UK Foreign Secretary Didn't Know What The Customs Union Was. Boris Johnson, the former UK…
A Cruel Tory Punishment To Scapegoat The Vulnerable.
Benefit sanctions are a cruel Tory punishment to scapegoat the vulnerable in a dirty political game.
It’s outrageous convicted criminals are fed in jail yet the unemployed, disabled and sick – including children – go hungry for weeks for the slightest infringement of complex rules.
We know from whistle-blowing civil servants that staff are bullied into catching out claimants instead of helping them into jobs.
So welcome to David Cameron’s horrible new world, where millionaires get tax cuts as the PM robs the working poor and persecutes the work-less poor.
The surge in benefit sanctions to more than a million is a damning indictment of uncaring Conservatism, a nasty political creed.
That Cameron can sleep at night when he leaves children to go hungry tells us much that is unpleasant about him.
( Daily Mirror, 02.03.2015 )
The Men With Guns Love To Run The Show.
Look around the world, and you will see that the men with the guns love to run the show.
Could it happen here?
I doubt it, but I’d never rule it out.
In the 1960s and 1970s, retired high-ranking officers plotted to bring down the Labour government of Harold Wilson.
Thatcher considered mobilising troops during the miners’ strike 30 years ago, and soldiers have been used to counter industrial action by workers.
The House of Lords is stuffed with old sweats.
There are more generals, wing commanders and admirals than you can shake a swagger stick at.
And the top brass are almost invariably Tories.
They operate behind the scenes in Whitehall and Westminster, not just to sustain the inflated defence budget, but to keep Britain how they like it, uncritical of the military, docile servants of private enterprise and in our place as loyal subjects.
( Paul Routledge, 23.05.2014 )
The Theft And Corruption Has Crippled Ukraine.
Kiev has a grand opera house, cathedrals, chain stores, sweeping central avenues, a metro, everything required to make a place look European.
But it resembles a modern European capital city only in the way the Cancer Institute resembles a hospital.
Since 1991, officials, members of parliament and businessmen have created complex and highly lucrative schemes to plunder the state budget.
The theft has crippled Ukraine.
The economy was as large as Poland’s at independence, now it is a third of the size.
Ordinary Ukrainians have seen their living standards stagnate, while a handful of oligarchs have become billionaires.
Public fury has fuelled two revolutions.
In 2004, street protests helped Viktor Yushchenko defeat an attempt by the then prime minister Viktor Yanukovych to rig the presidential election.
During his five years in power, however, Yushchenko failed to dislodge the networks of patronage.
Amid widespread disillusionment, he lost the 2010 election to Yanukovych, who was in turn driven out in February 2014, after corruption mutated into still more virulent forms.
Officials from the general prosecutor’s office, who were interviewed by Reuters, claimed that between 2010 and 2014, officials were stealing a fifth of the country’s national output every year.
This behaviour has infected all sectors of Ukrainian society.
President Yanukovych lived in a vast palace on the edge of Kiev.
After he fled, protesters found millions of dollars worth of paintings, icons, books and ceramics stacked in his garage.
He’d had nowhere to display them.
( Oliver Bullough, 06.02.2015 ) Source: theguardian.com
The Terrible Consequences Of Margaret Thatcher’s Lies.
This month’s 30th anniversary of the end of the momentous 1984-85 miners’ strike isn’t history – it’s living history.
Because people, families and communities live today with the terrible consequences of Margaret Thatcher’s lies when the Tories declared all-out war on workers in English, Welsh and Scottish coalfields.
The legacy of her iron fist and deception – Thatcher mobilising the powers of the State to crush resistance and shut profitable pits – is still found in low wages, unemployment, drugs, social breakdown and mental health problems.
Men stripped of the dignity of work were thrown on the scrapheap and entire villages left to rot.
Thatcher lied, lied and then lied again during that dispute.
We understand why 30 years later miners haven’t forgiven or forgotten.
( Daily Mirror, 02.03.2015 )
Well Done, For A Failure.
Poor old William Hague has to try and make ends meet with a £2.5million retirement (at age 54) mansion in Powys, mid-Wales, to write more books.
In rural seclusion, with 10 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, an indoor pool and sauna, six coach houses, an orangery, an oak-panelled library and grounds of 12.7 acres to keep the riff-raff at bay.
Well done, for a failure.
He’ll still maintain a second property (actually, a third, he has another one in London) in God’s own country “to keep in touch with old friends”.
( Paul Routledge, 23.01.2015 )
Was Saint Patrick Really A Saint?
Believe it or not, there is no record of St Patrick ever being created a saint.
Saint making in the early church didn’t begin until the middle of the 13th century – nearly 800 years after Patrick died.
Not only that, but Patrick isn’t the only patron saint of Ireland.
As the shamrock has three leaves so Ireland has three patron saints, St Colmcille and St Brigid being the two others.
Patrick is traditionally portrayed throughout Ireland as a 17th century Catholic bishop, complete with mitre and crosier, preaching in green fields to docile pagans – probably, we imagined – in an Irish accent.
The mitre was not invented until 500 years after Patrick’s death.
When Patrick first arrived in Ireland it was as a prisoner of the barbarous Northern Celtic tribes.
The thing we Irishmen will never admit to about Patrick – he was a Brit.
Anyhow, in the end it’s not what we know about St Patrick that’s important but what we think we know about him, be it right, wrong, or plain dumb.
Patrick has probably earned sainthood through the simple joy he gives to people around the world who parade, or wear the green and wish each other a happy St Patrick’s Day.
( Tom McParland )
Cameron Vetoed A Measly 1% Pay Rise For Nurses.
When David Cameron refused to accept there is a crisis in the NHS, I felt like punching a hole in the television screen.
Only that would have increased the pressure on overburdened A&E nurses and doctors at my local hospital.
And I don’t want to do that because I know from first-hand experience exactly how hard-working and dedicated they are.
2014 was the year I really got to know the NHS from the inside, as a regular outpatient at Airedale General, near Keighley, where I was undergoing treatment for suspected prostate cancer.
PSA tests, an MRI scan, and a biopsy up the unmentionable.
The full works, over several months.
The doctors, the nurses and the support staff were absolutely brilliant.
Polite, professional and caring.
I couldn’t ask for more.
At the end of it, the consultant, Mr Koenig, rang me at home, in the evening, to give me the all-clear – for now.
More tests in the summer.
If I thought the NHS was a good thing before, I am lost in admiration for it now.
And I boil with rage at what the Tories are doing to the best thing that Labour ever gave to the people of this country.
Deceitful Dave prattled in Prime Minister’s Questions this week about how much he admires nurses.
He does that, all right.
He admires them so much he shot the umpire, by vetoing a measly 1% pay increase awarded this year by the Independent Pay Review Body.
So, next time I was at Airedale was on the picket line with striking hospital staff, including midwives who’d never taken industrial action before in their 149-year history.
I heard chilling evidence of over-worked staff, of privatisation of services, of job losses, of rock bottom morale.
This, too, was first-hand experience, of the kind that most patients don’t get.
It’s the side they don’t see, because staff are too busy looking after them to complain.
The Tories don’t see it either.
In fact, they’ve invented a new medical condition: incurable denial syndrome.
Cameron can’t admit that the NHS is in crisis, so he denies it’s happening while all around is hospital chaos.
Weeping nurses, worn-out A&E doctors, exhausted paramedics and patients left in agony on trolleys.
( Paul Routledge, 09.01.2015 )
People Made Poorer After Tories VAT Hike.
Families have been stung for £1,800 as a result of George Osborne’s VAT hike.
A couple with children have lost £450 a year on average since the increase to 20% in January 2011, a parliamentary answer reveals.
A pensioner couple have lost £1,100, a pensioner living alone would be £600 worse off and a one-parent family is £900 poorer.
The 2011 increase followed a pledge not to raise the tax.
Labour’s Treasury spokeswoman Shabana Mahmood said that the only people to have had a big tax cut under the Tories were those earning more than £150,000.
( Jason Beattie, 03.01.2015 )
Government Funding For Old Folk Is Cut.
Here’s the facts of life for the elderly under a Tory-dominated government.
State-funded care for frail old folk has plummeted, down to 370,630, or only 9% of over-65s, compared to 849,280 in 2012.
Preventative care, aimed at keeping the elderly in their own homes, has also dropped sharply.
Only 29,560 people now get meals on wheels, down 63% in three years.
Spending on daycare is down by a third too.
A government for pensioners?
Don’t make me cry.
( Paul Routledge, 23.01.2015 )
In the summer of 1215, John 1 reluctantly sealed his agreement on what subsequently became known as Magna Carta, the Great Charter.
His foreign and domestic policies, following on from those of his father and brother, Henry 11 and Richard 1, had greatly angered and embittered a group of powerful barons.
The 63 clauses of the charter set out to protect against the excessive use of royal power in matters of justice, religion, taxation and foreign policy, making the king accountable to the rule of law, just like his subjects.
It also first stated the rights of free men to justice and a fair trial and explicitly stated the right of trial by jury.
The location for the deed on 15 June 1215 was a meadow by the Thames at Runnymede, chosen as a midway location between the King’s residence at Windsor Castle and the Staines assembly point of the discontented English barons.
The document was ‘given’ (given the king’s formal assent), ‘engrossed’ (committed to parchment to enable it to be read by others and reproduced) and certified by the attachment of the King’s royal seal.
Four days later, 27 of the rebellious barons renewed their allegiance to the King, and in so doing signified their acceptance of the terms of the charter.
Our debt to Magna Carta is an enduring one, as a document marking a milestone in the history of human liberty.
( Claire Saul )
Hunger Stalks Large Parts Of Our Country.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, says we must not play political games with the plight of the poor.
Hang on a minute, Most Rev.
You started the controversy over poverty and empty kids’ bellies.
You said, “Hunger stalks large parts of our country.”
You were more shocked by scenes at a British food bank than the suffering in African refugee camps and you backed calls to end over-hasty “sanctioning” of benefits that leaves claimants penniless.
And rightly so.
This is not a game.
It’s deadly serious.
We live in the fourth-richest country in the world.
It is a scandal that food banks have to cope with more than a million requests for help in the fifth year of a Tory-led government that thinks the poor are responsible for their poverty.
( Paul Routledge, 12.12.2014 )
The Big Society.
What about David Cameron’s flagship policy at the last election.
The Big Society?
His “we’re all in it together” project that would give “power back to the people” and mend Broken Britain.
This week the Civil Exchange think tank declared it had not only failed, but that fewer people felt empowered today than when the Big Society was launched.
“There is now a more divided society in which power has not been shared significantly with those who have least” was its brutal epitaph on Cameron’s spivvish con.
( Brian Reade, 24.01.2015 )
Actress Anne Kirkbride gave people more pleasure over four decades playing Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street than all the politicians, fake celebrities, reality TV contestants and footballers put together.
That’s why she is so genuinely and universally mourned.
It may be trite to say they don’t make them like that any more, but they don’t.
( Paul Routledge, 23.01.2015 )