Daily Archives: March 18, 2016

The disability benefits cut showcases the Government’s flagrant disregard for evidence | Left Foot Forward

Over the last 20 years, spending on Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) has almost quadrupled in real terms. As a result, it has become an obstacle to George Osborne meeting his self-imposed, nominal welfare cap.

On the chancellor’s terms, that means it needs to be cut. And the cut has been savage — the  IFS projects that 370,000 people with disabilities will lose an average of £3,500 a year.

The problem is: we don’t know why spending has increased so significantly, and neither does the Government.

And, despite a string of embarrassingly large upward revisions to spending forecasts, the Government has never been bothered to find out.

In other words, this was a blind cut, made without evidence of the causes of the spending increase, or potential impacts of the reduction.

The unholy alliance of the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury simply didn’t like how high PIP spending was and, instead of undertaking a holistic investigation of what social shifts were driving the change, decided to slash it.

Read more: The disability benefits cut showcases the Government’s flagrant disregard for evidence | Left Foot Forward

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Sign the open letter to Chuka Umunna and his team | NEWTEKWORLDNEWS

Chuka Umunna: Et tu, Brute?

Chuka Umunna: Et tu, Brute?

When you read a post in the Guardian on budget day in the UK, Wednesday, titled “Labour backbenchers form high-profile group to respond to budget” you have to go to the heart of the story to try to find out what is going on.

Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party in September 2015 and has faced a barrage of attacks from within Labour, the Tories and the mainstream media so Mr Umunna what’s with the latest piece posted as news at the Guardian?

Is it news, spin, real or fantasy?

According to the Guardian report an “Alliance of MPs including Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie was formed to ‘give proper scrutiny to the government’” which could be fine if the team was formed with the approval of Mr Corbyn and his shadow cabinet; if it was not why are MPs behaving in such a derisory manner?

Having managed to stuff the PLP with politicians to the right of the party the Bitterites are now intent on doing the same to the NEC so that they can undermine Mr Corbyn further and tear the Labour Party apart.

Their protestations that they are doing it for the right reasons have no credibility; the road to Hell is after all paved with good intentions.

In July 2015 following the General Election the Daily Mirror report “Chuka Umunna: Labour ‘behaving like a petulant child’ after Election defeat” was aptly titled but isn’t that what you and your ‘team’ are doing now?

Read the full letter – and add your signature if you like – at: Open letter to Chuka Umunna and his team – NEWTEKWORLDNEWS

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This game may help you beat the Budget blues

Slap-happy: Many people say they would slap George Osborne all day long - now they have the chance.

Slap-happy: Many people say they would slap George Osborne all day long – now they have the chance.

In fact it seems the aim is to beat the Budget- maker, black and blue!

It’s called Slap George Osborne and you can find it here.

Judging by the number of readers who tell This Writer they could never get tired of slapping young Gideon, this game should have a large clientele.

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Woman nails the Tories for their disability hatred in epic Twitter thread

Not disabled enough? Hateful people, fuelled by Tory rhetoric, are attacking anyone they think doesn't deserve sickness or disability benefits - even though they are completely unqualified to judge.

Not disabled enough? Hateful people, fuelled by Tory rhetoric, are attacking anyone they think doesn’t deserve sickness or disability benefits – even though they are completely unqualified to judge [Image: New Statesman].

Here is a person who needs many more followers on Twitter. She goes by the handle bears! bears! bears! (@fractalbears) and she has just nailed almost everything that is wrong with the Conservative Government’s policy on disability.

But don’t take my word for it – here she is:

A lot of us were saying pre-2010 that a Tory win would mean the suffering of a lot of disabled people. Very few people believed us.

They promised that disabled people would be protected, that we need to care for the most vulnerable in society (as they still are).

They got around it by claiming enormous levels of fraud, that we have an easy life while others are struggling. Instilling an us vs them.

Despite it being known to be lies, destroying the lives of so many already suffering, they continue even now to do the same.

The divide and conquer rhetoric has weaved it’s way through our society, people can’t wait to vent their anger at someone they’ve seen standing up out of a wheelchair or carrying shopping, having no clue as to their ailments.

The press know this and feed it with stories of scroungers, light on facts and instead full of speculation. MPs pile in by talking about people ‘taking advantage’, feeding it more.

Rather than stand up for us, when the average person speaks of ESA/PIP, the first thing they talk about is ‘if you’re GENUINELY disabled..’

Not that it’s awful so many of us are dying, often by our own hand. Not that we’re losing homes, losing our care, being dragged through hell.

Nope, instead ‘well as long as you’re NOT faking’.

We know what they think of us, what you think of us. We’ve heard you loud and clear.

It’s always “I didn’t mean you, you’re okay, it’s THEM”

They’ll even speak to you about how they saw their neighbour doing this and that “they’re the ones I mean, the people who are faking”. They have no idea of the state of our health but feel they’re in a position to judge.

