Mechanisation, then and now

But all the cities you have taken, all the armies which have retreated before your leaders, are but paltry subjects of self-congratulation, if your land divides against itself, and your dragoons and executioners must be let loose against your fellow-citizens.

Lord Byron 1812

On February 27th 1812, exactly 210 years ago this month, Lord Byron gave his maiden speech in the house of lords. He spoke in support of the Luddites, the machine breakers whose livelihoods had been taken from them by industrial mechanisation that left factories with reduced workforces producing higher quantities of products for a fraction of the cost. The factory owners grew ever richer whilst their former workers starved to death.

(c) Newstead Abbey; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

So the newly unemployed workers banded together and smashed the machinery that had robbed them of their work and in response the British government proposed to make machine-breaking a capita crime, punishable by death.

This was Lord Byron’s speech opposing such a penalty. In it he describes so eloquently the lot of jobless artesans in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire and argues for a little compassion from the government and the Lords.

As we survey the rise of mechanisation today from self-service tills to petrol pumps and we watch the government slash benefits for those without work it’s easy to see that nothing changes.

This is the sort of situation that convinced Karl Marx that the revolution (which actually happened in Russia) would begin in Britain. He was wrong but he could so easily have been right. He might still be. Perhaps we Brits have been slow to anger but the signs of unrest are unmistakeable today. So to this callous government, just as cruel as was the ruling elite of Byron’s day, I say this…

Do something to relieve the hardship of the poor, of those recently unemployed and those too unwell to work or you just night find yourself secured in that gibbet, swinging from some branch or crossroad gallows, exposed to the elements and waiting helplessly to die from starvation or dehydration. And that’s the sort of revolution that helps nobody but the most ruthless, the most unsuitable for government – but then you know all about that sort of ruthlessness, don’t you?

This is Byron’s speech from all those years ago. Take heed because nobody wants to see insurrection except the barbarous idiots who see life just as cheaply as you cabinet ministers do yourselves…

“My Lords,

The subject now submitted to your Lordships, for the first time, though new to the House, is, by no means, new to the country. I believe it had occupied the serious thoughts of all descriptions of persons long before its introduction to the notice of that Legislature whose interference alone could be of real service.

As a person in some degree connected with the suffering county, though a stranger, not only to this House in general, but to almost every individual whose attention I presume to solicit, I must claim some portion of your Lordships’ indulgence, whilst I offer a few observations on a question in which I confess myself deeply interested.

To enter into any detail of these riots would be superfluous; the House is already aware that every outrage short of actual bloodshed has been perpetrated, and that the proprietors of the frames obnoxious to the rioters, and all persons supposed to be connected with them, have been liable to insult and violence.

During the short time I recently passed in Notts, not twelve hours elapsed without some fresh act of violence; and, on the day I left the county, I was informed that forty frames had been broken the preceding evening as usual, without resistance and without detection. Such was then the state of that county, and such I have reason to believe it to be at this moment.

But whilst these outrages must be admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalelled distress. The perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large and once honest and industrious body of the people into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community.

At the time to which I allude, the town and county were burdened with large detachments of the military; the police was in motion, the magistrates assembled, yet all these movements, civil and military had led to—nothing. Not a single instance had occurred of the apprehension of any real delinquent actually taken in the fact, against whom there existed legal evidence sufficient for conviction.

But the police, however useless, were by no means idle: several notorious delinquents had been detected; men liable to conviction, on the clearest evidence, of the capital crime of poverty; men, who had been nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting several children, whom, thanks to the times!—they were unable to maintain.

Considerable injury has been done to the proprietors of the improved frames. These machines were to them an advantage, inasmuch as they superseded the necessity of employing a number of workmen, who were left in consequence to starve. By the adoption of one species of frame in particular, one man performed the work of many, and the superfluous labourers were thrown out of employment.

Yet it is to be observed, that the work thus executed was inferior in quality, not marketable at home, and merely hurried over with a view to exportation. It was called, in the cant of the trade, by the name of Spider-work.

The rejected workmen, in the blindness of their ignorance, instead of rejoicing at these improvements in arts so beneficial to mankind, conceived themselves to be sacrificed to improvements in mechanism. In the foolishness of their hearts, they imagined that the maintenance and well doing of the industrious poor, were objects of greater consequence than the enrichment of a few individuals by any improvement in the implements of trade which threw the workmen out of employment, and rendered the labourer unworthy of his hire.

 And, it must be confessed, that although the adoption of the enlarged machinery, in that state of our commerce which the country once boasted, might have been beneficial to the master without being detrimental to the servant; yet, in the present situation of our manufactures, rotting in warehouses without a prospect of exportation, with the demand for work and workmen equally diminished, frames of this construction tend materially to aggravate the distresses and discontents of the disappointed sufferers.

