How kind of the usually-right-wing Sky News to let an expert onto a news programme to discuss the devastating effect on people with disabilities of the Tory government’s decision not to appoint a new minister to replace Sarah Newton until after the Brexit crisis is over.
Ms Newton was a catastrophically rubbish representative of people with disabilities – really bad. On a level with all the others since the Conservatives took office in 2010, I would say. But at least she was there; someone at whom we could all aim our complaints. Now we don’t even have that.
The expert – Dr Hannah Barham-Brown – was amazingly diplomatic in what she had to say, and what she said was damning:
As a colleague on the social media stated: “Thank you to Sky News for allowing this lovely lady to speak on behalf of the disabled community… highlighting some of the policies that are destroying our lives…
“Perhaps you could invite her back again to talk about the ESA/WCA deaths? Hundreds of thousands are DEAD after corrupt assessments and subsequent removal of their survival income. #RIPtheAtosDead Never forgotten by the bereaved families and those still suffering the oppressive, corrupt assessment regime.”
If Dr Barham-Brown couldn’t make it, I can think of several candidates who would also make highly illuminating viewing.
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Emily Thornberry and the image she tweeted [Image: BBC].
Here’s an alternative view on the resignation of Labour’s now-former shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry. You’ll recall that she unfortunately tweeted a shot of a house festooned with St George flags, with a white van parked outside, accompanied by an off-colour comment (or at least, one that could be interpreted in such a way). The right-wing media jumped on it and Ed Miliband asked her to resign.
Vox Political took the view that her resignation was in the best interests of the Labour Party, especially as her background did not suggest a person who was particularly well-disposed towards the working classes.
Then Peter Bowman posted the following on the Vox Political Facebook page, and in the interests of fairness it is getting an airing here as well. See what you think of his interpretation:
“I really don’t know where to begin. I am so exasperated with this nation’s press, radio and TV media. Emily Thornberry’s tweet was an error, and as leader of our party, Ed had no choice to do what he did.
“Or should I put it like this: ‘Damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t’?
“The Sun started this Tory-biased media ball rolling. The Sun could say in a similar vein, as it did some years ago, ‘It’s The Sun Wot did It’. As for these Tory-leaning media being representatives of the conscious beliefs of Britain’s working classes, well, that is too funny to even contemplate.
“I just by chance caught a part of an LBC (London Broadcasting Company) radio interview with Conservative MP Michael Fabricant, who also had a twitter incident in his past. He reminded the host, Julia Hartley-Brewer, that Ms Thornberry came from a council house background – therefore how can she be classed as part of the Islington Set by the Tory Press? Thank you Mr Fabricant.
“Even with this, the host asked callers to ring in if they thought that Labour has become the ‘wine and couscous set’.
“On Sky News there is a strand called ‘Stand up and be counted’, in which two opposing young party activists give their opinions against each other. The UKIP rep, though young, was aggressive, rude and did not allow the young Labour rep time to counter his arguments, which were, to say the least, absurd. He suggested that it was Labour who were the racist party and did not understand working class Britain.
“The Labour rep had to remind him that it was Farage who had an Oxford education and was a stock broker – and his new MPs could not be called working class.
“And the Mail on Sunday (November 23, 2014) maps out where Labour’s leadership resides in North London, on top of which, a top Tory is now saying, ‘Shut the doors, Britain is full of immigrants’.
“If anybody despises working class Britain, it’s the Tory leaning press and media.
“This nation, by the way, is made up of immigrants – going back to The Angles, Saxons and Celts; then the Romans, the French and Vikings.
“Ed and Labour have a fight on their hands with all this propaganda weighed against us. We must not fall for these right-wing Tory and UKIP traps. Ed and Labour have to win in 2015.
“If they don’t it will be a Zero Future for all of Britain’s citizens for the next five years – except the Top five per cent, that is – and that is a very frightening prospect, to be sure.”
Celebrating Britain’s ruin: The Bullingdon boys rave it up in Davos – David ‘Flashman’ Cameron (centre, facing us), George ‘Slasher’ Osborne (left, back to us), Boris ‘Zipwire’ Johnson (right, back to us)
Confirmation has come through from the Office for National Statistics that the UK economy shrank in the last months of 2012.
It’s no surprise – you only had to look at the shop sales figures for December to know that something was going wrong.
The poor performance has negated the effects of the growth bump in the previous quarter, when the economy improved by 0.9 per cent, boosted by the London Olympics.
The official Treasury line is: “While the economy is healing, it is a difficult road.” Healing? Total growth for the whole of 2012 has flatlined. Again. If the economy was a hospital patient it would need a sharp electric shock to get it going again (but we’ll come back to that)!
The total economic growth since the Conservative-led Coalition government came into power is 0.4 per cent; less than that recorded during the first quarter of the Parliament when the government was still working under Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling’s spending rules.
“Today’s GDP figures are extremely disappointing, but not surprising. We warned the UK Govt their cuts were too deep, too fast,” said Carwyn Jones, the Welsh Government’s First Minister.
“UK Government cuts to capital investment in major infrastructure projects is causing damage to our economy. A new plan for growth and jobs should now be a major priority for the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.”
Economist Danny Blanchflower tweeted: “-0.3% lack of growth comes as no surprise but is appalling this was made in #11 Downing Street. The question is what is Slasher going to do?
“Given that the coalition in June 10 predicted growth would be +6 per cent and we now have +0.3 per cent we are entitled to know what went wrong. One-twentieth won’t do.”
Sky News ran with this: “Osborne says Britain faces a difficult economic situation and that he will confront problems to create jobs.”
Comedy Prime Minister David Cameron received early warning of the figures, and responded by having a slap-up meal with his Bullingdon chums Gideon George Osborne (the man responsible for the mess) and London’s comedy mayor Boris ‘zipwire’ Johnson.
Osborne later responded: “We can either run away from these problems or confront them, and I am determined to confront them so that we go on creating jobs for the people of this country.” What jobs?
In fact, this is the very predictable result of the Conservatives’ ideology-led dogma, that put a project to shrink the state ahead of prosperity.
The Tories have always wanted to pin the blame for our debt woes on the state. They suggest that we are in crisis because public spending got out of control, and that this is what happens when the state gets too big.
But this is a fantasy, unsupported by any sound economic analysis and designed to pursue a reckless plan that puts the economy and long-term recovery at risk.
The image of a bloated state getting fatter on taxpayers’ money while crowding out a budding private sector is nothing but propaganda, and here’s why: Before the credit crunch, public sector debt was less than 40 per cent of national income – it was the private corporate sector that was out of control, with debt at almost 300 per cent of national income.
The Tories wanted to say the private sector was being crowded out by the public sector, but in fact, it was being propped up by it.
Those of us who listened to the experts knew that cutting would make things worse, rather than better, but we heard yesterday that Osborne is now ignoring the advice of his former bosom-buddies at the IMF and intends to keep chopping away at the carcass, presumably until there’s nothing left at all.
The same experts, last year, were warning of a double-dip recession – or what legendary economist John Maynard Keynes called the “death spiral”. Now we’re facing a TRIPLE-dip. We haven’t just entered the death spiral; we’re well into it!
Osborne’s solution is to cut benefits and wages so that people have less money to spend on the UK economy. With less money in circulation, shops will close and businesses will go to the wall. Foreign investors will turn away from a nation where they will see there is no profit to be gained. Creditors will start to worry and our credit rating will suffer. By the next election in 2015, there may not be any life in UK business worth mentioning.
Does anyone remember when David Cameron said, “The good news will keep on coming”?
He’s a public relations man, you see. His skill is in saying the opposite of what he means, in order to make a message palatable to the public. You could say he’s not very good at it, because his greatest feat was to persuade the British public to reject his Conservatism a little less harshly than that if all the other Tory leaders since John Major – which is what made it possible for him and Osborne to put us all in this mess by forming a dirty backroom deal with the Liberal Democrats.
I’d like to talk to some of the people he persuaded to vote for his squalid little gang of cutthroats. What would they have done, if they had know what would happen?
As a nation, we should be ashamed of this story in so many ways.
Firstly, we should be ashamed that a family of three asylum seekers from abroad came to the UK, believing that they would be treated well.
Then we should be ashamed that this group became dependent on charity handouts – despite their successful claim for asylum – because of ‘significant problems’ transferring them from Home Office administration to mainstream welfare support. This meant they had to be on the streets before local authorities – in this case the Conservative flagship Westminster Council – could offer help.
It is bitterly shameful that the child of this family, living in destitution on British streets, was allowed to starve to death.
Even worse is that, after this happened, the government axed its funding for the Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES)- which paid transitional support for successful asylum seekers like this family. This means others will find themselves in an even worse situation, as soon as they arrive in the UK.
Most damning of all is the fact that this is a major news story across the world – but in the UK both the BBC and Sky News have ignored it, apart from a link on the BBC website to a report by Inside Housing.
Why is that?
Is it because our Coalition government doesn’t want us to know it is letting asylum-seekers starve?
Is it because, even in a country where anti-immigration and anti-asylum-seeker feeling has been stoked by the right-wing press, ministers know that letting them die will still upset the British sense of fair play that many of us still (perhaps surprisingly) have?
Is it because the government has no intention of changing its ways?
Westminster Council warned the government to fix the flaws in its support system for successful asylum seekers, by letter, in March 2011. Support for RIES was cut six months later. It seems clear that the government never paid serious attention to the council’s comments.
The Refugee Council has said stories like this are increasingly common, and Refugee Action says more and more asylum-seekers are being forced onto the streets.
And guess who is partly responsible for this, alongside the Home Office?
Yes, yet again it is the Department for Work and Pensions, which seems to have set itself the task of causing the most avoidable deaths ever, within a single Parliamentary term.
The International Criminal Court has already been asked to consider charges against Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, alongside his former cronies Chris Grayling and Maria Miller, both of whom have moved on to bigger Cabinet portfolios, where presumably they can cause even more havoc.
Perhaps this latest scandal could be added to the list.
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