Tag Archives: community

Where is the evidence of “unfathomably vast” abuse of Jews because of alleged Labour anti-Semitism?

Jeremy Corbyn: He would be spectacularly ill-advised to accept the advice of liars like the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, and the Community Security Trust.

We’ve been here before.

Remember when Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth lied about receiving thousands of abusive social media messages in a single day?

She claimed in a BBC interview on September 2, 2016, that she had received 25,000 pieces of anti-Semitic abuse since the incident in which she had (falsely) accused Marc Wadsworth of anti-Semitism in June that year – 20,000 in a 12-hour period.

But research by the Community Security Trust showed that over a 12 month period (from October 2015 to October 2016),  there were 2.7 million tweets concerning Jews, of which only 15,575 (0.6%) were considered to be antisemitic.

The maximum peaks the CST team found were around 200 antisemitic tweets a day, and that was for the whole UK.

But the CST is one of the Jewish organisations that have written to Jeremy Corbyn, claiming “unfathomably vast” abuse has been received by Jews on social media this summer, due to the row over anti-Semitism stirred up by – among others – the CST.

Contradiction?

Of course.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the CST – and others – have created a fake row, with faked accusations of anti-Semitism.

And if real anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head now, it is only because these organisations have encouraged the perpetrators to believe that they will be safely hidden among the fakes.

It is therefore disingenuous for Board of Deputies chief executive Gillian Merron to say the Jewish community has “no interest in an ongoing dispute with any major political party about the nature of racism against us”, but that her group has to defend the interests of Jewish people.

Her group has deliberately harmed those interests by stirring up this row.

The JLC and CST followed the well-established pattern of conflating Zionism, Judaism and the state of Israel (they are not the same things), claiming that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party must accept that most British Jews had close ties with traditional Zionism – support for a Jewish homeland – and Israel.

There is no evidence to suggest that this is true.

And this statement is a flat-out lie: “The current obsessive hatred of Israel and Zionism means that no Jew can be an equal member of the Labour party, because even if they pass an initial loyalty/morality test, they still always remain under suspicion, lest they display ‘Zionist’ or ‘pro-Israel’ tendencies,” the letter said. “This is the current experience of Jews in Labour circles. It is an antisemitic environment.”

The claim of hatred towards Israel is not true. Nor is the claim of hatred towards Zionism.

It is possible that people may hate the policies of the current Israeli government, including its interpretation of Zionism which happens to demand the slaughter of thousands of Palestinian civilians for no good reason at all.

There is no evidence to suggest that Jewish Labour Party members who have not already exhibited loyalty to the Israeli government and its version of Zionism (like certain MPs we know) are likely to.

And let’s be honest, if they don’t demonstrate any such loyalty in their words or actions, there’s no reason to believe they have it – so the claim that Jewish members would always remain under suspicion is a lie (or should be).

So all the organisations writing to Labour are lying. What did you expect? None of them are affiliated to the Labour Party and there is plenty of evidence that some of their members have other political loyalties.

It follows, therefore, that their advice to Labour about ways of fixing the issue is useless – worse than useless, in fact. It will only create more opportunities for the kind of mischief that they have already been making.

So, what advice should Labour, and Jeremy Corbyn take?

Simple.

Check all the facts. Don’t accept any claims on face value. Draw your conclusions from verifiable information – not the unevidenced claims of liars.

And act appropriately, on the conclusions you draw.

Leading Jewish organisations have called on Jeremy Corbyn to end the “impasse” over tackling antisemitism in the Labour party, calling the abuse received by Jews on social media during the row this summer “unfathomably vast”.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the Community Security Trust (CST) wrote separate letters to Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, accusing the leadership of failing to deal adequately with concerns.

Source: Jewish groups urge Corbyn to end ‘impasse’ over antisemitism | News | The Guardian

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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Corbyn meets Jewish right-wingers and agrees to none of their demands

Jeremy Corbyn: Not an anti-Semite, no matter how hard certain organisations try to claim it.

