Posts Tagged ‘John Pring’

Book on Austerity as State Violence

December 21, 2019

The Violence of Austerity, Vickie Cooper and David Whyte, eds. (London: Pluto Press 2017).

Okay, I realise that this isn’t the kind of book most of us would choose to read at Christmas. We’d rather have something a bit more full of seasonal good cheer. I also realise that as it published nearly three years ago in 2017, it’s somewhat dated. But it, and books like it, are needed and still extremely topical now than 14 million people have been duped into electing Old Etonian Tory Boris Johnson.

I found the book in one of the many excellent secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham. I was particularly drawn to it because of its title, and the titles of the chapters it contains. It’s a collection of papers describing the Tories’ attack on the poor, the disabled, the marginalised, the unemployed, homeless and BAME communities, and particularly women of colour, as forms of violence. This isn’t mere hyperbole. The book discusses real instances of violence by the state and its officials, as well as landlords and private corporations and individuals. Mike in his articles on the Tories’ wretched benefits sanctions has argued time and again that this is a form of state violence against the disabled, and that it constitutes genocide through the sheer scale of the deaths it has caused: 130,000 at a conservative estimate. It’s therefore extremely interesting that others attacking and campaigning against austerity share the same view. The blurb for the book runs

Austerity, the government’s response to the aftermath of the financial crisis, continues to devastate contemporary Britain. Thius books brings together campaigners and writers including Danny Dorling, Mary O’Hara and Rizwaan Sabir to show that austerity is a form of systematic violence.

Covering notorious cases of institutional violence, including workfare, fracking and mental health scandals, the book argues that police attacks on the homeless, violent evictions in the rented sector, community violence and cuts to the regulation of the social protection are all being driven by reductions in public sector funding. The result is a shocking exposes of the ways in which austerity policies harm people in Britain.

One of the editors, Vickie Cooper, is a lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology at the Open University, while the other, David Whyte, is professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Liverpool. He is also the editor of How Corrupt Is Britain, another scathing look at the UK under the Tories.

The book’s introduction by the editors is on the violence of austerity. After that it is divided into four sections, each on different aspects of austerity and its maltreatment of the poor.

Part 1, ‘Deadly Welfare’, contains the following chapters

  1. Mental Health and Suicide, by Mary O’Hara
  2. Austerity and Mortality, by Danny Dorling
  3. Welfare Reforms and the Attack on Disabled People, by John Pring
  4. The Violence of Workfare by Jon Burnett and David Whyte
  5. The Multiple Forms of Violence in the Asylum System by Victoria Canning
  6. The Degradation and Humiliation of Young People, by Emma Bond and Simon Hallsworth.

Part II, ‘Poverty Amplification’, has these

7. Child Maltreatment and Child Mortality, by Joanna Mack
8. Hunger and Food Poverty, by Rebecca O’Connell and Laura Hamilton
9. The Deadly Impact of Fuel Poverty, by Ruth London
10. The Violence of the Debtfare State, by David Ellis
11. Women of Colour’s Anti-Austerity Activism, by Akwugo Emejulu and Leah Bassel
12. Dismantling the Irish Peace Process, by Daniel Holder

Part III, ‘State Regulation’, includes

13. Undoing State Protection, by Steve Tombs
14. Health and Safety at the Frontline of Austerity, by Hilda Palmer and David Whyte
15. Environmental Degradation, by Charlotte Burns and Paul Tobin
16. Fracking and State Violence, by Will Jackson, Helen Monk and Joanna Gilmore
17. Domicide, Eviction and Repossession, by Kirsteen Paton and Vickie Cooper
18. Austerity’s Impact on Rough Sleeping and Violence, by Daniel McCulloch.

Part IV, ‘State Control’, has these chapters

19. Legalising the Violence of Austerity, by Robert Knox
20. The Failure to Protect Women in the Criminal Justice System, by Maureen Mansfield and Vickie Cooper
21. Austerity, Violence and Prisons, by Joe Sim
22. Evicting Manchester’s Street Homeless, by Steven Speed
23. Policing Anti-Austerity through the ‘War on Terror’ by Rizwaan Sabir
24. Austerity and the Production of Hate, by Jon Burnett.

These are all subjects that left-wing blogs like Vox Political, Another Angry Voice, Pride’s Purge have all covered and discussed. The last chapter, ‘Austerity and the Production of Hate’, is on a subject that Mike’s discussed several times in Vox Political: the way the Tory press and media justifies the savage attacks on the poor and disabled through stirring up hatred against them. Mike has published several articles on the way Tory propaganda has resulted in vicious attacks on the poor, particularly the homeless.

This violence and campaign of hatred isn’t going to stop after Boris’ victory, and his appeal for healing after the election is just rhetoric. He doesn’t want healing, he wants compliance and complacency. He doesn’t deserve them, and should not be given any, because from now on he and his party will only step up the attacks.

Don’t be taken in by establishment lies. Keep working to get him out!

