Posts Tagged ‘Jokes’

Hammond Blames the Disabled for Fall in Productivity

December 7, 2017

This is another outrageous statement. But it really doesn’t come as a surprise, as it was mouthed by the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, a poisonous incompetent amongst a government of poisonous incompetents.

When Hammond was asked about the fall in British productivity, he responded by blaming it on the inclusion of various marginal groups in the workforce, such as the disabled. Mike over at Vox Political has posted a piece commenting on this stupid, insensitive and mendacious reply. He points out that if productivity has fallen, it might have something to do with a lack of motivation coming from insultingly low pay, poor nutrition, overwork, tiredness and anxiety due to zero hours contracts to care about profits or productivity.

He also points out that, thanks to May’s government fully supporting poor wages and precarity, employers now find it cheaper to employ people under these wretched conditions than invest in new equipment.

Mike also points out that Hammond’s comments follow the usual Tory line of blaming and demonising the disabled. But this doesn’t mean that they’re coming for them to throw them in the gas ovens just yet. No, they’re just content to let the stress of dealing with the benefit system either worsen their mental health, or force them to commit suicide. All while denying that people are being driven to take their own lives by the stress of their benefit reforms.

This is despite suicide notes left behind by those who have committed suicide, explicitly saying that this is why they have been reduced to taking their own lives.

And Mike also rightly notes how DWP staff are asking people with suicidal tendencies why they haven’t taken their own lives. Which sounds like a question from the infamous ‘Nudge’ Unit, the psychological manipulation department set up to manoeuvre people’s thinking so that they come to the decision the authorities want.

Mike also quotes Labour’s Debbie Abrahams, who has condemned Hammond’s comments, pointing out that disabled people are paying the price for the government’s failed austerity policy. This has included scrapping the schemes to get disabled people into the workforce. She states that we should be doing more to get disabled people into work, and definitely not denigrate their contributions. She went on to demand an apology from Hammond.

Abrahams also points out the contradiction that’s also hidden in Hammond’s statement. He states that there are more disabled people in the workforce, which we should be proud of, but the Tories have actually cut the programmes to get the disabled into work, as well as scrapping their manifesto pledge to halve the gap between the employment rates for disabled and able people.

You can’t have it both ways, so one way or another, Hammond is clearly lying.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/12/07/chancellor-blames-fall-in-uk-productivity-on-disabled-people-in-the-workforce/

Hammond’s comment is disgusting, but it is more or less standard Tory replies. The Tories’ entire economic strategy is to prolong the deficit crisis as long as possible, so they have an excuse for cutting welfare benefits, privatising whatever remains of the state sector, including education, and removing workers’ rights. All to create a cowed, beaten workforce that will accept starvation wages, for the benefit of ultra-rich profiteers, including the banksters, hedge fund managers and multinational corporations that are currently keeping their wretched party afloat.

At the same time, they desperately need a scapegoat. Usually this function is filled by the unions, who provide them with an excuse for taking away more workers’ rights while at the same time trying to dismember the Labour party by attacking its foundations in the trade union movement. But as no-one’s currently on strike, they can’t do it.

So Spreadsheet Phil has to blame the disabled.

As with everything else the Tories utter, a few moment’s thought can show that the reality may be the very opposite of what they’re saying. Let’s examine Hammond’s statement that the fall in productivity is due to too many disabled people in the workforce. Quite apart from the fact that, as Mike has pointed out, the Tories have actually cut initiatives to stop disabled people finding work, you can find reasons how disabled people in the workforce may actually be a boost to productivity.

Firstly, there’s the obvious point that just because a person suffers from one type of disability does not mean that they are totally incapable of work. One of the blokes I met years ago was a computer whizzkid, who was totally paralysed from the neck down. But he was very, very good at his job, and was earning a very high salary for his skill. Which he clearly earned and deserved. Despite the problems of dealing with this gent’s handicap, his firm clearly found it well worth their while to employ him. And he wasn’t the only one. I’ve heard of other, physically disabled people with mobility problems, who have also pursued successful careers in computing. Clearly, these peeps are anything but unproductive individuals.

