Watch Theresa May’s shocking response at PMQs today to the report of the UN’s rapporteur which found fourteen million people, a fifth of the UKs population, living in poverty! If BBC1 won’t report the FACTS @CWUnews will! pic.twitter.com/u2JVNLyzro
Well, everyone today is talking about the humiliating defeat of May, the triumph of the Scottish Labour, Scottish Green, SNP and Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs along with Jo Maugham QC, the advice on Northern Ireland and the fact that Fluffy STILL hasn’t resigned, and how utterly idiotic Liam Fox sounded at a committee hearing talking about the Commons stealing Brexit from the British people.
I think in the last of these he must have been getting confused with the following little matter from 10 years ago.
So, as you can read about that anywhere, we’ll just cover the hopefully soon-to-be ex-prime minister discard what the UN has said about poverty in Britain after 10 years of austerity and repeat another of her meaningless sound bites.
Hearty apologies if this post doesn’t work out right. WordPress has offered up a new template to write with, and it’s taking some getting used to.
“Teachers should not have to buy pens and pencils for their own classrooms. Our schools should be properly funded by the SNP government.”
At First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Leonard complained that some teachers had had to provide pens and pencils for kids who could not afford them.
Indeed, he was to an extent, right. It is terrible that teachers are having to do this and, in fact, more. Some teachers of my acquaintance are having to provide food for kids they have found raking in bins shaking with hunger.
Of course, they don’t actually have to, but being human beings, some of them try to help where they can. Who could possibly refuse a hungry kid something to eat?
But wait, when I think back to my school days, in Scotland and later in England, I always had to provide my own pens and pencils, not to mentions rules, compasses and protractors. To the best of my knowledge, the state never provided anything like that.
So it is a valid point. Teachers should not have to provide these items, but it’s not the headline-grabbing “SNP government BAAAAD” that is responsible for this. That’s childish nonsense and I suspect that the intelligent Mr Leonard knows that.
Why are parents too poor to provide for their kids?
I’d suggest that a pitifully low minimum wage, zero-hours contracts, part-time work, the utter chaos of the current benefits system (PIP and UC), and rampant inflation, may be the cause.
All areas, you’ll note, over which the Scottish government has no control.
So we have a situation where parents are finding it hard to provide basic necessities for their children. And that these are areas of policy retained at Westminster. And Mr Leonard chose to blame the SNP government. Not the Scottish government, you’ll note, but “this SNP government”.
Not that I’d presume to talk for Nicola Sturgeon, but I suspect that if Mr Leonard was minded to, the First Minister would happily sign a joint letter to Mrs May asking for these matters to be devolved. Then maybe together we could do something about this instead of trying to make petty political points out of kids’ misery.
One thing that the Scottish government might be able to do without asking Westminster, though, is to remove the obligation for children to wear uniforms at school. Uniforms are expensive and nowadays they’re not used for anything except going to school.
Kids grow out of clothes so quickly and it is expensive to replace them. Not having to provide separate wear for school would be a weight off the budgets of some hard-up households. (You know, the “just getting by” ones so favoured by Mrs May…well, for the first ten minutes of her prime ministership anyway.)
If there any good reasons that escape me for making kids wear clothes they don’t like, that aren’t particularly comfortable and that cost a lot of money and have to be dry cleaned, please let me know?
Jeans, trackies, t-shirt and sweaters work ok in schools in the USA, for example.
In fairness to Mr Leonard, who had the benefits of a scholarship to a private school, he may have had to find his own pencils. You would think, though, that someone on his staff might have gone to an ordinary school and been able to advise him in advance that he was about to make yet another howling out-of-touch faux pas.
1/ Were your stationery requirements provided by whatever government(s) when you went to school?
2/ Would you have any objection to kids going to school in jeans and t-shirts instead of shirts and ties and dry cleanable blazers?
"Why isn't this the top story for BBC or ITV? 20% of the population are in poverty" says Ray Woolford, author of Food Bank Britain, after @UN accuses @Conservatives of inflicting 'great misery' on Britain's poorest through austerity policies.
Amber Rudd, yeah, remember her, the one who lied her backside off about Windrush, and yet 6 months later is back in Cabinet, seemed to think that the raconteur was being unnecessarily political in the language of his report.
"I was disappointed to say the least by the extraordinary political nature of his language; that sort of language was wholly inappropriate."
Works and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd responds to remarks made about poverty in the UK by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. pic.twitter.com/1C1aIsl7kc
The thing is, in one of the world’s rich countries, why is it, if not by political choice, that 20% of the population lives in real poverty?
