Here’s yet another shocking admission from the Conservatives: they have rushed in changes to disability benefits without bothering to research whether they will harm people with complex or invisible conditions.
I have a stake in this. Mrs Mike has long-term illnesses and disabilities that are not immediately visible. She may fall foul of the new assessment system (although I am heartened that it is informed by assessments for the Personal Independence Payment, which she already receives).
has been unable to say how many people could be vulnerable to losing out on payments because it does not have the data available.
Labour MP Marsha de Cordova asked in a written parliamentary question how many universal credit claimants cannot work due to a health condition or disability but do not receive PIP. DWP minister Tom Pursglove responded to say the Government would publish these statistics in the future.
iunderstands the DWP does not currently hold this data.
Vicky Foxcroft, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said it “beggars belief that the Government have announced a major policy change without any idea how many people it impacts”.
The DWP has stated:
“We will take time to carefully consider how best to implement the changes – and give security and certainty to claimants, continuing to engage with disabled people and people with health conditions, and our stakeholders, as our proposals develop, before the reforms are rolled out on a staged basis.
“We will put protections in place to ensure that no one experiences financial loss at the point at which the reform is enacted, while improving our offer of tailored support to help people find and stay in sustainable work.”
Of course, getting people into work is the point but whether it is achievable under these policies is highly questionable.
The Tories were never going to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers; they were always trying to compensate for the 21,000 they removed – and they were never going to make it because a more realistic recruitment figure, taking retirements into account, was 50,000.
Worse still, because the population has risen, the number of police officers per UK citizen has fallen drastically.
And to cap it all off, trust in the service is at an all-time low because of recent revelations about the Metropolitan Police (institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic).
The result is a crisis for law and order in the United Kingdom that Braverman is simply ignoring.
Child poverty: this figure is from 2016 so it’s probably a lot worse now. But the official figures are based on average incomes – which have fallen – so the number of kids who are actually struggling to survive may be enormous.
Isn’t it incredible that the Levelling-Up minister, Michael Gove, can’t admit what his Tory governments have done over the last 13 years.
They have caused the worst fall in living standards since records began, pitched 14 million people into poverty – including four million children, forced millions into dependency on food banks, and they haven’t got a scrap of shame about it.
And the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg didn’t even have the guts to counter him about it.
Here’s Peter Stefanovic with what she should have said:
Junior doctors: this is not the first time they’ve had to strike for better pay. The Tories in government tend to consider that people in the medical profession are hostages to fortune because any strike action can always be slanted as harming patients. Meanwhile the quality of healthcare plummets anyway, as staff quit to get away from the pressure.
In the face of continued government intransigence over pay and conditions, junior doctors have had no choice but to announce another four-day strike, running between April 11-14.
Here’s Taj Ali with the press release from the British Medical Association:
“It is with disappointment and great frustration that we must announce this new industrial action. The Government has dragged its feet at every opportunity. It has not presented any credible offer and is refusing to accept that there is any case for pay restoration…
“This situation is entirely of the Government’s own making. We want to spend our time looking after patients, not on strike. But with an NHS buckling under a workforce crisis, and 4 in 10 junior doctors looking to leave, we can’t stand by while our pay is further eroded…
The government is – of course – lying about junior doctors’ reasons for going on strike. The most common claim is that they already have a pay rise of 8.4 per cent agreed – but this was to be phased in over four years, meaning it’s actually only a two per cent rise per year. With inflation at more than 10 per cent, it is in fact an enormous pay cut.
Junior doctors have faced pay cuts totalling 35 per cent over the last 15 years – and let’s bear in mind that the Tory ministers who are imposing those cuts have not had any appreciable cut in their own salaries, while their expenses claims seem to cover anything they fancy.
All they want is a return to parity with what they were earning in 2008, which should not be an impossible task if MPs have it. Here’s Peter Stefanovic to explain:
As junior doctors announce a 96 hour full walkout starting at 6:59am on Tuesday 11th April UK news shows don’t appear to be pointing out the Health Secretary wants them limited to a derisory pay award of just 2% with inflation ahead of 10% pic.twitter.com/30UxJJt0eY
And let’s remember that, behind all this, prime minister Rishi Sunak is planning to strip junior doctors of their right to strike, in the name of basic standards that he cannot even be bothered to provide now:
and whilst we all look the other way Sunak plans to rob millions of workers of their democratic right to strike, force them to work against their will & allow them to be sacked if they refuse
Did you hear the Big Lie on the BBC’s Question Time last night (March23)?
Tory Andrew Bowie, asked to discuss the report showing that trust in the Metropolitan Police is at an all-time low because it is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic, said crime has been halved between 2010 (when the Tories slimed their way back into government) and now.
If you missed it, here it is:
The facts demonstrate almost the exact opposite:
Tory MP Andrew Bowie claimed on #bbcqt that "from 2010 to 2023 there has been a 50% drop in recorded crime across the country".
Last week’s Budget made people more concerned than reassured about their finances, with more than a third more concerned about the economy than before Jeremy Hunt’s speech, polling has found.
Ipsos discovered that people blame the Tory government for much of the UK’s current economic difficulty, while a separate poll for Opinium found that more than twice as many voters (43 per cent) would prefer a Labour government led by Keir Starmer to be running public services and the economy than the Tories (17 per cent).
Only 13 per cent of people said they felt more reassured about their personal finances after March 15, with 12 per cent saying the same on public services, the PA news agency said.
A mere 22 per cent said the Budget left them more reassured about the state of Britain’s economy, while 35 per cent said it had made them more concerned about the economy and public services and 37 per cent said they were more concerned about their own finances.
On individual policies, the energy price guarantee extension was backed by 74 per cent of people, while 70 per cent supported the fuel duty freeze and 59 per cent backed the expanded childcare package.
But freezing income tax thresholds – so more people while pay higher rates of tax as their salaries and wages rise – and awarding an annual £1m prize for AI innovation had more opponents than supporters.
60 per cent of voters blame decisions by Hunt and Rishi Sunak for the current state of the economy.
But here’s the real kicker: two-thirds said economic policies over the last 13 years of Tory and Tory-led government are responsible.
The verdict is clear:
If Rishi Sunak thought this Budget would save the Tories from future electoral wipeout, he needs to think again.
I did a bit of digging (not very much!) and it turns out that Mr Burgon isn’t wrong:
Workers are £11,000 worse off per year due to 15 years of wage stagnation, according to the Resolution Foundation.
In new figures shared with BBC Panorama, the think tank calculated that, had wages continued to grow at the pace seen before the 2008 financial crash, the average worker would make £11,000 more per year than they do now, taking rising prices into account.
Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, told the BBC the wage stagnation of the past 15 years is “almost completely unprecedented”.
Unprecedented it may be, but you can bet it was entirely planned by the Tories who slithered into government in 2010.
“This is definitely not what normal looks like. This is what failure looks like.”
Not as far as those Tories were concerned. For them, it was success. They funnelled the cash away from the majority of UK citizens, away from the Treasury, and into the hands and offshore bank accounts of the tiniest minority of the super-rich.
The UK’s top ten richest people are wealthier than the group has ever been, according to The Sunday Times, who recently released their annual Rich List. Their data finds that the cumulative wealth of the top ten billionaires in the UK has grown from £47.77 billion in 2009 to £182 billion in 2022 – an increase of 281 percent.
As this chart shows, following the 2008 crash, the UK’s billionaires have seen a steady, and fairly steep, incline in their wealth. The upward trend continued despite the pandemic, which saw the UK’s economy shrink by 20.4 percent in the second quarter of 2020, as most industries suffered, and 30.5 million people in Europe were expected to be pushed into poverty. This is a stark contrast to the UK’s 250 ultra wealthy, who saw their collective wealth surge to a record high of £653 billion in 2022.
And Jeremy Hunt’s Budget predicted slower growth than we expected after the disastrous Liz Truss was ousted from Downing Street last year.
And the Tories are starting to bounce back in the opinion polls.
Who are the people going back to them? Are they masochists?
While the people of the UK point out that raw sewage is being pumped into our waterways, the UK has the poorest economy of all G7 countries, Brexit is a disaster, supermarket shelves are empty, people can’t pay their energy bills, the NHS is in crisis and everyone is on strike…
… all Rishi Sunak and his gang can say is, “Stop the boats.”
Pathetic. Miserable. Unacceptable.
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“Blatantly Backing Conservatives”: the malady seems to have spread from BBC news and is now affecting all its departments. But can the Corporation bow to public demand and restore its tattered claim to impartiality?
Who would have thought that one little tweet would rock the world’s biggest public service broadcaster to its foundations?
That’s what Gary Lineker seems to have done with this message:
He was referring, of course, to the language used by Suella Braverman when she introduced her silly Illegal Migration Bill to Parliament last week – and he was right.
Subsequently, we learned that the measures in the Bill, and the language around it, would be more appropriately compared to the UK’s own treatment of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s – politicians of that time sent more than half a million back to Europe where an unknown number ended up being killed in extermination camps as part of the Holocaust.
Everybody should think very hard about that – and about the way politicians in both the Conservative Party and Labour condemned Mr Lineker and denied that the current Bill, or the way it was described, bore any resemblance to what happened in the 1930s.
The BBC reacted to Tory pressure the way it usually does – it caved in.
