Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey must pay damages to two severely disabled men who lost £170 a month when they were moved onto universal credit (UC).
The pair will be paid a total of just over £11,000 to compensate their financial losses and the resultant “mental suffering, distress, anxiety, humiliation and disruption to life,” the High Court heard today.
Last month, the High Court ruled that the two men were unlawfully discriminated against as they were moved onto UC simply because they moved between local authority areas.
TP, a terminally ill 52-year-old, had his payments cut under UC while undergoing “gruelling chemotherapy” because he briefly moved from London to live with his parents in Dorset.
AR, a 36-year-old suffering from bipolar disorder, was forced to use foodbanks when his support was cut after the bedroom tax forced him to move from Middlesbrough to Hartlepool.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) agreed to pay TP and AR damages but sought to keep the sum confidential.
Owen Jones is rightly under fire over his his knee-jerk demand for Pete Willsman to quit Labour’s NEC despite not having done anything wrong.
But he’s right about this.
Kate Hoey, Frank Field, Graham Stringer and John Mann defied the Labour whip to vote in support of a Tory government motion – saving the Tories from defeat in doing so.
If members of their constituency Labour Parties say that this defies the values that bind the organisation together, then they are within their rights to vote the Brexit rebels out of any future party candidacy.
So, according to Mr Jones, Hoey must go. The only thing keeping Field, Stringer and Mann around is the fact that their CLPs haven’t voted for their deselection…
The objection should not be whether Labour MPs defy the whip – each should have the right to act according to their conscience. But Labour members should surely have greater power to decide whether those actions defy the values that bind the party.
Labour members should have the power to adjudicate on MPs’ voting records, and “not propping up a catastrophic Tory government” should be regarded as a bare minimum.
It’s hard to discern fact from fiction amid the deluge of nonsense about anti-Semitism being heaped on us all by enemies of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour Party.
The thing to remember is that these people have politicalmotives. They don’t care about real anti-Semitism. When a genuine anti-Semitic attack took place in London recently, the principle campaigners against Corbyn were holding a demonstration about Labour instead. None of them said or did anything about it.
And they love to bandy about false claims that Mr Corbyn is an anti-Semite.
I’d love to see some of these people try to explain the following:
On November 7, 1990, Mr Corbyn condemned “the increase in the dissemination of anti-Semitic and racist materials in the United Kingdom”.
On November 26, 2004, Mr Corbyn condemned “terrorist, anti-Semitic attacks on two Istanbul synagogues”.
On February 26, 2009, Mr Corbyn condemned “vile and anti-Semitic material on the Internet”.
On March 23, 2009, Mr Corbyn praised British people who aided Jewish people during the Holocaust.
On July 2, 2009, Mr Corbyn congratulated the Bradford Reform Synagogue on attaining Grade II* listing.
On February 9, 2010, Mr Corbyn congratulated Jewish News on its investigation into the use of Facebook to promote anti-Semitism.
On June 13, 2012, Mr Corbyn criticised the BBC for removing programming for Jews from its schedule.
Only March 1, 2013, Mr Corbyn condemned anti-Semitism in sport.
On January 9, 2014, Mr Corbyn praised the teaching of the Holocaust in UK schools and commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day.
And On June 22, 2015, Mr Corbyn praised the London Jewish Forum for its opposition to racist rallies.
All of these happened before he became Labour leader (thanks to Left in Kipperland – @LKipperland on Twitter – for the information).
Mr Corbyn had no public-relations reason to do these things as he was not Labour leader at the time. So why would he?
Logic suggests his reason is the obvious: Because he is a genuine multi-culturalist who doesn’t have an anti-Semitic bone in his body – as these British Jews stated.
It’s a classic anti-Semitic trope, or stereotype – and actually falls foul of Labour’s code of conduct: “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group.” And it is being weaponised against the innocent by people claiming to be fighting anti-Semitism.
Look at the witch-hunt that has broken out against Labour NEC member Pete Willsman.
He was recorded at an NEC meeting – an unethical act as NEC meetings must be held in private – reacting to reports that 68 rabbis had written to a newspaper claiming that Labour had “chosen to ignore the Jewish community” by amending the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism to make it more suitable for use by the party in investigating allegations of anti-Semitism.
But Labour has not ignored “the Jewish community”. British Jews are a diverse body of people with wide-ranging opinions and not all of them support the IHRA definition.
As Professor Annabelle Sreberny said: “There is a public debate happening amongst Jews, about these issues – that’s important. There isn’t one Jewish community; there isn’t the Jewish community – there are many. And we all need our voice.”
It is a voice that is being denied to them by the 68 rabbis who claimed to speak for them all. This falls foul of Labour’s code of conduct because it denies Jews the right to self-determination and self-definition.
Let’s examine what Mr Willsman said. First, he said, “They can falsify social media very easily.” It is not clear who “they” are in this context but I think it would be reasonable to suggest that he meant people who want to spread fake claims of anti-Semitism, rather than those reporting it in good conscience. And there is evidence to suggest he is correct:
Lots of attack accounts appearing with low number of followers, incognito re pic & name. Goading members, be careful don't take the bait! pic.twitter.com/6UWA6tvLm6
Then he said: “And some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump. They’re Trump fanatics and all the rest of it. So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up daft information without any evidence at all. So I think we should ask the 70 rabbis, ‘Where is your evidence of severe and widespread anti-Semitism in this party?”
