Tag Archives: Green Party

Remember the ESA deaths when you are voting

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The Disability News Service has reported Vox Political‘s victory over the DWP, whose officers have less than a month to report the total number of deaths involving people claiming Employment and Support Allowance between November 2011 and May 2014.

The article quotes John McArdle, co-founder of campaigning organisation Black Triangle, who said the updated statistics would be vital: “When the truth comes out about the devastation that this has caused, the whole of society will be absolutely appalled.”

Rick Burgess, co-founder of New Approach, which campaigns to scrap the fitness for work test, said: “People should know the cost of policies they are voting upon, especially when they are causing mass deaths.”

There is much more, and you are encouraged to visit the Disability News Service‘s website to read the full article.

If the Conservative Party forms the next government, the deaths will undoubtedly continue – no matter what the figures prove to be, or the public response to them.

Can you bear to have that on your conscience?

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Benefit deaths: IDS lies while DWP evades

Denied benefit: This is the late Karen Sherlock. Her illnesses included chronic kidney disease, a heart condition, vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, underactive thyroid, asthma, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, gastropaeresis, and diabetic retinopathy. She died on June 8, 2012, of a suspected heart attack, after the Department for Work and Pensions stopped her Employment and Support Allowance.

Denied benefit: This is the late Karen Sherlock. Her illnesses included chronic kidney disease, a heart condition, vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, underactive thyroid, asthma, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, gastropaeresis, and diabetic retinopathy. She died on June 8, 2012, of a suspected heart attack, after the Department for Work and Pensions stopped her Employment and Support Allowance.

The Department for Work and Pensions has commented on this blog’s success in forcing it to reveal the number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014.

Readers of this blog will recall that the DWP had refused a Freedom of Information request, made in May last year, but the Information Commissioner’s Office upheld an appeal that used its own rules to demonstrate that the Department had been wrong in law.

The comment appeared in an excellent article by Ros Wynne-Jones of the Daily Mirror. She had contacted the DWP after receiving a press release on the subject from Vox Political – and we should be grateful to her for doing so. Comments to the mainstream media are invariably delivered much more quickly than responses to members of the public.

It is more interesting in what it does not say than it what it does. There is no reference to the fact that the DWP had been found to be wrongly applying the law; no suggestion that it will abide by the Information Commissioner’s ruling; in fact no reference to the Vox Political appeal at all.

Instead, we are told: “It is irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim. Mortality rates among people with serious health conditions are likely to be higher than those among the general population.

“We’ll respond to the Information Commissioner in due course.”

Irresponsible, is it?

There are several ways to disprove this.

Firstly, let us consider the different elements of the Vox Political request. By definition, anybody in the work-related activity group of ESA is believed to be capable of recovering from their illness sufficiently to take a job within 12 months of making their claim. Between January and November 2011, the number of people in this group who died was 1,300; it should have been zero. It is therefore possible to claim that they were put in the wrong group (by a system that may have had targets to meet – but that is a different matter) and that their deaths may have been caused by the stress they faced in having to meet the conditions required by the DWP – or lose their benefit.

We can only say these deaths may have taken place for this reason, because the DWP has not carried out any research on the subject. This displays what many may conclude is a shocking carelessness on the part of the government department. Just one death, in this group, was one too many – but DWP officers, and Coalition Government ministers, allowed more than 1,000 to take place and have done nothing to research the cause and prevent more from happening.

For these reasons, it is simple to conclude that anyone who died while appealing against a DWP decision and those who died after being found fit for work should also be included in the statistics, although it seems likely the DWP will claim it has not researched the number of deaths taking place among those found fit for work. We have news stories covering some of these deaths, so the Department cannot claim ignorance that any deaths were taking place; therefore its omission of any investigation may be considered dereliction of duty on the DWP’s party.

