I’ve received a curious message. See what you make of it:
My wife has a YouTube page that she hosts a chat group on every so often. now this is not a big page and she has less than a 1000 subscribers.
last night whilst doing her live chat a person came into her chat and asked, “what did people think of Boris Johnson”. I thought this was a very unusual question to ask, because her chat groups are not about politics. To cut a long story short, three different people joined her chat session and all three asked the same question. I did suggest this must be the Tories latest media surge to get people to like Boris.
I have enclosed a link to last nights video and you will see for yourself these people in the chat asking about Boris: –
The clip is very long (nearly 90 minutes) – but has anyone else experienced anything similar on social media?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
If you’ve ever been attacked by what are known as internet trolls and have thought that it seems like they are being paid to attack you, you might not be as crazy as you think you are by having that thought. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the government actually employs and pays internet trolls to comment on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, among other sites. Often, they are paid to “guide” the conversation with government-supported beliefs and propaganda.
In the UK, the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) is a specialized unit within the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). If it wasn’t for Edward Snowden, we probably still would never have heard of them. This particular specialized unit is engaged in some very “questionable” online activities.
One cannot help but wonder if the SNP is employing the same tactics. The part about “establishing online aliases” to support particular messages, along with further aliases to support the originals, seems very familiar.
Martin Freeman explains the differences between Labour and the Tories in a new video.
The stars have come out to support Labour.
Both Martin Freeman (Watson in the BBC’s Sherlock – among many, many other great roles) and David Tennant (currently enjoying ratings joy in the second season of ITV’s Broadchurch; formerly the star of the BBC’s Doctor Who) appear on Labour’s latest YouTube video, talking about the ideological differences between Labour and the Conservatives.
At first glance, this might seem to support the “stark contrast” between just two choices that David Cameron suggested today, but it seems to this writer that supporters of the other parties will find the comparison just as useful. Where do their own values lie? Some might be more extreme than the Tories; many may be further to the Left than Labour.
It seems worthwhile to have someone stand up and say how this translates on the ground. Here’s the video:
What’s the current situation on the political parties’ ‘leader debates’? Is Cameron still playing chicken and using the Green Party as a human shield?
The last this writer heard was that he was saying he wouldn’t turn up if Ofcom didn’t let the Greens take part, as the Green Party is now the fourth largest in terms of membership (behind Labour, the Conservatives – who could be lying about theirs, and the SNP, having overtaken UKIP and the Liberal Democrats).
Ofcom seems to be saying the Greens don’t qualify because they don’t have enough MPs (which seems strange, as it seems perfectly willing to let UKIP take part and it only has one more MP than the Greens).
Is that about right?
It’s rumoured that Cameron has cold feet about the debates because of what happened in 2010, when ‘Cleggmania’ (briefly) swept the nation and everybody including himself seemed to be saying “I agree with Nick”. His advisors are allegedly telling him that Clegg’s performance in the debates seriously damaged his standing and prevented him from gaining an outright victory in the election.
(This may seem odd, as the Liberal Democrats in fact lost five seats at the election, but we need to remember that – in the First Past The Post system – it seems likely that LD candidates took votes from Conservatives, allowing others to take marginal seats).
It seems likely Cameron is also in fear of Nigel Farage, who is generally accepted to have beaten Clegg in televised debates about the European Union.
The other three leaders who were set to take part in the debates have called for them to go ahead, with Cameron ’empty-chaired’ – a podium should be put out for him but left vacant to show he has opted not to participate.
This would still leave the other parties without a voice in the debates and – considering their popularity – that’s clearly wrong.
Perhaps these debates should go ahead, with only the Labour, LD and UKIP leaders if Ofcom won’t bend.
If so, then the other party leaders should consider alternative strategies.
Is there any reason they should not record their own responses to the questions asked in these debates – and the issues raised by them – and make those responses available to the public, via the media broadcasters, newspaper websites, YouTube and the social media?
This would give a certain unfair advantage to the Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the National Health Action Party, FUKP and whoever else, because they would have advance warning of the questions before starting, and would know what the other leaders had said – but it does seem fairer thanaltogether denying them a chance to put their cases forward.
In this scenario the only loser would be David Cameron who, fittingly, would have denied himself the chance to speak while allowing it to everyone else – poetic justice for a man who has tried to gag political debate in the run-up to the election.
Heartfelt words: A short poem by Lorna (pictured) on YouTube has been more persuasive than any of the Tory smear tactics.
The Tories have been working very hard on their campaign against NHS Wales; shame they don’t have a brilliant health service in England to hold up in comparison.
