DWP, I Don’t Think You Have The Right

There was a partial victory when out of the government’s three slavery programmes, one had its policy rewritten one Friday so that it would drop mentions of how it skirted around Minimum Wage Legislation.  That wasn’t enough, though, and it was dropped within a couple of days.

The 16-24 year olds of this country could breathe easier – their first taste of work would not be slavery at a quarter of the going rate or losing that paltry quarter if they didn’t take it.

The 25s and upwards didn’t have the same luxury and remarkably, the disabled people of this country, that massive minority of people who are less likely to be in gainful employment, who work for less on average when they do and whose promotion prospects are less likely, they got to wear not the 8-week programme that the over-25s still had and the under-24s were out of, no.  They got to wear INDEFINITE slavery for what are ironically termed “benefit” (there is no benefit in being a pauper).

Now it is one thing to get these policies overturned but let’s move into the policy for a second.  Walk a mile in the shoes of someone who may not be well enough to walk that mile.  Let’s pretend we are one such “claimant” or “customer” or whatever the DWP calls “the great unwashed” these days.

You are mandated to work, you get sent to Workhouse A.  So does the thirty-year old non-disabled person next to you.

When you go there, you have a right, an inalienable right, to reasonable adjustments in the workplace.  Reasonable adjustments mean that an employer has a duty, with precious little by way of justification to be exempt, to ensure that the Spoonie (see previous blog post) is able to work with the same opportunity as a non-disabled worker or in this case, slave sent alongside him.  Any obstacle or disadvantage that can be offset and isn’t lends itself to a claim of discrimination on the grounds of disability that could end up at a disability tribunal.  There is no ceiling to what such a tribunal could award.

Now, the issue of reasonable adjustments only apply when you are aware that a worker has a disability.  If of course a worker has a disability and chooses not to disclose it, or disclose it in a limited fashion, then that is their prerogative.  Confused?  It’s a minefield, I know.  Here’s the example’s nub, though.

The DWP’s own internal policies will work on the premise that if you disclose to the DWP, it cannot extend nor pass on that disclosure without your permission.  The Data Protection Act of 1998 prevents public bodies from hawking sensitive information about you around.  There is no tacit disclosure, it is not something the body can assume; the disclosure is yours and yours only to make and you can choose as wide or as narrow as you see fit.  You need give no justification.  In terms of “sensitive information” it doesn’t come more sensitive than disability.  Furthermore, Article 4 and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act of 1998 may also come into play.

Article 4 relates to slavery and forced labour.  In the forced labour element, you cannot be forced to work under the threat of punishment that you have not agreed to accept.  I think sanctioning someone for declining the misery of unending workfare fits that bill.  Now, let’s add Article 8.

Article 8 is the right to private and family life.  Essentially you have the right to carry on your life privately without government interference.  That can be interpreted to encompass race, religion, sexuality but above all (yes, there is an overarching obligation) disability.  Your disability is yours.  The government doesn’t have a right to intervene in it, talk about it to its neighbours or pass it on to an employer determined to work you into the ground forever for pennies.  See the crossover with Article 4?

Now, Workfare.  The non-disabled 30-year-old can be sent on a finite scheme and suffer no sanction at the end.  At the same company, the disabled person can be sent on the same scheme forever and suffer sanction should they ever choose to leave or fail to discharge their “duty”.

That’s clearly unfair – indeed, I would say that opens up the floor to the fact that by demanding more out of someone with a disability, this scenario is clearly discriminatory – but what you should ask is this:

How did Workhouse A find out the disabled candidate had a disability?  If they didn’t find out from the disabled worker, who, given the choice of servitude/slavery forever or for 8 weeks, is not going to admit the condition that doesn’t  allow parole.  It can only be from a disclosure from the referring body, the DWP.

DWP, I don’t think you have the right.  I’d like to see the rationale that circumvents the legislation above because DPA98, HRA98 and EA2010 aren’t optional.  They’d better have a good answer.

To All The Spoonies – And More So, The Non-Spoonies

I’m sitting here tonight after drinking a 330ml bottle of beer of questionable Commonwealth provenance, slightly on the sour side for my liking but it’s a Sunday night, it’s just something you do, isn’t it?

Well no, it isn’t.  You see, there are millions of us out there in this country who may or may not term themselves “spoonies” but once they read the article by Christine Miserandino (as she was then) at http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory-written-by-christine-miserandino/ will realise their position in the cutlery pantheon, to stretch a theme a bit.

The fluctuating condition of course goes hand in hand with the Spoon Theory.  I have Crohn’s Disease and was unaware of the spoon family of which I was a member until today, pointed there by Sue Marsh, a redoubtable other Crohner (Crohnser?  Crohno?  “Crohnie” is the sort of thing we would find mildly amusing if just for the look people have on their faces if we were to say it.  You know the look – “that’s terrible, can I laugh at that without offending?”**).  If you aren’t reading Sue’s work, by the way, then you are missing an education and illumination in an area in this country where we are severely lacking.