Labour MP Luciana Berger was quick to alter Mr Willsman’s words for him: “Anyone listening to this recording will be appalled to hear the venom and fury directed by Mr Willsman at the British Jewish community. That he accuses the Jewish community of falsifying social media and being ‘Trump fanatics’ in order to deny the serious concerns of 68 rabbis beggars belief.”
Venom and fury at the British Jewish community? Where?
He said nothing at all about the British Jewish community.
He said he would not be lectured by supporters of Donald Trump within that community who are spreading lies. I would like to see his evidence for that, but I would certainly not wish to accuse him of anti-Semitism – as Ms Berger is clearly doing – without having done so and she clearly has not.
If she wanted to find evidence of Trump fanaticism within the Jewish community, she really wouldn’t have to look any further than Jonathan Arkush, former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as this Skwawkbox article demonstrates. But no. Ms Berger wanted to make a fuss without any evidence.
Furthermore, her claim that he was attacking the whole of British Jewry when he was in fact singling out only a tiny minority of it is anti-Semitic: “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group.”
And, like the 68 rabbis, she is trying to deny a significant proportion of the British Jewish community the right to have their voices heard – in violation of Labour’s code of conduct.
Distortions like these form the basis of a series of anti-Semitism charges against This Writer – and are the reason I am crowdfunding to pay for legal action against my accusers. Please visit my JustGiving page for more information and to donate.
As for the demand by the current president of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, for Mr Willsman to be expelled… Well. Isn’t she a Conservative?
Mr Willsman is currently up for re-election to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.
Is it beyond the realms of possibility that this scandal-in-a-teacup has been manufactured by Ms Berger, the Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Deputies purely to manipulate democracy to remove a Jeremy Corbyn-supporting left-winger from that organisation?
I don’t think so – but I would certainly recommend that all Labour Party members reading this should do the exact opposite and make sure you vote for Mr Willsman. His words show that he, at least, wants to see genuine evidence of anti-Semitism, rather than taking the fakers at face value.
After six years of campaigning for people with disabilities in the UK, This Writer would agree with everything John McDonnell has to say.
Personally, I heard absolutely nothing about the Tory government-hosted disability summit while it was taking place last week.
I can only conclude that even the Tory-poodle national news media recognised it for the sham that it is – and ignored it.
Labour’s shadow chancellor has described the UK government’s decision to co-host a Global Disability Summit – less than a year after its record on disability rights was dismantled by the United Nations – as “the height of hypocrisy”.
John McDonnell, a long-standing supporter of the disabled people’s anti-cuts movement, said the government’s summit was an attempt to show that they were world leaders in disability rights “when they are clearly not”, but also “trying to argue that they could somehow influence or teach other countries how to treat fairly and equally disabled people”, which was “just outrageous.”
McDonnell (pictured, outside the summit) said disabled people and their allies had worked hard to ensure that the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities had “the fullest information to be able to assess the government’s performance on its policies towards disabled people”.
The result was “an outright condemnation of the role that the government has played”.
He added: “It was the height of hypocrisy then for them to host this event.”
He said the summit could have been so much more successful if there had been an “honest discussion about what’s happened to disabled people across the globe but also learning the lessons of what’s gone wrong in this country, and the lessons of what’s gone wrong are that disabled people have born the brunt of austerity”.
This should be a complete answer to accusations that Labour is “soft” on anti-Semitism: The party’s dispute procedure allows it, not only to demand that defendants be found guilty in spite of the evidence, but also to produce new evidence with no warning, if the original claims are disproved.
You’ll remember I wrote about the paragraph in Labour’s charge sheet against me that stated: “There are current and potential Labour voters of all backgrounds who are watching carefully what the Party does with cases like Mr Sivier’s. Taking definitive action in this case would send a clear and unambiguous message to all of them that Mr Sivier and the views he published extensively have absolutely no place in the party.”
This, I said, was a directive to find me guilty of anti-Semitism, no matter what the evidence shows.
Well obviously I got in touch with Labour to demand an explanation as to the meaning of this outrage. I also took the opportunity to check whether I had, in fact, received all the evidence that was likely to be used against me.
Here’s the answer: “It is actually part of the opening submissions that the NEC proposes to make at a hearing of its charge that purpose of which is to persuade the NCC panel to find in favour of the NEC. It is open to you to rebut such statements in your answer to charge and to make your own statements at the hearing to persuade the Panel of your case. It is for the Panel whether they are influenced or not by such statements.”
Not acceptable. It is an attempt to persuade the judging panel that they must find me guilty because of concerns beyond those related to my case – that it will look bad to outsiders if an innocent man is found innocent.
That is so backward, so corrupt, it should be shouted from the rooftops until Labour changes its barbaric ways.
On the evidence likely to be submitted, I was told: “The Party’s rule book allows the presenter of charges to reply to a respondent’s answer to charge and to provide new witness statements and other evidence in support of that reply, all of which will be copied to the respondent prior to a hearing. If either party however wishes to produce any documentary evidence at a hearing that has not been previously seen by the other party and the Panel, they need agreement of the Panel to do so. Such permission is usually only given if the evidence is material to the matters to be decided and there is a valid reason why the evidence has not been disclosed before e.g. it has only come to light after the disclosure of other evidence.”
This suggests that, if my evidence defeats the charges against me, my accusers will bring forward something else – with no prior warning, allowing me no time to assemble a defence against it.
Just when officials at the Foreign Office thought they could live without embarrassment for a while, it turns out Jeremy Hunt is just as stupid as his immediate forerunner.
On a trip to China, intended to strengthen trade ties ahead of Brexit, Hunt tried to win the approval of his hosts by mentioning that his wife is Japanese – evoking memories of a centuries-old rivalry and a bloody occupation in the 1930s and 40s.
He backslid fast but the damage had been done.
Good luck getting a decent trade deal now, Jeremy! I only wish I had some knowledge of Chinese so I could describe you in the appropriate language.
Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s new foreign secretary, has made an awkward debut in China when he sought to curry favour with his hosts by mentioning his Chinese wife, but accidentally referred to her as “Japanese”.
China and Japan have been traditional rivals for centuries. Although relations have improved somewhat recently, they remain touchy due to issues such as Japan’s bloody occupation of parts of China in the 1930s and 40s.
This is something to remember, next time a Tory minister gets up and says the economy is doing well and people are enjoying a higher standard of living.
Declining incomes for the poorest families, government austerity and Brexit have led to the biggest rise in UK poverty since Margaret Thatcher was in power, according to new projections from the Resolution Foundation.
The think tank’s predictions suggest real incomes for the poorest third of the working-age population fell by between £50 and £150 in 2017-18.
Inflation rose above three per cent last year, while Tory cuts to tax credits and benefits affected the nation’s poorest.
And all of this has led to the official poverty rate rising from 22.1 per cent to 23.2 per cent, according to Resolution Foundation calculations.
This 1.1 per cent jump would be the biggest since 1988.
Ian Austin’s attempt to take the moral high ground after being notified of disciplinary action against him suggests he is a very cynical individual.
He says he is angry about anti-Semitism – but then why did he verbally attack the poet Michael Rosen at a committee meeting examining Holocaust education?
Mr Rosen tweets about the experience here:
No, no, no. There was a sub-committee of the Education Committee looking at Holocaust Education. A wide range of people were invited to give submissions an talk to them. For some reason, @IanAustinMP decided to break the pattern and start shouting at me. https://t.co/yBd0HWocgy
What was weird was that it wasn't a Select Committee grilling. It was meant to be an information and experience exchange. And it was up until @IanAustinMP singlehandedly changed the terms of reference and started shouting at me. https://t.co/kjHdYIPOj0
He was enraged that I had questioned the narrative that 'Britain stood alone'. I hadn't questioned that. I questioned whether Holocaust Education in the UK should insert gratuitous self-congratulation. https://t.co/zsinGghGQs
Mr Austin is probably best known for trying to shout down Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the report of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.
It seems he also refused to vote against the fiscal rules brought in by George Osborne, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, that introduced us all to Tory austerity.
And his expense claims are, reportedly, a disgrace.
Yet he is trying to use the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party to gain sympathy – and attack Mr Corbyn again.
Labour faced fresh controversy over its policy on antisemitism on Saturday after it emerged that a second MP who has criticised the party’s new code on the issue may face disciplinary action leading to suspension from the party.
Ian Austin, whose adoptive parents were Czech Jewish refugees who lost relatives in the Holocaust, was sent a letter earlier this month from the party’s head office warning that he was being investigated for “abusive conduct” in parliament.
The MP for Dudley North had clashed with the Labour party chair, Ian Lavery, in the House of Commons just before the parliamentary recess in a heated exchange that was witnessed by other MPs.
Austin was angry about the party’s new code, which recognises the internationally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism but does not replicate in full its list of examples.
Austin told the Observer: “Wouldn’t it be great if they dealt with the people responsible for racism as quickly as they dealt with the people who are understandably upset about it? I am angry about antisemitism and I am angry that the Labour party can’t deal with it adequately.”
It’s ironic that the Conservative government would come out with fake news on the weekend it was reported a Parliamentary committee will demand a clampdown on fake news.
You see, the DWP took blue disability badges away from all the people mentioned in its announcement (below), back in 2014. All it is doing now is giving them back.
Take a look at this article published by The Canary. It will explain it all for you.
The best advice This Writer can give you, if you see a link to a news story about this by the mainstream media on Facebook or Twitter is: Report it. It’s fake news. The Tories are simply giving back something they should never have taken away.
People with hidden disabilities, including autism and mental health conditions will soon have access to Blue Badges, removing the barriers many face to travel.
The Blue Badge scheme already means those with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.
In the biggest overhaul to the scheme since the 1970s, this will now be extended to those with less visible conditions early next year.
The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who:
cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)
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