Tag Archives: penalty

Tory penalty fines for missing school next term may be illegal

Evidence: Coronavirus outbreaks in English schools have risen exponentially since the Tories ordered parents to send their children back.

Typical Tory bullying: “We’ll threaten people with a fine to force them to send their kids back to school, whether they’re likely to catch Covid-19 or not.

“Then they’ll have no excuse not to go back to work, even if there’s a huge chance they’ll catch the virus there.”

Here’s a fly for their ointment:

Every parent has a legal responsibility to keep their children from harm.

No fine imposed by the Tories will overrule that responsibility; it can’t. To do such a thing would be admitting they want parents to allow the government to harm their children.

That is implied by their threat, but admitting it out loud would be electoral suicide.

Now look at the graph (above). Since the Tories forced only some children in England to go back to school, Covid-19 infections there have risen exponentially, week-on-week.

That’s pretty strong evidence to support protecting children by keeping them away.

Parents in England who do not send their children back to school in September will face fines, says the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

“Unless there’s a good reason for absence… we’d be imposing fines on families,” he said.

But head teachers said fining parents was not the “right approach” at first.

“There will be many frightened and anxious parents out there,” said Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union.

Head teachers, who decide whether absences are authorised, are more likely to want to build up parents’ trust in a safe return, said Mr Barton.

Source: Penalty fines for missing school next term – BBC News

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Boris Johnson wants “proper sentencing” for serious offenders – like the DEATH PENALTY?

Priti Patel: She wants to re-introduce the death penalty for serious crimes. Will Boris Johnson support her in this?

Was anybody else deeply disturbed by Boris Johnson’s incoherence on his first outing as prime minister?

He started robotically: “Today – is the first day – of a new approach – that will end” with what? His batteries running flat? It was worse than the Maybot.

This Writer has been informed by the luminaries on the social media that he was probably trying to sound Churchillian. He didn’t. He sounded like a child.

He followed this underwhelming debut with a seven-minute rant in response to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Did he answer any of the points Mr Corbyn raised? I found it impossible to tell.

One point he did not touch upon was the question of his Home Secretary’s support for the death penalty.

Priti Patel should not be Home Secretary at all, of course. She was forced out of Theresa May’s cabinet because she could not be trusted with government work and was caught carrying out what seemed to be a foreign policy of her own in visiting Israel and advocating support for that country.

Mr Corbyn did not mention that in his speech. But he did ask: “Given his first appointment is the Home Secretary – the first Home Secretary in a generation to support the death penalty – can the Prime Minister assure the House now that his government has no plans to bring back capital punishment to this country?”

No response – in seven minutes of ravings about the number of houses that were built in the UK last year, Mr Corbyn’s alleged dealings with Iranian mullahs, and John McDonnell’s historic behaviour.

But in a later reply to Chris Leslie he said he did not “personally” support the policy but “I think what the people of this country want to see is proper sentencing for serious violent and sexual offenders […] we will also be pursuing all the preventative measures necessary to reduce our prison population”.

Well, the noose would indeed reduce the prison population – although not by a huge amount; murder is thankfully not a common crime.

But Mr Johnson’s ambivalence was not a welcome sign. Ms Patel has shown herself to be unable (or unwilling) to listen to reason on this subject, as we can see from her response to Ian Hislop when the matter was raised on the BBC’s Question Time a few years ago.

We now have the most right-wing, authoritarian government the UK has seen in decades – if ever. Around one-third of the new cabinet, for example, voted against marriage rights for LGBT people.

How long will it be until they start clamouring for the return of executions – and never mind if innocents die?

I reckon they’re just waiting for an excuse.

Source: BREAKING: Boris Johnson refuses to rule out reintroducing the DEATH PENALTY | Evolve Politics

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Tory MP calls for return of the death penalty for murderers. Why does HE want to kill people, then?

Far-right Conservative MP John Hayes seems to lack the self-awareness needed to see the contradiction in his demand for the return of the death penalty for murderers.

