The Official London Olympics 2012

I could care less, but then I’d have to make some effort.

A faster 100m or ending world hunger?? Ooh, tricky one. Let’s go for a faster 100 metres. Yes, I’m sure there’d be more headlines about that.

And indeed a lot of effort is going into the Olympics – as represented by the £9 billion pounds cost to the taxpayer – minimum, at a time of cuts costing a million jobs. G4S put a lot in clearly too – until they realised they couldn’t find enough people prepared to work for not very much in the country’s most expensive location. So send in the cavalry (as we sack thousands of them too). Still, for the 1200 troops involved, it makes a nicer change than the 1 in 6 chance of being killed or wounded in Afghanistan.

Not to mention the Olympic Nazis cracking down on the slightest independent mention of the games not sanctioned by McCoke-idas, or SAM missiles on council estates. There’s an upgrade they could do without.

As Mark Steel points out: If the Palestinians do that they get screamed at for using civilians as a “human shield”, but we’re doing it to protect the 200 metres backstroke.

And all that with some 700,000 Olympic tickets unsold. Incredible! We should have cancelled it and given it to some capable, non-corrupt country.

£900,000 NHS spend on private ambulances for Olympics

I love the Olympics, but not here, Mark Steel

Circuses, but less bread, Craig Murray

Bread and Circuses, Wiki

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Miliband’s new campaigns!

In the wake of yesterday’s historic march, Labour’s Edward Milibland announces his new campaigns:

  • NO taxes on the banks!
  • NO taxes for the wealthy!  (these haven’t been collected for over a year anyway…)!
  • NO closing of tax loopholes!
  • DON’T chase major tax avoiders!
  • DON’T re-regulate the financial sector!
  • CUT all the services anyway! (just spread them out a bit more).

The Labour Party leader, Ed Milibland, was very poor yesterday! His was the total hypocrisy of equating  the 500,000 marchers (figure via police announced by Len McCluskey from stage) with apartheid and the civil rights movement, etc – WHILE he fails to share the ACTUAL policies the march was about!

A Real Alternative? Unbelievable, isn’t it? And major Unions think this is where hope lies?!?

Hull, on the other hand, was rather splendid. Somewhere around 17 coaches went, including the (Fire Brigade) FBU’s 3 from the area. (Twice the number of coaches that went for Iraq in 2003).

We had a great time. The demonstration was massive, very good-natured and determined. But we all know the battle goes on.

The message must get through: tax the banks, tax the ultra-rich, make the cuts history.

—————

Update: After rumours of attack on Fortnum and Mason’s, a mob of tweed-clad old Etonians retaliate and vandalise Lidl in Slough. #mar26

Tw: Best placard so far: ‘there are two things I don’t like about nick clegg: his face’ #26march #march26

Tw: The march was a total success – 500k. Pity the ‘alternative’ is cuts over 72 months instead of 54 months. Ed is not the alternative.

Sometimes to be equal barriers must be removed

I’ve invited TJ White, from Hull, to give her take on government threats to disability support.

“It’s everything we’ve been fighting against for decades.”

I’d been asked to write something about the changes to DLA, and I’m afraid it’s taking me a long time to work through the consultation document so I can write something truly informed. I am at present bothered more by two other phrases that have been used in conjunction with certain disabled people by the current government and in use by the media a lot at present. One is the word ‘vulnerable’ the other is ‘unsustainable’ – put them together and you have ‘vulnerable unsustainable people’, not a nice position to be in, and certainly not a positive way of being described.

“It brings to mind begging bowls, dependance and incapability.”

My main problem with this is that it just betrays such a nasty, uncaring and patronising attitude to disabled people. It brings to mind begging bowls, dependance and incapability. It’s everything we’ve been fighting against for decades. There are two ways (simplification, if you will allow) to look at this really – disabled people are an expensive burden on the taxpayer who must be supported because…. well why? I’m not sure. I’ve seen nothing about why these ‘vulnerable unsustainable people’ should have any help or assistance, just that we can afford less of it. There is no real reason or incentive to fork out all that cash. However what if these people are equal, have a right to life, family, freedom, work – voluntary or otherwise, friends and communication? Sometimes to be equal barriers must be removed, some of these barriers are financial, some of them cost money.

