Saturday 19 May 2012

The Public's cheese and whine party

The Metro is one of these papers that I, and doubtless many other people, read for one simple reason - it's available free on the buses. I certainly wouldn't pay for it, as its politics are horrendously right wing. And they plumbed new depths on Wednesday 16th May, with an article about the closure of The Public nightclub which made up for in vicious scapegoating what it lacked in accuracy ...

To start with, it's very convenient for the Metro to bring the Royals into the story, at a time then the mainstream media have been fawning over the Royal family and too many people have bought into the pro-Royal hype. As it approaches, the Jubilee is already starting to feel like an anti-rabies injection - long and drawn out, excrutiating and absolutely inescapable !!!

Yet, for better or for worse, the closure of Public had nothing to do with 'Toff haters'. The article admits people had "complained about people fighting, being sick, urinating and swearing in the street outside" - the kind of anti-social behaviour which, understandably, attracts complaints in a very much un-posh, post-industrial village like Clowne!

Then the article takes a tone bordering dangerously on being disablist, when it implies that people with disabilities were killjoys whose complaints led to Public's closure. Well, I - and the vast majority of people with disabilities - have no problem with able-bodied people having fun, conditional upon the 'fun' not being at the expense of people with disabilities or any other oppressed minority. Besides, many night clubs nowadays are accessible to people with disabilities, and there is a thriving art of wheelchair dancing - both positive effects of the inclusivity which right wingers bemoan as 'political correctness' (whether 'gone mad' or otherwise).

Then there's the comment which would be hilarious if it wasn't so toxic: "If someone with a disability complains, it has ten times the weight of an able-bodied person’s complaint." Yeah, right. In the same parallel universe, the sky is orange with purple dots, Cameron is the most popular prime minister ever, Atos Healthcare are in charge of Army recruitment, and we're all listening to the current number one hit ("Those Were The Days Of Our Lives" by Eminem feat Michael Jackson) on cylindrical CD's :P

At the end of the day, the council didn't actually shut Public down anyway, the owners decided to do that for whatever reason. What the council did was cut the permitted opening times, so Public could only open until midnight, instead of 2:30 am. Considering some of their clientele were acting in a way which would get working class people decried as 'chavs', it could be argued that Public actually got off lightly.

Ah well, they would probably argue, it is an irresponsible minority of customers who are being anti-social and spoiling it for everyone else. They may well have a point there. But the same is also true in many other cases; when pubs and clubs are forced to stop under-18s nights or stop admitting young people, due to anti-social behaviour or even just 'under age' drinking, you never see the mainstream press up in arms about freedom to have fun!

But why let the truth get in the way of a good story? Especially one which helps brainwash people into prejudice against people with disabilities, at a time when the government, supported by the capitalist Establishment, have declared war on disability benefits, Remploy, and many important services for people with disabilities.

Not that we can really expect any better from the Metro, which is run by the same company as the Mail - the same Mail that, in the 1930's, supported the British Union of Fascists with the headline "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" :/

For news from a working class viewpoint, which supports unity across the class - not the scapegoating of minorities - you are best off reading the Socialist Worker. This is free to read online, and paper copies can be bought in many large towns and cities on Saturday mornings. You may even wish to join the SWP, and help us sell our paper and get the truth across to a wider layer of people.

Socialist Worker is your paper - Buy it, read it, sell it!

Saturday 30 October 2010

Unhealthy obsession with dangerous policies

I feel I must decry Ed Miliband, for his condemnation of the London firefighters strike. They are striking to defend not just their pay, conditions and jobs, but those of all public sector workers. Of course the strike is set to cause disruption - the whole idea of a strike is to have the maximum impact, in order to make the bullying bosses back off. So expecting the firefighters to postpone their strike is a bit like expecting Christmas card makers to go on strike in August :P

But my main condemnation must go to the Con Dems themselves, both in London - currently run by Boris Johnson - and nationally, who are attacking public services, including the fire brigade. And it's not surprising the fire brigade are not being taken seriously by the Con Dems, who have recently launched an attack on Health and Safety itself.

