Archives for posts with tag: disabled people

pinn moral missions

A former aide to Iain Duncan Smith, Tim Montgomerie, writes in The Times, “You do not have to believe that Mr Duncan Smith’s motives were pure to recognise the letter’s political power”. He then gives four compelling ‘killer facts’ about the government’s fiscal strategy (reordered):

  1. Big decisions on cuts, with far-reaching consequences for vulnerable households, should not be rushed to fund gimmicky announcements that the Treasury hopes might win a few good headlines in one day’s newspapers.
  2. Some of the lowest income families, already working very long hours to make ends meet, are bearing too large a share of Tory spending cuts.
  3. Richer pensioners shouldn’t continue receiving expensive perks while vulnerable groups such as the disabled lose entitlements.
  4. If difficult , are necessary they should fund reductions in the historically large deficit rather than finance tax cuts for the better off, as happened in last week’s budget.

Were ‘Mr Duncan Smith’s motives pure’ or pragmatic: linked via The Brummie, Steve Beauchampé writes in the Birmingham Press (see punning title if you can bear it):

“It may be that not only are a significant number of the electorate becoming tired of Osborne’s perpetual austerity at a time when many economic indices are going south, but that voters have increasingly had it with the continual raids on the income of the disabled and the working poor, worse that they are overseen by millionaire Ministers such as David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith.

atos fit to rule tests

“Yet even without the link to tax reductions that Osborne’s intervention allowed to ferment, Iain Duncan Smith may well have discovered that his plans to reduce PIP payments for the disabled would have courted widespread unpopularity”.

Was this high-profile resignation primarily a matter of principle, or a move towards ‘facilitating the erstwhile Work and Pensions Secretary a swift return to front line politics’ (Beauchampé)? We shall see . . .



Jim and lion

In Birmingham on Saturday it was remarkable to see a large room full of solid citizens opting to remain with the EU – not one dissenting voice.

air pollution brumThey were people with a concern for the cleanliness of our air, water and the health of people and the natural world, who see the ‘dirty man of Europe’ being compelled to take action (see Craig Bennett) – though not enough has been done, as many thousands still die prematurely from conditions caused or exacerbated by air-pollution.

The other great constituency in favour of remaining in the EU should be those whose working conditions have been safeguarded and even improved by EU legislation.

Why stay with an inefficient, undemocratic and expensivenurse’?

Because faulty though it undoubtedly is, the European Union has improved the economic and environmental conditions of those who have to work very hard for a living, with comparatively low wages.

Cameron's real change

Sadly, despite the efforts of the EU, the current government continues to reduce the help needed by low wage earners, the unemployed, the disabled and young people, whilst passing measures which benefit their already wealthy soulmates.

One dream team: a Corbyn/Lib Dem/Green/Plaid coalition government which would exert pressure on the EU to reform its constitution, ensure that its finances passed the auditors’ scrutiny and wholeheartedly implement good legislation improving the social, environmental and economic well-being of the 99%.


Has anyone a better idea?

nhap_candidates 2small-660x330

The National Health Action Party was set up by health professionals who believe that a political party is needed to defend the NHS and its values.

In their view, “the NHS marks out a space in society where the dictates of commerce and the market should be held in check”. They are campaigning to ensure that patients not profits that are the driving force behind our NHS.

dr clive peedellDr Clive Peedell, in the co-leader’s new year message, focussed on devolution ‘sold as a democratic step forward, with more local accountability’. The reality, he believes, will be a deeply centralised government controlling the decision making whilst local councils will have to increase local taxes to make up funding shortfalls.

A link to Dr Louise Irvine’s response to the Cameron NHS policies is well worth opening and Dr Peedell has looked at the wider picture, seeing a comprehensive attack on the social determinants of health: employment, income, home, social care and education:

  • Council housing looks set to be cleared away completely from high property value areas, social tenancies time limited, social tenants earning modest family incomes charged market rents.
  • The right to buy will be acquired by tenants of Registered Social Landlords, so more genuinely affordable homes will be lost.
  • Public land and assets will be sold for more house building – for sale, not affordable rent.
  • Workers’ rights are under attack in the Trade Union Bill. DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) lobbied to have information published concerning benefit sanction related deaths.
  • The education system, like the NHS, has also been subject to systematic dismantling and privatisation of ownership and delivery of services.
  • Public health budgets have been slashed.
  • The rights of disabled people have been systematically violated; this, combined with other social issues, have led to a high-level inquiry by a United Nations committee

“The election of a Tory government in May brought tears and they have confirmed our worst fears. With a slim majority and less than a quarter of the eligible vote the government has set about ‘transformation at scale and pace’, which in plain English means changing everything so fast it will be very hard to stop. Its policy on the NHS focuses on the ’24/7 NHS manifesto mandate’ which it claims it has from the electorate and which will be used to drive forward the privatisation agenda, including de-skilling staff and closing more A&Es. The junior doctors’ contract and the removal of student nurse bursaries are part of this process”.

Dr Peedell then stressed that all these developments underline the importance of standing candidates at the 2016 local elections.


momentum first meeting city

Quiet, courteous and all-embracing – the Corbyn ethos prevailed at this civilised cross-party meeting, chaired by Rachael Harris, assisted by Richard Hatcher.

The writer estimates that about a hundred people attended the Priory Rooms in Bull St, with younger folk having to stand along the sides and at the back in the George Fox room designed for seventy.

A meeting with a difference:

  • no top-down agenda set by the organisers;
  • no invited speakers pinning folk to their seats for hours and
  • all who wanted to speak were heard.

momentum logo and pictures

Misgivings were voiced about the imposition of an elected mayor at this meeting – and at a meeting on electoral reform taking place at the same time in the Impact Hub, Digbeth.

Setting up local groups

Volunteers prepared to set up groups in five wards were found. One, from Birmingham University, fifth from the left at the back on the picture of a section of the audience, hoped to set up a group there and we may hear more from this group through the columns of ‘Redbrick’.

An accessible, affordable city venue

A group of disabled people attended, with speakers noting the effect of cuts on their lives, but primarily focussing on their inability to take part in many political events in the city. They stressed that an accessible, affordable city centre venue is needed.

Labour’s democratic deficit: a 20 year mystery to constituents and MPs alike

On her feet in the picture (taken and posted by Mohammed Jamil), Julia Larden, one of Birmingham’s most active citizens, focussed on the plight of Labour Party members in Hall Green, Hodge Hill, Ladywood and Perry Barr who are unable to function locally, to meet ‘officially’, to vote for councillors or to select MPs, due to being placed in ‘special measures’ in 1995. This situation has been described by Sandwell Councillor Bob Piper as a Kafkaesque farce; we read: “The first branches knew about it was when applicants to join Labour’s campaign against an uncaring coalition received a letter from said centralist bureaucracy explaining that they couldn’t join the Party because the CLP was in ‘special measures’ – although they weren’t offered an explanation either”.

The most imminent campaigning concern is agreed

As David Cameron returns to the issue of bombing Syria – execution by drone not only of ISIS fighters but also of civilians in the vicinity – it was agreed to focus on this issue before a formal proposal was made. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said “At the present time, the issue of the bombing of Syria does not seem to me to be the right way forward on this and so I don’t support it at this stage.” He insists that any military response should have the support of the international community and be legally sanctioned by the United Nations.

The meeting was united in enthusiastic support for Jeremy Corbyn and the aims of Momentum: to build a social movement for real progressive change, to make Labour a more democratic party and to work for a more democratic, equal and decent society.

Comment by email: Great counter-narrative to what we’re getting from the mainstream media,