I can tell you the only way in which I feel vulnerable personally is to government spending cuts:  I worry I won’t be able to go out any more – because they will take away my DLA, I worry I will struggle to live in a clean house, do my shopping, cook meals and to see my friends because they are going to cut my Personal Budget (social care package). I worry that even if I do become a little better I will never work again because they are cutting the Access to Work grants. I worry I won’t be able to feed myself or have a family because they are cutting my benefit (‘insurance’, according to my record, and ‘handout’ according to The Sun. Take your pick!). I worry they will move the goal posts again and declare me ‘fit for work’ – a meaningless phrase as, with a few exceptions, I am unemployable.

I am, however, only made vulnerable by these cuts. I am a capable, hardworking individual – even if that is not conventionally hardworking. I can take responsibility for myself and my life, I can be in control and I am still fiercely independent.

We waste people when we declare them one thing or another without their consent.

I have known of people with varying levels of support and impairment direct their own lives, including those with severe mental health problems, learning disability and those living in residential care. We waste people when we declare them one thing or another without their consent, without their input, without even meeting them. We make an underclass, unseen, unheard and locked away by the barriers and the labels we place in front of them.

No one’s life is ‘unnecessary’. No one has to live in poverty or misery. Most people, with varying levels of support, can live fulfilling, varied and personally controlled lives.

It is our choice whether we make people vulnerable or not – usually by declaring them ‘unsustainable’ or ‘too expensive’.

It’s our choice what kind of society we live in.

TJ

TJ White is a singer, songwriter and disability activist and lives in Hull.

Alan Johnson: nothing to see here!

Guest post: this post courtesy of Jane Watkinson, a new Green Party member in Leeds.

Alan Johnson’s incompetent and indifferent approach to one of the most important jobs in reconstructing Labour, is a testament to the problems Labour have in terms of reforming and distinctly challenging the government. As it stands, Johnson is looking more like a David Miliband trojan horse, with a pretty damning critique of his performances on the Today programme here. Essentially, Johnson fails to remember Labour’s economic ‘plans’, with him at first arguing Labour would eliminate the structural deficit by 2015-16 – basically the same plans as the Conservatives – later saying he ‘probably’ meant 2016/17 (as though that is any better).

This type of attitude is a massive obstacle preventing Labour’s reform. Johnson’s appointment is a major reason for why many expecting an Ed Miliband turnaround are so disappointed in how lax and pathetic Miliband has turned out. This is where Lucas is right to have said that Labour aren’t offering us a credible alternative, sadly, however, as many of us Greens and other non-Labour lefties/radicals tend to do, Lucas ignored the importance of respecting the need for collaboration in conjuncture with accepting differences between ourselves and Labour. Labour imploded their progressive credentials in power, something we wont obviously forget. But, there needs to be more engagement in assisting Labour’s reform, which, I admit, can be very difficult (I often fall foul of the “Labour are just the same” line).

I therefore agree with some of the sentiments in the replies to Lucas, specifically concerning the need for the Greens to work with Labour to assist their shedding of Blarite skin (but Labour have to remember that they also have to be open to real public debate and critical reform). However, when you hear stupid remarks such as Johnson’s today, Ed Miliband slapping a debate on drugs before it has even begun, Ed Miliband joking about supporting student protests, Ed Miliband distancing and criticising the unions (as well as branding an amazing article from Len McCluskey as ‘irresponsible‘) and witness Ed Miliband trusting Alan Johnson to instate a radical programme – then you can see why the Greens have doubts.

Regardless, we need to grit our teeth, whilst remembering that Labour and the Greens, as I have previously stated, are most certainly not the only route for radical political change. As well as working within the system, stopping damaging cuts, welfare reforms and the like through traditional protocols – we also need to work outside. This is important. We can’t solely rely on party politics to enact the change we need.

Labour are a long way from reforming, in fact, I barely notice a change from their time in power. It is a sad state of affairs, especially given the faith placed. But with them still signed up to cuts, welfare destruction and damaging relations with the labour/anti-cuts movement, there is a long time before they will be re-recognised as a real force of political change. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stop trying to challenge and radically restructure both Labour and the power relations in general through both inside (whether it be the Greens, Labour or whatever) and outside. It is a complementary goal for radical reform.

Jane Watkinson