Thursday, 21 June 2018

Trump will manage to ride the wave of international censure

Once again Trump is forced to make a U-turn on an unfavourable Executive Order. When images of crying children held in chain-link cages at US border crossings flashed around the world there was an international outcry.
Trump, being media savvy, realised the potential damage this policy could cause ended the detention of migrant children saying “So we're going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together. I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
Despite the international outcry against Trump’s detention of children, or maybe because of it, I have no doubt The Donald will manage to persuade his followers that the uproar over locking up and separating migrant children from their parents was all ‘fake’ news.
What we need to remember is a large swathe of the US electorate has turned its back on the 'fake news' of the mainstream media. Trump has persuaded many of his followers that 'fake' news outlets are targeting him, and for them to take no notice of their reports.
Trump has cleverly manipulated these people. So instead, they now take any reports from the mainstream as 'fake' anti-Trump propaganda. And extremely dangerously, they now turn to Donald Trump to hear the 'true' news.

Even the fascists had at least to close down opposition media channels in order to take over all propagation of news. Trump is succeeding without physically closing down the opposition. Instead, he has caused his supporters to view any other news source as toxic.

Trump is unlike any other US president. He doesn't play by the rules of the established political class. He disregards convention, and his rules are formed by trial and error. Just as he has done with this news story.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Lambeth Equality Commission Update Wednesday 27 June from 2-5:15pm, Assembly Hall, Lambeth Town Hall

Back in 2016 Lambeth set up an Equality Commission. However, at this time the council did not see fit to include disabled people or grassroots disability organisations. Thus, the Commission findings did not truly reflect the concerns of Lambeth's disabled people. In order to try to rectify this exclusion Lambeth is running an even to try re-launch the social model for disability.
As Chair of the Lambeth Pan Disability Forum I have, after voicing a number of concerns, agreed to speak the event as well as Co-chair one of the workshops.  It would lend strength to the cause of disable people in Lambeth if as many of us turned up onthe day and made our feelings felt.
The aim of the event is to re-launch the social model for disability, update attendees on the council’s work to address barriers and provide an opportunity for disability organisations/disabled residents to feed into council activity.
The event agenda will include speakers: CEO/Leader/Cabinet Lead for Disability / council updates /7 themed workshops /information stalls and networking. A very draft agenda is attached fyi. 
The 7 themed workshops on areas where we know that there is particular appetite for activity and change are:
1. Being Counted: Visibility and Representation (voice in decision making) (VCS led)
2. Being Heard: Participation and Voice (Paul Simpson, Consultation and Engagement Team)
3. Being ‘at the table’ (representation and leadership) (led by Dem Services/ HR)
4. Access to information and support (needs a snappier title!) (To be led by customer services, comms and ICT colleagues)
5. Active lives: Transport, public realm and health (Public Health / transport/ parks)
6. Young People and Disability (ref to CY Plan/Lambeth Made)
7.Right for Everyone_HealthWatch programme
In Solidarity

Sean McGovern

Chair of the Lambeth Pan Disability Forum

Saturday, 2 June 2018

A second referendum on Brexit could prove disastrous for Labour

A number of Labour MPs, persistent critics of Jeremy Corbyn, including David Lammy, Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting, Rushanara Ali, Margaret Hodge, and Tulip Siddiq are calling for a second referendum on Brexit.

The Borough in which I live, Lambeth, polled the second highest 'Remain' percentage in the country, including my vote. When the result came out I was taken aback. My initial thoughts were, WTF? 

When I analysed the areas that voted Brexit, along with the age demographics, I thought, "Fucking idiots." Regions that had benefitted greatly from EU monies over the years choosing to leave. Elderly people who voted Brexit were being selfish as well as fucking over their grandchildren's futures. 

Neither camp covered itself in glory during the EU referendum. Both sides used dishonest ways and means to progress their views. The whole campaign lacked honesty from both sides. 

But then, that's the way Britain conducts its politics. At every election that's held the British public is lied to on an industrial level. Yet we blithely dance to the tunes that get our mojo working.

We live in a country that has lost much of its faith in what has become a political class. Holding another referendum on Brexit would be wrong. What little faith there is in politicos would vanish. Those traditional Labour areas that voted Brexit could be lost.

Wheelie bins littering Lambeth pavements

Do others else regard wheelie bins scattered around on pavements a problem? Or maybe this is just an issue for wheelchair users?

The pavements of Lambeth become impassable on days of refuse-collection. On these days pavements become a slalom course for wheelchair users, of which I'm one. Indeed, some pathways become totally unusable forcing me onto the road, thus endangering my safety.

As refuse is collected on different days, usually, Mondays to Fridays, one pavement or another is littered with bins either empty or waiting to be emptied. So for most of the week, I am confronted with these plastic barriers forcing me off safe paths onto roads inhabited by fast-moving traffic.

At the moment householders are responsible for leaving out their own refuse containers. This is usually on the pavement outside their properties. Therefore, wheelie bins, and their like, may be blocking the pavement from early morning, on the way out to work, and late evening, on return from work. And of course, people’s coming, and goings are staggered which means the bins are blocking pavements for most of the day. 

Lambeth Council must insist that refuse-collectors are responsible for taking the refuse containers from gardens or designated areas, emptying the containers and replacing the containers in their proper spaces. The pavement is not a proper space in which to leave refuse containers.

In the past I’ve heard the usual excuse from the Council maintaining that the refuse collection companies are not responsible for the position of containers, that is an issue for individual householders. They claim it’s a contractual issue.

Well, let’s explain to Lambeth that contracts are not one-sided agreements. It takes at least two parties to form a contract. And I would strenuously argue that the collection and disposal of rubbish should not impinge upon or endanger the lives of people going about their lawful business.

Therefore, let’s take the onus off householders, many of whom can’t be expected to take their refuse containers back in immediately following collection, as things like work, etc. get in the way. Instead, the Council needs to either reinforce current contracts that state that collectors must retrieve and replace bins from front gardens, etc. Or if no such clause exists then amend the contract accordingly.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Another Meeting. Another Inaccessible Venue.

No, laying down a ramp with a 7 cm lip along the front edge does not make your building accessible or make your venue compliant with regulations. If my wheelchair is unable to climb the 7 cm lip on the ramp, then the ramp serves no purpose other than as a tripping hazard for the ambulatory. 

Answering the front door of a meeting place venue and expecting my PA to drag a heavy plywood board to somehow improve the ramp's accessibility is not on either. Especially when the person opening the doors is deep in conversation on a mobile phone.

We on the Left purport to support equality throughout society. Yet, I'm invited to a politically Left-leaning meeting and I'm confronted with an inaccessible venue.

Thus, when leaving the venue totally pissed off, I was not being rude to Comrades who suggested that I return to the venue to see if anything could be done to resolve the problem. No, I was avoiding more attention being focussed on myself; more of being the attraction instead of merely a member present for a discussion and debate. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Equality has to extend to all if we truly desire an equal society.

There's a video doing the rounds on Facebook. This video, which is at least a couple of years old, shows a young male EDF supporter being interviewed at a rally. The person being interviewed makes a number of anti-Muslim remarks, he trips over his words, he repeats himself in an attempt to articulate his argument. His grasp on the world of Islam comes across as non-existent. He struggles with his words even inventing words such as 'Muslamic'.  
Having viewed the video a few times I get a sense that the lad being interviewed has learning disabilities. Although this in no way excuses his obvious ignorance of Islam and the Muslim world calling him 'dumbo' is also inexcusable. 
Why is it that people who fight against racism are unwilling to stand up for disablism? An injustice made to one is a threat made to all. If as we purport we are fighting for equality, we must then extend equality across all areas of living.
Just as you can't be a little bit married, or indeed more dead, so you can't demand more or less equality. We either have equality or we have inequality.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Well done Real Madrid

Unlucky Liverpool. Salah's early retirement from the field of play through injury; Karius' goalkeeping gaffs; and, a peach of a goal by Bale, were too much with which to contend. You played a good game, but Real Madrid managed to put more goals in the back of the net, and that's what counts.

