Tagged: propaganda

Tories And The Hypocrisy Of Anti-Statism

Guy Debord's Cat

The Tories often claim to be anti-statists and accuse their opponents, usually the Labour Party, of being ‘statists’. This was the same claim that Thatcher made back in 1979 and throughout the 1980s. However, if you look at their record in government since that time, the claim rings hollow.

Thatcher’s anti-state rhetoric  has been assiduously revived under Cameron’s Conservatives. The state, we are told, must be shrunk for our own good and socialism and, by extension, the Labour Party are regarded as obstacles to the freedom (sic) that will apparently flow from a reduction of the size of the state. Yet the Tories claims to anti-statism are made without any apparent sense of self-reflexivity or irony. In his article “Thatcherism – A New Stage?” for Marxism Today, Prof. Stuart Hall (1980) wrote:

In the development of her anti-statist philosophy, Mrs Thatcher has successfully identified this kind of ‘statism’ with Labour — and with…

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The election will be fact checked – but your help is still needed

Just for once, we can share some excellent news that neither Cameron nor IDS will welcome.

Plus a huge t£2,500hank you to everyone who responded to our request to support Full Fact’s bid to fact check the election.

With your help Full Fact have now got the £25,000 they need to launch their six week election fact checking project – but it’s not over yet.

Over 120 donations flooded in to the Crowdfunder page during the 24 hours after the appeal in our last newsletter, totalling around £2,500.

.full fact team

 

The donations included £100 from Cathie Wood, whose brother Mark Wood tragically starved to death after being found fit for work. Cathie left a comment saying:

“You are doing vital work – good luck with it. This donation is in memory of my brother Mark Wood who died due to current govt. policies and lies.”

But Full Fact have until Friday afternoon to carry on. Additional donations will help them extend their fact checking to more newspaper articles, TV programmes and election broadcasts.

Cameron’s ‘obese claimants’ propaganda was just a foretaste of the misleading smears that will be unleashed in the last weeks of the election. Every extra pound Full Fact get will help them challenge such attacks.

So, if you possibly can, please donate a few pounds or publicise the project on Twitter, Facebook , forums and elsewhere.

It truly will make a difference.

Source – Benefits & Work, 25 Feb 2015

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3030-the-eelection-will-be-fact-checked-but-your-help-is-still-needed

North Tyneside Council reprimands UKIP teen over political views

A teenage UKIP campaigner has been reprimanded for sharing his political views while standing as a youth councillor.

Joshua Gilroy, 16, has been told by North Tyneside Council officials that he cannot promote the right-wing political party while sitting on their young persons’ forum.

Yet the farming student claims his political views are a private matter and have never impaired his ability to be neutral when representing residents in the borough.

The row broke out after the Northumberland College pupil printed a statement in the party’s newsletter alongside a picture of himself asking for people to join UKIP’s youth wing. A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said that in his piece he deliberately described himself as a “youth councillor and cabinet member” which triggered an investigation into the future of his position with the youth team.

A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: “Youth councillors are bound by a code of conduct and make a commitment to be politically neutral in their role.

“We recognise in their private lives they may wish to support or belong to a political party, however, in their position as a youth councillor they must not combine the two, and on this occasion the youth councillor did with his statement in a political leaflet.”

However, Joshua claims he has never been asked to sign anything relating to political neutrality and believes North Tyneside Council’s Labour administration is fearful of UKIP’s increasing popularity.

He said their neutrality guidelines should also be called into question considering youth council members are currently being asked to consider issues such as lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.

Joshua, from Camperdown near Newcastle, said: “I’m endorsing UKIP but it’s got nothing to do with the council – this is to do with my personal life. I’ve said what my title is in the newsletter but I’m not using it as propaganda.

“This is supposed to be about giving young people a say in the local council and now I feel that this isn’t the case.”

Joshua, who studies animal management and hopes to become a dairy farmer, joined UKIP in November 2013 alongside his mum and stepfather when all three decided to make a switch from Labour.

> Joshua, who studies animal management and hopes to become a dairy farmer – who would then no doubt be very happy to pocket his share of the  European Union subsidies paid to farmers…

A spokesperson from the council added: “In the first instance, the youth councillor is issued with a reminder that as a youth councillor they must not use their role to promote a political party.”

Source – Newcastle Journal  05 April 2014

Youth Unemployment & Mental Illness In North East

More than one in five young people in the North East have experienced symptoms of mental illness as a direct result of unemployment, a new report warns today.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index paints a bleak picture of young people’s mental health and wellbeing in the region, with the report finding that young people who are long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely as their peers to believe they have nothing to live for.

The report comes at a time when Newcastle has seen a 279% increase in the number of young people claiming benefits for more than six months since the beginning of the recession.

Jonathan Townsend, Northern regional director of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Unemployment is proven to cause devastating, long-lasting mental health problems among young people. Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn’t worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue.

“Here in Newcastle, 795 young people are facing long-term unemployment and there is a real danger that these young people will become hopeless, as well as jobless.

“Our research highlights that unemployed young people are significantly less likely to ask for help if they are struggling to cope. Our message to them is this: organisations like The Prince’s Trust are supporting young people like you every day, helping them back into work, education or training. You are not alone and you need not struggle alone.”

The Prince’s Trust, which works to help young people looking for work, last year worked with 426 disadvantaged young people across Newcastle. It also has a centre in Benwell, in the city’s West End. The charity’s survey found that nearly a third of young people from the city said they “always” or “often” feel down or depressed with the report showing that long-term unemployed people are significantly more likely to feel this way.

One in four young people locally admitted they feel like a “waste of space” – higher than the national average – with the report finding that the long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely to feel this way.

> I wonder why that is ? Just a wild guess, but you dont think it might have something to do with the relentless “skivers not strivers” propaganda channelled through the media direct from the government ? 

Not to mention the treatment handed out by the DWP through its Jobcentres, Work Programme, etc ?

All the stupid hoops you have to jump through, with the possibility of a sanction if you slip up, however trivially ?

It’s enough to unhinge the sanest at the best of times.

The Prince’s Trust is now calling for urgent support from the Government, health agencies and employers to fund its work with long-term unemployed young people battling mental health issues.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “This research proves that unemployment is a public health issue. It is one that must be tackled urgently and it is essential that youth unemployment is added to the public health agenda.

“Unemployed young people are struggling in many aspects of their lives, from their mental health and wellbeing to their relationships and their qualifications and we must act quickly to end this.”

> Well, maybe they could take a lot of the pressure off by just acting in a humane way, and stop treating the unemployed (of any age) as an enemy that must be crushed at all costs. 

Stop sanctions, start admitting that we are an area of high unemployment and probably always will be…and most of all stop the vile media propaganda.

All easy to do and would cost very little.  But, conspiracy theories notwithstanding, I’m starting to think that the government actually want things the way they are. They have absolutely no interest in improving life for the poorer sections of society.

And they keep getting away with it, so why does anyone think they’ll stop ?

Source – Newcastle Journal, 02 Jan 2014

 

Christmas and Foodbanks – Bishop of Jarrow Gets Stuck In…

Well, to a degree anyway. Certainly in his 2013 Christmas message, the Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, adressed subjects which seem to have struck local politicians dumb. I suppose its a start…

Extracts – (full message here).

I wonder if 2013 will go down in history as the year that in this country we discovered Food Banks?  Wherever I go across the region, almost every day I hear stories of people for whom life is becoming more difficult than I can even begin to imagine. I hear stories too of amazing generosity as people give time and money to support people…

It seems impossible this year to separate Christmas and Foodbanks. While very many of us will be spending more and eating more than we do at other times of the year, the media coverage and the collections outside our supermarkets will make it difficult to forget that we are a deeply divided country in which something is very deeply wrong.

If there is hope, – and I surely believe there is – for me it lies in the extraordinary generosity of so many. People I talk to who collect outside supermarkets tell me of the amazing generosity of so many.

Mmm.. and dont forget the amazing generosity of the supermarkets themselves, who generously allow people to buy from them to give to the foodbank collectors outside. Nothing in it for them at all…

There have been those this year who have seemed to want us to harden our hearts with their talk of benefit scroungers – ignoring the fact that very many people on benefits are in work and some foodbanks report that sometimes their busiest time of the day is when people are going home from work. The Good News is how many people refuse to let their hearts be hardened and persist in being generous. That gives me hope.

The bad news is that those propagating the benefits = scroungers propaganda are those in parliament with access to and control of the media, with not a few, I suspect, working for the DWP. I wonder if the Bishop has heard of sanctions and the unnecessery hardships they are causing ?

The Christmas story is a story about a God who does not abandon us whatever the mess and that sense that we are not alone is a reason to have hope.

Trouble is, that God doesn’t seem to give a fuck about suffering. If anything, he seems to get off on it…

It’s the god of Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and David Cameron. the god that saves the Queen but cares nothing for the poor.

The god that says you’ll get pie in the sky when you die (maybe)… but until then you suffer.

I’m not sure I’d want to put too much faith in a god like that.

Unemployment Falls – Sanctions Rise. Coincidence ?

The UK unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2009, official figures show.

At 7.4%, this is the lowest rate since the February-to-April period in 2009, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The number of people out of work fell by 99,000 to 2.39 million in the three months to October, the ONS said.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in November fell by 36,700 to 1.27 million.

In Northern Ireland the unemployment rate was slightly higher at 7.5%, while Scotland’s figure was 7.1.%. England and Wales matched the national figure of 7.4%.

The North East of England had the highest unemployment rate, at 10.1%, while the lowest rate was 5.6% in the East of England.

The North East also had the highest claimant count rate at 6.1%, compared with the South East, which had the lowest, at 2.3%.

Employment Minister Esther McVey wasn’t slow to grab the credit –  “It is really encouraging news that the number of people in jobs has increased by a quarter of a million in the last three months, bringing the total number of people in work to a record-breaking 30 million.

“Together with a big fall in unemployment, this shows that the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work is proving successful.

“It’s also thanks to British businesses up and down the country who are feeling increasingly confident about taking on workers. This is a great sign that the economy is growing.”

Good of her to give a mention to the businesses employing people – “It’s also thanks to British businesses up and down the country” – you might have thought that it’s entirely thanks to them.

Or would you ? Perhaps, against all probability, there is actually some truth to be found in her statement – “this shows that the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work is proving successful”.

Now if you were to amend that to – “this shows that the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits is proving successful” you might be getting closer to the truth.

 Sanctions !

“Latest figures show Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants who failed to do enough to find work had their benefits payments suspended 580,000 times.” – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/benefit-sanctions-ending-the-something-for-nothing-culture

The government’s propaganda site was quick to trumpet their “success” a few months ago.
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, commenting on the above statement:

‘Figures published today show that half a million people face the threat of destitution as their benefits are taken away in a bid to mould behaviour and encourage people to take jobs.

International evidence is that while conditionality, has its uses, it is a blunt and uncertain instrument for driving behaviour. In the US the evidence is that people disappear below the radar altogether, which may recue the claimant count but creates huge risk.

’The threat of destitution is a poorly evidenced high risk way of trying to influence the behaviour of the poorest people in the country.’

Vanishing under the radar – that’s all part of the government’s long-term economic figure-manipulating plan. It’s not about tax payers money being saved – Jobseekers Allowance payments only amount to around 3% of the budget. Almost three times that – around 8% – is paid in benefits to those IN work.

Consider the words of a Job Centre whistleblower – from 2011, and its got worse since…

A whistleblower said staff at his jobcentre were given targets of three people a week to refer for sanctions, where benefits are removed for up to six months. He said it was part of a “culture change” since last summer that had led to competition between advisers, teams and regional offices.

“Suddenly you’re not helping somebody into sustainable employment, which is what you’re employed to do,” he said.

“You’re looking for ways to trick your customers into ‘not looking for work’. You come up with many ways. I’ve seen dyslexic customers given written job searches, and when they don’t produce them – what a surprise – they’re sanctioned. The only target that anyone seems to care about is stopping people’s money.

“‘Saving the public purse’ is the catchphrase that is used in our office … It is drummed home all the time – you’re saving the public purse. Feel good about stopping someone’s money, you’ve just saved your own pocket. Its a joke.”

Unfortunately a not very funny joke, with a punchline that causes real damage.

“We were told suddenly that [finding someone to sanction] once a week wasn’t good enough, we were far behind other offices, and we went to a meeting where they compared us with other offices, and said we now have to do three a week to catch up. Most staff go into work and they’re thinking about it from moment one – who am I going to stop this week?”

“The young often fall into it, because they haven’t been there long enough, they are generally a major target. The uneducated are another major target. I’ve seen people with … seriously low educational standards and it’s easy to exploit them.”

He said staff had different ways to ensure they could stop benefits for a set amount of people.

“So, for example, if you want someone to diversify – they’re an electrician or a plumber, they may not want to go into call centres or something. What you do is keep promoting such and such a job, and you pressure them into taking it off you, the piece of paper. Then in two weeks you look at the system, you ask them if they applied for it … they say no – you stop their money for six months.”

The whistleblower says his office has been told there is no more money for back to work training from April. “From April, we offer no provision … nothing, no training course, nothing. The funding ends at the end of March.

“[Now] your office can shine through one of two targets. You can either shine through getting people into work, but that’s really difficult. Or you can stop their money, and that’s really easy.”

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/apr/01/jobcentres-tricking-people-benefit-sanctions

Well, that was 2011. Things have got worse as it becomes ingrained in the DWP culture. One perceptive reader of the above Guardian article wrote at the time :

” At some point Osborne or Cameron will triumphantly brandish figures about how many ‘scroungers’ they cut off from benefits. Remember, this is how they did it.”

Anyone hearing Cameron in the media yesterday might like to consider that.

And its going to get worse yet –  consider an article published a few days ago on the Boycott Workfare site –

http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3116

100,000 people given historic sanctions

In August 2012 it was ruled in the high court that the letters given to claimants mandating them onto workfare schemes of up to 780 unpaid hours did not communicate to people what was required of them on these schemes. This meant all the sanctions that had been awarded through a range of different workfare schemes were unlawful and had to be repaid. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) went about appealing this ruling, but in February 2013 the decision was upheld.

After this the DWP rushed through the retrospective Jobseekers (Back to Work) Act, making the unlawful withdrawal of benefits from an estimated 179,000 people now apparently legal – although obviously this Act did not change the fact that people were not fully aware of what was required of them at the time.

This Act was supported by the Labour Party and deprived people who would have suffered significant hardship of a total of £130 million that was unlawfully stolen by the government.

It now turns out that the cruelty of this Act did not stop there. Since the first court case decision in August 2012 they had stopped sanctioning for cases that would be affected by the courts decision, and had started to stockpile these decisions. The introduction of the Jobseekers (Back to Work) Act allowed them to start sanctioning all these stockpiled sanctions. At the time they rushed through the act 63,000 sanctions had been stockpiled, and by the time they started to sanction people in July 2013 this could have reached over 100,000 sanctions.

Over the last 3-6 months people have been notified of these sanctions with letters such as the one shown. As can be seen there can be a year long gap between the alleged event and you being notified of the sanction making it almost impossible to appeal as it is unlikely you have knowledge of what you did on that day (and neither do the work programme providers!).

Not only were all 3 main political parties involved in depriving the poorest people of £130 million that was rightfully theirs, but are now chasing another 100,000 claimants for money through these historic sanctions with little hope of claimants forming a strong case of appeal. All benefit sanctions are wrong, but this retrospective law shows how happy the government are to even sanction illegally – as they’ll just change the law later and sanction people a year down the line.

You wonder that the unemployment rates seem to be falling ? Even though there are apparently no more vacancies than before, still masses of empty shops and factories and the local media continues to report job losses on an almost daily basis ?

Do you wonder why, in Parliament, Labour MPs failed to ask questions about the role of sanctions in the supposed improved figures ?

Or why, on the day the figures were released, the Sunderland Echo – hardly a radical publication – headlined with Bleakest Times For The City’s Homeless ?

Come April 2014 and the introduction of compulsory workfare – allied to all those retrospective sanctions they’re currently harvesting – you can just bet those figures will be tumbling yet again.

Please remember why… someone, somewhere, perhaps even you, will have been sacrificed on the altar of political ambition.

Does that dull the feelgood factor perhaps just a little ?