Why are kids growing up in abject poverty, going to school too hungry to concentrate? Why are teachers having to bring in food?
Why cannot we set the minimum wage at a wage that people could afford to live on?
Why do people in a country that proudly punches above its weight in any and every conflict that America orders it into, have to beg for food in food banks?
Why are our retirement pensions in the region of £7,500 while German ones are at £26,000?
Surely if we can’t match the German rate (who could) we could at least manage to equal the French?
These are political decisions. We clearly value older people far less than our French and German neighbours.
These, apparently, are the great British values of which the Brit politicians never tire of quoting, without actually telling us what they are.
We must cut taxes for the super wealthy and devil take the hindmost? Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, even if you can’t afford any boots.
Do you seriously wonder that so many Scots want to get the hell out of this awful country?
We hear a lot about Great British Values (GBV)
Just for a laugh… but also seriously, what do you think these GBV are?
Thanks to Niko for this. It leaves me speechless and.át the same time, utterly seething with anger, frustration and horror.
Presented with a child born deaf, unable to speak & walk, asked to attend a work capability assessment & faced with losing her home Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng resorts to sound bites about the benefits of “good & strong economic management” & reducing the deficit! Absolutely shocking! pic.twitter.com/NzYrCyH0VJ
I noted that in Mrs May’s Christmas message to us lesser beings (painful to watch as she tries to emote), she wanted to remind us that this is a Christian country.
She said: “Let us take pride in our Christian heritage and the confidence it gives us to ensure that in Britain you can practice your faith free from question or fear”.
She is, of course, the English/female version of the Gordon Brown “son of the manse”, the “vicar’s daughter”
I managed to avoid the Queen’s Christmas message (well done. Tris) but I’d lay a pound to a penny that she reminded us that in her long reign she has always tried to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. After all, she tells us that every year.
And we all know that the real power in the country is held by an unelected Christian fundamentalist, who apparently believes that the world was created by God 6,000 years ago and that he laboured for 6 days doing it, and took the seventh day off. And you mustn’t call her a dinosaur because there never was such a thing!
And yet these three women, strong advocates of Christianity, oversee a country where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
It’s a mean cruel little place in which a woman who is going to marry into the royal family can spend £55,000 on a dress for a photoshoot, parliament can spend tens of billions on doing up its own buildings, Buckingham Palace gets extra money for repairs… and at the same time doctors are prescribing food to patients who are ill because of malnutrition and we see the return of Victorian poverty illnesses like rickets.
And that’s BEFORE we leave the EU, which now all but a few predict will be an economic disaster for Britain at least for the foreseeable future.
The following came from readers comments in the article above. Just how inhuman do you have to be to put this kind of regime into operation?
Examples of Benefit Sanctions
“One case where the claimant’s wife went into premature labour and had to go to hospital. This caused the claimant to miss an appointment. No leeway given”
“It’s Christmas Day and you don’t fill in your job search evidence form to show that you’ve looked for all the new jobs that are advertised on Christmas Day. You are sanctioned. Merry Christmas”
“You apply for three jobs one week and three jobs the following Sunday and Monday. Because the jobcentre week starts on a Tuesday it treats this as applying for six jobs in one week and none the following week. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks for failing to apply for three jobs each week”
“A London man missed his Jobcentre appointments for two weeks because he was in hospital after being hit by a car. He was sanctioned”
“You’ve been unemployed for seven months and are forced onto a workfare scheme in a shop miles away, but can’t afford to travel. You offer to work in a nearer branch but are refused and get sanctioned for not attending your placement”
“You are a mum of two and are five minutes late for your jobcentre appointment. You show the advisor the clock on your phone, which is running late. You are sanctioned for a month”
“A man with heart problems who was on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) had a heart attack during a work capability assessment. He was then sanctioned for failing to complete the assessment”
“A man who had gotten a job that was scheduled to begin in two weeks’time was sanctioned for not looking for work as he waited for the role to start”
“Army veteran Stephen Taylor, 60, whose Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) was stopped after he sold poppies in memory of fallen soldiers”
“A man had to miss his regular appointment at the job centre to attend his father’s funeral. He was sanctioned even though he told DWP staff in advance”
“Ceri Padley, 26, had her benefits sanctioned after she missed an appointment at the jobcentre – because she was at a job interview”
“A man got sanctioned for missing his slot to sign on – as he was attending a work programme interview. He was then sanctioned as he could not afford to travel for his job search”
“Mother-of-three Angie Godwin, 27, said her benefits were sanctioned after she applied for a role jobcentre staff said was beyond her”
“Sofya Harrison was sanctioned for attending a job interview and moving her signing-on to another day”
“Michael, 54, had his benefits sanctioned for four months for failing to undertake a week’s work experience at a charity shop. The charity shop had told him they didn’t want him there”
“Terry Eaton, 58, was sanctioned because he didn’t have the bus fare he needed to attend an appointment with the jobcentre”.
