Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Crappy New Year

Just watched Cockneys Vs Zombies. Basically a summary of 2014. Oh well, with the zombies gone that just leaves the vampires and the Tories.

An example of a Conservative vampire, proof that the Tories have
crossed the species barrier to successfully breed with vampires 

Happy hunting in 2015!

Fuck the New Year

If the past few weeks are an indicator for the year ahead, I’m screwed. At the moment I’m awaiting an Access to Work review decision. If negative I’ll have to stop work. Even if positive there is the small matter of payment for October, November and December; a sum amounting to £2,940 – money which I don’t have.

In two weeks HMRC will be expecting in excess of £2,500 from me – money which I don’t have.

Up to now I’ve managed to juggle things around in order that my PA’s are paid. To me the most important thing. However, now my local authority has failed to pay this month’s Direct Payments which means I don’t have enough money in my ‘Care Account’ to pay my PAs in time for the 1st of the month.

So with unemployment a very real possibility in the New Year; HMRC coming for me for their pound of flesh; and bankruptcy a near neighbour, I doubt I’ll be looking forward to two fucking thousand and fucking fif fucking teen.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

We are in the Middle of a Class War

Asked to: “Stand up if u hate David Cameron and the Coalition” Helen on Facebook stated: “I don't hate them ,I feel really sorry for them , because they are going to have to carry the burden around with them for the rest of their lives...”

I'd not waste pity on such a shower. To them it's not a burden but a means to an end. The end being the enrichment and hegemony of their class. If they're kicked out in May next year, and I hope they are. They will slide and crawl back to their sponsors who will give them cosy jobs as a way of a thank you for services rendered.

As for hating this coalition, I’d say don’t. Hate is an especially self-devouring emotion. One that too easily hurts the hater over the hated. So, don’t hate; but don’t forget. Our day will come and when it does we should rain down a terrible retribution upon those who are killing disabled people, starving children and making thousands homeless.

 This is a class war; our enemy is well aware of this and is fighting to win. We must gain the same determination and fight for our class. 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Is the Scum Press to Blame for all the Ills of the Country?

Can we blame the press for everything that is wrong in our society? Bad government. The promotion of greed above all else. A growing intolerance of anything different. Are these all the fault of a predominantly right-wing press?

Sure many aspects of our press are scum. Indeed the quality and objectivity of the press is about as low as it could ever be. However, we as people must accept some responsibility. The fact is too many of us have lost the ability of individual thought; far too many newspaper readers allow editorial bias to form their opinion.

A newspaper is merely a tool. As cognitive beings we should use the information printed within a newspaper to come to our own conclusions about articles published. If we feel the newspaper is being overly subjective in its presentation of the news, stop buying the rag; use it as chip wrapping or in the Khazi, not as a vital means of information.

The biggest sin in the modern age is the way in which we have surrendered our individual means of reasoning and allowed the media to overly influence almost every part  of our lives from what we eat to who we voter for to how we appear. 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Anger as Black Actor Idris Elba is Considered as the Next 007

White or black, doesn't really matter as James Bond is a fictional character from a novel given another lease of life through film. If people are seriously demanding he has to be white on account of Ian Fleming creating him as a white character, then let's stick with 'reality' and feature a 95-year-old James Bond (because if we're going to be purists that's how old Bond is now) tearing around a retirement home at 2 mph on a mobility scooter in elasticated-waisted jogging pants, a tatty cardigan giving a clue to his culinary choices from the past few weeks and tartan slippers with Velcro fastenings.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Lessons ignored are costly to humankind

George Santayana said of war, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". Variations and paraphrases such as “Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” have all too frequently been invoked as conflict after conflict reap their bloody harvest of children, women and men.

Simply put Santayana and others were saying the study of history is necessary in order to stop mankind endlessly repeating the mistakes of the past. And for years I observed these prophetic words, usually as I read or heard of yet another conflict tearing humans from this life.

In the past few months however I’ve began to revise my views on these quotations. The Gaza onslaught by the IDF this summer saw the relentless bombardment and slaughter of innocent civilians in in this tiny strip of land by the IDF.

It isn’t a matter of Israel not remembering its past. Nor is it a case of Israel being ignorant of history’s mistakes. How would they considering their history of persecution, pogroms and the holocaust.

No, it goes deeper than that. Israel, the US and the UK, countries with bloody pasts, don’t enter into conflict situations misguidedly. They haven’t perused the books of history and somehow misinterpreted the message.

We need only to look at the way the Tories are trying place a revisionist spin on the ‘Great War’. Instead of viewing this war, as generations have, as a bloodbath on a mass industrial scale waged by belligerent Empires vying for power, the Tories are now trying to sell it as a ‘just war’.

In conclusion, people and more particularly countries don’t forget or repeat the mistakes of the past. Instead they set out wilfully to add their own to an already oversubscribed catalogue of wanton death and destruction. So maybe we should begin to regard history and its lessons merely as theoretical abstracts whose only purpose is to hold up the past as a mirror of what will surely happen in the future.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Nasty Party or Nazi Party?

Come next May there is a real need to beat the Conservatives. Another five years of a Tory-led coalition, as I'm guessing the two horse race for No 10 is a thing of the past, will be catastrophic for the country.

As a disabled person I fear for my future under a Conservative-led coalition made up of Tories, UKIP, SNP (??), and assorted Ulster unionists. Depending on how many seats they win, UKIP would push the coalition further to the right. With Duncan-Smith in charge of the DWP there is no hope for a last minute reprieve for ILF, universal credit will be deployed, it will be business as usual with the Work Capability Assessment WCA and Access to Work will see further cuts.

Yet within 5 months to a general election I'm disappointed that people within the disability movement are still screaming ‘Nazi!’ at this government; and deploying concentration camp imagery in support of their disapprobation with the government's disgraceful and inhumane treatment of disabled people and other target groups in our midst.  