Why can't people accept that there are winners and losers in any competition? Sure, sometimes there is an element of unfairness in a result, a degree of good luck, some poor refereeing decisions, but these are all an integral part of the game. 

I'd far rather an element of referee error in the game, a bit of luck, good or bad, and players having an off game than a game that becomes so sanitised by robotic player performances, referees that aren't human and an environment free of luck or chance.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Ken Livingstone's resignation was a classic act of positive political expediency

Ken Livingstone's resignation from the Labour Party to stop the story acting as yet another distraction was done for selfless reasons. Yet for some Jewish leaders, this is not enough. They wanted Corbyn to publicly expel Livingstone while eviscerating himself.

Livingstone was not the issue, he was not the prize. No, the real prize was, is, the toppling of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. 

So, with whispers of a possible General Election in the autumn, October, this is the best time for Ken Livingstone to disassociate himself from the Labour Party. To stop being the distraction.

Sadly, Ken's resignation will not stop anti-Corbyn elements within our Jewish communities from continuing to hound Jeremy Coryn out of the leadership. However, whereas Ken had a habit of allowing his opponents to light his fuse and watch as he did the rest, Corbyn is less likely to walk into a well-rehearsed right-wing-led frame-up.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Speech from Hyde Park on Saturday 12 May 2018

Hello Comrades, I’m Sean McGovern, Unite member and Chair of the TUC Disabled Workers Committee.
Comrades we march together today to demand a new deal and social justice for our class. 
Yet we are confronted by a government clinging onto a failed austerity programme. 
A government that stumbles and blunders through the Brexit negotiations while growth in the economy goes south.
We have a Prime Minister in May who has such a shaky control over her Jenga-like cabinet an edifice that would collapse if a vital piece was removed. 
Can Theresa May hang on to 2022 or will one of her cabinet or back-benchers make the challenge, thus putting her, and us, out of her misery.
Comrades, working people in the UK deserve a new deal from governments who have presided over the most draconian cuts to our public services, jobs and benefits for the past eight years. 
An austerity programme that has only succeeded in the growth of food banks, a disgraceful increase in child hunger and record levels of homelessness and rough sleeping. 
A government that with no hesitation reduces the income of disabled people by slashing their benefits. 
A government that has presided over and allows the continuation of the fatally flawed Work Capability Assessment. 
An assessment system that has led to the unnecessary deaths of thousands. 
An administration that has pushed social care and support into chaos; to the point of collapse. 
As we enjoy the freedom of today’s event there are hundreds of thousands of disabled and elderly people imprisoned in their own homes. 
Disabled people further punished when they are punitively hit by social care charges, an unfair taxation. 
Let us call for social care and support system free at the point of need and funded through general taxation. 
This Tory regime and its predecessor, the Coalition, despite insisting that work pays have done nothing to close the employment gap for disabled people who are still massively disadvantaged when seeking employment. 
And rather than promoting and extending Access to Work, instead they place greater barriers in front of disabled workers making our employment precarious and even putting us into debt. 
Comrades, we need change in the form of a government that looks to governing on behalf of the many, not pandering to the greed of the few. 
We need a government that will close the employment gap experienced by disabled people seeking work by placing severe sanctions on employers who discriminate against us; by extending Access to Work to more disabled people and scrapping financial capping of funding.
Let’s elect a government who replace a punitive welfare benefits system with real social security. 
A system that gives disabled people who cannot work the dignity of a decent income.
No more food banks. 
No more sanctioning of benefits. 
No more our children go to school hungry. 
Indeed, let’s demand the harmonisation of educational opportunities by properly funding schools to allow disabled children into mainstream schools.  
Comrades, let’s build a trade union movement that will fight for decent pay, terms and conditions in both the public and private sectors. 
A movement that works with its communities and strives for social justice for all our class.
Comrades, Solidarity. 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Comrades, Happy May Day

Comrades, Happy May Day

I’m Sean McGovern here today from Unite’s London and Eastern Region and the TUC General Council to deliver a message of Solidarity to our class and to voice the concerns of millions of disabled people.

But first, I’d like you all to give a big May Day cheer to a group of Dial-a-Ride drivers, Unite members, from the Woodford and Orpington Depots who are out on strike today. 

