Tag Archives: purge

The two faces of Ed Miliband are revealed by the Rebecca Long-Bailey row

Ed Miliband has claimed his boss Keir Starmer was right to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey – while also claiming the party isn’t purging itself of left-wingers.

The two claims are incompatible. Long-Bailey was the continuity left-wing candidate in the party’s recent leadership election and Starmer has used a flimsy excuse related to anti-Semitism to sack her.

Many other left-wingers are either being suspended for the same flimsy reason or have already been expelled (like This Writer) – but Miliband is insisting that there is no purge.

He has just incinerated any credibility he had left. Nobody should believe a word of it.

Look at this nonsense:

Miliband, the shadow business secretary and a former party leader, said Long-Bailey was a decent person and not antisemitic but that Starmer was right to sack her.

The reason the Maxine Peake interview was a problem “is not that it had a criticism of the state of Israel. I’m a big critic of what the Israeli government has done on a number of occasions. It was that it was a false criticism of the state of Israel, or rather the Israeli Defence Force, linked to the death of George Floyd, wrongly, saying that somehow tactics that killed George Floyd were linked to the Israelis,” Miliband told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.

“The problem is that over the centuries when calamitous things have happened, Jews have been blamed. That’s why there’s an antisemitism issue in relation to this and that’s why I believe Keir took the right decision. I think she made a significant error of judgment.”

Notice the wording: “When calamitous things have happened, Jews have been blamed.” Not “Jews have been wrongly blamed”.

It would be anti-Semitic to blame Jews – in this case, Jewish people working for the Israeli police or military – for something they haven’t done.

But we know that police from many US states have been trained by the Israeli police and/or military. And we have photographic evidence of the Israeli police/military – well, see for yourself:

Choke hold: Israeli armed forces using the same ‘knee on neck’ technique that was used to kill George Floyd. But we’re being asked to believe Israel never taught that technique to US police and it is anti-Semitic to suggest that one country’s armed forces could teach such techniques to another’s police.

It is in the face of this evidence that the Israeli authorities – not the Jews – are claiming their forces don’t teach these methods to US police.

It is not a credible position, therefore neither is Miliband’s.

So his other claim – that left-wingers in the Labour Party aren’t being subjected to a purge – must also fall. He said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:

Allies of Ms Long-Bailey who have criticised her sacking – such as former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and ex-party chair Ian Lavery – would not be disciplined for doing so.

He dismissed concerns expressed by some on the left of the party that this was a prelude to a further distancing from the Jeremy Corbyn-era and that legitimate criticism of Israel would be frowned upon.

“I heard something… about how Keir wants to purge these people. He is not about purges. He wants to change the country by not having the Labour Party mired in issues which, frankly, provide a stain on us. Keir took very strong action [against Ms Long-Bailey] and now we need to move on and deal with the issues of anti-Semitism we face.”

This Writer doesn’t believe that for a moment.

By sacking Long-Bailey and forcing left-wingers to reconsider whether they have a future in the Labour Party, he has plunged Labour even deeper into the mire.

He has not proved that criticism of Israel over this issue is not legitimate. All the evidence suggests that it has a very strong factual basis but Starmer seems determined to put his hands over his ears, shut his eyes, shake his head and mutter, “No, no, no,” like a petulant schoolboy whenever anybody tries to point this out. I have no doubt that Miliband will do the same.

It is this attitude that worsens Labour’s position. In refusing to take serious issues seriously, the party makes a mockery of its own position on anti-Semitism; how can it take a firm stand on the issue if it can’t accept the difference between anti-Semitism and justified criticism of a foreign government?

Left-wingers – including many who have not yet been smeared with accusations of anti-Semitism that are based on Labour’s bizarre misinterpretation – are quitting the party in large numbers, or seriously considering it, because of this pig-headed idiocy.

If there is a stain on the party, it is on Starmer and – despite his own Jewish heritage – Miliband.