But the real cause of these distresses, and consequent disturbances, lies deeper.

When we are told that these men are leagued together, not only for the destruction of their own comfort, but of their very means of subsistence, can we forget that it is the bitter policy, the destructive warfare, of the last eighteen years, which has destroyed their comfort, your comfort, all men’s comfort;—that policy which, originating with “great statesmen now no more,” has survived the dead to become a curse on the living unto the third and fourth generation!

These men never destroyed their looms till they were become useless, worse than useless; till they were become actual impediments to their exertions in obtaining their daily bread.

Can you then wonder, that in times like these, when bankruptcy, convicted fraud, and imputed felony, are found in a station not far beneath that of your Lordships, the lowest, though once most useful portion of the people, should forget their duty in their distresses, and become only less guilty than one of their representatives?

But while the exalted offender can find means to baffle the law, new capital punishments must be devised, new snares of death must be spread, for the wretched mechanic who is famished into guilt. These men were willing to dig, but the spade was in other hands; they were not ashamed to beg, but there was none to relieve them. Their own means of subsistence were cut off; all other employments pre-occupied; and their excesses, however to be deplored and condemned, can hardly be the subject of surprise.

It has been stated, that the persons in the temporary possession of frames connive at their destruction; if this be proved upon inquiry, it were necessary that such material accessories to the crime should be principals in the punishment. But I did hope that any measure proposed by His Majesty’s Government for your Lordships’ decision, would have had conciliation for its basis; or, if that were hopeless, that some previous inquiry, some deliberation, would have been deemed requisite; not that we should have been called at once, without examination and without cause, to pass sentences by wholesale, and sign death-warrants blindfold.

But admitting that these men had no cause of complaint, that the grievances of them and their employers were alike groundless, that they deserved the worst; what inefficiency, what imbecility, has been evinced in the method chosen to reduce them!

Why were the military called out to be made a mockery of—if they were to be called out at all? As far as the difference of seasons would permit, they have merely parodied the summer campaign of Major Sturgeon; and, indeed, the whole proceedings, civil and military, seem formed on the model of those of the Mayor and Corporation of Garrett.

Such marchings and countermarchings! from Nottingham to Bulnell—from Bulnell to Bareford—from Bareford to Mansfield! and, when at length, the detachments arrived at their destination, in all ‘the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war,’ they came just in time to witness the mischief which had been done, and ascertain the escape of the perpetrators;—to collect the spolia opima, in the fragments of broken frames, and return to their quarters amidst the derision of old women, and the hootings of children.

Now, though in a free country, it were to be wished that our military should never be too formidable, at least, to ourselves, I cannot see the policy of placing them in situations where they can only be made ridiculous. As the sword is the worst argument that can be used, so should it be the last: in this instance it has been the first, but, providentially as yet, only in the scabbard.

The present measure will, indeed, pluck it from the sheath; yet had proper meetings been held in the earlier stages of these riots,—had the grievances of these men and their masters (for they also have had their grievances) been fairly weighed and justly examined, I do think that means might have been devised to restore these workmen to their avocations, and tranquillity to the country.

At present the county suffers from the double infliction of an idle military and a starving population. In what state of apathy have we been plunged so long, that now, for the first time, the house has been officially apprised of these disturbances? All this has been transacting within one hundred and thirty miles of London, and yet we, ‘good easy men! have deemed full sure our greatness was a ripening,’ and have sat down to enjoy our foreign triumphs in the midst of domestic calamity.

But all the cities you have taken, all the armies which have retreated before your leaders, are but paltry subjects of self-congratulation, if your land divides against itself, and your dragoons and executioners must be let loose against your fellow-citizens.

You call these men a mob, desperate, dangerous, and ignorant; and seem to think that the only way to quiet the ‘Bellua multorum capitum’ is to lop off a few of its superfluous heads. But even a mob may be better reduced to reason by a mixture of conciliation and firmness, than by additional irritation and redoubled penalties.

Are we aware of our obligations to a mob! It is the mob that labour in your fields, and serve in your houses—that man your navy, and recruit your army—that have enabled you to defy all the world,—and can also defy you, when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair.

You may call the people a mob, but do not forget that a mob too often speaks the sentiments of the people. And here I must remark with what alacrity you are accustomed to fly to the succour of your distressed allies, leaving the distressed of your own country to the care of Providence or—the parish.

When the Portuguese suffered under the retreat of the French, every arm was stretched out, every hand was opened,—from the rich man’s largess to the widow’s mite, all was bestowed to enable them to rebuild their villages and replenish their granaries. And at this moment, when thousands of misguided but most unfortunate fellow-countrymen are struggling with the extremes of hardship and hunger, as your charity began abroad, it should end at home. A much less sum—a tithe of the bounty bestowed on Portugal, even if these men (which I cannot admit without inquiry) could not have been restored to their employments, would have rendered unnecessary the tender mercies of the bayonet and the gibbet. But doubtless our funds have too many foreign claims to admit a prospect of domestic relief,—though never did such objects demand it.

