31 Jul 2014

Robert Mugabe - worst dictator in Africa?

This is an old post from when Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe was being seen as the worst dictator in Africa in about 2008.

30 Jul 2014

Disability, Let's Talk About The Barriers

The Fabian Women's Network invited Disability Rights UK to send someone along to their event to discuss and debate “Disability, Let's Talk About The Barriers”, so I went, and I did. And wrote it up here.

26 Jul 2014

Short story for Ewan McIan

Once upon a time in the far away land of Qari, there ruled an evil tyrant called Hussain Saddam. The Just Warriors made war on him and destroyed him and the land of Qari. After the war the Rebok-prize-winning novelist, Ewan McIan, wrote: “I had great ambivalences about the Qari war. The left-winger in me made it difficult to protest against the removal of a fascist dictator.” (Guardian interview Saturday 18 August 2007)

Matt Ridley - Northern Rock - collapse of neoliberal capitalism

This is on the death of the theory and the practice of neoliberal capitalism, and is by George Monbiot in The Guardian on Thursday 24 July 2014 on the Nature Capital Agenda gobbledygook, which is also on YouTube if you like to listen rather than read.

25 Jul 2014

Children and Families Act 2014

The Act makes changes for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) in England. Local councils will have to draw up an education, health and care (EHC) plan instead of a statement of SEN, publish a 'local offer' of services and can offer a personal budget covering SEN provision for children with an EHC Plan.

23 Jul 2014

PIP 20 metre rule case

High Court challenge to PIP mobility 20 metre rule fails. Judge finds gov consultation was not unfair or unlawful bit.ly/WCnUEL

The court case at Birmingham High Court on Wed 16 July was unsuccessful. But there were some interesting exerts from government documents released in the judgement. That includes the submission made to Ministers by civil servants to summarize the responses to the mobility criteria consultation. 

Having noted the impact of the loss of benefit on disabled claimants, it said (at paragraph 64): “… [T]his was recognised from the outset. In developing the PIP assessment we were aware that the vast majority of recipients of DLA were individuals with genuine health conditions and disabilities and genuine need, and that removing or reducing that benefit may affect their daily lives. However, we believe that these impacts can be justified as being a logical result of distributing limited resources in a different and more sustainable way…” [emphasis added]

18 Jul 2014

The tendency of the rate of profit to fall

Example in Socialist Review goes something like this. I've adapted it to help me understand it and have got utterly confused: see Notes below.

15 Jul 2014

Conservative Government hails “huge benefits” of trade unions

Trade unions have given  “huge benefits” to the British economy, said Conservative Government Business, Innovation and Skills Spokesperson Lord Popat in Parliament on Monday 7 July 2014. Here is my letter published on 25 July in the Essex County Standard. It was in a big red box (for emphasis, not socialism or for being wrong!).

8 Jul 2014

Mentally ill people hounded by DWP

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, Tuesday 8 July 2014: Ministers promise 'parity of esteem' for mental and physical health services. Instead the reality is scandalous cruelty ... “Neglect of the mentally ill is bad enough, but now consider how the Department for Work and Pensions deliberately torments them … Letters are sent to the vulnerable who don't legally have to come in, but in such ambiguous wording that they look like an order to attend. Tricks are played: those ending their contributory entitlement to a year on ESA need to fill in a form for income-based ESA. But jobcentres are forbidden to stock those forms. These ill people's benefits are suddenly stopped without explanation: if they call, they're told to collect a form from the jobcentre, which doesn't stock them either. If someone calls to query an appointment they are told they will be sanctioned if they don't turn up. 

6 Jul 2014

World War One - the warring cousins

In 1914 the rulers of the world's three greatest nations were all first cousins: they were all grandchildren of Queen Victoria.
  • King George V of Great Britain
  • Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany

As the BBC History page says, Queen Victoria was sometimes called the Grandmamma of Europe, and there was hardly a Continental court that did not boast at least one of her relations. During World War One there were no less than seven of the old Queen's direct descendants, and two more of her Coburg relations, on European thrones.

World War One was like a feud among a band of warring brothers: imperialists rather than the capitalists that Marx was referring to when he coined the phrase.

2 Jul 2014

Ram Dass on judgement

When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees.  And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever.  And you look at the tree and you allow it.  You appreciate it.  You see why it is the way it is.  You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way.  And you don’t get all emotional about it.  You just allow it.  You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that.  And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.”  That judging mind comes in.  And so I practice turning people into trees.  Which means appreciating them just the way they are. 

1 Jul 2014

Public sector good, private sector bad, admits Tory Gov!

The DWP press release for the launch on 30 June 2014 of the new Child Maintenance Service, which is under the direct control of the government, includes the following:

Chaos at the DWP

  • after £612 million being spent, including £131 million written off or written down, the introduction of Universal Credit is now years behind schedule 
  • the Minister of State for Disabled People admitted to the Work and Pensions Committee on 11 June 2014 that over 700,000 people are still waiting for a Work Capability Assessment
  • the Office for Budget Responsibility in March 2014 found that projected spending on Employment and Support Allowance has risen by £800 million since December
  • the Committee of Public Accounts in its First Report, HC 280, found that Personal Independence Payment delays have created uncertainty, stress and financial costs for disabled people and additional budgetary pressures for Government
  • the Work Programme has failed to meet its targets
  • the unfair bedroom tax risks costing more than it saves