Sunday, 20 November 2016

What Has Been Going on in the UK?

Given the understandable amount of coverage bloggers like myself have been given to The US election over the past few months, it has been easy to overlook many of the things that are going on in my own country, the UK. Donald Trump's victory really should not have come as a surprise to British people, given that we are still dealing the huge act of economic self-harm that British public inflicted on themselves earlier in 2016. However, aside from these two cataclysmic acts eclipsing both the mainstream and independent media in Britain, there are a number of other issues and events that deserve our attention. Here is a quick summary of events that have slipped under the radar.
 
·     1. The hope that the Tory's are going to bin their economically self-destructive ideological austerity agenda in favour of an investment led strategy following Brexit, took another blow with the announcement that the rail electrification project for the South West of England has been indefinitely suspended. This is in spite of the fact that a February 2016 poll by BMG found that the number of people who strongly support austerity has dropped to 7%, while only 28% see it as a necessary evil. I find it especially ironic that Tory's like Theresa May won't shut up about the 'will of the people' when it comes to defending their desire to push through Brexit without any democratic oversight' by parliament, but will completely disregard it when it comes to making sensible economic policy.
·     2. Theresa May visited India in order to beg for some kind of trade deal with them, but ended up getting chastised about her obstructive attitude towards Indian migration and the 'detrimental' immigration policies she implemented during her time as Home Secretary. Despite announcing new schemes to help wealthy Indian businessmen travel to the UK, May refused to relax visa restrictions on students coming from the country to the UK. Additionally, Theresa May didn't even bother to schedule a meeting with the Indian conglomerate Tata to discuss the ongoing crisis in the British steel industry. 
·     3. After returning from her failed trip to India, Theresa May decided to continue the Tory policy of pathetically sucking up to the Chinese communist government, even allowing herself to be lectured about the importance of 'mutual trust' by the Chinese, when one of the contractors they lined up to build the UK's rip off nuclear infrastructure for us has been charged with nuclear espionage in the United States! Upon making this deal David Cameron locked Britain in an economically suicidal contract to pay China £92.50 per MWh of electricity for 35 years, at a time when the global cost of renewables is in decline. By leaving office, Cameron has put Theresa May in a lose-lose situation where she can either enrage China by pulling out of the deal (a dangerous move considering the weak position geoeconomic position Brexit has put us in) or shaft the British public by continuing with a shambolic rip off. 
·    4. The Crown Prosecution service are considering a 'corrupt practices' case against the Vote Leave mob, which included Tory frontbenchers like Boris Johnson, for lying to the electorate over claims like 'we will give the NHS £350 million pound a week' and their scaremongering that 'Turkey is joining the EU': Both claims that run directly counter to the evidence. If a case was brought successfully it would not have any influence on the referendum result but could result in criminal prosecution of anyone found to have deliberately misled the electorate, which in this case is probably quite a few people
·    5. The Brexiter argument that the collapse in the value of the pound has been a great thing for British exports took a massive blow when it was revealed that the UK trade deficit has widened significantly to 12.7 billion. Not only did the vast gap between imports and exports grow dramatically, the volume of UK exports actually fell by £200 million pounds. The argument that a collapsing currency is great for the economy is absolutely ridiculous, because as anyone who understands UK trade knows, the UK continues to import vastly more than it exports, but when the evidence shows that the collapse in currency value has coincided with a significant decline in exports, even the argument that it is good for the export sector looks incredibly weak. Despite the misguided line of thought for Brexiters on the economy, the Tory's will clearly continue to push this myth that a collapsing currency is somehow good for the UK's (import based) economy.
·    6. The Tory's suffered a humiliating defeat in the Supreme Court where the high court ruling that the Bedroom Tax discriminates against disabled people and children was upheld. Of course, disabled people and parents have been arguing for years the so called bedroom tax places a charge on something that is a basic necessity, and it is a shame that the Tory's thought they had to appeal the high court ruling in the first place. All that remains to seen is how they will react to this new development. 
·    7. The latest figures from the Trussell Trust food bank, showed that the increase in food bank dependency in the UK is still continuing. The charity handed out a record number of food parcels in 2015-16 and their evidence shows that two of the leading causes of food poverty were benefit delays and Tory Welfare cuts, accounting for over 40% of referrals between them. Not only this but data from the University of Hull found that there is a correlation between food bank use and areas with high numbers of people who are in skilled manual work or unable to work due to long term illnesses or disabilities. This must not become normal or accepted.
·    8. The Tory assault on Children's rights suffered a setback in the House of Lords where peers voted against a Tory plan to allow local governments to opt out of child protection measures. This Tory effort to throw children's rights legislation on the fire is clearly designed to make the large scale privatisation of day care centres and child protection services more appealing to corporate outsourcing companies like G4S and Serco. The reason I describe the vote in the Lords as a setback rather than a defeat though is because Tory ministers can simply reinstate this legislation, when the bill returns to the House of Commons.
·     9. If you need more evidence of the detrimental consequences of the Conservative assault on children's rights, the Homeless charity Shelter reported that 120,000 children will spend this Christmas homeless, and that the new Tory benefit cap will end up impoverishing an estimated 319,000 children, if it wasn't already clear to anyone reading this, it should be absolutely clear that Tory austerity policies end up economically punishing children for being born into poor families.
·    10. Home Secretary Amber Rudd refused to launch an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave. An event in 1984, that saw police launch an unprovoked attack on striking miners. This is despite the fact that the inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster found that several police officers involved in hiding and fabricating evidence of Hillsborough were also involved in lying about orgreave, by painting striking miners as riotous and refusing to acknowledge that the police launched an attack. Following Rudd’s refusal to hold an inquiry the Guardian revealed that she hadn't even bothered to review the evidence collected by the IPCC, or the evidence held by South Yorkshire police. The Home office then refused to reveal what information Rudd had actually reviewed before deciding to scrap the whole inquiry. It is absolutely ridiculous that Rudd could have decided there were no grounds for an inquiry without even bothering to review fundamental pieces of evidence. Amber Rudd is demonstrating that after 32 years the Tory's are still intent on shamelessly playing party politics with the justice system by refusing to hold an inquiry into the appalling police conduct at Orgreave.
·     11. A long awaited report from the United Nations absolutely hammered the Tory government for their savage mistreatment of disabled people. Not only did the report find that Tory welfare cuts have disproportionately affected disabled people and hindered their rights to live independently and live in their communities, but the report also found that disabled people in Britain have suffered a barrage of right wing, anti-disability propaganda that has routinely portrayed disabled people as 'making a living of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy or putting a burden on taxpayers'. 
The U.S. Election and Trump's victory have overshadowed what's going on in British politics, but it is important to remember the U.S. aren't the only country going through hard times at the moment. Whatever the mainstream media tell you about Theresa May and the Tory's being a 'safe pair of hands', it should be beyond obvious that she is an extremely dishonest and incompetent Prime Minister, with dangerously authoritarian and anti-democratic streaks. The story's I have highlighted from US election week prove this, but as long as the bulk of the Labour opposition and the mainstream media continue to fail to hold Theresa May's feet to the fire, millions of people will continue to believe that Theresa May is a competent politician doing a good job!                

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