So what exactly do our Dear Leaders think they are playing at?

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 So what exactly do our Dear Leaders think they are playing at?

From @julijuxtaposed

Have the Rightists not noticed the irony in their professed disdain for the ‘Big State’ when the Right-winged Coalition is constantly and increasingly nannying the minutiae of our daily lives? They can claim all the love they please for ‘the market’ but this does not entitle them to outsource and corporatise the responsibilities we pay them to hold. Mussolini would applaud. They seek to make our sources of public accountability elusive and faceless entities while making us account daily for our individual worth. The irony is so stark that only a fool, a tyrant or a religious fanatic would overlook it. What will actually become of Government? Is it to be shared among the likes of G4S, Virgin, Atos, Eddie Stobart, Centrica, etc…? And who’s getting the Treasury? Yeah, silly question…

There’s a fine line between pragmatism and cruelty and it is my belief that this government has crossed it with gusto. There’s no need here, for a list of everything that’s wrong: you know what bothers you, I’ve detailed my grievances in other posts and the government is patronising enough for all of us. To me, the lack of trust in and love for the very countrymen and women this collective purports to serve and its individuals’ unseemly delight in their own pomposity is markedly apparent.

What exactly do our Dear Leaders think they are playing at? I’m not referring to the present details but to the bigger, medium- to long-term picture. The final destination, so to speak. Have they not worked out where they’re taking us all with these attitudes and policies? They don’t even have a mandate! It’s easy to infer some grand plan but I’m not sure they are that intelligent – I don’t think they’ve properly translated their vision from ideological abstract to ground-level reality. Iain Dontcare Smith, Gove, That Hunt, Grayling, et al seem to think that if they just ‘clean up’ Society; make everyone obedient to their faith in a crumbling world view, that all will be well again. Hmm… Has it ever been that well for the masses? Has civic life ever been weighted in our favour?

But, really: what does this Coalition envisage are going to be the consequences as the years roll on for, even if/when they are kicked out in a couple of years, the government that will replace it will be hamstrung by, not just the accumulated sham of decades, but by the instinctive enthusiasm in the present to build on every hitherto mistake. And anyway, how much do we trust them to be that much of an improvement, irrespective of your belief in Labour’s good intent? It took a long time to get into this mess and the changes occurring right now are set to cement all that I have come to detest. This won’t be over any year soon.

Either the current political vision will fully come to pass and we will be a Stepford Nation – goodbye soul – or the government will have to become ever more forceful and enforcing. I wonder: how far is the present administration prepared and willing to go to see the fruition of their flawed vision. Keeping a regimented poor will require more than forced labour, punitive policies and food banks. What if resistance becomes the matched force, already overdue, I think, considering how the disadvantaged are growing into the majority and how lives are becoming ever more untenable. ID cards, checkpoints, segregation, armed forces? How authoritarian are they ready to be and to what lengths will they go to justify their actions? Will they even care to justify them?

Fascism is an accusation readily and even casually flung and so easily dismissed as melodramatic labelling but, you know what? I don’t think we can afford to take chances and neither do I buy the counter that our direction of travel can’t be deemed fascistic because it doesn’t perfectly match that which has gone before. The signs are all there, in every area and at all levels, from the House of Commons to the televised sound bite, albeit newly spun, but hey – that’s what the ‘neo’ prefix is for. Nationalistic, yes – in the sense that our rulers are seeking to preserve the sovereign interests and culture of their own realm. The supremacy aspect has morphed but it’s there in the emotive and divisory tactics; in the collusion of type and its subsequent sense of superiority and entitlement that so demonstrates a detachment from ‘other’ – the rest of us, that is. The expectation of dutiful obedience and the attempts to quash resistance are not just atmospheric but manifest in policy, revealing complete disrespect for real human dignity and an utter contempt for democratic process. Even the charge of demagogy can be laid when I think of how we are micro-managed in the least necessary and/or least reasonable areas of our personal lives with all the petty hubris of Greek gods.

That so many in political power (including the media) have only scorn and denial for such fears and perceptions is insulting and short-sighted and does nothing whatsoever to diminish my concerns. They should be mortified. Are we supposed to wait until we have either a neo-totalitarian state or possibly no state at all before we say it is something we saw coming and could have stopped? History is supposed to inform our present, not predict or command the future.

