Tag Archives: danger

Dangerous ‘pub’ tweet drops UK Treasury in hot water

The Treasury has been accused of taking an irresponsible approach to the coronavirus epidemic after a backlash to its Twitter post, hailing Saturday’s scheduled reopening of England’s pubs.

“Grab a drink and raise a glass, pubs are reopening their doors from 4 July,” the tweet read, while a graphic carried the message: “Pubs are back”.

Many of those condemning the post… accused its celebratory tone of being in poor taste given that the virus has killed at least 43,000 people in the UK.

The tweet came as Leicester was put back under lockdown conditions amid a localised outbreak and fears were expressed about numbers of cases being seen in Greater Manchester.

Research conducted on behalf of the hospitality industry has suggested many people across the UK are concerned about the reopening.

The irresponsible tweet certainly attracted the wrath of the Twitterati, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak targeted for criticism:

According to the research, people are less likely to go to the pub as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. But that still leaves plenty of punters ready to risk infection:

And that’s why Sunak and the Treasury have been pilloried.

But Tories will never understand that there is more to life than their personal bank balances.

That’s why they tell us we must endanger ourselves with possible exposure to Covid-19, because it is important for the economy.

They don’t care that nearly 70,000 people in the UK have died so far – people whose lives were worth far more than the price of a pint.

Source: ‘Raise a glass’: UK Treasury faces backlash after hailing pubs reopening | Global | The Guardian

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The Tory government has refused to lift the Bedroom Tax from victims of domestic abuse

He laughed: Remember, Iain Duncan Smith laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. His Department for Work and Pensions later lost the case in the European Court of Human Rights but we should never forget that he and the other Tories thrive on terrorising vulnerable people.

The Tory government has confirmed that it will not lift the Bedroom Tax from victims of domestic violence, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it was an act of discrimination.

A cross-party group of MPs had written to demand that the government should lift the Bedroom Tax from such people.

The letter, signed by 44 MPs, was organised by Labour’s Stella Creasy and follows a decision by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Tory government had imposed the Bedroom Tax on a rape victim who had been given a panic room as part of a “sanctuary” scheme, but the ECHR had ruled that this was an act of discrimination as it meant she would be unable to afford to rent the property.

Full details are here.

According to the BBC:

44 MPs have written to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey urging her “to take immediate action on this life and death matter.

“The application of the ‘bedroom tax’ to Sanctuary Schemes clearly undermines this aim.

“So too, seeking to encourage people to leave their homes for smaller ones as this policy does, is also in conflict with the aim of Sanctuary Schemes – which are designed to enable those at risk of domestic violence to remain in their homes safely.

“We call on the government to act now and create an exemption for this very vulnerable group.”

Last week, the DWP said it was “carefully considering the court’s decision”.

But now we’re being told: “The government said there were no plans to abolish its policy on the removal of the spare room subsidy.

“It said the policy helped contain ‘growing housing benefit expenditure’, strengthens work incentives and makes better use of available social housing.”

So it’s still all about the money: the Tories are ignoring the courts to continue persecuting victims of violence and rape – and putting their lives in danger. Think about that!

Source: MPs oppose ‘bedroom tax’ being applied to domestic abuse survivors – BBC News

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Decrepit NHS mental health wards put lives at risk – The Guardian

So much for Tory claims that they are looking after the National Health Service.

They are running it into the ground – and making fatalities likely. Why are they never prosecuted for causing these dangers?

Mental health patients are at risk of suicide because so many of the units they are treated in are dangerously decrepit, say NHS chiefs.

Crumbling old buildings are unsafe as they offer opportunities for mentally vulnerable people with conditions such as depression and schizophrenia to try to hang themselves or fall from a height, according to mental health trusts in England.

New figures show that patient safety incidents in mental health units caused by problems with staffing, facilities or the enviroment in which people are treated have risen by 8%. In all, 19,088 such incidents occurred in 2018-19 compared with 17,693 the year before.

Seven “never events” – incidents which are supposed to never happen – occurred in mental health trusts in 2018 involving a shower or curtain rail that failed to collapse. In another, someone fell from a window.

