Tag Archives: storm

Join the fight to stop budget cuts to the disabled #voiceoftheignored


Will you be part of positive action to protect disabled people from further government cuts?

A new petition has been launched to stop the government from cutting the budgets of people with disabilities – and a Facebook and Twitter ‘storm’ at 5pm today (Sunday) is intended to amplify the “voice of the ignored”.

On the petition site at Change.org, Labour councillor Joshua Brandwood, writing for the Online Militant Disabled Movement, explained: “We are about giving a voice to disabled people through the usage of social media.

“Central government have planned to localise the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which leaves many unsure and sceptical about how they are going to live independently.

“Mainstream media claim that this won’t impact ILF claimants. However, after consulting with many disabled individuals, it has definitely become apparent that the impact is very real and something needs to be done.

“This petition aims to stop further budgetary reductions to society’s most vulnerable. We should be focusing on looking after one another.”

He added that signatories’ political views are irrelevant: “We are uniting to fight for our human rights.”

The social media ‘storm’ will begin at 5pm today (Sunday) using the hashtag #voiceoftheignored.

The plight of the disabled and long-term sick has become a hot topic – initially because of This Blog’s Freedom of Information request, forcing the DWP to admit the number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died since the assessment system was changed by Iain Duncan Smith, and more recently because disabled protesters tried to storm the House of Commons on Wednesday to protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in England.

Campaigners fear that the ILF’s loss will result in severely disabled people becoming prisoners in their own homes, unable to live independently or contribute in their communities.

The attempt to break into Prime Minister’s Questions has been described by Disabled People Against Cuts as a bid to deliver a letter to the Speaker, John Bercow.

The letter points out that the ILF closure was decided by the Coalition government, without a democratic vote in Parliament – and means that, from Tuesday (June 30), the UK will be breaching its commitments to meet the basic human rights of disabled people – as proved by the closure of the fund to new applicants since December 2010, which has placed “intolerable strain on relationships and [denied] disabled people the chance to live an ordinary life.”

The letter continues: “Now, as Local Authorities start to reassess individual support packages and inform disabled people what support we will receive after 30th June 2015, we are fearing for our futures. Currently we pay taxes, we work, we study, we raise our families and make many valuable contributions to society in other ways. The cuts in support that are being handed out to individuals will leave us without dignity, sitting in our own faeces for hours at a time dependent on the kindness of friends, family, neighbours and even strangers just to eat, drink and move.

“We urge the honourable Speaker to ensure that it is our elected Parliament that has a say on whether disabled people in the UK have the right to independent living or whether in the sixth richest nation in the country we are denied the same opportunities to live and to contribute to society.”

This is the choice before the UK’s citizens – able-bodied and disabled – today: Do we sit back like cowards, say “It’s nothing to do with me,” and let others be persecuted until, as Pastor Martin Niemoller stated, they come for us and there’s nobody left to speak in our defence?

Or do we show that we do have a backbone and support the people who need help now – thereby ensuring that none of our supposed public servants ever thinks they can go after anybody else in the same way?

The choice is ours.

Once again: The petition may be found – and signed – here.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Fact trumps Tory fiction on the #RoadToRuin ‘Twitterstorm’

You’ll be aware that David Cameron and the Conservative Party metaphorically shot themselves through the head with their very first appeal to the voters in advance of May’s General Election.

Today (January 3) saw a mass movement on Twitter to get the facts of Conservative-led government across to the masses, using images and information to hammer home the realities.

The impact was so great that the campaign’s hashtag, #RoadToRuin, did not just trend in the UK but also in the USA, with around 30,000 messages sent between 6pm and 7pm. That’s 500 every minute.

Let’s have a look at some of them.

