Why Ousting This Conservative Government Is A Matter Of Life Or Death for Millions in The U.K. By Lisa Mulholland

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I edit and publish blogs for the Avenger but I lacked the headspace I needed to write. Editing is one thing but to actually formulate something and put it out into an article yourself takes a lot. And I just haven’t been able to sift through the overwhelming political material that has been hitting us left right and centre

Because anger without being mentally or physically able to take action for me is just wasted energy and it leads to frustration. I didn’t have the capacity for that.

However some things cannot be ignored.

Some things rip you out of your hiatus and put fire in your belly. And I can’t switch off any longer and really neither should any of us. That fire needs to go somewhere. For many in poverty this is now a matter of life or death.

So here I am. Writing. Putting my energy somewhere.

What pulled me out of it? Well that’s an interesting question because let’s face it we have a whole treasure chest of things to choose from: Brexit, The Government in contempt of Parliament, Brexit again, Theresa May facing a vote of no confidence, the absolute mess of negotiations and oh wait…

The. United Nations Report on Extreme Poverty. Here. In the UNITED KINGDOM!!!

Yes. The U.K. ‘Great’ Britain. Blighty.

Our wonderful little island… has been investigated for its ‘cruel’ austerity policies. The UN has gone so far as to call it “social engineering”.

Up until now, I knew we had a poverty problem caused by austerity. I’ve seen the statistics. I know that 1 in 4 children in the U.K. now live in poverty. I’ve seen the figures for foodbank usage. I also know that there are 130,000 homeless children in the U.K. and there are so many more depressing figures to report on. Each statistic is worthy of its own dedicated blog. The Trussell Trust and Shelter are awash with depressing facts and figures.

I’ve seen commons debates over the universal credit roll out. I’ve seen Corbyn trying desperately to halt that rollout. He’s managed to delay it quite a bit but the inevitable has happened and we are now almost peak rollout.

So with baited breath I forced myself to read the report. I delayed it slightly because I knew that once I read it there would be no going back for me and that I wouldn’t be able to shut off from it any longer. My ‘red pill/ blue pill Matrix’ moment has arrived.

The special rapporteur of extreme poverty and human rights Professor Philip Alston, conducted an investigation spanning a few months.

He traveled the length and breadth of the U.K. interviewing, those in poverty, from a wide range of backgrounds. He went on a fact finding mission, along with in depth analysis of our benefit system and austerity measures, interviews with ministers, local councils and charities to name but a few.

He did not hold back on what he had to say. The report was scathing and harshly worded and rightly so. I have summarised his report statement below:

• U.K. is the fifth largest economy with a system of government that is the envy of many countries.

• So it is therefore unjust and contrary to British values that so many are in poverty.

• He highlights the growth in homelessness, including rough sleepers and foodbank usage. It’s exponential rise has been since 2010, when austerity measures were introduced by the Conservative government.

• Local councils have been “gutted” with library closures in record numbers, which compounds the breakdown of community

• 14 million people in the U.K. are now in poverty.

• 4 million of those in poverty live 50% below the poverty line.

• 1.5 million of those are destitute. Meaning they can not afford basics such as food, or shelter.

• An estimated 40% of children live in poverty although the official amount is 1 in 4.

• He calls it “social calamity” and an “economic disaster”.

• He calls the government a “lone stubborn actor” in this mess. Councils, charities and other organisations have tried to step in.

• He says the government are in a “determinedly state of denial”.

• He uses words like “callous” and “social engineering” to describe our government.

The full statement and official summary of his report is here https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23881&LangID=E

These are strong words. This is a damning report. He makes no bones when he says that “austerity inflicted on people” is “unnecessary because it hasn’t saved any money but it has cost a significant amount to implement these policies”.

He admits that the government are overturning the Beveridge report, which is what preceded the implementation of the welfare state.

But he did commend the work of charities and local councils who try to do their best and be creative under terrible circumstances, as well as local communities.

