One of Cameron’s power-crazed plans is to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a ‘Bill of Rights’.
The move is intended to remove the checks and balances in place which stop the government abusing its power and citizens.
Under current legislation, the government is accountable for breaches of human rights articles contained in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Checking the record of the British government in cases at the European Court of Human Rights reveals a less than glowing record, falling far behind many other European countries.
European Court of Human Rights – Violation Statistics 1959 to 2014 – Number of judgements finding at least one violation. (Lower numbers are better). The United Kingdom is 36th out of 47 on the list.
1959 – 2014
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The prime minister has announced that the new minister for disabled people is Justin Tomlinson, Conservative MP for North Swindon. Tomlinson has a strong anti-benefits and anti-human rights background.
Tomlinson has replaced Mark Harper, who is now the Conservative chief whip.
Tomlinson is a former national chairman of Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Conservative party and has been an MP since 2010.
He is a party loyalist, with a strong record of voting against the interests of sick and disabled claimants.
According to They work For You, Tomlinson:
- Voted strongly for of the bedroom tax
- Voted very strongly against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices
- Voted very strongly against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
- Voted very strongly for making local councils responsible for helping those in financial need afford their council tax and reducing the amount spent on such support
- Voted very strongly for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
- Voted very strongly against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed.
Tomlinson also voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act.
His responsibilities a minister for disabled people include:
- cross-government disability issues and strategy
- Employment and Support Allowance, Work Capability Assessment and Incapacity Benefit Reassessment Programme
- disability benefits (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance)
- appeals reform
- fraud and error (including debt management)
Tomlinson has some interest in health issues, but does not seem to have shown any great interest in disability issues during his time as an MP.
Source – Benefits & Work, 12 May 2015
The ukulele player who shot to stardom this week with a swear-filled serenade for David Cameron has called for political change.
East Londoner Robin Grey, who grew up in Gosforth, spoke out a day after expressing his dissatisfaction for the Prime Minister with an adhoc song in Alnwick, Northumberland.
The 34-year-old folk singer, maths tutor and charity worker was in Alnwick as part of a cycling holiday.
“I was cycling down the hill into Alnwick, having spent a while in Northumberland National Park, and I was cut up by a big blue Conservative Party coach – I couldn’t believe it.
“Then a lot of people got off with balloons and David Cameron was among them. It was so strange because it was just them, and no ordinary people.
“I was gobsmacked and took my bike over to the other side of the road. I thought, ‘what can I do?’ I didn’t have any eggs and didn’t want to get arrested. I could have shouted but that is boring.
“So I grabbed my ukulele and played the first thing that came to me.”
He proceeded to tell the Tory leader, who was attempting to drum up support for the party’s Berwick election candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan with a 15-minute walkabout, to “fuck off back to Eton”.
“I consider myself to be an activist. The more I travel round the country the more I see what people have in common – they want to see change happen.
“I hadn’t rehearsed the song. I am used to picking up by ukulele in primary school and playing, and I have worked at the Edinburgh Festival too so it comes easily.
“I am amazed at how popular the video of my song has been. Looking back I probably could have come up with some better lyrics, like addressing him on the NHS, but at the time I knew I wouldn’t get another chance so I just kept going.”
“A security guard told me not to swear because there were children around so I did a cleaner second verse.”
“Change is needed and as more people start to get their information from less obvious routes and media sources, the ruling elites are losing control and cannot keep telling us what to do.
“After Alnwick, I headed up to Seahouses to my nanna. She was supportive of me making mischief and she knows it comes from a good place.”
With the help of his ukulele, Robin’s causes include the closure of tax breaks for corporations and the super rich, the re-nationalisation of the railways and utility companies, the provision of singing and music lessons for all schoolchildren, scrapping of bedroom tax, and a ban on fracking in the UK.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Apr 2015
North Tyneside constituency, currently held by Labour’s Mary Glindon
• John Christopher Appleby, Liberal Democrat;
• Bob Batten, National Front;
• Martin William Collins, Green Party;
• Mary Theresa Glindon, Labour Party;
• Scott Alan Hartley, UK Independence Party (UKIP);
• Martin Terence McGann, Conservative Party;
• Tim Wall, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.
Tynemouth constituency, currently held by Labour’s Alan Campbell
• Alan Campbell, Labour Party;
• Julia Anne Erskine, Green Party;
• Glenn Anthony Hall, Conservative Party;
• Gary Matthew Legg, UK Independence Party (UKIP);
• John Paton-Day, Liberal Democrat.
With the General Election just weeks away, editors are being hit by a snowstorm of press releases from eager candidates.
Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP, Green – you name it – they’re all falling over themselves for publicity.
Anyway, there I was, checking my emails over egg and chips on Sunday evening, when a message dropped into my in-box from Scott Wood, the Conservative candidate for Sedgefield.
It gives an illuminating insight into the way political parties work and shows how careful candidates have to be in this era of instantaneous new technology.
“Peter, May I get the attached published please,” said Mr Wood’s email. “Great news on investment on our school infrastructure. Sincerely, Scott Wood, Sedgefield Parliamentary Candidate.”
I clicked on the attachment and up popped an identikit Conservative Party template, carefully designed to help candidates personalise a press release and make voters think they’re on the ball. The press release – about schools which had received funding for building improvements – is interspersed with brackets, telling candidates in eye-catching red ink, where to insert their name and constituency.
Well, in Mr Wood’s case, he managed to send me the template without filling in any of the blanks (see the picture). I suspect he thought he’d filled in the blanks but failed to save the changes properly and ended up sending me the Conservative Party foolproof guide to writing a press release.
OK, these things happen and I have no doubt that all the parties send their candidates templated press releases to fill in and send to local papers. And before the accusations of political bias begin to fly, I’d have felt the need to make it public if the election game of Blankety Blank had been failed by a Labour or Lib Dem candidate.
Like me, you might think it exposes a rather cynical view of modern politics, where spin doctors dictate communications, rather than expecting local candidates to be able to think for themselves.
Source – Northern Echo, 30 Mar 2015
Plans leaked to the BBC reveal that the Conservatives are considering cuts of up to £80 a week for sick and disabled claimants if they win the election.
The leaked documents show that the Conservative party commissioned research into how much could be saved by measures including:
Taxing disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP) and attendance allowance (AA), saving a predicted £1.5 billion a year.
Abolishing contribution based ESA and JSA entirely, so that only claimants who pass a means test can claim these benefits. According to the BBC, DWP analysis suggests 30% of claimants, over 300,000 families, would lose about £80 per week, saving a predicted £1.3 billion a year. In fact, some families would lose more than £80 per week if these benefits were abolished.
Cutting the number of people getting carer’s allowance by 40% by only awarding it to those eligible for universal credit (UC), saving a predicted £1 billion.
Limiting child benefit to the first two children, eventually saving £1 billion but very little in the short-term.
Other plans include replacing industrial injuries benefits with an insurance policy for employers, regional benefit caps and changes to council tax.
The Conservatives deny that these proposals are party policy.
A spokesperson for Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC that:
“This is ill informed and inaccurate speculation.
“Officials spend a lot of time generating proposals – many not commissioned by politicians.
“It’s wrong and misleading to suggest that any of this is part of our plan.”
However, the Conservatives still refuse to say what benefits they will cut.
Earlier this week Benefits and Work suggested that working age claimants would lose an average of £19 a week under Conservative plans. We pointed out that some would lose less and some might lose much more – but we hadn’t realised quite how much more.
Would you be affected by these cuts and could you cope financially if they were imposed?
Source – Benefits & Work, 27 Mar 2015
It was only yesterday that we wrote about Cameron’s social engineering policy and the disgraceful way low income families and people on benefits were being targeted in the name of profit.
Today, Westminster Council has revealed what they describe as the government’s ‘insane’ new vacant building credit scheme which could cost the council up to £1 billion in housing payments.
As usual, it is the super-rich investors who benefit from the changes at the expense of the poor and vulnerable in our society. People trying to make a better life for themselves struggling against an ever unequal and oppressive government.