I have traversed the seat of war in the peninsula; I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey; but never, under the most despotic of infidel governments, did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return, in the very heart of a Christian country.

And what are your remedies? After months of inaction, and months of action worse than inactivity, at length comes forth the grand specific, the never-failing nostrum of all state-physicians, from the days of Draco to the present time. After feeling the pulse and shaking the head over the patient, prescribing the usual course of warm water and bleeding—the warm water of your mawkish police, and the lancets of your military—these convulsions must terminate in death, the sure consummation of the prescriptions of all political Sangrados.

Setting aside the palpable injustice and the certain inefficiency of the bill, are there not capital punishments sufficient on your statutes? Is there not blood enough upon your penal code! that more must be poured forth to ascend to heaven and testify against you? How will you carry this bill into effect? Can you commit a whole county to their own prisons? Will you erect a gibbet in every field, and hang up men like scarescrows? or will you proceed (as you must to bring this measure into effect) by decimation; place the country under martial law; depopulate and lay waste all around you; and restore Sherwood Forest as an acceptable gift to the crown in its former condition of a royal chase, and an asylum for outlaws?

Are these the remedies for a starving and desperate populace? Will the famished wretch who has braved your bayonets be appalled by your gibbets? When death is a relief, and the only relief it appears that you will afford him, will he be dragooned into tranquillity? Will that which could not be effected by your grenadiers, be accomplished by your executioners?

If you proceed by the forms of law, where is your evidence? Those who have refused to impeach their accomplices when transportation only was the punishment, will hardly be tempted to witness against them when death is the penalty.

With all due deference to the noble lords opposite, I think a little investigation, some previous inquiry, would induce even them to change their purpose. That most favourite state measure, so marvellously efficacious in many and recent instances, temporizing, would not be without its advantage in this.

When a proposal is made to emancipate or relieve, you hesitate, you deliberate for years, you temporize and tamper with the minds of men; but a death-bill must be passed off hand, without a thought of the consequences.

Sure I am, from what I have heard and from what I have seen, that to pass the bill under all the existing circumstances, without inquiry, without deliberation, would only be to add injustice to irritation, and barbarity to neglect. The framers of such a bill must be content to inherit the honours of that Athenian lawgiver whose edicts were said to be written, not in ink, but in blood.

But suppose it past,—suppose one of these men, as I have seen them meagre with famine, sullen with despair, careless of a life which your lordships are perhaps about to value at something less than the price of a stocking-frame; suppose this man surrounded by those children for whom he is unable to procure bread at the hazard of his existence, about to be torn for ever from a family which he lately supported in peaceful industry, and which it is not his fault than he can no longer so support.

Suppose this man—and there are ten thousand such from whom you may select your victims,—dragged into court to be tried for this new offence, by this new law,—still there are two things wanting to convict and condemn him, and these are, in my opinion, twelve butchers for a jury, and a Jefferies for a judge!”

I’m confused

I’m confused. Chris Chope, the right wing tory MP for Christchurch and East Dorset has yet again introduced a Private member’s bill called the NHS co-funding and co-payment Bill. This Thatcherite neo-liberal has repeatedly sought to undermine the NHS with this sort of legislation for years now but this time he moight well gain some traction. The current overall tory majority might just allow the bill to get through.

The Bill has it’s second reading in the House early next month.

What confuses me isn’t that this nasty little scumbag is trying once again to derail the ‘free at point of delivery’ nature of our health service. That’s just par for the course. Weasels do what weasels do and there are few more weasely than Chope. He’s the one that fillibustered a bill to ensure landlords, like himself have to treat tenants fairly. He’s also the one who derailed a Bill to make upskirting illegal.

What confuses me is the very idea that the bill is necessary.

You see, we already have co-payment options in the NHS. That’s why we have prescription charges and fees for optician and dentistry services. It wouldn’t take a change in the law to extend that in principle. But Chope isn’t content to have the option to extend what amounts to small tweaks around the edges of the NHS. He wants to smash the very idea of the NHS by introducing co-funding too.

It may not look like much at first glance but co-funding actually means much more than the tokenistic sort of arrangement we get from prescription charges. Co-funding really does mean a two-tier system of health access where those too poor to afford treatment or who can’t get insurance, either because of high premiums or pre-existing conditions simply won’t be able to access healthcare at all.

