The site has been transferred to a commercial host, enabling Yr Obdt Srvt to monetise it – that means we can host adverts and hopefully make a few quid from doing this.
With the blog currently averaging around 200,000 hits per month, and the possible revenue outweighing the amount YOS receives in Carers Allowance by a considerable amount, it seemed silly not to give it a go.
Visitors to the new site at voxpoliticalonline.com will notice that the adverts are intended to compliment the content, rather than clash with it. The idea is to provide commercial options that coincide with the reader’s interests.
However: This is dependent on the actions of the reader. If you click on an ad, that interest is registered and the programs that serve up ads to the site go looking for similar items. This is how they work to keep everything relevant. If you don’t click on any ads, you’ll probably see ads that don’t interest you.
We’re only a few hours in but already the Amazon ads I’ve put up are reacting well to the site, with a book about George Osborne, the excellent NHS: SOS and other relevant items all getting space on the revolving ad.
Google AdSense hasn’t done so well, so far – possibly because the program seems to have insisted on offering mainly financial service adverts. Hopefully this will improve with time.
Of course, you might see no adverts at all – if you have an ad blocker enabled. While you may have done this for perfectly good reasons, may I prevail on you to disable ad blockers when you visit voxpoliticalonline.com? If you can’t see – and don’t do anything with – the adverts, then the site will generate no money for its proprietor and Vox Political will go to the wall. As a reader and support of the site, it seems clear that you wouldn’t want that.
The hope is that Vox Political can transform itself from a highly-read amateur politics site (albeit one written by a professional journalist) into a professional site that makes a living for its author. Here at VP Towers, we’ve been stuck in the benefits trap for too long; this is our chance to escape.
It isn’t VP policy to name names usually, but this gentleman’s tone was so aggressive that he deserves to be identified. On his own FB page he describes himself as ‘Belligerent Ruler of the Planet Earth’. You are encouraged to visit if you want to enjoy more of his pearls of wisdom, such as: “Mental. Thankyou very much to the lefty anti-UKIP article someone posted the other week listing me in the top 8 ‘worst UKIP tweeters’ my Twitter following gave me a much needed boost from fellow Kippers!”
He’s right – that is mental. Or maybe they are…
His communication with me was as follows (in fact the first is much the same as a comment he posted to the blog itself): “The UKIP picture you have published as an article was created by a Green Party member/supporter before the European and Council Elections.
“It’s so outdated it’s cringeworthy.”
Let’s just pause for a moment and look at the caption under the image, which states that “Most of the links on this now-infamous meme have been taken down by UKIP members, anxious to hide the embarrassing facts they revealed. The vote in favour of marital rape is not so easily removed as it is recorded on the European Parliament’s official website.” It explains perfectly adequately that matters have moved on since the image was created.
Back to Mr Evans, who asks: “Are you just recycling out info to damage UKIP or are you genuinely just that out of date?!”
Neither. I was using it as a direct example of the way UKIP behaves.
“The picture makes use of 2010 manifesto policies which have long since been abandoned.
“UKIP’s 2015 General Election manifesto doesn’t come out until September. Same goes for the other parties if you hadn’t realised. So how on Earth can you be critical about any parties policies for an election when they haven’t even been released yet?!
“In fact the only certain policies released by UKIP aren’t mentioned anywhere in your article or that picture so are you intentionally trying to be misleading?!”
You will know, Dear Reader, that this ground has been covered very thoroughly already – here, for example, and also here and here.
So Yr Obdt Srvt was very sure of his ground when he responded: “I checked the accuracy of the information contained in the meme and was able to substantiate everything except the claim about cutting education funding to build aircraft carriers.
“Just because this information has since been taken down (to eliminate embarrassment for the party?) that does not make it any less valid.
“Don’t waste my time with the argument about the manifesto.
“And don’t waste my time with suggestions that I am trying to be misleading. It is UKIP that has tried to mislead the public, and it is UKIP that is desperately trying to cover up its policy indiscretions.”