They could put a stop to it by admitting their fault, accepting that Israel does have a prima facie case to answer (even though we may never have accurate facts because it is in that government’s interests to lie if its forces have been providing the disputed training), and resetting their claims about anti-Semitism to fall in line with accepted definitions of it.

But they won’t. They simply aren’t mature enough.

Source: Ed Miliband: Starmer was right to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey | Politics | The Guardian

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Starmer’s first purge: anybody in Labour tainted with accusations of anti-Semitism

Purge: if these badges represent Labour members who have been accused of anti-Semitism, how many do you think will get a fair hearing of their case under Keir Starmer? I’ll tell you: none.

Those of us who have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism may have hoped that a new Labour leader would take a strong position against the lies.

That was a forlorn hope, it seems.

We had a glimpse of what might come when Keir Starmer – along with, to their shame, every other Labour leadership candidate – agreed to support the Tory-run Board of Deputies of British Jews and its so-called “10 Commandments” demanding the persecution and expulsion of anybody their trolls decide to tar with false accusations. Some of these demands are not even legal so it will be interesting to see how Starmer enacts those parts of this promise.

But he made his direction of travel clear in his first speech as leader:

“Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it has brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party I am sorry, and I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of our Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”

Sorry, but anti-Semitism has not been a stain on the Labour Party. False accusations of anti-Semitism have been. But the liars who made those claims have been allowed to get away with it and now it seems their witch-hunt will claim many new victims.

I’m sure it has brought grief to Jewish communities – especially those that have been split between those who are gullible enough to believe anything the BoD and its trolls tell them, and those who trust their own judgement.

But a vow to “tear out this poison by its roots” makes it clear that Starmer has swallowed the lies hook, line and sinker. He will purge the party of anybody tarred with these accusations – whether true or false – and his pledge to judge his success by whether Jewish members who have left the party come back means that the trolls can make him do whatever they want.

This is a man who will not work for the people but will act only for the minority sectarian interests that control him.

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Are you happy to let right-wingers turn Labour back into Tory-lite?

The red flag of Labour: what a shame that some members at the top of the party seem to want to turn it blue.

The Labour Party seems to be going through another right-wing takeover attempt – and now that Jeremy Corbyn is quitting as leader, This Writer fears it may succeed.

We have already seen that all the candidates to be leader have given in to an entirely unreasonable set of demands from the Conservative-leaning Board of Deputies of British Jews, to ensure that anybody failing to sing from a pre-approved hymn sheet (approved by the Board of Deputies, that is) may be ejected from the party without ceremony.

Now we are seeing the beginnings of such a purge. And it is as insane as we have any reason to expect it to be.

Jo Bird, the only Jewish candidate to stand for election to the party’s National Executive Committee, has had her membership suspended suddenly – on a charge that has been hushed-up but is believed to be anti-Semitism. Thank about that for a moment.

Representative group Jewish Voice for Labour had a lot to say about it:

“Jo is the leading left candidate running for the NEC so the timing of this suspension is deeply suspicious and has the hallmarks of a deliberate attempt to undermine members’ wishes and Party democracy.

“We urge all Labour Party members to argue for Jo’s candidature to be considered at CLP nominating meetings. If this is prevented members should consider the option of calling an emergency AMM/GC as soon as possible after the nominating meeting to discuss and condemn threats to the Party’s democracy from the misuse of our disciplinary processes to secure partisan advantage in internal elections.

“If the suspension is for antisemitism we can say we have known Jo for a long period and worked closely with her. We know she is a proud Jew and opposed to antisemitism just as she is has shown over the years to be an active opponent of all racism.

“Suspension before investigation is an extreme measure and the Party must show to all members why they have taken such a step in the middle of an election process.”

Ms Bird had been nominated by 57 constituency Labour parties – including, I am proud to say, This Writer’s former CLP of Brecon and Radnorshire.

Electronic Intifada associate editor Asa Winstanley has decided to quit the party rather than participate in a “show trial” over his articles about Palestine, Zionism, the Israel Lobby in the UK (yes, Labour NEC members, there really is one) and the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party.

Labour’s persecution of him follows a familiar pattern because it carried out a very similar operation on me.

His membership was suspended at or around the same time as the party informed the news media – in a breach of its data protection obligations. I am currently enjoying some success in taking Labour to court over such breaches.

He submitted a Subject Access Request (SAR) to the party to which, by law, it must respond within 30 days. But it has not responded, in breach of the Data Protection Act and its own rules. I am also enjoying some success in taking Labour to court after it did the same to me. I have also received confirmation from the Information Commissioner’s Office that Labour is a habitual offender and that my case was one of many that it was investigating.

Investigators included stories he had published that have nothing to do with his party membership as evidence that he should be suspended, as they did with me. This is an attempt to prevent professional reporters from carrying out their first duty, which is to report on matters of public interest, and the party does not have any power to demand such a thing.

Officials have ignored his responses to their accusations in flagrant disregard of their own rules. This is a breach of the party’s contract with its members and, again, I am enjoying some success in bringing that point home to the party via court action.

Mr Winstanley has made his opinion perfectly clear:

“Now that the left-wing grassroots movement to reclaim Labour, spearheaded by Jeremy Corbyn, has been smashed, the party’s neoliberal centrists are seeking to reassert their control.

“The party bureaucracy conducting political purges under the guise of enforcing anti-discrimination rules is a key part of the right-wing effort to re-establish dominance.

“All the contenders to succeed Corbyn as leader have agreed to the Israel lobby’s demands to purge the party.

“The most right-wing candidate, Keir Starmer, is the frontrunner to replace Corbyn.

“Starmer has close ties with the hard-right of the party. His leadership campaign staff includes Matt Pound, an operative for the anti-Corbyn group Labour First.

“Pound apparently identifies as a “Zionist shitlord.”

“The threat to expel me is a symptom of a wider purge of the party’s left-wing and supporters of justice for Palestinians that is only just getting started.

“These are dark days for the left and the Palestine solidarity movement in the Labour Party and the UK.

“But the hope for radical change and social justice that brought so many new members to the party under Corbyn’s leadership will not be easily extinguished.”

It won’t. I am playing my part by taking Labour to court over its wrong decision to expel me from the party. Its own rules are on my side and I do not expect to lose.

But here comes the next question.

If you are a Labour Party member, what are you going to do? Will you sit back meekly and wait to be expelled by a right-wing cabal that is perverting your party into a lie? Or will you stand up and take action against it? Your choice.

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Labour MP tweets in support of Tory. Will he be purged from the party as so many others were?

This ReTweet by Labour MP Wes Streeting shows him supporting a view taken by a member of another political party, in direct contradiction of current Labour membership rules.

Thousands of rank-and-file Labour members were “purged” from the party – their memberships either suspended or revoked – in the run-up to last year’s leadership election, on the basis of claims that they supported the views of other parties (mostly the Green Party, which often promotes ideas that are attractive to – or the same as – Labour’s.

Mr Streeting has chosen to support a Conservative – a member of Labour’s natural political enemy. While the sentiment expressed is one with which we can all agree (right?), it is unacceptable that Mr Streeting has chosen to support a Conservative MP’s comments. Such an action is banned under current Labour Party rules.

So when will Mr Streeting receive his email from Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol?

Today? Tomorrow?

Or does Mr McNicol take the view that right-wing Labour MPs are somehow exempt from the rules that govern the rest of the party?

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Never mind the lifted Labour suspensions – what about everyone who was EXPELLED?

Former Labour Party member Krystyna Koseda out campaigning for Labour with Sadiq Khan (that's her, just to the left of him). She was expelled from Labour in September, on the grounds that she had campaigned for George Galloway.

Former Labour Party member Krystyna Koseda out campaigning for Labour with Sadiq Khan (that’s her, just to the left of him). She was expelled from Labour in September, on the grounds that she had campaigned for George Galloway.

I received a message today from a former Labour Party member who was booted out in the NEC’s summer purge after around six years as an active member. Her question: Where’s the justice for Labour members who have been expelled?

Krystina Koseda was active in Hornchurch and Upminster Labour Party, and spent spring campaigning with Sadiq Khan for him to become Mayor of London (and, as we all know, he succeeded).

But in September, as she prepared to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election, she received notification that her membership had been terminated – because she is a personal friend of George Galloway.

161105-kk-with-george-galloway

She wrote: “I am friends with George Galloway; my CLP were aware of this and there was no problem.

“I posted a photo of George on my personal Facebook account. It was George’s mayoral candidate photo but I cropped out the wording and placed it as my cover picture so it just showed his face as I liked the photo.

“My personal Facebook account is non political and all my friends and family are aware George is my friend. I thought nothing of it.

“I received a letter on September 10 to say I was expelled as, in March, I had placed this photo on my Facebook account. This was deemed as campaigning for a rival candidate to Sadiq.”

She told me: “I campaigned all spring for Sadiq as my CLP can vouch – and have in their letters to the NEC. I was even out with Sadiq and am pictured on his Twitter account. I was out campaigning for him with Jeremy when he came to Dagenham in March.”

She was indeed:

161105kk-with-jeremy-corbyn

“I worked so hard for the party this year. I have written and appealed as have my CLP but I have not even received any form of acknowledgement which I feel is very unfair.

“I feel I have been victimised due to my contact with George Galloway which is pretty bad considering he was Labour for 36 years and is an active campaigner for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

“I believe Labour hacked into my Facebook account as my privacy settings were on. I have asked where they got their evidence from as they also had my personal photos including those of my deceased parents, but they have failed to respond in any way.

“I feel they have broken data protection rights and I would like someone to highlight my case and the many others that were expelled.”

Ms Koseda’s expulsion letter is copied below.

161105-kk-expulsion-letter1

It states: “It has been brought to our attention with supporting evidence that you have publicly advocated support for George Galloway as a candidate for Respect on social media on 6 March 2016.

“You are therefore ineligible to remain a member of the Labour Party.”

This is why organisations like the Labour Party are supposed to allow accused members a chance to defend themselves against any claims made against them.

How many more innocent members have been thrown out by the former NEC’s (several members were replaced after elections over the summer) kangaroo court?

At a time when a great deal of attention is being focused on members who were suspended but have now been allowed back into the party, these people should not be forgotten.

Ms Koseda stated: “I passed the rigorous selection programme to become a councillor for the London Borough of Havering. I was shortlisted to the final three and was the only woman to get this far. Why did I pass all the selection criteria with them knowing about my friendship with George but then was expelled?”

She’s right; it doesn’t make sense. But then, very little about the Labour ‘purge’ ever did.

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Do YOU feel as prosperous as you were before the crisis?

[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]

[Image: David Symonds for The Guardian, in February this year.]

Britain has returned to prosperity, with the economy finally nudging beyond its pre-crisis peak, according to official figures.

Well, that’s a relief, isn’t it? Next time you’re in the supermarket looking for bargains or mark-downs because you can’t afford the kind of groceries you had in 2008, you can at least console yourself that we’re all doing better than we were back then.

The hundreds of thousands of poor souls who have to scrape by on handouts from food banks will, no doubt, be bolstered by the knowledge that Britain is back on its feet.

And the relatives of those who did not survive Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal purge of benefit claimants can be comforted by the thought that they did not die in vain.

Right?

NO! Of course not! Gross domestic product might be up 3.1 per cent on last year but it’s got nothing to do with most of the population! In real terms, you’re £1,600 per year worse-off!

The Conservatives who have been running the economy since 2010 have re-balanced it, just as they said they would – but they lied about the way it would be re-balanced and as a result the money is going to the people who least deserve it; the super-rich and the bankers who caused the crash in the first place.

You can be sure that the mainstream media won’t be telling you that, though.