I’ve had it. I used my disabled badge when spouse drove me to the shops. Someone wrote into the local paper aghast at someone so blatantly “abusing” it simply because I was young, the car was sporty (an MR2), and they couldn’t see what was wrong with me.

I was so crushed.

People are watching us all the time, waiting for us to do something to justify saying “FAKE DISABLED!”, taking pictures of us.. Is it any wonder we’re getting anxious about leaving the house? Going out terrifies me at times. There were enough obstacles already without having to try and avoid unwarranted suspicion.

I’ve been followed, spat on, had my chair moved without permission, spoken down to, verbally abused… and all *because I’m disabled*.

This is what all this rhetoric does, what it culminates as.

Hate crimes are skyrocketing because of it.

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Bernie Sanders says calls for him to drop out of Democratic race are ‘absurd’

Underdog: Bernie Sanders. A leaked report suggested Barack Obama, who should have stayed out of it, had backed Sanders' rival Hillary Clinton to be the Democrat candidate in the US Presidential election.

Underdog: Bernie Sanders. A leaked report suggested Barack Obama, who should have stayed out of it, had backed Sanders’ rival Hillary Clinton to be the Democrat candidate in the US Presidential election.

Some of the reports coming from the Democrat campaign in the US are very disturbing indeed.

We’ve already been told that Hillary Clinton has managed to collect a huge number of nominations for her candidacy in the Presidential election, simply because she happens to know how to play ‘Party games’ – the moves to make in order to get backing.

Now it seems this story about current President Barack Obama has been leaked in order to deprive around half of US Democrats of the chance to decide who they want to represent them.

The longer this nonsense continues, the closer the parallels get between the Democrat establishment and the right-wing, Blairite element of the Labour Party here in the UK – or so it seems to This Writer.

All this aggression may even backfire and propel Bernie Sanders upwards in popularity – as happened with Jeremy Corbyn.

That would be just what the American people need.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, responding to reports President Barack Obama called on Democrats to rally around Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee, said on Thursday it was “absurd” to suggest he drop out of the race.

Obama privately told a group of Democratic donors last Friday that Sanders was nearing the point at which his campaign against Clinton would end, and that the party must soon come together to back her, the New York Times reported.Sanders, a Vermont senator and democratic socialist, while saying he did not want to comment directly on Obama’s reported remarks, pushed back on the idea that his campaign had run its course and he should throw in the towel.

“The bottom line is that when only half of the American people have participated in the political process … I think it is absurd for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote,” Sanders told MSNBC in an interview.

The White House on Thursday said Obama did not indicate which candidate he preferred in his remarks to the donors.

Source: Bernie Sanders says calls for him to drop out of Democratic race are ‘absurd’ | US news | The Guardian

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Shock Poll Puts Labour Ahead Of Tories After “unfair” Budget | LabourList

Jeremy Corbyn has received a significant boost from a new opinion poll which gives Labour a slender lead for the first time since he replaced Ed Miliband.

The YouGov poll for The Times put Labour on 34 per cent and the Tories on 33 per cent and also showed plunging ratings for George Osborne, the Chancellor, in the aftermath of a Budget judged “unfair” for the first time since his 2012 “omnishambles”.

The snapshot of party support comes just days after a separate ICM telephone poll put the two main parties on level-pegging at 36 per cent – a verdict that even ICM cast doubt upon, saying methodological changes would be likely to result in a Tory lead.

The full results for today’s YouGov poll are: Labour, 34 per cent; the Conservatives, 33 per cent; UKIP, 16 per cent; and the Lib Dems 6 per cent.

It comes after weeks of Tory in-fighting over Europe during which time Labour has continued to attack the Government over the economy and stayed relatively united over the EU referendum.

YouGov said “playing a quieter, background role” may have helped Corbyn as Tory turmoil over Europe rumbles on.

“In recent weeks our polls have found that over two-thirds of the public see the Conservative party as divided. A party that spent several years ruthlessly echoing their “long term plan” is now loudly broadcasting deep internal divisions over the future even though the cause is one that most of the public don’t care about.”

The Tories also appear to have been hit by a poor public reaction to the Budget with 38 per cent describing it as “unfair” and just 28 per cent as “fair”.

Osborne’s hopes of making it to 10 Downing Street have been further hit by the poll, in which an overwhelming majority said they were unhappy with his performance as Chancellor. Some 46 per cent said he is doing a bad job while 23 per cent said he is doing a good job.

Source: Shock Poll Puts Labour Ahead Of Tories After “unfair” Budget | LabourList

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Is ‘Thicky Nicky’ Morgan living up to her name?

'Thicky' Nicky Morgan: Look at those staring eyes - no intelligence there!

‘Thicky’ Nicky Morgan: Look at those staring eyes – no intelligence there!

If a cabinet minister doesn’t understand that George Osborne’s cuts to PIP aren’t “proposals” but are firm plans, what does that say about the rest of the Tories?

Vacant-headed ‘Thicky Nicky’ Morgan – who, unbelievably, is the Secretary of State for Education – has been trying to tell us that Osborne’s plan to cut PIP payments by £1.2 billion a year is just a “suggestion” and is “under consultation”.

