You have to laugh at these desperate attempts to justify Boris Johnson’s decision to ride his bike around the Olympic Park in London – seven miles from 10 Downing Street.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick actually went on the radio and said if people exercise “from your front door and come back to your front door”… “That’s my view of local.”
This Writer is not best-located to mock this point of view as I live in one of the UK’s biggest cycling hubs, with routes flying in all directions around Mid Wales.
But if I didn’t; if I lived in a place that was 10 miles away from a cycle track – or more – and I wanted to do a bit of pedalling, it’s nice to know that Cressida Dick would fully support my decision to do so – cycling all the way there, round the track as often as I wanted, and then back home again.
That’s her view of local.
She was basically saying we can go out as far as we like, for as long as we like.
That is entirely against the demands of the current lockdown. And she is the commissioner of London’s police force.
The guidance states very clearly that, while you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)… “stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live”.
Admittedly, living in Mid Wales, I’m not as familiar with London as many.
But I feel sure there are a few open spaces in central London and there was no need for Johnson to go seven miles.
So I can’t help but wonder whether anyone now facing fines for break lockdown guidance now has another excuse.
Besides saying, “Dominic Cummings,” they’ll now be able to say, “Boris Johnson.”
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
In talking about the “cycle of violence and hate”, Jeremy Corbyn has been expanding on a theme – that we must cut off the supply of money and weapons to extremists.
In This Writer’s opinion, Corbyn is referring to this cycle:
It seems clear that the appropriate starting point is at the bottom, where it says: “Allied based manufacturers supply weapons to the extremists.” This is one of the events Mr Corbyn wants to stop.
By contrast, David Cameron wants Parliament to support air strikes in Syria. See the segment that says “Allies respond to extremism by bombing Middle Eastern targets”?
This is only to be expected from a man who has led at least one trade delegation to the Middle East in order to sell weapons.
Clearly, Cameron is part of the problem and Corbyn is offering the solution.
Jeremy Corbyn has said that Britain must not be “drawn into responses that feed a cycle of violence and hate” following the terror attacks in Paris.
The Labour leader told a regional party conference in Bristol on Saturday that governments “must not keep making the same mistakes” following atrocities such as the series of attacks in the French capital that left 130 people dead.
However, Corbyn said Labour would back every necessary measure to ensure Britons were safe. “The dreadful Paris attacks make the case for a far more urgent effort to reach a negotiated settlement of the civil war in Syria and the end to the threat from Isis,” he said.
“It is the conflict in Syria and the consequences of the Iraq war which have created the conditions for Isis to thrive and spread its murderous rule,” he added. “For the past 14 years, Britain has been at the centre of a succession of disastrous wars that have brought devastation to large parts of the wider Middle East. They have increased, not diminished, the threats to our own national security in the process.”
Corbyn had been due to give his speech last weekend but cancelled it in the wake of the Paris attacks.
The effect of Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ should, by now, be plain for all to see: Increased poverty – including child poverty, the torture of starvation for people who have been sanctioned off of benefit and cannot afford food, hopelessness, despair, suicide.
We saw the signs as long ago as 2012, when the man we call RTU (Return To Unit) and SNLR (Services No Longer Required) launched his famous rant on the subject against Owen Jones.
This blog reported it at the time: “Irately wagging his finger in Mr Jones’s general direction, he barked: ‘We’ve heard a lot from you. I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration. We are changing their lives; I’m proud of doing that. Getting them off-benefit is what we’re going to do.'”
Establishment figures like David Dimbleby, it seems, wanted us to take this at face value – that the Secretary-in-a-State was going to put people to work (whether they liked it or not).
Now we know that wasn’t what he meant.
He meant he was going to force people off benefit by perverting the system in the worst way possible. He was going to order his staff to find any slight excuse to inflict benefit sanctions on society’s most vulnerable.
As we read today, “Unlike benefit delays, where in theory claimants can receive backdated payments to cover the period when they were without income, sanctions left already vulnerable recipients struggling with a massive hole in their finances which they had often filled with expensive credit, trapping them in a cycle of debt.”
He has inflicted torture on the innocent, in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
His benefit assessors practice “chequebook euthanasia” – when claimants say they have suicidal thoughts, they are asked why they have not yet killed themselves.
And sometimes he just condemns people to die in the cold. Note that Job Centre staff – like Nazi soldiers – use the so-called ‘Nuremberg defence’ for their actions; they were “only following orders”.
Take this comparison to its logical conclusion and Iain Duncan Smith may be compared with Hitler; the unemployed, sick and disabled are his Jews, Romanies, sick and disabled; and the whole of the UK is his extermination camp.
But a general election is coming and the Conservatives are not expected to win. Will Iain Duncan Smith take Hitler’s way out?
He’ll probably try to cover his tracks, too.
So let us appeal to all DWP personnel: Here’s your chance to get something worthwhile from the last five years!
It is time to start copying information. Iain Duncan Smith will want to cover up all his dirty little secrets and it is likely that his shredder will be working day and night if he thinks someone else might discover any inconvenient truths.
If there are any inconvenient truths, then as servants of the country – rather than servants of the Conservatives or the Secretary of State – it is your duty to collect this evidence, preserve it and bring it forward after he has been ousted.
Nobody can order you to do this. Undoubtedly you will be discouraged from doing it; there are likely to be rules that say you must not, invoking the same national interest that Yr Obdt Srvt is invoking here.
This is a matter for your conscience.
Do you think Iain Duncan Smith and his associates should be allowed to go unpunished for the harm they have caused?
The mainstream media are at last turning their attention to the harmful effects of DWP sanctions, with this report from The Guardianexplaining how sanctions can plunge families into financial crisis, hunger, and dependency on food banks for up to half a year, far longer than the period for which they have had payments stopped, according to a new study.
Thanks to Nick Rhodes for editing the graph showing the rise of food bank use, to add in the most recent increases. The height of the image speaks for itself.
The study, Cheshire Hunger looked in detail at the reasons why people had been given food bank vouchers and estimated the length of time they would be dependent on food aid.
It adds to a growing body of evidence directly linking welfare reforms with food bank use, and comes as a coalition of major churches call for an overhaul of the “inhumane” sanctions system.
The study, carried out by West Cheshire food bank along with the Trussell trust and the University of Chester, examined 1,711 referrals to West Cheshire food bank over a seven month period last year. It found:
Administrative and other delays accounted for 23% of referrals and typically caused a crisis lasting between one and four weeks.
Sanctions accounted for 11% of referrals and usually placed households in a crisis situation for between one and 13 weeks.
Benefit Changes accounted for 9% of referrals and crisis typically lasted between one and four weeks.
Employment Support Allowance stoppages accounted for 4% of referrals and typically lasted between two and 13 weeks.
The biggest crisis category other than benefit delays and sanctions was low income and debt (31%) caused typically by high utility bills and housing costs, with crises lasting one to four weeks.
Of those food bank clients whose primary crisis was caused by sanctions, half were pushed into financial difficulty for two to three weeks, while a fifth were expected to be in crisis for 13-26 weeks.
Unlike benefit delays, where in theory claimants can receive backdated payments to cover the period when they were without income, sanctions left already vulnerable recipients struggling with a massive hole in their finances which they had often filled with expensive credit, trapping them in a cycle of debt.
What an embarrassment: George Osborne should be ashamed of the rubbish he spouted in his speech yesterday (Friday).
George Osborne is flailing.
He’s a desperate man, trying vainly to convince us that the current state of the British economy was his plan all along when anybody with half a brain can see it wasn’t.
Yesterday he was in Washington, trying to convince Americans that he knows what he is doing, but US economists are far too canny to accept anything he says at face value.
His principal claim was that critics of what he and the ConDem inner circle still laughably call “the government’s long-term economic plan” have been proved “comprehensively wrong”. Some of us would like to see his proof of that.
