Tag Archives: Coalition

We need to talk about Ivan

There’s a growing discomfort over Camoron’s continual references to his late son; a feeling that the motivation is political, a mawkish attempt to shame opponents out of criticising his unelected government’s NHS and Disability Rights policies; “How dare you suggest I’d harm the NHS or Disability Benefits, I had a disabled child etc etc”. Here is that discomfort, brilliantly articulated by Alex on Sturdyblog. It’s painful reading, but I think he’s spot on with this.

I hope as many as possible actually do read it. If this man really is unscrupulous enough to use his dead child in an attempt to immunise himself from criticism in areas where he’s presiding over a great deal of harm and the infliction of massive hardship and misery – then it needs to be brought into the open. Just so that we know what kind of man the arrogant Etonian boy and Oxford Bullingdon Club member became. Because this is evil on a scale even Thatcher didn’t achieve.

sturdyblog

I beg your indulgence. Resist the urge to take the understandable, but impetuous, position that a dead child should not be the subject of conversation in any context. Hear me out.

Ivan Reginald Ian was born in April 2002. He was diagnosed with Ohtahara Syndrome – a rare and debilitating combination of cerebral palsy and epilepsy. After an all-too-brief life of six years, Ivan died at St Mary’s in Paddington in 2009. Ivan was six. He was also the son of the soon-to-be Prime Minister, David Cameron.

I remember vividly the first time I felt an uncomfortable knot in my stomach about Ivan. I was thumbing through a copy of the Guardian and came across an article in which Cameron explained how his experience with Ivan had given him a passion and love for the NHS and the professionals within it. It was accompanied by this picture:

And then, a…

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UKIP : Nothing but the Same Old Story

A message of defiance and anger, but also of hope. That last thing has echoes of Clement Attlee in 1945 – still our greatest Prime Minister.

Labour Briefing

The John McDonnell Column

The media are in a frenzy over the electoral rise of UKIP. But why are people surprised at all about the emergence and performance of UKIP?

JMcDIt falls to the left to help explain that the rise of UKIP is extremely predictable.

After weeks of canvassing you find that you need a simple doorstep response to those people who say they’re thinking of voting UKIP. We must put this explanation into readily understandable terms so people have a very straightforward narrative to support and repeat.

It goes like this.

In every period of recession opportunist politicians from the right have emerged to seize upon the hardships people face to exploit them for their own ends. They always have to find a scapegoat to distract people from the real causes of the recession.

In this recession it is UKIP. In the past it’s been Mosley’s fascists in…

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There IS a legal definition of bedroom for bedroom tax purposes

Very interesting case-law development on the Bedroom Tax. Anyone affected should appeal, quoting CH/140/2013. Take advice, or simply contact your Local Authority, quoting that reference. You should act BEFORE MARCH 2014 to ensure you don’t run out of time. ACT NOW!!

An Apt Illustration of “The Big Lie” as Perpetrated by the Daily Mail & Others – by Rob Atkinson

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By appointment to Goebbels and Cameron

Having blogged elsewhere about the tendency of this “government” to rehash the old Nazi-acclaimed method of “The Big Lie“, I’ve been looking for a good, satirical piece, the better to illustrate the point. And, just over a day into 2014 – which I hope will be the last complete year of this appalling administration – I found the example reproduced below. Linda Cox of Norfolk is a carer, thinker and an active campaigner against the iniquities of “austerity” – and against the endemic persecution of the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the sick. As a small part of her efforts to lift the murky veil of tabloid-retailed government propaganda, she has summed up the whole thing very neatly indeed. I quote her in full below, with her permission and without further comment.

I feel so secure and looked after by proper newspapers like the Daily Mail. Yes, it is controlled by the government, but that’s why it is there to serve my best interests, like Mr Cameron who loves us really – he wants us all to be rich, and if I shop at M&S and wear stuff like Kate Windsor, celebrities and other important, very clever people I will be rich too. I also know that by looking down on those less able or poor, it will improve my self esteem, and mean I am better than they are. We are more like the Beckhams… well, we would be if we had the money. We will, once they have stopped the foreigners and dole cheats. Then people who want to get on in life, can.

