Daily Archives: October 9, 2019

Judgement in Chris Williamson ‘anti-Semitism’ court case due TODAY

Chris Williamson.

A judge in Birmingham is to rule on whether the Labour Party acted illegally in re-suspending Chris Williamson on an accusation of anti-Semitism, after he had been reinstated into the party.

Here are the details, courtesy of Kerry-Anne Mendoza:

She is right; he does deserve our solidarity.

You may remember that Mr Williamson’s Labour membership was suspended after he made a speech saying that Labour had been “too apologetic” when faced with accusations of anti-Semitism in the party.

In the speech, Mr Williamson said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.

“I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.”

Amid applause from the audience, he went on to say: “We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any political party.”

To This Writer’s way of thinking, this is a valid opinion; the party’s leadership and disputes team seems to believe every accusation is proof of guilt.

But some took the opportunity to say he was trying to excuse racism (every accusation is proof of guilt – see?) so he issued a prompt apology for giving that impression, saying, “Our movement can never be ‘too apologetic’ about racism within our ranks.”

It wasn’t enough to stop his suspension, which was ended after a three-member National Constitutional Committee panel ruled him innocent of wrong-doing.

But this led to outrage among the witch-hunters in the party and he was promptly re-suspended.

Mr Williamson has claimed that the Labour leadership was wrong to do this and launched a legal challenge, which he crowdfunded with donations from supporters.

Now the evidence has been heard and the judge will deliver the verdict at 4pm.

This will be an important moment for everybody who has taken part in the witch-hunt against innocent Labour Party members – and for those of us who have been abused by it.

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DWP stops PIP for mum with brain cancer – because she isn’t dying fast enough?

Here’s yet another abuse of the benefit system by the organisation responsible for it.

The Department for Work and Pensions has stopped paying Personal Independence Payments of £140 per week to a mother with terminal brain cancer, because she has managed to survive for longer than expected.

Kathy Hill, of Buxton, was diagnosed as having a Grade Four brain tumour in 2017 and was given between six months and a year to live.

But she defied doctors’ expectations, surviving much longer alongside her son and their dog who, between them, are her stated reasons for continuing to live.

Unfortunately it seems the DWP has decided she has survived too long, and cancelled her PIP payments in August. She has been left to survive on Universal Credit and now says she feels housebound.

The DWP provides PIP to people under special rules if they have a terminal condition and their death can be “reasonably expected” within six months.

In this case, the government department said the award was cancelled because a reassessment showed her prognosis had changed.

But she is still expected to die of the cancer that she has.

It seems that, by cancelling the cash that helps motivate her, the DWP is trying to speed her on her way.

Source: Buxton mum with terminal brain cancer has benefits stopped by DWP – Buxton Advertiser

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Tories withdraw illegal leaflet telling disabled jobseekers to downplay their conditions

Arbet macht frei: There was a big fuss over an image like this recently, so I’ll tell you what: I’ll stop using it when Job Centres stop persecuting the benefit claimants they process.

A “well-intentioned” leaflet urging people with disabilities to mislead employers about their conditions has been withdrawn by the Department for Work and Pensions, after questions were asked in Parliament.

The official DWP leaflet, issued by a Job Centre in Dorset, told jobseekers to avoid using words like “chronic” or “depression” when applying for work. They were told to use “more general terms” and to avoid making things “sound worse than they are”.

It stated: “Avoid words that sound worse than they are, eg: chronic, degenerating, etc.

“You may find it helpful to use official diagnosis terms, eg multiple sclerosis, PTSD.

“Equally, you may wish to avoid terms such as depression, ME, or low back pain etc and use more general terms such as low mood or a mental health condition, a fatigue-related condition, an ongoing pain condition etc.”

Shadow minister for disabled people Marsha de Cordova raised the issue in a point of order in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday, October 8).

She said: “In essence, the DWP is encouraging disabled people to downplay their disability or health condition.

“It cannot be right that the Department expects disabled people to downplay their disability or health condition.”

Hours later, the DWP announced that the leaflet had been withdrawn.

A statement read: “This was well-intentioned local advice but has been withdrawn, as we would always encourage jobseekers to speak freely about a health condition or disability.”

The wording of the leaflet had been used before, in a “positive health statement” that was circulated by the Dorset NHS trust issued in 2013 – so it is reasonable to believe that the offending leaflet was produced in Dorset.

It was still against the law, though.

Under the Equality Act 2010, disabled people – including those with mental health problems – are entitled to protection if their disability has a substantial, adverse, and long term effect on normal day-to-day activities. It is therefore unreasonable to ask them to “downplay” their disabilities in any way.