The Establishment media go out of their way to ridicule health and safety, by citing ridiculous examples - which often have little to do with health and safety, but possibly have a less savoury underlying motive (eg when cinemas used to cover up disability prejudice against people in wheelchairs by bleating 'fire risk'). Indeed, the Health & Safety Executive website even has a section dedicated to debunking many of these pernicious myths.

The real root cause of the capitalist Establishment's hostility to health and safety is that it costs money. Extra time must be taken to ensure safe practices are carried out, and investment must be made in safe equipment. But the cost of dangerous practices is far greater, in terms of human life - as the sinking in the 1980s of the Townsend Thoresen ferry Herald of Free Enterprise, and the Potters Bar train disaster, show only too well. On an international level, this year alone we have seen the environmental catastrophe caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the caribbean, and the trapping underground of Chilean miners. If the Con Dems have their way, how many more lives will be sacrificed on the bloody altar of profit?

Also of note are plans to restrict the operation of personal injury lawyers - as if workers who are injured, as a result of negligence in the pursuit of profit, ain't entitled to compensation. This is often justified by the capitalist Establishment pointing to a 'culture of litigation'. Well, if it's litigious lawsuits they really want to stop, allow me to suggest a few they could clamp down on:
  • Record and film companies suing the kegs off teenagers who file-share a few records and videos online
  • Establishment radio stations suing free (aka "pirate") radio stations for alleged 'loss of advertising revenue'
  • Draconian use of the libel laws to stifle the truth about capitalist businesses, as epitomised by the McLibel trial
  • Last but certainly not least, the anti-union laws must be repealed, to stop bosses bullying unions to end lawful and necessary strikes!
As Halloween approaches, I must say, I'm not scared of the ghosties. But I am scared of the ghoulies (typo) which the Con Dem government are talking :/

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Healthcare may cure us, but Atos make us sick!

Probably one of the worst measures being pushed forward by the Con Dems, is attacking people on disability benefits and forcing them to look for work. In typical privateering style, one nasty piece of work (ie the Con Dems) have got the DWP to contract out this nasty piece of work to a private company called Atos. So far, Atos' claim to fame has been to force people with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer and heart failure to look for work :/ (Perhaps it's just as well Atos weren't around in 1666, or the entire population of Eyam would have been deemed 'fit for work'! And none of this staying within the town to stop the plague from spreading, they would have to travel to look for work!)

In and of itself, this is a cold-blooded act by an evil Tory government hell bent on trampling on basic human rights, let alone workers' rights. But the repercussions of this move go further still. Such measures paint a false picture of disabled people as being lazy, unproductive 'drains on society' - a lie backed up by endless media brainwash designed to prop up this capitalist atrocity, with newspaper reports stating that only 6% of Incapacity Benefit claimants are 'genuine'. What they really mean is that very few people who need the benefits they deserve, are actually entitled to them under this regime :(

No wonder, then, people with disabilities, including those who are looking for work (not easy at the moment!), are suffering increasing amounts of prejudice and discrimination. This means that people who have been forced off (the already meagre) Incapacity Benefit are far less likely to actually find work, and far more likely to end up staying on the (even more stingy) Jobseekers Allowance.

A heavy dose of hypocrisy also applies. There have been cases of people laid off from work due to ill health, only to be told by Atos that they are "perfectly fit for work". This has additional repercussions when it comes to claiming for necessary adaptations, mobility payments, and non-state related benefits like payment protection insurance. (Unemployment payment protection insurance is so ridden with loopholes that you can lose it for taking temporary work, for sucks fake :/ ). No wonder there is a campaign to have Atos sacked - such as the Sack Atos online petition, which I urge readers to sign!

Atos Healthcare (sic) is a division of Atos Origin, an IT company. So it's hardly surprising their staff are mostly number-crunchers, making assessments on a 'points system' based on questions. Following a policy which seems to be created by mad social-scientists, who seem hell-bent on pushing sick people into work and seeing who survives. Well, since they love medical tests so much, maybe the Con Dems and the bosses of Atos should volunteer as guinea pigs for Huntingdon Life Science, and take the place of a few poor animals, in having medical experiments carried out on them :P

Certainly, you can't call these people doctors. The real role of doctors is to rid us of the parasites, such as viruses and (unfriendly) bacteria which make us ill.

