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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Kate Belgrave gets a strange kind of welcome in Leeds

During Kate Belgrave recently visited what turned out to be a 'Brexit' hot spot within a city that voted narrowly for Britain to Remain in the EU.(1) (Leeds voted 50.3% for Remain, 49.7% to Leave the EU, on a 71.3% turnout.(2))

Leeds voted narrowly for the UK to remain within the EU

And as a New Zealander with Irish passport she was welcomed there for her ancestry rather than her viewpoint on the UK's EU referendum. Welcome back to the land of blogging, Kate!

Link addresses

  1. http://www.katebelgrave.com/2016/06/youre-the-kind-of-immigrant-that-we-want/
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36616028

Leaders of Britain's Green Parties call on leaders of Labour, Lib Dem and Plaid Cwmry for progressive alliance in face of snap general election

In the wake of the UK's EU Brexit referendum debacle, the leaders of 

  • the Green Party of England & Wales (Natalie Bennett)
  • the Green Party of Northern Ireland (Stephen Agnew, MLA) and
  • the Wales Green Party (Alice Hooker-Stroud)

together with Green Party of England & Wales one MP, Caroline Lucas, have jointly written an Open Letter to: 

  • Jeremy Corbyn (Leader of the Labour Party)
  • Tim Farron (Leader of the Liberal Democrats) and 
  • Leanne Wood (Leader of Plaid Cwmry [the Welsh Nationalist Party]).

The UK's biased mass media seem to be showing enormous glee at a Parliamentary Labour Party coup against a party leader chosen more by the rank and file membership than old-guard Blairites would like. Those Kilburn Unemployed members who are Labour Party members are in a different league from the Blairites that laid down foundations of the 'welfare reforms' that the Conservatives are now exploiting, and are generally much happier with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership than those Blairites who would look forward to high paid lobbying positions for global corporations on top of the prospect of seats in the House of Lords.

Against that backdrop, it is not very likely that this letter would get much publicity from the BBC, say, or Sky News, and certainly not from the Daily Mail. So without further ado, this Kwug blog editor is republishing that 'Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, and Leanne Wood' here, while 'declaring an interest in that I am a member of the Green Party of England & Wales. Perhaps it speaks more for Kwug's Labour Party members than the coup leaders against Corbyn could possibly do?

Open letter to: Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, Leanne Wood on behalf of Green Party of England and Wales
In a spirit of openness and transparency, we are writing to you as Leaders of parties which oppose Brexit, to invite you to a cross-party meeting to explore how we best rise to the challenge posed by last week’s vote to Leave the EU.  

Britain is in crisis and people are scared about the future. Never have we had a greater need for calm leadership to be shown by politicians.  

We have a UK Government in chaos, an economy facing a crisis and people up and down the country facing serious hardship. There is an urgent need to make a stand against any austerity and the slashing of environmental legislation, human and workers’ rights, that may come with Brexit. 

With the growing likelihood of an early General Election, the importance of progressive parties working together to prevent the formation of a Tory-UKIP-DUP government that would seek to enact an ultra-right Brexit scenario is ever more pressing.

This is an opportunity to recognise that a more plural politics is in both the Left’s electoral and political interests. This crisis exposes the absurdity of our first past the post electoral system.  Just 24 per cent of those eligible to vote elected the government that called the referendum. The only fair way to proceed is to have a proportional voting system where people can back the politicians who they believe in, rather than taking a gamble and not knowing who they will end up with.  

The idea of a progressive alliance has been floated for several years, and proposals have once again been put forward in the context of the current crisis.  We believe that the time has come to urgently consider such ideas together in the context of a Westminster Government. We recognise the very different political situation in Scotland, given the strongly pro-EU majority there. We hope that co-operation between progressive parties their can ensure that this mandate is respected, and we will support them to keep all options open.
We look forward to your response,

Natalie Bennett, Leader of The Green Party of England and WalesSteven Agnew MLA, Leader of the Green Party of Northern IrelandAlice Hooker-Stroud, Leader of Wales Green PartyCaroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion

Related posts and pages

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Timing of the current turmoil and insurrection within the Parliamentary Labour Party against Corbyn

I would not be surprised if an impetus for the current turmoil within Labour Parliamentarians is their grief for the loss of murdered colleague Jo Cox. It can be all too easy to want to 'lash out' at such a loss. 

