Archives for posts with tag: Department for Work and Pensions


Jobseekers allowance – Single unemployed under 25 – £57.90, over 25 – £73.10 – a week

In the following I make no attempt to be impartial. not to the system. the government, its officials and especially the Department for Work and Pensions all of which act with extreme prejudice against the lives and well being of ordinary people.

It’s 2018 and Britain no longer has an effective universal safety net, not in health, social security, education, public services, housing, foreign policy, you name it.

The Jobseekers allowance figures above will change under Universal Credit (UC), which is guaranteed to see no one in any kind of credit and will certainly penalise poor people further, which was the whole intent and purpose of UC from day one.

One of Universal Credits chief architects, David Freud, said in 2012, “We’ve got the circumstances now where… people who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks, they’ve got least to lose.” He meant, of course, economic risks, for which driving people into poverty was the obvious solution. Since then millions have been driven into poverty on their way to becoming millionaires like Freud.

Benefits are often described as the minimum the law requires for people to live on, whatever that may have once meant, it is now utterly meaningless.

With the help of Charlotte Hughes, prominent protector in the war on the poor, I decided to make a little list of minimal costs of living in the UK today, with added scorn. Feel free to add your own epithets as you see fit.

£2 a meal 3 times a day = £42 (as if…)
elec – £10. Gas – £15 = £25 (you wish)
Household goods inc. sanitary products – forget it – at the most a couple of quid.
Bus fares walk if local of not at least a fiver.
Clothing – forget it. Clothes have to last. If essential a fiver
Drink, drugs, tobacco – don’t even think about it!
Television – get you, over privileged scrounger!
Phone – if lucky a Pay As You Go from £5 a month because the DWP demand you are online, that’s if you haven’t pawned your phone
Internet access – only on phone. Maybe a cheap deal of £30 a month or less.
Social life – forget it.
Any kind of household emergency or domestic appliance failure – tear your hair out.
Printer and stationary (CVs and suicide notes) – Back of a brown envelope.
Support for depression, suicidal thoughts, despair – None unless you go on a long waiting list. You have to phone helplines which isn’t going to happen with no money or phone.
Having to move out of your family area, sofa surfing, homeless.
And then – sanctions – denied even the most basic means of survival.

In 2012 David Cameron accused people on long term benefits of having a ‘culture of entitlement’, in a fact free rant to escalate the culture of hatred he was promoting. What the Conservatives never talk about is quality of life for ordinary people. Quality of life and the copious benefits which protect it is exclusive to people like him, for whom austerity was an opportunity for personal enrichment and has seen a massive transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest people on earth.

To treat poor people in such an obscene way as to expect people under 25 to attempt to subsist on £57.90 a week and people over 25 on £73.10 a week should be classed as a crime of class discrimination. Quite simply, Conservatives would never consider for a moment imposing such punishments on their own kind, nor deprive them of the means of survival, and certainly no court in the land would ever impose such a punishment. The benefits system imposed by the Conservatives is a crime against a specific, targeted, section of humanity, the poorest and least able and the least supported to make any headway in the world. Worse still, those in poverty are blamed for the very existence of poverty and then penalised further for having the temerity to be poor in the first place.

Just look at the state of those two figures, it’s writ large that poverty is maintained by the rich, to benefit the rich, it’s right there in black and white as government policy.

KOG. 11 April 2018.

DPAC are holding a national day of action calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped, April 18th. Links just below.



We are not rational creatures, as a descriptor of humanity, we have the potential to be rational, but even attempting to be rational has subjective bias for all sorts of reasons including regional and cultural bias. We also use reason and logic selectively, prejudice is very real, but also irrational. We make no conscious choice to abandon reason, but we do abandon reason for particular beliefs, often defending them stridently and even violently. One of the critical factors of prejudice is that it is all too often impervious to reason.

We have laboured far too long under the Newtonian bias of living creatures as discrete biological machines, which is far too simplistic for the complexity and subtlety of being.

Just before the year 2000 I expressed a hope that the millennium would mark the end of the age of reason and the idea that life submits to reason. Reason, logic and rationality all exist in our life tool box, but whether we choose to use them, or how much, is another matter.

Life becomes less confusing and more explicable if we accept being irrational and unreasonable as essential parts of our self. We feel most alive when our thoughts and internal dialogue are overwhelmed and silenced, most naturally experienced when we are awed by something, like a glorious sunset or some incredible view. But we can also be overwhelmed by trauma, which can be so shockingly real it overwhelms our ability to reason and even function. In such moments or circumstances, life can become too immediately and brutally real for us to deal with and we ‘go into shock’.

