Posts Tagged ‘Unemployment’

IDS and Armed Bodyguards: No-One Trusts the Man who Trusts No-One

December 11, 2013

Mike and several of the commenters over at Vox Political have commented on IDS’ evident paranoia and fear of the public as he appeared before the parliamentary Work and Pension’s Committee. Not only did he have a bodyguard, but was also surrounded by several armed policemen. Martha, one of the people in the public gallery, describes the scene:

‘ Hi Mike, I attended the DWP hearing on Monday, IDS didn’t just have a body guard he had several ‘policemen’ with machine guns, maybe 3 or 4 at least. I didn’t dare to count them as it was frightening and it seemed best to ignore them for obvious reasons. The machine guns were raised and pointed at our group which included 3 people in wheelchairs and about 8 disabled and mentally ill people with their carers. We had all been security checked, bags searched and x-rayed, frisked and had walked through an airport style metal detector. We posed no risk or threat and it is quite normal for the general public to attend debates and hearings in the House of Commons, in fact MPs generally like our presence and encourage us, often coming over to meet us and shake our hands. Is it now acceptable to point guns at the general public when they attend the House of Commons? Who do we complain to?’

As several of the other commenters, including myself, have remarked, such paranoia clearly shows that IDS knows the immense suffering his policies are causing, and fears the rage and possible reprisals from the general public. Even so, such behaviour is still bizarre coming from an MP. I can quite believe Martha when she says that most MPs generally welcome the public to the Houses of Parliament. Politicians across the political divide are worried about increasing electoral apathy and the falling turn-out at elections. Hence the many campaigns by politicos to appeal to the ‘Yoof’ vote. They are also, by and large, conscious that for democracy to work, it has to be seen to work and have the active interest of the people on whose behalf they govern. And finally, like any enthusiastic follower of a particular career or vocation, they, or at least the good ones, try to communicate their enthusiasm for politics to the general public. hence the appearance of politicians and political writers and journalists at the various literary festivals up and down the country. It also has to be said that even politicians, who have advocated some terrible policies towards the poor, could actually be very kind and courteous in person.

IDS, by contrast, seems deeply suspicious and mean-spirited. And you have to wonder what he thought he had to fear from people, who’d gone through the usual security searches. Did he get some kind of craven, bullying pleasure by having armed goons point guns at the mentally and physically disabled and vulnerable? And what on Earth were the police doing, if they were pointing their guns at people? There has been considerable criticism of our armed officers before, most notably after the horrific shooting of Charles Menezes. I can remember reading comments from officers in the British army, who had served in Northern Ireland. They were very definitely not impressed by the coppers’ trigger-happy attitude and the way they carried their weapons. In Ulster it was standard practice to carry guns sloping down, with the squaddies’ hands in a posture so they could be immediately ready to bring the gun up if attacked. This was intended to prevent provoking confrontation through the public reacting to a raised weapon as a deadly threat. If the British army, which really did face deadly attacks from terrorist groups in Northern Ireland, is capable of carrying its arms in order to reassure the public and avoid conflict, then the question must be asked why IDS thought he was so important and so threatened that he had guns raised? It gives another clue as to why the man probably failed his officers’ exams. Clearly his judgement when it was appropriate to use deadly force, and when not, was lacking, with the result that he would place himself and the men under his command in serious danger.

Someone once said that ‘No-one trusts the man, who trusts no-one’. Smith has shown himself deeply untrustworthy through this show of excessive force. The attitude behind it is one of suspicion and contempt for the general public and especially the poor, unemployed and disabled he has penalised and victimised with his policies. Going into the Committee chamber surrounded by armed guards like the Fascist generalissimo of a banana republic, he is a contemptible petty tyrant, who has therefore shown himself totally unsuited for public office.

