Tag Archives: freedom

Evil Priti Patel rejoices as she ends freedom of movement for 66 million UK citizens

Happy hater: Priti Patel’s new law would have deported her own parents. The big question is: would she care?

“Dumpy she-Hitler” Priti Patel has publicly celebrated ending a fundamental freedom for every citizen of the United Kingdom.

Her Immigration Bill has just passed into law, meaning that those of you living in the UK will find it just that little bit harder to leave the country in the future – especially if we’re going to the European Union.

As for immigrating out of the burnt-out wheelie bin Patel and her fellow Tories have made of the country – forget it!

She didn’t mention that in her publicity tweet, though.

No – like the true-blue fake she is, she emphasized the aspect that would appeal to the Brexiters who voted for her cruelty…

… little knowing that it affects them as much as it does people from other countries.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that Patel’s own parents would not have been allowed into the UK under the laws that she has introduced – that’s the level of hypocrisy she exemplifies:

Still, it seems unlikely her parents will be upset by their daughter’s new law – father Sushil Patel ran for election to a council as a representative of UKIP, meaning that – in her family – she’s probably the nice one.

Vilification of this hateful spite queen has been running through Twitter since she made her announcement – but it seems she is protected by a thick shield composed entirely of bigotry, from which the condemnation will rebound like water off a snake’s skin.

We can enjoy it, though:

How ironic that this has come on a day when supporters of Donald Trump have been announcing that they plan to quit the United States and come to the UK.

They’ll get cold comfort here: all they’ll find is Priti Patel waiting to deport them.

They’ll probably end up on Ascension Island or St Helena.

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Here’s how your ‘freedom-loving’ Tories have been CUTTING BACK your freedom over the last week

We should all be grateful to Russ in Cheshire (@RussInCheshire) for The Week In Tory (TWIT).

He presents the big political stories in concise, succinct bites, meaning people like This Writer can make a simple point using his tweets:

How great it is to live in a freedom-loving country…

  • that bans schools from teaching about particular ideologies – the modern equivalent of book-burning.
  • that also bans so-called “victim narratives” – worldviews in which a person considers him- or herself to be a victim – from schools, meaning we now support school bullying wholeheartedly.
  • that secretly plots to put the armed forces on the streets to keep the people in line.
  • and that supports a “free press” by ensuring that the people who regulate it don’t let us see any information that our leaders don’t want us to see!

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Here’s the shocking reason your Tory government is more guilty of attacking press freedom than Extinction Rebellion

Dictator: despotic governments attack press freedom – and they do it quietly, while claiming to be doing the exact opposite. That’s exactly what your Boris Johnson-led government has done – and why this image is appropriate.

So much for Boris Johnson’s (and Priti Patel’s) comments about the Extinction Rebellion blockade for Rupert Murdoch’s print works being an attack on the ‘free press’.

On the day before they were making these attacks, the Council of Europe – that the UK founded – issued a formal warning that the Conservative government is a threat to the freedom of the press:

The Council of Europe issued the Level 2 “media freedom alert” after Ministry of Defence press officers refused to deal with Declassified UK, a website focusing on foreign and defence policy stories.

The new alert, issued by the organisation on Friday, was classified by the watchdog as an “act having a chilling effect on media freedom” and put under the “state” category – because the British state was the source of the threat.

It seems the only reason the government was refusing to comment to Declassified is that the Tories were retaliating against previous reporting that was critical of the government’s use of its armed forces.

Writing to urge the government into a rethink, the International Press Institute stated:

“It goes without saying that the exclusion of a media publication by a government ministry due to its investigative reporting would undermine press freedom and set a worrying precedent for other journalists whose job it is to report in the public interest on the British military. Criticism should be no reason to discriminate against a media publication.

“In contrast, tough journalism by outlets such as Declassified UK on matters such as the UK’s foreign and military affairs, uncomfortable though it often may be for those in power, is crucial for a transparent and functioning democracy.”

So your Tory government had deliberately and silently sabotaged the workings of “transparent and functioning democracy” by restricting press freedom on the day before it accused XR of the same thing with a public and popular demonstration.

Source: Council of Europe issues media freedom alert over UK government blacklisting of investigative journalists | The Independent | Independent

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Tories STILL haven’t bothered to research the harsh impact of Universal Credit delays

This is no surprise to anyone who has been following the contribution of Universal Credit to the spread of poverty in the UK.

The Conservative government has received many demands for research into the adverse impact of its new failure of a policy – you can’t call it a benefit – but has steadfastly refused to do anything about it.