So that leaves a thorny question still unanswered:

As the leaflet did break the law, and was passed to people who live with disabilities, who will be prosecuted for it?

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92-year-old man arrested while supporting Extinction Rebellion – because the Tories don’t like it

Arrested: John, 90-something, was protesting with Extinction Rebellion – as is his legal right – outside the Cabinet Office when the police decided to arrest him anyway. It’s nice to know the law doesn’t stand up for you, isn’t it?

This is the depth to which the UK has sunk under Boris Johnson.

John is 91 or 92 years old (it’s not clear from the reports). He came to protest outside the Cabinet Office in London, in support of Extinction Rebellion and because he wants to preserve the environment for his descendents.

And he got arrested.

John had every legal right to protect outside the Cabinet Office – or anywhere else that is a public area.

“We all have the right to come together with others to express our views. That means we must be allowed to take part in peaceful assemblies like marches, protests and demonstrations. We also have the right to set up or join a political party or trade union.”

That’s unless the Tories don’t like it, of course.

The arrest has itself sparked a wave of protest:

There was no reason to arrest this man.

The police picked him up because he was calling on the government and the people of the UK to help save the environment in which we live.

It seems the government does not want to help save the environment in which we live.

So Boris Johnson’s brigade used the police as political tools and had John’s collar felt.

Conclusion: John was committing an offence against nobody but Boris Johnson. A Boris Johnson government is an offence against the very environment in which we live.

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Here’s the reason I’m not convinced the government can’t afford everyone’s pension

You know the Tory government is saying it has to raise the pension age – for everyone – to 67 because it can’t afford to pay everybody under the original conditions?

I have a doubt about that.

You see, the current basic pension rate is around £130 per week (although the maximum is £168.60)

And in January this year, the National Insurance Fund that is supposed to pay for it was in surplus by £24,221,220,000 (see the image above).

Admittedly, considering the number of pensioners in the UK (12 million), it would take only 16 weeks to spend that enormous amount.

But it’s being topped up constantly, it makes money from investments – and the pension-age population is falling because of Tory policies.

That’s why this fund is increasing steadily; on March 31 it stood at £29.5 billion.

And, of course, it would increase much more rapidly if working people were paid properly for the work they do.

Do you get the feeling someone is lying to you?

AFTERWORD: This article has provoked a considerable amount of criticism on Twitter, from some people who claimed to be pensions experts but turned out to be nothing of the sort, and from a few who actually turned out to have something to say.

It is a complicated issue, of course.

But nothing I’ve read has shown the problems are insurmountable by any method other than cutting back the number of people eligible to receive pensions – especially in a nation where wages are being depressed below subsistence levels for working people, while the super-rich are enjoying huge tax breaks (and Boris Johnson is said to want to extend that to cuts in their NI liability too). There are other possibilities, also.

My ultimate feeling, after smiling through the insults and ignorance of many (and the attempts to inform of a few) is still that someone is lying – about the facts of the situation and about what can be done.

I’d like a few opinions from people who don’t claim to be experts on this topic. Do you think that the authorities have been honest about this?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Johnson’s Brexit policy means UK will be MUCH better-off under LABOUR

Valueless: Oscar Wilde said a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Boris Johnson doesn’t even know the price of anything. Perhaps that is why he is spaffing your money up the wall like a fool.

Listen to this:

John McDonnell was referring to a report by the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), stating that the UK will be £110 billion better-off under a Labour government than with Tory rule, by 2022.

The IFS stated that the outlook for the public finances has “worsened dramatically” since the spring and will deteriorate further if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

There can be few clearer statements that Boris Johnson’s leadership is a threat to the United Kingdom and everyone in it.

The report stated that the government’s current spending plans, including a £13.4 billion increase to meet Mr Johnson’s promises on police and schools (but not – notice – the NHS) mean the budget deficit was likely to be £52.3bn in 2020-21, more than double the £21bn forecast by the OBR in March.

But Mr Johnson also promised huge tax giveaways for the rich in his leadership campaign including cuts to Income Tax and National Insurance. If he goes ahead with these, he will harm the national finances even more brutally.

No doubt Mr Johnson – and his chancellor Sajid Javid – will come out with some mealy-mouthed excuse to pacify us all. It will probably involve another claim that the Conservatives are the “party of financial responsibility” and “Labour will bankrupt the country”. But it’s a funny thing – if they think Labour’s fiscal plans are so harmful, why has IFS director Paul Johnson claimed that their own current ideas are almost identical to Labour’s from 2017?

Most tellingly, of course, we know that Boris Johnson is a liar.

You cannot trust him when he says he’ll fund the police. You cannot trust him when he says he’ll fund schools. You cannot trust him when he says he’ll fund our NHS. You cannot trust him when he says he’ll cut tax. And you absolutely cannot trust him when he says the UK will be better-off after his Brexit.