Author and former diplomat Craig Murray says the timing of this revolt against Corbyn is due to Blairites hating the prospect that Corbyn would be the Labour Leader in Parliament at the time of the delivery of the Chilcot Report. It's Still the Iraq War, Stupid 

I would also point out that the foundations for many of the really nasty 'welfare reforms' that the Conservatives are now pushing through were really piloted by Blairites. In April 2010, Sheffield Forum reported that a much harsher test for the 'Employment & Support Allowance' that replaced 'Incapacity Benefit' had been authorised by then Work & Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper. Even Harsher New ESA Medical Approved. That test was not piloted until early the following year, and so it eventually seemed as if it was those nasty Tories that were delivering it, when in fact it was Blairite Yvette Cooper. Dude Swheatie of Kwug

Benefits and Work Publishing news headlines 29 June 2016

  1. What do you think Brexit will mean for claimants?(1)
  2. DLA to PIP Mandatory Reconsideration success rate halves in a year(2)
  3. 30% of DLA to PIP claimants get no award at all(3)

Link addresses

  1. http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3528-what-do-you-think-brexit-will-mean-for-claimants
  2. http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3527-dla-to-pip-mandatory-reconsideration-success-rate-halves-in-a-year
  3. http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3526-30-of-dla-to-pip-claimants-get-no-award-at-all

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

DWP now spending £8m every month on outside IT contractors for Universal Credit roll-out

Sentinel News — which has among its contributors KUWG Honorary Member Kate Belgrave — has more than our Kate, wonderful though she is.

So Dude Swheatie spotted this item this evening:(1)
DWP spending on IT contractors rockets amid Universal Credit delays
By Chaminda JayanettiSpending on external IT contractors by the Department for Work and Pensions has rocketed to £8m every month in a desperate attempt to get the heavily delayed Universal Credit scheme back on track.
Monthly workforce figures published by the DWP show that departmental spending on “specialist contractors” has more than doubled in just eight months, reaching £8,272,817 in April this year.(2)
Specialist contractors are people temporarily hired from outside to work on a short-term basis as non-payroll contractors rather than employees.
Continue reading at https://sentinelnews.co.uk/2016/06/20/dwp-spending-on-it-contractors-rockets-amid-universal-credit-delays/

Link addresses

  1. https://sentinelnews.co.uk/2016/06/20/dwp-spending-on-it-contractors-rockets-amid-universal-credit-delays/
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-workforce-management-information-2016

UK EU referendum: how those who could vote voted in your area

The BBC has published an interactive map to help people gauge which way the vote last Thursday panned out in their area.(1)

It gives figures for those who: 

  • voted for Britain to leave the EU, 
  • those who voted to remain in the EU,
  • number of people who voted, and
  • percentage turnout (how many voted who could have voted)

It does not give any indication of how many chose to redesign their ballot papers.

Helpfully, it offers the options of inputting your area by postcode or council name rather than a 'pin point mouse click', and it also gives enlarged detail where you do place your mouse pointer, so that you can navigate closer to home. 

Here are figures for the two factions in the boroughs of Brent and Camden that form the heartland of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group:
LB Brent
LB Camden

Charts on the same web page also reveal the breakdown of the vote according to region. The vote in London was 40.1% for Britain to leave the EU, and 59.9% for Britain to remain. By far the largest preference for 'remain' was in a 'voting region' that many would not have even thought of as a voting region in this referendum; Gibraltar voted 95.9% to remain, 4.1% to leave. Maybe, given their disparity with the overall UK vote, they might reconsider their ties with the UK?

How did it feel to be excluded from an electoral process that 'everyone was talking about' while you were excluded and yet most intimately affected? An EU national who is a member of Kwug explains in a separate post on this blog.(2) Someone commented by email about his great privilege over her in this referendum being grossly unfair and how he was sickened by the divisiveness whipped up by the Brexit lobby over an 'internal Tory squabble'. Those who know our EU national friend consider it a great privilege to know her.

