Thursday, 31 December 2015

oliver letwins comments represent deep rooted ignorance towards minorities, in the political establishment


It has recently emerged that chief policy adviser to David Cameron, Oliver Letwin, in his memo on the 1985 Broad water riots, made some deeply racist comments. The comments themselves, I believe, show the deep rooted ignorance within our political system to respond to issues of poverty, and instead to blame minorities for almost all of our problems. One such ignorant claim by letwin, was that the unrest was caused by ‘bad moral attitudes’ in black communities, and that encouraging black entrepreneurs would further the ‘disco and drug trade’. to anyone with half a brain, this clearly ignores the fact that the definition of encouraging entrepreneurship (at least should) mean helping people out of bad lifestyles. as such, letwins comments have been rightfully condemned by people on all sides of the political spectrum. This post will look at the deeper implications of Letwin’s ignorant comments.

Racial stereotyping
Letwin’s comments are partly the fault of a largely white political system. it stands to reason that the less contact you have with ethnic minorities, the less likely you will be to understand their needs. The fact that black peoples historical status as the ‘servant’ or even ‘slave’, led to them being significantly thrown into poverty for years after slavery had been abolished, we have inherited a largely white political system. As welfare and crime have become hot button issues on the political agenda in the UK, people like Letwin are likely to label these largely as the fault of black people. The same is true the other way around – white people who negatively stereotype black people as lazy or violent, will be more likely to oppose handouts to poor black people, whether they are entrepreneurs or not. Therefore, these two attitudes not only accompany but reinforce one another. It would sure be interesting to see how the political system would change if politicians spent more time meeting with, and helping minorities and poor communities.

This ignorance and racial stereotyping is created not only through isolation, but through the media representation of black people. Indeed, research carried out between 1995 and 1986, when a lot of our politicians would have grown up, found that television characters, of whom only 6 per cent were African American, were mostly portrayed as lacking a high school diploma or being on low income status. While I am sure some people may be quick to dismiss me pointing this out as namby pamby political correctness, considering local news media may be a source of learning for adults, it plays a vital part in debates on civil rights. As is the nature of capitalism, a lot of this has to do with issues of ownership. A report entitled ‘off the dial’, by freepress, finds that, of all commercial broadcast television stations African Americans own only 5.5%. Also, in places with large racial minority markets, the number of black owned television stations are not correlated with the market. While I am no fan of replacing one set of spin doctors with another, this shows a large gap of perspective being lost. How is it possible to make sweeping statements about race, when such a large section of the population is underrepresented?

So what can we do to bring an end to racial stereotypes? Portrayals of black people that defy racial stereotypes can be actively sought out and promoted. This is where alternative media has a part to play. Also, we should be challenging all instances of racism wherever they show up, even if they take the form of a joke with a nudge and a wink. Ultimately, racial equality cannot exist within the framework of a society that teaches that some people are better than others, thus we should strive for the creation of free democratic enterprises, dedicated not to profit but to satisfying human needs. Such organisations already exist on a small scale among activist groups, such as Calais migrant solidarity. Such organisations therefore need to be expanded so they are visible for both members of the public and politicians to see. Good luck getting the Tory’s and Oliver Letwin to endorse that legislation.

What really caused the broad water riots?
Another Fault in Letwin’s comments is that they follow extremely simplistic knowledge that you would expect to see from a child. It is far too easy to point at black people rioting and say that the race is to blame. However, it requires a bit of critical thought and challenge of authority to deduce what the real causes of the riots were, a concept that is clearly far to contreversial for the mainstream westminister parties.

initially, upon identifying causes of the broadwater riots, some politicians brought up the issue of poverty as a good starting point. Oliver Letwin however, clearly being towards the right of the conservative party, dissagreed, attributing the riots entirely to race issues. The fact that these words were said by a government official, is especially ironic, considering that a leading cause of the broadwater riots was a growing distrust of authority, among black and asian community's. Leading up to the riots, violent police behaviour such as house raids and shootings, is believed to have led to the death of african carribean woman Cynthia Jarret, and the severe injury black woman Dorothy Groce. You can think what you want about the actions of the rioters, but you have to accept that police violence is clearly going to create a large distrust of police. In 1978, the results of a community sponsered survey into feelings of black people in handsworth, found that most of them felt like police treated them like 'dirt', and 'slaves'. This was exacepated by use of the racist sus law, which allowed police to stop and search people, without evidence of any crimes being commited by the people the police were searching. In the hours before the riots started, police in brixton launched operation swamp, a plan to stop crime by systematically swamping the area and arresting thousands of people. Furthermore, a government sponserd report into the riots found that 'community policing', rather than fostering trust, often made black communities feel more surveyed and spied upon. All of this is especially prevalent, considering that poor living conditions in places like Tottenham, have created further negative stereotypes, associating black people with crime. We can deduce from this, that oliver letwins words, if put into effect, rather than bringing an end to violence, will only serve to further social unrest and violence.

conclusion
Conclusively, letwins words, rather than just triggering a public apology and a bit of media coverage, should serve to make people further aware of ignorance towars race and other social issues, in british politics. campaigns such as love music hate racism should be furthered and encouraged. Also, it is important to remember that Oliver Letwins comments were not an isolated incident. Racist politicians and other people in authority, continue ro campaign against anti police violence legislation. It should be up to us to call out and campaign against every single one of them.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

the rise of podemos and why anti austerity politics needs anti austerity action

In my last blog post on the rise of right wing populists throughout Europe, I concluded that, in order to stop the rise of the right, the left need to campaign and vote against them, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  left wing campaigns such as Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Podemos in Spain, present an opportunity to keep the right out, but often fail to achieve their aims. Candidates such as these, seem to speak in a clear honest language, which normal people can understand and relate to. However, as we can see with the recapitulation of SYRIZA in Greece and PASOK before them, the influence of capitalism in the western world, means that to simply vote for anti-austerity candidates is not enough. Therefore, it requires a strong anti-austerity movement to make an austerity free world possible. With the Spanish elections currently taking place, this blog post looks at the appeal of anti-austerity party Podemos in Spain, and why by fighting neoliberalism on the streets as well as at the ballot box,  could we be successful in the fight against right wing ideology.
 
Spain’s Struggle with Neoliberalism
Since the global financial crisis started in 2008, rather than searching for an alternative economic model to solve the crisis, world leaders have embarked on a similar programme of financial sector deregulation and state sector privatisation, which caused the crash, simply by labelling it as ‘austerity’.

Sadly, Spain have not escaped the scourge of austerity, as The Popular Party, who currently rule in Spain, can be best described as Spain’s version of the conservatives. The Popular Party won the last general election in Spain not because of some wild enthusiasm for the austerity agenda, but because the established left wing PSOE, much like the Labour Party under Ed Miliband, have abandoned their left wing roots in favour of right wing policies, dressed up in red. Throughout their time in power, the Popular Party, have shown how much they truly represent the life and soul of people in Spain, by making massive cuts in education, while handing phenomenally large bailouts to a Spanish bank called Bankia. As a result, youth unemployment in Spain is now over 50%, with general unemployment above 25%. For a government to make huge cuts to public services, while at the same time handing out big bailouts to fat cat bankers, is so utterly irreconcilable with fairness, that it warrants a humiliating election defeat at the hands of a real opposition Party. No wonder people in Spain are crying out for change. 