I’m sure everybody is glad that Jeremy Corbyn has finally met the right (-wing) kind of Jew to discuss the issue of anti-Semitism which they say is growing in the Labour Party – although everybody else has seen the statistics showing the exact opposite.

Mr Corbyn met representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust on the afternoon of April 25. These organisations had refused to attend a roundtable meeting with other groups who (as I understand it) they claimed were the “wrong kind of Jews”.

They had six demands:

  • That there should be a fixed timetable to deal with anti-Semitism cases
  • That Mr Corbyn should take personal responsibility for Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism
  • That Labour should expedite the long-standing cases involving Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker
  • That no MP should share a platform with somebody expelled or suspended for anti-Semitism
  • That Labour should adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism with all its examples and clauses
  • That there should be transparent oversight of Labour’s disciplinary process

It is easy to see why Mr Corbyn did not accept these.

A fixed timetable means justice would be abandoned in favour of getting through all the allegations as quickly as possible. In the current atmosphere of false, malicious and opportunistic claims against party members, it would be easy to overload the system with frivolous accusations, making it harder for the innocent to have the exoneration they deserve.

What would these representatives demand if Mr Corbyn agreed to take person responsibility and then they (perhaps arbitrarily) decided he wasn’t doing a good enough job? His resignation? That would not be acceptable to the majority of Labour members but This Writer is sure it would suit the Tory Party very well.

It is true that the cases involving Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker have been taking a long time. But the Labour leadership was harshly criticised for its treatment of Mr Livingstone when he was suspended for quoting historical fact (don’t believe the nonsense that he said Hitler was a Zionist – he said no such thing) and we all know Jackie Walker was set up by the Jewish Labour Movement, and what they called anti-Semitism on her part was in fact her contribution to a discussion at which people were asked to voice their concerns, in a ‘safe space’ meeting where no recording equipment was supposed to be present. Strange that the JLM brought some along specifically to record and entrap her, isn’t it?

Personally I don’t see anything wrong with the demand that no Labour MP should share a platform with someone who has been expelled for anti-Semitism. But Labour’s process for dealing with these cases is extremely dubious at the moment – that’s one of the reasons new General Secretary Jennie Formby has been asked to review and revamp it. Members who have been suspended on suspicion are not guilty of anything – we have a convention in the UK that people accused of anything are innocent until their guilt has been proved – so I would not agree that that no MP should share a platform with a person who has only been suspended. It’s possible that the process of suspending someone while an investigation is carried out will end, though, so the issue might go away.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, with all of its examples and clauses, is not acceptable to many people for several reasons – see this analysis by Hugh Tomlinson QC.

And by “transparent oversight”, what did these representatives mean? That they should have some influence over the workings of the Labour Party disciplinary process? Influence from external organisations would be unacceptable to the Labour Party under any circumstances.

Mr Corbyn was graceful about the meeting:

His full statement, on Facebook, followed the lines he had set out in his Evening Standard article prior to the meeting:

“I am grateful to the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust for a positive and constructive meeting about tackling antisemitism.

“I am absolutely committed to rooting out antisemitism from our party and our society.

“When members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties, we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not ‘smears’. Jews belong in the Labour Party and we are utterly committed to making it a safe and welcoming place for them.

“I have charged our new General Secretary Jennie Formby with improving our disciplinary procedures as her top priority to ensure all complaints are dealt with swiftly and fairly. We are grateful for the input from Jewish community groups, who we will continue to listen to carefully.

“We will lay out the further steps we are taking in the coming weeks. We will continue to engage and work with Jewish community organisations to deal with this issue. Our party will not fail our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

The JLC and the BoD were … less graceful:

It says:

“Our meeting with Jeremy Corbyn today was a disappointing missed opportunity regarding the problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party. We welcomed Mr. Corbyn’s personal involvement in the discussion and his new comments recognising and apologising for antisemitism in the Labour Party but he failed to agree to any of the concrete actions we asked for in our letter to him of 28th March.