It is possible for the DWP to claim that its comment is accurate regarding people in the support group of ESA – but only to a certain extent. This is why Vox Political initially left support group deaths off the original calculation of the average number of deaths taking place among claimants of ESA; this blog made it out to be around 60 people per week. But a commenter pointed out that being placed in the support group does not mean that a person with a long-term illness will be left alone, and that it is entirely possible that harassment by the DWP could have led to premature deaths in this group; people in the support group are subjected to periodical reassessments that not only cause extreme stress but may be called at random intervals, rather than at regular times. It is entirely possible for a person in the support group to be found fit for work, and have to appeal against the decision – causing more stress. And anyone winning an appeal is entirely likely to find a notice of reassessment in their letterbox the very next day – signalling a return to the beginning of that cycle of stress.

Under these circumstances, This Writer had no choice but to include people in the support group among the death toll – pushing the average during the period covered in 2011 up to more than 220 per week. Although the DWP’s claim that “mortality rates among people with serious health conditions are likely to be higher” is more likely to be correct when applied to people in this group, the Department simply has not done any research on the causes of death. Instead, we have news stories which make it very clear where responsibility lies.

That leaves people who are in the assessment phase of the process. Readers will be aware that the DWP has lengthened this part of the claim procedure hugely by adding a new “mandatory reconsideration” procedure – if a claim is refused, the claimant may not appeal against it until after “mandatory reconsideration” has taken place. There is no time limit in which it must take place and no benefit is paid during the “mandatory reconsideration” period. It is hard to believe this is not intended to place the lives of vulnerable people at risk. How are they supposed to pay the bills, with no money coming in? If they have a mental health condition, won’t this be worsened by the incessant money worries being forced on them by this DWP-enforced process? Of course it will.

Examples of ESA-related deaths (and suicides) are a running theme in Vox Political; this blog has recounted the stories of dozens of people who either died after their benefit was withdrawn or committed suicide because they could not see a way out. We have seen stories of people with terminal cancer being ordered to go to work; of people on their deathbeds being told to attend an interview for work-related activity or lose benefits; of one person with severe mental health problems who had been thrown off sickness benefit and sanctioned off of JSA, who froze to death in the street because he had nowhere else to go.

The DWP is known to have investigated 60 suicides that were allegedly related to benefits, according to the Disability News Service – but has withheld the results of its research. Why?

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith lied on television yesterday (May 5), during a debate on the benefit system, when he said no such review had taken place. The Green Party subsequently demanded a formal apology from the minister, for misleading the public.

One final point: Duncan Smith’s, and the DWP’s, arguments would never stand up in a court of law. There is a wealth of evidence to show the connections between people losing benefit and their subsequent deaths. The DWP has supplied none to disprove those connections. Therefore, if this matter were being tried under jury conditions (as it may be, if allegations of corporate manslaughter are made after the information becomes available) then a jury would have no choice but to convict the representatives of the public organisation.

Duncan Smith labelled the allegations against him and his department “cheap”.

We’ll see how cheap they prove, when all the information is available to the public.

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In the meantime, Vox Political‘s advice to readers is unchanged: The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have withheld the facts from you.

So please, withhold your vote from them.

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What’s missing from this party’s campaign launch? The GREEN

Off-message? Natalie Bennett launches the Green Party's election campaign on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Off-message? Natalie Bennett launches the Green Party’s election campaign on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Environmental issues were startlingly absent from the Green Party’s election campaign launch today (February 24).

Instead, party leader Natalie Bennett concentrated on policies that encroach into traditional Labour territory – a wealth tax; increasing the minimum wage to £10 by 2020; half a million new social rented homes; nationalising the railways; scrapping tuition fees; and a people’s constitutional convention “with the aim of achieving democracy for everyone”.

Of course, Labour has already announced plans for a wealth (mansion) tax; would increase the minimum wage (although not as high as £10 per hour); wants to build 100,000 homes a year (making 500,000 in a five-year Parliamentary term); would launch a national rail company to compete for franchises with the private firms; would reduce tuition fees; and wants a constitutional convention to sort out the democratic issues that have been debated since the Scottish independence referendum.

You see, the differences are all a matter of degree. The Greens would do the same as Labour, only more so. The only question is, who will provide the money?

