Archives for posts with tag: Forced labour


In 1921, C P Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian for nearly 50 years, wrote an essay to mark the papers centenary in which he wrote that the “primary office” of a newspaper is accurate news reporting, saying “comment is free, but facts are sacred”.

He would likely have abhorred the present time where news is less the result of investigative journalism and largely just the regurgitation (copy and pasted) of whatever is reported on newswire or PR copy.

Modern news reporting is in a parlous state, not least because the expression ‘fake news’ has been dragged from obscurity, where it belonged, and has been forcibly injected into the current mess by those who should know better and those for whom it serves their twisted agenda of falsity and deception. It comes at a heavy price, in particular for those who are the main consumers, but not creators, of news, ordinary people. The most invidious use of ‘fake news’ is in dismissing anything that the user wishes to dismiss without bothering to provide any evidence. Used in that way, it becomes a term of deception in itself, and it is a mark of our times that grappling with the news is like trying to find our way in a thick smog, it befuddles the mind, which is entirely the intent.

We live in an age of deception in which war is peace, or as George W put it – spreading democracy, and driving millions of people into poverty, as the Tories are, incentivising them to work.

Incentivising people into work through sanctions and benefit delays is not fake news, but it is a deception that has at its heart human rights violations which are driving people into penury and death.

Claims for social security have ceased to be access to a social safety net which people pay into over their life time, and have, under the Tories, become trial by ordeal, or conditionality, with requirements so exacting, cruel and harsh, failure, and therefore punishment by sanctioning, is almost guaranteed.

The Tories claim that trial by ordeal, or incentives, help (drive) people into work. The entire system is based on double speak for forced labour, which, no matter how you wrap it, is a violation of people’s human rights, just as escalating poverty is a denial of people’s right to life and homelessness is a denial of people’s rights to respect for privacy, family life, home and correspondence.

The point of human rights it to prevent suffering, mental torment and anguish and premature death, through reduced life expectancy and suicide.

The Tories have long expressed their desire to rid themselves of the Human Rights Act, but why bother when they can so successfully circumvent them through deceit, psychobabble and corruption? Exactly the same tactics which have been used to bring our NHS to its knees and privatise it.

What we are witnessing is a degree of UK state criminality against the people which was hitherto unthinkable, such that it beggars public belief, which is exactly the point. Fooling the public is now a government industry, ramped up under David Cameron, costing the public tens of millions of pounds every year, backed by a vicious right wing media.

Thankfully, the growth of social and independent media is proving to be a significant thorn in the side of government corruption. The power of the people is growing daily, much to the government’s dismay and anger. What is significant about the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, or Snoopers Charter as it is known, is that under the guise of preventing terrorism, it is every member of society who suffers from paternalistic and ever more intrusive government policies.

What is truly shocking is that all of these policies, enacted by government, through subterfuge and deceit, without our consent, are paid for by us. We paid for the bankers bailout, we pay for austerity, we pay for Universal Credit and every sanction piled upon us, we pay for the Snoopers Charter, we pay to be lied to, we pay for the privatisation of our NHS, we pay for corporate tax breaks and tax avoidance and evasion and we pay the salaries, expenses, food and booze bills of this rogue government. No matter what it is, we, the people, always pay.

Has anyone heard a single ‘thank you’, ever? Hardly, because they despise us. The Tories are bleeding us dry and the only issues that remain are how and when we get rid of them.

I wish everyone a happy and politically active new year, make every one of our lives count against this atrocious government of thieves and charlatans, who have not suffered a day of the austerity they have imposed upon us, indeed, they are all better off because we paid for that too.

KOG. 31 December 2017



A letter a day to number 10. No 1,502

Monday 25 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

The privatisation of, er, well, everything, reminds me of Douglas Adams’ title of the fourth book in his ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ trilogy, ‘So long and thanks for all the fish’…

So long tax payers and thanks for all your cash.

Flogging off state assets, PFI’s, Academies, privatising our NHS, public services (water, gas, electricity, buses, ambulances, police, etc.), Royal Mail, you name it, is just a massive con, transferring the nations wealth into private hands.

I don’t think that tax payers generally have got it yet, that all their wealth transferred to the treasury as taxes is regarded by you Tories as just a gigantic corporate slush fund. Call it what you like, class warfare, economic warfare, a giant Ponzi scheme, daylight robbery… With more people now in in-work poverty than out of work poverty, in excess of 40% of their income is siphoned off as taxes to pay for privateers and fat cat salaries. That’s great, isn’t it, cuts to social welfare, money for corporate welfare, meanwhile back at the food banks…

This isn’t the politics of envy, that great get out of gaol free card for those who exploit the tax system, it’s social injustice on a massive scale.