Indignados and the rise of Podemos

The anti-austerity movement started in Spain with the rise of the Indignados protests. These were largely peaceful protests and sit-ins organised by the youth of Spain. The events were as righteous as some of the protests in the UK could only hope for, featuring street music, petition signing, attempts to form united policy committees, and overall a general show of solidarity and hope for the future of Spain.

Despite this insurgency showing no signs of violence whatsoever, the Spanish establishment clearly saw the protests as a threat to their power. Within weeks of the protests starting, the police were being used as a militia to break crowds, intimidate protesters and stop people from exercising their democratic right to speak out against corruption, and demand an alternative. This totally uncalled for use of force, warranted a statement from amnesty international, who condemned the ‘Spanish governments determination crush peaceful protests’ Furthermore, when it became obvious that state sanctioned violence would not stop the protests, the government passed legislation which aims to fine protesters thousands for supposedly committing ‘crimes against Spain’. If the youth of Spain protesting is classed as a crime against Spain, then that paints a pitiful picture indeed of what their democracy will look like, if the Popular Party are allowed to continue ruling. Luckily,  the government have not been able to stop the growing anti-austerity movement.


The popularity and Policies of Podemos
The person leading Podemos is a man by the name of Pablo Iglesias. Of course, It would be foolish not to be wary of such candidates, as due to the before mentioned recapitulation of so called anti austerity candidates in places such as Greece, they do not hold the solution to the majority of our problems. We would be better suited, voting for such candidates as a tempory measure, if we feel it necessary, but realising that real change lies in taking direct action. the international left has made huge mistakes in the past, by not listening to the voices of campaigners and activists, and in doing so have succumbed to policies contrary to those that they supposedly stand for. even Podemos admit this, here is a quote from Pablo Iglesias that shows exactly what I am talking about:
 
"Most people are against capitalism, but they don't know it. Most people support feminism without having studied it. When you see a father doing the dishes or playing with his daughter, or when you see a grandfather teaching his grandson that he should share his toys, in those things there are more social transformations than in all of the red flags that you take to your demonstrations."
 
 It is also important, making sure we do not put to much faith in them, to analyse the policies of Podemos;

Economics: The party promotes a universal basic income, a policy that could potentially garner support on both the right and the left. He also supports financial sector reforms, which are needed as the financial sector caused the 2008 crash. However, these policies will come under extreme pressure from the IMF and other financial institution, yet another reason why direct action must be seen as essential.

Liberty: Increased use of referendums, including a referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain. Promising words indeed from a political party. Despite this, referendums can be used to distract people from activism. It is important that Spain becomes more democratic, but also that it is the right kind of democracy.

Equality: equal access to health care and other public services. A policy which should come as a precondition of a successful country anyway.

Environment: more attention on protecting nature and free access to drinking water as a human right, something which should have been guaranteed a long time ago.

Sovereignty: Scrapping the Lisbon Treaty, and refusing to accept dangerous trade deals Like TTIP which crush democratic freedoms in favour of free markets. Another policy that will no doubt be stamped out without direct action.
 
Challenges facing Podemos
In addition to the chaos that another term under the Popular Party could bring there are a number of challenges facing Podemos, which could prove dangerous, should they be met with no protest or direct action.
 
One of these problems is of course Europe, when Podemos were formed as a Party in 2014, they were hoping to join with SYRIZA in Greece, in becoming part of a Europe wide anti – austerity movement. Unfortunately, after the Greek people voted to reject the European bailout package, which came with tonnes of austerity, the Athens government disregarded the vote and voted in favour of the bailout package. Spain, like many other european countries, have had thier own problems with debt and bailouts. should the european union use this as an excuse to sanction Spain, that could have serious implications for not only spanish socialism, but the European socialist movement. In addition to this, it is very naive to suggest that this is purely an economic problem. It seems that the hope on the left, that SYRIZA would inspire other parties to follow thier lead, was a fear amongst the leaders of europe, as Donald Tusk has already attributed the sanctions on Greece not to economic, but to political fears.
 
Another challenge facing podemos in this election, is the so called citezens party. despite positioning themselves as a centerist party, and gaining huge popularity with the British press, the Citizens Party have some policies which most liberals in thier right mind would fervountly oppose. The party have made calls to ban the burka, and also have made some anti abortion statements, which in no way support the cause of feminism. Unfortunately, the citezens party have pulled away some of the anti establishment feeling that Podemos are tapping into, making them a real challenge to spanish socialism.

Fixing these problems is not going to prove easy, but it can be achieved, mainly through direct action on the streets, while still using anti austerity voting as a short term measure. Spain has suffered enough under the right, do not let them suffer anymore.

Comparison with UK
During the general election in the UK, earlier this year, it was clear that people were desperately looking for alternative.  Unfortunately,  the General Election came a barrage of absolute shit. In fact, the protest party of choice for most people in England was UKIP, a party who not only have clearly racist policies, but also are so enthusiastic about that the Thatcherite, neoliberal agenda, that to call them an alternative is laughable. Despite only winning one seat, UKIPs far right rhetoric has clearly touched the conservatives, who seem to want to implement a lot of their policies. In addition to this, the abject failure of Ed Milibands labour to provide an alternative to austerity at the election, finally resulted in David Cameron landing in Downing Street for five more years.

The closest we have to Podemos’ campaign currently, is Jeremy Corbyns campaign. Despite this, certain figures within UK politics, including from within the labour party, seem determined to crush this grassroots support and indeed Corbyn himself, beneath the boot of austerity politics and stupid newspaper articles. As such, politics in the UK requires the kind of radical insurgency we see with indignados protests and the Spanish anarchist movement, not just to create a fairer society but to stop the people who day upon day, try to crush socialist ideals.

Conclusion
 
In This Blog post, I have made the argument that, in a globalised world, anti austerity candidates are not enough to achieve change, and therefore, anti austerity requires a large anti-austerity movement. As a result, I would like to echo the plea made in my last article, and wish everyone the best in campaigning and voting against the dangerous rise of the right.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Trump, Farage, Le Pen and The Dangerous Rise of Right Wing Populism


 We have all seen it, when Conservatives on the right are not blabbering on about Guns, they are campaigning against Gay rights. It seems that that neoconservative politicians have a database of right wing idiocy, which is constantly updated, whenever somebody even slightly progressive says something which might bring aspects of western life into the 21st century. These past few years, right wing populism is an even bigger danger than normal, with UKIP in the UK, a party who have gained the praise of the ever so reliable Daily Telegraph, The National Front in France, a party who seem hell-bent on taking advantage of the Paris attacks to win votes, and of course Donald Trump, a man whose personality can be best described as a fusion between the self-loving yet hateful nature of Benito Mussolini, mixed with that of a child who just had his sweets taken off him.
 