Source: Decrepit NHS mental health wards put lives at risk | Society | The Guardian

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Divided nation: Reaction to video of soldiers shooting Corbyn poster shows danger to democracy

This is a media-led scandal; if the Tory-dominated mass media had not spent the last four years demonising Jeremy Corbyn, members of our armed forces would not have used an image of him as target practice.

And supporters of the armed forces would not have voiced their own hatred of Mr Corbyn. Consider the comments of Trevor Coult, founder of ‘For Our Veterans’ – and the organisation’s own comments in support of him:

It does say much about both the organisation and the man.

But with 13,000 veterans homeless thanks to Conservative government policies, and Jeremy Corbyn the only political leader likely to change that…

… these servicepeople are going to feel like a proper bunch of patsies if they actively oppose him becoming the UK’s democratically-elected leader – as some are predicting:

Senior voices in the Army are playing the incident down as an “error of judgement”:

“Apolitical”, is it? Here’s one ex-serviceman’s response to that:

Meanwhile, members of the public have been making up their own minds – and they’re not impressed:

(Robert Peston, below, is one of those best-placed to answer his own question, as a member of the mass-media representatives who have been so instrumental in demonising Mr Corbyn, in accordance with the wishes of the Conservatives.)

https://twitter.com/MattTurner4L/status/1113461221574029312

https://twitter.com/Aman_Sez/status/1113360112096358400

Whatever the facts of the matter really are, this incident has undermined trust in the UK’s armed forces – to a devastating extent.

People no longer believe they can trust the services to defend our nation, its laws and the way of life that we, as citizens of the United Kingdom, hold dear.

Instead, it seems the forces have been perverted until they exist only to defend the ruling class – meaning the Conservatives and representatives of the political far-right.

What will their leaders do to repair the damage – and will they even bother?


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The Tories’ lack of a Brexit plan will harm the UK more than anything in last 50 years

Sir Michael Leigh.


This is hugely damaging for the UK’s reputation, let alone the country’s future.

Sir Michael Leigh is saying that David Davis has no authority as the UK’s lead negotiator, because there is division in the minority Tory government’s cabinet and no firm direction from the prime minister because she has lost power as a result of the general election she called for the sake of her own vanity.

Nobody believes that the Tories have prepared for Brexit negotiations in any serious way.

Nobody believes that a new free trade agreement will be in place in less than two years.

And nobody believes the UK will be able to pick and choose the conditions of EU membership it will be able to retain during any transitional period.

The EU has the upper hand – as does the strongest party in any negotiation. Theresa May should consider this carefully before launching any free trade negotiations with Donald Trump’s United States – but she probably won’t because she simply isn’t intelligent enough.

The decisions taken by Prime Minister Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron over the UK’s relationship with Europe will be as harmful to Britain’s interests as any decision the government has taken for over 50 years, a former EU negotiator has told Business Insider.

“The decisions taken by the former prime minister David Cameron, exacerbated by the decisions taken by his successor, are the most harmful decisions that have been taken by a British government for decades,” Sir Michael Leigh, who was a European Commission Director-General from 2006 to 2011, [said].

“You have to go back to the Suez crisis in 1956 or to Munich in 1938 to find decisions taken by a British government that will turn out in time to have had such negative consequences for the United Kingdom.

“It’s clear that the Commission has used the full period since the notification under Article 50 to prepare detailed position papers.

“The general impression is that Britain has not used the time since notification to prepare detailed negotiating positions. The main reason for that is division among Cabinet ministers as to the approach to be taken and of course, that’s exacerbated now by the loss of the government’s majority and therefore the loss of authority for the prime minister.

“Michel Barnier [chief EU Brexit negotiator] may notionally have David Davis in front of him as his negotiating partner, but if senior Cabinet ministers go on record almost every day with divergent positions on key issues like the single market and transitional arrangements, then it’s a fact that the person opposite Barnier does not have the authority to take a clear and sustainable negotiation position.

Read more: Former EU Official: Conservative Brexit strategy the most harmful government policy for over 50 years


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Chequebook euthanasia – who’s the biggest threat to other people?

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Here comes the reaper: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Believe it or not, the author of these blog articles doesn’t spend all his time at Vox Towers churning them out.

