Archives For Occupy Democracy

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) Oxfam reveals 1% own half world’s wealth and increasing

New research released on Monday, by anti-poverty charity Oxfam, reveals that the top 1% own around half the world’s wealth, and if current trends continue, they will own more than the other 99% by next year.

In 2009, the 1% owned 44% of the world’s wealth. By 2014, this had increased to 48%. Meanwhile, the bottom 80% own just 5.5%.

Oxfam released this released their report ahead of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and said they would use their profile at the Forum to put pressure on countries and groups to tackle this increasing inequality.

 

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Read more about this story here.

2) 40% of British families ‘too poor to play a part in society’

Those aiming to keep subjects like the wealth gap, and the increasing power and wealth of the 1%, out of the limelight, often claim that this has no bearing on the poor, and that focus should be on the poor instead of ‘attacking the rich’. They will aim to break the relation between increasing wealth for the rich and increasing poverty for the poor, but that money is being taken out of societies, from public money, public services, and welfare. The same year 1million people needed a food bank in the UK, the rich list increased their wealth by 15%.

Now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have released a report detailing that 4 in 10, or 8.1 million people, live below an income required to play a part in society. This increased by a third from 2008/09 to 2012/13.

The findings show ‘economic growth’ is not happening for those that need it most.

“The definition of minimum income threshold assumes a single person of working age needs an income of £16,284. It suggests in the case of a couple with two children, each needs to reach an income threshold of £20,400. It does not pretend to be a poverty measure, or act as a substitute for the government’s half-abandoned child poverty measure of the numbers earning 60% below median earnings. It is instead a definition of the income required to have not just food, shelter and clothes, but also to be able to be a participant in society.

“The definition, reached in discussion with the public through focus groups, looks at what a household needs to be integrated in society and has been used in the past as a benchmark for the living wage.

“It includes, for instance, the ability to pay for a week’s holiday in the UK, or a second-hand car for families with children. It assumes no cigarettes or visits to the pub.”

Read more about this story here.

 

3) Government challenged on benefit figures, as new poll shows British claimants in EU outnumber immigrants here

A new survey, conducted by the Guardian newspaper, shows that the number of Britons claiming benefits across the EU, outnumber immigrants from respective countries claiming here, going against government figures.

For example the report says that 23,011 Britons were on welfare in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, France and Ireland, compared to just 8720 of those nationals claiming here.

The survey was conducted on 23 of the 27 EU countries.

“Thirty thousand people, or 2.5% of all British nationals, in other EU member states means that the overwhelming majority of Brits abroad as well as European citizens in Britain are not an undue burden for the countries in which they live,” said Dr Roxana Barbulescu, researcher on international migration at the University of Sheffield, to the Guardian.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Farage admits he wants to privatise NHS

in 2012, UKIP leader Nigel Farage let slip that he would ‘feel more comfortable’ with a privatised NHS. Spin doctors did their best to say that he had changed his mind, despite Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall also expressing his desire to let privatisation in.

Now Farage says this is a debate he will have to return to, revealing that he is courting the idea of implementing a US style insurance scheme. Bear in mind, the US spends the most on healthcare and has the worst system in the developed world.

Image: Leftfootforward

Image: Leftfootforward

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Hinchingbrooke hospital became the first to be declared ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission, and was accused of putting patient safety at risk, with tactics including skeleton staffing. The hospital was owned by Circle Health, a private healthcare company which won healthcare contracts following donations to the Tory party.

Read more reasons why the NHS does not need privatisation. 

Read more about this story here.

5) There are 10 homes for every homeless family in England

The Mirror revealed that there are 10 homes for every homeless family in England, and yet numbers of homeless people keep rising.

While efforts by Labour to reduce homelessness over five years of government saw figures drop from 100,000 to 48,000, the number of homeless people has been increasing again since 2011.

While some of these empty homes are waiting for renters or sales, many are being held empty by investors.

The Labour government brought in a ‘use it or lose it’ policy that allows councils to seize properties left empty for 6 months. The Tories extended this to two years upon their election and even resisted attempts to multiply council tax on these homes.

Image: The MIrror

Image: The MIrror

Read more about this story here.

6) Steve Emerson laughed off BBC News

American ‘Terrorism expert’ (lol) Steve Emerson, who hit the headlines the other week for saying that Birmingham in the UK is a ‘no-go zone for non-Muslims’ was interviewed on the BBC about his comments and where he got his ‘findings’. It’s quite funny.

