Is Time up for “The Big Lie”?

Is Time up for ‘The Big Lie’?

Jim Grundy
Big Lie
The ‘Big Lie’ theory is best summed up by the well-known phrase that if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one, repeat it often enough and you’ll be believed. It works and, ironically, it relies upon the basic honesty of most people to make it work.
Everybody lies. Of course we do but those lies are the small things that make life easier. You do like the meal that’s been cooked for you; yes, that new shirt, suit looks great, etc., etc. Lying is normally a harmless social lubricant, with no malice involved. And so most people think others operate on basically the same level.
But they don’t.

Over the past five years the Tories and their Lib Dem supporters have lied on an epic scale. Orwellian double-think and newspeak has nothing on them. They damn Labour for borrowing, whilst borrowing more than Labour has done, not only during the previous Labour administration but in history; boast of growth whilst overseeing the slowest economic recovery since the South Sea Bubble 300 years ago; and a rate of growth that still doesn’t match the one they inherited – and let no-one mention that the national debt Labour was bequeathed in 1997 (as a % of GDP) was larger than was passed on to the Tories in 2010.

The Tories know this perfectly well. But the credit crunch was a Tory wet dream, offering undreamed-of opportunities to implement a huge shift of wealth away from the public to a tiny ruling elite. It is no coincidence that the U.K. now has the largest number of billionaires per head of population than any other country. When the Tories ask where the money has gone – referencing ‘that’ note – the answer is clear.

From the privatisation of the Royal Mail for £1bn less than its market value – at a conservative estimate – to the handing out of NHS contracts to the private sector, the evidence of how this asset-stripping is playing out is there for all to see.

But what is in plain sight is not always what is most visible.

I give you, for your distraction, the ever-changing galaxy of scapegoats presented by our friends in the media and their Tory chums: foreigners; gay men and women; black people; asylum-seekers; refugees; gypsies; benefit scroungers; and, the current favourite – Muslims. There are many, many more, of course.

The crowding around the political centre ground left many working class people feeling abandoned, disenfranchised, bemused by what has happened and angry at the impact the undermining of their lives, homes and jobs has had upon them. UKIP, the ultra-Tories, have simply taken the next step, exploiting those fears to argue, for example, that raising the Minimum Wage would attract more lazy foreigners to the country, to take our jobs whilst living on benefits – let’s not dwell on that contradiction too long. The lie remains, only it’s even larger and even more dangerous.

Yes, only an idiot would argue that strategy hasn’t worked to an extent. A bigger idiot, though, would argue that everyone attracted by UKIP’s rhetoric is, therefore, racist, a hopeless, mindless bigot to be dismissed. Of course they’re not.

In their private lives when people go through the ups and downs of life they often grasp at small, almost insignificant issues and obsess about them. An argument about a partner not remembering to do the shopping, to put the bin out, to sort the gas bill, all these become mountainous problems because they feel themselves to still have an element of control over them – the ‘small stuff’. The underlying problems are too big, too difficult to face and are put to one side but forgetting to hang out the washing, now that sums up what’s wrong with your life…..

As in private, so it follows that the big public issues of the day can seem unfathomable, so far beyond their control that they don’t bear thinking about, let alone understanding, because there is no point. An earnest discussion of globalisation, the free movement of capital but not labour or the operation of City trading houses will leave many people completely cold. So, back to the ‘small stuff’: now, that bloke at no. 26 who’s never done a day’s work in his life, who claims benefits…., he’s the one. He is what is wrong with society. And those they read about in the press, now if we sort them….

And, returning to the theme, why would anyone tell such blatant lies about Romanians, Muslims, etc.? There must be some truth in it because they wouldn’t print such stuff if it wasn’t basically true, give or take the odd exaggeration…. Surely. Surely, people don’t tell such outrageous lies….

The last General Election saw an unpopular Labour Government, dealing with the biggest financial crisis in modern times, still suffering from the hangover of ‘New Labour’ – just how toxic that had become – and it hit rock bottom. But the Tories didn’t win. Despite everything, they had to be propped up by the Lib Dems (when ‘propping up’ was fine – it’s a crime now, it seems.). Was this the first sign of the weakening of the ‘Big Lie’? People were clearly fed up with Labour but not enough bought into the Tory message.