Even some of the figures they are prepare to use are enough to cast doubt on the whole process. The UK economy is forecast to be the fastest-growing among the G7 developed nations according to the IMF (as reported by the BBC) – but our export growth since 2010 puts us below all but one of the other G7 nations, according to Ed Balls in The Guardian.

And it is exports that should be fuelling the economy, according to JML chairman John Mills in the Huffington Post. He reckons the government needs to invest in manufacturing and achieve competitive exchange rates in order to improve our export ability.

“Since most international trade is in goods and not in services, once the proportion of the economy devoted to producing internationally tradable goods drops below about 15 per cent, it becomes more and more difficult to combine a reasonable rate of growth and full employment with a sustainable balance of payments position,” he writes.

“In the UK, the proportion of GDP coming from manufacturing is now barely above 10 per cent. Hardly surprising then that we have not had a foreign trade surplus balance since 1982 – over thirty years ago – while our share of world trade which was 10.7 per cent in 1950 had fallen by 2012 to no more than 2.6 per cent.”

All of this seems to be good business sense. It also runs contrary to successive governments’ economic policies for the past 35 years, ever since the neoliberal government of Margaret Thatcher took over in 1979.

As this blog has explained, Thatcher and her buddies Nicholas Ridley and Keith Joseph were determined to undermine the confidence then enjoyed by the people who actually worked for a living, because it was harming the ability of the idle rich – shareholders, bosses… bankers – to increase their own undeserved profits; improvements in working-class living standards were holding back their greed.

In order to hammer the workers back into the Stone Age, they deliberately destroyed the UK’s manufacturing and exporting capability and blamed it on the unions.

That is why we have had a foreign trade deficit since 1982. That is why our share of world trade is less than one-third of what it was in 1950 (under a Labour government, notice). That is why unemployment has rocketed, even though the true level goes unrecognised as governments have rigged the figures to suit themselves.

(The current wheeze has the government failing to count as unemployed anyone on Universal Credit, anyone on Workfare/Mandatory Work Activity and anyone who whose benefit has been sanctioned – among many other groups – for example.)

You may wish to argue that the economy is fine – after all, that’s what everybody is saying, including the Office for National Statistics.

Not according to Mr Mills: “The current improvement in our economic performance, based on buttressing consumer confidence by boosting asset values fuelled by yet more borrowing, is all to unlikely to last.”

(He means the housing bubble created by George Osborne’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme will burst soon, and then the economy will be right up the creek because the whole edifice is based on more borrowing at a time when Osborne has been claiming he is paying down the deficit.)

Ed Balls has got the right idea – at least, on the face of it. In his Guardian article he states: “We are not going to deliver a balanced, investment-led recovery that benefits all working people with the same old Tory economics,” and he’s right.

“Hoping tax cuts at the very top will trickle down, a race to the bottom on wages, Treasury opposition to a proper industrial strategy, and flirting with exit from the European Union cannot be the right prescription for Britain.” Right again – although our contract with Europe must be renegotiated and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement would be a disaster for the UK if we signed it.

But none of that affects you, does it? It’s all too far away, controlled by people we’ve never met. That’s why Balls focuses on what a Labour government would do for ordinary people: “expanding free childcare, introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, raising the minimum wage and ending the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts. We need to create more good jobs and ensure young people have the skills they need to succeed.”

And how do the people respond to these workmanlike proposals?

“You intend to continue the Tories’ destructive ‘austerity’ policies.”

“The economy isn’t fixed but you broke it.”

There was one comment suggesting that all the main parties are the same now, which – it has been suggested – was what Lynton Crosby told David Cameron to spread if he wanted to win the next election.

Very few of the comments under the Guardian piece have anything to do with what Balls actually wrote; they harp on about New Labour’s record (erroneously), they conflate Labour’s vow not to increase borrowing with an imaginary plan to continue Tory austerity policies… in fact they do all they can to discredit him.

