Archives for posts with tag: Ken Loach

keithandjeremy

Have you noticed how alike Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Loach are? Both are somewhat reticent, unassuming people, plain speaking, with no airs and graces and utterly lacking in pomposity. That said, it would be a grave mistake to think of either man as weak, they are both robust in their views and deeply experienced in their chosen courses in life.

In a world dominated by the culture of celebrity, in which the desire to be famous is more important than having anything of substance to offer, what the world needs more than ever is substance, a three course home cooked meal instead of a take-out burger and fries.

One of the accusations against Corbyn is that he is not Prime Minister material and I wonder what that means? Perhaps David Cameron and Theresa May might look like Prime Minister material (if you like that sort of thing), but that is about as far as it goes, form without substance.

I met Jeremy in Plymouth at one of his leadership rallies, the quiet man who was taking the country by storm, something he has now very successfully done twice to become leader of the Labour party with the kind of majority most politicians can only dream of. He was in a small back hall with the toilet facilities just behind, for those of us for whom quick access has become a necessity, and he seemed rather shy, tolerant of the attention, but not seeking it. The kind of guy who would rather do the job and leave the attention to others. And I think therein lies much of what draws people to him, he’s the quiet interesting one, without flamboyance or sham.

Looking back and the picture I have with him, I feel that we were both somewhat shy and, of course, strangers, but for this stranger, I was pleased to meet him and, despite that he had a room full of hundreds of people waiting for him, glad he took the time to say hello and have our picture taken.

When he came on stage, he greeted those on the platform warmly, in no way playing to the crowd, and nothing of the big ‘I am’ about him. He began his speech my thanking all those who had made the meeting possible, including the volunteers without whom it simply wouldn’t and couldn’t have happened.

The ridiculous term, Corbynistas, used to denigrate and dismiss both Jeremy Corbyn and those who support him, is a fatuous term which deliberately and wilfully attempts to undermine the warmth and engagement that so unassuming a man inspires. To use the expression from the ‘Last Leg’, he’s not a dick, something that cannot be said about many of his detractors.

This is a guy who rides a bike, loves his allotment, does not seek the limelight for its own sake, and yet at 67 years old manages to be an MP with all its attendant duties, be leader of the Labour party, and even more attendant duties, and attend protests and rallies the length and breadth of Britain. I am 66 and how he does it I will never know. I used to barely manage a letter a day to number 10, kinda gives you a perspective don’t it?

What this country needs is not a leader but an enabler and we need policies not posturing. Both Cameron and May had/have the pretensions of leadership and think much of themselves whilst delivering misery on an epic scale. What we need now is to get our country back on its feet, that cannot come from one man, just as the NHS did not just come from Aneurin Bevan, he was the enabler, the people delivered and have been delivering ever since, even whilst it is being stolen from us. We need a team player and a doer, not grandiosity, empty bombastic pronouncements and the exclusivity of privilege and greed. We need someone who is more comfortable with his sleeves rolled up than wearing a Savile Row suit costing several grand as Cameron did, someone who is at home with dirt under his finger nails, and yet is smart without pretension when the job requires it.

That may not suit those who seek power for powers sake, and sell us down the river, but that’s what I want as an ordinary bloke, a voter, and someone who believes in democracy, not demagoguery.

And that’s why I’ll be voting Labour on June 8th.

KOG. 25 April 2017

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This is a difficult one, what I am about to do is like going on stage and having a shit. As a writer, that’s not something you ever want to do and then something happens and you have to write something because if you don’t it’s just going to be in there tearing your head and heart apart.

What the fuck happened in London? People have died because someone for reasons unknown decided to drive a car through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people and injuring 40 others, and attack parliament with a knife, stabbing a copper to death. I don’t care who the guy was and I care even less about why he did it and I am deeply sorry for the harm he caused and those he killed and I cannot help but be affected by that, especially in ways that are not obvious until you start to think about it.

It headlined all around the world… Latest terrorist attack, usual racist, xenophobic, shit from the Sun and others, hate spreading. Heroes of the hour. Statements from Theresa May and parliament. Endless talking heads talking bollocks and meaningless conjecture.

We are living in extraordinary times, but certain things have not changed and parliament is still the home to the worst, terrorist, government in UK history, and Theresa May, whatever she may say, doesn’t give a shit about ordinary people and what this fucking idiot has done is hand her a golden chalice to continue to oppress us, invade our privacy, destroy lives and steal from us all that makes life good and meaningful. All the stuff that day by day does not make any headlines, all those who have died due to Tory austerity policies, the violence of increasing poverty, the suicides, the hunger that drives people to food banks in shame and despair.