Vox Political: DWP Admits It Could Be Partly Responsible for Benefit Deaths

May 21, 2016

Back on Thursday, Mike put up an article about a very cautious and heavily guarded admission by the DWP that it might be culpable for the deaths of some of those killed by their system of benefit sanctions and fitness-to-work tests. The government has carried out several peer-reviewed investigations into the deaths of 49 former benefit-claimants. IDS and his successors desperately wanted to keep these secret, but they have now been released following a 21 month legal struggle with the Disability News Service. The article Mike quotes states that

In response to a story in The Guardian about the publication of the peer reviews – co-authored by DNS editor John Pring – a DWP spokesperson said: “Any suicide is a tragedy and the reasons for them are complex, however it would be inaccurate and misleading to link it solely to a person’s benefit claim.”

The use of the word “solely” means that ministers have now accepted that the actions of their department can be partly responsible for benefit claimants taking their own lives, and for other benefit-related deaths.”

Mike in his comments notes that this may leave the way open for the families of the victims to sue the government for their responsibility for these deaths. This is what appears to be going on north of the border in Scotland.

And the number of people, who have been killed by the government’s benefit sanctions is far higher than 49. It’s about 590, while 290,000 people with anxiety and depression have seen their mental states made worse through the Tories’ policies. If the legal challenge succeeds, that’s going to be a lot of compensation for the government to pay out. So let’s hope it does.

Mike’s article can be read at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/19/dwp-admits-responsibility-for-benefit-related-deaths-with-a-single-small-word/

This Fortnight’s Private Eye on IDS’ Bullying of John Pring and the Disability News Service

May 16, 2015

Iain Duncan Smith, the Gentleman Ranker, is in this fortnight’s Private Eye. Their article, ‘DWP’s Mute Point’, reports the way Iain Duncan Smith is refusing to answer Mr Pring’s requests for information on his department’s highly discriminatory and murderous policies towards the disabled. As the Eye’s article reveals, this involves RTU’s usual tactics of responding as late as possible to Mr Pring’s questions, and then making unreasonable requests in return.

The Eye therefore begins its article by asking the pertinent question

Will the bright not-so-very new dawn see the team at the Department for Work and Pensions stop its scandalous bullying of the campaigning journalist who runs the country’s only disability news agency?

It goes on to report how Smith was infuriated by the News Service’s revelation that his department was refusing to publish the fact that it had carried out 49 secret reviews into the deaths of claimants on benefits. It also reveals that Smith was further angered by the Service’s report that Smith and his government are being threatened with even more humiliation by a UN investigation into ‘grave or systematic violations’ of the rights of disabled people in Britain.

According to the Eye, Smith’s excuse for refusing to give answers to Mr Pring is that when the Department’s own press office misses the deadlines set by Mr Pring, he should update his website and alert his subscribers. This applies even when he receives their answers days after the deadlines have expired.

Mr Pring has said in response that this would make his workload simply unmanageable, as he would have to do this for every individual and organisation he contacted to comment on a story.

The Eye’s article concludes with the statement ‘Some might argue that the DWP’s treatment of Pring, who is himself disabled, might amount to discrimination.’

The article just further confirms what a thug and bully Iain Duncan Smith, or ‘Tosser’, to his army buddies, is. Other campaigners, like Mike over at Vox Political, and the other disability campaigners requesting information on his department’s murder of the disabled through benefit sanctions, have received similar stonewalling and denials. This comes from the very man, who was afraid to enter a parliamentary committee room to present his testimony before the Work and Pensions Committee without a guard of armed goons.

Cameron said in the run-up to the election last week that Smith was tough, and that he could ‘crack skulls between his kneecaps’. This suggests the opposite. He’s terrified of searching gaze of public exposure, and his response is only to bully those weaker than himself. This shows what a massive coward he is, and how unfit for any kind of governmental post he and his master, David Cameron, really are.

Vox Political: Labour MPs Asks Civil Service to Enquire into Benefit Deaths

February 8, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has this story MP asks civil servant to check whether DWP to blame for benefit deaths – Disability News Service about the Labour MP, Debbie Abrahams, request to a senior civil servant to look into this issue. Mike’s article begins

A senior civil servant has been asked by an MP to examine whether any of the 49 secret reviews into benefit-related deaths concluded that the government had been partly to blame, writes John Pring for the Disability News Service.

The question came as Conservative employment minister Esther McVey was giving evidence to an inquiry into benefit sanctions policy.

Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, a member of the work and pensions committee that is conducting the inquiry, told McVey there was “an increasing… and a worrying number of deaths that are being associated with sanctions”.

McVey’s response was the usual government reply to anyone, who dares tell them the truth about their cruel, malicious and lethal policies: she lied, and told her opponent they were wrong to ‘politicise’ and ‘inflame’ the issue.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/02/07/mp-asks-civil-servant-to-check-whether-dwp-to-blame-for-benefit-deaths-disability-news-service/

DPAC also have a report on the incident, which I will also cover later today. This goes into some detail about McVey’s mendacious and highly evasive response to Abrahams’ questions. I’ve avoided blogging on it so far, as it annoyed me so much. So be warned – if you have any sense of fairness and compassion, McVey’s answers and general demeanour will send you through the roof.