More Poverty, More Homelessness, More Deaths: Labour Set Out A Vision For Workfare Britain

the void

war-on-the-poorThe war on the poor is set to continue if Labour win the general election Rachel Reeves confirmed in her speech on social security policy today.

Pinning the blame for unemployment directly onto unemployed people, Reeves has set out a number of measures to fix those unemployed people with forced work and benefit sanctions.

At the heart of Labour’s policy is the so-called Jobs Guarantee which will see everyone who has been unemployed over two years – or a year for those under 25 – condemned to forced work for paltry sums of money.  In a genuinely nasty move, this work will be pegged at minimum wage and set at a maximum of 25 hours a week, meaning participants will not be eligible for tax credits.

For the vast majority of claimants, who pay rent for where they live, the bulk of any extra money will go straight to landlords…

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The Dark Knight Rises

THis is what a film review should do.


(the following contains spoilers which you really should read if you are planning to see the film, as you shouldn’t see the film)

The alleged delights of being a contrarian are often illusory when the broad mass of humanity goes against your view. Film critics I respect, such as Roger Ebert and Phillip French, have lauded Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”. Most public reaction I have encountered has been positive likewise.

However, there are a number of rather large flaws in the last installment of the franchise which I find it impossible to ignore. I was going to go on about the incredibly clunky dialogue, the rushed and hollow action, the lack of anyone to match Heath Ledger’s charisma, the loathesome apologia for fascism that runs underneath the movie’s skin. But you know what? All it needs is a basic summary of plot.

(This is the point that, if…

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All Things Pass. By Lisa Muggeridge

A post I wrote for someone I know.

The Daily Snowglobe


Once upon a time there was a magic snowglobe sat in a warm dark room. It’s light drew everyone who entered to sit and gaze at this perfect vision of winter. Children would stare transfixed by it’s perfect little world.
Flurries of snow dancing around dreaming spires, refracted through light and water in perpetual motion under clear glass. A perfect unchanging world made real by the endless dance of uniform white flakes.
One long winter, the snow fell outside and the children grew bored of the ever static world underneath the glass. A little girl opened the curtains of the warm dark room.
Outside that window, billions and billions of unique and perfect snowflakes danced and settled into a wintry landscape big enough for all the children to play. The snow fell for months and even under uniform whiteness the window showed a world ever changing, snowflakes melted and new…

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The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch


Caracas Chronicles

Dear International Editor:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and  storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting.

People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street.

And that’s just what came out in…

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NHS Climbdown and the Court of Public Opinion


THis is a welcome front page, don’t get me wrong. But I have a question. Why is the court of public opinion, as deciphered by media, the only functioning check and balance in a mature democracy? The confidentiality of patient data is the concern of many bodies, patient confidentiality is at the heart of just about every branch of our medical profession. We have clinical regulators, we are supposed to be a mature democracy with mature institutions.

A few months ago, there were bedroom tax eviction notices being put out with implied child protection threats. Again, something which should have concerned many bodies and which should not be a feature of our democracy at all. The way to deal with this was simple, make well placed noise on twitter, make sure several key journalists were aware and orchestrate a noise sufficient that the housing authorities concerned would back down. Which they did. In a matter of days. The court of public opinion, hooray. Great that people have that power now, and great for those of us who know how to create a ripple in the media when required. A new power dynamic that exists.

Except it isn’t great. Because that is not how democracy or a political economy is supposed to work. We are supposed to have institutions and organisations and bodies who act as checks and balances. Governing is supposed to be like holding the reins of many horses and steering them together. But it isn’t now. It’s who can make a noise sufficient to create a superficial climbdown that doesn’t affect the overall trajectory of ultimately damaging policy subject to political consensus. The really frightening thing is that that is the only accountability we have from govt. The ability to make a bit of noise to shame or scare them. Like waving your arms to scare pigeons.

A thought in the dying days of this political economy.

NB Point raised after publication. GP unwillingness may have contributed to the climbdown. And I hope so. But post still stands.

Dear Mumsnet,

You asked if I would like my lovely blog to be part of your network, and I thought I would respond using my lovely blog. Which by the way is not lovely. It’s quite dull mostly and very political. Politics has always been one of the prisms through which I look at the world, but  that wasn’t what this blog was supposed to be. Up until 2010, the mumsnet election, it was just me talking about being a mum. Had you asked me if you could use my ‘lovely’ blog in 2009, I probably would have said yes. It is now 2014, and I am afraid I have to say go fuck yourself.

It’s not your members that are the problem, I am aware it is a community of intelligent, informed women and I don’t resort to the shitty devaluation of women once their uteruses(uterii? Uterus doesn’t usually need a plural) have been used and I know quite a few of your members. They are women worth knowing. My blog has in the past been widely read and shared on your site. It’s not that you are  a website and online community whose focus is parenting, when my daughter was small I wouldn’t have breastfed or had access to half the information and support I did, without such a website.

The problem is you. The problem is what you have done, and what you have been. I happen to know that the people who are at the heart of your website are on the fringes of a media and politics community I didn’t know existed till the advent of twitter exposed it to daylight. That your influence is nothing more than influence gained because your founders are in close proximity to that culture. What you have done with that influence has been nothing short of disgusting.

You were quite happy to build the mumsnet name on political engagement of mothers, so much so that the first piece I was ever commissioned to write was about the ‘mumsnet election’. Following that election mothers were targetted repeatedly to silence. Within a year, before anyone was concerned about foodbanks, one in five mothers in the UK was missing meals to deal with austerity. We were fucked over from every direction, to absolute silence while you built your brand presenting yourselves as the face of political engagement with us.  I’ll be honest with you, your twee badge presented as political engagement of mothers has been used to hide the complete disenfranchisement and systematic removal of british working class mothers from having legal representation, a means to earn a living, and any hope of democratic representation and their new role as scapegoats for politicians to project on to. People use your name as evidence that somehow politicians are engaging with mothers, and all politicians need to to get validation is appear on one of your lively webchats. I find you fundamentally dishonest and I think your brand is very damaging to women full stop.

I asked you once if you would share a blog about malnutrition, which given the state of mothers in this country and the high likelihood of many of your members going without food, I didn’t think was unreasonable. But you don’t do that. So no, you can’t use my lovely blog to build your brand. I would rather eat my own shit. Writers I respect like Nick Cohen, found that the way  you do business is distinctly unpleasant, and I don’t really want to be associated with you.

There is a writer called Kate Belgrave, you’ll know of her. She is currently covering the plight of some of the mothers fucked over to silence because of austerity. They aren’t the usual type you go for and they couldn’t possibly pay you for your platform. If you give a shit about mothers, contact her and ask if there is anything you can do to help those motehrs as they fight a whirlwind of shit that is not their doing but has been partially faciliated by your use of political influence.  Then we’ll talk.

Signed Defytheconomy