Iain Duncan Smith: The Stalin Of The Tory Party

A wise man once said to me, ‘don’t worry if you have the occasional disturbing thought about throttling someone. It doesn’t make you a bad person. The important thing is, you don’t do it.’

Now let’s look at the same pearl of wisdom from a slightly different angle. We can call it the Iain Duncan Smith angle. Iain Duncan Smith, the now former work and pensions secretary, has always professed the most earnest and righteous motives behind his welfare reforms; namely, encouraging people into work, thereby improving “the quality of life for the worse off.” This is a man with a ‘vision.’ If he was ever to admit to himself that people had died as a direct result of his vision, he’d no doubt say they’d died for the greater good.

Stalin had a vision too; to build and perfect a socialist state, where education, healthcare and housing was available to all, not just a few wealthy elite. Worthy ideals most would agree. Surely then, anyone who died as a result of his vision, died for the ‘greater good?’ Hmm, maybe not.

Iain Duncan Smith’s protestations about his squeaky clean motives shouldn’t be what guides us as we make our judgement of him and everything he is claiming today. The misery and death he’s so callously inflicted upon people, should be our guide.

Let’s look at another scenario from the Iain Duncan Smith angle. Imagine I told my husband several times a day he’s fat, ugly and sexually unappealing to me, and it eventually drove him to suicide. Would you offer me much sympathy if I told you I’d only ripped him to shreds everyday in order to motivate him to diet and exercise, thereby ensuring he’d live a longer, and happier life? No, I didn’t think so. And that’s exactly why Duncan Smith should not receive any either.

Yes, there are a minute minority of people who on the face of it could work, but don’t. But trying to resolve that issue using Iain Duncan Smiths ‘reforms’ is like trying to crack open a nut on a beautiful antique table using a sledgehammer. What the Duncan Smith’s of this world don’t seem to be able to grasp, is that people who on the face of it are just ‘lazy, work-shy’ people, aside from being in the minority, are also often very disadvantaged and/or troubled.

What form those troubles take will inevitably vary, from being victims of childhood abuse, to having borderline learning difficulties, undiagnosed mental health conditions, or desperately low self esteem; but whatever they are, it makes it monumentally difficult for them to go to work in the normal way most of us take for granted.

This opinion hasn’t just come to me through my own observations. I have a friend who works for the DWP. He once told me that some people he interviews are basically unemployable, through no fault of their own. ‘They need much more support and help than we can give them,’ he said. When I asked him what sort of support he felt they needed, he suggested years of psychotherapy to resolve childhood traumas, or teaching them to read and write, or sending them to rehab to wean them off addictions. These are the people Duncan Smith claims he wants to ‘help.’

So I don’t buy into Duncan Smiths vision. Very few people need strong-arming into work when it offers them a shot at a better life, unless there is something that has gone desperately wrong in their lives. And that being the case, these people should be identified and given help and support, not treated like the scum of the earth. Not only is this help not forthcoming under Duncan Smith’s reform package, the less troubled people – who are nonetheless still struggling due to the fact life’s dealt them a tough hand and they are disabled, ill, or have temporarily found themselves out of a job – are getting caught in the cross fire of his ‘vision’.

And that’s why I don’t buy into this narrative of Duncan Smith as a repentant sinner. You have to know you’ve sinned to repent, and as far as Duncan Smith’s concerned he’s a living breathing saint. And I don’t buy into the belief his resignation was in any way honourable.  What I do buy into however, is the theory that there is more to Duncan Smith’s resignation than meets the eye.

Iain Duncan Smith is playing a game of political chess, which he’s determined Cameron and Osborne will lose.


I dedicate this blog post to all the people who have tragically been killed by Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘vision.’ The names below are just the tip of a very big iceberg.

Terry McGarvey, 48. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn’t well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not. He died the following day.

Elaine Lowe, 53. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. In desperation, Elaine chose to commit suicide.

Mark Wood, 44. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.

Paul Reekie, 48, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an Atos ‘fit for work’ decision.

Leanne Chambers, 30. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.

Karen Sherlock, 44. Multiple health issues. Found fit for work by Atos and denied benefits. Fought a long battle to get placed into the support group of ESA. Karen died the following month of a heart attack.

