Archives For March 2015

1) ‘Humiliation’ greets new Work Capability Assessment provider in first week

 

Over 30 protests were held across the country against the new provider of Work Capability Assessments (WCA) on Monday 2nd March. American company Maximus replace ATOS but campaigners claim that this is merely a shift from one ‘toxic’ profit seeking company to another, making no difference to the disabled people being assessed. Maximus also has a history of discrimination, incompetance and alleged fraud in the US.

Protests held by activists from Disabled People Against Cuts sought to re-name the company as Maximarse which trended briefly on Twitter during the demonstrations. Embarrassingly for Maximarse, it was revealed that the company had bought the domain http://www.maximarse.com to prevent any spoof websites being created against them.

The purchase was made on 26 January by the company’s senior manager for investor relations and corporate communications. Maximus have yet to comment on the domain purchase or their plans for the site.

Read more about this story here.

2) Jeremy Hunt accused of cover up over damning NHS report

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of a ‘politically motivated’ cover up of a critical report on the NHS, written by Tory peer and ex-M&S boss Stuart Rose. Sarah Wollaston, a GP and Tory MP who now heads up the health select committee has accused Jeremy Hunt of with-holding vital information until after the election. The report is critical of problems with NHS management, which could come as a blow to the Tory election campaign, as the NHS becomes a hot topic. Rose is said to be angry at the report’s stifling, though has not made any comments.

“Wollaston told the Observer that reports which had been commissioned by government and paid for by taxpayers should be made available at the earliest opportunity on matters of such clear public interest. “There is far too much of this going on, with uncomfortable information being withheld,” Wollaston said. “Just as with the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, it is not right that reports paid for out of public money are not made available to the public on such vital issues as soon as possible, particularly ahead of a general election.”

 Read more about this story here.

3) Occupy Democracy protestors given go ahead to challenge Boris over Parliament Square fencing

Occupy Democracy returned to Parliament Square this weekend on a day that coincided with the thousands of Londoners at the Climate March, with the good news that they have been given permission to challenge Mayor of London Boris Johnson over the decision to erect a fence halfway through a 10 day Occupy demonstration, prohibiting peaceful protest from continuing.

Protestors were told that the fencing was required for maintenance of the grass, but the area was quickly extended, forcing the protestors further and further away. Occupy Democracy went to great lengths to ensure there was no littering and an alcohol free zone. There were also never so many protestors to inhibit others being able to join them or dominate the area.

“Rosie Brighouse, Lawyer for Liberty, said:

“The UK has a long, proud history of holding the powerful to account, and the right to protest peacefully is enshrined in law in our Human Rights Act. Unfortunately that can be something of an inconvenience for those in power.

“The Mayor’s flagrant disregard for one of our most fundamental freedoms, on the very doorstep of the palace of power, cannot be allowed to go unchecked – so we’re delighted the courts have seen fit to review his actions.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Boris Johnson’s ‘duplicitous claims’ over vanity project revealed

London’s ‘garden bridge’ project was billed as a free gift for London, but a confidential letter leaked to the Guardian has revealed the public purse is obliged to pay the £3.5m maintenance costs yearly on top of £60m committed funds.

This goes against everything Johnson has publicly promised about the project, which now is causing a strain on transport funds while he sells it as a ‘sponsored gift.’This is also amid growing austerity, poverty and social cleansing in the capital, and while Boris makes attempts to shut down the voice of the public as above.

Read more about this story here.

5) Paul Mobbs arrested during citizens’ arrest of Cabinet

Environmental researcher and consultant Paul Mobbs was arrested under the Terrorism Act last week outside 10 Downing Street while he tried to arrest the Cabinet for Misconduct in Public Office. Watch this brilliant video detailing how Paul Mobbs went through with the action, giving great advice on how to deal with police and law at a time of institutional ignorance to human rights and corruption:

 

Update:

‘Paul has now been released from Charring Cross police station. He has officially reported a crime (misconduct in public office) which the police are now duty bound to investigate and he has provided them with everything they need to investigate the crime. He is now setting off home and should be back in Banbury in a few hours. He is going to celebrate by going for a walk tomorrow.’

 Read more about this story here. 

6) Wannabe Tory leader says it’s ‘impossible’ to raise family on £67k

Millionaire Windsor MP Adam Afriyie became yet another example of out-of-touch MPs after he claimed that it was ‘impossible’ to raise a family on an MP’s salary of £67k.

Afriyie said that MPs salaries and expenses should be scrapped and they should be given an allowance of £225,000 a year to spend however they want, adding that if wages from 1911 kept pace this is the figure MPs would be on. He failed to mention the rate at which the minimum wage would be if it had not been stifled by governments, or the rates of pay for nurses and care workers had they not been kept down by successive governments and environments of austerity and stagnant wages.

Read more about this idiot here.

1) Real Media Gathering 

It was a successful gathering for Real Media on Saturday. So many highlights and insights from the array of great speakers including Nafeez Ahmed, Des Freedman, Donnachadh Mccarthy, Samantha Asumadu, Jamie-Kelsey Fry and Angela Haggerty. We have some great pictures from ‘Fields of Light Photography’ – you can find more of their work here and more pictures from the conference here. Videos to come. Thanks to all involved.
Images: Fields of Light Photography 10410549_818513151535418_3351211666109392205_n 10456817_818513494868717_4988557541414463412_n 10647139_818513164868750_4858145583955167207_n 11043197_818512988202101_2624333882209417146_n 10919016_818513028202097_1896150508559306475_n 11025179_818512804868786_5840824138894688795_n

2) Maximus protests today

Nationwide protests are taking place today against the new provider of Work Capability Assessments; Maximus. The American provider replaces ATOS but concerns remain high as Maximus has a history of fraud and fundamental changes to the assessment system have not been implemented leaving sick and disabled people at risk of further problems.

Paula Peters explains more in this video interview with the Artist Taxi Driver, and you can find out more here.

3) Homelessness up more than 50% since 2010

Statistics released last week show that street homelessness has risen 55% since the coalition came to power.

In London, street homelessness has risen 80% since 2010.

Rick Henderson of Homeless Link said:

“We should ask ourselves why it is acceptable that anyone has to sleep rough in Britain today.

“What’s even more shocking is that the number of people in this situation has risen every year since 2010.

“Unfortunately, many charities have seen funding fall at the very time that demand for help is on the rise.

“To turn the tide, politicians need to make sure the right support needs are available in every area so that no one has to live on our streets.”

 

Read more about this story here.

4) Rifkin in ‘policy for sale’ scandal, Cameron attempts to smooth over corruption

Much like Boris Johnson’s defence of tax avoidance by Boots as ‘doing the job well’, Cameron now defends MP’s second jobs as they need a ‘range of experience’ despite the clear conflict of interest. We’ll leave it to Mark Steel writing in the Independent to sum up this one:

“Members of Parliament should have second jobs, said David Cameron, to give them a “range of experience”, and keep them in touch with the common person. So that’s why they do the sort of second jobs they have, because nothing keeps you in touch with the common person as much as being paid five grand a day consulting an Arab bank.

“They also maintain there was nothing underhand about the services they were offering. This may be true, and when Straw offered to work for a Chinese company, it never occurred to him that the reason they were interested in him was he could use his position to influence ministers. He thought they’d heard he was really good at filing. And when he said he charges between £5,000 and £8,000 for a speech, he never imagined companies pay that to get access to the Government. He gets that much because he does a hilarious impression of Saddam Hussein, and juggles with cauliflowers for an extra 50 quid.”

Find a list of MPs who earned more than £7m outside of Parliament in 2014 here.

Read the full article here.

5) Greg Wise and Emma Thompson refuse to pay tax until HSBC are punished

Actor Greg Wise, married to actress Emma Thompson, has vowed not to pay tax until those involved in the HSBC scandal are sentenced:

“Wise spoke of his disgust with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the bank after the Guardian and other news organisations published leaked details of 100,000 accounts held by HSBC’s Swiss arm which showed how the bank had helped clients to move cash out of the country.

“I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” Wise told the Evening Standard. “I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.”