Anyway, the Spoon Theory is something I had managed to address after a fashion over the years but never put it in anywhere near as tangible terms.  Having a fluctuating condition is just that – Spoon Theory gives you a finite number of spoons in a day, and that number, depending on the day, can go up and down.  The unrelenting joy (oh, the sarcasm is a by-product) of a fluctuating condition is that we never really know what today’s finite number is until we get it.  It’s not enough that we have to count them out, we don’t know how many we have to count out until someone fires the gun.

I used to struggle with a cloth-cutting analogy, but it was to illustrate the progressive bargaining you made when you started to lose, well, your “daily spoons”.  You’d snip a corner, let a small task slide, you’d still maintain a full piece of cloth, only smaller.  Then you’d do it again.  And again.  Before long you’re all offcuts and little cloth, still attempting to bargain with something that refuses to bargain.  Eventually, you have a piece of cloth where the offcut is bigger than the remaining piece.  How did it get that far?  Progressive bargaining.  You were cutting when you needed a needle and thread.

See, it doesn’t quite work?  I tried a graph analogy.  The non-Spoony has a workaday rate of 100.  The Spoony doesn’t have that.  We have a best number, the number that, when the drugs do work, the sun is out and we’re suitably rested, is what we take as our top figure.  It’s never 100 and will never be again.  Let’s say it’s an 85.  That 85 isn’t the norm.  The 100 for the non-Spoony is all but a constant.  The 85 is our best effort – it won’t be there forever, enjoy it for as long as you have it, pray for longevity.

When it drops, it drops on a curve.  The curve steepens over time if untreated, an 85 may go to an 84 overnight but further down, a 50 will drop to a 45 in the same spell.  Again, unwieldy, whereas the Spoon Theory puts it far more simply – your spoon count decreases at the start of the day.

The 85 isn’t for all either – one person’s 85 peak could be 20 points higher than a different person with the same condition.  We all get a different number of spoons at the start of the day.

The question that arises in my mind is just where on the graph, how many spoons, what size cloth do we all have at the start of the day?  How different is one day from the next?  Just how fluctuating is “fluctuating”.

Well, I’m in fair remission at the minute.  I would possibly give myself that 85 – can’t eat a salad or climb Helvellyn, will fall asleep on the bus but ideally nowhere else.  I was diagnosed in 1997, had been symptomatic for up to two years before.  I all but lost the next three years trying to trim that cloth, spending spoons I didn’t have as the medical team who look after me tried to stabilise me and cure an abscess that was there from ’97 and got to see the Millennium.

The thing about being diagnosed when I was is

  1. I was nearly 30.  My own experience before and after diagnosis is that the younger you were diagnosed, the worse you had it.  I was a fully-grown adult, didn’t suffer malnutrition through compromised dietary mineral absorption, hadn’t had my intestines shortened through surgical intervention.
  2. Medicinal advances were such that if there were ever a good time to get Crohn’s, the late 90s would have been it.  Surgery was still common, but medicine was making inroads beyond the relatively ineffective sulphasalazine and steroid roundabout.

The people who have told me over the years how rough I have had it faintly annoy me.  Yes, I don’t have the infinite spoons of the non-disabled but I’ve sat in hospital wards, clinics and treatment facilities and seen “rough”.  I have my problems, I’ve gone through the gamut of Pentasa, antibiotics (including one stint of two years of Flagyl which terrified everyone I know who drinks), steroids (both ends and even the odd jab – you know what I’m talking about), immunosuppresants (Azathioprine and all its inherent liver risks) and the MABs – Infliximab occasionally for several years until I developed allergens (never let anyone tell you anaphylaxis is a hoot) and now Adalimumab.  I suffer occasional mucus, no blood, no rashes, no “eyes”, no “joints” save for that I have mild psoriasis, I don’t have vomiting and my exacerbations tend to be in or near the large bowel.  Everything worsens when the numbers drop (joints, mucus) but CRP and mouth ulcers work as a solid early warning system for me.  “Rough”?  I have “manageable” and a wonderful team behind me.  The condition is rough but I am fortunately responsive.  Save for the three-year abscess, I’ve not needed cutting and my treatment regime has always had access to newer drugs that have kept me ahead of the advances of Crohn’s – medicine keeps finding new “spoons”. My hospital admissions have been few but sufficiently disconcerting.  I am well enough tonight to not need to weigh up the pros and cons of drinking a bottle of beer from Mauritius.

All luck is relative.  I consider myself lucky in that although the body I have that doesn’t work right, it will nevertheless submit to correction and management and do so for lengthy periods.  I consider myself lucky that I have one of the foremost teams in the country managing my condition – there are professionals and within those there are exceptionals and I am lucky enough to have exceptionals.  However, in a backhanded measure of luck, I am lucky enough to know what it is to be ill.  I am in remission but the odd thing about illness is when you’re symptomatic, you can’t remember what it is to be well.  However, in relative wellness, you never, never forget that Bank Holiday in 2002 where you were rolling around the bathroom floor praying to Satan and all his little wizards to take you now because this is beyond the pain anyone should ever have to endure.

