Tag Archives: online

Sunak’s online sales tax really is just another way to attack people with disabilities

Rishi Sunak: he keeps interfering with the market, despite his party’s claim that it’s better to leave it alone. Is it because Tories love to torture people with disabilities?

Rishi Sunak isn’t making any sense at all.

He says his plan for an online sales tax is intended to push people back onto the High Street, to physically go out and buy products in order to save businesses that are in danger after the lockdown forced us to stay indoors.

We’ve been buying products online while Covid-19 remains a threat.

And we’ll go back to the High Street, but only once we are convinced the danger is over.

So if High Street shops are in danger, it’ll be because we can’t trust Sunak and his fellow Tories on when that’s likely to be.

Not only that, but in considering such a tax, Sunak is saying the UK is hostile to the new commerce that the Internet represents – as net-based firms still pay business rates and all the other taxes associated with sales.

That’s not good for any country’s economy in this day and age.

It simply doesn’t make sense.

But, considering the Conservatives’ well-known passion for cruelty, there is one reason for bringing in an online sales tax that does make sense: they’ve found out it’s another way they can attack people with disabilities.

People whose health conditions mean they can’t get out of the house have to use the Net to get their stuff, and many shops don’t have access for people with disabilities anyway – despite disability access laws having been enacted many years ago.

People with disabilities don’t have much cash to enjoy, either. They’re either on benefits or in low-waged employment.

So the logical reason for imposing an online sales tax is to push disabled people further into poverty – or to deprive them of goods that they should have the same opportunity to enjoy as the rest of us.

Tories have form in this regard; “Eat out to help out” was another attack on people with disabilities, as you can’t benefit from a discount on restaurant meals if you can’t actually leave home.

Underlying it all is yet another big lie:

Tories have supported, on the face of it, neoliberal ideology since Margaret Thatcher became their leader in the mid-1970s – and that means they support a laissez-faire attitude to the market.

This means they believe the market will automatically adjust to prevailing conditions in order to keep going.

So the proper government policy is non-interference.

Yet here they are, interfering.

Source: Rishi Sunak’s planned online sales tax is a tax on disability | Disability | The Guardian

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Covid-19: Tories admit their own incompetence as ‘test and trace’ app is unlawful

Matt Hancock: he was a Covid-19 super-spreader so it should be no surprise that his employees on the ‘track and trace’ programme have been publicising patients’ confidential information. It is a criminal offence and he should be punished by a judge. What do you think will happen?

Isn’t this criminal stupidity?

The Tories have been telling us their ‘test and trace’ app for finding people who’ve had Covid-19, in order to isolate those they’ve contacted, is vital to prevent the spread of the disease – and therefore stop unnecessary deaths.

But now we learn that it breaches privacy laws, with Sky News reporting that the programme’s staff have been sharing private information about patients on the social media.

What a Hobson’s Choice we’ve had – refuse to use the app and Tory twits like Matt Hancock accuse us of betraying the campaign against the virus; but if we do use it, our intimate personal information goes public!

It turns out that critics of the scheme, the Open Rights Group, were right and the government did not conduct a data privacy impact assessment (DPIA) which is required to ensure that breaches of patients’ information don’t take place.

But a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said there was “no evidence of data being used unlawfully” – and then clammed up when asked if a Sunday Times report that this is exactly what has happened was accurate.

The Open Rights Group reckons it has already seen evidence of confidential track and trace information being shared on social media – and This Writer is certainly more inclined to believe that organisation than a government that has built up a record of relentless incompetence.

Can anybody tell me a single thing the Tories have got right since December 13, 2019?

Of course, breach of Data Protection laws is a criminal offence and the person directly responsible for this one will be the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, one Matt Hancock.

How lucky he must feel, knowing that as a Tory minister he is above the law and the police wouldn’t touch him even if he committee murder on television.

Source: Coronavirus: Government admits its Test and Trace programme is unlawful | Science & Tech News | Sky 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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Volunteer scheme that tackles loneliness amongst young disabled people thrives online during pandemic | Charity Today News

No clever message from This Writer here – I just think this is something worth celebrating:

A community volunteer scheme, which had to be stopped at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now thriving online, with the organiser encouraging more people to come forward to meet growing demand, as many disabled people continue to have to stay indoors.

‘Sense Buddying’, run by the national disability charity Sense, matches a young disabled person with a volunteer to spend time in the local community doing activities.

With one in two (53%) disabled people experiencing loneliness, rising to three quarters (77%) of young disabled people, the scheme has been praised for its role in tackling social isolation in society, by bringing disabled and non-disabled people together.

The scheme, which operates in the east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and Redbridge, moved to video-chat during the pandemic, with volunteers asked to meet their buddies online rather than in person.

Over 70 buddies currently meet regularly online and will continue to do so as the country comes out of the lockdown, with many of the young people experiencing underlying health conditions.

The charity now hopes that the move online will encourage more people to volunteer to become a buddy and help meet the growing need of families.

Pretty good! How about a national roll-out?

Source: Volunteer scheme that tackles loneliness amongst young disabled people thrives online during pandemic | Charity Today News

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People with mental illnesses and disabilities may be falling foul of video court hearings

Court: moving hearings to audio/video because of the coronavirus has made them useless for some people, due to their disabilities. (How many of your are going to criticise me over the fact that UK courts don’t use the gavel?)

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has called for the government to collect information on the effect of video court hearings on people with mental illnesses and other conditions.

It is feared that people with conditions including learning disability, autism spectrum disorders and mental health conditions – who are significantly over-represented in the criminal justic system – are at a disadvantage when cases are conducted without them being present in court.

The Ministry of Justice has switched magistrates’ hearings to video sessions in response to the coronavirus lockdown, with 85 per cent of cases heard in England and Wales this month carried out using audio and video technology.

Defendants have complained that they did not have enough time to discuss their cases with lawyers, and that they could not hear or understand what was going on during their hearing.

The EHRC has said that everyone should be equal before the law, and this means nobody defending themselves before a court should be at a disadvantage because they are disabled.

Will the government pay attention? It seems unlikely.

Tories have victimised people with disabilities since the moment they got back into office in 2010 – imposing harsh restrictions on who could receive state benefits, and demonising people claiming those benefits as shirkers and scroungers.

They have already made it hard for people to take a benefit case through to a legal tribunal; but the majority of cases that then succeed suggest that it is only logical that they would want to make it harder for a disabled person to achieve a victory, in any court situation.

Perhaps my opinion is over-judgemental.

So we shall have to judge the government by what it does.

If we never hear about this issue again, we’ll have our answer – and it won’t be good.

Source: Court hearings via video ‘risk unfairness for disabled people’ | UK news | The Guardian

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Online documentary lays bare how the NHS has been prepared for privatisation

People are saying great things about a new documentary about the National Health Service, which is available for viewing online.

The Great NHS Heist is a film by Dr Bob Gill that professes to detail how the UK has been robbed of its most precious possession.

According to the film’s publicity:

“The British National Health Service is the nation’s proudest achievement, lifting the burden from the sick, and copied across the world,

“But it has been under sustained attack over decades by successive governments.

“Realising that privatisation would be unpopular, the Thatcher Government instead started a programme of outsourcing that was continued and expanded under the Blair New Labour Government and up to the present.

“It required careful planning and a series of legal and structural changes spanning 30 years to bring it to the brink of American corporate capture; or, as one former policy adviser put it, reduced to “a funding stream and a logo”.

“A docile and complicit media have failed to hold power to account and inform the public about what is really happening to their NHS.

“Austerity and chaos over Brexit has provided perfect cover for the engineered failure of services, necessary to persuade the public to fall out of love with the NHS.

“NHS land, patient data and tax-funded budgets are all up for grabs.

“How did we get here? This film reveals The Great NHS Heist.”

Well, we already knew about the engineered failure of services being designed to convince the public that a private service is better – we have Noam Chomsky to thank for that:

Here’s the trailer:

And you can see the film here: http://movie.thegreatnhsheist.com/

(Rent for £1.94; buy it for £6.99.)

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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Tory cruelty condemned in handwritten signs telling personal stories

A grassroots campaign for people to vote the Conservatives out of power has been spreading across noticeboards all over the UK.

People have pinned the handwritten notes in public places, taken photos of them and then posted the images online under the hashtag #ToryStory

Here are a few from a Daily Mirror piece on the phenomenon – there are many more.

Do you have a #ToryStory ? If so, why not write it out and post it – in real life and online? You might help swing the election result.

Source: General election: Moving handwritten Tory Story signs pop up across UK – Mirror Online

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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Staggering incompetence of the court service shows not everything is better online

Has anyone else had to contend with the monument to incompetence that is HM Courts and Tribunal Service’s online claim system?

I was advised to use this at the beginning of the year to address the Labour Party’s own lamentable mistreatment of me, that led to my expulsion from that organisation in November 2018. As the party had not followed its own procedures properly, I could sue for breach of contract and have the decision reversed.

I duly filed a claim on March 15 this year – and the instant I did so, the site went down.

I immediately emailed HMCTS to check that my claim had been received and all was well, and received a standard response saying I would receive a response within 10 days.

Then I had to deal with the false libel claim against me by two TV personalities. This vexatious nonsense took up a considerable amount of what little spare time I had, and I was unable to follow up on my query after the requisite 10 days passed. I did, however, notice that HMCTS had taken its fee from my bank account.

But I had heard nothing more of the matter by mid-April, and when the website finally came back up I found that my claim still presented itself as a draft – and this raised my suspicions again. In a spare moment I emailed HMCTS with all the information I had, asking what was happening with my claim.

Another long silence.

Then on June 5 I received a response! Nearly three months after I made my claim, HMCTS finally deigned to respond – with a request for information I did not have. Apparently non of the reference numbers I had provided made sense to the organisation – even though I was quoting its own numbers to it. I had to write back, explaining:

Your website crashed after I submitted it and is now claiming that it is merely a draft claim. But you took my money so clearly something else happened. Should I re-submit my claim (in the knowledge that your website is prone to crashing and may do so again)? If so, I will not want to pay another £25. Will you refund the amount paid on March 15? And how do you propose to compensate me for the delay? This matter has been left hanging for three months, because your site crashed and you could not respond until now.”

The follow-up response was a little quicker than the initial one – but I still didn’t receive it until today:

“Please click on the draft claim and submit again without entering any payment details. Only a single (original) payment should be taken and the claim will progress through. Should a second payment be taken, this is unlikely, this will be refunded into your account within a few days.

“Please note that claims remain in draft for a total of 90 days, after this they time they automatically expire.”

June 17 is 94 days from the date I submitted my claim.

I have written another email: “You have contacted me after the 90-day period my claim was permitted to remain in draft form expired. It no longer exists on the website.

“This will make it extremely difficult for me to submit it according to the terms you have described. Impossible, in fact.

“May I ask what is the point of offering me a solution that cannot be honoured?

“As I am sure you are aware, the process of drafting a claim on your site is long and detailed, and I am appalled at the thought that I will have to go through it all again… I also think I am well within my rights to say that my treatment by your service has been entirely unsatisfactory.

“I await a new proposal to resolve this matter.”

A website that crashes; contradictory reference numbers; an offer of resolution sent after it became unworkable – these are demonstrations of incompetence.

I am fast losing my faith in the ability of our law guardians to uphold their obligations.

To put it another way:

I’m fuming.

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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DWP lies are proved AGAIN as ‘deflection script’ allegations are proved correct

This has been a week in which allegations made by news organisations have been proved accurate in spite of claims that they weren’t – but this time it isn’t Vox Political being vindicated but Sky News.

This Site followed up a report by the Murdoch organisation in October, in which former Grimsby DWP call centre manager Bayard Tarplay claimed employees had been told to use a “deflection script” to shift benefit claimants from the phone to an online service, whether they were capable of using the computer-based system or not.

At the time, the Department for Work and Pensions has said claims of a “deflection script” were “completely false” but added that when handling a query, call agents may use “aides” to help effectively process cases, including directing claimants online in relation to their claim.

It seems clear that this was a lie, with Sky‘s claim that it has now obtained a copy of the “deflection script” from Labour MP Danielle Rowley.

According to the new report, “Five call centres took place in a two-week pilot last year – including in Blackpool, Canterbury, Middlesbrough, Belfast and Bristol. A call centre hub in Grimsby, where Mr Tarpley worked as a case manager, used the deflection scripts for a longer period of time.

“Managers listened in on calls between handlers and claimants to see if the scripts were effective in ‘encouraging claimants to use their online account’.

“The document adds: ‘Encourage staff to ask what the claimant is calling for at the beginning of the call rather than moving straight to security questions this may open up the opportunity to deflect the caller online.'”

Amazingly, the DWP is sticking to its li(n)e that the “deflection script” does not exist – despite the fact that it has now been produced: “There has never been a policy to hurry callers off the phone and accusations that this is the case are completely false. Call handlers are encouraged to spend as much time as necessary on the phone and remind claimants that they are able to complete certain activities online where appropriate.”

Perhaps it’s time someone challenged Amber Rudd over this. You never know – she might resign again.

Daily Mail website flagged as fake news by Microsoft mobile web browser

A new feature on the mobile version of Microsoft’s Edge web browser has flagged the entire Daily Mail website, Mail Online, as fake news.

The site has been given a credibility rating of one out of five by Newsguard.

Visitors see a statement asserting that “this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability” and “has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases”.

That is certainly This Writer’s experience of that website, although Mail Online wasn’t forced to pay damages to me. I wonder how I missed out on that? Perhaps I’m not rich enough already and didn’t have enough clout.

According to The Guardian, “NewsGuard is run by news industry veterans and says it is trying to establish industry-standard benchmarks for which news websites should be trusted. It employs analysts to manually check whether sites meet a series of journalistic standards, making all its judgements public and inviting outlets to respond to criticism and improve their standards to gain a higher rating.”

Some believe this may lead to legal action between Mail Online and Microsoft:

But there is a strong precedent for the rating. My case is just one example; the website Tabloid Corrections has found that the Mail is the most unreliable news source in the UK for the third year in a row, having been sanctioned more times by press regulator IPSO than any other title.

The site states: “The right-wing tabloid is the worst offender for the third year in a row, chalking up 28 offences in 2018. This puts it ten clear of The Times, which moves up three places to 2nd with 18 sanctions. The Sun stays at 3rd with 16, then the Daily Mirror with 10, the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph with 7 each, and the Daily Star with 4.

“Almost all of the offences involved inaccurate reporting. Four of the Mail’s and two of The Sun’s violations didn’t involve accuracy of reporting and were against other clauses of the Editors’ Code of Practice (e.g. invasion of privacy, harassment).

“Although the Mail is the worst performer, it has improved on 2017 in terms of number of offences. Last year, the paper broke the rules 50 times. The bad news for the Rothermere-owned publication is that its total for this year would still have placed it first in both 2016 and 2017.”

I don’t think Mail Online will suffer much as a result of this – because I think most people consider it little more than a humour comic in any case. They read it to laugh at the nonsense. And, sadly, some read it to ogle the images in the extremely sexist newsroll down the right-hand column of that site’s layout.

As I write this, the BBC’s Politics Live has been covering the issue of fake news – without mentioning the Mail Online case once. Instead it focused on a Facebook post that claimed to refer to the UK Parliament but had its origins in the US political system. It’s perfectly reasonable to do so, although the omission is questionable.

The issue is one that This Site has highlighted recently – that anyone claiming to quote facts about political issues must provide proof, usually in the form of references to their sources. Then readers can check those sources.

If there aren’t any references then you assume the claim isn’t true – and draw your own conclusions about the person or organisation making it.

Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to get in touch

David Hencke is an excellent – award-winning – investigative reporter. If you have been affected by the issue he discusses below, please contact him.

He writes:

For the past four years I have been a member of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital Independent Panel that concluded that at least 456 elderly people had their lives shortened as ” a direct result of the pattern of prescribing and administering opioids that had become the norm at the hospital.”

Since publication of the report the events at Gosport are now the subject of an independent police inquiry so I cannot take up any cases involving Gosport.

However since the report’s publication a number of people have contacted me on my website with allegations of a similar nature in other parts of the country,

As a result I have started investigations into these and would welcome other people – relatives of former patients, NHS staff or lawyers representing them- to contact me in confidence as I am actively looking at this issue.

The aim will be to publicise and investigate these fresh allegations to find out what happened to their relatives and seek explanations from the various hospitals who were responsible for their treatment.

Contact Mr Hencke by visiting this web page.

Source: Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to contact me | David Hencke

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