UK

Dorset Eye – We Need A Day Of Reckoning: The BBC = Fake News

The following article was written by my good friend and comrade Adam Samuels and appears on the Dorset Eye website. The original article can be found by clicking on this link. 

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I did unpaid work at the BBC in a couple of locations with their news & current affairs teams several years ago now. I decided not to pursue a career with them because I was appalled at what I saw in the culture of the BBC’s news & current affairs programming. However, never in a million years did I believe the standards would fall to such a level that the BBC would become a full-on outright lying propaganda machine for any government. Yes, the BBC has always been part of The Establishment, but this past election has shown the BBC’s credibility has absolutely gone. Totally gone. They have, and I use this word carefully, betrayed the country and electorate.

To be very clear here, it’s not just the BBC. But to see the BBC, on several occasions, actually edit footage, removing boos and replacing them with cheers for Johnson, changing footage and adding things in from the archives and then passing it off as footage/news from that day. The avoiding of reporting on basic things; so, for example, during the election period alone, I barely saw any BBC journalist ask Johnson about the massive (in relative terms) problem with anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim and general outright, blatant racism in the Conservative Party.

So, Evolve politics (and others) exposed Johnson writing a book referring to black people as n*****s and c**ns several times, referring to Jewish people as controlling the world’s finances, referring to Arabs as “crooked nosed” etc etc. Obviously, also, his MANY racist comments previously, his outright homophobic comments. I didn’t hear/see him be asked about the actual Holocaust deniers that the Tories suspended as candidates. Or many councillors suspended then re-instated without any due process, despite blatant racism. I never saw Johnson asked WHY his government is officially affiliated with (and vote with) the almost openly anti-Semitic Hungarian government (and Polish government).

I have not heard Johnson be asked about Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins and Britain First joining the membership of the Tory Party. Or about Jacob Rees-Mogg’s anti-Semitic comments. Or about Johnson being sacked twice for lying by his own party, for him lying to the Queen, to Parliament, about all the back-tracking he has already done in the first week of this new government. Or about his rampant sexism. Or about the seemingly open hostility to the Trans community. Or about the still astonishing treatment of the ‘Windrush’ generation. I have no idea at all why the BBC allows on racists and hate-spreaders like Melanie Phillips, Douglas Murray, Rod Liddle etc, and-despite publishing actual Nazi propaganda targeting left wing commentators and where they live, political editor of The S*n ‘newspaper’ Tom Newton-Dunn. Unchallenged.

I saw the chief political reporter for the BBC compare Johnson’s lies to the Queen, his family, his Ministers, the electorate, Parliament etc to Jeremy Corbyn saying he watched the Queen’s speech. I saw this same reporter blatantly break the electoral code by reporting on postal votes than no one (should have/had) seen, and that it was “looking bad for Labour” re these votes. Totally illegal to do/say that. Then, disgracefully, I have seen lead presenter after lead producer come out and DEFEND all this as being some kind of ‘conspiracy theory’ and dismiss this. THAT is how a dictatorship acts. Not a democracy. I mean, how on earth do you defend a BBC reporter saying live on air that it is hoped Boris Johnson “gets the majority he so deserves”?! HOW & WHY are they defending this behaviour?!

So, why the BBC in particular that I am targeting? Well, because of the reach and influence of the BBC across the world. I credit the staff members and those who have left key roles for trying to be heard and criticising the BBC for such behaviour. But then, obviously, it barely gets reported or even acknowledged. WE also pay for the BBC. they are legally obliged to be impartial. Especially during an election campaign. As we have seen from several independent reports now about the election coverage, the media-from the press to advertising to broadcast media, has totally abandoned impartiality. This is EXACTLY the kind of behaviour the BBC and others (correctly) condemn Fox News & Trump for.What is perhaps even worse, because of a clear, irrational outright hatred of Jeremy Corbyn, the so-called ‘liberal’ media has joined in. I know from journalist friends how the BBC & The Guardian, for example, outright lie about world politics. I have seen it myself earlier this year when I was in Cuba. Remember, The Guardian was once the paper that exposed the Wikileaks story. Now it is the one protecting those exposed & condemning those that exposed these things. I would like to single out brilliant people like Tom Mills, whose book on the BBC I highly recommend. Also, the employee of The Daily Mail group & staunch Conservative Peter Oborne, for his bravery in taking on his own newspaper and naming & shaming these journalists. Peter Hitchens too. Again, someone whose politics I do not share, but I admire their honesty & bravery in exposing their colleagues.

