Tuesday, 9 December 2014

UK Hunger Reported on the BBC December 2014

On the BBC News last night, December 8th 2014, they reported on the reasons for hunger in Britain today.  Britain is cited as the sixth wealthiest country in the world and yet those of us who followed and  campaigned against the Draconian Welfare Reform Bill as it was read in parliament, could have told them that this would be the result.  My Tory MP didn't listen, neither did any of the Tories or many of the Lib Dems, as they chanted their mantra about 'work being good for people' and the 'route out of poverty is work'.

Of course, the cross-party group of MPs and church leaders have found that it is both low income families and unemployed people who are having to turn to food banks more and more. Make no mistake, this was by design, no matter how much Frank Field and his ilk stand up and pretend to look shocked.  He was one of the original supporters of cuts to the welfare state.

The cross-country report cited delays in benefit payments and sanctions as the main reasons why people are having to turn to food banks.

BBC reporter Mark Easton stated that 'Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, national wealth has more than doubled in 30 years' and 'that we have so much food we literally throw away hundreds of thousands of tons of what's called surplus every year...and yet a report signed by parliamentarians from all parties finds a Britain where hunger stalks the land, the people scavenging, four million at risk of simply not having enough to eat...the report says that UK's poorest have fared less well than those in many developed Western countries, hit by the rising costs of essentials.'

Mark Easton compared our costs with Germany in the past decade:

UK - food prices risen by 47%
Germany - food prices risen by 22%

UK - rents risen by 30%
Germany - rents risen by 12%

UK - fuel costs risen by 154%
Germany - fuel costs risen by 76 %

The cross-party report shows that half a million children live in families that can't afford to feed them.

Said the BBC reporter: 'Today's report says it doesn't want to point the finger at any particular institution but does say that Britain's welfare system is complicated, cumbersome and not fit for purpose'.

Well, I would point the finger squarely at the DWP. The system is certainly not fit for purpose and add the words punitive, harsh and cruel and that would be nearer the truth. Let us not forget that vulnerable people have died as a result of this new punitive system.

The report did add however that 'benefit delays are causing considerable hardship and the inconsistent use of sanctions mean that vulnerable groups can be left without any money at all for weeks or even months.'  I just wish that the day to day reality of this had been emphasised much more.  And for the government just to say they're going to reflect on it, just adds insult to injury.

The BBC reported that 'the government announced a publicity campaign and new guidance to ensure vulnerable benefit claimants know about emergency payments' and that 'ministers are also being pressed to encourage the introduction of a living wage and fairer energy prices for the poorer households'.

As if all this wasn't shocking enough, the next report on the BBC was about George Osborne's further cuts to public services.  This is what the Chancer had to say: 'we're going to have to cut certain welfare bills like benefits that go to working age people'.

So that was the sum of his serious reflection on the cross-country report on hunger, was it?   You just couldn't make it up.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Dear Ed - In Response To Your Email The Morning After ...

Today I had one of those generic emails in my inbox waiting for me by the Labour Party leader Ed Miliband. It read: 

I am delighted and proud that the people of Scotland have made this historic decision to stay in the United Kingdom.

This was a vote for solidarity and social justice. It was a vote for our NHS, for the welfare state, and for unity - because we are better together.

But whether people voted Yes or No, this was also a vote for change.

We must change the way the UK is governed and who it is run for. And that thirst for change is not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK.

We need more good jobs and job security. We need decent wages and an end to poverty pay. We need a better future for our young people so they can believe they can have a better life than their parents.

The last few weeks have been about keeping our country together. The next eight months will be about showing how we can change our country together.

There is only one party that can do it - and that is our party.



Dear Ed

In an ideal world I wanted the union to continue. But if I were in Scotland I would have voted Yes.  It was the Yes voters who wanted to keep our NHS and who cared about our welfare state which our government, and the previous Labour government to their shame, have been busy dismantling.

Thousands in England are screaming out for change too but my fear is that devolved power in England (without the more radical elements from Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland with the exception of the north and some of the Midlands) will make England even more of an insular little island than ever with the worst of the global mentality thrown in, if that makes any sense.  I would love to see the same spirit and appetite for social justice here in England as in Scotland. I know it is there but how much clout we will have without the input from Scotland and Wales? But I don't hear you or your party making any noises about reversing the savage welfare cuts or the creeping privatisation of our NHS. All I hear is Labour trying to out-Tory the Tories.  There is a gaping void on the Left waiting to be filled with someone who dares speak up for social justice, who is proud of what Nye Bevan bequeathed. What is wrong with standing up and saying, 'we're the party of compassion and social justice?' Only then will the many disaffected Labour voters return....

Yours sincerely 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Party of Welfare - so what?

The Tories accuse Labour of being the Party of Welfare.  Well, so what if they were?  What’s wrong with that?  It didn’t hurt me to say it, so why should it hurt anybody who cares?  Except of course, Labour are far from being that sort of party.

Following on from my last blog, I looked at definitions of ‘welfare’. As I mentioned I understand welfare to mean looking after the health and well-being of my fellow human beings. Dictionary definitions will define welfare as 'the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group' and 'statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need.'  So what on earth is wrong with being the party of welfare?  Instead of shying away from it, shouldn’t Labour be embracing it? Shouldn’t they turn it back on the mean and nasty Tory rhetoric and simply say, ‘Yes, we care about people and we’re proud of that, we would be deeply ashamed to be the party who took that basic security away from people. What sort of a government would be?’ Labour have missed the opportunity, so fearful are they.  That much is obvious to me and many people. 

But such is the climate of harshness and brutality that while the two main parties are so busy locking horns to see who can be the meanest (and dragging in smaller bullies like UKIP) there’s a gaping void meanwhile waiting for somebody to fill with benevolence, compassion and humanity.