Worryingly though, he said that, overall the British nature of being “compassionate towards those who are suffering is now being replaced with a mean spirited approach to those less fortunate than themselves.”

A sorry state of affairs.

Not only are people in this country being subjected to the cruelty of Universal Credit, which he states is the “ultimate embodiment of the promotion of austerity and the dismantling of the welfare state”. But the very nature of us as a nation, once known for our compassionate nature, is being worn down by a callous government.

So what is next for us a nation?

Well Professor Alston predicts that if things carry on the way they are that the economic uncertainty around Brexit and the continual fall of the pound, coupled with the continuation of the Universal Credit rollout will lead to a 7% increase in child poverty by 2022. That’s on top of the staggering figures we’ve seen in the present day.

He does say that as a nation these problems and the extreme poverty could “easily be reversed” if the government follows a set of recommendations that he makes. They are pretty clear and prescriptive.

Will this conservative government implement his changes?

Did the British media react with the outrage that this report deserves?

The simple answer is no.

While lots of media outlets touched on this report, many did not give it the attention it deserves.

Whether or not that is because they are preoccupied with Brexit and the Conservative party currently imploding, remains to be seen.

My personal view is a lot more cynical than that.

When this report was presented to Amber Rudd, the DWP Secretary she reacted with complete denial, and disgust.

Not towards the figures.

Not towards the plight of millions of people that she is supposed to represent.

Not towards the fact that money was available to the treasury to avoid and stop this problem.

No; she was disgusted that this report was even written!!!

So even with the vote of no confidence tonight… even with the government being held in contempt of parliament, and the complete pantomime that has occurred in this last week in the House Of Commons… all since this report was published, even with all that the conservatives still haven’t learned.

There is no ounce of shame. No ounce of humility. No sign of remorse .

Even if Theresa May loses this vote tonight; she will be replaced by someone in her party who will not give any regard to the abject poverty and suffering of so many people in this nation.

People have died, with no food in their stomachs. People would starve if it were not for British people donating food. Children are entering foodbanks and vomiting when they finally have the chance to eat.

So, for many, unless this conservative Government is ousted, it will be a matter of life or death.

We now have it in writing from a completely independent well respected source. One that is not politically motivated.

These words are not from the opposition. But from a well respected United Nations Professor, who is politically neutral. And Australian. He has no political points to score. He said “Austerity and the rise of poverty since 2010 is a political choice” made by the government. The Conservatives. Fact.

Owen Jones said “when the next Election comes it will be the fight of our lives” and he is absolutely right.

So when that time comes we absolutely have to do everything in our power to fight against this. Because it could be our friends, our family, our neighbour. And one day it could be you.

Sources

The Trussell Trust

Shelter

United Nations Special Report on Poverty in the U.K.

UK: There Is No Profit In Peace By Kelly Grehan

On 15th February 2003 I was one of the 3 million people who marched through the streets of London, one of 600 cities that held protests around the world at what was then, the imminent bombing of Iraq.

You might think that such a big, and a global show of feeling would have at least slowed down the march towards the invasion, but days later, on March 19th, George Bush announced:

“On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign…..My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.

His words could not have turned out to be more ironic: the invasion, turned into an occupation.

No thought was given to what came next.  

Credible estimates of Iraq War casualties range from 150,000 to 460,000.  Iraq’s armed factions still remain locked in a struggle with the forces of the Islamic State.

This morning we woke up to the news Britain, France and the US had launched air strikes on Syria, or as Donald Trump put it:

The nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.”

To quote Jeremy Corbyn “Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace.”

This action occurred despite Reports saying UN Inspectors were in Damascus last night to carry out inspection of Douma today.

The UK could have enabled the inspection and not joined the US & France launch strikes in Syria.

The BBC are reporting that Theresa May pushed for an early strike “to avoid having to get parliamentary consent”.

This while we lecture other countries on democracy!

The Syrian conflict began seven years ago as a peaceful uprising against the president, but has now turned into a full-scale civil war.