“Last month the Jewish community held an unprecedented demonstration outside Parliament to express our hurt and anger about the level of antisemitism in the Labour Party, and Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to take strong action against it. Following that demonstration we wrote to Mr. Corbyn to set out six areas of concrete action he and the party could take to address the antisemitism that has grown under his leadership. These represented the minimum level of action the community expected after more than two years of inactivity. Today we met Mr. Corbyn to convey in no uncertain terms the Jewish community’s feelings to him in person and to discuss his response to our proposals. It was a difficult yet important meeting.

“We are disappointed that Mr Corbyn’s proposals fell short of the minimum level of action which our letter suggested. In particular, they did not agree in the meeting with our proposals that there should be a fixed timetable to deal with antisemitism cases; that they should expedite the long-standing cases involving Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker; that no MP should share a platform with somebody expelled or suspended for antisemitism; that they adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism with all its examples and clauses; that there should be transparent oversight of their disciplinary process.

“Words in letters and newspaper articles will never be enough. We welcome the fact that Mr Corbyn’s words have changed but it is action by which the Jewish community will judge him and the Labour Party. Our sole objective from this meeting was to build trust with Mr Corbyn, but this will not be possible until and unless he and the party turn their many strong words against antisemitism into equally strong actions in order to bring about a deep cultural change in his supporters’ attitude to Jews.

“Thousands of British Jews did not demonstrate outside Parliament just for a few lawyers and another newspaper article; they demanded action and so do we. We will hold the Labour Party to account for any future failures and continue to represent the interests of British Jews with clarity and resolve. We also commit to do our utmost to work with all those within Labour who want to help make it a safe and equal space for all of its members.”

The statement has been greeted with disdain by some – including that organisation of the “wrong kind of Jew”, Jewdas, with whom Jeremy Corbyn controversially celebrated Seder a few weeks ago:

Carole Hawkins, below, makes an important point:

This is absolutely true. Suggesting that any Jews are not “true” Jews, or “the wrong kind of Jews” is an anti-Semitic stereotype. It isn’t acceptable for anyone to be behaving in this manner. Judge the three organisations Mr Corbyn met by that standard!

And the following should put all of the above into perspective:

https://twitter.com/xugla/status/988822303080439809

I wonder – of the people Mr Corbyn met – people who made very specific demands, including that he take personal responsibility for investigations into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, so presumably he should take the fall if THEY decide he hasn’t done enough …

How many of them even support the Labour Party or vote Labour?


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Corbyn launches community campaign unit

Mr Corbyn said the new team will “empower people” to campaign [Image: Reuters].

This is an excellent move – although the BBC’s reporting leaves a little to be desired.

This Writer is not convinced that targeting traditional Labour heartlands will “make inroads in the dozens of seats [Labour] needs to win”.

The party doesn’t need to rebuild support in its heartlands – the last general election showed that Labour’s heartlands are coming back to the party.

It is in Conservative-held constituencies that Labour needs to organise most strongly.

The party has supporters in even the most tightly-held Tory constituencies, and they only need to form a good argument to start persuading people across to the Party of the People and away from the Conservatives.

Labour hopes to encourage communities to organise around local issues and develop campaigns with a new team.

The unit … will target seaside towns and traditional Labour heartlands, where the party needs to rebuild support.

The strategy is designed to help Labour make inroads in the dozens of seats it needs to win to get into power.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he hoped an approach of “empowering people” would “further invigorate” his party.

Source: Corbyn launches community campaign unit – BBC News


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Bristolians rise against austerity with ‘Fund our city!’ call

On the march: The Rally for Bristol.

As I write this, the people of Bristol are staging a rally against austerity-driven Tory cuts to funding and services for their city.

The event was called by city mayor Marvin Rees – and This Writer (a former Bristolian) agrees with his reasons.

Only today, I had to write about funding cuts to another local authority that have endangered Women’s Aid services there – putting lives at risk.

Tories don’t care. They think money is more important than human lives.

The event’s Facebook page states:

“Mayor Marvin Rees has called a march and rally on Saturday September 9th … to demand the Conservative government gives Bristol and other cities the funding we need for our public services and stops the cuts that are damaging the lives of so many.

