Thursday, December 8, 2016

No! Muslims don't wants to ban Peppa Pig

The fake news that "Muslims want to ban Peppa Pig" has been spreading like wildfire, but the whole thing is a load of sensationalist synthetic outrage nonsense that brazenly misrepresents reality in order to create a mind-winnet of anti-Muslim propaganda for right-wingers and Islamophobes to get absolutely furious about.

The reality of the situation is that a small Islamic organisation in Australia is crowdfunding to develop a low-budget Islamic cartoon about the adventures of two kids who live in a predominantly Muslim town.

Hatemongering right-wing tabloids like the Daily Express leapt on this low-interest story and decided to portray it as Muslims trying to ban people from watching Peppa Pig rather than Muslims trying to crowdfund a new cartoon. The Daily Express headline wailed that "Muslim leaders tell children to turn off Peppa Pig".

Once the extreme-right hate brigade on Twitter got hold of the sensationalist stories in the media the embellishments got even worse. Furious right-wing blowhards further exaggerated the story to claim that "Muslims want to ban Peppa Pig" and then used this absurd fact-free narrative to justify their hate filled diatribes about how "multiculturalism is an epic failure", "Muslims will never be part of Western society" and "they can't even tolerate a cartoon pig".

The Buzzfeed* writer Aisha Gani then did a bit of digging to determine where the "Muslims trying to ban Peppa Pig" angle came from and how a news story about a low budget Australian cartoon got blown up into a full-scale right-wing Twitter hate mob.

Gani found that the whole Peppa Pig angle was strung out of nothing and then repeated by a bunch of lazy hacks churnalising the same story with the addition of ever more dramatic embellishments each time.
One of the promoters of the project Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman said that "These days, in this modern age, our children have been embedded and very well occupied watching different cartoons on TV and it’s our responsibility not to stop them from watching, but give them another alternative".

It's pretty extraordinary how "it's our responsibility not to stop them watching" morphed into the Daily Express headline "Muslim leaders tell children to turn off Peppa Pig" and then into countless "Muslims want to ban Peppa Pig" Twitter diatribes.

Such a progression is extraordinary, but sadly it's unsurprising given the way the right-wing hate brigade are so susceptible to mindlessly accepting any old nonsense that confirms their prejudices without even the remotest effort to fact-check the information beforehand.

Alarmingly fake news spreading isn't just confined to cognitively stunted right-wing hate merchants either. A November 2016 study by Stanford University found that students (middle school, high school and college) suffered a "bleak" and "dismaying" inability to reason about information on the Internet. It turns out that there are vast numbers of people who are incapable of differentiating between a "sponsored content" article and a real news item, let alone spotting the difference between a fake news story and a real story based on verifiable facts and reliable sources.

It's hardly surprising that top-down education systems that encourage children to rote learn and regurgitate information that is handed down to them by authority end up churning out people who are incapable of asking fundamentally basic questions like "who is telling me this?", "why are they telling me this?", or "is what they're telling me based on facts and evidence or opinion and emotive language?".

I'll finish with a quote from Subhi Alsheik who is the director and producer at the company hoping to start producing the low budget cartoon about the adventures of two Muslim kids, and leave you to draw your own conclusions about whether Muslims really want to ban Peppa Pig. 

"We don't eat them [pigs] that's all ... I've patted pigs. I've watched Babe. We just don't eat them."

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* = A lot of people tend to scoff at Buzzfeed because of all of the stupid "listicles" they host, but in this instance it's undeniable that the Buzzfeed article was the real news, while elements of the traditional mainstream media were guilty of spreading fake news in order to stoke up anti-Muslim outrage.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Tory postcode lottery of destitution

A scathing National Audit Office investigation into the brutal Tory sanctions regime found an alarming number of failings. One of the most serious was the fact that benefits sanctions are inconsistently applied which creates a lottery of destitution. People in some areas of the welfare system are relatively safe from the threat of being thrust into absolute poverty for the most trivial of offences, while people in other situations are subjected to significantly harsher and more draconian standards.

One of the findings of the National Audit Office investigation was that sanctions applied by profiteering private sector welfare contractors were more than twice as likely to be overturned on appeal as sanctions applied by Jobcentre staff. This evidence shows that staff working for private contractors are on average more than twice as trigger-happy in using absolute destitution as a punishment as proper Jobcentre staff are.

Another of the glaring inconsistencies identified by the National Audit Office is that the Tories are operating a postcode lottery of destitution. Unemployed people in some parts of the north east of England are three times as likely to suffer benefits sanctions as unemployed people in the south west.

There are only two ways to explain such huge discrepancies. Either people in the north east are inherently more lazy and feckless than people in the south west (the kind of explanation only a bigot would accept), or the welfare system treats people in the north east much more harshly than it treats people from more affluent regions.

There is an awful lot of evidence that many welfare providers in the north east operate a culture of bullying and humiliation, and that they're extraordinarily trigger happy when it comes to imposing staggeringly harsh benefits sanctions.

MPs representing constituencies in the north east have been complaining about the harsh benefits sanctions regime and the dehumanising culture of humiliation for years. In a January 2015 House of Commons debate MPs from the north east listed one example after another of the appalling suffering inflicted on their constituents, but the NAO investigation has revealed that the sanctions regime in the north east is still far harsher than other parts of the country.

The House of Commons debate included examples of people being sanctioned for missing an appointment due to an emergency hospitalisation; sanctioned for being late for an appointment because of severe traffic congestion; sanctioned for missing an appointment on the day a parent died; sanctioned failing to provide evidence of looking for work on the day after a parent died; sanctioned because the Jobcentre sent an appointment letter to an old address; sanctioned for failing to attend a Work Capacity Assessment that had been cancelled by the provider; sanctioned for attending a grandfather's funeral; sanctioned for failing to complete a form properly; and sanctioned for missing an appointment to collect an ill child from school (Jobcentre staff then falsely accused the parent of inventing a fictional child).

All of these people were thrust into weeks of absolute destitution for utterly trivial offences, but perhaps the most galling testimony came from the 
MP for Newcastle Central Chi Onwurah who raised the tragic case of one of his constituents who committed suicide as a result of his appalling treatment by the private sector contractor that kept finding him "fit for work" despite all of the expert opinion that he wasn't.

Unfortunately the serious concerns of the north east MPs were ignored by the Tory government, and now it's too late for 18 year old David Brown of Eston in North Yorkshire who committed suicide on October 3rd 2016 after being "belittled" jobcentre staff.

Shortly before he took his own life he told his mother "the way the Jobcentre treat people, it's no wonder people commit suicide".

It's not just a matter of opinion that David Brown took his own life because of the demeaning bullying attitude of Jobcentre staff in the north east, it's the official finding of the inquest into his death.

The problems of bullying and punishment with brutal benefits sanctions exist all over the country, but the evidence suggests that they're significantly worse in the north east. So the question has to be asked why?

Why is the poorest region in England also the place with the harshest sanctions regime and an ingrained culture of bullying and humiliation against unemployed people?

Is it simply because it's an economically deprived area and people working in the north east welfare system see it as their duty to punish poverty with more poverty? Is it because it's largely a loyal Labour Party voting area while the Tories are in charge of the DWP? Has this culture of bullying come about because it's being pushed from above by particularly vindictive regional managers in the north east? Is there some other explanation?

Why does this culture of bullying and abuse in the welfare system exist? Why is it particularly bad in the north east? And what can be done to resolve these problems?

This situation can no longer be ignored. It's almost two years since north east MPs told parliament about the problems of the culture of bullying and humiliation and the unfair sanctions regime in their region, and now an 18 year old lad is dead because nothing was done..

It's beyond obvious that if nothing continues to be done then more humiliation, suffering and death is inevitable.

What could you do?