This Blog Post will mainly focus on these three examples, not least because they have gained so much attention in recent months, but mainly because their policies and rhetoric reflect a genuine threat to civilisation, that is partly comparable with the language of post second world war, Latin American dictatorships. If you are reading this, I urge you to vote and campaign against these candidates as much as possible. Although things in our governments may be far from perfect that does not mean to say they can’t get worse.
Who are the real Extremists?
The appeal of right wing populist movements often lies in the exploitation of certain bad things that happen in society for their own ends, and the victimisation of a certain group. Despite this, people often forget that groups like UKIP and The National Front are adherents of dangerous ideologies themselves, which no sane person would care to live under, if they knew the true effects of them.
Let’s begin by looking at UKIP’s attempts to supposedly protect people, by labelling every bad thing that happens at the hands of non-British people in the country, as an example of the failures of multiculturalism. Earlier this year in Rotherham, it emerged that around 1400 young girls had been abused, raped and beaten, largely by Pakistani men, and that through a series of council cover ups, the attacks were able to continue. True to form, Nigel Farage seized the opportunity to condemn a culture of ‘political correctness’ and failed multiculturalism. This occurred, in spite of the fact that the Child Exploitation and Online protection centre, have repeatedly pointed out that this focus on race is simply an attempt to muddy the waters, and that patterns of exploitation are linked not to race but to abusers having access to vulnerable children. Furthermore, the cases in Rotherham gained tonnes of media coverage, even though white men account for the vast majority of child sexual exploitation in general. Of course, you never see ukippers protesting the wage gap, or indeed demanding more rights for women in ethnic minorities. Such attempts may challenge the capitalist order that UKIP stand for. However, when confronted with incidents of Pakistani men raping children, they seem to become the biggest equal rights campaigners in the world. That is why, to call for a complete end to multiculturalism and political correctness, while labelling it as an attempt to protect our children is a disgusting example of political opportunism if ever I have seen one.
A similar situation can be seen currently with Marine Le Pens Fascist National Front in France. Marines own farther was expelled from the party a few years ago, for espousing anti-Semitic rhetoric about holocaust denial. Now, Le Pen, like many other far right politicians, is trying to act like the reasonable face of French nationalism, pulling in supporters on both the right and the left. I have written about the dangers of using terrorism as an excuse for totalitarianism before, and therefore don’t want to spend to long going over the details of it. However, not only is Le Pen exploiting the Paris attacks by demanding a complete end to all immigration into France, a policy which is utterly ridiculous considering that the attacks were masterminded by French and Belgium citizens, but she is also calling for the re - introduction of the death penalty. Understandably, a political shift is to be expected after a national tragedy like the Paris attacks, however political shifts are not always for the good, and if this one is allowed to continue it may make fascism a problem in the 21st century.
You can hardly write an article on right wing populism, without mentioning American republican frontrunner Donald Trump. I have seen Donald Trump described in many ways on the internet, but perhaps the best is as a living caricature of what would happen if every internet message board came together, formed a person and stood for election. Indeed, Trumps insanity has reached such unacceptable levels that he has even been condemned by perhaps the worst president ever, George W. Bush. The fact that Trump spews blatantly far right rhetoric, such as calling all Mexican immigrants rapists and calling for a complete ban on Muslims entering the US, refusing to back down after he is humiliated, should be enough to convince anyone that this man is not fit to be the leader of anything, never mind one of the most powerful nations on earth.
There is a reason for why Right Wing populists launch a crusade against multiculturalism and political correctness, while blatantly disregarding flaws in their logic. The idea of Multiculturalism as a disease which needs to be stamped out, provides the bogeyman that is needed to contain the anger and frustration of the population. Furthermore, it allows politicians to contain a sense of superiority, as they preach to the people about the corrupt powers of Europe or the liberal elites. However, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The idea of scapegoating minorities have been passed down throughout history, the only thing that has changed is the language. Nazi Germanys scaremongering about Jews, McCarthy’s lies of the Communists and Russians. The idea has persisted: thousands of people securely under the wing of the all-knowing tyrant.
The Economics are always vile
Power structures such as the ones right wing populists attempt to build up, are nearly always backed up by extreme economic ‘liberalisation’ efforts. Even though they often mange to appeal to people in all classes, the right wing populist machine nearly always comes fully equipped with tax cuts to the rich and privatisation.
Privatisation is a key part of UKIP’s agenda, this should really come as no surprise, considering the party are bankrolled by ex - Tory donors, and that the party’s top dogs are made up of ex bankers. Indeed, a recent post on UKIP’s official website by deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, despite being taken down within minutes, showered praise on the conservative government’s efforts to privatise the NHS, arguing that universal health care somehow ‘stifles competition’. Ignoring the fact that appealing to the conservatives does not show much about UKIP’s uniqueness as a party, what right have they, and indeed other conservative populists, to appeal to working people, when they themselves support anti working class policies.
 As is to be expected, Trump has already declared his support for Free Trade and Globalisation. The obvious irony here, as is the irony with most pro free trade parties, is that he seeks to promote deals like TTIP while clamping down on immigration, and enforcing aggressive border controls. I would love to see The Middle East attempt to make Trumps Muslim ban consistent with reality, by barring oil supplies to The USA. Can you imagine how much outrage such a policy would cause among ultra-capitalist racists like Trump? Anytime you see a right winger arguing in favour of this sort of unhinged capitalism and against immigration, challenge them to this obvious flaw in their reasoning.
Le Pen has taken a different approach to the previous two candidates, dubbing globalisation as a kind of ‘totalitarianism in the 21st century’, on par with the dangers of ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’. However, it is important to see this simply as political opportunism and nothing else. Remember, The National Front, through its mix of policies, pulls in supporters on both the right and the left, giving it a broad base of support. The same tactics can be seen under the both the Nazis and the fascists pre-election promises. Even if, in the unfortunate circumstance that the NF get anywhere near power, they embarked on a socialist programme of Nationalisation, that would not justify their extremely fascist domestic policy, and would still be severely unlikely to give workers control over the means of production. If anything, tactics such as this are merely attempts to show that right wing populists will do anything to get into power.
 Regimes that crush the democratic freedoms of workers and protesters have always been in the capitalist systems best interest, to them it often does not matter how barbaric they are, as long as they don’t interfere with attempts at globalisation.  Also, while part of far right doctrine has historically been self-sufficiency, maintaining the idea of a strong economy and country requires that conservative populist regimes invest in capitalist trade deals. All this is clearly in conflict with the interests of the working classes, whom parties like the ones mentioned all claim to represent. We must therefore peel back the lies about immigration and the enemy within, and see these parties for the turncoats that they are.
It’s not about Freedom Speech, It’s about Hate Speech
When called out on how remarkably full of shit they are, right wing populists like to dress what they are doing up as some sort of crusade for freedom of speech, against the authoritarian leftists. Furthermore, they often gain support from the media for doing so. Enter Katie Hopkins, an extremely Jumped up, reactionary tabloid writer who gained attention earlier this year, for suggesting that the best way to deal with the costly migrant crisis would be to invest thousands in gunboats. Now she is back to further pollute the news media, by endorsing Trumps anti Muslim rhetoric. Don’t try to disagree with her however, condemning clearly fascist policies is obviously too authoritarian for our right wing press to handle, without sending them into severe meltdown.
To be serious for a moment, while right populists may have the right to be bigots, we defend our right not to listen and to protest their hate speech. They would say the same in the case of a Muslim hate preacher. There have already been numerous attempts to defend our right not to listen, a petition arguing that Donald Trump should be banned for the UK for hate speech has garnered up to 400,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. Furthermore, NSMBC’s Morning Joe, a friendly television face, has labelled Trumps plans as ‘Rhetoric that is fuelling hatred and alienation’. The UK government’s reaction to this however, has been to act in complete opposition to its own Hate Speech Legislation, which argues that ‘radical views and ideas should not be given the oxygen to flourish’, and reject calls for Trump to be banned. It seems that David Cameron and pals (who are guilty of coming out with conservative populist nonsense themselves) are happy to give extremists all the oxygen they need as long as they are right wing, rich and white.
Conclusion
Overall, it is important not to fall into the trap of right wing populists. They will exploit tragedy as long as it suits their narrative, pretend to be pro working class before cutting social security, and campaign for freedom of speech, only if it is the right sort. Right now, even though it is coinciding partly with left wing movements like Jeremy Corbyns campaign, we are seeing a rise of the right. We have seen the damage right wing movements can do far too many times. As such, it is necessary to campaign and vote against them whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Why Climate Summits need Direct Action



