Tag Archives: repeat

Weird tactics by wannabe witch-hunters: When did This Writer start leading Jewish Voice For Labour?

Wannabes: The fakes who are accusing decent people of anti-Semitism are like cartoon witch-hunters. They’d be funny if they weren’t trying so hard to harm decent people.

These obsessives get stranger by the day.

For the record, I am not Jewish, nor am I currently in the Labour Party, therefore I am not allowed to be a member of Jewish Voice for Labour. It only admits as full members people in the Labour Party who are Jewish.

But that didn’t stop troll “David Simon” (@DavidSimonSPG) from making that suggestion as part of a bizarre attempt to smear JVL for taking an interest in Islamophobia in Poland. Apparently this person reckons Jewish people thinking about Poland should only be able to think about the Holocaust:

There’s a case for suggesting that this is an anti-Semitic attitude in itself – denying Jewish people the right to self-determination.

But then he went one worse:

We’ll take these in order. Here’s JVL talking about anti-Semitism in Poland:

This addresses the issue that “David Simon” addressed initially – anti-Semitism in Poland being discussed by JVL. He had modified this to “anti-Semitic violence” but we may discard this.

I’ve already discussed why I can’t be a member of JVL, let alone leader of it. As for that hackneyed lie about me, here’s proof that I never said anything of the sort:

I think it was a clumsy attempt at guilt-by-association, and also at extending a false and disproved claim by repeating it until someone believes it again.

There was an attempt to double-down, with a claim that I must be a member of JVL because I used the word “let’s”. It’s very silly – look:

That’s right; we were discussing someone like “David Simon”, who was likely to be a paid troll or a bot. I had written “Let’s move on” – meaning everybody else in the conversation.

But “David Simon” wanted people to believe it meant I was a member of JVL.

That is the silliness of the fake “anti-Semitism” witch-hunters.

Fortunately this smear didn’t get very far, despite a second, flailing attempt at it:

Oh wait – there was another bit, to do with the leaflet that led to the claim that I was a Holocaust denier. Marvel at the silliness here:

Complete misrepresentation. I never had anything to do with the leaflet. I was challenged about it by a commenter on This Site and my comment was pointing out that there wasn’t enough information to make an educated response on the reasons it was written the way it was.

So that’s guilt by association, misrepresentation, anti-Semitism, and an attempt at “the big lie” (repeating a lie until people believe it) – which was, I believe, a Nazi tactic.

What a nasty person – if it is a person. And what a shining example of the people he represents. Next time you see anyone like “David Simon” making unevidenced accusations like these, the advice is clear: Ignore and block.


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Theresa May is drawing Parliament into a war of attrition

Remember when Theresa May threatened to inflict repeated votes on her dire Brexit deal on Parliament until she gets her way?

Now Labour is saying if it loses its vote of “no confidence” today (January 16), it will demand similar votes after ever government loss on that deal.

We’re into a war of attrition, it seems.

We have a government that has been found guilty of contempt of Parliament.

We have a government that has suffered the worst defeat in history in a Parliamentary vote.

This government has averaged one resignation per month.

It fails the people of the United Kingdom on a daily basis.

And the reason it won’t give up and hold a general election is that Conservative MPs are terrified a Labour government will reverse the harm they have done and will actually help the people of the UK.

The thought of doing a bit of good actually horrifies them.

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Now the Tories are trying to cover up the cost of stopping us from voting

The Conservative government is withholding the facts about the cost of its pointless “voter ID” checks.

The scheme puts barriers in the way to prevent ordinary people from voting – at huge cost to the public purse.

A pilot during the local government elections this year cost £1.7 million and resulted in an alleged 350 people being turned away from polling stations in five constituencies.

The result was entirely disproportionate to the problem. There were only 21 cases of alleged in-person voter fraud in 2014, 44 in 2016, and 28 in 2017 – 0.000063% per vote cast.

It gave rise to criticisms that the Conservatives are trying to disenfranchise huge numbers of voters – who are demographically more likely to support the Labour Party.

Now the Tories are withholding details of the cost of another pilot “voter ID” check, due to take place next year.