He thinks you’ll vote for him in an election likely to happen before Christmas. Just remember this:

If you vote for a liar, you will only get broken promises.

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‘Leave’ campaign’s response to Angela Merkel IS RACISM

Racist: This image by Brexiteers Leave.EU refers to the two world wars and shows German leader Angela Merkel giving an approximation of a Nazi salute. It also refers to her by the racist term “kraut”. It is designed to drum up racist sentiment against Germany. It deserves prosecution under our anti-racism laws.

Brexiteers have adopted a new tactic in their bid to drum up public support for their plan to leave the European Union without any withdrawal agreement. It’s called racism.

After a telephone conversation with Boris Johnson in which Angela Merkel reportedly said a deal based on his current proposals was “overwhelmingly unlikely”, the campaign group Leave.EU, run by the infamous Arron Banks and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice, released the image above.

It is racist for all the reasons set out in the caption.

Worse, European newspapers seem to be pushing the opinion that it – and those behind it – are succeeding in their attempt to sway public opinion here in the UK.

European newspapers and commentators rounded on the “outrageous” tactics of an “out-of-control” Downing Street after a string of leaks sought to blame France, Ireland and Germany for the Brexit breakdown – but they warned the EU would not fall for them.

For Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy “may be recognised as transparent in Brussels and outrageous in Berlin – but in the UK it seems, for the time being, to be working”.

The plan was to insist that the UK was “heading for no deal, either before or after the next election – it’s just a matter of time”, and all because the EU is “not prepared to compromise. We gave it our all, but it was not sufficient. Now enough is enough.”

Suggesting Germany was largely at fault was, of course, deliberate, the paper said. “Aversion to Britain’s wartime opponent, and its return to power via Brussels, was a reason for many especially older Britons to vote for Brexit.” Cue the inevitable reactions from leave voters: “Merkel is to blame, Germany is showing its true face, Berlin always wanted to subjugate us, the EU must be smashed.”

Johnson and his senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, “have always threatened no deal, paying mere lip service to an agreement”, the paper noted. “The UK’s latest proposal was obviously not designed to make a deal possible in a short time.”

The EU is unlikely to give in to this threat, SZ said. But No 10’s psychology was different: “It aims to oblige the Commons to force a Brexit delay – and then sees angry voters re-electing Johnson by a large majority.”

In a piece headlined the Saboteur, Der Spiegel reckoned that Johnson, thwarted in his desire for no deal by parliament, was “embarking on a last-ditch attempt to make it possible – this time, triggered by the EU”. He was “doing everything possible to prevent the EU unanimously approving a new Brexit extension”.

But that was all just for show, said the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Johnson and Cummings were putting “more persuasiveness and energy into shifting the blame for a new Brexit extension than into securing an 11th-hour deal on Britain’s exit from the EU”.

The prime minister, it said, had seen the polls and knew he could win a large majority at the next election. He may “hint that he wants to drive the EU nuts, with a no deal on 31 October as the consequence, but that’s for domestic consumption. He knows he has no chance of success: the UK is heading for postponement and early elections.”

So Johnson is “now doing everything possible to avoid taking responsibility for the delay”. Tuesday’s events played out “exactly as No 10 wanted”, the paper said.

“Without a German reply, without any traceable involvement of No 10, the British public gained the impression that the EU was being intransigent, Johnson was standing up to them as a patriot, and that postponing Brexit will not be his fault.”

Are we really a nation of racists?

Is that what nine years of Conservative-led rule has done to the once-great-and-tolerant United Kingdom?

No. We aren’t and it isn’t.

Not when we have people who can produce responses like this:

And this:

And we must not allow the Brexiteer strategy of racism and scapegoating EU nations – particularly Germany – to swing the more impressionable members of the UK public into supporting him.

What we’re seeing is evidence that everything Boris Johnson and his team have done has been geared to fool us.

His plan has changed.

He wanted to leave without a deal on October 31.

But now he wants to delay Brexit – and pretend the European Union is to blame.

So let’s get the message right.

Boris Johnson is deliberately delaying Brexit to fool you into voting for him.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Violence against the disabled has rocketed – last year’s 41% rise is only part of the story

Victims: These are not disabled victims of hate crime fuelled by the Tories. As recent articles by Life News and the New York Times have stated, the Nazis’ first victims were the disabled too.

How soon they forget.

Today’s announcement that violent hate crime against disabled people has risen by 41 per cent is bad enough, along with the 71 per cent increase in offences with an online element.

But why is no mention made of the fact that disability hate crime rose by a harrowing 213 per cent – it more than tripled – after the Conservatives first came back to office in 2010?