The past few weeks have seen the COP21 summit take place in Paris, a conference of 190 self - proclaimed world powers, meeting to discuss how best to limit global worming to 2C above pre - industrial levels, a rise that is possibly too dangerous already. The fact that the earth’s temperature has already risen to 1C since 1880 makes that a dangerous prospect indeed. The problem is that Climate change is a problem so urgent that the climate movement often finds itself stuck between the ridiculously futile solution of buying bags for life, and the extremely long - term solution of replacing capitalism with eco – communism. Furthermore, while some climate agreement may be met at the talks, many of the world powers support policies and systems, which are entirely counterproductive to the cause of stopping climate chaos. As such, this article, looks at the need for direct action in making climate talks have an effect.
Shoes, Clubs and Tear Gas
The climate summit, was obviously always going to be protected with massive security efforts, aimed at protecting world leaders from the public, they are supposedly trying to represent. The aim of the demonstrations at the start of the COP21 summit was clear, take advantage of the press attention, in order to create a global movement. However, what was the need for the state sanctioned violence that broke out when climate demonstrators urged the world leaders to strike an effective deal?
The small protest began with shoes taking the place of marchers, who following the horrific attacks on Paris, had been banned from demonstrating. The protesters who did come to demonstrate formed a human chain, and began chanting and challenging the police. By the end of the demonstration, things had turned violent with police using Tear Gas, Clubs and arrest, while many member of the groups organising the demonstrations were cornered.   
What I believe was witnessed at the demonstrations, was the politicians who are supposedly trying to fix the environment, turning their backs on ordinary people demanding climate action. This may be partly due to the previous success of demonstrations at summits, that have historically curtailed Free Market Legislation, such as the WTO, and could potentially bring a stop to TTIP. The good news here is that, the demonstrations might still take place on December 12, and have the potential to become huge, as we see an outpouring of support for both climate justice, and an end to state violence and oppression.
We cannot have a repeat of Copenhagen
Most mainstream media outlets now agree that the Copenhagen Climate Conference was a Massive failure, as far as reaching an effective deal was concerned. The whole thing only seemed like a wasted experiment that ended in the US and the BASIC group of countries, hammering out a last minute deal in a back room after the conference, like an extreme version of last minute exam revision.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the failure of the Copenhagen summit, was the 2008 financial crisis, which had banks and politicians alike, descending into hysteria over how best to deflect blame away from the banks and onto the backs of the Taxpayer. A further reason could be the fact that, world leaders prefer to lay out their own vision for the environment, rather than relying on any sort of negotiation or compromise.
Whenever we demonstrate conferences, or Take Direct action against those institutions that cause nothing but destruction to the environment, the mass media will blatantly accuse us of stifling progress. However, we do not have time for posturing and empty promises. If things are going to change they need to change right now!
Anti-ecological policies
As previously explained, one of the main reasons progress on climate change tends to be incredibly slow, is simply because many world governments have policies which directly contradict the plans for a sustainable Climate.
An old method of energy production, one that we Have been stuck with for a while, is of course Coal. Despite coal plants currently emitting as much as 1.7 billion tones of CO2,  the western world unfortunately still relies heavily on them. A new analysis by the climate action tracker, presented before the COP21 conference, found that if all of the 2,440 planned coal power stations are built, this will derail plans to keep the earth’s temperature at 2 degrees. This means that emissions from the worlds existing plants will be 150 per cent higher than what is consistent with a two degree target.
Another headache for the world leaders at the COP21 summit is obviously Shale Gas and fracking. Shale Gas supposedly provides an alternative to coal, despite the fact that that the critical onlooker cannot help thinking that this would be money and time better spent on developing renewables such as wind and solar power. Asked about what he thought about the current ‘Fracking Revolution’ going on in the UK and America, the former director of NASA institute for space studies, Hansen, made clear that fracking is ‘screwing your children and Grandchildren’, by blatantly ignoring the ‘consequences of sea level rise’. Hanson has warned the COP conference before, famously warning about climate change in the late 1980s. The defence of shale gas after the COP21 summit will be that shale gas is needed in order to temporarily move away from coal as our top energy source. However, this ‘temporary’ shift is unlikely to be possible, as fracking would need until the mid-2020s to scale up. Furthermore, despite the claims that people want gas, domestic demand for energy has fallen rapidly, with demand for gas expected to fall further as technology improves.
Importantly, the pressure needs to be kept up on governments to Scrap Fossil Fuel Subsidies. A report published by the overseas development institute, found that the UK alone, provides six billion pounds is subsidy to fossil fuels, and that they have also chucked about 4.6 billion dollars, for overseas fossil fuel production.  All this can be observed despite the fact that The Government has announced that it will be ‘throwing its weight’ behind fossil fuel reform. 
Overall, we cannot afford to have more failed conferences, phony climate promises or sheer hypocrisy. The flooding and heat waves that we have been experiencing, are sure to get worse if we don't act now. From a Libertarian Socialist point of view, an effective climate deal will only be reached if eco activists continue to put pressure on world leaders, and make clear that this problem cannot be ignored.
Bought and Sold
From the polluting that takes place as a result of the meat industry, to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, polluting the environment often seems to be in the capitalist systems best interest. As many environmental activists already understand, a lot of politicians have already been bought and sold to companies that do not care whether or not they have a destructive impact on the environment. Practices such as this are especially prevalent amongst mega oil companies. BP, despite supposedly turning over a new leaf last year and renouncing their support for the legislative exchange council (ALEC), an organisation that routinely misrepresents climate science to the US government, they still channel funds to anti science policymakers such as James Inhofe, who is laughably chair of the senate’s environment committee.
Despite this, we should not be fooled into thinking that corporations do not have more subtle ways of trying to suppress climate truths. The companies Shell, Chevron and Exxon still fund anti science lobbying groups like ALEC. This is an organisation which ridiculously dresses climate change up as ‘a historical phenomenon, for which debate will continue on the significance of natural or human based contributions’, and promotes legislation to repeal state renewable energy.
How any meaningful progress can be made with Corporations funnelling millions of pounds into anti science propaganda campaigns, is so utterly questionable that it rightfully attracts protests to the doorstep of international negations like COP21. Sadly, such efforts are not always under any legal obligation to be revealed, meaning that we will possibly never know the true scale of them. We can however know, that the cost of lobbying definitely pales in comparison with the cost of climate change, a crisis that could cost some cities alone about 20 billion dollars, to pay for the effects. Meanwhile, increased heat could force farms to suffer more in southern and Midwestern countries. A burden that may result in more austerity, just to pay for the damage of it all.
Anyone who can’t see how the problem of Climate change is explicitly linked to capitalism, is not living in the real world. The capitalist system relies on endless growth (More! More! More!) And endless consumption. Attempts to reform capitalism, despite acting as short term solutions, do not stop the mantra of endless growth that allows the capitalist system to function.  While such a deal will not be made by politicians, and is still an extremely long way away, any effective climate movement needs to be aimed at the eventual abolition of capitalism.
Climate change is a Social issue
As I pointed out in my previous blog, Climate change played an instrumental part in the starting of the Syrian civil war, and the refugee crisis, both things that the west seem to have very little interest in critically analysing themselves. Understandably then, Climate Change effects continents such as the middle east more than it effects us.
The reason this requires Direct Action is because of Western Governments, unwillingness to help when Climate Disaster Strikes. Not only have the west limited themselves to a tiny 20,000 refugees but also, under deals such as the Kyoto proposals, developed countries have to focus on reducing their greenhouse Gas emissions. However, the flexibility of the scheme, allows rich companies to neglect their responsibility for reducing emissions, by exporting them to the global south. One of the most prominent examples of this is Honduras, where peasants were killed for daring to occupy land, sized by the Clean Development Mechanism.
The same can be said for problems which occur within western  Countries. When supper storm Sandy hit New York, building projects in predominantly black communities, Having gone through years on institutionalised discrimination, suffered the most. poor black families, living in substandard housing were often trapped in their own homes with no electricity or water, While white wealthy families were evacuated and transported to safety. Furthermore, In the aftermath of the storm, sexual violence became an even bigger danger as women suffered abuse from white aid workers.
Examples such as this show the need for intersectionalism in the fight for climate Justice, we cannot have a safe climate without taking responsibility for caring for minorities. We must begin to see Climate change as the ultimate problem, of a white, capitalist and patriarchal system. To view it as an isolated problem is misleading. At COP21, more racist climate action is likely to be introduced, if we don't fight for a fair climate deal!
Conclusion
Conclusively, it is naïve to think the world leaders will come up with a solution to the current Crisis we face without a significant degree of Direct action Taking Place. Indeed, it would be better to place no faith in them at all so that then we can go out and try and change things for ourselves. This is not a new idea, people have been devoted to the idea of challenging climate change for years, hence the emergence of direct action Groups such as Blockadia. In these fragile times, Solidarity, not politicians, may be the only thing bridging the Gap between extinction and revolution.    

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Five Things We Can Learn from the Paris, Lebanon and South Africa attacks


The last few weeks have seen a very rightful outpouring of mourning and solidarity towards the victims of the horrendous attacks in Paris, Lebanon, and North Africa. Amazingly, the mourning has been mixed with a brave show of defiance, towards the terrorists, whose actions do not represent Islam, and only show cowardice and inhumanity. The days following the attacks saw leading Muslims condemning the attacks, citizens mourning the deaths, and the coming together of families and friends, that can only be described as acts of love and bravery, so often seen in difficult situations. It should come as no surprise that the terrorists do not want us to live in solidarity, any attempts to surrender our liberty to unaccountable authorities, or lose our common humanity by criminalising minorities or declaring war, will only bring the terrorists closer to victory. As such, it is important in these difficult times that we only strengthen our efforts to show solidarity with all those in the same or similar situations to us. This blog post will outline a few things that we can learn from the Paris attacks, and it is written with the hope that we can make the world a safer and better place for all to live in.  
   
1. We must bring an end to racism and bigotry
In light of such attacks, it is not uncommon to see the right using this to further their own rancid agendas, and demand that the borders be closed. The conservative stance on terrorism which dominates the media, tends to label terrorism as a failure of Islamic culture to modernise, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of Muslims have already modernised, and want to live in peace. In the UK, a petition has been already been started, calling for the indefinite closure of Britain’s borders until the incredibly vague time ‘when ISIS are defeated’. Furthermore, in France, having already made gains in local elections, the far right front national are likely to use the tragedies in France to try and gauge support for their racist and islamaphobic agenda. While such rhetoric is often associated with the right, left wing authors such as Slavoj Zizek, have made calls for the left to embrace its commitment to western values, and restore its faith in euro - centrism. The news that one of the Paris attackers may have come to Europe by exploiting the refugee routes is likely to send people into a ‘What do we do next’ frenzy. However, are we really going to turn our backs on the vast majority of people who desperately need our help, for the sake of preventing the unlikely event, that terrorists might try and get here? It is important now to show our solidarity with refugees more than ever.
If we are to understand the issue of terrorism at all, it is important to acknowledge the race of the people committing the atrocities, and the countries in which the attacks took place. While the people who carried out the Paris atrocities may have had support from within Syria, they were born and raised in and around France. A similar situation can be seen with the 7/7 bombings, when three of the four people who carried it out were British citizens. In light of this, it seems odd that nationalists or euro - centrists, would propose closing the borders to the rest of the world, as a feasible solution to terrorism. Rather, it seems that if we are to have any chance of getting rid of ISIS, then we should be doing the opposite, and showing compassion towards the victims of their barbaric regime. How is it possible to call for an end to terrorism, and then show complete and utter disrespect towards the victims of it?             
As previously highlighted, many examples of terrorism tend to be committed by people born and raised, in the country where the attack takes place. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the reason for terrorism, partly lies in the failure of British multicultural policy and French assimilationist policy, to bring people of different backgrounds together. To elaborate, British multicultural policy, despite rightfully accepting diversity, does so by placing different groups in different cultural categories separate from each other, and defining individual needs based on those categories. Contrary to this, French assimilationist policy has managed to avoid the cultural divide that comes with British policy, by treating everyone as citizens. Despite this, unable to lay out a common set of values, the French government has largely ignored the police brutality faced by first and second generation immigrants in France, and through their portrayal of Muslims in the media, have created hostility against what they regard as alien cultures. The consequence of British multiculturalist policy and French assimilationist policy, has resulted in growing hostility between different cultural groups, leading to far right attitudes in some groups, and extreme Islamic ideas in others. A perfect solution to this, would be to bring together the two different approaches and celebrating diversity while treating everyone as equal citizens. 
2. We must protect our freedoms
When faced with a terror attack that proposes a threat to our freedom, the immediate response from western governments, is often to ramp up security services to unprecedented levels. In France, lawmakers are preparing to extend the state of emergency, by giving police extra powers and restricting freedom for assembly for up to three months. Also, right wing politicians in France have argued for the introduction of internment camps, and permanent enhancement of police powers. Furthermore, In the UK the government intend to hire an extra 2,000 spies and are also pressing for the introduction of a Snoopers Charter. However, it does not require an idiot to see that similar measures following the Charlie Hebdo attacks failed to prevent the attacks in Paris.  For us to try and change our way of life, and surrender our freedoms, is exactly what the terrorists want us to do.
What governments fail to listen to, when faced with situations like the Paris atrocities, is that having a country at high alert at all times, could be completely counterproductive to the cause of eliminating terrorism. The UK governments Prevent strategy, argues that there are three causes   of radicalisation: A sense of injustice, a sense of isolation, and exposure to radical ideas. However, M15 have debunked most of the government’s claims with a report from them finding that ‘there is no single path to violent extremism’. Under the proposals, public institutions such as schools, security services and even hospitals, will have a duty ‘to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. In 2011, NHS services, such as the safeguarding of patients, suffered due to NHS staff being trained in how to spot potential terrorists. A nurses account of the training, said that she felt ‘utterly brainwashed’ by the end of it. Also, one of the main concerns of the scheme is education. As well as targeting university students, the scheme also targets lower levels of education, bizarrely requiring nursery staff to report toddlers, at risk of becoming terrorists. If this wasn’t enough to convince you that prevent is an absurd scheme, official sources say that, under the Prevent strategy, people are likely to become more separated from each other, with a former chief superintendent criticising Prevent for ‘putting Muslims in a separate box, when it comes to safeguarding vulnerable young people'. In addition to assuming that terrorism is such a problem that even toddlers and hospital patients are at risk of it, the Prevent strategy effectively turns everyday people into police.
It goes without saying that the main victims of things like the Prevent strategy will be Muslims. This blatantly ignores the evidence pointing to the fact that, far right terror attacks are a larger threat than those of Islamists. A third of Muslims now feel under greater suspicion, as a result of programmes like prevent. Despite the masses of evidence pointing towards the fact that the prevent scheme will not work, the government persists with its childish plans. The question now is, how ridiculously naïve would you have to be, not to realise that the current counter terrorism proposals are ideologically motivated and nothing to do with preventing extremism.
3. We must look for a peaceful solution to defeat ISIS
