Daily Archives: March 26, 2016

Nicky Morgan mocked in song as she’s laughed at by teachers at NASUWT conference

Gary Kaye: He's a media studies teacher.

Gary Kaye: He’s a media studies teacher.

This is brilliant.

Not only are people picking up on the fact that, if Thicky Nicky’s eyes are mirrors of her soul, then it must be vacant – but the people who’ve realised it are teachers.

The Huffington Post has been brilliant in its coverage of the Education secretary’s confrontation with teachers’ union the NASUWT, which just happens to coincide with the YouTube release of the single Nicky Morgan’s Eyes by teachers’ punk band Gary Kaye and The Enemies of Promise.

So let’s have a look at both in action. First we’ll have Nicky Morgan addressing the NASUWT, then the punk video she inspired.

A song mocking Nicky Morgan has emerged as the eduction secretary was on Saturday heckled after telling a teachers’ conference that schools had improved over the last five years.

The Tory minister also angered teachers at the NASUWT teachers’ conferences in Birmingham as she urged unions to “be more helpful” and not issue press releases that relay negative news.

https://youtu.be/9_B2P1bKvQQ

The song, released by a teacher’s punk rock group, was written in protest at the academisation of schools and the “pressures on teachers”.

The song, released on YouTube by media studies teacher Gary Kaye, is called ‘Nicky Morgan’s Eyes’.

Lines in the song appear to echo teachers and unions in saying the profession’s workload is unmanageable and academies are data-driven.

The final line of the song is: “Nicky don’t need her eyes to see. Nicky has parted from reality.”

That lines should be sung at her, everywhere she goes.

Source: Nicky Morgan Mocked In Song As She’s Laughed At By Teachers At NASUWT Conference

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Lavery lashes ‘scurrilous’ Sunday Times over financial irregularity accusations

It's probably because of words like these - against the Bedroom Tax in this instance - that the Sunday Times has set its sights on Ian Lavery[Image: Daily Mirror].

It’s probably because of words like these – against the Bedroom Tax in this instance – that the Sunday Times has set its sights on Ian Lavery[Image: Daily Mirror].

Labour’s shadow minister for Trade Unions and the Civil Society has hit back against “scurrilous” claims by Murdoch rag The Sunday Times that he misused money belonging to the National Union of Mineworkers when he was its leader and after he quit to become an MP.

It seems The Sunday Times examined the financial records of the Northumberland Branch of the NUM for the period from 1996 to 2010, when Mr Lavery was its general secretary. Noting donations totalling £1.6 million, the paper suggested Mr Lavery’s payments of “almost £750,000” suggested that he had profited from compensation paid to sick and injured miners.

In a response to the allegations on his website, Mr Lavery pointed out:

We represented tens of thousands of former miners and succeeded in bringing in tens of millions of pounds in compensation and reduced earnings allowances. That has been a lifeline for these former miners and their families.

The recent attacks in the media have failed to represent the work that I am proud as a full time official to have played a part in. The biggest criticism would appear to be the fact the NUM employed its officials on excellent wages, terms and conditions. This is something the union fought for all of its existence and something that we can rightly be proud of. My wages, terms and conditions were set according to union agreements and I was privileged to be well paid for a job I loved.

The Sunday Times went on to question the redundancy pay Mr Lavery received when he resigned as president of the whole NUM (a position he took up in 2002) to stand for Parliament. The issues were whether he should have received any redundancy pay at all, and whether he should have declared it to the Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Mr Lavery explained:

Following allegations that this should have been declared, I met with the Parliamentary Commissioner at the earliest opportunity to provide clarity on the matter and will continue to cooperate fully.

Finally, last weekend, The Sunday Times alleged that Mr Lavery received a home loan believed to be around £250,000 from the National Union of Mineworkers (Northumberland Area) provident and benevolent fund. He stated:

Sections of the press and sadly some within my own party have sought for political ends to use innuendo and half-truths to attack me and my proud record as a trade unionist. They have also made false allegations about a £250,000 mortgage between the union and myself, which I totally refute and am taking legal counsel on.

None of the allegations related to criminal activity but supporters of Mr Lavery have made it very clear that they consider him to be undergoing trial-by-media.

Fellow Labour MP Grahame Morris tweeted: “Solidarity with good friend and comrade Ian Lavery under sustained attack from Tory press.”

Ucatt (the union for workers in the construction sector) activist Stuart Grice tweeted: “Ian Lavery is a decent and honest MP. keep fighting the fight comrade.”

And everybody’s favourite nonagenarian, Harry Leslie Smith, tweeted: “Murdoch press will stop at nothing to see the end of trade unionism democracy and a just society.”

This is likely to receive a fair bit of publicity from the right-wing press – if only for the reasons Mr Smith laid out on Twitter.

This Writer will not offer any judgements other than to remind everyone that it would be wise to remember UK law insists on the presumption of innocence.

Before you make judgements of your own, please take the time to read Mr Lavery’s response to the allegations.

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Let’s celebrate what happened to DPAC’s Paula Peters on the London Underground!

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell met disabled protesters at Parliament on Wednesday, to offer his support for their cause.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell met disabled protesters at Parliament on Wednesday, to offer his support for their cause.

This is a terrific tale from Paula Peters, a member of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) who was at the disabled people’s demonstration in Parliament on Wednesday:
160326disabled applause

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Corbyn condemns Government plans to turn all schools into academies

Jeremy Corbyn at the NUT conference [Image: PA}.

Jeremy Corbyn at the NUT conference [Image: PA}.

Jeremy Corbyn has recieved a standing ovation from teachers as he condemned government plans for all schools to become academies as “the asset stripping of our education facilities”.

The Labour Party leader, who became the first leader of any political party to address the National Union of Teachers’ conference in living memory, pledged that Labour would support the union’s campaign to oppose the plan.

Later in its weekend conference delegates are expected to back an emergency motion warning of industrial action if the Government goes ahead with its plans – which would mean 17, 000 schools -mostly  primaries – becoming academies by 2022.  A one-day national  strike is planned before the end of the summer term.

In his speech to the conference, Mr Corbyn, who said he was the first Labour party leader ever to address the conference, told teachers: “This is an ideological attack on teachers and on local and parental accountability – an attack which was nowhere in their manifesto at the last general election.”

As part of the plan, the Government ssid they intend to scrap legislation whereby all schools have to have an elected parent representative on their governing body.

Mr Corbyn added: “The Tories want to shut parents out of having a say in how their children’s schools are run.

“I want schools accountable to their local communities – not to those pushing to be the first in line for the asset-stripping of our education facilities to be handed over to somebody else.”

Source: Jeremy Corbyn condemns Government plans to turn all schools into academies | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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Joan McAlpine: Iain Duncan Smith’s sudden change of heart won’t change his toxic legacy

A classic satirical take on Iain Duncan Smith. Now we'll be creating them about Stephen Crabb - and they've already started.

A classic satirical take on Iain Duncan Smith. Now we’re creating them about Stephen Crabb.

Has anybody seen Iain Duncan Smith out and about lately? Does he still have armed guards?

FAREWELL then, IDS. After years of implementing cruel Tory attacks on the disabled, you have resigned over cruel Tory cuts to the disabled. Aye, right.

I don’t believe the hype about his replacement. Stephen Crabb, the new Work and Pensions  secretary, supported every welfare cut Iain Duncan Smith made.

Nobody should be fooled about the bust budget, either. Even without the planned cut to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the Tories have pursued a vindictive series of policies against sick and disabled people.

None of these are set to be reversed. Look at their record. The Tories cut disability benefits  by £30 a week just a fortnight ago.

Source: Joan McAlpine: Iain Duncan Smith’s sudden change of heart won’t change his toxic legacy of cuts to the disabled – Joan McAlpine – Daily Record

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Employment and Support Allowance – Another Mean Cut From IDS | Sheila Gilmore

160318notdisabledenough

Sheila Gilmore was a Labour member of the Commons Work and Pensions committee until she was defeated by a SNP candidate in the 2015 general election.

This Writer corresponded with her many times during the 2010-15 Parliament and I know she understands very well the plight of the sick and disabled under Conservative misrule.

I’m quoting the last few paragraphs of her Huffington Post article because I agree with another old friend of Vox Political, Samuel Miller, who says they show “it is evident that many claimants in the WRAG are as ‘unfit for work’ as those in the Support Group (SG) [of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)].”

What if the initial assumptions were wrong, and that there are not lots of ‘fit’ people sidelined onto incapacity benefits. Three quarters of those being ‘migrated ‘ from IB are not fit for work. The proportion of new claimants being found fit for work has fallen to 23%, and has been steadily falling . in addition I suspect that a good number of those declared Fit for Work, are simply not getting better, not getting jobs, getting less well and end up reapplying for ESA and being awarded benefit the second time round.If we accept that most claimants actually face significant barriers to returning to work, we need to be putting more effort into both giving them the help they need, and encouraging employers to take people on. This was what the Work Related Activity Group was intended to do, but for many the support offered is minimal . People are invited to ‘work focused interviews (in letters that contain severe warnings about the consequences of not attending) and are then sent away for a year in some cases. Box ticked but no help given. Some are referred to the Work Programme which has very poor outcomes for this group, not surprising given that those attending say that all the emphasis was on the mechanics of job search with little reference to their heath.

Taking away £30 pw of income won’t tackle these weaknesses of the system. Will there still be a Work Related Activity Group at all? The only difference from being on JSA will be less conditionality (although there is still some and examples of ESA-WRAG claimants being sanctioned).

Nor are we dealing here with people with minor illness. Charities report that 45% of people who put in a claim for ESA, and had Parkinson’s, Cystic Fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, or Rheumatoid Arthritis, were placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).

While this change isn’t due to start until 2017 it won’t take long for it to apply to a substantial number of people . Around 700,000 apply each year for ESA, of which number around 60% proceed to full assessment (the others generally return to work before the process is complete). Currently around 14% of these go into the WRAG. That’s around 60,000 people affected every year.

Source: Employment and Support Allowance – Another Mean Cut From IDS | Sheila Gilmore

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John Woodcock’s stupid rebellion against Corbyn is a gift to the Conservatives

John Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow and Furness and, in the opinion of This Writer, a complete and utter twit [Image: Laura Lean/PA].

John Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow and Furness and, in the opinion of This Writer, a complete and utter twit [Image: Laura Lean/PA].

The so-called ‘Bitterite’ wing of the Labour Party is so inept it is almost beyond belief. No wonder they lost two general elections.

The problem for the vast majority of the Labour movement is that these idiots, by continuing to cry about the fact that a genuinely popular leader has taken charge of what they considered ‘their’ party, may scupper further opportunities to trounce the Tories.

So we have John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, who chose the week Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity eclipsed that of David Cameron to tell everybody the Labour leader was bad for the party.

He claimed, on Twitter, that Corbyn is “unwittingly aiding and abetting the Tories” – without even the slightest trace of irony, according to a response by Matthew Black. Of course, Mr Woodcock’s rebellion undermines the recent progress made by Labour and helps the Conservatives.

Is this merely an appalling misjudgement by Mr Woodcock, or is he a Tory fifth-columnist?

An even worse misjudgement was the claim that the disabled are being

“appallingly served by a leadership team who cannot even get its act together properly to stand up for disabled people when they are screwed over by the Tories.”

Perhaps Mr Woodcock has forgotten New Labour’s attitude to the sick and disabled. Let us remind him:

New Labour was the party that introduced Employment and Support Allowance and the hated Work Capability Assessment (WCA) that have caused distress, destitution and death to the disabled.

When members demanded prior to the 2015 general election that Labour (under Ed Miliband) should pledge to end the tyranny of the WCA, they were told that Labour would not support scrapping it because of fears it [would] play badly with the right wing press and damage Labour’s electoral chances”.

So neoliberal Labour – now known as the ‘Bitterites’ – believed it was important that disabled people continue to die in order to improve their chances of appealing to middle-class voters through the right-wing press.

John Woodcock seems to believe that is how Labour should stand up for the disabled.

This Writer prefers Jeremy Corbyn’s way. Call me a sentimentalist if you like, but it seems more humane to try to help them to live.

It is notable that Mr Woodcock’s rallying cry against Jeremy Corbyn has been answered by only two other MPs.

Jamie Reed, who represents Copeland in Cumbria, said

“If your boss is killing your firm, do you stay quiet?”

He seems to have a strange idea of failure. Since Jeremy Corbyn announced his candidacy for the Labour leadership, membership of the party has almost doubled and support for the now-leader is overwhelming.