Alas – as noted in my article earlier today, Kippers don’t like to let the facts get in their way. Mr Evans got back to me with the following:
“Eliminate what embarrassment?
“You are referring to past policies as current policies in your article.”
No. He inferred that, but the line “Policies put forward by UKIP or by high-level members of UKIP include…”, although a quotation from a previous article, is as accurate now as it was when it was first typed, a couple of months ago. UKIP, or high-level members, did put forward those policies. There is no reference in today’s article to whether they are from the past or still active.
“2010 manifesto – 4 years ago for the 2010 General Election “2015 manifesto – Released in September this year for 2015 General Election.”
None of the references in the meme – or those that were discovered when VP was researching its allegations – are from this 2010 manifesto, though. Some are from the 2013 manifesto, and some are from the party’s own policy page (now deleted, although the likelihood of eliminating embarrassment is muted by the fact that UKIP cannot say it was left there for so long by mistake and still expect to be taken seriously).
“UKIP have only divulged a handful of policies non of which are detailed on the picture you referenced.”
Perhaps they weren’t relevant to the points being made.
“What you have referenced has been discussed to death on Twitter and Facebook and even the Green Party chap who created it has admitted it is outdated information.”
We’ll get back to Mr Abberton momentarily.
“Nigel Farage party leader said 5 MONTHS AGO that the 2010 manifesto is outdated, unwanted and will not be used again policies wise for the next General Election.
“Lord Pearson of Rannoch was the party leader at the time of the 2010 election, he compiled and produced the manifesto.”
Irrelevant, for reasons mentioned above. Now we get to the grit:
“Your comment about ’embarrassing the party’ is more an ’embarrassment’ to yourself. You are referencing outdated information as if it is current policies and information. So what you are in fact doing as you have been informed to this fact by myself is lying to your readers…
“Is this what you are? A person intentionally lying to mislead the electorate? If so please tell me…
“You say that UKIP are misleading the electorate. Feel free to tell me how?
“UKIP have said on numerous occasions, varying members and reps that the 2010 manifesto is defunct and not worth the paper it is written on. It no-longer represents UKIP.
“Yet you are posting it as current information which is misleading.
“You are the liar. You have been informed and if you continue to mislead people with discredited and past policies I will make people fully aware of your willingness to do so and your willingness to mislead people for your political agenda.
“You have been warned.”
Let’s go back to Michael Abberton, the “Green Party chap” mentioned a few paragraphs ago.
He and his meme first came to attention when it was revealed that the police had been sent to visit him after UKIP complained about an entry in his own blog, The Axe of Reason. He said he knew the image had been on Twitter for a while so he had set about seeing if its claims could be verified.
In his blog discussing the police visit, far from admitting he was quoting outdated policies, he states: “All I had done is promote the party policy using links to their own sources – no editorialising, no commenting. And in fairness highlighted those allegations I could find no evidence for.”
Take a look at the date on the blog – May this year. “So outdated it’s cringeworthy“?
Mr Abberton continued: “About fifteen minutes after they left I received a threatening tweet from a party member I had had an exchange with earlier in the day. Though appearing to be no more than a party supporter, he seemed to know that the police had been involved. I copied the tweet and sent it to the police.”
So we have evidence that Kippers are willing to cause a nuisance with the police in order to silence critics who have divulged information that UKIP would rather keep quiet, and we have a Kipper who has denounced Yr Obdt Srvt as a liar (despite the evidence to the contrary) and who has “warned” that he will act against VP if the blog continues in its function, which is to provide accurate information, no matter what he asserts.
For further information on Vox Political‘s attitude to this kind of interference, see the Scriptonite blog on the same matter.
That is why he got this response: “They are not discredited policies. They are not past policies until they are replaced with something else.
“It is UKIP that is trying to mislead – the party’s attempts to shut down its critics are a clear example of this.
“Don’t think for a moment that you can threaten me. I’m fully aware that UKIP and its adherents like to throw their weight around and I am not impressed at all.