“The general election and polls since have shown that austerity is now opposed by the great majority of the public. But despite its weak position this government is handing £70 billion to the wealthy in tax breaks over five years, even as it burdens Bristol City Council with cuts to bare-bones essential services totalling £104 million (10% cut each year).

“On September 9th, three days before the Mayor is set to lobby ministers at Westminster, let’s send a powerful message by marching in our thousands in Bristol and other cities: we won’t take any more cuts – not to our social care and NHS, our children’s services, our housing, our libraries, our arts, our community centres, our parks, our schools, our children’s crossing patrols…

“We’ve had enough of closures, privatisation and job losses, and we’re uniting – as workers, service users and citizens – to fight all the way for the investment we need in the public services and the living standards of our communities!”


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Women’s marches across the world: Great placards, but do we really feel safer?

Sir Ian McKellen with a placard showing his friend and colleague, Sir Patrick Stewart, in the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation ‘facepalm’ meme.
“Not my own – I found it at the end of the march in Trafalgar Square,” he admitted on Twitter.

I really hope the Women’s Marches, not only in Washington DC, or London, but everywhere they happened across the world, were declarations of intent, rather than end in themselves.

I don’t think anybody is safer from the ravages of Donald Trump (in the States), Brexit (in the UK) or any of the other evils taking place in the world right now, as a result of taking a weekend walk.

The events were tremendous outpourings of feeling – against oppression, “for the protection of our fundamental rights and for the safeguarding of freedoms threatened by recent political events; for the dignity and equality of all peoples, for the safety and health of our planet and for the strength of our vibrant and diverse communities” according to the Women’s March London website.

Those things are no safer today than they were on Friday.

I hope that everybody, who marched with placards held high, was also looking at the people around them, making connections, forming networks, and planning the steps that will need to be taken after the marches ended.

It was great to see so many celebrities taking part as well. I sincerely hope that they, with their much higher public profiles, will continue to support the rest of us. Ultimately, we are no different from them and the changes being inflicted on our way of life will harm them as well as us.

Those placards really were great, though. Let’s have a look at some of them, and some of the celebs who took part.

Carrie Fisher may have passed on but she has also passed into legend. This was just one of the many images based on her character, Princess/General Leia, from Star Wars. Many marchers turned up in costume as her.

Protesters called themselves ‘nasty women’ in reference to Donald Trump’s attack on Hillary Clinton:

‘Supernatural’ star Misha Collins with some ‘nasty women’.

https://twitter.com/vergilophile/status/822927031834963969

The march attracted many more people than the inauguration of Mr Trump, who has already been dubbed the least popular modern president:

ITV’s Queen Victoria – Jenna Coleman – marched in London. I’ve included the inset image of her as she took the main photo and therefore isn’t in it.

Likewise [Image blurred deliberately].

I’ll leave the last words to Sir Ian McKellen, who posted the following on Twitter:

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Vox Political’s ‘Big Democracy’ radio experience

Birds and the wires: People attending the Big Democracy event were invited to write their feelings about the way the government treats disabled people on paper and hang them on a network of overhead wires, so their shadow on the wall would build up into a large grouping similar to that of the birds flocking in the film loop projected onto the wall. The message: Together we are stronger.

Birds and the wires: People attending the Big Democracy event were invited to write their feelings about the way the government treats disabled people on paper and hang them on a network of overhead wires, so their shadow on the wall would build up into a large grouping similar to that of the birds flocking in the film loop projected onto the wall. The message: Together we are stronger.

You may have noticed that Vox Political was uncharacteristically quiet over the weekend. This is because I was co-running the Radnor Fringe Festival in Llandrindod Wells from Friday to Sunday, and helping tidy up afterwards on Monday (June 19-22).

The festival’s mixture of musical acts and community events was extremely – almost overwhelmingly – popular and the reaction has been universally positive. Not only that, but one of the events was worthy of an article in this blog.

It was a performance and debate event that asked: “Are disabled people an easy target for cuts?”

That’s right – it could have been devised specifically to cater for This Blog and This Writer.

