Tag Archives: ECHR

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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Who’s laughing now? DWP loses six-year fight to discriminate against victims of domestic violence

He laughed: Remember, IDS 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’. He thrives on terrorising others.

Remember when Iain Duncan Smith laughed with pleasure at putting a rape victim in fear for her life?

He had used the Department for Work and Pensions to persuade a court that she had to pay the Bedroom Tax on a panic room installed in her house to prevent further attacks against her.

As a result of the ruling, she was evicted from the house and Duncan Smith laughed with joy when he heard the news.

Since then, the people of Chingford and Woodford Green have re-elected him as their MP – thrice. They must be so proud of themselves.

But the last laugh is on him because the European Court of Human Rights has confirmed a ruling that the Bedroom Tax discriminates against victims of domestic violence.

Judges at that court ruled in October that the Bedroom Tax discriminated against the woman.

DWP lawyers tried to overturn the ruling by demanding that the case be heard in the court’s Grand Chamber – but have been rebuffed.

Now the hated ‘Department for Welfare Persecution’, as some have dubbed it, must pay the woman – a rape and assault victim – £8,600 for the “damage she suffered”.

And the victim’s legal team is calling for the government to make immediate changes to the Bedroom Tax rules, in order to make them comply with the ruling.

They say almost 300 more victims of domestic violence are in the same situation:

The department decided she and her 11-year-old son only needed two bedrooms – despite the third bedroom in the property being specially adapted by police to contain a panic room as part of a sanctuary scheme.

Research by the legal team representing ‘A’ found almost 1 in 20 households using the Sanctuary Scheme for people at risk of severe domestic violence have been affected by the bedroom tax, amounting to 281 households across the country.

Oh, and guess what?

The vast majority of people in the Sanctuary Scheme are women.

Once again we see the Conservative government discriminating against vulnerable women.

The DWP has said it is “carefully considering the court’s decision”.

In the light of all the historic evidence, we may conclude that the department’s lawyers are trying to find a loophole, so they can continue persecuting these women, who have already suffered enough.

Will we get an announcement? Or will current Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey try to brush this case under the carpet?

Source: DWP told Bedroom Tax domestic violence discrimination ruling is final – Mirror Online

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Catastrophic Coalition lies: Civil liberties

zcoalitionfailcivil

The title of this series of articles is supposed to be ‘Great Coalition Failures’ – but even a cursory examination of its record on today’s subject reveals that it is not adequate to the depth of the betrayal that is evident.

Considering the oppressive behaviour of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat administration in destroying British citizens’ freedoms, one can only conclude that David Cameron, Nick Clegg and all their representatives actively set out to deceive the British public on the subject of:

3. CIVIL LIBERTIES

We will be strong in defence of freedom. The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness [In the light of the Coalition’s record, this can only be seen as a very sick in-joke for the benefit of the writers].

  • We will implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion [It seems state intrusion in our lives has never been higher].
  • We will introduce a Freedom Bill [This happened. It was a Nick Clegg idea and includes measures mentioned elsewhere on this list. Of the others, the proposed restrictions on police stop-and-search powers seem laughable, following the furore over the stopping and searching of people during the ‘racist advertising van’ debacle of 2013 – because they looked foreign].
  • We will scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register and the ContactPoint database, and halt the next generation of biometric passports.
  • We will outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission [This is in the Protection of Freedoms Act].
  • We will extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency [Attempts to secure up-to-date figures on the number of benefit claimants who have died as a result of government ‘reforms’ shows that the Coalition has made a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act. For a run-down of the ways in which government departments may dodge their responsibilities, see this article].
  • We will adopt the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database [DNA database protections are in the Protection of Freedoms Act].
  • We will protect historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury [A lie. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have started ‘secret’ trials, in which a person can be convicted without ever knowing the offence of which they are accused, seeing any evidence or having any chance to mount a defence against it].
  • We will restore rights to non-violent protest [This has not happened. It seems clear that the response to any such street protest that our current government dislikes will involve the employment of water cannons. Free speech is covered by changes in the libel laws that protect outsourced government services from criticism, and then there is the Gagging and Blacklisting Act, which was supposed to be about government lobbyists but became a tool of repression].
  • We will review libel laws to protect freedom of speech [Conservatives blocked changes that would force private companies to show financial damage before being able to sue others for libel. This means government-owned prisons may be criticised without fear of legal action but privately-run prisons cannot. With so many government services being outsourced or sold off, this effectively neuters any relaxation of libel law as far as criticism of the government itself is concerned].
  • We will introduce safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation [This is in the Protection of Freedoms Act].
  • We will further regulate CCTV [This is in the Protection of Freedoms Act].
  • We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason [Depending on your point of view, this is a lie. What constitutes “good reason”? The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act tramples all over any definition].
  • We will introduce a new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
  • We will establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in British law, and protects and extends British liberties. We will seek to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties [This is an outright lie. The Bill of Rights, as proposed in recent weeks, will remove obligations that were placed on us by the ECHR, and lay the British people open to abuses of their civil liberties on a scale not seen for many years. The stated desire to promote a better understanding of civil obligations and liberties may be discounted as it is not in the government’s interest to tell people about freedoms that are being legislated away from them].

