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Iain Duncan Smith is to give his ignorance to post-Brexit government reform

The pick of the Tories: Iain Duncan Smith is a creature of odious habits and even worse politics.

The former Tory leader whose ‘reforms’ of social security have led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people has been appointed to lend his ignorance to the government again.

Iain Duncan Smith will chair the new Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform.

The title of the organisation creates the acronym TIGRR – tiger, get it? But Duncan Smith is no kind of tiger. As benefit claimants know from his time as Work and Pensions Secretary, he’s a little bitch.

This Site has its own acronym for him – RTU. It stands for “Returned To Unit”, the message of shame on the record of armed forces personnel who fail training for promotion up the officers’ ranks – as he is said to have done.

The government has claimed that the TIGRR will “identify and develop proposals across a range of areas that will drive innovation and competitiveness, reduce barriers to start-ups and scale-ups, create opportunities for innovation to make the most of cutting-edge technologies, and support growth and dynamism right across the UK economy”.

But with RTU at the helm it is more likely to reduce competitiveness with new schemes that will be massively expensive while helping nobody (like Universal Credit), create barriers that stop people getting what they need (as he did with all benefits, particularly those for the sick and disabled), and abandon cutting-edge technologies for paper and ink (as DWP workers were forced to do when his plan for Universal Credit to be fully computerised fell on its ass).

He didn’t even help his own government! All his so-called “reforms” created more expense and none of them saved any money at all.

Labour has said it is ready to fight over any reforms that could be harmful – particularly to employment rights.

While This Writer has nothing personal against Andy McDonald, I remember when the party under Ed Miliband, in the dying days of its previous right-wing, neoliberal incarnation, voted in support of RTU to harm benefit claimants and I have a doubt.

The simple fact is that the appointment of this death machine should tell us everything we need to know about what his organisation will do. And it won’t help anybody.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith appointed post-Brexit government adviser | The New European

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One in eight childcare workers in England earns much less than the minimum wage

We thought this window-writing was by a child in care. It seems it might have been by a carer instead.

This research shows all the hallmarks of Tory employment policy: early years workers – predominantly female – are considered to be of low worth and paid less than the minimum wage, and have few career options – and the Covid crisis is likely to make matters worse.

It’s Conservative policy, remember: they have victimised women since they got back into office in 2010, with the so-called austerity policies attacking women far more than men.

One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour, according to new research which warns that low pay, high workload and a lack of career development are having an adverse effect on the sector.

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) report says… as many as 13% of childcare workers are paid under £5 an hour.

The workforce included apprentices, students on placement, volunteers as well as childminders, hence the low hourly rates.

Staff turnover is high at 13%, with one in six leaving their posts within a year, and 37% quitting within two years.

The report also highlights a lack of training opportunities for those who enter the workforce, which is 96% female, with just 17% of early years workers in receipt of job-related training.

Workload is high and the job carries considerable responsibility – more than one in 10 (11%) full-time early years workers reported working more than 42 hours per week, compared to 3% of retail workers.

It’s cognitive dissonance; the job is clearly highly-responsible and stressful, yet the remuneration is pitiful and there are no associated benefits.

Does this not indicate a political decision by the Tories?

That party’s notorious “nudge unit” has long been tasked with pushing people into particular decisions by making the alternative unacceptable.

Apparently they don’t want children to have professional care while we go to work.

Clearly we’ll all have to stay at home instead – or stop having children so we can go to work.

But if we stay home, what will happen to the economy?

And if we stop having children, well, there aren’t enough people working in the economy to support the current number of senior citizens, and that will only get worse if the working population diminishes – as it must in that eventuality.

So it seems that, by allowing childcare workers to be treated so badly, the Tories are deliberately trying to trash the UK economy.

And some of us voted them into office with a landslide in order to do that.

Were these voters ill, or insane, or suffering mass hysteria?