The idea was chosen in an online vote as part of a three-year project exploring how art and creativity can help communities re-engage with the democratic process. Disabled artists and performers from National Theatre Wales collaborated with Llandrindod-based arts organisation Celf o Gwmpas performed prepared pieces, then encouraged members of the public to take part in collaborative creative/discussion workshops.

The tone was strongly anti-cuts, anti-government, and in favour of people speaking out about the effect that government policy is having on them.

The free event attracted many more people than the organisers expected, including This Writer and Mrs Mike – and was also attended by a recording team from BBC Radio 3, meaning at least some of our many contributions to the evening will have been captured for posterity and may be used in a radio programme to be broadcast today (Tuesday).

BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme, broadcast at 10pm (and subsequently available on iPlayer) will be about “Political and Bardic Traditions in Wales”, and will feature “a report on the brand new instalment of the National Theatre of Wales Big Democracy Project, a kind of interactive community theatre”.

So tune in this evening at 10pm – or catch up on iPlayer – and you may hear this writer’s dulcet Bristolian tones deploring the drawbacks of Iain Duncan Smith’s anti-democratic benefit nightmare.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Conservatives would put unemployed on community service

150215sanctioncentre

Under Conservative control, Job centres have already become places unemployed people fear. If David Cameron is elected in May, they will criminalise the unemployed altogether.

It used to be a punishment for low-level criminals, but now David Cameron has admitted a future Conservative government would force it on people who have been out of work for more than six months. Those aged 18-21 will have to go straight into this work.

What does that say about Cameron’s opinion of the unemployed?

Is he trying to make it seem like a criminal offence? Is he trying to make it a criminal offence to be young and out of work?

It’s all part of his ‘divide and conquer’ plan for the UK, one supposes – treat the unlucky as an underclass and make those who are fortunate enough to be in (well-paid) work thank their lucky stars.

Take note of that caveat about ‘well-paid’ work; part of this scheme to criminalise the unemployed is an intention to force more and more people into underpaid jobs without in-work benefits, in order to make more money for his rich donors (who of course will pass some of the benefit on to the Conservative Party). You know the kind – the zero-hours contracts that Labour plans to outlaw; part-time work, temporary work, minimum wage work that means people still have to claim benefits.

There’s also an intentional – but superficial – resemblance to Labour’s plan; the job guarantee.

Both would compel benefit claimants into work after six months, but after that, the Tory plan does not stand up well at all.

Cameron’s idea is to force people to do 30 hours’ community work every week, simply to keep the low level of benefits they are already receiving – and remember, benefits are currently subject to a low level of uprating and are capped to prevent people taking what Cameron has decided is too much.

Labour would put people in real jobs, paying at least the minimum wage, for a minimum of 25 hours per week, for a set period of time (although there would be the possibility of a permanent position afterwards, if the candidate is good at the job.

Critics have pointed out that 25 hours at minimum wage would provide the same amount of money as JSA plus housing benefit, but this relies on a false assumption; housing benefit would still be available to a minimum wage employee, with only a small taper (according to Stephen Timms, Rachel Reeves’s deputy).

In addition, 25 hours per week is the minimum amount of time employers will be asked to take people on. There’s nothing to stop them asking – and funding – more.

The BBC’s Ross Hawkins has pointed out that refusing to work under either system would mean a claimant would forfeit money – but that should not be an issue. Everybody should pay their own way, if possible – it’s a fundamental pillar of the British way of life. Why would anybody turn down a chance to stand on their own two feet and not rely on other people or the state?

Cameron reckons his scam – sorry, scheme – will cost £20 million to set up, funded by savings from the delivery of Universal Credit. How far over-budget is Universal Credit, now? £12.5 billion?

His sums just don’t add up.

He stands revealed as a grubby little grafter, scrubbing around for scraps that he can offer to his corporate masters.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Tory chameleons try to imitate UKIP – and Tony Benn!

zchameleons

Conservatives will do anything to hold onto power.

Most commonly, they try to pretend they aren’t the Nasty Party at all, attempting to emulate whatever’s popular at the moment.

