Tag Archives: censor

Fury as Patel interferes with independence of report into private detective’s murder

Daniel Morgan: Priti Patel wants to interfere with a report into the murder of a man who had been investigating police corruption. Now, why would she want to do that?

Nothing screams “cover up” quite so loudly as a Home Secretary interfering in the publication of an independent report – especially when it is on the murder of a detective investigating police corruption.

This Writer has been reporting on the murder of Daniel Morgan, practically since I started working on newspapers, and the lack of progress in his case indicates either a monumental failure – or monumental obstruction.

His body was found in a south London car park with an axe embedded in its head in 1987.

The motive for the murder has not been established. Some believe it resulted from a business dispute but following a fresh investigation the Met announced in 2007 that the motive for the murder was probably that Morgan “was about to expose a south London drugs network possibly involving corrupt police officers”.

There are claims that corruption in Rupert Murdoch’s News International media empire is also linked to the case.

The independent Morgan panel was set up in 2013 to investigate “the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them.”

Its terms of reference included “police involvement in the murder; the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder … and the failure to confront that corruption”.

And now Priti Patel, the government minister responsible for the police, is refusing to allow the report of an independent inquiry into his murder to be published until she has vetted it, despite not having the right to do so.

It seems she wants to black out any part of the report she says might affect national security or human rights obligations.

The Morgan panel, responsible for the report, has issued a statement attacking the intervention in the strongest possible terms.

It said it had been told the report would not be made public until it agreed to the pre-publication review by government, which breaches the understanding it has about its independence.

The panel claimed the Home Office wanted the right to black out any part of the report it considered may breach “national security” or human rights obligations.

“The Panel was informed yesterday (Monday 17 May) that a publication date will not be agreed until the home secretary and Home Office officials and lawyers have reviewed the contents of the Panel’s Report,” its statement said.

“A review of this nature has not been raised previously in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013.”

It added: “The panel believes that this last-minute requirement is unnecessary and is not consistent with the panel’s independence.”

It said: “The panel is disappointed with this position and hopes the matter can be resolved in adequate time for its report to still be published in May while parliament is sitting.”

And it said a senior team from the Metropolitan police had already checked to ensure there was nothing in the final report that jeopardised security.

The Home Office statement on the matter is contradictory.

It states: “The home secretary … has an obligation to make sure the report complies with human rights and national security considerations. This has nothing to do with the independence of the report and the Home Office is not seeking to make edits to it.”

But if Patel is planning to alter the report – in any way – before the public can see it, then she is seeking to edit it.

Daniel Morgan’s brother Alistair has said the panel should take a case to the High Court, to protect its independence.

Let’s hope it does. This case has been going on for long enough that another slight delay won’t make much difference – and resisting Patel’s interference could make the difference between finally having a conclusion and suffering another grubby cover-up.

Source: Anger as Patel delays publication of report into private detective’s murder | Police | The Guardian

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Rapper holds up severed dummy head of Boris Johnson at awards – so BBC cuts HIM off

Slowthai and his dummy head of Boris Johnson: The BBC did not broadcast his political message – but in putting a lid on protest of this kind, is this Tory propaganda outlet creating the conditions for something worse?

The BBC showed us all where its political allegiances lie in a broadcast of the Mercury Prize awards ceremony.

As rapper Slowthai finished his performance, the BBC cut him off:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYYJHkeh1eE

“His own views”? But what were they? Well, let’s have a look at what he did next:

That’s right – he held up a dummy of Boris Johnson’s severed head, then shouted: “F*** Boris Johnson! F*** everything! And there ain’t nothing great about Britain” – a reference to his album.

Coming after Laura Kuenssberg trolled the father of a seriously-ill newborn girl who challenged Mr Johnson over the Conservative government’s slow destruction of the National Health Service, this could not have been a worse time for the BBC to censor political criticism.

No doubt the Corporation would say the rapper’s outburst used language that was considered unacceptable for the national audience, and imagery that some may consider upsetting.

But of course there is a serious censorship issue here.

If propaganda outlets like the BBC continue to put a lid on unrest, then the pot will boil over – sooner, rather than later.

And then we won’t be seeing rappers waving the heads of politicians around in effigy, on stage.

We’ll be seeing footage of genuine body parts. But by then, it will be too late to placate the mob.