Where were the policies to reduce pollution with green energy?

Why did the Green Party not restate its position on fracking?

Does it have policies on animal welfare (Labour does)?

What about defence?

Why only nationalise the railways, when other privatised utilities have been misbehaving left, right and centre?

So many unanswered questions, yet this is a party that has grown exponentially over the past year. Doesn’t it owe its new members better?

One thing that won’t be part of the current election campaign is the Green Party’s aspiration for a “citizens’ income”, replacing personal tax allowances and most means-tested benefits with a £72-per-week basic payment for all citizens, regardless of income.

Green leader Natalie Bennett was unable to explain how such a policy would be funded in a previous BBC interview. On Radio 4’s Today programme this morning she said it won’t be something for the 2015-20 Parliament, but added: “A commitment to the citizen’s income will be in our manifesto… it’s a massive change in the welfare system and it’s something we want to consult on and offer over time.”

She said it was a long term policy idea, “moving towards a system, getting away from where we are now, where so many people are living in fear of not being able to put food on the table, not being able to keep a roof over their head. Citizen’s income is an important way of moving forward with that.”

Perhaps sensitive to criticisms that she could not explain how it would be funded, she said: “We will be releasing a full costing before the election. The costing won’t be part of the manifesto. The costing will be before the election but the commitment to it [the policy of a citizen’s income] will be in the manifesto.”

Moving to Radio 5 Live, the Green leader discussed her commitment to enforcing a maximum wage ratio between the highest and lowest paid within a company. This is another good idea which Vox Political supports.

Asked whether some kind of wage cap would prevent organisations attracting the best staff, she said, “I think you have to look at how much money motivates people” – implying that the amount of money people are paid is less important to them than people are led to believe.

Moving over to LBC radio, she floundered when Nick Ferrari asked how much a plan to build 500,000 social rental homes would cost.

“We want to fund that particularly from removing tax relief from mortgage interest for private landlords,” she said. Apparently she thought that would rake in no less than £6 billion a year – but fell back on her line about “a fully-costed programme” to be released before the election.

Someone should have warned her that she can use that line too often – especially when taking it in conjunction with fellow Green member Jenny Jones’ comment at the press conference that followed: “You can ask as many questions as you like about our manifesto but we won’t be answering them today.”

So why hold the conference – and the launch – at all? Press teams left confused at the behaviour of a party that trailed so many juicy-looking policies but was either unwilling – or unable – to provide the essential details that could make them seem workable.

The BBC’s Norman Smith (whose own credibility was dealt a serious blow by Ed Miliband at a Labour campaign conference a few weeks ago) summed up the general feeling by questioning the validity of a Green Party that was no longer significantly “green”.

“Most of the things they are focusing on have nothing to do with greenery,” he told the BBC News website.

“Transport, housing, tuition fees – yes – but saving the planet seems to have been shuffled off to the side a bit.”

Won’t that alienate the Greens’ traditional constituents?

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Fracking set to be banned from 40% of England’s shale areas

The Guardian is reporting that regulations proposed by the Labour Party and approved by the Coalition Government mean fracking will be banned from two-fifths of the land in England.

[Image: The Guardian.]

[Image: The Guardian.]

Labour faced harsh criticism last week, particularly from the Green Party of England and Wales, after it failed to support that party’s call for a moratorium on fracking that would have banned it altogether. Green supporters suggested that Labour had done a deal with the Coalition to abstain on the moratorium in return for support over the 13-point regulation scheme.

In fact, according to the newspaper, “Ministers were forced to accept Labour’s new environmental rules last week to avoid a rebellion by Conservative and LibDem backbench MPs, many of whom are facing opposition to fracking from constituents.”

So there was no dirty backroom deal and 40 per cent of England is free of fracking whereas, if Labour had supported the Green moratorium, none of England would be protected.

The article continues: “Neither the government nor Labour have stated how much of the land available for future shale gas drilling – 60 per cent of England – would be affected by the new bans. But a Guardian data analysis has revealed it is 39.7 per cent, with large swaths of the south and south east off-limits, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and Peak district.