“Now you’d better get off my page before I have you slung out of Facebook for threatening behaviour.”
There will be no tolerance of any UKIP member or representative who wants to threaten this blog, Mr Evans.
Would anybody argue with the suggestion that the social media – including blogs like Vox Political – played the largest part in the removal of Baroness Butler-Sloss from the government’s inquiry into historical child sex abuse investigations?
Until yesterday, Lady Butler-Sloss was adamant that there was no reason she could not head up the inquiry, even though her past associations with people she might have to investigate included her own brother, the late Sir Michael Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s.
It was the social media that found this information and revealed it to the general public – who then complained bitterly to the government.
Do we believe Lady Butler-Sloss where she tells us she “did not sufficiently consider” whether her family links would throw the inquiry into question? It seems extremely out-of-character for a former judge, who would never – for example – have allowed a trial jury to include a relative of the defendant, to claim that she could be impartial about matters involving her own family. It was a clear conflict of interest.
One point that has been glossed-over is the fact that this woman is nearly 81 years of age and from the same privileged background as many of the people she would be asked to investigate. Did she even have the necessary sensibilities – or even the ability to open her mind to current thinking – required to head up an investigation such as this?
Of course, Lady Butler-Sloss was appointed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. She has been accused of failure to carry out “due diligence” – the necessary checks to discover if a candidate can be relied upon to be impartial – but has defiantly claimed that her choice was good.
“I do not regret the decision I made. I continue to believe that Elizabeth Butler-Sloss would have done an excellent job as chair of this inquiry,” she told the Home Affairs select committee. Really? Excellent by whose standards?
We know from Lord Tebbit that there was a ‘hush-hush’ culture in the Thatcher government of the 1980s. He said people thought the establishment “had to be protected”.
And of course the attitude she held is likely to pervade government even now, 30 years later. Perhaps Theresa May wanted this inquiry – which she had resisted for a long time – to be headed by a person who could be trusted not to rock the boat. Perhaps she had been told to select such a person.
Now we must wait for an announcement on a new chairperson. This also plays into the hands of those with skeletons (or worse) in their closets as it creates a delay.
Not only that, but we must all remain vigilant against the possibility that May will appoint another dud. The BBC’s report makes it clear that the requirement for a candidate to have a legal background and the security clearance necessary to be able to read confidential papers means it is hard to find anyone who is suitably qualified and is not part of the establishment.
We still do not know where this will lead and who will be implicated. People like Theresa May and David Cameron will want to protect members of their own Old Guard from retrospective vilification (if Lord Tebbit’s words are to be trusted), and it seems likely they will do everything in their considerable power to fob us off.
The Renault Captur: It seems that David Cameron’s Internet filters would identify this as pornography. It is possible that this would make Renault executives proud.
Synchronicity? Coincidence? Isn’t it strange when you become aware of several instances of the same phenomenon at once.
Today, having written about the Data Retention and Investigatory Bill, Yr Obdt Srvt sat down to watch, of all things, an old episode of the BBC’s Top Gear from July last year in which, amazingly, Jeremy Clarkson criticised his Chipping Norton neighbour (and part-time Prime Minister) David Cameron for wanting to end our freedom to look at pornography on the Internet.
Some of you may approve of Cameron’s stand; that’s not the matter at hand. Clarkson’s point was that the way Cameron proposed to regulate Internet porn was so cack-handed, he was going to make himself – and his government – look even more of a gang of halfwits than they do already.
Cueing up an image of the Renault Captur (above), Clarkson told audiences they wouldn’t be able to see it, once Cameron’s filters are put in place.
“In what way is that pornography?” inquired Richard Hammond (he’s the short one).
“Well, it’s orange.”
Clarkson gladly elaborated: “Well, the thing is – and this is a true story: A friend of mine has a website, okay? It has an orange backdrop. Now, in various offices and workplaces that have this porn filter on the Internet, orange is picked up as a skin tone, which of course it is in Cheshire.
