Wednesday, 14 March 2018

May's Falklands Moment?

Last night, after the midnight ultimatum given to Russia by Theresa May had passed, I jokingly posted the following, a paraphrasing of Neville Chamberlain’s declaration of war with Germany in September 1939:

"NEWS BREAKNumber Ten has produced the following message from Prime Minister, Theresa May:

"Yesterday I gave Vladimir Putin until midnight today to explain the use of a Russian-made nerve agent in the Salisbury attack or face retaliation for "a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil".

I have to tell you now that no such explanation has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Russia.""

In a different post another Facebook user suggested that this could be a party-political move by Theresa May in that it would be difficult to dislodge a wartime prime minister. Back in 1982 Thatcher’s standing in the polls was very poor. By April the country was at war with Argentina over the Falklands. By June, with the Falkland’s won back, Thatcher had called and won a general election.

Today's an opportunity for May’s government to impose a host of vicious policies on an unsuspecting public. It's a form of the three-card-trick - in that it's all about distraction.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Conservatives are the Nasty Party

As a disabled person I've been reluctant over the years to cry the mantra of ‘Nazis’ against Conservative governments. Yes, this government, and its Coalition predecessor, have introduced a draconian punitive benefits’ system, particularly the Work Capability Assessment for ESA and the PIP assessment; and such policies are detrimental to disabled people as well as others.

However, in my mind the Nazi comparison shows a degree of political naïveté and to some extent laziness on the part of some of my Comrades in the disability movement.

Comrades, let’s get it correct. The Conservatives are not Nazis. No, they are the Nasty Party. They are free market neoliberalists. As we know this economic model pushes deregulation of industry, commerce and financial services as far as it can; and some would argue beyond.

The model also demands the elimination of ‘big government’, in that they seek to remove the running of public services from central and even local government. Cuts in public expenditure and the take-over of public services, in a deregulated state, by the private sector is the classic way neoliberalism works.

Increasingly the services that administer our benefits system are being privatised. Our job centres are being closed as more and more of their services are tendered out to the private sector. Medical assessments for ESA and PIP are being carried out by companies whose only obligation is the creaming off of profits at the expense of fair and transparent ‘medical’ assessments.

As many inside and outside of the disability movement are aware the current benefits assessments have, and are, responsible for thousands of premature deaths. These deaths are through suicide where people are so ground down by a system that totally disregards human feelings. Some premature deaths are through the neglect that often attends the cutting and removal of benefits and services.

The Bedroom Tax and now Universal Credit are ratcheting-up poverty; and with poverty we get the associated evils of debt, hunger and homelessness.

When we add to this forced self-employment, ‘zero hour’ contracts, under-employment, below inflation pay rises and no pay rises, we begin to see exactly how neoliberalism works to impoverish and kill people.

Finally, before we cry ‘Nazi’ at the next vicious and draconian policy brought in by this Conservative government, think on. Every time we stand and call Tories Nazis we distance ourselves from our natural allies.

Instead let’s explain to people the corrosive and destructive nature of neoliberalism. Let’s not let this government, and its vicious attacks on our benefits and services, off by palming them off as Nazis. By doing this we merely sow confusion. By confusing Nazism with neoliberalism, we allow the march of neoliberalism to proceed unchecked.  

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Crashing nights lead to flashing lights

Another night; another fall. Following a trip (not literally) to the jakes last night i sat on my hotel bed. Getting back into bed at night after one of my usual 6 or 7 visits to the loo is always a pain. What I mean is that the physical action of getting into bed is very painful. Therefore, I’m wont to sit on the edge of the bed  psyching myself up to lying down.

Therein lies the problem. Due to extreme fatigue I have a tendency to fall asleep. This happened last night. Just before I fell from the bed I experienced that strange ‘out-of-body’ state that I find myself. Here though I’m asleep I am conscious that I am about to fall, but I’m unable to control my body. 
As my body began to tip forward I tried with all my mental might to first pull myself backwards for a soft landing, when this wasn’t happening I tried to gain control of my arms. No luck there, either.
No, my body inexorably began to tilt forwards with my arms hanging limp, useless appendages of no protective use. 
I landed with a blinding flash as my head hit the floor. 
“FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK...” I groaned as birds circled my splitting head.
Twenty minutes later in excruciating pain I was back in my bed following a titanic struggle of gravity versus pain. I’ve spent today popping pain killers to fend off the extremes of pain in my neck and back.
The moral of this story is that my brain has no control over bodily movement once I switch off my operating system.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Meaningless promise to eradicate rough sleeping within a decade in London

Westminster Watch on Radio 4 held a discussion around the fate of rough sleepers particularly during adverse weather conditions. Heather Wheeler, government Housing Minister, stated that this Tory government intended to improve the position of England’s estimated 4,700 rough sleepers.

When pressed by Westminster Watch presenter Carolyn Quinn over the government’s claim of eliminating rough sleeping in England within a decade Wheeler responded:

It’s a high ambition. But I don’t see why we won’t get that sorted. I accept that I am inheriting a very difficult, complex problem – and I also accept that, six weeks in to the job, I am inheriting a decisive prime ministerial decree which I will deliver.”

Asked how would she feel if she was unable to deliver this goal Heather Wheeler responded:

“Well there are two answers to that: a) it won’t and b) I’d resign.”
Wheeler listed what she saw as the underlying reasons for homelessness and rough sleeping. She cited drug, alcohol, mental health and family breakdown problems as underlying causes. She mentioned a ‘housing first’ scheme with a £28 million budget that would direct homeless people to shelters. From here they could progress into ‘move-on’ homes aided by key workers, and from her into their own homes.
However, Wheeler’s finally triggered my pharyngeal reflex when she blathered,

“That is the utopia and that is the line I want to see happening for these poor friends,”

Instead of Carolyn Quinn challenging Wheeler’s government for creating the very poverty that feeds into homelessness via the enforcement of their ‘Bedroom Tax’, compulsory payment of Council Tax by all, Universal Credit, and benefits’ sanctions she gave her a pass. Indeed, she gushed at Wheeler for stating on live radio that she’s resign if the government’s pledge of solving the problem wasn’t met in a decade.

Pledging to resign if a goal is not achieved in a decade is meaningless. The chances of Wheeler being the Homeless Minister in ten years’ time is unlikely. The likelihood of this particular Tory government being in power is, hopefully, improbable.