Pittance: count your coppers if you live in the North of England or the Midlands – the Tories will starve you of cash and favour the South East as they try to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
Everybody in the former ‘Red Wall’ constituencies must be feeling properly humiliated now.
What a bunch of chumps. They voted Tory because they wanted to “Get Brexit Done” and now they find that the only things being “done” are they themselves.
Perhaps they’ll console themselves by thinking that even a Labour government would not have been able to stop Covid-19 ravaging the UK – but that’s only because the Tories, who they helped vote back into government, had failed to make the proper preparations in good time.
Whichever way you look at it, it seems everyone in those constituencies who switched their vote to Tory is about to get their just desserts. Let’s hope they learn their lesson, which is: never ever vote Conservative.
My sympathy goes out to everybody in the North who didn’t vote for the Tories but will suffer just as much as those who did.
Communities in the North will be hit more than twice as hard by the economic impacts of coronavirus than parts of the South, a new report has found.
The recession caused by the crisis, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week acknowledged would be “the likes of which we have never seen” will see an average fall of 12 per cent in permanent losses in economic output over the next five years across the so-called Red Wall, the Centre for Progressive Policy found.
It means areas in the North and the Midlands would be hit harder than communities in the South East, which would see average losses of five per cent.
The Red Wall crumbled at the 2019 general election in the face of the Conservatives’ advance, and the party has pledged to “level up” prosperity across the UK.
We can see very clearly that the Tory pledge to “level up” prosperity across the UK was never serious.
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This is the only response Theresa May is likely to give people who are struggling with her cruel and misnamed Universal Credit fiasco,
People are queueing up to tell the public – and the minority Tory government – about the havoc its so-called “welfare reforms” – including Universal Credit – are causing among poor and working-class people: The hardship, the despair, and the deaths.
Weakling prime minister Theresa May doesn’t want to listen. She’s hoping it will go away if she ignores it.
It won’t go away. In fact, let’s all do our best to confront her with these stories, every day.
I see so much suffering on a daily basis. Case managers like me are well-trained to deal with any claimants threatening suicide, either by phone or by journal message, simply because it’s such a frequent occurrence (and recurrence).
It is often that we have to tell claimants the state cannot support them further at all – even if they have weeks till their next payment and have young children to feed.
Being a case manager means that turning away those in abject poverty is a part of the job. Those who have worked in universal credit since the early days have become hardened, having dealt with thousands of vulnerable people.
Claimants who state that they are facing eviction are a penny a dozen. We are told that legal proceedings can take months so a claimant is “never really facing eviction”.
That’s how we’re told to justify it.
But Neil Couling, the civil servant in charge of delivering Universal Credit (his title appears to be ‘Director General’), seems to have accused his employee of exaggeration in this tweeted response to the economist Jonathan Portes:
You and I have always argued in favour of research and evidence rather than anecdote & opinion in making policy and delivery decisions
The official comment from the DWP did nothing to help matters. It states: “Our frontline staff offer invaluable support to people facing difficult circumstances. Their job is not always easy, which is why we provide comprehensive training and care for their wellbeing – and our universal credit employees are positive about the support they receive.
“The majority of people are satisfied with their universal credit claim and are comfortable managing their money, but there is extra support for people who need it. Advance payments, more frequent payments, and budgeting support is available.”
Good manners prevent This Writer from providing an opinion on those words, which seem intended directly to contradict ‘James L Johnson’.
Inverness MP Drew Hendry has invited Theresa May to hear claimants’ accounts of Universal Credit at a ‘summit’ on November 3.
As an appetiser (if that’s the right word), he provided the following stories in his letter to the minority prime minister:
“Abbey had payments stopped when she went on maternity leave. It took our office – having to pass details of law from House of Commons library – to get the DWP to accept their error. Over £2,000 in rent arrears, four months to fix, surviving on food vouchers.
