We may conclude that this is because the Tories have deliberately pushed wages through the floor. Only last week, Tory ex-minister Dominic Raab was ridiculed after he claimed wages were rising at their fastest rate in eight years. They weren’t; and they’re still lower – in real terms – than in 2010 when Gordon Brown was prime minister.
Here’s the graph:
Fairy tale: Dominic Raab thinks it’s terrific that wages are lower now than when Labour was in office.
And the benefit nightmare the Tories euphemistically call “Universal Credit” only worsens matters. The Tories say there’s nothing wrong with it because, even though there is a five-week wait before people who are successful in claiming it receive the cash, they can apply for an advance of up to 100 per cent.
The problem is, they have to pay that advance back, meaning the amount they receive regularly drops below subsistence level – for months. It’s a poverty – and debt – trap.
And it leads to further social problems including poor health and rising crime; people who are starved of money often suffer from malnourishment, with all its attendant health problems, and may turn to crime, simply to feed themselves and their families. Their children may do the same.
The issue creates a huge problem for school authorities, of course.
Teachers are charged with pupils’ moral education, as much as parents and other figures of authority – and cannot, therefore, allow theft from lunchboxes to go unremarked, even if the thieves are starving. And obviously it must be heartbreaking to watch their pupils wasting away due to the policies of a selfish government of the rich and privileged.
So staff at North Denes Junior School in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, set up their own food bank for hungry pupils whose parents are struggling. It is thought to be the first at a British school
Half the school’s 420 pupils get free meals (although this won’t happen during school holidays, meaning that Christmas would be a miserable affair for them if they don’t get this kind of help.
Head Debbie Whiting launched the facility after seeing pupils so famished they were stealing from other children’s packed lunches.
But remember that, while the help for starving children is welcome, it is not a solution to the problem.
This is a problem that can only be solved by providing the whole workforce with wages that make it unnecessary for them to have to claim benefits – and by reforming the benefit system to ensure that those who are out of work can look for employment without having to worry about starvation or the threat of eviction.
That will never happen under a Conservative government.
This is the man selected by Theresa May to be the ‘voice of young people’.
He has already been exposed as having voted against scrapping university tuition fees; against restoring Education Maintenance Allowance, against maintenance grants and nurses’ bursaries; against ending the public sector pay cap, and against increasing the minimum wage.
Now it seems he has something to hid in his early life – he has deleted the offending blog post mentioned in the Evolve Politics article quoted below.
There’s a lesson here for everyone in the digital age: Be careful what you commit to the Internet.
And now, This Writer is off to check through all 10,000+ Vox Political articles, just in case.
Tory MP Ben Bradley has come in for severe criticism today after a blog post from 2012 emerged where he argued that it wouldn’t be long before Britain was ‘drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters’ if people on benefits had too many children.
Mr Bradley, who was recently, disastrously, appointed as the Conservatives ‘Vice Chair of Youth’, also implied in the now-deleted blog post that such ‘unemployed wasters’ should just have vasectomies.
The 28 year old Conservative MP used the blog post to argue in favour of the benefit cap introduced during the Conservative/LibDem coalition.
The DWP said anyone who thinks they are entitled to out-of-work benefit should contact Jobcentre Plus. What they didn’t add was that these people would then be subjected to a period of ritual humiliation followed by the rejection of their claim on a trumped-up excuse [Image: Danny Lawson/PA].
The Resolution Foundation is right to highlight this – but wrong to expect anything to be done about it.
Governments habitually do nothing to inform people of their rights with regard to benefits. They expect the public to be aware of these details, even when none are supplied.
The reason is obvious: Another benefit claimant is another drain on the public purse. The current Conservative government would rather these people just die off.
In addition, anybody claiming a benefit is then subject to the Tory government’s humiliating benefit assessments process, which seeks to use the most humiliating methods possible to identify any and all possible reasons for refusing the claim, no matter how petty.
It seems bizarre to suggest that the rollout of Universal Credit is a good opportunity for the DWP to encourage these people to claim; UC is more punitive than the benefits it replaces and has been shown to cause more harm than good.
The simple fact is that the benefit system will never actually benefit its users while we have a Conservative government.
About 300,000 British people without jobs or on very low wages are not claiming benefits they are entitled to, according to a think tank study urging the government to focus more attention on the issue.
The report from the Resolution Foundation says the “forgotten unemployed” are disproportionately likely to be older women or young men, who are missing out on at least £73 a week and potentially far more.
While many appear not to claim benefits because they have other means of support – for example living with a partner in work or with parents – the report warns that some people, particularly women, are put off by a benefits system viewed as complex and overly punitive.
The report, titled Falling Through the Cracks, urges the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to do more to examine the reasons why so many eligible people do not claim, arguing that the rollout of universal credit would be a good moment for this.
The study says that while the bulk of the group not claiming benefits they are entitled to have no work at all, a significant minority do work, but for sufficiently few hours that they could still claim jobseeker’s allowance or, where it is in use, universal credit, which replaces a series of existing benefits.
The Resolution Foundation says the issue exists in part because of a lack of attention paid by all governments from the late 1990s onwards to a growing gap between the number of workless people and those claiming benefits.
Craig Mackinlay made the “flippant” remarks at a Conservative conference fringe meeting
Craig Mackinlay is the only MP to have been charged with electoral fraud after the investigation into spending by the Conservative Party during the 2015 general election.
His trial is due to begin on May 14 next year, and you’d expect him to keep as low a profile as possible until then, wouldn’t you?
But then, you see, he’s a Tory.
So not only does he come out echoing Norman Tebbit, who told people his government had slung out of work to get “on your bike” and travel the UK looking for jobs that weren’t there, back in the 1980s…
Mr Mackinlay seems to think it appropriate for the Party of Aspiration (ha ha) to tell ambitious, well-qualified young people to get out in the fields, presumably in anticipation of the time the “gorgeous EU women” currently working there get deported by his government.
That’s not “matching the motivation” of EU workers – it is capitulating to the will of an elite minority determined to push down the working majority.
No wonder Mr Mackinlay is backpedalling (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) just as fast as he can.
But it’s too late. He said the words, and the whole country can see exactly how this over-privileged rich boy, whose status as an MP stands in question and could have been gained by crooked means, regards people who have to work for an honest living.
A Conservative MP has been criticised for saying unemployed young people should take farm jobs working with “gorgeous EU women”.
Craig Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet, told a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference that British youngsters should match the motivation of low-skilled European workers.
He has been branded “misogynistic” and “patronising” by other MPs.
Mr Mackinlay said his “flippant” remarks had been taken out of context.
“I was struggling to think why wouldn’t a youngster from Glasgow without a job come down to the south to work for a farm for the summer with loads of gorgeous EU women working there?” the Business Insider quoted him as saying.
“What’s not to like? Get on your bike and find a job.”
Outrage: Anger erupted at the decision to air an interview with National Front leader Marine Le Pen on the Andrew Marr Show on Remembrance Sunday [Image: Reuters/Charles Platiau].
Courting controversy shouldn’t be taboo – although I think the Marr Show producers really should have thought twice about having an interview with a fascist on Remembrance Sunday.
Oh, does Marine Le Pen not call herself that? This Writer calls ’em as I see ’em.
I wasn’t taking detailed notes but what I got from the interview was that she doesn’t like the European Union, does like Russia, and both hates and likes Muslims, depending on whether they’re immigrants or not. I think she may have been economical with the truth about the Muslims somehow…
It was worthwhile to hear all this because, you see, it reflects in an interesting way on our own politics.
Nigel Farage and UKIP, along with many members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, don’t like the European Union and are delighted that the UK is coming out of it, no matter what economic damage we do to the country along the way.
The same people don’t like immigrants – or at least, they have been stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment even though they are blaming these people for problems that have been made by a Conservative government that has brought back rationing under a different name (“austerity”).
She has an “us against them” attitude which is no different from the “divide and rule” mentality of the Conservative Government, here in the UK – a government that has pointed the finger at the sick and disabled, at the unemployed, and at the afore-mentioned immigrants as scapegoats for their own political choices.
So I think Mr Burley’s comment – that the possibility of a win for the French National Front means the BBC must either treat her seriously or is censoring her – is more valid than even he might think.
We didn’t censor Nigel Farage and UKIP.
We don’t censor the Conservatives.
Their policies aren’t significantly different from those of Marine Le Pen.
But we say her attitudes and those of her party are beyond the pale.
That is hypocritical.
And the BBC can’t claim any holier-than-thou rights either – it might not censor Ms Le Pen but it has certainly marginalised the United Nations report showing that the Conservative Government has committed grave and systematic violations of the human rights of UK citizens. Why has that not been a major headline?
That is hypocritical too.
Obviously This Blog does not and cannot support the policies of Ms Le Pen and her fascists.
But if we want to show the world that they are unacceptable, we need to concede that the behaviour of our own government and the state broadcaster is unacceptable too.
What’s the Biblical line?
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when all the time there is that plank in your own?”
BBC executives have defended the decision to air an interview with French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Remembrance Sunday following an angry backlash on social media.
The BBC has dismissed the outrage, claiming the controversial politician is a “serious contender” for the French presidency.
Among the reasons [Andrew Marr Show editor Rob Burley] stated was Donald Trump’s shock election win which he said made victory for Ms Le Pen a “possibility”.
He wrote: “Marine Le Pen is a controversial booking. But she is a serious contender for the French Presidency whatever you think of her views. . .
“Her party’s support – 6m in 2015 elections, 6m in the last Presidential Election and her ratings ahead of 2017 election significant. .
“In French politics she is “normalised” by public support. We either treat her seriously or censor her.
“The shocks to conventional wisdom of the Referendum result & Donald Trump’s election make her victory a possibility if it wasn’t already.”
Workhouse: A former bus depot in Blackburn which is set to become a workhouse for up to 10 inmates.
The finance chief at Blackburn with Darwen Council is to consider more deeply the plan to turn a former bus depot into what could be a 21st-century workhouse, it seems, after a Vox Political commenter raised concerns.
Andy Kay said he did not disagree that, although a few people could be taken off the street by the scheme, it could be setting a precedent for the government to say anyone who claims housing, unemployment or sickness benefit must work in a workhouse or be homeless, in conversation with commenter Helen Pay.
“With what the government is doing already, this idea isn’t far-fetched,” she told This Blog.
“Andy didn’t know if the homeless people were going to be paid wages – but the minimum wage for a young person he looked up and is something crazy like £4. Would many people choose to sort recycling for £4 an hour?
“He also said about accomodation being paid for at housing benefit rates. So when I asked if these homeless people could then be paid the minimum wage and be topped up by the council paying housing benefit – which would be paid to the charity – to live on a recycling site, his attitude completely changed. He hadn’t considered this.”
She told us she had also found it useful, when Mr Kay said the bottom line was to help homeless people, to quote an idea she had submitted to the Royal British Legion: “To supply accommodation to homeless people that involved zero profit being made and was purely about helping people.”
She pointed out: “The ‘charity’ website of Recycling Lives even talks about these homeless people being farmed out to other companies and those companies paying the wages they would have paid – to Recycling Lives.”
Ms Pay added: “I also mentioned personal responsibility for future events – which he seemed to take on board.
“I said I hoped that if he investigated and found Recycling Lives was taking advantage of people that I would read in a newspaper article that Andy Kay had been a whistle blower and put a halt to this scheme.”
If you thought you had it bad under the Coalition then, as someone once said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
The Conservative victory in last night’s election has left many of us reeling – not just because of its disastrous implications for the future of the UK and its citizens, but because nobody saw it coming.
Some have blamed ‘shy’ Tory voters. These are selfish little liars who skew the polls by denying any intention to vote for the Nasty Party. In the case of yesterday’s vote, many will have done so against their own best interests.
So why did they do it? The most likely reason being touted overnight is the success of the Conservative Party’s big scare tactic: The lie that Labour would go into a coalition with the Scottish National Party in the event of a hung Parliament. Cameron made vague claims that this would hit everybody in the wallet and Middle England – already burdened by a £4,000 per year loss of earnings thanks to Tory austerity – turned into a tribe of ‘shy’ Tories.
With the polls duly skewed, there was no way for Ed Miliband and Labour to know that their strategy wasn’t going to work for them, so they carried on. Britain fell into the Tory trap and now David Cameron has a slim majority.
And we are all in deep, deep trouble.
For supporters of the SNP, the disappointment must be the most bitter. Still, they supported a party with the most contradictory message of all – vote SNP in Scotland because Labour is bad, so that the SNP can go into coalition with Labour MPs from everywhere else because Labour is good.
It seems likely the most straightforward reason they voted SNP is because they had been whipped into a frenzy of righteous indignance about the independence referendum, believing the SNP propaganda that Labour was “in cahoots” with the Conservative Party – not just over the referendum but on general policy as well; ‘Red Tories’ was the SNP brand on Labour.
(Of course, others responded by labelling the SNP ‘Tartan Tories’. It is ironic that all this bickering resulted in the real Tories seizing power.)
So Scottish voters believed an SNP lie about Labour, and the knock-on effect was that English (and some Welsh) voters were convinced by a Conservative lie about Labour and the SNP. This created a domino effect which eventually meant that every single Scottish seat could have gone to the SNP, and the UK would still have ended up with a Tory government.
Is Nicola Sturgeon proud of herself? She seems to be. One is led to wonder how her party will respond to Tory legislation, when Parliament resumes.
Interestingly, Jon Craig (of Sky News) tweeted: “Tory at East Renfrewshire count: ‘Nicola Sturgeon has won more votes for the Conservatives in England than she has for the SNP in Scotland.'”
If anything, the election has demonstrated that Conservative/Coalition policy has created an atmosphere of division in the UK, greater than at any time in our history. Nationalism is on the rise, with Scotland keen to secede from the union and the UK as a whole heading for a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union.
The SNP result should also signal the death-knell of the First Past The Post voting system in this country – although its demise is likely to be protracted (the Tories will fight tooth and nail to keep it). Where’s the fairness in a system that can deliver 56 seats to the SNP with 1.5 million votes, and only one seat to UKIP, with nearly four million votes?
(This Writer supports neither party, as previous articles on this blog make all-too-clear. Facts are facts.)
It will also be interesting to see what impact – if any – the Coalition’s ‘individual voter registration’ has had on the number of people who voted. Also, how many people didn’t bother to vote “because it never changes anything”?
Come to that, what about all those people who were forced to move out of affluent areas because they couldn’t pay the Bedroom Tax (which will, of course, continue)? Did they move into Labour constituencies?
We could be looking at interference in the electoral process on an industrial scale.
Feel free to disagree with the free pass this image gives to Scottish voters if you like; the claim about voters in England is absolutely on the button.
Overall, the situation is best summed up by ‘Grumpy David’ on Twitter: “Seriously, who’s looked at the last five years and gone yeah, more of that please?”
What of the future?
Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK tweeted that a Tory victory would mean neo-feudalism is on its way in England, the union will be broken (with Scotland seceding), and the UK will leave the EU. He also predicted an economic crisis within a year.
Europe will be a major issue for the Conservatives now. With no Liberal Democrat partners to blame for government decisions, Cameron will be exposed to attack from his own backbenchers – many of whom are raving Europhobes.
Everyone on benefits will suffer, including those in work. Rachel Martin tweeted: “If exit polls are accurate I advise you not to be poor, not to be ill, not to be old and not to be in need of a job.”
The Tory victory means the end of the welfare state as we know it: People who deserve compassion will get none. Instead they will suffer £12 billion of cuts. Many thousands will die for the sake of a few pennies.
And the NHS? Privatised. With the provisions in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that will lock that privatisation into international law. Here’s Jacob Richardson: “Imagine seeing rape crisis shelters being closed and children’s palliative care being sold off to Virgin Healthcare, and wanting more of it.”
Workers’ pay will take a hammering – and our ability to protest and get a fair deal will be removed, along with the rest of our rights according to the Human Rights Act. They will be replaced by a ‘Bill of Rights’ telling us more about what we can’t do than what we can.
The Labour Party will need to get its act together quickly. Probably the best thing to do is get right back out to the general public and get confirmation of why the vote went to the Tories. Was Labour policy too close to the party’s arch-rivals, as some have surmised? Did people feel Labour wasn’t offering a genuine alternative? There will be a conflict between the neoliberal Blairites and traditionalists, and it is important that traditional Labour wins. If there’s one thing to learn from the SNP victory, it’s that a genuinely left-wing, anti-austerity platform delivers a massive victory at the moment.
The Liberal Democrats have been destroyed as a Parliamentary political party – and rightly so. The message for others to take away is that any form of compliance with Conservatives is fatal. The Tories will shift blame for anything bad onto their partners and contrive to win more votes.
UKIP is also a spent force. Despite increasing its vote share, its representation in Parliament has been halved. Voters will see this and abandon.
The SNP has taken on the role that the Liberal Democrats enjoyed at the 2010 election. They were the darlings of the voters this year but will lose out when it becomes clear that they cannot deliver a single promise – and, in fact, their victory in Scotland ensured that they would not be able to do so.
Finally, what can we do – the public?
We need to watch the Conservatives – and any of their known collaborators – hawkishly. We need to build up information about them, their policies, and any other interests – including and especially those that are less than legal (and there will be a lot of this). They won because the public believed them. It is important to undermine that trust with the facts.
We need also to ensure that the Liberal Democrats do not stage a comeback. That party betrayed the people and must be consigned to history. Again, we need to monitor the behaviour of its members and work to make sure the public is not gulled into a false sense of trust.
And it would be good to start thinking about the kind of country we would create, if we had the chance – and what steps we could take to build it. This may seem like pie-in-the-sky at such a dark point in our nation’s history, but it is only with careful and clever planning that anybody achieves anything.
We are in a very dark pit at the moment – dug for us by the Conservative Party. At least we can take heart that, from here, the only way is up.
Tonight’s edition of the BBC’s Newsnight did not feature Conservative or Labour Parliamentary candidates in a debate on welfare – because the Conservative Party pulled out at the last minute, according to a tweet from Labour’s shadow Work and Pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves.
Fellow tweeter Anita Bellows immediately asked: “What have they got to hide?” including this image as an attachment:
The reference is obvious – David Clapson is the benefit claimant whose case was raised by Andrew Marr in his interview with David Cameron on Sunday.
Cameron’s responses indicate that he seems to think it was right for Mr Clapson to die as punishment for missing a single Job Centre appointment (for reasons that have not been disclosed). He refused to accept that the system should be reviewed.
The interview caused outrage among members of the public and now we can see the Conservatives’ reaction.
Like all bullies, they like to torture the weak. When public opinion rises up against them and they have a choice between “fight” and “flight”, they run like rabbits.
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