Posts Tagged ‘IT’

Helping Labour to Win in the Countryside: Encouraging Rural Industry

December 16, 2018

As well as helping to bail out farmers, Labour could also help to reverse the decline of the countryside by encouraging businesses to relocate there. Shirley Williams, the former Labour politician who defected to found the SDP, which merged with the Liberals to form the Lib Dems, discusses this possibility in her 1981 book, Politics Is For People, published by Penguin as an example of what may be done to promote small businesses. She writes

The Wilson Committee jibbed at setting up a Small Business Agency, though the case for its seems strong. What the Committee did propose was a loan guarantee scheme, under which loans to small businesses would be partially underwritten by the banks, and an English Development Agency with similar powers to those of the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies in relation to small firms. Thresholds for government support schemes which small firms are unable to cross, the Report said, should be reviewed.

This would be a useful start, but if the long drift towards concentration is to be reversed, much more is needed. The new agency should positively go out and look for products and services which small firms can produce, as COSIRA (Council for Siting Industry in Rural Areas) has done so successfully in rural areas. New firms should be able to qualify for capital loans at a subsidized interest rate, and they should be entitled to similar help when they reach the breakthrough point of rapid growth. This is the stage at which many small innovatory firms go under, because they cannot finance expansion on the scale needed to meet demand. Good legal and accounting services should be readily available through the new agency, which should also offer advice on government schemes that may be helpful. Red tape and form-filling needs to be kept to a minimum, since small firms rarely have the bureaucracy to cope with complicated application forms. The Microelectronic Applications Project introduced by the Labour government of 1976-9 has been successful in attracting several thousand requests for its consultancy scheme, not just because the government met the first 2,000 pounds of the consultant’s fees, but because the procedure for applying is so simple. (p. 121).

Williams is far from my favourite politician because of her role in founding the SDP and its subsequent move to the right. She is also personally responsible for helping the passage of Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care bill, which is part of the Tories’ continuing privatization of the NHS, through parliament by voting for it when others, like Dr. David Owen, voted against. But the book has interesting ideas. It struck me that IT is industry that could easily me moved to the countryside, if only in the form of software developers, who may not need quite so much expensive plant.

Many working people have dreams of running their own businesses, and G.D.H. Cole in one of his books on socialism argued that socialists should make common cause with small businesspeople against the threat of big business. And it is big business that is also threatening the countryside. As George Monbiot has described in his book, Captive State, the big supermarkets drive out the small businesses in their areas. This has a devastating effect on the area generally, as these industries employ more people than the supermarkets themselves. Furthermore, the supermarkets use very exploitative contracts to force their suppliers to provide them with goods at very low prices. New Labour and no doubt the Tories after them have done much to harm the country generally as well as rural areas by supporting the big supermarkets, like Sainsbury’s, against local shops like grocers.

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Chunky Mark on the Horror of Theresa May’s Cabinet

July 14, 2016

Theresa May was declared the winner of the Tory leadership contest. Yesterday, she moved into No. 10, and now today she has announced her cabinet. This includes such luminaries as Boris Johnson (foreign secretary), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Secretary of State for India) and Liam Fox. In this video, Chunky Mark the Artist Taxi Driver gives his considered view of this cabinet of horrors. As you’d expect, it’s a rant, and Mark compares May and the rest of her cabinet ministers to some of the classic monsters of horror cinema. May herself is the Queen from Aliens, and he likens all of them to the Omen, Norman Bates, Pinhead from Hellraiser, and Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s It. He says at one point that they’re so horrific, he expected poltergeists to fly out of No. 10. This is Margaret Thatcher’s revenge from beyond the grave, he tells his viewers. And none of them have been elected. The leadership of the country was simply transferred from one Tory to another, without our consent or involvement.

But he has a point. These people are monsters. May stood in the street yesterday, and announced that she was going to work to continue the Tory party’s work of creating a more equal Britain, and not one that was for ‘the privileged few’. This is surely a lie, as flagrant as any the Tories have ever uttered. Chunky Mark points out that she praised David Cameron’s social programme, which has seen even more people forced down into misery and poverty. And May is, of course, the authoritarian, who wants to spy on everyone with her ‘snoopers’ charter’. Chunky Mark goes a bit far when he says that she wants to implant chips in our heads. But as Lobster has shown in a number of articles on mind control, the technology is there, and has been refined ever since one of the scientists involved in developing the technology stopped a raging bull with it in an experiment for MKULTRA back in the 1960s. The paranoiacs might be nuts, but sometimes they’re right.

