Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’

Cartoon: The Dead Thatchers – Kill the Poor

April 3, 2020

And now for another of my cartoons, in which I try to express my outrage, anger and disgust at the Conservative party and their murderous, destructive policies. This one takes the form yet again of a CD cover or promotional poster for the totally imaginary band, the Dead Thatchers. I was inspired to invent them by the American punk band, the Dead Kennedys. Their angry songs bitterly attacked the economic and social conditions of Reagan’s America. One of their songs, which I’ve based this cartoon on, was ‘Kill the Poor’.

As you can see, the cartoon shows a firing squad shooting dead a representative selection of poor folks, that the Tories despise and have been killing for years, while all the while claiming to help them. Looking on are David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, their eyes blood red. The people shot represent the disabled, the unemployed, single mothers, low paid workers and asylum seekers.

And as left-wing bloggers and activists like Mike, Another Angry Voice, Zelo Street, The Poor Side of Life, Diary of a Food Bank Helper and so many, many others have shown for the past decade and more, Tory and Thatcherite policies are killing the poor. The harsh regime of fitness to work tests and benefit sanctions imposed by the DWP, as well as cuts in the amount paid and a waiting time of five weeks from making the claim to first payment for Universal Credit, have resulted in an estimated 120,000 people dying from austerity. Over a quarter of a million people a few years ago were forced to use food banks to keep body and soul together. Millions of children and adults were living in poverty. And thanks to Boris’ incompetent, bungled and penny-pinching handling of the Coronavirus crisis, that’s all got worse. Much worse. Firms have sacked their workers, rather than apply for the government help to pay 80 per cent of their wages. The government has promised to pay 80 per cent of the earnings of the self-employed and small businesses, but this is calculated on whether they pay business rates. Not all businesses do. Some, which share a building, leave it to their landlord. Those firms won’t get anything. And the small businessmen who will qualify won’t get it until June. For many of them, this will be too late.

And don’t be misled. The Tories do hate the poor. They despise and revile anyone on benefits as a scrounger. They see them as biologically inferior, people who should ideally be discouraged from claiming benefits or even allowed to die, rather than become a burden to the rich. Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and their brief hireling, Andrew Sabisky, all have this eugenicist view. As does the wretched, loathsome Toby Young, who attended a eugenics conference alongside real anti-Semites, racists and Nazis. And then there are all the Tory and other right-wing hacks, like Brendan O’Neil of Spiked, Trevor Kavanagh of the Scum and others, who complain bitterly about the lockdown, because, like BoJob and Cummings, they believe old people, the disabled and the weak should be left to die rather than the economy be damaged. Thanks to this attitude and the decades-long campaign of vilification in the press, the British public thinks that 27 per cent of all benefit claims are fraudulent, whereas the true figure is something like 0.2 per cent. This hatred also extends to single mothers, of course. Tory minister Peter Lilley had them on his little list of people he despised, who he sang about as a pranced about the stage in a parody of the song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado at a Tory party conference back in the ’90s. And nearly two decades before then, in the mid-70s, Thatcher’s mentor Sir Keith Joseph declared they were a threat to our stock, provoking mass outrage at such a Nazi comment.

And of course the victims include asylum seekers because of the very long tradition of Tory racism, a racism that has led to their brutalisation by profiteering and incompetent government outsourcing companies like Serco in the detention centres. Not that the racism is just confined to asylum centres. A large section of the Tories is deeply racist, and particularly towards Muslims. They are also far more genuinely anti-Semitic than Labour. A few days ago David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group put up a piece detailing some instances of their anti-Semitism. This included an incident remembered by the former speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. He was told by an unnamed Tory MP that if he had his way, ‘people like you’ would not be allowed in the chamber. Bercow asked him what he meant – lower class people, or Jews. The man replied ‘Both’.  But never mind, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis heartily loves the Tories and warmly welcomed Tweezer entry to 10 Downing Street. Mirvis seems to consider anti-Semitism as synonymous with anti-Zionism or hostility to Israel, so he and the rest of the Jewish establishment have precious little interest in combating real anti-Semitism when it comes from genuine Nazis or the right. Comfy little Tory supporters, they’re only interested in manufacturing spurious claims and smears against the left.

As for the low paid, they hate them because not only do they claim benefits, but, like the unemployed, the believe it’s their fault they’re poor. In their idea of capitalism, a version that has never existed apart from their imaginations, the free market rewards merit. If a worker is low-paid, then it’s their fault. They should either work harder, or actively find a better paid job. Even if, thanks to the low-wage policies they’ve imposed since Thatcher, there are none about. In that case, it’s just tough. The free market is somehow sacrosanct and inviolable.