These Conservatives are constantly telling us there is no money for vital services, but they are happy to spray public cash up the wall when it suits them.

Remember the water cannons that Boris Johnson bought for £322,000 while he was Mayor of London? They have been sold for just £11,025 – for scrap – after never having been used.

Of particular note to those who think the Tories are the party of financial responsibility is the cost of fitting CD players – £1,000 per water cannon.

And we know that the Conservatives offered £1 billion of our money to the DUP, just to support them in Parliament, with a further £1 billion included in this year’s Budget. Of course, they only handed over a little more than £400 million of it, but think what a difference that could have made to people struggling to make ends meet on pared-to-the-bone benefits that no longer cover the necessities of life.

Now they think they can spend our own money on schemes to stop those of us who support Labour from doing so at a polling station.

The sooner they lose the “no confidence” vote that seems certain to happen in the next few weeks – and all their silly spending splurges are scrapped – the better.

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Driven to fury by DWP’s attitude to the deaths it has caused

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

A commenter on the blog sent me a link to Jack Monroe’s Facebook page today. I’m probably as familiar with Jack as you are, but no more so – perhaps mainstream success gives that person more validity in some way than mine in the social media. But Phil’s “Have you seen this?” intrigued me.

The link was to a post following up on an Observer article published over the weekend, and read as follows:

“I would like to publicly apologise to the Department of Work And Pensions for an inaccurate statistic in my Observer article yesterday on the grim reality of the welfare system in what was once ‘Great’ Britain.

“In my article I stated that 2,400 people had died shortly after their Employment Support Allowance had been severed, having been (clearly wrongly) judged as Fit To Work.

“The DWP informs me that the correct figure is in fact 2,380.

“As they are so keen on accuracy, and transparency, I thought I should provide the rest of the stats.

“Between December 2011 and February 2014, 50,850 people who were claiming ESA, died.

“Of these, 7,200 had been judged as ‘able to return to work in the future’ and placed in the ‘work group’ category of ESA to undergo regular gruelling testing in order to continue to claim the pithy pittances they needed in order to stay alive. (For avoidance of doubt, humans do generally need food and shelter to survive.) Spoiler alert- THEY DIED.

“On top of these, 2,380 people who had been stripped of financial support and judged fit to work, subsequently DIED.

“Seeing the DWP are so very keen on accuracy that they send bollocking letters to my editor, I expect they will be now opening the case files of the 9,580 people in a 2 year period who DIED having been judged as ‘fit to work’ or ‘fit to work in the future’. God forbid I make 20 mistakes in the face of your 9,580.”

You can read the Observer article here. The relevant passage states: “Comply or starve. Comply and die, such were the cases, over a two-year period, of 2,400 people who died after their claim for employment and support allowance ended because they were declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP. I wrote in 2013 that my three-year-old could pass an Atos assessment. It doesn’t mean I should have sent him to stack shelves in a supermarket.”

The mention of “2,400 people” is quite clearly a rounding-up because, if you click on the link that has been inserted on that very number, you can visit the original Guardian article quoting the DWP’s response to a Freedom of Information request for the exact number of deaths.

My Freedom of Information request. And one of the reason I am angry as I type these words.

You see, there are two reasons the DWP has no cause to – as Mx Monroe describes it – “send bollocking letters to my editor”. I have already described the first.

The second is the simple fact that the information the DWP sent out on August 27, 2015 was incomplete – and therefore inaccurate. The Department has no business accusing anybody else of inaccuracy when it can’t get its own figures right.

The story of how this information became public knowledge is long and complicated but it is relevant that I had to get a ruling from the Information Commissioner in May last year, ordering the DWP to release the figures. As my request had been made on May 28, 2014, those figures should have run up to that date – but didn’t, as Jack’s post indicates.

When I wrote to the DWP, pointing out that they were now under a legal obligation to provide all the information I had requested, I received an email saying I should submit another FoI request. Ha ha. It took 15 months and the threat of litigation to get a reply to the last one – and that had been a second attempt!

I reminded them that I could take them to court and they gave me what I wanted in the first week of November last year. With that information, I was able to demonstrate that few claimants died after the DWP suspended repeat work capability assessments on ESA claimants on January 20, 2014. Alas, it seems likely that the delay had allowed the public to grow bored with the issue of sickness and disability deaths, so this went largely unreported.

So, after the DWP told the world it had provided me with all the information I had requested, it took another two months and more before my demand was actually answered.

And ministers had the cheek to criticise Mx Monroe for a slight inaccuracy.

It may interest you to know that in the period that the DWP had originally left unreported, a further 120 people died shortly after their claim was terminated, on a claim that they were ‘fit for work’.

What really gets my goat is the petulance of it.

The words that triggered the DWP’s complaint were part of a very moving article about the effect of Tory austerity cuts on benefit claimants, using information that could have been lifted from This Blog – connected to the release of Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake. In the paragraphs immediately following, Mx Monroe wrote very powerfully about the film’s effect:

“I went to see the press screening of I, Daniel Blake in early September. I sat in a roomful of journalists as the two central characters lit tealights in a tray, under flowerpots, to take the chill off a room left freezing by shoddy windows and cut-off utilities, as I did and wrote about back in 2013.

“I sat and watched with a heavy heart as she stole sanitary products from the supermarket, remembering going without, or folding up a clean sock, or balling up toilet tissue on the heaviest days. I barely left the house anyway, so there was nobody to really notice.

“I sat and watched as she stole food. As she queued for the first time around the block at a food bank. As she gorged cold baked beans from a can with her fingers, having not eaten a thing for days. The young boy turning to his mother, asking her where her dinner was. She replies that she isn’t hungry, but she wasn’t hungry the night before, or the night before that, and soon he’ll realise that Mummy just isn’t hungry any more.

“The woman beside me, a stranger, squeezed my forearm as I choked on guttural, involuntary sobs. I’m sorry, I whispered, sloping out to punch a wall in the corridor and cry into the blinding, unaware streets of west London. I looked mad. I am mad.

“How can anyone sleep at night, knowing what we know? How does the world turn, and children going hungry to bed is a guilt alleviated by a sympathetic nod towards the cardboard food collection box in the supermarket? If you’re not angry, as Loach said, what kind of person are you?”

Apparently the only part of it making the officials at the DWP angry was a slight statistical inaccuracy. What kind of people are they?

I gave up chasing the DWP for a while after I finally won my FoI battle. I was fatigued; I needed a break. The figures were making increasingly less sense.

And now, nearly a year later, nothing has changed. The DWP is still treating people like stock to be culled, and protesting that it is being treated unfairly whenever anybody points that out. In its doublespeak world, I, Daniel Blake is nothing but a work of fiction, whereas those of us with any experience of the DWP at all know that its facts are accurate. I have been away too long.

I am not Daniel Blake. But it’s time I stood up for everybody like him – again.

Will you?

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Now we know of THREE people who died because of DWP ‘fit for work’ decisions

The latest death due to a “fit for work” decision may also be among the earliest.

Coroner Tom Osbourne blamed the death of Stephen Carré on a decision by the Department for Work and Pensions that the bipolar Employment and Support Allowance claimant, who was clinically depressed, was fit for work following a work capability assessment.

He joins Michael O’Sullivan and Julia Kelly, both of whose suicides were blamed on the result of work capability assessments by their respective coroners, as the weight of evidence mounts up against the process.

Recently, This Blog demonstrated that deaths of ESA claimants began to decrease after the DWP suspended repeat assessments of ESA claimants in January 2014.

Stephen Carré took his own life in 2010 after he lost an appeal against the finding that he was fit to return to work. He was clinically depressed and had been diagnosed as bipolar.

At the inquest into his death the coroner ruled that the decision that he was “fit for work” had been the trigger for his suicide.

The coroner made his concerns about the system known to the Department of Work and Pensions in March 2010 by issuing what was then known as a Rule 43, a rare and significant intervention.

“I feel the decision by the department NOT to seek medical advice from the claimant’s own GP or psychiatrist if they are suffering a mental illness should be reviewed,” Coroner Tom Osbourne wrote.

His office told ITV News they have never received a “substantive” reply from the DWP to their 2010 letter.

Professor Malcolm Harrington, who led the first three of the Government’s five Independent Reviews into the WCA from 2010 to 2012, says if he had known about the case, he would have raised the alarm about the vulnerability of mental health claimants in the system earlier and more vehemently in the first of his three reviews.

The DWP’s response beggars belief:

A DWP spokesman said: “Suicide is a tragic and complex issue and there are often many reasons why someone takes their life, so to link it to one event is misleading.

Oh, really?

How soon they forget. In this instance, they have forgotten the case of Stephanie Bottrill, who left a note clearly and emphatically blaming the government for her suicide. She was a victim of the Bedroom Tax, another Conservative Party Pogrom against the poor.

Here’s an extract from the note:

Stephanie-Bottrill-suicide-note

Does that seem misleading to you?

There’s more:

“Since this inquest took place under the previous Government we have made significant improvements to the Work Capability Assessment, including improving the process for people with mental health conditions.

How unfortunate for the Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions that the best improvement to the work capability assessment – in terms of the number of deaths it has caused – appears to have been its suspension!
Source: Government welfare advisor did not know about 2010 suicide ‘triggered by work assessment’ – ITV News

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Incapacity: Fewer claimants died after DWP suspended repeat assessments

151108completedWCAnickdilworthilegal
It’s true – the DWP suspended repeat work capability assessments of Employment and Support Allowance claimants on January 20, 2014 and – thanks to figures This Writer received from the Department last week, Vox Political can reveal that the number of people who died while claiming incapacity benefit started to drop shortly afterwards.

Unfortunately, the numbers revealed are low – meaning that This Writer cannot claim they are statistically significant – that the results we have are not from random chance. There could be several reasons for that, though.

I won’t tell this story from the beginning because, by now, many of you will know it by heart. My freedom of information request on the number of incapacity benefit claimants who died after November 2011 was answered in part on August 27, when the DWP released figures up to the end of February 2014. As my request was for figures to May 28 that year, I demanded the rest. The DWP countered with a claim that I should send in another FoI request for those figures, but I disagreed strongly and the Information Commissioner’s Office sided with me. I had those figures last Friday.

The headline figure was that, between March 1 and May 28, 2014, a total of 8,640 incapacity benefits (ESA, IB and SDA) claimants died. That’s 97.08 per day, compared with 98.83 per day for the period December 1, 2011-February 28, 2014.

This means 156 fewer people died between March 1 and May 28, 2014 than between any equivalent period from December 2011 – February 2014.

In percentage terms, it’s a drop from 0.36 per cent of the incapacity benefits population to 0.35 per cent – as I mentioned, statistically insignificant.

It does seem reasonable, though, to take this as an indication that the work capability assessment has contributed to the deaths of claimants.

And there are mitigating factors. The average number of deaths and percentage from the 2011-14 cohort refers to a much longer period of time, during which the incapacity benefits population fell by more than 100,000 before starting to rise again – significantly, in figures relating to February 2014, after the moratorium on repeat assessments began.

The DWP stopped referring repeat assessments to Atos (for it was that company) on January 20, 2014, meaning that some of the drop in the number of deaths is likely to have occurred between then and the end of February, lowering the average number of deaths in that period.

But the result of some repeat assessments may not have been known until the March-May period, raising the average number of deaths that happened then.

And the DWP would have us believe that it has altered the work capability assessment in response to criticism. Its own figures show that, between December 2013 and December 2014, the percentage of claimants qualifying for ESA rose from 73 to 75, during a time when the number of claims has been increasing.

Undoubtedly there may be other influences which This Writer has not identified.

It seems unlikely that the DWP will volunteer any more accurate information – especially if the figures support critics of the Department. And, with the current plan to charge an exorbitant amount for ‘Freedom’ of Information requests – a contradiction in terms that the Conservative Party seems only too willing to overlook – it seems unlikely we will see any numbers for the rest of 2014 (after the number of repeat assessments flatlined completely).

Your comments are invited.

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Good riddance to bad rubbish: Universal Jobmatch to be scrapped

universaljobmatch

Leaked documents from the Department for Work and Pensions have shown that Universal Jobmatch is set to be scrapped – not only because it is full of fake and repeat job entries but also because it is too expensive.

But the government is bound to its contract for another two years and is unlikely to try to release itself until the agreement (with a company called, appropriately, Monster) comes up for renewal.

The plans have been revealed by The Guardian, after the documents were passed to the paper from an unnamed source.

It seems there was no mention of the adverts for illegal jobs such as sex work; perhaps the particular civil servants who wrote these reports don’t look at that kind of material on the internet!

The leak follows revelations that some job postings “enticed jobseekers to spend money needlessly – for example on fake criminal records checks – or were a means of harvesting personal information for identity fraud”.

According to Wikipedia, the site was developed by Monster at a cost of over £17 million and has annual running charges of £6 million. The Guardian states that Monster wanted an extra £975,000 to clear UJM of fraudulent employment adverts.

What is not clear is whether jobsworth Jobcentre staff will continue demanding that jobseekers use the site.

They’ll have a big job on their hands – convincing anyone that it is still workable.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Osborne wants a ‘year of hard truths’. Here’s one: He’s HIDING the truth

Swivel-eyed loon: This is the kind of man who listens to George Osborne's comments about the economy. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

Swivel-eyed loon: This is the kind of man who listens to George Osborne’s comments about the economy. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

It must be panto season because the Conservative Party’s very own Ugly Sisters have just wheeled themselves out to deliver another helping of hilarious family fun:

Even more cuts are needed, worth billions of pounds, and there are still huge underlying problems with the economy, said Sister George, even though he knows that cuts are not the answer.

The small upturn he managed to engineer last year came from a natural upswing in the economy and the artificial housing boom that he created by Keynesian means and was nothing to do with austerity cuts. As for the economy, he’s had three and a half years to fix it! It seems clear that if there is an underlying problem, its surname is Osborne.

We may also extract some bitter humour from his words. Only days ago, his cabinet colleague Michael Gove attacked TV comedy Blackadder Goes Forth for claiming that our leaders in World War One never learnt from their mistakes but merely repeated them, over and over again, at huge cost in the lives of the working-class people who had to suffer the consequences of their decisions.

Now here’s George, telling us that he’s following up his failed austerity cuts with… more austerity cuts.

So we will see another £25 billion cut out of the British economy after the next election if the Conservatives win, including £12 billion from social security, he told us, providing everybody with an income lower than £50,000 per year with a perfect reason not to vote Conservative in 2015.

Come to think of it, why do working-class people ever vote for clowns like him?

He’ll cut departmental budgets by £13 billion, starving already wafer-thin public services and paving the way for their takeover by the private sector – on the long-disproved premise that profit-making businesses can do a better job for less money.

He’ll cut housing benefit for young people (under-25) who are just trying to get started in work – but he won’t force under-paying firms to boost their wages in order to offer a decent standard of living!

He also said – no, wait, that’s all he had to offer.

George justified his plan by trotting out the now-classic justification line of this Parliament – that the deficit was down by a third since 2010. He has been saying this for the last two years, and in all that time, the deficit hasn’t dropped at all! Last year the difference was a fraction of one per cent.

This is because the drop was achieved by cutting capital projects and there aren’t any more to cut. Taking billions out of the economy with benefit cuts and investment cuts actually harms the economy – there is less money moving through the system and therefore less opportunity for the fiscal multiplier effect to take place, for profit to be made and for taxes to be taken.

George has always had a bit of a blind spot there.

Sister George said he supported universal benefits for the elderly as they will only save around £10 million – but Sister David has suggested cutting free TV licences, bus passes and winter fuel allowances. Pensions are also taking a battering – never mind what they’re saying about the triple-lock.

David also said he wanted to cut taxes for the poor before the wealthy – but planned to do so by raising the threshold at which they begin to pay tax. This means they will not pay National Insurance either, and will have to find a higher-paying job before they can expect to contribute to their own pension fund. This means some people may never qualify for the state pension.

So they’re starting 2014 by promising austerity cuts that will harm the economy, cuts in benefits for the elderly that will save a comparatively negligible amount but will cause misery, and cuts in government budgets that will open the way to further privatisation and corporatisation of the state.

Those are the real hard truths – but you won’t hear these two characters admitting them.

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