“So it will just see that it’s a naked lady with a sort of a vajazzle in the shape of a Renault badge and it won’t let anyone see it.”
This is just one example of the idiocy inherent in Cameron’s attempts at repression, which also include legislation to stifle free speech and expression, permitting Boris Johnson to buy water cannon to prevent free protest (another pointless move, for reasons I may explain in the future), an attempt to stymie electoral freedom by cutting down the number of people permitted to vote in elections, and now the Surveillance Bill.
In recognition of this campaign of disenfranchisement against the free people of the UK, Vox Political proposes to publish a book of all-newmaterial – that’s right, all new – entitled How the Coalition government tried to curtail your freedom – and how David Cameron c***ed it up!
Catchy title, don’t you think? The idea is for the words to take up most of the cover, so it won’t require artwork (you may have noticed art covers aren’t VP‘s strong suit).
We are now accepting nominations of repressive legislation or policies that should be mentioned in the new publication. Please post yours in the ‘comment’ column.
The victim: Raquel Rolnik, the United Nations’ expert Special Rapporteur on Housing is once again the victim of a baseless Daily Mail smear piece.
Yet again, the Daily Heil has been using the tactics of its best friend Adolf Hitler – the ‘Big Lie’ – to attack a United Nations official whose job is to point out that Coalition government policies are harming the innocent poor.
The Flail‘s tone was Nurembergian – and almost entirely fact-free – as it denounced ‘Brazil Nut’ Raquel Rolnik for imaginary crimes against Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts – the homicidal, if not genocidal, measures that are driving hundreds of thousands of people into destitution and despair.
You see, the Fail is fine with destitution and despair for the poor – its readers are all rich middle- or upper-class housewives who pass their days spending their husbands’ vast fortunes (this is not entirely true, but is exactly the sort of generalisation you can expect from that paper. If you are a Mail reader, it isn’t such fun when you’re the victim, is it?) and gossiping.
The news story is that a group of United Nations poverty ambassadors has written a 22-page letter pointing out that cuts to social security benefits introduced by Iain Duncan Smith and enforced by his Department for Work and Pensions on behalf of the Coalition government may constitute a breach of the UK’s international treaty obligations to the poor.
The letter states: “The package of austerity measures enacted could amount to retrogressive measures prohibited under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified in 1974.”
Among the benefit changes it highlights are alterations to housing benefit, council tax benefit, working age benefits and the bedroom tax and the benefits cap – which everybody agrees would be a good idea if it had been limited to a reasonable amount, rather than one at which the Conservative-led Coalition could throw people into hardship.
The Mail‘s report pays little attention to the facts, lavishing far more space on Mrs Rolnik herself. It said she had been nicknamed the ‘Brazil Nut’, which she had – by the Daily Mail; and went on to attempt to cast doubt on her authority as special rapporteur on housing and those of fellow UN ambassadors Maria Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, special rapporteur on extreme poverty; and Olivier De Schutter, the special rapporteur on the right to food.
These are experts in their field who have been engaged by the United Nations – a higher-ranking legal authority than the UK – to investigate government policies, but that’s not good enough for the Mail.
It prefers to get its opinions from tupenny-ha’penny Tory thinktanks.
So it casts doubt. The letter is from ‘ambassadors’ and follows an ‘investigation’, according to the Mail, because putting those words in that way casts doubt upon their validity.
Mrs Rolnik was brought up as a Marxist, the Mail states – as if that has anything to do with her findings. And the report claims she should leave the UK alone and concentrate on problems in her own country, where millions of people live in shanty towns – even though the writer, ‘Jason Groves’, should know perfectly well that her job involves just that.
He clearly doesn’t want you to see her comments on housing in Brazil, prior to the football World Cup which is being held there at the moment: “We expected that the champion of many football cups would use this opportunity to show the world it is also a champion of the right to housing, in particular for people living in poverty, but the information I have received shows otherwise.”