Scotland's vote in favour of remaining in the EU was even greater than that of London; Scottish MEP Alyn Smith got a standing ovation over his country's loyalty to that Union and his plea for the EU to stand in unity and support with Scotland.(3)
UKIP leader Farage's stony response to EU Parliament's standing ovation for Alyn Smith's speech

Link addresses

National Day of Action Against 'Personal Independence Payments' regime Wednesday 13 July 2016

Reminder: The national day of action against the new Personal Independence (PIP) regime occurs two weeks tomorrow.(1)

Callout poster for the central London protest - there will be many others around the country - check at the bottom of this page for one near you, if there isn't - why not organise one?
Command click on the London demo poster photo to access more detail from the DPAC website
This is being called by Disabled People Against Cuts, the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and WinVisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities). PIP figures from the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) suggest that the change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP has been a cost-cutting-by-cutting-number-of-claimants exercise.(2) That echoes the 2007 move from Incapacity Benefit (IB) to Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) was.

The two companies that deliver the DWP's eligibility testing regime for PIP are Atos and Capita. When Atos was gaining notoriety for its administration of the Work Capability Assessment by which ESA eligibility is underscored, Glaswegian GP Dr Margaret McCartney in 2011 that they treated people like "claimants, not patients," inferring that normal medical ethics need not apply to their profit-oriented, payment-by-results activities.(3) So it does not look as if they have changed the error of their ways.

Claire Glasman of WinVisible told Disability News Service:
“[The change from DLA to PIP] is impoverishing people, trapping people in their homes, making their lives a misery.“We have no confidence that people’s situations are being properly assessed.“There were problems with DLA as well but that was a lot more responsive to people’s situation.”(4)
How will you respond?

Link addresses

  1. http://dpac.uk.net/2016/06/pip-fightback-national-day-of-action-against-pip-13th-july-pipfightback/
  2. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/pip-figures-fuel-concerns-over-cuts-while-activists-plan-day-of-action/
  3. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/sickness-benefit-clawback-firm-tells-1096774
  4. http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/pip-figures-fuel-concerns-over-cuts-while-activists-plan-day-of-action/

Fundraiser for Crossroads Women's Centre, Friday 15 July at 7pm in Kilburn

Received by email from Crossroads Women

Dear Friends,
Fundraiser in Kilburn, north west London, for the Crossroads Women’s Centre – ad below – organised by young women performers.

Hope you might join us there, and please send round to your facebook and other contacts.

Thank you,

Peer Support & Volunteer Co-ordinator
Crossroads Women’s Centre
25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX
Tel: 0207 482 2496

Female headliners at The Good Ship, 289 Kilburn High Rd, NW6 7JR
Doors: 7pm. Tickets: £8 for Adults, £6 for students

Monday, 27 June 2016

'Licence Agreements' minimise renters' rights

The following comes from the tenants' newsletter of a so-called 'social landlord', known below as ****. It serves to illustrate how 'licences' that offer far fewer rights are replacing tenancies that offer renters more enforceable rights and greater security.

"Licence Agreements

"At the **** forum we've been discussing the kind of agreements we use when people come to live at ****. As of 1st June 2016, people moving in to our supported properties will be issued with Licence Agreements rather than tenancies.

"Why have **** brought in this change?

"When we offer supported housing it's on a short term basis and people are expected to move on within 2 years. Licenses help us move people in and out more quickly. It's particularly helpful when there are difficulties in the placement that can't be resolved.

"What's the difference?

"Licence agreements are easier to bring to an end. Both residents and PBHA have the same responsibilities as in tenancies to look after the property and act in a neighbourly way.

"What about current tenants?

"No current tenancies will be affected."

An unasked question in the above is, "What does 'supported housing' mean?" The emphasis on 'support' being limited to a 2 year stretch is perhaps reminiscent of chorus words from a Ewan MacColl song about public attitudes to gypsies or 'travelling people' in the 1950's. "You'd better get born in some place else. Go! Move! Shift!"(1)

Link address


Demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn Mon 27 June at 6pm

The Kilburn Unemployed blog editor is getting various messages about this matter.