This is not something to brush under the carpet. As you can see from the media attacks on Keir Starmer, for example, who hasn’t even officially entered the Labour leadership contest & who can hardly be labelled as on Corbyn’s side of the party politically!, this is now seemingly permanent. We in Labour have to realise that ANY leader even slightly to the Left of Genghis Khan, is going to be absolutely & totally destroyed, undermined, abused, ridiculed etc by the media. ALL the mainstream media. What is more, this is casually seen as acceptable and so just shut up about it. Well, frankly, fuck that. If you get sick of people like me saying these things then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW YOU ARE BEING LIED TO BY OUR MEDIA. Instead of attacking those trying to expose these atrocities.

The consequences of this propaganda are very, very serious indeed. We have seen massive rises in hate crime, an emboldened actual fascist far right who, literally, now ARE the Tory party. We have seen minorities physically & verbally assaulted. I myself was assaulted while out campaigning. OAPs have literally been knocked out campaigning. Why? Because, in every case, of the media’s outright lies, and Johnson et al’s outright lies. Can you imagine the uproar and media coverage if this was Tory supporters receiving this abuse?! If it was Corbyn who had done & said the things Johnson has-and is.

These are genuinely very, very, very scary times. The echoes with the 1930’s UK are there for all to see. In the same way the racists & fascists were emboldened then by our media and right wing politicians/commentariat, we are seeing this now. ALL of us need to unite to fight this, because if we don’t, the consequences are something even more scary than anyone reading is contemplating. Remember, these things are ALREADY happening and already being defended and not exposed by our highly, highly irresponsible media & commentariat.

What is so sad, is the BBC’s propaganda has gone unrewarded-they are now more under attack from those they lie on behalf of. It gets even worse with the Tories throwing out there the laughably absurd ‘dead cat’ story about BBC Radio 4 bias from the ‘Today’ programme. OBVIOUSLY this is literally the opposite in reality, but it then distracts from the obvious bias the BBC has shown the Tories. It then allows the BBC to say “Well, if both sides are shouting re bias, it must mean we’re getting the balance correct.”

Finally, and this is vitally important, we NEED a BBC. We need a public broadcaster who informs, educates & entertains. I will, as Corbyn and those most attacked often do, defend the need for a BBC. But, obviously, this one has done untold damage to its reputation. Let us hope the damage is not permanent, and let us hope those making the decisions are removed absolutely ASAP. Our country may well depend on it. Until then, WE must UNITE, defend our communities, defend the independent media and do the media’s job for it, as best we can. Solidarity.

Adam Samuels

#GE2019: Jeremy Corbyn reveals unredacted documents about secret US-UK trade talks

BREAKING NEWS

The following article has been taken from the official Labour Party website, and shows why it is so important that we #VoteLabour on December 12th.

#VoteLabour #JC4PM2019 #HANDSOFFOURNHS #NOTFORSALE

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Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, today revealed unredacted documents about secret US-UK trade talks putting the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations. Speaking at the press conference, he said:

If you watched the first TV debate between me and Boris Johnson, you’ll have seen me hold up these censored, blacked-out reports of secret US-UK talks about breaking open our NHS to US corporations and driving up the cost of medicines.

You’ll have seen Boris Johnson lose his cool, very angrily react saying it was “an absolute invention” and “completely untrue.”

He told the country there were “no circumstances whatsoever in which his government or any Conservative government” would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations.

What I have here is something I can reveal to you 451 pages of unredacted documents and information. All of it here.

His government released this [holds up redacted version]. We have since obtained this [holds up unredacted version]. Which is a very different version of events.

Perhaps he’d like to explain why these documents confirm the US is demanding the NHS is on the table in the trade talks?

These uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters.

Voters need to ask themselves some very serious questions: is the NHS safe in Boris Johnson’s hands?

We’ve now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale. He tried to cover it up in a secret agenda but today it’s been exposed.

Now we know the truth, when Johnson says, ‘get Brexit done’, it’s a fraud on the British people. This is the reality. Years of bogged down negotiations and our NHS is up for sale.

This election is now a fight for the survival of our National Health Service. As a public service free for all at the point of need.

So for the want of any doubt, let me give this reassurance: Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale.

These reports cover six rounds of talks running from July 2017 until just a few months ago. The meetings took place in both Washington DC and London.

The six rounds should be taken as one ongoing negotiation.

We are talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit. A deal that will shape our country’s future.

These reports pull back the curtain on the secrecy that’s being plotted for us all, behind closed doors, by the Conservative government. This is what they didn’t want you to know.

So let me take you through some key points.

Let me begin with medicine pricing. Remember, Labour and experts said big US corporations want to force up the price our NHS pays for drugs as part of the toxic deal being negotiated with Trump.

The Conservatives said this was nonsense. The documents show that we were right.

In fact, negotiations have advanced even further than we feared they had. The US and UK have already finished initial discussion on lengthening patents for medicines.

