Tag Archives: human right

United Nations warns UK could be breaking international law over cladding

The cladding at Grenfell Tower explained: The materials used were flammable – not flame-resistant.

What do you think the Conservative government will do about this, considering it is now three years since the Grenfell disaster and the Tories haven’t lifted a finger to replace flammable cladding on thousands of other tower blocks?

This Writer is willing to bet we’ll hear a load of flannel about the UN not doing its job properly – or misinterpreting its role in some way, and some minister – probably Robert Jenrick – will make some sabre-rattling suggestion that it should keep its foreign nose out.

You know how it would be – like the Tories did when the UN accused this country of institutional abuse of people with disabilities.

The last thing the Tories want to do is spend money on poor people who are living in firetraps.

The UN has warned Britain that its failure to strip combustible cladding from high-rise buildings containing tens of thousands homes may be a breach of international law.

The global body is demanding answers about the UK government’s delayed programme to fix hundreds of blocks wrapped in flammable panels and with other fire safety problems.

Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, wrote to the government to express “serious concern about allegations of multiple violations of the human right to adequate housing, of which safety is a key component – contrary to international human rights law”.

Source: UK could be breaking international law over cladding, says UN | Society | The Guardian

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The new Tory government has imposed Nazi-style persecution of disabled people – on its very first day

Arbet macht frei: Boris Johnson’s policy for people with physical and mental disabilities is stolen from the Nazis.

This is how it’s going to be.

The Conservative government has started as it means to go on – by smashing the right of sick and disabled people to have sick notes signed by their doctors.

Claimants of sickness and disability benefits are now no longer permitted to decide for themselves whether the outcome of Work Capability Assessments should be shared with their doctor.

The DWP can now send letters to doctors, telling them not to sign patients’ sick notes if they have been found “fit for work”.

The new regulation overturns an option not to report the outcome of WCAs to GPs that was only included on the ESA50 claim form on December 5, after the Information Commissioner warned that omitting the option contravened data protection rules.

This is an example of the de-humanisation process that minorities undergo when they are to be persecuted by a malicious and despotic national government.

The Nazis took away the rights of Jews, for example.

Note that people are routinely found fit for work when their physical and/or mental health shows that they are not. This is therefore a move to override medical evidence, with only one logical purpose:

In order to inflict further and deeper harm on people who are already injured or ill.

People who voted Conservative are reminded that this is what they wanted.

It is a policy that follows the words of tinpot despot Boris Johnson earlier this year; he said working harder would help people with mental health disorders.

Fine words from a man who has never done a hard day’s work in his life!

This Writer will refrain from commenting on the crackpot Con-man’s mental condition.

Source: Tories use first day back to attack the disabled | Morning Star

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What would YOU ask David Cameron in Public Prime Minister’s Questions?

Mile-wide: Mr Miliband explained his idea to bridge the gulf between the public and the Prime Minister to Andrew Marr.

Mile-wide: Mr Miliband explained his idea to bridge the gulf between the public and the Prime Minister to Andrew Marr.

Ed Miliband engaged in a particularly compelling piece of kite-flying today (July 27) – he put out the idea that the public should have their own version of Prime Minister’s Questions.

Speaking to Andrew Marr, he said such an event would “bridge the ‘mile-wide’ gulf between what people want and what they get from Prime Minister’s Questions”, which has been vilified in recent years for uncivilised displays of tribal hostility between political parties and their leaders (David Cameron being the worst offender) and nicknamed ‘Wednesday Shouty Time’.

“I think what we need is a public question time where regularly the prime minister submits himself or herself to questioning from members of the public in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesdays,” said Mr Miliband.

“At the moment there are a few inches of glass that separates the public in the gallery from the House of Commons but there is a gulf a mile wide between the kind of politics people want and what Prime Minister’s Questions offers.”

What would you ask David Cameron?

Would you demand a straight answer to the question that has dogged the Department for Work and Pensions for almost three years, now – “How many people are your ‘welfare reform’ policies responsible for killing?”

Would you ask him why his government, which came into office claiming it would be the most “transparent” administration ever, has progressively denied more and more important information to the public?

Would you ask him whether he thinks it is right for a Prime Minister to knowingly attempt to mislead the public, as he himself has done repeatedly over the privatisation of the National Health Service, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax, food banks, fracking…? The list is as long as you want to make it.