140129freespeech1

The verdict: The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition has overseen the most oppressive clampdown on British citizens’ civil liberties for decades. Freedoms that we had four years ago are now distant memories. Freedom of speech – gone. Freedom of association – gone. Freedom to join a trade union – heavily monitored, with a threat of blacklisting. Our telephone conversations and Internet communications are monitored. We can be arrested, charged, tried and imprisoned without ever knowing why or seeing any evidence against us.

Meanwhile, the government has never been so well-protected against criticism. Government departments have an arsenal of excuses to protect themselves from having to answer Freedom of Information Requests, so you can’t find out what they are doing or the consequences of their actions. Privatised and outsourced government services are immune to criticism as they may sue any critic for libel.

Your freedoms have been removed and your government is more authoritarian than ever. If the Conservatives are elected next year, you are likely to lose the few human rights that remain.

You didn’t vote for any of this.

Does that offer you much consolation?

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Is this the best human rights correction ever? Or the worst? – UK Human Rights Blog

Have a look at this, published by the UK Human Rights Blog today:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 13.11.53

 

 

 

 

 

“Even by the usual brazen standards of human rights reporting, this correction from the Daily Mail stands out. Obviously, we weren’t meant to take Richard Littlejohn’s August 2014 comment piece seriously, it being semi-rabid comment bait, but surely the article should have included a health warning to that effect?

“In ‘seriousness’, the Mail’s response to the false claim that “Others have won the ‘right’ to heroin and gay porn behind bars” is pathetic. The claim which has been corrected was not presented as a joke and it would not have been understood as one.”

The article concludes: “Human rights myths are sticky and the damage is usually done and the myth well spread before a newspaper is forced to correct its story. Well done to lawyer Shaoib M Khan for getting some kind of response from the newspaper.”

One point it has missed – and it’s a serious matter – is the following:

If nobody had complained, the Daily Mail would not have published its correction and people would still have some justification for believing Littlejohn’s statement to be correct.

Human rights myths are sticky, and it can be very hard to repair the damage done. The fact that (at the time the image was made) only 16 people had shared the article rams this point home.

That is why it is vital that any false claims such as this – which impacts on Chris Grayling’s plan to repeal the Human Rights Act and remove the UK from the jurisidiction of the European Court of Human Rights – must be found, corrected and publicised.

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The Tory Euro threat exposed

Many a truth told in jest: This Labour advert was withdrawn after claims that it was in bad taste (although this could be said equally well of the television programme it references) - but it accurately summarises the Conservative approach to the European Union and our place in the world.

Many a truth told in jest: This Labour advert was withdrawn after claims that it was in bad taste (although this could be said equally well of the television programme it references) – but it accurately summarises the Conservative approach to the European Union and our place in the world.

Here at Vox Political it has come to our notice that some of you are still thinking of voting ‘Conservative’ in the European Parliament elections. This would be a mistake.

The Conservative Party is trying to hoodwink you into thinking it has a host of great ideas dependent on having a large number of MEPs after May 22, but its own manifesto tells a different story.

Here are just three examples:

1. The lynchpin of the Conservative campaign is the pledge to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The party’s European manifesto states, “The British people now have a very clear choice: if you want a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU or leave, only the Conservative Party can and will hold one.”