Every fucking day. Every day.

Parliament was in lock down on Wednesday, Theresa May was whisked away to safety, safe in the knowledge that she will probably never have to answer for her crimes against humanity, just like David Cameron and a Tory party which is robbing all of us blind: the most corrupt government in UK history and entirely corrupt financial markets which have also robbed us blind and are protected by government as they continue to do so.

On that day, Wednesday 22 March 2017, the world reacted in horror and Britain joined the club of nations subjected to a very public, so called, ‘terrorist’ attack – by a bloke with a knife.

Knife crime in the UK is rising, the Office for National Statistics reveals that there were 13,613 offences of “assault with injury or intent to cause serious harm” in the year to the end of June 2015, a rise of 1,788 from the previous year.

Disability hate crimes recorded by police rose to 2,765 incidents in 2014-15 compared to 1,955 incidents in 2013-14, up 41 per cent. A UN report revealed evidence of “grave or systematic violations of rights of people with disabilities” by the UK government. Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green rejected the report’s findings and said the document demonstrated “an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive”.

Damian Green also criticised as “monstrously unfair” the portrayal of Job Centre staff (who are, by government dictat, destroying people’s lives on a daily basis) in ‘I, Daniel Blake’, despite admitting he had not watched the film.

Ken Loach, the films director, said of the government, “If they don’t know what they are doing to people they are incompetent and shouldn’t be in Government. If they do know what they are doing then they are not fit to be in Government.”

When is the world media going to report on the systematic brutality and cruelty of the UK government towards ordinary people, when will we see the outrage, the shock, the horror of what goes on every day in Britain by the terrorist actions of the UK government?

KOG. 24 March 2017

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/victims-london-terror-attack-murdered-police-officer-named-keith/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/the-uk-is-a-global-corruption-centre-campaigners-claim-a7058126.html

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/knife-crime-in-britain-soars-by-15-in-one-year-new-figures-show-a3091326.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/hate-crime-against-disabled-people-rises-41-per-cent-in-one-year-a6713546.html

http://dpac.uk.net/2016/11/the-united-nations-report-into-the-uk-government-maltreatment-of-disabled-people-has-been-published/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37899305

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/ken-loach-i-daniel-blake-damien-green-monstrously-unfair-a7393031.html

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I missed a doctors appointment this week, it was entirely down to an oversight on my part for reasons that don’t matter. The next day I visited the health centre to apologise and to make another appointment. The receptionist was very gracious, not a trace of impatience or frustration that my oversight had put unnecessary strain on a practice which I know is stretched to the limit.

I felt strongly enough about this that I asked the receptionist if I could make a donation to the practice to at least put something back for the time and expertise, cost and inconvenience, I had unintentionally caused both them and my fellow patients.

The receptionist said that they had no facility to accept donations, but suggested I talk to my GP about it, which I will do, but what astonished me was as she said this she teared up.

I also spoke to friend yesterday who had called me for some advice. In the course of the conversation he told me about a recent visit to A&E and how under stress the medical staff were and yet how amazing they were. As he left the hospital he thanked the nurse who had looked after him and he was taken aback when her eyes filled up. She was grateful for a kind word, something which she said was rare and often quite the reverse.

These are just two on the hoof moments but they say something to me. Both these situations bespeak of people working hard under pressure and wanting of simple kindness and understanding.

In a world being torn apart by people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, it would seem that this is a world in want of kindness, thought and consideration, and, here’s the rub, these are within everyone’s power to give for free.

Governments are selling out to the economic forces of greed, the so called free markets, and far too many of us are feeling the strain of heartless economics that are creating an ever expanding underclass of impoverished people living precariously. Is it any wonder that people who are forced to go to food banks for the basics of survival are often reduced to tears, not just in gratitude for a bite of food to eat, but by the kindness they encounter?

When ‘I, Daniel Blake’ was shown at the Cannes festival audiences were reduced to tears. These were not the tears of goofed out sentimentality, but tears of empathy, anger, identification, of being moved by the suffering of others and unnecessary cruelty.

Ken Loach’s film is not a Hollywood blockbuster dripping in sentimental romance and tear jerking lurv, it is a documentary which hits hard. That said, what also comes across is the care with which it has been written, performed and made. I have not yet seen the film, but its impact is clear.

Readers may be aware that I have just begun therapy to help me break my self imposed isolation of over 20 years and deal with issues I have struggled with all my life. I have elected to pay for this therapy because I want a therapy that is compatible and sympathetic to me and my circumstances. That is going to involve some fancy belt tightening on my part, but I am happy to do that because being isolated has ceased to be a haven of safety and become an intolerable burden to me. I’ll come to why in a moment, but what I must say is that the money I pay for this is to cover the obvious needs we all have as a perfectly reasonable contribution towards the material needs of my therapist. What that money does not pay for, other in the most tangential sense, is the expertise, care, kindness, consideration and the focused intention and attention of my therapist to work with me towards achieving my aims and desires in life.

The money I pay her is not a reflection of her dedication or years of study and practice which have given her the skills she has today. To me, her skills are priceless. Only in the most simplistic sense am I paying for her time, what I am getting is a whole lot more on which it would be hard (if not impossible) to place a value in mere monetary terms.

I recall a story of a woman watching an artist finishing a sketch of seagulls flying. She was awed by the skill with which he captured their movement and grace in simple pencil lines and she asked him how long it had taken him, to which he replied, ’35 years’. The story may or may not be true, but how much is a picture worth if we think in terms of the skills acquired over such a length of time and the love he has for his craft?

So why am I in therapy? What is it about? Whether I want to join a fracking crew of protectors or get active in protecting our NHS I want to free myself to do that. Right now I am not free.

But I have something else weighing on me. I want to either join or start a kindness project. We need many kinds of revolution in many areas of life, but it seems to me that we also need a revolution of kindness and, for me, that is a big fucking deal! That is something worth living for and doing.

We are up against intractable and implacable enemies and I’ve lived with the anguish and pain they cause. I may not know how to tear them down, as much as they richly deserve it, but starting at our ordinary level of life and living, I can be part of something that lifts people up and it is the freedom to do that that I want. To engage.

All the people who have truly impacted my life and made me who I am today have been people of extraordinary kindness. I could say they’ve branded my soul with it, it’s something I cannot ignore, it is so powerful in me and the love I have for them is for all the inspiration that lives inside me now that has been their gift to me in life. These are people who have helped me deal with the hardest things in my life, whatever skills I have learnt have been learnt under the umbrella of incredible kindness and gentleness of others in dealing with, what was for me, life threatening trauma.

Above all, kindness is a gift, it can’t be bought, it is a bottomless well innate in all of us, although it may need some help in learning to share it when people are trapped in fear and the best help is being on the receiving end of it. It has certainly helped this soul to heal from the terrors that bound me.

A world without kindness is not fit for life.

KOG. 25 January 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/26/ken-loach-food-bank-cannes-i-daniel-blake

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Last Sunday I read an article on the cost of badger culling. It is enormously costly, between 2012 and 2014 we paid £16.8 million to kill 2,476 badgers, that’s £6,785 per badger. In Wales, where they use vaccinations, the cost per badger is £293, that’s £6,492 cheaper per badger, a saving of £32.5 million and 5,000 badgers alive and hopefully well in Wales.

When I shared this on Facebook, I made a comment that the Tories like culling, which reminded me of my very first letter to Cameron in which I wrote, ‘Clearly your contempt for the people of Britain can have only one logical end, so why not begin the cull now?’ Actually, they had already started but I was just waking up to just how devious and appalling the government was and still is.

Despite their dishonesty, what I had to learn to do was believe the evidence before me and extrapolate from that what their plan was based on the evidence on the ground. The badger cull holds a lesson.

As far as evolution is concerned those ‘in power’ regard us on a par with badgers and consider themselves higher, if not highest, on the evolutionary scale. Iain Duncan Smith said that they call us stock. He meant that, just stock, and you can do anything you like to stock because stock don’t have a say. Badgers, cattle, sheep, humans – stock.

The evidence is right under our noses, but how hard is it to see it? It beggars belief, even when the evidence points right at it. With badgers it’s shotguns, for us it’s economic, how many more have to die before we believe the evidence?

How cuts are targeted: people in poverty – 5 times the rest of the population: people with disabilities – 9 times the rest of the population: people with severe disabilities – 19 times the rest of the population. Sanctions, exclusive to poor, sick and disabled people, deprive us of the means of survival. Remember David Clapson? He was sanctioned for missing a Jobcentre appointment and died of diabetic ketoacidosis because he could not afford to keep his insulin cool as he had no money to run his fridge. He died with £3.44 in his account, no food in his stomach, though a pile of CV’s was found near his body.

We are consistently told how huge the benefits bill is and that we just can’t afford it. According to figures from the Centre for Welfare Reform, “The real cost of benefits and pensions is very low, 86% is paid straight back to the government in taxes. The net cost of benefits after taxes is really only £25 billion.” After circulating in the real economy supporting and boosting trade and jobs, 86% finds its way back into the tax pot. What that means is, if someone is receiving Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) of £73.10 a week, once it’s been used to scratch a mean existence and gone full cycle, the actual amount of money that people on JSA get to cover their needs is £10.23, the rest is just the tax imposed on living. In real terms, David Clapson, whose job seekers allowance was £71.70 a week, died for £10.03 after tax.

I don’t know how many times I was bollocked for writing Letters to Number 10, usually in private messages. Who did I think I was writing to the Prime Minister in the way I did? And that’s the problem right there. People unthinkingly submit to authority. It’s ok for governments to kill people, they do it all the time. Of course they don’t do it themselves, they get others to do it for them and they don’t pay for it either, we do, which includes the soldiers who go to fight their bloody wars. We’re not just working stock, we are the cash cow that pays for government to do everything it does.

We pay their salaries, their expenses, their food and drink, their golden handshakes, their knighthoods and gold plated pensions and we pay them to kill us. All perfectly legit in our ‘representative democracy’, voted for by a dubious but supposed voting majority.

As Frank Herbert wrote in ‘God Emperor of Dune’, “It takes a pretty dull policeman to miss the fact that the position of authority is the most prosperous criminal position available.” Governments, media barons like Rupert Murdoch, bankers, corporations, kings of commerce, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces  – the Queen.

So habituated to authority are we that when some corporation or council or government official writes to us to tell us we owe them money, most people just pay it without challenge, because authority invokes fear. The notion that we are innocent until proven guilty is alright in theory, until the TV licence authority comes knocking demanding to know why we haven’t paid our TV licence, or the bailiffs comes to throw us out of the only shelter we have or steal our possessions.

We’re surrounded by authority, we’re trained and educated in obedience to authority, and those who question authority are regarded as dubious freaks. Not respectable or respectful. Of what? Someone dressed in a suit and tie, a uniform, or with an unsigned warrant, a demand?

Theresa May said that we are policed by consent and that the police are there to protect the public and to protect property. Really? Try that little nugget on the police the next time you’re stopped by them, they do not take kindly to smart alecks who question their authority. They are trained to exert authority and we are trained to surrender to it. It’s written into the DNA of our culture.

The government absolutely relies on public obedience, the docility of the majority and goes to enormous lengths to ensure it. Remember the Battle of the Beanfield, the miners strike, Orgreave, Occupy and Tarpaulin Square, the evisceration of the Unions?

We have a supposed ‘human right’ to peaceful protest, here’s the rules, “Organisers of public processions are required by law to notify police AT LEAST 6 DAYS BEFORE the event occurs, of the date, time, proposed route and the name and address of an organiser. Completion of the form 3175 satisfies the legal requirement to notify police of a public procession under sections 11(1) and 11(3) of the Public Order Act 1986.”

‘Human rights’ are subject to conditions, the chief one being obedience. How does the presumption of innocence stack up against the presumption of obedience? David Cameron said, “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’.” That makes a mockery of the expression, ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about’. The government doesn’t have to do away with the human rights act, they disregard human rights anyway, on a routine daily basis. If the government can deprive us of the means of survival, we have no right to life, as David Clapson and tens of thousands of others have found out at the cost of their lives.

Sanctions kill, legitimised by the authority of the government, yet Damian Green condemned Ken Loach’s film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, without having bothered to even see it, bleating that it’s ‘monstrously unfair’. That must surely be the supreme arrogance of the man in charge of the DWP horror factory to bleat, ‘It’s not fair’. Is that the best he can do? Why doesn’t he go up to Ashton Under Lyne this Thursday and meet up with Charlotte Hughes outside the Jobcentre for their weekly protest and try saying it there? I wonder how his authority would look faced with real people on the ground suffering under this governments vile regime?

Those at the top are not used to being held to account. Iain Duncan Smith has a habit of ducking out of back doors, as he did in Bath at a protest I attended to celebrate the occasion of his visit to the Jobcentre, not even prepared to face us from the safety of his chauffeur driven car, meeting up with it only after it had safely left the scene of his crimes.

It is we who must find courage in the face of adversity, those who create our adversity rarely display any courage at all beyond the cloisters and safe protected haven of the Westminster bubble.

KOG 14 November 2016

If you think the Conservatives can be trusted with the economy, look at the cost of the badger cull

http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/briefing-on-how-cuts-are-targeted.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/killed-benefits-cuts-starving-soldier-3923771

http://content.met.police.uk/Article/Organising-a-protest-march-or-static-demonstration/1400002380711/1400002380711

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-is-too-tolerant-and-should-interfere-more-in-peoples-lives-says-david-cameron-10246517.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/damian-green-never-seen-i-9166462

https://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/exhausted-and-thursdays-demo/

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What makes Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ so powerful is where the plot impacts on life. Most films and documentaries take for granted certain elements of life, like eating and shelter. Such things are assumed, a meal – at ‘home’, in a cafe or restaurant, and access to a home, cafe or restaurant which means having the wherewithal to afford and be in those places. These are assumed cultural and societal rights or norms which the ‘plot’ does not need to establish, they are taken for granted.

‘I’ Daniel Blake’ blows that right open (as much as I have as yet seen), these foundational norms can no longer be assumed. They are stripped bare, revealed as fragile and vulnerable.

The means, the wherewithal, is no longer anything that can be taken for granted, the door to that security is slammed in our faces by a DWP ‘Decision Maker’, an ‘other’, and that is terrifying, stupefying, an assault on our lives.

That loss of power over our basic securities has been weaponised against us and we get no say in the matter.

Money is the token of access, our ticket to belonging, our legitimacy, without which the door to life closes and we realise that we have been excluded. There is no handle on our side. The government, the DWP, the Decision Maker, have rendered us persona non grata, a non-person, leaving us staring into the void.

Homeless people gravitate to human habitation where all the social structure exists for modern life and scrabble for scraps from society’s table, but the right of access has been removed. We become unwelcome strangers, unwanted, shamed and humiliated. We may even be fined and criminalised for being there, the exclusion is complete. No money, no membership, no entry.

Exclusion means even scratching through litter bins is shunned, it is a misuse use of society’s system of waste and rubbish facilities, looking for a morsel in the waste of others. It may have been a burger 10 minutes ago, but once discarded it is no longer food, it’s rubbish, and picking it up and eating it is offensive, disgusting and embarrassing to those who ‘belong’. It is not because people are reminded of the fragility of life, it is that they are offended and ‘turn their noses up’ to such aberrant, distasteful, behaviour.

The ‘fragile life’ idea has a romantic appeal which is not borne out in practice, the notion of ‘there but for the grace of god go I’ is clear to some but not most people. But it is not the grace of god which arbitrarily imposes, condones and supports social exclusion, endorsing the righteous, it is a structural exclusion, the will of ‘man’.

Were it the grace of god then activism would be unnecessary, it would be merely precarious divine fate over which we have no control. And who are we to presume otherwise? Under such grace, poverty is fine, homelessness is fine, starvation of children is fine, every social injustice is divine in origin. It isn’t.

If I plead with god for the poor and do no more, then I am essentially giving in to futility, sacrificing my innate power to act to divine caprice. It’s entirely self defeating because I am self evidently equipped to act. I might just as well ask god to look after and brush my teeth for me when I am fully equipped to do it myself.

I may be less clear about what I can do about social injustice, what effective steps I can take, but it behoves me to grapple with the complexities of life, inequality, social justice, social exclusion, not abdicate my will and abilities and choice to an ‘other’.

Rising injustice has seen a rise in the use of the term ‘Karma’. This is a lot more than merely actions having consequences, which is self evidently true. This use of Karma assumes some kind of universal power of justice beyond our control. It’s god thinking in disguise without the religious overtones. But it is essentially disempowering because it is an excuse to do nothing, because something else will sort it out. It is fateful thinking which in human terms is not helpful in the slightest other than in the comfort it gives in invoking it. It’s essentially a cop out at a time of obscene human made attacks on social justice. The war on the poor is flourishing and karmic reprisals (or even just some kind of balance of power) are conspicuous by their absence.

In fact what we are experiencing is the unaccountable power of the few over the many, holding the poor to account by robbing them blind as wealth inequality is driven through the roof. And it’s brutal. As Ken Loach said, “The present system is one of conscious cruelty. It bears down on those least able to bear it. The bureaucratic inefficiency is vindictive and hunger is being used as a weapon. People are being forced to look for work that doesn’t exist.” More than that, people are being knowingly deprived of the means of survival and, as current head of the DWP, Damian Green, said, “We are building on the record of Iain Duncan Smith, who over six years poured his heart into welfare reform – as did his successor Stephen Crabb… We should be proud of that record.”

The man is a bloody monster! Proud of causing children to starve? Proud of depriving disabled people of the means to even walk let alone live an independent life? Proud of stealing the means of survival from people as a punishment. Proud of the return of Victorian poverty related diseases and others, malnutrition, gout, rickets, tuberculosis, scurvy, mumps, scarlet fever, cholera, diphtheria and typhoid? Proud of tens of thousands of deaths? Proud of the millions of emergency food parcels handed out by an ever increasing number of food banks. Perhaps we should be campaigning for the return of public floggings.

The proud record of Tory brutality since 2010 is an outrage and yet I am utterly convinced of Green’s sincerity as far as this is concerned. He is an abject failure as a human being and certainly unfit to hold office, yet in July this year the Tories had a 16 point lead over Labour. How is this possible or even credible?

The elevation of Donald Trump to president has revived the old ‘dumb Americans’ trope, I’ll just hold their beer as they laugh and point. If life was a car, millions of people in the UK, it seems, are asleep at the wheel because we’ve already driven off the cliff. Of course the Tories will fall eventually, but how many more lives will be ruined and snuffed out before they do?

To every single person speaking out and acting for change in whatever way time and ability allows, my utmost thanks, we are the light in the wilderness, no matter what they do and no matter what they throw at us. The Tories and all neoliberal right wing leaning people and apologists are a terminal wrong and a stain on the world.

Find whatever peace and souls ease that you can to give you strength to carry on fighting. You are not alone even though isolation and division are things that the Tories work hard to force upon us. Life is not a competition, yet cooperation, care and support are now revolutionary acts in Tory Britain.

KOG 10 November 2016

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/23/ken-loach-benefit-sanctions-jeremy-corbyn-food-banks

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/new-tory-welfare-chief-damian-8977533

https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2014/aug/08/return-victorian-diseases-gout-tb-measles-malnutrition

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/25/childhood-rickets-vitamin-d

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/labour-leadership-tories-conservative-party-poll-vote-intention-theresa-may-jeremy-corbyn-a7156381.html

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I am Daniel Blake.

I haven’t even seen Ken Loach’s film yet but its impact on my life is already enormous, not least because of the man, Ken Loach.

Loach is the father I never had, the one who wraps you in his love and creates a protective bubble around a fragile life. He looks like a man who would hug well, be safe, and yet he’s full of fire, but it is that fire that makes a hug a transforming experience. It is a fire I am drawn to and want to be close to without fear of being consumed.

I have never been more lost as I am at this time. Right now I have nothing to say about politics that hasn’t already been said, ad nauseam, many of them my own words.

Right now I am in a cocoon of silence, cut off from the vindictive war being waged against us.

Now is not my time for that. I know it’s there, and I know it is getting worse but I’ve got something much more intimate and personal going on, even if I don’t know what it is. I know it only in that it has all my attention, all else is locked out. The silence is so loud I can hear nothing else very well at all. My attention has necessarily turned inwards, for reasons which right now are not clear. I just know it is where it needs to be for now.

I am conscious of my self, self focused, aware not just of my state of mind but my body too. I am very aware of the cancer in my body and of scrupulously tending to it, with cannabis oil and CBD oil. Regardless of whether such treatments will heal me or not, they are self helping, self administered in a world of health and pharmaceuticals in which I have little say or even much understanding. It matters that my life is in my own hands, never more importantly than right now.

That tells me that something nurturing is going on, right now, of which I am in need. Why, at 65, am I looking at Ken Loach as a father figure.

Daniel Blake seems to portray a character who is both a father figure but also vulnerable. He is both courageous and hurt, bowed at times but not broken. At least that is the impression I have at this moment in time and I want to see the film, very much.

What am I looking for? I am not sure.

Yes, I am looking for love, nurture, encouragement and succour, but all of that has a purpose, a direction of travel. They are the holding place in which to grow; the fertile soil in which to expend and enlarge, although I have no idea what that growth and enlargement will be or what it will entail.

A child in school requires little more than affirmation and encouragement to grow and unleash all the creative power of a young life with little idea of where it’s all going. Children play for the sake of it, for the exuberance of it, for life. They aren’t making goals or future plans with ambitious pretensions. They dive into a pile of leaves and blast them into movement and colour and joyousness. That is so good, so wholesome, so breathlessly real.

That helps me to see. It is the child in me bursting to get out, but doesn’t know how. I am not sure I have ever fully empowered that child me. I’ve never said, ‘Whatever you want to do and to be is ok. I’ll be here for you, whatever happens.’ I am not sure I’ve ever felt big enough or able enough to do that before now, but it feels ok now. I feel I can handle it, It doesn’t even feel scary, just unknown and unpredictable. I don’t want to exert any power of influence over this, I want to let it be and let it go wherever it goes, because something has to give around here, and that something is me. It has to be me as there’s no one else here. That may seem obvious, but it isn’t from the inside.

I know that in order for a bud to become a flower or leaf, the bud has to burst, and it requires no interference, just the natural nurture of life. Am I so different? I don’t think so.

It doesn’t require thought or reason or effort, it just has to be and I’ve lived long enough to know it works, very well.

I cried this morning when I saw so many posts about ‘I, Daniel Blake’. There is something intense and sincere about it. It doesn’t need some Hollywood block buster voice over, making a lot of silly noise to flog yet another film to be consumed. It is better than that, as are we, as am I.

In an interview, Malcolm Lewis asked Ken Loach, “So far you’ve made more than 50 films. If you had to recommend three of those for people to see, which would they be? Which are you most pleased with.”

Ken Loach replied, “I don’t know what to say. Not at all. You know, they’re all your children.”

Ken Loach is more than a father of films, he is immensely generous to his audience, entrusting his children to us and hoping thereby to enrich us.

That is really something.

https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2016/10/19/i-daniel-blake-ken-loach-film/

KOG 21 October 2016

29_august_2016

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.

http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/14699246.Cancer_sufferer___39_put_through_hell__39__after_told_he_was_fit_for_work_by_government_assessors/?ref=fbshr

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8707652.stm

https://purplepersuasion.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/what-rabbit-hole-have-we-fallen-down-my-experiences-of-atos-work-capability-assessment/

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/05/work-programme-adviser-box-ticking-sanctioning-sick-people

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/27/death-britains-benefits-system-fit-for-work-safety-net

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13620988._Suicide_guidance__given_to_benefits_staff_preparing_for_desperate_calls_on_welfare_reform/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/08/starve-benefit-sanctions-unemployed-hungry-government

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/ken-loach-film-i-daniel-blake-wins-cannes-award-director-slams-austerity_uk_57420d66e4b0ffced8625a4f

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e9ce-DWP-inhumanity-needs-to-be-challenged-urgently#.V8KoyTWzzc4

03_june_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,453

Friday 03 June 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Speaking at the premier of his documentary of his life and work, ‘Versus’, Ken Loach said, ‘there was no point in “Cameron and co” watching the film “because that is their project, that is what they believe in … It is part of what they want to happen. It is not an accident that the poor are punished for their unemployment. That’s their project, that’s the point… There’s no point in showing the film to them.”

I have been asked many times why I bother writing to you, why waste my time on a man who will not listen and does not care?

The questioners are missing the point, which is to highlight injustice, state brutality and malicious and punitive policies that oppress and cause wide spread suffering.

Unlike Loach’s film, the most appropriate person to direct and focus my letters at is the head honcho of the organisation which has perpetrated this war on the poor.

In letter form, they are a publicly shared record of the most shameful and despicable government in our history. They are a catalogue of the misdeeds of you and your government which rightly belong in the public sphere.

Given also that the mainstream media is broadly complicit in your oppression of ordinary people, then it falls to us ordinary people to speak out because who else has our backs if not each other?

That’s what democracy is, the voices of the people and the power of the people. Democracy is government by rule of the people who elect representatives accountable to the people. As such the people are the power, which government should serve but which you do not. If a government fails in its responsibility to the people then it falls to the people to protect, preserve and protest their rights.

