Tag Archives: abolish

Bristol votes to abolish its elected mayor

Marvin Rees: Bristol’s elected mayor must hand over to a committee system in 2024.

Voters in Bristol have decided to abolish their elected mayor in favour of a committee system in which decisions are made by groups of councillors.

Incumbent Marvin Rees, of the Labour Party, will continue to hold the post until 2024 when he will hand over to the new system.

The BBC is reporting that the always-controversial mayoral system was undermined when Labour lost its majority on the city council, allowing Greens, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to co-operate to bring about a referendum, and they then campaigned hard to get voters to support their call for change.

That is not This Writer’s understanding of the situation because it suggests that those other parties nudged voters into doing what they wanted.

I’m originally from Bristol, and the impression I’ve had from my contacts there is that residents were unhappy that Mr Rees was making decisions unilaterally, that were often the opposite of what the majority of people wanted.

It was undemocratic.

That’s the drawback – or potential drawback – of having local authorities run by elected mayors.

With that system spreading across the country as a result of Tory government policy, it will be interesting to see how effective Bristol’s return to committee decision-making becomes.

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#ReesMogg is facing #sleaze #investigation by watchdog he tried to scrap

Shifty: Jacob Rees-Mogg is facing an investigation into his business practices outside Parliament – by a Standards Commissioner he tried to have abolished. Now, why would he have wanted to do that?

Karma comes around quickly these days, doesn’t it?

Remember how Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to shut down Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone after she found Owen Paterson guilty of corruption?

Now Ms Stone is investigating claims that he took £6 million of loans from his company, Saliston Ltd, between 2018 and 2020 – and failed to make an “open and frank” disclosure of them in the register of members’ interests.

The details are here:

It’s highly suspicious, isn’t it?

Rees-Mogg tried to have the Standards Commissioner’s role abolished, and is now being investigated by the Standards Commissioner.

Was he corruptly acting on his own behalf, rather than (as he undoubtedly claimed) in the interests of justice?

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Gavin Williamson scrapped dozens of protections for children – unlawfully

Williamson the dunce: I know it’s a duff image but it reflects this MP’s abilities so I’ll keep using it as long as he continues to be a dunce.

Tory Education Secretary Gavin Williamson stripped children in care of 65 legal protections illegally, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Judges said he should have consulted the Children’s Commissioner and other stakeholder organisations before inflicting such a “substantial and wide-ranging” “bonfire of children’s rights”.

The regulations affected included legal timescales for social-worker visits to children in care, six-monthly reviews of children’s welfare, independent scrutiny of children’s homes and senior officer oversight of adoption decision-making for babies and children.

The protections affected also cover disabled children having short breaks and children in care sent many miles away from home.

It seems Williamson did conduct a consultation but was selective about whose opinions he sought – adoption agencies, private providers and local government bodies.

But organisations representing the children and young people who were to be affected by the changes were not consulted and the Children’s Commissioner only found out about the changes after they had been forced through Parliament through the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) regulations in April.

We are told that all of the changes were temporary and have now expired.

We have yet to hear – may never hear – how many children were harmed as a result of them.

Williamson has been told to run proper consultations in future.

But will he? And doesn’t this simply reignite the debate over whether Conservatives should be allowed anywhere near children in care.

Source: Education secretary ‘unlawfully scrapped children’s rights’ – BBC News

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Selfish MP calls for Wales to be abolished so he can visit the beach – and Tories can take control

Daniel Kawczynski: you can tell just by looking at him that he’s another Tory berk.

What a selfish, entitled Tory git.

And the people of Shrewsbury have elected him as their MP continually over the last 15 years, with an increasing majority every time. What possessed them?

Daniel Kawczynski, Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, has called for the Welsh Parliament to be abolished so he can visit the beach.

Wales has coronavirus-related restrictions that are different from those in England. In Wales, people are not allowed to travel away from their local area and most cannot, therefore, visit the beach; nor can English people travel into Wales to do so.

