Tag Archives: system

New three-tier alert system shuts down businesses – unless they’re run by Tories

Beer buddies: it seems pubs in Liverpool will be shut from Wednesday – apart from those owned by Tory donor Tim Martin.

Well, we learned a lot about the UK under the Tories in 2020, didn’t we? Most especially, we learned that they only look after their own.

So, according to the BBC, Liverpool is facing a new kind of lockdown as it stands in the highest tier of Boris Johnson’s new Covid-19 alert system:

The Liverpool City Region will be on the “very high” Covid alert level from Wednesday, Boris Johnson has announced.

Confirming new three-tier restrictions, the PM said pubs, bars and betting shops would close on Merseyside.

… with certain exceptions.

It seems the Wetherspoons chain of pubs is exempt from closure because the Tories have dreamed up the excuse that they are “food-based pubs”. Yes indeed, it’s nothing to do with them being run by a leading Tory donor, Tim Martin!

Or is it? On the social media, people have their own opinions:

Liverpool famously stopped buying The Sun after it ran a headline attacking football fans from the city after the Hillsborough disaster.

I’m wondering if this latest Tory abuse will prompt a similar response…

Meanwhile:

The PM said all retail outlets, schools and universities would remain open.

So his new rules won’t make a scrap of difference and Covid-19 infection rates will continue to rise.

Source: Covid: Boris Johnson confirms new three-tier alert system, with Liverpool ‘very high’ – BBC News

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An appointments system for Accident & Emergency is the stupidest NHS idea yet

The whole point of Accident & Emergency is that people don’t need appointments to be seen.

A person who has just become the victim of a life-threatening injury, illness or condition isn’t going to have time to wait around until a doctor is ready to see them.

And the fact that this is being proposed to save face, for a service whose lack of money means it isn’t hitting targets is the biggest insult of all.

Yes, the National Health Service needs major changes.

They are a change of leaders – and a change of government.

Patients could have to start booking appointments in A&E units, and those with only minor ailments wait many hours before they are seen, under a proposed shakeup of NHS targets.

NHS England chiefs are examining whether to relax the longstanding obligation to see 95% of A&E patients within four hours.

They are also under growing pressure from hospital bosses to ease another key NHS waiting time target – the duty to give patients non-urgent surgery within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP.

Source: NHS proposes A&E appointments system in targets shakeup | Society | The Guardian

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UK tax avoiders face being blocked from honours list – to avoid bad publicity?

I’ve said it before: Image is everything to the Conservatives.

If they have initiated plans to block tax avoiders from the honours system, it means they want to avoid any (more) adverse publicity attached to such favours – or they have already rewarded all the tax avoiders they care to.

Tax avoiders are being shunned for knighthoods and other honours as authorities clamp down on rewarding people with “poor tax behaviour”, it has been revealed.

HM Revenue and Customs has been alerting the Cabinet Office to individuals involved in controversial tax planning schemes, with a memorandum of understanding obtained by the Times saying “poor tax behaviour is not consistent with the award of an honour”.

A document published on the Gov.uk website said HMRC used a traffic light system for the vetting process, assigning a low, medium or high risk rating to prospective nominees in order “to minimise the risk that prospective candidates have behaved in ways likely to bring the system into disrepute”.

Source: UK tax avoiders face being blocked from honours list | Politics | The Guardian

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The Home Office’s secret process to solve immigration cases that create bad publicity

Amber Rudd: She set up this system – it’s another reason she had to go.

It’s all about image with the Conservative Party.

They don’t care about the double-standard they have created in the immigration system; all they care about is maintaining the pretence that they run a respectable service.

In reality, we see a system that is ignorant – and still racist.

The Home Office created a rapid response strategy to solve cases that were generating bad publicity for the department amid mounting criticism of its hostile environment approach, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Established by then home secretary Amber Rudd in 2017 — before the Windrush scandal broke — senior immigration staff are given the freedom to make decisions outside of the rules and quickly grant visas and citizenship to individuals whose cases are reported in the press.

Cases solved just days or weeks after receiving media attention include several uncovered by BuzzFeed News, such as that of Cynsha Best, who was suddenly informed she wasn’t British after being born in the UK, and Valentina Hynes, told to leave her British husband and toddler son behind. Notably fast U-turns were also made in the cases of Brian White, a student with a place at Oxford University whose citizenship had been refused, and Shane Ridge, a joiner born in the UK wrongly told he couldn’t stay in Britain.

While the ability to solve some cases quickly is welcomed by lawyers, they also feel it introduces a double standard for immigration cases. The tiny minority lucky enough to receive media attention get a bespoke service while the vast majority have no means of contacting the Home Office for a proper conversation about poor decisions, let alone reversing them.

Source: The Home Office Has Created A Secret Process To Solve Immigration Cases That Generate Negative Headlines

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Remember when Tories scolded us for bringing politics into the Grenfell Tower fire? Now they are trying to ‘spin’ it for votes

Inferno: Grenfell Tower burst into flames last June.

Conservatives have no shame – especially when they’re trying to con you into voting for them.

At the moment, with the local elections approaching, it seems they have decided that it is a good time to politicise the inferno at Grenfell Tower – despite having deplored those of us who did so at the time.

According to the Mirror, “Tory canvassers were allegedly heard discussing how to spin the Grenfell blaze for political gain a mile from the scene of the tragedy.

“Local council candidate Maxwell Woodger is said to have been part of the group – which was also allegedly heard saying survivors still living in hotels were ‘milking the system’.

“Mr Woodger strongly refuted the allegation but a complaint has been made to Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservative Party.”

For clarity: Any former Grenfell resident still living in temporary accommodation is there because Theresa May has failed in her promise to find them a permanent home. And you know how soon she said that would happen?

Within three weeks of the fire. It happened last June.

That should tell you everything you need to know about how Conservatives care for the people of London.

The conditions that surrounded the fire itself were bad enough for the Tories: I should not have to remind anybody that landlords put flammable cladding on the walls and Tory council chiefs, together with MPs, failed to review safety.

I wrote at the time: “Members of the local Conservative-held Kensington and Chelsea Council, their officers, and government ministers all knew that the tower block was a danger to life – but did nothing about it.

“Concern has been raised that these public representatives were too keen to bury complaints – because they would have required expensive remedial action by landlords, both here and in 4,000 other blocks around the UK.”

Others suggested that the tower block would have been earmarked for development in the ‘gentrification’ of the Kensington and Chelsea council area.

In such circumstances, a fire that destroyed the block would have contributed to those plans and any deaths would have been cheap collateral damage.

If there is any truth to the claims that Tories are saying survivors in hotels are “milking the system”, then it seems the Conservatives would have preferred more deaths than the 71 that have been recorded.

At the time, people were saying “Enough is enough” – that rules and regulations must be tightened to ensure no repetition of the tragedy.

In fact, it was far too much. And it was because of the Conservatives.

The same Conservatives who are seeking election back onto local councils across London so they can strip public services still further and endanger the lives of even more people.

Remember: When you are alive, they call you “stock”. If you die because of their plans you are “collateral damage”.

Londoners: For your own sakes, vote Labour on May 3.


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These Tory lapdogs have earned tasty treats for hounding benefit claimants to the grave

Sir Robert Devereaux.

These are the civil servants who have been rewarded with huge bonuses for creating a ‘benefit’ system that causes hardship and death:

Department for Work and Pensions Permanent secretary Sir Robert Devereux last year got up to £20,000 on top of his £185,000 salary. This year there was no bonus but his pay hit £190,000.

Neil Couling, director general of Universal Credit, got a bonus of up to £20,000 last year and a £125,000 salary. This year instead of a bonus his salary leapt to £145,000 a year.

Jeremy Moore, strategy director, had a £20,000 bonus two years running – taking his total pay to £155,000 a year.

Mayank Prakash, director general of digital technology, got up to £20,000 this year on top of his £200,000 salary – so he earned more than his boss Sir Robert.

And Andrew Rhodes, operations director, had a bonus of between £10,000 and £15,000 this year, taking his pay to £155,000 a year. He also claimed £37,600 in travel expenses.

(Information from the Daily Mirror article.)

These are not people who have been forced into carrying out this attack on decent people who have no choice but to claim help from the state; there is no low-payment poverty trap hanging over them like the Sword of Damocles.

They are very rich people, who command high prices for their work – even though that work has been substandard to the point of causing harm to the public.

What conclusion may we draw from the high rewards they have received?

Simply that their work was always intended to harm the public, and they are happy to have achieved that aim.

There will be no penalty for these five while a Conservative government – even a minority government – runs the United Kingdom.

But let us hope the Labour Party does not declare any amnesty for these villains. Evil on this scale deserves the strongest possible punishment.

Five highly-paid civil servants have had bonuses of up to £20,000 – and even pay rises – for devising a new benefit system causing hardship and misery for thousands.

Many people claiming the new Universal Credit have had no money for up to six weeks because of computer issues and slow helplines in trial areas.

A national roll-out of the benefit – meant to replace Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Child and Working Tax Credit, and some ­disability benefits – is behind schedule.

But bosses at the Department for Work and Pensions got bonuses for “top performance” and “leadership” – sparking fury from Labour MPs.

Read more: Civil servants pocket bonuses of up to £20,000 and pay rises for creating bungling benefits system hurting thousands


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There’s no place in politics for Blairites who are disgruntled by their abrupt loss of influence

Telling it as it is: Michael Meacher has more to say about the current Labour Party than yesterday's man, Tony Blair.

Telling it as it is: Michael Meacher has more to say about the current Labour Party than yesterday’s man, Tony Blair.

Michael Meacher has it right (as usual). In the same Guardian article that publicises Tony Blair’s latest attack on Jeremy Corbyn, he explained why the former Prime Minister and his followers are so disgruntled by the return to real Labour Party values he represents:

“Understandably,” he said, “the Blairite faction is disconcerted by their abrupt loss of power.”

That is the meaning of everything that has been said by these people – by Tony Blair, by Alastair Campbell, by Simon Danczuk, by John Mann, and by all the others who are bleating that the democratic system of electing a new leader – that they all supported – should be halted because it might mean they’ll have to follow a real socialist instead of a Tory in a red tie.

Blair’s comments aren’t worth repeating because they contain nothing of substance at all. “The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below,” is it, Tony? What makes you say that? What particular policies of Corbyn’s will cause the catastrophe you have made up inside your mind? You don’t say, so we shouldn’t pay any attention.

Blair appears to support calls for New Labour hangers-on to split from the party in the event of a Corbyn win: “This is not a moment to refrain from disturbing the serenity of the walk on the basis it causes ‘disunity’.”

This, of course, runs against party discipline and Mr Meacher was right to counter it: “They have a duty to remain loyal to the Labour party as the left has always done.”

Again, Meacher is right; Blair is wrong.

Let’s have a bit more of Meacher. Referring to the rise of Corbyn, he said: “It is the biggest non-revolutionary upturning of the social order in modern British politics.

“The Blairite coup of the mid-1990s hijacked the party to the Tory ideology of ‘leave it all to the markets and let the state get out of the way’, and when asked what was her greatest achievement, Mrs Thatcher triumphantly replied, ‘New Labour.’

“After 20 years of swashbuckling capitalism, the people of Britain have said enough, and Labour is finally regaining its real principles and values.”

Blairites in the Parliamentary Labour Party have a stark choice, if Corbyn is elected by the party membership they claim to serve: They can knuckle under and toe the party’s new line, as the left-wingers have been forced to do – in the name of party unity, Tony Blair – for the last 20 years…

Or they can sling their hook.

That doesn’t mean resigning the Labour whip and sloping off to the Liberal Democrats (or wherever), as Shirley Williams has suggested.

It means resigning their position as MPs and making way for the election of somebody who will support Labour’s new direction.

The behaviour of men like Danczuk and Mann is nothing less than treachery against their party – meaning the people who voted them into Parliament, a majority of whom – it seems – want Jeremy Corbyn to be the new Labour leader.

The people are speaking. They want the New Labour dinosaur to go into extinction. Let us hope the hangers-on get the message.

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Churches welcome call for benefit sanctions review‏

This shows the Coalition Government's record on sanctions against JSA claimants alone.

This shows the Coalition Government’s record on sanctions against JSA claimants alone.

 

A coalition of major UK churches, with a combined membership of more than 800,000, has welcomed the call for a full independent review of the benefit sanctions system. The recommendation comes in a report from the Work and Pensions Select Committee, released today (Tuesday).

Earlier this month the churches called for such a review in their report Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions which cited new evidence about the negative impact of the current regime. They revealed that, in 2013/14, nearly seven million weeks of sanctions were handed out to people, with around 100,000 children affected. The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also shows that people who receive the sickness and disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because of a long-term mental health problem are being sanctioned at a rate of more than 100 per day. The most common reason for being sanctioned is being late or not turning up for an appointment.

“The Select Committee Report describes a system that is broken and needs urgent review,” said Paul Morrison, public issues policy adviser for the Methodist Church. “Churches are often at the forefront of helping people who have been sanctioned and who are in desperate need of food, support and advice. It is unacceptable that vulnerable people can be left with no means of support as punishment for often very minor mistakes.

“The people we have met have spoken of the shame, demoralisation and loss of self-worth caused by this system. As Christians we believe that everyone is loved, valued and made in the image of God, and we have a responsibility to challenge any structure or system that undermines that dignity. We hope that whoever forms the next government will treat this issue with the urgency and seriousness it deserves.”

“So far, more than 1,400 people have written to their MPs about sanctions as a result of the campaign,” added Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, “It’s great that people in churches understand how important this issue is. We know that sanctions have a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable: young people, care leavers, homeless people, single parents, the mentally ill and those with long-term illness. The new government must act to ensure that the benefits system provides a safety net for everyone, rather than making people destitute.”

Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions was published by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church Action on Poverty, the Church in Wales, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church and features the stories of people like Sarah* who have had their benefits sanctioned:

Sarah worked as a charity project coordinator until she was laid off a due to funding cuts. She was asked to apply for eight jobs a week, but always applied for more as she was keen to get back to work. One week she was unable to fill out her job search on the computer because there were workmen fixing her roof and she had to stay in the house. Instead she filled out her search in a booklet. She contacted the jobcentre to explain, and ask if they needed any proof to support the booklet as she had emails from prospective employers and had even attended interviews. They said they didn’t need anything from her.

When Sarah went to collect her money she was told she had been sanctioned. However, she did not receive the letter telling her she had been sanctioned so was unable to apply for discretionary funds to help support her and her family. Sarah successfully appealed the decision, though she says that Jobcentre Plus staff repeatedly tried to discourage her from doing so.

“Usually I’m quite a confident person, but they crush you. I found the experience at the Jobcentre Plus so awful I’d rather starve than go back there again. They should properly train the people in the job centre to treat us like people …That whole attitude that people are scroungers is terrible, there’s just no respect.”

scrounger

The Department for Work and Pensions has failed to respond to a further FOI request regarding whether sanctions make it easier for the DWP to achieve its targets. This is despite the fact that the Information Commissioner’s Office ordered the DWP to respond by 15 March.

*Not her real name.

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DWP employees: Do the right thing – because Iain Duncan Smith never will

zIDSmurderer

The effect of Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘welfare reforms’ should, by now, be plain for all to see: Increased poverty – including child poverty, the torture of starvation for people who have been sanctioned off of benefit and cannot afford food, hopelessness, despair, suicide.

We saw the signs as long ago as 2012, when the man we call RTU (Return To Unit) and SNLR (Services No Longer Required) launched his famous rant on the subject against Owen Jones.

This blog reported it at the time: “Irately wagging his finger in Mr Jones’s general direction, he barked: ‘We’ve heard a lot from you. I didn’t hear you screaming about two and a half million people who were parked, nobody saw them, for over 10 years, not working, no hope, no aspiration. We are changing their lives; I’m proud of doing that. Getting them off-benefit is what we’re going to do.'”

Establishment figures like David Dimbleby, it seems, wanted us to take this at face value – that the Secretary-in-a-State was going to put people to work (whether they liked it or not).

Now we know that wasn’t what he meant.

He meant he was going to force people off benefit by perverting the system in the worst way possible. He was going to order his staff to find any slight excuse to inflict benefit sanctions on society’s most vulnerable.

As we read today, “Unlike benefit delays, where in theory claimants can receive backdated payments to cover the period when they were without income, sanctions left already vulnerable recipients struggling with a massive hole in their finances which they had often filled with expensive credit, trapping them in a cycle of debt.”

Iain Duncan Smith has encouraged his staff to sanction people using “unjust, potentially fraudulent reasons”.

He has inflicted torture on the innocent, in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

His benefit assessors practice “chequebook euthanasia” – when claimants say they have suicidal thoughts, they are asked why they have not yet killed themselves.

And sometimes he just condemns people to die in the cold. Note that Job Centre staff – like Nazi soldiers – use the so-called ‘Nuremberg defence’ for their actions; they were “only following orders”.

Take this comparison to its logical conclusion and Iain Duncan Smith may be compared with Hitler; the unemployed, sick and disabled are his Jews, Romanies, sick and disabled; and the whole of the UK is his extermination camp.

But a general election is coming and the Conservatives are not expected to win. Will Iain Duncan Smith take Hitler’s way out?

Fat chance!

He’ll probably try to cover his tracks, too.

So let us appeal to all DWP personnel: Here’s your chance to get something worthwhile from the last five years!

It is time to start copying information. Iain Duncan Smith will want to cover up all his dirty little secrets and it is likely that his shredder will be working day and night if he thinks someone else might discover any inconvenient truths.

If there are any inconvenient truths, then as servants of the country – rather than servants of the Conservatives or the Secretary of State – it is your duty to collect this evidence, preserve it and bring it forward after he has been ousted.

Nobody can order you to do this. Undoubtedly you will be discouraged from doing it; there are likely to be rules that say you must not, invoking the same national interest that Yr Obdt Srvt is invoking here.

This is a matter for your conscience.

Do you think Iain Duncan Smith and his associates should be allowed to go unpunished for the harm they have caused?

Do what you think is right.

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Boris Johnson’s catch-22: ‘Get rid of the presumption of innocence’

Dangerously right-wing policies wrapped in a fuzzy exterior - but can Boris Johnson pull the wool over our eyes?

Dangerously right-wing policies wrapped in a fuzzy exterior – but can Boris Johnson pull the wool over our eyes?

A centuries-old pillar of British justice is too good for some UK citizens, according to that Great Briton Boris Johnson (who is descended from a Turk).

He wants Britain to abandon the core governing principle of its legal system – the presumption of innocence in UK law – so that people who travel to “war areas” such as Iraq and Syria may be presumed to be potential terrorists unless they can prove otherwise.

This means that people who go to war zones for humanitarian reasons would be labelled as terrorists, along with those who travel there to find lost relatives and bring them home, if they don’t notify the authorities first – and there are reasons why people might not want to do that.

It also means countries like Iran would have more advanced legal systems than the UK – Iran has the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven enshrined in its constitution.

Johnson reckons “the law needs a swift and minor change so that there is a ‘rebuttable presumption’ (which shifts the burden of proof on to the defendant) that all those visiting war areas without notifying the authorities have done so for a terrorist purpose”. Minor change?

Fortunately we do not need a change in the law to prove that this means Boris Johnson is an evil-minded arse.

Already fellow Tory and former attorney general, Dominic Grieve – who was allegedly ousted by David Cameron because he did not support Conservative-led changes to Legal Aid that would have made justice available only to the rich – has made it clear that Johnson’s idea would undermine British legal values.

How, exactly, is anyone supposed to prove that they did not cross borders to deliver supplies to terrorists or receive training in terror tactics?

James Ball, writing in The Guardian, states: “Recent history recounts in great and dismal detail the consequences of Johnson’s ‘simple and minor’ change: Camp X-Ray at Guantánamo Bay.

“Camp staff were told in classified documents that ‘[t]ravel to Afghanistan for any reason after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 is likely a total fabrication with the true intentions being to support Osama bin Laden through direct hostilities against the US forces’. No matter if your detainee says they were visiting family, supporting NGOs, working with religious groups, or even – in some cases – supporting coalition forces, travel is deeply suspicious.

“’Travel to Afghanistan for charity reasons or to teach or study Islam,’ the document warned, ‘is a known al-Qaida/extremist cover story without credence.’

“Another sign someone is a terrorist, the US government said, was them telling you they were not. If the sleep-deprived inmates, who often had mental health issues, answered the questions slowly, this was also evidence they were a highly coached terror suspect. Even wearing a Casio watch – one of the world’s bestselling timepieces – was ‘the sign of al-Qaida’.”

It’s a Catch-22. According to this logic, anyone returning from a country where terrorists are active who claims they are not a terrorist must be – according to the authorities – a terrorist.

Wikipedia has it that “one connotation of the term is that the creators of the ‘catch-22’ have created arbitrary rules in order to justify and conceal their own abuse of power” and that “rules are inaccessible to and slanted against those lower in the hierarchy” (which is, of course, the intention behind Chris Grayling’s changes to Legal Aid).

So Boris Johnson wants to impose another abuse of power on those of us who cannot fight it.

That’s business as usual for a Tory.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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