Back in 2010, when Osborne took over at the Treasury, trashed a perfectly good Labour-stimulated recovery and sent the economy into freefall, those of us with any sense said the situation would worsen until it hit the point at which the economy would stabilise of its own accord, without any interference from politicians. Then it would start to improve because demand would start to rise again.
We reached the lowest point possible in the British economic cycle; from there, the only way was up. That is why there is a recovery – and a mean, meagre little thing it is, too. We should be 20-25 percentage points above where we are. Instead, we’re 1.4 per cent behind our pre-recession peak and the money is going to the wrong people.
The only question you should be asking is why this Tory illiterate has held us back.
Osborne told America that the British economy was growing faster than any other in the G7 – which means nothing. When an economy has shrunk more than any other, it is easier for it to grow. It doesn’t mean that our economy will be bigger than the others, although that is certainly the impression that Osborne wants to convey.
He said the growth was “despite warnings from some that our determined pursuit of our economic plan made that [economic growth] impossible”. This was a lie.
Osborne knows perfectly well that nobody said growth was impossible. They said Osborne’s policy would delay any recovery, causing misery for millions of medium- and low-waged people and providing a spurious justification for his colleague Iain Duncan Smith’s purges of benefit claimants – actions that have caused many thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Apparently, to quote members of a previous Tory government, that is “a price worth paying”. For what?
He said: “Fiscal consolidation [austerity] and economic recovery go together, and [the economic turnaround in the UK] undermines the pessimistic prognosis that only further fiscal stimulus can drive sustainable growth.” This is not what the data shows. It shows, as already stated, that the British economy hit rock-bottom under Osborne’s guidance and has now started the long climb upward of its own accord. That is not an endorsement of his policy; fiscal stimulus along Keynesian lines would have arrested the decline and boosted the economy back into growth – as evidenced four years ago, when Osborne inherited an economy that had been growing for five consecutive quarters and sent it right back into decline.
Osborne claimed, yet again, that a Keynesian scheme would create more debt – denying the simple economic fact that the boost it would have provided would have put more money into the Treasury and cancelled the debt far more quickly than his cuts.
It’s obvious, really. Any growth is despite austerity, not because of it. If you take money out of a system, it’s harder for anybody to make a profit on which tax can be paid. Economics 101, George. But you studied history, didn’t you? And towel-folding.
We should also remember that in Osborne’s first Budget he promised – promised – a “steady and sustained” economic recovery. Instead, we had three years in which the economy flatlined. Then he brought in ‘Help to Buy’ – a very crude fiscal stimulus scheme that has created a housing price bubble that is hugely damaging for low earners while putting money into the pockets of people who don’t need it. The economy picked up, because housing relies on other industries, but the crash that is to come might create a worse situation than before.
Osborne wants us to believe that wages will start to rise above inflation, even though the experience of the Americans to whom he delivered his speech is that 95 per cent of post-recession growth went to the richest one per cent of the population. He wants us to believe living standards will improve, but there is no evidence for this at all.
It’s all just another big lie.
Just take a look around you and you’ll see the facts. Osborne was charged with keeping the economy on its knees because that is what the Tories needed, in order to suck the cash from the middle-class, working-class and unemployed people of the UK.
Tories need mass unemployment to maintain the UK as a low-wage economy, creating more profit for bosses while keeping the workers under the cosh.
They need stagnation in much of the economy in order to ensure that the deficit does not go away and the national debt rises, thereby making it possible from them to continue selling off the National Health Service and dismantling the welfare state.
They need a housing bubble in places like London, to ensure that it is too expensive for undesirable poor and middle-income people, ship them out to other towns that have suffered the planned decimation of their economic bases (in order to ensure that they could not make a better living there), and make the capital city a playground for the rich.
And they have done it all by manipulating the media into telling you the worst lies about your own well-being – lies like those in George Osborne’s speech yesterday.
The last 40 years of British history represent the worst decline in living standards for the British people in the entire history of our nation. Never before did we have as much as when the Conservatives came to office in 1979; never before did we have so much to lose.
And we gave it away to liars like George Osborne, just because they had honey on their forked tongues.
Vox Political deplores the planned impoverishment of the UK
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