Is he deliberately ignoring the obvious? Here it is:

If his party voted to reinstate capital punishment, that would make every MP who did so a killer – including himself. Murderers all, in fact, as they would be responsible for the premeditated killing of who-knows-how-many people?

And, is this another crackpot idea to be pinned on Brexit?

Here are the facts, from The Independent:

“A Conservative MP has called on the government to reintroduce hanging for people who commit violent crimes.

“John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, and a former minister, asked justice secretary David Gauke to consider the “potential merits” of the death penalty.

“The option of capital punishment “should be available to the courts” in cases such as that of Westminster Bridge attacker Khalid Masood, he said.

“Masood was shot dead by armed officers after mowing down pedestrians and fatally stabbing PC Keith Palmer in March 2017, but Mr Hayes suggested that had Masood survived it would have been “appropriate” for him to be hanged.

“Mr Hayes told Lincolnshire Live: “We have got an issue in Britain with very serious crime.

““We have had a number of serious crimes, the murder rates increase and barely a week goes by without hearing about some horrific child murder or old people being attacked and killed.””

As far as increasing murder rates are concerned, he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on:

https://twitter.com/gerardtubb/status/1058724321282191360

The Conservative government has responded with the official line – that it opposes the death penalty and is campaigning for it to be abolished internationally.

But what induced this man – who is a member of Parliament, let’s not forget – to think that this would be a good time to demand the return of barbaric punishments?

Brexit opportunism? “Everything’s going to go to pot, including law and order, so let’s bring back the death penalty and get rid of people we don’t like”?

This is the heart of the matter: Innocent people will be killed if the death penalty returns:

Still – and in the interests of balance – there’s always a loony who will support these psychopaths:

https://twitter.com/seabrook_ellis/status/1058676265186668544

Isn’t wanting to kill people for no reason a sign of declining morals?

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Right’s ‘outrage’ over vexatious claim penalty gives away their real agenda | The SKWAWKBOX

Brace yourself for a wave of false accusations against supporters of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party – most probably of anti-Semitism.

That is the message we are to take from the so-called Red Roar‘s fake outrage at the proposed penalties for vexatious or malicious claims.

It occurs to me that this might be the reason for the cloning of Corbyn-supporting Labour members’ Twitter handles, as explained by Evolve Politics here.

If you are a Labour member, please take note of the advice in the last paragraph by Skwawkbox, below, and act on it.

The ‘Red Roar’, more commonly referred to among Labour members as the ‘Blue Squeak’ has been attempting to whip up outrage about the idea that a penalty for vexatious or malicious claims might be included in Labour’s disciplinary code when Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) meets to discuss the party’s Code of Conduct either next month or in October.

That’s right – Labour’s morally-bankrupt right, for which the Squeak is an unprincipled mouthpiece – thinks it’s a bad idea that people should be penalised for making false claims designed either to bog the party down in nonsense or to smear someone with an undeserved and lifelong taint.

The proposal… would address false complaints of any type – and is entirely in line with usual legal principles.

If someone makes a deliberate false accusation of a criminal act, they can be charged and suffer legal penalties. If someone makes a false, damaging statement about someone in the media, they can be penalised for defamation.

So the Squeak getting its knickers in a twist reveals more than they might wish – because only people who want to make false and malicious accusations are likely to worry that there might be a penalty for doing so.

It’s a dead give-away of the plans of the Labour right – of course only false accusations by Labour members would be subject to any penalty in Labour’s rules.

So what can Labour members of good will do? Find the details of your member or union representatives on the NEC and demand that they ensure that a motion for the inclusion of a penalty for vexatious, malicious or abusive complaints is on the agenda for the next NEC meeting – and that they both support it and lobby their colleagues to do the same.

Source: Right’s ‘outrage’ over vexatious claim penalty gives away their real agenda | The SKWAWKBOX

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Wrong-headed Ukip leader candidate wants death penalty for paedophiles – unless victim ‘looks 18’

John Rees-Evans, UKIP leadership candidate.

John Rees-Evans, UKIP leadership candidate.


Is John Rees-Evans angling for the Daily Mail readers’ vote?