“Leanne has cancer. This single mum of two – waited 6 long weeks for payment, when it came, it was over £500 short, including £300 for an ESA overpayment that she was never paid in the first place. Shamefully, the DWP then demanded she attended a Work Capability Assessment – against the advice of her furious GP.
“Rachael was expecting a baby yet she went all through Christmas and on to April without payment. £1,500 of housing arrears and close to being evicted. The DWP said they had a problem with her national insurance number. Against medical advice, your department wanted this pregnant woman, with no money, to travel 200miles from Inverness to Aberdeen and back to sort out your mistakes.”
For Mrs May, then, it is a choice between staying at home and relying on the assurances of people who are paid to tell her everything is fine – and attending a meeting where she may hear countless accounts of trauma, agony and torment caused by the same people.
Do YOU think she’ll go?
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If you thought you had it bad under the Coalition then, as someone once said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
The Conservative victory in last night’s election has left many of us reeling – not just because of its disastrous implications for the future of the UK and its citizens, but because nobody saw it coming.
Some have blamed ‘shy’ Tory voters. These are selfish little liars who skew the polls by denying any intention to vote for the Nasty Party. In the case of yesterday’s vote, many will have done so against their own best interests.
So why did they do it? The most likely reason being touted overnight is the success of the Conservative Party’s big scare tactic: The lie that Labour would go into a coalition with the Scottish National Party in the event of a hung Parliament. Cameron made vague claims that this would hit everybody in the wallet and Middle England – already burdened by a £4,000 per year loss of earnings thanks to Tory austerity – turned into a tribe of ‘shy’ Tories.
With the polls duly skewed, there was no way for Ed Miliband and Labour to know that their strategy wasn’t going to work for them, so they carried on. Britain fell into the Tory trap and now David Cameron has a slim majority.
And we are all in deep, deep trouble.
For supporters of the SNP, the disappointment must be the most bitter. Still, they supported a party with the most contradictory message of all – vote SNP in Scotland because Labour is bad, so that the SNP can go into coalition with Labour MPs from everywhere else because Labour is good.
It seems likely the most straightforward reason they voted SNP is because they had been whipped into a frenzy of righteous indignance about the independence referendum, believing the SNP propaganda that Labour was “in cahoots” with the Conservative Party – not just over the referendum but on general policy as well; ‘Red Tories’ was the SNP brand on Labour.
(Of course, others responded by labelling the SNP ‘Tartan Tories’. It is ironic that all this bickering resulted in the real Tories seizing power.)
So Scottish voters believed an SNP lie about Labour, and the knock-on effect was that English (and some Welsh) voters were convinced by a Conservative lie about Labour and the SNP. This created a domino effect which eventually meant that every single Scottish seat could have gone to the SNP, and the UK would still have ended up with a Tory government.
Is Nicola Sturgeon proud of herself? She seems to be. One is led to wonder how her party will respond to Tory legislation, when Parliament resumes.
Interestingly, Jon Craig (of Sky News) tweeted: “Tory at East Renfrewshire count: ‘Nicola Sturgeon has won more votes for the Conservatives in England than she has for the SNP in Scotland.'”
If anything, the election has demonstrated that Conservative/Coalition policy has created an atmosphere of division in the UK, greater than at any time in our history. Nationalism is on the rise, with Scotland keen to secede from the union and the UK as a whole heading for a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union.
The SNP result should also signal the death-knell of the First Past The Post voting system in this country – although its demise is likely to be protracted (the Tories will fight tooth and nail to keep it). Where’s the fairness in a system that can deliver 56 seats to the SNP with 1.5 million votes, and only one seat to UKIP, with nearly four million votes?
(This Writer supports neither party, as previous articles on this blog make all-too-clear. Facts are facts.)
It will also be interesting to see what impact – if any – the Coalition’s ‘individual voter registration’ has had on the number of people who voted. Also, how many people didn’t bother to vote “because it never changes anything”?
Come to that, what about all those people who were forced to move out of affluent areas because they couldn’t pay the Bedroom Tax (which will, of course, continue)? Did they move into Labour constituencies?
We could be looking at interference in the electoral process on an industrial scale.
Feel free to disagree with the free pass this image gives to Scottish voters if you like; the claim about voters in England is absolutely on the button.
Overall, the situation is best summed up by ‘Grumpy David’ on Twitter: “Seriously, who’s looked at the last five years and gone yeah, more of that please?”
What of the future?
Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK tweeted that a Tory victory would mean neo-feudalism is on its way in England, the union will be broken (with Scotland seceding), and the UK will leave the EU. He also predicted an economic crisis within a year.
Europe will be a major issue for the Conservatives now. With no Liberal Democrat partners to blame for government decisions, Cameron will be exposed to attack from his own backbenchers – many of whom are raving Europhobes.
Everyone on benefits will suffer, including those in work. Rachel Martin tweeted: “If exit polls are accurate I advise you not to be poor, not to be ill, not to be old and not to be in need of a job.”
The Tory victory means the end of the welfare state as we know it: People who deserve compassion will get none. Instead they will suffer £12 billion of cuts. Many thousands will die for the sake of a few pennies.
And the NHS? Privatised. With the provisions in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that will lock that privatisation into international law. Here’s Jacob Richardson: “Imagine seeing rape crisis shelters being closed and children’s palliative care being sold off to Virgin Healthcare, and wanting more of it.”
Workers’ pay will take a hammering – and our ability to protest and get a fair deal will be removed, along with the rest of our rights according to the Human Rights Act. They will be replaced by a ‘Bill of Rights’ telling us more about what we can’t do than what we can.
The Labour Party will need to get its act together quickly. Probably the best thing to do is get right back out to the general public and get confirmation of why the vote went to the Tories. Was Labour policy too close to the party’s arch-rivals, as some have surmised? Did people feel Labour wasn’t offering a genuine alternative? There will be a conflict between the neoliberal Blairites and traditionalists, and it is important that traditional Labour wins. If there’s one thing to learn from the SNP victory, it’s that a genuinely left-wing, anti-austerity platform delivers a massive victory at the moment.
The Liberal Democrats have been destroyed as a Parliamentary political party – and rightly so. The message for others to take away is that any form of compliance with Conservatives is fatal. The Tories will shift blame for anything bad onto their partners and contrive to win more votes.
UKIP is also a spent force. Despite increasing its vote share, its representation in Parliament has been halved. Voters will see this and abandon.
The SNP has taken on the role that the Liberal Democrats enjoyed at the 2010 election. They were the darlings of the voters this year but will lose out when it becomes clear that they cannot deliver a single promise – and, in fact, their victory in Scotland ensured that they would not be able to do so.
Finally, what can we do – the public?
We need to watch the Conservatives – and any of their known collaborators – hawkishly. We need to build up information about them, their policies, and any other interests – including and especially those that are less than legal (and there will be a lot of this). They won because the public believed them. It is important to undermine that trust with the facts.
We need also to ensure that the Liberal Democrats do not stage a comeback. That party betrayed the people and must be consigned to history. Again, we need to monitor the behaviour of its members and work to make sure the public is not gulled into a false sense of trust.
And it would be good to start thinking about the kind of country we would create, if we had the chance – and what steps we could take to build it. This may seem like pie-in-the-sky at such a dark point in our nation’s history, but it is only with careful and clever planning that anybody achieves anything.
We are in a very dark pit at the moment – dug for us by the Conservative Party. At least we can take heart that, from here, the only way is up.
Leading Conservatives must be delighted with the success of their benefit cap in getting single mothers and people with large families out of London – as depicted in the BBC Panorama special, Don’t Cap My Benefits, yesterday evening. (Thursday)
The change means that nobody in the UK is allowed to receive more than £26,000 in benefits per year. The government has claimed this is the same as the average family income, but readers of Vox Political will know that this is a flimsy lie and average family income is in fact more than £5,000 per year higher, at £31K+. The reason benefits weren’t pegged at that level is that far fewer people would be affected by it. Make no mistake – this measure was enacted to shift people from the capital.
The film shows the effects of the change on a number of families in Brent, one of London’s worst-hit boroughs, during a period of just six months. Some of them were forced to move away from their lifelong homes to other cities, with one person being threatened with deportation to Manchester. Even people with jobs were forced to go, by council workers whose attitude bordered on the offensively hostile.
Partway through, Vox Political received this comment: “I am watching Panorama, about the benefit cap. It is heart-breaking, mothers are being split up from small children, a single mother who is volunteering at a children’s centre – a good tenant, according to her landlord – is evicted, she has gone from a house to a B&B and the council woman said, ”At least you’re not on the street”. What hope is there?”
Very little, it seems.
The strongest message the documentary gave was that the benefit cap targets minorities and drives them out of London to areas, most commonly in the Midlands or the North, where people are already suffering similar social deprivation. Perhaps the Tories who dreamed up this idea believe the axiom that ‘Misery loves company’.
Of the families or individuals featured in the film, only one was of British ethnic origin – and she was painted as a troublemaker by her landlord. Some were people who had immigrated into the UK (many years ago – so let’s not have any anti-immigration propaganda levelled at them); some were black. All had children – including some who had many more than the average (there were seven in one family). Some were single mothers. Some were in work, but were told that the amount they were earning could not keep them housed in London and they had to go. Some said they were in work but were doubted by housing officers who forced them out anyway (only to discover later that they were telling the truth, and move them back into Brent, possibly at great expense to the taxpayer).
Perhaps we were supposed to look down on these individuals. Were we supposed to believe they had brought these troubles on themselves because they had too many children without considering the cost, or because they had split up from the fathers of their children, or because their jobs paid too little or their rent was too high?
That’s not what this documentary showed at all.
It showed the intentionally vicious effects of a government policy specifically designed to inflict suffering, in order to remove these unwanted social dregs (as Cabinet ministers no doubt see them) and make London more available as a playground for the rich. It is a policy that goes back (as many do) to Thatcherism.
Thatcherism relied on a massive increase in unemployment, the lowering of wages and the increase of housing prices to undermine the self-confidence of working-class communities – and succeeded on a massive scale. But these were the economics of “planned misery”, in the phrase of Rodolfo Walsh, according to The Impact of Thatcherism on Health and Well-Being in Britain, a new report – strongly recommended.
The article states: “As the relative value of benefits fell, and as wage rates for increasingly insecure and feminised, unskilled work were held down, the poorest were becoming poorer and increasingly ‘socially excluded’, blamed, and stigmatised for policy outcomes that the government had in fact fully anticipated.”
It continues: “All of this generated – and was designed to generate – sharply increased inequalities of income and wealth across Britain and a dramatic increase in poverty… Thatcher’s governments wilfully engineered an economic catastrophe across large parts of Britain and sowed the seeds… of a subsequent collapse – which ironically has provided the highly spurious legitimation for a new generation of ‘uber-Thatcherites’ in the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government to go where Thatcher herself had hesitated to tread – a complete dismantling of the welfare state.”
In other words, this government’s answer to poverty is to remove the safety net – and that is what we saw in the Panorama film.
The answer to the problems it depicted isn’t to ship poor people off to the deprived North! The answer is a cap on rents, so they don’t become so high that people can’t pay them. It’s a living wage, to ensure that working people don’t need to claim state benefits – as someone else recently said, how can any industry consider itself ‘private’ if its employees need funding from the state to survive?
Otherwise, as a commenter on the BBC’s Question Time said, a little later in the evening, there will be nobody left in London to provide services such as education, for all the rich kids the Tories and Tory Democrats are no doubt already inviting in.
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