Since the overthrow of the Saddam regime In 2003, by The US led coalition, ISIS have been provided with the kind of stateless chaos, that allows groups such as them to thrive. There are now, 65 times more terror attacks worldwide than there were in 2002, when the war on terror was in its early years. Any attempts to defeat ISIS using more drone strikes or more boots on the ground, not only completely contradict the idea that the west is fighting for freedom and peace in the Middle East, but will only result in more terror attacks, and could potentially act as a key recruitment opportunity for terrorist groups.
Has anyone else noticed that horrific Middle East regimes seem to provide increasing profit opportunities for the war industry? Just as the west armed Saddam Hussain only to turn against him in 2003, they also supported the extremist factions in Syria, who would soon gain the weapons the US had armed the Syrian rebels with, and become ISIS. To any reasonable person, arming people, only for those arms to be turned against your own forces, seems like the most stupid thing ever, but why let logic get in the way when arms companies can make a quick buck or two from being as ridiculously corrupt as possible. Worldwide, three out of four weapons are made by one out of the four UN Security Council, states, plus Israel and Germany. To these corporations, the on-going ascension of ISIS is not a bad thing, as long as it helps to throw fuel on the fire of the arms race, developing across the Middle East. In addition to this, targeted destruction of infrastructure provides opportunity for oilfield contractor Halliburton, who can then make money rebuilding it     
Evidence shows that the US and the UK have been and are allied with regimes which could directly fund and support ISIS, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. A Secret US government document, revealed on Wiki Leaks in 2009, states that ‘more needs to be done, since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for…terror groups’. Furthermore, the letter also makes clear that Kuwait is a key source of funds for militant groups, stating that the government is ‘less inclined to take action against Kuwait based financers and facilitators, plotting attacks outside of Kuwait’. Kuwait has also refused to ban the Islamic Heritage society, an organisation that provides aid to al – Qaida and other terror groups. In addition to this, The Kurdish forces in the Middle East are arguably the strongest force in the fight against ISIS. That may be why Turkey have ensured that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is listed by NATO as a terrorist organisation. By doing this they have been able to force an embargo on the Kurdish forces, and fight against them both directly, and by supplying ISIS. How the West can pretend to be defenders of liberty, then supply countries which directly support terrorist organisations is so utterly contradictory, that it shames me to write it.  The evidence, highlights an all too often ignored factor of the conflicts in the Middle East, that violence is often bankrolled by rich donors, whom world governments do very little to stop. 
In light of this, To defeat ISIS, in a way that does not involve causing unnecessary death to civilians or risking an escalation of the conflict, the most sensible option would appear to put pressure on countries supplying ISIS, severing any arms deals with them. Other strategies include allowing activists and charities to support the Kurdish forces through humanitarian aid, continuing to take direct action against arms companies and other companies that profit from war, and opening our borders to people in need of our help, so should ISIS  have any success, they only conquer a corpse of a country.
4. We need to focus on renewable energy
It may seem an odd point to make in this situation, but for a group that testifies to despise the west, ISIS sure do have a cosy relationship with oil and capitalism. Unlike most terrorist organisation’s it has integrated itself into the global market, surprisingly effectively. Not only to figures show that ISIS oil sales earn half a billion dollars per year, but also Oliver Tickell convincingly argues in his piece on the Paris attacks, that it was done in order to try and derail climate talks, as an effective agreement could have partly curtailed their oil revenues. Of course, the chances of a climate deal being struck are pretty low anyway. A lot of politicians have already been bought and sold to the oil business, so that they work in their interests. However, the real hope for the climate talks is that the public will pressurise politicians into making a deal that betters both the environment and ordinary peoples lives. With enough protest and direct action, we have the power to better our use of renewable energy. From Frack off to Blockadia, The Climate movement is constantly growing in potential, to the point that it could seriously help in defeating ISIS.
 Some may see the problems as unrelated, but the problems in the Middle East and the problems posed by climate change are somewhat linked. Indeed, Climate change may have had a part to play in the stating of the Syrian civil war, with a severe drought forcing farmers away from their crops and into suburban areas, just as the country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war. Indeed, Richard Seeger, a climate scientist at Colombia University, says that ‘the whole world needs to be planning for a drier future in that area, and there will be lots of global implications’.
I would personally worry for the sanity of anyone who says that they are not in the least bit worried by this.  This does not just affect global security, but also global survival. So what are the solutions? To me, the answer is simple, we need to implement and support green energy, public transport, waste reduction and energy efficiency. Furthermore, renewables help decentralize energy production, placing it back in the hands of the community, where it can be used to actually meet peoples needs, rather than the needs of energy companies. Some argue that the transition to renewable energy can only be done slowly, but if you think of the time it took Britain to switch to a war economy after World War Two, you realise it does not need to be a slow process. Overall, a renewables revolution would in fact cause arms and oil companies who have allowed ISIS to rise, to fall apart. Although our politicians, shout about destroying terrorism, they refuse to see how it is related to capitalism, and the global climate. Don’t let them pretend to care, while letting millions die. Stand up for the environment, you stand for a peaceful world!
5. Alternative media is more needed than ever
As a blogger myself, I applaud the work alternative media institutions, Such as Novara media do in raising awareness of issues, and while some left libertarians would disagree with me, I consider their work to be an important part of political activism.
Briefly coming back to the idea of Eurocentrism, the mass media tend to prioritise coverage based on what they see as being culturally closer to us as a nation. I am of course talking about the fact that when a suicide bomb killed forty three in Beirut on the same day as the Paris attacks, it got hardly any coverage. I do not mean to diminish the atrocity that was the Paris attacks, but this is indicative of a culture that views what happens in Europe as an attack on our freedom, and what happens in the Middle East as something which is normal or to be expected. The reason for this may be that it does not fit the mass Media’s narrative structure, with the British being viewed as the good guys, and anyone in the Middle East being viewed  as the Bad Guys. Personally, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that it is only right to mourn and show solidarity, with the deaths of all those who die in all terror attacks.
Conclusion
Overall, while it may seem on the dawn of terror attacks, be they in Paris, Lebanon, South Africa or anywhere in the world, that there is no alternative other than mindless war and authoritarianism, the remarkable solidarity shown with all those affected by the attacks, shows that a peaceful alternative is possible.  Throughout this article, I have highlighted the main reasons why, in 2015, it is more important than ever to learn from the mistakes of the past, and go forward with the aim of bringing an end to all terror, be it at the hands of a powerful government, or a terrorist organisation.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The UK governments Horrendous Treatment of Disabled people


