Tag Archives: website

Tories are incompetent on coronavirus testing – but at least they’re not telling us to inject disinfectant

[Image from Dorset Eye.]

What a gang of incompetents the Tories are! They launched a website for employers to book key workers in for testing – but failed to make it strong enough to support the huge demand.

It has crashed.

According to the BBC:

The website opened on Friday but appeared to close by mid-morning with some users met by an “applications closed” message.

Up to 10 million key workers and their households are eligible to book a test.

That’s if they can get access to the government’s website, of course.

Matt Hancock – what an absolute imbecile.

Still, it could be worse. US president Donald Trump has been encouraging American citizens to inject disinfectant into their bodies because he says it will cure the coronavirus.

Sure it will… by killing the patient. Read:

During a White House press briefing on Thursday, April 23, Trump proceeded to claim sunlight and humidity could destroy the virus.

While still on camera, the president pondered the idea of ‘hitting’ the body with a ‘tremendous ultraviolet or just very powerful light’, turning to aides to express his thoughts. He also spoke about injecting disinfect inside a person’s body as a way of ‘cleaning’ their lungs.

Watch:

Do not, under any circumstances, try to follow his advice. Only ignorant, stupid Americans should be in danger after hearing this.

(Unfortunately, there seem to be many such people – otherwise how did Trump get into the White House in the first place?)

Source: Coronavirus: Test website closes after ‘significant demand’ – BBC News

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General Election 2019: Beware of ‘tactical voting’ websites that are really party propagandists

A timely warning from Another Angry Voice.

As we go into general election campaigning, this is vital information from Another Angry Voice:

Since the announcement of the December General Election there has already been a proliferation of different tactical voting websites, but you have to be extremely careful with them.

One of the major problems is that some of them, especially the supposedly Remain-focused “Best For Britain” Get Voting site, are clearly hyper-partisan party political propaganda outfits disguising themselves as ‘useful advice’.

In several marginal Tory/Labour constituencies this dreadfully partisan site is advising people to vote for the Lib-Dems, despite the fact they got less than 5% of the vote last time around.

This outrageous Get Voting site is recommending the Lib-Dems in a whopping 99 seats where they trailed the incumbent by over 25,000 at the last election!

To put this absolute insanity in perspective the biggest swing of the 2017 was a swing of just over 15,000 in Gordon, north East Scotland.

What this “Best For Britain” Lib-Dem front operation is advocating is trying to achieve 99 record-breaking mega swings simultaneously.

After years of contemptuously dismissing Leave voters as total idiots who believe in unicorns, these Lib-Dem Remain Ultras are actively advising people to waste away their votes on an absolutely ludicrous unicorn hunt!

The site mentioned above is only one of several; until you know otherwise, I think you should consider all of them to be suspicious.

The best advice This Writer can give is to use your own intelligence.

Source: Beware of dodgy tactical voting sites

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Labour has launched a website to educate members on anti-Semitism. Expect complaints from expelled ex-members

This is actually a good idea: Labour has set up a website to explain the party leadership’s attitude to anti-Semitism; what it is, how it manifests itself, and how to recognise it.

I think it is reasonable for the site to claim, in its introduction, that “a small number of Labour members hold antisemitic views and a much larger number don’t recognise antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories”.

So, as a former member who was expelled, allegedly over anti-Semitic views, I thought I’d read through the site to find what the Labour Party considers to be anti-Semitic and try to work out how it could possibly have been related to me.

In the introductory paragraphs we are told: “The worst cases of antisemitism in our party have included Holocaust denial, crude Jewish-banker stereotypes, conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11 or every war on the Rothschild family, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.”

I was accused of Holocaust denial by The Sunday Times, but that newspaper had to retract the claim in the most humiliating way after IPSO upheld my complaint against it.

In the light of recent revelations, I have contacted Labour to find out whether the accusation was prompted by leaked information from Sam Matthews and the party’s disputes team (I know it was a Labour leak; I just don’t know who leaked it). No response.