If you live in the north east you could write to your MP to ask what is being done.

If you don't live in the north east you could write to your MP anyway. It might not be quite as bad as the north east where you live, but the scathing National Audit Office investigation into benefits sanctions found that the benefits sanctions regime costs the taxpayer far more to administer than it will ever save in reduced benefits (which is obviously an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money).

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Snoopers' Charter allows the state to lie in court

I've already written articles explaining that Theresa May's Snoopers' Charter (Investigative Powers Act) is the most draconian state surveillance legislation ever introduced in the developed world.

I've already pointed out that the Snoopers' Charter will create vast hackable data dumps containing the private Internet browsing information of millions of UK residents and British companies.

I've already pointed out that the Snoopers' Charter will allow all kinds on non-terrorism related organisations (from the Food Standards Agency to the Gambling Commission) to access to these massive data dumps of people's private information.

I've already pointed out the staggering levels of gullibility and searing hypocrisy of people who actively support Theresa May's draconian and invasive spy regime.

Now it turns out that the Snoopers' Charter has enshrined Parallel Construction into UK law, which means that agents of the state will be allowed to tell lies in court in order to secure convictions, and furthermore it bans anyone from questioning those lies.

The relevant part of the Investigatory Powers Act is Section 56. The section is written in the usual kind of impenetrable language used in government legislation. I'm going to spell out in simple English what section 56 legislates. If you want to cross-reference my layman's explanation with the actual wording of the act, click the green link above.

  • 56 (1) In British courtrooms and Inquiries it is now forbidden to make disclosures that would 
(a) reveal that evidence was obtained by spying.
(b) suggest that spying has ever been going on, may have been going on, or may go on in the future.
  • 56 (2) Details all of the actions that are defined as spying ("Interception-related content")
  • 56 (3) A list of people who people who are able to act as spies, which includes police chiefs, spy chiefs, the head of HMRC, the head of the defence staff, the heads of non-British agencies with whom the British government is sharing information, any person holding office under the crown, anyone working for the police, anyone working for HMRC, anyone working for a postal service, anyone working for a telecommunications provider, anyone working as a subcontractor for a postal service or telecommunications company.
  • 56 (4) Retroactive clauses to prevent the prosecution of people who were doing this kind of spying unlawfully before the Snoopers' Charter became law in November 2016.
Section 56 of the Snoopers' Charter is really alarming stuff because it creates a legal obligation on prosecutors to lie in court about how their surveillance-related evidence was obtained, and it also prevents defence lawyers from presenting proof that evidence was obtained by spying, or even suggesting that the evidence might have been obtained by spying.

Some people have tried to suggest that this legislation weakens the prosecution position by creating doubts over whether they are telling the truth or not, but any defence lawyer who ever tried to even point out the section 56 legislation that obligates the prosecution to lie in court about the sources of their evidence would be in breech of section 56 (1) (b) for suggesting that spying could have been going on.

Aside from the Snoopers' Charter creating legal obligations for witnesses to lie in court, and gagging defence lawyers, section 56 is also deeply concerning because of the retroactive clauses.

The Edward Snowden leaks made it absolutely clear that the UK surveillance state was behaving in a criminal manner by ignoring the law and acting without any parliamentary oversight. Section 56 (4) absolves the secret services of their criminal activity by backdating the Snoopers' Charter to decades before it was actually brought into law.

Section 56 is an effort to make it impossible for anyone to ever question the conduct of British spy agencies again. And by "spy agencies" I mean anyone from the head of MI5 to employees of the Food Standards Agency.

As Gareth Corfield of The Register points out, the introduction of the Snoopers' Charter means that "Theresa May and the British government have utterly defeated advocates of privacy and security, completely ignoring those who correctly identify the zero-sum game between freedom and security in favour of those who feel the need to destroy liberty in order to 'save' it" and that "the UK is now a measurably less free country in terms of technological security, permitted speech and ability to resist abuses of power and position by agents of the State".