Carl Payne, 42. Fears of losing his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform led this Father of two to take his own life.

Tim Salter, 53. Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim hanged himself after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Edward Jacques, 47 years old and suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Linda Wootton, 49 years old. A double heart and lung transplant patient. Died just nine days after the government found her fit for work, their refusal letter arriving as she lay desperately ill in her hospital bed.

Steven Cawthra, 55. His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, he saw suicide as the only way out of a desperate situation.

Elenore Tatton, 39 years old. Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work.

John Walker, 57, saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax, John took his own life.

Brian McArdle, 57 years old. Suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped.

Stephen Hill, 53. Died of a heart attack one month after being found fit for work, even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.

Jacqueline Harris, 53. A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. in desperation, she took her own life.

David Barr, 28. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.

David Groves, 56. Died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow claimed that it was the stress that killed him.

Nicholas Peter Barker, 51. Shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.

Mark and Helen Mullins, 48 and 59 years old. Forced to live on £57.50 a week and make 12 mile trips each week to get free vegetables to make soup. Mark and Helen both committed suicide.

Richard Sanderson, 44. Unable to find a job and with his housing benefit cut forcing him to move, but with nowhere to go. Richard committed suicide.

Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.

Craig Monk, 43. A vulnerable gentleman and a partial amputee who slipped so far into poverty that he hanged himself.

Colin Traynor, 29, and suffering from epilepsy was stripped of his benefits. He appealed. Five weeks after his death his family found he had won his appeal.

Elaine Christian, 57 years old. Worried about her work capability assessment, she was subsequently found at Holderness drain, drowned and with ten self inflicted wrist wounds.

Christelle and Kayjah Pardoe, 32 years and 5 month old. Pregnant, her benefits stopped, Christelle, clutching her baby son jumped from a third floor balcony.

Mark Scott, 46. His DLA and housing benefit stopped and sinking into deep depression, Mark died six weeks later.

Cecilia Burns, 51. Found fit for work while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She died just a few weeks after she won her appeal against the Atos decision.

Chris Cann, 57 years old. Found dead in his home just months after being told he had to undergo a medical assessment to prove he could not work.

Peter Hodgson, 49. Called to JCP to see if he was suitable for volunteer work. Peter had suffered a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and had a fused leg. His appointment letter arrived a few days after he took his own life.

Paul Willcoxsin, 33 years old. Suffered with mental health problems and worried about government cuts. Paul committed suicide by hanging himself.

Stephanie Bottrill, 53. After paying £80 a month for bedroom tax, Stephanie could not afford heating in the winter, and lived on tinned custard. In desperation, she chose to walk in front of a lorry.

Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition, his weight dropping from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.

Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April Paul died from ischaemic heart disease.

Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.

Sandra Louise Moon, 57. Suffering from a degenerative back condition, depression and increasingly worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.

Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away from him.

David Coupe, 57. A Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. David lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.

Michael McNicholas, 34. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a Work Capability Assessment by Atos.

Victor Cuff, 59 and suffering from severe depression. Victor hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.

Charles Barden, 74. Charles committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him destitute and unable to cope.

Ian Caress, 43. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Ian was found fit for work by Atos, he died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said that he resembled a concentration camp victim.

Iain Hodge, 30. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, Iain took his own life.

Wayne Grew, 37. Severely depressed due to government cuts and the fear of losing his job, Wayne committed suicide by hanging.

Kevin Bennett, 40. Kevin a sufferer of schizophrenia and mental illness became so depressed after his JSA was stopped that he became a virtual recluse. Kevin was found dead in his flat several months later.

David Elwyn Hughs Harries, 48. A disabled man who could no longer cope after his parents died, could find no help from the government via benefits. David took an overdose as a way out of his solitude.

Denis Jones, 58. A disabled man crushed by the pressures of government cuts, in particular the Bedroom Tax, and unable to survive by himself. Denis was found dead in his flat.

Shaun Pilkington, 58. Unable to cope any more, Shaun shot himself dead after receiving a letter from the DWP informing him that his ESA was being stopped.

Paul ?, 51. Died in a freezing cold flat after his ESA was stopped. Paul appealed the decision and won on the day that he lost his battle to live.