Source: Slowthai Holds Up Severed Dummy Head Of Boris Johnson During Mercury Prize Awards – LADbible

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This social media monopoly is censoring what you see

I was wondering why Vox Political isn’t getting the hits it should be.

There’s no difference in the quality of the articles, and I was posting them to the same places on the social media, so I couldn’t see a fault at this end.

I noticed that the number of shares on Facebook had plummeted, though, and thought this might be the reason for the fall. Viral popularity is a huge part of social media success. So I decided to ask readers of the Vox Political Facebook group why they weren’t bothering.

“I’m seeing weird behaviour on the statistics for this page,” I wrote. “Post after post shows hundreds of people reached, dozens or hundreds of ‘engagements’… and single-figure shares.

“Why aren’t you sharing my posts, folks?”

The results were interesting.

It turns out that some people aren’t sharing as much as before: “I … don’t share a lot. I like reading but i I don’t share political posts now.”

This turned out to be quite common. Why? “I follow on twitter and share there but try not to share too much on facebook or I get people moaning.”

“I think people are wary of sharing too many political posts and pissing their friends off.”

“It’s just unfortunate that if you get too political on Facebook, people will either unfollow or unfriend.”

Some appear to have a problem with a glitch: “As i start reading, my news feed resets, and i have to hunt to find the post i started to read.” Funny how that glitch seems to happen to people reading posts from left-wing pages though.

One person pointed out: “I’m also noticing many posts are not appearing until several days after posting.”

But here’s the comment that struck me as being most telling: “When I saw this it made me realise I hadn’t seen your posts for a while.”

I had not been posting much to the page apart from links to articles, and this reader had not been seeing them. When I posted something that wasn’t a link, suddenly they could read it again.

I was left asking, is Facebook deliberately censoring article links to left-wing sites?

It’s possible. We know the platform uses algorithms to block posts from the timelines of people who want to see them, and also decides what you see first by resetting your timeline to see whatever Facebook decides is “most relevant”.

So Facebook is entirely able to cut certain sites from the timelines of (in my case) 40,000 Vox Political supporters without them knowing anything about it.

As one respondent stated: “This is the first post I’ve seen in a while. Thought you had packed it in to be honest.”

Once one person said they hadn’t seen my posts for a while, more followed: “Same here. Hadn’t come up on my feed for ages.”

“Been seeing less and less of your posts on FB, but subscribe by email so see the articles outside of FB.”

“I haven’t seen posts from your page on my newsfeed for ages.”

“I have not had a post from you for a while.”

“I’ve not seen any in forever. Hi.”

Worse still, some people said this (or something similar to it): “I have recently had problems sharing and posting some political stuff. I get a red exclamation point in a circle and a warning that my post has been unsuccessful. Only happens with political posts though. I think that they have certain keywords they block…”

“I have the same problem. Can share anything ‘twee’ without an issue, but anything political gets the red exclamation mark.”

The practical upshot is this: “FB is definitely messing with things.

The hard question is: What can be done about it?

We are told that Facebook’s algorithms are meant to make it easier for users to see the things that matter to them – but it seems clear from the responses to this single inquiry that this isn’t happening. Would I be wrong in thinking that FB has made it harder for users to see the things that matter to them? I don’t think so.

It seems impossible to get that point across. I’ll bring this issue to the Facebook press office but I have low expectations that anything will come of this.

Some say it is possible to get a good result if you go to the Vox Political page on FB, then beneath the “Following” button, tick “In your News Feed – See first” and “Notifications – On (Highlight posts)”.

Perhaps the best option is as laid out by this reader: “I signed up for Mike’s daily Vox Political e-mail. I coupled it with a daily ‘Canary’.  I feel certain that – in so doing – I remain – so far as political truths matter – as fully, and reliably informed as it is – these days – [possible] to be.”

It is really easy to subscribe to the email service. You put your email address in the box towards the top-left of the page. I would make it more prominent if I could, but it’s a WordPress widget and that’s the way it looks.

If anyone can suggest any other possibilities, please let me know.

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The Establishment media is gagging support for Jeremy Corbyn and his friends. Here’s an example

Jeremy Corbyn with Chris Williamson during an election campaign event in Derby in 2017.

The letter that follows was published very briefly on the Guardian‘s website, and then removed.

It was written by left-wing Jews who support the case that Chris Williamson, himself a long-term supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, is not the anti-Semite that his enemies have claimed he is.