The privatisation myth that, ‘competition promotes excellence and market forces breed efficiency’, is just that, a myth. To take just one, water, in late 2015 it was revealed that private water companies were ripping customers off to the tune of £1.2 billion, whereas Scotland,  with its entirely publicly owned water services, is the cheapest in Britain despite a £1.8 billion investment in infrastructure.

Whilst the poorest are subject to forced labour under threat of sanctions and slavery, via Workfare, the nations hard earned money is handed to the boardrooms of vulture capitalists, gathered like bears around a honey pot and these same companies will be paying minimum wages on zero hours contracts to the very people who fund them, to maximise profits, whilst their workers are striving to work their way out of poverty. Fat chance! And the icing on the cake is that many of these privateers avoid paying their taxes through tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes and stash their ill gotten gains in tax havens in British overseas territories and dependencies. Nice, if rampant greed is your thing…


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,451

Wednesday 01 June 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

In an article entitled ‘Election Madness’ in the USA, the late Howard Zinn wrote, “Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.”

This is by no means restricted to the USA, the idea that the expression of democracy is in voting every few years is the prevailing orthodoxy here in the UK. I wonder what children are taught in schools these days? Are they taught and do they discuss human rights such as the right to peaceful protest which is one of the foundations of a democratic society?

In 2014 we saw exactly what the state thinks of peaceful protest when the police were sent in to clear Parliament Square and forced protesters off a tarpaulin and where pizza boxes and umbrellas were confiscated as ‘structures’ which might be used to sleep on or provide shelter.

Arrested protesters were cleared in court where the judge ruled that a tarpaulin was not ‘a structure designed or adapted for sleeping’. The farcical heavy handed police operation cost nearly £2 million and saw fencing erected round what has become known as ‘Tarpaulin Square’ on the fatuous grounds of protecting the grass. Boris Johnson was reported calling the protesters “Crusties” engaged in a “thoroughly maddening protest against capitalism” and repeatedly called for them to be removed.

The protesters were exercising their democratic and human right to protest peacefully and it was Johnson himself who was abusing protesters rights and proving himself to be the enemy of democracy. So much for the establishments attitude to protest.

The fact is that democracy is the last thing that you want in this country and the idea that you are answerable to the people is anathema to you. You ignore the will of the people as if it does not exist or have any place in the policies you inflict upon us. Disabled people and Disability groups have been visible and vocal in opposing your treatment of them and yet still they have been hit by 19 times more cuts than the able bodied.

Protest remains at the heart of democracy as a human right. It is our inalienable right to speak up and take action against oppression and victimisation by the state. Every sanction, every cut in care and support for those most in need, every act of forced labour by the DWP is a violation of human rights and democracy. We are right to fight, we are right to protest and what this nation needs is a whole lot more peaceful direct action of any and every kind and if that is socially and politically inconvenient, well so it should be. That’s entirely the point.



A letter a day to number 10. No 1,436

Tuesday 17 May 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Power speaking to me is not democracy, authority is not democracy and in order to speak to me it must be legitimate. I am democracy, I speak to power as a right, that is democracy. Write that down and remember it well, because no matter what happens, or how this present desecration works out, that is the truth. If people fear to speak to power then something is terribly wrong.

Democracy is something I exercise as a human right and when you told us, “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone,” you declared your intention to abuse the exercise of power without being held accountable. Whatever the rules are, whatever the law is, you presumed to declare yourself lawless, and to act against us in whatever way you choose. And you have done just that.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) deprives people of the means of survival on a routine basis. The Human Rights Act 1998 states, ‘Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law’. The DWP is clearly acting outside of the law, imposing sentences that are not handed down by a court of law and in excess of any lawful sentences, through its own arbitrary rules and for the most trivial reasons.

The Workfare programme is a system of forced labour, without pay, under threat of sanctions. Article 4 of the human rights act stipulates, ‘No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour’. Workfare infringes our human rights and any normal civic obligations and is a criminal offense. The courts have already ruled that the Workfare programme is illegal, and yet the DWP persists in its pogrom of forced labour.

In making the statement above to the country, you betrayed whatever legitimacy you might have had and became a self declared rogue government. What matters is that people imprint that in their consciousness and, no matter what you get up to, apply that at all times and under all circumstances. You are right that for too long, we have been a passively tolerant society but only in a historic subservience to power. That is what requires a seismic shift.