In any event, Kawczynski is a fool because his nearest beach is in the Wirral.

His words suggest he is trying to use the virus and the lockdown – that his prime minister Boris Johnson imposed, let’s not forget – to rekindle the debate about whether the UK countries should have devolved Parliaments.

“I am sorry, but the time has come to reach out as Conservatives to large numbers of like-minded citizens in Wales who like us believe in one system for both nations,” he said.

“We must work towards another referendum to scrap the Welsh Assembly and return to one political system for both nations – a political union between England and Wales.”

He means he wants the Tories to carry out a political power-grab and take control of Wales, so they can impose their disastrous coronavirus policies there and kill thousands more Welsh people.

Fortunately, his efforts have resulted in him being made to look the fool that he is:

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Labour announces it will abolish DWP and re-establish DSS – in Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency

I used to work at the Department for Social Security, many years ago, and I have friends from those days who are what you may consider experts on developments in the benefit system since then.

They say the problems with the Department for Work and Pensions, which replaced it, was that it took too much of its ethos from the Employment Service and those parts of the Department of Education and Employment that were also merged into the new department.

Apparently these organisations did not understand that some people simply cannot be shoehorned into any old job that happens to be available – especially if they have long-term illnesses and/or disabilities; it simply wasn’t part of their culture.

My friends said there was no way to make the service work for benefit claimants with such conditions while it was administered by the DWP.

They insisted that the only way to provide a service that worked for the people, rather than against them, was to restore the DSS.

So it is hugely to Labour’s credit that it has announced a plan to scrap the DWP and bring back the DSS – and the decision to reveal this policy in the Chingford constituency of Iain Duncan Smith, architect of so much misery for sick and otherwise-vulnerable people, was a masterstroke.

Addressing a rally in Chingford and Woodford Green, the Labour leader will say: “It’s time to end this cruelty. So today I can tell you that Labour will scrap Universal Credit. And we will replace the Department for Work and Pensions with a Department for Social Security – this will provide real security.

[Source: Labour will scrap ‘inhumane’ Universal Credit, Corbyn vows – LabourList]

You don’t have to look far to find hundreds of stories of people suffering because of the unmitigated disaster of Universal Credit. Single-mum Lauren and her baby who went without food, or Kirsty who had to walk 13 miles to and from work because she couldn’t afford the bus fare, or Philip who tragically committed suicide earlier this year while waiting for a Universal Credit payment.

Over half of the people claiming Universal Credit are going without food and losing sleep over fears about their finances, according to Citizens Advice, and the demand for food banks has surged in areas where families have been relying on the Universal Credit system the longest. Some women are even taking up sex work to make ends meet.

The next Labour government will scrap Universal Credit and replace it with a social security system designed to end poverty, based on principles of dignity and universalism. The next Labour government will take action immediately and end the worst aspects of Universal Credit and abolish the two-child limit, which under the Tories is set to push up to 300,000 more children into poverty by 2024, and end the five-week wait.

Labour will abolish the five-week wait and introduce an interim payment after two weeks, based on half an estimated monthly entitlement.

Labour will immediately suspend the Tories’ punitive sanctions regime that has eroded trust in the social security system and people’s right to support. Instead, we’ll replace it with a new system that emphasises tailored support, rather than meting out rigid requirements and punishments when they are not met.

[Source: Universal Credit has destroyed people’s lives – it’s time to scrap it – LabourList]

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#AbolishTheMonarchy – backlash against Queen for meekly rubber-stamping Johnson’s Parliamentary shutdown

The Queen: By backing Dictator Johnson against the people, she may have signed up for the abolition of the monarchy.

The Queen is back-pedalling hard over her agreement to prorogue Parliament for Boris Johnson.

According to the BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, she has never refused to accept the advice of her ministers and always acted on precedent.