So we have Michael Fallon with his UKIP impression yesterday (October 26), saying an “emergency brake” should be applied to immigration between EU countries.

He went on to say: “”That is still being worked on at the moment to see what we can do to prevent whole towns and communities being swamped by huge numbers of migrant workers.”

His words echoed those of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who said in February: “In scores of our cities and market towns, this country in a short space of time has frankly become unrecognisable… Having whole areas taken over is difficult… it’s happened on a scale that nobody could ever have imagined.”

Oh, but don’t worry – it turns out that Fallon didn’t mean to say “swamped” at all! He meant “under pressure”. That makes it perfectly acceptable! Right?

It’s another UKIP tactic, of course – the swift apology. How many Kippers have been caught making much more abusive comments than Fallon’s, only to have to retract them later? (We’ll leave that question open in the hope that UKIP supporters will read this and try to pretend this never happens. It’ll be funny.)

Eoin Clarke had it right when he tweeted: “Tories’ ‘swamped’ comment & then retraction follow the UKIP pattern. Minimise the damage, maximise the appeal. Racism is a vote winner, sadly.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian has reported an even more bizarre transformation – Tories who claim to be followers of Labour icon Tony Benn!

“The right-wing Bennites do not look to their leadership for guidance. Like Benn used to do, they follow other lines of democratic accountability. Due to a matter of deeply held principle, the leader can never count on their support, even when he seeks to appease them,” writes Steve Richards.

How ridiculous. A Tory could no more be Bennite than Yr Obdt Srvt could be Thatcherite. They don’t understand the meaning of the word but use surface similarities to claim that they have adopted him. The result: Tony Benn’s memory will be discredited.

benndemocracy

For crying out loud – one of the pillars of Tony Benn’s philosophy was that the people should be able to get rid of bad politicians – and here they are trying to usurp his memory in order to cling on to power!

It’s a filthy, underhanded trick from a filthy, underhanded organisation and you shouldn’t believe it.

Mr Richards acknowledges the differences, although he doesn’t give them the emphasis they need: “He [Tony Benn] was a socialist and they most emphatically are not. Benn regarded the state as a benevolent force, and sought wider state ownership, while a lot of the Tory Bennites want government to play a much smaller role.” That’s a huge, irreconcilable difference. If the ideologies are opposed, any similarity of method is just window-dressing.

With UKIP, it’s different; the ideologies are not opposed. UKIP and the Tories might as well be the same political party and politicians like Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless have already indicated that they view the two as interchangeable.

They are – and the voting public needs to be aware of this.

But Tony Benn and the Conservative Party most certainly are not.

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Cumulative effect of welfare reform revealed – deprived areas hit much harder than the rich

Deprived parts of Glasgow were worst-affected by 'welfare reform' according to The Courier [Image: thecourier.co.uk].

Deprived parts of Glasgow were worst-affected by ‘welfare reform’ according to The Courier [Image: thecourier.co.uk].

The headline should not come as a surprise – of course changes that cut benefits for the poor are going to harm them more than rich people.

But do you remember David Cameron’s claim that his government would be the most transparent ever?

Isn’t it interesting, then, that the independent Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found a way to compile information on the effects of tax, social security and other spending changes on disabled people, after the government repeatedly claimed it could not be done?

It seems Mr Cameron has something to hide, after all.

We already have a taste of what we can expect, courtesy of our friends in Scotland, who commissioned the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University to study the relationship between deprivation and financial loss caused by “welfare reform”.

The study shows that more than £1.6 billion a year will be removed from the Scottish economy, with the biggest losses based in changes to incapacity benefits. The Scottish average loss, per adult of working age, is £460 per year (compared with a British average of £470) but the hardest hit area was impoverished Glasgow Carlton, where adults lost an average of £880 per year.

In affluent St Andrews, the average hit was just £180 per year.