Here is what our non-party-political friends in WinVisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities) sent out:
GWS is non-party political but we are part of the movement called into being by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party – anti-sexist, anti-racist, welcoming of immigrants and asylum seekers, and against austerity, starvation wages, war and other environmental degradation. We are outraged that the one Labour leader directly elected by the membership is attacked by a parliamentary coup. We’ll be at this demonstration tonight at 6pm,(1) Parliament Square, to show support for Jeremy Corbyn. (Nearest tube: Westminster.) Please join us.
Janet McLeod — London & Eastern Organiser for Unite Community — sends us:

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey’s article in The Guardian which clearly makes the case for uniting behind Jeremy Corbyn in the face of the resignations of the last 24 hours. Jeremy Corbyn best represents the views and interests of workers, unemployed workers and trade unionists across the country and this support was shown in the overwhelming vote that saw him elected as Labour leader just 10 months ago. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/26/labour-mutineers-betraying-national-interest?CMP=share_btn_fb
There is a demonstration tonight at 6pm in parliament square to show support for Corbyn, bring your branch banners and Unite flags.
In solidarity
Janet MacLeodUnite Community & Unite in Schools CoordinatorLondon & Eastern RegionRon Todd House33 – 37 Moreland StreetLondonEC1V 8BB 07718 668498FB London & Eastern Unite Community#OurCommunityLEwww.unitetheunion.org

Meanwhile, London Green Left blogger Mike Shaughnessy points out that disaffection of working class British voters with the Labour Party is the fault of Tony Blair, not Jeremy Corbyn.(2)

Link addresses

  1. https://www.facebook.com/events/1754368201514480/
  2. http://londongreenleft.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/labour-party-coup-blair-is-responsible.html

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Boycott Workfare Welfare Action Gathering Saturday 9 July 2016 at M1 6DD, 11:00 to 17:00

This is a reminder. That event is just two weeks today!
Details at http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=6598

Taxpayers Against Poverty asks Bishops, Councils and Company bosses to get their heads round the depths of poverty in the UK

From the Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty

A TAP letter was published in The Guardian on Thursday 16th June. 

They added the helpful headline.

In the photo with the letter I was at a demonstration for people whose relatives had died or committed suicide after their benefits were stopped by a benefit sanction. I said this prayer at the demonstration, which was written for them. (2)

The first paragraph draws on the work of Psychologists Against Austerity (https://psychagainstausterity.wordpress.com/) who have listened to low income people sanctioned and in debt. (3)

The following TAP letter was published by The Church Times on Friday 24th June.
The Church Times added the headline. 

Flaws in Bishops’ analysis of the welfare state 

Sir, — By adding a sixth giant, “isolation” (News, 10 June) to Beveridge’s “five giant evils” of want, disease, squalor, ignorance, and idleness, in their report Thinking Afresh about Welfare, the Bishops have gone a very long way towards describing the dilemmas of poverty in the UK faced by politicians and the electorate, but never reached its depths.

They rightly set a goal of “enhancing the well-being of the whole nation”, but I searched in vain for a description of the impact of debt on mental health reported to governments of all hues by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (4) and the Government Office for Science, (5) and of the creation of debts by welfare reform; and of the lifetime behavioural problems of too many low-birth-weight babies born to impoverished mothers who cannot afford a healthy diet, before and while they are pregant, described by the Institute for Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition; (6) of the 17-year and increasing gap in life expectancy between some rich and poor areas; (7) for an understanding of the socially divisive and growing inequality of wealth accumulated over the past 30 years by land-owning home-owners, corporations, large builders, and landlords, including the Churches, while the landless tenants, with diminishing security of tenure, have rent and council-tax arrears enforced against their low benefit incomes because of cuts in their housing and council-tax benefits.

Perhaps the most serious omission is the failure to mention the deliberate reduction of access to justice by pricing it out of the reach of the poorest citizens and reducing legal aid. The administration of welfare involves millions of decisions to be made by national and local government officials every week. Parliament has passed an immense amount of welfare legislation, the just interpretation of whose practice inevitably requires the courts.