This has nothing to do with your vote on May 22. It is a General Election promise involving the UK Parliament, not the Parliament of Europe. It is Westminster MPs who would push through the Tory plans for a referendum during the next UK Parliament, not MEPs in Brussels.

The suggestion that the proposed referendum – which is heavily promoted in the manifesto – has anything to do with these elections is a flat-out lie.

Long-term readers should not be surprised that Conservatives are lying again, but this may come as a surprise to Tory adherents. To them, we should say: “Wake up!”

2. One of the “key changes we will fight for”, listed on page seven of the manifesto, is “National parliaments able to work together to block unwanted European legislation”. If this seems like a good idea to you, it may come as a surprise to learn that it is a key feature of the Lisbon Treaty, that was signed by the last Labour government in 2007. That’s seven years ago!

It’s called the Ioannina Compromise, and it means that, if Member States who are against a decision are significant in number but still insufficient to block it (1/3 of the Member States or 25 per cent of the population), all of the Member States must commit to seeking a solution.

It seems likely that the reason the Conservatives are even mentioning it is that this part of the Lisbon Treaty is only due to come into force this year – 2014.

Tories have ‘form’ in this kind of legerdemain, having recently convinced the British public that they had imposed new rules on benefits claimed by immigrants, when these were in fact already enshrined in UK law.

3. One change the Conservatives are determined to impose is the removal of your ability to defend your human rights.

The manifesto states that they will “Undertake radical reform of human rights laws and publish a detailed plan for reform that a Conservative government would implement immediately: we will scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act, curtail the role of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK and make certain that the UK’s Supreme Court is in Britain and not in Strasbourg.”

Conservatives hate human rights laws because they forbid slavery, servitude and forced labour – such as the Tory-led government’s ‘mandatory work activity’ schemes; they provide a right to a fair trial – currently being removed in the UK by the Tories’ restrictions on Legal Aid; and most importantly they oblige nation states to “prevent foreseeable loss of life” such as that caused by the assessment regime for disability benefits, imposed by the current UK government.

You can read about these, and more, in a previous Vox Political article here.

The European Court of Human Rights is – as everyone should be aware – nothing to do with the European Union at all. It is part of the Council of Europe, which is composed of 47 European nations. The Conservative Party does not need a majority of MEPs to withdraw from it.

However, such a withdrawal would represent a betrayal of the Conservative Party’s great Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the man who is considered most directly responsible for the creation of the Council of Europe and the court. Dedicated Conservatives should consider this point well. None of the people currently running the Conservative Party have anything approaching the stature of a Churchill, yet they are taking it upon themselves to cut Britain off from his legacy – and they are lying to the public about how they need to do it.

In fact, let’s face it, the Tory European Manifesto for 2014 is a pack of lies.

The Conservatives currently have more MEPs than any other UK party, but any unbiased examination of their claims will lead to the conclusion that they deserve to have none at all.

Does UKIP’s Euro election poll lead really reflect the people’s view?

ukip_poster_1

Deception? – The controversial UKIP advert using an Irish actor, who plays a British worker replaced by cheap Labour from Europe.

YouGov research for the Sunday Times has put UKIP in the lead in the European election contest, with support from 31 per cent of those who were surveyed.

This put the Eurosceptic party three points ahead of Labour (28 per cent) and a massive 12 points ahead of the Conservatives (just 19 per cent).

But does this really mean the Party with its Foot in its Mouth has the people’s confidence? Take a look at these comments from the Vox Political Facebook page and form your own conclusions. I hasten to add that this is an unscientific survey, composed of comments from those who had the most to say.

We’ll start with those who support the party.

Most vocal is Denise Cottham. She writes: “Mr Farage has the guts to actually ‘SAY’ what many other people just ‘THINK!’ We respect him for this. He speaks the TRUTH & is not out to deceive the public like the major parties have done all these years, while growing fatter & richer at the country’s expense! And exactly where does the Green party stand regarding the EU? They make appealing promises, but will be unable to keep them without ASKING permission from the EU!!! UKIP priorities make sense, staying in the EU does not.”