 

 

7) Occupy Democracy return to Parliament Square

 

Occupy Democracy enter Parliament Square, Judicial Review, 24th January 2014 from Occupy London on Vimeo.

by Kam Sandhu @KamBass

1) 71 Coalition MPs named and shamed for profiting from NHS sell-off

Unite the Union has published a list of 64 Tories and 7 Liberal Democrats who all profited from reform and plans to sell off our NHS.

“Named on the list of 71 Coalition MPs…are David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, along with former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley – proving that corruption played a huge part in the introduction of private firms into NHS work.”

How many of them declared this clear conflict of interest while voting for the Health and Social Care Act in 2012? None seems the most likely answer.

According to the Daily Mirror, “All 71 MPs named in the dossier voted in favour of the Government’s controversial Health and Social Care Act in 2012, which opened up the NHS to more private firms.”

Mike Sivier, Vox Political

Read more about this story here.

2) 10,000 students march against fees and cuts

Around 10,000 students marched on 19th November in a protest for free education.

This was the largest mobilisation since the student demos of 2010 and it largely passed peacefully.

Paint was daubed on the NUS building after a withdrawal of support for the action:

‘We did not organise what happened at the NUS but we do know students are very angry about being let down by the NUS,’ said Beth Redmond from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which was one of the groups that organised today’s demonstration. ‘When you see the numbers here today they are in danger of becoming an irrelevance.’

There were some scuffles with police, when at one point several hundred protestors pulled down metal fences to take over the space at Parliament Square.

ALL arrestees were released without charge.

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“Aaron Kiely, from the Student Assembly Against Austerity and a member of the NUS national executive, said their message was very simple: a return to free education and an alternative to tuition fees.

“Students are really angry because we go to university and then at the end of it we get an average of £40,000-worth of debt. That puts you in a hell of a difficult position when you start to think about a mortgage and a family. We need an alternative.”

Organisers say this is the start of a wave of action before the General Election.

Read more about this story here.

3) Cameron warns of ‘looming crash’

David Cameron warned that the eurozone was facing a third recession during closing speeches at G20, as unemployment and staggered growth continue to halt economic improvements. Austerity has failed to measures the PM can no longer hide, it is not working and therefore further cuts would be propagating a lie –  we can take this as the confession.

Image: The Guardian

Image: The Guardian

“The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too,” Cameron writes. “Emerging market economies which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery are now slowing down. Despite the progress in Bali [trade talks in 2013], global trade talks have stalled while the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty.”

Read more about this story here.

4) Iain Duncan Smith laughs during panic room woman’s challenge against bedroom tax

An unnamed woman challenged the government on Wednesday after being hit by the bedroom tax on her ‘spare room’.

“The “spare room” that the government want to penalise her for having is a specially adapted “Panic Room”. It’s there to provide a safe space for her and her child if her abusive ex-partner – who has raped and assaulted her – tries to cause her further harm.”

Incredibly, IDS argued the case FOR the government and the tax to a hearing in June where he unsuccessfully asked for the case to be dismissed.

While the case was read out in detail by Ed Miliband, according to MP Fiona O’Donnell, IDS just laughed at the story.

Read more about this story here and here.

5) Occupy Democracy returns to Parliament Square

Protestors from Occupy Democracy returned to Parliament Square over the weekend to again demand democracy and more representative and participatory Parliament.

Image: Commondreams.org

Image: Commondreams.org

The website reads:

“Last month, we occupied Parliament Square peacefully for nine days. The Establishment responded with a strategy designed to have a chilling effect – over-policing and media silence. We remained peaceful and resolute in our determination to make our point, and to demand our right to protest and assemble. Our numbers grew and we kept on with our solutions-focused programme of debates, talks and entertainment. On the final night we agreed a provisional set of demands.”

Read more about this story here.

 

1) Thousands with degenerative conditions marked as fit to work in future by DWP

More than a third of people suffering from degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, are being denied full Employment Support Allowance by the DWP. Instead, they are put into the Work Related Activity Group for those deemed likely to be able to work in the future.  People in this group also face threat of sanction for not attending sessions and may have these benefits removed after one year as an additional ‘incentive’ to find work. Steve Ford, Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK said:

“These latest figures are an utter disgrace and serve to underline just how little the Government cares for those with progressive conditions like Parkinson’s. To set up a system which tells people who’ve had to give up work because of a debilitating, progressive condition that they’ll recover, is humiliating and nothing short of a farce. “These nonsensical decisions are a prime example of how benefits assessors lack even the most basic levels of understanding of the conditions they are looking at.”