Here’s the cartoon. I hope you like it, and, as always, please don’t have nightmares.

 

RT Interview with Paul Peter of DPAC on Tories Ramping Up Distress for Disabled People

October 12, 2018

This is another excellent video from RT, in which the presenter of their ‘Going Underground’, Afshin Rattansi, talks to Paula Peters from the disability organization, DPAC. Peters makes it very clear that, despite the lies of the Tories and particular Esther McVey, their cuts to benefits are causing immense mental distress to the disabled and constitute a human catastrophe, that was called such by the UN, who criticized the Tories for it.

The video begins with Peters stating that ‘She (Esther McVey) is ramping up mental distress for disabled people through the heinous policies that she and the Conservative party are implementing today.’

Rattansi goes on to state that The Department for Work and Pensions Secretary gave quite a barnstorming speech at the conference, raised quite a few eyes across the sector and that he is sure she would deny what Peters is saying. He asks her if there is any hope that the United Nations investigation into what she’s doing at the DWP for these alleged atrocities that people like DPAC are alleging, any hope that the UN can do something?

Peters replies that first of all they refute Wholeheartedly what Esther McVey said last week. The cuts to PIP payments, ESA, JSA, are real news, and they have eight years of evidence to back this up.

Rattansi asks, ‘She called if fake news?’

Peters replies, ‘Yeah, well, it’s not fake news, they are real stories and millions of people affected by these policies can say that, you know, are being plunged further into poverty and destitution as a result of their heinous policies and regarding the UN’s investigation there’s been years of written and oral evidence to back up millions of claimants who have been plunged further into mental distress, further into isolation as a result of DWP policy and it should be noted the government were the first state in the world to be formally investigated under the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities and found guilty of grave and systemic human rights violations. Then in 2017 the Committee ruled that the cuts that disabled people and people in mental distress were experiencing were a human catastrophe on our lives, and the UN rapporteur for poverty is about to visit the UK here in November and there coming here because there’s overwhelming evidence to show that disabled people and people in mental distress are plunged further into poverty by the cuts this government are making. This is not fake news, it’s real news and we need to continue the fight to get the truth out of what this government are doing.’

The video also include three pieces of explanatory text at the bottom of the screen. One states that a spokesperson for the Samaritans had said that McVey had stepped down from their advisory board due to her commitments as secretary of state for work and pensions. She had been invited to become a member of the board in early 2017 when she was chair of the British Transport Police Authority, which was one of the partners the organization works with to reduce suicides on the railways. The organization now states they no longer have an advisory board.

The second piece of text says that they contacted McVey and the DWP about DPAC’s allegations that the cuts were pushing people into poverty, but didn’t get an answer.

And the third quotes the DWP as saying on the subject of the UN that

‘The UK has a close working relationship with UN bodies and is committed to upholding the rule of law and [a] rules-based international system … The UK has a standing invitation to all Special Rapporteurs and it is UK government policy to accept and facilitate such visits, and to encourage other UN member states to do the same.’

Peters is absolutely right. DPAC, other disabled rights organisations, poverty campaigners and left wing bloggers, vloggers and activists have amassed abundant information that fully confirms that the Tory cuts are pushing people into poverty. And no, the government does not like giving the information to people. Mike had to fight very hard getting the statistics from the DWP under the Freedom of Information Act about how many people had died after they had been found ‘fit for work’ by ATOS under the Department’s rules. And even then, the information they sent him wasn’t exactly the information he requested.

I also remember Mike blogging about the UN’s condemnation of Cameron’s government for their maltreatment of the disabled, and the angry denials this due from the Tories.

As for McVile’s speech going down a storm with the Tories at their conference, well, to paraphrase Christine Keeler, it would, wouldn’t it. The Tory party is composed of the entitled, the rich, and the bigoted, who have a vicious hatred of anyone they think is a drain on their money. And that means the poor, the disabled, the less privileged, the working class, the unemployed and Blacks and ethnic minorities. You could see that from Peter Lilly’s prancing about the stage at one conference way back in the ’90s, when he decided to put on his version of a piece from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Like the Nazi U-boat commander in Dad’s Army, he had a little list. It was full of the people the government had decided were welfare spongers and malingerers, like unmarried mothers. As I’ve blogged about many times, the Tories have no sympathy with the poor and disadvantaged, and their policies seem designed to push them into suicide or death by starvation in what Mike has described as ‘Chequebook euthanasia’. Or the Nazis’ Aktion T4 by any other name.