Of course, the cumulative effect will hit the poorest communities much harder – with an average of £460 being taken out of these communities it is not only households that will struggle to make ends meet; as families make cutbacks, local shops and businesses will lose revenue and viability. If they close, then residents will have to travel further for groceries and to find work, meaning extra travel costs will remove even more much-needed cash from their budget.

For a nationwide picture, the EHRC commissioned the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the consultancy Landman Economics to develop a way of assessing the cumulative impact of “welfare reform”.

The report will be published in the summer, but Landman Economics has already told Disability News Service that the work was “not actually that difficult”.

Why, then have Mark Hoban, Esther McVey and Mike Penning, the current minister for the disabled, all claimed that a cumulative assessment is impossible?

Some might say they have a vested interest in keeping the public ignorant of the true devastation being wreaked on Britain’s most vulnerable people by Coalition austerity policies that will ultimately harm everybody except the very rich.

Some might say this is why the BBC – under the influence of a Conservative chairman – failed to report a mass demonstration against austerity by at least 50,000 people that started on its very doorstep.

Misguided conspiracy theorists, all!

Or are they?

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At last the crisis of British democracy is addressed by a party leader: ED MILIBAND

Champion of democracy: Ed Miliband told the country he wants Parliament to provide what the people want, signalling a return to the principles of democratic government that have been abandoned by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Champion of democracy: Ed Miliband told the country he wants Parliament to provide what the people want, signalling that Labour plans to return to the principles of democratic government that have been abandoned by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Hopefully the naysayers among Vox Political‘s readership will have a little more respect for Mr Miliband after today.

He is the first – and so far, the only – leader of a mainstream British political party to have correctly identified the biggest problem facing our democracy at this time:

The fact that people aren’t bothering to vote.

Here’s what he said, in his response to the Queen’s Speech:

“The custom of these debates is to address our opponents across the despatch box in this House, but today on its own that would be inadequate to the challenge we face.

“There is an even bigger opponent to address in this Queen’s Speech debate – the belief among many members of the public that this House cannot achieve anything at all. Any party in it.

“About 10 per cent of people entitled to vote, voted for UKIP in the recent elections. But – as significant – over 60 per cent did not vote at all.

“And whatever side we sit on, we will all have heard it on the doorstep: ‘You’re all the same, you’re in it for yourself, it doesn’t matter who I vote for.’

“Of course, that’s not new, but there is a depth and a scale of disenchantment which we ignore at our peril – disenchantment that goes beyond one party, beyond one government.

There is no bigger issue for our country and our democracy.

“So, the test for this legislative programme, the last before the general election, is to show that it responds – to the scale of the discontent and the need for answers.

“In this election, we heard concerns about the way the EU works and the need for reform. We heard deep-rooted concerns about immigration and the need to make changes. But I believe there is an even deeper reason for this discontent.

“Fundamentally, too many people in our country feel Britain doesn’t work for them and hasn’t done so for a long time:

“In the jobs they do and whether their hard work is rewarded.

“In the prospects for their children and whether they will lead a better life than their parents, including whether they will be able to afford a home of their own.

“And in the pressures communities face.

“Above all, whether the work and effort people put in is reflected in them sharing fairly in the wealth of this country.

“The Governor of the Bank of England gave a remarkable speech last week saying inequality was now one of the biggest challenges in our country. We should all be judged on how we respond to this question, right as well as left.

“There are measures we support in this Queen’s Speech including tackling modern slavery, an Ombudsman for our Armed Forces and recall.

“But the big question for this Queen’s Speech is whether it just offers more of the same or whether it offers a new direction, so we can genuinely say it works for all and not just a few at the top.”

Yes – exactly. Yes!

Within the last couple of days, I was saying on the Vox Facebook page that Labour needs to recognise the threat posed by UKIP in the context of disenchantment with democracy: With so few people voting, the door is thrown open to loony extremist right-wing parties.

The only solution is for the mainstream parties to ensure they know exactly what the people will support and offer the electorate what we want, rather than what they want to push on us.

With this speech, Mr Miliband has made it clear that he gets it, and that he is listening.

As the only leader who does – and is – this should put him well ahead by next May.

All he has to do is deliver what he has promised.

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