Cameron and Osborne have perfected their straight faces whilst telling the biggest lies possible but still not enough people have fallen for them. And as the election has approached, the lies have gotten larger and, abandoning all pretence of reporting news, their allies in the traditional media have joined in making a huge noise about how a man eats a bacon sarnie. There can never have been a worse, more negative, down-right vicious campaign in modern British political history.

But the louder they shout, the clearer it is becoming that not enough people are listening to them. Today’s headlines [6th May 2015] go beyond hysterical. The plebs, it seems, aren’t paying enough attention.

Younger people have tended to vote differently to the older sections in society but is that gap widening? Some of the polls suggest there is a growing and significant difference between the levels of support for UKIP by age-group. Society has changed and UKIP focuses upon older people, relying on a twisted version of nostalgia to spread its appeal, so that’s understandable. But what else is going on? At the same time the amount of time spent by people reading print news media is seemingly in terminal decline, likewise the time spent watching network TV news is suffering too. By contrast, the numbers accessing their information from the internet, and social media, has grown and grown. And internet polls are now beginning to highlight different outcomes to those carried out by telephone. (But that’s all Russell Brand’s fault, isn’t it?)

There is always the issue of causation against correlation but is the increasing use of the internet with the access it provides to a bewildering array of information (yes, not all good), information that is not controlled by peddlers of the ‘Big Lie’ changing how people think? If the messages given to people by the Tories can’t rely upon their massive reinforcement by the Murdochs and Mails of this world, is it the beginning of the end for the very tool that has been so useful to them up to now?

Well, probably not. Not yet. But, to paraphrase Winston Churchill – a man who knew the power of words if nothing else – whilst this isn’t the end; it isn’t even the beginning of the end; but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning for the growing challenge to the ‘Big Lie’.

And aren’t they terrified of that?

Welcome to Breadline Britain

Quote

Welcome to Breadline Britain
from Gracie Samuels

With all the furore over energy prices and now water bills, it’s about time someone mentioned those who are forced to buy their energy through prepayment metering by the energy companies.

Often it is the weakest, the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society who are forced to purchase their energy like this. For example: The low-waged; the disabled; the elderly; the unemployed and single parents, those forced to live on benefits and also those “hardworking people” the prime minister talks so glibly about who are struggling with the soaring cost of living. These are the people who are existentially being hit by these price hikes much harder than people who pay directly by direct debit.

As these people have been placed on prepayment plans by their energy providers they will end paying more than the price hike for their domestic fuel bills. Prepayment means they will be asked to pay for their gas and electricity before they actually use it.

Those consumers who have been placed on prepayment metering have usually been placed on them because they cannot afford their energy bills or may have been late paying their bills on a few occasions. These consumers often have no choice and and the metre[s] will be installed by their energy providers whether the consumer wants them or not.

The energy companies take the view that they will not terminate supply for non-payment but will install a prepayment metre. Often the rate of gas or electricity consumption is set on an estimation of how much the consumer is likely to use, plus the metre is also set to recoup any debt owed to the company. So if the consumer buys £15 of electricity or gas on their card/key to top up their prepayment metre and they owe the energy company for a previous bill, the energy company will automatically take half of that payment to recover any arrears and for standing charges. The consumer may be left with as little as £7.50 for gas or electricity out of their original £15.00. This process will continue until the debt is cleared. So if the debt is around £100  it may take at least around 16 weeks to clear. That is 16 weeks of often the poorest, the disabled, the low waged, the unemployed and often some of our most vulnerable consumers of gas and electricity who are already experiencing fuel poverty being forced into even more fuel poverty while the debt is collected. Unfortunately the energy companies do not usually make adjustments for seasonal collections of debt, so the arrears could be being collected through the deepest of our winter months, exposing people to the risk of hypothermia!

Many of these metres are placed outside in awkward to reach places or inside in awkward to reach places making it very difficult for the elderly or disabled to reach. This also has hidden problems and dangers if the consumers does run out of gas for any reason it will mean relighting pilot lights on gas boilers before normal supply can be fed through to their heating systems, often people, especially the elderly and the disabled have great problems reigniting these pilot lights especially if they have back boilers as this means laying on the floor to reach the pilot light and this means they will be forced to sit in freezing cold conditions until someone can come and help them. (if indeed they have anyone that can help!)

This is not all, because these vulnerable people are on prepayment plans and metres, the energy companies say it costs more to collect their bills so people will usually pay more for their energy. if they cannot afford to buy tokens or re charge their card or keys then they will not have any energy. Also during the coldest months when people need to buy more gas and electricity to keep warm, then the more energy they purchase, the more of their money will be taken off of them to pay off their arrears.

There are also hidden costs, the nearest charging point may not be near and consumers will be faced with the additional cost of getting to their nearest charging point. If people are on both gas and electricity prepayment plans then the charging points for gas and electricity may even be located in separate locations adding to the problems.

What is the government doing about this very serious problem? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! As usual David Cameron is standing by and allowing his friends the in the energy companies to make even more money out of our most vulnerable people.

Not only is Cameron and this hideous government doing nothing to help these people, they are actually making their situations worse by cutting their benefits, even though many of these people will actually be IN WORK!

Iain Duncan Smith at the Department for Work and Pensions has made these peoples lives intolerable in many different ways will be making it impossible for these struggling people not only to feed and clothe their families and themselves this winter, but to pay something as basic as their fuel bills will also prove impossible.The hidden costs of the Tories and Liberal Democrats welfare reforms are many and varied.

Bedroom Tax – thousands of people are now being forced to pay between £14 and £24 per week or between £56 and £96 extra per month out of their low wages or benefits for extra bedrooms if they are deemed not to be needed by the DWP. Many of these people are working on low pay or are disabled and need their bedrooms and thus far it has not created one single situation where it has actually helped anyone, there are no smaller properties for people to move into. It is one of the nastiest ill thought out, ill conceived pieces of legislation in the entire history of the British parliament. Yet still this government will not admit they have got it wrong and get rid of this ludicrous policy. (If the Labour party win the next election they have promised to repeal the bedroom tax) 96% of people affected by the Tories bedroom tax have nowhere to go, in effect they are trapped and are now falling into arrears with council for non payment of bedroom tax as well as falling into arrears with domestic fuel bills.

Housing Benefit Caps – Starting in July 2013 and earlier in some pilot areas, the government introduced a cap on the amount of housing benefit you can receive. At first, the benefit Cap will only affect those in receipt of Housing Benefit, however later, it could also affect those who are in receipt of Universal Credit. if the cap affects  you then your benefit will go down. Again this not only affects those who are entirely in receipt of benefits, it also affects those on low wages who receive help with their rent and council tax.

Working Families Tax Credit Cuts – Due to government changes the new rules on working tax credits from April 2013 will hit around 212,000 low income families according to information published in the House of Commons Library. This will reduce income on average by around £2,600 per year. This affects ALL those “hard working people” that David Cameron keeps talking about. Up until now providing one partner works at least 16 hours per week, they would be eligible for tax credits, but now couples will need to work at least 24 hours between them to apply, with one partner working at least 16 hours. It means that “hardworking families” will see their incomes fall by around 30%.

Council Tax benefit cuts – Are forcing people to stay on the side of the law or to break it in order to feed, liable for charges between 10% and 30% of the full bill.  Again many of these people are IN work earning low pay and have been forced into this position by this government. How much money are councils losing in non payment and in chasing people for payment? how much money is taking all of these people to country costing the country? How are people already struggling to live going to manage having to pay higher fuel bills and some are paying the bedroom tax and some are also now being charge council tax on top of everything else.

People Queuing outside Peterborough Magistrates Court
Answering Summonses for non payment of council tax.
It’s not they won’t pay it is because they CAN’T pay!

How will they manage to clothe their families and heat and light their homes? More than a 100,000 people have been issued with court summonses for non payment of council tax. Many people whom have never been in council tax arrears in their lives before now suddenly find themselves in debt owing large amounts and hundreds are turning up on council office doorsteps to protest, or are being forced to form queues outside Magistrates courts where they will be tried and fined EXTRA money for non payment of council tax bills. Most of the people who are being fined do NOT have the money to pay the bill in the first place which is why they are now being forced to court. An estimated 1.9 million who did not have to pay council tax before the changes now find themselves deeply in debt with their incomes cut and no way of paying for soaring food prices and soaring energy prices.

