Universal Credit ‘makes debt and hardship practically inevitable’, says Archbishop of York

From Welfare Weekly: The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has publicly condemned the Tory Government’s flagship Universal Credit scheme, claiming the widely criticised welfare reform makes falling into debt and hardship “practically inevitable”.

His comments are the latest in a long-line of criticisms and come only a few weeks after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, slammed the new benefit for leaving the UK’s poorest citizens even more “worse off”.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly website…]

Justice ‘only for the wealthy’: Law Society condemns legal aid cuts

From The Guardian: It is increasingly difficult for defendants and claimants to find solicitors prepared to represent them due to government legal aid cuts, the Law Society has warned.

In a fiercely worded attack on funding restrictions, Christina Blacklaws, the society’s president, said British justice now existed “only for the wealthy, or the small number on very low incomes lucky enough to find a solicitor willing and able to fight a mountain of red tape to secure legal aid.”

Public access to justice and the right to a fair trial has never been so restricted, according to the organisation that represents solicitors across England and Wales.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Britain is on the brink of ‘social collapse,’ Labour council leaders warn

From Morning Star: Britain is on the brink of “social collapse” after “eight years of uninterrupted austerity” caused by brutal Tory spending cuts, Labour council leaders warned today.

Twenty-six leaders of Labour-controlled councils have signed an open letter calling on the government to “recognise the catastrophic impact” that #austerity has had on local authorities across Britain.

The statement, released under the banner of Councils Against Austerity, says budgets have been squeezed by direct government cuts and other pressures.

Pointing out that the shortage of funding has had a “disastrous knock-on effect” on services, the council leaders said that nearly half of all local authorities nationwide have experienced serious setbacks in their daily operations and increasing numbers are cutting all services to a bare minimum.

The leaders warn that many councils will soon be unable to perform the basic level of service expected of them, with street cleaners, park maintenance workers, library staff and other municipal workers facing an uncertain future.

Read more

Video: Why austerity doesn’t work

Why austerity doesn’t work, neatly explained in this easy-watch social video from the Labour Party.

Cycle of Austerity

Austerity doesn’t work.

Posted by Jeremy Corbyn on Friday, August 17, 2018

End to nursing student bursaries sees numbers keep falling

From Morning Star: The nursing profession has been left in “managed decline,” the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said today, responding to a further drop in student numbers due to bursaries being replaced by loans.

The number of nursing students from England taking university places has fallen by 4 per cent from last year and 11 per cent since 2016 when bursaries were axed, according to data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

The RCN said the decline could jeopardise the future supply of nurses at a time when the NHS is dire need of such staff.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

40 senior academics condemn anti-Corbyn bias in media coverage of antisemitism

More than forty senior academics write to the Guardian to condemn what they see as an anti-Corbyn bias in media coverage of the antisemitism debate…

“One of the main concepts in journalism education is that of framing: the highlighting of particular issues, and the avoidance of others, in order to produce a desired interpretation. We have been reminded of the importance of framing when considering the vast amounts of media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged failure to deal with antisemitism inside the Labour party. On Sunday, three national titles led with the story while news bulletins focused on the allegations all last week. Dominant sections of the media have framed the story in such a way as to suggest that antisemitism is a problem mostly to do with Labour and that Corbyn is personally responsible for failing to deal with it. The coverage has relied on a handful of sources such as the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and well-known political opponents of Corbyn himself.

“Yet where are the Jewish voices who support Corbyn and who welcome his long-established anti-racist record? Where are the pieces that look at the political motivations of some of Corbyn’s most vocal critics?”

[Read full letter and signatories on Guardian website…]

Video: Veil-wearer Umm Abdullah responds to Boris Johnson

UMM ABDULLAH 'A LETTERBOX RESPONDS TO BORIS JOHNSON

Since so many of you individuals and media outlets contacted me to comment on Boris Johnson referring to Muslim women as looking like bank robbers and letterboxes I have taken my time out to make this video. feel free to tweet the link of the video to him 😉

Posted by Umm Abdullah Official on Friday, August 10, 2018

“I am not a letterbox for your information, I am a human being. And I wear the veil.

“Boris, fair enough you have a bad hair day every day, but that doesn’t mean you need to take it out on us.

“I know the USA have produced something called the Donald Trump. But that doesn’t mean that we need to compete with it.

“Many people wear the face veil for many reasons… cultural reasons, or their beliefs, or for hiding their identities. This is their own choice. That’s the beauty of having freedom.

“Britain, the country in which I was born and brought up, upholds values of tolerance and freedom. That’s freedom of speech, freedom to wear what you want, and freedom to choose a religion you want to practise.”

Vince Cable says ‘centre of gravity’ shifting to second Brexit vote

From The Guardian: The “centre of gravity” on Brexit is shifting towards a second referendum on the final deal, the Liberal Democrat leader has said. Vince Cable was speaking as thousands of opponents of Brexit in the south-west of England took part in the first of a series of regional days of action planned by the People’s Vote campaign across the country.

Joining Conservative and Labour MPs and a Green MEP in addressing more than 700 supporters of a second referendum at Colston Hall in Bristol, Cable rejected claims that it would be undemocratic to put the question of EU membership back to another public vote, after the 52%–48% victory for leave in 2016.

Promises of a smooth and amicable withdrawal deal and a cash boost for the NHS had proved unfounded, Donald Trump’s protectionist policies had cast doubt on Brexiters’ vision of new trade deals, and voters were now more aware of the complexities of issues such as the Irish border, he said.

“The world has changed,” Cable told Sky News. “It is perfectly reasonable to go back to the public and ask, ‘Is this what you really want, or do you want to stay in the EU and reform it from within?’ It is a perfectly legitimate democratic expression.

“It is perfectly normal in countries that have a tradition of referendums – which we haven’t in the UK – to have confirmatory votes at the end to see whether people are happy with what the government has negotiated.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Tory Government ‘ignoring Grenfell warning signs’, say firefighters’ leaders

From Morning Star: Firefighters’ leaders have accused the government of ignoring the warning signs of Grenfell, as new figures showed a rise in incidents amid continued fire service cuts.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said that, despite mounting difficulties over the last year, the government continued to “starve” fire authorities of funding.

There were 564,827 incidents in England in the past year, an increase of more than 4,000.

Firefighters attended more than 167,000 fires, the most since 2011-12, said the FBU, adding that the long period of improvements in public safety has plateaued, with cuts the “most likely explanation” for the rise.

The union said that, since 2010, one in five firefighting jobs have been cut, including around 10,000 in Englan

FBU national officer Dave Green said: “These dreadful new figures confirm firefighters’ worst fears. Austerity cuts are now damaging public safety.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

“As we suffer in the heatwave and Greece burns, the Tories are signing off a fracking bill that is laughable”

Harry Cockburn writes in The Independent: “In Greece, the death count may reach triple figures. Wildfires have melted cars, wiped villages off the map and decimated families… What could our governments do to alleviate the carnage? What about some fracking? What about pumping millions upon millions of gallons of water and chemicals down into earth to break rocks to release gas which we can then burn?”

[Read column on Independent website…]

Frankie Boyle on Brexit food stockpiling…

If there’s one thing I trust this government to do, it’s to fuck up the stockpiling of food and medicines

Posted by Frankie Boyle on Friday, July 27, 2018

From drag queens to rappers: up close with the UK’s anti-Trump protesters – video

From The Guardian: The Guardian spends the day getting to know the people Donald Trump tried to avoid during his visit to the UK. More than 100,000 people travelled to London from around the country to protest against the US president, according to the organisers of the two marches that converged on Trafalgar Square.

[Watch video on Guardian website…]

“If Esther McVey’s getting away with it, things must be really bad”

Frances Ryan writes in the Guardian: “The irony of Esther McVey‘s current brazen predicament can hardly be lost on most jobseekers. If someone on universal credit made an error – no matter how slight or unintentional – they would be hauled in front of an official, and promptly have their benefits sanctioned. If a cabinet member gives false information to parliament – of significant proportion and even knowingly – they can get away with it with barely a slapped wrist.

“There’s a worry that the sheer scale of Theresa May’s Brexit disaster, coupled with the depth of her cabinet infighting, means McVey’s actions are already the political equivalent of tomorrow’s chip paper. These are, after all, not typical times.

“In any other government, Johnson would not have been allowed the dignity of resignation: he’d have been sacked months ago. At any other point, McVey’s actions would, at a minimum, lead a prime minister to launch an investigation into whether one of her officials knowingly lied to parliament. Yet against this current crop, McVey can misrepresent an independent body’s report in order to hide the failings of her department and still have competition to appear the most incompetent or unethical cabinet member.

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“There used to be a bus every hour. Now we hardly leave the house”

From The Guardian: When Jill White, 53, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, she had three years of treatment, including operations and chemotherapy. It was a stressful enough experience to go through, but White, who is single and doesn’t drive, also faced a four-hour round trip, on a good day, to get to a hospital that was only 13 miles away, because buses from her village of Tatworth, Somerset only run on average every two hours.

“My appointments were often at 9am, so to get to Taunton hospital I would have to leave by 7am,” she says. “And then, even though I would be really tired after treatment, I faced another two-hour trip to get home again. Four hours was a good journey. It could have quite easily been a lot longer.”

White says the service used to be quite good. “When I first moved here 20 years ago, there was a bus every hour, evening, weekend and bank holiday – and they were reasonably punctual. Now they are often 30 minutes late, there are no buses on Sundays or bank holidays – and nothing after 6pm.” White’s situation is far from unique. A report last week by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) found that local authority funding for bus routes in England and Wales has been cut by 45% since 2010 and more than 3,000 routes reduced or scrapped. This prompted the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to raise the bus issue in parliament during last week’s prime minister’s questions, where he promised to “save” the bus industry and give all those aged under 26 free bus travel.

Read more

The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s resignation: good riddance to a national embarrassment

Guardian editorial: “Mr Johnson is the most overrated politician in Britain, especially by himself. He was an embarrassingly useless foreign secretary. He diminished Britain’s standing in the world and he diminished his own reputation by the way he played his role, not least by his praise for Donald Trump. He was simply not up to the job. But Boris Johnson does not do serious. He does self-interest. The British government is better off without him. The Tory party should not deceive itself that he is the answer to its problems.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…] 

Responsibility for Windrush deportations rests “squarely on Theresa May’s shoulders” – Caroline Lucas

From Morning Star: Responsibility for the Windrush scandal falls “squarely on the shoulders” of Theresa May for ignoring a report warning her what would happen, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas charged yesterday.

The Brighton Pavilion MP had tabled a written question asking if Ms May, as home secretary, had acted on the Legal Action Group’s prescient October 2014 report Chasing Status.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes responded: ”No specific action was taken as a result of this report.”

The report recommended a number of measures which could have prevented the Windrush scandal, including to set up a special unit to fast-track cases of people living in Britain on January 1 1973.

It also called for the restoration of legal aid for these cases, allowing Commonwealth-born citizens to work, access the the NHS and claim benefits and for Home Office proof of residence standards to be revised.

Another of the report’s recommendations was for “greater openness” from the Home Office about its archiving and destruction policies, and for it to accept that some immigration records could be rendered inaccurate or incomplete over time.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

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