“An independent analysis by Greenpeace also found that 45 per cent of the 931 blocks being licensed for fracking in England were at least 50 per cent covered by protected areas, which it said was likely to make them unattractive to fracking companies.

“Just three per cent of of the blocks have no protected areas at all, Greenpeace found.”

Well played, Labour! That was a good afternoon’s work.

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May 2015 is not the time to stop voting tactically – Mainly Macro

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Anyone voting Green (or failing to vote) in a seat that Labour can win but the Greens cannot will in part be responsible for the consequences of a future Conservative government, writes Professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his latest Mainly Macro post.

Syriza has won the Greek election, which is the result I hoped for. For some this heralds the death of neoliberalism. To celebrate, George Monbiot – whose journalism consistently tells me more than most other journalists – says that here in the UK we should no longer vote tactically, but instead vote for what we want. What dangerous nonsense!

Anyone who votes Green in any seat where Labour has a chance to win, aside from maybe a few seats where the Greens have a chance (more realistically one or two), is voting for a Conservative government… (Not voting in a seat Labour has a chance to win is almost as bad.) This is going to be a tight election, so it matters.

There is a huge difference between Labour and Conservative fiscal plans beyond 2015. It is quite possible that we will see very little additional fiscal tightening under Labour, and a lot more public investment.

Monbiot says “Fearful voting shifts the whole polity to the right.” Where is the evidence for that? Neoliberalism did not triumph because the left decided to compromise. Yes Greece voted for Syriza, but only when half of its young people were stuck in unemployment. Is that the future that he hopes for by abandoning tactical voting?

Monbiot described voting No in the Scottish referendum as “an astonishing act of self-harm”: no matter that the SNP tried to deceive the electorate that they would at all times be better off independent; a sorry claim given what has subsequently happened to the oil price. No doubt some said in 2010 that a future Labour government would be much the same as a Conservative government.

This is an article that re-states many of the themes Vox Political has been exploring over the last few weeks: The victory of Syriza and its implications for the future; the realities of voting Green in the UK; the facts about Labour policy; and the deceptions of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

Please visit Mainly Macro for the important details.

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Anti-fracking Labour critics are singing from Green Party and SNP songsheets

Nobody wants to see this in the United Kingdom: Fracked water is set ablaze in the film Gasland.

Nobody wants to see this in the United Kingdom: Fracked water is set ablaze in the film Gasland.

Vox Political’s report on the outcome of yesterday’s fracking debate in Parliament prompted a predictably shrill response from supporters of the Scottish Nationalist and Green parties.

Now, why would that be?

Could it be that these organisations want to split the Left vote, attracting more voters to themselves by presenting an unpleasant image of Labour?

And isn’t this irresponsible at a time when Conservative policies, propped up by Liberal Democrat votes, are causing so much damage to the United Kingdom – including the deaths of many vulnerable people?

Why are they attacking Labour, rather than the real enemy of the people?

Some have claimed that Labour did a deal with the Coalition, agreeing to abstain on a vote for an absolute moratorium on fracking in return for the inclusion of Labour’s list of 13 regulatory procedures – to be carried out before any fracking may be performed – in the legislation.

Even if this is true, it is simply good politics. The entire Parliamentary Labour Party, combining its votes with any others who opposed the Bill, could not have amassed the more-than-300 votes necessary to topple the Coalition’s absolute control over the passage of the Infrastructure Bill into law.

The only reason this writer can see for the Tories to have given even this concession is that we are in an election year and they fear the adverse publicity that would be generated by refusing any kind of regulation at all could harm them at the ballot box.

So, for the Tories, Liberal Democrats, Greens and SNP, it seems to be all about the election. Only Labour seems to have spare a thought for the protection of British citizens from harm.

And what thanks did the party get?

Here’s Nicola Ronnquist: “Labour abstained on clause 9 calling for a moratorium! I would hardly call that a victory! labour is a disgrace! The labour supporters have gone very quiet tonight on some of the threads after pointing out they abstained from a moratorium! ! After the EA commitee recommended it!!! Well done labour!!! No vote on the tresspass law! So they will now be able to frack under our homes. The labour traitors! Im voting green now!”