Longer patents mean only one thing – more expensive drugs. Lives will be put at risk as a result of this.

Many out-of-patent medicines available cheaply here are vastly more expensive under patent law in the US.

The drug Humira for Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis costs our NHS £1,409 a packet. In the US, the same packet costs £8,115. Get the difference – £1,409 in our NHS, £8,115 in the USA.

One of the reasons for US drug prices being on average 250% of those here is a patent regime rigged for the big pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Andrew Hill has warned the NHS could have to hand over £500 million a week more for medicines following a toxic Trump deal.

If you look at the readout of the second meeting, on page 51, UK officials report that “patent issues” around “NHS access to generic drugs will be a key consideration” in talks.

US officials have “pushed hard,” the reports says, for longer patents for US drug companies.

You can also see on page 132 of the report of the fourth meeting, where drug patents are being discussed, that officials are ready to “exchange text” which is trade-negotiator-speak for it being at a very advanced stage. And they say they are ready to, I quote, “really take significant further steps.”

Let’s be frank, the US is not going to negotiate to sell its own medicines for less.

President Trump himself never tires of complaining about what he calls the “unreasonably low prices” other countries pay for medicines. The White House even has a webpage attacking so-called “foreign freeloading” – that’s what they’re accusing our NHS of.

Big pharma has ripped off and imperilled the health of the American people for years. Now these secret reports show they’re looking to do the same to us – if the Conservatives are elected on December 12th.

Labour has been warning that NHS services will also be on the table in trade talks for a sell-out deal with Trump. After all, that’s exactly what Trump said when he visited this country in June.

He said and I quote: “When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table NHS or anything else.”

The Tories have denied it, but the documents show that on this occasion, Trump was right and so were we.

The new breed of trade deals are not only – or even mainly – about tariffs on goods at the border.

They are also about services – including our health service.

And these documents make clear that for the US, to quote page 41 of the third meeting report, “everything is included unless something is specifically excluded.”

They want, I quote: “Total market access” as the “baseline assumption of the trade negotiations.”

“Total market access.”

But surely you can’t believe that British officials would demand the NHS be excluded? Apparently not.

In fact, on behalf of the Conservative government, officials reassured their counterparts that “the US should expect the UK to be a liberalising influence” and that together they could “fly the good flag for services liberalisation.”

That’s a green light for breaking open Britain’s public services so corporations can profit from.

So now we know, direct from the secret reports that they never wanted you to see.

The US is demanding that our NHS is on the table in negotiations for a toxic deal – it’s already being talked about in secret. That could lead to runaway privatisation of our health service.

Mega-corporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country.

And if the Conservatives have their way and this deal goes forward, the changes I’ve revealed will be almost irreversible.

Officials have discussed a system to give corporations the power to sue our country. This is not only a plot against our NHS. It is a plot against the whole country.

These sell-out negotiations with Trump cover everything from food safety, to gender discrimination rules, to workers’ rights.

I’ll leave it to you journalists as experts to comb through these secret reports and expose the biggest threats. But let me give you a few pointers.

How about chlorine-washed chicken on our dinner tables?

Have a look at the second meeting, on page 42 and 43, where the US even agrees to share its “public lines” to help our government with its “media narratives.”

You might want to look at how Trump’s America absolutely refuses, absolutely refuses, to even mention climate change in the deal – see the second meeting, page 17.

On page one of meeting six for the US advocating a No Deal Brexit saying that would mean there’d be “all to play for” in a deal with Trump.

What’s at stake in a deal with Trump could not be more important for our country.

In this election the Conservatives want you to vote blind, keeping millions of us in the dark about their plans.

But these reports, first obtained in censored form by campaigners in this room, shine a light on this plot.

So it seems to me that it’s now on Boris Johnson to explain how all of this is an “absolute invention.” you heard his words on the video we just showed. To explain why he denied the very things we can now read in black and white. He must now come clean about the Conservatives’ sell-out plans are for our NHS.

Labour will not let this rest because, unlike the Conservatives, we’re not on the side of the billionaires and the bankers. We’re on the side of the nurse, the doctor, the patient and the people and we will never sell out our National Health Service. I’ll now ask our colleagues, friends from the National Health Service are here today to help us and they will pass around some copies of these documents and then Barry and I will take questions from you.

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#GE2019: Reasons to #VoteLabour

In the run up to the General Election on December 12th, I will be writing a number of political posts aimed at any indecisive voters that may still exist in our pulverised country.

I will not apologise for arguing the case for a Corbyn-led socialist Government that will deliver the real change that the UK is crying out for. The fact that it will improve conditions for the disabled community, is a welcome bonus.

I will now hand over to my good friend and political comrade, Adam Samuels, who has written the must-read piece below.

