Posts Tagged ‘Jayne Linney’

Vox Political on Tory Outcry against RMT Chief for Stating They Should Be Killed for Murdering the Poor

February 3, 2016

Mike has this story over at Vox Political surrounding the outcry the Tories have raised against the comments by the senior assistant general secretary of RMT, Steve Hedley, on a debate on LBC hosted by Shelagh Fogarty: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/03/rmt-chiefs-demand-for-execution-of-tories-for-murdering-sparks-anger-against-him/. Hedley was justifiably outraged by the number of disabled people, who have died due to their welfare cuts. He declared the Tories were murdering them, and that for this they should be taken out and shot.

Mike makes the point that the ensuing outcry is the reason he won’t allow similar demands or recommendations of violence against the Tories on his blog, for the reason that the Tories would use it to drown out the main message – that their wretched welfare reforms are killing the disabled – and use it as an excuse to attack it.

He’s right. When faced with any really tough rhetoric, the Tories immediately claim victimhood and whine, bitch and moan. In their minds, they represent dignified civil discourse against the slovenly manners, fecklessness and hooliganism of the Great Unwashed. And they are always, always unjustly maligned by thuggish opponents. Even when the reverse is true. And their welfare benefits are killing people, and reducing those in genuine need to utter poverty. Mike on Vox Political, Stilloaks, Jayne Linney and other disability bloggers have catalogued the various deaths that have resulted.

I actually wonder how the Tories would react if they were faced with really forthright criticism. Such as, for example, from the pen of Hunter S. Thompson, the journalist and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson was the inventor of Gonzo journalism, and didn’t mince his words when it came to describing those politicos that aroused his hate and disgust. In his piece on Richard Nixon, he described the former president as ‘so crooked he had screw his pants on in the morning’. He also said that instead of giving him a land burial, they should have buried him at sea, or flushed him into the sewers with the other turds.

And the bile didn’t stop with the Watergate conspirators. He also expressed his utter contempt and loathing of the Oliver North, Pat Buchanan, Admiral Poindexter and the others in the Reagan administration responsible for the Iran/Contra affair. One of them was described as being ‘so crooked it took three Whitehouse aids to screw him into his pants’. He thought they should be shut in a bamboo cage to be poked with sharp sticks, and flogged all the way along Route 66. As for Ed Meese, Reagan’s equally crooked attorney general, he said that he should have been hung upside down from a lamp post.

Maggie Thatcher also disgusted him. In a piece he published, replying to a letter from his illustrator, Ralph Steadman, he called Thatcher a ‘denatured hog’, and said that Steadman’s delinquent son was quite right to smash windows. Any young person who didn’t want to smash windows in Thatcher’s Britain was probably brain-dead.

This is strong language indeed, especially in the American press, which is now very cautious and respectful. In Britain it would result in paroxysms of Tory fury, as any criticism, no matter how small, of the Blessed St Margaret of Grantham is regarded as the vilest blasphemy. The Conservatives – traditionally the party of the Anglican establishment – have no scruples about attacking the Archbishop of Canterbury, or indeed any other clergyman or woman, if they dare to speak out on their dreadful welfare policies. But the sanctity of Maggie Thatcher, the patron saint of monetarism and South American dictators, must be defended with all their might.

Mike’s quite right to be worried that comments urging violence would give them ammunition to ignore and distort what’s actually said on his blog. Their past masters at that. Hedley’s statement that they should be shot gave them all the material they needed to distort the debate. But they are monstrous thugs, whose policies are killing tens of thousands of people, and who can’t stand the kind of criticism their atrocities deserve.

TV on Tuesday: Celebs in the Workhouse

May 17, 2015

The past five Tuesday evenings, the Beeb has been showing the series 24 Hours in the Past. This is pretty much a reality TV show with an historical slant. Instead of being thrown into a jungle and then made to survive, or compete against each other to produce the finest cakes or dishes, each week the programme’s cast of celebrities are required to go back to a certain period in history and do some of the nastiest, dirtiest or most unpleasant work from the period. It’s like Tony Robinson’s 2004 Channel 4, The Worst Jobs in History, but with a crew of six as the unfortunate Baldricks forced to labour and grub for their living like the inhabitants of Victorian slums. Or the rookeries of 18th century London. Or whatever.

