So we’ve been offline for a little while for maintenance, hence a bumper edition of WWLLW, and a lot has been going….
1) Green Party proposes wealth tax
So let’s start this bumper edition with some news that makes sense and deals with the biggest problem of our times (and the most avoided by most of our politicians) – the wealth gap. The Green Party have proposed a wealth tax of around 2% on the assets of top earners. It would only affect the top 1% of the population (yeah, the 1% who currently have around a fifth of the wealth in the UK).
Presenting the radical new proposal, Natalie Bennett, the Green leader, said other political parties only offered minor tweaks to the UK’s failed economic system, instead of major changes to deal with inequality.
Although seen as a radical proposal, this is only seem through the prism of the last decade’s political discourse which has shied away from dealing with what is an extreme circumstance of widening inequality that systematically continues to funnel money from the poorest to the richest. Curbing the excesses of the rich has to play a part in any move towards a fairer society and we welcome this announcement.
Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, said: “The three party leaders struck a private deal to railroad through a controversial bill in a week. You cannot make good laws behind closed doors.
“The new Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act does not answer the concerns of many that the blanket retention of personal data is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy.”
3) Company pulls out of workfare scheme, days after George Osbourne visits to publicise scheme
Byteback IT Solutions received a visit from chancellor George Osbourne earlier this month in an attempt to publicise the Help To Work programme the company had signed up to.
However, following the visit, Byteback were sent messages online about the detrimental effects and infamy of the Help To Work programme which forced the long-term unemployed to work for the payment of their benefits. Shortly after, Byteback IT Solutions announced they would be backing out of the scheme as they were not previously aware of the effects.
They made the announcement via their Facebook page, insisting that they had taken part with “the best of intentions”, but had come to the conclusion that “we were wrong to get involved with workfare.”
A company director explained: “We are a small community-serving business that wanted to help the local unemployed in our community to find work by offering our time and expertise to give jobseekers valuable work experience.”
An embarrassing event for Osbourne and the government. The workfare scheme has no place here. Despite the greatest protestations and attempts by our government to retain the secrecy of workfare employer names, judges have repeatedly ruled that the government must name the providers (though of course, that doesn’t mean they will). Thankfully, the shame of taking part in this scheme is one even the government can’t deny.
4) Did you hear? The economy has fully recovered! We are at the 2008 peak! (Dies laughing)
5) Malnutrition soars by 70% as doctors report an increase in illnesses associated with the Third World
The drive of cuts and austerity is seeing a 70% rise in malnutrition and illnesses associated with Third World countries, says a new hospital admissions report.
“People unable to feed themselves saw a staggering 6,686 admissions where malnutrition was the primary or secondary diagnosis during 2013/14.
“This is a rise of 71% from 3,899 in the year up to April 2010.
“Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre released today also revealed admissions for scarlet fever were up by 110% and cholera by a staggering 450% since 2010.
“Scurvy – a disease associated with pirates stuck at sea for long periods – has increased by 31% in England since 2010.
“This is caused by a lack of vitamin C and can be caused by a diet without enough fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Thousands of people are unable to feed themselves, and a million are in need of a food bank and will have skipped meals and cut back before they have reached there. This is a form of violence and torture inflicted on people in a place with a wealth of resources and a wealth of wealth hoarded for the decadence of a few at the cost of malnutrition, poverty and destitution for others.
6) 200 strangers stop eviction of cancer patient from home
Tom Crawford, 63, posted a plea on YouTube calling for help for his peaceful protest against his eviction from the home he has lived in for 25 years, over a disputed mortgage.
The father of 3, who also suffers from prostate cancer, said in the video;
“Please come and help us, there will be a lovely cup of tea waiting for you.
“But don’t use violence, they are the ones who use violence. This is a war, for the people. It may only be a small bungalow, but it is my bungalow, my land, my home.”
More than 200 strangers from across the country came to Tom’s home in Nottingham on the day of the eviction. Some came from Wales and Newcastle and others were neighbours. Bailiffs were unable to enter the home.
Following the event, Tom said:
“I can’t believe that people have come from all over the country to support me. It’s really overwhelming and I really didn’t expect it.
“This is something I feel very passionate about – I’ve been here more than 25 years and have brought three children up here. I’ve worked hard all my life.”
A great show of solidarity and an example of how we can fight back.
