Tag Archives: propaganda

Six Years Ago Today: “Cup Minnows” Jibe Returns to Haunt Man U – by Rob Atkinson

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Jermaine scores at the Beckford End

As a result of the famous encounter between Man U and Leeds United in the FA Cup 3rd round of 2010, the Pride of Devon famously won yet another honour when a national newspaper awarded their incautious webmaster the “BIGGEST HOISTING BY YOUR OWN PETARD” accolade. When Man U drew Leeds or Kettering in the FA Cup third round, their official website’s headline was: ‘United To Face Cup Minnows’ – a banner that could just possibly have referred to Kettering, who still faced a second round replay at Elland Road. The sly intent of a dig at Leeds United escaped nobody though and, unlikely as it seemed that the United of Elland Road could pull off a shock at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, there must have been one or two wiser heads who were groaning at the sight of such crass bumptiousness – and wondering how anyone could possibly wish to tempt fate so. As we all know, the events of that day resulted in an almighty shock, joy for the fans of the Damned United and the renaming of one end of the Man U ground as “The Beckford End”.

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Not what she’d been led to expect of “minnows”

Such unwise overconfidence had been seen before in the name of Britain’s least modest and unassuming club. Back in 1992, one of the many commercial outlets which swarm around the Salford-based franchise like flies around steaming ordure, were guilty of a comparably embarrassing cock up. Tasteful sets of lovingly crafted Man U candles, unsuitably inscribed with the legend “Football League Champions 1992″ were offered for sale at an enticing price with the confident slogan “To commemorate our forthcoming title success”. Sadly for the manufacturers, demand turned out to be low for these attractive souvenirs, due to the fact that Leeds United had the poor taste to win the league by four clear points. There is a warehouse somewhere in a dingy area of a dingy city that houses these unwanted reminders of failure, along with “Champions” t-shirts, flags, banners and other associated Man U tat that was at least twelve months ahead of its time. The overweening desire to win the last proper League Championship was evidently far too strong for mere considerations of caution, humility and wisdom to stand much of a chance, and so it was that Man U chalked up yet another example of chickens being counted before the formality of hatching was complete.

A picture also exists of a humble functionary hastily dismantling a Man U “Champions 2012” banner, which had become abruptly redundant when Sergio Aguero scored in the dying moments of Man City v QPR to clinch the title for City and leave the Devon and Home Counties half of Manchester crying into their prawn butties.  The tendency towards the assumption of success before it’s actually been earned appears to be a recurrent problem at The Greatest Football Club In The World™ (Copyright © Most of the Gutter Press Including BSkyB). Most football fans would find this sort of thing humiliating enough to make their teeth curl up and die, but the Man U bunch are curiously insensitive to such feelings, buffered as they are by relentless “Biggest and Best” propaganda to perpetuate their comfy if mythical self-image. The odd cold dash of reality is never quite enough to quell this methane-fuelled flame of hype and self-aggrandisement so, apart from the odd uncomfortable wriggle in armchairs all over the south of England, Man U fans continue quite happily in their own little pink fog of Freudian delusion.

The flip side of this excruciating coin, though, is the fierce, intense joy and satisfaction of a pompous bubble satisfyingly burst for the fans of whichever club is on the other half of the equation. In the examples quoted above, Leeds (twice) and Man City have found the joy of achievement considerably enhanced by the fact that the complacent hordes of glory-hunters had clearly expected victory to come about as of right. This is an exquisite refinement of Schadenfreude – the pleasure of achievement by virtue of bursting a despised rival’s over-inflated balloon is sweet indeed.  The fact is as well, it’s not just the fans of this ridiculous club just outside Manchester who assume success will be theirs – the moguls of the media are right in there as well, wanting and expecting. The shattered expressions of Elton Welsby and Denis Law, after Leeds won that title in 1992, told their own story. The cameras lingered mournfully on the shocked faces of Phil Jones and S’ralex Ferguson at the Stadium of Light in 2012. There was a distinct lack of the enthusiasm you might expect of news-hungry hacks, in the wake of the defeat of the champions by a third division club in the FA Cup in 2010. The media have their markets to think of; replica shirts, newspapers and satellite dishes must be sold in Devon and Cornwall, Milton Keynes and Kent.n These not-so-impartial hacks really want Man U to win, and their confusion and misery in the event of a shock is just bloody wonderful to behold.