This week, however, they reach the very nadir of poverty and desperation: the workhouse. The blurb for the programme states that the workhouse was partly intended to reform the corrupt and indolent character of its inmates. It’s therefore a kind of irony that Ann Widdecombe is so bolshie, that she finds herself placed in solitary.

The blurbs for it in the Radio Times state

As the six celebrities stroll up to an impressive redbrick institution for their final Victorian experience, Miquita Oliver reckons it looks like somewhere she’d go for a weekend spa. Hardly. It’s the workhouse, where there are no rewards, only punishments, explains Ruth Goodman. So immediately bolshie Ann Widdecombe is put in solitary confinement.

In order to “reform the moral character of the undeserving poor”, workhouse inmates were degraded,k overworked and mistreated, taking the time travellers almost to breaking point.

Tempers are definitely fraying but to give them credit, nobody shouts “I’m a celebrity … get me out of here”. It’s been a filthy, gruelling history lesson.

And

Hungry and penniless after stirring up a worker’s rebellion in the Victorian-era potteries, there’s only one place left for Ann Widdecombe, Zoe Lucker, Colin Jackson, Alistair McGowan, Tyger Drew-Honey and Miquita Oliver. Clad in rough uniforms and clumsy clogs they enter the harsh world of the workhouse – the 19th century equivalent of the benefits system – where they are immediately stripped of their belongings and indentities. Filthy and exhausted the celebrities must endure relentless graft and grind for their basic necessities. Will they rise to this most daunting challenge and prove they can work their way out of the workhouse and back to the comforts of the 21st century?

As left-wing bloggers like Tom Pride, the Angry Yorkshireman, Johnny Void, Stilloaks, Jayne Linney, Mike from Vox Political and myself have pointed out, the ethos underlying the workhouse – that of ‘less eligibility’ – has returned to 21st century Britain in the form of the various tests, examinations and ‘work related activity’ benefit claimants are forced to go through in order to show that they really are looking for work, if fit, and genuinely deserving of invalidity or sickness support if they cannot. And as the government has made it very plain it wants to cut down on welfare expenditure in order to shrink the state back to its size in the 1930s, conditions are being made as hard as possible so that increasingly few people are considered deserving of state support.

And although not confined within the prison-like environs of the workhouse, its drudgery has been brought back in the form of workfare and the other requirements to perform ‘work-related activity’. This consists in performing unpaid, spurious voluntary work for particular charities, or big businesses like Tesco and so boosting their already bloated profits.

So far, conditions have not become quite so appalling as the Victorian workhouse, but real, grinding poverty, including starvation and rickets has reappeared in Britain, brought about by the Tories’ and Lib Dems’ atavistic desire to return to the very worst of the ‘Victorian values’ lauded by Maggie Thatcher. So far, 45 people have starved to death due to the withdrawal of their benefits, but the true number is probably much, much higher, perhaps 50,000 plus.

And it’s significant that while celebs, including a former Tory MP, are prepared to participate in a programme like this, the Tories have most definitely refused to experience its modern equivalent for themselves. Iain Duncan Smith was invited to try living on the same amount as a job-seeker for a week. He flatly refused, declaring that it was just ‘a publicity stunt’.

Well, what did you expect from ‘RTU’ Smith, the Gentleman Ranker. He’s a wancel (hat tip to Maxwell for this term), whose cowardice in facing his policies’ victims has been more than amply demonstrated over and again. Such as when this mighty warrior, who, according to David Cameron, ‘can crack skulls with his kneecaps’, hid in a laundry basked to hide from demonstrators in Edinburgh. Or when he sneaked out the back of a Job Centre he was opening in Bath to avoid meeting the demonstrators there.

Now I’ve no problem whatsoever with history programmes showing how harsh conditions were the bulk of people in the past, who didn’t belong to small percentage that formed the aristocracy or the middle classes. It gives a more balanced idea of the past in contrast to those programmes, that concentrate more on the lives of the elite. These programmes can give an idealised picture of previous ages, in which social relations were somehow more harmonious, and the lower orders were properly grateful and respectful to paternal employers and aristocratic masters. There’s been a touch of this, for example, in the Beeb’s Sunday night historical drama, Downton Abbey.

For most people, life was not a round of glamorous society balls, or a glorious career in the armed forces abroad, or in parliament at home. Most people did not have the luxury of fine food, wines and spirits, with their wishes attended by legions of dutiful servants.

Rather, the reality for most of the country’s population in the past was hard work, grinding poverty, and the threat of a very early death through disease and malnutrition.

However, there is also a danger with programmes like this in that they can give the impression of continual progress and improvement. There’s always the risk that some will look at the hard conditions of the workhouse and Victorian Britain generally with complacency. Well, that was terrible then, but everything’s somehow much better now. Things have improved greatly since then, and we have nothing to worry about. Indeed, the standard Tory attitude is that conditions have improved too much, to the point where the ‘undeserving poor’ have returned and are living very well from the taxes of ‘hard-working people’ like themselves, and other aristocrats, financiers and bankers.

For others, however, the programme may provide a salutary object lesson in the kind of country ours will be come once again, if the Tories aren’t stopped. One of the commenters on either Tom Pride’s or Johnny Void’s blog dug out a ConDem proposal for something very much like ‘indoor relief’ – as the workhouse system was called – for the disabled in the form of special units to provide training and accommodation to the handicapped.

In actually fact, the workhouses weren’t just a feature of Victorian England. They lasted right up to 1947, when they were made obsolete under the new welfare state.

Now with the Tories trying to destroy state welfare provision completely, and sell off the NHS, there’s a danger that they’ll return. The Tories have already brought back unpaid labour and less eligibility. They just haven’t got round to putting everyone on them in a prison-like environment yet.

In the meantime, it should be very interesting indeed to see how six people from the 21st century fare in the harsh conditions of the 19th. And especially a former Tory MP, like Ann Widdecombe.

Vox Political: Terminally Ill Woman Placed on Workfare

December 16, 2014

Mike over at Vox Political has another example of the Tories’ and their workfare contractors’ absolutely vile attitude to the extremely ill. It’s a message he received from a woman dying of cancer. The lady is extremely ill, but nevertheless is glad to be alive. Despite numerous disabilities that in any sane society would be recognised as making her genuinely unfit for work, she received a letter from the workfare provider, Prospects, telling her that she must attend a work placement. Mike’s article has a photo of the letter.

The article’s entitled Dying woman ordered onto the Work Programme, and can be read at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/12/16/dying-woman-ordered-onto-the-work-programme/.

This is just one of a continuing number of cases where seriously ill people have been told that their benefits are being stopped, as they have been judged ‘fit to work’. This farcically has even included messages sent to those, who died of their various diseases after being so assessed by ATOS. Which shows you that ATOS are a bunch of quacks, who if they weren’t hired by the government would be one step away from multiple malpractice suits. It also shows you that the assessment process itself is also a load of pseudo-medical bunkum every bit as fraudulent and pernicious as some of the medical frauds the BBC filmed peddling dubious ‘New Age’ healing techniques a few years ago.

Mike, Jayne Linney, Stilloaks and many other Left-wing bloggers have covered similar cases, which have also attracted the cynical attention and scathing comments of Pride’s Purge and Johnny Void. Private Eye in their pages published similar stories of people with terminal cancer being declared ‘fit for work’, including one man with a brain tumour on life support.

As for Prospects, if I remember correctly, they have a policy of treating their staff absolutely appallingly with no respect whatsoever for their own illness. A friend of mine told me of someone he knew, who took up a job with them. This person continued to work for the company during the time they had a stinking cold, for which most other firms would have allowed them time off to get over it. And, of course, not infect the rest of the staff.

Not so Prospect. They don’t like their workers going ill. You can take days off sick if you work for them, but the next day when you come back, you’re called in for an interview and asked how see your future with the company.

Which looks very much like the threat of the sack.

So the company is basically run by a bunch of bullies, who bully their staff into bullying the unemployed and terminally ill in an expanding pyramid of contempt and harassment. Which more or less typifies this government’s entire attitude to the poor and the working class.

Vote them out in 2015. All of them.

After Nick Robinson, Beeb Considers Abandoning Impartiality

October 14, 2014

Nick Robinson’s Distorted Reporting of Salmond on Scots Independence

Mike over at Vox Political and countless other bloggers, myself once again included, have posted pieces condemning Nick Robinson’s blatant political bias. The most blatant example of this was his flagrant distortion and censorship of Alex Salmond’s answer to his question on the effect Scottish independence would have on the Scots financial sector. The Scots First Minister committed the cardinal sin of giving a reasoned answer, with supporting evidence, showing that Scotland would not lose corporate tax revenue if the banks and insurance companies now based north of the Border went and moved south to London. This was something that Robinson clearly didn’t want to hear, and definitely didn’t want the British voting public to hear either. So the Beeb’s footage of the conference was manipulated to make it seem that Salmond was criticising the treasury, when in fact Salmond was making a few barbed comments about the Corporation’s own objectivity. It was then further edited and excised from a later report, in which Robinson lied and said that Salmond had not answered the question. This was the Beeb acting as Newspeak in Cameron’s ‘1984’ Big Brother Britain.

I did wonder what that great Scots writer, John Buchan, would have made of it all. Buchan was the author of The 39 Steps, Greenmantle, and other tales of British pluck and derring-do against the threat of the Kaiser’s Germany. He was a staunch Unionist, but I wondered if he wouldn’t have seen Robinson’s blatant falsification of the news as something deeply Un-British, a blatant flouting of the British tradition of a free press. A piece of state propaganda that only those benighted countries under an absolute monarchy or dictatorship, without the benefits of the British constitution, would suffer.

The Radio Times Looks Forward to Biased News

Unfortunately, the problem of BBC bias doesn’t end there. Bloggers like Mike, Johnny Void, the Angry Yorkshireman, Jayne Linney and their commenters and followers have long observed the Beeb’s pro-Tory bias. This is bad enough, even with the denials. There was an article in last week’s Radio Times, however, which threatened to make such bias official. Written by one of the news staff, the article suggested that the impartiality customarily expected of the Beeb would soon be a thing of the past. It had gone from American broadcasting, which had suffered no loss of audience as a result. American news broadcasting, the article claimed, had been enlivened and invigorated by presenters and news anchors with a distinct, unconcealed bias. How would the British public react, it asked, if a reporter or newsanchor over here made various critical remarks about the state of the three main parties. It then gave examples of the type of comments that could be made. The article left you in no doubt that the period of official impartiality on the Beeb was limited, and that with a few years it would be gone.

The Malign Influence of Rupert Murdoch

Now I find it shocking that the Beeb is even considering such a policy. The article makes it clear that it was considering the example of the Fox Network in America, which had taken over as the country’s most popular broadcaster from the older, established networks like NBC and ABC. What the article didn’t say was that this has come at a cost. The Dirty Digger is very touchy about his network’s reputation for impartiality. So touchy that he actually copyrighted Fox News’ slogan of ‘Fair and Impartial’, and then tried to sue a liberal writer, who dared used it as the title of a book questioning the integrity of his news service. Despite this, Fox News has a reputation for being anything but ‘fair and impartial’. It ain’t called ‘faux news’ in certain quarters for nuttin’.

The article was also somewhat misleading in that it seemed to suggest that equal time would be given to broadcasters of different political bias. For example, reporters critical of the Tories would have equal airtime with those commenting from a Tory or Liberal Democrat perspective. That won’t, however, be the case. What will happen will be what has already occurred in America: the airwaves will be dominated by the Right, and sometimes the extreme Right, like the various stars found ranting on Murdoch’s network. At the moment the Beeb has a right-wing political bias, but it’s concealed and at least the Corporation aims at objectivity.

Now I freely admit that I do take my news from biased sources. I don’t, however, want the Beeb to follow suit and become a biased broadcaster itself. I want it at least to try being genuinely objective, even if that goal is unobtainable. I want there to be a news service I can trust. This will go if the BBC adopts a policy of permitting and encouraging blatant political bias. Instead of objective truth, we’ll get official Tory propaganda and all the disinformation and spin the Director General and the head of BBC news thinks we’ll take.

It’s not the Beeb I want, and the movement to embrace blatant party political bias should be stopped now, long before it gets started.

Iain Duncan Smith and the Russian Ripper: Killers with Friends in Government

June 9, 2014

Chikitilo pic

Police photograph of the paedophile cannibal Andrei Chikatilo at his arrest

One of the most horrifying stories that emerged from the Soviet Union in its last days was that of Andrei Chikatilo, a serial killed dubbed ‘the Russian Ripper’. Chikatilo had been traumatised by his brother’s murder during the Stalinist famines of the 1930s, when the lad was killed and eaten. A former school teacher and paedophile, Chikatilo then went on to rape, kill and eat 53 people in a twelve year long career before he was finally arrested in 1991. The detective, who doggedly pursued him for six years was Chief Inspector Issa Kostoev, head of the Soviet Union’s Department for Crimes of Special Importance. Kostoev was Ingush, a Muslim people from the Caucasus, who had been deported from the homeland in the former Soviet republic of Chechen-Ingushetia by Stalin from fears they would collaborate with the invading Germans. Conscientious and determined, Kostoev began his career in a police department notorious for drunkenness and apathy through low pay. Through honesty and skilled investigation, Kostoev worked his way to capture some of the vilest monsters preying on the poor, the unfortunate and innocent in former Soviet state.

Chikatilo’s case even reached the western press, and a book was published in 1993 by Richard Lourie, Hunting the Devil: The Search for the Russian Ripper. Chikatilo and his crimes emerged at during the 1990s, when Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika and the fall of Communist had opened up eastern Europe. Russia was no longer quite the closed society it had been under the Soviet system, and there was a flood of information as journalists, writers, politicians and ordinary people from both sides of the former Iron Curtain began to explore and describe the momentous events transforming the country. It was also a decade characterised by the fad for stories about serial killers that began with Hannibal Lecter in the Silence of the Lambs, and which continues today. Chikatilo was grimly fascinating because he was Lecter’s Soviet counterpart, though horrifically all too real. Chikatilo had also been a member of the Communist party, and it was his political connections that allowed him to escape justice for so long.

There’s a parallel here with Britain’s own Iain Duncan Smith. Smith has not personally murdered anyone, nor has he ever committed crimes against children. Nevertheless, Smith has presided over a system that is responsible for the deaths of hundred, if not thousands, through poverty, starvation and despair. The system of sanctions he has introduced into Jobseekers Allowance, as well as the fraudulent rigour of the disability assessments, has left thousands without sufficient money on which to live. Tens of thousands have been forced to turn to food banks. And many others have died through hunger and, in despair, have taken their own lives. The precise number of deaths is unknown. Mike over at Vox Political and the other bloggers and activists, like Jayne Linney, have been unable to obtain the precise figures. Attempts to obtain them under the FOI have been refused, and denounced as ‘vexatious’. The government’s deliberate withholding of information on other, malign aspects of its welfare policies and its professed reasons for doing so reveal why this information is similarly being kept back. Joyhnny Void reported that requests for the government to reveal what firms were involved in it’s ‘welfare to work’ schemes were refused on the grounds that such information would leave the policy open to criticism, and prevent its implementation. In other words, it doesn’t want the public to know, because if the public did, it would try to stop them. This is a government that has no conscience, and is completely out of control.

And Iain Duncan Smith, Mike Penning and McVey in the DWP clearly represent this. Organisations take on the personality of their founders and leaders. Under Stalin, the Soviet system was viciously oppressive, engaging in mass murder and deportation on a colossal scale. Millions were killed, deported or incarcerated in the gulags, because Stalin himself was a vicious, paranoid thug. Smith, Penning and McVey all share aspects of his personality. There is a vicious contempt for the poor, which manifests itself in the cruelty and bullying of the DWP staff from the top down, as Smith, Penning and McVey all loudly trumpet they will be hard on benefit cheats, while claiming that they are actually helping the disabled and unemployed into work. RTU himself has absolutely no personal morals. When a Dutch lady, who has lived in this country for decades, came to him with problems about claiming her husband’s rightful benefits, Smith privately tried to have her deported. Others, who have also tried to consult him as their local MP have also seen him attempt to deprive them still further of their rightful benefits. He is untrustworthy, with absolute no morals, only an apparent burning need to humiliate, degrade and persecute those less fortunate than himself. And this has led him and his colleagues – Penning and McVey – to kill hundreds and reduce tens of thousands of others to grinding poverty.

And all the while, he has been protected by a government determined that the true scale of his crimes, the number of people, who have been killed because of his policies, remain secret for the public. Well, it’s time we had a good investigator break this wall of silence wide open, and throw Smith, Penning and McVey out of power forever, before any more people die through their criminal administration.

From 2011: Private Eye on Atos Throwing the Severely Disabled Off Benefits

April 11, 2014

This is from Private Eye’s edition for the 9th – 22nd December 2011.

ATOS

Unfit For Purpose

The government’s proposal to stop GPs writing sick notes for long-term illness and hand the work to “independent assessors” has private companies rubbing their hands. Bit it has alarmed those who far that patients will have to endure the same type of tick-box assessments as those needing benefits, as carried out by Atos.

The huge French service company has been slated by MPs and charities over its health and capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, leading to wrong decisions in up to 40 percent of cases and causing “fear, anxiety and distress” to many disabled people.

Now an Atos insider tells the Eye that, under pressure from government to produce figures showing the number of claimants coming off benefits, coupled with competition to run the multi-million-pound contract, the situation may get worse. In the past 12 months a number of experienced doctors have left the company because they no longer want to part of a “target-driven” system that they say is unfair to the claimants and compromises their professionalism. One said it was “immoral”.

They have not apparently been replaced, and most medical assessments are now carried out by n8urses, who are less expensive – but would have fewer skills in musculo-skeletal disorders or mental illness, two of the main causes of disability.

For those who have been assessed by Atos, the result can be devastating. Secretary Debbie, 44, has been unable to work since a brain haemorrhage 14 years ago left her needing regular nerve-blocking injections into the head and intravenous drug treatment. She suffers from excruciating headaches and is partially sighted.

Her consultant detailed in a letter how her “excruciating” chronic cluster headaches and migraine were rated by the World Health Organisation as “one of the most disabling chronic disorders”. In August she saw an Atos assessor – a doctor, not a nurse – who appeared sympathetic. However, Debbie and her partner say the assessor then made false statements about the examination, saying an eye had been carried out when it hadn’t and bizarrely alleging that she self-harms, which she says she has never done.

The DWP then told Debbie her incapacity benefit would be replaced by employment support allowance (ESA) and that she must attend work-related activity group meetings (WRAG) seven miles from her home. If she fails to attend she will lose her benefits. She told the Eye: “my consultant, my GP, everyone says there’s no way I can work. I can’t see very well, I bang into things, I can’t even make a cup of tea without spilling boiling water. I can’t travel unattended … Yet according to Atos I’m able to work.” Having lost her appeal against having to attend the activity group, Debbie is to file a formal complaint about the Atos doctor to the General Medical Council.

Similarly, in April 2009, Mike, a 52-year-old academic, was found to have a brain tumour the size of a squash ball after he collapsed and had a massive seizure. Six weeks of radiotherapy reduced its size, and Mike has remained stable – although he relies on strong anti-convulsants to keep epilepsy, seizures and focal fits at bay – and is exhausted after short periods of mental or physical activity. Two months after the diagnosis he was ordered to attend an Atos assessment and was found to be capable of work.

Mike has found that the DWP had hidden information showing that people with terminal illness, like him, should not have had to undergo such an assessment, and that any assessment that does take place should be by an expert. But it took him two years of appeals to obtain his entitlements. His battle for compensation continues.

This confirms the other reports that Atos are instructed to find a certain percentage as fit for work, in order for them to be thrown off benefits. I’d also come across elsewhere the information that some of the doctors initially involved in the assessments had left because of its immorality and unprofessionalism. And from my own experience and those of some of the commenters here, and the reports of other bloggers like Jayne Linney I know that Atos lies and falsifies its medical reports to get the results it desires.

There is some useful information here for those seeking to challenge Atos. The article’s statement that terminally ill people should not have to undergo assessment may be of some help to some of the others challenging their assessments. Atos has a long history of declaring medically capable of finding work people so tragically afflicted. Jayne Linney has suggested that as many as 55,000 people a year may have died after being assessed by Atos. If only a small proportion of these were diagnosed as terminally ill by their doctors, then it means that Atos has been massively in breach of regulations. Which is probably why bloggers such as Mike over at Vox Political have been refused this information, and denounced as ‘vexatious’ by the DWP for daring to do so.

Keith Joseph and the Tories Eugenicist Hatred of the Working Class

March 17, 2014

Keith Joseph Pic

Keith Joseph: Maggie’s mentor, and the man who thought there were too many poor people with retarded children. And they were breeding.

Yesterday I put up a piece about how the Tories really did have a visceral hatred of the working class, a hatred and desire to preserve the privileges and position of the ruling elite that confirmed Marx’s view that the state was the instrument of class oppression. One of the most venomous expressions of this hatred came from Keith Joseph. Joseph was Thatcher’s mentor in the Tory party, and an enthusiastic supporter of Milton Friedman’s monetarism and the Chilean dictator General Pinochet. Although he guided Thatcher and served in her cabinet, he never actually became prime minister himself because of a speech he made about the poor in 1974.

Joseph’s view was that there were too many of them, who were too poorly educated, breeding too young. Too many of their children were mentally retarded, and they were thus a danger to solid, genetically and morally superior middle class folk. Owen Jones quotes him in Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class:

In a speech in October 1974, he expressed some of the attitudes towards ‘the lower orders’ that were once common among middle-class eugenicists. He argued that ‘a high and rising proportion of children are being born to mothers least fitted to bring children into the world and to bring them up. They are born to mothers who were first pregnant in adolescence in social classes 4 and 5 … Some are of low intelligence, most of low educational attainment.’ But the killer line was this: ‘The balance of our population, our human stock is threatened.’ Joseph’s message was clear. The poor were breeding too fast, and the danger was they were going to swamp everyone else. (pp. 45-6).

Keith Joseph’s speech could indeed have come from a 19th century Victorian eugenicist. Eugenics was founded by Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton. It believed that there was a real danger of the human race degenerating through the unfit outbreeding the healthy. They thus advocated a series of harsh laws to prevent those they considered genetically unfit – the dysgenic – from breeding. The movement crossed ideological boundaries, and some of the most fervent supporters of the ideology were left-wingers, like George Bernard Shaw, who wished to improve society and humanity by making reproduction more rational, and so breed healthier children. Galton himself was a member of the upper classes, and so believed they were genetically superior to everyone else, and was afraid that their superior genetic material would be outbred by the lower orders. Eugenics and Social Darwinism was taken up by many members of these classes, as it seemed to argue against the need for passing any environmental or health and safety legislation to protect the working classes from the harmful effects of industry. If people were falling ill or being killed through exposure to harmful materials, such as lead, arsenic, mercury or phosphorous, or having deformed or mentally retarded children, or killed in industrial accidents, it wasn’t because these materials were unduly hazardous, but because their stock was defective. They weren’t as constitutionally healthy as everyone else, and it was therefore better if they weren’t allowed to breed. By the 1920s 45 American states had passed eugenics legislation designed to stop the congenitally ill from having children. It also led to the compulsory castration of mentally retarded children in American mental hospitals.

The Nazis boasted that they had invented nothing in their adoption of the eugenics programme, and pointed to America and other countries, which had passed similar legislation. Under the Nazis, however, not only did contribute to the vicious racialism of the regime, which saw Jews, Gypsies and Slavs as subhumans, who were to be destroyed, but it also led directly to the planned murder of the mentally retarded by the SS under the control of Hitler’s doctors.

131010benefitdenier

Ian Duncan Smith: Under him, as many as 38,000 people a year may have died through poverty. Does he share Joseph’s eugenicist hatred of the poor?

Joseph’s opinions are extremely worrying, because of the way they suggest a coherent political view that sees the poor and disabled as a positive threat to be removed. German eugenicists called the congenitally ill and retarded ‘lebensunwertigenleben’ or ‘life unworthy of life’. I’ve blogged about some of the similarities between the Nazi murder of the mentally retarded and the apparent complete disregard for the welfare of the disabled shown by Atos and the DWP under Ian Duncan Smith. Mike over at Vox Political, Johnny Void, Jaypot, Jayne Linney, the Angry Yorkshireman, myself and other blogs, like Diary of Benefit Scrounger and Benefit Tales, have reported the way the DWP and Atos have been concerned to have people thrown off benefit. As a result, tens of thousands are dying in poverty and starvation each year. Some have been so desperate, that they have taken their own lives. This has been reported on the above blogs. Stilloaks has a list on his blog of 45 victims of IDS’ policies, with a brief description of their circumstances when they died. It’s harrowing reading. A number of disabled people, both commenting on these blogs, and in everyday conversation, have said they feel there is a deliberate plot to kill off the disabled. Given Joseph’s 1974 rant about the genetic threat from the working class and their subnormal children, that idea begins to look all too horribly plausible.

atos-final

Does this attack on Atos really describe Tory attitudes to the poor and disabled after Keith Joseph’s rant?

I have to say, I don’t think there is a conscious plan to exterminate the working class or the disabled. It strikes me that what there is instead, is an attitude of culpable negligence arising from this attitude of class hatred and hostility to the working class disabled. There is no desire to kill them directly, in the way the Nazis did. However, they are seen as a threatening drain on resources, resources which could be better spent giving tax breaks to genetically sound multi-billionaire Tory donors. Rather than wishing to kill them actively. Rather it’s a case that their lives simply don’t matter. If they die of starvation, or kill themselves in despair or ‘while the balance of their minds’ is upset, it’s simply a case of natural wastage. They were obviously unfit to survive, as members of a feckless, profligate class. It’s simply nature’s way, and ultimately all for the best. And so rather than treat these poor souls with pity or humanity, there is simply a callous indifference to the fate of those, whose existence they regard as a real threat to society, the economy, and healthy human stock.

The Horrors of 19th Century Industrial Society and the Rejection of Liberalism for Socialism

March 14, 2014

Hearder Europe pic

I found this description of the origins of socialism in the 19th century in Harry Hearder’s Europe in the Nineteenth Century 1830-1880, 2nd edition (London: Longman 1988). He explains that it arose through the rejection of Liberalism by some 19th century intellectuals, who believed that its concentration on individual rights had been inadequate to protect people from the harsh poverty and exploitation of modern industrial society.

A more important reaction against laissez-faire liberalism and middle-class democracy was represented by a new creed, the creed of socialism. In January 1848 de Tocqueville, addressing the Assembly of the July Monarchy in the last days of its life, had pointed out a significant fact that in recent times in Paris a large number of writings had appeared attacking the right of property. Less than six months later Europe witnessed the first major socialist rising in the June Days in Paris. The idea of social equality which had gathered appreciable support under the July Monarchy was not an entirely new one in 1830. Babeuf, the follower of Robespierre in the 1790s, had worked for his idea of a dictatorship of the poor. But the creation of an industrial proletariat provided a more clearly distinguishable class, not synonymous with ‘the poor’, but large enough to justify a new political faith, and to provide the fighting columns to support such a faith. The terrible conditions of industrial workers in England and France, to be discussed in a later chapter, attracted in the first place the attention of philanthropists or agitators, who had no complete politico-economic philosophy with which to conduct the onslaught on the capitalist exploiters. But slowly it began to be realized by small groups of thinkers that the rights of the individual as thy had been defined by the English, American and French Revolutions did not protect the great majority of men in the new industrialized society from an unreasonable amount of suffering and what was in practice only a modified form of slavery. A real continuity of social justice could not be obtained merely by legislating in favour of a free economy. The free play of the laws of supply and demand did not protect the weak from the strong… French followers of Saint-Simon [early Utopian Socialist] could concentrate upon the central theme of his message, and one of them, Pierre Leroux, named the theme ‘socialism’. (pp. 57-8).

We’ve seen in our own day the massive inadequacy of the free market to provide prosperity for the working and lower middle classes. Since the 19th century the vast majority of Socialists in Western Europe have been keen defenders of democracy and individual rights, if not the right to property. The situation in this regard is now the reverse. It is the Right that is now consistently trying to undermine the rights of the very poorest members of society. Mike over at Vox Political , Jayne Linney and very many other left-wing bloggers have covered the way they have ignored parliament, and treated with contempt the calls by its committees for a cumulative impact assessment into the way the government’s welfare reforms have affected the poor and disabled it claims to be helping.

They have also attempted to pass further legislation outlawing public protests, under the guise that this may be a nuisance to the communities where the protests are held. The Angry Yorkshireman over at another Angry Voice has also covered the massive expansion of covert surveillance by this government. He has a story today about how GCHQ’s massive monitoring of the net included taking screen snaps of people having cybersex. This rather lurid fact is part of the wider point, that GCHQ was snooping on ordinary citizens, who had committed no offence and for whose surveillance they had no legal warrant. See his piece this morning: GCHQ: Spying on people’s cybersex sessions in Order to “Protect” Them, at http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/gchq-yahoo-optic-nerve-horwood.html. The parapolitical magazine, Lobster, since it first appeared in the 1980s, criticised the massive expansion of the powers, corruption, and political interference of the British secret state. The magazine was unimpressed by Blair’s signal refusal to curb its growth or organise any proper investigation into its failures – such as those that allowed the 7/7 bombing to occur. Its growth seems to have expanded even further under the Tories and Tory Democrats. Its spying on the ordinary suggests that the government now regards everyone of its citizens as a potential threat, an attitude that can only lead to more paranoia and more attempts to limit liberty and freedom of speech.

The need for socialist legislation to combat the poverty created by the free market is as necessary as ever. And there needs to be proper, liberal, democratic legislation to curb the expansion and development of the surveillance state. But I cannot see any of the latter coming from the Tories or Lib Dems, despite their claims to represent and promote individual liberty.

Atos and the Death of Colin Traynor

February 24, 2014

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

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

Here’s the video.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there’s that statement by Atos

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

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

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