Just A FEW Things You Might Not Know If You Rely On Mainstream Media (MSM) PART ONE: Political Busin

The Conservative Government: business as usual: some examples

In The Canary

1. #Poverty

For many this summer (like others previously) has been haunted by hunger and other deprivations. In July I wrote:

"The surge in food poverty is mirrored by increases in period poverty (one in 10 girls in the UK do not have access to sanitary products), funeral poverty (about 4,000 people a year have public health funeral; the modern equivalent of a Victorian pauper’s funeral), homelessness (a rise of 169% between 2010 – 2017, with a current estimated total of 236,000) and use of temporary accommodation (up by 65% between 2010 – 2017, with over 100 families becoming homeless each day). With all this, and more, in mind it is not surprising that some politicians, charities and journalists are beginning to speak of the shocking ‘normalisation’ of hardship, destitution even. There is much evidence too that benefit system does not work with significant numbers of people on benefits experiencing increasing hardship. For example, a recent study of those on Universal Credit found that 72% of people surveyed were experiencing some adversity; from ‘struggling from time to time’ to constantly having ‘real financial difficulties’*. And to add insult to injury we discover that the Conservative MP forced to apologise (and donate a five-figure sum to charity) after tweeting defamatory comments about the Leader of the Opposition has had his legal fees paid by two Party donors. I for one can think of better ways that money could have been spent. …. "

*I’m fairly sure that it took The Canary to point this out as other media outputs were suggesting the percentage was lower than 72%

And now it’s ‘back to school’ time we have this, reported in the Liverpool Echo:

"A new study from the Children's Society has found that the average cost of a secondary school uniform is now a staggering £340 per child each year, reflecting a 7% increase (or £24) since 2015. The study said that one million children in the UK are living in families who are getting into debt to meet the rising cost of uniforms, with one in six cutting back on food and other basic essentials in order to afford them. It explained that the high cost of uniforms could be put down in part to school policies that make parents buy clothing from specialist shops rather than giving them the choice of buying items at cheaper stores. However, it added that a government failure to clamp down on school uniform costs despite pledging to do so in 2015 also meant more families were struggling. Responding to the findings councillor Gerard Woodhouse, who has spent years proving free school uniforms to children ... said the situation was severe in Liverpool, with thousands of families affected by back to school poverty. Cllr Woodhouse told the ECHO: "In Liverpool thousands of families are (struggling to buy school uniforms). It's not only parents on benefits, it's working parents too, parents on low incomes or affected by in-work poverty. I thought last year was bad, but this year we had 350 applications in one week alone. I've never seen it so bad."

So even though we know:

@jrf_uk [Joseph Rowntree Foundation]: Work should be a route out of poverty. It's not right that despite the percentage of workless households [14%] being at a 20 year low, the percentage of households in poverty [24%] is at a 20 year high 31st August 2018

The Conservatives ‘proudly’ tell us:

Clearly a lesson in how to twist a fact to fit a false agenda. As if we needed any more examples.

2. #DWPCrimes

Just over a week ago on Thursday of last week (30th August) I took part in a twitter storm #DWPCrimes. Here are a few I retweeted:

@pplsassembly: The number of people dependent on foodbanks has been rising exponentially 1.3m+ parcels in last year, increasingly because of stoppage in benefits and especially since rolling out of #UniversalCredit. #DWPcrimes #ToriesOut

@Hepworthclare: The Tories have punished the poor the disadvantaged and the dispossessed by a variety of measures, including the welfare benefits system. It's what they do.#DWPCrimes

@BlogRedRobin: Under the Tories attempted suicides by disability benefit claimants have more than DOUBLED after introduction of the fit-to-work assessment. How much longer is Britain going to allow the @Conservatives to persecute + terrorise the disabled? #DWPCrimes

AND THIS ONE:

This Thursday (6th Sept) there was a further #CrimesofDWP twitter storm. The need for attention to this is clear.Thus:

People on Universal Credit owe 63.7% of all rent arrears. But just 24.9% of tenants are on the benefit.

Universal Credit claimants’ arrears have increased by 76% on average.

There was a £210,000 increase in arrears due to Universal Credit in a year. Before Universal Credit, the average rent arrears was £207. Now it’s £365.

Halton’s debt recovery teams have had to double in size since the DWP launched Universal Credit. (Halton Housing CEO Nick Atkin, reported by Steve Topple)

And (again quoting Steve Topple):

"The think tank Resolution Foundation a report into Universal Credit (which is calls UC), calling for it to be 'fixed"....

It says that if Universal Credit worked properly:

700,000 families could benefit by a total £2.9 billion a year…

This is not going to happen. By its very nature, UC is designed to make sure working people are only on it for a short period of time. An estimated 2.8 million people are in the low-paid, unpredictable-hours world of the “gig economy”. If these people claim UC, and if the DWP says they’re not working enough, they could be sanctioned until they find more work or earn more. This is intentionally designed to force people to take whatever work comes along. It’s ‘race-to-the-bottom’ mentality. …

This is the biggest point politicians, pundits and think tanks miss. UC is not fixable. It’s the ‘Trojan Horse’ to usher in a brave, new, dystopian world where all poor people are on a race to the bottom. And it’s designed to split the poorest in society into two groups.

These are the ‘deserving poor’*; people who drag themselves out of destitution just enough so the state won’t support them. But it will pat them on the head and say ‘well done’ anyway. And shoo them off into the gig economy and in-work poverty. Then there’s the ‘undeserving poor’; sick, disabled and unemployed people and feckless workers – who deserve nothing more than to drown in a tidal wave of brown envelopes and sanctions; because ultimately, they’re not productive to society."

[*I have written about other ways in which people are divided into categories of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ in the #HostileEnvironment of #ToryBritain see: HERE & HERE 3. #WarCrimes

With reference to our 'relationship' with other nations there's this example:

Experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have “strongly” suggested that war crimes have been committed in the ongoing civil war in Yemen.

And while Theresa May dances in Africa, her government’s actions mean the UK is complicit in these alleged crimes…

In a report released on 28 August, the UNHRC found that:

"Parties to the armed conflict have perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate, violations and crimes under international law…

individuals in the Government of Yemen and the coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates… have committed acts that may, subject to determination by an independent and competent court, amount to international crimes."

On 9 August, a Saudi-led coalition bomb hit a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 children and 11 adults. This was just the latest tragedy in a brutal war.

Since March 2015, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has been fighting Houthi forces in Yemen and those loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi-led coalition is: supported by the United States and the United Kingdom.

This is because Saudi Arabia is also the “UK’s biggest arms customer”. According to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK has licenced £4.7bn of arms exports to Saudi Arabia in the past three years. And these arms have been used in the brutal Saudi-led war.

As (CAAT) reported:

"The UK has continued to support Saudi airstrikes in Yemen and provide arms despite overwhelming evidence of repeated breaches of international humanitarian law.

This is in clear violation of European and international law. It also violates the UK’s own guidelines on arms sales, and makes a mockery of the government’s claim to control arms exports “rigorously”. Yet foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has defended the UK’s links to Saudi Arabia."

4. #ToryIslamophobia

And finally, in this Blog but of course I could go on, there’s this:

A recently released (6th Sept) Conservative Cabinet League Table includes the following commentary:

"… there are two particularly large losses in the table, which appear to be linked. Brandon Lewis, who was as high as +46.6 in June, loses a further 31.2 points this month, falling from -2.7 to -33.9. That is a brutal verdict from Party members on their chairman, and seems to be directly linked to his handling of the Boris Johnson burka row and the ensuing investigation. Similarly, Ruth Davidson’s normally quite unassailable rating has suffered, dropping from +54.4 to +33.8, I suspect due to her intervention in the same dispute, when she compared wearing a burkha to wearing a cross."

In response the Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi (who has frequently and continually called out, and asked for an investigation into, Islamaphobia within the Conservative Party has tweeted today (read from bottom up):

@SayeedaWarsi: What does this say about my Party @Conservatives? Muslim bashing will tragically continue to be an attractive political option as long as there is political mileage in Muslim bashing.

@SayeedaWarsi: This poll @ConHome is interesting and disturbing. Attack Muslim women to see an increase in approval ratings but if you defend Muslim women then poll ratings fall “Lewis & Davidson both suffer a Boris burka backlash in our Cabinet League Table”

**** More soon in:

Just a FEW things you might not know if you rely on mainstream media (MSM) PART TWO: political business as usual #LaboursVisionsforBritain (and the world)

AND in:

Just a FEW things you might not know if you rely on mainstream media (MSM) PART THREE: #ChangeTheMedia

For more by this author, visit Gayle Letherby's Blog

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