Labour has secured a vote to force the Government to assess the impact of social security changes and fiscal measures on disadvantaged groups.
The Government failed to meet Labour’s demand for the Budget to be audited on the basis of gender, race, age, disability, class and region. Other parties have now joined Labour calls for transparency, with 127 MPs from Labour, the Lib Dems, SNP and the Greens, signing Dawn Butler’s letter to Justine Greening calling for all Government policy to be assessed for their impact on disadvantaged groups.
Although the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) places a legal responsibility on public bodies, including the Treasury, to conduct equality assessments, the Treasury has failed to publish adequate equalities audits of its fiscal measures.
This comes as analysis shows that 86 per cent of tax and social security changes continue to fall on women and women only received two thirds of the spending men received in this budget.
Dawn Butler MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Minister, said: “The Tories’ failed austerity project has hit the most vulnerable groups in our society the hardest, forcing women, ethnic minority communities and disabled people to pay the highest price.
“The Finance Bill represents more of the same for groups with protected characteristics who have borne the brunt of Conservative economic failure for too long. We need a detailed assessment to reveal the full damage of Tory austerity.
“The next Labour government will ensure that we publish comprehensive equality impact assessments to enable us to truly build an economy that works for the many, not the few.”
Iain Duncan Smith will be challenged for his Chingford and Woodford Green constituency – not by a major media figure like, say, Rufus Hound, nor by a leading member of the NHA Party… but by a pain management nurse from North London.
Kathryn Anderson works at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital – but wants to make sure the people of Chingford and Woodford Green have a chance to express their “disgust” at what she calls the work and pensions secretary’s “totally dismissive” attitude towards unwell, disabled or disadvantaged people who need assistance.
Who better to ram that point home than a nurse who spends every day working with people who suffer the chronic pain that is habitually dismissed as non-existent by the man this blog likes to call RTU (Returned To Unit – Army terminology for a failure)?
He might not say it himself but the work capability assessment his Department for Work and Pensions has forced on sick benefit claimants is nothing more than a crude essay in disability denial, written for him by an insurance company that earned a criminal conviction in the USA for using the very same formula to refuse claims on its policies.
“Just because this is considered a safe Tory seat doesn’t mean Iain Duncan Smith shouldn’t be challenged, and challenged fiercely,” the NHA Party candidate told the Chingford Guardian on Monday.
“As the deeply unpopular Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, he has shown just how incredibly cruel and vicious the Tory party can be, introducing the bedroom tax and making horrendous cuts to welfare and in the process, destroying lives. He has been far more interested in supporting the wealthy elite than supporting the vulnerable.
“It is also very clear that Iain Duncan Smith cares little for the NHS. The combination of his support for NHS cuts and privatisation, and his welfare reforms, are leading to an even greater reliance on healthcare support for those most in need.”
If Kathryn Anderson wins the seat, not only will the Monster of the Coalition Government be removed from Parliament, but a critical propaganda victory will be won – simply because she isn’t a political ‘Big Beast’.
She’s a nurse, from a London suburb.
Now, Labour is also fielding a candidate against RTU. Bilal Mahmood isn’t a ‘Big Beast’ either, but in the case of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, this is not an attempt to win a symbolic victory; rather it is a concession that a Labour victory in such a Tory heartland is nigh-on impossible. We should not dismiss Mr Mahmood’s abilities or intentions, but it is incumbent on all of us to admit that he has an uphill struggle ahead of him.
This is something the naysayers – who popped up after Monday’s article – failed to grasp when they claimed the rise of the National Health Action Party showed that Labour had become impotent: The chances of Labour winning in Chingford are tiny. The blue-rinsed brigade would rather chew off their own writing hands than get into bed with a Red.
The NHA Party offers an acceptable alternative. Its members are mainly doctors and other medical professionals who are deeply concerned that a major Conservative Party policy will bring nothing but harm to the nation as a whole – and habitual Conservative voters may sympathise wholeheartedly with that point of view.
Look at Lord Tebbit. He reckons he has been a lifelong user of the NHS and the only member of his family ever to have enjoyed privatised medicine is his dog!
