Tag Archives: terms

Now IAIN DUNCAN SMITH is challenging Liz Truss – over BENEFIT CUTS

The Tory who inflicted the most harmful benefit cuts ever to blight the UK has raised his voice to challenge new prime minister Liz Truss – saying her plan to cut benefits in real terms is too harsh.

Wait, what?

Iain Duncan Smith, whose cuts to sickness benefits led to at least 2,400 unexplained deaths between 2011 and 2014, now says benefit cuts are bad?

Well, yes:

It may not be hypocrisy.

He resigned in 2016 over plans to cut disability benefits, saying they were too harsh as well.

And the argument he is using now – that cutting money available to benefit claimants is likely to harm them – is entirely correct. How do I know?

Because I wrote it.

I, along with many other campaigners of the time, made it clear when newspaper stories about people dying for that reason were proliferating.

Suppose a claimant is diabetic. If they can’t afford to power their refrigerator, then they can’t keep their insulin at the right temperature. What happens if they then go into diabetic shock?

Just ask the family of David Clapson.

But This Writer doesn’t recall any remorse from Iain Duncan Smith over the deaths his policies caused while he was Work and Pensions Secretary.

Perhaps a more likely explanation for this is that the policy is likely to be hugely unpopular during a cost-of-living crisis caused by the Tory government.

The thought of people on benefits receiving a help package that is reduced if Truss refuses to authorise an inflation-linked uplift in benefits may be deeply unpopular with voters, so perhaps Iain Duncan Smith is simply trying to cling on to his Parliamentary seat.

His other words are absolutely correct, though: if a government wants to build economic growth, it needs to give money to the poorest in society because they are the ones who will spend it – not the richest.

He is the latest in a lengthening line of senior Tory MPs to challenge the prime minister’s authority.

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Starmer the abstainer strikes again as Tories impose real-terms benefit cut

Labour’s shame: Keir Starmer. He was mobbed by an angry crowd who had been misled by Boris Johnson’s false allegations about him and Jimmy Savile; if the crowd had turned against him because of his tacit support for Tory benefit cuts, This Site would have applauded the act.

Boris Johnson’s hard-right-wing Conservative government has imposed a real-terms cut in payments for people with pensions and other benefits.

From April, payments will be uprated by 3.1 per cent. But inflation is likely to peak at more than twice that – 7.25 per cent is predicted – meaning vulnerable people will struggle.

The cut come on top of the 54 per cent increase in fuel bills that the Tories intend to “smooth out” with a £200 loan that will be demanded back later, even though they will not have the money.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also announced a £150 council tax rebate for people whose homes are in Bands A to D – but this does not help benefit claimants who receive Council Tax Support.

Shall I go on?

Universal Credit was slashed by £1,040 per year last September when the Tories ended an uprating that had been imposed to help people cope with the effects of Covid-19 on employment and earnings.

And a pension increase, approved around the same time, was limited to only two of the “triple lock” conditions because Tories said the third – which would have raised payments in line with the percentage rise in wages – would have led to a rise of eight per cent that they said was artificially inflated because of Covid.

Hindsight shows us that an eight per cent rise would have been appropriate to cope with the huge increases in the cost of living that the Tories have caused with their catastrophic mismanagement of the UK.

Normally one would expect Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to do its job and oppose this oppression of vulnerable people. So, where was Keir Starmer when this cut was imposed?

He was nowhere to be seen.

Starmer had ordered his MPs to abstain and only 13 party members had the courage – and the responsibility – to rebel.

They were Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Ian Byrne, Dan Carden, Ian Lavery, Tony Lloyd, Rebecca Long-Bailey, John McDonnell, Grahame Morris, Cat Smith, Zarah Sultana, Nadia Whittome and Beth Winter.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Andy McDonald acted as tellers for the ‘Noes’, meaning they were unable to vote but it is understood that they would have done so otherwise.

Steve Walker, over on Skwawkbox, has suggested that Starmer is “addicted to absention” because he doesn’t want to stand for anything disliked by the Tory voters he is trying to steal from Boris Johnson.

Steve went on to point out that formerly-Labour voters have decided to “switch off in disgust at the lack of a real alternative” to the Tories.

But it is worse than that. Starmer is alienating a generation from voting.

With no opposition from the so-called Opposition, anybody whose politics is to the left of Mussolini’s has nobody to support and is unlikely to vote for any of the far-right candidates who’ll be paraded by the Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in future elections.

These parties are now so closely-aligned that you couldn’t get a Diner’s Club card between their policies.

There is an alternative – so of course it is being played down by the Tory media.

New left-wing organisations have sprung up and aligned together in what’s being called the People’s Alliance of the Left.

Member organisations include the Breakthrough Party, Northern Independence Party, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Left Unity – all of whom, This Writer understands, have enjoyed large increases in membership since linking together.

This Site encourages readers who want to support a genuine alternative to research the PAL member organisations and either join or support whichever seems likely to gather the most support in your local area.

Information on PAL is available here.

You can find out about the Breakthrough Party here.

The Northern Independence Party sets out its stall here.

This is the website for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

And Left Unity’s website is here.

PAL’s first Parliamentary candidate is Dave Nellist, who will be standing as the TUSC representative in the Birmingham Erdington by-election on March 3.

If you live in that constituency – or you want to support the candidate and political views that genuinely oppose the current hard-right consensus – please sign up to support Dave.

Source: Byrne one of only 13 to rebel vs Starmer’s abstention addiction as Labour hides from vote on benefits cut – SKWAWKBOX

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‘Properly vetted’ ferry firm took its terms from a takeaway website. Are you laughing yet?

Ramsgate ferry terminal: The Seaborne contract requires the waters surrounding it to be dredged – who’s paying for that, then?

The Conservative government has often been accused of making up its policies on the back of a cigarette packet so perhaps it’s no surprise that the ferry-free freight company hired to provide a service following a “no deal” Brexit seems to have cut-and-pasted its terms and conditions from a takeaway website.

Seaborne Freight was awarded a £13.8 million contract to ease the pressure on Dover when Britain pulls out of the EU – despite never having run a Channel service.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling insisted the company had been properly vetted before being chosen, but now we find the terms and conditions on its website appeared to have been lifted from a takeaway delivery service.

The ‘placing an order’ section stated that “it is the responsibility of the customer to ensure delivery address details are correct and detailed enough for the delivery driver to locate the address in adequate time.

“You must always provide a valid contact number and email when ordering online. Please provide additional delivery instructions in the relevant section on our checkout page. In the event that your address cannot be found, undelivered orders will be chargeable.”

I hope you’re laughing. This is very funny indeed, especially if you don’t like the Tories and their corrupt little deals. And of course, you’re paying for it so you might as well have a giggle.

And The New European has found other incongruities:

  • Its log-in portal redirects directly to Google’s home page;
  • Neither of the listed phone numbers appear to be manned, with both stating ‘there is no one available to take your call’ and offering no chance to leave a message;
  • Other features, such as language settings, are only for show and cannot be clicked; and
  • Despite Mr Grayling saying they are on track to run services from April, the firm’s recruitment page is currently empty.

The (apparently borrowed?) terms and conditions appear to have been changed but can still be seen via online archiving services.

This is turning into a big – and frankly hilarious – scandal at exactly the time the Tories least wanted it; right before the big Parliamentary vote on Theresa May’s so-called Brexit “deal”.

Perhaps Seaborne should have adopted a well-known advertising slogan from someone else, too:

“Providing a nonexistent ferry service if there’s a no-deal Brexit – £13.8 million; humiliating ourselves and the corrupt Tories – priceless.”

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This is a list of misleading words used by politicians and the media. Can you add to it?

This was posted on Twitter by Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) with a request for additions or criticism.

Feel free to get in touch with him with suggestions.


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Fire union chief attacks terms of Grenfell inquiry – because they will not identify the culprits

Work begins on covering Grenfell Tower with protective wrapping [Image: Tang/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock].

This Writer agrees with, supports and applauds the words of Matt Wrack, head of the Fire Brigades Union.

It seems clear that Theresa May wants a whitewash. She must not be allowed to have her way.

So what is to be done?

The head of the Fire Brigades Union, whose members rushed to save Grenfell Tower residents, has criticised the failure to have the judge-led inquiry into the disaster look at its social and political context.

Matt Wrack said that under its current terms the investigation would fail to answer crucial questions. He said it seemed designed to protect Whitehall from scrutiny and would exacerbate the hurt felt by survivors and the families of those who died.

Wrack said: “How is it remotely possible to seriously examine the causes, spread and results of the fire without examining ‘social, economic and political’ matters?”

He called the decision a “mighty kick of some really fundamental issues into some very long grass”. “There is clearly no intent from government for any wider inquiry or serious debate,” he said.

Source: Fire chief criticises terms of inquiry into Grenfell Tower blaze | UK news | The Guardian


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National Park pay cut highlights the need to strengthen trade unions

141130kittysjonesunions

The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of work for 19 of its staff, removing enhanced rates of pay for weekend work.

The organisation’s bosses reckon they do not have the cash to continue with a pay condition that used to be mandatory across the United Kingdom; if you worked Saturdays, you got time-and-a-half, and on Sundays, double-time.

What was their pay cut, then?

The article in this week’s Brecon and Radnor Express doesn’t mention one. It states: “Following a consultation with staff, the authority amended its proposals and agreed to continue paying the enhanced time-and-a-half rate for working bank holidays [bank holiday work used to be paid on the double-time rate, This Writer believes]… [Staff] have been given until this week to accept the new terms and conditions.”

This is the kind of unacceptable behaviour that working people have been forced to endure for too long, under successive right-wing governments that have legislated against trade unions and industrial action.

The current Conservative Party manifesto gives a prime example of ‘boss’ thinking: “We will protect you from disruptive and undemocratic strike action. Strikes should only ever be the result of a clear, positive decision based on a ballot in which at least half the workforce has voted. This turnout threshold will be an important and fair step to rebalance the interests of employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade unions.

“We will, in addition, tackle the disproportionate impact of strikes in essential public services by introducing a tougher threshold in health, education, fire and transport. Industrial action in these essential services would require the support of at least 40 per cent of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots – as well as a majority of those who actually turn out to vote.”

A “fair step to rebalance the interests of employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade unions”? Really?

Apply the same rules to political elections and none of the Conservative Party would be elected at all. None of that party’s expensive and pointless ‘Police and Crime Commissioners’ would have been elected, either.

There is nothing “fair” about this Conservative proposal – and I expect the workers at the Brecon Beacons National Park to agree.

Picket line: FBU members on strike in June 2014. The government was imposing new conditions of employment that would have ensured far fewer firefighters would qualify for their pensions in the future.

Picket line: FBU members on strike in June 2014. The government was imposing new conditions of employment that would have ensured far fewer firefighters would qualify for their pensions in the future.

Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK, states a very good case for trade unions, as follows: “Unions are essential for three reasons. The first is to ensure fair pay and conditions. Many of the things that people take for granted now, from sick pay to holiday pay to employment rights only happened because of trade unions.

“Secondly, collective bargaining is essential if working people are to stand up to employers who can otherwise use their relative power to suppress wages on an individual basis. Unions are, therefore, essential for the improvement of the incomes of wage earners and one reason why we have growing inequality in the UK is the loss of union representation.”

[Going back to the national park, the newspaper article quoted the authority as saying its change would bring it into line with “much of the public sector across Wales”. Clearly, the public sector in Wales needed collective bargaining; they have been picked off, one organisation at a time, by cynical bosses.]

“Third, unions are economically efficient. They reduce employer negotiating time. They reduce the number of disputes by resolving vast numbers of them by their interventions. And they reduce the inefficiency that results from the uncertainty of individual negotiations and resulting grievances.”

Mr Murphy continues: “This is class warfare and it will harm the UK by reducing wages, increasing inequality, denying representation to people who need it and reducing efficiency in the workplace.

“No logic can support this policy. Dogma based on class hatred can.”

Agreed.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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This Royal Mail privatisation will harm us all

End of an institution: We can all wave goodbye to friendly Postman Pat; the new post-privatisation Royal Mail will be run according to strict for-profit rules and rural areas in particular are likely to suffer.

End of an institution: We can all wave goodbye to friendly Postman Pat; the new post-privatisation Royal Mail will be run according to strict for-profit rules and rural areas in particular are likely to suffer.

Is anybody happy that the Royal Mail is to be privatised?

Personally, I see no cause for celebration. Polls show that 70 per cent of the public are against privatisation – no matter which political party they support – and 96 per cent of the workforce don’t want it either, despite being offered shares in the new company. They’re not stupid. They know that workers in other privatised services have not been able to keep their shares. Will they be able to take the shares with them if they leave?

And what will happen to workforce terms and conditions?

Other people buying shares will have to pay at least £750 to get the smallest stake in the new company – that puts the sell-off well out of the reach of most people in these depressed times. It is a privatisation for financiers, lawyers and accountants. They won’t want to share the profit pot with staff – and profits are at a record high of £400 million per year.

Meanwhile, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government recently nationalised the Royal Mail’s pension fund obligations (its debt) so that taxpayers across the country will have to pay for it. The privatisation means any profits will go to those who can afford to buy the shares. This is bad business. Don’t these two political parties always claim they are the experts when it comes to money? It seems a strange claim to make in the light of such reckless endangerment of public funds.

What of the future? We have seen where privatisation leads, with the flotation of the railways, the energy and water companies on the stock exchange – shares have ended up in the hands of foreign multinationals who have pushed prices up and up, while providing ever-poorer services, and the companies concerned have continued to demand money from the government for any investment; this is because all the profits go to shareholders, who then feel justified in granting huge pay packets to their chief officers.

So the taxpayer continues shelling out for these so-called private utilities while the new owners have the time of their lives at our expense. The workers – and the service – suffer.

This is a change that will affect everyone. I hope everyone remembers who inflicted it on us, when they come to vote at the general election in 2015.

Cameron’s determination to ruin us all continues unabated – BBC

borrowing

David Cameron must think we’re all as stupid as his fellow Conservatives and that party’s most rabid adherents, if the latest BBC report is to be believed.

In it, he responds to comments from his Coalition government’s own Business Secretary, Vince Cable, suggesting the government could consider borrowing more – at, let’s remember, the lowest interest rates in British history – to inject some growth into the economy.

Cable’s remarks are eminently sensible – which is, of course, why Cameron is believed to be moving so quickly to counter them. The fact is that austerity never – ever – brought a country out of debt. Investment is the key. Investment needs money. If you don’t have money, you borrow it from someone who does. Then you pay them back – with interest from your profits. ‘Speculate to accumulate’, as the saying goes. It’s how most Conservatives and Tory voters made their money but Cameron – and his sidekick 0sborne, let’s not forget – inherited theirs and therefore, we may reasonably deduce, know nothing whatsoever about it.

Instead, Cameron will reiterate his insistence on following the ‘Starve the Beast’ policy that George W Bush used to such devastating effect when he was President of the USA, reducing a surplus of $128 billion to a deficit of $10.627 trillion within a few short years.

A decent definition of ‘Starve the Beast’ economic theory is that it is a fiscal strategy to create or increase existing budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government.

This is clearly what Cameron and his cronies are doing – and the Liberal Democrats are helping them all the way, no matter what Cable says about it. It’s why they’ve borrowed more money in the last two and a half years than the Labour Party did in three terms of office (as a recent meme puts it).

And they will cut the machinery of this country’s government down to the marrow, for no better reason than their own personal enrichment and the fact that it will create huge problems for any government that follows them in 2015.

The BBC report contains excerpts of what Cameron was expected to say in a speech today (Thursday). These deserve interpretation, as their meaning is not entirely clear at first glance:

I know some people think it is being stubborn to stick to a plan. That somehow this is just about making the numbers add up.” He’s setting us all up with a false premise. We don’t think he’s being stubborn; we know his real plan isn’t what he has been trying to sell us. It’s about cutting the state to nothing, impoverishing the vast majority of us in the process and enriching his cronies. This is why, crucially, the numbers don’t add up at all.

The very moment when we’re just getting some signs that we can turn our economy round and make our country a success is the very moment to hold firm to the path we have set.” So the present moment, with the loss of our ‘AAA’ credit rating, high street shop chains dropping like flies and his own political party regularly being dropped to third place in by-elections, would definitely not be that time.

And yes, the path ahead is tough – but be in no doubt, the decisions we make now will set the course of our economic future for years to come.” This is absolutely true. The decisions he makes now will set the course of our economic future for years to come. What a shame nobody seems able, or willing in the case of the Liberal Democrats, to stop him.

And while some would falter and plunge us back into the abyss, we will stick to the course.” He is projecting the effects of his own actions onto his political opponents. He knows perfectly well that it is his course that will lead us straight to that metaphorical abyss – if he hasn’t pitched us over into it already.

The BBC article goes on to say that he will point to the creation of a million extra private sector jobs – a claim that has been debunked many, many times since he first made it. Private sector jobs have been created, but nowhere near a million of them! Also the terms under which people are being employed are appalling.

It is typical of the kind of ridiculous babble to which he and his lieutenants have subjected us for nearly three years now – a period in which our situation has never – not once – offered even the appearance of improvement.

This blog reported only a few days ago that Cameron had been put on notice by his own party – improve or lose the leadership.

The sooner those backbenchers follow through on this threat, the better.

For all of us.