Category Archives: Death

Pre-teen children are being groomed to deal drugs. Are Tory service cuts to blame?

This report from Sky News might not be shocking if you know a few teenagers living near you:

Kids are being used to deal drugs. And some of them are going to be harmed or even killed because of it.

Whether the measures outlined in the report can help prevent this from happening, This Writer cannot predict.

But the fact that funding for children’s services has been cut by 75 per cent since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 is an indictment against Tory government.

Could this situation have been prevented if the Tories had not cut the funding?

Were the Tories told that this was a possible outcome of them doing so?

We already know (from Covid and from their attitude to state benefits) that it’s too much to hope that they would care.

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Mind-reading Tory columnist reckoned he knew what the Queen was thinking

Wow. Tory columnist Tony Parsons reckoned Queen Elizabeth II went to Balmoral to die – but also to save the union between the countries of the United Kingdom.

Alternatively: did she just go there because it’s an escape from the rigours of day-to-day life, and she ended up passing away there because it’s where she happened to be?

Here’s a video clip:

(Incidentally, I love the sideswipe in which Robespierre namechecks someone for sitting through the Piers Morgan show in order to get the clip.)

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The Queen has died. The UK will now enter 12 days of national mourning

If you don’t know that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away peacefully at Balmoral, aged 96, the longest-serving UK monarch – and has been succeeded by her eldest son, who becomes King Charles III… well, you do now.

Not being particularly a monarchist, but not being much of a republican either (I can see advantages in having a functioning royal family, in terms of tourism, at the very least), I don’t really know how I feel about it.

Both of their paths crossed mine at various points in my reporting career. I didn’t mind her. I don’t mind the new King, either – although I think he may have more to say than she ever did. He says he won’t “meddle”; well, we’ll see.

I can’t say I met them as such, but I was able to get a feel for their personalities.

The first time I saw Elizabeth II in person was at a service for charities at St Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol. I was with the press (obviously) in the south entrance and she entered with Prince Philip (the late Duke of Edinburgh) via the north door. They looked like the number “10”.

She caught sight of me. I had a filthy big grin on my face (as usual) so I was probably easy to pick out. I got a radiant royal smile in return. And yes, I felt privileged.

The second – and last – time was in 2002, during the Golden Jubilee celebrations. She visited the Mid Wales village of Dolau by train. I was running a different news website at the time so I popped up to get some pictures (I was hoping to put one of them up alongside this article but wasn’t able to find it).

The crowd was enormous, so it seemed to me that she was well-loved.

The first time I covered anything done by the new King was at a business park in Hartcliffe (Bristol again), where he chatted with a carpenter.

“How do you manage to do all that and keep all your fingers?” the then-prince asked the woodworking gentleman – who promptly lifted up both his hands, revealing the remnants and stumps of numerous fingers, and said: “I haven’t!”

Next time was 1997 (I think) when the Second Severn Crossing was opened. He was walking along the bridge when the military types started firing a 21-gun salute over the side – behind him.

The instant the first volley was set off – and without missing a step – he went straight up into the air.

(I’m sure there was another occasion between this and the next one, but I can’t remember it at the moment.)

Finally, he and his wife – now the Queen Consort – visited the smallest town in England and Wales – Llanwrtyd Wells – some time around 2010 and I covered the event as a freelancer.

He pulled a few pints in a local pub, had a meeting with local businesspeople (behind closed doors), and then visited a local butcher’s shop. I was just casually standing next to the queue outside, chatting and trying to avoid the gaze of the black-suited bodyguards all around.

He stopped and, rather charmingly, asked if he should join the end of the queue (which would have put him next to me). I waved him along, and everyone else did the same.

That’s the limit of my recollections. Have you ever met either the former or the new monarch? Was your experience more revealing about them than mine? If so, feel free to get in touch via the “comment” box.

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Disabled man says energy costs mean he’ll be dead next year. Tory response: get a job

Bring out your dead: is this the DWP plan for people with disabilities who can’t afford to pay the inflated energy bills the Tory government has foisted on us?

This is utterly disgusting.

Confronted with the story of a man with disabilities who said he expects to be dead by this time next year because he will not be able to afford the increased cost of energy, Tory Minister for Disabled people Chloe Smith said she hoped the Job Centre could help.

It’s the Tory answer to everything: “Get a job. Get a better job. Get an extra job.”

But – if you’re a person living with a disability – you can’t always do that.

And you know what happens then, in Tory Britain?

You die.

Here’s the clip:

Note Chloe Smith’s record on benefit-related votes in the House of Commons: she always voted to cut benefits.

So, for her, the answer to all your problems, if you can’t get a job, is clear:

You die.

