When police fight the disabled there can be no winners

You may not be aware of this but disabled people were being manhandled off London’s streets by police officers today, as they tried to stand up for their way of life while ministers enjoyed the Paralympic Games elsewhere in the capitol. The scenes outside the London HQ of Atos, the French company that is being paid £100 million a year to find reasons for removing disability benefits from 87 per cent of claimants, and at the offices of the Department for Work and Pensions, the government department that hired Atos,…

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Why are we paying a fortune for ‘free’ schools we can’t use?

If anyone, in future, refers to those of us on the political left as “loonies”, all we’ll have to do is point them at Michael Gove. This man defies belief. At a time when his confederates in the Coalition government are doing their best to convince us that they’re serious about cutting spending, so the UK can pay down its annual deficit and national debt, he’s throwing money around like it’s confetti. Gove’s Free Schools project will enter a new phase next week when 39* such institutions open their doors…

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Should movie stars keep their politics to themselves?

Celebrity endorsement is always a bit “hit and miss”, isn’t it? How many times have you seen a big name pimping themselves out in a sponsorship deal that has left you cringing with embarrassment for them? How many times have the deals gone sour because of events in the celeb’s personal life (think of Tiger Woods, or Kate Moss, for example). The unpredictability of the endorsement effect is magnified in politics. Will you still respect a celeb if they are exhorting you to vote for a party you despise? What…

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Phone hacking, Leveson and the AC/DC affair

Certain people seem to be forgetting that the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press was partly prompted by a newspaper’s interference in criminal investigations after a schoolgirl was murdered. It is understood that reporters from the News of the World (I don’t know how many of them did it) hacked into Millie Dowler’s mobile phone, listened to voice messages left on it, and then deleted them, allowing new messages to be left and illicitly monitored, and leading her parents to believe that the teenager, who…

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“Tax the rich” says Clegg – in search of the ‘poor’ vote?

Nick Clegg seems to have had a change of heart. In a Guardian interview (quoted by the BBC) he has called for a “time limited contribution” from the richest in society beyond his party’s current policy for a mansion tax – taxes on properties above a certain value. This is a departure for the Deputy Prime Minister who voted solidly for the millionaires’ income tax cut (from 50 per cent to 45 per cent) in George Osborne’s most recent attempt at a Budget. Some might say that the turnaround is…

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Grayling’s work placement gravy train rolls on – YOU get nothing

What do you do with a policy that has caused misery for thousands, has harmed the job market, removed jobseekers from work experience that would have led to a decent job and forced them to stack supermarket shelves instead, and actually had a judicial review held against it? If you’re Chris Grayling, you roll it out in 16 London boroughs – all notable for being sites of the summer riots in 2011. According to the Evening Standard, Mr Grayling plans to force young unemployed Londoners aged 18-24 to work in…

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Trouble at the top – who’s best for Britain?

There’s trouble at the top of both the UK’s main political parties, according to the latest Guardian/ICM poll. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has become slightly more popular than the Labour leader Ed Miliband, allowing the newspaper to stoke fears of a new power battle at the top, mirroring the problems of the Blair/Brown rivalry. But the Conservatives are no better off, after George Osborne was singled out as the weakest member of the Coalition cabinet and the one most people wanted moved in the much-anticipated autumn reshuffle. The Guardian article…

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MPs: Terminate the deadly Atos assessment regime before anyone else dies

Sick and disabled people in the UK can justifiably feel they are lining up for a death sentence as they prepare to take the dreaded Work Capability Assessment – the test devised by the Department of Work and Pensions and run (badly) by the French company Atos. It leads – directly or indirectly – to an average of 32 deaths every week. But there may be a ray of hope for them in the fact that the Labour Party has secured a Parliamentary debate on Atos and the WCA, to…

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