As you can see some of David Cameron’s and the Tories and Liberal Democrat government’s “hardworking families” can be clobbered at least 4 times each and the total effect on their weekly incomes will be absolutely devastating, can anyone in this absolutely ludicrous insane narcissistic government please explain how on top of all these cust, people are going to be able to pay to keep their homes warm and lit? How will all those on prepayment metres cope with the soaring costs of energy on top of all of these cuts?

Why isn’t someone doing something about the energy companies charging vulnerable people MORE per unit of energy ABOVE the price everyone else pays?

The devastating verdict is in just one year this Tory led Coalition Government has pushed a million people into absolute poverty and all the progress the previous Labour government made in tackling relative child poverty has ground to a halt. In their first year this Government have pushed a million people into poverty and it is getting worse.
Now more than 5 million people in Britain are being paid less than the minimum wage, thanks to the Tory and Lib Dem Coalition Government’s naked attack on peoples living standards and their deliberate driving down of wages.

How are these people going to afford to heat and light their homes?

A recent Oxfam report says that austerity will drive more than one million children into poverty. The Oxfam report says George Osborne’s cuts and tax rises are “massively increasing” inequality in the UK and the Government’s austerity policies will push a further 800,000 children into poverty. Oxfam warns that by 2020  there will be an additional 800,000 children – up from 2.3 million at present – and 1.9m more adults living below the breadline.

How are these people going to afford to heat and light their homes?

Food Banks – Over 350,000 people received emergency help from the Trussell Trust food banks between April and September 2013. Inquiries  for help at foodbanks has tripled this past year. The level of poverty and deprivation in the country is not acceptable, it is scandalous. Michael Gove should hang his head in shame for accusing people of not managing their money properly, they have no money to manage he and his government have seen to that! And his wife filling her fridge and cupboards with junk foods throughout the summer and writing about it is just callous and shows how out of touch this hideous government is.

The Trussell Trust has also reported that people have been giving back items that need cooking because they cannot afford the gas or electricity to cook them, this is an absolute abomination, we are the 7th richest country in the world and we are forcing the poor, unemployed, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable to pay for the greed of the bankers.

And what is George Osborne’s answer to this while Ed Miliband is fighting the Government and the energy conglomerates to try and get a better deal for people? George Osborne is away with the fucking fairies in the EU taking them to court to safeguard bankers mega bonuses and just to add insult to injury, Osborne is forcing the taxpayer to pay over a million pounds in bankers legal fees!

The government is grabbing money from poor people hand over fist at the same time as they have given a huge tax concessions to millionaires handing them at least a £100,000 cheque tax cut. I bet they do not have to worry about turning the heating on, or worry about having enough power to cook the food a food bank gave them!

Today it is reported that cabinet ministers have been claiming thousands of pounds for energy costs, while Tories are all in it together!

Nadhim Zahawi laughing with the PM
after the millionaire claimed £5882
back in energy costs

 Our poor and vulnerable are freezing cold and cannot cook their food, and one millionaire Tory Nadhim Zahawi claimed  £5882 off of the taxpayer in just 12 months, more than four times the average household bill! Yep those –

I am so glad they think the situation they have caused in this country to be so funny, they laugh while millions struggle in despair and the winter hasn’t even started properly yet!

Someone needs to do something and do it fast, if they do not then people are going to die of starvation and hypothermia this winter.

And why are the energy conglomerates charging people with prepayments metres MORE for their energy? It is a bloody disgrace!

114 year Workers Rights Scrapped by Coalition Government.

Quote

 114 year Workers’ Rights Scrapped  by Coalition Government.

From @Earwiggle

So, it’s official – workers today have less entitlement to be safe at work than those in Victorian Times. That the Government supports those who work and strive to support families is a nonsense. Consistently, we witness the Coalition continuously and callously attack ordinary working people.  David Cameron rejoices at a return to the Victorian “Golden Age”. (1)

Child%20Labor

I recall a death certificate which I acquired from genealogical research. Metal polishing in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter in Victorian Times meant working with toxic metals, and one woman met her death when her crinoline became trapped in a lathe. These workers lived in poverty  in insanitary back-to-back-housing, in poor health due to poor diet. Elsewhere, children were working in cotton mills and on the land, with little or no education and with dangerous machinery. I had imagined this was history – not the future.

The Institute for Employment Rights reports:

Victorian Era Workers’ Rights Scrapped By Coalition:

Last week, on the 25th April 2013, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was granted royal assent, bringing into law the government’s widely unpopular proposals to scrap employers’ 114-year-old liability for their staff’s health and safety in the workplace.

This means that the burden of proof now falls on the employee to show that the employer had been negligent in their duties towards them, rather than the employer being asked to prove they were following regulations correctly, as has been the case since the Victorian era. This is likely to result in injured workers, and the families of the deceased, being unable to claim compensation for their losses due to accidents at the workplace, seeing as the evidence needed to prove negligence is held by the employer rather than the employee – and employers guilty of negligence are unlikely to willingly hand over the proof. (2)

The  Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill ERRB was amended at the very last minute  by the government, by insertion of 61 clause which will mean that a worker can be injured due to an employer’s breach of a statutory duty within health and safety at work regulations but the worker will be prevented from enforcing that breach.

At present a civil claim for personal injury can be brought for negligence and/or breach of statutory duty. A breach of statutory duty would occur, for instance, if an employer failed to comply with regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA), such as failure to guard a machine or keep a gangway clear of obstructions. (3)

Employers will no longer be liable in the civil courts for the criminal offence of a breach of the HSWA regulations. In every case, rather than be able to rely on the breach of the regulations, the worker will have to prove the employer was negligent.

With the removal of legal aid, non unionised workers would be unable to challenge. Workers vulnerability to exploitative employers has been set back more than a century. Rights achieved by solidarity of working people by the Labour Movement have been ripped away. Labour opposed the ERRB Bill and must ensure a reversal when returned to government.

The ERRB motion was passed before some voters went to the polls in Local Elections last week , and without mention on the BBC and little in mainstream news.

On 16th April the government abolished the Agricultural Workers Wages Board, (AWWB) without even a debate (4)  in the Commons. This will result in poverty and could lead to exploitation of children.

Next – the minimum wage is to be targeted. Introduced by the Labour Party, this lifted many from abject poverty.  The Telegraph (5) reports that the minimum wage is at risk, and   it could be frozen, or cut. This will put millions at risk of poverty. We are living in a divided society, where women and children are being hit hardest. People are going into debt to eat and we are seeing a resurgence of scurvy. How can this be even contemplated?

Labour List on Minimum Wage Cut

Before it was introduced millions were working for terrifyingly small salaries as low as £1 an hour. The minimum wage made work pay and released millions from the most abject poverty. Despite the scare-mongering from the right, it didn’t cost jobs. It set a legal floor below which we as a society said we would not allow – or force – people to go.  (6)

We are seeing so many of Labour’s achievements in government being rolled back, the NHS, welfare state, free school meals and improved access to education.  Add to that Legal Aid, the Open University, and women’s rights. In recent years, Surestart and the Minimum Wage. Equality for Women is threatened as the Government attacks Maternity Rights, and ChildCare Support. The Tories say they want “work to pay” … but it’s certainly  not the workers who will benefit, it’s employers and big business.

The Conservative Party have not won a General Election in 21 years , yet the Liberal Democrats continue to keep this extreme, reactionary government in power, allowing  total destruction of the Welfare State, stripping assets built and earned by working people and actively pursue policies which erode Workers’ Rights. Will Liberal Democrats look to their consciences and walk?

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING

  1. Guardian: Conservative Nostalgia for Victorian Times is Dangerous
  2. Employment Rights: Victorian Era Workers’ Rights Scrapped By Coalition:
  3. RMT -Transport  Union: Return of the Dark Satanic Mills: The End of Civil Liability in Health and Safety
  4. MPs abolish Farm Wages Board  Farmers Weekly
  5. Telegraph: Minimum Wage could be Frozen or Cut, Government Suggests
  6. Labour List: They’re coming after the Minimum Wage – Get Angry!
  7. Maternity Action : Policy and Research
  8. Think Left: Remember the Real Divide – it is Rich and Poor
  9. GMB: Government taking Workforce back to Victorian Times
  10. Morning Star: UKIP MEP blasted after Maternity Rights Rant
  11. Guardian: One is Seven Women made Redundant after Maternity Leave
  12. BBC: Many are borrowing for food

IDS, benefit cuts and making work pay.