Its removal is a statement of opposition to both Mr Williamson and Mr Corbyn.

Apparently the person who had organised the letter had sent the wrong list of signatories. This allowed the right-wing, unelected Board of Deputies of British Jews to demand that it be censored.

One wonders what these people are afraid of.

Here’s the letter in full – fortunately Pride’s Purge was able to save a copy and publish it, so we can all see what these good people had to say. I’ll omit the list of signatories, apart from those who drafted the letter.

Jewish Statement: Reinstate Chris Williamson

We the undersigned, all Jews, are writing in support of Chris Williamson and to register our dismay at the recent letter organised by Tom Watson, and signed by parliamentary Labour party and House of Lords members, calling for his suspension.

Chris Williamson did not say that the party had been “too apologetic about antisemitism”, as has been widely misreported. He correctly stated that the Labour party has done more than any other party to combat the scourge of antisemitism and that, therefore, its stance should be less apologetic. Such attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters aim to undermine not only the Labour party’s leadership but also all pro-Palestinian members.

The mass media have ignored the huge support for Chris both within and beyond the Labour party. Support that includes many Jews. The party needs people like him, with the energy and determination to fight for social justice. As anti-racist Jews, we regard Chris as our ally: he stands as we do with the oppressed rather than the oppressor. It should also be noted that he has a longer record of campaigning against racism and fascism than most of his detractors.

The Chakrabarti report recommended that the party’s disciplinary procedures respect due process, favour education over expulsion and promote a culture of free speech, yet this has been abandoned in practice. We ask the Labour party to reinstate Chris Williamson and cease persecuting such members on false allegations of antisemitism.

Noam Chomsky MIT, Norman Finkelstein Lecturer and writer, Ed Asner Actor, Prof Richard Falk Princeton University, Leah Lavene, Jenny Manson Jewish Voice for Labour and more than 100 others.

Source: Letter by over 100 left-wing Jews supporting Chris Williamson removed by Guardian. Read it still here: | Pride’s Purge

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Wading in ‘crottes’: Do Conservative supporters approve of Boris Johnson’s opinion of the French?

Boris Johnson: Open mouth, insert… crottes.

Here’s another challenge for Tories who support Boris Johnson – it has been revealed that he called the French “turds”, in comments that the BBC censored for reasons known only to its Tory-supporting news editors.

I would certainly like to know what the Conservative candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election – expenses forger Chris Davies – thinks of such behaviour by his potential new leader.

To all other voters in the B&R constituency, I’d like to ask: Wouldn’t you?

It certainly seems the election of Mr Johnson as Tory leader – and prime minister – would make an advantageous Brexit deal less likely, rather than more so… and certainly unlikely to happen by October 31 as Mr Johnson insists.

But the BBC’s decision to cut the fact that Mr Johnson said it is also highly suspicious.

It indicates that Auntie is subject to political interference. At a time when the Corporation’s impartiality is under investigation by Ofcom, that could be extremely harmful to both the BBC and the Conservative Party.

I shall certainly expect to see this mentioned in any report that Ofcom produces.

Boris Johnson branded the French “turds” in remarks that the United Kingdom government successfully persuaded the BBC to remove from a documentary about his work at the Foreign Office.

The former Foreign Secretary was filmed making the comments in relation to the French government’s Brexit position, according to a leaked government memo seen by the Daily Mail.

However, the Foreign Office successfully argued that Johnson’s comments, if aired, would do “significant damage” to Anglo-French relations and harm Brexit negotiations.

In a memo seen by the Mail, officials note that “we negotiated the removal of one potentially awkward moment where the former foreign secretary calls the French ‘turds’ so as not to distract from the rest of the programme.”

Source: Boris Johnson called French ‘turds’ in comments censored by the BBC – Business Insider

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Outrageous: Facebook CENSORS crusading Vox Political post – then claims concern for my well-being

Something needs to be done about Facebook’s political collusion with right-wing governments like that of the Conservative Party in the UK.

You’ll be aware that, a few days ago, I published the article Desperate woman self-immolates in a Tory-run council office. Where is the outrage? If you weren’t aware of it, I’d be very surprised; it has been read nearly 70,000 times.

I publicised it on Facebook, to several pages and groups.