So when Jacob Rees-Mogg, for Dictator Johnson, demanded that she prorogue Parliament during a Privy Council meeting yesterday, he said she would have felt “boxed in”.

He added: “She and her advisors, I have little doubt, will be frankly resentful of the way this has been done and will be concerned at the headlines which say ‘Queen suspends Parliament.”

Rightly so – because, as current slang has it, the optics are terrible.

People are saying democracy has been denied by an unelected monarch acting on the wish of an unelected prime minister.

And they know she could have stopped him:

And it has focused the anger of the people on the monarchy:

That’s the nub of the matter, isn’t it?

And when this crisis is all over, with Dictator Johnson and his cronies banished to the waste-bin of history, it seems likely the people will want to seek assurances that this can never happen again.

We will need checks and balances to ensure that no unelected head of state can ever again deny us our right to representation.

It seems that, with a few penstrokes, the Queen may have put an end to the British Royalty.

Source: Queen and her advisers ‘resentful’ over how Boris Johnson handled prorogation – Mirror Online

Iain Duncan Smith’s latest foolishness: He no longer uses poverty to measure poverty

Brierfield in Lancashire where nearly 35% of children live in poverty and just over 50% are classed as poor according to reach by the End Child Poverty Campaign.

Brierfield in Lancashire, where nearly 35 per cent of children live in poverty and just over half are classed as poor according to research by the End Child Poverty Campaign.

We all knew this was coming because we have a Conservative Government whose policies have been intended to increase poverty since 2010 – while apparently working to eliminate child poverty by 2020.

It simply couldn’t be done, and now the Gentleman Ranker, Iain Duncan Smith, has admitted it.

This is not a failure by the Conservative Government – it is a mark of its success in increasing poverty while fooling people into believing that they are better-off being ruled by a gang of greedy, selfish, chinless toffs.

RTU’s (Returned To Unit – an Army term denoting uselessness that we use to describe IDS) move to abolish the elimination target and change the way poverty is defined – away from the internationally-recognised measure which considers anybody earning less than 60 per cent of median pay to be in poverty – has been attacked by, of all people, Alan Milburn.

This as-good-as-Tory quisling in the Labour Party pointed out that it was “not credible to try and improve the life chances of the poor without acknowledging the most obvious symptom of poverty – lack of money.

“Abolishing the legal targets doesn’t make the issue of child poverty go away… The key issue is less how child poverty is measured and more how it is tackled.”

Duncan Smith won’t care. He’s dreaming of poorhouses.

And he gets his script from the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

According to fellow blog Zelo Street, the TPAs former chief spinner Susie Squire went through the revolving door to become a special advisor for SNLR (Services No Longer Required – we have many alternative acronyms for IDS). “Then, by complete coincidence you understand, he had his brilliant idea of doing away with the 60% target.”

Zelo Street continues: “And so Duncan Cough told the world about his new targets: “Worklessness measures will identify the proportion of children living in workless households and the proportion of children in long-term workless households … The educational attainment measures will focus on GCSE attainment for all pupils and for particularly disadvantaged pupils”. This is total horses**t. Unemployed single parents mean poverty [according to Duncan Smith]. Equally less well off working couples with children mean otherwise.

“And then there is the education criterion. By the time GCSE attainment is calculated, the system will have long ago failed those being studied.”

Tory followers will be putting all the weight of their fat mouths behind this, so expect some seriously dull-witted inanities from the usual suspects over the next few days. Zelo Street singled out Chinless Tim Montgomerie, who tweeted: “Big moment from IDS. Rejecting Left’s materialistic idea of poverty for broader understanding of basis of a good life” and then pointed out: “It’s got sweet Fanny Adams to do with the Left, materialism, understanding, or ideas.”

It does have a lot to do with hate.

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The SNP’s great education betrayal

Some facts about education in Scotland. SNPfail is a Liberal Democrat site but the information is accurate.