What about his policies on austerity? Would you ask him why his government of millionaires insists on inflicting deprivation on the poor when the only economic policy that has worked involved investment in the system, rather than taking money away?

His government’s part-privatisation of the Royal Mail was a total cack-handed disaster that has cost the nation £1 billion and put our mail in the hands of hedge funds. Would you ask him why he is so doggedly determined to stick to privatisation policies that push up prices and diminish quality of service. Isn’t it time some of these private companies were re-nationalised – the energy firms being prime examples?

Would you want to know why his government has passed so many laws to restrict our freedoms – of speech, of association, of access to justice – and why it intends to pass more, ending the government’s acknowledgement that we have internationally-agreed human rights and restricting us to a ‘Bill of Rights’ dictated by his government, and tying us to restrictive lowest-common-denominator employment conditions laid down according to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a grubby little deal that the EU and USA were trying to sign in secret until the whistle was blown on it?

Would you ask him something else?

Or do you think this is a bad idea?

What do you think?

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Are landlord councillors resorting to illegal antics to enforce Bedroom Tax evictions?

Taking no notice: Councillors appear to be breaking the law in order to enforce Bedroom Tax evictions. [Picture: The Guardian}

Taking no notice: Councillors appear to be breaking the law in order to enforce Bedroom Tax evictions. [Picture: The Guardian}

It seems the ruling group of Powys County Council, here in Mid Wales, has challenged the law in its attempts to block a ‘no-eviction’ motion on the Bedroom Tax.

The Labour motion was put forward at a meeting of the full council on October 24. It called on councillors to note the comments of Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Housing, who said that the Bedroom Tax policy could constitute a violation of the human right to adequate housing, and asked them to pledge that Powys will not evict tenants who fail to pay their rent because of it.

Councillors who are also private landlords were forbidden from speaking or voting on the motion. They have a financial (or pecuniary) interest in the matter as they stand to benefit if social housing tenants are forced to seek accommodation with them as a result of the policy. This meant around 30 councillors had to leave the chamber.

It seems that members of the ruling Shires Independent Group, realising that there was a real possibility that the motion would be carried, then called for any members who are themselves social housing tenants – or have friends or family who are social housing tenants – should also be barred from taking part.

This made it impossible to continue the debate. The matter has been passed to the council’s Standards Committee, whose members have been asked to judge whether landlord councillors should receive special dispensation in order to debate the motion.

It seems that this decision is wrong in law.

According to Essential Local Government, a journalistic textbook from the Vox Political vaults, “In some cases, the Secretary of State for the Environment or Secretary of State for Wales can issue either a general or particular dispensation entitling members with declared interests to take part in debates and to vote. An example of this is that councillors who are council tenants may take part in debates on, and vote on, matters relating to council housing.”

That book was published in 1993 but there is no reason to expect such a general dispensation to have been removed and therefore it seems that any call for councillors who are tenants – or who know tenants – not to be able to take part in a debate can have no basis in law.

The motion should have been debated by councillor-tenants and members with no interest, and a decision made on the day, nearly a month ago. The delay means social housing tenants in Powys (and VP knows of 686 affected households in the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency alone) may have been subjected to an unnecessary month of evictions or threats of eviction.

It has been suggested that the decision to block the motion may have been prompted by figures from the House of Commons library which suggest that as a result of the Bedroom Tax the amount of Housing Benefit paid to private landlords (remember, HB is a landlord subsidy and does not enrich tenants at all) will rise from £7.9 billion to £9.4 billion.

If the Standards Committee decides to allow them to debate the motion, it is likely that the decision will therefore be corrupt.

The matter went unreported by the local press because none of the newspapers had sent any reporters to cover the meeting.

How many other councils, across the UK, have voted on ‘no evictions’ motions under a false understanding of who can take part? VP knows that Bristol City Council has debated the matter with a controversial result.

Meanwhile, for tenants up and down the country, the agony goes on.

Sleepwalking out of the EU – the gap between rhetoric and reality

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The British people’s support for staying in the European Union is “wafer thin”, David Cameron told the CBI yesterday. Labour’s Ed Balls warned that the UK could “sleepwalk” away from its biggest trading partner at the same meeting.