Mark also discusses the shouting that was also heard on camera when May made her speech. You never saw them, and nobody from the BBC decided that the public should listen to them, or hear what they had to say. They were protestors from DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts, protesting against the cuts to Disability Living Allowance and the PIP. But the Beeb didn’t want you to know that.

He also covers May’s stance against Scots independence. The British Conservative Party also includes the Scots Unionists, indeed, until the 1970s, the Conservative Party was known as the Unionist Party north of the Border. And May has made it abundantly clear that the Conservative and Unionist Party will never let the Scots have their independence.

The Chunky One is also rightly incensed about the vile racism in all of this crew. One of May’s new ministers declared that our society was being wrecked by North African and Syrian immigrants. Chunky Mark points out that they’re refugees, who’ve been forced to flee their countries because of the wars we’ve started there, and our own looting of them. Then there’s Boris Johnson with his infamous rant about ‘watermelon picaninnies’ and how Obama hates Britain, because he’s half-Kenyan, and we tortured his people. It’s a very dark joke when this man becomes our foreign minister. And then there’s the appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg as the Secretary of State for India.

It’s a rant, but an accurate one. This is indeed a cabinet of horrors, in which people, who are clearly deeply unsuited to any kind of responsible cabinet role, have been given the posts to which they are the most unsuited. Kenneth Clark said in his unguarded conversation with Malcolm Rifkind that if Boris got in, he’d have us fighting three wars at the same time. Well, he’s not Prime Minister, but he has been made foreign secretary, so perhaps he’ll have his chance yet. Completely absent from all of them is any concern for the poor, or for anything except corporate profit. Cameron’s was an administration of aristos and corporate elites for the rich. That has not changed one iota, no matter how much May spouts about ‘equality’ and not working for the ‘privileged few’.

Anti-Corbyn Controversy Hits Bristol East

July 12, 2016

This Saturday the local BBC news for the Bristol region, Points West, reported that a meeting of the Bristol East Labour party had become intensely heated over the issue of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. So much so, that two of the anti-Corbyn opposition claimed that the anti-Corbynites had been abused. One of them, a young woman, said that one of her male comrades had left in tears, saying that this was ‘not his party’. The Bristol East Labour MP, Thangam Debonnaire, then was interviewed outside her home, declaring that Jeremy Corbyn was ‘too divisive’ and should leave. The report then passed to Angela Eagle, also shown coming out of her front door, to denounce Corbyn as ‘unelectable’ and ‘divisive’, and announce that she would be running for leadership of the party, and would unite everyone. A spokesman for Momentum made the point that the Labour party had massively expanded under Corbyn, and stated that the incident didn’t happen.

Now, if the Blairites at the meeting were genuinely abused, I feel sorry for them. People should have controlled their tempers, and their should have been more personal respect. If all that was said was true…

But that’s a big ‘if’. The Blairites have lied, and lied again, in a sequence of mendacity that would have made Goebbels proud. They made much of Corbyn being heckled at a gay rights rally, when the heckler was actually a member of the Lib Dems. Another stunt was the product of Tom Mauchline, an employee of Portland Communications, the PR company owned by the son of Jack Straw. They produced a Tee-shirt proclaiming ‘Eradicate Blairite Scum’, which was shown off to smear the Corbynites, when in fact it was produced by yet another Blairite and her pet ‘media guru’. Or, to put it in plainer language, ‘pretentious IT moron’. Mike last week also carried a story that at a meeting over on the other side of the country, the Corbynites had subjected the Blairite faithful to a volley of homophobic abuse. Except that they hadn’t. One of the women present had a daughter, who had recently married her same-sex partner. This lady had very definitely attended the wedding. She was, therefore, obviously not a woman who would tolerate homophobic abuse. This lady claimed that nothing of the sort of happened, and was very clear about it. Frankly, I don’t believe that Corbynites would indulge in homophobic abuse. They’re too left-wing. The Labour left, which emerged in the 1980s, and of which Corbyn and his deputy, John McConnell, were a part, were very firmly anti-racist, anti-sexist and pro-gay rights. You think of the fury in the press when one of the London constituencies put up Peter Tatchell. And all the jokes about ‘looney-left’ councils like Brent advertising for non-gender specific personnel, and run by Black lesbians. It’s rubbish.