Added to this they removed £30 a week from the sickest people, they are in the throes of rolling out a system for benefits (Universal Credit) that does not work (still!) but not in Cabinet ministers’ constituencies, and amongst a list of other miserable mean minded policies aimed at saving money at all costs, most of the people of Grenfell Tower (the building that burned down because the richest council in England couldn’t be bothered putting proper insulation on it because it was populated by poor people, and for whom there was recently a big service in London, with bigwigs including Charles and William and the Maybot herself), are still homeless, and May laughed off the notion of child homelessness on the basis that kids weren’t actually sleeping on the cold streets in the open air…as many adults are. All fur coats and no knickers!
In England, NHS trusts are cancelling non-emergency operations as their health service falls apart for lack of money, staff and someone to manage it. Schools in some areas are washing kids’ clothes and taking parents to food banks or feeding them in breakfast clubs, while at the same time begging for money for books from richer parents. Prisons in England are in many cases privatised. The staffing levels are ridiculously low and the population ridiculously high. Violence is rife and riots are frequent.
I could go on, through other areas of public life: ships that are letting in water and that were built to carry aircraft we haven’t bought, Cabinet ministers falling like ninepins because they lie to the prime minister… the lowest pensions in the developed world to show how little we care about our elderly population (unless they are royal or lords) and the total mess that is Brexit deteriorating by the day…but by now you’re getting bored.
So that is the Britain which hails blue passports as a major achievement.
That’s the Queen’s idea of a Christian society.
That’s Mrs May’s idea of Christian government.
I’m not a Christian, but I was forced as a schoolboy to go to daily Christian services at school in England and made to do two lessons a week of Bible Study, so I know a few things about the basic principles of Christianity after all these years.
Either our teachers were lying, or the people who oversee this mess, Liz, Arlene and the Maybot don’t even begin to resemble Christians.
The Deputy First Minister will know that life expectancy levels in the east end of Glasgow are dramatically lower than those in other, more affluent parts of the city. The Commonwealth games offered an unparalleled opportunity to take specific action to reduce health inequalities and mortality rates in the neighbourhoods that hosted the games, yet it seems that no targets were set to achieve that. The London boroughs that hosted the 2012 Olympics set themselves the explicit target of narrowing the gap between male and female life expectancies in the east end and those in the rest of London. Does the Deputy First Minister agree that Glasgow should follow London’s lead on that? What actions will the Scottish ministers take to address the health inequalities that persist in Glasgow?
Today, we note that the same observation has been made about life expectancy in England.
University College London expert Sir Michael Marmot said he was “deeply concerned” by the situation, calling it “historically highly unusual”.
He said it was “entirely possible” austerity was to blame and said the issue needed looking at urgently.
But the government said its policies were not responsible.
The Department of Health said ministers were providing the necessary support and funding to ensure life expectancy “continues to increase”.
Going back to Mr Tomkins’ query, I’m a little bemused as to why he thinks we would have seen an increase in life expectancy so soon after the Olympics or the Commonwealth games. The “healthy” legacy in terms of increase in sporting participation was not designed, in either London or Glasgow, for those who might be in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Rather, it was directed towards the young.
We won’t be able to tell for many a year whether this has worked to lengthen life, the main benefactors of the sporting legacy being likely still to be in their teens and 20s. However, the Scottish professor might like to note that (according to Wikipedia) :
Criticisms and concerns:
Criticism of the London 2012 legacy includes the legacy not meeting its original ambitions with a decrease in 2014/15 in the number of people playing sport for at least half an hour a week of 125,100.
A report on the legacy of the Commonwealth games (dated 2015) shows an increase in some sporting participation. Does anyone know if that has been maintained? It could well be that Scotland has followed the English legacy, despite the spending of a considerable amount to try to encourage young people into sport. At the end of the day regardless of nationality, no matter how many facilities you provide, if young people prefer video games to actual physical exercise, there is not a lot anyone can do about about it.
It also seems appropriate to point out that as we helped to pay for the Olympics in London, we should also have been on the receiving end of the legacy from the English games.
I’d like to suggest that in all probability, the reasons for the levelling out of life expectancy are far more complex than could be covered in this post, but that one of the many contributing factors might be austerity which has been forced upon people from the four nations of the UK by the Conservative government in London.