7) Victory against sell-off of student loans
Another fantastic victory won last week when Vince Cable, Business Secretary announced that plans to sell-off the student loan book have been stopped. This excellent triumph is in no small part down to the student movement that has fought heartily against it, despite the ignorance of media and politicians. This message was left on the Facebook Page:
“WE’VE WON!!! The government has dropped its plans to privatise the student loan book in an announcement made by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills yesterday (July 21st).
“This government u-turn represents a major victory for the student movement. If the student loan book had have been sold off to private debt collectors there is no doubt that in a bid to maximise profits interest rates on repayments would have soared. To put it bluntly, privatising student loans would have been a retrospective hike in tuition fees.
“But students and graduates have shown that we won’t tolerate being burdened with even more debt without a fight.
“The Student Assembly Against Austerity (the student wing of the People’s Assembly) has been at the forefront of the campaign to #StopTheSellOff. Alongside hundreds of student activists across the country, we have organised national days and weeks of action involving more than 50 campuses which has resulted in over 76 MPs signing our Early Day Motion against the privatisation of student debt.
“With the General Election just around the corner and the student movement on the rise it is no surprise that the Lib Dems have decided to back off on their assault on students.
“Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part – all the banner drops, occupations, mass petitioning, stunts, protesting and lobbying together made a huge difference and proves once again that campaigning works!
“There are, however, many more fights ahead.
“There will be those who will want to revisit plans to privatise student loans in the future – we need to make sure they never succeed.
“As a result of the trebling of tuition fees, higher education in the UK is the most expensive in the whole of Europe and student debt is rocketing as a result. At the same time the slashing of EMA and savage cuts to education are hitting students hard.
“With a General Election just months away, now is the time for the student movement to step up our campaigning efforts and loudly raise our demands for free education – against all fees, cuts and debt. That is why The Student Assembly Against Austerity is joining a coalition of groups to organise a national student demonstration this autumn on Wednesday 19 November.
“Join the fight back – get active with the Student Assembly! If you would like to get involved in organising the national demonstration or would like to set up a Student Assembly on your campus get in touch with us today on firstname.lastname@example.org”
8) Wisborough Green fights off fracking
Even more to celebrate as a West Sussex town fights off the application of an energy company to explore for oil and gas near the village of Wisborough Green.
The proposals were met with over 2,500 objections with reasons such as the lead to controversial fracking in the area and noise pollution from lorries having to travel through the town 24 times a day.
The decision was announced on Monday 21st July.
“Andrew Jackson of Wisborough Green parish council said the villagers had felt that it was important to make a stand. “If this was to be allowed today, it sets a benchmark for all other villages like ourselves,” he said. It’s clear that earlier applications that have been approved have all had direct access to the major lorry routes. This one does not and it’s not an appropriate location.”
“Local landowners were so determined to stop the exploration that they launched a “legal blockade” against Celtique, informing it that it did not have permission to drill under their properties and that they would go to the courts if it proceeded as planned. A similar tactic was employed by campaigners in nearby Fernherst, which sits inside South Downs National Park.”
Oh, and in other news Cameron did some reshuffle and let some women in as a desperate stab at portraying himself as some sort of feminist or lover of equality whilst overseeing (and completely congratulating via the allowance of IDS to remain in his post) welfare reforms that disproportionately affect women and particularly single mothers and also overseeing the widening of the pay gap which is now in some parts 13%.
We also cannot ignore the odious war taking place right now. A war that has some innate commitment to the murder of children, which nothing can ever be worth. We are staring into the sickness of man, the amalgamation of fake moral justifications for selfishness, arms and suffering. The focus must be, as Jon Snow says, to resolve this, at any cost.
“Leaving Israel and beleaguered Gaza far below me, I lay back in my BA seat headed for London. I donned my headphones and listened to Bach’s heavenly violin concerto in E major, and wept, as I rarely have as an adult.
“I wept for two peoples with remarkable similarities. Two peoples of extraordinary gifts and ability. Two peoples living in an area far smaller than England, one of which besieges the other, both of which target each other’s civilians.
This is humankind’s most grievous cancer, for its cells infect conflicts in every corner of the world. We fail as humankind if we do not devise a coming-together. Our leaders, as a vast priority, have to try and try again to use every mechanism in our rare animal capacity – our considerable intellects – to bring these peoples to resolution whatever the cost.”
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass