Money: the Bank of England has pumped £100 billion into the UK economy to ease the strain caused by the Covid-19 crisis – but you won’t see a single penny of it. In fact, you are more likely to be asked to pay back the investment.
This is a wake-up call.
If you’ve seen reports that the Bank of England is bailing out the UK economy with £100 billion of what’s called QE (quantitative easing), you may have been lulled into a belief that everything’s going to be fine.
You would be mistaken.
The UK economy has taken a pounding because of the Covid-19 crisis. We are currently in the grip of an economic recession that makes the 2008/9 financial crisis look like the temporary misplacement of a back-pocket fiver.
In March, the economy shrank by around six per cent. In April, it shrank by a further 20.4 per cent. This Site doesn’t have numbers for May and June.
That meant 600,000 people lost their jobs between March and May. Many more found themselves suffering 20 per cent pay cuts as they were put on the government’s furlough scheme.
Employers were also put under extreme pressure as they have to pay what’s known as “overheads” – rent/mortgage on the land/buildings they use, power, supplies if they are perishable, and so on.
It is an established economic fact that money pumped into a financial system has a far more beneficial effect, if it goes to the poorest people – those who were hardest-hit by the current crisis, as they were by the financial crisis of 2008/9 before this.
They didn’t see a single penny of the QE that came into the economy after the recession of 11/12 years ago, and they won’t see a penny of the new £100 billion.
In fact, they’ll be told to pay back the cash that the government has provided for them, even though they’ve been given less than enough to survive comfortably as it is.
If This Writer recalls correctly, QE for the financial crisis went no further than the large financial institutions the Bank of England deals with on a day-to-day basis.
These would then lend the money to businesses and other organisations, with a view towards receiving the cash back – with interest – in the future.
The businesses then increase the prices of their goods while depressing the pay they give their workers.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Why do commentators like The Guardian think George Osborne’s plans will make life hard for his political opponents, when they are specifically designed to increase inequality and reduce prosperity across the UK?
You’d have to be an economic imbecile not to understand that his plan for permanent budget surpluses will shrink the national economy, while his tax breaks for the very rich and corporations mean the money that remains will float upwards to the very few people favoured by those changes.
If you don’t understand, think of it this way: Governments create money – they have to, otherwise you wouldn’t have any to spend or pay in taxes. The pound in your pocket had to come from somewhere, and while it may originally have been supported by precious metals or minerals of equivalent value, those days are far behind us.
So, governments create money and invest it in the national economy. If all goes to plan, the money circulates, gaining value on the way through, until it is reclaimed by the government as tax revenue. Even if the amount of tax claimed back was as much as the original value of the money, the economy should still have grown by however much extra value the money has accrued during its journey (the ‘multiplier’ effect).
Osborne wants to take back more money than his government releases. This means somebody will have to lose out – and the system of tax breaks and permitted tax avoidance for the rich (Tory Party donors) means it is going to be the people who do the actual work, who are searching for work, or who are unable to work because of illness, who will be unfairly penalised by this plan.
He can’t claim any of the credit for it, either – it was all worked out back in the 1970s by Margaret Thatcher, Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley. Their plan was to create insecurity among those who have to work for a living in order to increase the gap between the amount they earned and the amount their bosses earned. Thatcher lied about this, right up to her very last day as Prime Minister.
The Guardian‘s article on Osborne’s Mansion House speech says that he will challenge the Labour Party “to decide whether it wants to back the proposal that tax revenues should cover spending on both infrastructure and the day-to-day running of government”.
Why? Labour does not have to accept the premise of the question. Important conditions are omitted from it.
For example, if Labour was asked to back the proposal, along with plans to ensure that minimum wages would always be able to cover the cost of living – without the government subsidising employers in tax credits, landlords in housing benefit or lenders in subsidies to the City of London, that would be a far more enticing proposition. But Osborne isn’t offering that.
If Labour was asked to back the proposal on the condition that the extra money necessary to reduce the deficit and debt came from those who could most easily afford it – the corporations and shareholders who are currently reaping the benefits of five years of Conservative economic mismanagement, that would be far more interesting. But Osborne isn’t offering that.
Furthermore, Osborne can only dictate what his government will do. He can’t tell Labour what to do if Labour wins the next election because no government can bind the next. Any claim that he can do otherwise is a lie.
But then, we have already been shown that he has been lying. He will say: “The result of this recent British election – and the comprehensive rejection of those who argued for more borrowing and more spending – gives our nation the chance to entrench a new settlement.”
This is a jab at Labour’s plan to run a surplus on day-to-day spending, but to borrow for investment projects. This is not “more borrowing and more spending”, as Osborne describes it, but investment with a view to see profits in the future. That business principle has been around since commerce began – it’s how most Tory donors operate. Osborne is a hypocrite to scorn it.
But then, Osborne has borrowed more money in five years than every Labour Chancellor put together. That’s hypocrisy on a grand scale!
The Guardian article continues: “During the election, Labour struggled to cope with the accusation that it had spent and borrowed too much in the years leading up to the financial crisis. Some of the contenders to replace Ed Miliband as opposition leader have said subsequently the public finances should have been in a healthy state in the last years of a 15-year period of economic expansion lasting from 1992 to 2007.”
This indicates confusion on the part of the article’s author. Labour did not borrow and spend too much in the run-up to the financial crisis; the nation’s finances were in a much healthier state than at any time under Conservative control in the previous 40 years – and let’s not forget that the Conservatives supported Labour’s spending plans throughout this period.
Furthermore, the crisis was caused by bankers who were too loosely regulated, granting loans irresponsibly to people who could not pay them back. At the time, the Conservative Party was pushing Labour to deregulate banks even further.
So we know that the financial crisis would have been much, much worse if the Conservatives had been in office at the time. Osborne’s criticism of Labour is in extremely poor taste.
Talking of extremely poor taste, here’s more of Osborne’s speech. It seems he wants “a settlement where it is accepted across the political spectrum that without sound public finances, there is no economic security for working people; that the people who suffer when governments run unsustainable deficits are not the richest but the poorest; and that therefore, in normal times, governments of the left as well as the right should run a budget surplus to bear down on debt and prepare for an uncertain future.”
Like all clever lies, this contains a few truths. He’s right that without sound public finances, there’s no security for working people. Osborne’s plan for the public finances is particularly unsound – and targets people who have to work for a living with particular hardship.
But it is not necessarily true that the poorest suffer most when governments run unsustainable deficits. This government has singled out the poorest for suffering because it wants to ensure rich Tory donors can continue enriching the Tory party – we are living in extremely corrupt times.
His final claim – that all governments should cut debt to prepare for “an uncertain future” would have more weight if Conservative governments had not created much of that uncertainty themselves, by dismantling the UK’s industrial base and relying instead on the financial sector that let us all down so badly.
Osborne is full of hot air – but his plan won’t fly.
The Tory NHS crisis and a rapidly-cooling economy are creating a condemnatory attitude among voters – or should that be condemn-a-tory? – with even the Daily Mail unable to hide the facts.
“Gross domestic product – the total size of the economy – increased by 0.6 per cent in the final three months of the year, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said,” the Mail stated in a recent report.
“That was weaker than the 0.7 per cent growth seen in the previous three months… It means the UK economy grew by 2.6 per cent in 2014 – well below the 3 per cent expected by the Treasury.”
And the article stated: “Builders endured a difficult month with the construction industry shrinking by 2 per cent in November.” We all know the construction industry is one of the main contributors to economic growth, with a higher fiscal multiplier.
Hasn’t the services sector also been in a slump lately? This was the highest-growth area during the Thatcher-Major years (mostly as a result of them closing down or selling off manufacturing industries in a bid to increase worker insecurity and depress wages) so any slowdown here could seriously threaten the UK’s well-being.
But you won’t hear any cautionary words from a Conservative. As far as they are concerned, we are on that ‘road to recovery’ (never mind that the road in their poster is in Germany) with blue skies overhead. The power of denial is very great…
But one day soon, reality will come crashing down on them.
If there is a drawback to Second Reading (the House of Commons Library blog), it’s that the library’s stern practice of impartiality means that it can end up producing figures on a phenomenon without being able to explain why that phenomenon came about.
First we get a graph showing that the number of people aged over 65 who are still in work has more than doubled, from 4.9 per cent in 1994 to 10.1 per cent (of 11 million people, making 1.1 million) in 2014.
Before anybody leaps in to say they’re taking jobs away from younger people, it is worth reading on to discover that they are far more likely to be self-employed or working part-time (79 per cent of the total, with 39 per cent self-employed – 438,000 people).
Chris Giles wrote a piece in the FT this week arguing that most of the increase [in self-employment] is due not to lots more people becoming self-employed but to lots more people not leaving self-employment who would otherwise have done so.
If that’s the case, you can’t even blame the catastrophic collapse in self-employed earnings after 2008 on there being lots of new people who didn’t know what they were doing. If Chris is right, this is old-timers seeing their business shrink, rather than newbies trying to find their feet, under-charging and messing things up [all boldings mine].
The same goes for the increase in the number of self-employed tax credit claimants and the steady rise in non-employing and non-VAT paying businesses. If there has been no surge in new entrants, then either a lot of low profit and low turnover businesses are hanging on in there, or a lot more of them have become low-profit and low turnover businesses since 2008.
Chris says we should stop complaining because self-employment boosts tax revenues. It hasn’t done much boosting in recent years though. Despite the increase in numbers of people, the declared income of the self-employed was down by £8bn between 2008 and 2012.
What we’re seeing, then, is a huge rise in the number of people who find themselves unable to retire because they won’t have enough income to support themselves.
It has been said that Conservatives try to look after the elderly, because they are the only population group that is sure to vote in elections.
It seems the Tories have forgotten around 1.1 million of them.
What the Conservatives offer: This was described on Facebook as the most awkward photo of the Tory conference – rightly. Not only is she obscuring this year’s slogan in an embarrassing way, but she is doing it with what appears to be a fascist salute.
More information on the lies being told at the Tory conference comes from Kitty S Jones. Vox Political had intended to run a detailed piece but Yr Obdt Srvt had to deal with a slight emergency (being a carer, these things do happen) and now we’ll just quote the salient points:
“The deficit reduction programme takes precedence over any of the other measures in this agreement” – stated in the Coalition Agreement. Of course the truth is that this whole process of prolonged austerity is NOT about deficit-cutting. It’s just the cover for Tory ideology. It is actually about shrinking the State and squeezing the public sector until it becomes marginal, then non-existent, in an entirely market-driven society. The bank crisis-generated deficit has been a gift to the Tories in enabling them to launch the scuttlebutt that public expenditure has to be massively cut back, which they would never have been able to get away with, without the deficit-reduction excuse in the first place.
I am still seeing the “inherited debt” LIES that the Tories are still telling, despite official rebuke from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) chief Robert Chote, and this is same Tory-led government lost our triple A Moody and Fitch credit rating, and that borrowed more in 3 years than Labour did in 13. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the coalition had borrowed £430.072 billion in just 3 short years, whereas the last Labour government managed to borrow just £429.975 billion in 13 years, and unlike the Tories, Labour invested most of what they borrowed in public services.
The much bandied-about 2010 deficit of “over 11%” is false. This is the Public Sector Net Borrowing (PSNB – total borrowings) and not the actual budget deficit which was 7.7%. (See OBR Economic and Fiscal Outlook March 2012 page 19, table 1.2.)
In 1997 Labour inherited a deficit of 3.9% of GDP (not a balanced budget) and by 2008 it had fallen to 2.1% – a reduction of a near 50% – now that’s impressive. It is implausible and ludicrous to claim there was overspending.
In cash terms a millionaire’s debt would be greater than that of most people. Therefore the UK would have a higher debt and deficit than most countries because we are the sixth largest economy. Therefore it is laughable to compare UK’s debt and deficit with Tuvalu’s where GDP/Income is £24 million whilst the UK’s income is £1.7 trillion.
In 1997, Labour inherited a debt of 42% of GDP. By the start of the global banking crises 2008 the debt had fallen to 35% – almost a 22% reduction (page 6 ONS). Surprisingly, a debt of 42% was not seen as a major problem and yet at 35% the sky was falling….lordy me.
The deficit was then exacerbated by the global banking crises after 2008. (See HM Treasury archives). The IMF have also concluded the UK experienced an increase in the deficit as result of a large loss in output/GDP caused by the global banking crisis and not even as result of the bank bailouts, fiscal stimulus and bringing forward of capital spending. It’s basic economics: when output falls the deficit increases.
The large loss in output occurred because the UK, like the US, has the biggest financial centres and as this was a global banking crisis we suffered the most – not as a result of overspending prior to and after 2008, as the International Money Fund (IMF) concurs.
The UK national debt is the total amount of money the British government owes to the private sector and other purchasers of UK gilts. The national debt now stands at£1.5 TRILLION (and rising), so a further saving of £3 Billion in benefits, as proposed by Osborne, will clear the debt in, say, a mere 500 YEARS.
Not the whole story: But it seems unemployed people claiming they are self-employed may still be part of it. [Image: Ros Asquith in The Guardian]
It seems a surge in the number of people who say they are self-employed is not (solely) due to a DWP wheeze that gets people off the unemployment statistics after all.
Instead, Flip Chart Fairy Taleswarns that a lot of people are staying in self-employment rather than becoming employees again or retiring.
This suggests that either they have not been able to reach their target in terms of pensions, or there are no jobs available for people of their particular expertise or experience. The latter seems likely to Yr Obdt Srvt, who is currently trying to make Vox Political a workable concern in order to make a buck or two.
FCFT warns that “this is old-timers seeing their business shrink, rather than newbies trying to find their feet, under-charging and messing things up”.
The figures also show an increase in the number of self-employed tax credit claimants, lending credence to Vox Political‘s long-held belief that Job Centre Plus advisors have been telling jobseekers to pretend they are self-employed in order to get them off the books – let’s not write off that idea too quickly.
And a steady rise in non-VAT-paying businesses not only tells us “a lot of low-profit and low-turnover businesses are hanging on in there, or a lot more of them have become low-profit and low-turnover businesses since 2008”, it tells us that George Osborne will have a nasty surprise in January, when their tax returns come in.
If they are not paying VAT, they are not clearing the earnings threshold that would make such payments necessary. This mitigates against their earnings having increased significantly since the disasters of 2008-2012, when self-employed earnings fell by £8 billion.
So it seems our dancing Chancellor (see yesterday’s post) will find that either the music stops or the tune will change significantly…
Less ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet; more ‘I Don’t Need This Pressure On’.
Why Cameron is on a hiding to nothing: Many Scottish people have not forgotten how British governments have mistreated them. [Image: Ceasefire Magazine]
David Cameron gave a speech today in which he made an impassioned plea for Scottish people to vote for staying in the United Kingdom – and if any of them needed an excuse to do the exact opposite, there it is.
He made his comments from the Olympic Park in London – which says everything you need to know about his relationship with Scotland. Was he afraid of the jeers if he travelled up to Edinburgh?
“I passionately believe it is in their interests to stay in the UK – that way Scotland has the space to take decisions while still having the security that comes with being part of something bigger,” Cameron wittered. But he has been shrinking the state. The UK as a whole is much smaller – economically and philosophically – than it was four years ago and that’s his fault.
“In the UK, Scotland is part of a major global player,” he burbled. But the rest of the world now looks down on the UK because of his unstatesmanlike behaviour when dealing with foreign powers. He has diminished the UK in the international community and the Scottish people are well able to see that.
Appealing for those of us in the other UK countries – England, Wales and NI – to apply emotional blackmail on our friends in Scotland, he gibbered: “From us to the people of Scotland, let the message be this: We want you to stay.”
Cameron must think we all have memories so short we could qualify as brain-damaged. Conservatives have historically used Scotland as the testing ground for every rotten little policy they wanted to try out – remember the Poll Tax? – because of no special quality other than the fact that there are no Conservative MPs there.
I don’t want Scotland to vote for independence because I think Scottish people have contributed hugely towards the culture shared by everybody living on the British Isles – it is possible they have added more to our society than the English who dominate our political lives.
In return, they have been treated abominably – most particularly by English Conservatives – and that is why I can’t see Scotland staying in the Union while an English Conservative is in charge in Westminster.
If Scotland does go, you should all know what will happen next: Wales will become the testing ground for rubbish Tory policies. They won’t try it on Northern Ireland because that province’s history tells them exactly what they’d get in return – and if that isn’t a good enough reason for the Welsh people to go feral and start causing havoc, I don’t know what is!
So well done, David – you have considerably worsened our chances of remaining united.
My only hope is that, if Scotland does secede from the union, its leaders keep the door open, so that there always remains the possibility of some form of reunification on terms that strengthen both countries – when (or if) a reasonable government is returned to office in the UK.
Vox Political wants the best for Scotland, no matter how the vote turns out! People in an independent Scotland will still be able to read this blog. And it’s just as well because the site needs YOUR help to continue. You can make a one-off donation here:
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Return of the savage: Iain Duncan Smith is using his benefit cap to claw back workers’ rights. YOUR rights.
It’s as if they’re having a competition.
After Liam Fox, the disgraced former Defence Secretary with nothing at all to gain from his outburst, made a fool of himself by making a series of outrageous demands about government spending (the BBC website picks out “We need to begin a systematic dismantling of universal benefits and turning them into tax cuts”), Iain Duncan Smith stepped into the breach to “dismiss” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning – despite its firm basis in fact – that benefit changes will drive more children into poverty.
Clearly the man this blog refuses to call anything but Smith is getting worried that he might fail to retain Vox Political‘s coveted Monster of the Year award in the face of such strong competition – don’t forget Theresa May weighed in with a plan to strip everyone in this country of their hard-won human rights – that he felt it necessary to step up.
We’ll put the rabid Fox down first. Vox correspondent Big Bill called it right when he said Fox was already damaged goods.
“He can be sent out to air these ideas without any further potential loss to the party,” Bill wrote.
“If Cameron started airing them or Osborne, there’d potentially be loss to their status, I imagine Tory thinking has it, and they’re too valuable to waste but Fox is already a political phantom, no more than the fading echo of a career mournfully walking abroad at Westminster.
“If more opprobrium’s heaped on his head, well, then, the party’s learned those ideas won’t fly and no loss to anyone. If by any chance they start to be taken seriously then these ideas will indeed be taken up by Osborne and Cameron.”
Judging from the comedy Prime Minister’s response, the ideas didn’t fly at all and in fact went down like the R101.
But let’s not waste the opportunity to pour scorn on Cameron’s comments. Having already fallen foul of the facts in the past, he simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to show that he hasn’t learnt anything and loves the taste of his own shoes.
“There is one piece of advice I won’t take. That’s the piece of advice saying ‘You ought to cut the National Health Service budget’,” said the PM, past the foot he’d just wedged in his mouth.
How quick he was to forget that Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to caution the government that its claims of increased spending on the health service, year on year, during every year of the current Parliament, were inaccurate. Mr Dilnot stated that the figures show a real-terms cut in expenditure between the 2009-10 tax year when Labour was in power, and 2011-12.
Camoron has never acknowledged this fact, even though it comes from an authoritative source. Maybe he’s no longer capable of listening to anything but the voices in his head.
He continued, saying it was “absolutely right that we have got a plan to get on top of our deficit”. Nice one, Call-Me-Dave. It is indeed, absolutely correct that you have a plan to get on top of the deficit. It’s also absolutely right that your plan does not work; will never work; will in fact make the deficit worse. It’s a plan to give you an excuse to shrink the state.
In that sense, Cameron’s difference of opinion with Fox is a sham. Perhaps he’s using Fox’s words to make his own scheming seem less objectionable.
Too bad. After nearly three years of this red-faced buffoon we can all see through him like a fishnet negligee.
And now, let’s turn to another Tory who won’t listen to anything but the voices in his head – Iain Pretentious Smith.
He has responded to calls from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, along with no less than 43 other Anglican Bishops, to reconsider benefit changes that will push an estimated 200,000 children into poverty. These are figures from The Children’s Society, which is a charity that deals with issues affecting deprived children every single day of its existence and should therefore, reasonably, know.
The letter states that the decision to increase financial support for families by no more than one per cent per year for the next three years, regardless of the rate of inflation, “will have a deeply disproportionate impact on families with children, pushing 200,000 children into poverty. A third of all households will be affected by the Bill, but nearly nine out of 10 families with children will be hit.
“These are children and families from all walks of life. The Children’s Society calculates that a single parent with two children, working on an average wage as a nurse would lose £424 a year by 2015. A couple with three children and one earner, on an average wage as a corporal in the British Army, would lose £552 a year by 2015.
“However, the change will hit the poorest the hardest. About 60 per cent of the savings from the uprating cap will come from the poorest third of households. Only three per cent will come from the wealthiest third.”
Only three per cent from the wealthiest households? It seems we’ve discovered why this plan is so attractive to the Party of the Rich.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – who has yet to be enthroned – added: “As a civilised society, we have a duty to support those among us who are vulnerable and in need. When times are hard, that duty should be felt more than ever, not disappear or diminish.
“It is essential that we have a welfare system that responds to need and recognises the rising costs of food, fuel and housing.” (Labour Party – and especially Liam Byrne – please note).
It was pleasing to see these words from the new Archbishop, who is clearly unafraid to enter political debates, despite the undue flack received by the former Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams. The Church should speak up to protect those in society whose voice is not strong.
Of course Smith – a Catholic whose behaviour should have had him excommunicated from his own faith – was having none of it.
“I don’t agree that the way to get children out of poverty is to simply keep transferring more and more money to keep them out of work,” he said, possibly revealing a little more than he intended. It seems Mr Smith thinks that, rather than receiving benefits to support them, poor children should be sent out to work. Is he advocating a return to the despicable conditions of the 19th century, in which children were sent up chimneys to clean them?
Don’t put it past him – look what else he had to say!
He said this: “We are doing the right thing in bringing in the benefit cap. For the first time ever, people on low and average earnings will realise at last that those on benefits will not be able to be paid more in taxes than they themselves earn.”
Exactly. Those on low and average earnings will realise that, if they get the sack, they will not be able to cover their current outgoings, meagre though they may be.
The intention behind the benefit cap is – as Vox Political has stated in the past – to silence those on the lowest wages from seeking any improvement in their pay and conditions, and even stop them from complaining if their bosses decide to cut those things.
It is a wholesale – and despicable – betrayal of the vast majority of the British people.
Don’t you forget it.
*He might as well be saying that; it’s what his statements indicate.
‘The leader knows best.’ Denis Skinner’s sarcasm pulls the wool away from our eyes; despite invoking the fight against Hitler, David Cameron becomes more like him every day.
It’s funny how Tories like to say the Labour Party would have us all doing as “Comrade (at the moment) Ed” tells us – and then gets back to whittling away our democratic rights, sometimes by huge chunks at a time.
Today the BBC is reporting that our right to challenge government policies is to be limited. Planning is the area that is singled out for closer examination but my reading of this is that any branch of government may use this stick to beat the plebs.
Opponents will have less time than the current three months to apply for judicial review of policies they oppose, will face higher fees (so that means most of us won’t have a chance), and will have our chances of appealing against a decision halved from four to two.
Cameron is trying to tell us this is to prevent time-wasting and boost the economy, but gave himself away when he said “We urgently need to get a grip on this” – he means he wants to tighten his grip on democracy and choke it hard.
The Beeb tells us Downing Street figures showed that more than 11,000 applications for judicial review were made in 2011, compared with 160 in 1975. Around one in six applications was granted. One-sixth of 11,000 is 1,833, which implies – to me – that more than 11 times as many judicial reviews are successful now as in 1975. That’s good for democracy. The people get to have their say.
Cameron wants to stop this.
Is this really the action of the Party of Freedom and of Choice?
Of course not.
It is appalling that he has chosen to compare the present day with the fight against Hitler – when he himself is behaving more like the German dictator every day.
He was expected to tell the Confederation of British Industry today (Monday) that “Whitehall underwent a revolution” in wartime. “We need the same spirit. We need to forget about crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ – and we need to throw everything we’ve got at winning in this global race.”
But we are not living in wartime, no matter how much he might like to push that on us. We aren’t even living in hard times, when you consider how he has handed more than £30 billion in tax breaks to the rich and large corporations, while talking about economic crisis to justify victimising the poor, the sick and disabled.
The changes he cites were reversed after the war ended. And his mention of Hitler is Tory doubletalk. He’s hoping that, by using the fight against one of history’s vilest dictators as his comparison, we won’t realise he’s attacking democracy, not increasing it.
What a miserable little underhanded goblin he is.
The reaction on Twitter is negative, of course. “Be wary of any government which wants to remove the legal means of you challenging its decisions and abuses of power. Worrying,” tweeted David Green (aka Jack of Kent).
Tom Doran agreed: “It’s a strange kind of small-government philosophy that makes it harder, not easier, to appeal government decisions.”
And Denis Skinner, who provided the picture for this article, tweeted sarcastically: “Whitehall “circumvented”, crackdown on “time wasting” legal challenges to planning decisions. The leader knows best.”
We can all see that, even if he does know what’s best, he’s ignoring it in favour of his obsession with shrinking the state. Fewer appeals means smaller government. The trouble – for us – is that the nation as a whole will suffer from hastily-made, ill-judged decisions based on a drive for short-term profit. It’s practically written into his CBI speech.
Cameron is not a prime minister for the nation – he’s a puppet for big business. We’ve seen that most prominently in his all-out attack on the National Health Service in England, which is now just a big sack of blood on which the corporate vampires are happily sucking.
Other cutbacks are hacking British society into a bloody mess as well. As state services withdraw, my understanding is that the people are expected to take up the slack. That’s Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ in action. But ordinary people don’t know how those state services work – they were never taught it at school and they can’t be expected to absorb it by osmosis.
So services are lost, entropy sets in and chaos increases. I predict an increase in frustration and stress, leading to a rise in lawlessness. The police – another target for cuts – will not be able to cope. What will Cameron do then? Martial law?
It might look like another boring benefit claim form to you, but to some people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, the sight of an ESA50 is enough to trigger anxiety, panic, or even heart attacks.
The British economy might be out of recession but the Coalition cuts regime marches ever onward – especially if you are claiming – or lucky enough to be receiving – the much-maligned Employment and Support Allowance.
(It was never about dealing with our economic difficulties, you see. It was always about shrinking the state and cutting the number of people dependent on it for their living – by one method or another).
The latest wheeze among Job Centre Plus staff appears to be the practice of missing out important information about your benefit such as, for example, the fact that being put in the work-related activity group of ESA claimants means you only receive the benefit for 365 days and during that period you should try to make yourself ready for work. After then, you will be put on Jobseekers’ Allowance and subjected to all the sanctions and requirements that entails – including, presumably, Workfare.
Can you imagine what would happen to someone with agoraphobia, who suffers from panic attacks, if they were put on a work placement scheme?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the authorities wouldn’t be ignorant enough to put anyone in a work placement that might be harmful to their health or to their attempts to recover from their condition. Well, if you’re on ESA, all I can say is good luck with that. I’ll be back in a year or so to ask how it worked out for you.
We all know of many cases in which people with disabilities or health problems have been put into situations that have worsened their conditions. The most famous examples were terminal – the people involved are now dead. I understand the average number of deaths per week is now 78. Iain Duncan Smith must be beside himself with joy.
But there are many others who, although they are being pushed to the limit by a system that has been twisted to make it as unhelpful as possible, are still persevering. I know of people who have been put on the work-related activity group of ESA, but weren’t told about the time limit and were left high and dry when the money ran out.
Are you on ESA? Are you in the work-related activity group? Do you know when your benefit will end?
At least that person was lucky enough to receive notification of what was happening to them. Another person, on heavy medication for painful conditions, did not realise they had been moved from Incapacity Benefit to ESA and was astonished to find they had taken and work capability assessment and failed it. The result? They were kicked off the benefit. Fortunately, they appealed and won. But the experience was extremely traumatic.
Make no mistake – this is a system that is designed to intimidate you; to weaken you; to push you into the sidelines in the hope that you’ll go away and be no more bother to those who run it.
“The Work Capability Assessment is being continually reviewed and refined, through a series of annual independent reviews, with improvements resulting in a fairer and more accurate system,” according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
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