Some facts about education in Scotland. SNPfail is a Liberal Democrat site but the information is accurate.

That’s right – betrayal. For all its bluster about free University tuition, the SNP government at Holyrood seems more interested in providing cheap education for the already-well-off than helping the disadvantaged achieve their potential.

Holyrood abolished tuition fees for Scottish universities – but who did that help? According to research by Edinburgh University in 2013, it helped those who were already wealthy.

The report on widening access to higher education was submitted to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) after Ferdinand von Prondzynski, the university principal hand-picked by SNP ministers to review higher education, said abolishing tuition fees has mainly benefited the middle classes.

The report found the lack of fees in Scotland has meant initiatives to widen access have had “lower priority” and less funding.

The amount of grants available to poorer Scots has fallen and the funding packages offered north of the Border are virtually the same, regardless of the student’s wealth.

Meanwhile, there has been a huge drop in the number of students attending colleges since the SNP came to power in Holyrood and inflicted “savage spending cuts”, axing part-time courses which MSPs derided as “hobby courses”. The figures came from the Scottish Funding Council and show that 130,000 college places and teaching staff have been lost.

Those most affected by the cuts are young people who are less academic and are looking for vocational qualifications, and women returners – it was said that 100,000 fewer women were in education as a result of the SNP’s cuts.

And almost 4,000 teachers have been lost since the SNP took office in 2007. The party froze council tax that year, meaning local authorities were forced to make cuts in their spending.

As a result, instead of reducing class sizes to 18, the loss of enough teachers to fill 50 average-sized secondary schools has pushed class sizes to more than 30.

Again, the well-off are the winners. They benefit more from the council tax freeze because it leaves them with more disposable income; lower earners still have to spend most – if not all – of their income on the bills. And wealthy parents can afford to supplement their children’s education with extra, private, tuition – or opt out of the state system altogether and send them to private school.

So the SNP’s education policy is to penalise the poor and reward the rich. So much for that party’s left-wing credentials!

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Benefit assessments now proved to make sick people worse

[Image: David Sillitoe for The Guardian.]

[Image: David Sillitoe for The Guardian.]

We now have a system of benefit assessment that has been independently shown to make the sick and disabled worse – both physically and mentally – while denying them the income they need to survive – and for which they have paid taxes and National Insurance all their working lives.

Only yesterday (March 19) we heard about a man (who did not want to be named) being forced to sell his home after suffering a stroke that left him with memory loss and unable to walk or speak properly.

This man, aged 59, had been working at an engineering firm in Darlington for the previous 16 years, so he certain had enough tax and NI to his name and cannot be described as a “scrounger” by any interpretation of the word.

Originally given Employment and Support Allowance together with Disability Living Allowance, he was reduced to ESA alone when the government decided to assess him for the new Personal Independence Payment and decided that he did not qualify. This is a man who cannot walk or speak properly, remember – let alone the memory lapses.

His income halved, his blue disability badge and mobility scooter removed, this gentleman was unable to keep up payments on his house and was forced to sell it.

Fortunately, he was able to move in with his daughter, who is now his full-time carer. But she pointed out that others, who did not have such a safety net, would be left homeless in the same circumstances.

“It is as if they have picked him out and said, we are going to strip him of everything he has got,” she said. How would that affect such a person mentally? Are we really expected to believe their physical condition would not break down still further, with nobody to help them?

The Guardian says no: “As of last week, there is quantitative evidence that the notorious fit-for-work tests are inflicting damage to disabled people’s bodies (not to mention the impact on their minds). Yes, we have now reached a point where the benefit system is making disabled and chronically ill people sicker. Over 60% of disabled people going through the work capability assessment – designed by the DWP and sold off to private firms – report being in pain afterwards. Others said their condition was made worse or their recovery delayed. One claimant surveyed, who has progressive rheumatoid arthritis, said she left her appointment “feeling absolutely awful and suffered a lot of pain in the following days.” She went on to have a stroke a few weeks later.”

