> UKIP candidates behaving badly…again.
Police had to be called to a public meeting when a UKIP candidate standing in tomorrow’s local elections was thrown out.
A torrent of swearing and shouting led to Stephen Brand being asked to leave the Park Hotel in Tynemouth following his outburst at North Tyneside Question Time run by the People’s Assembly on Monday night.
He is standing in North Tyneside’s Chirton ward for the UK Independence Party against independent candidate Amanda Normand, Labour’s Margaret Reynolds and the Conservative candidate Heather Sarin.
Two officers from Northumbria Police were called to the sea-front hotel at around 7.50pm to calm scenes in the hotel’s ballroom after Mr Brand interrupted a speaker during a discussion on education.
Despite being told by audience members to be quiet and sit down and wait his turn to speak, he continued to shout and became aggressive when event organisers approached him to usher him out of the room.
At one point he shouted that if anyone laid a hand on him “it would be assault”.
A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said: “We were called to the Park Hotel in Tynemouth following reports of a man shouting during a meeting.
“Officers attended and at the request of the manager, officers asked him to leave, which he did.”
He received no police caution or warning for his behaviour and willingly left the scene.
However his outburst just days before the election was not welcomed by fellow UKIP candidate Gary Legg, who is standing in the Monkseaton South ward.
The former member of the RAF had been invited as part of a panel of six representatives from political parties for the question-and-answer session and he is now working with the party to clarify how events unfolded on Monday night.
Joan Hewitt, who co-organised the event on behalf of the People’s Assembly, said: “Normally I wouldn’t condone the highlighting of an unpleasant incident but I think this shows that this particular UKIP candidate was not agreeing with the nature of the event, which was participatory.”
Also speaking on the panel was North Tyneside’s current Labour deputy mayor Bruce Pickard, Alan Furness, who is standing as a Conservative candidate in Valley, Martin Collins for the Green Party in Wallsend, Tim Wall standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in Benton and David Taws, the independent candidate for Collingwood.
A spokesman for UKIP said the party was conducting an inquiry into the incident, however Mr Brand will still stand on Thursday.
He said: “There is a suggestion of provocation. We would apologise however.
“It will be referred to the national executive committee who will look at everything and the committee may determine what the appropriate action is that should be taken.
“It’s very difficult before an election to do anything else. Ballot papers have gone out and they have got his name on it.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 21 May 2014
People looking for work have had their benefits stopped to meet government targets, the PCS union claims.
The union, which represents many job centre staff, said they had been under “enormous pressure” to stop claimants’ Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Some claimants said they had benefits withdrawn for “genuine mistakes” such as missing appointments.
The government says sanctions are a “last resort”, and strongly denies the union’s claim.
“Job centre staff are under enormous pressure to implement sanctions on unemployed people,” PCS union north-east regional secretary Simon Elliot said.
> Some of them. Others seem to revel in that little bit of power, and dont require any pressure whatsoever…
“Staff are faced with the threat of sanctions themselves in the form of what they call performance improvement plans if they don’t impose sanctions.
“If you look at the guidance for implementing the performance improvement plans it clearly states that it’s a measure against targets.”
David Taws from North Tyneside had his benefit suspended for forgetting an appointment.
He phoned to apologise but was told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would need to be informed.
“The letter turned up on the 20th of December and I was literally sanctioned over Christmas,” he said. “It was horrific – I had to go literally begging for food at a church hall.”
Another man, who did not wish to be named, said his benefit was cut for a month in September.
“I explained that I was caring for my nana,” he said. “I was up and down to the hospital with her. It totally slipped my mind. I phoned up and said I’m half an hour late for my appointment and they said, ‘OK, we’ll just put it as a miss’.
“I got a letter two weeks later saying I was sanctioned – for 28 days.”
Mr Elliot said staff were being forced to carry out “politically motivated” objectives.
> Forced ? You’re a bloody trade union, man ! You should be in there fighting.
The DWP strongly denied there were any targets for the number of sanctions that Job Centre staff must hand out. It also said there was a right of appeal.
North Tyneside Council Conservative group leader Judith Wallace defended the use of sanctions to “stamp out the something-for-nothing culture”.
She said: “If people are unemployed, and looking for work, clearly it is right that they should get benefits but, equally clearly, it’s right that there should be conditions attached to those benefits.”
> Yes ? And haven’t there always been conditions attached ? It’s just that they’ve never been used as a political weapon in such a cynical way before. And for all sanctions have increased massively, lets not forget that unemployment continues to rise in the North East.
And where are our local Labour MPs in all this ? Or any other local political party outside the coalition ?
- The new regime came into force in October 2012
- Sanctions of between four weeks and three years can be imposed
- More than 400,000 in England, Scotland and Wales had Jobseeker’s Allowance stopped in the first nine months of the new system
- In Northumberland and Tyne and Wear the figure was almost 17,500 for the same period
- In Durham and Tees Valley it was nearly 16,000
- It was more than 20,000 in Cumbria and Lancashire
Source – BBC News Tyne & Wear, 24 Jan 2014