Denise Morris adds: “I’ll be voting UKIP and so will many, many other concerned with EU policies that mean we can’t kick out radical hate preachers, without it costing the taxpayer millions and not only that we’ll pay their benefits, get them a nice big house and all while our human rights lawyers try to prevent their deportation, thanks to the EU. It’s no wonder people are looking for other alternatives. Currently our only serious hope is UKIP. We all know where the Cons, Lab and Libs stand, so voting for either of these parties won’t solve anything.

“They are the only party that can take on the other major parties and are gaining popularity. People are fed up with broken promises, lies, the open door policy. I don’t like all of UKIP’s policies, but I don’t like all the Cons’ or Lab either. Labour betrayed the working classes and the Cons have tackled the economy, but at a cost to who? The poor, the vulnerable, so I am totally with you on that one. I have to vote for what I think is best for the future of this country and my children and grandchildren and as I see it, that’s UKIP at the moment. If Labour gave us a referendum and promised to save the NHS, restrict immigration, tackled the economy, then I would seriously consider voting labour but that isn’t going to happen sadly. It’s like being between a rock and a hard place and we need a serious shake up of politics in this country. Something has to change and for the better and maybe the challenge from UKIP will do just that.”

She seems to have confused the European Union with the European Court of Human Rights… “The fact is the British people were conned big time on the EU. We thought we were entering a common market and now most of our laws are made in Europe. Their judges take precedence over our own judges. We were never given the referendum we should have got and UKIP are the only party guaranteeing one. If that happens then MPs can start voting with their conscience again, instead of voting for party policies.”

Regarding the controversial poster in which a foreign actor (from Ireland) was used to represent a British worker whose job had been taken away by evil immigrants, Craig Burnside writes: “UKIP arent against immigration, they just want to control it like countries like Australia and the USA do and outsource jobs.”

On the other side we have the following messages.

From Neil Wilson: “I honestly thought nobody could run a worse PR campaign than Bitter Together in Scotland re: the Independence Referendum, But I have to say UKIP are managing to do so in only a week. My particular favourite is the fact you can send their leaflets back to the Freepost address and they get charged for each one. So, they come to your border (door/letterbox) and you send them packing and make them pay for it. After all it’s what they would have wanted don’t you think? very apt. Although the Boarders typo is running a close second. I would vote for somebody to protect me from boarders, particularily old Etonians. But … best just to keep quiet and enjoy watching them make a monumental cock-up of a campaign all by themselves.”

From Kim Burns: “It’s the irony that’s amusing us. Of course we’re not going to vote UKIP! They don’t like women going out to work, they want to reduce maternity leave to 4 weeks, they want to reduce taxes for the rich and increase them for the poor! Read their manifesto, people!”

We would if we could find it! How about this, from John Elwyn Kimber: “Those who wish to register a Eurosceptic vote without empowering the odious UKIP might be lucky enough to have a candidate representing the late Bob Crow’s ‘No to EU, Yes to Democracy’ campaign – as in the Eastern counties. Or vote Green.”

From Bette Rogerson: “Why would you vote for a party that says it hates Europe, but at the same time takes lots and lots of money from the European parliament? Why vote for a party whose members advocate policies like less tax for the wealthiest, cutting of maternity leave and forcible sterilisation of the disabled? Why vote for a party who wants to take the vote away from the unemployed? Is your job really that secure? Lastly but not least, why vote for a party which claims it wants British jobs for the British and then hires an Irish actor to model as a poor Briton whose job has been taken away by a foreigner?”

Of course, I have also weighed into these discussions. Here’s my response to Denise C: “The facts are against you. Why is Farage now trying to block an inquiry into his MEP expenses? What does he have to hide? Why, if he’s so keen on preventing foreigners from taking British jobs, did his party hire an Irish actor to pretend to be a British worker in a poster? Why did he hire a German to be his PA (and, come to that, what about the nepotism inherent in the fact that this person is his wife)? Why did the UKIP poster showing an ‘ordinary’ British woman who was going to vote UKIP actually show a party member responsible for public relations? Put all these things together and it seems UKIP and the truth are a huge distance apart.

“Look at UKIP members and the appalling things they have been saying. Farage moves to shut them up and kick them out whenever they do, but a point has to be reached soon when he – and the rest of us – realises that this is the natural mindset of his party and, as such, it is unelectable.”

To Denise Morris’s comments about European judges, I pointed out: “The European Court is different from the European Union, Denise. If Britain withdrew from the EU, it would still be a part of the court. Also, UKIP is very clearly not the only party guaranteeing [a referendum] – it’s not even the only right-wing, reactionary and repressive party offering such a guarantee.”

I added: “The Cons have not tackled the economy. If you believe that, you’re not paying attention. I’m glad you agree that the poor and vulnerable have suffered in any case. Labour has promised to save the NHS and tackle the economy (in a more meaningful way than the Tories). Labour’s attitude to a referendum may seem less than wholehearted but my impression is that they think it would get a knee-jerk reaction that would show what people do not understand about our participation in the European Union, rather than what they do – your mistake about the European Court is an indication that they might have a point.

“Regarding immigration, my personal belief is that the EU – including the UK – made a big mistake in allowing free movement between countries including new member states whose economies were not yet up to par with the better-established industrial nation states. All they have done is de-stabilise both the states from which people are emigrating and those into which they immigrate… so I would like a tighter policy on this, not just here but in the Union as a whole.

“And those who complain that we voted ourselves into an economic community, not a political union, are correct too. All of these things can be remedied from inside the EU, and if we were to withdraw rather than try to tackle them as a member state, the result would be worse for all of Europe in the long run. UKIP does not see that and the Conservatives cannot see past their own greed and corruption – look at who funds them (bankers and private health firms) and you’ll see that this is the case. The Tory Democrats have sold their souls but Labour is just beginning to find its own soul again. That’s why I think Labour is the best hope for Britain next year.”

Responding to former Labour voter Brian Taylor, who said he wasn’t enthused with UKIP but they would get his vote until a viable alternative came along, I wrote: “Do you really want a flat-rate of 31 per cent income tax, that hugely benefits the extremely rich and enormously harms the poor? That’s UKIP policy.

“If not, you probably want the Green Party, which would also hold a referendum on Europe but is far less Tory in its outlook. I can’t imagine a former Labour voter would honestly want to vote for a party that was further on the right of the political spectrum than the Conservatives.”

So what’s the conclusion?

Well, from this snapshot we can see that, as Denise Cottham and Brian Taylor claimed, people think all three major parties have deceived the public and will do so again. Labour in particular is seen as having betrayed its core constituency – the working classes – in favour of Daily Mail readers and bankers who simply won’t vote for any party more left-wing than the Conservatives. Worse still, for Labour, is people’s belief that the party has been told – time and time again – what it needs to do, but has continually ignored this good advice. UKIP’s problem is that its new advertising campaign also deceives the public, and leader Nigel Farage’s eagerness to block an inquiry into his MEP expenses suggests further jiggery-pokery.

People in general also seem to be genuinely disgruntled with the EU’s ‘free movement’ policy which allows people from any member state to take up residence in any other member state. There is evidence to show that it was a mistake to allow less-developed countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, to take advantage of this policy as many of their citizens have immigrated into the more prosperous regions – leaving their own countries struggling to build their economies, and threatening the stability of the destination countries, whose infrastructure is left struggling to cope with the influx.

UKIP supporters are primarily interested in having an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union, but – as Denise Morris demonstrates – do not seem to understand clearly the issues on which they will be voting. Denise’s concern about the laws preventing us from deporting foreign-born ‘hate preachers’ would not be addressed by leaving the European Union as it comes under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

Their grasp of other UKIP policies seems catastrophically poor, though – policies including restricting work opportunities for women and cutting maternity leave, reducing taxes for the rich and raising them for the poor (to a flat rate of 31 per cent), sterilisation of the disabled (if Bette Rogerson’s research is correct), and ending universal suffrage by stopping the unemployed from voting.

They also seem to have a weak grasp of other parties’ policies regarding the EU – the Green Party wants a referendum but Denise C thinks they don’t.

My overall impression is that UKIP is still gaining support as a party of protest, rather than because people have any belief in its policies. The person on the street – whatever their belief – feels “utterly powerless… hopeless and increasingly disinterested”, a sentiment expressed by Karlie Marvel on the Facebook page today.

That’s why UKIP is ahead today.

It isn’t a good enough reason and the other party leaders can now see what they need to do about it – especially Labour.

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