And then there’s the whole matter of the anti-Semitism accusations, which has seen decent, sincerely anti-racist opponents of anti-Semitism, some of them even Jewish, smeared for what were actually fair criticisms of Israel and its appalling maltreatment of the Palestinians.

As for the Blairites’ claim that Corbyn is unelectable, the opposite is true. Corbyn has won three bye-elections. He has massive grassroots support in the Labour party. It is the 172 rebel Labour MPs, and their leader, Angela Eagle, who are divisive. And if anyone’s betrayed the working class, it’s them. For twenty years the Blairites carried out a programme of privatisation, including the privatisation of the NHS, for corporate interests, along with the dismantling of the system of welfare benefits. Jobs in government were given to the most mendacious and exploitative of the captains of industry. Blair himself had a wide-eyed admiration of Thatcher, private enterprise and the rich.

If Eagle had any decency, she and the others would rethink their basic policies, renounce their intentions to oppose Corbyn, and stand down to let others, who will support him, take their place. And if they can’t do that, they should leave the party.

Private Eye’s ‘The Directors’ on Workforce Exploitation

March 7, 2016

Here’s another very pointed comment on the nature of modern corporate capitalism from ‘The Directors’ cartoon from Private Eye. This piece ran in their issue of the 10th to 24th June 2005.

Directors Cartoon 4

If you can’t read the text, the speech bubbles say

‘Remember the days when we used to force our workers to work longer hours … and have less rights? Well now we have a modern, empowered workforce … and they demand longer hours and less rights!’

This is right. Or at least, it was then. At about the same time that came out, the Financial Times ran an article which described how workers were working longer hours, having been told that the industries or the jobs that did this were giving them some kind of vital experience that was expanding their horizons. The article described a young woman, who had worked all night on some problem at work, positively glowing at this exciting opportunity she had been given. The Times was talking about very middle class jobs in the financial sector or IT, or similar, but the point was there. Employees were working long hours, for less, on the specious pretext that this was somehow empowering them.

In the eleven years since, that kind of rationale for exploiting the workforce has sort of worn off. It’s still being used to sell internships and ‘work placements’ in the workfare industry, but its seems that generally the use of coercion has simply become more overt. It’s now no longer being sold to the workforce as ’empowerment’. You’re simply expected to work longer, either because of the government’s austerity programme and the need to pay off the deficit, which somehow means that vital services and lifelines to the poor have to be cut, or there’s simply no explanation given at all. The government has destroyed workers’ rights and is busy eviscerating the unions. You have to work harder, simply because you don’t have a choice. There are millions of others like you, and if you don’t, you can always be sacked and replaced. And corporations do, at a moment’s notice.

I’ve got a feeling Marx would describe all this as part of the false ideology that disguises the exploitation of the workers and keeps them in chains. Marxism as a whole has failed, but bits of it are still very relevant. And that’s one of them. Except now the lie is being discarded, and the naked force beneath is showing through.

From 2012: Private Eye on the Massive Contracts for the Workfare Firms

January 20, 2015

This article was also in Private Eye for the 10th – 23rd February 2012.

Benefits Bonanza

Even before the government has got its controversial welfare reforms through parliament, it’s signing fat cheques to its friends in the private sector to implement them.

Accenture has already secured a seven-year contract worth up to roughly £500m to manage provision of the IT systems for the new universal credit benefits scheme, which is supposed to simplify the benefits process. The outsourcing giant will bring in subcontractors to build the “customer-facing component” of the scheme, which presumably means online applications. And the principal subcontractor is … none other than Atos, the old favourite of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Eye.

IBM has already been given a £525m contract to provide various DWP system, including customer information and “a fraud referral and intervention service”, and a further £100m contract has gone to HP for software.