Many groups and countries are involved and perhaps unsurprisingly the jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda have flourished.

The US, UK, France and other Western countries have provided varying degrees of support for what they consider “moderate” rebels.  A global coalition they lead has also carried out air strikes on IS militants in Syria since 2014 and helped an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) capture territory from the jihadists.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group with a network of sources on the ground, had documented the deaths of 353,900 people (up to March 2018).

This includes 106,000 civilians.   1.5 million people have been left with permanent disabilities, including 86,000 who have lost limbs.

At least 6.1 million Syrians are internally displaced, while another 5.6 million have fled abroad.

The figures do not include 56,900 people who it said were missing and presumed dead. The group also estimated 100,000 deaths had not been documented.

Neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where 92% of them now live, have struggled to cope with one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history.

As the 6th richest economy, you might have expected the UK to play a role in aiding the civilalians, but the truth is this country is incentivised to pursue conflict for profit.

But as I wrote a few months back Britain is the worlds second biggest arms exporter.(https://theavengeruk.com/2017/09/13/blood-on-our-hands-london-hosts-worlds-biggest-arms-fair-by-kelly-grehan/).

In July 2014 the then Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed to Parliament that the UK had indeed exported chemicals that “were likely to have been diverted for use in the Syrian programme”.

This morning David Cameron said  “I firmly support the military action taken in Syria. The barbaric & intolerable use of chemical weapons should never go unchecked.”

Yet, 10 months after the Syrian uprising David Cameron granted chemical export licences to British firms so they could supply chemical weapons to Syria!!

Here is an idea for you David, maybe we could prevent chemical weapons attacks by NOT SELLING CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

Maybe Britain has redeemed itself with its’ efforts to secure safety for those who have left Syria?

In 2016, Lord Dubs sponsored an amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migrant crisis. Originally rejected by the House of Commons, the amendment was eventually accepted by the government following a second vote in favour by the Lords.

In February 2017, the Home Office abandoned the scheme after accepting just 350 out of the planned 3,000 child refugees.

To quote David Lammy MP “We have today found ourselves in the morally untenable position of bombing Syria without Parliament voting at the same time as refusing to take in child refugees who are fleeing the bombing in Syria. As a society we must reflect hard on how we have ended up in this situation.”

Language For The Tories Is The Weapon Of Choice By Eddie Luigi

By Eddie Luigi

Words are the tools of trade for politicians and comedians. No cheap jibes from me about the interchangeability of them.

I will now use a minister’s favourite reply to an awkward question.

Let me ask you a question. Would you trust yourself to a surgeon who did not know which tool to use during your operation? Or would you hire a plumber who did not know which spanner he needed?

By the time a politician gets to the dizzy heights of the ministerial echelons, they should have a full toolbox of words and phrases they can use for any given situation to explain what they mean. 

All too often, though, this government will either use or not use words in order to state that the quote was not what they meant, if it becomes evident that the quote may be used against them or ‘as I said only last week/month/year’ if there is political capital to be gained.

For a ministerial politician to claim they have been misquoted or their words were taken out of context, to me suggests they did not choose their words with care, which must be the golden rule of ministerial positions.

Often the Conservatives, will hide the small print of their policies behind huge headline grabbing figures in the hope that the electorate won’t be bothered to look for the devil in the detail.

£Xbn for housing!! 

Which translates to the price of a small studio flat in most towns, but not the big cities. 

Affordable housing!! 

That translates to slightly cheaper accommodation if you area in the salary range of a Tory voter.

£Xbn for the health service!! 

Which probably translates to two pence ha’penny per patient, as long as you don’t have an illness that needs special care, in which case look to the charities or private health care.

“Of course she was training journalists” 

Which translates to ‘you had no reason to imprison this mother, so I will give you a false reason you can use to lock her up for five years’ followed by a false apology.

So what’s in a name? 

I think a socialist government by any other name would be just as caring.

But

A Tory Minister by any other name would still be an uncaring, lying, elitist, apology for a caring human being.