If we think that there is a reason for everything and that life submits to reason, we reduce life to meet our expectations of it. It doesn’t work that way, or only in a fundamentally flawed way, and we succeed only in reducing ourselves and on that path lies much that we call mental illness, like depression, (conflicted self), dissociation, and schizophrenia which is known to frequently be triggered by trauma, although exact causes are unknown.

The idea of us as rational creatures is a fallacy and any therapy that embraces that fallacy is toxic to both the practitioner and the client. A therapist with a behavioural or psychological agenda is a danger to clients, not least because they are in a position of power and the presumption that they know best reduces the autonomy, and the ability to be self determining, of the client, which is precisely the problem we have today with a paternalistic government which presumes to know what is best for everyone else and are offended by, and contemptuous of, people, ‘not like them’. Cognitive bias is a real and present danger, it is an irrationality of judgement based on ones own perceptions and/or propaganda and the affirmation of those of the same mind.

Paternalism is the irrational belief in ones own superiority to others and, in asserting itself, it perpetuates itself by keeping others down. We need look no further than the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to see this in action and the DWP is a perfect reflection of the broader mindset of the entire Conservative government.

Many people are going into crisis under this Conservative government and mental ill health is on the rise. One of the problems, I suggest, is that people are cognitively biased (educated) to think that governments are, or ought to be, ‘good’ and have our best interests at heart. Firstly, there is little to suggest in history that this is the case, and secondly, changing government policy for the benefit of the people all too often comes from long, intense and determined struggle against governments which are determined to ignore or suppress protest and progress. Votes for women and universal suffrage being a, currently celebrated, prime example, another is the abolition of slavery, after protracted and brutal struggle, which saw slave owners rewarded and compensated for their loss and former slaves ‘liberated’ and abandoned with nothing and forced back into the harsh employment of their once ‘owners’ and the owners unreconstructed mind set.

The presumption of reason is that we should or ought to be reasonable at all times when demonstrably we are not. If I decide I want to buy a particular picture or even just a pair of shoes, my primal concern is about whether I like whatever I am buying. Rationalising comes after the fact. The ‘art’ of buying is getting ‘what I like’, my aesthetic taste comes before anything else and it is to aesthetic taste that advertisers appeal, despite all the baloney they throw our way. Even if the product is a pile of junk, it is the advertisers job to make it as appealing as possible and to extol its real or fictitious virtues to persuade us to buy it. It is very easy to confuse what we want with what we need and to bleat about needing what we want. I am not a fan of being needy, but a big fan of being wanty, If I am expressing what I want, I am being self asserting, if I am being needy, I am being beggarly, no matter how vital that need is, and if it is vital, then I very definitely want it and should, most likely, strenuously demand it.

The current benefits system routinely deprives people of the means of survival (money) through sanctions. Too many people are so traumatised, broken down, dehumanised and beaten by such inhuman cruelty and brutality, that they take their own lives in despair because they can see no way to assert themselves to obtain something so vital to all of us for our survival in the modern world. It can be intensely difficult to grasp the idea of demanding money, especially when we have not ‘earned ‘ it, because it is a manufactured commodity in which the majority are conditioned to its politically and ideologically imposed scarcity, whilst the super rich are conditioned to endlessly increasing their wealth and being politically and ideologically rewarded for their greed.

The world in which we live is becoming ever more irrational whilst claiming the moral high ground of bogus rationality. As the saying goes, ‘It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society’, and right now society is profoundly sick indeed. It is entirely reasonable to oppose and actively resist this appalling descent into ever increasing chaos, irrationality, unreason and despotic greed.

But that’s not good enough because reason has little to do with it, reason is not getting people galvanised and motivated to act. Reason falls on deaf ears. It requires something else, a different approach. Those who follow the herd and submit to, and even support, the tyranny of our times, will follow the tide wherever it goes, it’s not a particularly rational process and we are being irrational if we believe it should be.

We actually have gone past the age of reason, it’s no longer a functioning ideology. What is required, by the most creative means at our disposal, is to get real, visceral, vibrant and vital, our purpose needs to be more of a celebration than a dismal fight. Every day people engage in online debates, climbing into their bunkers, digging in, ever deeper, and looking for the next round of ammunition, hoping it’ll be more hard hitting and effective than the last lot, till someone finally mentions Hitler and everyone can buzz off and live to fight another day, persuading themselves that they are absolutely in the right and reason is on their side. And move not one inch further forward.