Today, I received the following from Facebook:

“Facebook Help Team
“Someone asked us to review one of your posts because they thought you might be going through something difficult. Call a trained volunteer at Samaritans. It’s completely confidential and free. Call them on 116 123.
“Learn more about what you can do if you’re having thoughts about self-harm or suicide.”

That’s right – someone told Facebook they thought my post, about a woman pushed so far by government victimisation that she set fire to herself, meant I might be planning something similar, and Facebook never bothered to check. That is insulting.

Then I received this:

“The post below was removed because we’re concerned it that might encourage or promote self-harm or suicidal behavior.
“We hope you’ll understand why we removed it. This policy and the other Facebook Community Standards were created to help keep Facebook a positive and safe place for everyone.

“Mike Sivier
“A woman set fire to herself in a Tory council office, apparently in protest at her treatment by the government. The incident has been hidden from us. Why?”

There was no opportunity to complain – only a box for me to click, saying “OK”.

It isn’t “OK”!

And here’s a further insult. Once I clicked that box (there was no alternative available), I got this:

“Mike, can we help?
“If you’re going through a difficult time and want support, we’d like to help.

“Talk to a Friend
“Message or call someone you trust.

“Contact a Helpline
“They can listen and help you work through this.

“Get Tips and Support
“See suggestions of ways to support yourself.”

This is beyond the pale.

I have written to Facebook, pointing out that nothing in my article or the links to it suggest any consideration of or endorsement of self-harm in any way whatsoever, and that I was pointing out an outrage caused by government injustice.

I went on to state that it is my opinion that the person who reported my post to Facebook did so for political motives, because they support the Conservative government’s campaign of hate against the vulnerable that may have led to the woman mentioned in the article taking the action she did.

I indicated that this means Facebook, by taking down my post, was also endorsing the government’s campaign of victimisation against the vulnerable – and that Facebook was supporting the policies that led to this woman’s self-immolation.

Hiding that fact behind a veil of fake concern for my own well-being won’t impress anybody.

I am, of course, re-posting the link, and I would appreciate it if everybody reading this did the same. Here’s the relevant wording:

A woman set fire to herself in a Tory council office, apparently in protest at her treatment by the government. The incident has been hidden from us. Why?

Desperate woman self-immolates in a Tory-run council office. Where is the outrage? https://wp.me/p4Sru1-b9o

This kind of politically-motivated censorship – with an intention to cause harm – must not be tolerated.

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How private firms take unfair advantage over the public sector to get government contracts

Open and transparent: Grahame Morris, who called for a 'level playing field' for both private companies and public organisations when bidding for government contracts.

Open and transparent: Grahame Morris, who called for a ‘level playing field’ for both private companies and public organisations when bidding for government contracts.

Did you know that £1 in every £3 spent by the government goes to an independent or private-sector service provider?

If you also recall government ministers bemoaning the fact that £1 in every £4 spent by the government was borrowed, as they said very often during the first year or so of the Coalition, and you bear in mind the fact that all private companies must make a profit, you’ll come to a fairly damning conclusion.

Did you know, also, that private companies – while free to hide behind commercial confidentiality regarding the conditions under which billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are awarded to them in government contracts – may use Freedom of Information requests to gain detailed information about public sector organisations and then use that knowledge to undercut or outbid those bodies when government contracts are tendered or put up for renewal?

FoI regulations give private providers an unfair competitive advantage when bidding for contracts, due to unequal disclosure requirements.

Both of these were made clear in Grahame Morris’s short speech in support of his 10-minute rule motion to bring in a Bill amending the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to apply to private healthcare companies, and for connected purposes.

He even pointed out that we are living in a society where freedom of information is routinely censored – stating that he attended a demonstration against NHS privatisation in Manchester at the start of the Conservative Party conference there, “but which was barely reported by our public sector broadcaster”.

He said the government should be chastened by recent events. “For example, the tagging scandal — involving Serco and G4S and uncovered by the Serious Fraud Office — showed that these companies had defrauded the taxpayer of more than £50 million.

“Perhaps we need a hard-hitting advertising campaign, with advertising hoardings on vans driven around the City of London, warning off corporate fraudsters from bidding for public contracts?

“The danger for our NHS is that we are inviting convicted fraudsters into our health system.”