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NHS privatisation is killing people, says The Lancet

On the critical list: privatisation has triggered a major increase in NHS patient deaths because the services provided by private firms are of a significantly lower quality, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The oldest medical journal on the planet has published a report showing the NHS outsourcing – also known as privatisation – has caused a significant increase in patient deaths.

This is due to healthcare services being of lower quality since private firms were allowed to provide them.

The study states:

The privatisation of the NHS in England, through the outsourcing of services to for-profit companies, consistently increased in 2013–20. Private sector outsourcing corresponded with significantly increased rates of treatable mortality, potentially as a result of a decline in the quality of health-care services.

We found that an annual increase of one percentage point of outsourcing to the private for-profit sector corresponded with an annual increase in treatable mortality of 0·38% deaths per 100 000 population in the following year… Changes to for-profit outsourcing since 2014 were associated with an additional 557 treatable deaths across the 173 CCGs.

It elaborates:

We found significant increases in for-profit outsourcing between 2013 and 2020.

Since 2013, the annual numbers of treatable deaths in England has increased, breaking the trend of decreasing mortality for the previous 10 years.

We found significant positive associations: an additional £1 million spent on for-profit companies corresponded with average increases of 0·29 deaths for all CCGs in the following year.

Between 2014 and 2019, there were total yearly increases of £927 million spent on for-profit providers by all 173 CCGs included in this study sample. Based on the changes in for-profit spending and observed changes in treatable deaths for each CCG, we calculated that 557 additional deaths could have been attributed to changes in private-sector outsourcing between 2014 and 2019 across the 173 CCGs in the years for which we had data.

So, because of NHS privatisation, 557 people lost their lives, who should have been alive today.

And that’s before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK.

Strangely, there hasn’t been a whisper about this in the mainstream media. Did you see it on the TV news? It’s almost as if there’s been a blackout.

Source: Outsourcing health-care services to the private sector and treatable mortality rates in England, 2013–20: an observational study of NHS privatisation – The Lancet Public Health

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Killing of Shireen Abu Aqleh referred to international criminal court

Shireen Abu Aqleh: it’s hard to see the justification for killing someone with the word “PRESS” emblazoned across their jacket.

The death of Shireen Abu Aqleh has been referred to the International Criminal Court as part of an investigation into whether Israeli security forces have been targeting Palestinian journalists in violation of humanitarian law:

The case originally submitted in April by Bindmans had focused on four Palestinian journalists wearing press helmets and vests, two of whom were maimed and two shot dead. It also covers alleged attacks on Gaza media infrastructure in May 2021.

Lawyers from Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers announced the addition of the death on 11 May of Abu Aqleh to the existing claim at a press conference in London.

They said the case was vital owing to the repeated failure of the Israeli security forces to investigate such incidents and the inability of Palestinian reporters to secure reparations in Israeli domestic courts.

There will also be issues of jurisdiction… Israel itself is not a party to the ICC, raising issues of enforcement of any eventual ruling.

Why isn’t it? Why does Israel get away with this kind of unaccountability?

This comment from one of the solicitors involved is extremely telling:

Tayab Ali, the Bindmans solicitor in the case, said “evidence was not lacking, but the political will”, adding “Israel in the past has been gifted immunity”.

He said: “Israel has enjoyed a devastating impunity against accountability for the actions of its armed forces, and has repeatedly demonstrated that it is a bad faith investigator. It has not managed to hold anyone to account for the tens of Palestinian journalists that have been killed or maimed so far”.

The Palestinian Authority announced the results of an investigation into Abu Aqleh’s death, saying that it revealed Israeli forces deliberately shot and killed the reporter.

Israel’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, said, “Any claim that the IDF intentionally harmed journalists or noncombatants is a blatant lie.”

Source: Shireen Abu Aqleh: killing of reporter referred to international criminal court

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Mealy-mouthed response from Labour’s Streeting after Israelis shoot Palestinian reporter dead

Wes Streeting: it’s all jolly fun in Israel for him.

Apartheid-denier Wes Streeting has been caught in a cleft stick.

He’s currently in Israel on a paid junket, enjoying the hospitality of the right-wing government there that has been inflicting apartheid on the persecuted people of Palestine for many years.

Of course, there’s not a single word of criticism against this cruelty by Labour Friends of Israel member Streeting.

And then a Palestinian reporter was shot in the head by Israeli troops and died – and Streeting had nothing to say about it.

Condemnation has been widespread (where people have been made aware of what happened and of Streeting’s decision to ignore it). Here‘s Skwawkbox‘s take on it:

As the world reeled at horrific footage after [Shireen] Abu Akleh was shot in the head with what appeared to an exploding ‘butterfly’ bullet of the type used by Israeli soldiers, Streeting and LFI posted a string of images of him smiling with Israeli government officials – each of which prompted disgusted responses by Twitter users challenging the appropriateness of the visit and the apparent lack of interest on the part of either Streeting or LFI in condemning the country’s murder of journalists – over fifty in recent years – or reporting on any challenge to the government officials about the actions of their troops.