This country has a government mainly dominated by nasty Tories. The policies this government has put in place, especially the  (WCA), benefits’ sanctions and the bedroom tax (with a universal credit to come), are forcing millions into real poverty. It is also criminally responsible for the deaths of thousands of people wrongly assessed by the WCA or taken off benefits through sanctions.

The difference between this Tory led coalition and the Nazi Party in the 1930s and 40s is that the latter had programmes in place specifically to kill people, including the use of euthanasia as part of a wider eugenics programme. This resulted in the legalised killing of up to 200,000 disabled people.

Later the Nazis began the extermination of European Jewry. Again this programme sprang from a policy that deliberately set out to order the annihilation of an entire ethnic/religious grouping.

Are there parallels between the Nazis and the Tory led ConDem government? The answer is obviously ‘yes’ in that both regimes had or have a low esteem of disabled people. Both have used propaganda to demonise and vilify those they wish to attack politically. The policies of both parties have resulted in the deaths of thousands of disabled people.

What we as a movement need to do is to hold up neo-liberalist economics as the malignant force behind this government’s neglect and attacks on sections of the population such as disabled people. In my experience calling this government, or its predecessor, ‘Nazi’ does not resonate with the majority of the country. Much of the public is turned off when they see us using Nazi and concentration camp imagery to get our point across; because they don’t identify the government in those terms.

Nazism was a phenomenon that captured and ensnared great swathes of Europe eighty years ago; and enjoying power in the Iberian Peninsula as recently as the mid-1970s. This doesn't mean we should not remain vigilant and resist the Fascism and Nazism when and where we can.

However, at the same time we must get across to the public the message that neoliberalism is a harmful and hateful ideology. That neoliberal economic policies are to blame for the current deficit; a direct result of casino banking. That disabled and unemployed people did not cause the crisis; but rather an under-regulated banking system operating along neolib lines was responsible.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Left High and Dry by A2W

Arrived home to a letter from DWP Belfast. Confirmation of my A2W payment I guessed. After all A2W owes me over £1100 for October and just below £900 for November.

I guessed wrong. Instead a JCP form telling me that A2W cannot pay me as my funding ran out on 26/09/2014. The date they received the A2W support worker claim was 11/11/2014; yet the date the decided to send me this ‘reminder’ was almost a month later, 08/12/2014.

On September 26 I called A2W to enquire about a late payment and to ask how I would need to go about getting a three-yearly review. In the first instance I was told the late payment should arrive in my account the following week, and that my review had taken place in August and A2W would fund me for a further 3-years.

Today’s letter totally floored me. On calling A2W it was explained that my A2W funding had run out on 26/09/2014. According to A2W they had called my mobile phone twice on 08/10/2014 and once on 09/10/2014.

Yet they left no messages; try me on my landline; leave a message on my landline; phone me at work; leave a message on my work phone; email to either my work or home email addresses both of which they have.

No, instead they waited a further two months and then sent me a letter. Thanks A2W. Your efforts to contact me were absolutely heroic. The pains you went to contact me barely register on the ‘I-can’t-be-fucking-arsed-to-bother-ometer’, which believe me is a takes some fucking stooping to achieve.

The soulless person I spoke to could only inform me that an assessor would contact me sometime up to 22 December. Not a lot of leeway this side of Christmas if they miss the bus into work; or go under with stress.

So, I’m £2K+ short. Come the end of the month I have a wages bill in excess of £2200; by the middle of January HMRC will be sharpening its beak and looking in my direction for the best part of 3 grand!

Looks like I’m up to my chin in the doo-doos; and I can’t feel anything solid underfoot.  

Monday, 8 December 2014

Vacuous Peer in 'Poor too Poor to Cook' Slur Stir

So what if poor people can't cook it's no excuse to starve them to death. Equally there is no justification in smashing in the heads of vacuous Tory peers who don't have a scintilla of a Scooby about real life.

Tory Baroness Jenkins preparing to spread Christmas 

bile and hate in stating poor people depended on food banks
because they lacked cooking skills

So, the poor can't cook so have developed a dependency on food banks. With that logic it is safe to say that Tory MPs can't work out their expenses due to the fact they are addicted to freebies and state hand-outs; or bankers have an inability to balance their books as it's easier not to bother because if they get it criminally wrong the poorest in the country will pay for their mistakes...

ILF, we lost a battle... the war is there to be won!

It’s not been a good day so far for disabled people. To begin with there was a ruling against wheelchair users having the right to priority over buggies in wheelchair designated areas on buses This was followed by the decision from the High Court to find the government’s closure of the ILF lawful.

For Duncan-Smith and the coalition this is yet another victory of common sense neo-liberalism against the tyranny of the welfare state. Because that is exactly how they perceive the situation. Thus should we get another Tory-led coalition then the ILF will end.

We must also be aware that Labour is harbouring similar plans for the ILF. Which does not bode well for us, however I think we as disabled people still have some bargaining chips remaining; and I’m not writing us off while there are still five months of campaigning left.

Though not an ideas person, I am willing to get behind the campaign and help spread the message amongst trade unionists. So it looks as though there will be no let-up in 2015…

Wheelchair users denied access

In the case of Doug Paulley against First Bus the test of reasonableness found that it was not reasonable to expect a bus driver to require that a pushchair vacate the space on a bus ‘reserved’ for wheelchair users. Instead a bus driver could only request a parent with an occupied pushchair to vacate the space; and of course a request can be turned down.

Buggies versus wheelchairs - is there a middle ground?
However, the judge attempts to lessen the impact of the decision thus:

"It has to be accepted that our conclusion and reasoning in this case means that wheelchair users will occasionally be prevented by other passengers from using the wheelchair space on the bus.

I do not, however, believe that the fact that some passengers will - albeit rarely - act selfishly and irresponsibly is a sufficient reason for imposing on bus companies a legal responsibility for a situation which is not of their making and which they are not in a position to prevent."

In all respect, your Honour, your ruling will give a green light to the selfish and irresponsible. This I can state from experience as a wheelchair and bus user.

These days I rarely use buses. There are a number of underlying issues that make travel by bus difficult, not least having a neurogenic bladder. Yet on those occasions I use buses I invariably meet with problems, most of which involve other travellers.

In rush hour, bus stops heaving with people in a hurry to get to work are not the best places for a wheelchair user to get a driver’s attention. Even when my PA has alerted the driver, by the time I board the bus the vehicle is so crowded that manoeuvring anywhere is an impossibility.
Forget about trying to claim the wheelchair ‘designated’ area. It isn’t going to happen.
Off peak times while easier to board buses can be equally as fraught for us. Most of the time our ‘reserved’ spot is occupied by a buggy user; and a lot more times than ‘occasionally’ we meet with resistance. That is the other passenger refuses to move.

While this is for the most part pushchair users. I’ve also had other passengers insisting they have a right to use the space as they’ve purchased a ticket; and that I’m travelling free!
If this ruling is the way forward for wheelchair users then there will be a decline in the numbers using buses. Once again we’re becoming marginalised through the findings of the judiciary. While the test of reasonableness may be claimed to underpin the decision arrived at by the judges in the Court of Appeal, I not overly confident that we will be reasonably treated when it comes to competing for space on buses.

As someone has already suggested in a letter to the BBC News site first come first served. Since wheelchair users are often allowed onto buses after all other passengers have boarded and alighted…you get the picture.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Peaceful non-violent revolution

On the last night’s ‘Late Late Show’ Sinéad O’Connor was discussing the 1916 uprising in relation to water charges and the possibilities of this developing into a peaceful revolution in Ireland. Sinéad’s sentiment of “…an absolutely non-violent revolution…” is laudable. The idea of peaceful civil disobedience is something I also hold dear.

Join together a non-violent revolution through peaceful disobedience and we have the ideal solution to changing our world for the better.

However, I envisage a major problem with this course of action. The problem being that the state doesn't respect any disobedience as peaceful. We've seen this in recent weeks when peaceful groups have tried to exercise their democratic right of protest in Parliament Square only to be met by excessive force from the police.

The 9/11 attacks in the US created a heightened level of security in many countries outside America, including the UK. Then the bomb attacks on London’s public transport system on 7th July 2005 ratcheted-up security, and especially police powers, in this country.

Both liberal commentators and many on the political Left objected to the extra powers being dished out to the police and security services. We complained, with justification, that these powers would be abused and once set in train they are difficult to relax.

To prove our point that these powers would be abused we had the Jean Charles de Menezes execution in Stockwell tube station in 2005 through to the kettling of peaceful disabled demonstrators outside Westminster Abbey in June this year. Yes, 300 police, including Armed Response Police Units, were summoned by the 2nd Estate to kettle 100 peaceful disabled people protesting for social justice for all.

When we view Robocop type police personnel laying into, and sometimes killing people, remember Ian Tomlinson, we must question the possibility, or likelihood, of peaceful and non-violent revolution. The police and security services appear to be more aggressive and violent than ever before, at least in the modern era.

From their day to day demeanour with the general public, often brusque and unhelpful, to their over-the-top restraining methods, they are at one level unfriendly and at the extreme plain dangerous, unconcerned about the health or wellbeing of those they’re detaining.

Mix into the equation governments that are ideologically set against the majority of the population. A government which is indeed waging a class war against the poorest people in our society. A media, particularly at the newsprint end, that has forgotten how to report on political issues from a position of objectivity. Which instead tends to report political news straight from statements penned in the various ministries by propaganda machines. Then we see a stage set for some kind of public outcry, sooner rather than later.

If the Tories manage to get back into power, with the support of UKIP maybe, then we’re in for the worse 5-year period since the 1920s and 30s. Say goodbye to the welfare state; wave ta ta to the NHS; and watch as poorer working class, long term unemployed, single mothers, disabled people and the generally disenfranchised of our society are out-priced from our major cities and inner cities.

I wonder if by 2017 or 2018 the masses will still be in the mood for peaceful civil disobedience. Will disabled people, many more of whom will be living in abject poverty as they fail to qualify for PIP and other gateway benefits, be content to watch their peers dying, committing suicide or being forced into residential care and enforced social exclusion. Or will we turn to the age-old method of resistance against the oppressors of our class.

Monday, 17 November 2014

The political Left needs to reinvent itself

Politically, as well as in other areas, I’m on the Left. When I view the political landscape in the UK I find it isn't only the Labour Party that's the problem.

The Left in the UK, but particularly in England is in a mess. When the banking crises hit the cry of 'capitalism is dead' was heard, especially from the SWP. What did the Left do? We argued and disagreed. We insisted on a recount of the number of angels that could sit on the head of a pin.

While we looked inward; while we refought the intellectual battles that should have been moved on from decades ago, the capitalists regrouped and came back stronger. They reinvented themselves to more easily fit in with the changing world order. The problem we on the Left have is an inability to reinvent ourselves; and so appear to much of the population as being out of touch with the modern world.

Be bold Labour...move away from austerity

To Liken Labour to the Tories is, in my view, wrong. Of course there will be a difference between a Labour and Tory government in 2015. When people comment on the lack of difference between the two it is usually a comment borne out by frustration.

Sadly, Ed Miliband making a very good speech in front of a friendly audience will not win us the next election. What could win us the next election is if Miliband was less timid. If he began to move away from an austerity programme and offered the country something more progressive.