And it is also significant that prosecutions of hate violence against disabled people have been reduced.

Oh – by the way, the increase figures for the last year are from only 25 of the UK’s 43 police forces – only slightly more than half.

So we may conclude that the real number of violent hate crimes against disabled people is far, far higher than stated.

The Leonard Cheshire charity sent requests to all 43 police forces in England and Wales, and the full responses from 25 forces showed there were 5,015 offences of disability hate crime recorded by police in 2018-19 compared to 4,111 the previous year – a rise of 22 per cent.

In 2017-18 the figures showed 1,805 of these offences had involved violence, rising to 2,538 in 2018-19.

Twenty-three of the forces were able to provide data to show how many had involved an online element. There were 201 offences in 2017-18 compared to 344 in 2018-19.

Significantly, the number of cases that resulted in charges or a summons had dropped, the charity said. In 2017-18 there were 330 of these cases were pursued – eight per cent of the total – but this dropped 293 in 2018-19, six per cent of the total.

So: an astronomical increase in hate crimes against people with disabilities, coupled with a reduction in the already-pitiful number of these crimes that lead to criminal prosecutions.

And we don’t even know how many led to a conviction!

It all contributes to my years-old claim that Tory anti-disabled propaganda has fuelled hate crime against disabled people.

As I stated in 2017: “Not only have the Conservatives manipulated the benefit system to force claimants into destitution and death, either by the worsening of their conditions or by despair-fuelled suicide, they have also manipulated the public into helping that agenda with violence.

“And the policy has been so successful that the Tories have expanded it to encompass hatred against people from foreign countries and (now) pensioners.”

In support, I quoted This Site’s long-term friend Mo Stewart in Welfare Weekly, who stated:

“Aided and abetted by banner headlines, DWP Ministers insisted that many claimants of out-of-work disability benefit were ‘inactive’, ‘skiving’, ‘scrounging’ and ‘workshy’.

“Claimants of such benefits were clearly a burden to ‘hard working tax payers’, so these dishonest people must be identified and forced to find work.

“These totally false claims have worked well, with a 213% increase in disability hate crimes during the Coalition government’s term in office.”

The falsehoods certainly seem to have worked on employees of the DWP, whose staff were recently recorded accusing benefit claimants of “faking it”.

The headlines today are almost meaningless. They are there to make you feel bad for a moment. But nothing will be done to stop hate crime against the disabled because it is Tory government policy – as it was in Germany under the Nazis.

Source: Violent hate crime against disabled has risen by 41 per cent in the last year, figures suggest | The Independent

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Unaffordable rents – arranged by Tories – are pushing low-income families towards homelessness

Nine out of every 10 homes for rent are too expensive for families on housing benefit or the equivalent, Local Housing Allowance – according to the National Housing Federation.

The report finds that 94 per cent of private rental properties are unaffordable for families on Housing Benefit, or the equivalent Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

It also found that 65 per cent of the families affected are in work – proving once again that the Tory mantra that “work is the best way out of poverty” is utter claptrap while they remain in office.

LHA was initially designed to cover the bottom 50 per cent of market rents – in any area. This was reduced to 30 per cent in 2011, after the Tory-led Coalition government came into power (with help from the Liberal Democrats). Rates were divorced from market rents altogether in 2013, and frozen in 2016.

One can only conclude that this was done to price benefit-dependent families out of the market. In the least-affordable parts of the UK – southern and eastern England – only one per cent of privately-rented properties are affordable to those on LHA.

Analysis of data on private rental listings found that:

  • Only 7.54% of rental properties advertised in England are affordable to LHA claimants.
  • “Family-sized” properties, i.e. those with two or more bedrooms, are even less affordable, with only 6.5% being affordable at the relevant LHA rate.
  • Southern and Eastern parts of England are the least affordable areas.
  • In 2011, LHA was set to the 30th percentile of rents within Broad Rental Market Areas, meaning that claimants should have been able to afford 30% of the rental market in each BRMA. In 2019, the median percentage of the rental market that is affordable within a BRMA is only 5.9%.
  • Only 2.75% of rooms within shared accommodation are affordable at LHA. The shared accommodation rate is usually the only LHA rate that single people aged under 35 may claim.

The National Housing Federation has drawn the obvious conclusion – that Tory policies have pushed homelessness to record levels – and are pushing children into overcrowded and poor quality accommodation, like shipping containers and converted office blocks.

The organisation is demanding that the government LHA payments to cover at least the lowest-costing 30 per cent of privately-rented homes again. It also wants a £12.8 billion annual investment in building new social housing.

I think we all know what’s likely to happen about that: Nothing.

You can read the full briefing here.

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