The Mail, as we all know, runs a column down the right-hand side of its website containing image after image of scantily-clad celebrities (if you can call them that), praising their physical attributes, no matter how young they may be.

In fact, the Mail‘s editorial position appears to be one of praise for girls aged less than 18, especially if they look older.

So, as This Writer mentioned before, “the leaning towards leering at very young girls is ingrained in the psyche of that extremely-popular site”.

The combination of a death penalty for paedophiles, commuted to another sentence if the victim looks older, therefore seems right up the Mail‘s alley.

But we should not attribute any extra support from this quarter to strategy by the candidate himself.

After all, he’s the man who claimed a gay donkey raped his horse.

A would-be Ukip leader has said paedophiles should receive the death penalty – but not if the victim “looks 18”.

John Rees-Evans, who has previously suggested a gay donkey raped his horse, suggested only abusers of “pre-pubescent”children would face the penalty under his re-introduction of capital punishment, suggesting it would only apply when the victim was under the age of 13.

In an extraordinary policy position that even shocked fellow Ukip leadership contenders, Rees-Evans was speaking during a debate held by LBC radio when he caveated his position on paedophiles facing the death penalty – arguing it depends “what you define as a paedophile”.

Questioned by presenter Iain Dale about bringing back the punishment, Rees-Evans said:

“I would vote in favour of the death penalty in the case of, specifically, for paedophiles and child killers.”

Dale pressed him further, asking whether “all proven paedophiles” would face the same punishment. He replied, before hesitating:

“Yes … but sorry, with paedophiles I wouldn’t say necessarily someone (the victim) who looked 18, and was fifteen-and-a-half.”

Source: Ukip Leadership Candidate John Rees-Evans Wants Death Penalty For Paedophiles Unless Victim ‘Looks 18’ | Huffington Post

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Why is Chris Grayling trying to sabotage the national finances?

You loved yesterday's meme about Iain Duncan Smith so here's one about Chris Grayling. Feel free to share it across the Internet and tell all your friends to do the same [Image: 38 Degrees].

You loved yesterday’s meme about Iain Duncan Smith so here’s one about Chris Grayling. Feel free to share it across the Internet and tell all your friends to do the same [Image: 38 Degrees].

Here’s further evidence that Justice Minister Chris Grayling is not only unjust but actually evil.

It seems he is drawing up contracts which will ensure profits – for the period of the next two parliaments – for private companies taking over probation services, and massive penalties for the next government if it cancels the contracts.

“Taxpayers will face a £300m-£400m penalty if controversial probation privatisation contracts are cancelled after next May’s general election under an “unprecedented” clause that guarantees bidders their expected profits over the 10-year life of the contract,” according to The Guardian.

It seems the contracts would guarantee the income of two of our favourite outsourcing firms, G4S and Serco, both of which have been at the centre of serious fraud allegations. They have received these contracts during a period when Grayling himself had said they would receive nothing.

Clearly he has misled Parliament.

The Ministry of Justice says it is following Treasury guidance by including the clause, making it likely that we are seeing a conspiracy among Tory-led government departments – and that we will see more of the same in other politically-controversial contracts that will be signed before next May’s general election.

In a time of austerity, inflicted on us by the same government!

Isn’t it illegal for one government to tie the hands of the next in this manner?

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, has said she was appalled by the discovery, according to the newspaper.

This is a typical Tory tactic in new wrapping. Remember how the Tory-led Coalition has forced budget cuts on councils and the regional assemblies, meaning in return that they had to cut services to citizens – and take the blame for the choices?

Grayling is clearly hoping that a Labour or Labour-led government of the future that cuts the contracts to G4S and Serco will take the blame for the increased cost to the taxpayer that he is imposing.

He isn’t thinking straight, though. G4S and Serco are under investigation, facing serious allegations of fraud. While they were cleared to work on government contracts in January, this came from auditors working for the Conservative government; a future government may disagree with that decision.

This means that contracts awarded to G4S and Serco would be void – and no money would be due to them.

Whatever happens with the contracts, Grayling himself should face legal proceedings for his own involvement in what amounts to interference with the public finances, after he is forced out of office next year. The favouritism he shows towards the two companies is deeply suspicious and he should be investigated for financial connections to them.

