Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A Closer Look at China and HSBC – Are they Running Out of Cash?

Hasn't the financial sector learned anything from the disastrous collapse of the banking system in 2008? Or didn't casino banking ever go away? But why worry if they're secure in the knowledge that when in trouble the state will bail them out by socialising debt and privatising profits. So the poor are subjected to greater austerity measures while the vampire bankers continue to reap obscene rewards for failure.

Watch out for the fallout across the globe. Then what? An increase in austerity; a witch hunt for scapegoats to blame as the neo-lib governments pander to their mates’ losses. 

“Ukip’s Godfrey Bloom Asks Disabled Student ‘Are You Richard III?’”

On Thursday a Motion that “Post-war Britain has seen too much immigration” was debated at the Oxford Union. Godfrey Bloom, UKIP xenophobe, misogynist and now disablist, was present to support the Motion.

Godfrey Bloom, disablist, racist, misogynist, homophobe (left) and student David Browne at the Oxford Union (right)

Within a few seconds of David Browne, a student opposing the motion, began his opposition Mr Bloom, using a point of order to interrupt Browne, asked in a particularly derisive way “Are you Richard III or not?”

This was a disgraceful slur on Browne, who is disabled; an opportunity for Bloom to score a cheap shot, maybe even faze the young man.

However, David’s rejoinder used Thatcher by stating: "I am always quite flattered when people insist on personal attacks on their opponents as it just demonstrates they have run out of arguments."  

As is so often the situation in environments such as Oxford, instead of the audience expressing its disapproval at such an evidently disablist slur, David Browne seems to have been compelled by convention to take the incident on the chin.

Bloom was able to tell the Channel 4 News that Mr Browne has accepted the comment in good humour; so much so that:” “We enjoyed a good drink and a laugh until one o’clock in the morning on the strength of it.”

However, Mr Browne is reported to have said afterwards: "I didn’t think it was a very nice thing to say. I wasn’t happy with the remark.”

Does David Browne have the right to accept the comment in good humour? Scumbags like Godfrey Bloom open their mouths and spew out disablist, racist, misogynist, homophobic comments safe in the knowledge that they can’t be touched. They peddle their filth with impunity, often backed by papers such as the Daily Hate and Sun and the high priests of hate Richard Littlejohn and Rod Liddle waiting to champion them in the scum press.

David Browne, the longer we allow the Blooms of this world to run roughshod with their mouths or pens; the longer disabled people will have to endure slurs and put downs in reference to their physical appearances. Since you’re not happy with the remark, make a formal complaint. Don’t give Godfrey Bloom free rein to insult and abuse with impunity.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

An ‘Agenda of Hope’

This poem is in response to Owen Jones' promise to pen an 'Agenda of Hope' in tomorrow's Independent to counter this government's 'Agenda of Fear'.

An ‘Agenda of Hope’

An ‘Agenda of Hope’ that flies
In the face of all those lies
Half-truths and social dividing
This government’s good at providing.

An ‘Agenda of Hope’ that the press
Take on board and confess
To the lies about austerity
Which they’ve spread with dexterity.

An ‘Agenda of Hope’ that has TV
Presenting the facts for us to see
Without distorting situations
Just to increase viewing populations.

An ‘Agenda of Hope’ that sees us disabled
As humans not to be labelled
Cheats, liars or a waste of breath
Only good to be done to death.

An ‘Agenda of Hope’ that values human life
An agenda to abolish poverty and strife
That puts an end to the torment
Of us, the ninety-nine per cent.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Nick Robinson the BBC's Tory Party Spokesman

"Mr Robinson’s appearance at the ADS annual dinner had been the subject of a formal complaint to the BBC by a leading anti-arms trade pressure group. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) wrote to the BBC this week stating that it believed the appearance would compromise the corporation’s impartiality and Mr Robinson’s “reputation for objectivity when reporting developments in the arms industry”.
 The corporation said it “did not accept” the accusation that Mr Robinson’s appearance would compromise his or the BBC’s reputation for impartiality."

