Tag Archives: David Cameron

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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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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“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.

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.

Tories Need to Learn That Carrots Sometimes Work Better Than Sticks

Peter Lilley

Ex-Cabinet minister Peter Lilley has unwittingly put his finger on a possible answer to the “spare bedrooms” issue, which has been used to justify the iniquitous Bedroom Tax. Interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live, the former Social Security Secretary attempted to defend savage cuts to Housing Benefit by remarking that his constituents are always complaining that they’re overcrowded in their one-bedroom social housing units. Why then, argued Lilley, is it fair for other tenants to “under-occupy”, and have one or two “spare bedrooms”?

The problem is, of course, that as in all its dealings with the poorer end of society, the Coalition has decided that the bludgeon is the most effective instrument of Government. Hence the rightly-hated Bedroom Tax; ill-conceived, improperly thought-out, poorly presented and unfair to the nth degree. No account is taken of whether there is a genuine option for people affected to move to smaller properties, nor of whether the cost of this undertaking is feasible for them. Any consideration of the distinct needs of the disabled, which may medically justify the use of separate bedrooms for couples, has been specifically ruled out.

A possible answer – a fair, practicable answer at that – lies within the rhetoric of Lilley’s attempted justification of the unjustifiable. If, as he says, there is still a big problem of people suffering from overcrowding, and being in need of larger properties currently under-occupied by smaller families – then why not simply engineer some means whereby these two groups can be made aware of each other and thereby facilitate property swaps? A large part of the reason why the “under-occupiers” won’t be moving is the lack of availability of smaller properties. If “swaps” could be facilitated, on a large enough scale, then we could have a mutually satisfactory solution to the problems of both groups. It would be necessary of course to incentivise such a plan – perhaps a transitional payment and/or financial assistance with removal costs and other formalities. It’s a question of square pegs in square holes – the solution should be neat and simple. But the Government don’t see it that way, because they’re instinctively suspicious of the motives of the poor, who they see as wishing to hang on to their “something for nothing” at all costs, and they are therefore determined to hammer these unfortunates who have no scope to either move on, or pay the rent arising out of the imposed cuts in Housing Benefit.

The whole issue comes down to this Government’s pathological preference for the stick over the carrot. They are bolstered in this instinct by the leanings of their natural supporters, Mail readers and the like, who wish to see “the smack of firm government” applied to anyone who has been sufficiently demonised by a press that seems intent on disseminating Tory propaganda. The ultimate aims of the Bedroom Tax haven’t been all that well clarified either. We hear about the “unfairness” of under-occupation, but it’s being acknowledged that a primary goal is to save on the Housing Benefit bill, with half a billion pounds being mooted as a first year economy. How does this help get larger families into larger properties? Cutting the income of the “under-occupiers” is hardly the best way of persuading them to incur removal costs to move to a smaller property, possibly in the private sector at a higher rent – because all the over-crowded families are in the one-bedroom social housing properties. It’s a real mess, round pegs in square holes, square pegs in round holes, and no strategy to facilitate any sort of reversal to mutual advantage.

Iain Duncan-Smith

Ministers right now are in a full state of alert, ready at the drop of a hat to respond to annoying and inconvenient criticism from the likes of church organisations, fully primed to do their best to defend the indefensible, as Peter Lilley was clumsily attempting to do. To this end, they are prepared to come out, bare-faced with the most unconscionable rubbish. Iain Duncan-Smith, a man who recently claimed £39 expenses for one breakfast, has asserted that he would be able to live on benefit subsistence levels of £53 weekly. Utter nonsense, of course, but this is a symptom of desperation in the face of a tidal wave of opposition, for a government that will brook no alternative. The problem these ministers have is that they are increasingly aware the measures they’re being asked to speak up for are bad policies, and – much, much worse for any mid-term government – bad politics. The current administration are wide-open to charges of callousness, misrepresenting salient facts about poverty and an abject failure, indeed refusal, to listen to any source – however well-informed – that doesn’t unswervingly endorse their chosen path. That’s the kind of leadership that got Thatcher removed – and David Cameron, if he hasn’t already given up hope of winning the next election, increasingly looks in dire need of a Plan B.

Practically, I believe that what I might be tempted to term “The Lilley Plan”, allied to sensible investment in the construction industry, could go a long way towards solving the conflicting issues of over-crowding and under-occupancy – as long as it would be properly funded and incentivised. It’s still a matter of trying to get people to move out of homes they may have lived in for years after all; which is still uncomfortably close to social engineering. But if carrots are tried, for once – instead of the endless battalions of Tories wielding sticks – then maybe some progress could be made, and there would be benefits too for the wider economy of more investment in construction; jobs, taxes raised, housing options created, growth – that sort of thing. They’re all distant and unattainable dreams for the Coalition at the moment, but maybe, just maybe, a little more of an imaginative approach to government might reap some reward.

But it is the Tories we’re dealing with here, and they’re brought up from the nursery to think they know best so – you know – don’t hold your breath.

Fox In The Running?

Q: When is a Fox not a fox?

A: When it’s a sacrificial lamb.

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Liam Fox

The Fox in question – Liam of that ilk – is due to make a speech containing radical proposals exceeding in scope and intent anything the Coalition Government has so far contemplated. His true motives for this are unclear. He may just possibly be unaware of his potential status as patsy-in-waiting for the Tory Party’s increasingly Machiavellian convolutions, as it attempts to portray itself as a party of government beyond the next election. Then again, perhaps the cunning Fox genuinely feels that he really can rally the Conservative right wing with a view to becoming the anointed leader if and when David Cameron falls on his sword, or is stabbed in the back by the Men in Grey Suits, depending on how the last scene of the Coalition melodrama plays out.

Whatever the case, the scenario of an increasingly unpopular political party showing determination to plough its chosen furrow – despite a radical call-to-arms from the loony fringes – is hardly new. Labour gave us a glimpse of a few left-wing skeletons in their briefly-opened closet of horrors in the early eighties, and some feel that this paved the way for that party’s subsequent re-branding of itself as New Labour and the eventual Blair-Brown axis. Liam Fox might of course be entirely serious about making an early move to be seen as prospective leader material – if the reaction of the Tories, post coalition break-up, were to be a lurch to the Right. But it’s also tiresomely probable that he’s simply providing the necessary scare story, which can then be shot down by the incumbent PM, so that Cameron’s rigid position on his chosen course of austerity might be seen as more palatable relative to What Might Have Been.

Fox has in fact found it necessary to push back the boundaries of what is really credible, in his attempts to find depths of draconian savagery which even the Tory party might not plumb. Against a background of the demonisation of a whole sector of society – encompassing the poor, low-paid workers and the disabled – with swingeing cuts to the disposable income of all these people justified by portraying them as society-sapping freeloaders, it’s not easy to contemplate even more vindictive measures. Add to that the fact that tax changes in April will see a group of previously impoverished millionaires benefiting from tax reductions of £100,000 a year, and one can easily understand how difficult it is these days to appear truly loony in the context of all things Conservative. But Liam, bless him, appears to have managed it.

In point of fact, Mr Fox’s speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs next Monday is likely to break new ground right in the heart of right wing Tory dreamland “Rob the Poor to Feed the Rich” territory. Voicing what other extreme Conservatives hardly dare think – save only in their most secret and grandiose fantasies – Fox is tipped to call for a five year freeze on public spending, with no protective ring-fencing for schools, foreign aid or the NHS. That’s the poor robbed, but on an even more lavish scale than the current government are managing. And Fox will, according to the Times, also propose that there should be a thorough rethink of earnings and savings taxation, including a Capital Gains Tax holiday “to breathe life into the ailing economy”. The Times also reports that the former Defence secretary will say:

“I believe that in leaving money in people’s pockets, economic activity will follow. People will buy houses, invest for their future or just go shopping.

“Whichever is the case, it’s creating a society that is sustainable for the future in the way that our current – welfare-dependent and debt-ridden – economy is not.

“We should gradually move towards the reduction – or even abolition – of the taxes where the state not only taxes the same money on multiple occasions but discourages the very behaviour that would lead to a more responsible society.”

So that’s the rich fed, and there is likely to be much salivating in the Tory Shires at the prospect – however unlikely it is to actually materialise – of such a juicy package. It is of course a fact that, in order to leave money in people’s pockets, that money has to be there in the first place. But the poor are incidental to this speech, whether it’s a serious attempt to influence policy, or just a scare tactic to deflect criticism of the current programme. The poor are unlikely to vote Tory (although it’s increasingly probable they might vote UKIP), and they are perceived, as a body, to be more of an unwanted expense than any potential source of economic growth. It is the already rich to whom Liam Fox is seeking to appeal; those on the right of the parliamentary party and of the Conservative movement nationally. It is there that he will find his natural support if any ambitions of leadership are ever to come to fruition.

Whatever the thinking behind Fox’s forthcoming speech, he is not the only predatory scavenger circling the beleaguered Prime Minister. MP Sarah Wollaston has warned the Premier, in a series of tweets, about the need to tackle problems with his inner circle of immediate colleagues, consisting as it does of the “posh, male & white”. Wollaston is a known Cameron acolyte, but her words will be encouraging to Home Secretary Theresa May, who has recently broken cover with her own finely-drafted proposals covering a number of governmental departments, and – again – tailored to appeal to the Tory right.

Most worrying of all perhaps, is a vote of confidence from Baroness Warsi, who stated that Cameron has the support of “large parts” of his party, and that “he is doing a very difficult job in very difficult circumstances.” Such a very qualified endorsement is likely to be cold comfort to the Prime Minister as he studies the minute details of the Liam Fox speech, and Cameron may well reflect on the experience of football managers since time immemorial; that the vote of confidence is frequently a precursor to a frogmarch up the scaffold steps and the ceremonial fall of the axe. Unless, of course, friend Liam does the merciful thing, and slides the knife into his ribs before any organised coup.

Et tu, Foxy.

The Big Lie – David Cameron’s Divide And Rule Strategy

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The concept of The Big Lie as a propaganda technique has a long and well-documented, though tragically chequered history.  It was a charge leveled at Jews by Adolf Hitler, with chilling irony as it turned out, accusing them en masse of laying the blame for Germany’s defeat in World War I at the feet of German General Erich Ludendorff.

Hitler’s definition of the Big Lie in his infamous “Mein Kampf” referred to a lie which is “so colossal that no-one would believe anyone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”, and which would therefore, paradoxically, be accepted as true.  “Mein Kampf” was published in 1925, but history tells us that both Hitler and his loathsome creature of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, would use the Big Lie technique in an attempt to justify the persecution and mass murder of six million Jews, many of them German citizens, during World War II.  Historian Jeffrey Herf maintains that the Big Lie was employed by the Nazis to transform a long-standing antisemitism into a culture of acceptance for a programme of genocide, at least among the thousands of people required to collaborate or actually undertake the mass-slaughter of so many fellow human beings.

The Nazis’ euphemistic reference to a “Final Solution” was intended to mask a foul crime, perpetrated on a vast pan-continental scale, and justified by the Big Lie.  It is the most extreme example conceivable of what can happen when such an effective propaganda tool is deployed and redeployed, over and over, a drip-feed of hate-fueled misinformation which sinks deeply into the public consciousness and breeds uncritical acceptance of dogmas that might otherwise be hotly disputed.  But the identical technique continues in use today, and while the end result is not comparable to the fate of the Holocaust victims, the thinking behind modern propaganda, with its intent of marginalising an entire section of society, is directly analogous.

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Enter the Big Liar

The current Government’s presentation of its policies to tackle a massive public debt is an object lesson in the effective use of the Big Lie.  Pathologically opposed to any measures which might unduly affect the “wealth-creating potential” of the better-off, they are nevertheless determined to make massive reductions in public expenditure, and have targeted the Welfare Budget as a potential source of great savings.  The impact on household budgets, of which every penny is already earmarked, is readily foreseeable.  Once you cut to the bone, any further cuts are likely to lead to collapse, and fears are being expressed by voluntary organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau that the consequences for the poorest will be grave.  It’s also realistic to fear that the creation of a sub-culture, helpless to resist the diminution of its resources and likely to be forced into dependence on food banks, is inimical to prospects for national recovery.  Looked at in that light, how can such policies be presented as The Answer To All Our Problems?

Enter the Big Liar, stage right.  Since the formation of Cameron’s Coalition ConDem government, it’s been noticeable how much we’ve heard, via every mouthpiece and interface of the media, about Benefit Cheats.  Benefit Fraudsters.  Welfare Scroungers.  Shirkers, Not Workers.  Now, any government worth its rhetorical mettle is good for the odd sound-bite, but Mr. Cameron’s administration are as hot as any in peddling its preferred take on the “issues that face us all”.  And after all, who could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously?  So it must be true, then.  Meanwhile, those responsible for the banking crisis, the Libor scandal, and other examples of fat cats acting criminally – or merely irresponsibly – in their frantic scramble to get even fatter, must be very grateful for where the spotlight is currently shining.

You have to listen very patiently to the more serious news outlets to hear about the depredations visited upon us by the rich and greedy. But it’s open season on those hampered by disability, poor employment prospects, sickness, infirmity and grinding poverty.  Soft targets all, and there are plenty of establishment-friendly tabloids happy to feed us a daily diet of how tax money is wasted on affording such ne’er-do-wells a life of luxury, and the privilege of snoring behind drawn blinds whilst the industrious head off to work.

So how do these stories stand up to closer examination?   Well, hardly at all, in truth.  The “shirkers, not workers” myth is easily exploded – merely by looking at the proportion of the welfare budget spent on in-work benefits.  These are benefits paid to those who have a job, but one where the wage is so pitifully low that it’s impossible for the family to subsist without an income supplement.  Hardly shirkers, these people – exploited?  Yes.  Scroungers?  It’s the Big Lie in action.

What about Benefit Fraud, then?  Again, you’d be surprised to read the figures, given the loud and plaintive trumpeting of this “scandal” by the likes of the “Daily Mail”.  It appears the Great British Public believe that 27% of the Welfare Budget is claimed fraudulently.  The official UK Government figure?  0.7%.  2-0 to the Big Lie.

The latest manifestation of the way in which a section of society is marginalised now rears its ugly head.  Thousands of people currently entitled to Disability benefits due to their care or mobility needs are going to be re-assessed under notably harsher entitlement tests, over the next few years.  No improvement in their condition, no lessening of their needs will be required for their benefits to be stopped.  The goal-posts are being moved, and a lot of helpless people, who previously managed to conduct their own lives assisted by the benefit payable for their condition, will be shown the red card and banished to the hinterland of dependence upon others.   Extreme examples of families on £20,000 a year in benefits are quoted to justify swingeing cuts.  Believe me, you just don’t want to know how disabled you’d have to be to qualify for anything like that level of help.  The Big Lie rides again.

This administration is unfocused and incompetent, thrashing about horribly in its desperation to somehow prove itself worthy of re-election.  A shoddy, unattractive and vindictive lot. riven by internal strife and barely suppressed internecine warfare, far more concerned by partisan interests than fair government for all.  But, hey – credit where it’s due:  there’s not a whole hell of a lot that Josef Goebbels or Adolf himself could teach them about propaganda, oppression of the vulnerable and the Big Lie.

The Big Lie – David Cameron’s Divide And Rule Strategy

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The concept of The Big Lie as a propaganda technique has a long and well-documented, though tragically chequered history. It was a charge leveled at Jews by Adolf Hitler, with chilling irony as it turned out, accusing them en masse of laying the blame for Germany’s defeat in World War I at the feet of German General Erich Ludendorff.

Hitler’s definition of the Big Lie in his infamous “Mein Kampf” referred to a lie which is “so colossal that no-one would believe anyone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”, and which would therefore, paradoxically, be accepted as true. “Mein Kampf” was published in 1925, but history tells us that both Hitler and his loathsome creature of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, would use the Big Lie technique in an attempt to justify the persecution and mass murder of six million Jews, many of them German citizens, during World War II. Historian Jeffrey Herf maintains that the Big Lie was employed by the Nazis to transform a long-standing antisemitism into a culture of acceptance for a programme of genocide, at least among the thousands of people required to collaborate or actually undertake the mass-slaughter of so many fellow human beings.

The Nazis’ euphemistic reference to a “Final Solution” was intended to mask a foul crime, perpetrated on a vast pan-continental scale, and justified by the Big Lie. It is the most extreme example conceivable of what can happen when such an effective propaganda tool is deployed and redeployed, over and over, a drip-feed of hate-fueled misinformation which sinks deeply into the public consciousness and breeds uncritical acceptance of dogmas that might otherwise be hotly disputed. But the identical technique continues in use today, and while the end result is not comparable to the fate of the Holocaust victims, the thinking behind modern propaganda, with its intent of marginalising an entire section of society, is directly analogous.

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Enter the Big Liar

The current Government’s presentation of its policies to tackle a massive public debt is an object lesson in the effective use of the Big Lie. Pathologically opposed to any measures which might unduly affect the “wealth-creating potential” of the better-off, they are nevertheless determined to make massive reductions in public expenditure, and have targeted the Welfare Budget as a potential source of great savings. The impact on household budgets, of which every penny is already earmarked, is readily foreseeable. Once you cut to the bone, any further cuts are likely to lead to collapse, and fears are being expressed by voluntary organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau that the consequences for the poorest will be grave. It’s also realistic to fear that the creation of a sub-culture, helpless to resist the diminution of its resources and likely to be forced into dependence on food banks, is inimical to prospects for national recovery. Looked at in that light, how can such policies be presented as The Answer To All Our Problems?

Enter the Big Liar, stage right. Since the formation of Cameron’s Coalition ConDem government, it’s been noticeable how much we’ve heard, via every mouthpiece and interface of the media, about Benefit Cheats. Benefit Fraudsters. Welfare Scroungers. Shirkers, Not Workers. Now, any government worth its rhetorical mettle is good for the odd sound-bite, but Mr. Cameron’s administration are as hot as any in peddling its preferred take on the “issues that face us all”. And after all, who could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously? So it must be true, then. Meanwhile, those responsible for the banking crisis, the Libor scandal, and other examples of fat cats acting criminally – or merely irresponsibly – in their frantic scramble to get even fatter, must be very grateful for where the spotlight is currently shining.

You have to listen very patiently to the more serious news outlets to hear about the depredations visited upon us by the rich and greedy. But it’s open season on those hampered by disability, poor employment prospects, sickness, infirmity and grinding poverty. Soft targets all, and there are plenty of establishment-friendly tabloids happy to feed us a daily diet of how tax money is wasted on affording such ne’er-do-wells a life of luxury, and the privilege of snoring behind drawn blinds whilst the industrious head off to work.

So how do these stories stand up to closer examination? Well, hardly at all, in truth. The “shirkers, not workers” myth is easily exploded – merely by looking at the proportion of the welfare budget spent on in-work benefits. These are benefits paid to those who have a job, but one where the wage is so pitifully low that it’s impossible for the family to subsist without an income supplement. Hardly shirkers, these people – exploited? Yes. Scroungers? It’s the Big Lie in action.

What about Benefit Fraud, then? Again, you’d be surprised to read the figures, given the loud and plaintive trumpeting of this “scandal” by the likes of the “Daily Mail”. It appears the Great British Public believe that 27% of the Welfare Budget is claimed fraudulently. The official UK Government figure? 0.7%. 2-0 to the Big Lie.

The latest manifestation of the way in which a section of society is marginalised now rears its ugly head. Thousands of people currently entitled to Disability benefits due to their care or mobility needs are going to be re-assessed under notably harsher entitlement tests, over the next few years. No improvement in their condition, no lessening of their needs will be required for their benefits to be stopped. The goal-posts are being moved, and a lot of helpless people, who previously managed to conduct their own lives assisted by the benefit payable for their condition, will be shown the red card and banished to the hinterland of dependence upon others. Extreme examples of families on £20,000 a year in benefits are quoted to justify swingeing cuts. Believe me, you just don’t want to know how disabled you’d have to be to qualify for anything like that level of help. The Big Lie rides again.

This administration is unfocused and incompetent, thrashing about horribly in its desperation to somehow prove itself worthy of re-election. A shoddy, unattractive and vindictive lot. riven by internal strife and barely suppressed internecine warfare, far more concerned by partisan interests than fair government for all. But, hey – credit where it’s due: there’s not a whole hell of a lot that Josef Goebbels or Adolf himself could teach them about propaganda, oppression of the vulnerable and the Big Lie.