Meanwhile, the role of socialists is to rid us of parasites (such as the Con Dems and the Atos bosses) who make us sick !!!

Sunday 24 October 2010

Broken records

So Nick Clegg, leader of the LSD and deputy PM in the Con Dems, has been on Desert Island Discs. Dunno how much his choices say about him, although David Bowie "Life On Mars" is kinda appropriate - after all, he doesn't seem to live on this planet :P

It got me thinking, what records do we think could be dedicated to this lover of capitalism and lap-dog of Cameron? Well, here's a few suggestions:

Phats & Small "Turn Around" - he's certainly done a 180 on his pre-election promises!

Crazy World of Arthur Brown "Fire" - like the bonfire of public services he is overseeing.

Carol Bayer Sager "You're Moving Out Today" - could be dedicated to the council house tenants who will be shafted by the Con Dems' ending of council homes for life.

Soul II Soul "Keep On Movin'" - on a bus, dedicated to the unemployed :/

Jonathan Butler "Lies" - he told enough of those prior to the election!

Luther Vandross "I Really Didn't Mean It" - what he could now say about his pre-election promises!

Simply Red "Money's Too Tight To Mention" - well, unless you're a banker, boss or Con Dem fat cat!

Kaiser Chiefs "I Predict A Riot" - well, I certainly can, the way this government's pissing on us.

Finally, I think a certain record by Ivor Biggun kinda suits him. I think you know which one ...

Sunday 17 October 2010

A plague on both houses

Well, when asked why I'm so pissed off with the Con Dems, I don't really know where to start. So I'll start with their policy on housing, notably their stupid idea of forcing out of council houses people who they think don't need social housing anymore.

On the one hand, it is true that the lack of social housing is a problem. But it's not the fault of people who currently live in social housing. I'll take this opportunity to clear up a few other myths while I'm here; the shortage of decent housing is also NOT caused by:
  • immigrants - who too often are forced into substandard, overcramped and overpriced accommodation.
  • asylum seekers - the lucky ones who are not in detention centres, end up in hostel accommodation.
  • disabled people - we don't cause any more damage than the average person, and most damage to properties is due not to the tenants, but to neglect and cost-cutting by the landlord.
  • gay people - I'm not even sure what excuses landlords give for discriminating against gay people. And whatever excuses they do have, I don't wanna hear them anyway :P
The problem of a lack of affordable housing is one which has been caused by decades of under-investment in council house building, and the selling off of council housing that started in the 1980's under Mrs Thatcher. This has escalated over the years, with whole swathes of council housing being privatised in the past 10 years. Sadly, the only winners have been privateer landlords who are now more able to abuse their power over tenants. And control-freak parents whose grown up kids have little choice but to stay at home. And the bureaucracy in charge of homeless charities :(

In any case, forcing people out of social housing, and into the clutches of anti-social private landlords, will not solve the problem. And I don't use the term 'anti-social' lightly; I have personal experience of private landlords accusing tenants of non-payment of rent (despite payment being easily provable), and even borrowing money off their own tenants!

It will be even worse for people in oppressed minorities who are turfed out of their council house, on a whim by the Con Dem scum. I have experienced overt disability prejudice while looking for accommodation, and know of gay people who have been evicted by homophobic landlords. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Private landlords fall well within the middle class, and it the middle class have a far greater interest than workers, in perpetuating ideologies which benefit the capitalist system - such as prejudice. One of the reasons why the bulk of the Nazi BNP's membership is made up of the middle class.