From the Horse’s Mouth

December 8, 2013

This is something of a ‘friend of a friend’ story, though it’s true, and shows exactly what former members of the DSS now think of the Civil Service and their former colleagues. A friend of mine told me of a conversation he had with a friend of his, who works for his local council. The conversation got onto the subject of the DWP, about which my friend’s friend had a few things to say. ‘Once upon a time’, he opined, ‘workers in the Civil Service were intelligent and genuinely concerned with helping their customers. Unfortunately, we all left, and now its full of Fascists and bullies’. This is, unfortunately, all too true. I’ve reblogged a few posts here myself in which others have commented on the culture of callousness and bullying in the DWP. This comment by a former civil servant tells you that many of the Department’s own former employees are all too well aware of it, and that they really don’t have any respect for it. It is, after all, why they left. It doesn’t help the disabled and job-seekers, who are still at the mercy of the thugs and bullies now staffing the DWP, but it does show how general the contempt for them actually is. And if I were them, I’d be careful. The person you’re bullying as a scrounger and layabout today, could, just possibly, be your prospective employer tomorrow. (I know in the present jobs market it’s unlikely, but you never know). And he or she may well remember the domineering way you treated them when it comes to assessing you for a job.

The Real Source of the Coalition’s Employment Policy: Morgus from Dr. Who’s ‘The Caves of Androzani’

November 30, 2013

Sometimes, life really does follow art. This week we had Boris Johnson telling a gathering of City bankers that ‘greed is right’, almost, but not quite, following Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko. The other night it struck me that the government’s way of tackling unemployment also seems to bear more than a little resemblance to another piece of 80s screen fiction, the Dr Who story ‘The Caves of Androzani’.

This was Peter Davison’s final regular appearance as the fifth Doctor. In it, the Doctor and Peri land on Androzani Minor, where they get caught up in a struggle between government forces, led by Major Chellak, and an army of androids, created by the mad scientist Sheraz Jek. Androzani Minor is the source of the drug Spectrox, which massively extends the human lifespan. Its production is controlled by a massive industrial combine, the Conglomerate, whose chairman is the avaricious and ruthless Krau Morgus. This has, however, been disrupted by Sheraz Jek. Jek had previously been employed by the Conglomerate, creating an android workforce, who could harvest the raw Spectrox safely. He was, however, betrayed by Morgus. Androzani Minor is subject to periodic mudbursts, geyser-like blasts of boiling mud caused by tidal action when the planet passes close to its larger twin, Androzani Major. Morgus sabotaged Jek’s instruments so that he was caught without warning in one of the mudbursts. Horribly disfigured and driven by an all-consuming desire for revenge, Jek has stopped production of the drug in order to force the Androzani government to kill Morgus. The government, in its turn, has sent in troops under Chellak to quell Jek and his androids and restore production.

Morgus, however, has managed to turn this situation to his own advantage. A ruthless businessman with absolutely no morals, Morgus is deliberately using the war to raise the price of Spectrox. He supplies the government forces with the arms and equipment they need, while also secretly supplying Jek through a group of mercenaries in return for shipments of Spectrox.

Spectrox in its raw state is highly poisonous, with the victims of Spectrox toxaemia dying in three days. The Doctor and Peri contract this after falling into a Spectrox nest. The plot revolves around the Doctor’s and Peri’s attempts to escape from Chellak, Jek and the mercenaries, and the Doctor’s efforts to find the antidote before they finally succumb to the poison. He is concerned primarily with saving himself and his companion. His mere presence on Androzani acts as a catalyst for increasing confrontation between Chellak and Jek, and the political and criminal machinations by Morgus, which finally culminate in his overthrow and downfall by his PA, Trau Timmon.

It’s a taut story, which combines the political thriller with elements of Restoration drama and Jacobean tragedy. At certain crucial points, Morgus turns to speak directly to camera. As in Jacobean tragedy, nearly everyone dies at the end, with the exception of Peri, Trau Timmon and the Doctor. Here’s a fan trailer for it from Youtube:

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It’s Youtube address is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjH_hZZhaXw.

Morgus himself is smooth talking, exploitative and ruthless. When he finds out that one of the Conglomerate’s mines has produced too much copper, he arranges new equipment containing a bomb to be sent to the plant, which is destroyed in the resulting explosion. Fearing that Androzani’s president is aware of his duplicity, he personally pushes him down an empty lift shaft. Calling Trau Timmon to inform her of the tragic accident, he muses, ‘Still, it could have been worse.’
‘How so?’, she asks.
‘It could have been me.’

Here’s another fan produced piece from Youtube, showing Morgus as one of the fifty great Dr Who villains of all time.

It’s on Youtube at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3mlkV6tmA0.

Particularly noteworthy here is Morgus’ solution to the social problems caused by unemployment. At 0.55 on the video he states ‘those without valid work permits will be sent to the eastern labour camps’. Morgus makes this comment in a conversation with the President, who drily observes ‘Where they’ll work for you for free’.
‘I hadn’t thought of that’, replies Morgus.
To which the President simply says, ‘I know’, while all the while looking at Morgus with eyes that say the complete opposite.

It’s this episode that reminds me very strongly of the government’s policy. After all, what is the Conglomerate’s deportation of the unemployed to forced labour camps except a form of workfare?

It’s been said that all Science Fiction is, despite its settings in the future, or on other worlds or parallel universes, about the issues facing present society. Workfare was certainly being discussed in the 1980s, when it was first introduced in America by the Reagan presidency. It’s been pointed out that much of the SF of the period is a reaction to the new, Conservative policies of the period, the privatisation of the economy and the growing power of frequently ruthless corporations. It is the Corporation in Alien and its sequel, Aliens, that sacrifices Ripley’s crewmates aboard the Nostromo, and the planet’s colonists and the marines sent to rescue them fifty years later in order to acquire the Aliens for the company’s weapons’ division. Another corporation, OCP, is also the villain in Robocop. The company acquires Detroit’s police force after it is privatised, and sets up a young, rookie cop, Murphy, to be gunned down in order to turn him into cybernetic law enforcement officer of the title. Morgus and the ruthless, exploitative Conglomerate can similarly be seen as a comment on the economic and social policies of Reagan and Thatcher. It is possible to go somewhat further, and suggest that the story’s also a disguised treatment of the Iran/Contra affair, in which the US government supplied arms to Iran and the Contras in Nicaragua, in return for the freeing of US hostages in Lebanon, and the shipment of cocaine into the US by the anti-Sandinista forces in Nicaragua.

It also needs to be noted, on the other hand, that the story is not necessarily an explicit comment on free-market capitalism. It’s assumed that the Conglomerate is privately owned, but it’s not stated. Both the Fascist and Communist dictatorships have used forced labour in industry, and so the use of unemployed slave labour in Morgus’ work camps could simply be based on those examples, especially as the work camps are on the ‘eastern continent’. Dr Who’s writers were clearly well aware of the way totalitarian states, particularly Nazi Germany, operated when devising their villains, such as Davros in The Genesis of the Daleks. Even so, free market capitalism under David Cameron has very definitely followed Morgus’ Conglomerate in the introduction of forced labour for the unemployed, even if they haven’t started to send people to Siberia yet. As for Morgus deliberately manipulating production to keep it profitably low, and create a reservoir of the unemployed, which he can exploit for free, the Angry Yorkshireman over at Another Angry Voice has pointed out that Neo-Liberal economics demands a constant unemployment rate of 6 per cent or so to keep labour cheap.

So, one way or another, Cameron’s government is following the Science Fictional policies of Dr Who’s Trau Morgus. Only without bombing mines and personally assassinating leading politicians. And it’s similarly time that someone brought it all to an end, though hopefully we won’t have to wait for a visitor from beyond the stars.

Sings of the True Nature of the DWP: Samaritans Cards at the Job Centre

November 21, 2013

I was in the Job Centre myself a few weeks ago. Looking along the desk of one of the interview staff, I noticed that right in front of the tray for his documents and papers was a stack of cards for the Samaritans. This is a mute, but shocking sign of the real nature of the DWP under Cameron and Clegg. Mike, The Void, and many, many other left-wing blogs and sites have already described how the staff in some Job Centres are being trained to deal with suicidal claimants. These are the poor and desperate, whose claims have been disallowed and sanctioned. I don’t know if the Job Centre in Bristol offers similar training to its staff. The stack of cards on this clerks desk nevertheless bore witness that this staff member, at least, knew there was a problem and was prepared for that eventuality, if just in this small, trivial way.

Now I am certainly not blaming that particular clerk for the despair the system inflicts. As far as I could see, he was courteous and doing his best to be genuinely helpful. The system, however, does not seem to reward kindness and courtesy. Under Blair there were already secret directives in some Job Centres stipulating that a certain number of claimants should be sanctioned. The Void has reported that under Cameron, some offices have been running competitions to see who can deprive the most unemployed and disabled of their benefits. In one office an Easter Egg was the prize. In this environment, it is the callous and abusive, who will find work in the DWP, and advance up the corporate ladder.

That stack of cards, and the training of benefits staff to deal with threats and attempts of suicide just scream how bad the benefits’ system now is. They indirectly confirm the reports of the unemployed and particularly the disabled, who have killed themselves following their benefits being stopped. IDS has refused to give the exact figures, but obviously if staff are being given such training, and have cards for the Samaritans ready and waiting on their desks, then it follows that suicide is a real, persistent danger throughout the nation’s Job Centres. And if this is the case, then it is revolting and grossly, wilfully incompetent for the DWP not to acknowledge the scale of the problem by releasing the true figures.

But that would be to admit that the DWP’s policies are fundamentally wrong, and need changing. Ian Duncan Smith and Cameron are basing their entire government on the giant Neo-Liberal lie, and so cannot do that.

Despite their claims to be helping people, clearly the system is not doing so. Instead, it is killing them.

This should be a national scandal. It should be on the front pages of every newspaper, along with the stories of Osborne smugly pronouncing his catastrophic economic programme to be a success. It should be debated in the press and on TV and Radio. It is a savage indictment of the sheer callous indifference, and cruel desire to persecute the poor and disabled, underpinning IDS’, McVey’s and the entire coalition’s welfare policy. Instead, it appears that the press is doing its best to stifle all this. Despite their smiling faces and their bland assurances, they aren’t listening, and don’t want anyone else to hear either.

IDS and McVey clearly don’t want to see the problem, don’t want to be held responsible for the problem, and so they pass this on to their staff on the office floor. And rather than give people a living income based on a realistic assessment of the realities of unemployment, they’re reduced to emergency counselling and handing out cards. And it’s not enough.

Channel 5’s Latest Attack on the Poor: On Benefits and Proud

October 12, 2013

In my last blog post I recommended anyone with an interest in historic technology to watch Beat the Ancestors, a programme on Channel 5 on Mondays, in which a team of engineers, craftsmen and film special effects technicians attempt to recreate and improve upon a device from history. This could be a weapon, such as a cannon, or, as in Monday’s programme, a machine such as the 13th century crane used to build Salisbury Cathedral. It’s an example of the often excellent archaeology and history programmes, which the fifth channel is capable of making, and often does far better than the BBC or Channel 4.

Unfortunately, the Channel is owned by the pornographer and right-wing proprietor of the Daily Express, Richard Desmond. Thus, an hour after this foray into industrial history and experimental archaeology, comes another attack on the unemployed. At 9 o’clock is the documentary On Benefits and Proud. According to the Radio Times, this is about

‘The lifestyles of some of those living off the state who are not currently seeking employment, including of a mother of 11 whose benefits are double the average wage in Britain’.

Now Mike, over at Vox Political, Johnny Void and any number of other left-wing blogs, like Diary of a Benefit Scrounger are doing their level best to disabuse the electorate of the Tory notion that there are people on benefits living good lives at the public expense. One of the guests launched a splenetic, and hilarious diatribe sending up these kinds of stories last night on the long-running satirical quiz show, Have I Got News For You. Nevertheless, they get recycled in order to support the Tory policy of re-introducing grinding, Third-World poverty to this country to punish those unfortunate enough not to be working. Not that Channel 5 is alone in this. The Beeb did something similar a few months ago with Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer in We All Pay Your Benefits. Spamfish over at Oprichnik Rising launched a blistering attack on that one, because of the way it misrepresented one of his friends. I’ve reblogged the story, so it’s over here as well as on his site. Go and look at it to see for yourself how disgracefully manipulative these shows are.

