‘Livin’ in division, in a shiftin’ scene’ 1
A record 1.6m emergency food parcels were given out by the Trussell Trust food bank network last year, more than 500,000 of them to children, as benefit cuts, universal credit delays, and rising poverty fuelled the busiest year in the charity’s history.
Pointing to data showing that its emergency food supplies had grown for five consecutive years – a 73% increase overall – the charity warned that food banks could not keep expanding indefinitely to cover for a failing social security system.
Editorial comment: do we have Marie Antoinette in charge of this?‘Let them eat cake’ is the traditional translation of the French phrase ‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’, she is meant to have said when learning that the peasants had no bread.
Totally oblivious to this, the chattering classes in the Shires are considering their own revolution and holding a no-confidence vote in the PM. Dinah Glover, chairwoman of the London East Area Conservatives, said there was ‘despair in the party’.
She told the BBC: ‘I’m afraid the prime minister is conducting negotiations in such a way that the party does not approve.’
Editorial comment: Oh dear. I don’t suppose Dinah is having to use food parcels!
And, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse it did; ‘Nasty Nigel’ has launched his new Brexit party saying he will use the momentum of European elections to oust a ‘remain parliament’.
And he is joined by some real charmers;
- Ann Widdecombe who, in her 23 years as an MP voted against every single piece of pro-LGBT legislation, championed the death penalty, and said of the women Harvey Weinstein sexually abused: ‘There was a choice there.’ Widdecombe also called the Women’s March ‘pathetic’ and is vehemently anti-abortion
- Annunziata (yes, really!) Rees-Mogg, a twice failed Conservative parliamentary candidate and sister of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Her hobbies include ‘collecting trees’, and she compared the attempted modernisation of the Tory party to the remodelling of Selfridges. Her political life appears to have started young, she was ‘aged eight out canvassing, proudly wearing my [Conservative] rosette’.
Editorial comment: I am considering joining if only for seeing these two at the Christmas party
But let us return to their Leader, Nasty Nigel who said that the ‘political class’ had betrayed the people of Britain, and that it wasn’t just Brexit, but whether or not Britain was a democratic country.
‘Can you imagine in an African country if an election was overturned? There would be uproar and they would be calling for the UN to be sent in … and yet it’s happening in our own country.’
Editorial comment: If this was such a country Nigel, you wouldn’t be free to make these comments in the first instance!
At their inaugural rally were some choice individuals:
- Rebecca Evans, from California, said she had come from the US to dedicate her life to the cause of leaving the EU and was hoping to be taken on as a worker for the party. ‘I’ve given up my entire life to come here because I don’t think there is anything more important right now for western democracy,’ she said.
‘And can you hear the sound of hysteria? The subliminal mind-fuck America’ 2
- Michael and Janet Smith, former UKIP and Conservative voters, ‘The tickets to come along were free but we would have happily paid for them,’ said Michael. They believed Farage’s party would win out over UKIP in the battle for Brexit supporters’ votes. ‘UKIP have been taken up with … how can I say this? … some very strange bedfellows. This new party I think is a bit more liberal.’
So, some very strange bedfellows, that is an understatement; however, the right and Brexiter march off hand-in-hand together.
Will much of the Tory vote gravitate to the Brexit Party at the EU elections? I suspect, yes.
What this means is that there may now be no ‘soft’-Brexit, everything is polarising between stay and go, and that, as things stand, parliament’s efforts to take control of Brexit from the government have failed.
Talks between the government and Labour continue, but they are nowhere, with both sides accusing the other of dragging their feet.
Labour is now crucial to the outcome of the new Brexit crisis. The outcome of a potential general election, and thus the outcome of Brexit, will depend on Labour’s election manifesto pledge on Brexit – not just on whether it promises a referendum at all, but whether the vote would precede fresh EU negotiations, or come afterwards.
A Labour party, pro-European and committed to social and economic transformation, can defeat the right.
A recent article looked closely at the south-west and the problems that Brexit is already causing. Airbus, one of the region’s biggest employers and the cornerstone of the Bristol hi-tech economy, will likely disinvest after Brexit. Other frightening statistics include:
- Bristol has seen a 128% rise in homelessness and rough sleeping over the last three years.
- Across the south-west, 121,000 families relied on a food bank emergency pack in the 2017/2018 financial year.
All over the SW there are stories of people downtrodden by austerity; people now sense that Brexit is a recipe for austerity without end.
And let me now highlight, actually low might be more accurate, just how far we have fallen as a country
You may not remember, or have heard, the name Stephen Smith, I hadn’t; he died last week.
In February, a photo taken by the Liverpool Echo, showed a skeletal Smith sitting in a hospital gown, his spine protruding from his six-stone frame. He had just had his disability benefits stopped.
Smith had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis and an enlarged prostate that left him barely able to walk and in pain, but regardless he was found ‘fit for work’ and told to look for a job.
It took a year for Smith’s benefits to be reinstated. To get them, at the end of last year the 64-year-old was forced to obtain a pass to discharge himself from hospital; ravaged with pneumonia, he had to leave his bed to attend a tribunal and fight his case.
Now its easy to dismiss this, ‘isolated case’, ‘slipped through the system’, etc, etc, but we cannot; campaigners, MPs and charities have repeatedly warned that disabled people are hungry, isolated and even dying as a result of the Conservatives’ ‘welfare reform’.
This is not an isolated case, since the coalition government rolled out new tests for both key disability benefits in 2013, these stories have littered the papers:
- the woman in a coma told to keep up ‘intensive job-focused activity’;
- the person with Down’s syndrome asked when they had ‘caught’ it;
- the young woman with mental health problems quizzed over why she hadn’t ‘killed herself yet’.
- More than 70% of disability benefit rejections are overturned at tribunal;
- Academics have linked ‘fit for work’ tests to increased use of antidepressants and suicides among claimants.
- The United Nations has even dubbed the UK’s treatment of disabled people a ‘human catastrophe’.
Much of this gets missed by the masses, including myself, but as a country we must be deeply ashamed.
Mr Farage bleats on about how the ‘political class’ have betrayed the people of Britain, he’s right but for the wrong reasons; the UN, saying our treatment of disabled people is a ‘human catastrophe,’ that’s the real betrayal
That’s why to be right is now wrong, for too long their ‘little Englander’ mind-set, and their fascination with balanced budgets funded by austerity, has fuelled an unacceptable wealth gap.
This is not about Leave or Remain, it is about haves and have-nots, and the have-nots thinking their lot will get better when we Leave; it won’t.
The same people who supported austerity will still be at the helm of a ship sinking further into the morass of an uncaring society.
Therefore it is vital that we all vote in the forthcoming EU elections, and that we defeat both the Conservatives and the Brexit Party.
Victory for either will empower the hard right of the Conservative party, providing them a mandate for a hard, no-deal Brexit, and more austerity.
We must learn from the US example with Trump, hundreds of thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters chose not to vote, or to vote for third-party candidates, over Hillary Clinton.
Partly as a result of those votes, Trump became president of the United States. There is a real danger of something similar happening here if we mess up. It is our duty not to fail.
Labour is now the only option! No pressure, Jezza, but it’s all down to you now.
‘Sat on a fence but it don’t work’ 3
Another triple this week and three strikingly different tracks to complement an article of stark contrasts and strong emotions.
1 Is a little bit of self-indulgence as the author dips into his favourite Stooges album with ‘Fun House’.
2 May seem a little waspish, but given the seemingly crass stupidity of one of the US’ most fervent Leavers, we’ll allow him Green Day and ‘American Idiot’.
3 Experienced lyric spotters may have landed at our third track by starting with ‘there’s got to be some Bowie in there somewhere’ and working back; well, there is and this is Mssrs Jones and Bulsara with ‘Under Pressure’. Enjoy!
Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s