Mr Lineker was removed from his position as host of Match of the Day – and the Corporation lied about the circumstances. First we were told he was “stepping back” voluntarily until he could reach an agreement with the BBC over how he conducts himself on a social media account that is nothing to do with his employment and over which his employers should have no influence at all. Then we found out that he had been forced out.
And then the effluent hit the air conditioner.
Mr Lineker’s co-presenters on MOTD walked out in solidarity with him and everyone asked to be a possible stand-in host refused on principle.
Now, we are learning that sports coverage at the Beeb is suffering even more:
Presenters, pundits, commentators, players and another BBC football shows pulled….am sure no-one at BBC had any idea the decision to take Lineker off air would escalate as quickly or dramatically like this. And when crises do blow up like this, climb-downs become even harder…. https://t.co/BfyD9wHkwG
And the backlash has spread into other parts of the BBC.
Question Time, which actually discussed both the Illegal Migration Bill and Mr Lineker’s tweet about it, has come under fire after host Fiona Bruce played down the significance of Stanley Johnson beating his wife, in a discussion of his son Boris’s nomination of that man for a knighthood.
Here’s what she said (with apologies for the strong language used by the person tweeting it):
“Domestic abuse is never a ‘one off’, it is a pattern of behaviour that can manifest in a number of ways, including physical abuse. Domestic abuse is never acceptable.”
In a parallel with the BBC’s treatment of Mr Lineker, the charity said it had also been in talks with Ms Bruce: “She is appalled that any of her words have been understood as her minimising domestic violence. We know she is deeply upset that this has been triggering for survivors.
“Like the host of any BBC programme, when serious on-air allegations are made about someone, Fiona is obliged to put forward a right of reply from that person or their representatives, and that was what happened last night. These are not in any way Fiona’s own views about the situation.
“Fiona is deeply sorry that last night’s programme has distressed survivors of domestic abuse. Refuge stands by her and all survivors today.”
Sadly, the BBC did not see fit to support the charity’s assertion that Ms Bruce was “appalled” and “deeply sorry” for “triggering” and having “distressed” survivors.
Instead, it merely defended what happened on the programme: “When serious allegations are made on air against people or organisations, it is the job of BBC presenters to ensure that the context of those allegations – and any right of reply from the person or organisation – is given to the audience, and this is what Fiona Bruce was doing last night. She was not expressing any personal opinion about the situation.”
Not good enough.
A BBC decision not to broadcast an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s new series Wild Isles for fear that its its themes of the destruction of nature would risk a backlash from Tory politicians and the right wing press has provoked a huge backlash – not just from environmental groups but, again, from within the Corporation itself.
The sixth episode will appear only on BBC iPlayer. All six episodes were narrated by Attenborough, and made by the production company Silverback Films, which was responsible for previous series including Our Planet.
Chris Packham, presenter of Springwatch, told The Guardian: “At this time, in our fight to save the world’s biodiversity, it is irresponsible not to put that at the forefront of wildlife broadcasting.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “For the BBC to censor of one of the nation’s most informed and trusted voices on the nature and climate emergencies is nothing short of an unforgivable dereliction of its duty to public service broadcasting. This government has taken a wrecking ball to our environment – putting over 1,700 pieces of environmental legislation at risk, setting an air pollution target which is a decade too late, and neglecting the scandal of our sewage-filled waterways – which cannot go unexamined and unchallenged by the public.”
The Guardian added that “senior sources at the BBC [said] that the decision not to show the sixth episode was made to fend off potential critique from the political right.
Again, the BBC’s response was cowardly. The broadcaster claimed the six-part series was only ever intended to have five episodes: “Wild Isles is – and always was – a five part series and does not shy away from environmental content. We have acquired a separate film for iPlayer from the RSPB and WWF and Silverback Films about people working to preserve and restore the biodiversity of the British Isles.”
If this sixth film is part of a package of such films – a series, if you will – all made by the same organisations and narrated by the same person, and all to be available together on iPlayer, then it seems clear that it is an episode of that series and the BBC is again being economical with the truth.
This behaviour – and the decision over Mr Lineker – drew the following comment from economist Richard Murphy;
So, this afternoon the BBC gives in to fascists over Gary Lineker’s support for asylum seekers and on David Attenborough’s desire to highlight the impact of climate change. Fascism isn’t a threat. It is happening here and now, with the BBC enabling it.
Finally (for now), the BBC has faced a backlash against its continued employment of Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, whose own political tweets – particularly attacking former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – have gone unquestioned by the Corporation.
Mr Corbyn found an unlikely defender – on a BBC news programme – in Alastair Campbell. And the former New Labour press secretary didn’t pull his punches when referring to any of the scandals mentioned above:
Finally some honesty about the disgusting treatment Jeremy Corbyn received from figures at the BBC. And it’s coming from…Alistair Campbell. pic.twitter.com/sBhNOMFrIL
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