Never forget that if you’re not ill and not a professional in the field, you will struggle to understand how a Spoony can “look fine” but be far, far worse off than the person next to you.

Never forget that in the UK, the NHS, the universal weapon we have that seeks to make us well as people under the premise Aneurin Bevan gave us – free at point of contact to all and according to clinical need – is under dire threat.  Its interest by definition is to see us well.  Any paid system has a defined interest in keeping us sick enough to generate business.

Never forget that Nye Bevan considered Conservatives “lower than vermin”.  They are the architects of the decline and demise of the NHS, and the Liberal Democrats, the allies of this vermin, are the equivalent party that dismantled the universal healthcare system that to this day is the only one in the the world to have been stripped from its citizens (Malcom Fraser did it in Australia in 1981)

However, if you’re to take one thing from this article, let it be this; we are still people and we do hurt, even if that’s not your intention.  Read the Spoon Theory.  It might shed some light on it.

 **Of course you can laugh at it.  We still have a sense of humour, you know.  We have to.

Spot The Difference

Paul Chambers and Jeremy Clarkson.  What’s the difference?

I’m going to guess “the unrelenting privilege of wealth”.  Here’s where we are.

Clarkson, with his Panini ’82 perm and his obnoxious racist twisted mug (he won’t be wintering in Cancún, kids), said this:

“I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.”

He was talking about a couple of million public sector workers who, on 30 November 2011, said “enough” and took unified industrial action on a scale never before seen in this country.  Personally, he can try.  Bring a gun, I’ll get my kids and we’ll see how we go.  You’d best have an awful lot of bullets, though, because there will be two million behind me and I reckon they’d see you die screaming for that murder you’re espousing.  And if you don’t kill me quickly I’ll be at the front of that queue for what you tried to do to before my kids.

Extreme?  Beyond the pale?  Well, it depends.  You see, Clarkson’s abuse was written off as a joke (despite the man having less laughter about him than Shakespeare) and Ofcom accepted it.  They had 736 complaints. 

The BBC, that second-to-last bastion of Oxbridge privilege, received 31,000 complaints.  That’s enough people behind it to give solid support and revenue to a Premier League football team.  The BBC failed to take any action against him save for arranging an apology that the imbecile will never mean. 

The Prime Minister took one look at his bank balance, saw how he voted, rang the newsdesk at the BBC, spoke to the Oxbridge editor and came up with the word “silly” to describe him.  That last sentence may not be true, but frankly, given Clarkson can issue death threats at will but not mean it, what is truth?

“But you’re over-reacting, it was a jape, a gag, he doesn’t really hate those people who allow him to fart around daily in a non-job on an obscene salary” I hear you say?  No.  I’m not.  See Paul Chambers.

Paul Chambers was the man who found himself subject of the TwitterJoke trial.  He lost his job after a prosecution because of a tweet he made when he was about to fly to see his new girlfriend in Northern Ireland and Robin Hood airport in the Midlands was closed because of snow. 

On Twitter, he has an audience of 690 followers – Clarkson, although on the failure that is The One Show, had considerable more viewing his assault on British family life.  Chambers tweeted the following – “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

One week later he was arrested by five police officers.  He was questioned for eight hours.  His computers and telephones were seized and in a conclusion worthy of Keystone, was charged and convicted of causing a menace under the Communications Act 2003.  He sent the tweet in January 2010 while the country was snow- and ice-bound.  He was convicted in May 2010, 18 months before Clarkson went for his rifle.  His clear incitement to terrorism meant that he was… fined £385.  Meanwhile, of the 4,000 twitterers who when they heard, retweeted his message and as such, published it themselves, not a one suffered arrest or sanction.  Serious stuff, obviously.  That’ll hit terrorism where it hurts – a week’s wages (according to the national average, not John Terry’s stack).

Even the law didn’t take this conviction seriously.  Common sense decreed he should appeal – all that time and effort wasted on 5 of the police force, 8 hours of questions and however much they went into when they investigated his PC and phones for a fine that wouldn’t buy you a decent TVNot content with the absurdity of the case so far, the court of appeal upheld the conviction.  No, really, they weren’t content with the law looking the ass it was already.  They wanted more.

And so having had Doncaster Magistrates’ and Doncaster Crown Courts have a play, it went to the High Court in February 2012, two years after the incident.  And judgement was reserved.  Clarkson walks free and uncharged, while Paul Chambers continues to wait for exoneration.

The difference?  BBC, government and the filthy stink of the overpaid, undertalented, untouchable celebrity gets one case laughed off.  Paul Chambers had none of that backing. 

No coincidence.

Control The Language, Control The People

I have a languages background.  One of the intriguing points that comes out of that is how language is used as a tool of suppression and suggestion, often to induce opinions.

“That’s not me” you say, but the odds are you’ll be wrong.  As an example, all who have used the phrase “the taxpayer” at all in recent months in particular, check out now.  The shadowy “taxpayer” is a paragon of virtue, a source of social inspiration on whom we all rely, to the point that if something is perceived as slightly ignoble, well, it’s a waste of “taxpayer’s money”.  And you swallow it, hook, line and sinker, despite it being the rallying cry of an increasingly dark government.

“Oh, government” you say, rolling your eyes at me because you fancy I’m going to go cabinet-bashing against those socially responsible millionaires in the hotseats doing a wonderful job for “the taxpayer”.  Well, no.  Suppression and misdirection of language goes back forever – the Spanish Inquisition burned books, French postal authorities would not deliver to an address in Breton, Franco suppressed Catalan, Basque, Gallego under pain of sanction and imprisonment.  There’s many other occasions but ultimately, since the Inquisition was not repealed until the 1830s, these are not going back to the days of the Dark Ages – this is a consistent modern history.

Well, you can judge a government by the language it uses.  “The taxpayer” we’ve already covered, but you can all but play “blackshirt bingo” with successive governments.  Here’s a few examples

  • “Affordable” – this is an almost mythical get-out for any claim on anything that incurs cost.  “Pensions need to be affordable” is the cry.  That they arealready affordable is not addressed because their response will state that
  • “Comparable with the private sector” – is cited as a benchmark.  Public sector pensions are of course an element of pay and plundering pensions is little more than a pay cut you didn’t have the balls to do on salary.  That and the pension in the already-affordable format is so unattractive to privatisation as although affordable, a private company will want to tear into that.  Maxwell, anyone?
  • “Choice”.  Choice in the market place might be sold to you as a positive idea but is it?  I don’t want choice in my health provider, I want treatment from someone who will look after me and try to make me well.  Any private provider has the vested interest of keeping me well enough not to die but sick enough to generate revenue.  That’s what “choice” means in healthcare – the government turns you into a tradable commodity while selling Nye Bevan down the river.
  • “Growth”.  No-one in government has ever explained the principles of “growth”.  The reason is because no-one knows what it actually means.  It’s a vague number that has even vaguer implications and will not impact on your buying milk for breakfast.  Very important in telling you that everything is peachy, even when it isn’t.
  • “Revision”.  Means “increase”.  Fares and fees, charges and tariffs have not been increased in thirty years but they are “revised” twice a year minimum.  And they never go down.
  • “Reform.”  The antithesis of “revision”.  Reform will involve job cuts, reduced funding or worse conditions for users and providers alike.  Reform’s ultimate goal is one single unit of industry providing everything (whether it be a machine or a human machine) for an increasing board of directors and shareholders while surviving on recycled air.

There is one that falls out of the frame.  That is “scrounger”.  The reason “scrounger” fails is because a scrounger is deemed to be someone who provides nothing, who merely takes without putting in any effort in creation of items or wealth.  The trouble with that definition, however, is that it is entirely interchangeable with “shareholder”.

The recent “argument” that has begun to surface is that “1% are providing 28% of the country’s tax” and they should somehow get thanks or relief for that.  This taxation is somehow seen as a blight on the 1%. 

The clear implication from that to me is that if in excess of one quarter of the nation’s tax is produced by one hundredth of the population, then there is a clear problem with salary and distribution of wealth.  I will quite happily see that reduced if it means that the telephone number salaries that allow such a taxation disparity are suitably addressed.  You don’t see that argument, though.  You get told “we’re earning to keep you, you ingrates, we should be allowed to keep more of our filthy lucre”.

The control of the people in presenting this anti-majority rhetoric then produces a remarkable example of brass neck.  The amazing “we’re all in this together” is used to strip every penny and more from those who need it the most.  Under the yoke of the words “contribution”, “equality” and “taxation”, “benefit” as if it is owned by someone else rather than it being an “allowance” to which your circumstances entitle you, the poor get the unrelenting privilege of becoming poorer out of some sort of sense of community.

The same sense of community allows MPs to make up their own salaries, run up expenses for their job in the way that you and I cannot and also court and be courted by business interests whose concern, when everyone else has to contribute more, suffer pay freezes and lose out through loss of tax credits, cuts in entitlement and increased pension payments, is in arranging a 10% tax cut.

We pay more, they pay less.  How does that work?  Well, it will stimulate growth (see above) and increase jobs, production, demand… 

No, what you are saying is it will stimulate profit for investment which you may then choose to invest.  Really?  Sorry in the face of the language, then, that I don’t trust you.  I’m not interested in your profit.  Your own arguments show your profit is “the taxpayer’s” expenditure and as such all profits should go to “the taxpayer”.  In those terms, I would retain current levels and demand you invest your profit now – or we’ll increase your taxation level. 

It surely follows that if tax breaks increase profits through investment, then it is investment that creates profits.  Invest now, therefore, from existing profit.  You’re a private concern, raise your funds privately.  Speculate to accumulate, as the saying goes.  Don’t try and take my country’s taxation to offset yours and stop thieving from the “scrounger” to pay the shareholder.

That’s such an appalling attempt at robbing the poor to line the wealthy coffers with silk that you’d have to subvert the language, subvert the people to try and wear it.

You end up believing your own propaganda while the great unwashed don’t and for some reason you all look surprised when people riot and loot.

Another post from DarkestAngel32. If you read this, pass it on – this is the reality you aren’t supposed to see.

darkestangel32

As the deadline for the Government to haul the Welfare Reform Bill through parliament draws dangerously close and its implementation looms large I want to make sure that YOU know how it might affect your life.

It is a government and media peddled myth that this bill is about the unemployed. It’s not. This bill will affect millions of employed people as well as millions of disabled adults and children. This bill is not designed to solve the problems of worklessness and benefit dependency as I will explain. this is about money, money for the treasury that none of YOU will see a penny of.

The Welfare Reform Bill will pave the way for Universal Credit which will replace the following benefits (of which some of YOU will be in receipt of)

Income Based JobSeekers Allowance

Income Support

Income Based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Housing Benefit

Child Tax Credit

View original post 2,396 more words

Workfare #4 – The Responses

Well, I wrote to Tesco, got the response that we all got through Twitter, responded to highlight my question which went unanswered and which I restated.

I said

I therefore consider you have failed to respond to a legitimate request
regarding a policy whose parameters you either do not appear to understand
or you do understand but choose to exploit.  The question regarding
“voluntary, yes or no?” is not difficult – it’s a one word answer.

Having explained to a substantial degree about how you
are mocking Volunteer England, I am entitled to assume your failure to
answer as deliberate and will write accordingly.

In fairness to Tesco, I think I got a real person to respond this time, with a real name rather than the name at the bottom of the replies so far – Lexy St Clair – which either sounds like a New Orleans plantation owner’s spoilt daughter, an actress in 70s sexual farces with double entendres in the title or a small village on the A14.  Here it is.

Thank you for your recent reply.

The workers that come into our stores as part of the Workfare scheme are working in addition to our existing staff and the scheme has no impact on their pay, contracted hours or terms of service. The Workfare employees compliment our existing staff and work along side them to gain as much knowledge and insight as they possibly can as to how the business runs; with the aim of them using this knowledge to gain employment when they have completed their placement.

Please let me assure you that we are continually monitoring customer feedback, so your comments are very much appreciated and have been duly noted.  

Myself and my colleagues have nothing further to say on this matter.

Thank you for letting us know your views.

Kind regards

Sian Hackwood

I can appreciate the reply for what it is worth but the content is clearly at odds with reality.  If there is a job available and it is filled by a “volunteer”, no matter what the hourage is, those hours could have been worked at cost by a contracted worker.  If it’s a shadowing exercise then it would arguably be training/education.  It’s pretty obvious from anyone who has ever attended a retail outlet that it isn’t the latter.  Further to that, you wouldn’t be constrained to spend 240 hours shadowing – we’d notice the merry-go-round of repeat trainees on someone’s shoulder in the meat aisle during eight weeks of work experience.

As for “myself and my colleagues have nothing further to say”, aside from the correspondence pedant I am wanting to write back with “You mean ‘my colleagues and I’?”, I would suggest Tesco, were it to truly value its correspondence, would not seek to close a dialogue it did not begin.  I’ve worked in Customer Service and that’s a no-no.  It is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “la-la-la” when someone has a legitimate complaint about your behaviour.  It only makes it worse. 

Nevertheless, it was a big week for WorkFare to the point that in the email above, Tesco even called it “Workfare”, recognising the term and with it the nature of the scheme (i.e. no Welfare without Work) and we got enough yardage out of them to cause our own domino effect (although we’ve yet to have a Pizza Hut effect).

My email to the increasingly hunted Grayling, who is now shaking his fist at clouds and claiming that his email account was hacked by Che Guevara’s ghost or something, went unanswered.  Mind you, I did ask him over the Volunteering England charter and the corner into which I had painted him isn’t easily escaped. 

The summary so far?  It seems Tesco will take action and respond on WorkFare issues (albeit it ruthlessly in terms of customer service) but Grayling will just sit there and pretend everything is just peachy.

The individual case mirroring  the routine behaviour of the protagonists in their societal roles, I think.

WorkFare #3 – Just A Bit About Me Now

OK, I intend to go back to my earlier posts (at the last look, Tesco have answered me a couple of times and with that, have took a long pace backwards from Workfare while Grayling hasn’t replied) in the next day or two.  However, despite not replying to me, it appears Grayling did spit a reply at me.

Grayling, a man of dubious expenses history – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5305242/Chris-Grayling-claimed-for-London-flat-despite-nearby-constituency-home-MPs-expenses.html – and dubious honour, decided to go for broke today.  Not content with his “job snob” soundbite that obviously fell flat on its face earlier in the week, he set out for another smear today.

Apparently, we many, spread far and wide across the country, who are opposing social injustice whether it be Lansley’s attempts to kill us or Grayling’s attempts to starve out and destroy any quality of life on poor people and people with disabilities, are not doing so out of moral outrage.

We are not doing it out of a collective sentiment that seeks to support our fellow man in need.

We are not doing it out of any noble motive whatsoever.  No, really. 

Every single one of us, Grayling knows.  We are all in a shadowy cabal, a source of rabble-rousing on behalf of…

The Socialist Worker Party

Yes, you read that correctly.  Rather than address the points that the non-SWP Sainsbury, Poundland, Tesco et alia brought to public attention this week in the face of sizable opposition to slave labour, Grayling went for the time-honoured response of blaming some mythical reds.

The man has however realised that in this country, there is a distinct absence of a left-wing bogeyman.  Orwell gave him the lead in Animal Farm but with no substantial left-wing in this country, it’s a bit hollow to shout “surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?” when no-one has seen anything vaguely resembling a “Jones” in over thirty years.

Yet devoid of argument, without substance to back up his rudimentary defence (Channel 4 – presumably sponsored by the SWP – has gone as far as putting him to the “fact or fiction” test – and he’s up there with The Gruffalo for fiction) and with little to back him up save for his inflated ego and an increasingly-under-fire boss, he went for the smear, the painful, heavy-handed, unjustifiable smear, that the social campaigners who have shown this self-appointed emperor of his new clothes are all part of a tiny splinter of the political framework of the UK.

He had no-one else to pick on.  Heaven help him, he needed to insult and he had to go to the web to see which “revolutionary” organisation he could pick on that would make him look least a fool.  The man is such a fool that he persisted with the idea.

So, my SWP credentials.  I’ve never been in the SWP, don’t know where they hold their meetings and in all honesty, don’t fit into their ethos.  I’m not easily pigeon-holed as I’m not a slave to party politics, let alone a slave to DWP/A4e.  I see it and I call it.  I don’t need to be led because the animated free will and background I have means I am not a sheep, slavishly adhering to the media manipulation that slowly but surely, our protests are starting to either turn around or smash completely.

Of course, Grayling has henchmen, and Sarah Teather was wheeled out for a bit of support for the government line this evening.  Poor Liberal Democrats, forever on the fringes with wonderful public-spirited policies, now in power, hawking 30s-style Fascism and saying “we’ve seen the books and slavery’s the best for you, you know?  We’ll euthanise the sicker ones, it’ll be great”.  Teather called us “Liberal elite”.  Teather presumably classing herself as “Liberal not-elite”.

I don’t see how I’m Liberal elite.  I don’t know what it means for one – it’s the verbiage of the party politician talking their own Commons bubblespeak when we’re out in the real world acting on evidence and protesting against single issues.  I don’t see how that’s a political agenda, but if she wants to explain it, I’ll be happy to listen.

You see, I’m what she would call “council estate scum”.  I was brought up in a house that was condemned, moved in short term with grandparents, moved on to a forty-feet high slum for 5 years that wasn’t fit for human habitation and then at the age of ten, finally got my own bedroom in a breezeblock and pebbledashed council home.  Mum and Dad are there still, in their 70s, a former semi-skilled printer and a bookbinder who ended up working three jobs, one in care work in the public sector and as a contracted cleaner in the other two.  I went to a sink estate primary school that was eventually razed to the ground by vandals.  I did develop there – a reading age of fourteen at the age of six and at eleven, passing interview for a secondary school with no catchment area.  I had a great education, school was meat and drink to me and despite changes in priority as I aged, I managed a modest degree that should have been better. 

I returned to my home town after graduation, never really left in fact, and in the height of recession found myself at home with a father who had been forgotten and scrapped by the government of the day, a brother whose construction skills were not in demand as no-one was building and me, a graduate that no-one wanted.  Thatcher did for us all.  Mum worked on because like it or not, people still needed care and offices still got dirty.

It’s a different story now – Mum and Dad are retired but are fearful of any major decision on the home because of the society that now allows hawkers to attempt to prey on the vulnerable.  They aren’t stupid – they as a rule refer to me because I have the nose for a scam.  My brother isn’t in an ideal situation but despite the general ups and downs of a routine private life within, he finds steady albeit not unrelenting work – he gets to earn now.  Me?  Ever one for the quiet life, I now find that isn’t an option.

I’m a natural sceptic but at the same time, everyone starts with an “A”.  Your subsequent actions will affect that but that’s all down to you.  I believe in structure, education and training – work to a framework, give people the tools and skills for the job.  However, I also believe in fairness above all.  I will not see someone suffer because of injustice and target that I might be, I will be the head above the parapet shouting “NO!” at the top of my voice.  I have a disability but through exemplary ongoing management through any number of experts in a collective unit of the NHS, I have a pretty good quality of life to the point that I am, barring considerations I need to make and do daily, “well”.  I have a job that doesn’t appreciate me and with that, I don’t appreciate but it just about covers expenses and there is rewarding work within the same but which is in a niche I had to find myself.  I have a family, disability notwithstanding and I am inordinately proud of how my kids are turning out as it is a reflection that their mother and I are doing it right.

Now, Workfare is simply unjust.  I am not some “Liberal elite” member.  I am not a member of any political party and I have my own independent thought.  I did it all without you, Grayling, and given I have never met you and you do not know my name nor the name of my extended family, I don’t think you’re in a position to deride or smear me or let your attack dog off her “teather” (sic) to try and do the same.

And if you can’t do that to me, I doubt you can do it for the other thousands who are in the same position.  In your government of Christians (have a word with the boss or Pickles, it’s apparently so), you might remember the words of Christian author C S Lewis – “I tell no one any story but his own”.  I’d suggest you learn to do that.  Tell us about your failings, don’t make up what you think are failings for me, you fantasist.  I face factual discrimination daily – why you think I’d bow to your illucid, fictional rants I don’t know but I don’t think I’m alone in mocking your desperation.

Don’t second guess the British public.  Don’t lie about them to fit your own specious end.  One day you may have to sit among us and be accountable, out of your Commons bubble.  All the half-witted abuse in the world isn’t going to help you then.

Workfare – The Bite Back

Responsibility is an ugly word in the UK.

Having been one of many who rose up to question Tesco’s stance on Workfare in the UK after it published an advertisement in Bury St Edmunds for people to work for expenses alone (more on that later in the week), that pressure has caused Tesco to backtrack from the same.  It is early yet, but the reality of what that step down means will be more evident in ensuing weeks.  What can I say, I’m sceptical when the retail giant that apparently takes every sixth pound spent on the High Street tells me anything after several days of denial.  It didn’t become wealthy by not telling the people what they wanted to hear.

However, Christopher Grayling and Ian Duncan Smith, two “men” in place to represent us all in government, have seen fit from this to go out of their way and insult me!  How rude!  Grayling, the orchestrator of this grand plan of multifaceted slavery across the UK, has called me “absurd”.  He has also accused me of “having an agenda” in attacking Workfare.

I will come out and say it now.  I have an agenda in attacking Workfare.  I oppose slavery.  Ian Duncan Smith, because of my opposition to slavery, considers me a “job snob”.

Now, if we were getting personal and telling lies about each other, it could get ugly.  I’m not going to do that – I am more comfortable with the truth.  You see, the problem with living in a parliamentary bubble with other fat-necked, self-aggrandising, kickback-taking MPs is that when you meet opposition from real people you don’t know how to behave.

Here’s an example – the biggest waste of parliamentary time we have is Prime Minister’s Questions.  Every Wednesday, all manner of braying Oxbrigians trade insults with other Oxbrigians to absolutely no value to the public they represent.  I caught David Cameron in a direct lie in Prime Ministers Questions last year and the response was “he won’t correct it because it isn’t the done thing”.  No, really, that’s the rationale.  He can talk about goldfish on Mars and how he can summon angels to Cabinet meetings and we just have to wear it.  It doesn’t have to be true because he’s the Prime Minister and he can say what he likes, no need for responsibility or accountability.  A complete waste of time and resources.

However, because of this 650-member private club attitude, we have a siege mentality where the MPs are totally divorced from reality.  It’s the Norma Desmond mentality of my prior post.

I am happy to expand on and show responsibility for my position.  Here’s my “agenda”, Grayling; In 1945 this country came out of war, a ravaged Europe needed rebuilding, ourselves included, and the immediate future promised to be hard.  Rationing was more extensive after the war than during as the world rebuilt, for example.  The first General Election after the war was fought on two differing platforms.  Churchill considered the British public as a body who would recognise his efforts over the previous six years and campaigned on personality.  Attlee said “here’s the policies that will achieve our recovery”, campaigning on social reform.

The 1945 General Election ended in the celebrated “Attlee Landslide”.  Attlee had promised to rebuild and the country listened.  Labour (as it was then) had its first absolute majority and by some way.  Attlee himself was a quiet figure but nevertheless set about the rebuild.  He nationalised industries and utilities, making them profitable but also safer, better regulated and with improved conditions for workers.  He maintained a programme of almost full employment and kept inflation low.  He also took two ministries – housing and health – and gave them to one man.

Aneurin Bevan was given the agenda of building houses and creating a health service that would be national, free at the point of contact and would preserve the right of care from cradle to grave of every citizen according to need and  irrespective of wealth.