He said HCA, the world’s biggest private healthcare company, recently won the contract to provide cancer treatment for NHS brain tumour patients, “stopping patients receiving world-class treatment at London’s University College Hospital”.

Mr Morris continued: “The Competition Commission has already caught HCA overcharging private patients in the United Kingdom. In the United States, HCA has had to pay fines and costs in excess of $2 billion for systematically defrauding federal healthcare programmes.

“The public are right to be concerned about these providers coming into the NHS. If that is to happen, it is essential that their operations and their contracts with the NHS should be open, transparent and subject to public scrutiny.”

Introducing his Freedom of Information (Private Healthcare Companies) Bill, he said its purpose was to strengthen FoI legislation and introduce vital safeguards, so members of the public can see how their money is being spent.

It seems he may even have read Vox Political‘s earlier article on his motion, as he said: “I hope that Members on both sides of the House will support fair competition, a level playing field and the duty of equal disclosure throughout the bidding process for NHS services.

“The public have a right to know the record of public and private providers before contracts are awarded. Those safeguards can work only if the Information Commissioner has the same rights to seek information and carry out investigations, and to make all providers of public services comply with freedom of information legislation.

“I understand that the Information Commissioner expressed concern to the Justice Select Committee that accountability would be undermined if FOI did not apply to private providers of public services.”

He said: “Freedom of information is one of the Labour Government’s greatest achievements, ensuring transparency and accountability in modern government and allowing the public access to information on what is being done in their name and how their money is being spent.

“In recent years, we have witnessed an acceleration in the number of public services being outsourced, and today roughly £1 in every £3 that the Government spend goes to independent or private sector providers.

“Owing to the Government’s policy of opening up public services to the private and voluntary sectors, billions of pounds of NHS contracts are now being made available to the private sector, following the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

“Unfortunately, while more and more taxpayer money is being handed to the private sector, especially in the NHS, FOI responsibilities are not following the public pound.

“There is a big issue here about transparency, because the public should know what is happening in their name, as was brought home to me recently in a demonstration against NHS privatisation in Manchester that I attended, along with more than 50,000 other people, but which was barely reported on by our public sector broadcaster.

“Private health care companies should not be permitted to hide behind a cloak of commercial confidentiality. Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being awarded to private sector companies under barely transparent contracts.

“Meanwhile, private companies are free to benefit by gaining detailed knowledge of public sector bodies through their use and submission of FOI requests. The same information is then used by the private sector to undercut or outbid the very same public sector bodies when contracts are tendered or put up for renewal.”

Although no objection was raised to the Bill going forward, it seems the Coalition has performed an about-face on the issue. Mr Morris said: “I understand that in opposition the Prime Minister was convinced about this matter, having previously promised to increase the range of publicly funded bodies subject to scrutiny using section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act.

“The coalition agreement also promised to extend the scope of the Act to provide greater transparency, but unfortunately it would appear that nothing is being done to address the democratic deficit caused by the outsourcing of public services.”

Sadly, it seems likely that this Bill won’t get very far, for reasons this blog has already mentioned – the Government usually opposes Private Member’s Bills in the later stages and, given their low priority in the schedule, there is often insufficient time for the debate to be completed.

But this may not matter, as the information already provided by Mr Morris makes fascinating reading that is damning for the government.

Does anybody believe this Conservative claptrap dressed up as information?

Tory Parliamentary candidate Chris Davies: In his letter he accuses local Labour members of "acting as disciples of their London hierarchy" - and then regurgitates as much of the drivel handed down to him by his own Westminster masters as he can manage.

Tory Parliamentary candidate Chris Davies: In his letter he accuses local Labour members of “acting as disciples of their London hierarchy” – and then regurgitates as much of the drivel handed down to him by his own Westminster masters as he can manage.

Once upon a time, if you found an error in an article, a document or (in my case – I’m going back to when I was very young) a teacher’s work, you were congratulated for finding the “deliberate mistake”. The culprit would say something like: “Well done! I put that in there as a deliberate mistake to see if you were alert enough to find it. You’ve passed the test! As a reward, clean the blackboard.”

I wonder if the same can be said of a letter in the local paper by a Councillor Chris Davies who, we’re told, is the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire. If so, it seems likely that even the doziest student should find at least one, because his screed is riddled with errors.

Last night I spent several hours writing up a response to his nonsense, and I propose to share it with you now. This means the article will be quite long, but never mind. As those of you who keep up to date with current affairs know, it’ll give Facebook something really juicy to censor.