Didn’t anybody tell her that the consultation has been and gone and the government has responded to it?

160318PIPconsultationconcluded

Osborne probably sent her out to tell us any old tripe, in the hope that we’d look into her wide, staring, guileless eyes and believe it.

All he has done is confirm what an imbecile she is.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan described the plan as a “suggestion” and said it was “under consultation”.

But sources close to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said her comments don’t “tally with what we and Downing Street are saying”.

The BBC was told Mrs Morgan didn’t “seem to understand” the proposals.

Source: Government not backing down on disability cuts despite minister’s words – BBC News

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Tories defeated over Trade Union Bill (while we were all thinking about the Budget)

160318TUBill

Look what you miss if you let yourself get distracted:

The Conservatives’ anti-trade union plans suffered a setback last night as they suffered a “resounding defeat” in House of Lords votes.

Peers voted against aspects of the Trade Union Bill that would see Labour’s funding take a serious hit, as well as stalling proposals to implement 50 per cent threshold on strike ballots until an independent review has considered electronic balloting, which the Tories oppose.

This comes after a leaked Government letter revealed that senior ministers were prepared to climbdown on parts of the bill, such as electronic balloting.

During the Lords votes last night an amendment was passed, by 320 to 172 votes, to weaken the part of the legislation that would require all trade union members to actively ‘opt-in’ to paying into a political fund. This would severely hit the unions’ ability to fund Labour, with the party predicting it could lose around £8 million a year from the changes.

In January, Labour and Lib Dem members of the House of Lords agreed to work together to oppose these reforms, following a decades-long agreement that major changes to party funding must have cross-party support. Both parties voted for the amendment last night, as well as crossbench peers and two Tory rebels.

Labour’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Angela Smith, said that the latest defeat shows that the Tories had failed to make the case for the legislation, which will now go back to the House of Commons to be debated.

Source: Tories Defeated In Lords Over Key Plank Of Trade Union Bill | LabourList

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The Right-Minded View On Education Reforms | A New Place Of Exile

I don’t see what people are objecting to, quite frankly. Ending the need for teachers to be qualified, removing local oversight of educational establishments, and allowing any local business with a bit of trade going spare to take governance of schools, all seems like a recipe for success to me. What could go wrong?

Under this commonsense scheme, all children will be taught the three R’s: namely, education, education, and education. Also, self-reliance. It is important to learn as early as possible in life that you can’t rely on others in this world. What use would free-school meals be, for instance, without possession of a sound digestive system in the first place?

Above all else, the government will deliver fairness to the tax-payer, by reducing expenditure on the unnecessary elements of education – such as books, paid staff, and lightbulbs (is it really necessary to have one in every classroom? There’s nothing wrong with a good, old-fashioned candle, if you ask me).

Condemning the majority of Britain’s children to a sub-standard education is clearly a small price to pay for keeping the education budget lean and balanced. This is no more than commonsense; and I welcome the government’s bold step towards achieving this.

Source: The Right-Minded View On Education Reforms. | A New Place Of Exile

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IDS loses legal challenge to keep Universal Credit problems secret

Iain Duncan Smith has lost his latest attempt to keep potentially damning Universal Credit documents secret.

There is a good chance the reports will reveal his department were misleading the public about the progress of the programme.

In November 2011 the DWP issued a press release announcing that over one million people would be claiming universal credit by April 2014, with 12 million claimants moving onto the new benefit by 2017.The following year, the DWP’s Annual Report and Accounts showed that the programme had progressed well. Then in September of that year, the BBC carried a story on concerns raised by the Local Government Association about the implementation of Universal Credit and in particular about the IT system. A spokesperson for the DWP responded at the time by saying: “Universal Credit is on track and on budget. To suggest anything else is incorrect.”

This information is highlighted by Judge Ryan in his final decision, and for good reason. We know now, of course, that the statements coming out of the DWP back then told quite a different story to what actually happened with the programme. Their own figures show that at the last count just little more than 200,000 people are now on the new benefit and recent estimates suggest it’s unlikely to be fully implemented until 2021, some four years later than first planned.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that IDS is desperate to keep the papers out of the public domain. His legal argument is that publication of the documents would have a “chilling effect” on the working of the department. This term may sound like some sort of threat to national security but it’s actually a fairly standard defence against disclosure. Witnesses for the DWP argued that if staff knew that everything they wrote internally was likely to be made public they would be less candid and forthcoming in their opinions. The department also claimed that publication of the documents could allow a hostile press to pick and choose sections of the information to cause the most damage to the department, without providing a full picture.

The Tribunal didn’t agree… The information … could have led to the public having a much a clearer idea of the problems around Universal Credit, long before the DWP finally made them public.

Whether they decide to appeal again remains to be seen. One thing is for certain though, the more IDS fights publication, the more it looks as if he has something to hide.

Source: IDS loses legal challenge to keep Universal Credit problems secret

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