#VOTELABOUR #JC4PM #VOTEHOPE #VOTECHANGE

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ROLL UP! ROLL UP! THIS IS YOUR ONE-STOP LIST OF THINGS TO SHARE/EDIT/RE-PHRASE AS YOU WISH RE JEREMY CORBYN & LABOUR. WE HAVE BEEN ASKED MANY TIMES TO SHARE THIS NOW, AND SO WHEN THE PEOPLE ASK, Clwyd South Labour Party RESPONDS!**

Many people now are no fans of Blair & Brown (while acknowledging good things were also done), but Labour didn’t cause the crash in the UK. In fact, Brown took steps that assured it wasn’t worse. The Tories backed EVERY penny of Labour’s plans then, as admitted recently by Osborne. In 9 years the Tories have missed EVERY SINGLE ONE of their own fiscal targets. By their OWN figures, people will be on less on average in the mid 2020s than they were in 2007. TWO decades of unprecedented wage stagnation and regression. The Tories, in those 9 years, have borrowed more than every Labour government combined. Ever.

Borrowing is not the issue, but borrowing AND implementing the economically stupid & morally reprehensible austerity shows how shit they are re economics. We are, literally, the most unequal country in Europe. Slowest growing major G7 economy. Foodbank usage was 41,000-odd in 2010. It’s now 1.6 million. 14 million people below the poverty line. 4 million children. Meanwhile the top 1% have DOUBLED their wealth in that same time period. 60% of those in poverty are IN work!!! IN work!! Record homelessness, record suicide rates, record insecure work, record worker rights and union repression, record crime etc etc etc.

Labour’s economic plans are backed by 130+ of the world’s top economists, including at least two Nobel Prize winners. Every penny of where money came from and where it will be spent was fully costed in Labour’s ‘Grey Book’, which will again be published for this election. Labour’s plans are based on the National & Regional Investment Banks as used so well in Germany and elsewhere. So, unless you think the best economic minds and Germany are economically stupid…Add to this that Johnson has REMOVED worker rights, environmental protections, consumer protections and food standards from his Brexit Deal, and them OPENLY admitting they will be changing worker rights if we leave…

Re Iraq, Corbyn organised the 2 million people march AGAINST it and his own Party. Check out his voting record. He was correct re Iraq X 2, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria X 3 now, not arming Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s when we did, Apartheid where he was getting arrested for being anti-racist when the Tories were literally calling for Mandela’s head, the financial crash of 07/08 down to the specifics of the American sub-prime mortgage market issues (and was ignored), Israel/Palestine, the Birmingham 6, the Guildford 4, started the proper NI peace talks and is cited by both sides as doing so, he, along with Abbott & McDonnell was one of only 6 MPs voting against Windrush, AUSTERITY when he and anyone supporting him was told in 2015 that to be anti-austerity (which NO other Labour leadership candidate was) was a “Far Left, commie, utopian, unelectable, loony left fantasy” Now even Tory MEMBERS are anti-austerity!!! Now Johnson & the Tories are pretending they will out-spend Labour while trying to claim Corbyn is a Marxist dictator?! You can’t have it both ways!!!

Corbyn has tripled membership of the party, making Labour the biggest Party in western Europe. In 2017, he gained the biggest vote share increase of any party leader of any party since Attlee in 1945. With the entire media establishment against him/us. He’s made the party far more democratic than ever before, and as with the famous, popular 2017 manifesto, it gets written by everyone from me up to Corbyn. He gets hourly death threats, has had assassination attempts on him (Darren Osborne-see court records), punched in the head etc etc. All for US. Not him, US. He cannot be bought, hence The Establishment hating him and smearing him. He is the most lied about politician of all time (see independent LSE report, BBC bias report etc-there are several). He’s defeated coups, has the ENTIRE media against him on all formats, with no mainstream media on his side (The Mirror & The Guardian previously turned on him).

Oh, and to nip this one in the bud…he has been made Right Honourable by the Queen. Which means he’s on the PRIVY COUNCIL-i.e. access to top level UK & world secrets, where you have to be vetted by MI5, MI6, GCHQ etc….therefore, he OBVIOUSLY CANNOT be pro-IRA murders, a Russian stooge, a Czech spy, an anti-Semite (to paraphrase the great Andrew Feinstein who was a South African MP under Mandela, lost 39 family members in the Holocaust & lectures on the Holocaust: “Jeremy was there from day one re Apartheid. He’s literally the least racist person I know. I am proud and honoured to stand as a Jewish man with Jeremy”), or whatever rubbish they try and make people believe he is because they’ve lost the political argument-so try and discredit the individual.

