04 November 2012

The UK Government Waging War on the Poor

If US voters need a reminder of the right wing in action they need look no further than the war waged on the poorest and most vulnerable members of British society by the UK government.

It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have become the top hate figures in the UK. Take a look at any of the latest UK newspaper stories on the government and then scroll down to the comments section. Charlatans, liars, thieves, rogues, incompetent privileged posh boys and leeches are some of the tamer examples of how most of the UK public, regardless of political allegiance, view this government.

Why the concentrated levels of bile for this government in particular?

Maybe it’s because David Cameron didn’t actually win the election; he managed to become Prime Minister of the UK with a mere 36% of the votes. The only reason Cameron is in power now is because the Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg joined forces with Cameron, much to the disgust of the majority of British voters. The majority of people who voted for Clegg did so as an alternative to the two major parties and certainly didn’t want the Conservatives in power. Nick Clegg threw his principles down the drain, stuck two fingers up to the voters and hugged Cameron’s ankles as the newly appointed Prime Minister walked into Number 10.

Clegg is perhaps hated in the UK even more than Cameron. With Cameron and the Conservatives you knew what you were getting; a party of the rich for the rich, which is why the public didn’t want the right wing in power. Clegg is certainly hated among students in the UK and considered one of the biggest sell-out politicians since, well maybe since Tony Blair, although I don’t think he has quite reached that level yet and I’m not sure anyone can reach that level but give it time.

One of Clegg’s major election pledges that won his party the student vote was, “Use your vote to block unfair tuition fees and get them scrapped once and for all. The Liberal Democrats are different we will oppose any raising of the cap.” Once in power Clegg voted to increase university fees, fees that tripled under the coalition government. According to a recent survey by the National Union of Students (NUS), the Liberal Democrats are now less popular than the Conservatives.

But enough of the back story concerning Clegg.

This article is about how David Cameron applied for a job, made huge promises to his potential employers at the interview stage, wasn’t wanted by the employers for the job but managed to get the job anyway. Once Cameron snaked his way in he then decided to break all those promises he made during the interview and proceeded to make life intolerable for his employers, tearing apart the company that his employers had built and setting them against each other using fear and lies as his main weapons.

It’s fact that since Cameron has become Prime Minister he has broken pledge after pledge. A list of the broken pledges made so far by Cameron, Clegg and Osborne can be found here.

To go back to the original question of why this government is so despised by the UK public you need only look at shameful financial welfare cuts Cameron has imposed on the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

Since the Conservatives gained power they have systematically waged war on the poorest and most vulnerable members of Britain. The austerity cuts made by this government have targeted the disabled, the unemployed and the elderly. Let’s of course not forget the workers, the people who actually keep Britain moving, the people who are being squeezed dry by this government of every penny they have. The ones who can least afford it are being hit in the pocket to pay up for the financial crisis created by the greed and incompetence of others. The richest members of society in the UK meanwhile are given a tax cut by the Conservatives while everyone else is hit with a tax increase.

UK Government Waging War on the Poor

A major criticism of Conservatives Cameron and Osbourne is that as Eton educated multi-millionaires they are completely out of touch with the public.

One of Cameron’s latest proposals is to stop housing benefit for those under 25 years of age. This would mean that housing benefit claimants under 25 would need to give up their homes and either move back in with parents, parents who are already under financial stress, or end up on the street.

April 2013 sees the introduction of the Bedroom Tax in the UK. This tax is again specifically designed to hit those on benefits and means that anyone who is found to have more bedrooms than they actually need will either have to move to a smaller property (yeah it’s that simple to move in the UK when you are on benefits) or find their benefits cut by an estimated 14% for one bedroom and 25% for two or more bedrooms. According to the National Housing Federation, the proposal will affect an estimated 670,000 working-age social tenants.

David Cameron was of course famously quoted during one interview as saying, when asked how many homes he owned, “Do not make me sound like a prat for not knowing how many homes I have.”

UK Government Using the Unemployed as Cheap Labour

Unemployment in the UK now stands at 2.59 million, the highest level since 1995 when Conservative John Major was Prime Minister.

On the 22nd of October 2012, those in the UK claiming unemployment benefit were hit with new rules. The new rules basically mean that if the unemployed refuse to take a job offer their benefits can be stopped (the government like to use the word ‘sanctioned’ instead of stopped) for up to three years. The government can also stop unemployment benefit for those who refuse to take a ‘mandatory work activity programme’. This work activity programme means that the government can send unemployment claimants to work, for example in a supermarket, full-time where they will only receive their unemployment benefit as payment.

Take note that unemployment benefit in the UK for an over 25 year old is £71 per week. This amount is the same regardless of how much you have paid in contributions from your wages or how long you have paid them. If you have been working and paying National Insurance contributions from your salary for 30 years and are then unemployed you will still only receive £10 ($16) per day in unemployment benefits.

As mandatory work activity employees will only be paid unemployment benefit this means, in effect, the unemployed can be made to work in a supermarket for £2.36 ($3.79) per hour. If you are under 25 you will be working for £1.86 ($2.99) per hour, cheap labour indeed.
Who does this benefit? Well it’s telling that yet another Tesco supermarket has opened in my hometown city centre. This now makes five Tesco supermarkets within a five minute walk from my door.

UK Government’s War on the Sick and Disabled

The disabled have also been targeted by the Conservatives in what has been called a ‘war on the disabled’. If you are disabled or sick, say with perhaps, well, a minor little illness such as cancer, you will have to take a test set by a government appointed French IT company Atos in order to prove that you are unfit for work. If you don't pass this test then your benefits will be significantly cut. The UK government’s welfare cuts include families with disabled children who will face financial cuts of around 50% per year. Around 100,000 children are expected to be negatively affected by these welfare cuts.

An example of how this disability testing is affecting the disabled can be found in the case of Colin Trayor who was assessed as being fit for work by ATOS. Traynor, who suffered from several epileptic fits per day, was informed by ATOS that his benefits would be cut by £70 per week. While waiting on his appeal to the benefits cut decision Colin Traynore died from a massive seizure, which his family believe was brought about by the stress from having his benefits wrongly withdrawn. A video of Colin Traynor’s parents talking about the death of their son can be seen here.

In October 2012 Cameron was widely criticised when he used his disabled father and son (both now deceased) during a speech at the Conservative party conference in a bid to create support for the cuts to disability benefits. Cameron also mentioned the success of the London 2012 Paralympics during his speech but of course failed to mention how his Chancellor, George Osbourne, was booed by the attending Paralympics audience that night.

Prime Minister David Cameron the salesman

The writer Norman Mailer said after meeting Republican President Ronald Reagan,
“I never met his eyes once during the entire (two hour) lunch. He had an instinct that there was no reason at all to talk to me, he knew that he was not going to gain anything by talking to me. This man has never had a conversation with someone who cannot advance his fortunes.”

Cameron is certainly not adverse to accepted donations in exchange for access to his ear. The Conservative co-treasurer Peter Cruddas (a banker named as the richest man in London) had to resign earlier this year when he was filmed by undercover reporters from The Sunday Times saying that,

“Two hundred and fifty grand (donation) is premier league. What you would get (for this) is to get you out to Cameron and Osbourne dinners. If you are unhappy about something we will listen to you and we will put it into the policy committee at number 10. Things will open up for you. It will be awesome for your business.”

It’s perhaps just a little ironic or maybe prophetic that Cameron stated in February 2010 that lobbying was, “the next big scandal waiting to happen.”

Adrian Beecroft, the loan shark investor with Cameron’s ear

One person who does have Cameron’s ear when it comes to shaping government policy is British venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft. In recent years Beecroft has donated over half a million pounds to the Conservative party. Beecroft is the multi-millionaire and government advisor who is outspoken on his wishes to give more rights to employers in order to decrease employee rights with ‘fire at will’ and ‘no faults dismissal’ policies. Beecroft was actually commissioned to write a report with this ‘corporate wishlist’ for the Conservative party.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat and government Business Secretary claimed that he had ignored Beecroft’s report. However, the new ‘settlement agreements’ proposed by the government are designed so that employees agree to leave without the option of taking unfair dismissal cases to an employment tribunal. Cable also plans to give employees the option of giving up certain employee rights in exchange for shares in the company they work for including rights such as cover for unfair dismissal and redundancy.

One of Adrian Beecroft’s major investments include the loan company Wonga. In recent years Wonga has been incredibly successful despite the fact that it is well known as Britain’s premier loan shark company with interest rates that can reach 4,000 percent per year. So, here we have a loan shark investor advising policy to the government, policies that if implemented would certainly be of benefit to the companies Beecroft invests in. Beecroft is definitely onto a winner when it comes to sacking workers at will and higher unemployment figures; unemployed, can’t get a loan, head to Wonga.

*This week, Jonathon Luff, a senior government advisor has resigned his position to become a lobbyist for Wonga.

Cameron’s privatisation scam

Privatisation, the selling of a country’s assets to businesses is a scam. Privatisation is basically the government selling something that the public own and then making the public pay again to use it. The Conservatives, sorry, the coalition are in a sales frenzy at the moment. They are well aware that they are no doubt going to be a one term government and have two years to implement the changes they wish to make.

The National Health Service has always been seen as gold mine to the Conservatives, they have always wanted to privatise it and Cameron is doing it right now – dismantling and selling off (sorry, reforming) healthcare that is the NHS. Despite the fact that the majority of healthcare professionals and the public are against it, the sale of NHS is already underway and private healthcare businesses are cherry picking their way through the publicly owned NHS.

It will probably come as no surprise that 206 parliamentarians have financial links to companies involved in private healthcare. The Mirror newspaper recently reported that private healthcare bosses “bankrolled David Cameron with over £750,000.” One nursing home tycoon, Dolar Popat, has donated £209,000 to the Conservatives and has now been made a peer courtesy of the British Prime Minister. It’s pretty obvious who is going to be the financial winners from the NHS privatisation and it’s not the UK public.

The lie – David Cameron – spreading privilege to everyone

The examples above are just a few of the ways that the UK government is penalising the people of the UK for the mistakes made by others whilst at the same time making sure that they are filling their pockets during the financial crisis.

The right wing ideology is not about people helping each other. It’s about getting as much from workers as possible, keeping the wages, rights and benefits as low as possible and making as much profit as possible for those in power. It’s about aiding the corporations and wealthy individuals, taking their political party donations and bending to their wishes, not the public’s.

And it’s about trying to use fear to keep people from shouting out about the deterioration of their living standards and their rights. Fear of being left with nothing and at the same time imposing more and more ‘sanctions’ and increasing prison sentences for minor ‘crimes’ such as the punishments handed out after the London riots in 2011, designed to scare and stop people from fighting back against their policies. If civil unrest happens again, the government now have private police forces to protect them.
To the right wing in power in the UK, the people are simply cogs, subservients and they are there to serve the government, a government that the UK public pay for.

Why are the corrupt and greed filled bankers such as Bob Diamond and Fred Goodwin allowed to resign or retire early with multi-million pound handshakes and pensions when rightfully they should be sitting in prisons serving sentences for their illegal activities?

Why are corporations allowed to avoid paying taxes on a massive scale? Why is the UK government trying to create a culture where the disabled, the elderly, the benefits claimants are seen as the ones who are sucking Britain dry, the people the Conservatives see as contributing nothing and of course the ones least likely to vote for them.

President Obama was alleged to have said after his first meeting with Cameron, “Wow, what a lightweight.”

Cameron, to the majority of the public in the UK may be a lightweight and a failure but to the right wing he is doing his job.

Economist Michael Hudson -
“The economy has been set up to give a free lunch! That’s not failure if you’re the free luncher! If you’re the parasite and the host is shrinking and you’re gaining, that’s not your failure, that’s the failure of the host and its immune system. But the government is not failing to serve its real constituency, which is its campaign contributors and the financial sector.”

One voice among many – Don’t spoil it sir.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.