This follows news that the UN is looking to investigate the UK for crimes against disability rights, in the first enquiry of it’s kind. Read more about this story here.

2) Britain’s Big Four Banks to announce £9bn profit for just three months


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In direct, stark and disturbing contrast to the previous story, where the treatment of the vulnerable is hardened under the banner of austerity, those who caused the crash and spurred on the government cutbacks are enjoying huge profits.

Britain’s big four banks, Lloyds, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, are set to announce a £9bn profit haul in three months.

While most made between £1.7 – £2bn over the summer, HSBC took the greatest leap with profits estimated at £3.7bn. Meanwhile, wages have dropped for the public for 71 of the last 74 months.

Read more about this story here.

3) People arrested for feeding protestors on Parliament Square

Two people have been arrested for giving water and food to a protestor at the Occupy Democracy camp in Parliament square.

A video emerged of a police officer confirming that anyone aiding a protestor who was sitting on a plinth at the statue of Winston Churchill, would be arrested.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

The Occupy Democracy camp which was set to take place over ten days has seen heavy police force, handling and also severe tactics of harassment in the shape of sleep deprivation both through the removal of sleeping equipment and through constant disturbances by police in a bid to wear protestors out.

Police have a duty to facilitate peaceful protest, as was always the aim of the camp. The treatment of protestors here in a relatively small group shows us the kind of democracy we have, or don’t have.

“I attended the TUC (Trades Union Congress) march on Saturday and I took part in UK Uncut’s ‘tax-dodgers bingo’. And I saw how at every Starbucks, Nero’s and Tesco on the march route there were police lining the shop-front. Who were they guarding? Whose freedoms were they protecting?

I saw how some of the protesters had been getting creative, transforming a tarpaulin into a banner that said ‘WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR FRACKING’. And I remembered again the truth: that we didn’t vote for Prime Minister David Cameron’s ever-desperate dash to drag remaining fossil fuels out of the ground in direct contradiction to our emissions reduction targets. That we also didn’t vote for changes to trespass law, or for the criminalization of ‘Occupy-style’ protests. We certainly didn’t vote for TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership set to curtail the rights of individual governments to stand up to transnational corporations). We didn’t vote for student fees, austerity and the cuts either. So, whose rights exactly is this government representing?

Considering all this, occupying a square opposite the seat of power feels entirely appropriate and necessary in response to such an ‘undemocracy’.”

Hannah Martin, New Internationalist

Read the full piece here.

Read more about this story here.

4) George Osbourne didn’t tell Cameron about £1.7bn EU bill

Cameron has been making a show of how shocked and disgusted he is to have been handed a £1.7bn EU bill to pay on December 1st. It made him really very angry.

Interestingly, Cameron found out about this bill on the way to a meeting with EU representatives on Thursday, despite Chancellor George Osbourne knowing about the bill since the beginning of the week.

Despite the PM being unable to contain his anger, he said he didn’t want to focus on the ‘Who Knew What Whens’ – which luckily for the Chancellor means he is entirely off the hook.

Strange, that the PM is so disgusted by a bill which all EU parties had agreed to, and which the Dutch had put money aside for. Stranger still that our PM is disgusted more by this bill than the continued borrowing and failure of the Chancellor to meet any targets in terms of cutting the deficit.

Read more about this story here.

5) Support for staying in the EU surges 

An Ipsos Mori report revealed public support for EU membership has surged to a 23 year high despite the rise in UKIP support.

“New polling from Ipsos MORI shows the majority of Britons would vote to stay in the European Union in a referendum, indicating the highest support for British membership since 1991, before the signing of the Maastricht Treaty which officially renamed the ‘European Community’ the ‘European Union’. Some 56% would vote to stay in the European Union, compared with 36% who would vote to get out; eight percent answer that they do not know how they would vote. This translates to 61% support for Britain’s EU membership and 39% opposing after excluding ‘don’t knows’. This is the highest support since December 1991, when 60% said they would vote to stay in the European Community and 29% wanted to get out.”

Image: Ipsos Mori

Image: Ipsos Mori

Read the full report here.