Not because his information is wrong but because they have heard rumours about him that have put them off.

It’s as if people don’t want their situation to improve.

Until we can address that problem – which is one of perception – we’ll keep going around in circles while the exploiters laugh.

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If Osborne’s critics are wrong, why did the economy do exactly what we said?

osborne embarrassed

What an embarrassment: George Osborne should be ashamed of the rubbish he spouted in his speech yesterday (Friday).

George Osborne is flailing.

He’s a desperate man, trying vainly to convince us that the current state of the British economy was his plan all along when anybody with half a brain can see it wasn’t.

Yesterday he was in Washington, trying to convince Americans that he knows what he is doing, but US economists are far too canny to accept anything he says at face value.

His principal claim was that critics of what he and the ConDem inner circle still laughably call “the government’s long-term economic plan” have been proved “comprehensively wrong”. Some of us would like to see his proof of that.

Back in 2010, when Osborne took over at the Treasury, trashed a perfectly good Labour-stimulated recovery and sent the economy into freefall, those of us with any sense said the situation would worsen until it hit the point at which the economy would stabilise of its own accord, without any interference from politicians. Then it would start to improve because demand would start to rise again.

We reached the lowest point possible in the British economic cycle; from there, the only way was up. That is why there is a recovery – and a mean, meagre little thing it is, too. We should be 20-25 percentage points above where we are. Instead, we’re 1.4 per cent behind our pre-recession peak and the money is going to the wrong people.

The only question you should be asking is why this Tory illiterate has held us back.

Osborne told America that the British economy was growing faster than any other in the G7 – which means nothing. When an economy has shrunk more than any other, it is easier for it to grow. It doesn’t mean that our economy will be bigger than the others, although that is certainly the impression that Osborne wants to convey.

He said the growth was “despite warnings from some that our determined pursuit of our economic plan made that [economic growth] impossible”. This was a lie.

Osborne knows perfectly well that nobody said growth was impossible. They said Osborne’s policy would delay any recovery, causing misery for millions of medium- and low-waged people and providing a spurious justification for his colleague Iain Duncan Smith’s purges of benefit claimants – actions that have caused many thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Apparently, to quote members of a previous Tory government, that is “a price worth paying”. For what?

He said: “Fiscal consolidation [austerity] and economic recovery go together, and [the economic turnaround in the UK] undermines the pessimistic prognosis that only further fiscal stimulus can drive sustainable growth.” This is not what the data shows. It shows, as already stated, that the British economy hit rock-bottom under Osborne’s guidance and has now started the long climb upward of its own accord. That is not an endorsement of his policy; fiscal stimulus along Keynesian lines would have arrested the decline and boosted the economy back into growth – as evidenced four years ago, when Osborne inherited an economy that had been growing for five consecutive quarters and sent it right back into decline.

Osborne claimed, yet again, that a Keynesian scheme would create more debt – denying the simple economic fact that the boost it would have provided would have put more money into the Treasury and cancelled the debt far more quickly than his cuts.

It’s obvious, really. Any growth is despite austerity, not because of it. If you take money out of a system, it’s harder for anybody to make a profit on which tax can be paid. Economics 101, George. But you studied history, didn’t you? And towel-folding.

We should also remember that in Osborne’s first Budget he promised – promised – a “steady and sustained” economic recovery. Instead, we had three years in which the economy flatlined. Then he brought in ‘Help to Buy’ – a very crude fiscal stimulus scheme that has created a housing price bubble that is hugely damaging for low earners while putting money into the pockets of people who don’t need it. The economy picked up, because housing relies on other industries, but the crash that is to come might create a worse situation than before.

Osborne wants us to believe that wages will start to rise above inflation, even though the experience of the Americans to whom he delivered his speech is that 95 per cent of post-recession growth went to the richest one per cent of the population. He wants us to believe living standards will improve, but there is no evidence for this at all.

It’s all just another big lie.