My cartoon of McVey and other Tory lowlifes.

The Tories are positive threat to the health, lives and wellbeing of the people of this country. Get them out!

Vox Political Announces Arrival of Mo Stewart’s Book on Government’s Abolition of Welfare State

September 15, 2016

Last week, Mike published a piece by Mo Stewart on the privatisation of the Health Service by the Tories. He mentioned in the introduction that Mrs Stewart had a book shortly coming out on the destruction of the welfare state by the government. Mike has now posted a piece today reporting that it is now out. The book’s called Cash Not Care: The Planned Demolition of the Welfare State. It has an introduction by Professor Peter Beresford, and illustrated by Dave Lupton, of the Crippen cartoons. Mike’s article has links to the pages for the print and ebook versions, and states that it’s highly recommended for anyone who wants to get behind government spin. Mike also helped to proof read the book, and confirms that it is an excellent, if horrifying read.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/15/landmark-book-released-to-expose-government-welfare-policy/

This looks like another book I’m going to have to try to get my mitts on. The Tories have been aiming at the destruction of the British welfare state ever since Thatcher took power. Her rhetoric then was nakedly about dismantling it, and despite her later denials, she was considering privatising the NHS in the run-up to the 1987 election. She nearly had a Tory revolt on her hands, when she discussed this with them, as they knew they’d never be elected if she went ahead. She also decided against it after her secetary, Patrick Jenkin, went to America and found out how appalling the US insurance-based healthcare system was.

But that didn’t stop the Tories or New Labour for doing their best to chip away at it. Of course, this vandalism and planned destruction has all been done under the pretext of stopping fraud, concentrating resources on the people who really need them, and weeding out the people the Tories don’t like, such as, well, single mothers, the unemployed, the disabled, those on strike, the sick, and anyone else they can smear as shirkers, scroungers and so on. Peter Lilley even made a performance about it at a Tory conference way back when Major was in power, doing a bizarre skit based on the Mikado, in which he proclaimed he had a little list of, well, most of the above, actually, beginning with single mothers. What this reminds me of is less Gilbert and Sullivan, and more Philip Madoc’s Nazi U-boat commander with his list of people, who have insulted the Fuhrer in that episode of Dad’s Army. One of the sketch shows also portrayed Lilley as a creepy Nazi officer. Which, to be fair, is what he sounded like when he pranced around like that.

The book is going to be frightening, because Tory policy is deeply frightening in its hatred and contempt for the poor, the disabled and working class. There’s a growing number of books on the poverty caused by austerity and the destruction of the welfare state. This looks like another welcome addition to them.

Iain Duncan Smith – Gentleman Ranker?

May 16, 2015

I think I may have discovered a phrase, which neatly sums up IDS’ career in the forces.

Looking through Partridge’s Dictionary of Historical Slang last night, I found the phrase ‘Gentleman Ranker’. This meant ‘A broken gentleman serving in the ranks’.

Until quite late in the 19th century, officers bought their commissions. This policy was abandoned after the mass incompetence of the British officers during the Crimean War, and competitive exams were brought in, so that aptitude, rather than just material wealth, gained you promotion and a position of leadership in the British army. This was duly sent up by Gilbert and Sullivan in their song, ‘I am the Model of a Modern Major General’.

It also seems to describe the military career of the current mass-murderer now head of the DWP, Iain Duncan Smith. Despite his claims to have been an officer in the British army, there are rumours that he never passed as the course, and was instead Returned To Unit, hence his nickname on this and other blogs as ‘RTU’.

Smith clearly fancies himself as an aristocratic gentleman, complete with a farm in Scotland. Unfortunately, he hasn’t lost all his money, and so had to face poverty and actually having to go out and work for his living like the rest of us. But if he was Returned To Unit, to serve as a soldier in the ranks, then clearly he was a ‘gentleman ranker’.

It more or less accurately describes him. Plus there are the overtones of the Cockney rhyming slang term, ‘J. Arthur Rank’, which also fit him and his squalid personality and policies.