No one is above the law and that includes you.–e1q_01xlZZ


19_march_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,376

Saturday 19 March 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

The trouble with maintaining a lie is that it takes so much work. I have to admit, with no pleasure at all, that you’ve had a good run. The great British public have had to go through the process we all face when going through shock or bereavement. The first stage of disbelief or denial is tough. I encountered this first hand at my local police station in one of several attempts to report Iain Duncan Smith for human rights abuses regarding Workfare and forced labour. The Officer’s response was a flat refusal to accept or read the evidence I had gathered, saying, ‘The government wouldn’t do that, they are there to look after people.’ I have to say that the person who had accompanied me and I were stunned, the officers disbelief trounced any attempt to present evidence and facts. That happened on more than one occasion.

There is no rigid order to dealing with shock or grief although disbelief is usually the first reaction. The next feeling can be anger, an impotent fury with no clear avenue of expression and with, perhaps, intense feelings of betrayal, an inchoate rage at life or circumstances. That may be followed by guilt, self blame, bargaining, depression and so on, but in the end comes acceptance at which point it becomes possible to function again and take action for the future.

It’s a process I have had to go though many times now, firstly before I even started writing these letters and many times since in response to policies which beggared belief. Scrapping the Independent Living fund was one such shock and the ongoing brutality of Iain Duncan Smith’s sanctions regime has proved extremely taxing. Overall, though, the toughest part for me in all this has been the constant stream of lies and deceit and the pathetic response from much of the main stream media.

Over the last four years I have hit rock bottom several times. Fortunately I am long enough in the tooth to know that these times pass. There’s no point fighting it, it happens and the best process for me is to just rest and let it work itself out. Our minds are very good at sorting things out, but all too often we try too hard and just make things more messy by trying. Many years of therapy have taught me to trust the process, it’s a kind of relaxing in the face of trauma, and not pushing myself too hard.

Since Smith embarked on his reign of terror something has emerged which I can only describe as ‘brown envelope syndrome’, which many readers of these letters are all too familiar with. Just seeing the damned things kicks off the feelings of dread and we each deal with them as best we can, sometimes just ignoring them for a time, unable to even muster the strength to open them.

It appears, though, that the chickens are finally coming home to roost for you and your government as the public outcry becomes more confident, assertive, vocal and robust. George Osborne seems to have been taken by surprise at being taken to task for his appalling record. It must have been a real shocker when John Humphrys asked him, “What’s a bloke got to do in your job to get the sack?” It was a fair question though and not before time.

Osborne crashes and burns in post-budget interview, live on Radio 4 (AUDIO)$category%20p$1


28_november_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,269

Saturday 28 November 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I am sure you know what a Panopticon is – ‘The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly.’ (Wikipedia)

The reason I am sure is because we are living in a Virtual Panopticon of the ever more intrusive state. Since the proliferation of CCTV in Britain, the digital age has enabled ever greater intrusions into our lives from hidden watchers. The entirely specious argument that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about’ does not answer the effects the insidious invasion of hidden observers has on our lives. It ‘nudges’ us in the direction of accepting such invasions and to cease questioning how we feel about that, lowering our guard through their very omnipresence and being given no choice in the matter.

It becomes ever easier to ramp up hidden surveillance by an ever more intrusive state. The Snoopers Charter has raised barely a flutter of protest across the nation except amongst the few who pay close attention to politics and the behaviour of government and ask the question, does government serve the people or do people serve the government? Clearly we have a difference of opinion on that matter as you erode our rights at work and at home. The Trade Union Bill is a direct attack on workers and workers rights just as your plan to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) is an attack on each individual in the UK.

One of the most egregious statements you made just this year was, “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.” If the law is no longer sufficient to protect us from state intrusion in our lives, Britain has become a totalitarian state, ‘a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible’. Iain Duncan Smiths sanctions regime is a direct attack on people’s right to life (just as Workfare is explicitly forced labour) and far too many lives have already been lost, small wonder you want shot of the HRA.

We have laws because we are moral creatures, were we not the law would be meaningless, in fact we’d be unable to make any laws at all. Within the Virtual Panopticon it becomes the moral duty of each one of us to resist conformity to the dictates of a government gone entirely rogue.