The DM lets me know what is going on in the real world and gives me warning about the things I should fear and we know forewarned is forearmed.

It tells me what to buy, what to watch and what to wear to be more like rich people and to be better than my neighbour.

I am safe in the knowledge that the Daily Mail – and The Sun – have the most readers, therefore I must be reading the facts and it fits in with my own beliefs….and fears.

When I go out I make sure I avoid places where there are nasty, dirty homeless people, because they are all addicts and they might steal my purse to finance their habit.

There is a council estate around the corner where all the people have HUGE flat screen tellies… especially those on the dole. The people are mostly foreign, because they get first choice of all the council houses. The families consist of three, sometimes FOUR generations that have NEVER worked in their life! That’s because they don’t need to. Each child you have on the dole gets you an extra thousand pounds per week. That’s why dole families in council houses have ten or maybe fifteen kids each. Sometimes they murder a few to get on telly. Their neighbours watch them on the news on their massive plasma tellies, while Jeremy Kyle is on an advert break. They all smoke weed and drink alcohol… even the kids, while they play X-box on their own plasma tellies. That’s during the day, because they have all been excluded from school. In the evening and at night, they hang around the streets mugging people, but the victims are from their own estates, so it doesn’t matter. It’s not like they are mugging decent folk. They steal from their own because of the high welfare benefits – these people carry Giros worth thousands of pounds! Especially the foreigners, because they get Girocheques for £6,000 to buy cars!

The Daily Mail told me that most disabled people have nothing wrong with them, so I started spying on so called disabled to make sure they limped, wobbled or fell over every time they got out of their car parked in a disabled bay…. because if they don’t use a wheelchair, there’s nothing really wrong with them, right? They are worse than dole people. They get even MORE money from us, The Taxpayers. They get a new car EVERY YEAR! Nothing to pay at all. The Daily Mail told me so.

Did you know that every single person on benefits gets £26,000 a year? AND that’s the lowest rate, after the government capped benefits. People used to get much more.

Recently poor people have had access to free food, so that’s another thing that doesn’t have to come out of their £26,000 budget. They just turn up at what’s known as a foodbank and get bags and bags of food! FREE! Now lots of people know about it, more people are going there, then they have more money for drugs and holidays. They are opening up in every town. Other people donate food from places like Aldi and Lidl and dole people just pick it up… some places even offer a delivery service! I don’t shop in places like that, so I can’t donate anything….and why should I when I can’t even afford to eat out every night?

We struggle sometimes and can’t always go 5-star on holiday. That’s when I know who to blame. If Johnny Foreigner, Billy Pretend-Cripple and people popping kids out daily, got off their fat backsides and got jobs, I wouldn’t have to pay so much tax! Maybe I could even have enough money one day to be in the Daily Mail myself…..

For now, I’m happy just to live in my ivory tower reading my Daily Mail.

All successful satire or parody has an important kernel of truth. Thanks for reading – I hope it makes a few more people think about what they might read elsewhere.

Welfare Reform Blamed For Soaring Malnutrition

Are the ConDem coalition overseeing a return to widespread malnutrition in one of the world’s richest countries?

Is it fair that pensioners and the disabled should have to face the “heat or eat” dilemma when the country’s billionaires have seen their wealth DOUBLE since the so-called global financial crisis??

Is it remotely just that the poor, the sick and the downtrodden should pay the price – some with their lives – for the mistakes of fat cat bankers who will never know the meaning of the words “cold” and “hungry”?

This excellent blog from “the void” sheds some light on such burning questions – and delivers a damning verdict on a government which will go down as the most callous and incompetent in living memory.

the void

IDS-malnutritionCuts to social security, stagnating wages and high fuel bills have been blamed for a trebling of hospital admissions due to malnutrition in Leeds.

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, 93 people needed hospital treatment for malnutrition in 2012, compared to just 30 in 2008. These tragic cases could represent the tip of the iceberg says Councillor Lisa Mulherin, warning that the number of hospital admissions: “tells us something about the changes to the welfare system, wage stagnation and the way fuel prices have gone up out of all proportion with people’s pay.”

A shocking 27,000 people across Leeds were estimated to be suffering from or at risk of clinical nutrition said health professionals in the city last year.

Appalling the situation is likely to become far worse as a wave of cuts to benefits begins to bite.  The Bedroom Tax is just a few months old and 9000…

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Osborne’s big plan: falsify unemployment figures under the Workfare banner

A cutting insight into the fundamental dishonesty and blatant opportunism of a Tory party blind to everything but enhancing their prospects of election as a majority government in 2015.

Vox Political

So Gideon wants the long-term unemployed to go on Workfare indefinitely, does he?

Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but doesn’t this mean the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s big announcement – at this year’s Conservative Party Conference – is a tawdry plan to massage the unemployment figures?

I’m indebted to The Void blog for the following information, which I recalled while reading reports of Osborne’s drone to the swivel-eyed masses. An article from May stated that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had been forced to admit a rise in unemployment was down to a fall in the number of people on Workfare.

“According to the Department, the number of people in work fell by over 47,000 over the last three months – which they say ‘reflects’ amongst other things a drop of 16,000 in the numbers on Government employment schemes,” the article states. As far as I know, this…

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“Loadsamoney” Cameron in “Tasteless and Ignorant Flash Git” Row

ImagePrime Minister David Cameron has had his judgement called into question yet again after a “date-night” meal out with his wife on Friday at a pizza restaurant in Soho.  Having enjoyed a simple repast of pizza and lasagne, accompanied by dough balls and a bottle of red – amounting to a bill of around £45 – the Premier stunned onlookers by airily leaving his delighted waiter a tip of £50.  One diner, struggling to find a reason for this munificent largesse, later wondered in a baffled tweet whether Mr Cameron was perhaps feeling flush after saving some money on his order by using a discount coupon.  Others have speculated that a tendency to be a heavy tipper could be compensatory behaviour given his history as a former member of the notorious Bullingdon Club, an exclusive society at Oxford University noted for its habit of smashing up restaurants and paying up on the spot for damage caused.  But Cameron has not always been so generous, once failing to leave a tip at all for a waitress who, not recognising the PM, said she was too busy to carry his coffee order to his table.

Whatever Mr Cameron’s motivation – and let’s not forget there’s a very happy waiter at the centre of this story – such extravagant actions are always open to criticism for a man so very much in the glare of public scrutiny.  Given that, and allowing also for his government’s implacable stance on its much-criticised austerity programme, it may be felt in some quarters that a £50 tip on a bill of rather less than that sends out all the wrong messages.  It’s an action, some may well carp, that can easily be related to the archetypal “flash git” yuppie of the eighties, so memorably portrayed by Harry Enfield as his “Loadsamoney” character, who would flaunt his wealth ostentatiously, waving wads of cash and lighting cigars with twenty pound notes.  This was of course satire, which is at the very cutting-edge of good comedy, and rightly so.  But all the best satire has that kernel of truth which validates its message, and the “Loadsamoney” image had many parallels in real life.  In casually handing over £50 to an incredulous waiter, Mr Cameron surely risks criticism from those who will say this shows the extent to which he is out of touch with millions nationwide to whom £50 would represent a weekly family shopping budget.

It’s not so long ago that Cameron’s blundering Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan-Smith, unwisely raised his head above the parapet with a claim that he’d be able to live on £53 a week, only to have to duck it down again hastily when a massively-supported public petition called on him to do just that.  The Coalition government seem a little damage-prone in terms of such tactical own-goals, and whatever message they are trying to get across about the need for everyone to tighten the belt, grin bravely and get on with it, is continually undermined by examples of individual ministers piteously whining that their lot is not a happy one.

The Tory MP for Mid Derbyshire, Pauline Latham, recently described how she was “left in tears” after clashing with officials from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) over the matter of her security enhancements and just who is expected to pay the £9000 bill.  That’s a story which many will find less than heart-rending when so many pensioners face the “heat or eat” dilemma.  MP’s of all parties have agitated for a while now for salary increases of up to 32% at a time when public pay is frozen.  Failed bankers and incompetent Chief Executives are still routinely walking away from the disasters they have created with severance packages well into seven figures, whilst the poorest of the poor face a struggle to find the weekly bedroom tax bill, a struggle that has in several tragic cases terminated in suicide.

It is doubtful whether Cameron, replete with pizza, dough balls, wine and relaxed, chilled-out bonhomie, will have had any of this to the forefront of his mind when he grandly tipped his waiter before heading off back to work at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, where all his food and hospitality will be funded by grateful taxpayers.  The point is though, surely, that he should be aware of all of these issues, all of the time, and that this awareness should advise his every move.  To expose himself and by extension his government, to such ridicule and criticism over what was quite probably a sincere enough gesture (assuming that the tip really was from the PM’s own back pocket), shows a want of understanding and a failure to appreciate just how such public generosity, on a scale out of the reach of 98% of the population, will resonate with those who are struggling to make ends meet.  The lack of political awareness in a man elevated to Cameron’s high office is more than a little worrying.  If the tip had to be given, could it – should it – have been made in a less public way?  At least then, even if the story had come out, the effect would have been diluted by relative subtlety instead of appearing so crass and opportunistic.

The sad fact is that many in the Tory party, or even in the coalition government as a whole, will tend to dismiss an item of news like this as “pointless and frivolous” or a “storm in a teacup”.  But they would miss the point in so doing.  Because the incident is in the public arena, it has to be viewed in the context of the times, and that is very much a picture of so many people suffering and struggling due to our rulers’ insistence – against the better judgement of such bodies as the International Monetary Fund – on cutting, cutting and cutting again, cutting to the bone at the lower end of society where any further cuts are likely to lead to collapse.  And while this is going on, the PM is out on the town, taking in a show, heading off to a politicians’ junket with the finest of freebie food and drink, and casually, arrogantly chucking 50 quid at a waiter as if to say, “There you go, my good man.  It’s nothing to me.”

Mr Cameron, really.  It is time to give your head a shake, re-awaken whatever political awareness you ever had, and start to think about what you say and do.  Some of us out here would just love to have a chat with you about Real Life.

Bedroom Tax Claims Its First Confirmed Victim

Stephanie Bottrill: No Hope

Stephanie Bottrill: No Hope

Stephanie Bottrill was a 53 year-old grandmother who had lived in her terraced house in Solihull for 18 years, bringing up her children as a struggling single parent, nurturing the cherished back garden which was her pride and joy. Here she’d buried the pet cats she had loved; here was the area of calm she called her “special place”, where she could feel at peace. Then the Bedroom Tax bill arrived, and Stephanie knew she would have to pay £20 extra a week or find somewhere smaller. So, she sadly packed her bags ready to move, but nowhere suitable could be found. Resigned to her lack of options, Stephanie Bottrill sat down and wrote notes to all her family, dropped her house keys through a neighbour’s letterbox and walked down to Junction 4 of the A6 motorway where she stepped into the path of a northbound lorry and was killed instantly. She had become the first confirmed victim of Iain Duncan-Smith’s ill-advised and hated Bedroom Tax policy.

The notes that Stephanie had left behind were notes of love for her family, beseeching them not to blame themselves for her decision to end her life. She just wasn’t strong enough to carry on, she explained, and nobody was to blame but the Government. Her family have reacted with despair and disbelief that anybody could be driven to such lengths. But really, this tragic event was to be expected. A government that formulates a policy that leaves its most vulnerable citizens with nowhere to turn, no options to lead their lives in peace and security, must expect an outcome such as this. Realistically, as appalling and dreadfully sad as Stephanie Bottrill’s fate may be, she will almost certainly not be the last person to give up on life, to snuff out their own life. In the face of this Government’s callous and uncaring determination to visit all our economic ills on the heads of the poorest and least able to pay, it is horrifyingly likely that the death toll will rise, unless those in power can be persuaded to wake up, and smell the coffee.

It is difficult to imagine a more ill-conceived and irresponsible policy than this notorious and discredited Bedroom Tax. It is a policy that places those least able to cope directly into a Catch-22 situation. Unable to find the extra money levied each week – £20 is a frighteningly large amount out of a meagre weekly income. Unable to move either, because of the lack of suitable smaller properties. What is one to do? Discretionary payments can be applied for, but the budgets for these are laughably small; in practice only those with the very severest of disabilities in the most deprived of circumstances will have any chance of qualifying, and then only for a limited time. Maybe a move to the private sector rental market, but there is no security there, rental contracts are for months, not years. You are simply existing from month to month, or if you’re lucky, from year to year; you’re not living in your own home. Do the politicians who draft these measures, and who live in mansions and never worry where the next meal is coming from, have any real idea of how this might feel? The heat or eat dilemma? The pain of having to move out of a place where your children grew up, somewhere you’ve invested years of your life to make a house a home? Do they have the remotest clue?

It’s equally difficult to speculate as to what the reaction will be of Cabinet Ministers hearing news like this. Will they feel the pangs of conscience? Will they allow doubt to enter their educated and sophisticated heads as to whether these policies are really right? There is absolutely no sign of any such response. The issues confronting the poor, the dilemma of those faced with paying up or shipping out when neither is a feasible option – and there are thousands of people in precisely that situation – are a closed book to people who are in power and yet completely out of touch with the nitty-gritty of everyday life for the most vulnerable in society. That much we can say with confidence; the evidence for it is irrefutable. But an even more worrying question is: do they even care? Does anyone in this Government actually give a damn?

Stephanie Bottrill seems to have concluded, in the face of all the information available to her, that – in undeniable fact – nobody in Government does care. Nobody was prepared to lift a finger to help her in her no-win, zero-options situation. Most of us – fortunately for our peace of mind – cannot imagine the despair, the desperate loneliness and lack of hope that goes hand-in-hand with a conclusion like that. We can only accept that Stephanie’s state of mind, as she made her solitary walk to a death she felt was her only way out, was of a resolve born of her absolute conviction that the Government had abandoned her, careless of her fate, indifferent as to whether she lived or died. She made the awful decision to act on that conviction, alone and with her own indomitable brand of courage. Stephanie chose to abandon the world she felt had given up on her.

Can any of us say with any confidence that she was wrong?

Duncan-Smith Appeals Politely To Finer Instincts of “Rich Pensioners”

Duncan-Smith:  "Polite"

Duncan-Smith: “Polite”

Iain Duncan-Smith, having pandered for so long to the Daily Mail-reading citizens of leafy suburbia, gladdening their hearts with his continual broadsides aimed at “shirkers” or those allegedly living the high life on munificent benefits may just have made a tactical error, thereby rousing the ire of the comfortably-off grey vote. Perhaps encouraged by the willing acceptance by the rich elderly of the picture he has so assiduously painted of a benefits dependency culture, IDS has finally dared to think the unthinkable, hinted at just possibly touching the untouchable – even if, as it turns out, this would be consensual touching.

The suggestion of the beleaguered Work and Pensions Secretary seems, on the face of it, quite mild – especially when compared to his scathing rhetoric directed with such concentrated fire at the unemployed, the disabled and other “benefit dependents” (especially if they dare to have – horror of unjustifiable horrors – a spare bedroom!) He has only said, in a really quite wheedling, come-on-now-you-chaps sort of tone, that the “wealthy elderly” might like to do their bit and return some of the universal freebies currently available on grounds of age alone – and regardless of what might be piled up in the bank. He would, he offered, “encourage” people who do not need this type of financial help to “hand it back.” Not exactly, on the face of it, a draconian move – but it seems likely that certain Disgusted of Cheltenham types will feel betrayed by the Minister, despite his carefully-couched and indeed almost pleading remarks.

The coalition government have, up to now, been fastidiously careful not to rattle the cage of a section of society well-known for its mainly Conservative leanings. It seems likely that any dent in this traditional groundswell of support could have disastrous consequences for the Tory Party’s chances of remaining on the political map come 2015 and election time. Even now, with this hesitant suggestion of self-sacrifice for the old and rich, IDS has been quick to provide reassurance that there are no plans to introduce a means-test to exclude wealthier pensioners. What Duncan-Smith is appealing to is the theoretically noble spirit of the rich: come on, guys, let’s play our part and show those nasty little oiks down at the bottom of the pile just what the Dunkirk Spirit is all about. The thing is, he may have misjudged the mood.

I only heard one caller to a late-night BBC Five Live chat show debating this story. That was largely because this one chap was so irate, so indignant, that it proved extremely difficult to shut him up long enough to cut him off without appearing terribly rude to a nice old man. The level of animosity generated by this single outraged pensioner was a marvel to behold – it was only radio, but you could almost hear the veins in his temple throb. I was quite worried for his health, and the presenter seemed loath to provoke him further, lest he should bring on apoplexy. If that caller was in any way representative of his wealthy co-recipients of government largesse, then it could turn out that IDS has had another Bad Idea. It may be an old and fairly wizened tiger he has by the tail, but the teeth and the claws would appear to be in full working order and ready to turn on the hand that’s been feeding them.

The worrying thing (as far as this citizen is concerned) is the marked contrast in tone and approach, depending on whether IDS is imposing swingeing cuts on people whose incomes are already stretched to snapping point, or making sweetly suggestive noises about how noble it would be to forego the £300 winter fuel allowance when you have £150k in the bank. And really, the contrast could hardly be more marked, and therefore it could hardly be more repellently disgusting. The clear implication behind such radically different ways of dealing with different sectors of society is that the government view of those disparate groups is polarised to such an extent that one might almost doubt we are talking about members of the same species. The rich are to retain a choice over whether their income should remain at a level far in excess of their needs – even if a proportion of that income comes from an over-stretched welfare budget that is already pushing people – working people – into reliance on food banks. The poor have no such choice. Stringent measures are being taken, and the Untermensch at the bottom of Society’s league table can like it or lump it. There is a nasty assumption going on in Tory heads that they can trust “our sort of people”, but that the peasants have to be kept in line; give them an inch and they’ll take a bally mile, old boy.

This attitude pervades our current national mindset; even to the extent of sparing the rich the visitations of Justice when they’ve been naughty – if they happen to be well enough placed to make reparations. If two people are caught out in the same level of benefit fraud – for instance – and one can afford to repay the whole amount they’ve diddled out of the state, but the other can’t; guess what happens. It is open for the decision makers to spare the person who can repay any actual prosecution and probable criminal record. The one who can’t repay within the time limit stipulated – it’s off to court with you, and a blot on your record that will dog you for years – and you still have to pay the money back, out of whatever pittance you have left. And yet the crime is identical. That’s the only definition you’ll ever need of unfair, unjust and a travesty of the equity of treatment that should be any government’s minimum aim. It’s happened under successive administrations of whatever persuasion, and it’s a blot on our notion of fairness.

It may well be that IDS has committed a gaffe here, but equally it’s possible that, on sober reflection, the elderly rich will decide that they aren’t after all being threatened with imminent penury. And unwilling as I am to give much credit to a Minister with such an appalling record on his treatment of those who can’t fight back, I actually think this is something of a tiny step in the right direction. It is time the wealthy did more to show that they share the responsibility we all have to get out of this mess. I just wish that there wasn’t so much carrot on the one hand, and so much stick on the other.

Widespread Disgust as the Coalition and Press Lurch Further Down the Path of Herr Doktor Goebbels

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The not-so-good Doktor

For some time now a lot of us out here in Leftie-Land have been worrying out loud, and in print, at the direction this Coalition Government are taking. We have concerns over their policies and the way they’re being presented; we have concerns over their rhetoric, directed invariably at sections of society against whom they wish to justify savage cuts; we have concerns about the very language they use, language calculated to stir up hatred in the less intellectually-acute of their supporters, terms such as “shirkers”, “malingerers” and “something-for-nothing culture”. I’ve written myself about the transparent desire on the part of Cameron, Gideon Osborne and their colleagues to divide and rule, and the way in which they’ve spread malicious falsehoods about the targets of their policies, lies that have been eagerly taken up and spread far and wide by the right wing coterie in the Press. I compared the phenomenon of their wilful deceit to the “Big Lie” technique employed by Josef Goebbels for the embryonic Nazi party in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Basically, if you repeat a lie often enough – and the bigger the lie, the better – it will seep into the public consciousness and be accepted. I feel that the Government’s endorsement of this tactic is the fair and obvious conclusion to draw from the way they have relentlessly sought to paint the poor and helpless as a malign, self-seeking and parasitical section of society.

The turn of events this week, though, has taken even the most cynical and suspicious of us by surprise. In a shocking and rather sinister plunge towards the gutter-end of their ideology, the Government and certain sections of the press have decided to use a criminal case which concerns the unlawful killing of six young children as material for a further attack on their hated and hapless targets at the bottom of the economic pile. In the wake of the conviction of Mick Philpott and his accomplices for the manslaughter of six out of seventeen children, the lamentable Mail has – without allowing a decent interval to elapse, indeed hardly pausing to draw breath – launched a bitter front-page broadside against a welfare state which, it astonishingly contended, was at the root of the whole Philpott tragedy. This blatant tarring of all benefit claimants with the brush of a sociopath/psychopath like Philpott predictably and quite rightly brought vilification from proper newspapers and media outlets alike. Scandalous, opportunistic, tasteless, vile, they screamed, accusing a bang-to-rights Mail of making cheap political capital out of the deaths of innocents. Quite so.

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Silly Gideon

But then, whose trotters did we hear, galloping over the horizon as he raced to dump his porcine carcass on this timely bandwagon? None other than Gideon Osborne; failed Chancellor, shameless blagger of disabled parking spaces and determined first-class rail traveller (albeit with only a standard-class ticket.) Such is the measure of this vapid man; his brainless arrogance leads him to believe that what he wishes will naturally come to pass, that ordinary conventions are for ordinary people and not for such bright shining stars as Gideon. Now he could hardly wait to endorse the Mail’s bile-ridden outburst in his haste to appeal to little Hitlers everywhere and further perpetuate – indeed enlarge – The Big Lie. He was swiftly backed by his boss, Cameron, a beleaguered PM whose eggs are now clearly all in one basket. Shocked and horrified, the rest of us were left gaping at the sheer, malevolent viciousness of it; the appalling timing, the unwarranted slur on people who wouldn’t dream of harming a fly, the public-school adolescent nastiness of it. What to do?

Well, some thought they might try a little satire laced with logic, a standard procedure for putting in their place those of arrogant stupidity. By your own arguments, it was forcibly and eruditely pointed out to the Gruesome Twosome, the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe could be laid at the door of the Road Haulage Association; those of Harold Shipman at the feet of the NHS and provincial medical practices everywhere; while the evil-doings of Fred West are to be blamed on private enterprise and aspirational construction workers throughout the land. The effect of all this admirable logic? Negligible at best. Those who are currently on the attack and have the poor, disabled and vulnerable in their sights are in talk mode, with a view to draconian action. They are not for listening. And readers of the Sun and the Mail are likely to listen, sadly enough, only to other such readers – or perhaps to like-minded know-it-alls down the pub.

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The Offensive Daily Fail

In the absence of many other practical options, I’ve made my views known to the Press Complaints Commission. I’m not exactly holding my breath for a positive response though, as high-ups at the Mail are also influential in the PCC, so it’s a little bit like complaining to your mother-in-law about your wife’s nagging. But something clearly has to be done; this is not the kind of “politics” that can be taken lying down. The utter, untimely viciousness of it, as well as the blatant opportunism, leaves a rancid taste in the mouth. It’s easy to forget in these alarming times that this is a coalition we have in charge, with – supposedly – a restraining, moderating influence ready built-in as it were. The shocking lack of balls displayed by the Liberals in matters like this and many others will — if there’s any justice* — contribute to their deserved annihilation at the next election. But that’s not going to come soon enough to protect this country from a Tory Party that seems to be diseased at the very top, intoxicated with the sickness of megalomania and determined to visit their own brand of evil on their own chosen targets.

The spirit of Josef Goebbels is alive and well in the corridors of Tory High Command as well as in the editorial offices of our less salubrious newspapers. Those of us with opposing views – those who are resolved to speak out for the helpless and vulnerable – had better make sure we speak loudly and constructively enough to be heard over the brazenly unashamed rhetoric pouring like so much liquid sewage from the lips of Osborne and Cameron. If we don’t, we’ll simply be begging for more of the same, and worse.

*There isn’t; so don’t hold your breath there, either.