Twenty years ago, disabled people took to the streets of London to protest against unfair treatment of disabled people in the UK. During the protests, disabled people righteously took part in direct action, marking a very different view of disabled people, to what had been shown in the media. This led to the introduction of the disability discrimination act.

Despite such legislation, earlier this year saw the UN conduct an investigation into possible violations of the rights of disabled people by the UK government. Anyone who watches Prime Ministers Questions occasionally, might of heard David Cameron’s absolutely pathetic excuse for not letting people know about the way his government have been treating disabled people, that 'we would not want to disclose private medical information'. To treat people like garbage, and then pretend that he somehow cares, is so utterly repulsive that it made me scream while watching it. Unfortunately, we will not know the findings of the UN investigation report for another two years; however we can still make a fairly good analysis from the vast amount of testimonies and studies that already exist about the subject.

UN Investigation

This investigation marks the first time in history that a country has been investigated by the UN over human rights violations. An official statement from Campaign Group Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) said that 'It is a historic event that would make most politicians recoil in shame'. DPAC sent a range of documents to the UN detailing the impact of a range of policies including the Fit for work schemes, the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions, and the abolition of the Independent Living Fund. When asked about the investigation in parliament, David Cameron replied that he would not want to release the findings of the report due to the fact that they may contain private medical information, Kind words indeed from a Prime Minister whose government, has inflicted some inhumane, hurt against disabled people.   
The UN has insisted on carrying out investigations in private, although hopefully findings will eventually be released.

Independent living fund

Earlier this year the Chancellor unveiled his annual budget, amidst the usual drivel about 'balancing the books', was the decision to transfer responsibility for the Independent Living Fund (ILF) to local councils, a decision which elicited cheers from, Head of the Department from work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith. The ILF is a benefit designed to enable disabled people to live and work in their communities, without the need to live in a care home. Campaigners warn that, due to recent cuts to council funding, these changes could potentially cut of support to more than 17,500 disabled people. This absolutely ridiculous decision was met with a spectacular show of direct action by DPAC, who made the decision to occupy the House of Commons lobby, with the intention of entering the main chamber. 

Considering the governments repetitious blabbering about how we need to get more people into work, it seems highly ironic that they would cancel a benefit, allowing a lot of people to work and contribute to society. Hopefully we will be seeing much more direct action to regain the independent living fund.

 Atos and the 'fit for work' scheme'

Perhaps one of the most indefensible actions carried out by the UK government against disabled people, is the work capability assessments, these are tests, originally introduced under new labor, designed and used by the department of work and pensions, to determine whether disabled welfare claimants are entitled to out of work sickness benefit. The government dresses the scheme up as something that helps disabled people into work, however the reality is that they are anything but a form of help.

Assessment was originally carried out by IT consultant company (yes that’s what they do) Atos. However, is now carried out by a company called Maximus. Since the scheme started, patients with serious conditions including brain damage and terminal cancer, have been found fit for work. Understandably this scheme has caused controversy among both people in the medical profession, and patients. In 2012, the British medical association voted that the work capability assessments should be removed and replaced with a system that ‘does not cause harm to the weakest in society’. Following on from this, the black triangle campaign, an anti-cuts activist group, has released a list of deaths that have occurred as a result of the work capability assessments, with stress over having their benefits cut being believed to be the cause of their death. In 2015, as a response to a freedom of information request, the DWP was forced to admit that in the time between December 2011 and February 2014, 2,380 disabled people died within the short time of being found fit for work.     

If the fact that people are dying isn’t evidence enough for the government that they should ditch these schemes, or face mass protest, then I don’t know what is. In light of the growing awareness on this situation, the DWP will simply brush the allegations aside as irrelevant, as they have been doing for a while. In my opinion, the families of all the people who have suffered under the work capability assessments should be in some way compensated, in the words of the black triangle campaign, may their deaths be avenged.

So how do the governments other plans effect disabled people?


Despite the horrific schemes already mentioned, which directly affect people with disabilities. The Tory’s savage cuts and welfare reforms also have an effect on people with disabilities.

1. Housing and welfare reform

The utterly ridiculous conservative policy of taxing council tenants, who happen to have a spare bedroom is nearly as ridiculous as taxing people for something they don’t know they own. Understandably, many disabled people need the extra room in the house to accommodate for their needs, thus adding to how poorly thought through the legislation is. As it stands, about two thirds of the tenets of the tenants of the Habinteg housing association, which specializes in accessible housing, that are affected by the bedroom tax suffer from a disability. This means that despite this government’s rhetoric about exempting disabled people from things like the bedroom tax, only a small number have been made exempt.
Ministers defending the tax, say that disabled people should apply for council funds to meet their housing needs, despite this, the conservatives know full well that widely differing policies between local councils means that some disabled people are likely to be refused the support. A report by the group muscular dystrophy UK found that families who managed to get a home, then struggled to access the disabled facilities grant, with families sometimes having to contribute £8,000 before they could access funds. Even if we charitably accept this ‘they should help themselves attitude’, that does not change the fact that, according to the report, 70% of disabled people were living in homes unsuitable for their needs anyway. I am sick and tired of seeing people with serious concerns being told by the government, that ‘sorry your needs are too expensive’ and perhaps more repulsively ‘your needs don’t help us with the deficit’. This is especially important, about disabled people, in that they have less ability to acquire alternatives when it all goes wrong. Such a crisis could be easily helped, through the building of cheap affordable housing, a simple suggestion that our country repeatedly fails to deliver. Disabled people require our help and legislation like the bedroom tax, and welfare reform only serves to stand in their way.

2. Work and public services.

Disabled people rely heavily on public services, and thus cuts have a large effect on them. Changes to the department for work and pensions, access to work scheme means that a range of physical adjustments are no longer provided by the government. Employers are now expected to pay for these, as according to the department they are not ‘reasonable’ enough adjustments to make. In addition to this, reductions in council budgets mean that services such as public transport, and care centers to be sliced or closed, charities such as the Shaw Trust, which attempt to provide safe passages into work, for disabled people, have had to phase out many of their programs and give redundancy notices to many staff. This is resulting in extra pressure being put on the NHS to provide services.

Conclusion

  So, overall the UK government’s treatment of disabled people is absolutely appalling in that:

-       It has caused the UN to investigate the government over alleged human rights violations

-       It discriminates against disabled people who want to live independently

-        It forces severely disabled people into work, resulting in deaths and losing the DWP the support of the medical community.