Coalition Priorities: War before the Poor

December 17, 2014

War poor poster

This picture was posted on The Poor Side of Life’s post about the Ashton-Under-Lyne sanctioning a pregnant woman, simply for being pregnant, and the death of a homeless man from cold on the streets after he’d had his benefit removed by them. It’s entitled, Pregnant and sanctioned just in time for christmas… Sanctioned and frozen to death….The latest news from Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre, and is at http://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/pregnant-and-sanctioned-just-in-time-for-christmas-sanctioned-and-frozen-to-death-the-latest-news-from-ashton-under-lyne-jobcentre/. As the article makes clear, The Poor Side of Life is part of a group that actively demonstrates outside the jobcentre, and I’m assuming that’s one of their posters.

It does, however, show the priorities of the government, both Blair’s and now Cameron’s. The government supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq as they saw it as a cynical opportunity to seize Iraq’s resources – its state industries, which would be privatised and sold to Western, chiefly American companies. Bush was particularly keen to control of Iraq’s oil industry, as the country is believed to have the largest oil reserves outside Saudi Arabia. And the Neo-Cons saw it as an opportunity to turn Iraq into their low tax, free trade, minimal state utopia. Well, they succeeded, with the result that every other country in the world dumped their goods in Iraq. The result has been that the country’s own native industries have gone bankrupt due to their inability to compete, and unemployment reached 60 per cent. With that kind of economic devastation, it isn’t surprising that sectarian and ethnic conflicts and terrorism has become acute.

But states have always placed a very high priority on military power. Much of American politics is funded, one way or the other, by the defence industries, who fund the election campaigns of individual politicians in return for lucrative government contracts. It’s been responsible for a lot of the ‘pork barrel’ politics in the US, and firms the core of the military-industrial complex.

Over here, the aristocracy always has been heavily connected with the armed forces since the Middle Ages, when the nobility truly were a warrior elite. Before the reforms of the 19th century and the introduction of competitive exams, which Gilbert and Sullivan parodied with their ditty, ‘I am the very model of a modern major-general’, commissions were bought, and the officer corps were almost overwhelmingly drawn from the upper classes. Even now, my guess is that despite a scandal in the 1980s when one major drew attention to how heavily upper class the officer elite were, the upper ranks of the armed forces is still very much the preserve of the aristocracy. Despite the current cuts to the armed forces, which have left the full time army almost decimated, war and military leadership still form part and parcel of the public school, aristocratic outlook.

In Britain’s case, this has been compounded by several decades of Tory and then Labour policy under Blair, in which arms exports were heavily promoted by the British government, partly through ministers’ own connections with the merchants of death, but also as a way to break in to foreign markets. It was believed that if foreign nations bought British weapons, they would open up to other, more peaceful goods. This has not happened. The countries that buy our guns, tanks and planes buy only those, and not buses, cement or whatever.

And as Bertolt Brecht remarked in his play, Mother Courage, ‘War is good for business’.

The poor count for little. Their lack of any kind of economic or political power, plus the fact that Neo-Liberal orthodoxy considers poverty to be the person’s own fault, not that of society, means that the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers feel they can safely ignore or persecute them.

And so we are back to the same view as Heinrich Himmler, or was it Hermann Goring?, who said, ‘Guns will make us powerful. Butter will make us fat.’

Gilbert and Sullivan on Corporate Changes of Identity

February 25, 2014

Out with the old...: You can rest assured that the only change at Atos has been the company brand name.

Mike over at Vox Political has posted up a piece on Atos’ rebranding itself OH Assist. While Atos certainly are not bankrupt by any means, it does remind me of the way the managers of failing companies have tried to escape their creditors by going into liquidation, and then starting another company. Every so often, one of these companies, sometimes using a name little different from their predecessors, turns up on Watchdog or one of the other consumer interest programmes. This is, of course, perfectly legal, and so old that it was satirised by Gilbert and Sullivan in the libretto of a Company Promoter, written in 1893:

If you come to grief, and creditors are craving …
Do you suppose that signifies perdition?
If so you’re but a monetary dunce –
You merely file a Winding-Up Petition,
And start another company at once!
… the Liquidators say,
Never mind – you needn’t pay’,
So you start another company tomorrow.

Unfortunately, Atos certainly are still solvent, but the name change strikes me as tacit admission that they are well overdrawn at the moral bank. A number of other corporate giants have rebranded themselves after developing a bad reputation through their involvement in government policies. Anderson Consulting, the accountancy firm that was involved with successive governments’ reforms of the civil service from Major onwards, have changed their name. Atos’ relaunch seems to me a similar attempt to try to win back some corporate goodwill from the public, disguising the company’s nasty history and work behind the name change.

Just like a bankrupt businessman trying to stay one step ahead of their creditors, by using the commercial law to claim a different identity.