It is actually our minds fault that we repeat the same mistakes again and again hoping for a better outcome. Every serious thinker has to, of necessity, challenge their own mind and if we really do want to change society, then the first thing we need to change is right between our ears and that is more challenging than we might imagine, because we are all conditioned thinkers and thinking outside the, so called, box is actually very difficult.

What do we want? We want things to be better. Why? Because we’re better than this, no matter how much you or I might feel in despair, we are absolutely better than this. We are living, breathing, human beings, who made it here, into life for this all too brief journey in time and I’ll be buggered if I’ll accept a beggarly existence, eked out by, and on the sufferance of, some hideous despotic government which is robbing us blind.

This is our one shot at life, for fucks sake, and saying that is more accurate than it might at first seem. We are the biological progeny of life itself. Is that not amazing? Are we not wonderful, glorious even? For all of life’s many tribulations,I am gloriously alive and life is amazing. Who are these dismal dullards who are killing us off because it is economically expedient (for them) to do so? Akk, akk, akk, akk, stick in my craw, fur ball, moment. If only metaphorically, spit them out, who the hell are they to dictate how we live or whether we’re worthy to live? We are definitely better than that. You are wonderful and I am wonderful and if that is difficult to grasp, it is time to work on it and change our own minds, until we really and truly get it and realise we’re something extraordinary.

Last word from the indomitable Harry Leslie Smith to a critic, “That I am healthy, relevant and feel loved so late in the game is my life of Riley.”

KOG. 11 February 2018.


Any politician who employs deceit, deception, lies, propaganda, spin, corruption, cheating, defamation, character assassination, libel, slander or any other form of corrupt practice to achieve power, should never hold office.

Currently elections are a free for all, reliant on the integrity or parties and individuals, with few, if any, checks and balances to protect the public from foul play.

What checks and balances that do exist are too slow and cumbersome to be of any effective use. The Electoral Commission, the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK, does not have the power or resources to live monitor the election process. In the same way, there is no effective real time media oversight to hold media outlets to account, they are free to mislead the public through any and every dubious tactic they employ.

Yet again, the troubles in Ireland have been raised by the Conservatives to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. These are the usual low rent, cheap tricks, employed by the Lynton Crosby school of muck raking and mud slinging, but it tells me more about the Tories than it does about anything else. Have not the long suffering people of Ireland had enough trouble without this abuse?

What this highlights for me is the utter contempt that the Conservative Party have for the lives and concerns of ordinary people. How must it feel in Derry right now, after all they have been through, to witness a bunch of English toffs using them for cheap political point scoring… again? I know exactly how it makes me feel and it is difficult to contain the anger that rises up and the desire for vengeance against a party that cares as little for my own life as is does for the people of Ireland.

I was in Cleadon, South Tyneside, in County Durham, during the miners strike, I witnessed the violence unleashed against the striking miners and their families, which meant entire communities, and I witnessed the bravery and courage of people who were having their livelihoods stolen from them by a party and, very specifically, Thatcher, whose entire intent was to crush the Miners Union and, thereby, all unions. That’s what all the violence and chaos was about.

Memories rise up unbidden, but in the present, there is the party that invokes those memories, who are very comfortable with the suffering they cause ordinary people, who treat us all as an enemy to be crushed. That’s what has happened to disabled people, people looking for work and poor people generally, therein lies the entire ideology of the Department for Work and Pensions, to penalise us and crush us with a casual indifference for those who die along the way.

If the Conservatives win the General Election, I do not expect to survive another five years of their brutality. I am not emoting here and require no ones sympathy, I am merely stating a stark internal awareness based on Tory plans for pensions and health care, both of which I am reliant on through the progress of age and illness in my life. And I am by no means alone, as family, friends, acquaintances, and connections to people which extend out through social media, face their own diverse circumstances under the brutality of Tory misrule.

Theresa May, Michael Fallon, Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd, Michael Gove, Damian Green, Iain Duncan Smith, Jeremy Hunt, Priti Patel, and not forgetting David Cameron and George Osborne (to name but a few), these are people in whom I see no shred of humanity or decency, to whom we are mere pawns in their ‘game’. Whoever and wherever you are right now, do you feel these people have a positive regard for your life? If so, in what way?

