Posts Tagged ‘Health and Safety’

Kevin Logan on Grenfell Tower, Justice and Patriotism

June 19, 2017

This is an angry, impassioned rant by Kevin Logan against the gross social injustice of Tory Britain that has produced the Grenfell Tower fire. Logan’s a male feminist, who makes vlogs attacking the Alt-Right and Men’s Rights movements and their lunacies.

Logan begins the video by discussing the fire itself. He mentions how Grenfell Tower is an area of low-income housing in Kensington, one of the richest places in Britain. As it is a pocket of low class housing – he calls it ‘slum’ – amidst extreme wealth, the local council decided to cover it in cladding, so that the richer residents wouldn’t have to look at it. The fire spread rapidly because this cladding was inflammable. The disaster was entirely avoidable, as fire-proof cladding was only an extra £2 per unit more expensive. Thus it would have cost a mere £5,000 more to protect these people from the horror that engulfed them.

He also queries the official figures for the number of victims. At the time he made the video, the official death toll was 30. This, he states, will be revised upwards. It may well go over 100, and some have suggested that the real figure will be over 300. We don’t know at the moment, as the government has decided that it’s politically sensitive and so have slapped a D notice on it.

He lays the blame for this tragedy firmly on the Tories, and specifically David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May and Boris Johnson. George Osborne is responsible, as he was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who launched the Tories’ austerity policies. David Cameron was the Prime Minister, who stated clearly in 2012 that he was against the culture of health and safety. He therefore was determined to repeal the ‘red tape’, which means the laws actually protecting humans beings. And Theresa May is responsible because she cut emergencies and the number of fire stations in London when she was in charge of the Home Office. As for Boris Johnson, he made the situation worse by cutting the number of counsellors available to help fire fighters get over the horrors they’ve seen. There were 14 of them before he took office as mayor of London, and those weren’t enough. But Boris then went and reduced them to two.

Logan states quite clearly that austerity kills. Not just through cuts to the emergency services, but also in cuts to hospitals and the welfare state. He also states that this country needs to decide what it is. Either we’re a nation too poor to afford to give decent cladding that will protect people for a mere £5,000, or we’re a nation so rich we can afford to give billions in tax cuts to millionaires. Not to mention the fact that we’re spending another £100 billion on nuclear weapons. He states that he isn’t going to get into the debate about nuclear weapons, only that apparently we can’t afford to feed and shelter the poor, but we can find money for nuclear weapons, and bombing brown folk elsewhere in the world.

He also informs his viewers how Jeremy Corbyn attempted to introduce legislation to protect people in poor quality housing, but 311 Tory MPs voted against it. This included 80, who were private landlords. This was a massive conflict of interest, which should never have been allowed to happen. And the media are complicit in it because they have remained silent on it.

Over half of the video is Logan discussing patriotism, and the question, often asked, whether he is patriotic. He states that when a tragedy like this occurs, no, he can’t be patriotic. Not for a country that cares more for the rich, than to spend £5,000 stopping poor people from being burned alive – or, rather, killed by smoke inhalation, in their beds. He states very clearly that there needs to be riots about this, and for those responsible to be properly prosecuted. He doesn’t know where legal responsibility for this tragedy lies, with local council or elsewhere, but a large number of people need to be prosecuted, far larger than a small number of sacrificial lambs. He states that corporate manslaughter needs to be taken far more seriously in this country. The politicians responsible should be given absolutely no peace until they either resign or pass the necessary legislation to protect people against further tragedies like this.

He also predicts that the Tories will find some way of tricking people out of their homes. They’ve said they won’t, and that the residents will be rehoused in the borough, but they will do it anyway. Logan states that it is wrong that there are people, who are homeless, while there are mansions, owned by the rich, that are going empty. The people made homeless by the fire could be housed in them, and the state could pay for their accommodation. But this won’t happen, because the rich always come first.

He says that he isn’t interested in what we claim to be, or what we were, but what we are and will be, before he will say he’s patriotic. He doesn’t hate the country, but we have to stop being a Tory vassal state. And Theresa May needs to go. If, however, we want to be a country where the rich come before stopping the poor die, then as far as he concerned, you can burn the country to the ground.

I agree with nearly everything he says here – about the twisted system of values we have in our society, where the profits of the rich come before human life, and where invading nations in the developing world for the benefit of multinationals is far more important than tackling the poverty back in Britain. As Mike and other disability rights bloggers – DPAC, Stilloaks, Johnny Void and many others have shown time and again, austerity is killing tens of thousands each year. There is absolutely no question about it. And neither should there be any question about who is responsible for this carnage as well. It’s the Tories.

I reject the call to riot, and his angry rejection of patriotism. Rioting only results in local residents having their lives and property threatened and damaged. It doesn’t threaten the politicians and corporations ultimately responsible for the iniquities against which the riots are aimed. And it allows the Tory press to dismiss those protesting as thugs and extremists. We’ve already seen it happen this weekend, when a peaceful crowd spontaneously invaded Kensington council offices to make their voices heard. No-one rioted, there was no violence, and no begging. But that didn’t stop the media and Tory press from claiming there was. All to frighten the millions watching and reading the papers away from supporting them.

As for patriotism, I’m a patriot in the sense that I want the best for my country and its people. There is still much that is good in this country. But its government is mendacious and corrupt. And the very people, who insist that we all be patriotic, are usually those responsible for the injustices that mar it. Like the Tories under Thatcher, who made much about how they stood for Britain and patriotism. Or the right-wing nationalists in the NF, EDL, BNP and similar organisations.

There’s a lesson here for the Alt-Right on why many people in the West don’t feel patriotic. According to the Alt-Right and similar right-wing ideologues, it’s all due to ‘cultural Marxism’. The Frankfurt School has undermined western self-confidence in order to destroy its culture, and place everyone under the Communist heel. It’s also because of ‘cultural Marxism’ that feminism is making such inroads to the point that men are being treated unjustly.

No, ‘cultural Marxism’, if it even exists, doesn’t have anything to do with the rejection of patriotism by many in the contemporary West. It’s gross injustices like the Grenfell Tower fire. Decent people are outraged by a social system that has gives such massive, disproportionate power to a rich minority, and has allowed the poor, non-Whites and women to be mistreated and oppressed. But I very much doubt that this obvious fact will make much impression on them, as they’re not going to listen.

Private Eye on the Coalition’s Attempt to Make Prosecutions for Industrial Accident More Difficult

March 13, 2016

Private Eye ran this piece in their issue for 3rd – 16th May 2013. I’m fairly certain Mike over at Vox Political also covered it at the time, so its might be worth going over to his blog and looking at through the posts for that time for more information.

Insult to Injury

David Cameron won applause from the Daily Mail in January last year when he promised “to kill the health and safety culture”. Move on to Spring 2013, and we can see what his pledge means: the coalition is to slash compensation payments to injured employees and the families of dead workers, which have existed since the 19th century.

In a sly manoeuvre, the Tories and Liberal Democrats waited until their Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill had passed the scrutiny of a Commons committee, the slipped in a clause to make it harder for injured men and widowed women (or vice versa) to sue. Henceforth, the coalition told the House of Lords late at night when no one was watching, the burden of proving what caused an accident will fall on the injured worker or the family of the dead.

Peers, who have little experience of the dangers of construction, mining or hands-on agriculture, approved the measure. When the coalition abolished the Agricultural Wages Board it rigged the consultation process (Eyes passim) – but with civil liability for health and safety at work, it topped that dismal achievement and allowed no public consultation whatsoever.

Health and safety inspectors will still be able to prosecute. But as Tom Jones, of Thompsons solicitors said, there are 78,000 civil claims for compensation following accidents at work every year, but only 1,000 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) criminal prosecutions. This change will restrict enforcement in 98.7 per cent of health and safety breaches.

Thompsons represents trade unions, and its numbers may be biased, but even according to the government’s own figures, the “reform” will affect 70,000 cases a year. That’s an awful lot of dead and injured workers.

Lord Hardie, a former Lord Advocate of Scotland, told the Lords: “If this clause remains part of the bill, those who have suffered catastrophic injury, or the widows and families of employees who have been killed, will now have to depend upon state benefits for their maintenance. The financial burden will be transferred to widows, children, disabled people, and to the state. Insurance companies will be the principal beneficiaries”.

The government was not attacking some faddish, modern ‘elf and safety culture. Hardie continued, but a right to swift compensation that goes back to an 1898 court of appeal ruling in England and Wales, and an 1871 decision by Scottish judges. Since then, the law has accepted that all an employee has to prove is that they suffered in a dangerous workplace.

No more, Jones told the Eye. In the past, if you lost a hand in a piece of machinery, you only needed to show that the machine had a faulty guard. No you will have to prove that the employer knew the guard needed replacing or ought to have known. This is a much harder task, made harder still by the government’s cuts to legal aid. In future, insurance companies will be able to spin out a case until the employee’s solicitor has spent the £900 allocated to accidents at work. They will then be able to compel the worker to accept a lower settlement or nothing at all.

Thom Hartmann: Why Don’t the Media Ask Trump about his Mob Connections?

December 27, 2015

Another video, but one with an interesting angle on why Trump is totally unsuited to be President of the US. In this piece, the American radio host Thom Hartmann reads out a list of questions drawn up by an American historian on the apparent links between Trump and the Mafia. Like Trump Tower isn’t a conventional concrete structure built around a steel skeleton, but purely cement. The firm that supplied the cement was owned by two of the leading American gangster families. Trump has also used mob firms in his construction projects, often paying them much more for their services than the standard amount charged by other, clean firms.

One of the most suspicious episodes in Trump’s career as a real estate developer came with a construction project in New York. This was supposed to be a union-run site, but there were only ten union men on the workforce. The rest were non-unionised Polish workers. These were denied the work-related benefits to which they were entitled by American law, what health and safety legislation seems to have been in force in the Land of the Free was definitely not observed. They worked without even the benefit of hard hats.

This is definitely a new take on Trump. Most of the attacks on him are about his aggressive racism and his complete contempt for the poor and blue collar workers. And this is clearly seen in his treatment of immigrant workers on the above construction site. We’re back to the days in the late 19th and early part of the 20th century, when eastern European workers were despised and sneered at, particularly Poles and Hungarians. On this account, Trump’s basically a throwback to the late 19th century, when only immigrants from northern European countries were valued and welcomed. It ain’t just Muslims and Hispanics. We’re just about back to ‘No Dogs, No Irish, No Blacks’.

And his mob connections should be very troubling. The fact that the American media aren’t asking these questions shows the hypocrisy at their very heart. The Republicans have always attempted to attack the Democrats by pointing to the mob connections of the patriarch of the Kennedy family, and his dealing with the Nazis. Well, whaddayaknow? Trump also appears to have mob connections, and his father was arrested in New York in the 1920 for his part in a riot protesting against anti-KKK legislation.

It makes you wonder just how many bodies are buried under his various construction projects around America.