This is the system that sees countless American citizens go bankrupt every year (Breaking bad, anyone). It’s the reason that US accident victims are known to plead with would-be helpers not to call them an ambulance because they won’t be able to pay for their care. It’s the reason why so many impoverished Americans give birth without midwifery or medical assistance, leading to much higher infant and maternal mortality rates than would be expected in a civilised, advanced economy such as theirs. And Chope wants to inflict that on us.

Please talk to your MP. And make sure that everyone in your constituency knows about the bill. Check to see how your MP votes and spread that information around too. If they vote for this bill they’re very definitely voting to further impoverish sick and disabled people in your town, to put pregnant women and their babies at risk and generally to lower the health and life-expectancies of you and your neighbours.

But the government will be able to afford more backhanders for their wealthy donor chums so that’s OK, isn’t it?

Who’s the f*%*ing traitor now?

Not so very long ago I and people like me were branded traitors, liars and enemies of Britain. Gutter press tabloids and the hard of understanding alike accused us of being anti-democratic collaborators with a foreign superpower bent on destroying British sovereignty. We were the cucks who enabled a trojan horse style invasion by radical Islamists. We were inviting gangs of marauding East Europeans who wanted nothing more than to rape our daughters whilst we looked on helpless to prevent it.

People who’d never had a political thought in their lives and never even considered the reality of European membership until 2016 suddenly became experts because they’d seen a couple of headlines – not read the actual article, mind you – but seen some headlines in the Daily Fail. So all of a sudden they became fuckin’ experts! If only they’d read something about the Dunning-Kruger effect we’d all be way better off today.

But they hadn’t and so they kept on deluding themselves about our alleged treachery. And all because we wanted to uphold electoral law. Because we wanted to provide genuine facts to our fellow Brits instead of the fake slurs peddled by the likes of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove.

All because we wanted to protect our nation from the catastrophe that is now upon us. But we failed. You won – get over it!

And stop bloody complaining about the mess you created. If you’re a Brexiteer – or even worse, even more ridiculous, a working class tory then you did this. It’s all on you!

No longer do the newspapers call us traitors – because nobody would believe them.

No longer am I hesitant to go in certain pubs for fear of being assaulted by drunken Brexiteers – they’re all decidedly sheepish these days.

No longer do people talk about sunlit uplands – now it’s about economic hardship – how hard will it be and for how long will we have to endure it.

And it hasn’t really started yet.

Yes we’ve seen jobs lost.

Yes, we see harvests going to waste.

Yes we have shortages in the shops because we sent all the lorry drivers home.

The NHS is struggling without the mainstay of European workers.

The cost of living, driven by Brexit scarcity is rising exponentially and many Brits, employed as well as unemployed are unable to feed themselves and their families. And that’s before the new cuts to universal credit come into force.

But if you think this is bad just wait. We still haven’t started checking imports at our end yet. That’s because the government knows that, given how bad it is just checking on one side of the channel, once UK customs swings into action it’ll be a whole lot worse.

Why do you think we’ve been building all those lorry parks in Kent? It’s because once we begin checking both imports AND exports the delays will be monumental. Fresh food is already becoming unexportable because it goes off in the lorry transporting it to the mainland. How many jobs has that little bit of red tape cost? What will happen to imports once we start the same protracted process at our end? Then we’ll really see scarcity. Then we’ll really see inflation.

This government gained its majority on the back of three key election pledges.

One was to get Brexit done. Well – even if that were a good thing (obviously I don’t think there’s much good about it) it’s nowhere near done and won’t be for many years.

The new trade deals we keep hearing about are less beneficial to us than they would have been had we stayed in the EU. The not new deals are just temporary roll-overs from existing EU agreements which, of course keep us bound to EU regulations only now we have no say in how those regulations are created.

The second pledge was that there would be no tax rises for those at the bottom of the tree. Part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda. This week Boris has announced a massive hike in tax and National Insurance – hitting those at the bottom hardest.

Thirdly – maintaining the triple lock which states that pensions must rise by either 2.5%, the rate of inflation or the level of the average wage – whichever is the greatest. For the next few years Brexit economic hardship will see the state pension rise far above that of falling wages as it matches rising inflation instead. Personally I think that’s OK. Today’s pensioners were promised welfare ‘from the cradle to the grave’ and having paid their share all their working lives have no time to save for the future. As a nation we should honour that social contract, that pact the nation made with them all those years ago. But Boris is again considering changing the triple lock to remove those protections, protections we owe to the people who worked so hard to rebuild our nation after the first and second world wars.

I began this video by reminding you how so many of us were vilified as traitors.

But when we see the results of Brexit and this extreme right conservative government’s policies – results we were trying to avoid for the sake of the British people… let me ask you…

Who’s really the traitor?

That was a long haul!

