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Monday, 26 June 2017

The Council leader and the unsafe cladding

In May, Cllr Gould's 'coronation' as Camden Council leader came with plaudits from Lord Mandelson and other local Labour Party luminaries. The Camden New Journal reported: "Town Hall boss says she will be judged on her own merits and not 'New Labour heir' tag."(1)

Yet perhaps both her backers and her 'performance on the job' betray an alienation between her 'leadership' and Camden's tower block fodder?

"Everything that is proposed from the establishment seems almost calculated to minimise the role of the people, to miniaturise man [sic]. I can understand how attractive this prospect must be to those at the top. Those of us who refuse to be pawns in their power game can be picked up by their bureaucratic tweezers and dropped in a filing cabinet under 'M' for malcontent or maladjusted. When you think of some of the high flats around us, it can hardly be an accident that they are as near as one could get to an architectural representation of a filing cabinet.” (2)

As a newbie council leader Georgia Gould might not be personally responsible for the Health & Safety failings of Camden's Tower blocks that came to prominence in the wake of the Grenfell Tower inferno. I would argue though that her 'swift and decisive' attempt to remedy those Health & Safety failings by means of delegated turfing out of people at unsocial hours without consultation from the tower blocks bears evidence of bureaucratic tweezers more than a friendly, “I am here to help you at this hour of danger” handshake.(3)

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug


  1. http://camdennewjournal.com/article/proud-lord-mandelson-hails-new-council-leader-georgia-gould
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/still-irresistible-a-working-class-heros-finest-speech-2051285.html
  3. http://camdennewjournal.com/article/georgiagouldexplanation

Friday, 23 June 2017

Jimmy Reid on tower blocks as 'filing cabinets'

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, I'd say that we need to look again not just at the matter of the 'cladding' materials used, but moreover at the nature of people's living conditions,

Heed the words of the late Scottish trade unionist and Communist Jimmy Reid in his 1972 inauguration speech as Rector of Glasgow University:

"Everything that is proposed from the establishment seems almost calculated to minimise the role of the people, to miniaturise man [sic]. I can understand how attractive this prospect must be to those at the top. Those of us who refuse to be pawns in their power game can be picked up by their bureaucratic tweezers and dropped in a filing cabinet under 'M' for malcontent or maladjusted. When you think of some of the high flats around us, it can hardly be an accident that they are as near as one could get to an architectural representation of a filing cabinet.

"If modern technology requires greater and larger productive units, let's make our wealth-producing resources and potential subject to public control and to social accountability. Let's gear or society to social need, not personal greed. Given such creative re-orientation of society, there is no doubt in my mind that in a few years we could eradicate in our country the scourge of poverty, the underprivileged, slums, and insecurity...."(1)

Also from Glasgow is Matt McGinn's 'Jeely Piece Song' aka 'Height Starvation Song'.(2)

For more of how things could and should be, there is a Taxpayers Against Poverty series of blog posts about solutions to the UK's housing crisis.(3)

Blog post by Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

Friday, 16 June 2017

Socially engaged artist Helen Mandley exhibiting at Middlesex Uni BA (Hons) Fine Art and Design Show at Old Truman Brewery, 16-19 June 2017

(This blog post was uploaded again here because of earlier deficiencies in the original publication. At that time, the Kwug Blog editor was using other people's equipment — MacBook Pro and iPad — that are unfamiliar to him. This marks republication marks his first uploading of a blog post using a Windows 10 laptop. The earlier posting of this content received 82 viewings before it was deleted on 22 June 2017.)

Helen Mandley knows the importance of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group as both the subject matter of a socially engaged artist and a former customer of the now scheduled for closure Kilburn Jobcentre. Becoming an artist requires years of dedication and for Helen2 of Kwug it has meant additionally the kind of empowerment that comes with knowing more of one's rights than Department for Work & Pensions officials like customers to know they have.

Then, she received threats from staff to toe the line set by them and those who give them their orders. Those orders basically said that as a Fine Art & Design Foundation student at Working Men's College she lacked talent and her tutors were conning her when they said otherwise. They threatened her with sanctions for 'not making herself available' for the kind of alienation that she would get through surrendering her sense of social engagement as being herself and being an enabling neighbour. The placards she saw as the backdrop to Kwuggies' appearance at that place showed her that there was a valid alternative source of Information, Advice & Guidance to what Jobcentre staff told her was the only way for her to go.

Kwug could not guide her artistic expression as her course teachers and leaders could and have done, but the knowledge of her rights obtained from attendance at Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group meetings helped keep her on the path to becoming not just an artist, but also a socially engaged artist.

An installation by socially engaged artist Helen Mandley, aka Helen2 of Kwug

She texted the Kwug Blog editor on 14 June:
"I'm installing work over the next day and today.

"The Exhibition is open to public Daily from Friday 15 June to Tuesday 20 June, 11am to 6pm. Private view is Saturday 17 June at 6pm.

"The venue is Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL."
The kind of 'Private View' that will happen this Saturday is very different from the kind of 'private view' that goes on in a Jobseekers Allowance claimant's 'interviews' at the jobcentre!