We’ll start with the infographics:

ruin1 ruin2 ruin3 ruin4 ruin5 ruin6 ruin7 ruin8 ruin9 ruin10 ruin11 ruin12 ruin13 ruin14 ruin15 ruin16 ruin17 ruin18 ruin19

ruin20 ruin21 ruin22 ruin23 ruin24 ruinsecondlast ruinlast

And here are some of the comments:

Meals on wheels for elderly in 63% decline under coalition, analysis finds. http://gu.com/p/44hjt/tw

Coalition’s VAT rate hike four years ago has cost families an average of £1,800 over four years.

1.5 million people on #RoadToRuin courtesy of the Work Programme.

#RoadToRuin when NHS pay private care home thousands of pounds for two week bed but won’t pay for nursing funding for 95-year-old.

Millions relying on foodbanks because Tories and FibDems put them on the #RoadToRuin.

Tory policy of taking money from public purse into privaet hands is #RoadToRuin.

They said they were “paying down our debts” but we know they haven’t. They said they have halved the deficit but they haven’t.

200,000 people waiting for first PIP assessment on the #RoadToRuin.

Tories will bring more low pay more insecure employment weaker employment rights in return for tax cuts for the rich.

90,000 children homeless, millions of people reliant on food banks; Tories call that a recovery.

2.25 million sanctioned – wiped off statistics. 3.45 million children in poverty. 900,000 use foot banks. Political poverty creation.

Rents and landlords need regulations. Rents are far too high and too many landlords are greedy and/or untrustworthy.

Independent Pay Review recommendations for nurses pay ignored on the #RoadToRuin.

220,000 less meals on wheels served to vulnerable people in 2014 than 2010 because of Conservative cuts.

Public sector workers didn’t cause greed-driven global banking crisis – that was bankers – who are still being rewarded today.

Mervyn King says no-one to blame for financial meltdown. Tory fibbers blame previous government.

After housing costs, 14.6 million (23.2 per cent UK population) in absolute poverty 2012-13, up 600,000. iaf.gd/lts

If you think things are bad now, Osborne still has 60 per cent of his planned cuts to make.

Govt doesn’t want public to challenge their policies in the Court of Human Rights so it wants to scrap Human Rights laws.

UK government to sell Eurostar stake before general election. Selling off family silver is #RoadToRuin.

Austerity is an excuse to shrink the state and sell off profitable public assets like Royal Mail leaving us on a #RoadToRuin.

Iain Duncan Smith to accelerate benefit reforms to stop Labour reversing them fw.to/EM13uib

Povery, hunger, foodbanks, privatisation of OUR NHS, zero-hours contracts, workfare, lies and broken promises!

Two companies to run more than half of privatised probation services. #RoadToRuin or complete insanity?

How many of these new jobs are low paid, don’t reach the tax threshold and have to be topped up by tax credits?

David Cameron is taking UK down a #RoadToRuin by forcing fracking and removing landowners rights.

The Tories scrapped rent controls for housing.

The Conservatives must go because they can never admit they are wrong e.g. badger cull. They will keep us on the #RoadToRuin.

Tories don’t care that we’re on the #RoadToRuin – they already have profitable consultancy positions lined up and the cuts won’t affect them.

400,000 children being taught by 17,000 unqualified teachers. Just not good enough. Failing our kids’ future.

With 400 tankers going to every fracking well every road will be in ruins.

Government is not properly regulating private companies and are allowing private companies to rip off public.

If the Conservatives win in May, our NHS will be lost forever.

If majjority of ‘jobs’ created are unpaid workfare, what happens to existing workforce competing against free labour?

Children shouldn’t go to school hungry or go home knowing they won’t eat till the next day. David Cameron, shame on you.

Tories like to keep us in a climate of fear and insecurity – makes their progress on the #RoadToRuin easier – that is, the road to OUR ruin.

Most of us plebs aren’t too savvy when it comes to economic stats but we know by instinct we’re worse off and being lied to by government.

For generations, people fought for a better world. Much of what they achieved has been undone in five years under the Conservatives.

I wasn’t born at the start of the war yet I paid the war debt down. Why the rush down the #RoadToRuin to pay a debt so quickly? We have time.

Bankers crippled the country. They got off. Decent people suffer.

They are taking away the dignity of the disabled.

Don’t become sick, disabled or old. You will be chucked out of Dave’s limo like a fag end discarded at the traffic lights.

The last word – in this article – goes to Yr Obdt Srvt, because it’s important:

Every Tory campaign statement is a step along the #RoadToRuin – let’s make sure they are ALL debunked as thoroughly as their first poster.

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Were the winter floods really that bad – or were they a distraction?

Photo opportunity: David Cameron and his posh new Wellies, talking a good fight but putting up less funds than he previously took away.

Photo opportunity: David Cameron and his posh new Wellies, talking a good fight but putting up less funds than he previously took away.

The storm of recriminations over the floods that battered the UK during the last few months appears to have been entirely disproportionate to their effect, if Vox Political‘s moles in the Environment Agency are to be believed.

Consider this: In 2007, the UK was hit by unprecedented flooding that damaged around 55,000 properties. Between December 2013 and February this year, the country was again hit by floods. Total number of properties flooded: around 5,000.

So we’ve had one-eleventh of the damage to homes, and (it seems) 11 times the fuss!

The media frenzy has given us photographs of David Cameron visiting flood-hit areas in his posh new Wellington boots, Ed Miliband being unjustifiably upbraided by a posh-voiced villager in his new Wellington boots, Eric Pickles blaming Owen Paterson, Owen Paterson blaming anyone he can, and everybody blaming the Environment Agency.

This is why Vox Political‘s EA moles are feeling ill-served; they say they have been doing the best they can under extremely difficult conditions – starved of funds, working 60-hour weeks including weekends with no extra pay (of course).

The extra cash provided by Mr “Money Is No Object” Cameron did not even equal the amount he had previously cut from the Environment Agency’s budget, meaning that the organisation was still unable to provide the service it had managed before the Conservative Party took the reigns of government in 2010.

Although funding cuts have been put on hold – for now, the Agency has no reason to believe its budget will not be hit again, as soon as the politicians find it expedient. If that is the case, what do you think will happen when the next flood hits?

This was a disaster that could have been avoided, with better planning and funding. But it wasn’t, and the government publicity machine went into overdrive while it was going on.

So our moles have been left with two questions:

Was this disaster manufactured?

If so, what was the government really doing while everyone was distracted by the constant media coverage of the storms?

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The Coalition is creating serious problems and distracting you with phantoms


According to the beauty industry, women must now start deodorising under their breasts.

I kid you not – it was in The Guardian.

Columnist Jill Filipovic hit the nail on the head when she wrote: “I can already hear your objections: ‘But the area under my boobs doesn’t stink!’ or ‘What kind of marketing genius not only came up with the term “swoob,” but actually thought half the world’s population might be dumb enough to buy into it?’ or simply, ‘This is a dumb product aimed at inventing an insecurity and then claiming to cure it.’

“You would be correct on all three points.

“In fact, inventing problems with women’s bodies and then offering a cure – if you pay up – is the primary purpose of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.”

The simple fact is that you don’t really need to worry about smells down there – a good old soapy flannel will cure any such problems.

That’s not the point, though. The aim is to get you thinking about it and devoting your energy to it, rather than to other matters.

Now let’s translate that to politics.

We already know that all the scaremongering about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants storming the country from January 1 was a crock. That bastion of good statistics, The Now Show, told us last week that the total number of Bulgarian immigrants in the last couple of weeks was “around two dozen so far”, according to their ambassador. In the first three months after our borders were opened to Croatians, 174 turned up.

Yet the government wanted you to believe they would flood our immigration service in their millions, “taking benefits and yet simultaneously also taking all the jobs”.

My use of language such as “storming” and “flood” is not accidental. By far the more serious threat to the UK in the early days of 2014 was the weather – and, guess what, not only was the government unprepared for the ferocity of the storms that swept our islands, the Coalition was in fact in the process of cutting funding for flood defence.

This would have gone unnoticed if the weather had behaved itself, because we would all have been distracted by the single Romanian immigrant who was ensnared by Keith Vaz in a ring of TV cameras at Heathrow Airport.

Now the Tories are telling us that our take-home pay is finally on the rise for all but the top 10 per cent of earners, with the rest of us seeing our wages rise by at least 2.5 per cent.

The government made its claims (up) by taking into account only cuts to income tax and national insurance, using data leading up to April last year, according to the BBC News website.

This kind of nonsense is easily overcome – New Statesman published the above chart, showing the real effect of changes to weekly income for people in various income groups, and also provided the reason for the government’s mistake (if that’s what it was).

“The data used … takes no account of the large benefit cuts introduced by the coalition, such as the real-terms cut in child benefit, the uprating of benefits in line with CPI inflation rather than RPI, and the cuts to tax credits,” writes the Statesman‘s George Eaton.”

He also pointed out that other major cuts such as the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the 10 per cent cut in council tax support were introduced after April 2013 and were not included in the Coalition figures.

Once all tax and benefit changes are taken into account, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that almost all families are worse off – and the Coalition also appears to have forgotten the five million low-paid workers who don’t earn enough to benefit from the increase in the personal allowance.

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock compounded the mistake in an exchange on Twitter with Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Asked why his analysis “ignores more than four million people in work (the self-employed)”, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Analysis based on ONS ASHE survey of household earnings data”.

Wrong – as Mr Portes was quick to show: “Don’t you know the difference between household and individual earnings?”

Apparently not. ASHE (Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) is a survey of employed individuals using their National Insurance numbers – not of households or the self-employed.

So the Coalition – and particularly the Tories – were trying to make us all feel good about the amount we earn.

That’s the distraction. What are we supposed to be ignoring?

Would it be David Cameron’s attempt to bribe councils into allowing shale gas companies to frack their land? Councils that back fracking will get to keep all the business rates collected from the schemes – rather than the usual 50 per cent.

He has also claimed that fracking can boost the economy and encourage businesses into the country, in a further bid to talk down dissent.

Or is it the growing threat of a rise in interest rates, which may be triggered when official unemployment figures – which have been fiddled by increased sanctions on jobseekers, rigged reassessments of benefit claimants, a new scheme to increase the number of people and time spent on Workfare, and the fake economic upturn created by George Osborne’s housing bubble – drop to seven per cent?

It seems possible that the government – especially the Tory part of it – would want to keep people from considering the implications of an interest rate rise that is based on false figures.

As Vox Political commenter Jonathan Wilson wrote yesterday: “If the BOE bases its decisions on incorrect manipulated data that presents a false ‘good news’ analysis then potentially it could do something based on it that would have catastrophic consequences.

“For example if its unemployment rate test is reached, and wages were going up by X per cent against a Y per cent inflation rate which predicted that an interest rate rise of Z per cent would have no general effect and not impact on house prices nor significantly increase repossessions (when X per cent is over-inflated by the top 1 per cent of earners, Y per cent is unrealistically low due to, say, the 50 quid green reduction and/or shops massively discounting to inflate purchases/turnover and not profit) and when it does, instead of tapping on the breaks lightly it slams the gears into reverse while still traveling forward… repossessions go up hugely, house prices suffer a major downward re-evaluation (due to tens of thousands of repossessions hitting the auction rooms) debt rates hit the roof, people stop buying white goods and make do with last year’s iPad/phone/tv/sofa, major retail goes tits up, Amazon goes to the wall, the delivery market and post collapses… etc etc.

“And all because the government fiddled the figures.”

Perhaps Mr Cameron doesn’t want us thinking about that when we could be deodorising our breasts instead.

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