Tag Archives: Thatcher

Was protester who egged Margaret Thatcher statue just the first of many?

Hanged in effigy: how many people wished the statue’s head would snap off after a rope was strung around its neck in order to allow a crane to place it on its plinth?

We now know that the man who threw eggs at Grantham’s new statue of Margaret Thatcher was an arts centre deputy director who lives on the street where she was born.

According to Metro, Jeremy Webster proclaimed that he was “the first egg thrower” on social media shortly after doing it.

But the paper’s claim that the 59-year-old made a “call to arms” may have been exaggerated. He had tweeted, “Grantham unveils Thatcher statue, so guess where we are going?” That could have referred simply to himself and his partner, who filmed the egging.

The Telegraph also claimed that he put up a now-deleted post on Instagram which said: “South Wales miners are heading up to Grantham to remove her head.”

It is certainly known that the statue is a target for vandals:

After a large-scale £100,000 unveiling ceremony was approved by South Kesteven District Council in 2020, a Facebook group proposed an ‘egg-throwing contest’ at the event.

More than 2,400 people confirmed they would take part in ‘egg throwing’ and ‘potentially graffiti art’.

As a result of the warning, the council installed a CCTV camera directly opposite the statue.

Call it a hunch, but This Writer doesn’t think CCTV is going to stop anybody from expressing themselves.

Source: Protester who egged Margaret Thatcher statue ‘revealed’ as arts centre boss

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Thatcher statue is erected in Grantham – and immediately vandalised

Stretching her neck: some commenters have suggested the only appropriate element of the statue’s placement was the fact that a rope was fastened around its throat, making it appear that the controversial former prime minister was being hanged.

Council workers have placed a controversial statue of Margaret Thatcher on its specially-high plinth, behind a (temporary) wall, in an unannounced move – and still failed to prevent the public having its say.

As the BBC states,

The £300,000 statue was offered to South Kesteven District Council after plans to erect it in Parliament Square in London were rejected.

It has been placed on a 10ft (3m) high plinth under CCTV surveillance to minimise the risk of vandalism.

However, within two hours of it being put in place someone had thrown eggs at it.

That’s true:

Some might say it would be appropriate for bright businesspeople – in the spirit of enterprise that Thatcher supported – to launch guided tours of Thatcher’s history in Grantham, culminating in a visit to the statue… with eggs provided and included in the cost.

Council leader Kelham Cooke said that, as Grantham was Thatcher’s home town, it was appropriate that the debate on her legacy should take place there.

It seems clear her critics have passed the first comment.

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#GhislaineMaxwell: Will 2022 start with the downfall of the UK #Monarchy?

Accused and accuser: Prince Andrew (left) is said to have sexually abused the woman now known as Virginia Giuffre (right) while she was still a child – and is doing everything he can to avoid facing trial for it. This in itself casts suspicion on his claims of innocence. And it may be bringing the UK Monarchy into disrepute for protecting him.

Let’s start this article with the important question: is anybody tracking down the perverts who had sex with underage girls provided by Ghislaine Maxwell?

It’s all very well saying that the procurer has been convicted so the route via which these vile creatures gratify their disgusting desires has been cut off – but it only means they will find other ways.

Police – in America – are going through the now-infamous black book kept by Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein, but they are treating the associates listed within merely as possible witnesses, rather than as possible suspects (until and unless evidence is found to justify criminal proceedings).

That may come as a relief to people like Keir Starmer’s recently-appointed henchman Peter Mandelson, who has 10 entries in the book (suggesting that he wanted the paedophile pair to be able to get hold of him wherever he may have been), and newly-to-be-knighted Tony Blair, who has an entry in the book himself.

It may not be so much of a comfort to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, who appears in the book 16 times and is accused of child sex offences.

And the repercussions may undermine the foundations of the UK Monarchy – an institution that has survived for almost a thousand years. That’s plenty of time to fall into filth and corruption – and to hide it by abusing the privileges that come with the highest position in the land.

