years ago a picture made up of smaller photos of some of the victims of the government’s policy. I hope they also carry on, and are joined by more artists, journalists and commenters. And perhaps what we need here is for a few more people on talk radio to cover this, and not be satisfied by the smooth, patronising lies of Damian Green, Iain Duncan Smith, Cameron or May.

Interview with Miliband: When Did BBC Journos Take Their Questions from the Republican Party?

May 6, 2015

I haven’t really been following the news about the election all that closely, as watching too much Cameron and Clegg tends to annoy me, as does the attitude of some of the BBC journos towards Miliband. There was a fine example of this yesterday, when one of the BBC’s journos on the 6 O’clock news interviewed Ed Miliband. He tried to challenge Miliband’s ability to govern by questioning him whether he had run, or worked in, a profit-making organisation.

This line was more or less a straight lift from the Republican rhetoric against Obama. They denounced Obama as unfit for government, as he had never run a business, and had only been a ‘community organisers’. Which shows you how far down in the order of priorities they give working to improve the community and conditions for the less well-off, compared to making a profit.

Miliband tried pointing out that you didn’t need to work in business, to know how to run the economy or know what conditions businesses need to grow.

The incident just shows how far the journalists take their cues from the Republicans across the Atlantic, whenever a politician even slightly left of raging Neo-Liberal raises their head.

But if they thought it was a good question to ask Miliband, it’s a pity they didn’t ask the Tories or Lib Dems, as the same question can be equally asked of them. Like the chancellor, George Osborne. His only real job has been as a towel-folder for Harrods. What does he actually know about running, or even starting up a business.

It’s the same with David Cameron. Cameron’s another aristo, whose position and fortune comes from inherited wealth. He was actually asked by the royal family if he’d like to work for them. He certainly has not worked hard to set up his own business, nor had to worry about its failure, or whether it will make enough money to support himself and his family. Most businesses fail within their first year. Cameron has never faced that prospect, nor the danger of having to declare bankruptcy, lose his home and business, and start signing on at the dole queue.

Which is another issue. Johnny Void has pointed out that the politicians never address the unemployed themselves. They make claims that they will raise employment, but never directly address them, their issues and concerns. Labour in their manifesto says they will make some reforms to benefit them. The Tories and Lib Dems don’t say anything about them at all.

Their silence speaks volumes. To give Andrew Marr due credit, he did ask Cameron if he knew how hard his policies were hitting ordinary people, and was finally rewarded by Cameron claiming that he thought it entirely right that people should be punished with sanctions if the didn’t comply with the DWP’s requirements.

Which showed he doesn’t care two hoots about people like David Clapson and the many others his reforms have killed.

But so far, I have not seen one journalist ask the politicos whether they themselves have ever had to sign on. It’s important. If Miliband can be challenged over his suitability for office on the grounds of an apparent lack of experience running a business, then Cameron, Clegg and the other ConDems should also be challenged about their ability to legislate for the poor, when they have no experience of poverty, and none of unemployment.

When was the last time Osborne, Cameron, Clegg, RTU or McVile signed on? Have they ever had to go through the humiliating chore of sending out application after application, and having to show they’ve done so to their ‘work coach’ or the clerk in the Jobcentre. Have they ever been threatened with sanctions, and faced with the prospect of going without food, or electricity, because they don’t have the wherewithal to pay?

Of course not. They have never had to suffer such indignities. And when asked to try to live like the unemployed, as IDS has been, they shrug it off as a ‘publicity stunt’. They know they can’t, but definitely don’t want to show it. They see themselves as the nation’s rightful leaders, with some kind of eugenically determined right to govern us, because of their position as aristocrats, or captains of industry. This makes them automatically fit to govern. The rest of us, those who have to struggle to make our daily bread, are just there to take our orders.

And we shouldn’t have the cheek to ask them how much they know, and by what knowledge or experience, they have the right to rule us.

Simply asking that question is seen as immensely impertinent. When Paxo asked Cameron this question, it reduced him, ion the word of Private Eye, ‘to silent, puce fury’. It was like his fag at Eton talking back.

They need to be asked those questions, however. And it’s a profound failing of the media that, with few exceptions, they aren’t.

More Memes Against Conservative-Lib Dem Killing of Disabled from Vox Political

May 6, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has produced a couple more memes against Cameron’s and Clegg’s mass murder of the sick and disabled through their benefit reforms. Mike posted up a piece last Friday, letting his readers know that the Information Commissioner had finally ruled in his favour. The DWP was now required to release the information to him on the numbers of people, who died between 2011 and last year, while claiming invalidity benefit and ESA.

These figures give the lie to the Tory claim that those willing to work are being helped into employment, while those who can’t are being given the support they need.

These people died in misery, poverty and desperation, because the benefit simply wasn’t enough. If they were fortunate enough to get it, of course. Many didn’t. They were sanctioned for the most trivial and contrived of reasons.

Since being informed of the Commissioners’ decision, Mike has received now word from the DWP itself. They have not sent him the information he requested. He therefore states on his blog that he feels they intend to make him wait the full 35 days before sending him the information.

The reason? If they give him the information now, it might cost them the election. Too many people could be swayed by the horrifying fact that Cameron, Clegg, Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVile have killed an estimated 60,000 or more with his wretched benefit reforms.

There has also been little interest in this information from the mainstream media, although he says there have been some encouraging signs from certain editors.

He’s therefore produced these two memes to help get the word out to the public. He’s encouraging people to share them, so please, feel free to print ’em off, and post them up, whether in hard copy or on the Net.

The first meme shows how the number of people, who have officially died while receiving benefits, is probably on the tip of the iceberg.

tipoftheiceberg

The second meme lays out the case that for the disabled, voting Tory or Lib Dem in the election is like certain poultry voting for a certain seasonal feast.

DWPturkeys

At Last! Vox Political Wins Legal Challenge to Force DWP to Release Death Numbers

May 4, 2015

I’m afraid I’m a bit late covering this, for which I duly apologise. Mike over at Vox Political has finally won his appeal before the Information Commissioner for the DWP to release the stats for the number of people, who have died while claiming Invalidity Benefit and ESA between November 2011 and May 2014.

Mike’s article reporting his victory, Victory for Vox Political: DWP ordered to give details of benefit-related deaths, states that the government now must release the figures within 35 calendar days of April 30th. The statistics must also be broken down into the following categories.

◾Those in the assessment phase,
◾Those who were found fit for work,
◾Those who were placed in the work-related activity group,
◾Those who were placed in the support group, and
◾Those who had an appeal pending.

The Information Commissioner ruled

“It appears … that the DWP has had reasonable time to prepare for publishing [the] information and that disclosure was not so novel or unusual given the previous requests and disclosures made.

“DWP have not supplied any detailed or convincing evidence about the time needed and what preparation would need to be undertaken during this time or what the specific impact of disclosure would be… The DWP has previously published similar information.

The decision notice continued: “It is not reasonable for the DWP, having had enough time to extract the information and prepare internally for publication, to seek further time to provide the information requested.

“The Commissioner also finds that delaying publication is not reasonable in light of the requests DWP have received from the public and the fact that the previous statistics published were around two years old at the time of the request.”

Mike describes what initially moved him to campaign for the release of the information – an interim government report in 2013 Incapacity Benefit (Deaths of Claimants), which contained information on 10,000 + people, who had died. The report claimed that the amount they had been claiming was sufficient to give them sufficient to live on. Mike states he was sceptical, as there was later information suggesting that many had died because of unsympathetic treatment by a government determined to clear as many people off its books as possible, no matter how many casualties this would incur.

He describes the considerable difficulty he had in obtaining the information from the DWP, including their ruling that his request was ‘vexatious’. The DWP can still appeal the decision, but Mike believes that this would be unsuccessful. When he was first turned down by the Information Commissioners, they stated that they were sympathetic to his case. It was that comment that convinced him that a second attempt would be successful.

He is highly suspicious, however, of the delay in releasing this information. He feels it has been done for political reasons, as if the true number of deaths of people on Invalidity Benefit and ESA were made known – and these could be as high as 60,000 – it may deter many people from voting for the Tories and their Lib Dem collaborators. He then questions the validity of an election result if the details of the numbers of people dying while claiming benefits is not known.

The article’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/05/01/victory-for-vox-political-dwp-ordered-to-give-details-of-benefit-related-deaths/. Go there for more information.

It is a great victory for Mike, after his long struggle trying to get this information out the DWP and the serial liars Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVile and the public school bullies and thugs. They have indeed tried nearly every trick in the book to avoid releasing these figures. And it hasn’t just been Mike requesting them – many others have too, and been given the same feeble excuses, or simple flat denials.

And I’ve no doubt that Mike’s right when he says that the release of this information has been deliberately delayed until the very last minute in order to save the government from embarrassment. Others have been given the same treatment and shown the same attitude when making different, but similar requests for government information that should be freely available. Johnny Void and the other anti-workfare campaigners have tried to get the DWP to release details of the firms, that have enrolled on the scheme to use such forced, unfree labour. The DWP have turned down his and the others’ requests for the information flat. Why? Because they actually admit that if they released the information, it might stop people from using the firms involved. They would then be forced to pull out, and the scheme would fail.

Which also shows that the Tories and Lib Dems have absolutely no shame, and freely acknowledge that the scheme is unpopular, and wouldn’t go ahead if people actually knew more about it and the firms backing it.

It also shows the absolute contempt Cameron, Clegg and their oligarchic clique have for public opinion, despite all the mouthing they have done about democracy and expanding choice. They despise the poor and weak, and sneer at any genuine concern for them by the opponents of their exploitation.

In the case of the information on the number of deaths due to their benefit reforms, they have a bit more self-awareness, and realise that adopting the same attitude would just spread contempt and disaffection for them and their policies. So they have simply resorted to excuses such as the information wasn’t ready yet; or it didn’t need to be released right now, because it was already being prepared for publication in due course. Of course, their first, and risible response was simply that it would take too long, and the request was ‘vexatious’. By which they meant it wasn’t genuine, and was just done to cause trouble.

It’s a good excuse, as it does recognise that the request was made in order to question and challenge the welfare reforms and the policy of sanctions that forms a part of them. It also tries to dismiss this, as not being a serious request. There’s no need to take it seriously or release the information. It’s just some troll causing trouble for the fun of it. Now get back to work.

But it is a serious request, no matter how badly Cameron, IDS and their circle have tried to shrug it off. It’s good that Mike’s now got a ruling in his favour, but it is also marred by the fact that this information probably won’t be released in time for the election.

Apart from Mike’s success in finally getting a positive court ruling, I’m also touched and heartened reading and hearing about the many messages of support he’s had from people reading his blog. A huge number of people all across the country have wanted this information to be released, and are glad that someone is campaigning against the policy, even if it’s only in a small way.

You can see just how many people back the critics and protestors against the Coalition’s attempts to degrade, humiliate and destroy the very poorest sections of society reading the comments not just on Mike’s blog, but also over at Tom Pride, Johnny Void, the Angry Yorkshireman, Disabled People Against Cuts and so many others.

In the run-up to the election, the government will trying telling everyone that their policies are wonderful, and have almost unanimous support. They’re even manufacturing letters from business and charity leaders to present this mirage. There has also been comments posted on left-wing blogs supposedly by welfare claimants, saying how wonderful and positive the government’s policies have been and how they’ve worked for them. These have also looked suspiciously like fakes coming from someone at Tory Central Office. Particularly now as Wikipedia has accused Grant Shapps, AKA ‘Michael Green’, fraudster, of editing his Wikipedia entry and those of this political colleagues.

Go and read the comments on Mike’s and the other blogs to see how far this piece of spin very definitely does not correspond to reality. Despite their lies and spin, the Tories know very well how unpopular their policies are with the very people they’ve inflicted it on. Hence the attempts to shut them up by denying them information on just how destructive and pernicious these policies are.

Private Eye on the Tax Avoiders in Cameron’s ‘Business Council’

April 10, 2015

I mentioned in the last post on the Daily Mail’s hypocrisy in demanding that Kraft foods stop avoiding paying British taxes, while its owner, Lord Rothermere, is another tax dodger using the non-dom status inherited from his father. The right-wing press was outraged this week by Ed Miliband’s statement on Wednesday that he was going to end the non-dom tax loophole that allows Rothermere, and others like him, to avoid paying tax. They claimed that it would drive senior businessmen out of the country.

Way back in their issue for the 15th – 29th October 2010 Private Eye published a brief article on the numbers of businessmen avoiding taxes through offshore companies and the like. They were a refutation of Cameron’s continued refrain that ‘we are all in it together’, and that everyone was suffering equally during the recession. They had also benefitted personally from Cameron by being selected for his business council.

David “We’re all in this together” Cameron has chosen a patriotic bunch to sit on his “business council”.

One of them, Martin Sorrell, has already moved his company, advertising group WPP, offshore to avoid tax; while Paul Walsh, of drinks company Diageo, has threatened to do the same.

His company already diverts most of its profits out of the taxman’s grasp, having “offshored” ownership of British drinks brands such as Johnnie Walker. A similar ruse helps drugs giants GlaxoSmithKline avoid millions of pounds of tax, but that hasn’t stopped its chief executive, Andrew Witty, from joining Cameron’s council as well.

Also among the business sages is the man behind a great deal of such dodging over a decade at the top of one of Britain’s biggest beancounters, KPMG, Sir Mike Rake.

The captains of industry will no doubt have been pleased to note the shift in rhetoric on tax dodging from chancellor George Osborne in his party conference speech. Gone was the “immorality” of (legal) tax avoidance that his Lib Dem deputy Danny Alexander had condemned the week before. In a carefully worded speech, Osborne’s ire was conspicuously directed only at illegal “tax evasion”. This gives Britain’s top businessmen – not to mentioned the hedge fund managers and beancounters who have funded the Tories so generously over the last year – plenty of room to squirrel a few billion away while remaining on the right side of Nos 10 and 11 Downing Street.

The attack on the tax evaders is pretty much an attack on Tory donors. It shows that Ed Miliband himself is independent of at least some of the corporate interest that New Labour also competed with the Tories for. and it also shows the deep, self-interest of the Tory party and their mouthpieces in the British press in moaning about the potential loss of income for these extremely rich men.

As Mike has shown again and again on his articles on some of the prize specimens of Tory MPs, many of them, from Jacob Rees-Mogg to education minister Nicky Morgan and the Wicked Witch of the Wirral, Esther McLie, vigorously demand tax cuts for the rich, and the transferal of the tax burden to the poor through VAT.

It’s not enough that the rich should get richer. They want the poor to get poorer. It’s one of the reasons why they should be voted out next May.

Steampunk Film ‘1884’

March 30, 2015

I’ve been putting up some serious political videos from Youtube today, including the satirical song about Esther McVie. It’s a bit of comedy, but it has a deadly serious intent. Now I thought it’s time for something lighter.

This is a very short steampunk animated film, Terry Gilliam Presents ‘1884’. It was a concept test for a projected film by Steam Driven Films in Britain and 2d3D Animations across la Manche in France. It shows the kind of past we would have had, if only the Victorians had properly taken to flying airships and tried to colonise the Moon. Not that some members of Her Majesty’s Government didn’t have the ambition. One British prime minister remarked sarcastically that the army ‘would annex the Moon, in order to protect us from invasion from Mars’.

You can see in the short a number of nods and homages to other classic SF works. ‘1884’ is reminiscent of Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984. The use of fireworks to show that the astronauts have landed on the Moon is similar to Jules Verne’s idea that they would use a magnesium flare in his tale, From the Earth to the Moon. The compere’s introduction recalls that of the opening speech to Universal’s 1930s Frankenstein. And the design of the airborne traffic, including cars and buses, is very much like that envisioned by the pioneering 19th century French SF novelist and illustrator, Albert Robida, in his massive The War of the 20th Century.

Robida Airships

Albert Robida’s 19th century vision of 20th century air traffic.

Robida’s idea of the future seems to me to a one of the major influences, along with other, more obvious works, on contemporary steampunk generally. It was even hailed as ‘Zarjaz’ by the mighty Tharg, and cited as an influence on the Nemesis the Warlock strip, Nemesis in the Gothic Empire in 2000 AD.

And the film also has the advantage of having the voice of the mighty Phil Jupitus, he of Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame.

Enjoy!

Alun Perry’s ‘Sack Esther McVie’ Song

March 30, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political pointed me in the direction of this at the weekend. It’s the official song for TUC Wirral’s ‘Sack Esther McVie’ campaign. It’s a folky little piece of the type you used to hear coming out of folk clubs in the 1970s. It compares her abysmal record at oppressing the poor, the unemployed and the disabled, with Christ’s, who healed the sick and preach against the maltreatment of the poor by the rich. I think everyone ought to get behind it’s message of voting out the Wicked Witch of the Wirral on May 7th.