That’s why, earlier today (Monday), it was possible to gauge the veracity of this blog’s ‘chequebook euthanasia’ story by asking acquaintances at a local hotel for their opinion.

After hearing the circumstances of the case from beginning to end, one friend (who is today Christened, thanks to bar staff at the same hotel, ‘The Guinness Guy’) responded: “That’s bulls**t.”

Further questioning revealed that he’s not a fan of Russia Today; when he learned I’d been interviewed by that channel, he lost interest.

Then there’s the response on Beastrabban\’s Weblog. The Beast wrote: “Mike, in his article discussing Messers Appleby’s and Warner’s findings, suggests that the question [“Why haven’t you committed suicide?”] may even be a subtle strategy by the Tories and their corporate enablers to nudge the vulnerable into [doing so]. Their deaths by their own hands would allow the Tories to make savings on the welfare budget, while allowing them to deny any actual responsibility for their deaths.

“Mike may have a point here. I’ve a friend who used to be a psychiatric nurse. He told me that the law has been changed governing admissions to mental hospitals. It used to be the case that someone could be sectioned if they were a danger to themselves and others. Now, under Dave Cameron, it’s been altered. The law no longer requires that they be admitted if they are a danger to themselves, only if they are a threat to other people. Clearly, Cameron’s government have no interest in preventing people from taking their own life. And this question put to depressives of why they haven’t, suggests that they are in fact hoping that some may even do so.”

Of course, this blog places more credence with the Beast’s response. Not only does he provide evidence (albeit third-hand) but he also happens to be Yr Obdt Srvt’s big brother.

The change in the law is definitely worth researching. After all, if the law requires people to be sectioned if they are a danger to other people, isn’t it time David Cameron, George Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith and their entire ruthless cadre of bandits were locked up once and for all?

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Cameron aide charged over child abuse images – at long last

A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.

A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.

Patrick Rock, a former aide of David Cameron and protege of Margaret Thatcher, has been charged with three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child, and with possession of 59 indecent images of childrenmore than four months after he was arrested on suspicion of child pornography offences.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyers assessed the images as Level C, meaning they showed sexual activity between adults and children.

This is the man who, as deputy head of 10 Downing Street’s policy unit, had been working on policies that are allegedly intended to make it harder to find images of child abuse on the Internet.

He was arrested on February 13, only hours after resigning his position with the government. Coincidence?

Nothing was mentioned in the press at the time, but days later the Daily Mail started stirring up historical allegations against Labour’s Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt. Coincidence?

It seems suspicions were raised in the Labour Party, because shadow minister Jon Ashworth asked, in the public interest:

  • When were 10 Downing Street and David Cameron first made aware that Mr Rock may have been involved in an offence?
  • How much time passed until Mr Rock was questioned about the matter and the police alerted?
  • What contact have officials had with Mr Rock since his resignation?
  • What was Mr Rock’s level of security clearance?

And, most importantly:

  • Why were details of Mr Rock’s resignation not made public immediately?

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood stonewalled: “Our … actions were driven by the overriding importance of not jeopardising either [the National Crime Agency’s] investigation or the possibility of a prosecution.”

He said: “We judged it was inappropriate to make an announcement while the NCA investigations were continuing.”

David Cameron has declined to comment on the latest development, saying it is a matter for the courts.

He’s changed his tune, hasn’t he?

When Andy Coulson was still facing charges in the phone hacking trial, Cameron couldn’t wait to get on television and make a statement, and never mind whether it was in contempt of court.

All in all, it seems we are facing yet another cover-up bid by this “most open government ever”.

Let us not forget that this happened in the same week that Iain Duncan Smith lost his legal appeal to keep problems with Universal Credit veiled in secrecy.

The DWP had insisted publication of the papers, warning of the dangers likely to be caused by Universal Credit, would have a “chilling effect” on the DWP’s working – a standard defence (see Andrew Lansley’s successful bid to prevent publication of the risk register, detailing problems with his calamitous Health and Social Care Act) that was thrown out by Judge Wikeley in a trice.

The DWP then argued that the order to publish was perverse – that the tribunal responsible had reached a decision which no reasonable tribunal would have reached. Judge Wikeley found that the challenge “does not get near clearing this high hurdle”.