She had received allegations of evictions without due process or in breach of international human rights standards, cases in which residents and citizens had not been consulted and were barred from to participation in decisions that had a grave impact on their standard of living. Concerns had also been expressed about very low compensation that might lead to the creation of new “informal settlements” (shanty towns) with inadequate living conditions or greater rates of homelessness.
“Authorities should avoid at all costs any negative impacts on then human rights of the individuals and communities, especially the most vulnerable… [and] should ensure that their actions, and those of third parties involved in the organization of the events, contribute to the creation of a stable housing market and have a long term positive impact in the residents of the cities where events take place.”
So critics who think she has ignored issues in her home country are wrong.
That’s a bit of a blow to the Mail‘s credibility, isn’t it?
The measures criticised by Mrs Rolnik and her colleagues were brought in “to tackle the huge budget deficit left by Labour”, according to the Mail. Again, this is wrong. The Coalition government has made no real effort to tackle the budget deficit which was necessitated when Labour saved our banking system, the threat having been created by Tory-supporting bankers whose greed put their firms into overwhelming debt. Look at the annual deficit for the last financial year; it is still well above £100 billion. If you agree that the cuts were to bring the deficit down, you have swallowed a lie.
Iain Duncan Smith, the man this blog describes as ‘RTU’ (standing for ‘Returned To Unit’ in tribute to his failed Army career) is reportedly furious at this intervention from the United Nations, which has a duty to intervene if governments of member countries descend into criminality, as has happened with the UK (here’s just one example).
According to the Mail, he said: “They talk down our country, criticising the action we’ve taken to get control of the public finances and create a fairer more prosperous Britain. They simply do not have a clue – and we will not be taking lessons from a group of unelected commentators who can’t get their facts straight.”
You see, not only has this been going on ever since the Coalition government established welfare-to-work in its current form –
Not only have government ministers and backbenchers been lying to you about the payouts given to the profit-driven privately-owned provider companies –
Not only have these companies been sucking down on your hard-earned taxpayer cash as though they had done something to earn it –
But the people they were supposed to be helping – people who have been forced into ever-greater poverty by the benefit uprating cap, arbitrary and unfair benefit sanctions, the bedroom tax, the £26,000 cap on benefits for families, the imposition of council tax on even the poorest households (in England at least), the stress of continual reassessment (if they are ESA claimants in the work-related activity group), the humiliation of having to visit food banks and who knows what else…
The people who are desperate to get any kind of paying job, despite the fact that zero-hours contracts could make them worse-off than unemployment, due to the effect on in-work benefits, despite the fact that those in-work benefits are also being squeezed hard, and despite the fact that there are at least five jobseekers for every job that becomes available…
These are the people that government ministers, backbenchers and the right-wing press keep victimising with their endless attacks on “skivers”, “scroungers”, the “feckless”, the “idle” and the “lazy”!
If I was unemployed and my MP had been caught slagging me off while praising these good-for-nothing so-called work programme ‘providers’, I would make it my business to bring them before the public, lock them into some medieval stocks and pelt them with rotten vegetables. Public humiliation is the least they should get for this continual insult to common decency.
But wait! There’s more.
It turns out that, not only are these work programme providers a bunch of lazy good-for-nothing parasites, but many of them are also a bunch of foreigners who’ve come to the UK to take our jobs!
Ingeus is Australian. G4S is part-Danish. Maximus is American.
It seems that all the politically-fuelled and media-driven anger against immigration into the UK from the rest of the European Union and beyond may be designed to distract us all from the fact that foreign firms are immigrating here to take government jobs that should be yours, and to steal your tax money.
Nobody can say they’ve earned it, after all.
But let us not be unfair. It would be wrong to concentrate on welfare-to-work providers when all of government is riddled with foreign interlopers.
Look at the Treasury, where the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms have been re-writing tax law to suit their tax-avoiding corporate clients for the last few years. They are Deloitte (American), PriceWaterhouseCoopers (part-American), Ernst & Young (part-American) and KPMG (Dutch).
And then there is the huge, criminal, foreign firm that has been advising the Department for Work and Pensions on ways to privatise the welfare state since the mid-1990s – a firm so controversial that there is currently a moratorium on the mention of its name in the national mainstream media. It is an American insurance giant called Unum.
The best that can be said of these five corporations is that – at least to the best of our knowledge – they do work for a living.
“This particular Secretary of State, along with his Department, is pushing people through [the] cracks and hoping that the rest of the country will not notice that they have disappeared.” – Glenda Jackson MP, June 30, 2014.
If the man this blog likes to call RTU (Returned To Unit) thought he would be able to show that his behaviour had improved, he was sorely mistaken – as the comment above illustrates.
It is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.
But we were discussing the debate as a trial. Let us first look at the evidence in favour of the government.
There. That was illuminating, wasn’t it?
Seriously, the government benches were unable to put up a single supportable point against the mountain of evidence put forward by Labour.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary-in-a-State, resorted yet again to his favourite tactic – and one for which he should have been sacked as an MP long ago – lying to Parliament. He accused Labour of leaving behind a “shambles” – in fact the economy had begun to improve under intelligent guidance from Alistair Darling. “The economy was at breaking point,” he said – in fact the British economy cannot break; it simply doesn’t work that way. His claim that “We were burdened with the largest deficit in peacetime history” is only supportable in money terms, and then only because inflation means the pound is worth so much less than it was in, say, the 1940s – or for the entire century between 1750 and 1850. He called yesterday’s debate “a cynical nugget of short-term policy to put to the unions,” but the evidence below renders that completely irrelevant.
He said complaints about long delivery times for benefits were “out of date” – a common excuse. He’ll do the same in a few months, when the same complaint is raised again.
“Universal Credit is rolling out to the timescale I set last year,” he insisted – but we all know that it has been ‘reset’ (whatever that means) by the government’s Major Projects Authority.
He said there had been four independent reviews of the work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, with more than 50 recommendations by Sir Malcolm Harrington accepted by the government. This was a lie. We know that almost two-thirds of the 25 recommendations he made in his first review were not fully or successfully implemented.
He said appeals against ESA decisions “are down by just under 90 per cent” – but we know that this is because of the government’s unfair and prejudicial mandatory reconsideration scheme – and that the DWP was bringing in a new provider to carry out work capability assessments. Then he had to admit that this provider has not yet been chosen! And the backlog of claims mounts up.
He tried to justify his hugely expensive botched IT schemes by pointing at a Labour scheme for the Child Support Agency that wasted hundreds of millions less than his Universal Credit, without acknowledging the obvious flaw in his argument: If he knew about this mistake, why is he repeating it?
Conservative Mark Harper said Labour opposed the Tories’ most popular scheme – the benefit cap. That was a lie. Labour supported the cap, but would have set it at a higher level. We know that the Coalition government could not do this because it would not, then, have made the huge savings they predicted.
Now, the evidence against.
First up is Rachel Reeves, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions: “After £612 million being spent, including £131 million written off or ‘written down’, the introduction of Universal Credit is now years behind schedule with no clear plan for how, when, or whether full implementation will be achievable or represent value for money.
“Over 700,000 people are still waiting for a Work Capability Assessment, and… projected spending on Employment and Support Allowance has risen by £800 million since December… The Government [is] still not able to tell us which provider will replace Atos.
“Personal Independence Payment delays have created uncertainty, stress and financial costs for disabled people and additional budgetary pressures for Government… Desperate people, many of whom have been working and paying into the system for years or decades and are now struck by disability or illness, waiting six months or more for help from the Department for Work and Pensions.
“The Work Programme has failed to meet its targets, the unfair bedroom tax risks costing more than it saves, and other DWP programmes are performing poorly or in disarray.
“Spending on housing benefit for people who are in work has gone up by more than 60 per cent, reflecting the fact that more people are in low-paid or insecure work and are unable to make ends meet, even though they may be working all the hours God sends.
“More than five million people — 20 per cent of the workforce — are paid less than the living wage. Furthermore, 1.5 million people are on zero-hours contracts and 1.4 million people are working part time who want to work full time.
“This… is about the young woman diagnosed with a life-limiting illness who has waited six months for any help with her living costs. It is about the disabled man whose payments have been stopped because he did not attend an interview to which he was never invited.
“The Government are wasting more and more taxpayers’ money on poorly planned and disastrously managed projects, and are allowing in-work benefits to spiral because of their failure to tackle the low pay and insecurity that are adding billions of pounds to the benefits bill.
“The Government are careless with the contributions that people make to the system, callous about the consequences of their incompetence for the most vulnerable, and too arrogant to admit mistakes and engage seriously with the task of sorting out their own mess.
“What this Government have now totally failed to do is to remember the human impact, often on people in vulnerable circumstances, of this catalogue of chaos. Behind the bureaucratic language and spreadsheets showing backlogs and overspends are people in need who are being let down and mistreated, and taxpayers who can ill afford the mismanagement and waste of their money.
“To fail to deliver on one policy might be considered unfortunate; to miss one’s targets on two has to be judged careless; but to make such a complete mess of every single initiative the Secretary of State has attempted requires a special gift. It is something like a Midas touch: everything he touches turns into a total shambles.
“Meanwhile, the Secretary of State will spew out dodgy statistics, rant and rave about Labour’s record, say “on time and on budget” until he is blue in the face and, in typical Tory style, blame the staff for everything that goes wrong.”
Julie Hilling (Labour) provides this: “The Government do not know what they are talking about… They talk about the number of jobs being created, but they do not know how many of them are on zero-hours contracts or how many are on Government schemes or how many have been transferred from the public sector.”
Stephen Doughty (Labour/Co-op): “another stark indictment of their policies is the massive increase in food banks across this country.”
Helen Jones (Labour): “When I asked how many people in my constituency had been waiting more than six months or three months for medical assessments for personal independence payment, the Government told me that the figures were not available. In other words, they are not only incompetent; they do not know how incompetent they are!”
Sheila Gilmore (Labour): “Although the problems with Atos were known about—and it is now being suggested that they had been known about for some time—a contract was given to that organisation for PIP. Was due diligence carried out before the new contract was issued?”
Gordon Marsden (Labour): “Many of my constituents have been caught by the double whammy of delays involving, first, the disability living allowance and now PIP. They have waited long periods for a resolution, but because a decision is being reconsidered, their Motability — the lifeline that has enabled them to get out of their homes — has been taken away before that decision has been made. Is that not a horrendous indictment of the Government?”
Emily Thornberry (Labour): “I have been making freedom of information requests.. in relation to mandatory reconsiderations. When people get their work capability assessment, and it has failed, before they can appeal there has to be a mandatory reconsideration. The Department does not know how many cases have been overturned, how many claimants have been left without any money and how long the longest period is for reconsideration. It cannot answer a single one of those questions under a freedom of information request.”
Natascha Engel (Labour): “The welfare state is designed as a safety net to catch people who absolutely cannot help themselves… That safety net is being withdrawn under this government, which is certainly pushing some of my constituents into destitution.”
There was much more, including the devastating speech by Glenda Jackson, partly in response to Natascha Engels’ comments, that is reproduced in the video clip above.
The vote – for the House of Commons to recognise that the DWP was in chaos and disarray – was lost (of course). A government with a majority will never lose such a vote.
But once again, the debate was won by the opposition. They had all the facts; all the government had were lies and fantasies.
By now, one suspects we all know somebody who has died as a result of Coalition government polices on welfare (or, preferably, social security). Two such deaths have been reported in the Comment columns of Vox Political since the weekend, and it is only Tuesday.
That is why it is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.
Share it with your friends, use parts of it in letters to your local papers or radio stations, even mentioning it in conversation will help if the other person isn’t aware of the facts.
Don’t let it be suppressed.
You don’t want to do Iain Duncan Smith’s work for him, do you?