This programme will be broadcast following the story on yesterday’s news that the Red Cross are having to deal with grinding poverty in this country. Millions of people in Britain are, according to yesterday’s edition of the Express, faced with the choice of ‘heat or eat’. They can either buy food, or pay their heating bills, but they can’t do both. Meanwhile the electricity companies, already making vast profits, are raising their bills by another ten per cent and running scare stories about Labour’s plans to cap them. As for higher executives at the Beeb, these are on multi-million pound salaries, as shown by the various golden handshakes given to the Beeb’s Director-Generals, who have been forced to resign following the Jimmy Saville scandal. A casual glance at the ‘Media News’ section in Private Eye will actually tell you just how bloated some of these executives’ salaries are. Now I’ve no doubt that, if confronted about these stories of benefit scroungers and welfare queens the same broadcasting executive would probably try to justify themselves by talking about how they were trying to preserve broadcasting neutrality, and presenting the other side of the argument, in contrast to the stories they’ve run about rising poverty on the news. They have not, to my knowledge, actually presented in documentary form the opposing viewpoint that most people on benefits don’t want to be there, and, in contrast to these highly biased documentaries, are not living at all. It’s about time they did. We, the general public, pay their wages, either directly through the license fee, or indirectly by watching their programmes and forming a demographic for their advertisers. The public may pay for the benefits supporting the unemployed, but the unemployed also pay the salaries of the TV executives. They are responsible to them, and so should make programmes revealing how the real poor live, not the minority that are constantly cited to support the Neo-Liberal fantasies of Right-wing politicos.

12 Per Cent of Workers’ Income Now Eaten Up by Job Costs

September 28, 2013

According to this item on yesterday’s MSN News, http://money.uk.msn.com/news/workers-spend-12percent-on-job-costs, workers are now spending up to 12 per cent of their annual income on job costs, such as commuting to work, child care, work clothes and computer equipment. These cost the average full-time employee £2,681 per year. The report notes that although wages have risen by 1.4 per cent, the cost of working has increased by ten per cent. The report comes from a survey of about 2,000 people for Santander’s cards department. The chief executive of Santander’s cards department, Alan Mathewson said: “Earning a living can be an expensive task, particularly against a backdrop of rising living costs. The price of going to work has increased significantly since last year but average salaries have not and, as a result, workers are considerably worse off.’

With companies increasing trying to cut down on costs by turning to workfare and internships to recruit unpaid labour, employees are having to bear the costs of their own employment. In the case of unpaid internships, they are effectively having to pay for the privilege of having a job. This also partly explains why the government is so keen to cut benefits to the unemployed on the grounds that they should not be better off than the poor souls fortunate enough to be working. In the current jobs market, where having a job may effectively mean a reduction in salary in real terms due to inflation and rising job costs, or indeed are forced to pay for the privilege of working as an unpaid intern or volunteer, many people would feel that they are effectively being penalised for working to the point where they may wonder why they bothered taking the job at all. In order to keep the supply of low or unpaid labour going, the Coalition is forced to cut benefits to the unemployed as far as possible and beyond. The reduction in unemployment benefits and the shabby treatment of those out of work is directly connected and part of the same employment strategy that sees the salaries of those in work reduced, and their conditions of employment lowered. And all the while the Tories announce loudly that in penalising the unemployed, they are somehow preserving the dignity and morale of the aspirational employees, who don’t want to go to work while others in their street still have their curtains closed. The real benefit of these policies isn’t to the employees, but to the Tories’ immensely wealth paymasters in Tesco, ASDA, News International and the like. For their company executives, it is, as Private Eye would say, very much a case of ‘trebles all round’.

Another Angry Voice on Why Tory Economic Policy Wants 2 Million People to be Unemployed

September 23, 2013

The Angry Yorkshireman once again demonstrates his excellent and profound knowledge of economic theory in this discussion of the Neo-Liberal attitude towards unemployment. Far from wishing to end it, Milton Friedman’s Chicago School actually wishes there to be a constant pool of around two million people. The article’s entitled ‘Equilibrium Unemployment and Tory Malice’ and begins

‘That many people would try to dismiss the idea that “capitalism needs a standing army of unemployed” as some kind of Marxist, anti-capitalist, loony-left conspiracy theory, is indicative of the level of widespread economic illiteracy these days.

The fact is, that under the current neoliberalism riddled economic system, these vast standing armies of unemployed do exist, and what is more, the ruling establishment believe them necessary in order for their pseudo-economic models to work properly (which they clearly don’t anyway). The term they like to use to describe their “standing army of unemployment” is the “equilibrium rate” of unemployment, which is credited to the ideological guru of Chicago school neoliberalism, Milton Friedman.’

More shockingly, the supposed economic need for this pool of unemployed workers is accepted and promoted by the Bank of England. The Irate Northerner states notes that according to the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, optimal unemployment should be about 6.5 – 7 per cent.

The Angry One then makes the obvious point that if the economic theory demands that two million people should be unemployed, then this makes the various schemes that penalise them for being so nonsensical. The administrations and government ministers behind them are, in the Yorkshireman’s bluff and forthright description of them, complete ‘gits’. He also notes that once the economic theory demands that a high number of people should be unemployed, it therefore makes sense for the Tories to use them as cheap labour for their friends in business.

I have to say I found it absolutely shocking that any economic theory should actually promote unemployment. Yet this is what the Chicago School Neo-Liberalism now beloved of the three main parties does. This article should be read by everyone interested in the problems of unemployment. Moreover, it completely refutes the idea that the Tories actually want to bring it down. They don’t. They want to maintain or increase it. The article’s at http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/equilibrium-unemployment.html#disqus_thread.

I have to say, that I believe the current Tory campaigns to vilify the unemployed as scroungers, sponging of the state responsible for their own inability to find a job is not simply gittery. It’s demanded by the sheer need for the Tories to stay in government. Few people are actually going to vote for a party, which explicitly intends to maintain or increase unemployment. So, in order for the economic policy to work, the government has to create a ‘false consciousness’ in Marx’s phrase amongst the workers that unemployment is somehow their fault, and all they have to do is work harder, in order to justify their exploitation.

The Angry One has written a number of great articles dissecting Neo-Liberal economic theory. This is one of them. Rember, if you vote Tory after reading this, you will be voting for people who actively want the people of this country to be unemployed.

Spamfish’s Personal Perspective on BBC’s We All Pay Your Benefits

August 6, 2013

This comes from nearly a month ago. I’ve blogged before about the inaccuracies with the BBC’s programme Nick and Margaret: We All Pay Your Benefits. Hosted by Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountfort, Alan Sugar’s henchmen from The Apprentice, this put a group of unemployed people together with a group of ‘strivers’. It gave a profoundly misleading impression that the unemployed were content and well-off on their benefits, unlike those in full-time employment working hard to make ends meet. Spamfish’s blog post, Another BBC Programme Demonising Benefit Claimants: Only This Time It’s Personal is particularly important in analysing the way the BBC carefully edited the show so that it gave the Right-wing message they intended. Spamfish personally knows one of the people, who appeared on the programme. He says of him and the show

This was never meant to be an honest unbiased look at the whole benefit system. No this program had one aim and one aim only. That was to push the whole right-wing callous capitalist agenda of demonizing the poor and needy. The program stunk of propaganda, from the snide comments the totally “neutral” hosts were making, to the stagnant anti welfare soundbites the so-called “strivers” regurgitated on cue. It could have been written by Ian Duncan Smith himself it was so patronising and dismissive of the people involved.

So why this time is it personal?

Because one of the participants is a long time friend of mine. Luther the single dad.

I first want to say, well done bro, you did a great job, you came across as the likeable caring chap we all know you are. This despite the editing they did to push their agenda and the serious lack of detail into your predicament. But of course they don’t want to go into too much detail because that will show the world what a down to earth solid geezer you really are. No they want caricatures of benefit claimants ones that fit into their nasty little pigeon holes they have for us all. They wanted to dehumanize him. Well I’m sorry to say that despite their best attempts they failed.

So why did he do the show, I mean we all knew they would try to paint him in a bad light, after all that is the job of propaganda, to blur the truth and point the viewers towards one conclusion. He knew this perfectly well when he entered into this program but did it because he wanted to do his best to show the world that benefit claimants are human too and to show the audience the inhuman cruelty that some of these cuts can cause. So he used this chance to highlight all the problems with this governments welfare strategy. He spoke about the bedroom tax and the benefit cap, the council tax benefit removal, the sterile anti person ATOS interviews and the DWPs twisting of statistics.

unfortunately that would not of served the BBCs political masters for them to show any of that, so instead they cut and edited almost everything he had to say unless it fit with their opinions.

This shows the personal reality behind the programme, and the deliberate distortion of fact to support and promote the Conservative characterisation of those on benefits as idle scroungers. Spamfish’s post is at http://spamfish23.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/another-bbc-program-demonising-benefit-claiments-only-this-time-its-personal/. Go and read it for the truth behind this and doubtless similar programmes that will come our way in future.

The Coalition’s biggest hits, Volume 1.

July 27, 2013

I thought I’d reblog this piece from Kittysjones’ site, as it gives a very full list of the Coalition’s savage cuts to welfare and the NHS, penalising the poor, the sick and disabled, and the unemployed.

Politics and Insights

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1. Introduced unpaid, unlimited workfare for those deemed too sick or disabled to work by their doctor.
2. Scrapped crisis loans and community care grants for the most vulnerable.
3. Severely reduced Legal Aid so that equal, fair access to justice is no longer preserved.
4. Increased VAT ensuring the poorest pay proportionately more in tax. Cut top tax rate to 45% giving millionaires a £40000 pa tax windfall.
5. Legalised state surveillance of all personal internet traffic.
6. Planning to curtail human rights, guaranteed by membership of the EU. That is written in their Program for Government, and has been planned from the very start.
7. Introduced charges for Child Support Agency, so that vulnerable single parents have to pay to get maintanance from absent fathers, for their children.
8. Introduced the Council Tax Bill, with the same unfair principles as the Poll tax Bill, sneaked in via the…

View original post 2,527 more words

Vox Political: UK unemployment is anything up to 12 MILLION, not two and a half!

July 17, 2013

I’ve often wondered what the real unemployment figures are, ever since the criteria on which they are estimated began to be repeatedly changed during the long reign of Margaret Thatcher. I distinctly recall that the Thatcher and Major administrations were several times criticised by various organisations, including the EU, for the way they massaged the stats. More recently, a friend told me that the unemployment figures are only calculated by those on the benefit the government gives to those, who have been out of work for less than a year. Those, who have been unemployed for over a year, and thus placed on a different benefit, are not included in the figures. I’d always imagined that the true figures for the unemployed would be higher, but never imagined they’d be anywhere near 12 million. Mike’s article goes into the government figures, and argues why this could be the case. It begins

Please note: As ever, this is a layman’s view of the figures. If anyone can help add colour and detail to what follows – and correct it if necessary – please do.

Let’s hope we all live long enough to look back and laugh at the euphoric reporting of the Coalition government’s slanted employment figures.

“UK unemployment fell by 57,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to May,” the BBC reported, quoting today’s release from the Office for National Statistics.

What a shame that the figure is meaningless as it bears no relation to the number of people who are out of work and not paid the minimum wage (or above), which would be a better yardstick. That figure is anything up to 11.71 million, using estimated figures from the ONS report.

This includes not only the number officially counted as unemployed, but those counted as ‘economically inactive’ and those on government-sponsored schemes such as Workfare or the Work Programme – who work, but are paid only in government benefit money and therefore, as the taxpayer is picking up the tab, should be counted with the unemployed.

People who are ‘economically inactive’ include people who are not seeking work, such as those looking after the family or home, those who don’t want or need a job, and those who have retired early – which is why this group is not included in ONS unemployment figures – but also includes those seeking work but officially unavailable for it, such as students in their final year, people who cannot work for health-related reasons, and ‘discouraged workers’ who believe there are no jobs available.

The article can be found here:
http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/uk-unemployment-is-anything-up-to-12-million-not-two-and-a-half/