Clement Attlee had an “agenda”.  Nye Bevan had an “agenda”.  To go further, Mohindas Karamchand Gandhi had an “agenda”.  Having an “agenda” is not a bad thing judging by the examples.  I would sooner have the agenda of fair treatment for all than imposing my will on an opposing public like some sort of social rapist.  That’s what you are, Mr Grayling – whether it be in your attempts to drive slaves or to tear up the workplace safeguards that were put in by the Attlee government (yes, the Factories Act of 1948 for starters – again, another).  You will see people enslaved or die to fit your “agenda” and will impose that in the face of no end of people saying “no, no, NO!”.

Well, your agenda is little more than one of several elements of a resurgent Fascism (I never thought I would say that in my lifetime) in this country.  You represent a government cabal of millionaires attacking those in society who need the most support.  Ian Duncan Smith went as far as telling us that work makes you free.  That’s an aspiration my grandfather and his many brothers fought against and won in the late 30s and early 40s.  Yes, my grandfather had “an agenda”.

The “bite back” in the title is, however, that the “agenda” remark means nothing.  It isn’t justified, explained or based on any other grounds than the petty prejudices of the speaker.  If he wants to debate it, fine, but if he’s going to just run to the press and call me names because he has the ear of a tame publicist, then he’s little more than a modern-day Goebbels.  He won’t debate it, though, because it will mean he will have  to stand by his remarks and it is clear that such a move is a level of responsibility that does not sit well with this current government.  The PM can get away with groundless remarks at PMQs – why should it be any different for his underlings?

Clement Attlee’s time to shine came of course after the demise of Goebbels.  We can but hope.

It seems I’m not the only person that Chris Grayling thinks “absurd” (again, with or without superfluous adverbs)

darkestangel32

Chris Grayling has hit out at those who oppose his workfare *cough* work experience schemes as being ‘job snobs’ in The Telegraph. The biggest problem with the entire article is that Grayling has told several whoppers.

He claims that under the last government claimants would have had their JSA stopped for taking part in work experience. While he is technically correct, if a work experience placement was arranged through the jobcentre then they kept all of their benefits. As far as I am aware Grayling’s schemes are arranged via the Jobcentre/work programme, so claimants would have kept their JSA anyway.

It is also claimed that the current placements are voluntary. They’re not. The word ‘mandatory’ means you have to do it, and don’t forget that if you do not complete your placement, don’t turn up, refuse, or fail to perform adequately you can be sanctioned, that means you lose…

View original post 871 more words

Workfare – It Still Doesn’t Add Up

Second post in the series.  The commissioning editor seems to have the opinion this might run and run…

After a stalwart occupation of a Tesco in Westminster yesterday, Chris Grayling, the bully who want to make it easier for you to die in the workplace and starve the poor and the infirm through slavery, has stepped up.

In a remarkable statement that sounds like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, (“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.”) Grayling has called the opposition to his Workfare “utterly and completely absurd“.  It seems that irrespective of the reality, Grayling thinks he is right and the entire British public opposing him is wrong.  Might I be so bold as to suggest you have a word with your co-minister Lynne Featherstone, who memorably said “We want to move away from the arrogant notion that Government knows best…”.  But I digress, another day, maybe.

I don’t appreciate being called absurd, even without the redundant adverbs.  So I sent him this.

Dear Sir,
 
You have been quoted as saying this

“Our work experience scheme is voluntary and thanks to companies like Tesco and many others has provided a route for literally thousands of young people to find their first job.
 
“The idea that providing work experience for unemployed young people is some kind of forced labour is utterly and completely absurd.”

The DWP have stated that allowances (you call them “benefits”) will be stopped after a week has passed on “placement”.  This is a clear element of compulsion, forcing individuals into non-contracted labour that subverts the national minimum wage.
 
The Volunteer England and TUC charter states that

“The involvement of volunteers should complement and supplement the work of paid staff, and should not be used to displace paid staff or undercut their pay and conditions of service.”

AND

“The added value of volunteers should be highlighted as part of commissioning or grant-making process but their involvement should not be used to reduce contract costs.”

These “volunteers” you speak of are clearly displacing workers from legitimate vacancies and/or reducing hours for existing staff thus undercutting pay and conditions of service.  At nil cost to Tesco and at a nil increase of cost to “the taxpayer”, this is a clear case of your department reducing contract costs.
 
Please therefore explain to me how you justify your “utterly and completely absurd” remark as it appears to be hollow words without substance in the face of the evidence provided above.
 
I will be publishing this exchange so I would expect a reply within one week or I will assume “no reply”.
 
Yours,
 
A concerned citizen

There is a complete arrogance and failure to acknowledge that the many without a vested interest are clearly more balanced on this than the few.  The Cabinet of course are not excessively wealthy individually and have never taken payment collectively from various giants of business around the country.  Like, say, Tesco.

Is Grayling just arrogant or dancing to the tune of private interest over public concern?  Let’s see what his reply says.  If, indeed, he deigns to reply at all.

“I’m ready for my close up Mr De Mille”