Quote

I agree with Zoe Williams when she writes about the Tories:

… the true division of the Conservative party – the ones who are mistaken versus those who are wrong deliberately.

Some of them are simply out of their depth, do not understand the benefits system or a government’s realistic prospects of controlling the economy…Others take the Fox News approach: if you can just get enough misinformation out there, enough people who were only half-listening might half-believe you. Competing claims don’t need to relate to facts, their validity will be judged on the manner in which they’re delivered. You may have to retract later, but what does that matter? Does it even count as humiliation when the only people talking about it are the ones who disagreed with you anyway?

This is politics at its most cynical, its most rebarbative; this is politics pursued purely for personal advancement and for the game, in defiance of the public interest and the long term. I have a feeling that the first type of Tory would despise this second type even more than I do. The trick now is to tell them apart. (1)

It is open to debate as to which camp Iain Duncan Smith belongs, given his latest pronouncements on benefits:

 ‘IDS on welfare reform -how do I lie to thee let me count the ways’

‘from factcheck analysing IDS’s claimed figures which were inflated massively as you can see here

He claimed Labour spending was up 58% when it was 8%!

He claimed massive amounts of public monies being lost to fraud – the fraud rate was 0.7%!

He said tax credits rose by 20% in the last two years under Labour – It was 8.8%

 

However regardless of motivation, as George Eaton writes:

‘… even if we accept Duncan Smith’s baseline, his logic is profoundly flawed. The fact that benefits have risen faster than wages is an argument for increasing wages (for instance, by ensuring greater payment of the living wage), not for cutting benefits.’ (3)

Henry Ford would certainly have agreed with George about the flawed logic of allowing wages to decline in real terms :

I have learned through the years a good deal about wages. I believe in the first place that, all other considerations aside, our own sales depend in a measure upon the wages we pay. If we can distribute high wages, then that money is going to be spent and it will serve to make storekeepers and distributors and manufacturers and workers in other lines more prosperous and their prosperity will be reflected in our sales.

My Life and Work – an autobiography of Henry Ford, pp 86 

Hat-tip – http://www.3spoken.co.uk/2013/01/henry-ford-on-wages.html

 

In other words, Henry Ford understood ‘Keynes’ Paradox of Thrift’ and IDS et al either do not know it, or do not choose to know it.

Fundamental to macroeconomics is a very simple formula which this government seems to completely ignore:

Spending equals income equals output which creates employment.

If IDS and the Tory/LD government really wanted to get people off benefits and into work, they would raise the minimum wage and increase benefits.  That would increase spending because unlike the rich, the poor have to spend all their income on surviving.

The increased spending would create employment which would get people off benefits and into work.  Of course, this would be even more effective if government actively invested in job creation.

And as an incidental, the resulting increased tax revenue would also close the structural deficit that they’re always banging on about.

‘…  if you are obsessed with reducing deficits, the best way is to engender growth. The dumbest thing a government can do if it wants a lower deficit is to impose fiscal austerity. There are a lot of dumb governments out there. The problem is they are aided and abetted by criminal types who know full well it is dumb to cut net public spending but pressure governments to do so as long as the space for spending on them expands.’

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=22186#more-22186

As Zoe Williams says:

‘.. this is politics pursued purely for personal advancement and for the game, in defiance of the public interest and the long term. I have a feeling that the first type of Tory would despise this second type even more than I do. The trick now is to tell them apart. (1)

I look forward to her first type of Tory coming out to demonstrate against the cynical political ploys of this government.

1)   http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/02/iain-duncan-smith-polemic-politics-cynical

2)  http://speye.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/ids-on-welfare-reform-how-do-i-lie-to-thee-let-me-count-the-ways/

3)   http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/01/memo-duncan-smith-low-wages-are-not-argument-cutting-benefits

George Osborne says we’re running out of money ..