26_october_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,241

Monday 26 October 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

One of the major problems we face in Britain today is cognitive dissonance, the difficulty of holding and resolving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours. We are all subject to it in a complex world, including the police as I found out on one of my attempts to bring charges against Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud for breaches of the human rights act, for forced labour (Workfare) and the right to life (sanctions). Without looking at my evidence I was told, the government wouldn’t do this, they are there to look after the people, thus touchingly putting a personal belief before evidence. Not a very objective approach to law and order.

I find it astonishing and dismaying how difficult it is for so many to face facts and to even acknowledge being conflicted even when the evidence is overwhelming. Instead of building houses to meet the housing crisis you chose to penalise people for living in their existing homes. You chose penalty over provision in your vicious and unjust bedroom tax which despite your promise to parliament that disabled people would be exempt, disabled people have been disproportionately targeted, not least those with specially adapted homes.

You have cut legal aid which specifically attacks poorer people’s ability to gain access to justice and over which the legal profession has taken to the streets in protest. You have increased court fees allowing judges no discretion and over which 50 magistrates have already resigned. Those who plead guilty at magistrates court must pay £150 but if they are found guilty in the high court the fee is £1,200 raising real concerns that people will plead guilty rather than defend their innocence in the high court. As Alistair MacDonald QC put it, ‘No one should be influenced by the extent of a court charge in making their decision about whether to plead guilty or have a trial’.

The list is endless, ending the Independent Living Fund, cuts to tax credits, forced compliance and forced labour under threat of benefit sanctions, attacking junior doctors, breaking up our NHS, the proposal to charge for NHS treatment and to move to a US style insurance scheme. Thousands of disabled people losing their Motability allowance. The disastrous rise in food bank use. Disabled people being forced off disability benefits now that Iain Duncan Smith has decided that work will make them well. Student debt, the PFI scandal, destabilising the NHS, the DWP mishandling benefit claims and bogus claims for over payments of benefits. Tax breaks for the rich, £93 billion in corporate welfare.

Just how much evidence does it take to pause and think and maybe get the merest glimmer of an idea that you do not mean us well? Working class people voting Tory are walking up to a scaffold and putting their own heads in a noose for you to come along and kick the chair away. And you say Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is ‘now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your (our) family’s security’. Forgive me if I die laughing of grief.


27_september_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,213

Sunday 27 September 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Contrary to popular opinion in what are laughing called the minds of Tories, we are not ‘the common herd’, nor are we ‘stock’, nor are we beasts of burden to be forced into any job vacancy that becomes available regardless of what that job is and whether we are fit and able to do it. Back in 2010 Iain Duncan Smith said it was a “sin” that people failed to take up available jobs.

Very recently Smith told parliament that he wanted to get disabled people in work up to the levels of ‘normal, non-disabled people’, meaning proportionate numbers comparable to the general population. Of course in Smith’s twisted mind all illness and disability is thoroughly abnormal and aberrant and will be improved by work and people made well through hard labour. Only the other day my best mate, who is being treated for cancer, told me the DWP had closed his claim for support because he did a few hours work and that if he still needed support he’d have to make a new claim. In one of many phone calls, he managed to talk to a human being instead of a DWP robot in human form, who told him no action should have been taken because printed clearly at the top of his claim was information clearly stating his claim was awaiting a decision maker to, er, make a decision.

Of course it still remains that Smith’s incentive of preference to support and encourage people into work is his despicable sanctions regime. This applies equally to paid work and unpaid Workfare or ‘mandatory voluntary work’ as Lord Hodgson, member of the all-party parliamentary group on civil society and volunteering, put it. It doesn’t say much for the ennobled gentleman that he knows not what an oxymoron is, nor yet that forced labour is illegal under human rights law, but then, to be fair, nor do the police as my visit to them on this very issue revealed when I was told I needed to pursue it as a civil issue.

So profound is Smith’s touching faith in the efficacy and healing properties of work that he even finds people in a coma fit for work and sanctions them for not filling out their ESA50 forms without good cause, a coma clearly not being a good enough reason. I can only wonder whether Smith is himself not in some kind of permanent coma as he seems incapable of any kind of joined up, coherent, thought but wanders through life causing mayhem, death and destruction as if he’s on a holy moral crusade (which he is).

What has become abundantly clear is that it is the Tory view that if you squeeze ordinary people hard enough, deprive them of the means of survival, test them and retest them, ignore all evidence from experts and hound them to the point of death and beyond, we will, like butterflies emerging from chrysalises, suddenly be transformed into ‘hard working people’ who will ‘do the right thing’, for whom low pay, no pay, will be no object to our ability to labour at as many jobs as possible in the vain hope that some one will grant us a crust of bread one day.