Ministers have clearly decided to ignore the Commons public accounts committee, which warned that nearly a third of the UK’s poorest citizens – and those therefore who are most likely to depend on benefits – never use computers.

These are the companies that are profiting from the exploitation of unemployed, the disabled and most vulnerable.

The same piece has this to say about Unum, the big American insurance fraudster demanding the effective privatisation of the NHS and the dismantling of the welfare state. And Mike over at Vox Political has also attacked the government’s assumption that everyone on benefits should now have access to a computer to receive them.

Meanwhile, well-informed readers tell us that when we outlined disgraced American insurance giant’s Unum’s unhealthy influence on successive governments’ efforts to slash benefits for the sick and disabled, we omitted a very important meeting held at Westminster’s Portcullis House last March under Chatham House rules.

Billed as a new progressive conservatism project report on welfare reform, the guest speakers lined up included Lord Freud, the minister for welfare reform, Labour’s Frank Field and … Jack McGarry, CEO of Unum UK, which has been pushing its employment protection insurance on the back of welfare reform ever since. The title of the event? “Of Mutual Benefit”.

It’s interesting that the two other figures, besides McGarry, were Freud and Frank Field. Field is of course another advocated of slashing benefits in the belief that it will force the poor and unemployed to find work. As Johnny Void has pointed out in his article, he was one of the people involved in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s report urging the establishment of national network of food banks. As for Freud, he is notorious for having no sympathy for the poor whatsoever.

The Tories’ Cuts to the Disabled Students’ Allowance: Chriswaynepoetry’s Story

May 23, 2014

A few days’ ago I reblogged a piece from Mike over at Vox Political reporting the government’s proposed cuts to the Disabled Students’ Allowance, which helps support disabled people study at university. The government is proposing to reform this, so that only the most severely disabled students would be eligible for the grant. Those with milder disabilities, such as dyslexia, are to be excluded under the proposed new rules. This is another, alarming example of the government’s attacks on the poorest and vulnerable in society, particularly as the amount saved will be virtually negligible. It’s simply another example of Tory spite. Many of Mike’s readers expressed their extremely strong disapproval.

One of those was Sasson Hann, who gave their account of how the grant allowed them to study for and gain a very good degree in music, despite suffering from a severe handicap that later required them to leave work altogether. I took the liberty of posting their account up here, as it was an example of the way the government’s reforms would punish hardworking, creative people like them for absolutely no reason other than that their disability is perceived as making them a financial burden to the state.

Chriswaynepoetry, one of the commenters to this blog, also commented on this post, describing how he had also been helped through uni by the grant. He wrote

I have experience of this as without the grant, I would not have the necessary equipment I need to help me through lectures. Indeed without this allowance I would have had to pay for the test which diagnosed me as dyslexic (which would have cost me £400).

One caveat I would like to add onto that is that while I think the removal of this grant is plainly not right, there is a wider issue with regards to disabled students getting the best education within the school system. This may have changed, but when I was going to school, teachers always used to say to me that though they thought of me as a critical thinker, my written assignments did not articulate what I used to say in class. There may have been teachers who considered me dyslexic then (I was not diagnosed until I was thirty). The problem is, teachers could not tell me if they thought that this was the case, as if I took the test and it shown signs of dyslexia, any assistance would have had to come out of the school’s own fund, not from a specialised grant system for students that the school could apply for.

I am not sure if this is still the case, but if it is, then surely this needs to change.

He’s not alone. I know a number of extremely bright, creative people, who suffered from some form of disability, from dyslexia to very severe handicaps that left them almost totally paralysed. The cuts to their education, which will leave all but the rich unable to afford higher education are a false economy. Despite their handicaps, the disabled people I know were intelligent and talented, and very able to contribute to society. In the case of the physically disabled, the emergence of the ‘knowledge economy’ of IT and related industries has meant that they have been able to excel in careers, which simply did not exist earlier in the last century, where physical strength and performance is not required. Society will most definitely not benefit – indeed will actually be impoverished – by the exclusion of the disabled and their talents from higher education and the opportunities it provides.