10 years ago ConDem austerity destroyed my Ltd company. It wasn’t necessary – it was ideological. The Condemn government used the global financial crash to give tax cuts to the wealthy and make the rest of us foot the bill. Small businesses like mine went to the wall, public sector workers faced a seemingly unending pay freeze and the unemployed and disabled faced such cuts to their benefits that the united nations declared UK to be an abusive state.

It took me 10 years sleeping in vehicles & cheap rooms traveling around UK for work, paying out most of my wages to keep afloat & keep the family housed & fed. In the early days I found myself only able to eat every other day. The kids were well fed though.

Every missed payment to creditors increases the pressure by design. Interest piles up and with it minimum payments rise to accommodate the ever-increasing balance owed. I paid back the original sums several times to no avail because of increased interest and penalties on late payments.

The system is designed to keep us indebted to those investment bankers who caused the problem to begin with. Their sub-prime opportunism inevitably came back to roost but it wasn’t the bankers who suffered for it. They were still getting paid big bonuses and pretending they were needed to keep the economy afloat. Yeah, right!

At times I thought I’d never get out of the hole those greedy lenders had dug for me. But I did it! This week I registered as sole trader again. Back on my feet, no thanks to the tories.

But anyway, now I’m back. I’m offering #mentalhealth & #socialcare training again either face to face (distanced) or online via www.MindTheCareTraining.com and also 1:1 work via http://www.TAMtalking.co.uk 
Give me a call. I’m good at what I do. You’ll get a damn fine service at a reasonable price.

Go on, you know you want to!

UNESCO international Day of solidarity with the Palestinian people

UNESCO, the ‘United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’ has observed November 29th as the International day of solidarity with the Palestinian people since 1978. There’s a good reason for that. This is the date when, in 1947 the partition plan (Resolution 181) was passed. The plan was to partition Palestine and in so doing create both a Jewish and a Palestinian state.

By 1979 it had become clear that Palestinian people have not been able to secure basic rights as a nation state ever since. Ongoing occupation and annexing of land by Israeli settlers has robbed many Palestinians of their homes and forced them to flee to makeshift and yet cruelly permanent camps.

Some remain there for decades. Some have lived their entire lives in the camps, robbed off their land by Israeli ‘settlers’, beaten and abused by the Israeli occupation forces and treated as though human rights just didn’t apply.

So today, on UNESCO’S International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People I, like many others will be watching to see what our British politicians have to say to mark the occasion.
Both our main political parties claim to oppose oppression and the mistreatment of entire populations. How will they acknowledge this day of solidarity in the face of what has been described an ongoing land grab of monumental proportions in direct contravention of resolution 181? The land claimed by Israeli settlers, often with the aid of Israeli military forces goes far beyond the borders drawn up in the original partition. You can download the original document here.

Will our illustrious leaders comment upon the absolute disregard for the rights of those denied both sovereignty and statehood?

And if they, our elected representatives on the world stage do not, I think we must all ask ourselves one very important question…

Why not?

Far right bingo card: Representing the working class

It seems ridiculous to me for anyone on then right wing of politics to claim to represent the working class. The right has always been about exploitation, about keeping us, the riff raff in our place and about squeezing every last drop of profit from us that they can get away with. That’s why the working class has always opposed the right – because it’s the right that uses our hard work to enrich others. This was obvious once but over the years the inequalities of life have become so normalised, so expected that many people think they’re inevitable. But they’re not.

Why should it be inevitable, for example that business owners can earn hundreds of thousands a year whilst their employees survive on subsistence wages?

Why should it be inevitable that these same business owners pay so little tax whilst their employees cannot access the public services they need because the country hasn’t the funds to provide for them?

Why is it that the people who do the hard work, put in the long hours for minimum wage, aren’t the ones who see the rewards from their labours?

These are the questions that the left want addressed and that’s why socialist parties insist upon better wages for working people. Thast’s why we demand proper taxation strategies to ensure that those at the top of the income ladder pay something toward helping those at the bottom. After all – they’re not the only people who invest in businesses.

As the late, great, Tony Benn once remarked…

“Your people invest their money… My people invest their lives.”

When the right wingers oppose the left they’re not doing so on behalf of the working class – they’re undermining us.

When the right wing oppose brown people or Muslims, Poles or LBQT citizens they’re not supporting the working class – they’re dividing it. This is the strategy of the cynical ‘man’ at the top of the tree. He knows that a united working class could easily force him to accept a fairer system so he works hard to keep us at each-others’ throats. And the stupid little neoNazi with his EDL tattoo or his Britain First mug spreading hatred between working people of different races or creeds is part of that machinery of oppression.

The real enemy of the working class is the wealthy tax avoider with his offshore account who leeches funds earned by our labour out of the only economy that could help improve our situations.