As far as the good of the National Health Service is concerned, the aim of the 2015 General Election must be to remove the Conservative Party from office (and, in the main, from Parliament altogether) and then to remove the private sector asset-strippers from the publicly-funded system. That should come above all party political allegiances.
That is why Vox Political, which supports Labour, is happy to call on all those in Chingford and Woodford Green – and in all the other Tory-held constituencies where an NHA Party challenger has arisen – to support them in their campaigns. In particular, help them overcome media resistance.
Tory-supporting money owns most of the press, and this means dissenting voices that offer an alternative to the Conservatives are likely to gain only a fraction of the Tories’ column-inches or TV exposure. Social media and people power can change all that.
If you live in Chingford or Woodford Green and you want people to know there is a viable alternative to Iain Duncan Smith, then spread the word – not just once, but often, until the message gets through that they don’t have to be the quiescent sheep that Tory High Command wants them to be.
Use the social media. Use newspaper letters pages. Phone in to radio and TV political programmes. Cause a stir.
Of course, if NHA Party candidates unseat RTU, David Cameron and all the rest, it means Labour will be more likely to win the election anyway, so Yr Obdt Srvt will get the desired result. But some readers have expressed misgivings about Labour’s will to go through with the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act.
The presence of NHA Party members in the House of Commons will hold Labour to its word.
If you live in a Tory ‘stronghold’ constituency, this is your best chance to save the NHS.
“I don’t know if anyone’s listened to the news/checked the papers today, but I’m sickened (although not surprised) the Tories are stepping up their hatred campaign against immigrants and the unemployed, by publishing exaggerated and out-of-context statistical reports. All they’re doing is fuelling racism and lack of compassion to get small minded people to support their agenda. Outrageous.”
That was the response of Alex – a very non-political friend of mine – to the data from NatCen Social Research today, that claimed people want to see less spending on welfare and benefits, and fewer immigrants.
The BBC’s report had NatCen’s chief executive Penny Young, who wrote the report, saying the public’s view on welfare was “in tune… with the coalition’s policies”.
Not according to Alex, sister!
He reckons Ms Young is part of a Coalition government agenda to brainwash us all into agreeing with schemes that are, even if only on the face of it, evil. And so do I. Who funded this survey?
Here’s a thing you might not have picked up in all the reporting: You may have noticed that Ms Young says, “For the first time since 2008, we’ve seen that the number of people who are prepared to see more money go on disability benefits has actually fallen.”
But that has never been part of anybody’s plans – Labour, the Tories, the Liberal Democrats or the smaller parties (to my knowledge). The problem is that the Coalition is cutting the amount of money being spent on disability – and other – benefits. Massively.
In doing so, it has created a new target for hate crime and a new underclass for society, presumably as a huge distraction from the real problem faced by the country – the Coalition’s mismanagement of the world’s seventh-largest economy.
There is plenty of money here, enough to help all those with illnesses and disabilities, feed all the children (see yesterday’s blog entry), and even to invest in new businesses and jobs. But it is being held by wealthy people – mostly in offshore bank accounts – and the Coalition is doing nothing to free it from their grasp.
Perhaps people think cutting the welfare benefit bill will lead to a cut in taxes. Think again, people! Even on the face of it – by which I mean according to what they’ve told us – the Coalition needs the money to pay down the deficit and cut back the national debt. What they’re really doing is anybody’s guess, but slashing the livelihood of the disabled will not save you one penny in tax.
And let’s take a moment to remember this important fact, posted on Facebook by Adele (not the singer): “Welfare isn’t just about people on the dole. It’s about people in low-paid jobs, people who are carers, people who are too sick or disabled to work, people with cancer and people who have lost their jobs and cannot get another. It is a safety net for those who are disadvantaged in our society. Everyone falls on hard times and just when it may happen to you and you need that safety net, you would want it to be there to catch you.”
Also attacked in the report are immigrants, with three-quarters of the 3,000+ people asked saying they wanted to see a reduction in the number of those coming into the country.
This survey looks like it was written by the editor of the Daily Mail.
The fact that it also suggests people don’t want any more cuts in public spending is meaningless, compared to the damage it inflicts with what I’ve reported above.
I predict a greater increase in hate crime against immigrants and the disabled because – and this is what the perpetrators will say – “It’s what people want, innit?”
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