Disabled people also act to stimulate innovation. I blogged a little while ago about how the robotics department at the University of the West of England in Bristol had set up a company to manufacture and sell their artificial hands, which are designed specifically for children. Never mind the hype and bullsh*t about self-driving cars: this is precisely the type of robotics we need. This technology is making it possible for disabled children and their parents to have more normal, better lives. It is positively enabling them, giving them the ability to do things that they otherwise couldn’t do, or would find more difficult. The technology is brilliant, and I’m sure will have other applications as well. And its effect on the children is liberating and empowering. If adults with similar disabilities also have access to improved artificial limbs, then you can expect that their productivity will also improve, as well as simply quality of life.

And this can be said of almost any technical innovation that improves the lives of disabled people, and gives them more independence and freedom, if only a little.

Then there’s the fact that disabled people, like everyone else, contribute to the economy. They have to eat, pay bills and the rent or mortgage. Getting disabled people into proper paid employment, rather than just subsisting on whatever benefits the DWP deigns to throw their way, means that they have surplus cash to spend. Which means that their purchasing power also pumps more money into the economy, and encourages manufacturers to produce more.

And the disabled have also contributed to British culture. Remember Evelyn Glennie, a drummer with one of our orchestras? She’s actually deaf, but that hasn’t prevented her from excelling at her instrument. And those of us, who were kids in the 1970s will remember the brilliant madness that was Vision On. This was a show for deaf children, so that the dialogue was signed as well as spoken. Much of it was silent, accompanied only by music. Among those on the show were Sylvester McCoy as a mad professor, a couple of young animators, who went on to form Aardman Animations, and the artistic genius that was Tony Hart. It also launched the career of another star, at least down here in Bristol: Morph, the mischievous plasticene man, who acted as a kind of comic foil to Hart’s artistic endeavours. The show brought joy to millions of kids, both deaf and hearing, and part of its legacy has been Wallace and Gromit, Creature Comforts and the other films to come out of Aardman. Vision On is remarkable because, by taking the job seriously and doing it well, it became more than a programme aimed at children with a particular type of disability, and was a massive source of TV creativity.

This makes me wonder about the possible potential out there for other programmes aimed at or with a disable audience, that could also do the same today.

But this is all too much for their Tories. Their whole philosophy is based around grinding their social inferiors down, and then blaming them for their poverty.

But this also shows how desperate the Tories are getting, and how they’re running out of plausible excuses.

Once upon a time, they would simply have blamed British workers, claiming that we’re too lazy, work shorter hours and go on strike more than our French or German competitors. But they can’t do that, as it’s notorious that we work far longer hours than them. In fact, the Germans even make jokes about how we work ourselves into the ground, but nothing in this country still works properly. So that excuse simply won’t do. You still hear though, occasionally, from the odd CEO windbag, who feels like giving the rest of us the benefit of his decades of ignorance. But it’s very definitely not true, and Hammond knows it. Thus he’s been reduced to blaming the disabled.

I’m sick of him, sick of this government, and sick of their lies and bullying – of the disabled and of ordinary working people. Debbie Abrahams is right: Hammond should apologise. And then I want him and his vile government cleaned out like the parasites they are.

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Which Reporter’s Name Should Be Used as the Scientific Unit of Media Bias?

September 29, 2017

Thinking about the Beeb, Nick Robinson and Laura Kuenssberg and their spurious protestations of objectivity and impartiality the other night, I remember one of the jokes going round Nazi Germany about Goebbels, Hitler’s notorious ‘Minister for Public Enlightenment’. There were a number of comments and nicknames about him. He was very promiscuous, so much so that he got the nickname ‘the Tadpole’. Like Hitler, he was also short, so that the Germans produced a saying ‘Luegen haben kurzen Beinen’ – ‘Lies have short legs’.

And one of the jokes played on the various scientific terms then being coined as research advanced. For example, in electronics there are the terms volt, amp and ohm, which all take their names from the physicists Volta, Ampere and Ohm, who did pioneering research into electricity.

Thus, German wags defined the Goeb – from Goebbel’s monicker – to be the minimum unit of power required to turn off 100,000 radio sets. The joke here being that every time the Nazi propagandist appeared on the radio to rant about how wonderful the Reich was, and how evil Jews, Communists, democracy, Socialism, trade unionism, ‘capitalism’ and the allies were, the Germany public reacted en masse by finding something much better to do. This might explain why family board games are still very popular in Germany. After all, if there’s a choice between listening to another foam-flecked rant from Adolf, or playing Cluedo, I think most people would probably opt for the latter.

Thinking about the joke made me wonder, however. Which modern broadcast journalist would we choose to have their name used as the minimum unit of right-wing political bias? At the moment, I’m undecided between Nick Robinson and Laura Kuenssberg. I wonder who else people would nominate?

BBC Wants Even More Conservative Bias

October 9, 2016

This sounds like a joke, and it shows the corporation’s utterly dismissive attitude and contempt for the British Left, and those, who have rightly accused it of Conservative bias. I found a small piece in last Friday’s I (8th October 2016) reporting that the Beeb wanted to recruit for more Conservatives to its newsroom team, in order to correct a perceived left-wing bias.

Perceived left-wing bias? By whom? No, scrub that – no need to ask that question at all. It’s obvious who’s accused it of ‘left-wing bias’ – the Conservatives, in order to make sure that theirs is the only voice that’s heard. But the reality is the complete opposite.

The Corporation has been repeatedly criticised for its right-wing bias. In a study by academics at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, it was found that the BBC was far more likely to interview and treat seriously opinions by Conservatives and businessmen over left-wingers and trade unionists. Barry and Saville Kushner, in their book Who Needs the Cuts, described how they were motivated to write it after seeing the way journalists covering the government’s austerity policies on the news time and again accepted without question the fact that it was all necessary. Those individuals and experts they had on their programmes, who dissented where either cut off or challenged. Another academic study a few years ago found that the Beeb was also biased in keeping very silent about the government’s privatisation of the NHS.

Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition against the egregious Tory bias of the Beeb’s head of news, Laura Kuenssberg. The petition was attacked and sneered at as ‘misogynist’. Kuenssberg couldn’t be biased. All these people accusing her of it just resented the fact that she was a woman in charge of news. It was all rubbish. As Mike pointed out in one of his articles, instead of the hundreds or thousands of misogynistic comments posted by the petition’s signatories, those going through it – all 33,000 odd posts – could find only one that could be reasonably said to be such. But that’s how this country’s corporate media deals with any accusations of bias.

Then, in the debate over the Scottish referendum a few years ago, there was another case of blatant censorship by the Beeb’s Nick Robinson. Robinson had asked the then leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, a question about how independence would affect the Scottish financial sector. Would it result in the major Scottish banks and financial centres moving south to London. Salmond replied, but the Beeb edited the footage to make it first seem that he had evaded the question, and then edited his reply out altogether. Robinson intoned in a voiceover that Salmond hadn’t given him an answer.

It was a flat-out lie.

The Beeb is scared of the Tories, as they keep on threatening it with privatisation, all on behalf of their sugar-daddy, Rupert Murdoch. And since the rise of Accuracy In Media, the Republican organisation devoted to detecting liberal media bias in America under Ronald Reagan, the Tories over here too have joined in accusing the BBC and anyone else, who doesn’t toe their wretched line of having a similar bias. It’s got to the point where there are even jokes about this constant, resentful complaining from Conservatives. There’s a joke that if you go into a room, in which there are 99 Republicans and 1 liberal, those 99 Republicans are all moaning about the left-wing bias in the room.

There’s also another one about how many Republicans it takes to change a light-bulb. 10 – one person to screw in the bulb, and another nine to complain about the left-wing bias of the screw.

The Beeb’s already extremely biased towards the Tories. How long before its quest to become even more biased leads to it becoming an object of ridicule? Unfortunately, this is no joke. It’s another campaign to produce even more Tory propaganda masquerading as balanced news. And it all shows how massively biased against the Left the Beeb already is, and it’s craven prostration before the demands of the Tories.

Cameron Demands Cabinet Ministers Take Oath of Personal Loyalty

February 1, 2016

During the Third Reich, the Germans had a joke: ‘What’s the biggest, most useless choir in the world?’ The answer was ‘The Reichstag, because it’s got 600 members, but only sings two songs.’ The joke referred to the fact that, although Hitler had complete dictatorial powers under the constitution, they were his only so long as Germany was in a state of emergency. So every four years, by law Hitler had to recall them and get them to renew the state of emergency. The two songs the German parliament sang were at these occasions were the Nazi Party anthem, the Horst Wessel Song, and ‘Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles’. After that, the Reichstag was dismissed for another four years, leaving the Nazi delegates to go home to look forward to another four years of hate, murder, torture and genocide.

Last week, Mike over at Vox Political put up this piece comparing Hitler’s insistence on the German army and civil servants taking a personal oath of loyalty to him with Cameron’s insistence that the cabinet swear their personal allegiance to him over the question of EU membership: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/29/camerons-loyalty-tests-over-eu-membership-in-imitation-of-hitler/. This shows just how insecure Cameron and his party are over the whole issue of the European Union, as well as the creeping Nazi hunger for personal power behind the mask of relaxed post-modern management he’s tried to adopt. Last week the cabinet, then the civil service and finally the army. If only he could dissolve parliament, declare a state of national emergency and round up all those wretched Reds, trade unionists, disabled people and asylum seekers. In the meantime it reminds me of this scene from the Blues Brothers:

Can we look forward to the day when Cameron, chasing Corbyn and the Labourites hell for leather to Number 10 in his car goes careering off an unfinished raised highway to his doom? And on the way down IDS, his partner, says ‘I have always loved you’, before they both hit the road so hard that it nearly carries them to the centre of the Earth?

Vox Political: Cameron Deliberately Misquotes Corbyn on Migrants

January 26, 2016

A few days ago, Jeremy Corbyn took the principled step of actually visiting the migrant camp in Calais, commenting on the poverty and appalling conditions there. It’s a move few politicians would care to do, because of migration being such a toxic issue. The Daily Heil did, I think, send one of their journos there in the hope of uncovering rabid jihadis bent on entering Britain by subterfuge. They were disappointed, as the migrants they discovered all had a disarmingly high view of Britain and the opportunities it offered. Corbyn made a number of suggestions for raising living conditions in the camps, and said that those migrants with family ties to Britain should be allowed to enter our country.

This has clearly got Cameron worried. So worried, that he has misquoted the man in order to distort his stance on migration and asylum. Mike today reported that Cameron said that Corbyn recommended making the Calais camp a ‘direct route’ to the UK, and stood for ‘open door’ immigration.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/26/quelle-surprise-cameron-distorts-corbyns-words-on-calais-migrants/

Mike remarks that the Tories should be glad David Cameron will be gone in a few years; it is becoming far too easy for UK citizens like This Writer to see through his comments.

Well, Cameron and his cronies now lie so often and so hard, that they’ve become the living embodiment of the old joke about politicians: ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips move.’ Adopt this attitude to anything Cameron, IDS, Nikki Morgan, Osbo or, indeed, the entire Tory party and you won’t go wrong. Cameron’s line, of course, is to play up to the idea that somehow Labour are soft on immigration. Underlying this is the old quote repeated in right wing, and extreme right wing circles, about Labour having deliberately let non-White immigrants into the country in order to make it multicultural against the wishes of the White population, just to spite the Tories.

In fact, from what I can remember, the opposite was true. Once in power, Bliar’s administration cracked down hard on immigration. I can remember Alan Coren remarking on the News Quiz back in the 1990s when he was still alive and it was still funny his amazement at the transformation that had occurred to one of Labour’s politicians once he had become head of the Home Office. From being fairly fuzzy, warm and caring, he had turned into the exact opposite. Coren joked that there was something about the post, so that whoever it was who got the job, ‘they all become men of steel’. Coren was one of the greatest satirists 20th century Britain ever produced, and in my view his death left a gap in British political comedy that has never really been filled since.

Cameron’s comments are also to cover up the fact that his administration has been consistently incompetent at handling immigration. Despite claims that they were going to cut it down to a certain level, they have proven repeatedly that they are unable to do so. And when they have tried to take a tough line, it’s been transparently racist. Remember the vans going round Black and Asian neighbourhoods inviting people to turn themselves in and be repatriated?

Forget what Cameron has to say about the migrant camp and Corbyn. He’s just trying to divert attention from his own party’s dismal failure on this point. Quite apart from what it says about immigrants who dare to have families.

Nigel Farage: Poundland Enoch Powell or Britain’s Own Mad Vlad Zhirinovsky?

December 12, 2014

Brand on Farage as ‘Poundland Powell’

Russell Brand was in the Independent and on MSN news today. The paper and the internet news service were reporting the spat between him and the Kippers’ Fuehrer on Question Time last night. The revolutionary, author and film star had called Farage a ‘Poundland Enoch Powell’. The Duce of the anti-EU right had responded by declaring that Brand had a messiah-complex.

It’s not hard to see Brand’s point, and the comparison’s a good one. Powell and Farage are both right-wing, anti-immigration politicians, and from a certain point of view Farage is definitely rather more downmarket than the man whose former schoolfellows used to call ‘Scowly Powelly’. Powell after all was something of an academic, who taught classics at one of the Australian universities. He was also multilingual and could speak Urdu. Farage, by contrast tries to promote himself as something of a man of the people, an ordinary bloke, who likes a beer in a pub and smokes.

Powell and Farage also have in common the fact that they both deny that they are actually racist. Farage likes to boast that UKIP is a non-racist, non-sectarian party and that it has a ban on taking members from the extreme right – the National Front, BNP, and Britain First, for example, while targeting the allegedly non-racist supporters of these parties. Despite the deeply violent, venomous imagery of Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech, it’s been claimed that Powell himself actually wasn’t personally racist and despised the Nazi stormtroopers, who were attracted to him after his infamous speech. Farage has learned from Powell’s mistakes, and how the former Conservative cabinet minister became virtually a political pariah because of his vile rhetoric. Farage promises instead to tackle immigration and get Britain out of the EU, all the while reassuring voters that his is not a racist party. It isn’t officially, at least in its public pronouncements, but as recent events have shown, it has had more than its share of racists in it.

Beer, Cigarettes, and Class Image in Politics

Brand also attacked Farage for his blokey, beer and ciggies image. This accounts for part of the Fuehrer’s electoral charm, as it gives him an apparent connection to the working and lower middle classes that the mainstream parties don’t have. Cameron and Clegg are toffs, who it would be far easier to imagine enjoying a sherry or extremely expensive fine wine than a pint of Best in a boozer. The same could be said of the Islington New Labour set around Tony Blair. A few years ago when Blair was in power, there was a story that Peter Mandelson had gone to a fish and chip shop in his Hartlepool constituency. Although strongly denied at the time, it was claimed that Mandelson had asked if the mushy peas northern chippies serve were avocado dip.

Brand’s right-wing opponents, like Peter Hitchens, have claimed that Brand’s working class image is false, pointing to the fact that he is very highly educated from a middle class home. Farage’s own image as a ordinary bloke is also untrue, as the man himself is public school, millionaire financier. I doubt very much that beer, the tipple of the working man and woman since time immemorial, is also Farage’s favourite beverage as he appears to claim.

Farage and the Mad Russian Fascist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky

In this respect Farage seems to me less like Enoch Powell, and more like Vladimir ‘Mad Vlad’ Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Russian far right in the 1990s. Both are extreme Right-wing populists, who deliberately try to present themselves as somehow standing up for the ordinary, working class people of their countries. Zhirinovsky racism was far more overt than that of Farage’s party. He was the leader of the venomously anti-Semitic Liberal Democratic party, which emerged amongst the economic chaos of Yeltsin’s mass privatisation of the Russian economy after the collapse of Communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Zhirinovsky’s part was ultra-nationalistic, racist and profoundly anti-democratic. The BBC in the 1990s filmed him on the Russian campaign trail, sailing along the Volga in a ship making speeches to disaffected Russian voters and plotting his next moves against his political rivals.