Source: One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour | Childcare | The Guardian

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BoJob government to launch spin machine to deny critical stories about no-deal Brexit

Brothers in Spin: Michael Gove (right) will launch the new Johnson government spin machine.

Boris Johnson is wasting public money on a government unit dedicated to denying news stories that Brexit will harm the UK.

His propaganda unit will be devoted to convincing us all that his “no deal” Brexit will actually do us good – no matter what information comes out between now and October 31, the date we are due to leave – and possibly beyond.

What do you think of this attempt by a government to hoodwink the people of the UK?

Boris Johnson’s government has been accused of launching a “shameful spin machine” as it emerged the Cabinet Office will establish a team to monitor reports regarding Britain’s departure from the EU.

With 80 days to go until the Brexit deadline, the rapid rebuttal unit is being created to respond to “inaccurate media reporting” and “reassure the public” the government is prepared to leave without a deal.

“Setting up a no-deal spin unit is a pointless waste of taxpayers’ money, and will do nothing to help avoid the years of chaos and uncertainty that will follow,” said Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett.

Source: ‘Shameful spin machine’: Boris Johnson government criticised over plans for new unit to monitor Brexit news stories | The Independent

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Labour’s complaints procedure is a nightmarish mess – but that’s no reason to condemn the new chief

I’m sorry, why are we condemning Laura Murray’s appointment as Labour’s new head of complaints, again?

Is it because she gave perfectly good advice when she was asked for it – for example, saying a member should be investigated who was later arrested in a police inquiry into anti-Semitism? That would be unreasonable.

Is it because she tweeted comments about ‘Princess Countdown’ Rachel Riley that the now-litigious TV presenter didn’t like? Big deal. And, by the way, Ms Riley is trying to sue me for libel and knows what I think about that.

Or is it because deeply untrustworthy individuals like Margaret Hodge and the current leaders of the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement want complaints about Labour Party members to be handled by a separate organisation – presumably one that they may control at will?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying an independent complaints procedure is a bad idea. Labour’s own process is an ongoing train crash of titanic proportions, of which every single person involved, from the so-called compliance unit up through the National Executive Committee to the bunglers on the National Kangaroo Court Constitutional Committee should be deeply ashamed. It is a national humiliation for that great political organisation.

I’m just saying it should never be handed over to people with an overt agenda, such as those named in the Guardian article to which you may find a link below.

They include, but are not restricted to: Margaret Hodge, anybody in the JLM, Stella Creasy, Wes Streeting, Ruth Smeeth, or anybody in the Parliamentary Labour Party who supports their version of an independent complaints process.

Labour members deserve better – but they have a long way to go until they get it. Maybe Laura Murray is the first step on the way.

Source: Labour row erupts as ex-Corbyn aide is made head of complaints | Politics | The Guardian


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Tony Blair supports The Independent Group – so why hasn’t he been expelled from Labour?

Tony Blair: He can say what he wants without fear of censure, because Labour’s complaints procedure is biased in favour of party grandees. So much for everybody being treated equally!

Labour Party rules are very clear on this: No card-carrying Labour member may remain in the party if they support another political organisation in any meaningful way.

That includes former party leaders because everybody in the Labour Party is equally subject to the rules. Right?

Here‘s Tony Blair, speaking up in support of The Independent Group, as quoted in The Independent:

“Last week several MPs defected to form a new political grouping.

“These are new times. We need, despite our moderation, to embrace the spirit of insurgency.

“We need new ideas and thinking on policy. Above all, we need to wake up, gird up, stand up and summon up the strength and intelligence to prevail.”

He also said the anti-Semitism row had been a “running sore” in the Labour Party – but produced not a single scrap of evidence to support claims that Jewish Labour MPs had been subjected to anti-Semitic abuse by party members.

It is known that there have been six prosecutions relating to anti-Semitic abuse of former Labour MP Luciana Berger, for example – but none of them involved active Labour Party members. Perhaps Mr Blair protests too much?