People Are Bloody Brilliant By Lucy Chapman

I have been living in a world of negativity, probably since David Bowie died,  not that I’m blaming him; I think he got his timing spot on. 

Then Alan Rickman, then Caroline Ahern and Victoria Wood finished me off. But this isn’t about them.

There was the Brexit referendum here and Trump winning the election in the USA. I found the injustices of our selfish, immoral and heartless government so overwhelming that I felt duty-bound to start attending meetings with the opposition party to fight the good fight. I also felt compelled to put pen to paper and write about these issues for others to read about but the research necessary simply lead me down even darker paths of corruption and lies; the fire of anger and passion raged even stronger than before.

Writing wasn’t a comfort but a catalyst.

But this isn’t about that either. This isn’t even about Kim Jong Un pissing in corners or concerts where children are being bombed, or police being killed trying to save lives, or Muslims being stabbed on their way to worship. No, this all contributed to the anger churning inside, this was my view of the world and I was getting simultaneously more angry yet more numbed to these events and even bored of trying to argue against them. I was writing blogs about how rubbish things were and at the same time was totally fed up with reading the moans of other people, even when I agreed with them… But yesterday at 4.45pm, I set up a JustGiving page…

My good friend has Cancer. At age 36. Two years after beginning a new life, newlywed with her wonderful husband. This isn’t fair. I got angry some more.

She had radiotherapy, chemotherapy, she’s down for surgery but the tumours are too big, the chemo isn’t working, more aggressive chemo then… still not working.

There is a drug, Avastin which could potentially help shrink the tumours to a size that is operable. I will leave the disgusting practices of Hoffman la Roche, the company who supply this drug for another blog. A company who I have heard described as ‘not even amoral but immoral’ by a Doctor.

The upshot is, Avastin is not deemed cost effective enough to be available on the NHS. My friend will have to pay.  

The drug costs £1500 a session, she needs six sessions for this round and it’s very likely she’ll need at least six further sessions.

Yesterday at 4.45pm we set up a justgiving page and we were blown away. In five hours we had raised £6,000 and by morning her first course of treatment at £9,000 was covered and now we’re collecting for the next.

What struck me, and turned my attentions away from how shitty this situation was for my friend and towards how bloody brilliant people are, were the comments left by people making donations and seeing the range of people who donated.

My friend is a teacher and we saw pupils, ex-pupils, parents of pupils donating. One a twelve year old who gave £10 towards his teacher’s treatment. Friends donated, relatives of friends, friends of relatives. One donation came from a young woman / teen whose brother’s girlfriend’s mum is a friend of my friend. She didn’t need to do that! She is a wonderful person!

People who’ve only ever come into contact with my friend via social media sent funds and one complete stranger donated £250! These people are bloody brilliant.

It wasn’t just the money either. 

A man who I’ve met once contacted me to offer to DJ for free for a fundraising event, an ex-pupil now singer emailed me to offer to perform for a fundraising event, a friend started contacting local venues to put together a concert, the head of a teaching union in our area asked if he could see how they might be able to help. This was phenomenal. These people are bloody brilliant.

So stick it death.

Stick it Trump.

Stick it Putin and Kim Jong Un and Theresa May.

Stick it Boris and David Davis with your crass double-D jokes.

Stick it politicians with your penny pinching, grubby little mits all over our public services.

Stick it to your pay caps and your fake pay-cap lifts.

Stick it Amazon and Starbucks and all you other skin-flint companies who dodge contributing to our children’s education and treatment of our sick through fair taxation.

Stick it Richard-offshore-Branson.

We got this. Us little folk, we got this.

Us on the ground doing the legwork; we’re going to foodbanks and we’re putting school uniforms onto credit cards and we’re not just about managing actually, but we got this. We are good people and we count and you know what? Us people, us little people, we are bloody brilliant.  


If you would like to donate to help Kate pay for cancer treatment please click here:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/help-kate-kick-cancer?utm_id=2&utm_term=njP86VBeA

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