19_august_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,183

Wednesday 19 August 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Ralph McTell wrote a song, released in 1983, that was inspired from a conversation with Billy Connolly who had watched an Indian Trade Union man address a party political conference with the opening line, ‘A man without a job is a stranger to the season’. The final verse is, ‘Everyone is poorer for the millions, Who keep growing, Whose season stays at Autumn, And whose only colour’s grey, Though we get by on the dole, It feeds the body, starves the soul, And stirs the bitterness that’s growing, In the ones who’ve been betrayed’.

What Ralph McTell doesn’t directly mention in the song is pay because what kind of fool would ever consider work without pay? Those who choose to do voluntary work only do so if they have other means of survival and volunteering should always be voluntary. Of course there are college and University courses which involve training placements in the subject being studied, teaching being a typical example. The point of such placements being to gain experience in ones chosen discipline, not to learn to labour for labouring’s sake.

If young people are to experience work they should also have the experience of being paid; they should be remunerated for the expenditure of their time and energy. In all your ‘hard working people’ rhetoric I hear nothing about ‘a fair days work for a fair days pay’, not one word.

You said in February that those ‘most at risk of starting a life on benefits’ will be  ‘expected typically to undertake at least 30 hours’ community work a week and 10 hours’ looking for jobs’, under threat of sanctions, and ‘be paid a youth allowance’. An allowance? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your government is destroying the fundamental link between work and pay, enforced labour but no enforced pay. You aren’t helping young people, you are penalising them, whilst surrounding your punitive regime with mealy mouthed words, deception and lies.

The latest scheme dreamed up by the Department for Work and Poverty is the ‘WE can’ campaign. Employment Minister Priti Patel says, ‘Young people tell me they can’t get a job without work experience, but they can’t get work experience without a job’. So tell her to force bloody companies to invest some of their profits in training and stop being so damned useless! The page boasts that the ‘WE can’ campaign is, ‘backed by 30 businesses and organisations’. I’ll just bet it is, as Lord Freud said (in his gross deceit about food banks), ‘there is an almost infinite demand for a free good’, but in this case it’s true. Youth as free labour, without obligation, what’s not to love? The wolves are at the door slavering for some young blood and free forced labour. Throw in a sanction and the little bastards might learn to be a bit more servile too, along with three weeks spent in a Boot Camp. The grey workforce of betrayed and brutalised young people! It’s pure filth!


27_june_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,130

Saturday 27 June 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Britain has a profound and distressing problem. The problem is your government and can be put very simply, Britain is not your feudal fiefdom and we are not your vassals.

I have, in a long and chequered life, had a fair bit of contact with the ‘upper class’, ex-colonials and, to a much lesser extent, the aristocracy and have witnessed and experienced, first hand, the prevalence of the same feudal mindset towards the lower orders. This deeply rooted, historical mindset is alive and well and as impervious to change as only a narcissistic, self regarding, chronic, pathological, bad attitude can be. Working with such people is irritating, grating and unpleasant because their attitude to people like me is condescending, arrogant and rude to an astonishing degree because of their innate sense of superiority, overweening sense of privilege and condescension to anyone not of their class.

It is this attitude that underpins everything you and your government are doing and your policies and austerity are wrong if for no other reason. You treat our taxes as if they belong to you, as if it is government money to use and abuse as you see fit, and not money that has been bought with the sweat of our labour to be held in trust by government for the universal benefit of the nation.

The system of social security has already been paid for through our labour, it is a system of insurance for those in need at any given time and it is a universal system which includes those who through fate, fortune or misfortune have yet to contribute or are unable to.

Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit, claimant commitment contracts and sanctions regime are wrong because people are reduced to, and treated like, vassals in servitude to the state. People are being driven into forced labour (work) for something that has already been paid for by labour (work) and it is being done in the most demeaning, condescending, punitive, way imaginable under the threat of the loss of the means of survival and, despite his ridiculous displays of moral outrage at the suggestion and his refusal to publish the figures, is costing people their lives.

Sadly, many people are inured to class inequality and will even take to the streets and wave flags and bunting to celebrate it. There is even a name for working class Tory voters, ‘deferential voters’, which politicians, the Mail and the Sun knowingly, wilfully and callously, exploit outrageously. The fact remains, however, Tories have no place in a civilised nation.