There is a simple reason for this: Tories don’t care if someone else is suffering.

The entire aim of Universal Credit is to pay as little as possible to people in need.

Poverty is irrelevant to them. If people die, that’s irrelevant too. All that matters is deniability.

And that’s another reason the Tories won’t do any research.

The Department of Work and Pensions has failed to analyse the impact of the five-week wait for Universal Credit, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Neil Cowan, policy and parliamentary officer at the Poverty Alliance, requested detail from the Department on the levels of poverty, destitution or “food insecurity” suffered by claimants forced to wait five weeks for their first payment.

But the Department of Work and Pensions responded saying that it does not hold any such analysis on the five-week wait.

This is despite being required to hold the personal data of claimants, their benefits records, and details of any payments made.

Source: Tories deny knowledge of poverty caused by Universal Credit delays | Left Foot Forward

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NHS medical records handed to O2 to predict mental breakdowns – isn’t this against the law?

How many NHS record files have been handed over to a private firm by the Tories, in breach of Data Protection laws and the General Data Protection Regulations?

This looks like a huge data protection breach.

The Tory government, which runs the NHS in England, should have sought permission from patients before handing over their records to a commercial organisation – anonymised or not.

The fact that this information only became public knowledge via a Freedom of Information request makes it even worse because the Tories have been hiding what they have done.

Are you a patient of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust?

If so, I strongly suggest that you get together with other patients, find out if your information was handed over, and take legal action. Get in touch with Citizens Advice to find out how.

The telecoms giant O2 has been given access to a cache of NHS medical records to develop an algorithm aimed at predicting when mental health crises might occur.

Patients’ consent was not sought before Telefonica, the Spanish group that trades as O2 in the UK, was given free access to the trove of records from Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, according to documents, published last month under freedom of information laws.

The data includes five years’ of anonymised records belonging to current and former patients. In the document, the NHS trust said that “25,000 people experience a mental health crisis every year” in Birmingham and Solihull, suggesting that data on tens of thousands of patients could have been shared.

Source: NHS medical records given to telecoms group to predict mental breakdowns | News | The Sunday Times

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Campaigner who embarrassed DWP was forced into 15-month benefit battle – with DWP

The worst aspect of this is that there probably isn’t a connection.

Gail Ward caused serious embarrassment to the Department for Work and Pensions in 2018 when in response to a Freedom of Information request, the government department had to admit 111,000 people had died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance.

Then Ms Ward, 63, was told by the same organisation that she didn’t qualify for Personal Independence Payments.

For clarity, she has Prinzmetal’s angina, a rare form of angina where attacks can occur even when resting. The rare heart condition means she can collapse at any moment.

It can cause arteries in the heart to spasm during times of stress or cold weather, which severely limits a person’s independence and can also be life-threatening.

She also has arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Ms Ward had been claiming Disability Living Allowance but, after she was ordered to attend a mandatory reassessment for PIP, she was told that her benefits would stop because she failed to meet the qualifying criteria.

How many times have we heard that before?

Look at her condition again. Of course she met the qualifying criteria. The DWP just wanted to cause her a bit of additional stress, and see if it aggravates her condition enough to kill her.

And if that happened, the people responsible would probably have had the nerve to say, at least she won’t be added to the death figures she uncovered, because she was claiming PIP, not ESA.

The cancellation of her benefit payments meant Ms Ward was unable to pay her bills and ended up in debt.

She was also stripped of her mobility car – which is common behaviour for the DWP.

It took her 15 months to get an appeal to the tribunal stage.

Now here’s the payoff: despite being unable to attend on the day, having been taken ill that morning, the tribunal still found in Ms Ward’s favour and awarded her the full amount of PIP.

Now she has criticised the assessment process and demanded answers about the way decisions are made.

Of course, we all know why the DWP’s assessors do what they do.

But with her record, Gail Ward might just be able to force them to confess it.

Source: Woman who can collapse at any moment due to a rare heart condition is denied benefits and Northumberland woman with rare heart condition that causes her to collapse denied benefits by DWP

What’s the REAL reason the DWP destroyed a report on Job Centre safety failings?

The person responsible for this image has asked me to signpost you to their current project. You can find it here.

It isn’t often I disagree with John Pring of the Disability News Service, but I think he’s being far too charitable to the Department for Work and Pensions.

A report on the DNS website has suggested that the DWP destroyed a report on failures by Job Centre staff to have proper regard for the safety of benefit claimants because the government doesn’t want the facts to get out.