It’s being reported that Andrew has just begun to show concern that his alleged crimes may bring down the Monarchy. It seems he had not previously spared a thought for the fact that being involved with people in a paedophile ring (whether he was a part of it or not) might bring that ancient institution into disrepute.

In This Writer’s opinion, the acts that have really put the future of the Monarchy in question are his attempts at evasion – his refusal to travel to America to face charges is not the behaviour we would expect of an innocent man; I understand he has claimed that his accuser should not be permitted to continue with her case because she now lives in Australia, not the USA (but that should have nothing to do with it; this is an international sex crime case and it seems logical to base the prosecution in the country where the offence was allegedly committed); and it seems he has also put forward a claim to have been in a UK branch of Pizza Express with one of his daughters at the time of the alleged offence – although nobody has come forward to corroborate the claim (and members of the public would certainly remember, even from 21 years ago, if a Royal walked into their local fast food joint).

His continued attempts to avoid justice are hugely harmful to the UK Monarchy because it makes the Queen complicit in the alleged crimes; Andrew is seen as having committed them (whether he really did or not is immaterial to this part of it) and then gone running behind his mother’s skirt tails for protection from the consequences.

Bear in mind that both Epstein and Maxwell, along with another sex offender – the US film producer Harvey Weinstein, were photographed at the 18th birthday celebrations of Andrew’s daughter, Princess Beatrice. It seems that Royalty and sex crime are well-entwined.

In his evasion attempts, Andrew is hugely aided by the UK’s mass media organisations – particularly the BBC. Maxwell was the daughter of a newspaper magnate (who was himself disgraced after he fell off his yacht and died, when it was found that he had been stealing from the Mirror Group’s pension fund). This means she is well-known to many of the journalists who have been writing about her – and their work has reflected their own sympathy for this child abuser.

The hypocrisy enough to send you reeling: the same people who took glee in claiming that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should take responsibility for his brother Piers advocating criminal damage of Covid-19 vaccine-supporting MPs’ offices have conspicuously failed to suggest that Boris Johnson should take similar responsibility for his sister Rachel’s article, It’s hard not to pity Ghislaine Maxwell.

This Writer has absolutely no pity for anybody who uses children to gratify their (or other people’s) perverse sexual desires.

The BBC’s editorial position has also been characterised as calling for us to bless this poor lost soul – with manipulative choices of verbiage. So when referring to the girls or children who were abused in Maxwell’s paedo ring, the BBC describes them as “underage women”.

That’s sickening.

And there is worse. Coverage refers to Maxwell by her first name, as though she’s our friend; her victims are described as “accusers”; after previous reports of similar crimes referred to “grooming gangs”, there is no such attempt to whip up outrage here (quite the opposite); and there are no calls to interrogate participants in the abuse (going back to the black book).

The BBC went too far when it booked people who are known to be sympathetic to Maxwell, to comment on the case in its news programmes.

The backlash, after Epstein’s former lawyer Alan Dershowitz – himself now accused of child sex crimes – appeared on BBC bulletins, giving a sympathetic view of Maxwell and insisting on both his own and Andrew’s innocence, was huge.

The corporation’s bosses had to issue a statement admitting that Dershowitz’s appearance had not met BBC editorial standards, and that the matter would be investigated to find out “how it happened”.

The statement led to what some have described as “the Twitter burn of the year” – from the Sunday Sport‘s Twitter feed: “That’s putting it mildly. It didn’t even meet OUR editorial standards.”

Of course we all know how it happened. Dershowitz was booked by a BBC booking agent who – knowing that he is himself a suspect – contacted him or his agent/manager and asked to interview him. They then falsely presented him as an independent legal expert. It was deliberate – and deliberately misleading.

And now the BBC has lost any right to claim that its news coverage is impartial in any way, as people across the UK are accurately accusing it of deliberately protecting the rich and privileged at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.

I say accurately because, having admitted its fault over Dershowitz, the BBC compounded the mistake by booking Maxwell’s brother Ian, who was interviewed about his sister the very next day.

Of course he made a big fuss about claiming she was innocent – on a news platform that is watched and believed by 70 per cent of the UK’s population. Think about that.

A former BBC political news editor, Rob Burley, has claimed that failures like the Dershowitz booking are results of budget cuts at the corporation – to which critics responded by pointing out that such errors exclusively benefit the UK’s rich and powerful elite. They quoted a current saying: “It’s not a bug; it’s a feature” of the BBC.

Even former BBC reporters like Adil Ray have railed against the corporation’s biased coverage. In a tweet, he stated: “When I filmed a doc on the sexual exploitation of young girls by some Pakistani men it would not have been acceptable to hear a defence from their brothers. Why is it ok now?”

The answer is obvious: families of abusers who travel on buses, instead of luxury cars or yachts, simply don’t get that platform. And the question isn’t why the former don’t – it’s why the latter do.

And let’s face it – the BBC doesn’t have a good record of identifying, accusing and denouncing child sex offenders. Look at the way Jimmy Savile was protected for decades. He was a close friend of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, of course.

Sadly, this deference to the rich and powerful isn’t limited to the BBC and Rachel Johnson – whose bias towards Maxwell is likely to be due to the fact that the child sex procurer was at Balliol College, Oxford, with her own brother: UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

See how the people in this group link up and protect each other?

Returning to Andrew, it’s one reason we should be grateful that proceedings against him are taking place in the United States; it is unlikely that the UK’s compromised legal system would ever have even accused him. It didn’t accuse Savile during his lifetime, after all.

And let’s remember that Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick is another alumnus of Balliol College, Oxford, who may well have known Maxwell there at some point – either as a student or as a former student.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how accusations against this fellow Balliol alumnus may have been taken by a Dick police administration, because we have the evidence of the Christmas 2020 parties that allegedly involved fellow Balliol alumnus Boris Johnson to help us.

That’s right: if Ghislaine Maxwell had been accused in the UK, the police would probably have responded by saying they don’t investigate incidents from more than a year ago.

Below please find material from Twitter that may provide valuable further information:

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Why would Johnson apologise for ‘mine closure’ comments? He wanted to offend you

Great minds think alike: I was going to put together an image with the caption “Johnson is the pits” but someone got there before me – the Mirror, by the look of it.

The worst part of Boris Johnson’s comments on pit closures is not their crass insensitivity – it is the clearly-stated intention behind them.

Even the Tory-supporting BBC couldn’t hold back from commenting that “He is reported to have laughed and told reporters: ‘I thought that would get you going.'”

He had said:

“Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.”

He wanted to cause offence with his claim that Margaret Thatcher helped the environment by closing coal mines in the mid-1980s.

He knows perfectly well that she was no environmentalist; she wanted the mines closed in order to break the power of the unions. It was part of her plan to put millions of people out of work, because this would give employers the whip hand in wage negotiations (they would tell any applicant who wanted more that there were plenty of other people seeking a job).

Predictably, the Tory-supporting BBC has supported Johnson’s claim with a sidebar by “environment analyst” Roger Harrabin (who?) claiming that Thatcher had a point because she told the UN that greenhouse gases were “changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways” – in 1989.

That was five years later – an eternity in which she and her advisers had enjoyed plenty of time to dream up an excuse for the pit closures that plunged so many lives into poverty, uncertainty and despair.

Harrabin’s comment, “Her pit closures were not part of a green policy, but they did fortuitously show the UK could prosper without coal,” was as insensitive as Johnson’s. Tell that to the families of the mine workers who lost their livelihoods, and who are still struggling, even today!

Who exactly does Harrabin mean by “the UK”? Bosses of our big-business energy firms? But, they’re all foreign executives, most of whom work for the governments of EU countries. Privatisation led to shares in the formerly-nationalised energy industry being bought by those EU-based concerns.

Johnson, of course, is still claiming that the UK has Brexited itself away from giving money to the EU but this is clearly untrue.

Representatives of opposition political parties have demanded a retraction from Johnson – whose government has supported the opening of the UK’s first new coal mine in decades, in Cumbria.

So he was lying about switching to green power.

And let’s face it – he doesn’t care about offending people. He thinks it will boost his reputation among… a certain section of the British public.

Remember the other shocking things he has said:

Remember his Brexit campaign, when he lied that the NHS would be given £350 million a week? That investment might have done us all some good, prior to the coronavirus crisis but it was never going to happen because the Tories have been running the NHS down to make it ripe for privatisation – which would have made the UK even less capable of handling Covid-19.

Remember when he tried to make a joke of the massive loss of lives in the Libyan city of Sirte during that nation’s civil war? Or when he had to be stopped from inappropriately quoting a colonial poem by Kipling in Myanmar?

Remember when Eddie Mair, on BBC Radio 4, read out a litany of Johnson’s racist behaviour, to the dismay of Amber Rudd?

When Johnson refused to condemn widespread police violence against civilians in Catalonia?

When he spoke nonsense about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Parliament, and the Iranian government used it to threaten her with an extra five years in prison, beyond the five she was already serving on a trumped-up charge?

When he was reprimanded by then-Commons Speaker John Bercow for referring to Emily Thornberry in “frankly sexist” terms?

When he praised Viktor Orban on his election win in Hungary after an anti-Semitic campaign?

His sexist and Islamophobic comments about women who wear the burqa?

The racist poem he published, saying that Scottish people were a “verminous” race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated?

His racist assessment of the French as “turds“?

His reference to gay men as “tank top-wearing bumboys“?

His question about Irish PM Leo Varadkar: “Why isn’t he called Murphy like the rest of them?”

His clueless claim that hard work can cure mental illness?

His relaxed attitude to his MPs abusing women?

His lie that the NHS would get 20 hospital upgrades, starting in his first week as prime minister – that he then edited out of a video?

His obscene description of then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn?

Let’s also add to it his apparent reluctance to go into Covid-19 lockdown last autumn, saying, “Let the bodies pile high in their thousands.”

Put all that together and you know Johnson won’t apologise for this latest outrage?

Why would he? He’s a serial offender.

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Police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’. What about the Tories – and Murdoch?

The disgrace – no, the word ‘disgrace’ isn’t strong enough: this is the Sun story that mentally scarred survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and the families of those who died. It wasn’t ‘The Truth’ at all; it was a pack of lies.

More than five years after a jury ruled that 96 people were killed unlawfully in the Hillsborough disaster – and that their behaviour did not contribute to the situation – police forces have agreed to pay compensation to more than 600 people for mental distress caused by the attempted cover-up.

I have two questions.

Firstly: why did it take so long for South Yorkshire and West Midlands police to agree to pay up?

Secondly: Why aren’t the Conservative Party and Rupert Murdoch’s News International paying compensation, too?

Let’s go into the circumstances:

We all know that the Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

It happened due to gross negligence by match commander David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

The police service then attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Writer believes a strong argument could be made that the newspaper story – which led to The Sun being boycotted in Liverpool ever since – caused more distress, more anguish, to survivors, and to relatives and friends of the deceased, than the police cover-up on which it was based (although I know it could not have been written if the police and the Tory prime minister had not lied in the first place).

Civil claims for compensation due to malfeasance in public office by the two police forces were submitted in 2015, during inquests into the reasons the 96 died.

The claimants said the lies had caused them to suffer trauma and psychiatric damage, and the compensation is to cover not only those injuries but also the cost of treatment and counselling.

Those claims were made nearly six years ago and the payments haven’t been made yet (at the time of writing). So I repeat: why not?

And how much are these people getting, to make one of the claimants describe the payout as “insulting” in The Guardian‘s news article about it?

The behaviour of the police was shocking, and undermines public faith in the reliability of our law enforcement officers across the UK – not just in the forces concerned.

But – as mentioned above – they weren’t the only organisations caught lying; they weren’t the only people who deliberately caused further distress over Hillsborough.

Margaret Thatcher withheld information – which was as bad as lying because it presented a false impression that the police were blameless.

She was able to do so because she was prime minister at the time – and she was prime minister because she was leader of the Conservative Party that had formed the then-current government.

She died in 2013 but it seems perfectly reasonable to hold the Tories responsible for putting her in a position where she could distort the facts.  Why has the Conservative Party avoided compensating these people?

And that Sun headline has gone down in the history of journalistic infamy. The disgust of the city of Liverpool – in perpetuity – is not enough. Why has News International not offered compensation as well?

All three of these organisations should have offered payouts voluntarily, considering the enormity of the harm they have done, but they didn’t.

The police are only paying up because they were forced to.

Perhaps that aspect of this tragedy is the most damning of all.

Source: South Yorkshire and West Midlands police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’ | Hillsborough disaster | The Guardian

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StarmerLabour supports Biden because he supported Thatcher’s Falklands war. What does that say about StarmerLabour?

Nandy: all mouth, no brain?

StarmerLabour mouth Lisa Nandy was doing the media rounds this morning, telling us that her party’s leadership wants Joe Biden to be the new US president.

There’s nothing wrong with that if she had stopped there but she didn’t.

She went on to say that this was because Biden had supported former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s Falklands war.

That is not a good position for Labour to take and I’ll explain the reason,

Once the Falklands had been invaded by General Galtieri’s Argentinian forces (he wanted control of huge oil reserves beneath the South Atlantic), the UK had to go out and liberate the people who lived there and identify as UK citizens – there’s no doubt about that.

But it is widely argued that the reason they needed rescuing in the first place is that Thatcher withdrew naval support from the area, deliberately making the Falklands an attractive target for the Argentinian dictator.

The intention was tacitly to invite him into starting a war that Thatcher could win, in order to create a surge of public support for herself and the Conservative Party here in the UK that would carry them to a stronger victory at the next general election. And it succeeded.

That’s the belief. In the light of it, Nandy’s comment is tone deaf:

It shows that StarmerLabour rejects its own party as it was in the early 1980s, preferring to trumpet its support for the Tory leader who championed the neoliberal ideology that brought disaster down on working-class families across the UK.

It should come as no surprise that Nandy said this was a good thing. Her talent for media stupidity is fast becoming legendary. Here…

… is a clip of her from the BBC’s PM on October 29, presenting the anti-Semitic view that all Jews are rich and that hatred of them is “punching up”. She gets away with making racist comments – and inciting racism with them – because she is on Starmer’s side and for no other reason.

Sadly, she would probably have got away with such a comment, even under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, either because complaints would have been dismissed by right-wingers in the Governance and Legal Unit who would want her to continue as an embarrassment to Corbyn, or because Corbyn, assailed by false accusations, did not want to rock the boat. That was his weakness and ultimately the reason he lost two elections and his Labour Party membership has now been suspended.

Fortunately the tweeting public has no such restraint:

Other comments by the daft Nandy have also attracted justified criticism:

Finally, this comment stands as a harsh reminder to us all of the backstabbing ways adopted by Nandy and her kind of Labour MP:

If they get into power, they would backstab all of the voters who put them there.

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A 10ft plinth to deter people from vandalising Thatcher statue? That’s begging for graffiti

Look at all that white space: What a wonderful – free – canvas for any would-be Banksy to pass comment on the woman whose image stands at the top of it. At least, that’s what this artist’s impression suggests.

It seems nobody wants to have a statue of Margaret Thatcher on their doorstep.

Westminster Council rejected plans to put it up in central London last year, basing the decision on a report that it could attract “potential vandalism and civil disorder”.

Now, according to Metro, councillors in Baroness Thatcher’s hometown of Grantham, Lincolnshire, are considering putting the £300,000 statue on a 10ft plinth – also to deter “politically-motivated vandals”.

They haven’t thought it through at all.

A 10ft plinth will be a blank canvas for every wannabe Banksy who wants to try their hand at satirical graffiti.

They’ll come from every corner of the United Kingdom to make their mark on that wonderful 10ft expanse of white stone – and to make a point about the woman whose image will stand at the top of it.

And with 17 objections to the statue plan, and only seven in support, it is doubtful that many people will be upset if they do.


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Thatcher’s privatisation tsar will be the BBC’s new chair. What do you think he’ll do?

Sir David Clementi. The government adopted the recommendations of his report, which called the BBC Trust flawed and said oversight should be handed to Ofcom [Image: David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock].

The Guardian‘s report on the appointment of Sir David Clementi as the new chair of the BBC misses two important points: He was formerly in charge of Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation programme, and he never applied for the job.

See for yourself, here:

And here:

Now, why do you think the Conservative Government would give the BBC to their arch-privatiser, even though he didn’t ask for the job?

We’ll have to keep this one under very careful scrutiny.

Sir David Clementi, a former banker with no broadcasting experience, has been confirmed as the new chair of the BBC.

Theresa May has confirmed the appointment of Clementi, the preferred candidate put forward by culture secretary Karen Bradley, who will lead the corporation’s new unitary board that will replace the BBC Trust on 1 April.

“I am confident that Sir David will provide the strong leadership necessary for the BBC to remain the world’s best broadcaster,” said Bradley.

“Sir David will bring a wealth of experience to the role and was the strongest candidate in an extremely competitive and high-calibre field. He has extensive experience as a chairman in both the commercial and not-for-profit sector and has a strong regulatory and business background. I am confident that under his direction, the nation’s broadcaster will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Source: Sir David Clementi confirmed as new BBC chair | Media | The Guardian

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Plans for an anti-Thatcher museum in London to showcase her “genuine terrible legacy” – Mirror Online

Does anybody know anything about crowdfunding? Perhaps something could be done to make Mr Cullen’s exhibition a permanent feature of the London scene.

Plans to open an anti-Thatcher museum in London are being hatched by artist Darren Cullen.

The 32 year old, originally from Leeds, says he is in the early stages of planning, but has already been looking into finding potential locations and raising the funds for a temporary exhibition on the Iron Lady.

In 2013, Cameron gave his backing to a £15million museum and library called The Thatcher Centre, that would celebrate her life to “ensure Thatcher’s legacy lives on”.

But Darren thinks that there should be an alternative to this: a museum which exhibits the negative side of Thatcher and the UK under her rule.

Darren says:” I wanted to start this project because I think there’s going to be a serious need to counteract the whitewashed version of Thatcher’s legacy the official museum will present.”

Source: Plans for an anti-Thatcher museum in London to showcase her “genuine terrible legacy” – Mirror Online

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Thatcher disdained sanctions. Why do her heirs love them so much?

austeritydolequeue

Vox‘s article on Nelson Mandela stirred up a huge amount of comment. As you might expect, much was complimentary; some was not.

One of the critics sought to alter the stated opinion of David Cameron and his Conservatives by pointing to a letter from Margaret Thatcher to then-South African President PW Botha in 1985, seeking Mr Mandela’s release from prison. This part of the letter didn’t sway yr (dis-)obdt srvt, as the suggestion seemed to be made as part of advice on how Mr Botha could gain political advantage from the situation, rather than from any genuine moral standpoint.

The letter did feature comments that are of considerable interest and relevance at this time – relating to sanctions. Mrs Thatcher wrote: “The Commonwealth meeting opened with forty-five countries seeking extensive trade and economic sanctions against South Africa… My rebuttal of the case… rested on two main premises: that sanctions do not work, indeed are likely to be counter-productive and damaging to those they are intended to help: and that it was inappropriate to take punitive action against South Africa at the very moment when you are taking steps to get rid of apartheid and to make necessary changes in the system of government in South Africa.”

Let’s take these comments back home and apply them to people who are unemployed in the UK today.

The Department for Work and Pensions, under Iain Duncan Smith, imposed a tough new regime of sanctions against Jobseekers’ Allowance claimants in November last year.

Now, sanctions can be imposed for a month if a claimant is judged to be not actively seeking a job or being available for work. Subsequent misbehaviour along these lines would mean a 13-week period without benefit. The claimant must then reapply for benefit in both instances.

Benefit may also be lost for 13 weeks if a jobseeker fails to attend an interview with a Job Centre advisor, although it restarts automatically at the end of this period.

The highest sanction withdraws JSA for 13 weeks if a person leaves their job voluntarily, rising to six months for a second “failure” and three YEARS for a third.

In the eight months between the application of the new rules and June this year, nearly 600,000 JSA claimants were sanctioned. Employment Minister Esther McVey claimed that this affected only a small proportion of jobseekers – “The vast, vast majority of people don’t get sanctions” – but when you compare the actual number of sanctions (553,000) with the number of people on JSA (1,480,000) it becomes clear that this is not true.

In September 2012, 1,570,000 people were on JSA. The government has been claiming that the figure has dropped because people are getting jobs but from these figures it seems far more likely that they have had their money stopped instead.

Ms McVey also said: “The people who get sanctions are wilfully rejecting support for no good reason.” Let’s have a look at that with the help of this website. All the sanctions it describes were really imposed on real jobseekers by Job Centre Plus employees, and these are just some of them:

“You apply for three jobs one week and three jobs the following Sunday and Monday. Because the job centre week starts on a Tuesday it treats this as applying for six jobs in one week and none the following week. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks for failing to apply for three jobs each week.”

“You have a job interview which overruns so you arrive at your job centre appointment 9 minutes late. You get sanctioned for a month.”

“Your job centre advisor suggests a job. When you go online to apply it says the job has “expired” so you don’t apply. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks.”

“You are on a workfare placement and your job centre appointment comes round. The job centre tells you to sign on then go to your placement – which you do. The placement reports you for being late and you get sanctioned for 3 months.”

The victims of these sanctions were clearly people who were trying to take steps to rid themselves of their unemployed status and get a job – but they were sanctioned by our Conservative-led government under a policy created by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. Draw a parallel with what Mrs Thatcher was saying about South Africa and it is clear that she would call that “inappropriate”.

But do they work? No.

According to Liam Purcell, writing in the Church Action on Poverty blog: “Where there are few jobs available, as in the North West of England, taking money away from people is hardly going to help them find jobs.

“Many of the unemployed despair of getting help and meaningful training. For most people who are sanctioned, it does nothing to help them acquire skills that would help them compete in the labour market.

“Having to apply online for dozens of inconvenient, unsuitable jobs for which they are poorly qualified, and which they may be physically or mentally incapable of holding down, is hardly a profitable use of time… Yet failure to comply can mean an end to even the minimum income produced by benefits.”

And the result? “Destitution, which follows, merely helps the poorest to learn how to survive by ducking and diving, by applying to charity, by falling into the clutches of payday lenders and loan sharks, by begging and sometimes stealing. Increasingly we come across people who find the whole process of claiming out-of-work benefits so demeaning and stressful that they just can’t be bothered to apply, and conveniently disappear from the official register of the unemployed.”

And conveniently disappear from the official register of the unemployed.

For those the system was originally “intended to help”, as Mrs Thatcher put it, her letter of 1985 was absolutely right: “Sanctions do not work [and] are likely to be counter-productive and damaging.”

But for a government that is desperately trying to claim that its policy on jobs is succeeding, sanctions that “conveniently disappear” people work very nicely indeed.

 

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