This Conservative regime is imposing the most draconian of measures upon disabled people.

We are being attacked across all age groups.

Inclusive education is a far-off dream for lots of disabled children, as more and more are being home-schooled.

Indeed, we hear stories of parents threatening to take their children out of schools if disabled children are placed in the same classrooms.

Thus, a rise in the numbers of disabled children being segregated into ‘special needs’ schools.

Comrades, this kind of treatment often follows disabled people throughout their lives.

There are only 50% of disabled people of working age in employment.

This compared to around 75% amongst the rest of the working age population.

Even though this government has missed successive targets to get disabled people into employment they continue to hound disabled people who are unable to work.

The Work Capability Test continues to fail thousands and thousands of disabled people by assessing them as being able to work when the reality is different.

To further punish this group the government has stringently cut back Employment Support Allowance, forcing scores of thousands of disabled people into poverty.
Benefits sanctions are imposed on disabled people for being unable to climb the very barriers designed and built to criminal levels of inaccessibility.

And yet we’ve not felt the full force of cuts, as more are in the pipeline.

Universal Credit will find disabled people losing disability premiums and tax credits from their benefits.

Comrades, the social care and support sector is in a state of chaos.

This chaos spreads across all sections and players within the sector.

Care workers, carers, support workers and personal assistants are totally undervalued.

They are paid low wages, given bad terms and conditions and afforded poor job opportunities.

Care agencies are going out of business as Local Authority care funding evaporates.

Social workers, occupational therapists and care assessors are increasingly being bullied into cutting care and support packages.

Many are leaving the service rather than do disabled and elderly people a disservice.

And the service users, disabled and elderly people are seeing their care packages cut to criminally unsatisfactory levels. 

Disabled people are often left for hours at a time on their own increasing their isolation and social exclusion.

Living in such conditions have deleterious effects on both physical and mental health.

Therefore, we must fight for a National Care and Support Service free at the point of need and funded through general taxation. 

Comrades, what I have painted is a part of a landscape depicting some features of life for disabled people in a system that employs neoliberal policies.

Neoliberal policies that are contrary to affording people a decent standard of living.

But Comrades, the landscape is a work in progress. 

And while disabled people are on the receiving end of the most pernicious cuts in our benefits and services, we are fighting back.

Every day trade union workplace and equality reps are gaining reasonable adjustments for our disabled members. 
We are assisting with Access to Work claims.

We are defending our disabled comrades from unwarranted bullying and harassment by both bosses and co-workers.

Organisations such as Disabled People Against Cuts, Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, Inclusion London and ALLFIE are defending disabled people.

By using Judicial Review, we are getting local authority policies turned over.

By lobbying our MPs, we are ensuring people get their benefits, services and housing issues dealt with.

And, by direct action we are sending a message to this government.

A message that we are willing to fight with any means to stop them consigning us to the shadows of social exclusion and to stop them killing our brothers and sisters with their inhumane social policies.

Comrades, any of us can be visited by disability at any time. 

Our struggle is your struggle; just as your fight is our fight.


Thank you for re-electing me to the Chair of the L&E DMC

I'd like to thank Unite the Union's London and Eastern Disabled Members' Committee for re-electing me as Chair for the next three years. 
Having put their trust in me again I pledge to push progressive policies through and to lead those campaigns we take on for the benefit of Unite members and the wider community.
In Solidarity

Monday, 23 April 2018

Travel Anxiety

Travelled to Birmingham on Saturday for Unite’s United Left’s AGM. That’s the three-hour meeting which if we’re lucky we’ll get to Agenda Item 2.1.1 out of 10 items on the bill. Walk away from it slapping each other on the back for another good day’s work done.

Anyway, I digress as this Blog is more to do with the journey than the dreaded destination. 

We boarded the 10-summink to New Street, Birmingham, stopping at what sounded like hghcjhjhjhgykhv and xeeawrkjiob, or it could have even been pjkjjtrgchfh or mpkjhfrehhuifd such was the lucidity of the Virgin PA system. 

Of course, this being a train journey that I was embarking upon we were confronted with the first obstruction. A buggy the size of a small tractor was occupying the space designated for wheelchair users. After traversing the carriage my PA confronted the owner of the four-wheel-drive all-terrain buggy and explained that her baby vehicle was incorrectly parked.

Down the aisle charges middle-class mummy. She looks at me, looks in at the tiny little baby occupying this monstrous truck of a buggy, and with all the grace of someone who’s not used to being questioned yet alone challenged, moves the buggy to the space by the door.

“Are you satisfied?” she asks barely able to contain her pissedoffedness. 

“Well, no I’m not actually.” I reply. “Look at the sign down there. It clearly states that the space you’re now occupying must be left clear to allow………”

“So, what do you expect me to do?” the mum haughtily challenges.

My PA, being her usual diplomatic calm-the-situation down type, suggested that the woman fold the vehicle, even offering to help. To which I, naturally, concurred.

“It doesn’t fold-up. It’s a such and such make,” (I failed to catch the name) obviously a luxury brand that went for style over practicality. 

“So why did you buy what is undoubtedly a top-of-the-range perambulator and expect to use it on public transport?” I asked her at the same time as I pressed the button to summon the train manager.

A minute or so later the manager came along, agreed with me and helped the woman into another carriage with her totally inappropriate child carrying conveyance.

You won’t believe this, but I had almost the same issue on the return journey. A parent boarded the carriage. Again, parked what looked like another complicated fixed-frame buggy blocking the space needed for me to manoeuvre in and out of the carriage. Once more I had to explain why she shouldn’t park her buggy in the space. And of course, she objected. Telling me that I could ask her to move the buggy if I needed to leave the carriage. 

By now seriously pissed-off I told her that I wasn’t willing to be put in a position where I needed her permission to leave the carriage…

Why can’t Virgin Trains use bigger signs? Why can’t people when somebody reasonably explains a situation have a bit of fucking respect for the position of others? 

Looks like it’s back to the car for me, at least until parents who use buggies on public transport can have the good sense to purchase a machine that collapses; or Virgin Trains begin making trains that can carry passengers with varied needs and understand that people when travelling often travel with luggage.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Let's kill more Syrians at our outrage of Syrian's killing other Syrians

That'll teach the bloody murderous regimes of Bashar al-Assad and its ally Putin. I'm guessing they're reflecting on their sinful pasts as the west rains more bombs on Syrian civilians. 

May has stated that her thoughts are for the safety of the British forces carrying out these attacks. 

Without in any way denigrating or criticising the British armed forces I'd take a stab in the dark and say that their safety isn't really in question, is it? Surely it's the safety of the innocent Syrian civilians at the receiving end of our bombers that we should consider? 

Just a thought...

Friday, 30 March 2018

Can we see the proof of widespread anti-Semitism that is pervasive through the Labour Party?

I don't for a minute doubt that anti-Semitism exists in the Labour Party, and shame on any organisation where it is condoned . However, as a cross-section of society I don't think the Labour Party is inherently anti-Semite. Sadly, as in most walks of life in the UK anti-Semitism can be found in the Labour Party.

What I disagree with is the accusation that AS is rife throughout the party as is being implied by the anti-Corbyn media and those elements within the LP itself who have tried their damnedest to undermine Corbyn since he became leader.

For the sake of balance, could someone put up links of this rife anti-Semitic behaviour in the Labour Party. As a CLP member and an active trade unionist I spend a lot of my life around LP members, yet I don't get a sense of this undercurrent of anti-Semitism that I'm told is almost the norm.

There is a lot of criticism of the State of Israel, particularly its excesses in Gaza. And on this count I'm also vehemently opposed to the actions of the Israeli government and its attack dogs the IDF. I'm guessing that my criticism of the way the State of Israel comports itself with its treatment of Gazan and West Bank Palestinians would in certain quarters be construed as anti-Semitic.

It saddens me when people, including Jews, use the anti-Semitic card against those who criticise and condemn the murderous actions of the Israeli government and IDF. We should all be able to condemn tyrants and hold them to account for their actions. I will continue to condemn and be critical of any State or arm of any state that is guilty of the deaths of countless thousands that is guilty of the oppression and suppression of another people.