Ken Loach and I have this in common, serving the interests of the people and I am proud to be a small part of that finest of traditions of fighting for social justice. I can think of no higher purpose in life, or better free choice to make. Comparing you and Ken Loach, which do I admire and respect doesn’t even enter the world of choice.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/may/31/ken-loach-i-daniel-blake-punishing-the-poor-david-cameron

16_may_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,435

Monday 16 May 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Following on from yesterday on investigations into electoral fraud, had the election results been different, not only would your majority have been in question, but the vote to cutES ESA by £30 a week for the sick and disabled people would also have been in question. 309 Tories voted for the cuts against 274, no other party voted for the cuts, whilst 26 Labour MPs abstained.

I have no idea who those abstentions were, but shame on them anyway. Had they voted with any sense of social justice the vote would have been 309 to 300.

What an entirely different story that might have been if the alleged corrupt elections had produced a different result and a few more backbones had straightened up.

Your wholesale attacks on sick and disabled people are without precedent, you have weaponised money to assault the poor. Any government that can afford to give tax breaks to the rich whilst targeting cuts at the poor to supposedly pay down a debt which the poor had no part in creating has abandoned all decency and descended into barbarity.

Let’s make no mistake, Stephen Crabb, who has replaced that arch villain Iain Duncan Smith, is a neoliberal sock puppet, as is Priti Patel who seems to find abusing the poor amusing. It is a great pity Patel cannot be prosecuted for electoral fraud as a self serving political careerist. Actually, were such a thing possible, it would spell the end for your party, there may be a few exceptions amongst you but I can’t think who they are.

Topically, I am reminded of William Shakespeare’s, “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war” Money was once a means of exchange, now it is a means of economic warfare, as such it is globally the most used and abused weapon of mass destruction.

Little did we realise at the time, the bankers global economic crash was a window of opportunity to attack the poor, to rebrand us as grasping losers, as welfare opportunists and a source of modern slave labour. You have abandoned civilisation for plunder. You leech off us and loathe us in equal measure in your, as Ken Loach said, “conscious cruelty” towards the poor. It makes me grateful that by fortune of birth I was not born into your loathsome, bigoted, privileged world of inherited wealth and worth.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/how-mp-vote-cuts-esa-7488790

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/budget-2016-disabled-benefits-slashed-to-fund-george-osbornes-tax-breaks-for-the-rich_uk_56e9a320e4b05c52666f89a6

https://www.rt.com/uk/338517-austerity-cuts-tax-breaks/

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tories-like-priti-patel-only-7456220

http://nr.news-republic.com/Web/ArticleWeb.aspx?regionid=4&articleid=64344845

24_november_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,265

Tuesday 24 November 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Do ordinary people really matter so little to you in your ambitions, Mr Cameron?

Award-winning director Ken Loach is currently filming in Newcastle and has spoken out about the hardship he has seen. He didn’t pull any punches in condemning the realities of Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal regime, “The present system is one of conscious cruelty, it bears down on those least able to bear it. The bureaucratic inefficiency is vindictive and hunger is being used as a weapon. People are being forced to look for work that doesn’t exist.”

Whatever the realities of benefit related deaths, realities that Smith does not want us to know, Smith and your government are wilfully imposing hardship and suffering on millions of people in Britain.

Loach was shocked at what he witnessed at a food bank, “This is a real open wound in our society. We are just closing our eyes to this. The situation is much worse than in the days of Cathy Come Home, at least then if people had a trade they could have a job for life. Those jobs don’t exist now and working people are no longer in control of their own lives. All this is about dividing people into skivers and strivers. There needs to be public rage about this.” He went on to say, “The idea that someone in the system can decide whether or not you can eat is appalling.”

How, then, you can prepare for war hoping, yet again, to gain a mandate from parliament to engage in bombing Syria and say, “So we will tackle the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism and refocus our aid budget to support fragile and broken states and regions, to prevent conflict and promote the golden thread of conditions that drive prosperity across the world: the rule of law, good governance and the growth of democracy”, I do not know.

Promote the golden thread of conditions that drive prosperity across the world: the rule of law, good governance and the growth of democracy? If you cannot, and, indeed, will not do it at home, heaven help those in distant lands that you are striving to deliver your munificence to with all the tools and violence of modern warfare. Economic warfare against the poor at home and military warfare abroad and both leading to more suffering and more deaths (even militarily, innocent civilians predominate, as in Iraq). You are very fond of the word ‘extremist’, Mr Cameron, all I can say is, if the cap fits, wear it.

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/award-winning-director-ken-loach-10407775

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/23/ken-loach-benefit-sanctions-jeremy-corbyn-food-banks

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/more-4-million-british-people-4766579

https://www.iraqbodycount.org/