Just take a look around you and you’ll see the facts. Osborne was charged with keeping the economy on its knees because that is what the Tories needed, in order to suck the cash from the middle-class, working-class and unemployed people of the UK.

Tories need mass unemployment to maintain the UK as a low-wage economy, creating more profit for bosses while keeping the workers under the cosh.

They need stagnation in much of the economy in order to ensure that the deficit does not go away and the national debt rises, thereby making it possible from them to continue selling off the National Health Service and dismantling the welfare state.

They need a housing bubble in places like London, to ensure that it is too expensive for undesirable poor and middle-income people, ship them out to other towns that have suffered the planned decimation of their economic bases (in order to ensure that they could not make a better living there), and make the capital city a playground for the rich.

And they have done it all by manipulating the media into telling you the worst lies about your own well-being – lies like those in George Osborne’s speech yesterday.

The last 40 years of British history represent the worst decline in living standards for the British people in the entire history of our nation. Never before did we have as much as when the Conservatives came to office in 1979; never before did we have so much to lose.

And we gave it away to liars like George Osborne, just because they had honey on their forked tongues.

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Coalition: Put your own house in order before you patronise foreigners about disability

Lynne Featherstone: Her speech may have been well-intentioned, but was also patronising and hypocritical in the light of the Coalition's treatment of disabled people in the UK.

Lynne Featherstone: Her speech may have been well-intentioned, but was also patronising and hypocritical in the light of the Coalition’s treatment of disabled people in the UK.

Today the Coalition government announced it is showing the developing world how to treat people with disabilities (don’t laugh) – by ensuring that schools built with direct UK funding will have easy access for the disabled.

According to a government press release, Liberal Democrat International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone used the High Level Meeting on Development and Disability at the United Nations in New York – the biggest disability rights meeting in five years – to call on the international community to tackle the ‘great neglect’ of a billion people globally who face unequal access to education, employment, healthcare, social support and justice as a result of disability.

Did her speech make any mention of the ‘great neglect’ of people in her own country who face discrimination on exactly the same grounds, caused by her government?

“Those living with a disability are disproportionately some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world – part of an unseen great neglect,” she told the meeting. “It is telling that of the 57 million children currently out of school in the world today, over a third have a disability.

“As a global community, we have a duty to safeguard the most vulnerable. If developing countries are to move forward into prosperity and greater self-reliance, they must take everyone on the journey.

“That’s why from this day forward, all schools built with the direct support of British taxpayers will be designed to allow disability access.

“With the ongoing discussion of what development should focus on when the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015, we have a once-in-a-generation chance to finally put disability on the agenda.”

Leaders of developing countries would have been justified in looking askance at the British minister while she was making this speech, with her hypocrisy on display for everybody to see.

They would be right to ask themselves: “Is this not a minister from a country that demonises its disabled people? That treats them as a burden on the community? That is trying to purge its society of them?

“Did her government not drive 73 disabled people per week to suicide or death through the exacerbation of their health problems – both brought on by cuts to state benefits and the threat of destitution – during 2011? And is her government not now refusing to provide up-to-date figures on the deaths its policies have caused?

“Does this not mean that deaths of disabled people caused – directly or indirectly – by UK government policies have increased dramatically during this time period, and the same government is trying to cover up the fact?”

It is notable that the government’s announcement landed on the same day that disability activist Samuel Miller received the following correspondence from the office of the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights:

“On behalf of the Special Rapporteur, thank you very much for your communications… Ms Sepulveda is observing very closely the situation with the UK welfare policies and their effects on persons living in poverty, including persons with disability.

“She is doing her best within the limits of her mandate to address such situations not only in the UK but globally through direct engagement with Governments.

“She would like to commend you for your tireless efforts and wishes you all the best in your endeavours.”

In the light of all this, would leaders of developing countries not be right, while thanking the UK government for its well-intentioned offer, to ask why Ms Featherstone feels justified in talking down to them about the disabled when her government refuses to allow those in its own country an opportunity to live with dignity.