Why?

Is it because most people don’t understand our relationship with the European economic area? Is it because they have been infected with propaganda from the right-wing press?

Is it because there really is a plan to make the UK a third-world country, and withdrawal from the EU is necessary to remove citizens’ human rights, thereby making them easier for the ruling class to exploit? The idea seems paranoid but the actions necessary for it to happen have been coming together.

Isn’t it time we had a public debate about the Union – how it works, how we function within it – in order to find out whether we really are better or worse-off? And why – considering all the bluster – hasn’t this happened already?

Let’s look at the main issues: cost of membership, perceived over-regulation, immigration, and our place on the world stage.

The UK contributes around 14 billion Euros (£11.9 billion) to the EU budget every year, but receives 10 billion Euros (£8.5 billion) back – so in fact we contribute £3.4 billion to other countries within the union; the UK is a net EU payer. A study by UKIP MEP Gerard Batten has claimed that red tape, waste, fraud and other factors adds another £62.3 billion a year to the cost.

But the EU is the UK’s main trading partner, with contracts worth more than £400 billion a year. That kind of money make the membership fee look like a pittance. And the EU has been negotiating with the US to create the world’s largest free trade area in a move that could hugely boost our businesses (although this has a huge potential downside that nobody is talking about).

Perhaps the problem is that the companies profiting from these trade deals aren’t paying their taxes properly? The UK Treasury should receive £92 billion at the current rate of Corporation Tax. How much does it actually get?

Let’s not forget that the Coalition government is trying (ineffectually) to pay down the annual deficit. Any money saved by leaving the EU would not go into domestic projects but would contribute to debt repayments. In effect, it would be dead money; at least, in the EU, it helps bring in business.

Okay, so it’s possible that the UK makes more cash from the EU than it spends on it. But what about all those pesky regulations bogging us down all the time? Wouldn’t we be better-off without them?

Sure – if we didn’t mind losing those £400 billion worth of trade deals. If the UK left the European Union but still wanted to trade with its member states, then we would still have to abide by EU regulations. UKIP’s Nigel Farage points to Norway and Switzerland as countries that have access to the single market without being bound by EU rules on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs – but he doesn’t mention the fact that those countries must abide by EU market regulations without having any influence over how they are created.

A break from the EU, allowing the UK to trade with other nations around the world, means Britain’s exports would be subject to EU export tariffs – and would still have to meet EU production standards.

Yes, the EU burdens us with rules when it probably doesn’t have the right. Why does the EU dictate our policy on water? So there is room for negotiation – but within the Union.

Well, what about immigration? The UK has a huge problem with its borders having been opened up to millions of incomers – mostly from Eastern Europe, with millions more on the way next year, right? Wouldn’t leaving the EU put an end to that?

Yes. It would also put an end to Britons’ chances of living and working in EU countries. 711,151 UK citizens were living in other EU countries in 2011, according to Eurostat. Their right to work and live there might be restricted if Britain quit the union.

While 2.3 million EU citizens were living and working in the UK in 2011, their effect on the country’s economic well-being has been hugely exaggerated. There is no ‘open door’ immigration policy. The immigrant population does not have access to a vast majority of the benefits available to UK citizens, the benefits they do receive are nowhere near the same value as those received by UK citizens and they are a third less likely to claim benefits than UK citizens. Meanwhile, they contribute to the local economy and pay their taxes.

The UK would definitely lose stature on the world stage. There can be no amicable divorce from the EU, as the other leading members are unlikely to allow this country any special privileges or influence. We would surrender our ability to influence EU policy while remaining hostage to EU decisions. The ‘special relationship’ with the United States would also be in jeopardy as that country has made it clear we are a more valuable ally as part of the EU.

As a member of the EU, Britain is viewed by many non-European manufacturers as a key point of access to the European market – but this reputation would be lost if the UK quit the union.

British banks and businesses also see membership as important because it provides access to crucial foreign markets.

Oh, and the UK would still have to deal with the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU, even after ridding itself of the pesky Human Rights Act that ratifies so many EU employment laws and social protections that prevent Theresa May and her friends from exploiting us all.

Add it all up and the evidence seems clear: Britain is better off with Europe. Yes, there are problems, but these are matters for negotiation, not reasons to run away.

Don’t you agree?