NOTE: This article was heavily influenced by Gareth Corfield's article on The Register. I have linked to it several times in the text of the article, but here's another link to it, just in case.

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The concerted effort to smear anti-fracking protesters as "extremists"

A report from Spinwatch has identified numerous schools, local councils and police forces that have been describing anti-fracking protests as "extremism", "extremists" and even "terrorist groups".

Labelling anti-fracking as "extremism" and "terrorism" 

The Spinwatch report identifies examples from various parts of the UK including North Yorkshire, Merseyside, Dorset and West Sussex. The unifying theme in all of these examples is that the documents and presentations equating anti-fracking protests with terrorism and extreme-right fanaticism are all linked with the Tory government's Prevent Strategy, which was signed off by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.

Of course we know that the Tories are totally in hock to the fracking industry, so it serves their purposes to have their opponents labelled as "extremists" and "terrorists", but surely nobody in their right mind thinks that it's acceptable for multiple schools, councils and police forces to equate peaceful anti-fracking protests with savage murderers like ISIS and extreme-right fanatics like the MP killer Thomas Mair.

One of the worst examples of these smears against anti-fracking groups was identified in the Prevent policy of Chesswood School in West Sussex. The executive summary of their prevent policy identifies fracking protests as an "extremist ideology" associated with "terrorist groups" and equates environmental opposition to fracking with Al Qaida and far-right extremism.

British values

The Chesswood School Prevent document then goes on to define "extremist" as "vocal or active opposition to British values".

Whatever their opinion on the merits/harms of fracking, I'm pretty sure that most reasonable people would accept that anti-fracking protests consist of vocal or active opposition to fracking, not a vocal or active opposition to British values.

The Chesswood School Prevent strategy then goes on to define "British values" as respect for "democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and those without faith".

The right to peaceful protest is an absolutely essential part of individual liberty. It's ludicrous to imagine that it's possible to have a free and liberal society without the right to protest against the actions of the government, major institutions or other individuals.

If anyone is guilty of disregarding "British values" it's clearly people who insist on smearing anti-fracking protesters as extremists and terrorists simply for opposing what they consider to be unacceptable environmental destruction. Anyone who denies the right to protest such issues is obviously denying individual liberty, and clearly opposing the Chesswood School definition of "British values".

If respect for democracy is a "British value" then many would argue that the Tory party are extremists because of their abject disrespect for democracy. Think about the Tory election fraud at the 2015 General Election, Theresa May's Supreme Court appeal to try to scrap the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and the decision by the Tory run North Yorkshire County Council to allow fracking in Ryedale despite the 131:1 scale of public opposition to the plan.

Tory extremism

This concerted effort to define opposition to fracking as "extremism" and "terrorism" ties in with another of Theresa May's appalling right-wing authoritarian schemes.

Since 2014 the Tories have been pushing an extremism strategy that would allow them to revoke the human rights of people who have committed no crime whatever.

If Theresa May's extremism policy becomes law, then law-abiding citizens could be banned from attending protests or public events, and have all of their online activities pre-vetted by the police.

All that would need to be shown in order to impose these restrictions on people's human rights is that there is a suspicion that the individual could become involved in "harmful activities".

Theresa May's definition of "harmful activities" includes "a risk of public disorder", "a risk of harassment, alarm or distress" and the extremely vague "threat to the functioning of democracy".

So if Theresa May gets her way people could have their rights to free speech, free assembly, the presumption of innocence and peaceful protest scrapped simply because some police officer says they suspect the individual may at some future point cause "alarm or distress" to specified or unspecified persons.

With such extraordinarily low thresholds it's easy to see how the government could use Theresa May's extremism orders to shut down legitimate peaceful protests. All it would take is for a police officer or fracking company employee to claim "distress" because of an anti-fracking protest, then individual law-abiding anti-fracking protesters could be rounded up and stripped of their human rights, banned from protesting again, and forced into a monitoring regime to censor everything they write on the Internet.

Before he resigned in shame after his EU referendum gamble backfired David Cameron summed up the objectives of this policy when he said that "for too long we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'."

It's extraordinary that a serving Prime Minister could get away with expressing such a sinister intention to interfere in the lives of law-abiding citizens, but the mainstream press gave him a free pass on it.

The mainstream media also gave a free pass to Theresa May who is the architect of this policy of stripping law abiding citizens of their human rights, and now this fanatical right-wing authoritarian is the Prime Minister, and still the mainstream media refuse to draw sufficient attention to her autocratic tendencies and her outright contempt for human rights.


It's impossible to not see the connection between this concerted effort to define anti-fracking protesters as "extremists" and "terrorists" and Theresa May's policy of stripping law-abiding citizens of their human rights.

The Tory party are clearly intent on serving the interests of the fracking industry. The widespread effort to brand anti-fracking protesters as "extremists" is clearly useful to the frackers, as will be the Tory policy of stripping people of their right to participate in public or online protests based on nothing more than a suspicion that "alarm" or "distress" may be caused.

You'd have to be staggeringly naive to imagine that the mainstream press would put up a fight to protect our human rights from this next Tory assault, especially given the way Theresa May's appalling Snoopers' Charter drifted into law with barely a whimper of opposition from the media. So it will be down to the public to stop the Tories from achieving their wet dream of labelling law-abiding citizens as "extremists" in order to criminalise peaceful protest.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Monday, December 5, 2016

The Americans are winning at political farce

Politics in the United Kingdom is becoming ever more absurd. There's the leaked Tory memo demanding an end to leaks, there's the absolute fiasco of Brexit and Theresa May's "Brexit means Brexit" drivel when confronted with the evidence she doesn't have a clue what she's doing; there's Nigel Farage quitting British politics and desperately trying to set himself up as Donald Trump's butler; there's Theresa May's decision to give a massive big up to a disgusting Twitter troll by quoting him at Prime Minister's Questions; there's about half of Labour MPs still spending far more time and effort bitterly attacking their own leader than they do criticising the Tory government; there's the delusional Lib-Dems talking about "revival" because they've increased their cohort of MPs from eight to nine; and there's Theresa May's inexplicable decision to appoint Boris Johnson (a man who has insulted nearly every nation on the planet) as her foreign secretary.

But no matter how lame and ludicrous politics in the UK gets, us British folk can always cheer ourselves up by laughing at the antics of our American cousins.

Of course millions of British people used the EU referendum to send an utterly self-destructive "fuck you" to the political establishment, but us Brits really have been completely outdone in the Incoherent Political Anger Stakes by the election of the billionaire narcissist Donald Trump as President of the United States.

One of Donald Trump's early picks to work in his government is a guy called Mike Flynn who is to serve as his national security adviser.

Back in November 2016 Flynn took the extraordinary step of Tweeting a ludicrous fake news story about a Hillary Clinton paedophile ring based out of a pizza restaurant in Washington. He described the fake news item as "MUST READ!" to his Twitter followers, then thousands upon thousands of people retweeted Flynn's fake news tweet.

Eventually the inevitable happened. On Sunday December the 4th 2016 someone decided to shoot up the restaurant named in General Flynn's  "MUST READ!"  fake news story. A gunman entered the crowded restaurant, threatened staff and then began shooting the place up. After his arrest the gunman told police that he was "self-investigating" the Hillary Clinton paedophile ring.

So when Donald Trump is sworn in as President, the United States is going to have a national security adviser who spreads ludicrous fake news stories that inspire crackpot conspiracy-theory believers to go and shoot up American restaurants. America is sure going to be safe and secure with a reckless idiot like that in charge of national security!

Meanwhile Donald Trump has blundered from one display of incompetence to another before he's even been sworn in. Trump has been bragging about his Carrier deal as if it was some magnificently brilliant intervention to offer tax breaks to a company that was threatening to export American jobs to Mexico.

What Trump's actually done is sent a signal to every corporation in America that if they threaten to scrap American jobs then the Trump administration will give them a load of taxpayer funded bribes to make them stop. He's basically said that American corporations can now hold the government hostage for handouts by threatening to destroy American jobs.

Then there's the diplomatic war that Trump has started with China. Talking with the Taiwanese President was always going to rile the Chinese, but instead of admitting his diplomatic blunder, Trump has doubled down by slinging a tirade of insults and criticism at the Chinese.

Trump is clearly the kind of dangerously belligerent hothead who can never admit that they've made a mistake. He's not even been sworn in as President yet but he's determined to trigger World War Three with his loose cannon diplomatic blundering.

In 2017 us Brits have the farcical unravelling of Brexit to look forward to, but our American cousins always have to outdo us by doing things bigger and better, and when it comes to political farce, whatever lunacy and incompetence Theresa May and her Brexiteer charlatans can come up with, Donald Trump and his cronies are certain to go much further.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


The Daily Mail howls of anguish that Norbert Hofer lost

The re-run of the 2016 Austrian Presidential election ended in a reasonably convincing victory for the left-wing candidate Alexander Van der Bellen over Norbert Hofer of the extreme-right Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs.

Van der Bellen stood as an independent candidate, but he's still a member of the Austrian Green Party that he was the leader of between 1997 and 2008. This means that he will be the first Green Party politician ever to serve as an elected European head of state when he is sworn in on January 26th 2017.

The defeated candidate Norbert Hofer represents Europe's growing extreme-right fringe. His Austrian Freedom Party was founded by former Nazis and the first two leaders of the party (Anton Reinthaller and Friedrich Peters) were both members of the SS during the Second World War. The Freedom Party is aligned in the European parliament with other extreme right-wingers like the French National Front, the Italian Northern League, Geert Wilders' Dutch Freedom Party and the absolute dregs of European politics like the (so corrupt she got thrown out of UKIP) independent MEP Janice Atkinson.

Hofer dislikes being called a fascist, but over the years he has done numerous things to appeal to fascists. One of the most famous examples of Hofer appealing to fascists was the time he wore the Nazi blue cornflower symbol in public. He regularly uses Nazi era language and terminology, he hangs out with extreme-right Greater Germany fanatics who deny Austria's nationhood as a fiction, and he refuses to endorse the longstanding anti-Nazi consensus in Austrian politics.

The fact that next President of Austria will not be a representative of Europe's extreme-right fringe has come as a relief to an awful lot of people. After the UK electorate voted for the chaos of a completely unplanned Brexit and then the American public voted for the chaos of electing a clearly unstable man-child as their President, the idea of Austria electing a fascist as their President didn't actually seem as utterly far-fetched as it would have done in the past.
It's understandable that a lot of people are relieved at this defeat for the lunatic far-right fringe, but the Daily Mail are bitterly disappointed at the failure of the extreme-right candidate they championed on so many occasions.

It should come as no surprise that the Daily Mail were backing the candidate for the extreme-right party that was founded by ex-Nazis in the 1950s. After all, back in the 1930s the Daily Mail were enthusiastic supporters of another extreme-right fanatic from Austria called Adolf Hitler.

The Daily Mail reaction to Hofer's defeat was an extraordinary rambling tantrum of a headline accusing relieved liberals of "gloating" and mourning the loss of their fantasy that Hofer's election would have severely damaged the European Union.

Is Europe's Brexit revolution over? Gloating left-wing supporters wave 'Thank God' signs after far-right candidate LOSES Austrian presidential election which was set to deliver body blow to the EU the headline wailed.

The idea that a win for Norbert Hofer would have delivered a "body blow" to the EU is fantastical gibberish. Hofer knew perfectly well that he would stand absolutely no chance of winning the Austrian Presidency if he threatened to drag Austria out of the EU, so he repeatedly expressed pro-EU sentiments. He talked about a referendum on Austrian membership of the EU, but only if the EU introduces a new (and spectacularly unlikely) centralisation and federilisation treaty.

The pathetic efforts of the right-wing press in the UK to dress Hofer up as some kind of Austrian Nigel Farage were totally undermined by Hofer repeatedly saying stuff like "It would undoubtedly damage Austria if it were to leave the EU". But then when did gullible extreme-right fanatics like Daily Mail and Express readers ever let stuff like facts, evidence, or reality get in the way of their favoured political narratives?

The Daily Mail habit of trying to warp every bit of news to suit their anti-EU agenda was already preposterous, but trying to make out that a win for Hofer would have resulted in Brexit for Austria (Öexit) is totally fantastical rubbish. Even if Hofer had've won and then conducted a total U-turn on his EU stance, there's pretty much no chance that the Austrian public would have voted to quit the EU even if Austrian Presidents had the power to call a referendum, which they don't.

As for left-wing people "gloating", I'm pretty sure most of the celebrating Austrians were just mightily relieved to avoid the absolute embarrassment of having a far-right fanatic as their head of state.

On the other hand the piteous wailing from the Daily Mail at the defeat of their favoured extreme-right candidate certainly is cause for celebration.

The thought of some dejected Daily Mail hack crying into their keyboard over the defeat for their favoured Nazi iconography wearing extreme-right fanatic is enough to lift the spirits of anyone with the remotest shred of human decency.

The most up-voted comments beneath the Daily Mail article really are indicative of the putrid right-wing mentality that is infesting political dialogue in the UK. Several comments make the same feeble excuses for Hofer, pretending that he has no history of wearing Nazi iconography or leading a political party founded by ex-Nazis. As far as these Daily Mail readers are concerned, Hofer is apparently "only slightly right of centre". The Daily Mail readership adore Hofer because he shares the same vitriolic hatred of immigrants, and especially Muslims, as they do. Therefore Hofer can do no wrong, and anyone pointing out the fascist roots of his party is a "leftie hand-wringer".

Imagining the impotent rage of these bigoted Daily Mail mind-washed fascism apologists over the defeat of their latest extreme-right demagogue is another thing to brighten the day of any decent human being.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Tories just sanctioned a blind man for not being able to read

The Tories just sanctioned a blind man for the "crime" of not being able to read! Alan Moody suffers from cerebellar ataxia and blindness. The DWP hit him with a benefits sanction for missing a disability denial WCA assessment that they only informed him about by letter.

Every time you hear an appalling story like this it's vital to remember that these savage Tory punishment regimes actually cost the taxpayer far more to administer than they save in reduced benefits payments.

It's been known since January 2016 that the Tory disability denial factories cost far more in corporate outsourcing fees to administer than they will ever save in reduced benefits payments.

In December 2016 a damning National Audit Office report found that the brutal Tory benefits sanctions regime also costs far more to administer than it saves in reduced benefits payments to the unemployed.

Sanctioning a blind man for the "crime" of not being able to read the letter they sent him is appalling enough in it's own right, but anyone who pays the remotest bit of attention to the Tory sanctions regime and their disability denial regime knows full well that extraordinarily unfair cases like this are all too common (see the list of examples in this article).

I'll say it again just to be clear. Every time you hear about someone who has been unfairly thrown into absolute poverty by benefits sanctions or had their disability benefits unfairly stopped by the Tory disability denial system, it's vital to remember that this savage mistreatment of vulnerable people actually costs the taxpayer money.

The Tories are so damned malicious that they see their savagely unfair sanctions and disability denial regimes as "taxpayers' money well spent".

Maybe there are some appallingly vindictive right-wingers out there who actually enjoy the thought of their tax money being spent on abusing disabled and unemployed people, but surely anyone with a shred of human decency should be absolutely outraged at the thought of their tax money being used to treat human beings in such appalling ways.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

The cost of Tory malice

For the last six years the Tories have harked on endlessly about the need to save money to justify their austerity con, but when it comes to the treatment of vulnerable people they've proven themselves perfectly happy to waste hundreds of millions of pounds on schemes designed to force vulnerable people into destitution, anxiety, stress and depression.

The Tories have wheeled out their "saving money" rhetoric to justify all kinds of socially and economically ruinous lunacy like the forced closure of NHS services all over the country, massive cuts to police, military and emergency services budgets, the scrapping of university maintenance grants and NHS bursaries, savage local council cuts, the annihilation of flood defence spending, abandoned and delayed infrastructure projects, and severe cuts to wages and to in-work benefits for the working poor.

But there are now two glaring examples of the Tory government actively wasting money in order to pursue their malicious ideological vendetta against people they consider to be way below them on the social pecking order.

Disability denial factories

It's been known for almost a year that the cost of the Tory policy of putting disabled people through humiliating Work Capacity Assessments far outweighs the savings from reduced disability benefits claims. Ever since the cost to the taxpayer of this regime was revealed the Tory government has been absolutely determined to carry on wasting money in this way.

Given that the WCA reign of terror for disabled people costs far more in corporate outsourcing fees than it will ever save in reduced benefits payments, it would make sense for a government that actually cares about saving money to abandon the policy, but the Tories absolutely refuse to.

The fact that the Tories absolutely will not scrap the appalling WCA reign of terror for disabled people even though it costs far more to administer than it will ever save is indicative of the disgusting Tory mentality.

The Tories are so desperate to strip disability benefits claimants of their social security that they don't give a damn that the corporate disability denial factories they've outsourced the work to cost the taxpayer way more money to administer than the money saved.

The sanctions regime
In November 2016 it was revealed that the savage benefits sanctions regime is another Tory welfare policy that costs far more to administer than it saves in reduced social security payments.

The Tory response to the slew of criticism of their sanctions regime was to spout a load of blatant lies and express their intention to carry on regardless of the money they're wasting in order to ruin people's lives.

It clearly doesn't matter to the Tories how much taxpayers' money they waste on their programme to condemn people to absolute destitution. They consider their policy of forcing people into starvation and homelessness to be a brilliant investment that's worth every penny of the tens of millions of pounds per year it costs the taxpayer.

It's absolutely clear that the Tories are so intent on humiliating disabled people and condemning benefits claimants to absolute destitution that they're actually prepared to waste hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer's money to do these horrific things.

As far as the Tories are concerned these schemes to humiliate and impoverish vulnerable people are money well spent.

Mainstream media complicity

Unfortunately the majority of mainstream media commentators don't give a damn about the fact that these outrageously malicious Tory schemes actually cost the taxpayer money. Most of them are apparently way too busy whining about immigrants, propagandising against Jeremy Corbyn, fawning over Theresa May and abusing judges to care.

These schemes ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year. The decisions to put people through these appalling situations are often staggeringly unfair. Consider the ridiculously harsh reasons people have been hit with benefits sanctions or the fact that one of the disability denial decision makers was a bigoted Britain First fanatic who gleefully used her position to discriminate against disabled people from ethnic minorities.

If the mainstream press wanted to stick up for people who have had their lives absolutely devastated by these appalling Tory schemes, there are easily enough cases for them to run front page headlines every day, but they chose not to because most comfortably well-off mainstream media hacks simply don't care about the fact that "the lower orders" have to endure the taxpayer subsidised Orwellian nightmares of disability denial assessments and the sanctions regime. They're comfortable in their bubbles of privilege and they wouldn't want to rock the boat by incurring the wrath of savagely right-wing press barons like Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay brothers, Richard Desmond and Jonathan Harmsworth by daring to criticise the Tory government.
The vast majority of the mainstream media won't explain what's going on which means that it's up to people like us to spread the word.

Not only are the Tories guilty of the savage mistreatment of disabled people and the unemployed, they're also guilty of wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers' money to administer these utterly barbaric schemes.

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