Chriswaynepoetry second point is an extremely good one, and probably would not occur to most people, myself included. The government’s policy of making schools individually responsible for their limited budgets in his experience has led to children like himself with dyslexia going undiagnosed because of the extra cost this would place on them. As a result, children’s education is suffering. This clearly needs to be addressed, so that all Britain’s pupils and students can achieve their true potential and have lives enriched by learning.

Education should most definitely not be for the privileged. We are all the poorer when it is.
Which is another example of the effects of the Tory and Tory Democrats’ austerity programme. It’s leaving us poorer both physically and morally, to go with their own moral bankruptcy.

From 2013: Private Eye on Acquisition of Social Fund by Computer Company Owned US Private Equity Firm

April 16, 2014

This is from the Eye’s edition for 22nd March – 4th April 2013:

When welfare reform minister Lord Freud handed the Social Fund – which gives emergency cash to benefit claimants – over to local councils, he brushed aside criticism and said councils could create “the kind of localist welfare provision they deem to be appropriate and necessary for their areas”.

But many are now contracting out their emergency cash help for the desperately poor to a computer firm owned by US billionaires.

The £178m Social Fund, previously run from job centres, gives small grants and loans to cover benefit claimants’ emergency expenses – to replace furniture after a house fire, say. Despite Freud’s claim that his plan would break bureaucratic centralism, Nottingham recently gave its £10.4m “welfare assistance scheme” contract to computer firm Northgate Information Solutions.

Northgate, which is set to win more such work for other councils (the Welsh Assembly has also hired it to manage its regional version of the scheme), has many contracts running IT, payroll and community charge work for local authorities. But it has little experience of face-to-face work with the poor and desperate. The company does provide profits, however, for the fabulously rich: it is owned by US private equity giant KKR, which run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, the 84th and 100th richest American billionaires, according to Forbes magazine.

The Eye asked Northgate about its qualifications for welfare work. It stressed that it was “working in partnership with Family Fund, the UK’s largest grant-giving charity”, and pointed to its welfare work on the “Blue Badge Improvement Service” to improve disabled parking badges. So that’s all right then.

This is part of the general Tory policy of cutting welfare and state services, and transferring them to private, largely foreign-owned contractors, like Atos. When questioned recently on the BBC’s documentary programme, Panorama, about the rise of food banks due to the Coalition’s austerity programme, one Tory MP declared that this hadn’t occurred, because the Social Fund was still available, despite the fact that the Tories had just closed it down on a national level. And this article shows that some of the local councils are transferring it to private companies. Again, this follows Tory policies of welfare cuts to the poor, and state support for business and the rich. And the reorganisation and cuts to welfare benefits are increasing poverty, to the point that hunger and starvation is returning to Britain. But as long as the fat cats in the boardroom are happy and profiting, the Tories will continue with their attack on the working and lower middle classes.

From 2010: Private Eye on the Failures of Jarvis, Vertex, Liberata and other Private Contractors

April 10, 2014

This is the from the Eye’s issue for 17th -30th September 2010:

Outsourcing

A Private Dysfunction

Government cost-cutting plans to outsource more and more services could herald a series of cock-ups as companies running the services go the same way in tough economic times as PFI and rail maintenance company Jarvis and, last week, housing maintenance company Connaught.

Alongside the usual suspects of Capita, Serco et al, many previously unheard of outsourcers are eying up contracts even though they have limited track records and shaky finances. Several are owned by a private equity industry that sees outsourcing as the next quick buck and are accordingly borrowed up to the eyeballs. Fine if they succeed, quick disaster if they don’t.

One such outsourcer is Vertex, chaired by Sir Peter Gershon. As David Cameron’s productivity adviser before the election, Gershon counselled: “a new government faces a massive and complex agenda of driving savings to close the deficit. It ought to simplify this agenda by deciding that all back office transactional functions will be outsourced within 18 months …” Coincidentally, this will hugely benefit his employer Vertex, which already has “contact Centre” and other service contracts with JobCentre Plus and councils including Westminster and Hertfordshire.

Vertex needs all the business it can get. In the two years ended 31 march 2009 it lost £43m, largely because of £35m in finance costs brought about by the huge debts (£215m in 2009) that come with private equity ownership, and which leave Vertex with liabilities exceeding its assets. Since 2008 Vertex has been owned by a consortium of US private equity firms.