This Green supporter has posted a further 14 comments on the fracking article thread, stirring up anti-Labour sentiment.

Here’s Chris Lovett, another Green supporter: “Bugger Labliar. Go Green.” No argument – just abuse and a call to split the Left vote.

For the Scottish Nationalists, here’s Lee Thompson, who quoted figures on the moratorium vote from Wings Over Scotland, the ScotsNat blog. No bias there, then! He wrote: “The Head of Scottish Labour [Jim Murphy] was all the way in Scotland playing football! My understanding of politicians is that they are there to represent the wishes of their constituents at all times? 52 managed to vote despite knowing they couldn’t win [including Labour MPs – it is a party that does allow its members to speak their minds]… Let’s consider the example set by our politicians, they get paid by us to vote but don’t. If I told my boss there was no point in doing something, I’d get the sack.”

In fact, MPs are paid to represent their constituents to the best of their ability – and we’ll see how Labour achieved this later in the article.

Clare Tereasa Gallagher, who appears to be both Scottish Nationalist and Green, wrote: “The labour party abstained! Red tory scum, only care about the lifestyles they’ve become accustomed to… Jim Murphy was playing keepy Uppy at Pittodrie!

There were many other comments. Some of them even seem to be by people who were genuinely concerned, rather than pushing their own party line.

The most sensible comment on Vox Political‘s Facebook page came from Steve Gogerly: “The price of oil falling through the floor has made fracking a less than profitable enterprise which suits all of us dubious of its environmental safety. Hopefully a safer method will be discovered before the price rises again.

It seems entirely likely that Labour is aware of this and the regulations that are now part of the Infrastructure Bill are merely a stop-gap measure. Tom Greatrex MP wrote at length about “the reality behind… Tory rhetoric” in an article for LabourList as long ago as last April.

this is not an imminent revolution,” he wrote. “Shale gas in the UK is unlikely to really get going this side of 2020 – peak production is not expected to be reached until 2024. Hinting that shale gas offers a solution to the potential tightening of our supply margins in the next couple of years, as some Tories do, is therefore completely misleading.”

He continued: “Cameron promised that shale gas would deliver 74,000 jobs. This week’s report [from Ernst & Young] cuts that down to 64,000, but within that number there are just 6,000 “directly employed”, 39,000 in the supply chain and 19,000 “supply chain induced” positions. In short, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

“But perhaps the key line from the report was on page 4, when EY acknowledge that ‘it is not yet possible to make any forecast of potential recovery rates’. Whilst we know that the gas is in the ground, we don’t know how much of it is extractable.”

He went on to say that shale gas extraction should only happen within a framework of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection, and with local consent – and must not be allowed to develop at the expense of the UK’s climate change commitments.

Put that all together and you’ve got an industry that is on (forgive the poor taste) extremely uncertain ground. Is fracking worth the potential disruption of who-knows-how-many British citizens, not to mention the further harm to our environmental credentials, for the sake of an unknown – possibly very low – yield and only around 6,000 jobs?

The more one examines this matter, the more likely it seems that Labour has skilfully employed a delaying tactic; these new regulations will put any fracking operations on hold while the businesses involved go through the regulatory procedures. After this has been done, it is possible that a Labour government will have been returned to power, and will put an end to the process altogether, in favour of methods that are proven not to harm the environment.

Of course, this won’t happen if the Greens and the SNP succeed in their greedy bid to split the left-wing vote. If the Left is divided between several parties, the way will be clear for the Tories to sweep back into office and do whatever they like, to anyone.

Is that really what you want?

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– that some activists don’t want you to read!
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TV debates: New format proposed but will Cameron come back?

150119leaderdebates

David Cameron is facing one of the biggest challenges of his political career – now that the TV companies have offered to include the Green Party (and others) in the televised election debates, is he man enough to take part?