Benefit sanctions, which stop benefit incomes for one month, three months, or three years, are cruel and disproportionate punishments. They create hunger and crippling debts, which pile up during the sanction and have to be paid off over even more months when it ends. The Bishops suggest: “Our approach to sanctions should focus on how they are administered whilst supporting the principled option of using sanctions where they are demonstrably effective in changing irresponsible behaviour.”

No punishment should be left to Jobcentre administrators. They should be proportionate to income and handed down by the magistrates after due process, including independent representation.

Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road
London N17 0BF

Friday, 24 June 2016

Psycho-coercion and workfare — a talk by Lynne Friedli of Boycott Workfare

This talk by Lynne Friedli of Boycott Workfare was given to a Scottish Unemployed Workers Network (SUWN) public meeting in Dundee on 7 June.  You can watch it here on youtube. (Duration: 43:27 ) (1)

Continue reading on Scottish Unemployed Workers Network website.(2)

Link addresses

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCVy3JzpV5A&feature=youtu.be
  2. https://scottishunemployedworkers.net/2016/06/22/psycho-coercion-and-workfare-fighting-back/

EU — Can I Stay Or Must I Go? — An EU National's Perspective

The blog publisher has belatedly received/opened the following from 'An EU National' who had no say in the UK's EU referendum. the blog publisher delights in publishing it on an otherwise very sad day, and in knowing Ivy and proclaiming greater allegiance to his 'EU National' commentator, friend and comrade and what she stand for than any allegiance for the British crown.

EU — Can I Stay Or Must I Go?

With lyrics such as:

Should I go there will be trouble
Should I stay it will be double...

I’m not surprised Mick Jones from Clash doesn't want his song associated with EU Referendum.

But then I’m really tired of same “In or Out” rhetoric ignoring our lack of voting rights.

If Scotland prevented its English citizens from voting – there would have been a public outcry. The Scottish Referendum would not have been allowed then.

But when EEA* Nationals lost voting rights in EU Referendum – who cared?

Certainly not LEXIT** or Abstain from Vote brigades, busy rebranding themselves as “not racists” only against the institution of EU. If they poured as much energy into fighting for equal voting rights at EU Referendum – then I would have believed them. Instead they enabled a right-wing narrative on how Britons only should vote. Rather than quit ignoring how EEA Nationals & other migrants have been denied a vote which will determine if we can stay or lose rights to benefits, etc.

Scratch the surface & this exposes a view of people as “us” or “them” instead of just “we”. Migrants are not seen as people living in UK, let alone as people settled in UK. Because migrants are seen as some external workforce which Britons can allow, restrict, send away or deny equal rights to.

So instead of colluding with EU Referendum being all about Britons staying or leaving EU, I ask those of you who are British to examine your privilege. This is similar to when white people are asked to examine our privilege, instead of pretending that people of all races are treated equally.

ü  The privilege of not being forced out of UK when you can’t support yourself.
ü  The right to claim benefits & not losing those right due to nationality.
ü  The privilege of having a UK citizenship & not been denied one
ü  The privilege of not risk getting deported if you’re an activist opposing the regime***
ü  The privilege of not having to pay around £1500 just to apply for a citizenship without getting any (or barely any) money back if you’ve been denied.
ü  The privilege of not having to apply for Permanent Residence Cards, pass English tests, redo complex life in UK tests & pledge allegiance with the Queen just to be British.

And as of today:

ü  The right to vote on whether EEA migrants should be able to stay, get benefits, etc.
ü  The privilege of not having to vote without losing any of your above mentioned rights

This is by no means an exhaustive list. And sure, it is a lot worse for non-EEA migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, paperless immigrants... 

I just wanted to show how people who wonder how & if they should vote today, enjoy rights that other citizens in UK don’t have. And how you will continue to enjoy these rights even if you don’t vote. Same cannot be said about EEA & other migrants whose lives will be dictated by your choices.

Secondly, I’d like you to imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have those rights. And how you would like others to vote in an election which will directly affect your life – right to stay & right to benefits.


* EEA – European Economic Area  
** LEXIT – left-wing version of leaving the EU (European Union)
*** Operation Nexus – protecting us from terrorism, apparentlyhttp://www.airecentre.org/news.php/226/operation-nexus-the-unlawful-deportation-of-eu-nationals