Vox Political readers forcemajeure007 and Sarah Ledsom have been in touch to forward the responses they have received from the BBC to their complaints about the non-coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on Saturday.
Like the (lack of) coverage itself, it is extremely disappointing.
Both commenters received exactly the same response, with the only change in wording at the top – their own names. The remainder reads as follows:
“Thanks for contacting us about coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on 21 June.
“We understand you feel there was insufficient coverage of this demonstration by BBC News.
“We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this story. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this general response aims to answer the key concerns raised, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.
“Your concerns were raised with senior editorial staff at BBC News who responded as follows:
“’We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel* with five reports throughout Saturday evening, on the BBC News website on Sunday, as well as on social media. We choose which stories we cover based on how newsworthy they are and what else is happening and we didn’t provide extensive coverage because of a number of bigger national and international news stories that day, including the escalating crisis in Iraq, British citizens fighting in Syria and the death of Gerry Conlon.**
“‘We frequently report on the UK economy and what it means for the British public. We also reflect the concerns of people such as those demonstrating, and others who hold opposing views, across our daily news output on TV, radio as well as online, and we also explore them in more depth including in our political programming and current affairs investigations, debates on ‘Question Time’ and during interviews and analysis on programmes such as ‘PM’ and ‘Newsnight’. Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence we give to stories, but we believe our coverage of this subject has been fair and impartial.’”
It seems the BBC’s bosses have caught the Tory disease and cannot be bothered to apologise when they make a mistake. If they received a “wide range” of feedback about their coverage, and are now responding with a form letter, rather than individually, you can be sure that many, many people complained. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the response was wholly negative, given that coverage was restricted to a few spots on the rolling news channel and the utterly pathetic excuse for a story on the website.
Does anybody else believe that was fair and impartial?
If so, consider this. In 2011 the BBC covered a PRO-austerity demonstration by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (of all organisations). Total attendance: 350 people.
They’ll cover a 350-strong pro-austerity demo but not a 50,000-strong anti-austerity event.
Fair and impartial?
Don’t make me choke.
*If it was on the BBC News Channel, why not the main news?
The study shows that more than £1.6 billion a year will be removed from the Scottish economy, with the biggest losses based in changes to incapacity benefits. The Scottish average loss, per adult of working age, is £460 per year (compared with a British average of £470) but the hardest hit area was impoverished Glasgow Carlton, where adults lost an average of £880 per year.
In affluent St Andrews, the average hit was just £180 per year.
Of course, the cumulative effect will hit the poorest communities much harder – with an average of £460 being taken out of these communities it is not only households that will struggle to make ends meet; as families make cutbacks, local shops and businesses will lose revenue and viability. If they close, then residents will have to travel further for groceries and to find work, meaning extra travel costs will remove even more much-needed cash from their budget.
For a nationwide picture, the EHRC commissioned the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the consultancy Landman Economics to develop a way of assessing the cumulative impact of “welfare reform”.
The report will be published in the summer, but Landman Economics has already told Disability News Service that the work was “not actually that difficult”.
Why, then have Mark Hoban, Esther McVey and Mike Penning, the current minister for the disabled, all claimed that a cumulative assessment is impossible?
Some might say they have a vested interest in keeping the public ignorant of the true devastation being wreaked on Britain’s most vulnerable people by Coalition austerity policies that will ultimately harm everybody except the very rich.
This is what happened when a friend of Vox Political, going by the monicker Sick Britain, contacted the BBC to ask why there has been no coverage of today’s (June 21) anti-austerity demonstration in London, which was attended by more than 50,000 people.
The BBC has mentioned the demonstration – as a pretext for a discussion of government austerity policies on Any Questions and Any Answers (both on Radio 4) but the national public service broadcaster’s news bulletins were mysteriously silent about it throughout the day of the event itself.
This seems particularly odd when one considers the fact that the demo began outside Broadcasting House, and that I’m told extra security guards were on duty today, while the entrances were protected with metal fencing.
Some of you may wish to complain to the BBC about its lack of coverage. Here’s how you can do it: