Tag Archives: Blue

New blue Brexit passports are made in Poland by a French-Dutch firm. Satire is dead

The old-style British passport. The new version is to be made entirely in the European Union by an EU-based company.

What else is there to say?

The iconic blue passport has become a symbol of the UK’s departure from the European Union for many people.

I wonder if these Brexiteers will be proud to brandish their new UK passports, in the knowledge that they have been manufactured entirely in the EU?

That’s Tory privatisation for you! They sold off our national resources, so foreign firms bought them – and will keep them, no matter whether we’re in the EU or not.

Source: Blue Brexit passports, made in Poland, unveiled by UK government – CNN

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Blue Badge changes were forced on Tories by court case – and they lied about it

This is sterling work from John Pring’s indispensible Disability News Service.

It turns out that the government’s much-trumpeted changes to the list of those who qualify for blue disability badges were forced on the Tories by the courts – and they lied about it to cover up the fact.

The changes mean people with invisible impairments should find it much easier to get a blue badge, which gives concessions to disabled people when they have to pay for parking.

They were heralded as the biggest overhaul of the system in 40 years, following a public consultation – but nobody mentioned the fact that this had been ordered by the courts after a judicial review on behalf of an autistic man with learning difficulties.

According to DNS, the man, who has since died, “had had a blue badge for 30 years but was told by his local council that he no longer qualified because of new [Department for Transport] rules.

“His family took legal action against the government and his local council because of new guidance issued by DfT in October 2014, after the government had begun to replace disability living allowance (DLA) with the new personal independence payment (PIP) disability benefit the previous year.

“DfT was forced to settle the judicial review claim in 2016 by agreeing to review the new blue badge guidance.

“It was that review that led to this year’s consultation – which heard from more than 6,000 individuals and more than 230 organisations – and the announcement of changes to the scheme this week.”

The cover-up was aided by disability charities including the National Autistic Society (NAS), which was quoted in the DfT press release expressing its support for the government and saying it was “thrilled” with the move, according to DNS.

“The support of charities like NAS was then reported by mainstream media including the Independent, the Observer/Guardian online and the BBC, most of which repeated the government’s line that the announcement was the biggest overhaul of the system in 40 years,” the news site dedicated to issues facing disabled people stated.

There’s a big push, at the moment, to have social media sites labelled ‘fake news’, so the mainstream media – like the Independent, Observer/Guardian and the BBC can maintain their supremacy as “reliable” news sources. I wonder how many people would have realised these “reliable” news sources were in fact peddling fake news in this case?

DNS is currently struggling to remain financially viable – but without the site’s excellent work, the government would be able to keep hidden the facts about stories like this.

Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS by visiting the source article (link below) and clicking on the ‘Donate’ button at the bottom of the story.

Source: Charities help government with cover-up over blue badge changes

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FAKE NEWS: Tory ‘Blue Badge’ bonanza is just giving back what they took away in 2014

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)

Source: People with hidden disabilities to benefit from Blue Badges – GOV.UK

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Has Chuka Umunna taken leave of his senses?

Ill-judged: Blue-scarved Chukka Umunna should remember that Michael Heseltine did much to destroy the UK's communities as part of the Thatcher and Major governments.

Ill-judged: Blue-scarved Chuka Umunna should remember that Michael Heseltine did much to destroy the UK’s communities as part of the Thatcher and Major governments.

After the story in The Guardian there are only two things required of Chuka Umunna: Repudiation – or his resignation.

The article states that Blue Labour stalwart Umunna would call on Conservative heavyweight Michael Heseltine for advice if Labour wins the general election. If this is true, it is madness.

Heseltine was a leading member of the Thatcher and Major Conservative governments of the 1980s and 90s, pioneering the disastrous ‘Right to Buy’ initiative that sold off the majority of council houses without replacing them, leading to the current housing crisis and the Bedroom Tax.

More recently he authored the ‘No Stone Left Unturned’ plan which made 89 recommendations on ways of stimulating local growth – 81 of which were adopted by the Coalition Government, with little effect. The UK economy has been stagnant for many years, with productivity at around the same level as it was when the Coalition came into office; it seems any boost in GDP has come from other areas – possibly the reduction in wages brought about by the widespread abuse of zero-hours contracts to rob working people of their rights to a steady job and entitlements to holiday and sick pay.

Yet it is in this area – revitalising the cities and regions – that Umunna wants Heseltine to advise. It would be an utterly pointless exercise.

For any stimulation policy to work, it has to put money where it can be most effective – in the hands of the people who actually need it to pay for things they need. But Heseltine is a Tory – they take money away from the proles; they don’t hand it out to them. He’ll devise something that makes towns look very pretty in order to hide the rot inside as local businesses and residents go to the wall.

Not only that, but it seems Umunna has not learned the overriding lesson of the Scottish referendum campaign: Voters will not tolerate a Labour alliance with the Conservatives on any level at all.

One of the main reasons the SNP is polling so well north of the border is because of a myth propagated by its candidates and supporters, that Labour and the Conservatives are “in bed”, “in cahoots”, “in alliance” – choose the phrase you prefer. It isn’t true – Better Together was an alliance of convenience because both parties wanted Scotland to remain in the union; they have very little else in common (although the SNP has exploited the very few examples of common ground to great effect, also).

Now along comes Chuka, thinking he’s clever with a plan to be inclusive and revive the “big tent” policies of Tony Blair – another figure who is now widely reviled by the electorate – and confirming everything the SNP whisperers have been saying!

Is he trying to stab Ed Miliband in the back?

If not, then now is the time to deny the Guardian story and put Heseltine back in his box.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Labour’s latest welfare betrayal means the party could change name to ‘Red Conservatives’

Red Tory betrayal: He might as well have said, "We're going to grip the poor by the throat and push them down so far and so hard that they'll never be able to get on their feet again."

Red Tory betrayal: He might as well have said, “We’re going to grip the poor by the throat and push them down so far and so hard that they’ll never be able to get on their feet again.”

The Red Conservative Party has announced a new policy attack on people receiving benefits, in its latest bid to out-Tory the Blue Conservatives.

Ed Cameron announced that he would impose a three-year cap on any welfare spending not linked to the economic cycle, stealing an idea put forward by George Osborne of the original Conservative Party during the March budget.

He also vowed to make people work for two years before they qualify for a new, higher rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance.*

Shadow work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Byrne said the cap would force a Labour government to engage in long-term reforms necessary to bring the welfare bill down.

Neither man actually spelled out which benefits would be affected by the cap.

But Ed Cameron tried to salvage his party’s reputation in the eyes of left-wing supporters by promising to drive down rents and improve pay.

And in a contradictory move, he said he would not abandon the long-standing goal of abolishing child poverty by 2020, even though his new policies mean that, inevitably, more children will suffer poverty through no fault of their own.

Cut through the spin and the above is, pretty much, what has been announced. The Labour Party is becoming even more right-wing, rather than less, as the Tory tabloids claimed when Ed Miliband became the leader.

It seems that failing to reverse the abolition of universal child benefit was just the tip of the iceberg, Ed Miliband’s father, Ralph Miliband, must be spinning in his grave… In fact, he’s probably drilling his way through the Earth’s crust towards countries unknown, in the same way I said William Beveridge must be, after Liam Byrne’s Guardian article on the welfare state in 2012.

What we’re seeing isn’t really a conversion to Conservatism – although the retention of critically dangerous neoliberal elements at the top of the party structure means this will continue to be a threat. It’s actually worse than that.

This is a Labour Party that goes any way the wind blows.

Does anybody remember the great Tony Benn’s comments about politicians being either signposts or weathercocks? It has been mentioned previously, in this blog. He said some politicians are like signposts. They point in the direction they want to travel and say, “This is the way we must go!” And they are constant. Others are like weathercocks; they lick their fingers, find out which direction the political winds are blowing and follow.