Fascism: from the Latin noun, ‘Fascis’ (s) / ‘Fasces’ (pl) – ‘A bundle of rods with a projecting axe blade. I think it’s as apt a metaphor as its symbolic image ever was.

The cold hard truth of living with Osborne’s ‘austerity’

The Voices Of Austerity – The Cold Hard Truth

Published on Jun 8, 2013

Everything you need to know about what’s going on with the powers that be …. In the UK.
Listen, understand it and share it ….. Good People of the World.

The extremely effective propaganda campaign by both the Tory/LD Coalition and most of the mainstream media has been hugely successful in spreading a mythology about benefits and benefit claimants.  Here are the real statistics c/o Michael Meacher MP:

The Labour Force Survey shows only 0.3% where two or more generations of working age have never worked.

The biggest element of social security expenditure |(42%) goes to pensioners.   Then housing benefit is next, accounting for 20%, of whom one-fifth are in work.   Then 15% goes on children, through child benefit and child tax credit.   Some 8% goes on disability living allowance, 4% on income support mainly for single parents and carers, 4% on employment and support allowance to those who can’t work due to sickness or disability, and 2% on carer’s allowance and maternity pay.   Just 3% is spent on jobseeker’s allowance.

The latest official DWP estimates show that last year just 0.7% of benefit expenditure was overpaid due to fraud, including a mere 0.3% for incapacity benefits.   It is equally false that benefit fraud is increasing.   The figures for combined fraud and customer error for JSA and income support show it halved from 9.4% in 1997-8 to only 4.8% in 2004-5.

Welfare expenditure totaled 11.6% under the Tories in 1996-7, but only 10.7% under Labour up to the crash in 2008-9.

Over the 2003-8 period leading up to the crash, only 37% received incapacity benefit long term, while 38% were on benefit for less tha one year.

Unemployment benefit levels fall well below what research shows most people believe should form a minimum household budget.   A single adult of working age receives just 40% of the weekly minimum income standard, and a couple with two children receive only 62% of the weekly minimum.

The truth is that many of the people claiming incapacity benefits are those with low employability in areas of few jobs.   Unemployment remains at 2.6 million, there are an average of 8 persons chasing every available job, and most employers (given the choice, which in a very slack labour market they have) would prefer not to take on the risk and hassle of emplying a disabled person.   Many people then end up in a situation where they are not fit enough to do the jobs they can get, but can’t get the jobs they can do.

http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2012/11/when-is-labour-going-to-destroy-the-tory-welfare-myths/#more-4463

PTSD victim’s hunger strike ignored by Parliament and banned by Facebook

A Parliamentary Petition for a debate on the hunger striker, George Rolph, has been denied, and on the 14th day of starving himself (3rd June 2013), he was banned by Facebook.
Please sign here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-house-of-commons-permit-a-debate-on-the-hunger-striker-george-rolph

Why is George Rolph on hunger strike?  This is the explanation in his own words:


An Announcement About My Protest.
George Rolph

“When I began my protest my aim was not hurt or cause distress to anyone but those who should be hurt and distressed because they deserve to be. Neither did I intend to take my life, but to give it in the service of others also suffering under the brutal and cruel regime of ATOS and the DWP.
I did not ask to be placed on disability benefit. My doctor made that decision when he gave me a sick note to take to the DHSS as it was then. He gave me that note because it was clear I could no longer hold down a job. I wanted to work but I just could not do so. I have PTSD.
I sought help for the PTSD but It was almost impossible to find any. This country is way behind America in that regard. My doctor got me a counsellor. She asked me to lay on a couch while she played dolphin music to me. I left in disgust. I wanted help coping with the symptoms, not to be a part of some new age hippy experiment.
I found a psychiatric drop-in centre nearby and went in and poured out my heart to a bored looking man who said virtually nothing. At the end, he left the office and returned shortly after with a piece of paper. He handed it to me; made it clear it was time for me to leave and showed me the door. When I got outside I looked at the paper. It was a list of books to read. One of the titles I remember was “How to contact your inner child.” I was stupefied that this was the level of care being offered to the sick by people being paid very handsome salaries. Sheer, disinterested laziness lay behind that book list!
I took the list to the Library and the girl took it to see if they could order them for me. Some of them cost over £60 one of them was over £100. She laughed and said the Library could not afford to buy books like this and said I needed a specialist reference Library. I threw the paper in the bin.
The level of benefits I was getting placed me just above the poverty line and sometimes, when many bills came together, below the poverty line. I watched my life going down the toilet. I was eating rubbish food. Wearing second hand clothes bought from charity shops. I was never totally on top of bills, so to pay them I would have to eat beans on toast every day for two weeks and vitamin supplements. In Winter I was frightened of turning on the heating. I had a fridge-freezer that I turned onto the lowest safe setting to conserve electricity. I would never have more than one light bulb burning and those were energy saving bulbs. When my hoover burnt out I could no longer clean the carpet and I watched as the grime built up. I could not afford a new hoover.
In time you become inured to living in filth. You stop seeing it because you can do nothing about it. You just try to keep yourself clean and presentable to the world. I wore a false smile everyday so people would not know the strain I was feeling inside. I felt like half a man; a failure; but I went on in the hope that the future may get brighter some day.
One day I saw a job advertised. Working from home in Telesales. I decided to give it a go. Maybe, if I was working from home, I could fit the job around my symptoms. It was a big decision. If I took the job and could not handle it, I would lose all benefits. I took the risk. I worked very hard for three weeks and then I fell apart. It is the nature of PTSD that routines can be almost impossible to maintain. You cannot go night after night with little sleep and remain a fully functioning human being who rises at 7am and works to 5pm. I quit and I lost all benefits.
When my last pay cheque ran out I sat in a house with no power and no food wondering if I would starve or freeze to death first. Finally I went to a local church and began to beg. I had never felt so degraded in my life. An old Scottish couple heard my pleas and came to my rescue. Out of their own pockets they began shopping for three and they paid my power bills too. I now had heat, food and light again. I then went to war with the DHSS, won the battle and my benefits were restored after three more weeks. God bless that Scottish couple. They were a model of what Christianity is supposed to be.
My life returned to a routine of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Just trying to keep my head above water. I used to read reports in the media of people living a life of luxury on the dole and wonder how they managed it. I never read about what it is really like.
Of course, I saw through the government and media agenda on the subject. If they could blame those on the dole for daring to take it, they could hide the truth of what life was like for those honest people living on it. The government needed cash for wars, grand building projects, like high speed rail links and for fiddling their expenses. They did not want to give cash to the poor, but they also wanted to look like they did.
The art of spin.
Then one day the call came to visit an ATOS assessment centre in Croydon. I duly went along. I went without food for two days to pay for the train and bus fairs to get there, but they said I could claim those expenses back. I would have to wait three weeks to get those fairs back though.
I went, I sat through the interview. I passed. Later I was called to do the same again. I went, I sat through the interview. I passed. Then again.I went, I sat through the interview. I passed. Then once more. Same questions. Same responses to those questions. I failed!
They did not tell me there and then I had failed. I found out a month later at a compulsory job centre interview. I had drawn my last benefits that day. All benefits were now cut off.
I was in shock for three days. I could not read, let alone fill out the appeal form I had been given. I would stare at the form but the words would not penetrate my mind. My whole world was crumbling around me. The terrible implications for my immediate future were pounding at my mind.
Bailiffs banging on the door. Power cut off. No food. Eviction for non payment of rent. On the streets at sixty years old. Dying in obscurity down an alley somewhere.
Why? Who did I hurt? Even criminals get a warm bed, three meals a day and clothing.
I was not stealing from anyone. In fact, when a friend gave me £20 for helping load a van when he moved house, I took £10 of it and handed it in the DHSS office in Bromley because I was not allowed to earn more that £10 a week. Why was I now being punished by ATOS for being sick and being honest?
How did I fail? There was no sense or logic to it. If I passed three times and nothing had changed, why had I failed on the forth occasion. This smelt of a whim. Someone at the assessment centre had made a decision that I was going to fail in order to meet their target. They met their target. I met horror.
How do they sleep?
I typed “Dealing with ATOS” into Google and I started reading. What I found horrified me. They had done this to thousands of people and people were dying!
Dear friend and supporter. I am going to make an announcement, but before I do so I want to strain your patience just a little longer. I want to show you what REAL criminal scroungers look like and then I want you to remember that this government and Prime Minister insists we remain a part of this villainous exercise, while at the same time they beat up the disabled in our own country.
This is part of a report from the Times newspaper.
February 22, 2009
By Jonathan Oliver (Times Online)
A LEAKED internal report has revealed systematic abuses by Euro MPs of parliamentary allowances that enable them to pocket more than £1m in profits from a single five-year term, writes Jonathan Oliver.
The auditor’s confidential report, suppressed by the Brussels parliament, discloses the extraordinary frauds used by MEPs to siphon off staff allowances funded by taxpayers.
It shows that some claimed for paying assistants of whom no record exists, awarded them bonuses of up to 1½ times annual salary and diverted public money into front companies.
An investigation into the abuses of staff allowances worth up to £182,000 a year — many of which are paid by MEPs to members of their family — was delivered in January last year but was not published.
A copy of the 92-page report, prepared by Robert Galvin, the parliament’s head of internal audit, has been seen by The Sunday Times. It reveals:
Payments were made to assistants who were not accredited with the European parliament and to companies whose accounts showed no activity.
End-of-year bonuses worth up to 19½ times monthly salary were paid to assistants to allow members to use up their full annual allowance.
Payments, supposedly for secretarial work, were made to a crèche whose manager happened to be a local politician from the MEP’s political party.
Payments were made straight into the coffers of national political parties.
Some assistants doubled their money by banking pay-offs from outgoing MEPs at the same time as receiving salaries from incoming ones.
One MEP claimed to have paid the full £182,000 staff allowance to one person, suspected of being a relative.
The revelations come as British MEPs look forward to an inflation-busting pay rise this year that could see their take-home pay rising by almost 50%.
In his report, Galvin said that overpayments of allowances were common, adding: “Remuneration paid may not always be justified by the real costs of providing parliamentary assistance.” He warned that abuses exposed the parliament to “financial, legal and reputational risk”.
The report was based on a representative sample of 167 payments — out of a total of 4,686 — made during October 2004. It suggests that Galvin unearthed only a tiny fraction of the many corrupt practices employed by some of the 785 members of the 27-nation parliament. His analysis of the 2004 figures then took years to surface within the secretive Brussels bureaucracy.
Dear friend. Can you see?  We are being run by gangsters in expensive suits who are lining their own pockets while they strip all they can get away with from our own people. They are stealing your money while hypocritically blaming the poor for doing the same!
THAT is evil. No matter how you cut it, that is EVIL.
I fought back with the only weapon I had and decided to go on a hunger and water strike in protest and to try and alert as many people as possible to what is going on. I know that politicians willing to do these things are not going to listen to me. BUT I also know that if YOU raise your voices loudly enough they will HAVE TO listen to YOU!
However, there was a flaw in my strategy that I did not take into account. In doing this and making my time so short, I was actually going to be hurting the very people I needed to support me. I have been so moved by people who have been saying to me that they support me 100% but would I please just drink.
My dear friends Jess and Ian, who have been stalwarts in backing my protest have both carried a lot of anxiety about my health and I know many of you have also. One of the biggest problems has been the time factor that my hunger and water strike imposed. A maximum of just 12 days to live but probably shorter than that in reality.
After much soul searching I have decided to drink today, but I shall not eat until victory has been won. I gather I can expect to live for around 60 days without food. That should be enough time to mobilise a huge protest to get ATOS stopped and to demand retribution for the needless deaths that have already happened.
Murder is wrong!  Officially sanctioned murder is just as wrong!
Please. Let us all fight back and for once, let the decent people be heard instead of those evil voices that con, deceive, lie and pervert our country and its values for their own ends.
We have to take our country back. This fight will be one step on that journey. I beg you. Help me to win it so we can help those who cannot help themselves.
George Rolph

Further information here

Why I’m Lighting a Candle to the Many

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Tonight I will light a candle to the many

Contribution from Suzanne Kelsey

Hat tip
Prue Plumridge

I appreciate there will always be huge differences of opinion regarding politics and there will be many thousands of people who have attended Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and I am not affected by this. (although I do take offence at the obscene amount of money it is costing during a time of severe austerity) Also many thousands will have watched it at home caught up in the pomp, circumstance and emotion of the occasion, that is obviously their right just as it is my right not to watch it. I cannot be a hypocrite unlike some of her own party who actually stabbed her in the back, which resulted in a very undignified exit from no.10 in 1990.

Therefore I do hope in the same way people will not take offence if I in my own way reminisce on why I do not think Margaret Thatcher left this country in a better state and show my respect to all those who suffered and continue to do so due to the extreme ideologies surrounding Thatcherism. Her death sad as it is for her family, friends and admirers for me has been a salient reminder of how it all started to go wrong and brought to my attention the major difference between compassionate politics and conviction politics.

Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan have long been my heroes; they did so much for the working class people of this country that was in desperate straits after two world wars and the great class divide.

Atlee , or Thatcher n

Attlee introduced the welfare state and the NHS, got rid of the horrendous workhouse ethos and made life bearable for countless millions, not just the privileged few, giving them the right to a decent life, equality, freedom from fear and last but not least aspirations. Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice and spearheaded the establishment of the NHS, the most equitable universal health care system in the world. I was one of those able to benefit from this major change in society, I left home and took up further study and subsequently had a decent, fulfilling profession, unlike my parents who in their working class family could not even afford to attend the grammar school they should have gone to after passing their 11 plus, both leaving school at a very young age.

Attlee+and+Bevan

I am therefore lighting a candle for Atlee and Bevan and all they stood for and which tragically are ultimately being destroyed by Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.

  • A candle in honour of Nelson Mandela who did so much for apartheid and whom Mrs. Thatcher called a ‘grubby terrorist.’
  • A candle for the thousands of innocent people murdered by Pinochet and whom Margaret Thatcher called a champion of freedom, who was later charged with genocide.
  • A candle for the thousands of families and communities who suffered and are still suffering due to the destruction of our 150 coal mines, resulting in the importing of very expensive coal from abroad. We had the safest and most organised mining industry in the world; miners had fought long and hard to get this through their unions. I am sure we can all remember the many stories of colliery disasters in the past. However it was still a challenging and gruelling job and like many I felt so desperately angered about what happened to these hardworking miners.
  • A candle for the many unemployed as manufacturing industries were also closed during Margaret Thatcher’s time resulting in 3.6 million plus citizens ending up on the scrap heap, suffering depression and deprivation with crime and poverty doubling.
  • A candle for the 96 Hillsborough victims whose deaths were not fully investigated during her time.
  • A candle for all of those hardworking people who lost money when banks collapsed and all those suffering now due to the current austerity measures because of bank failures. Financial deregulation that Margaret Thatcher introduced, has turned city institutions into avaricious money pits with their strangle-hold on the lives of ordinary people.
  • A candle to the dead and dying public services and the privatisation for profit that Margaret Thatcher introduced and not forgetting the ensuing corporate greed culture that now exists. These services should be there to benefit the citizens of this country who pay inordinate amounts of varying taxes for such services and should not be allowed to line the pockets of the greedy. Overseas companies are now running many of our services inefficiently and for maximum profit and in which many members of parliament have vested interests.
  • A candle for the thousands who ‘inconveniently’ died after they were found fit to work by Atos, another private overseas company demonising the very sick, some of them my heart buddies. (See Calum’s list if you do not believe me)
  • A candle to the present day draconian measures been undertaken by ‘Thatcherism’ that sees many working families struggling and relying on benefits due to the appalling lack of a living wage, rip off utility prices and astronomical rents. Margaret Thatcher opposed even a minimum wage.
  • A candle to the many homeless and those facing that imminent possibility, due to the bedroom tax as there is a drastic shortage of housing. Margaret Thatcher gerrymandered local authorities by forcing through council house sales which may have been good for the council tenant that could afford them but she prevented councils from spending the money they got from selling the houses to build new ones, in fact spending on social housing dropped by 67%…

These are just a few of the policies that I cannot ever condone, there are many more.

Ultimately there is no doubt in my mind that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and I like many activists and campaigners are merely striving to make the world a better, safer and fairer place for the many not the few, with their great sense of entitlement. This is what we have fought for for so long and we cannot allow it to be stolen away, we must protect our rights and particularly those who are particularly vulnerable and fall on hard times through no fault of their own, it could happen to any one of us…No, do not celebrate Margaret Thatcher’s death but consolidate and reflecting on where we are heading and remember the famous words of Bevan:

‘‘No longer will wealth be an advantage nor poverty a disadvantage.”