Monday, 30 December 2019

Let's Dance


Where to start? Let it be with something / someone optimistic. How about Jeremy Corbyn? In recent days I have helped promote a letter in his support. Now signed by thousands and headed by Ken Loach, Brian Eno, Grime 4 Corbyn, Nigel Kennedy, Alexei Sayle, AL Kennedy, Michael Rosen and Francesca Martinez. 

 

My more recent blog on the knighthood for Iain Duncan-Smith sits at the other extreme. Someone deeply scarred by life and intent on scarring everyone else.

 

Maybe you shrug your shoulders about the recent general election and will tell me ‘that’s democracy’, ‘They won we lost’. If in Russia the administration for elections was organised by Putin’s cronies, I am damn sure our media would be screaming - ‘Corruption’. So why the silence when that is the case here?

 

The power of our ‘Free Press’ has played an important role in deciding when to scream and when to remain silent.

 

Of course we must not forget the repeated scream that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-semitic. But hey 5,000 Nazis in the form of Britain First have now joined the Tory Party and in the USA a campaign has been lifted from the UK election casebook with attacks on Bernie Sanders, a Jew, as being anti-Jewish.

 

But we must not forget that the election was about Brexit. Was it?

 

It should have been about the privatisation of the NHS

 

So a penultimate shout-out for Jeremy Corbyn.

 

And don’t despair - glance across the Channel at those ballet dancers.

 

and let's dance.

 

 

www.davidwilson.org.uk




Saturday, 28 December 2019

Rise (up against) Sir Iain


As a result of Iain Duncan-Smith’s time as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the UK became the first country to face a United Nations enquiry into human rights abuses against disabled people – with our government found guilty of “grave and systemic violations of the rights of disabled people”.

Duncan-Smith's introduction of the Work Capability Assessments required those with chronic disability to continuously prove they are deserving of their welfare payments or be stripped of their entitlements. This has been directly linked to relapses of depression and anxiety and even to deaths through suicide.

Psychiatrist Mona Kamal Ahmed writes: “As a NHS psychiatrist I have sat in A&E departments with people diagnosed with chronic mental illness who have been driven to panic attacks, acute relapses of their depressive illness and suicidal ideation as a result of the anxiety caused by these tests and over the prospect of losing the welfare payments they rely on. This has only intensified with the chaos and uncertainty of Universal Credit, a system known to be causing hardship to millions and for which Iain Duncan-Smith is wholly culpable … There is no place for these cruel dehumanising measures in any civilised compassionate society, and the fact that Iain Duncan-Smith, the individual responsible and the architect of such misery, is to receive the honour of a knighthood is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable individuals across this country who are suffering as a result of his policies and to those who have tragically lost loved ones as a direct result.”

As the father of someone dependent on disability allowances I write this in agreement and with bitter hatred for Duncan-Smith.

Aged 46, my son has been disabled since he was six months old after a vaccination precipitated Salaam epilepsy. In hospital, he contracted meningitis and started a life of physical and, more recently courtesy of the DWP, mental hardship.

His eyesight is poor and the right side of his body has atrophied and shortened. When walking he has to use a stick.

After a scan on his right ankle which was causing him discomfort, he was given anti-inflammatories and painkillers.

For 20 years, he received a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) of £80 per week and £108 per week working tax credits, a weekly income of £188. Because his mobility was worsening, he contacted the DWP to request assistance with his housework. He could only stand for a short time without pain.  

Their response was to tell me that my benefits had been assessed and that I would lose them,” says Ben. It’s crazy because I have to take five tablets twice a day as I’m in constant pain. As a result, my weekly income fell from £188 to £67. They said I could apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which had replaced DLA. I did so, but my application was rejected. It was a massive blow and left me with a huge shortfall.”

He appealed their decision and the DWP then carried out an ‘assessment’ on Ben’s condition which concluded that their original decision to cut his benefits was the correct one.

The assessment was carried out by a private firm, Atos, one of two companies (the other is Capita) who between them earn more than £125 million a year from the taxpayers. This doesn’t actually involve any face-to-face assessments and I have been unable to find out whether they even employ any medically-trained staff.

Those resilient enough to continue with their lives and, as with my son, lucky enough to have strong family and friendship support, have been pressing their cases on to a final court-based Tribunal appeal.

Thanks to Ben’s lawyer cousin his Tribunal hearing was successful. What of those who don’t have this support and never reach a tribunal?

Mona Kamal Ahmed has started a petition objecting to the Knighthood for Iain Duncan-Smith. You might want to join her and sign it.


Sunday, 22 December 2019

Who Got The Bread?


It’s Christmas so a biblical story for our times. Jesus took five loaves and two fishes and fed five thousand men, women and children. The Gospels don’t say whether Christ joined in. I hope he did, but I doubt he kept ten loaves for himself.

I was co-founder of the charity War Child and the present CEO receives a salary of £108,000 pa. The charity justifies this on the grounds that his efforts bring in millions.

Forget the last supper. With that argument Jesus should have sat down with his disciples and had a blow-out meal.

Here is my article on charity corruption

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Letter to Jeremy Corbyn from Ken Loach, Brian Eno & others

To Jeremy Corbyn MP – leader of the Labour Party

As artists and writers, we would like to thank you for raising political awareness in our country to a level not seen since the end of World War II. Your humanity, courage and insight have mobilised a new generation of socialist activists.

Much of our work reflects the world we live in and, as leader of the Labour Party, you have inspired and energised us for the future.

The media has been atrocious in the recent election and, in the face of provocation, we congratulate you for keeping your dignity and clarity.

You will never be forgotten.

Sincerely


Ken Loach - film director

Brian Eno - musician/producer

Grime 4 Corbyn

Nigel Kennedy - musician

Ken Livingstone - writer and ex-Mayor of London

Alexei Sayle - writer and comedian

A L Kennedy - writer

Michael Rosen - writer/poet

Francesca Martinez - comedian

Peter Kennard - artist

Matthew Collings - painter and art critic

Victoria Brittain - writer

Louise Christian - writer/ human rights lawyer

Habib Ahmadi - writer

Jacky Alty - glass artist

Sue Angus - artist

Tessa Angus - photographer/musician

Anthony Anaxagorou - poet

Anne Aylor - writer

Frank Barat - writer

Gerry Barnett - musician

Greta Berlin - sculptor

Heather Bird - musician

Cecily Bomberg - writer

Richard Bradbury - writer

Jezz Brown - writer

Carol Browne - writer

Emma Catnip - musician

Klaudija Cermak - writer/artist

Julia Chantrell - artist

Penny Crichton-Seager - artist

Nigel Clark - musician/former ‘Dodgy’

Frank Darnley - sculptor

Neil Devlin - writer

Annie Duarte - theatre director

Valerie Driscoll - artist

Neil Faulkner - archaeologist/writer

Odette Farrell - artist

Andrew Feinstein - writer

Nicola Field - writer

Mary Finnigan - writer

Matt Foot - writer

Owen Gallagher - poet

Donald Gardner - poet

Lindsey German - writer

Ian Graham - writer/computer scientist

Lana Grant - writer

Adrian Green - poet

Kevin Higgins - writer

Kate Hudson - writer

Amanda Hunter - silversmith

Tansy Hoskins - writer

Robert Ilson - poet

Stuart Inman - poet/photographer/writer

Katherine Jameson - painter

Thusitha Jayasundera - actor

Pallo Jordan - writer and Minister in Mandela’s SA government

Judith Kahn - writer/musician

Ronnie Kasrils - writer and Minister in Mandela’s SA government

Penny Kealey - artist

Alice Kilroy - banner maker

Natasha Koczy - musician

Richard Kuper - writer

Simon Leibowitz - photographer/educator

Maxine Linnell - writer

Tom Loffill - painter/musician

Vanessa Lucas-Smith- musician

Lee Mark-Jones - Theatre of the Wild

Anna Mazotta - artist

Kathleen McCreery - writer/playwright/director

Susan Medina - writer

Russell Mills - artist

Nak Modak - actor

Les Monaghan - photographer

Brendan Montague - Editor, The Ecologist

Merilyn Moos - writer

Deicola Neves - musician

Maggie Nicols - musician

Mia Nisbet - fashion designer

Rebecca O’Brien - film producer

Miriam O’Donovan - director Speakeasy Sessions, Skibbereen

Matt Panesh - writer

Hekate Papadaki - writer

Jamie Perera - composer/producer

Billy Radford - artist

John Rees - writer

Selese Roche - poet

Emma Rowell - independent bookshop

Dilshini Sandhu - musician

Sabby Sagall - writer

Tim Sanders - illustrator/cartoonist

David Seeger - ceramics artist

Nabil Shaban - actor

Sarah Shore - illustrator

Angela Tapping - poet

Theresa Tomlinsion - writer

Greg Tree - musician/artist

Andy Turner - musician

Michael Walling - Border Crossings, Artistic Director

Mat Watkinson - voice artist/former DJ

Roy Weard -writer/musician

Samantha Welstead-Wood - illustrator

Richard West - AKA Mr C

Merryn Williams - poet

Ian Wilson - sound designer

John Wilton - Prof. Intern. Relations

David Wilson - writer

Jan Woolf - writer

Haifa Zangana - Iraqi writer

 

As of 5 Jan 2020 the 'artists' letter has been signed by over 4000. These have come directly to me by email, registered on this web page or recorded on multiple entries at Peoples Campaign for Corbyn Facebook. 

 

Is he standing for the leadership? Just a thought.

 

NOTE: Please contact  david@davidwilson.org.uk   f you want further information.

 

 Penny Crichton-Seager

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Old Corruption

Postal votes run by company connected to the Tory party


Former Tory MP and Social Security Secretary, Peter Lilley, now Baron Lilley, is a director of IDOX Elections, which, since 2012, has provided electoral services on behalf of UK central and local government, focused upon Electoral Registration and its Postal Vote Management System. IDOX are the largest provider of electoral management systems in the UK. It describes itself as "one of the premier election service providers in the UK, providing outstanding expertise and knowledge across all areas of election management".

 

Is it part of their expertise to provide Laura Kuenssberg with insider information?

If we ever have another election I would recommend to Not use your postal vote unless you are sick or too old to get to your ballot station. Theresa May’s comment to Jeremy Corbyn - “We will never let you become Prime Minister” now chills my bones. As do the words of Roberto Saviano, anti-Mafia lawyer when he said, “Britain is the most corrupt country in the world.”

 

 www.davidwilson.org.uk


Friday, 13 December 2019

La Lutte Continue

Before we continue with our French lesson some economic statistics.


The twenty six richest people on earth have the same net worth as the poorest half of the world’s population, some 3.8 billion people. In the UK the richest 10% hold 44% of all wealth.

This is taking place in a context where Oxfam claims that in recent years 2,200 billionaires worldwide saw their wealth grow by 12% as the poorest half saw its wealth fall by 11%.


You need to have this information to understand why it is that the Tory government are so eager to pull the UK out of the EU. The EU are introducing the Anti-tax Avoidance Directive. This establishes a number of legally binding measures against offshore tax avoidance. The Johnson government is full of tax avoiders. Think Jacob Rees-Mogg and Theresa May’s husband Philip just for starts .


You can find information on all this here, here and here

The Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party fought the recent election in an attempt to deal with wealth discrepancies. As he noted, "there has been a growth of billionaires in this country alongside a growth of extreme poverty ."

The election result has left the left-wing despondent and dejected. I argue here that we should pick ourselves up from the floor and with Joe Hill, ‘don’t mourn organise.’   

In French that is ‘ne pleure pas organise.’ 

In France wealth discrepancies run parallel to those in this country. The richest 1% hold 20% of all wealth. France is also home to Bernard Arnault, the richest person in Europe and worth an estimated $107.6 billion. 

And it would seem the French people have had enough. 

For over a week France has been in the grip of strikes and protests. An estimated million plus have been taking to the streets and strikes are affecting rail and road transport, education, health services, education and the oil and other fuel refineries. The main union, the CGT, said there would be no break in strikes over the Christmas period unless the government backs down. 

Back down from what? President Macron wants to raise the pension age which is at present set at 57 and reform social security payments. "We have one of the best pension systems in the world, if not the best," said the General Confederation of Labour, "Yet the president has decided to wipe it out." 

Laurent Brun, head of CGT's railway branch, added, "No Christmas break unless the government comes to its senses. The strike continues until we are assured that the current system is maintained and negotiations are underway to improve it." 

Martine, a council workers who was on a march in Marseilles on 11 December, said, “I’m 59 and I want to be able to retire soon. My job is hard work and I don’t want to be working until I am 65 or longer to get a pension. If you’re forced out before the pension age due to sickness the scheme is rubbish. I will be living in poverty—after 31 years in the job. Macron’s reforms will mean I work longer and collect less. Screw it. People are questioning many things they normally accept. The Yellow Vests made us think about who gains and who loses in life. So now we see clearly, ordinary people are crushed and the rich are richer than ever.” 

Militancy is growing. Last week power company, EDF brought in managers to run the Cordemais power plant in Loire Atlantique to limit the effect of the strike and on Tuesday strikers occupied the control centre of the plant. 

The rage, and the desire for action, is not just about pensions. A headline in newspaper Liberation said, “In Paris, we march against the pension reform project and ‘the system’”. 

Maybe it’s time for our own French Revolution. We are not defeated because we have hardly started. Pick yourselves off the floor and repeat after me ‘La Lute Continue’.

Information from France 24, The Guardian, Liberation, Socialist Worker, World Inequality Database, Oxfam

 

 


Tuesday, 10 December 2019

media manipulators


The Guardian's extraordinary account of Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Bristol on 9 December is for me, as the cliché goes, the last straw. Here is a video clip of the reception given to Corbyn and how it was explained in that newspaper.

We are living at a critical moment and the choice on Thursday is stark. Are we going to choose a government that will reverse ten years of austerity or one led by our very own Trump-with-a-worse-haircut?

If we end up with the latter some of us will not just be blaming the ignorant many, but worse than that, the conscious manipulation of truth by the knowledgeable few. 


David Wilson