Archives for posts with tag: stock

osborne maya

Rape is infamously and notoriously difficult to prosecute and that’s if it even gets that far. According to the Crime Survey which is conducted for the Office for National Statistics, ‘on average 85,000 women are raped every year and 400,000 are sexually assaulted. But a mere 15,000 rapes are actually reported. Of those, only a fifth come to court. And in just a little over a thousand of them is there a conviction. This is not, contrary to myth, because of time-wasting or false allegations. An investigation two years ago by the CPS and Home Office concluded they were extremely unusual: of every 161 rape prosecutions, there was just one related to a false allegation’.

A Guardian Opinion piece reported, ‘Successful prosecutions for rape and sexual assault are extremely difficult to deliver. For a start, the victim, frightened and diminished by the experience, has to have the confidence to come forward. Then the police have to believe the victim, and there has to be enough evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to judge there’s a good chance of conviction. And then, when the case finally comes to trial, the jury must be convinced by the prosecution in a case that often comes down to one person’s word against another. No surprises then that more than one case in three (of the small proportion of attacks that actually get to court) fails at the end’.

This is how it is and that does not even begin to describe the intensity of the personal trauma which rape victims suffer for life.

It is in this atmosphere of profound trauma and the intense difficulty and the intimate invasion of even reporting a rape, let alone prosecuting, that the DWP has set about its latest punitive welfare reform, denying child support for a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017, for which one of the exemptions is a child conceived without the mothers consent, including rape. I am not sure why the government are making a distinction between ‘without the mothers consent’ and rape, and wonder under what circumstances, in their putrid minds, a lack of consent could mean anything other than rape, including being in a coercive relationship?

I cannot help be reminded of the following: “The first Poll tax of 1377 was levied at 4 pence on every person in England over 14. The second, levied two years later in 1379, was on a sliding scale between the seven classes in the English social order. But when this failed to raise sufficient funds for the war in France, a third Poll Tax in 1380, payable by everyone over 15, was levied at a flat rate of 1 shilling (12 pence, or 1 twentieth of a pound) per person, an average month’s salary for serf. When this went largely uncollected, with many peasants in the south-east of England refusing to register, the following year commissions of inquiry were dispatched to identify those who hadn’t paid. These inquires were extremely intrusive, and included checking young girl’s vaginas to see if they’d reached puberty and were therefore eligible for taxation. It was this, according to a later, Sixteenth-century account, that caused Wat Tyler to kill an official who tried to conduct such an examination on his daughter.”

This is the great dystopian divide under which we are living. How dare they treat us this way? That which they dish out, under no circumstances would they submit themselves to, yet they enact policy and defend the unconscionable and the obscene in the lives of ordinary people.

Try to imagine the outrage of Theresa May having this demanded of her and the faux outrage of rags like the Mail and the Sun. I don’t have the mind or imagination to make up whatever twisted headlines they’d use to incite the fury of their readers, but the poor are fair game in their evil minds.

This is the twisted world of the privileged and the plebian ‘stock’, or plebs, we are living in and how the imperial mind set works. They have no sense of their own privilege other than as their unassailable, god given, right. This is what is meant when people say they lack empathy. Such policies can only come from people so rooted in their own narcissism they have no idea of the impact they have, and nor do they care.

We have seen this for over seven long years, as people give up in despair and take their own lives, it’s called ‘incentivising people for work’ through state imposed penury and trauma. People too beaten to fight back, who are deprived of any hope of ever getting their heads above water to even get a decent meal a day.

On the face of it, it may seem the government is supporting victims of rape, when the reality is that rape victims are being targeted and treated worse than those simply denied child support for which no amount of money can compensate. It would be naive to think that targeting and re-traumatising rape victims is the lowest the government can go, they have amply demonstrated their capacity to come up with ever more outrageous and extreme cruelty on a regular basis.

The war against poverty is now, globally, the war against the poor. The neoliberal consensus has no place for us in their world. Whatever we may choose to call it, the aim is clear, to eradicate the poor and hound them out of life. We are literally fighting for our lives against an implacable enemy and state terrorism.

KOG. 09 April 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/13/prosecuting-rape-police-cps

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/06/government-under-fire-over-new-child-tax-credit-form-for-victims

http://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/Exemptions_to_2_child_limit

https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/the-peasants-revolt-lessons-from-history/

https://www.change.org/p/iain-duncan-smith-mp-make-a-public-apology-for-your-use-of-the-word-stock-to-describe-disabled-people-share-using-stockgate

denise-and-paula

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

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ms-sufferer-who-struggles-walk-9553366

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2013/dec/10/treasury-questions-politics-live-blog

https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/what-you-need-to-know-about-atos-assessments/

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/01/04/the-gravy-train-rail-firms-make-3-5-billion-profit-from-our-subsidy-while-the-service-fails/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8145390/Harold-Macmillans-never-had-it-so-good-speech-followed-the-1950s-boom.html

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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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31_august_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,539

Wednesday 31 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

Within the DWP, as Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) casually informed us at a parliamentary hearing, people receiving social security payments are known as ‘stock’ and, infamously, David Freud said, “people who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks” as they have “the least to lose”.

On tackling immigration, Iain Duncan Smith has announced that low skilled migrants should only be allowed to come here if there are no British workers to fill vacancies, emphasising, “You focus more at the lower-skilled areas.” Deal with the least wanted, the least valuable and the most useless first eh?

Isn’t it astonishing that low skilled workers are paid the least? So called low skilled jobs play a vital role in the smooth running of a nation, but they will certainly pay junk pay?

This narrative of low skilled workers and migrants coming over here and taking our jobs comes from government and the right wing press. The reality is very different, but only if you prefer facts over fiction, something which IDS and rags like the Sun, Express and Mail never aspire to. But that isn’t the point I wish to make.

What is important here is what’s missing and is always missing in the right wing world of authoritarian control and the brutal treatment of workers in which ‘other’ hatred plays such a vital role in maintaining people in their unquestioning misery.

Can you see any human beings here or anything that suggests any semblance of respect or dignity for people’s lives? If you can keep people dehumanised, you don’t have to worry about whether they can afford to live.

With some 13 million people in the UK living in poverty, more than half for them are in work, yet who among you cares? Where humanity is out of sight, increasing poverty doesn’t matter. 391 people died of malnutrition last year, but where are the headlines? In order to reach the headlines, people’s lives have to matter and as Freud and Smith have worked to so assiduously at and made so abundantly clear, they don’t! That is a crime against humanity which every sanction and every food parcel from a food bank and every eviction and every hungry child and every poverty related death screams out. That is Tory Britain.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2013/dec/10/treasury-questions-politics-live-blog

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/nov/23/lord-freud-welfare-poor-risk

http://www.itv.com/news/2016-08-28/iain-duncan-smith-says-low-skilled-jobs-should-go-to-britons-first/

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/20/reality-check-are-eu-migrants-really-taking-british-jobs

http://www.jrf.org.uk/data/work-poverty-levels

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/number-brits-dying-malnutrition-hunger-8611991

12_may_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,431

Thursday 12 May 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Isn’t this just juicy? We had ‘stock’ from Iain Duncan Smith, ‘swarms’ from you and now we have ‘cohorts’ from Stephen Crabb. Cohorts of inconvenient sick and disabled people.

Having told parliament less than two months ago, “we have no further plans to make welfare savings beyond the very substantial savings legislated for by Parliament two weeks ago, which we will now focus on implementing,” Crabb has announced that he is going to deploy, “smart strategies’ for reducing disability and sickness benefits.”

What will this deployment involve against the cohorts of the most vulnerable I breathlessly wonder? Trebuchets? Bolt guns? Snipers? Gas chambers?

Have any of you got a single clue about the realities of the world outside of your mentally defective world of wealth and privilege?

In February Britain’s richest MP, Richard Benyon, called our system of social security the ‘something for nothing’ welfare state, this despite his being in receipt of £120,000 a year in housing benefit as a property owning landlord. I am very sure his personal wealth of £110 million is working for him, rather than sitting idly by in a very large shoe box. I wonder what labour he expends in ensuring it provides whatever substantial returns it produces? Something for something or something for nothing?

Let’s not forget that it was Benyon’s family business, as part of a consortium, who bought up the New Era social housing estate in Hoxton, London, with plans to ramp up the rents to ‘market prices’, from £640 a month for a two bed property to up to £2,400 a month. It led to a bitter battle against economic social cleansing, which tenants eventually won, no thanks to the Benyon family business or the cohorts of property speculators out for a killing.

There is a supreme arrogance in wealth speaking to poverty, it has a long history, and it is an arrogance which gives rise to utter brutality and punitive action against what it sees as the unworthy, grasping, poor. Your government is no different, blind sided, as you are, by extreme prejudice if not outright hatred of the poor. Prince Philip even expressed,  “I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation.” Clearly he was not talking about his own family’s contribution to the problem. Perish the thought, eh?

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/stephen-crabbs-claim-no-more-7604633

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/further-disability-benefit-cuts-are-on-the-way-new-dwp-secretary-stephen-crabb-signals-a7023916.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/richest-mp-britain-slams-welfare-3178089

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/10/millionaire-tory-mp-tenants-estate-flats-richard-benyon

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/19/new-era-residents-celebrate-charity-buys-estate-investor

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/10/millionaire-tory-mp-tenants-estate-flats-richard-benyon

17_march_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,374

Thursday 17 March 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I hope you’ve got the party poppers out. It’s four years since I started these little daily chats. A witness to the depravity of the worst government in UK history.

I love life. Life is the natural expression of nature’s abundance. We are inseparable from nature other than through ignorance and circumstances which drive human alienation, depriving us of our primal connection to nature without which we are rendered incomplete.

Yours is a government that treats ordinary people like chattel, or, as Iain Duncan Smith puts it, ‘stock’, which I very much doubt he restricts merely to those in receipt of social support.

There is no possible excuse for treating people as badly and punitively as you and your government do. You may think of us as rude, crude, commoners, unsophisticated and beneath you. If so that is your failing, not ours. As Max Ehrmann puts it in his ‘Desiderata’, “listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.”

I know well what it is like to be dull, ignorant and broken, I spent many years of my life absent from myself, lost in the blackest hell hole of depression, living in despair. It was only through the loving kindness of others who listened, giving their time to a broken human being, that I began to emerge and learn how to live with what I called, ‘the enemy within’. I discovered that depression had much to teach me, in fact I would say that everything I know and love today has emerged and been informed by what it was to live in hell, including these letters. It has been and will continue to be a lifelong journey.

What underpins these letters is my profound existential love of life. I observe as science strives to create an artificial intelligence and I am dumbfounded by their mechanistic approach. Have they never observed a child? Every child learns by absorbing life and comes predisposed, equipped by nature, to learn and everything a child learns feeds back and informs the next step. Children learn holistically, they are not ‘things’ to be programmed. But the big question I have for the builders of artificial intelligence is, will it dream? Could an artificial intelligence find inspiration, as the late great Douglas Adams did, in procrastination and ‘six months of baths and peanut butter sandwiches’, or quip, ‘I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by’?

If people do not love life, they have no place in the governance of it and you and your government have provided ample evidence that you are unfit to hold office; a bunch of career politicians ‘talking cross-eyed badger spit’ (to quote Adams again). We are better than this and we shall overcome.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-conservative-government-the-worst-in-living-memory-has-got-a-free-pass-in-power-a6756351.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-simon-duffy/general-election-2015_b_7124468.html

http://www.davidpbrown.co.uk/poetry/max-ehrmann.html

http://www.bookslut.com/nonfiction/2004_05_002057.php

22_february_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,350

Monday 22 February 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

It is little wonder that the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) is now widely seen in Britain as the department of death and despair. Iain Duncan Smith told MPs in 2013 that people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are known as ‘stock’, it is hardly likely that the term is restricted to those on ESA as he has no concept of humanity or any discernible human sensibilities or qualities at all.

Smith has only one prescription for human stock, work, and it doesn’t even include pay. The idea of a fair days work for a fair days pay is long gone. In Smith’s fevered mind all that matters is that people should be coerced, penalised and forced into labour for labour’s sake or suffer the brutal consequences of punishments that include his vindictive sanctions regime and the loss of the means of survival.

His latest plot, to put job coaches into GP surgeries, is a further invasion into people’s personal and private lives and an invasion of the doctor patient relationship to impose ‘work cures’ for every malady, illness and disability, mental or physical, in the known universe.

Claims that GP’s patient referrals for ‘intensive and personalised employment coaching’ within the surgery will be purely voluntary do not square with Smith’s ideology, the notion of stock having choice has no place in DWP practice. It’s a wonder that DWP staff have not yet been issued with cattle prods.

The last thing that people want to see in their GP practice is a Maximus job coach. Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington council, where this latest DWP scheme is to be trialled, claims ‘fears about the scheme were “misplaced” because it was ‘entirely voluntary and not linked, in any way, to any welfare-to-work conditionality or sanctions regime”.’ Watts is either naive in the extreme or wilfully deceitful. Smiths reputation precedes him and any plan of his to promote his work or die policies should be treated with suspicion and extreme prejudice.

I do not know what enticements have persuaded GPs to allow the DWP anywhere near their surgeries. It is a fundamental principle that healthcare professionals should ‘first do no harm’ and harm is now a fundamental principle of the DWP. Cattle are treated better than the people who find themselves in the death grip of the DWP. No farmer in her or his right mind would starve their stock to force them to be more productive, but that is exactly what Smith does and takes a great pride and pleasure in doing so.

Campaigners will be protesting outside City Road Medical Centre, 190-196 City Road , London, EC1V 2QH on Friday 4th March from 3pm and I encourage every caring human being who can make it to join the them.

http://www.iainduncansmith.org.uk/content/universal-credit-0

https://theconversation.com/facing-psychological-coercion-and-manipulation-has-become-a-daily-part-of-claiming-benefits-42839

Why we’re opposed to “Jobs on prescription” #DoNoHarm

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/protesters-to-march-on-gp-surgery-over-maximus-job-coach-project/

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/37247-no-job-coaches-in-gp-surgeries

20_october_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,236

Tuesday 20 October 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

For a man who has visited Auschwitz and written a fairly detailed account of his experiences I can only conclude that Iain Duncan Smith has found inspiration in the brutal cruelty of those who so willingly presided over the suffering and deaths of others. Smith recounts: “Auschwitz was deliberately turned into a factory. To understand how this was achieved one needs to look at the Commandant. According to Whitney Harris, the American prosecutor who interrogated him at the Nuremberg trials, Rudolf Höss appeared “normal”, “like a grocery clerk”. During his working days, Höss presided over the murder of more than a million people, but once he came home he lived the life of a solid, middle-class German husband and father. He even said to the prosecutors that he liked nothing more than to go back to his house and play with his little children in the evening after work.”

I am not suggesting that Iain Duncan Smith is, as yet, responsible for anything like the same atrocities as Höss, but he clearly acts in the same spirit as Höss, deciding the fate of millions, impervious to the suffering, despair, anger, reasoning, entreaty, hopelessness and even deaths of the most vulnerable people in Britain. His faith in himself and his policies is absolute. He responds with anger when challenged in the House of Commons, absolutely refusing to accept for one moment that, as MP Debbie Abrahams said in parliament, “People are dying because of these sanctions!”, to which Smith responded, “No I don’t agree with that”.

It was with feelings of acute dread that I learnt that Doctors are being instructed not to sign people unfit for work on the obscenely renamed ‘Fit Notes’ if they are capable of any (undefined) work at all. My dread arises not from his pernicious interference in the professional capacity of doctors to care for their patients health, that is entirely in keeping with Smith’s welfare, benefits, sanctions regime, it arises because in order to pursue his policies he, like Höss, must dehumanise his victims and deny them any possibility of self determination. This is the despot in action, enforcing conformity to his narrow twisted view blissfully confident, in his overweening arrogance, in the righteousness of his cause. That is what is most terrifying.

As a severely disabled man and writer of these letters this strikes to the very core of my being. Many have questioned why I bother writing a letter a day, what’s the point of writing to a government that doesn’t have the slightest regard for my humanity, a government that regards me merely as ‘stock’? Am I meant to go meekly, a lamb to the slaughter, head bent to the inevitability of despotic totalitarianism from a government that subjects itself to neither legal restraints nor mechanisms of popular control? Do I give up my humanity because that is what is expected and demanded of me and wait for the hammer to fall without one word of protest? I may be ill but I am not stupid. I may be silenced, but it will never be my decision to be silent. I grew up in a world of enforced obedience and oh how I tried to be what was expected of me, and guess what? It didn’t change a damned thing. It was only later in life I leaned to fight, to stand up to injustice, and I’ve seen many changes, no matter how long it has taken to achieve them. It is clear you will never treat ordinary people with dignity and respect, as ever the fight for social justice must be hard fought and hard won.

http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2009/05/iain-duncan-smith-mp-reflections-on-a-visit-to-auschwitz-amid-political-crises-back-home.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/iain-duncan-smith-benefits-deaths-6108493

https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2931-oldham-mp-tells-minister-people-are-dying-because-of-these-sanctions

https://thepoorsideoflife.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/sick-note-refused-under-government-new-scheme/

https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/how-the-dwp-is-drafting-in-doctors-to-promote-iain-duncan-smiths-warped-ideology/

http://www.iainduncansmith.org.uk/content/universal-credit-0

07_september_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,195

Monday 07 September 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Britain is a humanitarian rudderless ship. The refugee crisis is a media storm in this country because right now Britain has no humanitarian government or leader. Your initial response of calling refugees a ‘swarm’ was on a par with Iain Duncan Smith referring to people on benefits as ‘stock’ and demonstrates a lack of consideration, care or even concern for the well being of people at their most vulnerable.

It can hardly come as any surprise to anyone paying attention to the actions of your government and your treatment and attitude towards the most vulnerable people in this country. Britain already has a humanitarian crisis in the way the poor are being brutalised by Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms and, as George Osborne made clear in the budget, the poor are expected to be solely responsible for eliminating the deficit.

Smith’s sanctions regime, despite all his protestations that they are used as a last resort, are, in fact, routine and imposed for the most spurious and trivial reasons and it is reported that 100 people a day with severe mental health problems are being sanctioned. People who are sanctioned can apply for a crisis loan, but it comes from the very department that created the crisis. Depriving people of the means of survival is unconscionable in what is meant to be an advanced civilised society.

It is a tragedy that it takes a child dead on a beach to shake the xenophobic and racist attitudes that are so wide spread in this nation fuelled by hate filled rags like the Daily Mail and the Sun and, of course, Katie Hopkins.

You and your government have also been instrumental in fuelling the vilification of the poor treating those on benefits as cheats and frauds, accusing them of having a culture of entitlement and as work shy. You said that the our system of social security ‘has led to huge resentment amongst those who pay into the system’. Who’s planting the seeds of that discontent if not you and your government, ably assisted by the media? It was Osborne who said at conference, ‘Where is the fairness, we ask, for the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits?’ What was that supposed to do other than fuel resentment and hate?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33714282

http://www.iainduncansmith.org.uk/content/universal-credit-0

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chancellor-george-osbornes-summer-budget-2015-speech

http://www.thisisthewestcountry.co.uk/news/11878068.Activists_in_Taunton_protest_at_DWP_sanctions/?ref=mr

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/apr/20/katie-hopkins-sun-migrants-article-petition-nears-180000-mark

http://news.sky.com/story/952248/pm-we-must-end-culture-of-entitlement

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/george-osbornes-speech-conservative-conference-full-text

24_august_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,188

Monday 24 August 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

In your one dimensional world in which you know the price of everything but the value of nothing, ordinary people are being driven into a twilight world deprived of all value, meaning and self worth.

Whatever spurious reasons you have for ending lifetime tenancies in social housing, the reality is that it undermines communities and social cohesion, children’s education can be disrupted on the whim of others and people deprived of choice of where they call home. It’s already happening in the social cleansing of entire housing estates. 50,000 people have been shipped out of London in the last three years and regeneration is just another name for social cleansing. And, of course, these are Tory policies and that just means chaos for ordinary people.

Iain Duncan Smith called it a ‘sin’ for people not to take up available jobs. People ‘face the threat of losing all benefits for as long as three years if they refuse community work or the offer of a job, or fail to apply for a post if advised to do so’. He cares nothing for the exercise of choice or quality of work or aptitude or, indeed, any human consideration at all. He not only calls people ‘stock’, he treats them like stock.

People in poverty are targeted 5 times more than most citizens and disabled people 9 times more and the cumulative impact is disastrous, but we really need look no further than the closure of the Independent Living Fund to see the breathtaking inhumanity with which disabled people are treated by your government and Iain Duncan Smith in particular.

Chris Grayling promised tough new measure in courts, imposing fines without giving judges any discretion in applying them which is seeing experienced judges resigning and people already destitute receiving ludicrous fines which they have no hope of paying. Poverty stricken people are being forced to plead guilty for crimes they may not have committed because charges can be up to 10 times higher if someone is found guilty after pleading innocence. That’s not justice, that’s barbaric brutality.

Iain Duncan Smith (again) has abandoned measuring poverty in terms of money and will instead redefine it by life chances and it is clearly going to be a finger pointing exercise to blame parents for holding back children’s chances, doubtless resulting in yet more punitive measures because that’s the measure of the man.

Your government consists of low class thugs living over privileged lives treating poor people like scum and robbing them of any meaningful existence!

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/aug/03/lifetime-council-tenancies-contracts-cameron

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/over-50000-families-shipped-out-of-london-in-the-past-three-years-due-to-welfare-cuts-and-soaring-rents-10213854.html

http://www.citymetric.com/politics/london-regeneration-all-too-often-means-social-cleansing-1183

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/nov/11/welfare-iain-duncan-smith

http://www.iainduncansmith.org.uk/content/universal-credit-0

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

http://dpac.uk.net/category/independent-living-fund-ilf-2/

http://news.sky.com/story/1536401/magistrates-courts-in-crisis-over-govt-costs

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/woman-fined-nearly-300-for-stealing-three-bottles-of-baby-milk-10460653.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/crippling-court-costs-force-povertystricken-people-to-plead-guilty-to-crimes-they-didnt-commit-10466451.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/iain-duncan-smith-scraps-target-5983348