Another firm in even firer financial straits is Liberata, which runs finance, payroll, IT, maintenance and any number of other services for councils from Somerset to Manchester and in Whitehall for the Justice ministry and culture department, among others. it is owned by private equity outfits General Atlantic Partners Ltd and GAP-W International, and groans under liabilities exceeding its assets by £67m and losses in the last two years running to £91m. Most arose on its pension schemes, which by last year had run up a combined deficit of £81m. In September, Liberata brought in a Serco and Crapita veteran, Dermot Joyce, to turn things round.

When Jarvis failed to turn things round and went into administration earlier this year, 1,000 “outsourced” workers lost their jobs and there was no money left for redundancy payments. With public services thrown at the mercy of a volatile private equity market, they might well not be the last.

Several of the care homes, which were in the new a year or so ago for poor care and appalling abuse inflicted to their miserable inmates were similarly owned by private equity firms. These firms regarded them solely as a source of profit, and were not interested in providing good quality care to their disabled and mentally retarded wards. They may also have been in similar perilous financial condition.

As for Gershon’s relationship with David Cameron, this seems to be the norm with Tory party politics and privatisation. The Skwawkbox blogged earlier this week about the connection between George Osborne and one of the companies that made a massive profit from the privatisation of the Royal Mail. It’s time this was all stopped.

Lies and Double-Talk by Atos and the DWP

February 21, 2014

atos-banner

The nation-wide protests against Atos on Wednesday were covered ITV Meridian. They reported on demonstrations at Brighton and Canterbury, interviewing Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Paviliion, and Wayne Humphries, a leukaemia sufferer, whose assessment has been repeatedly delayed by the company. They also went to Atos and the DWP for their comments on the protests. Inevitably they got the usual lies and double talk.

The news report by ITV Meridian can be found at http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2014-02-19/anger-at-atos/.

Atos’ statement is at 1 minute 44 seconds. They claimed

It’s not, nor has it ever been, the role of Atos to make decisions on who can or cannot receive benefits. We carry out assessment following strict guidelines and criteria written by the government.

And so Atos attempted to wash their hands of their involvement in the persecution of the disabled. We wuz only following orders!

This is unacceptable. Atos perform their assessments in the full knowledge that those they fail will be thrown off benefits and forced either to find work or starve. And all too many have been victims of the latter. Furthermore, they have in very many cases deliberately falsified the results of the assessments to have the claimant thrown off their benefit. They complicit in the government’s cruel treatment of the disabled and cannot disavow their responsibility.

Atos was right, however, in that they don’t set government policy, so there was some small truth in what they said. The DWP’s response, however, was even more mendacious. It’s on the report at 2 minutes 2 seconds. They said

It’s right to see what work people can do with the right support, rather than write people off on out-of-work sickness benefits as sometimes happened in the past.

Well yes, absolutely. It’s a statement with which no-one can reasonably disagree. Unfortunately, it has absolutely nothing to do with DWP policy.

The statement implies that the Department of Work and Pensions supplies needed support for those disabled people able to find work. This is, frankly, a lie. There are some benefits available to allow the disabled to live independently. This was, after all, the whole purpose of the Disability Living Allowance. There were grants available for disabled people and their families to adapt their homes so that the disabled could continue to live in them. These grants and benefits were, however, set up by previous governments. The current administration is re-organising them and introducing cuts so that fewer people qualify. All in the interest of making savings, as commanded by Osborne. This has been accompanied by a lot of bluster about concentrating resources on where it’s most needed, but the reality is that it’s done with the deliberate intention of throwing as many people off benefit as possible, regardless of whether they can actually work.