And Angela Smith, member for Penistone and Stockbridge, claimed Mr Corbyn had

“failed to make any significant statement on the EU and had failed to hit out at the Tories.”

This is hardly surprising as Labour’s EU referendum campaign is being run by Alan Johnson. Mr Corbyn has concentrated on attacking Conservative Government policies – and, as his barnstorming speech on Budget Day showed, he’s been doing very well at it.

Many of us think this is exactly what an Opposition leader should be doing.

Source: Labour MPs back call for Jeremy Corbyn to stand down | Politics | The Guardian

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Autistic teen writes to Tory toffs demanding resignation over brutal benefit cuts

Posting his letters: Brandon Cran.

Posting his letters: Brandon Cran.

Brandon Cran, the autistic Scottish teenager who has written to berate David Cameron and George Osborne for their “ableist” policies, is to be praised.

He told the two greedy politicians their bid to take even more from people already struggling to make their disability benefits cover their costs had made him fearful for his family’s future.

Brandon has to younger disabled brothers – Kainan, 12, and Oaklin, nine – who suffer from autism, among other health issues.

Less praiseworthy is the Daily Record’s willingness to accept pro-government claptrap – for example, the nonsense about the Work-Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance being for claimants who are “trying to work”.

Let’s be clear: It isn’t.

The WRAG is for people who are not fit for work, but may become fit in the near future. Run properly, it would provide support that would keep people mentally prepared to return to the workplace – but of course it isn’t run properly and many people have been wrongly placed in the WRAG when they needed longer-term assistance.

There are many other people who have fallen ill, claimed ESA, got better and returned to work, though. They are described as part of the regular “churn” of claimants.

The Conservatives have been trying to muddy the difference between those who are unfit for work but taking part in preparatory exercises for when they are able to do so, and those who can work and are seeking employment. That is one reason the difference between ESA-WRAG payments and JSA has been eliminated.

But you would be a fool to accept what they are saying.

In his letter posted to Osborne at HM Treasury, the teenager, from Aberdeen, said his treatment of the disabled stripped away their “dignity and sense of worth”. Brandon added: “No one should promote ableism to balance the books and to keep the money flowing for the most wealthy.”

In another letter posted to the PM at 10 Downing Street, Brandon said the threat to PIP was just the latest in an ongoing “public attack” against the disabled, which has included cuts to Employment and Support Allowance for those trying to work, and £4.6billion of cuts to social care in the past five years.

In his letter to Cameron, Brandon said: “Your party has and does promote ableism by publicly attacking disabled people year after year to balance the books when people like me and my brothers and millions more face the fear of being left financially broken. More importantly, we are left to face life feeling worthless as a person and no one should feel like that.”

Source: Autistic teenager writes letters to Tory Toffs Cameron and Osborne demanding they resign over brutal cuts to the disabled – Daily Record

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Double-amputee dad claims Ryanair told him to CRAWL to plane home from holiday

Matthew Parkes says Ryanair made him crawl to his flight. Inset: Mr Parkes while in a coma in hospital [Image: Manchester Evening News].

Matthew Parkes says Ryanair made him crawl to his flight. Inset: Mr Parkes while in a coma in hospital [Image: Manchester Evening News].

It’s bad enough with the Department for Work and Pensions persecuting the sick and disabled; we don’t need companies like Ryanair taking up the hate campaign.

But that is exactly what will happen, as long as ‘scrounger’ rhetoric is allowed to be published and broadcast indiscriminately.

As for Ryanair’s denial – they would, wouldn’t they?

A dad who had both legs amputated claims he was told to CRAWL to a plane by staff working for Ryanair.

Matthew Parkes, 38, says he was instructed by gate staff to drag himself down two ramps, a set of stairs, across tarmac and up the steps of the Manchester -bound plane.

When he refused, he says they carried him the full length of the plane on a stretcher chair – in front of hundreds of seated passengers.

Ryanair say Mr Parkes was provided with the correct assistance for a passenger with reduced mobility and said ‘as far as they can tell there is no truth to the claims’.

Source: Dad who had both legs amputated claims Ryanair staff told him to CRAWL to plane on way home from holiday – Manchester Evening News

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