Chris MaGuire, 61. Deeply depressed and incapable of work, Chris was summonsed by Atos for a Work Capability Assessment and deemed fit for work. On appeal, a judge overturned the Atos decision and ordered them to leave him alone for at least a year, which they did not do. In desperation, Chris took his own life, unable to cope anymore.

Peter Duut, a Dutch national with terminal cancer living in the UK for many years found that he was not entitled to benefits unless he was active in the labour market. Peter died leaving his wife destitute, and unable to pay for his funeral.

George Scollen, age unknown. Took his own life after the government closed the Remploy factory he had worked in for 40 years.

Julian Little, 47. Wheelchair bound and suffering from kidney failure, Julian faced the harsh restrictions of the Bedroom Tax and the loss of his essential dialysis room. He died shortly after being ordered to downgrade.

Miss DE, Early 50’s. Suffering from mental illness, this lady committed suicide less than a month after an Atos assessor gave her zero points and declared her fit for work.

Robert Barlow, 47. Suffering from a brain tumour, a heart defect and awaiting a transplant, Robert was deemed fit for work by Atos and his benefits were withdrawn. He died penniless less than two years later.

Carl Joseph Foster-Brown, 58. As a direct consequence of the wholly unjustifiable actions of the Job centre and DWP, this man took his own life.

Martin Hadfield, 20 years old. Disillusioned with the lack of jobs available in this country but too proud to claim benefits. Utterly demoralised, Martin took his own life by hanging himself.

Annette Francis, 30. A mum-of-one suffering from severe mental illness, found dead after her disability benefits were ceased.

Ian Jordan, 60. His benefits slashed after Atos and the DWP declared Ian, a sufferer of Barratt’s Oesophagus, fit for work, caused him to run up massive debts in order to survive. Ian was found dead in his flat after taking an overdose.

Janet McCall, 53. Terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis and declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos and the DWP, this lady died 5 months after her benefits were stopped.

Stuart Holley, 23. A man driven to suicide by the DWP’s incessant pressure and threat of sanctions for not being able to find a job.

Graham Shawcross, 63. A sufferer of the debilitating disease, Addison’s. Died of a heart attack due to the stress of an Atos ‘Fit for Work’ decision.

David Clapson, 59 years old. A diabetic ex-soldier deprived of the means to survive by the DWP and the governments harsh welfare reforms, David died all but penniless, starving and alone, his electricity run out.

Chris Smith, 59. Declared ‘Fit for Work’ by Atos as he lay dying of Cancer in his hospital bed.

Nathan Hartwell, 36, died of heart failure after an 18-month battle with the ­Department for Works and Pensions.

Michael Connolly, 60. A Father of One, increasingly worried about finances after his benefits were cut. Committed suicide by taking 13 times the fatal dose of prescription medicine on the 30th October – His Birthday.

Jan Mandeville, 52, A lady suffering from Fibromyalgia, driven to the point of mental and physical breakdown by this governments welfare reforms. Jan was found dead in her home after battling the DWP for ESA and DLA.

Trevor Drakard, 50 years old. A shy and reserved, severe epileptic who suffered regular and terrifying fits almost his entire life, hounded to suicide by the DWP who threatened to stop his life-line benefits.

Unnamed: Death of a severely disabled Dorset resident, unnamed, who took her own life while battling the bedroom tax.

(Source: http://www.welfareweekly.com/iain-duncan-smiths-directory-death/)

To Open Eyes, You Have To Talk To People With Whom You Profoundly Disagree

“I think to bring about a peace process you have to talk to people [with whom] you profoundly disagree.”

Jeremy Corbyn said this during the leadership campaign in response to a question about peace talks with Hamas, and he is right of course, but how many of us apply it in our own lives? Or do most of us abide by that old adage, ‘don’t talk religion and politics.’

When it comes to acquaintances I usually avoid politics, but with my nearest and dearest I talk about it all the time. This provides me with an interesting insight into how people of different political views think. For example, one of my closest relatives gets very worked up about migration. She’s a lovely caring person so I find it strange to see the way she responds to the refugee crisis. The other day I told her about a heart wrenching photo I’d seen of a mother bathing her baby in a muddy puddle at some makeshift refugee camp in Europe. ‘A lot of them aren’t fleeing war,’ she told me sharply. ‘A lot of them are just economic migrants.’ She sounded like she was talking about the families you see on the TV show ‘Wanted Down Under, ‘ who are eager to trade one good life for another.

I could feel myself getting angry. ‘Like my grandparents then,’ I replied bristling. I was referring to my dad’s parents who were from Limerick in Ireland. I don’t know all the ins and outs of why they moved to England, and sadly my dad died 23 years ago so I can’t ask him, but I do remember him telling me his family were so poor they used to go to the convent to beg for potatoes. Sometimes the spuds were green which made the whole family ill. When my dad was eight, the family migrated to the UK. My dad said his mother was so homesick for her mum and sisters after the move, she became very depressed, which resulted in two nervous breakdowns and two courses of electric shock treatment. They weren’t fleeing bombs and bullets, but they were fleeing dire poverty, except they had to leave their homeland and everything familiar to do it, which was devastating for my nan.

After reminding my relative about this story she agreed it was terrible to feel you had to leave your country. ‘That’s why I so want Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister,’ I told her. ‘If we want a fairer, safer world where people aren’t forced to flee their homes because of war and poverty, we need more leaders like Jeremy Corbyn.” That led onto a long discussion about the way western military intervention had created chaos in the Middle East, which sowed the seeds for terrorism to flourish. On this point, my relative and I were in total agreement.

I felt a need to share this conversation on my blog because it really got me thinking about the way we frame the debate about the refugee crisis, especially when we are talking to potential UKIP voters. While I fully support the refugees are welcome rallies, and recoil when I hear Cameron dismissively refer to refugees as ‘a bunch of migrants,’ fundamentally we shouldn’t have to welcome these desperate people, and we need to make that case time and time again. There should NOT be desperate people.

So yes, let’s be humane, but let’s extend the reach of the debate to the causes of the crisis, and explain how a leader with the values of Jeremy Corbyn makes a refugee crisis less likely in the future. It’s a good argument on a number of levels. Firstly it’s true, which always gives an argument weight. And secondly, it reminds the person hardening their heart to refugees, that it’s not a situation of the refugees making. They are victims. The west bomb their homes, or arm someone else to bomb them, then throw their hands up in horror when these now homeless and desperate people have the ‘audacity’ to flee to the west where they will be safe. We can’t make people feel more compassion toward refugees overnight, but we can start the emotional rewiring process that will eventually free these people from years of brainwashing by right wing newspapers and politicians, who have a vested interest in turning refugees into scapegoats.

By the end of my chat with my relative I sensed a shift in her perspective. She was no longer talking about refugees as if they were moving from a Butlin’s Holiday Camp to a Haven one, just because their caravans were a bit bigger. And she was warming to the idea of having a political leader who didn’t use military intervention as a way to flex the UK’s muscles on the world stage.

Whether she’ll go on to vote Labour is between her and the ballot box, but I am nursing a hope that she will.


Labour MPs Must Stop Briefing Against The Leadership, Or Accept The Blame If Labour Perform Badly In Elections

It is clear that a small minority of Labour MP’s cannot accept the democratic decision of the membership to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader. If they were to keep these feelings to and amongst themselves, fine. Unfortunately this is not the case.

From day one of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership until the present day, a handful of Labour MP’s have generated a regular stream of negative headlines aimed at his leadership. This level of negativity inevitably deters people from voting Labour. Even potential voters who are drawn to Labour under Corbyn, will be deterred by the impression these headlines give, which is of a leader who lacks support and respect from his own MP’s; who may be overthrown at any point.

With only two months until May’s elections, it is too late to undo the damage this briefing and sniping will have inflicted on Labour’s electoral chances. However we have four years until the next general election, which means it’s not too late for these MP’s to reflect on their actions and unite behind the leadership.

We would like them to reflect on how hard working Labour campaigners feel when their hours of door knocking and leaflet deliveries are undone by one Labour MP generated headline.

We would like them to reflect on how distressed and infuriated Labour supporters feel when Labour MP’s attack Corbyn with more zeal than they attack the conservatives.

But ultimately we would like them to reflect on democracy.

The membership decided to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader. He won with a landslide. Whatever their personal feelings about it, we would like them to respect his mandate, and work for Labour, not against it.

If these Labour MPs do not stop their destructive briefing, they will be held personally responsible for the electoral consequences.

Please sign my petition here

Gangland Austerity – Is Austerity and Consumerism To Blame For Rising Gang Violence?

Communicare News & Opinion

According to the London Mayors Office of Policing and Crime 2015 saw a 23% rise in youth gang offences coupled with a 17% rise in knife crime in London. This is massive increase and politicians have been grappling with the causes and possible solutions to the problem. However, to identify solutions we must first understand the root cause of this crisis. A crisis which I believe is both cultural and economic.

To begin my explanation of why Gang Crime exists and why it is on the rise first demands a brief overview of British culture and how young people, such as myself, form identities and make value judgements on others. But let’s talk about my late Grandfather first. My Grandfather was born in London in 1941, joined the merchant Navy at the age of 14, met my Grandmother who lived in Llanelli, settled down, got married and became a miner…

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Jess Phillips: Voice Of Doom With An Agenda

When I read this yesterday: ‘Asked if Labour could win [the next general election] she [Jess Phillips] said: “The honest answer is: ‘no, absolutely not;’ my initial reaction was curiosity.

So please tell me Jess, how long have you had this gift of prophecy? Long odds betting must be a nice little earner on top of your ‘meager’ MP’s salary of £74,000 plus expenses. I expect you had a little flutter on Jeremy Corbyn winning the leadership when it was still a 200/1 bet. And what odds did you get when you placed your bet on the Tories winning a majority? Must have a nice little nest egg by now.

Ok yes, I’m being sarcastic, but that’s because none of us can predict the outcome of the next general election, particularly in such uncertain times. The ripples set in motion by the financial crash are altering the electoral landscape across the world in unpredictable ways. Austerity is biting hard, and recent polls suggest public support for cuts are flagging. Throw into the mix the refugee crisis and the European referendum – the results of which may trigger yet another Independence referendum in Scotland – and the electoral horizon couldn’t be foggier. Yet there’s the voice of doom, Jess Phillips, confidently predicting Labour cannot win in four years time!

If I said I was angry at Jess Phillips over this I’d be lying. The negativity from our own MPs is so predictable by now I’m starting to grow resigned to it. Clearly for them, the real enemy is Corbyn, not the Conservatives, which is why their guns are so often trained on him. Besides, Jess and her fellow plotters want me and others like me to get angry. Anger is mobilising in short bursts, but when you feel constantly angry about a situation over which you have limited control, it wears you out, exhausts you, depresses you. I’ve seen the trap now so I will do my best to side step it. What I will do though is call them out on their behaviour (when I feel moved enough to do so via this blog), and/or report them to the chairman of the Labour Party for unprofessional conduct. It might not achieve much but it’s good to vent.

The complaint I’m planning to write about Jess Phillips will probably go something like this: “It is highly inappropriate for a sitting Labour MP to spread such blanket negativity about her own party’s electoral chances in the press. Clearly she has done so in an attempt to hamper Labour’s chances, because frankly, if I’d been a potential Labour voter reading the paper that day, I’d probably think to myself, ‘What’s the point voting Labour when their own MPs say they don’t have a chance?'”

I must confess there was one section of Jess’s comment that tickled me. It was the part where she says, ‘the honest answer is,’ because I’ve never heard a least honest answer in my life. An honest answer from Jess might have gone something like this: ‘Asked if Labour could win Jess Phillips said: “The honest answer is I ruddy well hope not; not as long as Corbyn is leader. If Yvette Cooper – my choice for leader – had won, she’d have given my career a nice leg up. I’m very ambitious you see so it still wrankles. I’m not sure what my futures going to be in this new version of Labour. The sooner us plotters can get shot of Jeremy, and those lefty members that will hopefully leave in their droves if we oust him, the sooner I can get my career back on track.

Not that it’s all about me. Everyone knows Jeremy’s not leadership material. A leader should be an arrogant careerist with an ego the size of Mars who loves the sound of their own voice. That’s just not Jeremy is it?’

And then with a weary despairing sigh we could have replied, ‘No Jess it’s not. And that’s why we chose him.’