The simple fact is that the government gives absolutely no support for those workers they and Atos declare fit for work. The assessment is based simply on physical ability, and is designed to ensure that all but the extremely disabled – the virtually bed-bound – are ineligible. The DWP’s statement about helping people into work with the right support implies that the support is there. Frankly, it isn’t. I haven’t heard of the DWP providing any service advising people on what jobs might be suitable for people with particular disabilities, or providing any support for those keen to enter employment. I used to work twenty years ago in the Inland Revenue. One of the other members of staff had a severe back complaint. They were therefore given an orthopaedic chair in which to work. At one time the government also supported businesses that employed a certain proportion of disabled people. I have seen no evidence of similar policies under the Coalition, and in fact, if I recall correctly, the legislation encouraging the employment of disabled people has been under attack. I’ve got a feeling it’s been criticised for not being cost-effective or some such rubbish.

I have also not heard of any kind of comprehensive government policy provide advice for individual disabled people on what work might be suitable for them, nor of them being awarded grants to support themselves learning new skills or acquiring the specialist equipment they might need in order to function in the workplace. There are programmes to teach the disabled and the unemployed in general IT skills. I was on one about a decade or so ago. The course also included a scheme in which the blind were also taught to use a computer using special speaking machines. Unfortunately, the reality is also frequently the opposite of the what the government has claimed. The Coalition has closed down the Remploy workshops that employed disabled workers. The teaching of IT skills seems to be the catch-all solution to getting the unemployed and the disabled back into work, rather than providing any comprehensive and coherent programme to provide the disabled with the proper, individual skills and support they need. There is some help and support provided by various charities, but you do need considerable help simply finding it.

The DWP’s statements about ‘help’ and ‘support’ are simply more of the double-talk and perversion of language Orwell described in 1984, where ‘war’ equals ‘peace’ and so forth. Some of this came in with Thatcher. When she announced she was cutting services, she described it as ‘more self-help’. Well, Samuel Smiles, the working-class radical, who wrote the original book of that title later stated he regretted having done so. Unfortunately, right-wing governments have been banging on about self-help ever since. And as this government’s policies have shown, self-help in the majority of cases means no help at all.

Kropotkin on Globalisation

February 14, 2014

Kropotkin Conquest Bread

On Tuesday, Barclays announced that they were shedding 7,000 jobs in Britain. The mobility of capitalism around the world is now a major feature of today’s global economy following the globalisation of capitalism and industry during the 1990s. Critics of international capitalism, such as Lenin in his Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism noted that this was occurring in their own time, the late 19th and vey early 20th centuries. The German Marxist, Karl Kautsky, also remarked in his writing on the movement of capital from the imperial heartlands to their colonies and what would become the Developing World. The imperialist powers were attempting to develop their possessions and open up markets and sources of labour elsewhere around the world, with the result that the industries in their heartlands would inevitably suffer.

Kropotkin in The Conquest of Bread also remarked on it, and denounced the way it led to factory closures, unemployment and starvation in the imperial countries of Britain, France and so on, and exploitation and the use of military force to quell discontent in the European empires’ subject nations.

‘The result of this state of things is that all our production tends in a wrong direction. Enterprise takes no thought for the needs of the community. Its only aim is to increase the gains of the speculator. Hence the constant fluctuations of trade, the periodical industrial crises, each of which throws scores of thousands of workers on the streets.

The working people cannot purchase with their wages the wealth which they have produced, and industry seeks foreign markets among the monied classes of other nations. In the East, in Africa, everywhere, in Egypt, Tonkin or the Congo, the European is thus bound to promote the growth of serfdom. And so he does. But soon he finds that everywhere there are similar competitors. All the nations evolve on the same lines, and wars, perpetual wars, break out for the right of precedence in the market. Wars for the possession of the East, wars for the empire of the sea, wars to impose duties on imports and to dictate conditions to neighbouring states; wars against those ‘blacks’ who revolt! The roar of the cannon never ceases in the world, whole races are massacred, the states of Europe spend a third of their budgets in armaments, and we know how heavily these taxes fall on the workers.’

The British Empire has formally retreated and turned into the Commonwealth, and Cameron has slashed the armed forces and their funding. In other respects, however, the analysis is pretty as true today as it was in Kropotkin’s day. In many cases, however, the massacres are now committing by the various developing nations for their elites to gain control of the sites of raw materials, so these can be sold to global multinationals. Hence the horrific bloodshed, in which over 4 million people have been killed, in Central Africa for control of diamonds and some of the precious metals used in the IT industries, including mobile phones.