Finally – and most desperately – the DWP tried to argue that the tribunal had not given due weight to the expertise of a DWP witness. Judge Wikeley had to point out that, by law, he cannot substitute his own view of the facts for that taken by the original tribunal.

The DWP was then sent away to consider whether to lodge another appeal.

That’s at least three attempts to hide facts from the public in a single week (it is arguable that Cameron spoke up about Coulson in order to cause a mistrial and prevent him from being convicted of two charges; he cannot say he was unaware of what he was doing, because he has already been rebuked by another judge, earlier this year, for commenting on the trial of Nigella Lawson’s former assistants. In addition, wasn’t it suspicious that Coulson’s defence team immediately leapt up to call for a mistrial ruling, based on the “maelstrom of commentary” Cameron stirred up?) from – as previously mentioned, this “most open government ever”.

There may be more that haven’t become public knowledge.

Does David Cameron really think the public will put their trust in him, with a record like that?

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Flood defence lies have put lives at risk

140208floods

The BBC has actually dared to run a story criticising the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government! Perhaps its editors are worried that the social media are getting a better reputation for news reporting.

It seems the UK Statistics Authority has attacked the Treasury for giving a “false impression” of government investment in areas like flood defences.

The government chart, released with the Autumn Statement, appeared to show an even spread across sectors, but used a ‘logarithmic’ scale – with gaps between £1 million, £10 million, £100 million, £1 billion and so on represented by increments of the same size.

The scaling appeared to show flood defences getting at least half as much funding as transport and energy – the projects that received the most money.

The Treasury's 'logarhythmic' chart, apparently showing a relatively even spread of funding.

The Treasury’s ‘logarithmic’ chart, apparently showing a relatively even spread of funding.

In fact, would you like to know the proportion of money actually being spent on flood defences, compared with energy infrastructure?

Two per cent.

The UK Statistics Authority's more representative chart, showing that flood defence (third from left) receives two per cent of the funding that goes to energy (second from left).

The UK Statistics Authority’s more representative chart, showing that flood defence (third from left) receives two per cent of the funding that goes to energy (second from left).

Last Wednesday the same BBC that broke this story told us that severe flood warnings – signifying a danger to life” – had been issued for part of the Somerset Levels.

People were in danger of death because the government had neglected anti-flooding plans.

This year the government is spending £60 million less on flood defence than in Labour’s last year of office (2009-10) – and that’s after factoring in new spending to combat the current deluge.

“The government has denied attempting to mislead the public,” according to the BBC report.

Well it would, wouldn’t it? But how often has it done anything else?

Does the Coalition not tell us every day that we are better off than before – when we know the pounds in our pocket buy less and less, the longer they are in office?

Is it not telling us that more of us are in work, when we can unpick DWP press releases to reveal the tawdry tricks they have played to create those figures?

Did it not tell us the National Health Service in England would be safe – and then ruin it, especially with the current drive to maim accident and emergency departments?

How much longer can we afford this cavalier gang of Hooray Henrys, playing fast and loose with the facts?

They couldn’t care less if their irresponsibility causes somebody’s death.

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Information Commissioner to decide about DWP deaths

The price we pay for a Conservative-led Department for Work and Pensions: While ministers stall demands for information, the death toll increases.

The price we pay for a Conservative-led Department for Work and Pensions: While ministers stall demands for information, the death toll increases. [Image: Eric Hart]

This will be no surprise to anyone:

The Department for Work and Pensions has stuck to its boneheaded reason for refusing to say how many people have died because of its policies.

Readers may remember (it is now a long time ago!) that Vox Political submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department, back in June, asking for details of the number of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died in 2012 – including deaths of those who had been thrown off-benefit altogether, if such information was held.

This request was refused on the specious grounds that it was “vexatious”. The DWP officer making the refusal cited as his reason, not any part of the request itself, but the last line of the blog entry about it, stating “I strongly urge you to do the same. There is strength in numbers”.

The DWP decision-maker used this to claim that the request “is designed to harass DWP in the belief that encouraging others to repeat a request which they know has already been raised will affect the outcome of that request” and stated very clearly that this was “the stated aim of the exercise”.