The Guardian illustrates that Miliband has become a cock in its article, stating that the new announcement “is seen as critical to Labour being able to claw back its poll deficit on welfare and show its ability to take tough decisions”.

It will do neither.

If Labour wanted to “claw back its poll deficit on welfare” it would be announcing new policies to tackle the causes of unemployment, sickness and disability, in order to ensure that unemployment was never again likely to rise as high as it has. This means helping industry; it means restoring the National Health Service; it means making sure employers – especially the really large ones who think they can get away with anything – conform strictly to health and safety laws and can’t blame employees’ work-based sicknesses on anything other than their own negligence.

It means setting the terms of a new debate on this issue – not meekly accepting the Conservatives’ warped frame of reference.

Because, you see, that doesn’t indicate an “ability to take tough decisions”. Nor does copying an idea already mentioned by a Conservative. Tough decisions are those that the public might find hard to accept at first – about policies that might need to be explained before they are accepted. Labour isn’t making any tough decisions. It is following the Conservative/Coalition example and that simply is not good enough.

The Guardian article says Labour hopes the electorate “will focus on the party’s decision to take a credible and specific stance on the deficit, after three years of low growth, rather than punish Labour for its apparent volte face [about turn] by ending three years of criticism of welfare cuts”.

There is no chance of that happening. The electorate is not stupid and I predict that those parts of it that have supported Labour as a force for working people, those who want to work but are unemployed through no fault of their own, and those who have been invalided out of work, again through no fault of their own, will desert the party en masse. Miliband and Byrne might pick up a few right-wing votes – but not enough to make a difference. They will lose far more than they will gain.

Note particularly that line about “ending three years of criticism of welfare cuts”. They’ve stopped criticising the Conservatives/Coalition about cuts that are literally ending UK citizens’ lives at an alarming rate. That is not – and will never be – justifiable on any level at all.

Let’s not forget that an average of 73 people a week are dying as a result of Conservative/Coalition policies on benefits – possibly many more, as this figure is nearly a year old. A Labour government that would allow this to continue is not an electable Labour government.

This announcement marks the beginning of the Conservative victory in 2015.

Thanks for nothing, Ed Miliband. Thanks for nothing, Liam Byrne.

Shame on you, you sell-outs.

*Interestingly, the Blue Conservative mouthpiece BBC misleadingly reported that Labour believed “only people who pay into the system for more than two years should get Jobseekers’ Allowance” at all! This seems to be an inaccuracy but it is damaging and more people will read it.

How Labour turned the tables on the Tory Thatcher tribute

In fact she'll get a military funeral, which is just as expensive and unwanted by the majority of Britons. What this image makes clear is just how badly wrong the current UK government's priorities have become.

In fact she’ll get a military funeral, which is just as expensive and unwanted by the majority of Britons. What this image makes clear is just how badly wrong the current UK government’s priorities have become.

Can anyone imagine the kind of row we would have seen this week if Labour had blocked the recall of Parliament to pay tribute to Margaret Thatcher?

It was well within Ed Miliband’s rights to put the mockers on it. Recalling Parliament is a move that has previously been reserved only for national emergencies, and past precedent states that tributes should have come when Parliament returned – as normal – next Monday. That was also the understanding of the Parliamentary officials charged with planning for the former Prime Minister’s death.

Did David Cameron really believe that the demise of his beloved ex-leader was a national emergency? Of course not. This was merely a chance to scrounge some more money off the taxpayer.

He turned the Blue Baroness into a cash cow.

According to the Daily Mirror, every MP returning to Westminster to take part in the debate could claim expenses totalling £3,750 each.

So, if all 650 MPs turned up, the cost to you and me would have been £2,437,500 – for a debate that could have happened next week, at no extra cost.

Was it a bribe, to get more Members to turn up? If so, it didn’t work very well. Sure, the government benches were packed with Tories, climbing over themselves to orate on how great Nanny was – but the Opposition benches were conspicuously empty. It seems 150 Labour MPs had better things to do.