Let us remember, also, that Grayling has no mandate for these actions as nobody elected a Conservative government into office to tie the hands of future administrations. It was not in the Conservative 2010 manifesto, nor was it in the Coalition agreement.

This ‘justice’ minister belongs behind bars.

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Poverty: The situation’s bleak, but the future looks worse!

130617childpoverty

We all owe a debt of thanks to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for its work to reveal the depth of poverty in British society today.

The Foundation’s latest report reveals that – even by standards that have slipped since the Coalition government came into office – in-work poverty has galloped ahead of that suffered by those in workless and retired families – proving once and for all that, under the Tories and Liberal Democrats, work doesn’t pay!

But the situation is actually worse than the figures suggest, because the poverty line is always 60 per cent of average (median) income – and incomes in the UK have been dropping. Some say the average is now seven per cent lower than in 2010; others say nearly 10 per cent.

This means that, if we add in the people in working families who would be below the poverty line if it had remained at, say, 2008 levels, another two million people would be considered to be in poverty. These people are no better-off than they were before the poverty level slipped; they can’t buy more than they could before – in fact, their money goes a lot less far because inflation, even at 2.7 per cent, has hugely outstripped pay increases.

Add in the number of workless and retired families who are also in poverty – 6.3 million – and we have 15 million people in poverty in the UK today. That’s a quarter of the population of the seventh largest economy in the world.

And George Osborne wants us to congratulate him for his achievements over the past three years. Well done, George. You have conclusively proved that you are the worst Chancellor in British history – heading up the worst government in British history.

Let’s look at some of his successes:

The fall in average incomes in the last two years alone has wiped out all the gains made by Labour in the previous decade – and George has another year and a half to put people in even more serious trouble.

Worse still, incomes for the poorest 10 per cent of the population have been falling since 2004/5, because the neoliberal New Labour government did not protect them. These are the people for whom the four ‘D’s – debt, destitution, desperation and despair – will hit hardest.

The proportion of low-paid jobs increased in 2012. Remember that, when the government tells you that more people are in work than ever before. They are not telling you that these jobs keep people in poverty. They are not telling you the fact that, under the Coalition, work most certainly does not pay.

Among those in work, the number paid less than the living wage rose from 4.6 million to five million in 2012. This means 400,000 more working people are having to claim benefits to make ends meet. Work does not pay. The five million figure is one-sixth of the total workforce and includes two million people who had never previously claimed.

Meanwhile, those in benefit are being pushed into very deep poverty by sanctions, the effect of overlapping changes to social security benefits – which the government has again and again refused to measure, and the falling value of benefits due to the Chancellor’s one per cent uprating cap.

More sanction referrals were made on the unemployed between 2010 and 2012 than there are people currently claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (1.6 million, against 1.48 million claimants) – and 800,000 benefit stoppages or reductions were approved. This impacts on the government’s jobless figures, which do not include the number of jobseekers under sanction. Think about it – 800,000 is more than half the number that official figures show are out of work. Also, we know that Workfare is being stepped up, in order to fiddle the figures even more seriously.

The Bedroom Tax and council tax benefit cuts have hit 400,000 families, of whom around 267,000 families were already in poverty.

It is in this context that Iain Duncan Smith feebly attempted to distract attention away from the damning facts by telling the Telegraph that 50 families were each earning around £70,000 in benefits before his benefit cap (the £26,000-per-year, not the one per cent uprating limit) was brought in.

While this may be a shocking figure for some people, he did not provide the full details. How many people are we discussing, per family? Will the cap push them below the poverty line? Considering the facts laid out above, would a job relieve poverty for these families – or make it worse?

Smith – or ‘RTU’, as we call him here (it stands for ‘Returned To Unit’, a reference to his dismal Army career) – has yet again insisted that his diabolical changes are making the system “fair”. Anybody who repeats an assertion such as this, as often as he has, knows that nobody believes it.