When you give tax relief to working people they spend it – that money goes back into the economy and other businesses prosper, local traders and local employees start to feel more confident and their money circulates. Everyone gets wealthier. When you give it to the rich banker he just puts it with the rest of his unnecessary pile in the Cayman Islands and forgets about it.

The far right claim to represent the working class whilst supporting right-wing policies and policy-makers such as our present government whose ministers gorge themselves whilst ordinary people are forced into destitution. Our conservative ‘masters’ vote to reduce benefits payments for the most needy and yet give themselves a ten grand bonus just for staying at home. When you support these nest-featherers you do not represent the working class.

The right wing has normalised its abuses so much that many of our own people think it’s inevitable that working peoples’ children should go hungry over Christmas and that a 10% tax cut for millionaires is just how it ought to be. Even the most obviously weak excuses don’t demonstrate just how badly they’re being played by a cynical financial elite.

And they call us ‘cucks’!

These people don’t represent the working class – they undermine it by falling for the divide and conquer politics of those who purport to be our ‘betters’. And in doing so they maintain the very system that treated them so unfairly and made them so very angry in the first place.

They’re on the wrong side and they don’t even know it!

Fair’s fair

This government has refused to assist struggling families to feed their children. Using the most spurious of excuses from fantasy drug deals to callous, Victorian child-starving notions of the undeserving poor, the government would have us believe that the best response to an adult’s poverty is to punish the children who depend upon them.

This shameful philosophy literally leads to children starving, a slow and painful process that was all but eradicated in UK prior to the return of the tories in 2010. These people have systematically starved unemployed, disabled and low-waged citizens for over a decade now. The issue is bigger than just Christmas and it’s been around for a lot longer than Covid-19.

And yet we’re expected to subsidize MP’s meals even as our own working class children go hungry.

If you think that’s unfair, I urge you to sign the petition to remove public subsidy from all Houses of Parliament restaurants and bars. After all, if the government won’t feed the children of poor people then it has no business buying pies for the likes of Mark Jenkinson MP, with his fantastical tales of dealers trading heroin and crack cocaine for a few stale orios and a large tin of spaghetti hoops!

How dare you, Mark Jenkinson MP?

Someone found a use for all those paper plates!

Were you looking forward to summer?

Did you expect lots of lazy days out with the family, sitting picnicking by a lake or hosting a neighbourhood barbecue in the garden?

Did you spend a small fortune stocking up on disposable barbecues and paper plates back in the day?

Don’t despair. Someone’s found a use for them, after all.

Decorating Jenny’s door

Tory MP, Mark Jenkinson represents a constituency with some of the worst poverty in the whole of UK. Many of his constituents are unemployed whilst others, earning only minimum wage to start with, have seen their incomes further reduced through furlough and now worse. Many have lost their jobs altogether. West Cumbrian hardship is as bad as it ever was. For many hard-working people it’s like the 1980s all over again.

So how did Jenky choose to represent the good people of Workington and surrounding towns and villages? He voted not to help feed their kids!

That’s right. He voted not to help feed their kids.

If you’re as disgusted as I am you may approve of the sentiment expressed here by one Marypost resident who put all those extra plates to good use. What an interesting and fun way to get rid of all that unused clutter from the summer that never was.

What will you do with your unwanted disposable paper plates?

Please, Mark… May the kids have something to eat this Christmas?

Mark Jenkinson MP, let’s ‘ave yer

Once again I find myself making an offer to my MP, Mark Jenkinson. I do this periodically when he makes outrageous and damaging statements about issues dear to me. Issues such as nursing, education, the economy, the Tory vote to abandon lone children in the camps at Calais for example.

Jenkinson’s the one with the symbolically accurate imagery of a nice plush office for him and a tatty, neglected union flag to stand for the rest of us. It’s easy to see where his priorities are.

This time I’m taking Jenky on about hungry children, if he has the bottle to face a constituent who wants him actually to justify his appalling cruelty. The offer is simple.

Let’s debate, (formally or otherwise) Jenkinson’s and the Tory party’s decision to deny free meals to qualifying children over the Christmas break, children whose parents have already suffered massive financial damage due to Covid and who clearly need help to feed their families.

Let’s discuss this over Skype, Mark.

Let’s both record the discussion to ensure there’s no dodgy editing.

Let’s both be free to post the discussion (with commentary and ‘right to reply’) wherever we like.

As ever, you know how to find me, Mark. contact me via this website, by Email or if you like, since your little helper, Adrian ferreted out my postal address you can even write to me.

Come on, Mark. Let’s ’ave yer!

Dear Tory MP, are you not ashamed?

Every time you see your Tory MP, ask them this. Get your friends and neighbours to ask them too… Repeatedly. Don’t let them get away with it!

Lincoln YMCA: A validating environment

This weekend I went to Lincoln, a city I first visited during my homeless days back in the 1980s. It gave me a chance to meet some old friends and make a video combining my two main passions… Left wing politics and social/mental health care. What’s not to like?