There are millions of disabled people looking to a political party that will tell them it will not continue attacking their means of income and vital services. Labour should be the natural ally of disabled people. Yet the disabled people I speak to are totally disillusioned with what Labour is offering.

Instead of tinkering around the edges of the Work Capability Assessment Labour has to scrap it in favour of an examination system that is fair and transparent. A system that does not call for continuous assessments; but rather one that recognises that some conditions are long lasting and without prospect of a ‘cure’.

Other vote winners would be the scrapping of PIP, the continuation of the ILF, a real commitment to Access to Work, an introduction of an Access into Work scheme and portable social care packages. Most of these would be fairly inexpensive to implement; indeed there could be savings in some areas.

Finally, Labour needs to make these kind of commitments very soon; and they need to advertise them. People will not have faith in a Labour Party that says ‘Trust us, we’ll do alright by you once we’re in power’. We did that in 1997 and were let down quite badly.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Promise, comments and when we said...

In 2011 David Cameron in true Blue Tory style announced: “But with us, our borders will be under control and immigration will be at levels our country can manage. No ifs. No buts. That’s a promise we made to the British people, and it’s a promise we are keeping.”

OK, let’s give the PM a bit of political licence, after all this was said within the first year or so of a new government. That period of time when they still feel confident enough to use rash terms such ‘promise’.

Fast forward three and a bit years; in a period six months before a general election and suddenly words such as ‘promise’ become impossible to say. On the Today programme on Radio 4 today the home secretary, Theresa May, downgraded a promise made by the PM in 2011, to a ‘comment’ and ‘when we said…’.

“When we made that comment, when we said … we would be aiming to bring the net migration down to the tens of thousands and we wanted to do that within this parliament – yes we were very clear that was what we wanted to do.”

Theresa May, longest serving Home Secretary, but what promised to be a promising
career could be ruined because she could not get herself to utter the word 'promise'
Dissemble, dissimulate, mislead, cover up, deny, deceive, lie, fib and tell porkies as much as you want Ms May. We could all tell you where lying this morning. You know how we knew? Your lips were moving. Always a sure sign that a politician is dissembling, dissimulating, misleading, covering up, denying, deceiving, lying, fibbing or telling porkies.

The fact it was on the radio is immaterial as the above is a given; a truth universally acknowledged.   

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Nuisance calls from stairlift companies

Just remembered a funny thing that happened a few years ago. My old mum fell down a couple of steps and received a spiral fracture of here femur. Nasty break. She was laid up in a lovely cottage hospital in Edenbridge. Poor old darling was in a bit of a state with scaffolding protruding from her thigh.

But she came out the other end fairly well. Though she now tended to shuffle around rather walk. Though mobile on the flat, stairs were a problem.

After much discussion a stair lift was agreed upon. Not too many of stair lift companies around when you begin to search. Nonetheless I whittled the number down to three all of whom I met with to look at their products, prices and maintenance offers.

We ended up plumping for a particular company who in time came along took various measurements of the staircase and a few of my mum. Weeks later and my mum chugging her way up and down the stairs on a state of the art chairlift.

Good deed done, I thought that would be that. No. Over the next couple of years I continued to receive emails and unsolicited telephone calls to my mobile from the two unsuccessful stair lift companies wondering if I’d come to a decision about a lift; and would I like to view a catalogue of their new improved range.

Politely, to begin with, I’d thank them saying ‘no thanks’ and can you take me off your contact list. One of the companies did this, but the other one continued trying to sell me a bloody stairlift. After possibly the umpteenth time of ‘hello sir, we have you on record as being interested…’ I gave in. It was a total capitulation; they had won; and I’d invited one of their sales reps over to my flat to discuss the advantages and merits of owning a stairlift that defined the cutting edge of mechanical stair elevation.

On the appointed day said rep turned up to chez Seán and was admitted by my PA. Being of a hospitable disposition I invited the salesman to take a seat and to share in a cafetiere of freshly made Arabica. Chewing the fat for a few minutes I discovered it was quite chilly out; but not yet chilly enough for a heavy coat; and that the word amongst aficionados of things climatic we were in for a parky winter.

“OK Mr McGovern. May I take a look around?” queried the rep. Who by now wanted to get down to the business of the visit, namely flogging me a stairlift.

“Fine, where would you like to start?” I responded eager to get the business out of the way and this geezer out of my drum.

“How about the stair case. Always a good place to look at especially in my line of work,” chortled the wag.

“Stair case? What stair case?” said I, with enough puzzlement in my voice to force him to say, rather brusquely, “Yes, staircase!” You made an appointment for me to come around today with a view to you purchasing one of our products!” he spat out.

“May I?” he asked walking into the hallway. On opening all five doors in the passage (three of which were cupboards) the realisation that I lived in a single-floor flat hit him in the kisser.

“Are you taking the piss?” he wondered. “Why did you invite me to a flat without a stair case? Me a bloody staircase salesman?”

“Well mush” I replied. “Your company has phoned me 27 timers over the past year pestering me to buy one of their machines. I’ve told them. I don’t want one. I’ve explained I don’t need one. I’ve even confessed to not owning a fucking staircase. And finally I’ve asked them politely on twenty occasions to take me off their hit list. But no. They totally blanked my requests and so I thought. Fuck it. If they want to send a rep around that badly who the fuck am I to deny them this simple desire. So, there’s your fucking light autumn coat; now get the fuck out of my flat and tell your company to stop fucking hounding me!”

He left. I never did see him again. Not even to tell him his forecast was way off target as we ended up having one of the mildest winters on record. Sadly I still get the odd call from the stairlift company. I still say I don’t need one. That I don’t have a staircase, this despite moving home. So as I’m taken up an interest in climatic affairs myself in recent years I may make another appointment t chat with a stairlift rep and swap weather forecast anecdotes. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A burden on whose State?