Today, he is due to go before the Commons Work and Pensions Committee to account for his persistent interference with the statistics. Expect bluster and bravado but do not expect the facts.

For example, he will never admit how many people have died from the poverty caused by his assessment regime for Employment and Support Allowance.

That figure alone could bring down this government.

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Universal Jobmatch or Jobseekers’ Home-grab?

I predict this result when using the government’s new Universal Jobmatch. Picture from the Thurrock Heckler.

An administration united behind three key principles: freedom, fairness and
responsibility.” – David Cameron, first Coalition press conference, May 2010.

The government’s new online tool, which it claims is intended to make searching for a job easier, came into service on Monday. You might think that’s a good thing.

Think again!

It seems the appropriate term for the new system is “Orwellian”, as it tries to funnel jobseekers into any work that is available – no matter how inappropriate – and monitors responses in order to apply sanctions for any misplaced keystrokes.

These sanctions go up to three years without benefit. Bearing in mind the number of jobseekers who are living in social housing (they’re without jobs; of course they won’t be living in mansions) I think it’s safe to agree with a friend of mine, writing on Facebook: “You watch the homelessness figures skyrocket now!”

To me, that’s what it looks like: Another bid to grab people’s homes. Why the government should be so obsessed with depriving the population of its dwelling-places, I do not know – but I’m not looking forward to hearing the reason.

This is how my friend informed me about the new system:

WARNING: The government have introduced the new Orwellian jobsearch system on the directgov website.

“I was told by my adviser at the jobcentre that after some point next year, account registry will be mandatory for all JSA claimants, after which, they will be able to monitor every job you view, and when you view any job, you will not be able to leave the screen until you select a reason why you did not apply for that job.

It wont give you the details to apply for the job unless you register an account, and if you leave, the cookies will just tell them ‘refused to answer the question’.

They’re removing the Jobseekers’ Agreement. which effectively means they can now force people with First Class degrees or above to scrub toilets for four hours-plus per week, with no gain in pay.

They’re gonna call and spot-check all the jobs they recommend you for as well – even if they recommend you for jobs you know you’ll never get.

One slip-up and you lose your unemployment entitlement. First mistake: 13 week penalty, no pay. Second mistake: six months’ penalty, no pay. Third mistake: THREE YEAR penalty, no pay.

You watch the homelessness figures skyrocket now – because the fact of the matter is, there simply ARE NO JOBS for people. How many people in Pembrokeshire, where I live, unemployed? Thousands. How many jobs for the same area? A few hundred maybe. That’s for an entire SHIRE [county], not a town.”

According to OpenRightsGroup.org, a US company was commissioned to deliver this service – Monster Worldwide, an online recruitment and technology service firm, infamous for many major personal data losses through hacking. According to a Freedom of Information request made to the government, Monster was the only company invited to tender for the contract. The system does not require the consent of the participant – it is mandatory. Job Centre staff and external contractors – we don’t know who – will have full access to all user activities, including correspondence with employers, content of CVs, applications, job searches, feedback from employers, interviews offered and personal profiles.

Job Centre staff will be able to attach job vacancy details to user accounts – and those users must then apply for those jobs. It doesn’t matter how inappropriate those jobs might be – they must apply. Otherwise: sanctions.

It’s a stunning infliction of coercion and repression on a sector of society that has no defence against it. Details on the Jobmatch database remain there for 18 months after a user leaves the system, implying a huge invasion of their privacy. Add to that the fact that this ‘service’ will be integrated with central and local government and private sector databases, showing wages paid, hours worked, credit ratings, electoral roll entries and tax liability – it will be part of a huge tool to check up on you and make sure you don’t have cash you shouldn’t have. Because, at the end of the day, it’s all about keeping you down.

And remember the other Snoopers’ Charter – the one being pushed through by Theresa May? Not only will the government – and who knows who else? – have access to your financial information; it will also be able to check your communications, track your contacts and work out your opinions and sympathies from that. Orwellian: Big Brother really is watching you.

The sanctions do, indeed, run to three years without benefit. Workfare – the mandatory work scheme – is also a possibility. Claimants must be able to give evidence that they spend 35 hours per week doing job search activities.

I wonder how that is going to work?

I don’t think it will.

Users will be unable to provide evidence of every single minute’s work; they will make mistakes; they will get frustrated and intentionally abuse the system. Then they’ll be off the books. Then they’ll be in financial trouble.

Then they’ll be homeless.

Alongside all the people who’ve been thrown out because they couldn’t afford the Bedroom Tax, or because they couldn’t pay their council tax under the new relief schemes that are coming in.

I wonder what the government plans to do with all these houses that will be going spare?

One thing’s for sure, though: I don’t think “freedom” will have anything to do with it.

Or “fairness“.

Show your contempt for this arrogant dictatorship

Does anybody reading this still think the UK is a democracy?

I dare say most people are aware that the government, in the House of Commons, has reversed all seven amendments made by the Lords to the Welfare Reform Bill. This means the new benefits cap of £26,000, per family, will include Child Benefit.

The Bill will also:

  • Require cancer patients to undergo a means test for Employment Support Allowance – if they fail, they have to look for work
  • Reduce the lower rate of the ‘disabled child’ element of Child Tax Credits
  • Means test other ESA claimants every year
  • Stop young disabled people who have never worked from claiming ‘contributory’ ESA
  • Impose ‘under-occupancy’ penalties on social tenants with one spare room
  • Force single parents to face Child Support Agency charges, even if they have taken steps to reach a settlement

There is no mandate for these changes, or any of the other changes in the Welfare Reform Bill. The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition does not have permission from the electorate to do this, because it was never part of either of their manifestos. This is undemocratic.

The House of Lords, in amending the Bill to prevent the measures I mention above, had been contacted by many people on benefits, and made their decision in the knowledge of the financial trauma it will cause if allowed to go ahead unchanged. This was the only opportunity the people affected by the Bill had to plead a case, and the government’s pig-headed refusal to pay attention (let’s call it a ‘not-listening’ exercise, in recognition of the sham that was carried out in respect of the Health and Social Care Bill, which is likely to cause even more harm to the honest people of the UK). The reversal in the Commons therefore flies in the face of the will of the people. This, too, is undemocratic.

Furthermore, the government has announced it will use a rule known as ‘financial privilege’ to prevent the Lords from sending the same amendments back to the Commons when they consider the Bill for the final time.

Now, Parliamentary convention has long stated that the Lords do not deliberate on “money” Bills, such as the Budget – but such legislation is never introduced to the Lords in the first place. As the Welfare Reform Bill was, there is a strong argument that this rule does not apply.

It is highly unusual for a government to introduce a Bill to Parliament with the intention of it being considered by both Houses, only for it to declare the Bill beyond the auspices of the Lords at this relative late stage in proceedings – and for this reason the whole process could end up in a judicial review.

In other words, for this to happen, it must normally be decided before a government is humiliated over its unsound policies – not after. This, again, is undemocratic.

Let’s not forget that the government falsified the results of its own consultation process about this bill. More than 90 per cent of those taking part opposed the changes in the bill but this was ignored in the report, which was intended to show that the public supported the change. It does not. This, yet again, is undemocratic.

This break with precedent could have further implications for other major government bills going through the Lords, including the Legal Aid and NHS Bills, both of which are highly controversial. Need I point out how undemocratic all of this is?

Finally, none of these measures are necessary. If the government taxed big businesses properly, instead of excusing them from paying the vast sums of money they owe, then there would be enough in the Treasury to keep benefits as they are and pay off some of the national debt. This is what the majority of the people in my country want and their refusal to do it is totally undemocratic.

If you’re not living in a democracy – and if you’re in the UK, you are definitely not living in a democracy any more – then you’re living in a dictatorship.

It is a dictatorship ruled by two parties that did not even gain a majority in the last General Election.

We have another three years of this agony, as matters stand at the moment.

All I can suggest right now is that we make our contempt for this arrogant cartel known at every opportunity. If any of the above makes you angry, make sure you’re on the electoral register and then get out and vote against them every chance you get.

There are elections in May. They’ll be a good place to start.