Nick Robinson BBC Political Editor's a dyed-in-the-wool Tory who
wouldn't recognise objectivity if presented itself naked lit in neon lights

Oh, what a hoot. The very idea that Nick ‘True-Blue-Through-and-Through’ Robinson has ever reported anything objectively is risible. Robinson has previous. He’s a serial Tory supporter as an ex-President of the Oxford University Conservative Association and ex-president of the Conservative Party youth group- this geezer has form.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Consign ATOS to the dustbin of history

“Outsourcing the assessment of sick, disabled and vulnerable people to a private corporation, especially one with such a disgraceful track record as ATOS, is a scandal. 54% of people in Brighton and Hove who appeal ATOS’s ‘professional’ judgements are successful –yet Ministers have so far refused to take action to get rid of ATOS and their thoroughly discredited Work Capability Assessment.”

The above statement was made by Caroline Lucas, a Green Party MP. However, this observation could have been made by any one of the countless thousands of disability activists created by this government; people who have suffered under at the hands of ATOS unfair and flawed medical assessments.
For years benefits claimants and their supporters have criticised the way in which ATOS conducts its assessments of sick and disabled people for ESA; and this criticism has been vindicated by the number of ATOS decisions that are overturned on appeal in favour of the claimant.

ATOS should be consigned to the dustbin of history as the social welfare killer it is

Yet despite ATOS’s appalling record; the fact that they get so many assessments wrong, they go unpunished.

In what other field of work or service provision, apart from maybe the banking system or Parliament, would such gross failure be tolerated? Indeed, again bankers and MPs excepted, failure on this kind of scale in the private sector would invoke penalty clauses and very likely early termination of contracts; even in the public sector serious questions would be asked, scrutiny committees would investigate ATOS’s abysmal record.

So Caroline, keep up the pressure on this government; and I hope you’ll join the thousands of ‘Anti-ATOS’ demonstrators when they march in Brighton on March 9th

Unemployment figures hide minimum wage, zero hour contracts and underemployment

Today George Osborne has enthused that the fall in unemployment to 7.1 percent is "great news".

Enthusing: "Everyone of those jobs is a family more secure and it's evidence our long term economic plan is working."

Maybe in the fantasy world of trickle-down Toryshire this is good news. Ordinarily a cut of 167,000 in unemployment figures would be cause for celebration; a ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy economic forecast.

However, what Osborne fails to tell us is that most of those jobs are either on minimum wage, zero hours contracts or part-time (taken up by workers who actually need full time employment). Hardly the kind of jobs that will allow any real growth in economic activity on the part of these starvation wage earners.

Indeed, it will do little to stimulate the economy nor will it greatly reduce the burden on the state as many of the newly employed workers will still be entitled to benefits and tax credits due to the appallingly poor wages they’ll be taking home.

Sadly this reductions will serve only to massage unemployment figures, moving people from one benefit to another. But, it could boost the Tories standing with the electorate as the party that pulled us out of austerity; though I rather fancy the continuing flat-lining economy will be a better indicator of Chancellor Osborne’s mismanagement of our economy.  

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Build our way back to economic recovery

House building has this strange effect on the economy as a whole. Now for instance, if we were to initiate a programme of building 1 million houses in the UK this would take multitudes of building workers off the dole as well as boosting the employment of countless underemployed sparks, brickies, chippies and spreads.
Thus, we’d have scores of thousands more workers contributing to the treasury and our flat-lining economy. But it doesn’t end there.

When people move into new homes they buy everything from paint for the ceilings to curtains; they have carpets laid; new kitchens installed; new cutlery crockery is purchased to fill those new kitchen cupboards and drawers; they buy white electrical goods; they go to the DIY store for garden decking…

You get the picture. One million new houses would not only kick-start construction, but would act as a fillip to our almost moribund manufacturing and retail sectors. In addition to this it would put the brakes on the buy to rent speculator, thus brining rents down, especially in the south, to more affordable levels.

If I can work this out then I’m certain that those in ‘the know’ are aware of this very simple piece of economic logic. Therefore it’s safe to come to the conclusion that this government is not interested in:

1.    Reducing unemployment
2.    Reducing underemployment
3.    Creating meaningful jobs in construction
4.    Creating decent jobs in manufacturing
5.    Boosting employment in the retail sector
6.    Controlling the runaway levels of rent in the private rented sector
7.    Building more affordable social or council housing.

Instead it looks suspiciously as though this government like its predecessor is willing to sacrifice jobs in order to drag British workers back to the terms and conditions of the 1920s and 1930s in order that we can compete with the likes of China and India.

Benefits Street: Divide and rule TV

Much of our media has given up reporting situations objectively. At the same time, post-Leveson, they are moaning and griping about any curtailment of their freedom by government. Fair enough. A free press and media is essential in a democracy. The World Press Freedom Committee’s Charter for a Free Press outlines the means to a free press; arguing against censorship and for the independence of news.

What then happens when the press and broadcast media voluntarily jump into bed with governments because it suits their own political agendas? What happens then when they sell off their objective reporting and broadcasting of social issues in order to do the government’s bidding? What then happens to that fine sentiment: “A free press means a free people.”?

Rags such as the Daily Mail feel comfortable in running headlines like: ‘Vile Product of Welfare UK’ in condemnation of Mick Philpott after he was convicted of killing his children in a fire. Directly accusing our welfare state of somehow being complicit in this man’s crime, even fuelling his lifestyle.

Less than 0.5% of DLA claims are found to be incorrect, and this can be as a result of error on the part of the DWP as well as fraudulent claims. Yet the rapacious redtops, especially the Mail and Sun, are penning their poisonous propaganda as though the entire disabled population was cheating the system.
There is definitely a correlation between the rise in disability hate crime and the incessant misreporting of disability benefits fraud in the past few years. Many disabled people are frightened to go out in public due to the escalation in verbal abuse meted out to them by cranks who feed off the vilification and demonization of others.

Programmes such as ‘Benefits Street’ do not serve to inform in an objective way. No they set out to paint a one-sided picture of people living on benefits. Their agenda is to promote the ‘shirkers’ versus ‘strivers’ propaganda that endeavours to pit the working poor against the unemployed poor.

The new spin on the old ‘divide and rule’ politics moves the focus from government failings, including the criminal failings of the banking system and neo-liberal policies, onto communities that successive governments have ignored. Communities starved of investment in employment, education and housing are expected to fall into line overnight; and they’re expected to compete in a job market already crammed to overcapacity.

OK then, if the press and broadcast media have a charter that demands freedom against censorship; that demands that they have independence when reporting the news, then they must give us some guarantees.

1.    That they report issues objectively with balanced view points;
2.    That they endeavour to seek out the facts of the story without giving favour or grace to any one party; and
3.    That they hold government’s up to the naked light of public scrutiny instead of merely printing verbatim government press releases as news.

Freedom of speech is a precious gift that should be well guarded. However, with freedom of speech and reporting comes the obligation of truth and objectivity.  

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Seán McGovern's Unite Executive Election Nomination Address

Unite the Union Executive Council Elections 2014-17
Re-election of Seán McGovern to the Disability Sector
Branch: L&E 785 Membership Number: 14171043

Dear Colleague

Here’s a little about bit about me, I’m Seán McGovern, a disabled trade unionist; active in the movement for decades and am seeking your support for the election to the Unite Executive as the Disability Rep, a position I’ve held since its introduction two years ago.

To earn a living I work in the voluntary sector as a direct payments worker which gives me a day-to-day link with disabled people and their issues. I’m also the workplace rep, chair of Unite’s Disabled Members’ Committee, co-chair of the TUC’s Disabled Workers’ Committee and sit on the TUC General Council as the disability rep.

As this government implements greater and more vicious cuts and restrictions on disabled people so there is a greater need for effective fighting back trade unions to protect our rights both inside and outside the workplace.
Over the past years Unite has proved itself a fighting back and democratic union. As a United Left member of Unite, I am proud to have defended and fought for disabled members in the following areas:

·       Producing toolkits to assist workplace reps with mental health in the workplace;
·       Assisting members to receive proper levels of Access to Work;
·       Holding education courses on Negotiating for Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace;
·       Introducing Disability Policy into Terms and Conditions;
·       Fighting to uphold the right to disability leave;
·       Training members to become Equalities Reps and fighting for statutory rights for these reps;
·       Promoting greater publicity for British Sigh Language (BSL);
·       Promoting Unite’s disability ‘wishlist’ for the Labour Party election manifesto with Liam Byrne from the Shadow DWP;
·       Organising and participating in the massive TUC demonstrations in 2011 & 2012;
·       Giving Unite a greater voice in the disability movement by working with and supporting groups such as DPAC and TUDA; as well as becoming involved with the Peoples’ Assemblies and Unite’s Community Branches.

If elected back onto the Executive I will carry on fighting for equality and justice for disabled people inside and outside the workplace; and I will continue ensure Unite remains a members’ led democratic union. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

There is no Glory in War

To the eager volunteers of 1914 the coin of glory, honour and patriotism was a false promise. There is not enough gold in the vaults of the worlds’ banks to pay for the hurt and suffering endured by those young men whose memories linger over Flanders fields; and whose ‘sacrifices’ have been betrayed a thousand times since. If those responsible for the horrors of the ‘Great’ War built an apology to the dead that reached to the stars it would fall short by an eternity.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Let's let the dead of 1914-18 lie in peace

As we will become all too aware, this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of what has become euphemistically known as the ‘Great’ War (1914-1918). A conflict that eventually became global being fought across three continents; and involving armed forces from five continents, from over 40 countries. A conflict so horrific as to create around 37 million casualties, 20 million of whom were wounded while a massive 16 million paid with their lives.

While it is not wrong to respect the memory of the dead of wars. It is quite another thing to glory in those deaths. Many on the right, including this current government will do precisely this. They will use 2014 as a time to celebrate the ‘blood sacrifice’ made by millions of men from the Entente armies; a sacrifice necessary to save the world from tyranny. A tyranny created by their kind of people; their class.

Michael Gove, education secretary has already begun banging the martial drum accusing the Left of propagating myths “…designed to belittle Britain and its leaders.”  

In the Daily Mail (now there’s a surprise) he writes:"Our understanding of the war has been overlaid by misunderstandings, and misrepresentations which reflect an, at best, ambiguous attitude to this country and, at worst, an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage,"

My understanding of that particular war is of young men instilled with a sense of patriotic duty being shot, blown to pieces, maimed, blinded, gassed, driven insane by the incessant noise of heavy artillery bombardments, suffering inhuman deprivations in waterlogged trenches, going over the top only to be mown down by enemy machine-gun fire, wounded and drowning  in the liquid mud of no-man's-land and generally treated as cannon fodder by an uncaring inhumane hierarchy more interested in perfecting the mechanisation and industrialisation of warfare.

Troops marching through poisonous gas to their deaths;
if the gas doesn't get them the deadly rake of machine-gun fire will

There was, and still isn't anything ambiguous about this country's attitude to its working classes. No, working class men were treated as mere fuel to feed the insatiable appetite of people in power. The working classes were back in 1914 used to protect the Empire and the dizzying wealth it afforded the ruling classes. Things haven't changed over the past century. Working class men and women are still sent out to die in remote corners of the world at the behest of capital and neo-liberalism.

So Gove, your take on honour, courage and patriotism are high flown; they are hollow platitudes bestowed upon those deceived into doing your bidding against enemies you and your kind create in order that your class can justify its bellicose raping and pillaging of this planet's resources.