Cameron scampered off like a startled rabbit when he realised he could use the Green Party’s exclusion as a reason not to participate, but now broadcasters have put forward new proposals which include the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

The BBC and ITV would stage debates involving the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP, SNP and Plaid, while Sky and Channel 4 will go ahead with their plan to host a head-to-head between Cameron and Ed Miliband – if Cameron has the guts for it.

However, he still has two possible escape routes – the Democrat Unionist Party will be writing to the BBC and other broadcasters to ask why it is not being included when it has more seats than the three parties that have now been included. Will he demand its inclusion as well?

And Cameron has said he is not happy with the dates being offered for the debates – April 2, 16 and 30 – saying they should take place before the official, ‘short’, campaign begins.

Who thinks he’ll chicken out again?

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Cameron’s cowardice should not cancel leader debates

150119leaderdebates

What’s the current situation on the political parties’ ‘leader debates’? Is Cameron still playing chicken and using the Green Party as a human shield?

The last this writer heard was that he was saying he wouldn’t turn up if Ofcom didn’t let the Greens take part, as the Green Party is now the fourth largest in terms of membership (behind Labour, the Conservatives – who could be lying about theirs, and the SNP, having overtaken UKIP and the Liberal Democrats).

Ofcom seems to be saying the Greens don’t qualify because they don’t have enough MPs (which seems strange, as it seems perfectly willing to let UKIP take part and it only has one more MP than the Greens).

Is that about right?

It’s rumoured that Cameron has cold feet about the debates because of what happened in 2010, when ‘Cleggmania’ (briefly) swept the nation and everybody including himself seemed to be saying “I agree with Nick”. His advisors are allegedly telling him that Clegg’s performance in the debates seriously damaged his standing and prevented him from gaining an outright victory in the election.

(This may seem odd, as the Liberal Democrats in fact lost five seats at the election, but we need to remember that – in the First Past The Post system – it seems likely that LD candidates took votes from Conservatives, allowing others to take marginal seats).

It seems likely Cameron is also in fear of Nigel Farage, who is generally accepted to have beaten Clegg in televised debates about the European Union.

The other three leaders who were set to take part in the debates have called for them to go ahead, with Cameron ’empty-chaired’ – a podium should be put out for him but left vacant to show he has opted not to participate.

This would still leave the other parties without a voice in the debates and – considering their popularity – that’s clearly wrong.

Perhaps these debates should go ahead, with only the Labour, LD and UKIP leaders if Ofcom won’t bend.

If so, then the other party leaders should consider alternative strategies.

Is there any reason they should not record their own responses to the questions asked in these debates – and the issues raised by them – and make those responses available to the public, via the media broadcasters, newspaper websites, YouTube and the social media?

This would give a certain unfair advantage to the Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the National Health Action Party, FUKP and whoever else, because they would have advance warning of the questions before starting, and would know what the other leaders had said – but it does seem fairer thanaltogether  denying them a chance to put their cases forward.

In this scenario the only loser would be David Cameron who, fittingly, would have denied himself the chance to speak while allowing it to everyone else – poetic justice for a man who has tried to gag political debate in the run-up to the election.

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‘I didn’t censor Greens from report’ – Andrew Neil

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Broadcaster Andrew Neil has protested his innocence after being accused of excluding the Green Party from BBC coverage of political opinion polls.

Blogger Tom Pride told us yesterday (Christmas Eve) that Andrew Neil had censored the Green Party – and demonstrated with a graphic showing the state of the major parties in the opinion polls.

This put UKIP in third on 15 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats fourth on seven per cent – missing out the Greens, who are currently enjoying eight per cent support.

But in a tweet today (Christmas Day), Andrew Neil told Vox Political and others that he had not tried to mislead anyone – the information had come from YouGov and had been used in good faith.

He wrote: “No censorship. Used YouGov graphic which didn’t inc. Greens. By mistake Won’t repeat mistake”.