The picture that emerged was of a shrewd, cynical politico, who made contemptuous jokes about his own country and had no qualms about smearing and spreading lies about other politicians if it would serve his purpose. Unlike many Russians, he didn’t drink or smoke, but deliberately cultivated an image to appeal to the average Russian worker, who like their British counterparts, liked their booze and ciggies. As the ship sailed along, its speakers blared out Mad Vlad’s campaign song, whose lyrics the Beeb translated as

Zhirinovsky’s a proper Russian bloke,
Even though he doesn’t drink or smoke
.

They then went on to describe how Zhirinovsky, if he met the singer, would embrace him, before giving him a drink and cigarette. You can see the parallel with Farage, and the way he tries to appeal to the British working class with his pint and ciggie image.

As for spreading lies about his rivals, Zhirinovsky was shown cooking up a slander he was going to put about the mayor of St. Peterburg, Nemtsov. Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union have a reputation among Western businessmen as ‘the wild East’ for its violent lawlessness and political corruption. In the 1990s there were a series of assassinations of prominent businessmen, journalists and dissident politicians. Zhirinovsky decided that his party would claim that Nemtsov had murdered one of his opponents, and dumped the body in the Neva. Although slanderous, the allegation was all too credible given the massive political violence at the time. As he and his cronies cooked up this rumour, Zhirinovsky nodded his head and declared it to be ‘good information’, although the Beeb translated the latter word as ‘propaganda’.

Farage doesn’t lie about his opponents like Zhirinovsky, but he is very careful to lie or conceal his party’s true intentions. A string of leading Kippers, including Bob Nuttall, their deputy chairman, have made it very clear that they despise the NHS, and wish to repeal the statutory benefits and laws protecting workers and employees, such as paid holidays and maternity leave for women. When pressed on these statements, and the extremely right-wing policies put forward in their manifesto, Farage’s response is to deny that they are actually party policy. He has disavowed the 2010 election manifesto, describing it as drivel, and somewhat speciously claiming that he had no part in its formulation. The indications are there, however, that these are the party’s true policies behind the more liberal face the Kippers present to the voting public.

As for his supposed patriotism, Zhirinovsky was shown telling jokes about how terrible his country was. One of them was about two World War II British airmen, who get lost, fly off course, and crash in Russia. Coming across a kolkhoznik – collective farmer – they ask the astonished peasant where they are. ‘Up the a***’ the farmer replies. ‘That’s it’, declares one of the airmen, ‘we’re in Russia’.

Farage has similarly shown a double standard on the issue of immigration and the EU bureaucracy. The Kipper MEPs don’t vote, but are nevertheless eager to collect their salary for turning up at the European parliament. Farage has made it clear that he doesn’t want immigrants, because, according to him, they take British jobs. Not only is that factually incorrect, but Farage has personally broken this stance. His wife is German, and is employed as his secretary.

Unlike Zhirinovsky, and the parties of the Nazi right, Farage has always claimed to be democratic, and the Kippers have claimed that their party advocates the establishment of direct democracy in Britain, like that of Switzerland. Zhirinovsky, on the other hand, would have dissolved the fledgling Russian democracy if he’d won. ‘Vote for me’, he was filmed telling his audience, ‘if I win, you will never have to vote for me again’. The danger with Farage is if he ever gets into power, then for many it will be too late to vote him out once his policies of greater privatisation, benefit cuts and destruction of workers’ and women’s rights takes effect.

Farage is wilier, shrewder, and far more subtle than Powell or Zhirinovsky. He is, however, like them a right-wing populist, and particularly like Zhirinovsky in adopting a pose of enjoying working class tastes in order to gain votes and advance an anti-working class agenda.