Social engagement vs patronage of and by the wealthy

Of course, social engagement is very different from the kind of sponsorship that has gone on previously between the wealthy and artists as people needing to be paid for their output. Social engagement works both ways, and Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group does not sponsor artists in the way that royalty traditionally has.

Conservative Government promotes 'Universal Credit' saying that it is to 'incentivise' people to work. The reality as authoritatively stated recently by benefits adviser and Basic Income UK representative Barb Jacobson, that in order to obtain and maintain paid employment, a person needs capital.

Kwug in association with youtube has given a platform for youtube video content by Helen for presenting 'studies' that have gone into her work that is to be exhibited.

Helen has written of her subject matter in a Middlesex Uni publication 'May Grey June Gloom':

"Socially engaged art is my main focus, mainly working in the last year with film and photography, yet also sculpture and installation. I aim to understand, to see and capture people's movements, conversations, resistance and their need that is a result of government policies in the UK today.

"Most of my work is driven by a constant duel of working to survive and striving to garner more understanding of the political and social inequality I see in my life and around me.

"I use film and photography as an embedded artist within a community group that campaigns against austerity cuts. Campaigning could be a conversation and sharing of information, but the challenge is that many of the group members wish to remain anonymous."

"Ths new challenge has created many layers and a deeper understanding of the moving image. Capturing the esence and role of the group whils staying within an art framework has been my main focus and challenge."

helenmandley@icloud. com     helenmandley.wordpress.com

Helen has also told the Kwug Blog editor in one-to-one conversation that she likes to think of her work as an antidote to the social poison of such 'reality tv' output as 'Benefits Street' and the like.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Is Reform.uk think tank a charity abiding by the rules, or a non-executive arm of privatising government?

Reform.uk home page rolling billboard messaging presents very mixed messaging!

The above 'screen capture' image is taken from the 'rolling top and bottom billboards' presentations that make up the bulk of the current home page of the 'think tank' Reform.uk.(1) I would argue that the messaging presented by the upper and lower 'billboards' shown in the above 'screen capture' image presents so much contrast as to be hypocritical.

I am reminded of what I recall an American singer-songwriter of the 'topical' or 'protest singer' gendre saying/writiting once of those whose standpoints he opposed: "You don't have to satirise them; you merely have to quote them."

Clashing billboard messaging

As indicated by the red dot at the bottom right of the 'upper billboard' in the above screen capture image, the 'upper billboard' message is the third of three. (The first and second of those 'upper billboard' screen captures are recruiting adverts for the organisation.) The upper billboard message shown reads:
As a charity, Reform will not be publishing or tweeting anything until after the general election.
Yet the lower billboard would seem to present this 'charity' as a non-executive arm of a privatising government:
I think Reform has made some very, very important arguments, which have really helped us as Ministers, who are trying to enact those very reforms.
Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health

Global Corporate Private Sector involvement in a UK 'charity'

Priding itself as a 'charity abiding by charity status rules' regarding involvement in a UK General Election, Reform.uk still prides itself as being exactly in harmony with the 2015/17 government's agenda. Indeed, all the lower billboard statements on offer are sourced from Tory Government Ministers.(2) I further observe that the changes in the messages from government ministers shown has changed since I did screen captures of that home page on 27 April for Kwug Blog has functioned as providing more than a static-in-time home page.(3) Looking further into to the Reform.uk content, there is an item on The future of public services: digital jobcentres, as presented by Accenture, a global corporation.(4) Accenture's branding 'strap line' is 'High Performance. Delivered'.

Screen capture of the cover page of Accenture's report for Reform.uk
'The future of public services: digital jobcentres

So, what have Accenture previously delivered to us or their clients? To answer that question, I refer my readers to the previous Kwug Blog post, Terms and conditions in 'too commercially sensitive for public access' contracts between government and corporations.(5)

That earlier Kwug Blog post reveals that in late 2011, a 'Con-Dem' government awarded the primary contractor in building the 'customer facing systems' for Universal Credit [sic] to Accenture! "High performance. Delivered"? What were they contracted to do? Discourage claiming?(6)

Conclusion: If Reform.uk is a charity, what is Charity?

So, to sum up, given
if Reform.uk is a charity, what has Charity got to do with it? Maybe it's more to do with tax breaks and a love-in between corporate privatisers of public services and right wing government?

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

  1. http://www.reform.uk/
  2. http://www.reform.uk/ browsed on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/revisiting-kwug-blogs-2015-uk-general-election-posting-pollsters-vision-excludes-those-offline.html
  4. http://www.reform.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-future-of-public-services-digital-jobcentres.pdf
  5. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/terms-and-conditions-in-too-commercially-sensitive-for-public-access-contracts-between-government-departments-and-corporations.html
  6. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/us-workfare-monger-laurence-meads-work-makes-you-free-impact-on-uk-welfare-reform.html (Sorry for the accidental misspelling of Lawrence Mead's forename in that page address)
  7. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/let-us-not-help-theresa-may-bury-bad-news-about-universal-credit-rollout-suicides-and-homelessness-under-a-brexit-general-election.html
  8. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/terra-firma-benefits-services-closures-leave-the-economically-vulnerable-in-the-lurch.html

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Top 10 Kwug Blog Posts for the past month

24 Apr 2017

19 Jan 2017

17 Apr 2017, 1 comment

18 Apr 2017

27 Apr 2017
29 Apr 2017

6 May 2017

20 Dec 2016

7 May 2017

4 May 2017

Multi-millionaire to give money to pro-Brexit Tories. What's in it for him?

