The Office For National Statistics, which last week reported that the government had been under-reporting coronavirus-related deaths by 23.5 per cent, has now suggested the difference has increased to 78 per cent.
The government’s official death tally on March 27 was 926 – but the ONS said NHS England alone reported 1,650 deaths related to the virus by that date.
It also means that the true death toll by today’s date is likely to be far higher than the government’s current figure of 5,373.
Let’s be honest – on these ONS figures, the death toll is likely to be 10,000 or more. And that’s just in England.
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.
Priti Patel: what a vindictive operator she is – smirking as she goes about her mischief.
It seems clear that – no matter what the official line is – there definitely is a rift between Home Secretary Priti Patel and the civil servants running her department.
It is vindictive – and extremely insensitive – of any boss to try to sack somebody on the day before Christmas, no matter what they have done.
Communications director Andy Tighe had overseen public relations disasters like the response to Grenfell and the Windrush scandal – but those were precipitated by the actions of elected Conservatives and it would be unfair (in This Writer’s opinion) to use them as an excuse to sack him.
But of course we don’t know her reasons; maybe she just doesn’t like the guy.
In any event, Permanent Secretary Sir Philip Rutnam was quite right to postpone the sacking until after the New Year.
But we hear that this act of compassion has contributed to a rift between Ms Patel and Sir Philip that has prompted her to demand that he be removed from his post.
Who is at fault, here?
The civil service manager who struggled to take care of his staff – or the smirking politician who was determined to cause upset wherever she went?
She has already been accused of racism in her support of Boris Johnson’s decision to allow the employment of the racist Andrew Sabisky.
What are we to make of her demand for a report into the ethnicity of grooming gangs?
Does their race really matter to anybody – unless they want to make racist points?
Isn’t it more important to find the perpetrators – whatever their ethnicity – and bring them to justice?
One has to question Ms Patel’s motives.
Better still, perhaps she should be ejected from the government in favour of someone with less of a personal agenda.
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.
Ever since it was announced that David Cameron would be spending £10 million of UK citizens’ money to buy himself a luxury jet for ‘official’ visits, This Blog has been searching for an image of the plane in question. We think we’ve found it.
The following article is set to appear as an update to the latest petition on Change.org by This Writer, Maggie Zolobajluk and Gill Thompson, for the government to implement the recommendations put to it, ensuring that no benefit claimants are left unable to support themselves due to withdrawal of payments, and that a broad, independent review of the system should be enacted.
In support of the petition, Maggie has written the following:
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) published guidance to job centre officials who decide whether claimants should have their payments stopped.
The guidance says: “It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health if they were without: 1. essential items such as food, clothing, heating and accommodation, or 2. sufficient money to buy essential items for a period of two weeks.
“The Decision Maker must decide if the health of the person with the medical condition would decline more than a normal healthy adult.”
As if it wouldn’t!
I have compiled a list of the deceased using the information here, here, here and here.
I fully agree with the assertion of Welfare Tales that these are the deaths that we know of because a friend, relative or the coroner has commented. Sadly, there are probably many more.
Many of our supporters have left distressing replies about their experiences on our petition.
If you feel able to share your experience please post them as comments; if you wish to remain anonymous please put a note on your comment and you will be anonymised.
Please let us know if:
You have had a JSA or ESA sanction, or
You have received a JSA sanction and/or you have been left without funds while awaiting a Mandatory Reconsideration decision.
Please also let us know why and how long you have been without funds and the effect on your health.
If you are feeling suicidal, please speak to your doctor and/or someone close to you. Or contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.
The list Maggie compiled follows.
On a personal note, This Writer recalls recent attempts to claim that the vast majority of deaths were likely to happen anyway, due to the fact that (among other elements) the vast majority of the dead were aged over 50. Among the 72 people named on this list, 33 of those whose ages are known were younger than 50 when they died – nearly half the total.
Conor Cribbin, 25 years old. The student suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and his medical card was stopped in the period leading up to his suicide. He had also learned just days prior that he had failed to secure a college grant. According to his father, Conor was in low spirits in the days beforehand. He added: “He couldn’t get his medication for his ADHD.”
Mark Cotton, 54 years old. Lost both his legs due to a medical condition. Died in an apparent suicide fewer than 48 hours after being told an allowance to pay his carer was being cut from nine hours a week to only three.
Terry McGarvey, 48 years old. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn’t well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not.
He died the following day.
Elaine Lowe, 53 years old. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. In desperation, Elaine chose to commit suicide.
Mark Wood, 44 years old. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.
Paul Reekie, 48 years old, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an Atos ‘fit for work’ decision.
Leanne Chambers, 30 years old. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.
Karen Sherlock, 44 years old. Multiple health issues. Found fit for work by Atos and denied benefits. Fought a long battle to get placed into the support group of ESA. Karen died the following month of a heart attack.
Carl Payne, 42 years old. Fears of losing his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform led this Father of two to take his own life.
Tim Salter, 53 years old. Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim hanged himself after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.
Edward Jacques, 47 years old. years old and suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.
Linda Wootton, 49 years old. years old. A double heart and lung transplant patient. Died just nine days after the government found her fit for work, their refusal letter arriving as she lay desperately ill in her hospital bed.
Steven Cawthra, 55 years old. His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, he saw suicide as the only way out of a desperate situation
Elenore Tatton, 39 years old. Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work.
John Walker, 57 years old. saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax, John took his own life.
Brian McArdle, 57 years old. Suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped.
Stephen Hill, 53 years old. Died of a heart attack one month after being found fit for work, even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.
Jacqueline Harris, 53 years old. A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. in desperation, she took her own life.
David Barr, 28 years old. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.
David Groves, 56 years old. Died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow claimed that it was the stress that killed him.
Nicholas Peter Barker, 51 years old. Shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.
Mark and Helen Mullins, 48 and 59 years old. Forced to live on £57.50 a week and make 12 mile trips each week to get free vegetables to make soup. Mark and Helen both committed suicide.
Richard Sanderson, 44 years old. Unable to find a job and with his housing benefit cut forcing him to move, but with nowhere to go. Richard committed suicide.
Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.
Craig Monk, 43 years old. A vulnerable gentleman and a partial amputee who slipped so far into poverty that he hanged himself.
Colin Traynor, 29 years old and suffering from epilepsy was stripped of his benefits. He appealed. Five weeks after his death his family found he had won his appeal.
Elaine Christian, 57 years old. Worried about her work capability assessment, she was subsequently found at Holderness drain, drowned and with ten self inflicted wrist wounds.
Christelle Pardoe, 32 years old and Kayjah Pardoe 5 month old. Pregnant, her benefits stopped, Christelle, clutching her baby son jumped from a third floor balcony.
Mark Scott, 46 years old. His DLA and housing benefit stopped and sinking into deep depression, Mark died six weeks later.
Cecilia Burns, 51 years old. Found fit for work while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She died just a few weeks after she won her appeal against the Atos decision.
Chris Cann, 57 years old. Found dead in his home just months after being told he had to undergo a medical assessment to prove he could not work.
Peter Hodgson, 49 years old. Called to JCP to see if he was suitable for volunteer work. Peter had suffered a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and had a fused leg. His appointment letter arrived a few days after he took his own life.
Paul Willcoxson, 33 years old. Suffered with mental health problems and worried about government cuts. Paul committed suicide by hanging himself.
Stephanie Bottrill, 53 years old. After paying £80 a month for bedroom tax, Stephanie could not afford heating in the winter, and lived on tinned custard. In desperation, she chose to walk in front of a lorry.
Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition, his weight dropping from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.
Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April Paul died from ischaemic heart disease.
Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.
Sandra Louise Moon, 57 years old. Suffering from a degenerative back condition, depression and increasingly worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.
Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away from him.
David Coupe, 57 years old. A Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. David lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.
Michael McNicholas, 34 years old. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a Work Capability Assessment by Atos.
Victor Cuff, 59 years old and suffering from severe depression. Victor hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.
Charles Barden, 74 years old. Charles committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him destitute and unable to cope.
Ian Caress, 43 years old. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Ian was found fit for work by Atos, he died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said that he resembled a concentration camp victim.
Iain Hodge, 30 years old. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, Iain took his own life.
Wayne Grew, 37 years old. Severely depressed due to government cuts and the fear of losing his job, Wayne committed suicide by hanging.
Kevin Bennett, 40 years old. Kevin a sufferer of schizophrenia and mental illness became so depressed after his JSA was stopped that he became a virtual recluse. Kevin was found dead in his flat several months later.
David Elwyn Hughs Harries, 48 years old. A disabled man who could no longer cope after his parents died, could find no help from the government via benefits. David took an overdose as a way out of his solitude.
Denis Jones, 58 years old. A disabled man crushed by the pressures of government cuts, in particular the Bedroom Tax, and unable to survive by himself. Denis was found dead in his flat.
Shaun Pilkington, 58 years old. Unable to cope any more, Shaun shot himself dead after receiving a letter from the DWP informing him that his ESA was being stopped.
Paul ?, 51 years old .Died in a freezing cold flat after his ESA was stopped. Paul appealed the decision and won on the day that he lost his battle to live.
Chris MaGuire, 61 years old. Deeply depressed and incapable of work, Chris was summonsed by Atos for a Work Capability Assessment and deemed fit for work. On appeal, a judge overturned the Atos decision and ordered them to leave him alone for at least a year, which they did not do. In desperation, Chris took his own life, unable to cope anymore.
Peter Duut, a Dutch national with terminal cancer living in the UK for many years found that he was not entitled to benefits unless he was active in the labour market. Peter died leaving his wife destitute, and unable to pay for his funeral.
George Scollen, age unknown. Took his own life after the government closed the Remploy factory he had worked in for 40 years.
Julian Little, 47 years old. Wheelchair bound and suffering from kidney failure, Julian faced the harsh restrictions of the Bedroom Tax and the loss of his essential dialysis room. He died shortly after being ordered to downgrade.
Miss DE, Early 50’s. Suffering from mental illness, this lady committed suicide less than a month after an Atos assessor gave her zero points and declared her fit for work.
Robert Barlow, 47 years old. Suffering from a brain tumour, a heart defect and awaiting a transplant, Robert was deemed fit for work by Atos and his benefits were withdrawn. He died penniless less than two years later.
Carl Joseph Foster-Brown, 58 years old. As a direct consequence of the wholly unjustifiable actions of the Job centre and DWP, this man took his own life.
Martin Hadfield, 20 years old. Disillusioned with the lack of jobs available in this country but too proud to claim benefits. Utterly demoralised, Martin took his own life by hanging himself.
Annette Francis, 30 years old. A mum-of-one suffering from severe mental illness, found dead after her disability benefits were ceased.
Ian Jordan, 60 years old. His benefits slashed after Atos and the DWP declared Ian, a sufferer of Barratt’s Oesophagus, fit for work, caused him to run up massive debts in order to survive. Ian was found dead in his flat after taking an overdose.
Janet McCall, 53 years old. Terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis and declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos and the DWP, this lady died 5 months after her benefits were stopped.
Stuart Holley, 23 years old. A man driven to suicide by the DWP’s incessant pressure and threat of sanctions for not being able to find a job.
Graham Shawcross, 63 years old. A sufferer of the debilitating disease, Addison’s. Died of a heart attack due to the stress of an Atos ‘Fit for Work’ decision.
David Clapson, 59 years old. A diabetic ex-soldier deprived of the means to survive by the DWP and the governments harsh welfare reforms, David died all but penniless, starving and alone, his electricity run out.
Chris Smith 59 years old.While he lay in a hospital bed, dying of cancer. The Jobcentre bombarded him with texts telling him he had to apply for jobs, and letters urging him to come to ‘job workshops.’
Nathan Hartwell, 36 years old, died of heart failure after an 18-month battle with the Department for Works and Pensions.
Michael Connolly, 60 years old. A Father of One, increasingly worried about finances after his benefits were cut. Committed suicide by taking 13 times the fatal dose of prescription medicine on the 30th October – His Birthday.
Jan Mandeville, 52 years old, A lady suffering from Fibromyalgia, driven to the point of mental and physical breakdown by this governments welfare reforms. Jan was found dead in her home after battling the DWP for ESA and DLA.
Trevor Drakard, 50 years old. A shy and reserved, severe epileptic who suffered regular and terrifying fits almost his entire life, hounded to suicide by the DWP who threatened to stop his life-line benefits.
Unnamed, death of a severely disabled Dorset resident, who took her own life while battling the bedroom tax.
Aaron Lane, 31 years old. A talented musician battling mental health problems took his own life after he was ruled fit to work.
Glen Harris, 55 years old. Killed himself with an electric saw because he feared his benefits would be changed after being found fit for work.
Peter Kelleher, 44 years old. Found in his flat with a ligature around his neck and in a state of decomposition after the pressure of mounting debt and no benefit at all became too much to bear.
Malcolm Burge, 66 years old. A retired gardener who killed himself after being hounded for £800 after changes to his benefits left him unable to cope.
Julia Kelly, 39 years old. Suffering with chronic back pain and hounded constantly by the DWP, Julia commited suicide after receiving a letter demanding that she pay back over £4000.
Benjamin Del McDonald, 34 years old. A doting Father of three children suffering from depression due to removal of his lifeline benefits, Benjamin committed suicide by hanging.
Mark William Jacka, 26 years old. Stressed to the point of suicide, Mark was found hanged at his home the day after a visit to his local Job Centre to apply for JSA.
David O’Mar, 58 years old. Suffering from Pneumonia in a hospital bed. Found ‘Fit for Work’ by the DWP only to die two weeks later.
Moira Drury, 61 years old. Suffering from limited mobility, mini-strokes, epilepsy and depression. Her daughter believes that a seven-month delay in processing her benefit claim hastened her death.
Gordon Lang, 62 years old, A marine veteran who died from cancer while battling the state over benefits.
Nick Barker, a former sheep farmer, had a brain haemorrhage which left him struggling to walk. The father of two shot himself after the DWP claimed he was fit to work. Recording a suicide verdict, coroner Michael Oakley said the benefits assessment was key to the tragedy.
Found Fit for work
David Waite, 60 years old, suffers from a string of health problems including brain, damage neck pain, diabetes and depression.
The Peoples review of the WCA published this report. There is a long depressing list of other people whose health has deteriorated after being “found fit for work”.
Yvette Cooper is only half-right. Cameron certainly lied to win the election – but Labour failed to beat him because Labour did not effectively answer those lies.
Labour’s five-year-long failure to deny the claim that it had spent too much while in government is the perhaps the most obvious example.
But Cooper has chosen to highlight promises that were made to the people of the UK, which have been broken in the very short time since.
David Cameron won the general election on the basis of a series of lies, Yvette Cooper said on Thursday, as she highlighted a series of broken promises by the Conservatives.
In a sharpening of her rhetoric against the Tories, the Labour leadership contender accused Cameron of ripping up nine pre-election promises. She said he had changed tack on areas ranging from child tax credits to housing and rail electrification.
Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “We may have our own leadership election going on, but Labour can’t allow David Cameron to get away with this and carry on like nothing has happened – he is taking the British public for fools. We have to confront him directly on every lie and broken promise – that’s exactly what I plan to do in parliament and across the country.
The nine areas identified by Cooper are:
Cuts in child tax credits. Cooper said Cameron denied during the election that he would cut child tax credits. She said Osborne, the chancellor, unveiled £4.5bn of cuts to child tax credits in the budget which would hit women twice as hard as men.
Cuts to child benefit after Cameron said during the election there would be no cuts beyond a two-year freeze. Cooper says it will now be subject to a four-year freeze.
Cancellation of rail electrification plans.
Downgrading of the number of affordable homes due to be built. The Office for Budget Responsibility has said 14,000 fewer homes will be built.
Delaying of a decision on a new airport runway in south-east England. Downing Street says it is standing by its commitment to reach a decision by the end of this year.
Delay in the introduction of tax-free childcare from 2015 to 2017.
Shelving of an election pledge to give public officials three days off work to take part in volunteering.
Delay until 2020 in the introduction of the social care cap.
Reversal of pledge for greater government transparency after launch of review into freedom of information.
ESA on the rise: Figures from NIESR’s Jonathan Portes show the number of people receiving ESA is increasing – but there are none for those in the ‘mandatory reconsideration’ queue and it seems 400,000 claims awaiting assessment have gone unrecorded.
The old men of Caxton House might seem unworldly, but they know how to pull off a conjuring trick: they’ve made 400,000 claims vanish into thin air.
The Atos bottleneck has led to a huge number of jobless people getting stuck in welfare limbo (or “limboland” as IDS said in the House the other day). They wait…and wait…and wait for their ESA claims to be assessed.
In the meantime, how does the DWP classify them, in its official stats?
Answer: none of the above.
They aren’t recorded anywhere in the data fed to the press.
The Fail has struck again with a comically inaccurate piece about benefit appeal tribunals.
“Benefits claimants cheats (sic) are able to keep money they are not entitled to because government officials fail to turn up to legal hearings,” thundered the piece by MailOnline political editor Matt Chorley, who should know better – both in terms of grammar and logic.
“The Department for Work and Pensions sent lawyers to just four per cent of tribunals held last year to rule on decisions to cut benefits.
“It means that in many cases people are able to successfully argue in favour of keeping their money, because the government has failed to turn up to challenge it.”
No – that’s not what it means.
If the DWP has made a decision not to send lawyers to defend the cancellation of a claimant’s benefit, it means they expect the facts to speak for themselves – or they do not believe they have a high enough chance of success to justify the expense. Logically this would mean they believe the claimant is correct and deserves the money.
So the real story is that tribunals are finding 49.613 per cent of benefit claimants who appeal to them have been wrongly stripped of benefits by poor DWP decisions (explanation below).
The story goes on to say that “official figures also show that the DWP is more likely to win cases if it manages to send someone to the tribunal”. This does not support the Fail‘s claim that cheats are winning cases; it corroborates the fact that the DWP sends lawyers when it believes it can win a case but legal representation is necessary.
The facts are buried deeper in the story, where we find (in figures borrowed from the Daily Telegraph) that between April and December 2013, only 4.3 per cent of cases had an official from the DWP – and claimants won their case in 41 per cent of those. That’s 1.763 per cent of the total.
When there was no presenting officer from the DWP, that figure rose to 50 per cent – half of the remaining 95.7 per cent of tribunals. Half of 95.7 per cent is 47.85 per cent. Add that to the 1.763 per cent and you have the percentage of claimant wins.
It still means the DWP is winning more than half of its cases!
The scandal is that it is causing unnecessary hardship to around 124,400 people, if the Fail is right in saying there were 250,000 benefit tribunals last year.
And Fail readers know it, if the story’s Comment column is any indicator. Keith Hudson writes: “They only turn up if they think they will win or that the Tribunal will rule in their favour anyway. The true waste of money is in the number of appeals that the DWP force through to this stage knowing full well they’ve broken the rules.”
This is also the view of ‘Pixie’, who writes: “WOW DM you need to revise that first sentence! There are plenty of people who appeal who are NOT cheats!”
And so on, down the line. This is the legendary right-wing Daily Mail comment column, yet even here people are turning against the pro-Tory attitude pushed by the mainstream press.
With Iain Duncan Smith appearing on the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday, this is another opportunity to point out the huge amount of damage being caused by his fatally – and the term is used literally – flawed policies.
That’s if the Beeb has the bottle to allow such a question.
‘Papiere, bitte!’ An NHS nurse checks a patient’s claim to be British in the ‘fair’ NHS of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government.
Suppose Michael Schumacher had moved to Britain and had his accident here after new government plans for the NHS were put in place – would he have been refused treatment?
Admittedly, that is a bad example to use. Mr Schumacher is undoubtedly wealthy enough to buy any healthcare he needs, and we should not wish poor treatment on him in any case.
It does show up the poverty of the Conservative-led government’s moral attitude, though. The fact that he is German adds another dimension, in that his people may have a particular aversion to any situation in which their papers are demanded by officials before they are allowed to do anything.
The proposals demonstrate the depths to which the UK is falling under the current despotic, unelected right-wing administration and the petty would-be tyrant at its head. We are drifting ever-closer to totalitarianism and comparisons with 1930s and 40s Germany are becoming ever more accurate.
Ask yourself this: Before you leave your house, do you make sure you have papers on you that prove your nationality? If it isn’t a part of your daily routine, then under our government of new totalitarians, it will be.
Is this so far from the Germany of 70 years ago, where the phrase “Ausweis, bitte” was not only a part of daily life but a hallmark of the Nazi government?
Do we really want that here? Are we really saying we will allow an unelected regime to impose it on us?
Never mind the pretext that it will save money that would otherwise be spent on people who do not deserve the care and will not pay their debt – this is about our freedom.
Do you want to trade your freedom for a saving that isn’t even worth very much – around 1/240th of the yearly national deficit at the current level – and will not benefit you in any way at all?
The government says nobody will be denied medical care – but it also said it would not impose a top-down reorganisation of the NHS, and how long did that promise last? Andrew Lansley had been working on it for many years before that infamous campaign announcement was made, but was under orders not to speak about it until a Conservative-led government was firmly installed in office and nobody could do anything to stop it.
The government says the changes will ensure that the system is “fair” – but then, this government has a strange notion of fairness. According to David Cameron, it is fair to deny life-saving benefits to the disabled and long-term sick in the name of deficit reduction, while granting huge tax breaks to the spectacularly wealthy that ensure the deficit will not go down.
I don’t even know what my NHS number is – but soon I will have to, in order to satisfy Britain’s new immigration officials, otherwise known as doctors and nurses.
Perhaps the government is hoping to make a saving by scrapping the UK Border Agency that Theresa May has so hopelessly failed to reform into an effective force (but I doubt it). Perhaps she was wrong to criticise the previous Labour administration about it as harshly as she did.
Perhaps they will use the money they save to buy jackboots.
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It seems the media mogul made the comments in March, in a private meeting with a group of journalists from The Sun who had been arrested over allegations of illegal news-gathering – including payments to police and other public officials for information.
In the recording, a Sun journalist asks: “I’m pretty confident that the working practices that I’ve seen here are ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated. Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?”
Murdoch replies: “We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops; that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.”
At another time, he says: “It was the culture of Fleet Street.”
The full story, and a transcript of the recording, are on the Exaro News site, but the revelation raises serious questions about the phone-tapping trial of Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and others, which is currently taking place.
If Brooks and Coulson are on trial for allowing corrupt and illegal practices in their newspapers, why not Murdoch?
And what are the implications for David Cameron, the Prime Minister who may have allowed this kind of corruption into Downing Street?
Would you want to live in this kind of Britain – where the rich and privileged live it up in huge high-status dirigibles while you and I toil in dirty, pollution-spewing factories? If not, you need to do something about it – now.
A few years ago, an entertaining TV drama presented an image of a Britain very similar to ours – but with a few significant differences.
The rich no longer lived in the cities, but swanned around overhead, flaunting their wealth in giant dirigibles. Working people seemed perfectly happy to put up with a military presence on every street and a curfew in the evening, because their mobile phone technology had developed into ear-‘pods’ that downloaded the latest (and undoubtedly pre-approved) ‘news’ directly into their heads.
It was both amusing and chilling when the day’s ‘joke’ came down the wire and everybody laughed at once. Good little robots.
Of course, the Doctor saved the day – but not before thousands of these characters were turned into Cybermen (let’s face it, they were halfway there already) and many more had been killed.
Good thing it’s just fantasy, isn’t it?
Isn’t this exactly what ‘bookmanwales’ was telling us in his comment on the recent Vox Political article about David Cameron’s intentions?
“Whilst you can make the information available for people to see what is happening they are not interested,” he wrote.
“’Can I afford the latest iPhone?’ ‘Can I get totally p**sed at the weekend?’… and ‘How cool does my new car look?’ are at the forefront of most people’s minds.
“The pursuit of personal pleasure has overtaken simple reason. It matters not that you have to work 8 or 16 hours a day as long as you possess these luxuries.
“It doesn’t matter if you see no family or friends, doesn’t matter if you sleep all day when you are off. You have the things that matter because TV tells you having those things matter.”
It’s only a small step from that to “It doesn’t matter if your employers take more and more for themselves and give you less and less, literally looking down on you from a great height; doesn’t matter that it costs more and more to buy the status symbols you want and they give you less and less purchasing power; you are doing what matters in the best possible way because that is what they tell you”.
Adjusted for inflation, our hourly wages have fallen by a massive 5.5 per cent since mid-2010 – that’s the fourth-worst decline among all of the 27 EU nations, recorded in the country with the sixth-largest economy in the world (some say seventh).
Only Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands had a steeper decline – and their economies stand at 36-40th, 49th and 17th in world rankings.
Meanwhile, according to Michael Meacher MP, chief executives of the FTSE-100 – the top British companies – have increased their own pay to 133 times the diminishing national average.
They’re laughing at you. They think you’re beaten; that you’ve been brainwashed into conditioned helplessness and into believing that your status-symbol phone or car or television actually means something. Meanwhile, they have been taking everything.
And, as long as you carry on playing their game, their way, they’re right.
The rot starts with the government and it is with the government that you must start to change it. Nobody else will do this for you; you must stand up for yourself or your bosses and corrupt officials will walk right over you. Government sets the conditions in which populations either flourish or are repressed. We describe repressive governments as tyrannies, despotisms, dictatorships.
How would you describe the government of the UK?
Take a good, hard look at your own MP. Have they represented your interests? Are you better-off, now, than you were when they were elected in 2010? Don’t try to excuse them by saying times have been hard – that’s clearly nonsense, otherwise those FTSE-100 executives wouldn’t be enjoying such monumental pay hikes. If they are members of the Coalition parties, have they done anything to safeguard your interests against the crippling damage done by government policies? Anything at all? If there are members of the Opposition, have they vowed to redress the balance by restoring the rights and powers that have been stripped away from you – not just in the last three years but the previous 30 as well?
Then get rid of them and put someone in their place who will. It’s not rocket science!
Join the political party of your choice, link up with like-minded people and make a difference. Stop believing you are free, just because a politician tells you so. Freedom can never be taken for granted. People have had to fight for it down the generations and these times are no different.
Or would you rather go back to sleep and play Angry Birds (or whatever is the new fashion) until they come to euthanase you?
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: Our hard work has put some people up among the stars; isn’t it time to ask why we are still in the gutter?
(The first Vox Political book, Strong Words and Hard Times, is available now in paperback or as an eBook, including a large ‘footnotes’ section in which you can actually connect to internet links containing supporting evidence – if you’re reading on a device that supports this kind of activity.)
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