He pays TOO much tax (check out his public tax returns), pays for members of his own team out of his pocket, donated his pay rise to charity as promised, then uses what money he has left to fund the local Credit Union for people who cannot get loans. Indeed, in the 80’s he took out a £30,000 to build a desperately needed community centre used by many different groups-it wasn’t even in his constituency!!! He was there day one re Orgreave, Hillsborough (we have a Corbyn & McDonnell banner on the Kop at Anfield), and was the lowest ever expenses claimer-£8.95 for an ink cartridge when some Tories were claiming £100,000+ to clean their moats amongst other things! Literally!

So, if you want an NHS, vote Labour. If you want a second ref-literally the ONLY way is to vote Labour. If you voted Leave and reject the dangerous Johnson/No Deal, Labour has already agreed a Leave option in theory with the EU-so vote Labour to choose that in the Ref if you are a leaver. If you want to end austerity, literally the only way is to vote Labour. Only two people can be PM-Johnson, a man backed by fascists & billionaires who is openly going to sell off the NHS to Trump, who voted AGAINST STOPPING privatisation of the NHS last week, along with the Tories. The Lib Dems abstained???!!!, or Jeremy Corbyn.

I do not want to look future generations in the eye when they ask “Why did you get rid of the NHS, why can’t I buy a house or even afford the rent, why have I got unpaid hols, why in the environment getting worse, why is there no secure work, no pensions worth having etc” and then tell them “It’s because Corbyn didn’t sing the National Anthem, they believed the lies, someone didn’t like the way he wore a suit etc…”. Justify that! Justify my terminally ill friend having his benefits cut again to literally fund a tax cut for billionaires.

Whether you love, hate, are indifferent to Corbyn, this election is WAY beyond ‘normal’. It is a battle for the very soul of the UK. Labour built the NHS, the Welfare State, a National Education system in their 1945-1951 government. From scratch. When the country was truly broke after WW2 with debt at 250% of GDP. While growing the economy far faster than previously-with SOCIALISM/Social Democracy. Ditto FDR in the USA who massively grew the US economy in the 1930s the same way. Ditto Portugal now who, via anti-austerity, have completely turned around their economy after a horrific Conservative failed government. Scandinavia has been doing it for years. Bolivia, under Morales, has been an amazing success story and are now independent of the World’s Bank. Ecuador under Correa for ten years was a huge success.

Re Tax Increases: If you earn £82,000 a year, you’d pay £8.30 more a month in tax under Labour. Don’t forget ONLY 5% of the UK earns £80k or more- 95% OF US ARE NOT AFFECTED by these tax rises. In return, we’d get a Green New Deal, free education, a proper NHS and homes for all. Don’t let the CONservatives et al scare you with their outright lies re Labour’s tax plans. Oh, and Labour plans to raise corporation tax to levels STILL lower than Germany, the USA etc. I don’t see companies fleeing those countries…SME (Small Medium Enterprises) will be supported to adapt to any changes with taxes, or, for example, the raising of the minimum wage.

Debt per GDP here in the UK is now 88% approx (MASSIVELY increased since the Tories took over in 2010). So I am quite sure we can easily do what Labour wants now. If WE fight for it and stop believing the white noise of lies. Corbyn is NOT a pacifist, but he is force ONLY as the LAST resort. He has won at least 3 International Peace Prizes, including the Gandhi Peace Prize. He does not want to get rid of our armed forces-quite the opposite-he wants them properly paid, not sent to war on a lie or for some power/oil-grab, he wants them housed and not on the streets as many are, with proper kit if they do have to risk their lives. But this is a fight we MUST win. Let’s make sure we don’t blow it, eh? ✊❤️

#VOTELABOUR #JC4PM #VOTEHOPE #VOTECHANGE

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Disabled People’s Manifesto 2019

Yesterday I received the following email from Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, outlining the Disabled People’s Manifesto which has been written in consultation with Disabled People’s Organisations and Disabled people across the UK. It is well worth reading and taking action on to ensure that the next UK Government take Disabled people and their wishes into consideration when introducing new policies.

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Our vision for equality and inclusion

Inclusion London is a member of Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, which today released its Disabled People’s Manifesto, and demands for the first 100 days of the new government!

This manifesto has been written in consultation with Disabled People’s Organisations and Disabled people across the UK, and is based on the social model of disability and the cultural model of deafness. Now we need your help to campaign on it!

What we are calling for

  • Ending austerity, which disproportionately affected Disabled people
  • A planned programme of national and local investment to address the impact of austerity and progress the equality and inclusion for Disabled people,
  • Setting up a National Independent Living Service to replace our failing social care system
  • Deinstitutionalisation and a radical reform to mental health and mental capacity laws,
  • Scrapping Universal Credit and designing a new benefits system in co-production with Disabled people
  • Removing conditionality and sanctions
  • A fully inclusive education system
  • Measures to remove the barriers we face in employment, access to justice, housing and participation in all aspect of life.