Sage: ignoring the science

How sage-like is SAGE?

You might need to grab a cup of tea and maybe a few biscuits for this one – it’ll take a while to explain but I hope you’ll agree that it’s worth it. To really understand the background, the importance of scientific integrity and the vital need for freedom from the political process we’ll need a little history.

We’ve known ever since the ConDem coalition government came to power in 2010 that people on benefits, on pensions, people who were sick or disabled and basically anyone who didn’t contribute to the financial wealth of rich conservative donors was going to have a hard time.

ConDem austerity slashed the finances of health and social care organisations, issued wage freezes for their staff wherever they could and doubled down on means testing and medical review for those in need of state aid to live. We’ve all seen the awful stories of suicides and starvation caused by DWP austerity against a backdrop of tax breaks for the wealthy and tax avoidance schemes for large companies whilst our politicians, many of them cabinet ministers, hid their own wealth offshore to avoid paying the taxes that would help fund those very services.

Conservative policy has robbed WASPI women of their pension rights, reduced the real time earnings of public sector workers in the NHS and Social care as well as slashed the workforce numbers in these and many other vital services including police, fire and housing.

The tories are no friends of the poor or of those who protect and care for them.

The sick and the elderly have been singled out for particular attack, not only by removing the services and benefits that they rely upon but also by ensuring that people have to work longer to qualify for their retirement pensions and that DWP health checks ignore medical advice the government often makes it close to impossible for severely disabled citizens to jump through the hoops set for them.

That’s the backdrop – the Conservatives have no regard for the welfare of anyone not financially independent. If you’re not working and you’re not rich you’re not important. Even if you are working the tories have been extremely skilled at reducing your rights as well as your access to health care should you need it.

Tribunals for unfair dismissal are much harder to access and legal aid is all but unattainable for the majority of citizens. So before we go any further please bear this single point in mind.

This government doesn’t care about people from whom it cannot profit. You know, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes. These are groups of people we’ll refer to again so keep them in mind.

Now a little science history – just so we’re clear about the relationship between politics and scientific discovery.

Back in 1859 Charles Darwin published his great work ‘On the origin of species: Evolution by means of natural selection’. It caused a major stir at the time but then, inexplicably for modern readers it fell into a bit of a lull until at the turn of the century it was revived by two equally awful movements.

One was the creationist movement that objected to the reality of evolution because they thought it undermined the Genesis story. The other was even more nefarious. The eugenics movement committed that most obvious of scientific errors – the naturalistic fallacy. They believed that what is natural must be right and that since nature lets the weak die then human society must do the same.

Eugenicists bastardised the science (understanding what is) for political ends (what they wanted to be). They never quite understood that describing something about the natural world isn’t necessarily the same as supporting it in principle. As a result of that failure to understand the bleeding obvious, in many countries the poor, the sick, those with mental health or learning difficulties and those judged as immoral were denied state support leading to starvation. Some were forcibly sterilised and even in some cases killed. The Eugenics movement was just as strong in this country at the turn of the 20th century. The death toll because politics got involved in science was horrendous. But of course that couldn’t possibly happen here.

Remember those groups I mentioned earlier…

The elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

We’ve heard a lot about these groups recently. They’re the ones most at risk from Covid-19. They’re also the ones with the least protection from government both historically as we’ve already seen and currently in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s interesting that they’re the same people the eugenicists targeted, albeit without the focus on ‘moral defectives’ – a group that would certainly include a number of modern MPs, not least the current Prime Minister whose string of unacknowledged children, whose penchant for lying and adulterous behaviour in general would certainly have earned him the title ‘Moral defective’ back in the day.

But of course, his wealth would have protected him anyway – just as it does today. Boris isn’t the target – he’s the intended beneficiary along with all the rest of his kind, parasitically profiting from the work done by those who will never be paid what they’re worth by this tory government.

That’s one thing this pandemic has made very clear to us all. Which are the people society can’t do without and they don’t tend to be the richest – they’re all tucked up in splendid isolation. It’s the poorest who have to take all the risks, the nurses, the care assistants and support workers, the supermarket staff, the delivery drivers and the food producers.

We’ve all known for ever that they’re the real wealth creators but now we know just how unimportant their employers, the wealth takers really are. And we know something else. We know that this government is doing everything it can to give the appearance of concern whilst simultaneously undermining the chances of those that Hermann Goering described as ‘useless eaters’. You know, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

At every daily briefing the government tells us that they’re being guided by the science but what exactly does that mean? SAGE stands for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. It’s been around for a long time but only under this government has it become secret. We used to know who sat on it. Now we don’t.