Here’s the letter from Cllr Davies. Spelling mistakes and misuses of apostrophes are all his own work:

“For years people have had difficulty in distinguishing between the policies of political parties, accusing politicians of all being the same and hogging the middle ground.

“I am grateful to the local Labour Party acting as disciples of their London hierarchy for putting clear water between our parties.

“As reported [on April 11], the local Labour councillors are up in arms over the Coalition Government’s Welfare Reforms.

“Yet rather than offering to help people back into work or helping them move into more suitably sized accommodation, all these Labour councillors offer is, ‘Check your exemption status.’

“This is the sad reality of a Labour Party that despises individual responsibility and aspiration, preferring instead to encourage and promote state dependency.

“During the last Labour government, welfare spending rose by 60 per cent.

“Such reckless spending and disregard for taxpayer’s money not surprisingly brought record levels of borrowing and debt which left the UK on the brink of bankruptcy.

“For these Labour councillors to now clearly advocate working the welfare system instead of striving to escape it proves that they still have not learnt their lesson.

“These Labour councillors are also completely out of touch with the public, the majority of whom support the coalition’s welfare reform policies.

“The Welfare State is there as a last resort, a safety net, for those who need it – Not as an alternative to work as it became under Labour.

“Labour has always shown little regard for the hardworking taxpayers’ who pay for the welfare state; those paying for others to stay at home and paying for tenants to live in larger houses than they need. The fact that so many of these hard working taxpayer’s cannot afford a property of any size themselves appears of no concern to Labour.

“Whether you are running your own business, working on the checkout in the local supermarket or working as a farm labourer, the majority of the tax you pay now goes to fund the welfare state.

“No one minds paying for those who truly need support, but as these welfare reforms have already shown, there were many people claiming support that they did not need or were not entitled to.

“Tougher medical tests recently introduced to assess the health of the 2.6 million people claiming incapacity benefit found 800,000 of them were perfectly fit and able to work.

“Another 900,000 dropped their claim to these benefits rather than take the test.

“How can Labour honestly say it is unfair that we are capping benefits at £26,000 a year when that is far more than most workers in Brecon & Radnorshire earn?

“How can Labour continue to support a benefit system that gives workless households a higher income than the majority of working individuals who are paying for the system?

“The system should never have allowed unemployment to become more financially rewarding than working. It is this disincentive to work that has largely caused the welfare problem we are now dealing with.

“All Labour can do is pour scorn on anything the Coalition Government does. What are they offering as an alternative? We are seeing No policies, No ideas, No alternatives.

“To quote Tony Blair recently – “Ed Milliband is in danger of being seen as reducing the Labour party to nothing but a party of protests” – It seems to me that whether in London or locally the Labour Party is already there.”

If I know my readership, you are all shaking your heads in blank astonishment that someone who professes to be a reasonable human being – and has managed to become a county councillor, here in Powys, should come out with such an unremitting stream of dribble.

In response, I wrote the following. Be warned – it doesn’t address every single piece of nonsense in Cllr Davies’ letter. There is a word-limit on letters submitted to the newspaper.

So here’s a game for you: Spot the ‘deliberate’ mistakes in his letter that I haven’t singled out, tell us what they are and why they’re wrong.

Here’s my response:

I read with interest the letter from Cllr Chris Davies, who is keen to put “clear water” between our parties. His letter certainly achieves this, ably clarifying that Conservatives have little or no understanding of the effect their so-called reforms are having on those they claim they are trying to help. I’d like to set the record straight. Although I am a Labour member, I think it is appropriate to quote the late Baroness Thatcher: “Where there is error, may we bring truth.”

If taken to its obvious conclusions, the under-occupation charge – more correctly known as the Bedroom Tax – will cost the taxpayer far more than the former situation. The stated aim is to get people who are living in social housing with spare bedrooms to move into smaller accommodation or lose housing benefit. This means a disabled person in a house with thousands of pounds worth of adaptations for their disability, that has two extra bedrooms (one used as a carer’s respite room while the other would be more accurately defined as a cupboard), would lose so much money that they would be forced to move out. If they then went to a private, one-bedroom flat, the taxpayer would not only have to pay full housing benefit (around £100 extra per month) but also the cost of removing the disability adaptations from one dwelling and installing them in the other (thousands of pounds).