We believe it is more important than ever that the political parties truly commit to co-producing its policies with Disabled people and our organisations, and uphold the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’.

Disabled People’s Manifesto 2019:

Our asks for the new government:

How can you use this manifesto?

We will be sharing this manifesto with political parties and candidates, but we need your help to support our campaign. Here is what you can do:

  • Share this manifesto with your local MP candidates.
  • Interview your MP candidates on some or all of the issues discussed in the manifesto.
  • Hold local hustings!
  • Run a voter registration drive to make sure as many Disabled people local to you have the opportunity to get their voices heard on polling day!
  • Use the local press and social media to publicise your events and our demands!

We have lots of information and ideas on what DDPOs can do on elections and voting, including legal responsibilities under Charity Law and the Lobbying Act, which can be accessed here: Election Resources and Guides.

Election 2019 more information here

 

Disability News Service: Labour ‘on collision course with UN and EHRC over independent living’

The following article has been written by John Pring and appears on his excellent Disability News Service website which can be found by clicking on this link.

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The Labour party is on a “collision course” with the equality and human rights watchdog and the United Nations because of its failure to accept the need for a legal right to independent living, according to a national network of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) has called on Labour to join the TUC in backing its proposals for a new National Independent Living Support Service (NILSS) that would give disabled people crucial new rights to free support.

A meeting of ROFA members and supporters from across England agreed on Friday on their priorities for winning support for NILSS.

Among those priorities was to push Labour to include the plans in its next general election manifesto.

There was also “contempt” at the meeting for the Conservative-led government’s continuing failure to publish its own much-delayed plans for solving the adult social care funding crisis.

ROFA’s demands for a NILSS were first set out in January, in the Independent Living for the Future document, and backing for the plan appears to be growing.

On Friday, the Trades Union Congress passed a motion – proposed by Sean McGovern, co-chair of TUC’s disabled workers’ committee – that calls on the next Labour government to establish a NILSS.

The motion had been passed by TUC’s annual Disabled Workers’ Conference in May.

Such a service, running alongside the NHS, would provide a universal right to independent living, with support provided free at the point of need, funded by general taxation, managed by central government, and delivered locally in co-production with disabled people.

Similar motions have been passed by local Labour branches, with the hope that the proposals will be debated on the floor of the party’s annual conference in Brighton from 21 September.

And the day after Friday’s meeting, ROFA member Andrew Day passed Jeremy Corbyn a letter, when the Labour leader visited him during a visit to Norwich, in which he asked him to meet ROFA to discuss the NILSS proposals.

Mark Harrison, a ROFA member who helped draw up the strategy and took part in Friday’s meeting, said the disabled people’s movement was united behind NILSS.

He said the idea could be “transformational” if it was adopted by Labour as part of its general election manifesto.

But he said he did not believe that the party’s shadow social care minister, Barbara Keeley, had engaged with representative DPOs on social care and the right to independent living, as the party should have been doing because of principles laid out in article four of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Labour disputed this and insisted that Keeley had not refused to meet with RoFA, and “regularly consults with a range of stakeholders, including people with lived experience, on social care policy development”.

Harrison said Labour’s current policies on social care were “pathetic” and “neither transformational nor socialist”.

He said Labour was currently on a “collision course” with the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which has called for the UK to introduce a legal right to independent living, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has also backed such a move.

Although Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto (PDF) promised to sign the UN convention into UK law, the party has since shied away from promising a legal right to independent living, which is offered by article 19 of the treaty.

Harrison said ROFA would hold the Labour party’s “feet to the fire” over independent living.

He said: “This could be a flagship commitment of a new Labour government coming to power.”

He also said there was “complete contempt” for the government at Friday’s meeting over its failure to publish its plans for social care, and for its own failure to engage with representative organisations of disabled people.

He said “momentum was building” behind the NILSS idea, and he added: “That was the good thing about Friday: the momentum is building up and people are really on it, determined that we are not going to let this one go.

“The Labour party should not be waiting. It should be engaging with us now.”

A Labour party spokesperson said: “The proposals fall across a range of government policy areas, from work and pensions and health and social care to justice.

“They will be considered carefully as part of Labour’s policy development process.”

She added: “Labour is committed to addressing the crisis in social care.

“Our plans for a National Care Service will provide dignity in older age, and independence and support for people with disabilities.

“Our plans will ensure that social care receives the funding it needs, at a time when Tory austerity has created the national crisis in social care.”

The Department of Health and Social Care had failed to comment by noon today (Thursday).

Great Tastes of America: The Mississippi Stack

DISCLAIMER: The following blog is written totally independently from McDonald’s CorporationGreat Tastes of America is a registered trademark and I am not associated with the product line in any way. I am not seeking to promote or disparage the American fast food giant in any way, shape or form. All opinions expressed below are personal to me and my Socialist background. I should add that anything written on these blogs should be taken with a pinch of salt – sachets available from McDonald’s counters. 

In the second of a new series, I will be eating and reviewing the Great Tastes of America range of burgers from popular fast food chain, McDonald’s.

I am unhappy about this for a number of reasons – from calories to Capitalism – but it is a good writing mechanism for me to hang my anger at modern society upon. I will be forcing fast food meals down my fat face for the next 12 weeks (one every fortnight) while discussing everything that I find unappetising about the modern world we live in.

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The Mississippi Stack is made up of two 100% British and Irish beef burgers with bacon, mild cheddar, tomato and onion relish, rich and sticky BBQ sauce, red onion and lettuce in a toasted ciabatta.

Mississipi Stack

I demolished the Mississippi Stack in the car at the side of the road on my way to the pub to watch Newport County v Tranmere Rovers in the League Two Play-off Final. This was a contest between two teams that most Wrexham fans – myself included – have reason to dislike. Both teams have recently won promotion from the National League while Wrexham have proved hapless also-rans who seem destined to a future of non-league football.

With feelings of justified bitterness and a hint of jealousy, I tucked in to my fortnightly taste of America that did little to lift my spirits. It was devoid of the sharp pickle that had made the New York Stack so enjoyable. Instead, there was a minimal layer of  onion relish and a BBQ sauce that proved slightly spicy, but ultimately underwhelming. There was just not enough of the BBQ sauce and the outer edges of the slimline burgers were dry, uninspiring and tasteless.

If I had been in a better mood before indulging in this burger, my review may have been more positive but I was gripped  with envy – something that was not helped by former Wrexham forward, Connor Jennings, scoring the winning goal for Tranmere Rovers deep into extra-time. If only he had stayed loyal to the Red Dragons and not been tempted to our Scouse rivals by the smell of filthy lucre.

The hunger pains are still biting as I type whilst generally irritated and dismayed at all around me. Satisfaction will never be found in the selfish modern world that we are stuck in…

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This long bank holiday weekend is one to forget. The results of the EU Elections have been pouring in and suggest worrying times ahead with the rise of right-wing ignorance across the continent.

No where was this more obvious than in the UK with the supposed rise of the Brexit Party and typically biased reporting by the BBC who merely paint a picture to support the prevailing status quo. This was summed up in the following tweet by Timothy Garton Ash (@fromTGA):

I am also sharing a Facebook post from my friend and comrade Adam Samuels, who has sensibly reflected on the election results and made the following observations:

Re the Euro elections from a Labour POV… So far, what this says to me is that people are even more entrenched in their views. The country is even more split if that were possible. People are pig-headed and not willing to compromise. It’s f**k the other side. There is no good solution. We should also remember this is not a General Election. It was also PR and not FPTP. I am saying of course we should listen and respect the comments and votes, but we must get all the information in first and then digest everything. No knee jerk reactions. No bold statements of “If Labour don’t do XYZ I am leaving, not campaigning, not voting etc”.

We take stock and reason things out. There are no easy answers, no matter what extreme Leavers and Remainers will tell us. The two things we must never forget, and we must remind emotional, passionate, good comrades is that we need our Manifesto put into practice. But, and we must never underestimate this, we need someone strong enough to take the crap and attacks to allow those policies to get through. Of course, that is Jeremy Corbyn. 

This story will continue to develop and expand as the hours pass. This is a truly explosive time to be involved in politics and it is taking all of our energy and resources to continue the good fight. However, no one should be in any doubt that we will all continue pushing for justice for the many, not the few while ensuring everyone is protected in a fair and equal society.

The fight goes on…

Persons with Disabilities: 10 reasons to vote in the European elections

The following article has been written by the European Disability Forum and can be read via PDF by clicking here.

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“The EU? They are only bureaucrats. Why should I vote for them?” A question (statement?) that we are used to hearing again and again.

It is not true. The EU has a big impact in the lives of persons with disabilities. It has several initiatives that have directly improved, or that have led EU countries to improve, the lives of persons with disabilities.

The next elections for the European Parliament will take place 23-26 May (depending on the country). Here are ten reasons on why you should go and vote (if you are not one of the 800,000 citizens currently unable to vote due to discriminatory laws):

1. Because the EU fights for accessibility

EU institutions have been working hard to assure that both the physical and virtual world are more accessible for persons with disabilities. Public transport and public websites, among others, have become more accessible (for example, it obliges airports to provide assistance to persons with disabilities. It also obliges EU countries to make all new train stations accessible). The EU also recently agreed on a law that will make many products and services more accessible to us!

These laws, some of which then need to be put by EU counties into their national laws, have not only improved accessibility throughout the EU but also inspired some countries to go the extra mile.

Important to know: The laws the EU passes are “minimum standards”. This means that (unlike some people think) an EU law cannot reduce the rights you already have. For example, the EU obliges countries to make all new and refurbished train stations accessible, but of course Member States can also do more than that and include old stations in the law.

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2. Because the EU protects you at work

In 2000, the EU passed a law that prohibits discrimination at work. This means that we are protected against discrimination when we work or have work-related training. It also means that employers need to adapt the work place to employees with disabilities.

While the situation is far from perfect, it is because of this law that you can go to court or ask the support of an anti-discrimination institution if, for example, you were discriminated when applying for a job, when you are fired from your job or when your employer refuses to grant you the adaptions needed to do your work.

3. Because EU money supports the inclusion of persons with disabilities

EU money helped Selina find her dream job in Austria. EU money funded Nicolas participation in a project between France and Spain, on the right to vote for persons with disabilities. It supports Greek persons with disabilities in living independently. It builds hospitals in Portugal. It is used to renovate houses and make them more accessible. Many Europeans are unknowingly supported by EU funds. In fact, despite their complaints, even the richest countries rely on EU money to support persons with fewer opportunities and at risk of exclusion. .

4. Because you can use your parking card in all EU countries

If you have a disability, you might be entitled to the EU parking card. This parking card is recognised in all EU countries and allows you to park in reserved spots all throughout the EU. This means that if you decide to travel or live in another EU country, you don’t need to apply for a disability parking card time and time again! A true example of “bureaucrats” reducing bureaucracy.

You can get your parking card from the relevant authority in the country you live in.

5. Because you can live in another country and still receive (some) social security benefits.

If you are an EU citizen, you can move to another EU country and still be entitle some social security benefits. For example, you can move to another EU country and keep your original old age pension. For disability benefits, it’s more complicated: you are entitled to disability allowances on the same level as a national of that country, but you have to apply for them and pass a new disability assessment process.

This is because, while the EU coordinates social security systems, some EU countries are still not totally on board: for example, a few weeks ago they denied new rules that would provide a more integrated system! This is why you need to vote and to vote for politicians that care about freedom of movement for persons with disabilities!

The positive impact of this assurance can sadly be seen by the negative impact that losing it brings: EU citizens living in the UK are in a limbo, not sure if they can receive their contributions after Brexit.

6. Because you can go to the hospital in another EU country

If you have an accident or are ill when visiting another EU country, you can go to the hospital or doctor under the same conditions as a national from that country, thanks to the European Health Insurance Card. That way, you don’t have to cut your travel short due to unaffordable health costs.

Attention: the Card cannot be used for planned treatment abroad.

7. Because of the EU Disability Card

Right now, if you visit another EU country, your disability documents may not be recognized due to a number of practical reasons (different formats, languages, assessment of what constitutes disability). The EU Disability Card, a project that is ongoing in 8 EU countries, will avoid all this by creating a card in the same format everywhere. This means that you can have access to discounted cultural and leisure services: museum, sports facilities, transport, etc.

While the card only exists in 8 EU countries, you can convince the EU to extend it to all the countries. How? By voting in May!

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8. Because you can volunteer and/or study abroad – and get support for it.

The well-known ERASMUS+ programme, provides financial support to students that want to spend a semester or year in another EU country. This programme considers the extra needs of persons with disabilities: we are entitled to financial support to cover extra costs, such as the need for personal assistance or accessible housing.

The European Solidarity Corps is a programme that financially supports volunteering opportunities in another EU country.

9. Because 800,000 people want to vote but can’t

If all the above reasons didn’t convince you, maybe this one will: 800,000 Europeans cannot vote due to discriminatory laws that exclude them because of their disability. We need your vote to help change this.

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10. Because we can fight better together

Can things improve? Definitely!

The EU can, and should, have more accessibility legislation. It can, and should, channel more funding for persons with disabilities. It can, and should, approve laws that protect us from discrimination in all areas of our life. This is why we need you to go out and vote! By voting, you are telling politicians that you want a Europe that cares about us, and that they should do more to achieve it.

Who to vote for?

We will not say “vote for this or that party”. What you can do is check the candidates that signed a commitment to disability. You can contact them and let them know that you will vote for them (also) because of that. If your favourite candidate is not on the list, easy: contact them and tell them to sign the pledge.

How to vote?

You can check European Parliament’s guide on how to vote in your country. To see for your country, selected your countries main language in the button on the top right of the website.