I have a simpler suggestion: The Conservatives simply don’t want benefit claimants to benefit from important information that could save them from serious harm or even death.

Failure to provide this information indicates a serious breach of the government’s duty of care to people claiming benefits.

The DNS report shows that the DWP illegally delayed its response to a Freedom of Information request demanding copies of all reports written by “Community Partners” in London in 2017 and 2018.

The report in question had been created by three disabled people who had joined the “Community Partners” initiative that had been set up to improve relations between the DWP and local communities.

They wrote it only weeks after joining, after becoming increasingly alarmed by the failure of 18 Job Centres to take basic actions that would protect people claiming benefits such as universal credit, employment and support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.

DNS described some of the incidents, as recorded by one of the “Community Partners” going under the pseudonym “Rachel”:

On one occasion, Rachel heard a member of staff explain that a claimant with cancer of the spine, who needed his dressing changed every day, should be found fit for work “so he’s looking forward to the future”.

She also remembers sitting in on an interview with a universal credit claimant, who was 55 and not disabled and had just been made redundant.

He had been hit by the bedroom tax and said repeatedly that he was hungry because he was so short of money, but the DWP civil servant failed to tell him that he could request foodbank vouchers.

When Rachel asked the civil servant after the interview why she had not told him he could ask for vouchers, she was told: “Because he didn’t ask.”

Rachel said: “He said four times that he was hungry and couldn’t afford to go shopping and didn’t have enough money for food.

“That is just dangerous. That person is going to end up with malnutrition and depression.

“It was just a regular guy who was doing his best and did not know how the system worked, let alone that the magic word was ‘foodbank’.”

On another occasion, a man in extreme mental distress who had previously self-harmed in the Brixton jobcentre after being found fit for work, returned to the jobcentre and again began self-harming by banging his head against a window.

Staff were standing around watching, said Rachel, who had to take control, find a manager and tell them to contact the council’s social services department.

Despite her intervention, no report on the incident was written, despite her repeatedly asking for an incident report form.

She believes her insistence that the incident needed to be written up was one of the reasons she was eventually sacked, although DWP claimed it was because she had retweeted a social media post criticising Iain Duncan Smith, even though she believes the tweet was sent before she started working for DWP.

She said: “They all know they are putting people at risk but all they are concerned about is ticking boxes.”

Note the claim that “Rachel” was sacked for criticising Iain Duncan Smith – tacit confirmation that the Conservatives coerce employees into silence about their harmful policies and practices.

According to DNS, the DWP illegally delayed releasing the documents that had been requested, then said the report by “Rachel” and the other two “Community Partners” had been destroyed under a rule that such documents should not be kept longer than 12 months.

This is an unconvincing argument because the DNS Freedom of Information request had been made four months before that period had expired.

The evidence is clear: The Department for Work and Pensions will never willingly help benefit claimants whose safety is in danger.

There are moves to force the department support its own safeguarding rules: The Justice for Jodey Whiting petition demands an independent inquiry into deaths linked to the DWP.

The petition was set up because the department failed five times to follow its own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to her suicide in February 2017.

It has been signed 25,000 times in three weeks. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, it may be debated in Parliament.


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Disability deaths scandal: Tories admit thousands of deaths, months after PIP refusals. How do they know?

This is an oddity.

Some of you may remember that, back in 2015, I managed to force the Conservative government into admitting the number of people who had died within two weeks of being refused sickness or disability benefits of one kind or another.

The statistics were kept within that tiny time frame because the spokespeople for the Department for Work and Pensions said it did not monitor what happened to people after it kicked them off its books.

So how does Sarah Newton know that 7,990 people died within six months of having their claim for Personal Independence Payment rejected?

The figure itseslf is bad enough but the possibility of a cover-up lasting many years would be a massive scandal.

We’ve had no report of any change in DWP monitoring policy.

Yet Alex Tiffin, on his blog Universal Credit Sufferer, reported that Labour MP Madeline Moon had received a response to a written question, saying: “Of the 3.1 million people who claimed PIP between April 2013 and April 2018, 7,990 died within 6 months of having their claim REJECTED.

“‘3,680 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claimants died within three months of their initial application being disallowed.'”

It has also been revealed that “5,290 claimants who’d applied under the Special Rules for Terminally Ill people (SRTI), (those [who have] a terminal disease with less than 6 months to live), died before the DWP made a decision on their claim”.