Visit that site’s story for tweets that are critical of Streeting’s – and Labour’s – response.

But worse was to follow.

At the journalist’s funeral, Israeli forces took it upon themselves to invade the procession and beat the casket-bearers:

This time, Streeting took it upon himself to tweet the sickeningly on-the-fence comment, “Absolutely awful and distressing.”

He didn’t say what was awful and distressing; his comment was carefully-worded to avoid any criticism of the Israeli authorities. Some may say this is because they are his hosts at the moment. Some may say it is because he tacitly supports the violence here. His equivocation lays him open to that.

And that means that Streeting and the Labour Party may now be slammed for failing to condemn this double atrocity – and they have been, as follows:

Labour leader Keir Starmer has had nothing to say for himself about the shocking events – although in fairness he did sum up the courage to retweet a comment by David Lammy:

But it doesn’t add up to the condemnation of Israeli government and armed brutality that the situation requires. Starmer can’t even muster up the courage to admit that Israel is an apartheid state.

The message for people in the UK should be clear.

If Labour can’t take a stand against persecution and brutality in a foreign country, there’s absolutely no way a Labour government will stand against persecution and brutality here in the UK.

Source: Streeting, LFI slammed for happy tweets from Israel with no mention of murdered journalist – SKWAWKBOX

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The UK’s food bank shame will not be solved by Tories like Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson (right) with his leader Boris Johnson: no wonder Anderson thinks he can get away with a Big Lie when his boss is the biggest liar of them all.

This MP is a disgrace to his Ashfield constituency.

He stood up in the House of Commons and admitted that his local food bank won’t give out desperately-needed parcels to people unless they sign up to take a course in budgeting and cooking skills – but you’ll notice he never said anything about whether such courses were effective in reducing demand.

Mr Anderson invited MPs to visit a food bank in his Nottinghamshire constituency where he said people “have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course” if they receive parcels.

“We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,” he added. “We can make a meal for about 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

“There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. We’ve got generation after generation who can not cook properly… they can not budget.”

Here’s video of what he said, along with some of the more well-informed comments by opposition MPs:

As usual, though, the best commentary on this came from the food writer and blogger Jack Monroe, who slated Anderson’s comment in an LBC interview:

“It’s not a lack of skills or knowledge that is causing people to struggle in food poverty in this country…it’s the lack of resources, it’s the lack of finances.

“It’s not that people don’t know what to do with a bag of pasta, it’s that they don’t have the 29p to buy it in the first place.

“Helping somebody conditional on them saying ‘you know what, I’m a terrible kind of poor person, this is all my own fault, please teach me how to be better at being poor’, is disgusting, actually.

“In his own constituency one in three live in poverty…I don’t think he’s the one to be touting the solution.”

Jack, who is a genuine national treasure, went further on the Cooking on a Bootstrap website, reminding us all of the main reasons people can’t afford food any more – and the fatal results of these Conservative Party policies:

If the ‘let them eat 30p meals’ brigade were really concerned for the welfare of people suffering, and I mean suffering, under the worst cost of living crisis this country has known for decades, they would take heed from the thousands of stories of people who have died at the hands of the callous DWP machine, and the people who enthusiastically grease its sharp and unforgiving cogs.

Stephanie Bottrill, a mother of three who was so concerned about the impact that the bedroom tax would have on her family, that she walked out in front of an articulated lorry.

Phillipa Day, whose overdose resulted in a coroners report stating that the flaws in her PIP assessment led to her death. A nine day inquest uncovered multiple failings by both the DWP and the private sector contractor Capita in the handling of her case. The coroner issued the DWP a PFD report – Prevention Of Future Deaths – which was supposed to force them to make significant changes to the system in order to prevent this entirely needless tragedy from ever happening again. Did they implement the recommended changes? Of course not. Not then, and not after multiple more coroners reports and PFDs from multiple subsequent deaths in similar circumstances.

Jodey Whiting took her own life after her benefits were stopped. Her family received a letter endorsing the DWPs actions, incorrectly stating that Jodey was fit to work, and mailed it to them as their daughter lay in a mortuary, awaiting her untimely and again, utterly preventable, burial. Following her death, and with his life thrown into utter turmoil at the loss of his mother, her 19 year old son Cory also killed himself.

I have thousands of these stories, each and every one a heartbreakingly familiar narrative: a vulnerable person denied absolutely vital assistance, unable to bear the pain of a day to day life scrabbling at the periphery of insecurity and just-about-survival, choosing a devastatingly permanent ending to a story that they didn’t get the luxury of choosing their own adventure in. God, they didn’t even get the luxury of choosing their own living accommodation, the colour of their front doors, or the meagre combination of basic store cupboard staples that made up their dinners.

What kind of world do we live in, where these horrific and very real examples of destitution and desperation are not a clarion call for an immediate overhaul of a barbaric and repeatedly proven fatal ideology?

And it begs the point, that with several hundred thousand pounds of full time staff at their disposal to do the everyday grunt work, you’d think that MPs would use a fraction of that generous budget to actually do some research in their chosen field.

Yes indeed. Lee Anderson’s most recent expenses claim alone came to £220,000. That will have included the cost of employing his support staff, so the question goes straight to the point.

The painful reality is that when most basic of human needs costs more than the meagre payments that the recipients are forced to subsist on, cheap pasta and canned beans aren’t going to make a jot of difference unless you’re willing to stuff them up your jumper and make a run for it. Those that claim to be the party of clever economics and fiscal responsibility would do well to remember this simple truth: the square root of fuck all is always going to be absolutely fuck all, no matter how creatively you’re told to to dice it.

I make no apology for the strong language; sometimes people need to be told the facts in the hardest possible terms, just so they’ll sink in.

You’ll hear it again in the following video rant from another great social media icon, Cornish Damo:

Sadly, This Writer doubts that any amount of factual argument will persuade people like Anderson to change their tune, because they believe in the tactic the Tories stole (back) from the Nazi propagandist Goebbels: The Big Lie.

Anderson thinks if he keeps repeating, often enough, the lie that poverty is entirely the fault of people who are poor, and not of those who have deprived them of decent, affordable food, housing, energy, water and all the other necessities of life, we will all eventually believe that lie.

It’s up to you to prove him wrong.

ADDITIONAL: This could be very embarrassing for Mr Anderson:

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Will Boris Johnson be tackled for ‘misleading’ House of Commons after Covid in care homes ruling?

Here’s something that happened after the end of the last Parliamentary session, but that should be raised in the new one.

More than 20,000 people died in care homes because of decisions made by Boris Johnson’s ministers (notably then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock).

Johnson made a statement in Parliament that ministers were not aware of asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 at the time they were ordering that care home residents in hospital should be sent back. The evidence shows it was false.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting claimed this was not true, highlighting a point of order raised by Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow leader of the House of Commons.

Speaking to MPs on Thursday, Ms Debbonaire claimed the government was provided with evidence at the beginning of 2020 that pointed to that asymptomatic transmission of the Covid virus.

“On 28 January 2020, advice from Sage on asymptomatic transmission included that ‘early indications imply some is occurring,’” she said. On 24 February, the Lancet published a paper finding that infected individuals can be infectious before they become symptomatic.

“On 13 March, Patrick Vallance told the Today programme that ‘it’s quite likely that there is some degree of asymptomatic transmission’. Yet it wasn’t until 15 April that the government’s guidance was changed to require patients were tested before being discharged to care homes.”

Ms Debbonaire said Johnson might have “inadvertently” misled the House of Commons, but This Writer disagrees.

Either he was briefed on asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19, or he deliberately chose to miss the briefings at one or several of the COBRA meetings that he skipped (due to laziness?) in early 2020. In any case, the responsibility to know the facts fell on Johnson.

Therefore, if he told the Commons that ministers didn’t know about asymptomatic transmission, he was deliberately choosing to mislead MPs. He should be challenged and he should resign.

Source: Boris Johnson accused of ‘misleading’ House of Commons after Covid in care homes ruling

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Why has EHRC broken promise to investigate DWP’s role in deaths of benefit claimants?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has u-turned on a promise to investigate the role played by the Department for Work and Pensions in the deaths of vulnerable benefit claimants, it’s being reported.

Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. Apparently the commission is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse.

This Site forced the DWP to publish figures showing that thousands of people had died of unexplained causes after being thrown off benefits by that government department and I am deeply concerned by this failure to scrutinise whether the government caused these deaths.

And how many more people have died since I exposed those deaths seven years ago?

I shall be writing to the EHRC today, seeking a meaningful explanation for this u-turn.

UPDATE: Here’s what I have written to the EHRC:

“I was the writer who forced the DWP to admit that thousands of people have died after being thrown off benefits – for no established reason. I am deeply concerned that the EHRC has decided not to investigate the DWP’s role in the deaths of claimants and is choosing only to seek an agreement to better protect claimants – similar to other undertakings that the DWP has ignored in the past, causing more deaths. The DWP will never respect the human rights, or indeed the lives, of claimants unless it is forced to do so. I am writing to you to seek an explanation for your decision that I can publish to my readers. How will you defend this indefensible decision?”

Let’s see what response – if any – I receive.

Source: EHRC Breaks Promise To Investigate DWP Role In Deaths – The poor side of life

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