Listening to Radio 4 just now. There is a news item reporting that young immigrant workers on the whole give more than they take. That is their tax and insurance contributions are a nett profit for the Treasury; and the fact that they’re less likely to claim benefits, use the NHS less and don’t access areas such as education, social care, and pensions.

It is quite refreshing to listen to a report on immigrants that doesn’t paint them as scroungers over here to rob our benefits. Indeed it’s encouraging to hear someone actually telling it as it is; that immigrant workers in the UK are a boon.

Unfortunately the report was marred by the reporter’s need to describe those accessing areas of the welfare state such as benefits, schools, the NHS etc as being a burden on the State. He stated that though these workers were a nett gain at the moment that as they got older, had children, used the NHS more, etc they would become a burden on the State.

Then as though not wanting to put too much emphasis on immigrants being a burden he went on to say that all UK citizens became a greater burden on the State as they get older, have children, use schools, etc…

Sorry for the break in service, had to go to work. Now, where was I? Oh yes. A burden on the State. How when we are part of a social compact, that is we work, we pay our dues, Income Tax, National Insurance, VAT, etc are we a burden? We pay our way and from time to time we dip into the pot. That’s how the social compact, or contract, operates.

How dare politicians and media commentators reduce us to a bunch of scroungers demanding hand-outs when the reality is that we are the wealth creators; we are the multitude who keep the country’s coffers topped up. Therefore we are entitled to tap into, when we’re ill, unemployed, need social support, etc, the resources that the State looks after on our behalf.

The real burden on the State are those who don’t pay their taxes; employers who refuse to pay decent wages while at the same time are subsidised by the rest of us; banks that despite protecting their profits still turn to the State for hand-outs.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Hyde Park Speech 18 October 2014

"Hello Comrades, I’m Seán McGovern of Unite the Union and the TUC General Council

Comrades, the speech I originally had planned for today was a scathing attack on this government.

It spoke of the endemic rottenness that permeates through ConDem policies.

Their attacks on disabled people through:
·       the Work Capability Assessment,
·       benefits cap,
·       benefits sanctions
·       bedroom tax,
·       and ending of the ILF.
And of course Lord Freud’s that we’re only worth £2 per hour comment.

But, why I thought?

What’s the point in stating the obvious that Tories are the nasty Party?

That the LibDems sold their principles for power.

No, today’s message has to be aimed at a future Labour government.

Here is my message to that Labour government.

Drop your agenda for austerity.

It hasn’t worked so far for this mob.

Stop the cuts in disabled peoples’ benefits and services.

Instead introduce progressive policies.

Bring in disability assessments that are transparent and fair.
Assessments that address the needs of the person.

Not the balance sheet.

If people cannot work due to disability, don’t hound them.

Bring an end to repeat assessments.

For those who can work, help them into sustainable and meaningful employment.

Prosecute employers who discriminate against disabled job seekers.

Introduce an access into work scheme for disabled people.

Disabled job seekers have the same support needs as disabled workers.
Make entry to Access to Work easier.

Stop the decline in the Access to Work scheme.

Plough greater resources into Access to Work.

Properly organised this scheme is a money spinner for the Treasury.

End the vicious sanctioning of benefits.

Make the Personal Independence Payment fit for purpose.

Scrap the unrealistic 20 m ruling from PIP.

Labour, bring back fairness into social care.

Properly resource the services.
Cease the social care postcode lottery.

Make social care packages portable.

Thousands of disabled people with complex care needs depend on the Independent Living Fund.

Stop the closure of ILF.

And finally Labour.

Put an end to government complicity in the demonization and vilification of disabled people via the scum press and media!

Finally Comrades after this demo make your way to Parliament Square to join DPAC in the democracy camp!"

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Freudseye view of the world

Referring to Lord Freud’s disgraceful comments on the worth of disabled people one Facebook user believes that disabled people should be willing to sell their labour for whatever the market offers. Apparently starvation wages are better than no wages at all.

“His language was totally inappropriate, but the underlying point mustn't be lost by shrill PC activists - we could work for less rather than not at all!”

Lord Freud feels some disabled people are worth only £2 an hour 

More importantly here we have a man charged by the government to oversee the reform of the welfare system who harbours views shared by Nazis and supporters of euthanasia.

How exactly can we work for less? Should we set our sights so low that we remain forever on our knees? Our dreams; our aspirations. Don’t these count for anything? Why should we surrender to a fate dictated to us by unfeeling people who seek only to profit from others? People whose view of the world is distorted by balance sheets. People who judge us to be worthless because we are viewed as unproductive and a drain on resources. Worthless because we are unable to jump through the hoops they design; or surmount the unclimbable barriers they erect to keep us on our knees.

Personally I say fuck the attitude that would value me less than my worth as a worker and a human being. I say fuck the views of a man born into privilege who has not known want; who has not gone hungry. And I say fuck the defeatism of ‘some crumbs are better than no crumbs’; the kind of mind-set that accepts the myth that we’re all in this together.

Boris Johnson is a nasty Tory...the avuncular image is a front

Why are we calling the privileged vicious neo-lib Johnson 'BoJo', or even Boris? All this does is add to the chummy matey image he has cultivated for himself. Such familiarity, especially the chirpy 'BoJo', lends a sense of Johnson being one of the crowd, someone who's approachable, a man of the people.

Yes, Johnson does have a personality; for that matter you’ll probably find shit-house rats who have personality. He is also charismatic; but then so were Rasputin and Hitler. He undoubtedly has a sense of humour; as did Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson.

Come on people let’s expose Johnson for what he is, a racist misogynist who is not too fussy about setting violent thugs onto his enemies. We should tear down the genial façade he has erected to cover his nastiness; rip off the mask of the ditzy funny man he wears, and expose the bare bones of the repugnant Tory bastard he really is. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Living wage as opposed to minimum wage

Well done Miliband, it’s a start.

But, why isn’t Labour talking in terms of a living wage when calculating the level of the minimum wage? Most people on minimum wage struggle greatly to survive. Even by government’s own reckoning the minimum wage is insufficient. This is why people working full time are forced to claim tax credits and housing benefit in order just to live.

By pitching the minimum wage so low we end up subsidising bad employers. Therefore allowing scab companies who turn a profit and pay their shareholders a dividend and board of directors obscene bonuses to abuse the tax payer.

In most areas of public spending we hear the Tories defend the hard done by tax payer. The welfare state is being dismantled because we’re spending too much of hard earned tax payers’ money on public services.

The NHS is being sold off because, again, too much valuable public taxes are being thrown into the service; and the private sector can do the job more efficiently. Just remember that’s how they sold off our national rail system; and look at how much more that is costing today in both fares and public subsidy.

The other area that sees tax payers’ pounds being syphoned off to the bank accounts of Tory landlords is housing benefit. As rents in some areas of the country outstrip take home pay more working people are reduced to claiming HB. Yet we don’t hear howls of righteous indignation coming from the government benches as they denounce vampire landlords’ excessive rent demands.

Of course this Tory-led public-schoolboy packed government doesn’t cry ‘Foul!’ in the direction of scum employers and vampire landlords. They are after all their own kind.

However, Labour has no excuse. Labour could bring in rent controls. Such a measure tied to a programme of building a million council homes would put an end to the crazy cost of renting in areas of the country; and create thousands of decently paid jobs in construction.

Raising the minimum wage to at least £9ph (or even £10ph) along with the housing policy would take hundreds of thousands of workers out of the benefits trap. Our hard earned taxes could then go back into the welfare state and serve the many; not into off shore bank accounts that serve the few.

Friday, 5 September 2014

"I don't know"

A situation arose recently when I found myself in a position saying to people I deal with “I don’t know”. This is to do with a situation where people are waiting for something to commence and have been given start dates. However each time these start dates have failed to materialize and new dates later in the year, and beyond were given.

A couple of days ago I spoke to someone who should be in the know. He told me the expected date was in January and to pass this on to my group. While quite sceptical by nature I said I was loathe to give out this new date as I’d passed on three dates which hadn’t been met.

When I told the person in the ‘know’ that I’d told my group ‘I don’t know’ the date he accused me of not being professional.

An interesting development has now arisen. I’m not privy to decision making. Dates for an event have been announced, even at public meetings; but the dates are, time after time, missed. A group of people look to me for advice and information. The information I’m given is not sound; therefore what I pass on is unsound.

If it’s unprofessional to honestly state “I don’t know”, how professional is it to continuously give people information gleaned from an official source that turns out to be wrong?

The people in my group look to me for guidance. Getting it wrong as often as I have dents my credibility and I lose the trust of my group. Therefore I will continue with the honest line of “I don’t know”; and if this tarnishes my professionalism, then so be it. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

What is the Ice Bucket Challenge in Aid of?

This ALS challenge says more about people’s desire to be seen to be doing the right thing. Most of those I know who I’ve watched on Facebook subject themselves to the chilly dousing will also put their hands in their pockets for what they feel is a worthy cause. Fair play to them.

However, my concern’s for the peer pressure activities such as these place upon individuals. So far I haven’t been challenged; and being the moody git I am nobody will take the chance. Though that’s not the issue.

There are several reasons I don’t subscribe to actions such as the ALS Challenge. The first I’ve mentioned; that is, the faddish nature of such actions has a knock-on effect where individuals feel compelled, coerced even, to participate. Which isn’t the idea of charity.

All too often, and this is borne out with this challenge, people aren’t actually donating any money but treating it as either a social challenge or being nudged into taking part so as not to feel ‘left out’; or different.

But Brother McGovern, you plead, it’s for charity. CHARIDEEEEEEEEEEEE! Well my answer is…NO IT’S NOT! Charity has nothing to do with the exploitation of people’s consciences. That’s not charity; no that’s trying to impose your values on others.

Charity isn’t about people carrying out acts of kindness and asking for recognition. Or corporations presenting outsized 2 meter long cheques on prime-time TV to worthy causes. Corporations who then enter charitable covenants for tax relief, such is their sense of giving.

This is the point I’m making. Charity is not just about giving. No real acts of charity are unconditional. The reward for the act is the act itself.

Finally, as a Socialist I firmly believe that the state should be responsible for health, welfare, education, social security as well as areas such general protection of citizenry. Research, whether for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or as more familiarly known to us in the UK, motor neurone disease, as with cancer, or heart disease, or Alzheimer’s should be carried out through government funding, not left to the caprice of social or mainstream media.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Labour Must Make a Commitment to Taking National Rail Back into Public Ownership

Back in 1993 John Major's Tory government committed one of the most flagrant acts of mugging ever. They smashed our rail system into almost one hundred parts and sold them off to franchisee’s, many of whom became millionaires; and to their friends in the business world, who again became very rich almost immediately after the sales.

The myth perpetrated, one that Thatcher popularised, was the old chestnut that insisted that all our industries, utilities and services would be better managed, cheaper to run and more profitable in the hands of the private sector.

Chart 1: rail subsidy (2011/12 prices)

Yet 21 years on from the second great train robbery we can see from the chart above that far from being cheaper to run the public subsidy going to this privately run service is greater today than it has ever been. So I suppose the system is more profitable in that shareholders and the people at the top of the rail companies are raking in fortunes from a repeatedly mugged public.

One could be forgiven for thinking: OK the subsidy is very high, but aren’t passengers getting value for their money with cheaper fares. The answer is: no we aren’t!

This chart shows the year by year upward rise in rail fares in the UK

Fares are set to rise by 3.5% in January 2015, that’s 2.5% RPI and the 1% rail franchisees are permitted to levy. That’s a staggering 24.7% rise since the ConDems came to power in 2010. Many of these rises are hitting working people who have not seen a pay rise for several years; so unless they get a decent pay rise this or next year the rise in their season tickets will in effect act as a further pay cut.

Back in 1993 it was argued that British Rail was a moribund service whose only hope of rejuvenation was selling it off to the private sector. Of course British Rail was a failing system. Decades of disinvestment into infrastructure and rolling stock had set BR up to fail. Add to this the right wing press and political spin that vilified and mocked everything about the system. Then you are presented with a fruit ready to be plucked from a very low branch – the way the NHS is being fitted-up is parallel to just how easy it is to off load a service if its deemed to be failing.

Labour must as a matter of urgency take the national railways back into the public sector and give rail travellers back a service that they can afford to use; and give tax payers a holiday from coughing up exorbitant subsidies that go into the coffers of private companies and into the back pockets of a few profiteers at the top. 

ConDems Guilty of Grave and Systemic Abuses of Disability Rights

Disabled people in the UK know that this ConDem government is guilty of abusing the rights of disabled people. Back in June it took a Hungarian Professor, Gabor Gombos*, to confirm what disabled campaigners in the UK have been raising for four years and more, that our government is guilty of "grave or systemic violations" of our rights.

During a disability law summer school in Galway in June the Professor made the following statement in relation to the UK:

"Where the issue has been raised and the government did not really make effective actions to fix the situation... it is a very high threshold thing; the violations should really be grave and very systemic."

Such statements are not made lightly; and scores of thousands of disabled people in the UK would be able to testify to and concur with the statement.

Indeed in July Just Fair’s ‘Dignity and Opportunity for All: Securing the Rights of Disabled People in the Austerity Era’ report found that this government in breach of its international human rights obligations (to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of disabled people) under both UNCRPD and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

For more than four years disabled activists, grass roots groups such as DPAC, trade unions and some politicians have highlighted this government’s failings of disabled people.

Tenacious campaigning against the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) managed to drive away ATOS, the notorious deliverer of the WCA. DPAC, Black Triangle and the trade unions, amongst others, forced ATOS to abandon the contract.

The Spartacus Report ‘Responsible Reform: Changes to Disability Living Allowance’, compiled by disabled people, exposed the ConDem’s consultation findings on planned changes to DLA as disingenuous. In their own words the government plans for the DLA replacement, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to cut at least 20% from the benefit.

The Bedroom Tax, despite reassurances to disabled people, did exactly what we predicted. It hit thousands of disabled people who needed a ‘spare’ room for partners or carers use; or to house bulky disability equipment such as wheelchairs, hoists, etc.

Another violation of our rights is the abolishing of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) planned for next year. In November 2013 a High Court decision found the closure of ILF unlawful. Earlier this year, after manipulating ‘new’ equality analysis and evidence, the government announced the closure of ILF in June 2015. There is, however, another challenge to keep ILF currently being made by individual disabled service users.

The above is not an exhaustive catalogue of abuses carried out by this government against disabled people. But it goes some way to highlighting the fact that this government is guilty of breaches in its international human rights obligations (to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of disabled people) under both UNCRPD and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

*Professor Gabor Gombos, co-founder of Voice of Soul, Hungary’s first organisation for ex-users and survivors of mental health institutions, and co-chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Of Mistakes Repeated and History Ignored

George Santayana said of war, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". Variations and paraphrases such as “Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” have all too frequently been invoked as conflict after conflict reap their bloody harvest of humankind.

Simply put Santayana and others were saying the study of history is necessary in order to stop mankind endlessly repeating the mistakes of the past - especially the 'bloody' mistakes. And for years I observed these prophetic words, usually as I read or heard of yet another conflict tearing humans from this life.

In the past few weeks however I’ve began to revise my views on these quotations. The latest conflict, that is the relentless bombardment and slaughter of innocent civilians in Gaza by the IDF, has caused me to change my understanding of George Santayana’s words.

It isn’t a matter of Israel not remembering its past. Nor is it a case of Israel being ignorant of history’s mistakes. How would they considering their history of persecution, pogroms and the holocaust.

No, it goes deeper than that. Israel, the US and the UK, countries with bloody pasts, don’t enter into conflict situations misguidedly. They haven’t perused the books of history and somehow misinterpreted the message.

We need only to look at the way the Tories are trying place a revisionist spin on the ‘Great War’. Instead of viewing this war, as much of history does, as a bloodbath on a mass industrial scale waged by belligerent Empires vying for power, the Tories are now trying to sell it as a ‘just war’.

In conclusion, people and more particularly countries don’t forget or repeat the mistakes of the past. Instead they set out wilfully to add their own to an already oversubscribed catalogue of wanton death and destruction. So maybe we should begin to regard history and its lessons merely as theoretical abstracts whose only purpose is to hold up the past as a mirror of what will surely happen in the future.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Monday, 4 August 2014

Shame on you George Takei

As George Takei, he of Star Trek fame, is a gay man and a proponent of LGBT rights, I’d at the very least expect him to have some kind of empathy with other minority groups. Takei has also won a number of awards and accolades for his work in the human rights field, especially Japanese-American relations.

Is because she is not Japanese or LGBT?

But instead we find George undermining people as with this disablist joke on Twitter.

George, don’t you understand that in the world of minorities, of groups targeted for their differences a hurt to one is a hurt to us all? 

Bias at the BBC

The BBC is guilty of acting in a cowardly fashion in the way it reports global issues such as the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Rather than objectively reporting this conflict, it instead reports the situation as through the wrong end of a telescope.

