Friday, 28 August 2015

Jeremy Corbyn Speaks out Against the WCA

"In response to figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions on the known number of deaths while claiming incapacity benefits, Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn said:

"It is clear that the work capability assessment has failed to adequately assess support needs, and has caused immense distress and suffering for thousands of disabled claimants.
"I voted against the legislation* that introduced the WCA and have campaigned alongside disabled people's organisations to scrap it ever since. The assessment process needs to be completely rebuilt in partnership with disabled people and health professionals."
*Welfare Reform Act 2007

The figures, published under freedom of information laws, show that more than 2,500 sick and disabled benefit claimants have died after being found 'fit for work' in just two years."

Though statistics, appeals and sadly untimely deaths, some by suicide, have shown the WCA to be a deeply flawed system I was frustrated that both Rachel Reeves and Kate Green kept insisting that it would be retained under a Labour government.

The system is broke. It is known to be broke. Yet it is kept in place as it fits in with the Tory ideology of removing people from higher paid benefit; or indeed taking them out of benefit altogether.

An independent and objective media, especially press, would of course have picked up on the criminal use of the flawed WCA years ago. A properly functioning opposition would have been pushing for Duncan-Smith to be forthcoming with the number of deaths associated with the system.

However, and because neither the media nor the opposition carried out their duties thousands of disabled and sick people lost their lives; scores of thousands more were placed in an impossible position that forced them to seek work that they were unable to get or carry out, many have been sanctioned as a result; while countless others simply fell off the statistical register.

At last we have a prominent MP in Jeremy Corbyn addressing the unfashionable issues such as the horrors of WCA. Now the issue is out in the 'mainstream' maybe it will attract some positive attention from both the opposition and media.  

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Andy Burnham finally wakes up to the Tory infiltration of the Labour Party

It would appear that Andy Burnham and his campaign for the leadership of Labour is concerned that there has been a large scale Tory infiltration of the Party.

Tory infiltration into the Labour Party? Sounds like Progress.

You are correct Andy. However, the infiltration is not that difficult to pin down, they're known as Progress.

Progress progresses Party purges

As the Labour leadership election pushes towards its finale the Blairite/Progress faction within the party is carrying out a frenzied programme of purges. The three CLPs in Lambeth, Dulwich and West Norwood, Streatham and Vauxhall all came out for Liz Kendall. Given the composition and nature of these CLPs this is hardly surprising.

But when the MP for Vauxhall, Kate Hoey, heard that a former Labour leader of Lambeth Council, Joan Twelves, was denied a vote she commented:

“Joan Twelves, a former Labour Leader of Lambeth Council has been rejected even though for many years she has not been involved with another Party. Indeed she did some delivery of leaflets for me in the General Election.

Am I just being too suspicious that it seems anyone who is suspected of not being a Progress supported Liz Kendall fan is subject to instant rejection if they are known to leading Councillors?”

At the moment I’m unable to attend my CLP meetings because of the late hour they are held. Maybe that’s a blessing as I’m fairly sure my working class, pro trade union and anti-neoliberal values wouldn’t resonate with many in the Dulwich and West Norwood CLP.

Anyway, Kate was my MP up until last year. Though I disagreed with much of her politics she is a first class constituency MP; and she assisted me on a few occasions.

Just before the reselection process last year she called me to ask whether I was attending my Labour branch meeting. Mine was the last to meet and its result was purely academic as Kate was already reselected by the rest of the branches; but I guess she was looking for a clean sweep.

My old branch is full of political wannabees. The leadership is composed of councillors other halves and mates or Westminster spads associated trades in and around Parliament and Portcullis House.

On the evening in question there was a full house at the branch meeting, which had the appearance of a Progress breakout. The first few speakers stuck the knife well and truly into Hoey; and it looked as though she was sunk.

I piped up giving my support for Kate; stating that though we didn't always see eye-to-eye that I would far rather see Hoey in Parliament than yet another grey faced man in a grey suit pushing even greyer neo-lib policies - aiming my barbs at a particularly grey wannabee sitting beside me.

However the night was won by the contribution of a very elderly Afro-Caribbean woman who upbraided Councillor grey suit. She said, in a matter-of-fact way, that she had known A since he was a little boy; that she was most perturbed to hear him criticise Kate Hoey in such a way; and that he had changed from the polite little boy that she had watched grow up.

Brilliant! I could feel the embarrassment as it radiated from under his collar; and as for his colour, a delight to see. Her contribution encouraged others to come forward in support of Hoey; and the vote went in favour of reselection.

While Kate Hoey is not my political soulmate I would still rather her in Parliament with her maverick ways than another Blairite helping to push Labour out of the reach of ordinary people.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Placing a value on social profit

Labour was rejected at the ballot box a few months ago. The electorate didn't want the shoddy austerity-lite Labour was peddling. This left the Tories. Thus many floating voters voted Conservative; and around a third of the electorate did not exercise their right to vote.

Therefore it is very worrying that experienced politicians such as Andy Burnham show an inability to grasp the lessons of history – even that history they helped to create just a few weeks ago. Andy, trying to compete with the Conservatives on tuition fees by introducing a tuition tax is not a vote winner.  

Don’t you get it, Andy? The public expect a choice when voting. Labour’s manifesto at the last election did not offer enough of a difference to qualify as an alternative to the Tories. Austerity-lite policies are not a real alternative; they still pander to the neoliberal line.

Conversely, Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda does look different. It feels different too. He is not afraid to talk about raising taxes on the rich; and clawing back the £120 billion cheated on taxes. He’ll seriously close tax loopholes; unlike this government who are afraid of upsetting their friends, the tax cheats. Corbyn would give benefit claimants more protection – imagine a politician who doesn’t feel a necessity to attack the welfare state; one who understands the importance of social profit; of how social profit adds value to the lives of millions.  

Whether it’s foreign policy, defence, education, housing, the NHS, transport, or energy, Jeremy’s policies are progressive giving people a distinct choice. His policies share the values of the majority. They do not serve to protect the rights and privileges of the few. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Corbyn's Values Reflect those of Millions of Workers

The problem with the right-wing of the Labour Party is it has enjoyed ascendency for far too long. Forget the right’s whinge that Miliband was too far left. I don't consider Ed Miliband a truly left leader.

In its right-wing direction the Party has lost touch with the very people it set out to represent, the working classes and poor. Since Blair we have lost direction. Blair, and the right, latched on to a winning formula by tweaking around the edges of neo-liberalism and selling it as palatable economic system.

Since then Labour's objective has been win at any cost, even if winning meant a total abandonment of its core values. For instance, Rachel Reeves views just weeks before the General Election:

"We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we're not, the party to represent those who are out of work. Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people."

These outrageous right-wing sentiments could have been voiced by Iain Duncan-Smith or George Osborne. They represent Conservative values. Yet here was a Labour Shadow Minister showing utter contempt towards benefit claimants. A sentiment also applied to disabled people.

Such inflammatory language served only one purpose. It was intended to ‘out nasty’ the Nasty Party. Labour had reached a point where it was willing to abandon its principles of fairness to pander to winning at any cost.

After the inevitable defeat came the recriminations. Labour’s right-wing sought blame figures. However, rather than looking at the bloody obvious, the fact that their policies offered little difference than those being flogged by the Tories, they turned their guns on Ed Miliband.

Too left-wing; in the unions pockets. Then their sights targeted the unions. In particular it turned on Len McCluskey of Unite. Not forgetting to throw some blame at the Scottish voters who had turned their backs on Labour in favour of the SNP.

The one redeeming thing to have come out of this election defeat is that Jeremy Corbyn put his hat into the ring for the Labour Party leadership fight. Yet at that point in time most of us were pleased that the Jeremy’s inclusion just might push the debate a few degrees to the left. That his presence and policies could just force the Burnham, Cooper and Kendall to make some concessions in areas such as welfare.

Instead Corbyn’s campaign has captured the imaginations of scores of thousands of natural Labour supporters. His honesty and his alternative agenda to that of tired and jaded austerity measures has enthused the political left. Corbyn is no longer the makeweight candidate; he is no longer the right wing’s concession to the left to make the leadership contest a balanced affair. No, Jeremy Corbyn is now the front runner with the rest of the field running to catch him up.

For the sake of the Labour Party and the future of our country let us hope that Jeremy Corbyn can keep the momentum going until the Labour Party Conference in September.