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Popular support for UK’s biggest union as it cuts funding to Labour because Starmer is ‘not listening’

Len McCluskey: as long ago as March 2018, he said if Labour won’t support left-wing policies, it won’t have left-wing funds.

Len McCluskey is providing the leadership the Labour movement badly needs, and right-thinking people across the UK know it.

Late on October 6, the BBC’s Newsnight told us the Unite union general secretary had announced a partial disaffiliation from the Labour Party because new leader Keir Starmer is “just not listening” to the Labour movement.

One of the most contentious issues recently was Starmer’s decision to pay £600,000 to so-called whistleblowers who contributed to a Panorama documentary about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

After Labour denied their story, they threatened to sue the party for defamation. Legal advice was that Labour would win – but Starmer decided to pay up anyway.

Now, United has disaffiliated 50,000 of its members, meaning its subsidy to Labour will drop by one-tenth – around £700,000.

This Writer thinks the close correlation between this sum and the amount paid to the “whistleblowers” is no coincidence. Unite – and McCluskey – are saying that if Starmer has so much cash he can afford to blow it on appeasement, he can afford to do without some.

The cash that has been freed will go to left-wing grassroots organisations – a shrewd move if it leads to wider understanding of alternatives to the neoliberal policies of Boris Johnson (and Starmer himself).

And the decision has been met with widespread support from the general public. Here’s This Site’s friend, Cornish Damo (be warned that he doesn’t hold back and you may find some of his language too strong):

We need an opposition, not an “appeasition”. Yes indeed!

Others have also leapt up to voice their support for Unite – and their disgust with Starmer on this and other issues:

AFTERTHOUGHT: Sadly, looking at the social media, it seems the Twitter trolls are trying to take over the discussion with support for Starmer and insults for McCluskey.

Perhaps Unite and all the other trade unions who co-formed Labour in the first place should just withdraw all their funding now, as these so-called members and representatives clearly neither need nor want it.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Does Whately’s scorn for student nurses hide a deeper Tory agenda?

Airhead or conspirator? What did Helen Whately mean when she said student nurses were ‘not deemed to be providing a service’?

After 25,000 student nurses volunteered to help NHS staff cope with the Covid-19 crisis in April, ‘care’ minister Helen Whately has announced that a new £5,000 grant will not be backdated to allow them to receive it because they are “not deemed to be providing a service”.

That’s the information we get from Nursing Notes:

The government scrapped the NHS Bursary system for student nurses and midwives in 2015 which subsequently led to a significant drop in the number of applicants.

Later this year the government will introduce the NHS Learning Support Fund which will provide non-repayable grants of up to £8,000 per year for both new and current student healthcare professionals.

Those who completed their course between this period feel understandably short-changed by a lack of financial aid – relying solely on student loans.

Tom Pursglove MP – himself a Tory – wrote to Ms Whately, asking for the grant to be backdated after he was contacted by student nurse Jessica Collins.

Ms Whately writes; “The Government has no plans to introduce a scheme that will backdate the offer for students who completed courses in earlier years.

“Student nurses in training are supernumerary and are not deemed to be providing a service. They are required to undertake 2,300 hours of clinical practice to learn the skills necessary for entry to the workforce.

“Whilst they may be performing limited clinical duties, this is under close supervision and they are not being paid to staff hospitals.”

Fine words from a government minister whose department would have been overwhelmed if those students had not volunteered their apparently non-existent services in April!

It would be easy to dismiss this comment as the witterings of an airhead and there is plenty of evidence to support such an interpretation of Ms Whately’s contribution to society.

Indeed, her letter goes on to claim – falsely – that those assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic were required to join an “emergency register” and would be paid a six-month clinical placement. According to Nursing Notes, this is not true – another lie to add to the ever-increasing pile of porkies the Tories have laid at our feet during the crisis that they made so much worse for people in the UK by their own selfishness, ignorance and laziness.

And what does Ms Collins, a mother-of-two who is graduating with debts of £60,000 because the Tories cancelled student bursaries, and who launched a petition calling for student nurses’ debts to be written off that attracted 200,000 signatures, think of the minister’s unkind words?

She told the Mirror: “The most shocking point of it was that we’re ‘deemed not to be providing a service’.

“I think you would only need to work one shift with us to see how we’re providing care for patients.

“We are under exactly the same pressures, we’re under exactly the same stresses.

“And the way she’s worded that just seems un-empathetic and so callous.”

Jessica said nursing students already feel undervalued and “to have it in writing I think is awful”.

She added: “I shared it with my closest circle first and there were a lot of tears, proper tears because it was that upsetting to some people.”

It seems Ms Collins will have a chance to clear the air with the minister next week, as part of a group conference call to discuss the issue.

This Writer believes nothing will come of this call apart from more hot air being blown down the phone lines at Ms Collins and student nurses like her.

And I reckon that – national loyalties notwithstanding – they will need to look to their own best interests when they graduate.

Other nations’ health services provide better pay and conditions than the NHS as it is run by the Conservatives, and nobody would blame them for taking employment that will help them clear the debt into which Tories like Ms Whately have pitched them.

If it creates a problem for the Department of Health and Social Care, so be it. The Tories already told nurses from foreign countries that they are not welcome, and it would do the country good to see that any problems in providing nurses are entirely caused by Conservative MPs.

And now I must ask: is that the plan?

Remember Noam Chomsky’s words on how the National Health Service could be privatised?

The Tories de-funded student nurses – and have now added insult to injury by saying they were “not deemed to be providing a service” during the Covid crisis.

If those nurses quit the NHS for better pay, then the NHS won’t work and people will get angry.

You know the Tories won’t take the blame – they never do. They’ll simply say the NHS as a system was always doomed to fail because socialist models always do – the usual baloney – and finish privatising the lot.

And the next time you need hospital treatment, they’ll slap you with a bill so large you could never, ever, hope to pay it.

Are you looking forward to that?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Typical DWP: How much cancer do you need to have before qualifying for benefits?

Katie Larn: She didn’t have cancer “enough” to qualify for benefits, according to a DWP-appointed assessor.

Katie Larn told the BBC she thinks the assessor who carried out a home visit to determine whether she qualified for PIP had decided she didn’t look sick enough.

I wonder if the assessor worked for Capita?

She’d had one session of chemotherapy then, had not yet lost her hair and steroids she was taking had not yet taken effect, making her put weight on.

But of course, a visual assessment is known not to be worth anything at all.

The message is clear, although the DWP isn’t getting it after almost 10 years (yes, the image was originally about fibromyalgia. It applies just as readily to cancer).

The worst of it is that the DWP would probably try to suggest the assessment was correct, as Ms Larn’s condition is now in remission.

It’s the equivalent of suggesting somebody must be a witch because they’ve managed to hold their breath longer than the time they were held underwater on the ducking-stool.

But that’s DWP policy for you: If you died, you needed benefit but now you don’t. If you live, you didn’t need it then and don’t now.

The Conservatives (and the Liberal Democrats who helped them set up this system) have thrown people living with sickness and disability right back into the Dark Ages.

A mother of three said she was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she “didn’t have cancer enough” when she applied for benefits.

Katie Larn was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma last year, and after starting treatment she applied for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

The 29-year-old was told she did not qualify for support after a home visit.

Source: Leicestershire mum ‘didn’t have cancer enough’ to receive benefits – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Press regulator rules Jewish Chronicle WRONG to have called Vox Political writer ‘Holocaust denier’

What was it the Jewish Chronicle was saying about the Labour Party being an “existential threat” to Jewish people?

From a purely objective viewpoint (of course), it seems clear that the main threat to Jewish people is coming from rags like the Chronicle, making false claims about perfectly decent people like me.

It stirs up distrust in the community, you see.

And people like Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard should not be allowed to get away with it. This is why I am raising funds to take those who have libelled me to court, so a financial penalty can be imposed on them that is of equal weight to the damage they have caused. Regular readers of This Site will be aware of the existence of my JustGiving page, and I apologise for having to keep mentioning it, but if you have contributed already, please consider making a further donation, or ask a friend to do so.

The Jewish Chronicle had accused me of Holocaust denial, following up on an article in another newspaper (on which judgement is pending). I took the matter to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which announced a ruling. This happened two weeks ago, but I had to wait for the all-clear to mention the fact. Here it is:

The complainant said that it was inaccurate for the article to say that he had said he “could not
comment” on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust because he ‘didn’t
know’. A commenter on the website had been listing incidents of anti-Semitism on the Left, and
had referred to a leaflet which he said omitted Jews from a list of Holocaust survivors, and put
the number of deaths from the Holocaust at thousands, rather than millions. In response to a
comment about the leaflet, the complainant had said “I’m not going to comment on ‘thousands’
instead of ‘millions’ because I don’t know, but the Nazi holocaust involved many other groups
as well as Jews, and it seems likely that the SWP was simply being ‘politically correct’”. He said
he was referring to not knowing why the leaflet made this claim, rather than to not knowing the
number of Jews who died.

The publication denied that the article was inaccurate. In respect of the ‘thousands or millions’
claim, its interpretation of the comments thread was plausible, and there was no significantly
inaccuracy.

The complainant had not expressly said that he “could not comment on whether thousands or
millions of Jews died in the Holocaust”. There was no reference in the discussion surrounding the
leaflet to “whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust”, because the leaflet had
explicitly not referred to Jews among the victims of the Holocaust. The publication was entitled to
give its own interpretation of what the complainant had meant by his comments. However, the
article did not make clear that it was reporting the publication’s interpretation of the
complainant’s comments. This represented a failure to take care, in breach of Clause 1(i). The
article gave the impression that the complainant had said something which he had not, on a
subject liable to cause widespread offence.

As with MailOnline previously, IPSO has let me down as far as punishment is concerned.

The Jewish Chronicle gets off with a light slap on the wrist: “Having upheld the complaint… the Committee considered what remedial action should be required. The publication had offered a clarification which set out the complainant’s position in relation to the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and on the meaning of his comments. This clarification made the complainant’s position clear, and addressed the article’s misleading presentation of his comments. This was sufficient to meet the terms… and should now be published.”

A full clarification, admitting that the paper had misled readers and apologising to me, would have been more appropriate.

And there are other outstanding matters that will now require a court ruling – which is why I am appealing for funds.

But for now, the score stands thus: Vox Political – TWO        Libellous newspapers – NIL.

Please be sure to share this information far and wide.

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


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One down: Press regulator rules against MailOnline in Vox Political ‘anti-Semitism’ case

This is a welcome victory.

But in the words of somebody much nastier than me: It is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it may well be the end of the beginning.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld my complaint against MailOnline, that it misrepresented me in an article accusing me of Holocaust denial and other examples of anti-Semitism.

It is the first adjudication among five complaints against news organisations that made similar allegations against me on or around February 4. You’ll see the issues when you read the full adjudication below. IPSO was supposed to publish it on the organisation’s website last Thursday but, for some unaccountable reason, this has not happened. As I have assurances that it is not being challenged, I’m going ahead and publishing it here.

The ruling regarding the alleged statement about a “cabal of Jewish advisors” to Tony Blair is wrong; I did not suggest that anyone could be justified in suggesting that Mr Blair was influenced in such a way – I stated that anyone hearing such a claim could be justified in being concerned about it, at least until they were presented with the evidence on the matter. There is, therefore, a world of difference between what MailOnline – and now IPSO – attributed to me and the fact of the matter, and claims that the publication’s interpretation of my words is reasonable are false. I will have to pursue this in the courts.

The punishment is completely inappropriate. Ordering MailOnline to do something it had already offered to do – and which I had rejected because it was not enough – is frankly pathetic. MailOnline has been found to have been inaccurate in its reporting of me and should be forced to admit that it was wrong and apologise.

IPSO’s view is that “the Committee decided that the footnote clarification was sufficient on this occasion… [and] there is no requirement for MailOnline to publish the decision; it will be published on our website. Again, were the Committee to have considered that the breach of the Code was such that [publication of] an adjudication was required, the publication would have been required to publish this in a position determined by the Committee.” Weak.

The ruling in my favour over the false claim of Holocaust denial is very interesting, as the original allegation came from a leaked Labour Party report on me. Labour has raised several charges of anti-Semitism against me – among which, Holocaust denial is notable for its absence. But the Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered the party to provide me with all the information it holds about me, after it was found to have broken the law by failing to honour a Subject Access Request I sent out in February – so I will see the information that led to the news outlet’s claim (or I will know that Labour has not sent all the information required of it).

That will have a huge bearing on the outcome of Labour’s investigation. As the party has been caught lying about me, this casts a shadow over all its other claims.

But the main benefit to come from this will arise when I launch my court cases against the organisations that have lied about me but are not subject to IPSO regulation. Having a ruling in my favour here will weigh heavily against my opponents in that arena.

But I need the funds to be able to do that, which is why I have a JustGiving page dedicated to that purpose.

If you want to help put an end to frivolous, lying accusations of anti-Semitism, please visit the page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mike-sivier and donate some cash. I’m hoping to raise £25,000 and have a long way to go.

Here’s the IPSO adjudication:

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 02821-18 Sivier v MailOnline
Summary of Complaint
1. Mike Sivier complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that MailOnline breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Journalist accused of anti-Semitism and ex Militant member among the far-left activists who have been let back into Labour after Corbynistas tightened their grip on the party”, published on 4 February 2018.
2. The article reported on “secret documents” seen by a different publication, which showed that the Labour Party had allowed “far left activists” back into the party. It said that the complainant was being given back his membership after being “expelled…over claims he had posted anti-Semitic abuse online”. The article said that the complainant “reportedly said it ‘may be entirely justified’ to say Tony Blair had been ‘unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers’”, and that he also “said he was ‘not pretending it was a big problem’ if Jews were omitted from a list of Holocaust survivors”. It went on to say that, according to the other publication, the complainant “claimed ‘I’m not going to comment’ on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust as ‘I don’t know’”.
3. The complainant said that he had not been “expelled” from the Labour Party: he had been suspended while an investigation was carried out into allegations that he had posted material which might be interpreted as anti-Semitic – not for posting “abuse”. He said that another commenter on his website had stated that a Labour politician had said that Tony Blair was “unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers”. He said that, without further context, it was impossible to analyse this claim; he had replied saying “I would point out that (without further information) concerns that Tony Blair was being ‘unduly influenced’ by a ‘cabal of Jewish advisers’ may have been entirely justified”.
4. The complainant said that the other comments reported had been distorted by being removed from their context, and denied that they were anti-Semitic. A commenter on the website had been listing incidents of anti-Semitism on the Left, and had referred to a leaflet which he said omitted Jews from a list of Holocaust survivors, and put the number of deaths from the Holocaust at thousands, rather than millions. The complainant denied having said that he didn’t know whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust. Rather, in response to a comment about the leaflet, he had said “I’m not going to comment on ‘thousands’ instead of ‘millions’ because I don’t know,
but the Nazi holocaust involved many other groups as well as Jews, and it seems likely that the SWP was simply being ‘politically correct’”. He said he was referring to not knowing whether the leaflet made this claim, rather than to not knowing the number of Jews who died. He had gone on to say “Nobody has said anti-Semitism on the left doesn’t exist…But it isn’t organised and is mostly the work of aberrant individuals”. The commenter had then accused the complainant of “pretending that there isn’t a problem”. The complainant had replied “I’m not pretending there isn’t a problem, I’m just not pretending it’s a big problem”. His comment that he was “not pretending it was a big problem” had been referring to the problem of anti-Semitism on the Left in general, and not to the omission of Jews from the list.
5. The publication denied that the use of the word “expelled” was significantly misleading; the article did not suggest that the complainant had been permanently removed from the party, as its entire premise was that he and others had been readmitted. It nevertheless removed this word from the article and substituted the word “suspended” in its place. It also denied that the term “abuse” was misleading since the allegations related to the posting of content which might be interpreted as anti-Semitic. In addition, the publication said that it had accurately reported the complainant’s comments in relation to the “cabal of Jewish advisers”.
6. The publication said that the article was entirely accurate in reporting the complainant’s other comments; the interpretation that had been made of the comments was reasonable. It acknowledged that the complainant may have a different interpretation of the comments, and offered to publish a footnote clarification as follows:
Since first publication Mr Sivier has contacted us and asked us to point out that his refusal to comment on the issue of why the SWP flyer referred to “thousands” rather than “millions” was a reference to the choice of wording by the SWP on their flyer and not a reference to the number of victims of the Holocaust. He also says that the reference to there not being a “big problem” was directed to the general issue of anti-Semitism on the left and not the specific issue of omitting Jews from the list of Holocaust survivors. Mr Sivier denies making any comments that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic and we are happy to make his position clear.
It also offered to publish a standalone clarification on its website as follows:
An article on 4 February entitled “Journalist accused of anti-Semitism and an ex Militant member among the far-left activists who have been let back into
Labour after Corbynistas tightened their grip on the party” reported on allegedly anti-Semitic comments made by mike Sivier. We now understand that Mr Sivier denies that these comments could be interpreted as anti-Semitic and we are happy make his position clear.
7. The complainant denied that the article contained a reasonable interpretation of his comments. In reference to the claim regarding the number of Holocaust victims, his original comment had made clear, through the use of quotation marks, that he was referring to the use of the words in the leaflet, rather than to his own beliefs. The commenter had said that the complainant was “defending the indefensible, and pretending that there isn’t a problem” with anti-Semitism on the Left, and it was in response to this that he had said “I’m not pretending there isn’t a problem, though. I’m simply not pretending it’s a big problem”.
Relevant Code Provisions
Clause 1 (Accuracy) i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text. ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator. iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for. iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
Findings of the Committee
8. The Committee noted that the article had reported claims about the complainant which had previously been published elsewhere, and had presented them in this light. However, the comments which the article reported on were publicly available, and the publication was responsible for reporting them accurately.
9. The article had originally stated that the complainant had been “expelled” by the party. The Committee acknowledged that, read alone, this might suggest that he had been permanently barred. However, the sub-headline indicated that he had been ‘suspended’, and the article made clear that he was eligible to be readmitted; indeed, this was the premise of the article. In these
circumstances, stating that he had been “expelled” was not significantly misleading, and there was no failure to take care over this claim. Similarly, it was not misleading for the article to say that the complainant had been expelled “over claims” of “abuse”: the suspension had related to allegations of anti-Semitic comments made online, which the publication was entitled to characterise as “abuse” when the basis for this was made clear. In addition, the newspaper had not stated as fact that he had in fact engaged in “abuse”, but had stated that he was suspended “over claims” of such behaviour. There was no breach of Clause 1 on these points.
10. In response to a commenter referring to comments by a Labour politician stating that Tony Blair was “unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers”, the complainant had written “(without further information) concerns that Tony Blair was being ‘unduly influenced’ by ‘a cabal of Jewish advisors’ may have been entirely justified.” This comment was accurately reported by the publication, and it was entitled to rely on the words the complainant had used. There was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.
11. The complainant had not directly said that he was “’not going to comment’ on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust as ‘I don’t know’”. There was no reference in the discussion surrounding the leaflet to “whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust”, because the leaflet had explicitly not referred to Jews among the victims of the Holocaust. The publication may have inferred this meaning from the complainant’s comments, but it reported this as something he had said. The article did not make clear that it was reporting the publication’s interpretation of the complainant’s comments; they were presented as direct quotations. Because the comment thread was publicly available, this represented a failure to take care, in breach of Clause 1(i). The article gave the impression that the complainant had said something which he had not, on a subject liable to cause widespread offence, a clarification was required to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii).
12. As set out above, the complainant had suggested that omitting Jews from a list of Holocaust survivors in a leaflet may have been for “’politically correct’” reasons. However, he had not explicitly stated that omitting Jews from the list was “not a big problem”, as the article said Claiming that the complainant had said this, when his comments were publicly available, his represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, in breach of Clause 1(i). Because the article gave the misleading impression that the complainant had made a claim that he had not made, it required clarification to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii).
13. The footnote clarification addressed the two inaccuracies identified in the article, and made clear the complainant’s position with respect to these two points. It was therefore sufficient to address the inaccuracy and avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii). The Committee welcomed the offer of a standalone clarification; however, the footnote correction was sufficient to address the inaccuracies in the article, and the Committee did not require a standalone correction in this instance.
Conclusions
14. The complaint was upheld under Clause 1(i).
Remedial action required
15. The publication had offered a footnote clarification which set out the complainant’s position in relation to his comments. This clarification addressed the inaccuracies within the article, and was sufficient to meet the terms of Clause 1(ii). It should now be published.

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


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Speaker signals that ‘dynamic’ democracy means questions like Brexit cannot be forever closed

John Bercow [Image from The Guardian].

This will increase pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to change Labour’s stance on Brexit – and he should, but only at the right time.

We all know it’s a terrible idea; we can all see that it is already harming the UK’s economy; but the evidence against it must be unequivocal before Labour can call for a halt, for the good of the nation.

It is a useful intervention, though – and of course, even if Brexit does happen in spite of all good sense, it opens the door for a reversal in the future, when the adverse effects become incontrovertible.

John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, has warned democracy is under threat and said those on the wrong side of a referendum result do not have to accept their case has been lost forever, in remarks welcomed by campaigners for people’s right to change their mind on Brexit.

The Speaker is duty-bound to remain neutral on political issues, but his comments appeared to make a thinly veiled reference to the EU referendum, defending the right for people to argue for a second vote.

He made the speech at a reception on Thursday for Operation Black Vote in the House of Commons, where he warned there were “threats to representative democracy that should concern us”.

“Democracy is not just about one vote once every five years or one vote once on a particular issue causing all argument on that matter to be considered legitimately shut down,” he said.

“That is not the way democracy works. Democracy is a dynamic concept. People who are on the losing side are not obliged to accept that their view has been lost for ever and they are perfectly entitled to continue to argue for it.”

Source: Referendum voters should be able to change their minds, says John Bercow | Politics | The Guardian


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Even Labour’s ‘page does not exist’ web notification scores a direct hit on the Tories


Is any further explanation necessary?

This is brutal – and brilliant.


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300,000 jobless Britons are not claiming benefits – and the government likes it that way

The DWP said anyone who thinks they are entitled to out-of-work benefit should contact Jobcentre Plus. What they didn’t add was that these people would then be subjected to a period of ritual humiliation followed by the rejection of their claim on a trumped-up excuse [Image: Danny Lawson/PA].

The Resolution Foundation is right to highlight this – but wrong to expect anything to be done about it.

Governments habitually do nothing to inform people of their rights with regard to benefits. They expect the public to be aware of these details, even when none are supplied.

The reason is obvious: Another benefit claimant is another drain on the public purse. The current Conservative government would rather these people just die off.

In addition, anybody claiming a benefit is then subject to the Tory government’s humiliating benefit assessments process, which seeks to use the most humiliating methods possible to identify any and all possible reasons for refusing the claim, no matter how petty.

It seems bizarre to suggest that the rollout of Universal Credit is a good opportunity for the DWP to encourage these people to claim; UC is more punitive than the benefits it replaces and has been shown to cause more harm than good.

The simple fact is that the benefit system will never actually benefit its users while we have a Conservative government.

About 300,000 British people without jobs or on very low wages are not claiming benefits they are entitled to, according to a think tank study urging the government to focus more attention on the issue.

The report from the Resolution Foundation says the “forgotten unemployed” are disproportionately likely to be older women or young men, who are missing out on at least £73 a week and potentially far more.

While many appear not to claim benefits because they have other means of support – for example living with a partner in work or with parents – the report warns that some people, particularly women, are put off by a benefits system viewed as complex and overly punitive.

The report, titled Falling Through the Cracks, urges the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to do more to examine the reasons why so many eligible people do not claim, arguing that the rollout of universal credit would be a good moment for this.

The study says that while the bulk of the group not claiming benefits they are entitled to have no work at all, a significant minority do work, but for sufficiently few hours that they could still claim jobseeker’s allowance or, where it is in use, universal credit, which replaces a series of existing benefits.

The Resolution Foundation says the issue exists in part because of a lack of attention paid by all governments from the late 1990s onwards to a growing gap between the number of workless people and those claiming benefits.

Source: The forgotten unemployed: 300,000 jobless Britons not claiming benefits | Society | The Guardian


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Here’s a multi-signature letter that deserves MUCH more exposure

150401carers

Before anybody accuses This Writer of being “self-servative”, let’s remember that I’m far from well-paid as a carer and I can’t expect any reward for having signed today’s letter in The Guardian.

You haven’t read it? It’s here. It runs as follows:

“Family carers are among the most responsible members of society. CarerWatch, along with others, believes suggestions made in recent leaked documents of moving carers to universal credit would result in an unfair system that gives no recognition whatsoever of the contribution carers make to society. CarerWatch believes that governments should accept their responsibility to carers. Carers deserve a livable income, a separate benefit which recognises that they are not unemployed or “passive” recipients of benefit but are making an important contribution to society.

“Those in receipt of carer’s allowance cannot be classed as being inactive. Carers are unique within the benefit system in that they have to provide a minimum of 35 hours a week care in order to qualify for carer’s allowance. Over 1.5 million carers provide more than 50 hours’ a week of care, some providing care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Carer’s allowance cannot therefore be considered as being a “passive” benefit. Caring places physical and emotional demands on a carer. Unpaid caring entails carrying out the same tasks and duties considered by society to be work when carried out by paid care workers.

“Without carers’ unpaid contribution to society, this unpaid care would have to be provided by state-funded social care staff at a considerably higher cost to society. Without carers, our NHS and social care systems would collapse. The average carer is saving the nation over £15,260 a year. A full-time carer saves the nation considerably more. CarerWatch believes these proposals indicate a failure on the government’s part to recognise that caring is not passive and that carers make a valuable contribution to society (estimated to be worth £119bn a year).”

This Writer is proud to stand alongside the other signatories, who are:

Rosemary O’Neill CarerWatch, Frances Kelly, Pat Onions Pat’s Petition, Karen Machin St Helens Mental Health Carers, Pam Pinder CarersforumUK, Fiona Sinclair Autism Rights, Carole Rutherford Act Now for Autism, Ruth Lister House of Lords, Neal Lawson Chair, Compass , Norma Curran Scottish Campaign for a Fair Society and Values Into Action Scotland, Lynn Williams Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Valerie Minns Rethink Carers Lancashire, Peter J Perfitt, Simon Barrow Co-director, Ekklesia, Bernadette Meaden, Dr Simon Duffy Centre for Welfare Reform, Jonathan Bartley Work and pension spokesperson for the Green party, Mo Stewart Disability studies researcher, Linda Burnip Social Work Action Network, Gail Ward, Ian Hodson BFAWU, Jo Walker, Annie Bishop, Fiona Bruce, Rob Gershon, Nessie Kay, Kaliya Franklin, Ian Jones WOW campaign, Michelle Maher, Laura Stringhetti, Carole Ford, Jane Bence #newapproach, Wayne Blackburn, Rick Burgess, Nick Dilworth, Hazel Quinn, Sue Livitt Don’t Cut Us Out, John James McCardle, Stephen Carty Black Triangle campaign, Johnny Void, Mr and Mrs Charles Huddleston, John O’Callaghan-Williamson Director of Tcell, Alan Wheatley, Ros Bentley, John and Susan Pilling, Mrs Pat Pye, Vin West Chair, Wales Alliance for Citizen Directed Support, Bill Campbell, John McDonnell MP, Adam Lotun, Anne Novis, Susan Archibald Archibald Foundation, Maggie Bridgeman, Mehrun Dasu, Tom Shakespeare, Rosemary Trustam, Sam Sly, John Dalrymple, Laura Able, Chris Coffey St Helen’s Social Inclusion and Disability Network, Margaret Chapman, Dr Rhetta Moran Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research, Barbara Brown, Dr Julie Ridley, Joan Gauld, Sue Taylor, Chris McCahe, Patricia Burke, Pamela Burke, Paula Peters, Louise Meram Bromley Disabled People Against Cuts, and Neil White.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Tories are trying to buy the election with ‘quiet’ candidate spending hike

141214torydonations

Candidates in the general election will have 23 per cent more money to spend after the Tories slipped the increase through without debate. This only applies if any candidates other than Tories actually have that much money, of course.

The Observer has reported that, under the new limits, the total amount the candidates of each political party can spend has increased from £26.5m to £32.7m.

In March, the Electoral Commission recommended there should be no such increase in spending limits for candidates over the so-called “long campaign” period between December 19 and general election day on May 7.

The change to the law on candidates’ election spending, passed without parliamentary debate, was made despite a direct warning by the commission against “excessive spending” in order to “prevent the perception of undue influence over the outcome of the election”.

Ministers changed the law through a statutory instrument, the terms of which were not debated in the Commons, which is used more properly for consensual changes in the law. A Labour source said the move had not been spotted by them at the time, so they missed the chance to force a vote in the Commons.

It’s too late for that now.

We know the Conservatives have much more moolah than any of the other parties – let’s face it, they have spent all of their period in office changing the law to make it possible for the extremely rich and big businesses to donate increasingly ludicrous amounts to Tory Party funds, and this is the reason.

For example: In the past four years, 27 per cent of the £78,010,807  the Tories have raised – £21,072,508 – has come from hedge fund donors. George Osborne’s 2013 budget abolished stamp duty reserve tax on funds, a £145m giveaway to those very same hedge funds. That’s just one example.

The Observer states: “With the Tories having amassed a £78m war chest over the past four years, they can now funnel huge amounts of cash into key seats.”

We know that the Tories won more seats than anyone else at the 2010 election by throwing ridiculous amounts of Lord Ashcroft’s money at marginal seats and by lying about their policy intentions. This undemocratic move – there was no Parliamentary debate and one can hardly say it has been announced loudly; did you even know this decision was made in the summer? – clearly states their intention to repeat the same grubby, underhanded manoeuvre next year.

And we know that David Cameron has made this decision against the advice of the Electoral Commission – meaning that it should be plain for all to see that this is yet another corrupt decision by the most corrupt government of the last century.

What else are we to think of this? Lucy Powell MP, Ed Miliband’s election strategist, had a few well-chosen ideas on that subject. Writing in The Guardian, she stated:

“With only a record of failure to run on, David Cameron’s campaign is reliant on smear, fear and fat cats’ chequebooks. This is a party flush with big money backers but without the empathy or ideas the country needs, so they are rigging the rules of our democracy in their favour.

“When he was first leader of the opposition, David Cameron said he wanted to take the big money out of politics. He promised to address the ‘big donor culture’, arguing that we should ‘cut what is spent on a general election’. Yet he has now cynically changed his tune. Desperate to hang on to power, the Tories have quietly changed the rules to allow them to spend big in the runup to the election. The changes would allow them to spend millions more than they’re presently allowed, paving the way for Tory propaganda to flood constituencies.”

Opponents of Tory tyranny cannot match the Nasty Party’s spending power. All we have are our own voices and the facts.

That’s why next year – more than ever before – we have to put the message out to protect the public against the next wave of lies and ‘spin’.

The Tory Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act means we can’t spend any appreciable amount of money doing this, but they can’t stop us talking and they can’t stop us publicising the facts.

It’s up to us – all of us – to show the Tories that money isn’t everything.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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