If the figures on PIP claimants who died three months and six months after their claims were rejected are known to the DWP now, it seems likely that the figures on other sickness and disability claimants were known when my Freedom of Information request was slowly working its way past the obstacles the Tories kept putting in its way – and they lied about it.

There’s only one way to find out. I’ll have to write and find out.

But will we be able to trust the answer?


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Theresa may be deceiving us about Brexit – by covering up the facts about Arron Banks and Leave.EU

You can’t trust Theresa May: Whether she tells us anything or not, it seems she is always trying to deceive.

The Tories are tying themselves in knots over Brexit.

Theresa May is currently set to return to the EU over the weekend in a desperate bid to save a withdrawal agreement that stands in tatters after the DUP savaged its plan for the Northern Ireland border and Spain attacked it over Gibraltar. MPs queued up to voice their opposition to it during a Parliamentary debate demonstrating that the government cannot get the amount of support it needs.

And now it seems Mrs May blocked an investigation into electoral crimes by Leave.EU, one of the main campaign organisations that persuaded the public to support Brexit – and is covering up the reasons for it.

Investigative website openDemocracy submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office, seeking clarification on reports that Mrs May blocked an investigation into Brexit bankroller Arron Banks in the run-up to the 2016 referendum after the Home Office refused to reveal information about the controversial Leave.EU and UKIP donor.

Mr Banks donated £8.4 million to Leave campaigns – the single biggest donation in British political history. But he is facing a criminal investigation over concerns that he was not the “true source” of the money. Questions have also been raised about his links to Russia but he denies any wrongdoing. The National Crime Agency is said to be investigating.

But the Home Office refused to either confirm or deny whether it holds any material from 2016 about Leave.EU and Banks. The department said that doing so “would impede the future formulation of government policy”.

openDemocracy‘s article suggests that the Home Office’s response is an attempt to hide behind the form of language usually used to avoid commenting on intelligence matters – which is inappropriate in this instance.

The suggestion is that the government is trying to protect Mrs May by hiding whatever she did, back in 2016. But by saying it “would impede the future formulation of government policy”, officials have only drawn attention to a matter that has nothing to do with that subject.

The longer Mrs May and her cronies try to hide her involvement in this scandal, the worse it will be for her.

Meanwhile, the official pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, has lost a judicial review aimed at trying to get an Electoral Commission ruling that it breached spending limits thrown out.

The organisation had tried to challenge a ruling that it had exceeded the £7 million limit by channelling funds through another campaign group BeLeave. But the High Court has thrown out its case.

So not only is Mrs May accused of blocking an investigation into one of the major players in the Brexit vote; but she is also desperately defending the result of that vote, even though it may be illegitimate.

And in any case, it seems her plan for Brexit is ruined.

Why is she persisting with this charade? Are worse revelations yet to be revealed?

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Freedom of Information challenge to Israel’s effort to undermine Jeremy Corbyn

This is an interesting development that may cast light on efforts to undermine the UK Labour Party, who has been targeted and the links between those behind the attacks.

But I wouldn’t get my hopes up just yet.

The Israeli government may block this, in much the same way the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK has been blocking attempts to bring reports on its behaviour – by disabled people – into public knowledge.

But if the information does come out, it will be interesting to see if my name is mentioned, along with a few prominent others.

Human rights activists have lodged a freedom of information request under Israeli law seeking documents about the state’s ongoing disinformation campaign against UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack on Sunday sent a letter on behalf of 18 Israeli citizens to the ministries of foreign affairs and strategic affairs.

Corbyn is a “thorn in the side” of Israel’s government, Mack’s letter tells the two ministries.

While these ministries “have been highly successful in their relations with regimes that are responsible for mass murder” and “that are infected with anti-Semitism,” Israel’s government has a major problem with “a pro-Palestinian leader who supports human and civil rights,” the letter observes.

As examples of Israel’s friendly relations with anti-Semitic governments, Mack cites Hungary, Poland and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, according to the letter, Corbyn has “thwarted attempts by the two ministries to silence any critique of the State of Israel and the Netanyahu government” by labeling such criticisms as anti-Semitism.

This is a reference to the current Israel lobby attack on Labour for refusing to adopt verbatim the controversial IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Given this history, the activists demand public scrutiny of the Israeli government’s intervention in British politics, including all “information, documents and records as to correspondence by the two ministries with NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], groups, individuals and journalists in the UK, regarding the UK Labour Party and Mr. Corbyn.”

Source: New challenge to Israel’s effort to undermine Jeremy Corbyn | The Electronic Intifada</em

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


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