Under previous regimes the Prime Minister always chaired SAGE meetings but our own dear leader has missed no fewer than 5 such meetings citing personal issues (not illness – this isn’t about his recent hospitalisation or recuperation). In his place he seems to have sent chief advisor and unelected spin doctor Dominic Cummings instead.

Cummings isn’t a scientist. We learned last February just what sort of man he is when the Guardian reported his blog on ‘designer babies’ as a view that geneticists described as unethical, unworkable and – most importantly of all for our purposes, Eugenicist. Cummings was also the man who paved the way for Eugenicist Andrew Sabisky to get a job at No. 10, an appointment that proved short-lived when his disgraceful opinions came to light and he was forced to resign. Neither Cummings nor PM Boris Johnson have commented.

Cummings wrote in his designer babies blog…

“It goes without saying that turning this idea into a political/government success requires focus on A, the NHS, health, science, NOT getting side-tracked into B, arguments things like IQ and social mobility. Over time the educated classes will continue to be dragged to more realistic views on (B) but this will be a complex process entangled with many hysterical episodes. (A) requires ruthless focus.”

So, a eugenicist who wants to rid the gene pool of ‘defectives’ by ruthlessly concentrating upon the NHS, health and science is sitting on the SAGE advisory group.

Professor Richard Ashcroft of city university called Cummings’ views ‘cargo cult science’. For those unfamiliar with cargo cults they’re religious groups which sprung up on remote islands after the second world war. They believe that if they recreate bamboo airstrips and worship an apparently non-existent American airman called John Frum then the ships and planes will return with all their cargo and Frum will save his people. It’s based upon a complete misunderstanding of reality and so, it seems is Cummings’ ‘science’. Professor Ashcroft said…

“This idea that we can use biological selection to improve individuals and society, and that the state through the NHS should facilitate this, really is pure eugenics”

And yet Cummings continues to advise our government, our Prime Minister and apparently our scientific advisory group.

Are you frightened yet? Remember those groups I mentioned earlier…

The elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

Now think about government policy, the history of 10 years of targeted austerity and the vulnerability of those groups in particular.

When the rest of the world was buying up PPE and ventilators we were told it might be better to go for herd immunity and just ‘Take it on the chin’ as Boris said. Of course, it’s true that herd immunity will be necessary before we can say Covid-19 isn’t a problem but to actively pursue it before we have a vaccine!  Let’s just look at what that means. For herd immunity to be meaningful the reality is that around 70% at least of the surviving community will have had the disease and developed antibodies.

The word ‘surviving’ is important here. If we do just take it on the chin we are very likely to lose large numbers of elderly, infirm, disabled and those who live in cramped circumstances – you know – those on benefits who can’t afford anything bigger.

That would be no great loss to the likes of Cummings as they’re the ones he wants out of the gene pool to begin with. Perhaps that’s why Michael Gove, months into the crisis was still suggesting that the UK ‘run the virus hot’, meaning merely to allow it to run its course. Perhaps that’s why, despite claiming to be guided by the science – from Mr. Cummings’ SAGE group – we waited so long before entering lockdown despite the advice of the science from Italy, from China and from the World Health Organisation itself.

But hang on, I hear you cry – we’ve built new hospitals, ordered tests and bought loads of PPE. We’ve recruited loads of retired medical and nursing staff and even Burberry and Dyson are making kit for healthcare workers to use.

Yes, that’s all true.

But we’ve also seen government guidance to increase the use of do not resuscitate orders, to discharge elderly people back to care homes without testing, even if we think they have Covid-19, to ramp up DNR orders on otherwise healthy disabled people and the government has ignored care home death figures until forced to acknowledge them by the press.

We still haven’t managed to get into gear for this pandemic even though the government’s own 2016 exercise, operation Cygnus clearly demonstrated how unprepared we were and recommended doing all the things we’re now doing relatively half-heartedly and far too late.

Burberry may well be making hospital gowns but many smaller firms, not owned by tory party donors are offering help and being ignored by the government, even though they have stocks already in their warehouses which they are now forced to sell to other countries just to stay afloat.

We have a ‘ward care ceiling’ policy which is used as a matter of course to deny elderly and disabled people access to ICU beds – despite the fact that we have new Nightingale hospitals still unused that could accommodate them.

It seems that there are plenty of resources as tory MPs all across UK have been instructed to tell us but only if you’re not in one of those groups I mentioned earlier. You know…

The elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

Much is being said about the economy and how difficult it will be to recover from this but that’s hardly the point. Proper taxation of the wealthiest – those we now know are far from vital to our country’s welfare and a proper scrutiny of offshore accounts would go a long way to sorting out that problem.

So, it seems would culling the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes. And that culling wouldn’t need to hurt the pockets of those wealthy tory donors.

If only the government had a eugenicist pulling the strings!