Twitter lit up around teatime yesterday (Thursday) with allegation after allegation about the service in Wales – for example, that one in seven Welsh patients are on waiting lists, including more than a thousand (if memory serves) for more than a year.
Yr Obdt Srvt countered by pointing out that Mrs Mike had to go to NHS Wales-arranged hospital appointments twice last week; on both occasions she was seen promptly and received appropriate treatment immediately.
All right, came the response. What about the appalling record of the Welsh Ambulance Service, which remains unable to reach all of its emergency calls within the mandatory eight-minute deadline?
The response should be obvious: How many of those patients died? They didn’t have an answer for that. It seems that the health of the patient is of less concern to the statistic-keepers than the speed with which they are attended. The situation conjures up images of Mussolini’s (fabled) Italy in which the trains all ran on time and you can imagine a Tory-run NHS Wales report right now: “None of the patients survived the journey to the hospital but the ambulances were all punctual!”
In fact, even if the Tories had been able to dredge up an answer, they would have been trumped. Yr Obdt Srvt has friends who work in the ambulance service and it just happens that, only a few days ago, one of them told us proudly how they had been working in a team who had arrived too late to stop the patient’s death – and had then brought this person back to life.
(As an aside, it was pleasant to be addressed by members of Conservative Central Headquarters, by the Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, and by the Welsh Conservatives’ official Twitter accounts while debating the above issues (and others). Either Vox Political is going up in the world or they had nothing better to do than argue the toss with a small blog site. If you’re a Tory, try to work out which of those alternatives is least embarrassing for you!)
So, before criticising hard-working ambulance crews who have to negotiate gridlocked city centres, miles of winding country roads, and sometimes both – and are still expected to do it all within eight minutes, just take a moment to thank them for the amazing feats they can perform when they do arrive.
Wales isn’t like England. The terrain is different and the service is intentionally under-funded by the Westminster government, which has been cutting its grant to the Welsh Assembly ever since the Conservative Party came into office on the back of Liberal Democrat collusion.
As for the service in England itself – well, you’ve seen the image of Lorna adorning the top of this article. Have a listen to the following YouTube clip; it’ll tell you all you need to know about public feeling on that account!
Let’s keep up the pressure on the BBC’s Tory Reporter – sorry, that’s Political Editor – Nick Robinson and his misreporting of Alex Salmond. Here’s Beastrabban on the subject:
The debates over Scottish independence, leading up to the referendum last Thursday, threw the BBC’s pro-government bias into sharp relief. The Corporation’s reporter, Nick Robinson, selectively edited and then completely falsified his report on a question he asked Scotland’s then-First Minister about the possible damage independence might have to the nation’s finances.
As you might expect, Scottish Nationalists are massively unimpressed with this blatant falsification by the BBC, and there are several videos about it on Youtube. Here are some I found that make the case particularly well.
This video, The BBC Is Killing Democracy, gives footage of what really happened when Robinson asked his question. It then gives Robinson’s own highly selective report, pointing out how it has been altered and edited to present the answer Robinson wanted, rather than the one he got. It then moves on to Robinson’s final report, where he lies and states that Salmond didn’t answer the question. It then concludes with a brief resume of Robinson’s and Salmond’s careers, pointing out that Robinson was first head of the Young Conservatives in Macclesfield, and then national head of the organisation.
There were protests against the BBC’s biased reporting of the independence campaign outside the BBC’s headquarters in Scotland on the 1st and 29th June 2014. This video below, Protest Against BBC Scotland Referendum Bias shows pro-independence Scots discussing the Beeb’s bias, and their disillusionment with the Corporation.
One of the women speaking is actually an English person living in Scotland. She states that she is voting for independence for Scotland because she is worried about the Westminster establishment’s destruction of the NHS and tuition fees. She states her daughter will not be able to afford to go to uni, and the only people that will, will be the elite.
Robinson’s deliberate falsification of Salmond’s answer is important far beyond the immediate debate about Scots independence. Regardless of one’s personal opinion of that particular issue, it should concern everyone worried about the Beeb’s pro-establishment bias. It’s clear and undeniable evidence that the Corporation has blatantly lied in order to serve the interests of the Tory Westminster elite. It also shows how Tricky Nick Robinson really is little more than a Corporation apparatchik spouting propaganda, and that the BBC is now well and truly the establishment’s equivalent of Pravda and TASS, the state news agency in the Soviet Union or the various state-controlled newspapers and broadcasters in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Notice that the Beast singles out the Tory Westminster elite. The Tories were pulling out all the stops to make sure they could salvage something from the referendum, if only by fouling the reputation of the BBC, which they hate.
In this context, it is also easy to believe they tried to foul Labour’s good name north of the border by putting Labour representatives up as the faces of the ‘No’ campaign and then stabbing them in the back. For example, fears voiced by the ‘No’ campaign on pensions were torpedoed by the Coalition government – an organisation which was not only supposed to be part of the ‘No’ camp but should also have been, reasonably, expected to provide correct information to that group’s other representatives on any particular subject.
When he realises we’ve started making satirical music videos about him, Iain Duncan Smith will probably think he’s hit the big time.
Sad, deluded little man.
This is a project that has been developing for a while, after RTU himself went around the media, denying all the factual evidence that said his benefit cap had not put 12,000 people into work, as he was then claiming.
(A previous claim that 8,000 had gone into employment to avoid the effect of the benefit cap had been disproved by polling organisation Ipsos Mori, who surveyed 500 of those 8,000 people and found that only 45 had started work because of the cap. That’s nine per cent of the total claimed by the Secretary-in-a-State).
On this particular media junket, he refused to countenance the factual evidence that was put in front of him, saying he “believed” the anecdotal evidence provided to him by a few members of staff at Job Centre Plus.
That is now worthy of comment in itself, as he has been quick to dismiss the findings of the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, as “anecdotal” – and she has spoken to far more people than he did!
That would have been the end of it – but then it became clear that Mr … Smith was delaying a meeting with the Commons Work and Pensions committee, convened to make him account for his manipulation of the statistics.
It seems clear that he has been waiting for the fuss to die down.
Dear reader, you can probably work out the rest for yourself. The lyrics and music were available and, with the addition of a few more words, Vox Political went into the recording studio.
The audio track that resulted is rudimentary but does the job. Yes, that is Vox founder Mike Sivier’s voice, for which he apologises. He played all the instruments as well, so he supposes he should be doubly apologetic.
The video was put together with photographs trawled from the Internet, interspersed with specially-written captions, and is intended only to give YouTube viewers something visual to enjoy while they’re listening to the song. All the images are copyright their respective creators and were freely stolen for humorous use – for which, again, we apologise.
We think the result is a lot of fun – amateurish, haphazard and slapdash though it is.
It gets the point across.
Please feel free to copy the code and embed the YouTube video anywhere you see fit. This was made to be seen, to be enjoyed, and to get across a message about Iain Duncan Smith and his beliefs.
Getting ready to rumble: These Bedroom Tax protesters aren’t going to take the government’s changes lying down – oh, sorry. This is Ant and Dec. But a video of Bedroom Tax protests, set to their ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’, would make a strong point.
Newswatchers woke this morning to an announcement from DWP dictator Iain Duncan Smith that changes to the UK’s social security system that came into effect today are “fair”.
Was this an April Fool? One might reasonably think so, since he also trotted out the long-discredited line that it was about making sure “people find work always pays”. We all know that work won’t pay until people receive a living wage – the amount of benefit paid out by the government has nothing to do with that at all.
The measures, which are designed to put the squeeze on people who are genuinely poor and in need of state help, will actually ensure that families are around £900 a year worse off (some say “than when the Coalition entered government in 2010”, but some don’t).
The fact that they attack the poor shows that this government is intentionally ignoring the point – which is that those who caused the economic crash in the first place (bankers and the very rich) should by paying off the debts.
Instead, this government is giving a £100,000 tax handout to anyone on the top tax rate. Mr Smith’s ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ schemes drain hundreds of millions of pounds from the taxpayer and nearly £1 billion from the economy every year, while paying the vast majority of that money to rich business bosses, who ensure it is never seen again.
And Smith himself appears to have become confused about what he is trying to achieve. In the Telegraph, four days ago, he said: “If you listen to what I am saying, you will understand the reality is that this country is not cutting welfare, it is managing the growth at a lower level.” So the bill is increasing, is it?
But on the BBC website today he is quoted as saying the government was “trying to get control of the welfare bill and make sure it lowers.”
What is he doing, then – managing an increase or forcing a cut? Either way, the wrong people are being made to suffer.
In the same BBC article, a Liberal Democrat pensions minister called Steve Webb said the bedroom tax was supposed to help a quarter of a million people in Britain who are in “cramped, overcrowded accommodation – desperate for a family home and there aren’t enough homes and we’ve got to make better use of the houses we’ve got.”
Did the interviewer press him to admit that the Conservative policy of selling off council houses during the 1980s and 1990s was wrong? No. Opportunity missed there, BBC!
Remember: There isn’t enough social housing because the Tories sold it all off and pocketed the profit, rather than using it to build more. That’s why there isn’t enough to go around now. They created this situation.
And, if you’re in the overcrowded accommodation to which Mr Webb refers – or a victim of the Bedroom Tax, you are going to pay for it.
The simple fact of the Bedroom Tax is that it is a trap. The government says people can avoid paying it by moving to smaller accommodation, but this avoids the reality that such properties are not available – figures released by the Labour Party show that 97 per cent of the 600,000 affected households have nowhere else to go.
They have no choice but to take the loss in benefits and pay the difference themselves, while they appeal against the decision to include their household in those affected. Current advice is for everyone affected by the Bedroom Tax to appeal. Why make it easy for them?
The BBC website report goes on to damn the government’s other so-called “reforms” (the Conservatives use this word wrongly. A reform would make something better. These are simply cuts).
“It has been estimated that two million low income households [in England] will pay more, as a result of changes to council tax benefit,” the article states.
“Also from this month, most working-age benefits will increase by just one per cent – less than the likely rise in the cost of living.
“And later this month, an overall limit of £500 a week on claims is beginning in four London boroughs, and will come into force across England, Scotland and Wales over the coming months.”
Only in the warped recesses of Mr Smith’s mind.
Those of you who watch the pop charts will know that Ant and Dec are enjoying considerable success with their new version of Let’s Get Ready To Rumble.
I mention this because there has to be enough footage of Saturday’s anti-bedroom tax demonstrations to make a decent video to synch up with that perfectly-titled track.
Would anybody like to put one together and post it on YouTube? It could be a smash hit.
I know what you think about this: “It’s only low-risk places like shops – what harm can it do?”
A lot, in fact.
The government is planning to introduce new rules from April next year, scrapping health and safety checks on thousands of businesses it considers low-risk. Shops are among them, along with offices, pubs and clubs.
Apparently this will save millions of pounds. I wonder how many lives it will ruin.
I have a friend who works in a supermarket, which counts as a shop. While he was working, a cleaner on some kind of motorised transport shot through a pair of doors which hit him on the arm, injuring it. This was months ago; the arm isn’t better. Because the supermarket chain had sub-contracted the cleaning work to another company, he is still awaiting compensation for the injury and loss of earnings; both firms deny responsibility.
This is a health and safety issue. Why does the government have nothing to say about it? And how many more people will suffer similar injury – or worse – in an unregulated future?
According to business minister Michael Fallon, firms will only face health and safety inspections if they are operating in areas deemed to be higher-risk, such as construction and food production, or if they have had an accident or a track record of poor performance – but for how long? If the policy saves companies money – never mind the human cost for a moment – won’t they expand it, to improve profitability for proprietors?
Ministers also said legislation would be introduced next month to ensure that businesses will only be held liable for civil damages in health and safety cases if they can be shown to have acted negligently.
Mrs Mike (my girlfriend) has had firsthand experience of how this works. She’s a former employee of a manufacturing company. This firm had multiple health and safety regulations to enforce, along with the equipment to do so – but she tells me that, strangely, all this equipment was hidden away during the normal working day and only came out when the factory’s owners were notified that a surprise inspection would take place. Think about that.
She doesn’t work there any more. Conditions were such that she had to perform repetitive physical work while standing at an uncomfortable angle, because the work surfaces were too low, for many hours every day, and this caused her physical damage.
But can she prove that it was her job that did the harm?
I admit that this was one factory, run by a firm that no longer exists (it went into receivership and the premises are now run by someone else, who may have instigated a better health and safety regime; we don’t know, Mrs Mike isn’t there anymore). But consider the opportunities for abuse that will be available to other firms, if regulations are relaxed.
You might ask why I don’t think firms will carry on in a responsible manner after deregulation, and it might be a good question if we didn’t have the example of recent history available to us.
What I mean is: Just look at what happened with the banks.
Finally, what do you think will happen if you do suffer an injury at work? Mrs Mike was quietly sacked and has ended up on the infamous Employment and Support Allowance – Work-Related Activity Group. That’s right – you’ll get a year’s worth of invalidity pay before being required to go out and look for work, no matter what your physical condition might be. We already know that this experience can be terminal.
If you still doubt me about ESA, the latest YouTube video on the subject is on the Vox Political Facebook page. It tells the story of a claimant undergoing the hated Work Capability Assessment, in which the assessor actually asked, “So how long exactly have you had Down’s Syndrome?”
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