You see, the Conservative-led government got its sums wrong. It would be better for all involved (not least the taxpayer!) if ways could be found to prevent this extravagance with the public purse. What the Labour councillors were suggesting was a way of saving taxpayers’ money – not spending it.

Cllr Davies’ claim that welfare spending rose by 60 per cent under the last Labour government is scaremongering and cynical manipulation of the figures. Total expenditure on welfare when Labour took over in 1997 was 11.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product. Under Labour, it averaged 10.7 per cent – that’s right, it went down – right up to the crash. Afterwards, benefits for children and working-age adults rose from an average 4.9 per cent of GDP to six per cent, which is what one might expect during a recession.

For clarity, the majority of welfare spending goes into pensions – around 55 per cent. Benefits for the unemployed total just three per cent. Fraudulent claims total a miniscule 0.7 per cent.

Moving on to Cllr Davies’ ridiculous claim that many people were claiming support who did not need or were not entitled to it, he claims that 900,000 people (in fact it was 878,300) dropped their claim for Employment and Support Allowance rather than take the Work Capability Assessment. In fact, DWP figures show that the number of cases closed before assessment has remained consistent since before the new assessment came into use. It is known as ‘churn’ – a turnover of claims withdrawn for perfectly normal reasons like people getting better or finding a job they can do, even if they’re ill. That is a result of people using the benefit system properly. Every month, around 130,000 people come off ESA – it isn’t a lifetime benefit; it’s something you claim for as long as you must. Because of the huge number of cases on the system and the amount of time it takes for them to be assessed and decided, some people who no longer need to claim haven’t even had their assessment.

DWP figures show the number of people receiving the benefit has in fact risen since the current government increased its scrutiny of disabled people.

Cllr Davies’ claim that the Work Capability Assessment is a “medical” test is also inaccurate. It is based on a system devised by an American insurance company called Unum, in order to avoid paying out to customers whose policies had matured. The aim is to convince very sick people that their illnesses are imagined. As a policy, you might consider that to be sick in itself. The result is horrifying but I’ll try to put it in context: According to the BBC, by October 30, 2012, the total number of British soldiers who had died in Afghanistan since military operations began there in 2002 was 437. That’s equivalent to the number of sick or disabled people who die while going through the work capability assessment system (or as a result of going through it) – every six weeks; an average of 73 per week (according to figures released after a Freedom of Information request).

The benefit cap is another waste of taxpayers’ money. It will reduce households’ ability to pay the rent, leading to an expected increase in homelessness of 40,000 families. How much will local authorities have to pay, housing families in temporary accommodation? Child poverty will skyrocket by 100,000. Many families may break up in response to the pressures. Parents who live separately and divide their children’s residency between them can claim up to £1,000 a week in benefits, while a couple living together may only claim £500. Of course, this would completely wipe out any saving the government would have made on that family, costing £26,000 more every year.

Cllr Davies rightly says £26,000 a year is more than most workers in Brecon and Radnorshire earn. That’s not a good thing – it means people here don’t get the pay they deserve. But even that figure is inaccurate as it omits benefits, so the average income of a working family is in fact £31,500, or £605 per week. The trouble with that is, if applied to benefit recipients, so few people would lose benefits that it would make the cap pointless. You see, it’s all about cutting the benefit bill; it isn’t about fairness at all. But, as I say, the Conservatives are so hopeless they can’t even get their sums right.

Cllr Davies is wrong to say that Labour opposes a benefit cap, however. There is cross-party support for limiting benefits as an incentive to seek work. The difference is that the Labour version would have been fair.

Cllr Davies says Labour supports a benefit system that gives workless households a higher income than the majority of working individuals who are paying for the system – and again he is manipulating the figures, comparing households with individuals. The simple fact is that unemployment benefits stood at around one-sixth of average earnings until April, when the one per cent uprating came into effect and pushed unemployed people closer to poverty. When benefit is so much less, in real terms, than earnings, a higher percentage increase does not mean you receive more money than a working person – something the Conservatives find hard to grasp, it seems.

So which do you believe – the comfortable lies that Cllr Davies has foisted on you, unencumbered by any factual evidence – or the unpalatable truth that the government’s imbecilic handling of the situation will cost us all many millions more in damage control when it all goes wrong?