A report to Labour’s NEC had mentioned Holocaust denial. Interestingly, when my case finally went before the National Kangaroo Court Constitutional Committee, this accusation had been removed.

None of the other cases apply to me – unless the last is a reference to my acknowledgement that Ken Livingstone was correct to say the German Federation of Zionists entered an agreement with the Nazi government in the early 1930s, enabling the immigration of German Jews from that country to what was then British Mandate Palestine. But this is historical fact and I would struggle to see how this equates to an assertion that Hitler was misunderstood.

The section on Antisemitic conspiracy theories is interesting. I was accused of promoting such theories, so let’s see…

“Capitalism and imperialism as the product of plots by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system”? No. Didn’t suggest that.

“George Soros’ control of world affairs”? No. “A Jewish plot to facilitate ‘white genocide'”? Seriously? No.

“Israel as controlling the world’s media and finances”? No.

“Israeli responsibility for 9/11 or control of ISIS”? No.

“Blaming Israel’s faults on its Jewish identity”? No. I note that some people have tried to turn this around, as an excuse to suggest criticism of Israel’s faults is anti-Semitic.

“Holding all Jews in the UK and elsewhere responsible for what Israel does”? No. Again, this should not be used to suggest that people in the UK (Jewish or Gentile) should not be held responsible if they are found to be acting for the current Israeli government, against the interests of the UK.

But I was accused of “perpetuating ancient and insidious stereotypes about Jews” because I wrote articles about former Israeli embassy employee Shai Masot, who genuinely conspired (look up the definition of conspiracy; it means “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful) with people based in the UK to “take down”, among others, Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan.

Nowhere on the website can I find a claim that discussion of a genuine conspiracy involving an Israeli diplomat is anti-Semitic.

I was also accused of conspiracy theorising because I had told a commenter to This Site that he had not provided enough information about an alleged case of anti-Semitism for anyone to make a supportable decision on it.

A commenter calling him- or herself “Ben” had asked me to state whether I thought that a claim by the late Tam Dalyell, that Tony Blair had been influenced by “a cabal of Jewish advisors” was anti-Semitic. My response was that I had not been provided with enough contextual information to make an informed judgement. Who were Mr Blair’s advisors at the time? How did they influence him? I didn’t know. So I stated: “I would point out that (without further information) concerns that Tony Blair was being “unduly influenced” by “a cabal of Jewish advisors” may have been entirely justified.” And they may have been. If I had heard such a claim, evidence-less, then I would have been worried about it, at least until I had information to prove or disprove it.

The next section is about Zionism, anti-Zionism and antisemitism and states that Zionism was originally the aim to have Jewish self-determination in a Jewish state and, since the state of Israel was founded in 1948, it means the maintenance of that state.

It fails to mention that Zionism was supported by some anti-Semites prior to the creation of Israel, as it signified the removal of Jews from other countries, to be rehomed in a land of their own, somewhere else. I refer you again to the agreement between the Nazis and the German Federation of Zionists in the 1930s.

Nor does it mention that atrocities committed against Palestinians have been carried out in the name of Zionism and in the belief that these people, who originally inhabited land now claimed aggressively by the current Israeli government, should be forcibly removed in order to create an exclusively Jewish state. This is, of course, a racist endeavour – although, again, it should be emphasized that the existence of Israel itself is not (or was not intended to be).

“That does not mean limiting legitimate criticism of the Israeli state or its policies or diluting support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for justice, their own state, and the rights of refugees and their descendants,” the website states, but in practise, Labour has not conformed to this statement.

For example, Labour claimed that an image of Israel, transplanted to within the United States of America, was anti-Semitic as it seemed to demand that “the all-Jewish state” be forcibly removed from the Middle East to cohabit with the country considered to be its most loyal supporter.

But context is everything: The image had been created in response to a plan that would have removed all Palestinians from the area the Israeli government claims as its own – including Gaza and the West Bank. Those who claimed the image was anti-Semitic had no argument against the racism inherent in this idea.

So, despite the fact that the image was clearly legitimate criticism of a particular proposal to the Israeli government, Labour used it as a reason to expel me.

And this means the following words… “The impact that the creation of Israel had and still has on the Palestinian people means the struggle for justice for them and an end to their dispossession is a noble one; Labour supports Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution to the conflict” … ring hollow. Labour must give more than lip-service to support for a Palestinian state and the two-state solution, and should not treat such support as anti-Semitic.

One can see also the problem with the following statement: “Opposition to the Israeli government must never use antisemitic ideas, such as attributing its injustices to Jewish identity.” What if the injustices are committed by people who consider them to be a consequence of their own Jewish identity? This conflation of Judaism, Zionism and the state of Israel has never been adequately untangled by organisations like Labour, despite the fact that it causes much of the antagonism around false claims of anti-Semitism.

The website says opposition to the Israeli government must not include “demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct” – which is accurate – unless such people are found to be colluding with the Israeli government in such conduct, of course.

And the site says opposition to the Israeli government must not include “comparing Israel to the Nazis”. This can be extremely difficult in certain situations. Consider the apparent ghetto-isation of Palestinian settlements, their people trapped behind walls and fences, and forced to rely on Israel for power and water that can be removed on a whim. How about the way the Israeli Defence Force seems able to take Palestinians off the street and subject them to interrogation for no apparent reason? Worst of all, what about the shooting – to death – of Palestinians, both adults and children, by IDF volunteers? This site shared sickening video evidence of IDF members joking as they shot at least one Palestinian through the head while that person was going about their daily business.

“Arguing for one state with rights for all Israelis and Palestinians is not antisemitic, but calling for the removal of Jews from the region is,” the site says. This is true, although the connection of the former statement with the latter is unhelpful as they are not directly comparable. It would be better to say that “Calling for the removal of Jews from the region is anti-Semitic, in the same way that removing Palestinians from the region is clearly discriminatory against those people.”

“Anti-Zionism is not in itself antisemitic,” states the website belonging to a party with some members who accused Richard Burgon of anti-Semitism for his own words of criticism against aggressive Zionism.

“And some Jews are not Zionists. Labour is a political home for Zionists and anti-Zionists. Neither Zionism nor anti-Zionism is in itself racism,” states the website belonging to a party that suspended Tony Greenstein – a Jew – for opposing Zionism.

And that’s the lot.

What about the accusations levelled at me, that weren’t featured on this website? Let’s examine them:

First, there’s the ridiculous case of the “anti-Semitic quotation marks”. I headlined an article Accusation games: It’s all falling apart for the knee-jerk ‘anti-Semitism’ accusers and Labour’s disputes team said this was anti-Semitic.

“To put ‘antisemitism’ in quotation marks implies that Jews are using the term falsely which diminishes the term and denies Jewish people the language to describe their own oppression,” the charge read. Except, of course, I was referring to false accusations of anti-Semitism.

My article quoted another in which it was alleged that “the primary function of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and other pro Israel groups in the UK working with the Israeli embassy was smearing Palestinians and their supporters with charges of anti Semitism and other nefarious ad hominem claims… [Ella Rose] reveals a trajectory of what could be perceived as a strategy of accusation (of anti semitism), a gotcha focus with the objective of trapping people, as a means of one-upsmanship so as to advance the profile of the Jewish Labour Movement on the right flank of Labour”.

So I clearly was not denying Jewish people the language to describe their own oppression. I was pointing out that liars (members of LFI and JLM don’t have to be Jewish) were smearing innocent people with falsehoods and as these were only said to be anti-Semitism, I was right to put quotation marks around the phrase.

Next, after I pointed out that some people have claimed the Nazi Holocaust exclusively for Jews, Labour claimed that this “is dismissive of antisemitism. There are very few, if any campaigners who ‘claim the Nazi holocaust exclusively for Jews’. Stating this discredits and diminishes antisemitism and the work done by campaigners.

The trouble is, I had mentioned two such campaigners who ‘claim the Nazi holocaust exclusively for Jews’ in the article about which my accusers were complaining; all they had to do was read on.

In addition to Elie Wiesel and Lucy Dawidowicz, in my written defence against the accusations I mentioned Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, who stated [italics mine]: “The Holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jews, is, for us, a very recent memory: part of our own lived experience, barely one generation away.” In fact, the Holocaust murdered 13 million people.

I also listed the Jews who wrote in a letter supporting Jackie Walker against the accusations of anti-Semitism against her: “It has always been a principle of the Zionist movement that the Nazi Holocaust was exclusive to the Jews. Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, has argued that ‘the Nazis only attempted to annihilate one people, the Jews’. According to Bauer, ‘the Holocaust is very much a unique case’.”

And for good measure I also mentioned people who had tweeted the same inaccuracy to me. It seems clear that in this matter, I was right and my Labour Party accusers were wrong.

Moving on, Labour took issue with my comment that the Jewish Labour Movement “is not a movement that represents Jews; it represents Jewish Zionists”. “The Jewish Labour Movement does not represent Jews who are not Zionists. It persecutes them”. The claim was firstly that I was saying the JLM does not represent Jews. Obviously this is inaccurate; I was saying that, rather than representing all British Jews, it merely represents Jewish Zionists. That is clear from the above-quoted words, that were used by my Labour Party accusers, so they should have known what I meant.

But in a staggering display of ignorance, the accusation claimed: “To state that the Labour Party’s official Jewish affiliate does not represent Jews denies Jews the right to self-define.”

My comment was accurate. The Jewish Labour Movement represents Jewish Zionists, and I can prove it. The organisation was originally called Poale Zion, which means “Workers of Zion”. And I quoted from the JLM’s own website in the article my accusers were trying to use against me, as follows: “The Jewish Labour Movement is also affiliated to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation… Our objects: To maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”

“Zionist”… “Zionist”… “Zionism”… “within the state of Israel”. What about British Jews who aren’t Zionists? There’s no mention of them so they very clearly are not represented by the JLM.

All of this was in the article my accusers were trying to use against me. Once again, all they had to do to disprove their own allegations was read down a few paragraphs.

Finally, Labour accused me over a line in an article where I asked, “If Jews in the UK identify with the state of Israel, why aren’t they Israeli citizens?“.

Apparently, “This comment implies that Jews cannot have multiple facets of their identity and specifically that a British Jew cannot identify with Israel without wanting Israeli citizenship. This denies Jewish people the right to self-define and suggests that those Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the UK.”

Oh, really?

The line was taken from a comment-column dialogue with another pseudonymous commenter, ‘Raffie’, who was replying to my assertion that the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism (as it was then known) was flawed because it confuses the state of Israel with the movement known as Zionism, and seeks to label anybody who criticises either of them as an anti-Semite when it is perfectly possible to do so without wishing harm on Jewish people.

‘Raffie’ suggested: “You’re wrong. Most Jews in the UK identify with the state of Israel in some way.”

I replied: “If Jews in the UK identify with the state of Israel, why aren’t they Israeli citizens? As I understand it, there’s nothing to stop them from signing up.”

But I was asking the question in order to induce ‘Raffie’ and other commenters to provide their genuinely-held opinions – as you can tell very clearly by the fact that, a few hours later, I posted: “How about applying the most simple answer: They aren’t Israeli citizens because they don’t identify with the state of Israel, to anything like the degree required. Possibly because they actually disagree with the actions of the Israeli government.”

So, yet again, my accusers were wrong – and would have discovered that if they had only read my words in context, rather than simply pulling out what they wanted and creating a false scenario out of that.

In conclusion, what are we to make of Labour’s No Place For Antisemitism website?

It’s okay – as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough.

And it won’t – until Labour admits its own shortcomings in making ridiculously false accusations of anti-Semitism and using them to expel the innocent.

Source: No Place For Antisemitism – The Labour Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And The New European has found other incongruities:

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

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

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

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

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

EXTRA:

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Was there really a ‘glitch’ in Facebook – or were independent media sites deliberately targeted?

[Image: Another Angry Voice.]

I was wrongfooted for a moment.

Presented with an instance in which Facebook had removed a link to one of my articles, claiming to be acting on concerns raised by a reader, I thought I had been the victim of a single, opportunistic political attack.

In fact, I was already the victim of multiple attacks.

When I posted my new piece about the incident, I received reports from readers who said a series of posts had been removed from the Vox Political Facebook page without explanation. I quickly discovered that this was true.

Further investigation showed that I was not the only victim.

Fellow left-wing website Another Angry Voice carries a detailed report on what happened, with speculation as to the reasons.

The concerns raised – about shutting down the independent media during a general election and about this having happened on the day Jeremy Corbyn announced new policies to democratise the media – are shared by This Writer.

And they should be shared by you. If Facebook is determined to interfere in our political discourse, we must find a way around it.

Facebook has initiated a massive purge of independent media content. This blackout includes barring multiple independent media sites from posting links to their own site on their Facebook page, deleting independent media posts without warning or reason, marking independent media posts as spam so ordinary members of the public can’t share them, and deleting ordinary people’s posts without reason.

This issue has impacted multiple left-leaning independent media sites like Another Angry Voice, Evolve Politics, Vox Political, People’s Campaign for Corbyn, EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland, and many others. With pages left unable to post links to their own articles.

Facebook have tried to dismiss the independent media blackout as a “glitch” but interestingly the Facebook pages of mainstream media outlets were unaffected by the “glitch”. Mainstream media outlets that have been able to continue posting articles throughout the blackout include the Daily Mail, The S*n, Evening Standard, The Times and Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Spectator, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Sky News, BBC News, and BBC Politics.

Additionally the hard-right Guido Fawkes blog was also allowed to continue posting links to their vile echo chamber of hate throughout the Facebook blackout.

The fact that a select few pages were allowed to continue posting throughout the Facebook blackout suggests that there’s some kind of Facebook ‘whitelist’ protecting them from whatever measures they’ve been taking against independent media sources.

So a range of left-wing, pro-independence, anti-Tory, pro-Corbyn, anti-fracking independent media pages were barred from sharing links, while mainstream media outlets and hard-right blogs were completely unaffected.

Source: The Facebook blackout ‘glitch’ censored independent media, but left the mainstream media untouched

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Guessing a password is still hacking and Kemi Badenoch should be prosecuted for it

Kemi Badenoch: Hacking.

Tories would argue for the sake of it until they were blue in the face, rather than just in political persuasion.

If there isn’t any legislation or legal case law to state that guessing a password isn’t hacking, then they’re batting on a very sticky wicket indeed.

Kemi Badenoch has admitted breaking into a website belonging to a political opponent in order to carry out unauthorised alterations.

Come to think of it, that isn’t just hacking – it’s fraud.

Let’s see it argued out in court.

A Conservative rising star has admitted “hacking” into the website of a Labour opponent to alter its content in favour of the Tories.

Newly appointed Tory vice-chair Kemi Badenoch made the startling admission when asked what was the “naughtiest” thing she had ever done.

Hacking into websites is a criminal offence which can carry a prison sentence of up to two years – but the Tories insisted guessing a password did not constitute “real hacking”.

Source: Conservative rising star admits she ‘hacked’ into Labour MP website to spread Tory propaganda | PoliticsHome.com


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If we are aware of online hate speech, we can oppose it

National Alliance Neo-Nazi Rally, Union Station, Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC, Saturday 24 August 2002 [Image: Flickr/ElvertBarnes].

Those who accused This Site of publishing hate material may be surprised to read that I am promoting awareness of the way those who are really responsible can be identified and shut down.

That’s their problem. They were wrong about me then, and they’re wrong now. They distract attention away from the real issue and have therefore helped online hate speech to thrive.

Charlottesville, and President Trump’s ill-advised remarks on what happened there, have brought the issue back into public view, and we should keep it there until it has been eliminated.

So let’s get wise and get active. The more we know about the way these creatures operate, the better-equipped we’ll be to stop them. Start here:

Anti-Semitic tweets were viewed ten billion times on twitter in 2016—that’s why the alt-right loves the internet.

2016 was one of the worst years for online hate speech, a year when neo-fascists overwhelmed the comments sections of many online forums. Members of the alt-right took popular platforms like Disqus, Facebook and Twitter by storm, flooding them with hateful posts. They attempted to reshape the debate on a wide range of issues including Brexit, Trump, immigration and Islam. What’s worse, in some ways they succeeded—and they’re not done yet.

Alt-right websites such as Infostormer, Daily Stormer (both currently inaccessible) and Breitbart have been instrumental in mobilizing right wing activists to popularise nationalistic hate speech online, and are quite open about their intentions to alter the status quo by passing off hate as acceptable.

Source: ‘Assemble ye trolls:’ the rise of online hate speech | openDemocracy


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The government is not UNABLE to assess its policies’ impact on the disabled. It is REFUSING to do so

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]


People who signed a petition calling for the Conservative Government to “assess [the] full impact of all cuts to support and social care for disabled people” have been told that the tools aren’t there to do the job. This is because the Tories have chosen not to use them.

More than 29,000 people have signed the petition, leading to a response from the Department for Work and Pensions. If it tops 100,000 signatures, it may trigger a debate in Parliament. Don’t get your hopes up – the evidence provided in these debates is routinely ignored by the government because it doesn’t want to know.

The DWP screed starts with some waffle about being committed to a “fair tax and welfare system” with the effect of each policy change “carefully considered”, in which “everyone contributes to reducing the deficit” and where “those with the most contribute the most”. Is that in money or percentage terms?

But it continues: “However, it is not possible, using the Government’s existing analytical tools, to produce a cumulative assessment of the impact of policies on disabled people.”

This is why a cumulative impact assessment published by Landman Economics and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, recommended more than a year ago that the DWP should change its tools.

“HM Treasury has a world-leading distributional model, which it has used since 2010 to publish analysis of the impacts of policy decisions on households across the income distribution,” the DWP response states. “This model uses the Living Cost and Food Survey (LCF), which does not have information on disability status. It contains expenditure information which allows analysis of the impacts of indirect taxes such as VAT and fuel duty, and underpins a unique model of public service usage; both of these enable HMT to consider the impacts of all of the Government tax and spending decisions which directly affect households.

“As well as the inability to identify who has a disability in the data, most analysis of the impacts of welfare reforms tend to be limited in that they take static snapshots of benefit changes. Fundamental reforms are designed to support people into employment and will therefore enable people to generate more income for themselves. Analysis needs to take account of behaviour change of reforms rather than the more limited approach of focusing solely on benefit changes.”

(Of course we know that the reforms mentioned here do not support people into employment; they deprive people of the benefits they need to survive and force them into an unknown future. For example, a DWP study in 2012 found that more than half the people who had been told they were “fit for work” after a work capability assessment had been left unemployed and without any income at all. The Department had been forced to reveal the facts by – guess what? – a Freedom of Information request. This probably contributed to the government’s current attempt to curtail the use of such requests.)

“This analysis shows that the proportion of welfare and public service spending which benefits poorer households has not changed since 2010-11, with half of all spending on welfare and public services still going to the poorest 40 per cent of households in 2017-18. At the same time, the richest fifth of households will pay a greater proportion of taxes than in 2010-11 as a result of government policy – and more than all other households put together.

“The Government spends around £50 billion on disability benefits and services annually, and expenditure on sick and disabled people is higher than the OECD average. Welfare changes since 2010 have included protections for key vulnerable groups least able to increase their earnings, including those who need additional support as a result of disability. In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015:
• Many disability-related elements of the benefit system are still uprated by the Consumer Price Index (but this is the lowest index of inflation. How is that supposed to be an advantage for the disabled?)
• The additional component for those in the Support Group of Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit (UC) equivalents has been maintained
• Households which include a member who is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, the Support Component of Employment and Support Allowance or UC equivalents are exempt from the benefit cap.

“Overall, reforms are focused on supporting people to find and keep work where appropriate. Growing evidence over the last decade shows work can keep people healthy as well as promote recovery which is why, as part of the Government’s objective to achieve full employment, it aims to halve the disability employment gap.”

There is no evidence to show that work makes people healthy; Iain Duncan Smith merely adapted the phrase “Arbet macht frei” from the gates of the Auschwitz extermination camp he visited several years ago to create a new lie. As for halving the disability employment gap: The Conservative Government has made sure there continues to be a large number of people without work, who now receive less money in benefit than they need to avoid going into debt. This means competition for jobs is increasing. Any employer faced with a choice between taking on an able-bodied worker and someone with a disability who will need adaptations and special treatment will opt for the former; it’s simply better business.

“Last year 226,000 more disabled people found work [how many stayed in it?] and to continue this success the Government has extended Access to Work to provide support to more disabled people in pre-employment, launched Specialist Employability Support to provide intensive, specialist support to the disabled people who need the most help and has extended Work Choice, providing tailored support to disabled people, to 2017. The Disability Confident campaign is working with employers to ensure that they understand the benefits of recruiting and retaining disabled people in work.

“Sickness Absence in the workplace is also a major issue, with employees off sick for four weeks or more being at greater risk of not returning to work. The Government recognises the importance of early support which is why Fit for Work has been developed; giving access to free, impartial work-related health advice to help employees on sick leave get back to work.”

This is the tyrannical scheme under which “fit notes” from your GP are refused and people are discouraged from claiming the Incapacity Benefits they need.

“In terms of Social Care and NHS reforms, the Government is committed to supporting the most vulnerable. The Care Act 2014 introduces a modern system to promote and maintain the wellbeing of those with care and support needs so they can live independently. This includes introduction of a new national eligibility threshold which allows local authorities to maintain previous levels of access for service users. This threshold is set out in Eligibility Regulations, and local authorities cannot tighten eligibility beyond this threshold. The Act also provides new legislative focus on personalisation by placing personal budgets into law for the first time for people and carers, increasing opportunities for greater choice and control, so that people can choose social care best suited to meet their needs.”

Shall we have a look at the Landman/NIESR cumulative impact assessment – the assessment the DWP says it cannot perform – and its recommendations for the Department, that could have been implemented in summer 2014 but weren’t? [boldings mine]

“Impact of tax, spending and benefit changes 2010-15

  1. The impacts of tax and welfare reforms are more negative for families containing at least one disabled person, particularly a disabled child, and … these negative impacts are particularly strong for low income families. This is not surprising, given the significant reductions to working-age welfare, and the high proportion of working age welfare spent on disabled people, particularly those on low incomes.
  2. Women lose somewhat more from the direct tax and welfare changes compared to men. This is mainly because women receive a larger proportion of benefits and tax credits relating to children, and these comprise a large proportion of the social security reforms between 2010 and 2015. It should be noted that these results are sensitive to the precise assumption made on the ‘sharing rule’ being used within households.
  3. Households containing younger adults do better than other households; although the impact of benefit changes is relatively uniform across groups, they benefit more from changes to direct taxation (the increase in the personal allowance) than any other group.
  4. In terms of public services (as opposed to tax and welfare), Black and Asian households lose out somewhat more than other groups. This is largely due to greater use of further and higher education, and (for Black households) social housing.

“Recommendations

“The main recommendations of the study are that:

1. HM Treasury’s distributional impact analysis of tax and benefit changes should incorporate analysis by groups sharing different protected characteristics in particular disability, ethnicity, age and gender. The analysis should:

  1. show the impact of tax and benefit changes by different groups;
  2. show the interaction between distributional impacts by income and by equality group;
  3. identify the key drivers of differential impacts; and
  4. identify the key assumptions made in producing the analysis and, where appropriate, present alternative assumptions.”

This was not adopted by the Treasury (or the DWP).

“2. HM Treasury should consider its approach to equality impact assessment for the next Spending Review (2015). In particular, it should:

  1. issue guidance to Departments on data collection and analysis;
  2. identify in which areas quantitative analysis of equality impacts is likely to be feasible and informative, focusing on key service areas (health, education, etc); and
  3. publish a detailed explanatory and methodological note to guide interpretation of distributional impact analysis (covering both income and equality issues).”

This was not adopted by the Treasury (or the DWP).

Your comments are welcome; the above is merely what This Writer could derive from the statement at first sight of it.

Undoubtedly many of Vox Political‘s readers will have their own observations about this DWP drivel.

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Corbyn explains how media helped campaign – and tried to harm his family

150913CorbynNewLeader

It seems Jeremy Corbyn decided to run for the Labour leadership only after LBC Radio’s Iain Dale suggested it, Vox Political can reveal in the second part of its media roundup of Mr Corbyn’s victory.

The station’s website proclaimed: “Iain suggested he should run, saying: ‘In all seriousness, someone from your side of the party – John McDonnell has done this before.

“‘Someone who is not seen as New Labour or anything like it. I think it would actually enhance the debate.

“‘I don’t know who it would be apart from yourself – we’ll put the thought in your mind, and take full credit if you do decide to run.’

“And speaking a month later, Mr Corbyn gave Iain full credit for putting the idea in his mind.”

But The Independent chose to highlight the abuse thrown at Mr Corbyn, his family and friends, by the media. He alluded to this in his acceptance speech, and the newspaper stated: “He has been accused of being an anti-Semite, a racist and was also accused of failing to act on child abuse allegations in his Islington constituency.

“Those are just some of the allegations that have been levelled against him in the media and even by some of his fellow Labour MPs, who have attempted to persuade people against voting for the far-left MP in a bitter, three-month leadership contest.”

Speaking the day before his historic victory, Mr Corbyn was reported to have said: “As nasty and unpleasant [as] much of the stuff printed is and remains and is deeply hurtful to my wife, family and close friends, we’re not responding in any way; we don’t do that kind of politics.”

In The Guardian, Labour MP John Woodcock said the time had now come for supporters of Labour’s various factions to stop infighting and get behind the new leader.

“If we are to move on from here, then we must recognise how damaging it has been for Labour people, who have all basically wanted the same thing, to have knocked lumps out of each other for 20 years,” he wrote.

Ironically, at the time of writing, those words appear right next to a box declaring: “Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson suggests he’ll oppose Jeremy Corbyn over scrapping Trident.”

It seems some of us haven’t got the message yet…

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Conservative Government attacks BBC; BBC responds defiantly

The BBC has responded to plans by the Conservative Government to reduce its ability to cater for all licence-payers, with a short statement of defiance. Good for Auntie!

At long last, Corporation executives have realised that the conciliatory position they have held for so long – adopting a broadly pro-Conservative stance in its news reporting, for example – simply won’t stop the Tories from trying to dismantle public service broadcasting in favour of the kind of trash served up by moguls like their friend Rupert Murdoch.

(Isn’t he back trying to buy the rest of Sky TV again, now that the Tories are free to be completely corrupt about it?)

The Tories were set to bring out a Green Paper filled with proposals to cut back the range of services offered by the BBC – for reasons that don’t seem to make any sense at all. For example, George Osborne said the BBC website should be scaled down because it is “crowding out” national newspapers.

This is clearly rubbish. Osborne represents the Party of the Marketplace. It is clear that, if the BBC is more popular than the right-wing newspapers owned by his friends, then it is those papers that should change, to make themselves more acceptable – not the BBC website. That’s the law of the market.

By seeking to hobble the BBC instead, Osborne merely highlights the corruption at the heart of Conservative Government.

Other plans include de-criminalising non-payment of the licence fee, to make it harder for the BBC to collect its funding. Only recently, Auntie agreed to take on the cost of providing free licences for people aged over 75, despite it being a political policy that has nothing to do with the Corporation. The cost is around £650 million – almost as much as that of all the BBC’s radio services combined (£653 million).

Here’s the BBC’s statement:

150716BBCgreenpaperresponse

It looks like the BBC is planning a consultation. Will you take part?

If you’re wondering what’s really behind the Tory plan, let’s add the following, for clarification:

150601-chomsky-privatisation1

Are you getting a clear picture?

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