-       The horrendous welfare bill, largely discriminates against disabled people in all walks of life form workers to the unemployed.

With all this in mind it is worth asking, what is this government’s austerity program achieving, other than persecuting the most vulnerable people in society? This is not a new concern, 20 years ago disabled people were voicing their concern about this, and yet here we are in 2015 with the same problem. The very existence of groups like disabled people against cuts show the problems that the ideology of austerity have caused.  

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Camerons Hypocritical Letter

This week saw Oxford Mail, reveal a number of laugh inducing letters, between David Cameron and the conservative leader of Oxfordshire county council. In his letter, our prime minister completely seriously expressed his horror at the cuts to front line services in the constituency. It may be the case that these letters reveal that the prime minister just doesn’t know exactly how much damage his government has done, with its ideological austerity programme.




Hypocrisy

Cameron began his letter, by complaining that Oxfordshire council have made to many cuts to services people depend on to survive. He states that;

‘I was disappointed at the long list of suggestions floated in the briefing note to make significant cuts to frontline services from elderly day centres, to libraries to museums. This is in addition to the unwelcome and counter-productive proposals to close children centres across the county’

Yes, you read that paragraph right dear reader, our austerity loving, thatcherite prime minister, is moaning about cuts to essential public services. So, in the interests of fairness, let’s look at what this government has done to the services mentioned by our dear prime minister.



1. Elderly day care centres
One of Cameron’s complaints is about treatment of elderly people. These are certainly one of the main groups his party panders to for votes, so how have the conservatives treated elderly people during their five years in office.


In 2014 it was estimated that a third of women and a fifth of men over the age of 65 need support with simple tasks such as bathing and taking medicine. Despite this, last year a report by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation think tank found that, numerous cuts to local councils have forced councils to ration care services. The number of older people receiving ‘meals on wheels’ services dropped by over half, while services carried out in day centres themselves, were cut by a fifth. This means that, in addition to leaving thousands of elderly people without help, services to elderly people may be poorer. Furthermore, the group Care and Support Alliance, said of the social care eligibility regulations at the time that they were likely to exclude thousands of people receiving care services, including autistic people and people with disabilities such as brain injury.

How David Cameron can appeal to elderly people to vote for them and them treat them with utter disrespect is disgusting. Help for these people is desperately needed, especially considering our aging population. If our government care about things such as day care centres, they should turn words into action

2. Libraries and museums
I have always been of the opinion that education is of vital importance if we are to improve society, while our education needs to be vastly improved to foster greater democracy and creativity; I have a distinct feeling that this is not what David Cameron means when he says he wants to protect frontline education.

Throughout most of the time they were in power from 2010 to 2015 the man representing the educational system was Michael Gove. During his time as education secretary, Gove presided over a mass privatisation of our education system, by giving away over 3,000 schools for free, to unaccountable private ‘charities’, resulting in mass teacher dissatisfaction and strikes. Furthermore, the number of high school students taking creative subjects since 2010, has declined by 13 per cent, and there has been an 11 per cent drop in the number of specialist teachers.
Since the conservatives got back into power in 2015, giving Michael Gove the job of justice secretary, Nicky Morgan has taken up the task of dismantling the education system. Under Morgan’s proposals children will have to endure the entirely counterproductive testing system even more throughout their time in school, rather than devoting their time to creativity and curiosity, children will have to start testing as young as four. The education secretary’s proposals for getting children learning, lie in giving out free library vouchers in schools, certainly a very soft bit of legislation, but I suppose it makes the Tory’s look human. What Nicky has not mentioned however, is that since the conservatives first got into the power the number of library branches still open has fallen by about 8 per cent, this means that under her proposals, children will be given vouchers for libraries that don’t exist. Anyone who cares about the next generation should realise that what the conservatives are proposing is not education, its obsessive gambling on the future of students’ and teachers.

3. Children centres
The Sure Start children centre programme, was one of the flagship policies of new labour and, to be fair, is probably one of their better ideas. However, although some conservatives insist they aim to use the programme, children’s centres have recently come under significant pressure, from the government.

 
A survey in 2014, found that 1.05 families were using children’s centres at the time. Despite this, in their 2014 conference speeches all party leaders including the conservatives, failed to mention what they would do to maintain children’s centres throughout the country. The charity 4children said in 2014, of cuts to children’s centres that, ‘the 3.36 billion, spent over the last three years is around 830 million pound, less than it would have been’. It should come as no surprise from this that cuts to things like children’s centres, will significantly worsen the lives of children of families across the country. Furthermore, in July an article in the financial times found that funding for children’s centres has been cut by 28 per cent in just there years. While I am no fan of new labour and a lot more needs to be done to implement security for families, than soft legislation. However for the conservatives to say they care about the good policies of previous governments, and then to slash away at them, like children trying to bully each other is absolutely ridiculous.
 
Council cuts and the reply.
As previously highlighted, the hypocrisy prevalent in David Cameron complaining about cuts to council services is immense. Despite this, Dave does offer some solutions. This point should leave the reader thinking, that the prime minister does not know exactly what his government is doing to the country. He states that;
 
‘I would have hoped that, Oxfordshire would instead be following the best practice of conservative councils throughout the country in making back office savings’


Now, labelling cuts to back offices, as the best practice of Conservative councils, doesn’t say a lot for them as institutions. However, aside from this, there are numerous problems with this statement. As the leader of Oxfordshire council tells Cameron, they have slashed ‘40 per cent’ of its senior staff, and have had ‘below inflation pay rises’. Another claim by Cameron that the leader of oxford council exposes as wrong is that there has only been a ‘slight fall’ in government grants. On the contrary, the council leader points out; there has been a drop in funding in government grants of ‘72 million pounds, or 37 per cent’. It has managed to do this despite having to deal with new responsibilities, and while the population of people needing social care has soared.

Last year, the National Audit Office issued warnings about the sort of ignorance expressed in Cameron’s letter, making clear that, throughout the conservatives there has been a 37 per cent, reduction in government funding to local authorities. They very rightly argue that, ‘we do not think it is a contradiction to the government policy of localism to assess whether the department have enough information to make good decisions about the level of funding to local authorities’. While I do not wish to see Britain become a meritocratic society, is it to unreasonable to ask for a government that at the very least understands economics enough to take advise, and know the impact that their cuts have. The fact that this exchange between Cameron and the leader of Oxford Council needed to happen is an embarrassment.


Conclusion
So here are some of the things we have learnt from camerons letter;


- He seems to be blissfully unaware of the impact that his own government is having on the frontline services that people depend on to survive.

- He is completely ignorant of the effect that cuts to councils have on funding

- He is unscathed by advice from the National Audit office, when they warn that never ending cuts may not be the best thing for the country.

Overall, If one thing can be learnt from Cameron’s utterly hypocritical letter is that people of positions of power within society are sometimes no more worthy to make decisions than other members of society. Whether Cameron will learn from the exchange is highly doubtful, austerity is too much in his interests, for him to turn around and admit he is wrong, and not until some sort of change happens in society, will he look down and notice the destruction he has caused.

Anyone who knows anything about politics should be reading this letter thinking 'do we really want this man running the country'. Lets add it to the list of things to embarrass the conservatives with in 2020!