In the spirit of the Season of Goodwill, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and take him at his word. We can resume hostilities (or at least paranoid suspicions) later.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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A few words about respect

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Blogger kittysjones put out a very interesting article yesterday (Tuesday) entitled Greens: the myth of the “new left” debunked in which the position claimed by the Green Party – that of being the ‘true party of the Left’ – is disputed. The article states:

“The Green Party do not have an underpinning ideology that can be described as left-wing at all. Some of the links with far-right and fascist ideology are very worrying.The fact that the Greens have themselves chosen to regard the Labour Party as their enemy means that they don’t see a potential ally, yet they manage very well in coalition councils, working amicably side-by-side and cooperatively with Tory and Liberal Democrats.

“Don’t let them fail the people of Britain by voting Green next year and allowing the Tories to remain in government another five years. People are suffering and dying as a consequence of Tory austerity; we need to ensure that ends. Vote Labour. That is the genuinely socialist thing to do.”

What is even more interesting than the article (which provides evidence to support its claims) is the reaction to it by some supporters of the party it criticises.

Here’s one: “You really must be running scared to write what you know to be utter rubbish. Thank you for invoking Godwin’s law because it just makes Liebour look all the more desperate and ridiculous.” The author of this comment was unwilling to put their own name to it, being described merely as ‘A Green Nazi’ – interestingly, because Godwin’s Law is, of course, the application of an inappropriate comparison with the Nazis.

The article does indeed compare Green ideology with that of the Nazis, but it does so on the basis of clearly-referenced evidence; therefore it would be wrong to suggest that the comparison is inappropriate. On the other hand, the commenter’s inability or unwillingness to provide any evidential argument against the assertions, relying on disparagement (“utter rubbish”) and insults (“Liebour”) suggest that in fact they are “running scared”, “desperate” and “ridiculous”.

The author’s response was one to which Yr Obdt Srvt has had to resort many times: “If it’s ‘utter rubbish’ then why don’t you explain how, in what way you disagree, rather than being a fascist and proving my point, by simply stooping to insulting the author?” This reply generally provokes one of only two possible responses: Silence, or invective.

Another comment (this one by ‘Nuggy’ – again, not likely to be their real name) attempted to twist the article into a gross generalisation: “Equating all greens with Malthus is like equating all socialists with Pol Pot or Kim Il Sung.”

It was easily put down by a reference to accuracy: “I equated the cited green policies with the ideas of Malthus.” [italics mine]

There was an (unintentially?) hilarious suggestion that the article was libellous; it isn’t, as anyone with knowledge of the laws of defamation will confirm.

And then there were the insults, first mentioned in a reply to Tim Barnden (at last, someone with a real name!) who asked: “Why are you moderating out most replies Ms Jones? Are you in fact not up for a debate?”

This was a continuing theme on the comment column, and the replies indicate the kind of pressure that was being brought to bear by people claiming to represent the Green Party: “I’m up for debate, just not up for allowing personal abuse and bullying on my site… I have had hundreds of comments from largely abusive green supporters… I am getting some pretty terrible personal abuse from Green supporters. But not much criticism of the content and details in the article, unfortunately.”

The Green Party isn’t the only political organisation whose supporters behave in this way.

Vox Political has received exactly the same responses (in different contexts, obviously) from supporters of the Conservative Party (although admittedly this has tailed off considerably since VP was launched in 2011), Scottish nationalism (including the SNP), and most particularly UKIP.

Many, many examples are available if anyone wants to question the truth of this claim.

It’s simply not good enough.

Perhaps those of you who consider this behaviour to be acceptable (it isn’t) may be persuaded against it if sites like VP and kittysjones parcelled up all your abuse and sent it to the head offices of these political parties as examples of how their supporters represent them?

You see, there are rules to this kind of debate and it seems too many people are breaking them. That’s just damned disrespectful and there’s no reason anyone should put up with it.

So, if you are one of those who types out streams of profanity and hits the ‘send’ button before engaging your brain, it’s time to change your ways.

This site values informed debate. We appreciate it; sometimes it can even be persuasive (in VP‘s case this has occurred several times).

But from now on, anything else will receive an appropriate response.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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