The following is from The Guardian
Housing developers in the UK could gain hundreds of millions of pounds in windfall profits under a new policy that lets them reduce contributions to building affordable housing or even avoid paying altogether, a council has claimed.
Since December, the government has exempted anyone…
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David Cameron’s plans to target benefit cuts at the young and vulnerable have come under fire from within his own party.
Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative chair of the health committee, said she did not support scrapping housing benefit for 18-to-21-year-olds, after the prime minister toured the television studios detailing some of the Tories’ proposals to cut another £12bn from the welfare budget.
In a series of interviews, Cameron repeated his pledge to lower the welfare cap from £26,000 to £23,000 per family alongside proposals to stop housing benefit for school-leavers. The cap was about a “basic issue of fairness”, he said.
“I don’t think a family should be able to get more in benefits than someone going out to work, working every day, and trying to do the right thing for them and their family,” he said.
> If anyone ever does get more in benefits than someone working (which I doubt) , perhaps it’d be because the wages they are earning are so poor, or they’re only working 16 hours a week.
But in any case, you can only play the hand you’ve got, so if it did happen that you’d get more on benefits than by working…why not ? Cameron & Co probably dodge paying more tax in a year than you’d claim.
“One of the criticisms of the cap set at £26,000, which I have heard all over the country, is that the cap was set too high. We’re responding to that.
“We’re generating these jobs. People listening to this programme don’t pay their taxes to sustain people on welfare who could work.”
> Well actually, yes they do – National Insurance, at least. When working I’ve never grudged paying NI (much) because I paid it in the belief that I could claim some of it back should I become unemployed, and also – and this is an important point – that it should go towards helping others unemployed even if I wasn’t.
He said the country was no longer willing to tolerate people living on welfare as “a lifestyle choice” and claimed Conservative plans would help “young people move into work more quickly”.
> A lifestyle choice ? And I thought it was a survival choice….the choice being survive or die.
However, his proposals on scrapping housing benefit for young people came under fire from Wollaston and a number of charities.
Wollaston, the Conservative MP for Totnes, told the BBC’s Daily Politics:
“That is a policy that I don’t actually support. The point is that there is a debate going forward, I would not support personally taking housing benefit from the most vulnerable. I would not personally support taking away housing benefit from the very young. I think because there is an issue here we need to discuss about intergenerational fairness … There are many policies within parties that we have a debate about.”
Tory peer Baroness Wheatcroft later added that the Conservatives need to “get the tone right” to make sure they sound sympathetic towards those who cannot work.
“I firmly believe there is only one nasty party and it’s a very nasty party called Ukip. What the Conservative party needs to do is to be careful that it does not appear to be in the least nasty, but kind and caring and wants people to work because it is the best possible solution to them as well as the country,” she told the World at One.
> HA HA HA HA HA ! Maybe you’d appear kind and caring if you were kind and caring. No-one who has been fucked over by the Tories is going to forget it.
The warnings came the day after academics from the LSE, Manchester and York published a new study showing the coalition’s cuts are disproportionately hitting families with young children.
Among the charities to issue warnings about the proposed benefit cap were the Child Poverty Action Group. Its chief executive, Alison Garnham, said:
“Let’s be absolutely clear – the benefit cap is at least nine times more likely to affect children than adults, and the majority of adults it hits are lone parents, many of whom have children so young even the government recognises they should not be required to work.
> The parent or the children ? I only ask because the government making small children work just seems so likely…
“On the day that a major programme of research by academics from leading universities shows families with young children have been more impoverished than anyone else in recent years, we have another policy-push that would undercut the most vulnerable.”
Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, weighed in on the issue of housing benefit, saying it would cause further misery for vulnerable young people.
“The 80,000 young people who find themselves homeless will think David Cameron is more focused on May’s elections than the reality that, for the most vulnerable young people in our society, housing benefit is a lifeline, not a lifestyle choice,” he said.
Source – The Guardian, 27 Jan 2015
North East politicians are calling for government to tap into a £22m EU fund to ease pressure on foodbanks.
David Cameron has been criticised for allegedly failing to take the money over fears it reveals the UK’s dependency on the EU and weakens his position going into a potential in/out referendum in 2017.
However the Conservative Party have said they are not missing out on EU cash and have £2.9m to spend, and they – not Europe – will decide where it goes.
Labour MEPs have now written an open letter to the Prime Minister asking him to lift his block on support for the country’s most vulnerable people for what they consider is solely for ‘ideological reasons’.
The European Aid to the Most Deprived Fund is worth £2.5bn, and is available to all EU member countries to dip into to help people who are most in need. Foodbanks would have been able to apply for funding from the pot. However David Cameron decided to opt out of the scheme in 2013, which Labour members believe could have eventually totalled £22m for the UK between 2014 and 2020.
The Government has previously said it believes individual member states are best positioned to deliver social programmes for the poor through regional or local authorities. They’ve said they will take their Most Deprived Fund subsidy (£2.9m) and deduct it from their ‘structural fund’, the cash pot they would prefer to see money delivered through.
The North East’s two Labour MEPs, Jude Kirton Darling and Paul Brannen have said in their joint letter to David Cameron that he should ‘remove opposition’ to support for foodbanks. The letter has also been signed by leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, and leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig.
Jude Kirton Darling, MEP, said:
“People are under intense financial pressure at the moment and many people will have used food banks this year.
“As the weather turns colder and people face increased heating bills we feel now is the time for the Government to remove its opposition to support for food banks.”
Paul Brannen MEP added that as well as accepting more money from the EU, in the medium term he would like to see food bank use decline through an increased minimum wage, less use of zero hour contracts and a youth job guarantee for young people.
A Conservative party spokesperson, said:
“We aren’t losing money – any funding the UK receives from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived will be taken off our structural fund allocation.
“Instead we will use our structural funds to support local initiatives to train and support disadvantaged people into work. We have not yet decided how the €3.5m euro pot (£2.9m) will be spent – food aid is just one of the options for spending the money.”
> So nothing will happen this side of the General Election. Probably not after it, either.
In 2013, British MEPs alongside two other member states formed a blocking minority which meant the initial European-wide fund was spilt into two, with one fund for ‘material assistance’, which would have seen the UK receiving food and items like sleeping bags directly, and another for ‘immaterial assistance’ which could go towards the budgets of social programmes.
Britain chose to draw down only on the second fund ‘immaterial assistance’, and while it accepted a share of £2.9m – the same as the smallest EU member Malta with a population of just 450,000 – neighbouring country France accepted has taken its full €443m allowance.
The letter to Mr Cameron written by the pair, said:
“We feel now is the time to remove your opposition to support for food banks.
“We understand your opposition to the European Union but the fact is that the money is available and should be used as there is clear and desperate need. It is wrong to block support for the most vulnerable people for ideological reasons.
“You have claimed that support for food banks should be a national decision, yet the decision of your government is to not support food banks at all. We do not believe that is right.”
The Government announced in October that it plans to use some of the UK share of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived to provide additional support for school breakfast clubs in England. Under the plans, which will be led by the Department for Education, this money would be allocated to schools with particularly high rates of disadvantage, as measured by free-school meal eligibility. This still needs to be agreed by the EU Commission.
Figures from by the Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks, show that between April and September 2014, over 25,000 people were helped by the charity’s Gateshead, Newcastle East and Newcastle West End food banks alone.
That breaks down to 4,289 a month – more than treble the 1,316 people per month in Newcastle and Gateshead who accessed a foodbank in the nine month period between April 2013 and December 2013.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 22 Jan 2015
Well – it’s started already.
Only a couple of days into the New Year and the political machines are in motion churning out a stream of propaganda and misinformation.
With £78 million to spend on their election campaign, the Conservatives have an incredible amount of money they can use to try and fool the public into thinking they are worthy of another term in government.
Unfortunately for the Conservatives, most people are able to see past this charade and reflect on the woeful mismanagement of the country’s resources by one of the most incompetent governments in recent history.
Knowing that they have been responsible for almost destroying the foundation of British society the Conservative leadership are attempting to buy the election – that is the only resource they have.
Their track record is abominable. Their lies and deceit seem to know no bounds. Their actions during their time in office…
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