We should all be grateful for that – it took the bill down to £1,875,000.

Should Labour have opposed the recall? The speaker, John Bercow, was reportedly – let’s say – less than enthusiastic about the matter, especially the way it was conducted: The request came in a telephone call from a mid-ranking 10 Downing Street staff member, rather than in writing, according to The Guardian. The Speaker had to remind the Prime Minister that he must follow protocol and it was only then that Cameron formalised his request in writing.

(Cameron seems to have a problem with following the rules. The first time he got up in Parliament as the Prime Minister, he appeared to forget that he must address his comments to the Speaker and put many of them directly to some of the Members opposite – until a few sharp comments from Mr Bercow put him back in his place.)

Bercow then sought a reaction from the Opposition, and it seems the decision not to oppose it was political, in order not to cause a row in which they were bound to be vilified for failing to show due respect.

Given the facts that street parties broke out in several major British cities on the day she died, while ‘Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead’ appeared at number 10 in the midweek charts, it seems unlikely that any Parliamentary party needs to lower itself in that way. The British people have spoken.

So Mr Miliband trotted out a speech about how the Blue Baroness was a woman of strong convictions who held to her ideals (even if he didn’t agree with them) or some such.

Then he sat down and listened, for hours, to the other speeches, including this from Glenda Jackson:

“We were told that everything I had been taught to regard as a vice – and I still regard them as vices – under Thatcherism, was in fact a virtue. Greed, selfishness, no care for the weaker… they were the way forward. We have heard much, and will continue to hear over the next week, of the barriers that were broken down by Thatcherism, the Establishment that was destroyed. What we actually saw – the word that has been circling around with stars around it, is that she created an ‘aspirational’ society. It ‘aspired’ for ‘things’… One of the former Prime Ministers, who himself had been elevated to the House of Lords, spoke about selling off the family silver, and people knowing under those years the price of everything and the value of nothing. What concerns me is that I am beginning to see possibly the re-emergence of that total traducing of what I regard as being the basic, spiritual nature of this country, where we do care about society, where we do believe in communities, where we do not leave people to walk by on the other side.”

And this, from David Anderson:

“She came to power promising to bring harmony where there was discord. In the mining communities up and down the country, she brought the opposite. She believed we were no longer any use to the nation because we were deemed to be uneconomic… because we insisted on running safe coal mines in this country. One of the great disgraces of this country today is we import over 50 million tonnes of coal a year from countries where men are killed, literally in the thousands, and we closed our industry that was the safest, the most technologically-advanced, in the world.

“The other area where the so-called economic justification falls down was the failure of Margaret Thatcher and her government to take into account the social cost… where no alternative employment was put forward for those people who were losing their jobs – and particularly for their children. The village where I lived had seen coal mining for almost two centuries. In a matter of months after closure, we were gripped by a wave of petty crime, burglary, car crime – mostly related to drugs. We have never recovered from it.

“We’ve seen the reaction of people whose frustration is heartfelt because they’ve lost their sense of place in society; they’ve been made to feel worthless; they’ve been cast aside like a pair of worn-out pit boots. They’ve seen their community fall apart. They’ve seen their children’s opportunities disappear. And they’ve not been listened to.

“Mrs Thatcher’s lack of empathy, her intransigence, her failure to see the other side, her refusal to even look at the other side, has left them bitter, and resentful, and hitting out in a way that is uncharacteristic of the miners in our community. Her accusation that the “enemy within” was in the mining areas of this country still rankles people. I wasn’t the “enemy within”… All we wanted was the right to work. We didn’t just want it for ourselves; we wanted it for our kids, and that was taken away.”

David Cameron wanted to pay his MPs huge amounts of money to come back and spend seven and a half hours – and remember, Winston Churchill only got 45 minutes after his death – singing the praises of the Blue Baroness – to the high heavens. He got what he wanted, and it is fair to say his Party members enjoyed telling their little stories.

But the contributions of Labour members like Glenda Jackson and David Anderson are the ones that will be remembered.