Jeremy Hosking, a London asset manager and Conservative Party donor, spent £1.7m ($2.19m) on the Vote Leave campaign and has vowed to funnel cash to Tory candidates who will not oppose Brexit.

He told the Observer that he wanted to give Prime Minister Theresa May "an army" of pro-Brexit MPs that was "fully equipped and as big as possible".

He will target constituencies where most voters backed Brexit, but which are currently represented by an MP that favoured Remain, offering upto £5,000 per candidate. With nearly 140 such constituencies, Hosking could end up spending close to £700,000 on the campaign.
 As an 'asset manager', he would consider it an investment to help make him and his clients much more wealthy.

But does he give a shit about public service workers at the front line of public service delivery such as paramedics on 1% pay increases who put their lives on the line for £12.35/hr in saving lives?(2)

Some 'give' more money than others make in a lifetime to make themselves and their clients more wealthy. Others give their lives to public service.

Link references

  1. https://uk.yahoo.com/news/millionaire-brexiteer-launches-bid-oust-113103244.html
  2. https://tompride.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/desperately-underpaid-paramedic-tells-theresa-may-ive-seen-things-no-one-should-have-to-witness/

Sunday, 14 May 2017

US evangelist Lawrence Mead's 'work makes you free' impact on UK welfare reform policies

Lawrence M Mead
“In my interviews with state officials [in the US] they did not blink about putting men in prison to enforce a work requirement,” says Lawrence M Mead. Photograph: Graeme Robertson
(Kwug Blog editor apologises for accidental misspelling of Mead's forename in the address for this Web page.)

In a recent Kwug Blog post I referred to my attendance on Monday 8 May at the book launch for Prof. Guy Standing's book, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen.(1) I now turn briefly to flagging up a reference Guy made to the influence of Lawrence Mead on the ideas and strategies of now former Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and David Cameron from as far back as 2007.(2)

Mead's overriding message: "Make it harder for people to claim," reported Guy Standing.

This blog post is intended more as a reference source than an 'article'. I shall close it with reference to a blog post I wrote from dire personal experience that the British Broadcasting Corporation never properly reported on but that was far more widespread than the 2007 Blairite Government would have liked to have flagged up: Benefit claimants require firmer safeguards, not tougher sanctions.(3)

Since then, we have had introduction of food stamps as decreed by Lawrence Mead the evangelist of a 'despise thy claimant' theology.(4)

Laurence Mead: "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate."

I close this blog post with the closing paragraphs of the Guardian Society article Does getting tough on the unemployed work?(5)
The key intellectual insight for Mead when he began his assault on the American welfare state was that what changed behaviour was not economic incentives but tough government talking. "It was authoritative statements from people in authority that mattered. We should not [incentivise people] to work. We hope [they will]. We say it because you are supposed to do it, we expect you to do it."

Such sentiments have a whiff of 1930s Germany, something the Twittersphere buzzed with when welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "Work makes you free" – the same words hung over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp. "I have faced this accusation," says Mead. "Hitler was non-democratic, whereas work requirements claim a popular mandate. There is something wrong when because of fascism we have to solve every problem with freedom and benefits."
In the wake of another Tory victory, would Theresa May claim a 'popular mandate' for the Gospel according to Lawrence Mead?

"Arbeit macht frei" — the German for
"work makes you free"

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Link references

  1. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/universal-credit-application-processes-bleed-claimants-dry-simplicity-of-basic-income-application-processes-revives.html
  2. https://uk.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A7x9Ukn3cRhZaEoAKjeP3olQ;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTIxMjY4NwRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1tb3ppbGxhLTEwMARncHJpZAM4al95U19YelFyV3FyWU1tS0ZqV0ZBBG5fcnNsdAMwBG5fc3VnZwMwBG9yaWdpbgN1ay5zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMwBHBxc3RyAwRwcXN0cmwDBHFzdHJsAzUxBHF1ZXJ5AyUyMmxhdXJlbmNlJTIwbWVhZCUyMiUyMCUyMmlhaW4lMjBkdW5jYW4lMjBzbWl0aCUyMgR0X3N0bXADMTQ5NDc3NTIwOQ--?p=%22laurence+mead%22+%22iain+duncan+smith%22&fr2=sb-top-uk.search&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-100&type=newtab
  3. http://kilburnunemployed.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/benefit-claimants-require-firmer-safegards-not-tougher-sanctions.html 
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
  6. https://tse3.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.TXIkYO_C3vKprrqbIq501QEsDB&pid=15.1&P=0&w=241&h=157