Tag Archives: Paul

Revolutionary political campaigner is resurrected for modern times

This Writer is a big fan of comic books – or graphic novels, if you prefer. They have an immediacy that mere words on paper (or screen) sometimes fails to evoke.

When it comes to political ideology, I’m surprised that comics haven’t been employed to get the points across more often before now.

So I think writer/artist Paul Fitzgerald’s bid for funding to support Tom Paine’s Bones – his graphic retelling of the story of the radical human rights and political reform advocate whose work inspired the American Revolution and the formation of a democratic United States – is well worth supporting.

Here’s a quick description of the man and his career:

Through his strong and vocal stances on human rights and political reform he became a key figure in the American Revolution. His pamphlet Common Sense, which advocated for independence and an egalitarian government for the Thirteen Colonies, became the most widely read pamphlet during the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783).

His work reached an international audience and Paine’s The Rights of Man, which defended the French Revolution, so infuriated locals in Didsbury and Deangate, in 1793 that they carried out mock trials and executions, burning effigies of Paine in the process.

Even after his death in 1809, Thomas Paine continued to be a thorn in the side of those in power. His bones were unearthed from his grave in America by the radical William Cobbett and carried to the outskirts of Manchester and Salford, just after the Peterloo massacre had occurred in 1819. Fearing the presence of Paine’s remains would foment rebellion amongst a populace still raw from the massacre, troops prevented Cobbett from entering with the bones.

That’s an influential man; his power extended beyond the grave.

Paul Fitzgerald, an artist from Hulme in Manchester also known as Polyp, has been busily working to take Tom Paine out of stuffy lectures on politics and philosophy and onto the illustrated novel page. You can see an example of his excellent work above.

He has launched a Kickstarter campaign for £15,000 to get the project published and I would urge you to help out if you can. Just click on the link and make your donation.

Hopefully this could become part of a series exploring the origins of modern political thinking.

Source: Breathing life back into Tom Paine’s bones – graphic novel aims to resurrect neglected political reformer – The Meteor

If Johnson makes Dacre chair of Ofcom he’ll be betraying the BBC – and the facts

As editor of the Daily Heil, Paul Dacre spent decades misleading the general public with an increasingly right-wing slant on the news, for a sadly increasing proportion of the public with increasingly stiff right arms.

That’s This Writer’s opinion. If Boris Johnson appoints him to chair Ofcom, the communications watchdog organisation, then he will have an opportunity to impose his bias across all of the UK’s media organisations.

I know. Ofcom is supposed to be impartial. But that’s in a properly-run United Kingdom and ours is being run by Boris Johnson. A majority of people wanted it and the rest of us have to just get used to it while we wait for the chance to get rid of it.

According to The Guardian, his first task – handed down by Johnson – will be to target the BBC, despite the fact that Auntie has bent over backwards for him and the Conservative Party since it slithered back into public office in 2010.

It will be a betrayal of the public service broadcaster. But what did anybody at the BBC – even its new Tory-donating chairman – expect? A news organisation with even the briefest brief to actually inform the public impartially is anathema to a political party that survives on propaganda and outright lies.

Remember: seven-eighths of the Conservatives’ election campaign in 2019 was found to be lies.

There is a lot wrong with the BBC, it’s true – but that is mostly caused by the overt Tory influence exerted at its highest levels. Impose impartiality and these problems may disappear.

But that will never happen under a Conservative administration.

Instead, your BBC is likely to be dismantled; your licence fee divided between Tory-donating businesspeople.

That is what appointed Dacre to chair Ofcom means. To me.

And I don’t think I’m alone:

There is only one way to stop this – and all the other elements that mark out Boris Johnsons wholesale corruption of public life.

He hates adverse publicity.

If you think this should be stopped, then get on the social media and say so. Write to your local (and national) newspapers and say so.

You could even try to get yourself on Points of View, Any Answers or Question Time – Richard Sharp (he’s the Tory-donating BBC chair I mentioned above) will hate you for doing it but you have every right to!

Or you could just sit back and sink into lockdown-derived depression. It’s up to you but personally I’d rather try to do something than be blamed for apathy by the future.

Source: Johnson poised to appoint Paul Dacre chair of Ofcom | Ofcom | The Guardian

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The Johnson age of corruption and patronage: he appoints Dacre to run Ofcom and Moore to the BBC

Charles Moore and Paul Dacre: One doesn’t believe in public-service broadcasting, so he has been put in charge of the BBC; the other doesn’t believe in impartial, statutorily-regulated media so he has been given the media regulator Ofcom.

There was no process about these appointments; they are a gift from Boris Johnson to flunkies he wants to do his will.

He knows Dacre will ensure that far-right propaganda gets an easy ride from the broadcasting watchdog because Dacre published far-right propaganda every day in the Daily Heil and gave it an easy ride when he was in charge at the Press Complaints Commission (now IPSO).

This Writer is less familiar with Charles Moore, which tends to indicate that I had a taste of his work and turned away in disgust. From the words of others, I understand there will be no attempt at political balance while he has any say in what goes on at Broadcasting House.

Here‘s the story:

Paul Dacre, former editor of the Daily Mail, has been asked to run the national broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, while Lord Moore, the former editor of the Daily Telegraph and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, is believed to be considering accepting the role of chairman of the BBC.

The provocative choice of two such hardline anti-BBC voices has prompted anger and dismay across the broadcasting and entertainment industry. Speaking to the Observer on Saturday evening the Labour peer Andrew Adonis summed up the response of many to the news. “If true this is Cummings operating straight out of the Trump playbook with the intent to undermine our democratic institutions.”

The former government minister continued: “These would be really disgraceful appointments. Neither Paul Dacre at Ofcom nor Charles Moore at the BBC would believe in the mission of the institution they are running. Dacre demonstrably doesn’t believe in impartially and statutorily regulated media and Moore doesn’t believe in public service broadcasting, as his refusal to pay the licence fee demonstrates.”

This man refuses to pay the TV licence fee and Boris Johnson puts him in charge of the BBC!

If you’re still wondering why it’s a big deal, it means Johnson will control the media through these two puppets – and will get away with more of this:

And here are the responses:

An oligarchy is a small group of people running an entire country. That’s what Johnson wants and that is what he is getting. See this, also:

This last one is ironic:

All the organs mentioned in the tweet are indeed now in right-wing hands.

In related 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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This could be a preview of every day’s coronavirus TV briefing by the Tories [SATIRE]

I’m just using this shot of Dominc Raab looking clueless at the daily briefing to hammer home the fact that the satirical clip (below) is right-on-the-button.

Larry and Paul (apparently that’s who they are) have got this exactly right:

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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Sickening: Court gives Iain Duncan Smith the last laugh on rape victim’s Bedroom Tax eviction

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a 'panic room'. The man thrives on terrorising others.

He laughed: Remember, IDS laughed at the terror he was causing a rape victim by using the Bedroom Tax to make it too expensive for her to keep a ‘panic room’. The man thrives on terrorising others.

Judges at the Supreme Court should hang their heads in shame after they gave Iain Duncan Smith another reason to laugh at the plight of a rape victim.

The woman identified as ‘A’ didn’t have a panic room fitted in her house to protect her from a “violent partner” – as the BBC report I quoted extensively below puts it. She was a rape victim who needed it to protect her against any further attacks.

When it was revealed that she was being evicted from that house because of the Bedroom Tax, Iain Duncan Smith – the man behind the policy – laughed.

He laughed.

He thought it was funny that a woman who had been raped was being turfed out of her sanctuary against further violation.

And now the Supreme Court has given him reason to laugh again.

The solicitor for ‘A’ has said her client intended to challenge the ruling in the European Court of Human Rights, for the breach of her rights and “other vulnerable women whose lives are at risk”.

On a more optimistic note, congratulations to Vox Political reader Paul Rutherford who has – at last! – won his own case against the Department for Work and Pensions.

Paul and Susan Rutherford, from Pembrokeshire, care for their severely disabled grandson, Warren, in a specially adapted three-bedroom bungalow.

They can only care for Warren with the help of paid carers who regularly stay overnight.

Lawyers said the current regulations allow for an additional bedroom if a disabled adult requires overnight care but not for a disabled child in the same situation.

The court ruled in their favour.

No doubt Mr Rutherford will let us all know the details in the near future.

Note: The BBC report, below, inaccurately states that the Bedroom Tax is the removal of a subsidy for social housing tenants deemed to have “spare” rooms in their homes. This is a false claim. There was never any subsidy. The State Over-Occupation Charge, to give its official title, cuts Housing Benefit provided to people in social housing by an arbitrary amount, for no very good reason. People are allocated social housing according to the dwellings that are available to them and have no choice over whether the accommodation allocated to them is too big.

A woman who suffers from spina bifida and a couple who look after their severely disabled grandson have won their Supreme Court appeals against the so-called “bedroom tax”.

The court ruled that the government’s changes to housing benefit discriminated against them.

But five other people had similar challenges dismissed by the court.

The court said councils should be able to decide which tenants get discretionary payments to help them.

Disability campaigners have been protesting against the system, which removed subsidies for social housing tenants who were deemed to have “spare” rooms in their homes, since it was introduced by the government in 2013.

Dubbed the “bedroom tax” by Labour, tenants affected had payments cut by 14%.

For spina bifida sufferer Jacqueline Carmichael, 44, from Southport, Merseyside, the need for an extra bedroom was medical, he said, with judges unanimously ruling that “the scheme in relation to her is discriminatory”.

Her condition means she has to sleep in a hospital bed in a fixed position. There is not enough space for a second bed so her husband Jayson sleeps in a separate bedroom.

The court … ruled in favour of Pembrokeshire couple Paul and Susan Rutherford and their 15-year-old grandson Warren. Their case focused on the impact of the policy on disabled children needing overnight care.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Rutherford said: “It’s probably the best day we’ve had in the last three and a half years and we’re just really glad that it’s all over.

“Glad that we’ve won for everybody else who’s in our situation, because there’s quite a few out there who are”.

However, the judges rejected the cases of five others who have had their housing benefit reduced as a result of the government’s changes. They were:
Richard Rourke, 49, from Bakestone Moor, Derbyshire, who said he needed an additional bedroom to store mobility equipment. He has had his housing benefit reduced by 25%
James Daly, from Stoke, the father of a severely-disabled teenage son. He and his ex-partner share the boy’s care
Mervyn Drage, from Manchester, occupies a three-bedroom flat in a high-rise tower block, and has lived there for 19 years. He suffers from mental health and physical problems
A woman identified as “A” who had a council house fitted with a panic room to protect her from a violent partner
Plus another case made by a mother who can only be referred to as “JD” to protect the identity of her disabled adult daughter

Source: Two cases won against housing benefit cut – BBC News

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WCA reviewer condemns claimants to five more years of misery – Benefits and Work

WCAcartoon

How do we feel about this, from Benefits and Work?

The fifth and final review of the work capability assessment (WCA) published yesterday, appears to conclude that the WCA is perceived as being so unfair that it cannot survive into the next decade. The report’s author, Dr Paul Litchfield, favours a period of stability for the present test whilst a completely different system is brought in to replace it by around 2020.

Past its prime
In his report, Dr Litchfield points out that the WCA has been in operation for six years and has been in a state of constant change throughout that period. And yet ‘despite these changes and some undoubted improvements, there remains an overwhelming negative perception of the WCA’s effectiveness amongst people undergoing an assessment and individuals or organisations providing support to them.’

The author questions ‘whether an assessment designed in the early part of this century will best meet society’s needs in its third decade.’

If a new test is designed, he goes on to say, ‘then sufficient time must be allowed and suitable expertise must be deployed to create and test a tool which is both robust and meets the requirement for perceived fairness. In the meantime, my counsel would be to let the current WCA have a period of stability – it is by no means perfect but there is no better replacement that can be pulled off the shelf.’

Sadly, for current claimants, this means at least another five years of unfair and ineffective assessments.

Support group mystery
Dr Litchfield also points out the increasing number of claimants being placed in the support group – up from 10% to 47% – and the fact that the most common justification for support group entry is now regulation 35 (2) (b): that there would be a risk of harm to the claimant or someone else if they were not placed in the support group.

In many cases the claimant has a mental health condition which is judged to mean that they may be at risk of harming themselves or others.

Litchfield goes on to point out, disapprovingly, that two thirds of the claimants who are placed in the support group because of regulation 35 are not subject to a face-to-face assessment, the recommendation is made on the papers only. Dr Litchfield comments that:

‘The Reviewer understands from personal clinical experience how difficult it is to arrive at a sound judgement in this type of situation and is surprised that so many colleagues feel able to offer a professional opinion without the benefit of a face-to-face assessment. This would appear to be an area that warrants early further investigation by the Department and its provider.’

The preponderance of paper-based recommendations could be due to the fact that they are quicker and cheaper than face to face assessments. It might be because many Atos health professionals do not have the experience and confidence in their skills to carry out face to face assessments of people with more severe mental health conditions. It might be due to prejudice. Or there may be some other explanation entirely.

Whatever the reason, Dr Litchfield’s comments are as close to open criticism of Atos as you are likely to find in any formal review of the WCA.

You can download the final independent review of the WCA from this link.

When Dr Litchfield was appointed to replace the openly-critical Professor Malcolm Harrington, the mood in the social media was that the DWP had hired a yes-man. Now we have proof that he was nothing of the kind – and this is great news. His criticism of the benefit system isn’t a moment too soon.

But he reckons the current system should continue for around five more years while the government cooks up another scheme – and we have no guarantee that anything better will result (in fact, if we get another Tory Parliament, you can bet that it’ll be a lot worse)!

Also important is the fact that support group membership has rocketed because there would be a risk of harm to the claimant or someone else if they weren’t put there. Is this a tacit response to the appalling number of deaths the DWP still won’t admit have been taking place?

What’s the solution? Sack the people in the backroom (U know who they are – *n*m) who are providing all the bad advice?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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