In other words, the Department decided to squirm out of its responsibility by making a false claim about something that was not even part of the request.

A demand for reconsideration was soon wending its way on electric wings to the DWP, pointing out a few home truths from the Information Commissioner’s guidance notes on “Dealing with vexatious requests”, refuting the position the Department had chosen to take.

The guidance states that a public authority must have reason to believe that several different requesters are “acting in concert as part of a campaign to disrupt the organisation”. In this instance, “acting in concert” does not cover a sentence at the end of a blog entry suggesting that people who feel the same way about an issue might like to do something about it. That is perverse.

The guidance also states that “it is important to bear in mind that sometimes a large number of individuals will independently ask for information on the same subject because an issue is of media or local interest”. Media interest must include mention in a blog that is read up to 100,000 times a month, and the DWP decision-maker had clearly failed to recognise that people can only take action on a issue when they know it exists and have been told there is something they can do!

The reconsideration demand also quotes examples of evidence an authority might cite in support of its case that a request is vexatious, such as whether other requesters have been copied in or mentioned in email correspondence – in other words, can it be proved that these co-conspirators are working together? Nobody involved with Vox Political knows of any other request made “in concert” with our own, and the direct question to the DWP, “Have you received such correspondence?” went unanswered. We must therefore assume they have not.

ICO guidance also states that a website must make an explicit reference to a campaign. Vox Political did not.

The only logical conclusion is that the request – and any others that followed it – were “genuinely directed at gathering information” – according to ICO guidance. In that circumstance, the only reason the DWP could legally use to refuse the request is that it would “cause a disproportionate and unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress” – which it cannot prove as the information is available to it, and would only have to be collated once. After that, distribution to anyone requesting it would be easy, via email.

The response that arrived today was written by someone “of a senior grade to the person who dealt with your request previously” but who appears to be so ashamed of their own response that they have failed to legitimise it with their own name.

This person stated: “The guidance on vexatious requests encompasses a range of activities including requestors [sic] acting in concert to repeatedly request the same information. Thus I uphold the original decision.”

No information was provided to support this claim, therefore it is irrelevant and the DWP is in breach of the Freedom of Information Act.

The matter will now go to the Information Commissioner who will, in time, make mincemeat of the DWP arguments.

But it will take time.

This is what the Department wants, of course – time. Time to continue with its dangerous policies, which are deeply harmful to the unemployed, the sick and the disabled and have caused many, many thousands of deaths. It seems clear that ministers want this… ‘social cleansing’, you could call it… to continue for as long as possible and do as much harm as possible.

Curiously, the Director of Public Prosecutions may have just shot them in the foot.

The DPP, Keir Starmer QC, has declared that anyone found to be cheating on benefits in England and Wales could face longer jail terms of up to 10 years, after he issued guidance that they should be prosecuted under the Fraud Act rather than social security laws.

He clearly hasn’t considered the possible advantages of this for people who would otherwise face an uncertain future of destitution, worsening health and even imminent death if their benefits are refused. To them, a term in jail might seem like absolute luxury.

What greater incentive could there be for someone to lie extravagantly about their situation on a benefit form than the possibiity of losing everything, including their life, if they don’t get the money? If the alternatives were imprisonment or death, what do you think a person on the danger line would take?

This blog therefore predicts an increase in the UK prison intake due to benefit fraud.

And here’s the funny part: Mr Starmer said it was time for a “tough stance” because the cost of benefit fraud to the nation is £1.9 billion (he was wrong; in fact it’s only £1.2 billion, unless new figures have been released).

One year’s ESA costs the state around £5772, while a year’s imprisonment costs £37,163 – in other words, prison costs the taxpayer six times as much as the benefit. At that price, the DPP could imprison only 51,126 people before the cost of imprisoning them exceeds the cost of fraud – according to his own figures.

Of the 2.5 million people claiming ESA, the DWP is busy throwing 70 per cent off-benefit – that’s 1.7 million people who could justifiably be accused of benefit fraud and imprisoned. Total cost to the taxpayer: £63,177,100,000 per year.

Meanwhile, £12 billion in benefits goes unclaimed every year.

It seems this Conservative-led Coa-lamity of a government can’t even get its sums right.