What I see is a bunch of smug, over privileged, self serving, lying, cheating, stealing, thugs. Don’t agree? Sue me and let’s see the evidence for a government against whom the EU has found, “UK welfare reforms have led to “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights”.

Theresa May has claimed this General Election is “the most important election this country has faced in my lifetime”, if so she’s making a piss poor show of giving a tinkers cuss. What I know for certain is that this General Election is the most important election I’ve faced in my lifetime and I’ll fight her every millimetre of the way to the ballot box for a fair and just Britain and an end to the party of the privileged few for the privileged few and an end to their lies and deceit and their easy dealing in death and misery.

Enough is enough.

KOG. 29 May 2017



Whether I am given a parking fine, a court summons for not paying my council tax and imprisoned, made bankrupt or homeless as a punishment, fallen behind in my rent because I have too low an income to cover the market rent and am forced to choose between eating and rent, sanctioned and deprived of all income for being a minute late for a Jobcentre appointment, in fact, name the countless ways in which we can be punished for financial want, these are paper crimes. There is no motive of harm or wilful hurt caused to another and, excepting the very few who defraud for personal financial gain, these are what I would call crimes of innocence.

In Britain we have two types of law, as best as I can understand it, Common Law and Civil Law.

Common Law is set by precedent and is also known as Case Law and Natural Law, evolved and developed over time by the court system and comprises what we know as natural justice.

Civil Law or Statute Law, is set by parliament and whatever passes in parliament goes on what we know as the statute books. The definition of Statute Book is the: “Chronological collection of the statutes approved by the legislative body of a country and forming its legal code.”

Britain is a confusing mixture of both these forms of law.

Readers may remember when I attempted to bring charges against Iain Duncan Smith and (Lord) David Freud under the Human Rights Act for depriving people of the means of survival and therefore infringing their right to life. What I unwittingly came up against was a conflict between two statutory laws and was informed by the Police that in order to challenge the sanctions regime I would have to bring a civil case, which is a ‘legal dispute between two or more parties’. It was, and still remains, my right as a citizen to do this, if I could afford it. As the police informed me, it wasn’t a criminal case because Iain Duncan Smith wasn’t breaking the law, sanctions have been around since the National Insurance Act 1911, my case, if I had one, was to pursue a conflict in statute law in which a judge would adjudicate.

Which roundabout route brings me back to crimes of innocence and why outrage is both entirely right and appropriate and yet hobbled. What we are up against is that most hideous of creatures, the Jobsworth, who obeys the letter of the law absent of any common sense, decency or rationality and who positively enjoys penalising people for no good reason. I give you, the Tory government, who are experts in achieving illegitimate ends by legitimate means: i.e. they have the legitimate means to deprive people of the means of survival through sanctions, the end is that people die either through penury or through suicide, and the government claim they’ve done nothing wrong in their twisted, perverse thuggery. Worse, they ladle the blame on us, who, were they to vanish in a moment (I wish), would carry on with our lives free of their vile perfidy and constant threat.

I recently quoted from ‘Britannia Unchained’, a book co-written by Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Elizabeth Truss, who castigate ‘the “baby boomer” generation for seeking to raise taxes for young workers to pay for their lavish pension pots’. In so doing they promote a lie and generate discord and hate for a crime of innocence, where pensioners have paid into their pension pot in good faith, over their working life times, to receive on retirement a state pension which is anything but lavish.

This stuff is as infuriating as it is teeth grindingly irritating, from self serving politicians making political capital out of our lives and a presumption of guilt for no crime we’ve committed either wilfully or in error.

And they know exactly what they are doing. It is enraging to watch their smirking faces when they are challenged in parliament and the lies with which they justify themselves and wilfully avoid any accountability whatsoever.

This country is ruled by the unjust and the innocent die. They have weaponised poverty and made of it a crime of innocence, for which the penalty is death by sanction in Britain’s filthy secret penal system, the Department for Work and Pensions.

Conditionality – obedience or death.

KOG. 11 April 2017

Benefit Sanctions and the Rule of Law


It was a huge shock to lose a good friend and campaigner on Monday 1st January 2017. I spent the day in and out of tears, but as the day unfolded I was astonished to realise the extent of her reach and the number of lives she had profoundly touched. It was typical of Denise Bellamy to just get on with it, she was at times completely disabled by recurring illness and had a busy family life to boot. I can’t imagine how she did it, but I do feel profound awe and overwhelming of love for a dear departed friend and campaigner.

We’re just a few days into the new year, it’s not even toddling yet, but what has struck me is the force of the opposition to what the Tories are doing to our country and our people. It feels the year has started like a tidal wave and we are a lot wiser than at the start of 2016, but the fundamental problem remains, the way the Tories treat us and their attitude towards us.

Today I read about a woman who had her mobility allowance stopped because she could squeeze someone’s thumb. She has since had her mobility allowance restored and backdated after interventions from her MP and the press, but that is not the point. Despite having evidence from MS specialists at Leicester’s hospitals, during the assessment the lady was asked to, ‘squeeze this person’s thumb, to touch her toes from a sitting position and to stand on one leg, which she managed to do although holding on to something.’ And that was it, her support was stopped.

I must mention here that within the Department for Work and Pensions we are called ‘Stock’!

Throughout history the lower orders, that’s ordinary people, have been used and abused as cannon fodder, cheap labour, providers for the great and the good as well as being their servants (and being forced into other less savoury roles) and the problem with this government is that this attitude still prevails.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is designed to be humiliating, demeaning, infantalising and downright disrespectful. Medical evidence that claimants provide is ignored and people are forced to perform for so called Healthcare Professionals who go through a tick box process and the results are sent to a decision maker who has the final say in denying them support.

One nurse who worked as a Healthcare Professional had this to say about her job, “It is made clear throughout training and working that we are not nurses – we are disability analysts. Also, we do not carry out “medical assessments” we carry out “functional assessments”. We did not even need a diagnosis to carry out assessments.”

The entire point of ‘functional assessments’ is to assess whether the claimant could do any form of bullshit work at all, no matter how limited, so squeezing a finger qualifies a claimant as capable of work and the entire point of the assessment is to deny benefits to as many people as possible. In short, it’s a punitive system of benefit denial.

What used to enrage Denise, which we discussed many times, and still enrages me and many others is the arrogant paternalism of the government who treat people more like groveling penitents who are forced to physically beg for help through a series of meaningless and demeaning actions like performing monkeys. The word and expertise of real healthcare professionals, like GPs and hospital specialists and, indeed, the word of the claimant, is treated as of no value and meaningless.

In his book, PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, Paul Mason wrote the following, “The truth is, as finance has seeped into our daily lives, we are no longer slaves to the machine, to the 9-to-5 routine, we’ve become slaves to interest payments. We no longer just generate profits for our bosses through our work, but also profits for financial middlemen through our borrowing. A single mum on benefits, forced into the world of pay-day loans and buying household goods on credit, can be generating a much higher profit rate for capital than an auto industry worker with a steady job.

“Once every human being can generate a financial profit just by consuming – and the poorest can generate the most – a profound change begins in capitalism’s attitude to work… financialization is a permanent feature of neoliberalism. Like fiat money, it leads to breakdown – but the system can’t do without it.”

Financial insecurity, whether through poverty pay, insecure jobs on zero hours contracts, the destruction of social safety nets, reducing or denying people the pensions they have paid for over a working lifetime, is a systemic abuse of ordinary people for profit and the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

Drive people into the ground and they become slaves to debt and interest rates all of which just increases the wealth of those who control the financial markets and so it is no surprise to see a report today that the public subsidies to the privatised rail networks, £3.999 billion in 2015/16 alone, is declared as profit and siphoned off as bonuses and fatcat pay packages. Meanwhile rail fares are on the rise again and rail networks fail to meet customer needs merely to get to work.

Whether it is in the trenches over 144 days of hell and ultimate horror in the battle of the Somme at the cost of over a million lives, numberless billions trying to scratch a mean living as wage slaves, or sick and disabled people denied even the right to basic mobility and care, it all feeds the greed of those who own and control wealth and make obscene profits and pay themselves more money than they could need in a hundred lifetimes and give nothing back, not even taxes towards the very system that sustains them.

The entire world runs on the backs of ordinary people, the worker, the disabled person, the immigrant, the single mum, the OAP struggling to stay warm, the evicted homeless, all of us plain, honest to god, ordinary folks.

And do you know what? We’re amazing, we’re so damned decent it takes my breath away. The outpouring of love for Denise says everything about us and nothing about the thieves who despoil our lives for profit. If you are English, then you quite likely hardly know how to complain about a poorly prepared meal in a restaurant, or take back shoddy goods to a store without making a fuss, just standing firm and expecting a refund, or whatever. The crimes committed against us on a daily basis we’ve suffered for generations.

Back in July 1957, Harold Macmillan blithely told us we’d never had it so good, before deciding that we needed to increase our productivity and have our wages suppressed. And he got away with it.

We are so damned good and decent it’s staggering, and when the time comes to be as obnoxious as humanly possible towards the system, we are completely nonplussed. It’s not that we’re out of practice, we’ve never really done it before. Civil disobedience? What’s that?

Personally I am learning every day, building up grit and sinew, cutting away at the veneer of civilisation because there is nothing civilised about organised society, other than in the civility of ordinary people. Behind the veneer of a supposedly civilised state is a shocking brutality in which people are dying daily and does the state care? Not one bit, indeed it creates the very circumstances in which so many are losing their lives.

It’s a slow process and we are not to blame for that, we’re learning as we go. Learning to stand up for ourselves and it is happening. When I think back to planning what I could do in 2011/12 before starting a letter a day to number 10, there was barely a ripple in general to what was going on. As 2017 begins it’s a very different story by comparison. Is it good enough, are we good enough? Yes, we are.

It takes patience, it can’t be rushed for love nor money. Not a one of us can demand any kind of popular uprising, but we can and do work towards it, daily. As others join, so much is already in place and they don’t have to do the groundwork, and getting up to speed is made easier by those who’ve gone before and worked their socks off.

Denise was such a one and I applaud her life and all she did for every one of us, yes, even those who do not even know it yet, never knew her and never will. Her efforts were no less heroic for that.

If she could have left a message on my answering machine, I am very sure she’d have left (in spirit) something like:

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are –
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Attributed to Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)

KOG. 04 January 2017


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,543

Sunday 04 September 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

Just as Jeremy Hunt is stealing the life blood out of our NHS, so too is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) draining the life and spirit out of the people. None of this is necessary, these are policy decisions driven by ideological choices as was the imposition of austerity.

The DWP’s idea of incentivising people into work is through punitive impoverishment. In late 2015 a coroner sent a regulation 28 report, or a Preventing Future Deaths report, to the DWP when a man committed suicide having been found fit for work following an ESA fitness-for-work test by Atos. In her verdict senior coroner for inner north London, Mary Hassell, said “The anxiety and depression were long term problems, but the intense anxiety that triggered his suicide was caused by his recent assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (benefits agency) as being fit for work, and his view of the likely consequences of that.”

As recently as last month the DWP said, “decisions were not based on the condition of claimants, but on what they can do.” No matter what the claimants condition or how extensive the evidence they provide, that has no place in making an assessment.

The central issue in the junior doctors dispute with Jeremy Hunt is that patients lives will be put at risk if Hunt imposes his work contract on Junior doctors. Hunt is also imposing hospital closures through his so called ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ again putting lives at risk. Both the Department for Health and the DWP are actively and knowingly putting people in harms way.

Speaking to the Guardian, Nick Clegg had the following to say about George Osborne, “Welfare for Osborne was just a bottomless pit of savings, and it didn’t really matter what the human consequences were, because focus groups had shown that the voters they wanted to appeal to were very anti-welfare, and therefore there was almost no limit to those anti-welfare prejudices.”

I find nothing in what Clegg has said that is inconsistent with what we have witnessed for over six long years of Tory misrule. Yours is a party which is entirely comfortable putting people’s lives at risk and Iain Duncan Smith has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide evidence of benefit related deaths, leading Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, to call for Smith to face criminal charges. To be honest, I think we are spoiled for choice as your entire government should be in the dock.

Coroner’s ‘ground-breaking’ verdict: Suicide was ‘triggered’ by ‘fit for work’ test

DWP hides seven secret benefit suicide reviews

Shadow chancellor backs calls to prosecute Iain Duncan Smith over WCA deaths


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,538

Tuesday 30 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

What is happening within the Labour party has repercussions for all of us, but more broadly what the parliamentary Labour party and you Tories have in common is utter contempt for ordinary people and democracy.

What has been revealed is a war between democracy and totalitarianism.

Frank Field summed it up very nicely, pouring scorn on the very idea that he is in any way meant to represent the views of his constituents. His patronising, sneering, response on BBC Westminster Live to the idea that, ‘A lot of people watching might think that an MP is there to reflect the views of his or her constituents’, was, “No, dear, they are longing to have somebody they can all boss around as if they had a view.”

This disdain, this contempt, isn’t new, it’s as old as the hills. Only yesterday I read that Prince Harry wants those wounded in battle to be given ‘a Purple heart-style medal’. Does he not know that ex-service personnel are not getting the medical help they need, that thousands of them are homeless and going hungry and even being sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pensions or that due to government cuts they have been sacked and denied their pensions? What the hell use is a medal? It’s an anachronism from the privileged, so steeped in their own pomp and splendour, yet all they offer those who fight their wars for them is a gong with ribbons on. Service women and men swear an oath of allegiance and yet no allegiance is offered in return for their lives and well being.

Whilst we are hounded from pillar to post to be productive workers, what are our rewards, no access to fair representation in law, a minimum wage which is impossible to live on and no share of the profits we create, privatising health care and dismantling our NHS for profit, 500 disabled people a week stripped of access to Motability, no access to a decent pension after years of faithful work and, indeed, successive governments plundering pensions, plans to scrap the human rights act, flogging off the nations assets which were paid for and built by us and permanent austerity. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

And what happens when a Labour leader emerges who believes in democracy, with people having a say, with fairness and justice for all, health, housing and education for all, a fair deal? Those whose only interest is their own worthless privileged lives, including almost the entire mainstream media and the taxpayer funded BBC, lose their minds. Frank Field dismisses the concerns of 70,000 constituents and yet he expects them to not only accept whatever dictat he and parliament forces on them but to accept the enforced silence and impotence that those in power maintain over us. And so, here it is, another letter for you to ignore, I may be just an ordinary guy, but I have never and will never sell my soul for power and privilege. Even the thought of it disgusts me.

The Labour coup’s final plan to oust Corbyn proves it holds the membership in contempt


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,537

Monday 29 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

It is a sad fact that so many are misled by the idea that their disability or sickness has any relevance in the Work Capability Assessments (WCA). As the DWP recently pointed out to The Oxford Times, “decisions were not based on the condition of claimants, but on what they can do.”

People think they are going for a WCA to have their ‘condition(s)’ assessed by medics employed by the DWP at vast public expense. In reality they are being assessed on whether they are capable of doing something, anything, no matter how tenuous that might be. The fact that they might be dying or that every moment of their life is lived in a torment of pain or their every waking thought is suicidal, is irrelevant.

When I was called in for a WCA I was refused a home visit on the grounds that my doctor had informed the test centre that I was able to get to hospital for cancer treatment. As someone who suffers from acute social phobia that was so Orwellian that I felt positively ‘normal’ in having such difficulties in going out. If that is what passes for rationality the human race is clearly doomed. It’s an admission that we are living in the age of stupid and there doesn’t seem to be any hope of recovery.

When Iain Duncan Smith invoked the words written over the gates of Auschwitz, ‘arbeit macht frei’ (work makes you free), he wasn’t kidding around, he even appeared on BBC Breakfast television saying, “Look, work actually helps free people.”  The liberation granted people in the death camps of Germany is not something that any sane person would hold up as a working model for the Department for Work and Pensions.

People need to understand that when they attend a Work Capability Assessment they enter a twisted Tory dystopian environment based on the principles of fascism. It comes as no surprise that a WCA whistle blower said, “Almost every day one of my clients mentioned feelings of suicide to me,” or that the DWP has issued written suicide guidance to frontline staff, apparently printed on laminated pink card.

Ken Loach’s film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, on the failings (or success from a government perspective) of the UK’s benefit system, apparently reduced film critics in Cannes to tears and led friend and fellow activist Charlotte Hughes to write, “Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake needs to inspire us all to act against the political and moral debasement of the Tory government.” Britain’s dirty little secret is that Tory welfare reforms saw the launch of a penal system of brutal cruelty denying people the means of survival.


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,521

Saturday 13 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that there were 746 hospital admissions and 391 deaths from malnutrition in 2015, a rise of 27% from 9 years ago.

The response from the Department for Work and Pensions? “We now have record numbers of people in work and wages rising faster than inflation. But we need to go further, which is why we’ve committed to increase the National Living Wage (not true), we’re taking the lowest paid out of income tax (yet still pay the highest, around 30% of income, in indirect taxation) and our welfare reforms are ensuring it always pays to be in work.”

Not a single word of regret that nearly 400 people starved to death last year in the world’s 6th richest country and an admission that your welfare reforms are so punitive that work always pays (it still doesn’t) no matter how precarious, insecure or low paid that work is. We used to have a social safety net but since 2010 you Tories have cut the ropes.

The food supply in Britain is incredible and awe inspiring, shifting food and stock on a daily, even hourly, basis. From the largest supermarkets to the smallest rural shops, Britain’s roads are full of huge trucks down to small vans and even car boots, 24 hours a day in an endless supply chain keeping shelves filled with goods from across the globe. You’d think it would be a logistical nightmare, but it runs almost invisibly (taken for granted) minute by minute, day by day, all manner of plain and exotic foods in plentiful supply in a land of plenty.

There’s only one problem, food is only good if you can eat it. It’s of no use to anyone if it’s languishing on shelves in shops or finds it way to landfill sites, as half the food in Britain does. If you can’t grub for pennies, you don’t eat, no tokens, no food. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so deadly serious. We all live on this luscious ball of goodness with everything we need to sustain life as a free gift of the universe. Yes, really, I am not making it up, but we have this insane system imposed upon us that you can’t plant a single carrot without either owning or renting the land or having someone’s permission. A share of the Earth’s bounty isn’t a right, you have to earn it and the DWP has introduced forced labour just so that we know our place.

You might think that feeding the starving would be a government priority, rather like the nations health before Lansley and then Hunt got their hands on it, but it isn’t, the priority is profit. The entire Earth has been stolen from us: like the British Empire, stick a flag in it and it’s owned by a rapacious select few hell bent of stealing the world’s wealth from ordinary people. If we don’t like it we’re treated to violence and arrest, compliments of the state. The Irish potato famine was English state controlled genocide in a land of plenty, people were shot for trying to stop the food from being stolen from Ireland by the British gentry.

No one, but no one, should be dying of malnutrition in Britain today, that they are is a matter of wilful and deliberate neglect by the state in which arms are a greater priority than feeding the starving. You’ll steal our money to replace Trident, but you won’t feed the poor.


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,474

Saturday 25 June 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

If the referendum has been about anything, it’s been about framing. Britain’s exit has been received as the triumph of ignorance. Brexiteers despised as some kind of Neanderthal, sub-human, knuckle dragging, species that have destroyed Britain.

And yes, divide and rule is still holding the foreground. From what I’ve seen, and I am inclined to go with Owen Jones and John Harris on this, the great divide hasn’t been about age groups so much as poverty and desperation. Poor areas voted Brexit, more affluent areas voted remain.

Back to the framing, or should I say frame up? Immigration has been wilfully used and abused by politicians and the media alike and it can hardly be any surprise that it took root. Desperate people with no answers have a tendency to clutch at straws and even pin their hopes on hopeless solutions. If the economic woes of the poor are blamed on immigrants and if the poor pick up the mantra thrust upon them relentlessly from all sides, who is really to blame? The poor, of course and never, ever, those who cause poverty or frame the debate. God dammit, the poor are always to blame! And now we have Brexit and the venom is dripping.

Ashton-under-Lyne, was recently described in the Guardian as having ‘developed a reputation as the embodiment of the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) grim frontline’. It’s  one of the areas chosen as a test bed for new DWP policies prior to them being rolled out across the nation. A group of activists has been meeting weekly at the local Jobcentre for two years to assist and support those bearing the brunt of your brutal welfare policies. Charlotte Hughes regularly reports on the utter desperation of people driven to the brink, she described one man, sanctioned under the new in-work conditionality regime, who was deprived of his housing benefit ‘after he missed the jobcentre’s job search target by one hour’ – “He was working nights, all hours. But they stopped his housing benefit,” Hughes said. “He’s lost his home. We gave him a coat in the end. I’ve never seen a man more broken.”

Let’s just pause and consider how that man might have voted in the referendum, beaten, broken, busted and desperate against a political and media driven narrative of other blaming. Could anyone blame him if he thought Brexit might be a good idea, that it might offer some semblance of control back into his life, that change might offer a little light in a very dark existence, that his plight might be inextricably linked to the issue of immigration? It’s easy to condemn, the referendum was a festival of blame, such that I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. Personally, I think the timing was lousy, too many desperate people under a brutal regime. We now have to find a way forward and I, for one, hope that it includes regime change in which your resignation is only a start.