To be the agents who have brought about misery of this order – for such wholly unattractive and unadmirable institutions – is to know a defiant and glorious joy of virtuous achievement. In the long run, largely due to off-field pressures, Man U will win trophies and the assembled lapdogs in the press will yap their hymns of praise and ram the whole charade down the throats of the rest of us. But every now and then, it all goes wrong for the anointed favourites – and then there are good times for all right-thinking people, the ones who want to see a more level playing field and some even-handed competition as we used to have it. Leeds United drew that era to a close by becoming the Last Real Champions, but there have been the occasional reminders of it even during the Murdoch Man U dynasty, when the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, City and – yes, Leeds United too, have stood up to be counted and have given the establishment club a bloody nose. It’s times like those that keep the old spirit of the great old game feebly flickering away, that stop it sputtering out altogether. Long may these rays of light continue to shine through the boring gloom and procession of the modern game.

Howard Wilkinson, Sergio Aguero, Jermaine Beckford, Arsene Wenger, Simon Grayson – and all the other heroes – we salute you.

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Sergeant Wilko – last English Champion, Last Real Champion

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Prime Minister Mosley… and The 1,000 Days That Established The British Reich – by Rob Atkinson

The Daily Heil - peddling made-up rubbish since 1896

The Daily Heil – peddling made-up rubbish since 1896

The Daily Mail and the Mail Online have been indulging themselves again, venturing deep into the realms of fantasy and propaganda as they seek to plant fear and terror in the public mind over that nice Jeremy Corbyn, in an article subtly headed “Prime Minister Corbyn… and the 1,000 days that destroyed Britain”. Having originally adopted a stance of jocularly poking fun at his supposedly non-existent chances in the Labour leadership election, they now seem more than somewhat worried about Corbyn, not to say absolutely terrified. So they’ve done this little “glimpse into a crystal ball” thing, just to ratchet up the tensions a bit among their loyal if dim readership.

It’s all good, knockabout stuff in the time-dishonoured Mail idiom. Here we have the awful spectre of billionaires fleeing the country; there we find football’s Premier League reduced to a Hackney Marshes shadow of its former greedy glory as prima donnas head for pastures greener – and of course there’s the sale of our nuclear arsenal to President Putin, with our consequent cold-shouldering by the USA’s possibly pre-menstrual President Trump(!) There’s even a little joke – the boyband One Direction, leaving our shores, never to return. Geddit? It’s the stuff of a Thatcherite Tory’s nightmares, designed to get under the skin of the “Disgusted of Godalming” brigade, or anyone else daft enough to take the Mail seriously.

Rothermere of the Mail and Adolf Hitler - Best Friends Forever

Rothermere of the Mail and Adolf Hitler – Best Friends Forever

But here’s the thing. The Mail is not alone in its ability (for want of a less flattering word) to dream up a “brilliant imagining” as they so modestly hail their own speculative scare-fest. Let us do some imagining of our own; let us consider how things might have panned out if Lord Rothermere, one-time proprietor of the Mail and originator of 1930s headlines such as “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” in that esteemed organ, had actually had his heart’s desire – with Oswald Mosley elected as Prime Minister instead of the Conservative Stanley Baldwin in 1935…

The night sky over London was thick with choking black smoke, a triumphant marker of the fires raging in the parks, casting a faintly demonic glow over the faces of those witnessing the first mass book-burning of the Mosley era. At last, our nation would break free of the shackles of left-wing dogma, as the works of so-called “socialist intellectuals” disintegrated before the eyes of an eagerly-watching public. The scene was repeated across the length and breadth of a British Isles looking to flourish under the jackboot of the British Union of Fascists. 

Soon, all such subversive rubbish would be gone, and the newly-formed Nationalist Government could turn its attention to other forms of cleansing, towards the day when Britain would be ethnically pure and, along with its strong ally Germany, the proud joint masters of Europe.

Soon, too, the British people would have a Royal Wedding to enjoy, as King Edward the Eighth met his bride at the altar of Westminster Abbey. And then, joy unconfined, with a spectacular coronation for our beloved new Queen Wallis, followed by a honeymoon as guests of Chancellor Hitler at his Bavarian retreat. Here, yet stronger links would be forged between Germany and Britain, as the two most powerful nations in Europe looked to extend their joint empire south to the Mediterranean, and far beyond…

At home, those with the good luck to be part of Mr Mosley’s Aryan-dominated economic miracle would thrive, due in no small measure to the opportunities afforded them by the expulsion or disposal of various groups of “undesirables”. Of the old guard, the likes of Winston Churchill were placed under house arrest shortly after the ’35 election for the expression of “Unbritish sentiments”. Rebellions in Scotland, Yorkshire and other militant and intractable parts of the United Kingdom were put down firmly but fairly, by use of reasonable military force and with an acceptable level of casualties among the rebels. The ringleaders of these mutinies had the honour to become the first traitors publicly executed since the glorious days of Queen Victoria, with a mass example of national discipline taking place via machine guns in Hyde Park in mid 1936.

By late 1938, the map of Europe had been radically reshaped as France, caught helpless between Italy, Spain and Britain/Germany, was squeezed out of existence by this quadruple Fascist Alliance. Paris fell before the massed tanks of the United British/German Army, de Gaulle was guillotined in the Place de la Concorde and the scoundrels of the much-vaunted French intellectual society were forced to flee, via Switzerland or Portugal, across the Atlantic to the United States.

As time went on, further examples of sedition were rooted out and dealt with. Subversives like Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan, with their dangerous notions of welfare states and national health services, have been confined to a correction camp on the Isle of Wight, from where they are unable to peddle their filth. The idea of succouring the weak and unfit bids fair to undermine national prosperity, and the British/German peoples are solidly behind the abiding concept of “Survival of the Fittest” with its associated precept of “Work Sets You Free”, shared in Germany as “Arbeit Macht Frei“. Instead of being pampered and pandered to, those unable or unwilling to make a contribution to society are housed in dedicated camps, such as Rochdale and Coventry in Britain, and Belsen, Dachau and Auschwitz in Greater Germany.

In these first three years of the Mosley administration, great strides have been made towards restoring Britain to its rightful pre-eminent world position. Great Britain is now respected abroad, in countries like Argentina and Emperor Hirohito’s Japan; we are once more a country where strong Aryans can make for themselves a good life, with no fear of racial dilution or that pollution of the mind which comes with the free publication of treacherous left-wing nonsense, now thankfully suppressed.

We at the Daily Heil can look back with pride at the part we played in bringing this new order about, as well as our sterling contribution in the first thousand days of Mr Mosley’s premiership. Let us look ahead now, under our Leader and his staunch ally Herr Hitler, to continuing prosperity for the master race in its natural homelands of Britain and Germany; we look forward with growing pride and optimism to a Kingdom/Reich which may last well beyond a thousand days, yea, even unto a thousand years!

Hail Mr Mosley and the Fatherland! Heil Hitler!! A rousing chorus, if you please, of “Hoorah for the Blackshirts”!!!

That’s one way things might have turned out, though it’s highly doubtful that the Mail would care to “brilliantly imagine” any such thing these days. All that Nazi-sympathising stuff is such a long time ago now, buried in their past and, surely, not to be mentioned by persons of taste.

Still – sauce for the goose, as they say. And alternate histories can hardly be as downright ill-grounded as pointless, biased, agenda-driven speculation about the future – now can they?

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.

Right-Wing Lie-Blog the “Daily Bale” reports: “Pub Owners ban British Soldiers” (It’s just Lies, Lies, Lies, folks)

Right-Wing Lie-Blog the “Daily Bale” reports: “Pub Owners ban British Soldiers” (It’s just Lies, Lies, Lies, folks)

The article reblogged here first appeared on the right-wing “Daily Bale” blog, with the clear intention of stirring up hatred and resentment towards ethnic minority populations. The Daily Bale in its “about us” section promises “through self-relief and determination” (?) to fight what it calls “left-wing evil”. In practice, this clearly means making up scurrilous stories – as in the article reluctantly reproduced here – in an effort to seduce people to their narrow-minded and bigoted way of thinking.

If you need proof that this story is faked, have a glance at an article from a real news outlet, the Knutsford Guardian, which uses the identical picture that the lying Daily Bale have used to illustrate their fabricated story.

As ever, the liars on the right will resort to any level of deceit, no matter how low, in order to pursue their own sick agenda. This “Daily Bale” is a typical sewer-outlet for this bile, full of lies and misleading information, their conclusions based on nothing, their intent to create hate and hostility towards British citizens who have committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of these fascists – they have a different colour skin.

Disgusting.

Leeds United Such a Massive Pull in the Blogosphere: Just Ask West Ham

Dr. Weevil Of West Ham - Obsessed With LUFC

Dr. Weevil Of West Ham – Obsessed With LUFC

“We’re not famous any more” sing the Leeds fans, showing a neat grasp of irony in a medium too often dominated by the literal and the just plain crass.  The point is, of course, that we still are famous.  Hugely so.  Our fans scattered all over the globe mean that wherever you go, you’re likely to see a visiting Leeds United shirt to provide a welcome relief from all the tedious Man U rags sported by the clueless locals.  Listen to any Sky Live broadcast from the Theatre of Hollow Myths, and you’ll hear those wurzelly Devon accents mixing in with the nasal cockney whine as the Man U faithful describe how they “all ‘ate Leeds scam, innit”.

And the evidence is there in the ether too, as the web buzzes with references to our beloved Whites, ensuring that even the most facile and puerile of blogs can guarantee itself hits aplenty merely by mentioning those magic words “Leeds United”.  Some have taken it to such lengths that their Leeds-related output has shoved the more mundane stuff about their own desperately anonymous favourites way into the background, which is peculiar, but hey – you have to provide your readers with what they want to read, apparently – and if possible you have to try to attract some of football’s most fanatical fans by being “controversial” – or as we might more accurately describe it: by talking bollocks.

The leading contender for “biggest culprit” in these dubious and unprofessional tactics is a poorly-constructed and ill-written blog, ostensibly concerned with minor London club West Ham United, and entitled “The Game’s Gone Crazy”, which has a specially-created page to allow it to burble on about matters which are, frankly, none of its concern.  The Leeds United content of this page is out of all proportion to the interest you might expect the ‘Appy ‘Ammers to take in our beloved club, and of course it tends to paint the goings-on down at LS11 in the most negative light possible.  He’s been at it again today, capitalising on the 24th anniversary of Don Revie’s death to write another “controversial” article which – naturally – consists of second-hand lies and rumours recycled from various down-market tabloids, some successfully sued by former Leeds United personalities in the past.

Now, it must be said that a cursory examination of the contents of this upstart site (I’d caution you, gentle reader, not to waste too many of your valuable minutes on it) will reveal that the site-owner’s tactics are a hell of a lot sounder than his less-than-impressive literary ability.  He manages to attract a lot of comment and abuse from outraged fans of other clubs, with Leeds obviously prominent among their number.  The simple process of writing about Leeds, writing often and writing groundless rubbish, generates a lot of traffic for this site, traffic that its ‘Ammers stuff could not possibly hope to generate.  So, from that point of view, the author is running a successful operation, but one which owes little to the merits of his creation – which are appallingly few.  The sly Bubble-blower has fastened onto the global appeal of Leeds United to his advantage, and we should perhaps praise his acumen; it certainly far outstrips his ability to string enough sentences together for a decent piece of writing.

As you might expect, a number of his West Ham-oriented readership are a bit embarrassed about this craven behaviour – but their criticism falls on deaf ears by and large.  It’s quite obvious that “Dr. Evil”, as he is referred to by himself (and we presume he fondly hopes that others so refer to him as well), is preoccupied by getting as many reads as possible for his site and – only too well aware that his meagre talent is not going to get him far down that road – has opted instead for setting up as an irritant that will attract opprobrium and attention in equal measures.

It’s a back-handed compliment of course – the world knows that Leeds United is still big news out there, and any LUFC tag will pretty much guarantee a readership made up of Leeds fanatics (many thousands of us) and those who detest the very mention of our great club’s name (positively millions in the Devon/Cornwall hotbed of Man U support alone.)  So we should perhaps be flattered by the attention – it’s better than the dreadful and depressing anonymity suffered by West Ham and other such small fry.  And viewing it like that – not taking it too seriously and dismissing it as the unsubtle attempt to drag in readers that it undoubtedly is – we can smile ruefully and reflect on how much quieter a place the internet would be if Leeds United didn’t exist.  What would they all talk about then?  And where would the hapless and not-terribly-good Dr. Weevil find his victims… ahem… readers??

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.

How to Wage a War Upon the Poor

This is taken from a “Guardian” comments page – I reproduce it here without comment, as I believe it speaks for itself and needs to be shared as widely as possible – particularly after Gideon Osborne’s attempted snow-job yesterday, and Anne Widdecombe’s appalling hypocrisy and opportunism in her linking of the foul deeds of Mick Philpott to the Welfare State – so please try to get it out there:

Probably the most disgusting thing about this coalition has been their propaganda war against the most disadvantaged people in society. By the deliberate spreading of lies, they have facilitated a systematic assault upon the poor, the sick and the disabled. And they have knowingly misled the public for one simple reason, to enable them to totally dismantle the welfare state.
There are lies, damned lies, and then there are lying Tory bastards.
The welfare state has led to a ‘something for nothing’ culture?
It may be utterly repugnant to hear millionaire politicians who have never worked a day in their life telling us that they are ending the ‘something for nothing culture’, but it’s also utter bollocks. Only 2.5% of the total welfare budget of £200 billion actually goes on unemployment, whilst the vast majority of unemployed claimants have worked, and paid taxes, for years and are now on benefits due to redundancy, sickness, disability or having to care for someone. Millions more are receiving benefits due to poverty wages. The Welfare state is actually a massive state subsidy to business which enables it to pay poverty wages and charge exorbitant rents.
Living on benefits is a lifestyle choice?
Only 0.1% of benefit claimants who have claimed for 10 years or more are actually unemployed. Less than 5,000 people, out of over 9 million 16-64 year olds who don’t work, have been on Job Seekers Allowance for more than 5 years. Less than 0.1% of the 20 million working age households have 2 generations that have never had a permanent job. Despite strenuous efforts, researchers have been unable to find any families where three generations have never worked.
People won’t work because benefits are too high?
In 1971, JSA equalled 20.9% of the average wage. Today, it is worth 10.9%. These people are living in poverty. There are 8.5 million people receiving benefits in this country. There are more people IN WORK who get benefits than not working. The majority of all housing benefit claimants are IN WORK. 6.1 million people classed as living in poverty are from households IN WORK.
People on housing benefit live in mansions?
Our newspapers continuously bombard us with these stories. There are around five million claimants of Housing Benefit; of which there were five families who received over £100,000 per year, all living in central London. The average award of Housing Benefit is approximately £85 a week. Only 3% of families received more than £10,000 a year support, and 0.04% received more than £30,000 a year. And no-one ever mentions that housing benefit goes straight to the Landlord and not the claimant.
And those large families screwing the taxpayer? There are around 130 families with 10 children and only 10 families with 12 children IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY who are on benefits.
Benefit cheats are bankrupting the country?
Benefit fraud amounts to about £1.5 billion a year, less than 1% of the entire budget. To put this in perspective, the bank bailout equalled 1,000 years of benefit fraud. Meanwhile, £1.3 billion gets underpaid each year and a further £16 billion goes UNCLAIMED every year.
We can no longer afford the welfare state?
So who is really bankrupting the country? Well, the richest 1,000 people now possess £414 billion between them, a sum more than three times the size of the entire UK budget deficit. The richest 1% of the population are estimated to possess wealth of about £1 trillion. The richest 10% control wealth of about £4 trillion. The Quantitative Easing programme has increased the personal wealth of the UK’s richest 20% by enough to pay for Job Seeker’s Allowance for the next 100 years.
The people of this country are being shafted, but instead of the blame being directed at the real culprits, the rich, it is being aimed at the most vulnerable, the poor, with our own Government shamelessly leading the way.
And every one who believes their bullshit should hang their heads in shame.”

There’s a storm coming…

Rich Hammond 01/04/13

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.