At the same time, I certainly don't expect the Con Dem gits to do anything to mitigate this prejudice. Even before the election, Tory bastard Chris Grayling said that guest house owners should have the right to turn away gay people. And John Major's Tory government deliberately scuppered the Disabled People's Civil Rights Bill, so we instead ended up with anti-disablism legislation which is so weak and pitiful, I'm surprised it's not the star of Children In Need :P

The only answer to the lack of social housing is to increase the supply of decent, affordable council housing. Apart from the obvious funding solutions, such as taxing the rich and scrapping Trident, I have a few additional proposals:
  • A supertax on empty properties (which would also encourage landlords to rent out their housing at a lower rate, to get tenants in). And a superdupertax on properties which have been neglected to the point of dereliction, such as those left boarded-up for months on end.
  • The ending of privatisation of social housing, in the form of PFI or ALMO's. Since privatisation adds the extra cost of profit for parasitical bosses, it is far cheaper for councils to build the housing themselves.
  • The compulsory nationalisation, without compensation to the owner, of all properties belonging to landlords who abuse their position - whether by overcharging tenants or by discriminating against oppressed minorities.
All these measures, and more, we will have to fight tooth and nail for. A good campaigning organisation I can recommend is Defend Council Housing.

Only by fighting on this issue, and against every attack on our living standards, can we make sure that people get to stay in their homes, as well as their jobs.

And make sure the Con Dems get chucked out of the House Of Commons !!!

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Use your Ed, Miliband!

Well, it's been a year since I last posted on this blog. A hurricane of a year, both politically and personally. But now the dust has (sort of) settled, it's time to look at where we stand now politically ...

Considering the viciousness of the Con Dem attacks on our benefits, services and civil rights, it's easy to forget that the Con Dems really have no right to have power, let alone abuse it like they have. Despite the massive unpopularity of New Labour under Brown, the Tories did not get a landslide - more like a slight fall of dust :P In fact, the election results weren't a massive move to the right; the Nazi BNP failed to win a single seat, as did the hard-right UKIP. In fact, in some areas there was a shift to the left; Labour regained Chesterfield from the Liberal Democrats and, probably more importantly, the Green Party won their first MP in Brighton Pavilion.

Back to the point, the Tories did not win a majority, and can only govern with the collaboration of the LSD, sorry, Lib Dems. And many, possibly most, people who voted Lib Dem did so because they thought the Lib Dems were actually to the left of Labour, let alone the Tories. Indeed, some of the Lib Dems' election promises - which have now been thrown out of the top window of a tower block - were quite left wing, such as scrapping Trident. Many Lib Dem voters will now be bitterly disappointed.

While this disappointment is perfectly understandable, an analysis of the Lib Dems shows it is probably misplaced. After all, the Lib Dems are the result of a merger (back in the 1980's) between the nakedly capitalist Liberal Party on the one hand, and the proto-blairite SDP wich consisted of ex-Labour members who split because they considered Labour too left-wing. Hardly the credentials for a progressive anti-capitalist party :\

Following the election fiasco, came the contest for the new Labour leader. Although I personally backed Diane Abbott, I was glad Ed Miliband beat the nakedly Blairite David Miliband. So it is a shame that, having become Labour leader, Ed seems more interested in pandering to the same middle class, and kow towing to the same right wing, that Bliar et al pandered to, rather than standing up for the unions and for socialism.

Small wonder, then, that Ed's idea of opposing the Con Dems' proposed hike in tuition fees involves him reaching out to Lib Dem MPs who may rebel. Yet the Lib Dems have so far been no more than the Tories' lap dog, allowing the Tories to get away with slashing and burning jobs and services, forcing sick and disabled people to look for work, while continuing to squander fortunes on the bankers and Trident. With this in mind, at best, hoping for disaffected Lib Dems to stop a hike in fees seems to be like watering the lightning tree :(

What Ed should really be doing is not reaching out to a bunch of opportunists who would sell their @$$ for a tiny slice of power. Instead, he should be reaching out to the unions who built and continue to fund Labour. He should unconditionally support strikes by the students' NUS union, the lecturers' UCU union, and the unions of all workers affected by this attack on the right to education. And less of the carp (typo) about "irresponsible" strikes, when strikes are the only thing which can now stop this utterly irresponsible Con Dem government!

Indeed, it is imperative that we support all strikes by all unions, and all protests by all community groups and organisations, against all cuts and attacks by this coalition of Tory vermin and Lib Dem backstabbers :P

The recent protest outside the Tory Party conference in Birmingham must be just the beginning. The Con Dem government aims to ramp up its attacks on workers, students, immigrants, disabled people, etc etc. So we must ramp up our resistance to the Con Dems. And condemn the Con Dems to hell !!!

Monday 7 September 2009

ASBO's all round!

Much comment has been made on Drinking Banning Orders, also known as 'booze asbos', which recently came into force (BBC News: New 'booze Asbos' come under fire). This legislation has been under fire from across the political spectrum, for various different reasons.

Some of the criticisms can be easily dismissed, notably the plaintive cry that the law should instead be targeting young / teenage / underage drinkers yet again. As if 'underage' drinkers haven't already had endless crackdowns upon them, for donkeys' years. And as if yet another crackdown on said will, by now, have a significant impact upon underage drinking - let alone, upon problem drinking as a whole.

If anything, it does make a refreshing change for the Establishment to finally be looking beyond the usual scapegoat of young people, and be trying a different approach to the problems associated with excessive drinking. But here my praise for the measures ends. And is outweighed by genuine criticisms of the legislation, as made by groups such as Liberty.

Most obviously, like any ASBOs, the Drinking Banning Orders are another way of 'short circuiting' the process of law by using civil orders to criminalise behaviour. ASBOs are also tainted by their reliance on unreliable, even hearsay, evidence. And by their use in petty circumstances - pirate broadcasters, kids playing football, even pensioners feeding birds, have all been subject to ASBOs. Can we really be certain that Drinking Banning Orders will not be used in similarly petty circumstances?

And how will these orders be enforced? The only way I can see them being enforced is by every pub and off licence checking the identity of every customer, of any age, to check they're not on a 'banned' list. Yes, everyone who is or appears to be under 25, already has this to put up with. But I really don't see 'levelling down' our civil liberties as a step in the right direction! Then, there's going to have to be a register of banned drinkers, which would have to be accessible to every alcohol outlet and the workers therein - with all the privacy issues that entails.

It is also ironic that the Drinking Banning Orders can be used on anyone aged over 16, despite the legal drinking age being 18. Seems yet another case of the Establishment's double standards, which mean someone aged 16 is deemed responsible enough to be punished for alcohol-related offences but not responsible enough to be allowed to buy alcohol in the first place.

But perhaps the most important point to make about Drinking Banning Orders, is that much of the anti-social behaviour associated with binge drinking can already be dealt with by existing laws. Violence, threatening behaviour, criminal damage, harassment (including racial and sexual harassment) were all criminal offences, the last time I checked! If these laws are not being enforced, how would yet another gimmick like booze asbos make us any safer ???

Then again, I guess it all comes down to the system's priorities. Violence - whether drunken or otherwise - tends to be a crime against the individual. And crimes against the individual tend to be, in the eyes of the system (which includes the law and its enforcers), a poor cinderella compared with crimes against the Establishment and crimes against the system itself.

Small wonder, then, we now have the grotesque situation where soldiers returning from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, are told by their Army bosses to 'get pissed and have a fight' rather than seek counselling (Daily Mirror: The scandal of our troops who are left with no support for traumas). Maybe, among the laws the Armed Forces have opted-out from, are the laws banning common assault :P Seriously, though, it is telling that violence is sometimes encouraged as a way of 'letting off steam'.

And not just within the Army. Every community is blighted by recession, job insecurity and hyper-unemployment, and many poople are only too eager to drink as a means of escaping the stress. At the same time, the Establishment would much rather see workers batter each other after a few drinks, than see us unite against them and their capitalist system which is ruining our lives.

We must not fall for the Establishment's crocodile tears about lives 'ruined by drink'. But at the same time, we must realise that drinking can never be a permanent solution to our problems. Only unity against the capitalist system can truly make things better. And leave the Establishment, rather than us, suffering the following morning!