As for Mr Blair: It is clear that he has broken party rules and should be expelled:

https://twitter.com/deselectbangers/status/1100349548113858560

But will Labour’s complaints department – known as the compliance unit – take action?

Doubtful.

As the anti-Semitism row has shown, this part of the party is dedicated to supporting the privileges of party representatives, rather than the rules – or the rights of the membership to see those rules supported.

While innocent party members continue to be cast out under false claims of anti-Semitism that will trouble them for the rest of their lives, this elitist will be able to carry on preaching falsehoods to eager ears – because it’s what his fellow elites in the Labour leadership want. They are very much like the Conservatives in that respect. Wait a couple of weeks and then tell me if I’m wrong.


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If Theresa May’s ‘fake news’ unit is a fake, will it only deal with ‘fake fake news’?

Grin and bear it: The revelation that her ‘fake news’ task force doesn’t know what to do can only be more humiliation for Theresa May [Image: REUTERS].

If so – once it’s got its act together – we’re all in trouble.

That’s because ‘fake’ fake news is real news.

Yes, it’s a lot of fun laughing at the fact that the Tories can’t get anything right, but they have announced a unit dedicated to tackling and silencing anything calling itself ‘news’ that they don’t like.

The operative line in the statement from Theresa May’s spokesman is: “It will more systematically deter our adversaries.” “Our” adversaries, not “the UK’s” or “the nation’s”.

He meant, very clearly, opponents of the Conservative Party. That is who the members of the National Security Communications Unit will target.

And, sooner or later, they’ll get their act together.

Theresa May’s ‘fake news unit’ was itself branded fake news today, after the government was unable to provide even basic details of how it will work.

Downing Street last week announced the creation of a specialised Government team dedicated to tackling fake news and disinformation.

The new National Security Communications Unit, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said, would be tasked with: “combating disinformation by state actors and others. It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities.”

The announcement followed claims the Russian government had made attempts to meddle in British democracy – including the Brexit referendum by spreading fake news and disinformation online.

But despite announcing the creation of the unit to the press, the government has been unable to reveal even the most basic details of how it will work.

Source: Theresa May’s ‘fake news unit’ announcement has itself been branded ‘fake news’ – Mirror Online


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Corbyn launches community campaign unit

Mr Corbyn said the new team will “empower people” to campaign [Image: Reuters].

This is an excellent move – although the BBC’s reporting leaves a little to be desired.

This Writer is not convinced that targeting traditional Labour heartlands will “make inroads in the dozens of seats [Labour] needs to win”.

The party doesn’t need to rebuild support in its heartlands – the last general election showed that Labour’s heartlands are coming back to the party.

It is in Conservative-held constituencies that Labour needs to organise most strongly.

The party has supporters in even the most tightly-held Tory constituencies, and they only need to form a good argument to start persuading people across to the Party of the People and away from the Conservatives.

Labour hopes to encourage communities to organise around local issues and develop campaigns with a new team.

The unit … will target seaside towns and traditional Labour heartlands, where the party needs to rebuild support.

The strategy is designed to help Labour make inroads in the dozens of seats it needs to win to get into power.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn said he hoped an approach of “empowering people” would “further invigorate” his party.

Source: Corbyn launches community campaign unit – BBC News


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Prize for father of infamous Tory ‘nudge’ unit means Nobel committee should be ashamed

Richard Thaler: His theory has allowed the UK’s Conservative-led governments to victimise thousands of vulnerable jobseekers.

It is a travesty that the Nobel Prize for economics has been awarded to a man whose theories were used by the Conservative-led Coalition government of 2010-15 to manipulate unemployed people into inappropriate work.

Richard Thaler’s ‘nudge’ theory acknowledged that people frequently make bad decisions in their lives, thus contradicting one of the central tenets of economics – that people will always act rationally for their own good.

The theory suggests that the way choices are phrased or presented – the ‘choice architecture’ can be framed so that it nudges people towards the most beneficial outcome without restricting their personal freedom.

That is not what has happened. Look at the Coalition’s Behavioural Insights Unit, an organisation originally attached to the Cabinet Office, that used the theory to ‘nudge’ people towards decisions that benefited the Conservative Party and not the individuals concerned.

The best example of this is the fake questionnaire put out by the Department for Work and Pensions to manipulate jobseekers into doing what the Department wanted, rather than what was in their own best interests.

In theory, Thaler may have had a point. In practice, the UK government turned it into attempted mind control.

As the Skwawkbox article in the link above states, the questionnaire was rigged to suggest people had strengths that their answers did not bear out: “Untold numbers of people running around trying to use ‘strengths’ that actually have nothing to do with their actual personality – all under the threat of losing their income if they fail to comply.”

So ‘nudge’ theory was used to lie to vulnerable people, and to threaten them with destitution if they did not do as the Tories demanded.

And for this, the Nobel committee has given Richard Thaler a prize?

A demand for an apology would be better – along with financial restitution for all those whose lives have been blighted – or ended – by the implementation of his theory by genocidal politicians.

Richard Thaler has won the Nobel economics prize for his contributions to behavioural economics.

He championed the concept of “nudging” people, through subtle changes in government policy, to do things that are in their long-term self-interest, such as saving for a pension.

“Richard Thaler’s contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making, said the Nobel committee.

“His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioural economics, which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and policy.”

Source: The economist behind the Nudge theory just won a Nobel prize


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May and Rudd ‘stripped anti-extremism unit to focus on Brexit’ | The SKWAWKBOX

Amber Rudd and Theresa May.

Is this more irresponsibility from the least responsible UK government ever?

Theresa May stripped the UK’s police of their ability to handle terrorist attacks (as we saw in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing).

Now, it seems, we are finding that she stripped the country of its ability to anticipate attacks such as that at Manchester.

All because she didn’t have enough resources to handle Brexit properly – probably because of her own party’s cuts to the public sector.

And how’s Brexit going?

The Home Office has a department named the Extremism Analysis Unit responsible, as its name suggests, for identifying and analysing potential extremist groups and individuals in order to identify the most serious threats to the safety of UK citizens.

And a civil servant close to the unit alleges that Theresa May, along with her successor Amber Rudd, intentionally moved resources away from it in order to increase resources available to Brexit teams.

Source: Exclusive: May, Rudd ‘stripped anti-extremism unit to focus on #Brexit’ #GE17 | The SKWAWKBOX


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The fakery and failure behind the DWP’s new ‘health’ scheme

131109doublespeak

It seems that the Department for Work and Pensions is sticking to the ‘Adolf Hitler’ model of public relations: If you tell a big lie and repeat it often enough, people will believe it. The press release announcing the new ‘Health and Work Service’ is riddled with long-debunked old lies – and one new statement that deserves our scrutiny.

This is the press release used by the BBC in its article on Saturday, telling us that the new, privately-run service is needed to combat the high cost of long-term absence from work.

It seems to be the DWP’s new practice to pass announcements to – let’s call them “trusted” – media outlets before putting them up on the government’s own press website, as a kind of test-run, allowing any credibility problems to be fixed before the government commits itself in an official way.

That’s why the announcement appeared on the government website yesterday (Monday) – two days after the BBC broke the story. Now – in just half the time it took to appear – let’s look at why it’s a load of rubbish.

“As many as 960,000 employees were on sick leave for a month or more each year on average between October 2010 and September 2013, the government has revealed,” the document begins.

Oh really? The DWP reached this figure by applying the findings of a survey, showing the ratio of long-term absences to total days of sickness absence, to findings by the Labour Force Survey showing the total number of days of sickness absence in the UK. That’s 9,000 sick days and 70 absences, applied to an average of 120 million sick days per year. This is based on 2,019 interviews with employees. There’s just one problem.

At the time covered by these surveys, there were around 4.9 million private sector employers.

Considering the huge size difference between the sample surveyed and the body it represents, it seems unlikely in the extreme that the figure is accurate. If it is right, it would be by luck; it’s probably wrong. The figure might as well have been made up – and you should treat it as though it was.

“The government has already taken big steps in getting people on long-term sick benefits back into work as part of the government’s long-term economic plan, with almost a quarter of a million coming off incapacity benefits since 2010-” Let’s stop there and examine the information content of this sentence so far.

The “government’s long-term economic plan” is a phrase that is being shoe-horned into every press release possible and means nothing. There never was a “long-term economic plan”, and there isn’t one now. Have you seen it? Of course not – it doesn’t exist. This is just a comforting nonsense inserted to lull people into false security that somebody knows what they are doing; I suspect the newly-privatised “nudge” unit may have had something to do with this.

As for “almost a quarter of a million coming off incapacity benefits since 2010”, check out this interview with Iain Duncan Smith, published in the Telegraph & Argus in 2010. He said: “I intend to move 1.5 million off incapacity benefit by 2014.”

It’s now 2014. We don’t have up-to-the-minute figures but on November 13 last year, the DWP press office helpfully tweeted us its then-current figure for people moving off incapacity benefits in a handy chart: 156,000.

140211fakes

That is a long way from a quarter of a million, and only around one-tenth of the Secretary-in-a-State’s 2010 target.

“- and almost a million who put in a claim actually have been found fit for work.” This is a bare-faced lie. It relates to a statement that 980,400 people were judged capable of work between 2008 and March 2013, but there are two problems with this. Firstly, it does not take into account the number of successful appeals against the ‘fit for work’ judgement (125,700); when adjusted to account for these, the total drops to 854,700. Secondly, this refers to the cumulative number of ‘fit for work’ outcomes of initial functional assessments since October 2008, and it seems likely that many people will have made repeat claims after being knocked off-benefit by an adverse decision. We do not know how many people have done this. Therefore the figure is meaningless.

So far, the DWP has told us that working people get sick (no surprises there), that it has failed to reach its target for clearing people off incapacity benefit and that its work capability assessment system is failing to push as many off-benefit as it should, because it is riddled with errors.

How does this connect with the creation of a new ‘Health and Work Service’, dedicated to ensuring that people who spend more than four weeks at a time off work with an illness get back into their job with a minimum of difficulty?

It’s obvious, isn’t it?

This is a scheme to ensure that people are discouraged from claiming incapacity benefits; the idea is that a drop in new claims, coupled with the number of uncontested ‘fit for work’ decisions, might lead to a larger drop in the number of active claims – which means the amount of money being paid out in benefits would also drop.

Inclusion of the word ‘health’ in the title of the new service is misleading, as it seems unlikely that consideration of an employee’s physical condition will have anything to do with the aim of the exercise.

Look at what the release has to say: “The Health and Work Service will offer a work-focused occupational health assessment and case management to employees in the early stages of sickness absence.”

It continues: “The work-focused occupational health assessment will identify the issues preventing an employee from returning to work and draw up a plan for them, their employer and GP, recommending how the employee can be helped back to work more quickly.”

Health doesn’t get a look-in.

No, what we’re most probably seeing is an expansion of the “biopsychosocial” method employed in work capability assessments, in an attempt to convince sick people that their illnesses are all in their minds. Don’t expect this approach to be used for people with broken limbs or easily-medicated diseases; this is for the new kinds of ‘subjective illness’, for which medical science has not been prepared – ‘chronic pain’, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’, fibromyalgia and the like.

People with these conditions will probably be sent back to work – with speed. Their conditions may worsen, their lives may become an unending hell of pain and threats – I write from experience, as Mrs Mike spent around two years trying to soldier on in her job before finally giving up and claiming her own incapacity benefits – but that won’t matter to the DWP as long as they’re not claiming benefits.

That is what we can all expect from the new ‘service’.

It will be a fake, necessitated by failure.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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