This writer can support this claim, from personal experience. Only this week I told an audience in London that Mrs Mike was left on the sofa for three days, unable to move without extreme pain, after taking part in her own work capability assessment medical in mid-2012. That’s nearly three years ago and the system has become worse, not better.

“It might be worth remembering that this is an assessment that is meant to help people – one million people are due to go through the process this year – if only because those orchestrating it appear to have forgotten. It is the same cavalier attitude to the vulnerable that means claimants have killed themselves after being spat out by the benefit system, as if desperation and distress means nothing,” writes Frances Ryan in The Guardian.

“We are sliding back to the notion that suffering helps the soul, that the underclass – be it the unemployed, the disabled, or chronically ill – need to be trained in order to behave. And, as almost a secondary consequence, their punishment cuts the welfare bill down. A bonus all round.”

That’s the Coalition attitude for you – that of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. Unfortunately, Labour has also got itself terribly tongue-tied, talking about its own plans for social security – thanks to foot-in-mouth liability Rachel Reeves.

“We don’t want to be seen [as], and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,” she told Amelia Gentleman in a now-infamous Guardian interview. “We are the Labour Party – we are not the party of people on benefits.” She went on to try to moderate this harsh judgement by saying she wanted the welfare state to continue, but the question must be asked – given her attitude: In what form?

She’s constantly talking about bringing the DWP bill down, and people who are sick, disabled or unemployed through no fault of their own have a right to fear that this may involve punitive measures against them, if her plan to get more people working, and get the workforce off in-work benefits, doesn’t – well – work. What’s her ‘Plan B’?

Labour does not intend to scrap the work capability assessment. This blog was led to believe that, last year – but only days after the article appeared, Rachel Reeves lurched into view to tell us all that the WCA would be modified, rather than scrapped. It would be changed to ensure that disabled people were put back to work in a more “effective” way, she said.

People like the gentleman mentioned above, with his mobility and speech problems, and his memory loss? People like Mrs Mike?

Do us all a favour.

Labour’s plan for the work capability assessment won’t do anything to relieve the stress of the process – the lead-up that creates grave concern about whether all the relevant information has been supplied (and whether it will be read, even); the assessment itself that leaves sick and disabled people in extreme pain afterwards; and the waiting afterwards, an indefinite period of uncertainty.

No wonder The Guardian says fit-for-work tests are harmful to health – people die just from the stress of having to go through them at all! Then there’s the huge – and uncounted – number of suicides by people, after they have been denied the benefit for some spurious non-reason. Rachel Reeves has not promised any action to end these phenomena.

That is why this writer sent a letter to her boss, earlier this week, calling for him to reconsider the situation as a matter of urgency. This blog stated before that Rachel Reeves could lose the election for Labour, single-handedly, and that was not a joke.

Dead people can’t vote. Their relatives can, though – and are more likely to do so, if they have a loved one who has passed away because of some government decision. Labour should be picking up those votes with a sympathetic change of policy – not throwing them to the minority parties in their millions.

Somebody on the BBC’s Question Time last night (if I recall correctly) said the first duty of a government is to protect its citizens. The Coalition has been derelict in that duty. Labour must not be allowed to think that is acceptable.

One last point: Labour is still the best possible choice in this election – anywhere. This is a single policy that the party has got badly wrong, but Labour has many more policies that are good – at least for this moment. The Conservatives don’t. The Liberal Democrats don’t. The SNP don’t – and anybody in Scotland who thinks giving that party sway over affairs in Westminster will help anyone but the SNP should think again. UKIP is a joke – in very poor taste.

There’s nothing to stop you from pointing out this mistake. Ed Miliband’s email address is [email protected], or you can write to him at: The Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.

Labour aims to have conversations with millions of people before the election. No doubt he will be delighted to hear from you.

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campaigning for reform of our cruel ‘benefit’ system.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook