Tag Archives: summer

Banning protest won’t save the Tories if a hot summer of discontent boils over into violence

Sound and fury from 2011: discontent with the government of the day boiled over into riots – and for much less reason than might present itself in 2021. Boris Johnson is hastily banning large protests – but will anybody care?

Here’s a disturbing truthbomb from Richard Murphy:

He makes good points.

Boris Johnson is promising a much better summer than we had in 2020 but the early indication are that he will disappoint us yet again.

As matters stand, history is sure to remember him as the prime minister who promised us the world and then took our world away from us instead.

So he reckons Covid-19 will be under control. Why are our health experts planning for another surge in cases, to hit us around July?

At the moment, half of the UK population is half-vaccinated, and there will be shortages from April onwards. That’s the reason variant strains of Covid are appearing; the virus is mutating to beat the defences of a half-protected population.

Johnson reckons we’ll all be able to resume our foreign holidays. How can we, considering the state of foreign nations’ vaccination regimes?

And Johnson reckons the UK’s industries are going to bounce back – what’s the phrase? “Build back better”? – with a boom during the summer. But post-Brexit problems indicate that any such economic explosion is likely to be a damp squib.

He knows all this.

Why else do you think his government has legislated to restrict protest events to the point where anything that is actually noticeable is to be punished with imprisonment?

It is exactly the wrong response. But he’s a Tory and doesn’t know how to do anything apart from punish the poor.

His decisions are all wrong. They are equivalent to clamping the lid on a pressure cooker and turning it up to maximum. What do you think will happen?

I hope I’m wrong.

If I’m not, I just hope that anyone resorting to violent protest remembers that indiscriminate vandalism won’t do anybody any good – 2011 taught us that. It is pointless harming the innocent.

If you’re angry with the government, make sure it’s the government – and its enforcers – who feel the brunt of that anger.

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Yes, it is more ‘meal deal’ than ‘new deal’ – but Sunak’s summer statement isn’t ALL bad

Rishi Sunak: his job could be hanging on the result of this plan. Shame it has already been sabotaged by his boss Boris Johnson.

It didn’t matter what Rishi Sunak was going to say in his summer statement because Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and the other Tories had already sabotaged it.

Sunak’s objective is to save jobs while the UK works through the post-Covid recession, but his problem is that his colleagues’ insistence on easing lockdown means the Coronavirus isn’t over yet – no matter what Johnson says.

In this nation of shopkeepers (as Napoleon had it), if we want to keep people in their jobs, we need to keep spending money into – and through – the economy. That means going out and paying for things.

But the number of new infections in the UK is high – and will remain so, while Johnson insists on helping the virus infect other people by opening pubs, schools, and whatever else he’s planning next.

That means people are going to be reluctant to resume normal patterns of social consumption.

It’s going to be difficult in the extreme to restore confidence after these Tory blunders. After schools and pubs, Johnson can claim it is our social duty to go back out and spend until he is redder in the face than the gammons he represents, but the public will only hear him telling us to go out, catch the virus and die.

That’s the second hurdle that Sunak faces; thanks to Johnson, public trust in the claims of politicians is at an all-time low, being worsened all the time by his insistence on lying whenever the mood takes him and refusing to apologise when his lies are exposed.

So the ending of the furlough scheme in October is directly counter-productive; watch the number of redundancies increase when that month comes round and try to tell me I’m wrong.

The offer of a £1,000 “jobs retention bonus” is likely to fall similarly flat. The conditions are that employees must be carrying out proper work, and be paid at least £520 per month – the lower limit of National Insurance payment – and it seems unlikely that many employers will be able to manage this.

Similarly, the VAT cut from 20 per cent to just five per cent to help out restaurants, pubs, cafes, B&Bs, hotels, theme parks and cinemas may only have limited success. Who’s going to go, if there’s a chance they’ll catch a fatal disease?

Sector-specific stimuli such as this are a good idea – don’t get me wrong – and this would work if the number of Covid infections was much lower than it is (in England, at least) – and if more people were interested in wearing face masks, perhaps (how would that work, when they’re eating food?) – but as I’ve already mentioned, Johnson has put a stop to that with his ridiculous blunderings.

And the already-infamous “meal deal” voucher, offering 50 per cent of the cost of meals for everybody eating out between Monday and Wednesday, throughout August, may go hungry for customers. Here’s the reason:

On the other hand, raising the threshold for stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000 might conceivably be a good idea, if it stimulates construction work as people are encouraged to buy new homes.

Possibly best of all the measures laid out in the statement was a scheme to create jobs for young people, subsidising six-month work placements for people aged 16-24.

If this is used to re-skill the workforce – actually preparing the UK for future opportunities – then it has enormous merit.

But I can see employers using it as a cheap alternative to the workers they already have. Why take just £1,000 over three months to keep on your current workforce when the Tories will give you a teenager for twice as long and pay all of their costs?

So my initial verdict is that this is final proof of the Conservative government’s economic illiteracy; they really couldn’t run a p***-up in a brewery.

But it would be wrong to pre-judge a plan that hasn’t gone into practice yet.

The sad part is that this may break Sunak but Johnson will laugh it off, no matter how disastrous the result.

Source: Coronavirus: Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils £30bn plan to save jobs – BBC News

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Is the government cutting school meal vouchers for ALL deprived kids?

No square meals: vulnerable children will be forced to go hungry during the school holidays because the stingy Tory government wants them to starve.

School meal vouchers for deprived children in at least one council area are being stopped – because it’s half term.

Isn’t that typically short-sighted of the Conservative government (Westminster funds the scheme)?

The coronavirus crisis means more people than ever are short of cash, and this will only tip the most vulnerable even further into poverty.

This is a decision to starve children – and for no reason at all.

Here’s the Liverpool Echo:

Children in one of Britain’s most deprived boroughs will have to go without free school meals over half term.

Knowsley Council said it was unable to extend its voucher system over the break as the government would not fund the scheme outside term time.

Cllr Jayne Aston, the borough’s finance chief, said: “Despite our best efforts, and those of other organisations, we have been unable to persuade the government to recognise the challenge many families are facing and fund the vouchers over the school half term break.”

Although the government agreed to fund free school meals during the Easter holidays, it has so far refused to extend provision into either half term or the summer break.

How many children in other council areas will be affected by this?

And how much harm will the Tories cause by making them starve?

Source: Government won’t fund school meal vouchers for deprived kids over half term – Liverpool Echo

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Food banks are running out of stock as summer causes shortages

A volunteer at a Trussell Trust food bank in Wandsworth, south-west London, prepares a parcel of donated items [Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images].

Food banks are dealing with increasing numbers of clients because of the chaotic introduction of Universal Credit – and what about higher demand because of the school holidays?

Pupils benefit from school meals during term time, but poverty-stricken parents have to provide for them during the holidays, and many have to turn to food banks because Conservative policies mean companies get away with paying them a pittance for their services.

Do the rich, who have benefited from Tory policies, ever contribute to food banks?

In a storage room at a food bank in Kingston, south-west London, the manager raises his hand above his head to show how high the crates of canned fruit get in October. Today, the stack barely reaches his knees.

Paul Pickhaver says the facility receives fewer donations in summer, so whatever comes in goes straight out of the door for distribution. In recent weeks, it has run low on instant coffee, tinned vegetables, fruit juice, squash and many other items.

This food bank is not alone. A record number have been forced to ask for donations this summer after running out of some items, according to Trussell Trust, Britain’s biggest food bank network.

The charity said 42 of its centres – about 10 per cent of its network – released an urgent appeal for items on social media, or through local media, in the past three months.

Source: ‘Austerity causes a lot of suffering’: record number of food banks report stock shortage | Society | The Guardian


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POLL: UKIP to prop up Tories in order to get EU referendum?

Purple Tories: If the Daily Mirror is correct, then Nigel Farage has confirmed that a vote for UKIP will also be a vote for the Conservative Party at the 2015 general election - IF the Tories agree to rush an in/out referendum on the EU out to the public that summer.

Purple Tories: If the Daily Mirror is correct, then Nigel Farage has confirmed that a vote for UKIP will also be a vote for the Conservative Party at the 2015 general election – IF the Tories agree to rush an in/out referendum on the EU out to the public that summer.

According to today’s (Monday) Daily Mirror, Nigel Farage has admitted that UKIP will merrily support a Conservative government after next year’s election – if it gets the necessary number of MPs – if David Cameron holds his promised in/out EU referendum next summer.

The announcement should not come as any surprise, even though Farage himself has claimed he would never do a deal with the Conservative Party. Most of UKIP’s leading members are former Conservatives and the party has a wholly right-wing agenda.

Many commentators have expressed the belief that UKIP would join the Tories in government if they had the chance – now Nigel Farage has named his price.

Why not? David Cameron offered a bribe to the electorate at the Tory conference a couple of weeks ago – why shouldn’t UKIP expect him to bribe them as well, if that’s what it takes to stay in power?

According to the Mirror, “Labour said his comments on a hung Parliament come as no surprise.

“’UKIP is a party joined at the hip to the Conservatives by Tory policy, Tory politicians and Tory money,’ blasted Shadow Cabinet Minister Michael Dugher.

“’They are more Tory than the Tories.’”

But what do you think of all this? Here’s the poll:

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Government’s ‘troubled families’ programme is failing; we knew it would

[Image: historyextra.com]

[Image: historyextra.com]

Remember back in April last year, when Vox Political said the Coalition government’s plan to stop children in ‘troubled’ families from playing truant, while finding work for the adults and stopping both from committing crime, was doomed to failure?

If you don’t, it’s not surprising (our readership back then was around a quarter of its current level) – and you haven’t missed much, because the scheme is back in the news as it is (again, unsurprisingly) failing.

The VP article pointed out that the government had been fiddling the figures in its bid to make it seem that 120,000 such families exist in the UK; in fact, “the number came from Labour research on disadvantaged families with multiple and complex needs, rather than families that caused problems,” according to ‘trouble families tsar’ Louise Casey at the time.

The article pointed out that local councils, offered a £4,000 bonus for each ‘troubled’ family they identified and helped (for want of a better word) were shoehorning families into the scheme – whether they qualified or not – just to make up the numbers.

It was doomed from the start.

So today we have figures obtained by Labour’s Hilary Benn, showing that around 106,500 families have been identified for the scheme (according to averages worked out from councils that responded to a Freedom of Information request). Of these, only around 35,500 were engaged by the scheme, which then failed in three-quarters of cases (around 26,600 families).

That leaves 8,878 families who actually came back to the straight-and-narrow – less than one-thirteenth of the target figure.

A success rate this low could have been achieved if the government had done nothing.

(That seems to be a running theme with the Coalition. What else does it remind us of? Ah, yes… The Work Programme. In this context it is extremely interesting that Mr Benn said the biggest obstruction to the scheme was the Work Programme’s failure “to deliver jobs to the poorest people in society”.)

According to The Guardian, “Data from 133 councils out of the 152 participating in the scheme found that almost one in seven families that had been “turned around” were either still on drugs, had children missing from school or involved in criminal acts.

“Another 60 per cent of households deemed to have been successfully helped by the scheme in March still had adults on unemployment benefits after leaving the programme.”

Bearing in mind the £4,000 ‘carrot’ that was waved in front of councils as encouragement for them to take part, you’ll enjoy the revelation that each local authority claimed to have found an average of 812 troubled families – 20 per cent more than central government had estimated.

Again, this is hardly surprising. Government-imposed council tax freezes have starved local authorities of money and £4,000, multiplied by 812, brings an average of £3,250,000 into each local authority that they would not, otherwise, have had.

So much for David Cameron’s plan to “heal the scars of the broken society”.

The Guardian also tells us that the ‘troubled families’ programme was launched by Cameron as a Big Society (remember that?) response to the riots of summer 2011.

In fact it doesn’t matter what the Coalition government does – or, indeed, what Labour plans to do if that party comes into office in 2015; schemes that are imposed on people from above will never succeed.

The problem is that the United Kingdom has become an increasingly unequal society, with money and privilege bled out of the majority of the population (who do most of the work for it) and into the hands of a very small number who have power and – it seems – no responsibility at all.

The vast majority of us are seen as disposable commodities by these exploiters – whose number includes a large proportion of MPs with interests in private business; they use us to make their huge profits and then throw us into unemployment.

Is it any wonder that such betrayal breeds families that turn away from the system and take to crime instead?

When David Cameron slithered into Downing Street he said he wanted to “re-balance” society. In fact, he over-balanced it even more in favour of privilege and wealth.

Now we need a proper re-balancing of society. The only way to solve the problem of ‘troubled families’ – a problem said to cost us £9 billion every year, by the way – is for people to be born into a society where everybody is valued and receives a fair (in the dictionary sense of the term, rather than the Conservative Party definition) reward for their contribution.

That will mean a fundamental shift in attitudes that should be taught to everybody from the cradle upwards.

You won’t get it under the Conservatives or any other right-wing government because they are exploiters by definition.

Will you get it under Labour?

Possibly. But a lot of right-wing Blairite dead wood will have to be cleared out first, and Hilary Benn is not the man his father was.

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