Anyone new to the conflict might be forgiven for thinking this is an equal contest fought between two age-old enemies. The BBC will take a couple of minutes describing a massive explosion in a UN compound in Gaza that has killed half-a-dozen children (this being one of many such explosions) while horrendously injuring scores of others; then it will devote several minutes explaining to its viewers the inconvenience that Israeli’s suffer having to go to bomb shelters to avoid the missiles sent over by Hamas.

Reporters aren’t getting to the heart of the matter. They’re not explaining that the Israeli Iron Dome defence system (mostly funded by the USA) is so successful that they are not experiencing deaths and wounded, let alone the industrial levels being slaughtered in Gaza.

No, the BBC chooses to show balance by covering up the scale of atrocities in Gaza while playing up the hardships that the Israeli’s are undergoing.

The BBC also refuses to give due coverage of the massive demonstrations in the UK sparked by the IDF's murderous attacks on civilian targets. When scores of thousands of people march on the Israeli Embassy in Kensington to show their anger for innocent people being butchered; for showing human compassion for a defenceless people who are corralled in a small strip of land as one of the world’s most sophisticated armed forces showers death and destruction.

When this happens and still the BBC refuses to give it proper air time. When the BBC affords an anti-IDF march of 1,200 Germans in Berlin a 412-word coverage while affording a 64-word report on a march of 15,000 on the Israeli Embassy in London. Then we know the BBC is not fulfilling its charter as a public service broadcaster.

If the government of the day decides to sell off the BBC tomorrow, I will not come to its defence.   

The State of Israel was Created through a Programme of Terror

Many modern day commentators overlook or choose to ignore the fact that the State of Israel was founded on a stitch-up by the UN; and that many of the actions that brought the UN to its decision were regarded as acts of terrorism.

In November 1947 the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine. The Arabs, today’s Palestinians, were to receive 43% of the land; and the Jews, today’s Israelis, received the lion’s share, 57%. To say the partitioning was a stitch-up would be an understatement, especially when we realise that in 1947 Jews made up a mere 32% of the population of Palestine while the Arabs accounted for a whopping 60% - almost double the population yet allotted less than half the land.

Since 1948 Israel has increased its share of the land, by illegal settlements that have driven out their rightful Palestinian owners, to 77%. Is it any wonder that Palestinians, squeezed into ever-shrinking areas of land are indignant; as their militarily aggressive neighbours blockade a part of their country, of course they are angry.

History shows us that when pushed into a corner by mightier powers, the oppressed have few choices. In 1944 the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto knew their choices. They chose to resist the cruel and oppressive might of the Nazis. The Maquis in occupied France in WWII also chose to fight the aggressor. The Irish have for centuries fought against the imposition of its bigger, often belligerent, neighbour Britain.

All these examplas have been acknowledged as true resistance causes, to a greater or lesser extent, by most of the world at one time or another. Indeed Yitzak Shamir went as far as adopting Collins’ urban guerrilla tactics; and even using the code-name ‘Michael’ during Israel’s usurpation of Palestinian lands.

There is certain irony to Israel’s excuse that they are fighting terrorism considering they achieved statehood not by negotiation. They didn’t become a state through peaceful means at all. No, Israel won its 57% of Palestine by using the very terror tactics it accuses Palestinians of using today.

The Irgun argued that ‘political violence and terrorism’ were ‘legitimate tools in the Jewish national struggle for the Land of Israel’. They killed and injured hundreds in their fight for Israel.

The Haganah, from 1920-1948 this bunch of vigilantes acted as henchmen for the British Mandate in Palestine actually helping to quell Arab revolts that took place from 1936 to 1939.

Similarly, the Lehi committed many crimes in the name of freedom. It was this gang of freedom fighters who assassinated Count Bernadotte a UN Peace Negotiator in 1948.

Finally, the Stern Gang went as far as seeking contact with the Nazis in an attempt to subvert the British Mandate. This gang committed bank robberies and assassinated British figures.

As a Socialist I will not criticise any group who take up arms against oppressive colonialist regimes. My argument is not with the Jews who fought against the British Mandate of Palestine. No, my argument is with a people who after seeing off the colonial power then proceed to become the oppressors themselves. I oppose Israel’s indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians; and, I also call on the world to show its anger at the US and UK for arming Israel.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Seán Hannity Fox TV's Resident Bully

Over the past few weeks Russell Brand, politicised British comic and actor, has added his voice to the ever-louder shout for the Israeli’s to stop killing innocent Palestinians in Gaza. Brand is obviously getting his message across here as well as in the USA. So much so that he has incurred the wroth of Seán Hannity, a right-wing TV commentator who hosts a cable news show, Hannity, on Fox News Channel.  

Recently, in order to put ‘D-List Actor’, Russell Brand in his place and counter Brand’s views on the Israeli attacks on Gaza, Hannity invited a trio of what he expected to be through-and-through true-blue pro-Israel’s-right-to-bomb-Gaza-out-of-existence commentators onto the show.

Watch how Hannity couldn't even get that right. Also watch and listen to Brand’s own take on the show: 

Why aren't American TV viewers up in arms against this dangerous fool, Hannity. The man has no qualifications as a news presenter; he's certainly no idea of journalistic objectivity. He cannot string a coherent sentence together; nor put forwards an unbiased point of view. The man is rude and hectoring towards interviewees; and uses cheap constructs such as straw man fallacies to twist an opponent’s argument.

You would think that Americans had learned a lesson when they tried to take George Galloway apart at the Senate Hearings he attended back in 2006. Of course Galloway, in his inimitable style, took those American’s apart with his wit, argument and articulation.

I dare Seán Hannity to invite Russell Brand onto his show and attempt to outwit this very astute young man.