Since the Tories came to power two years and seven months ago, with the assistance of the Liberal Democrats, they have reshaped the political landscape in the UK in the most horrific manner, launching a savage age of austerity aimed at the young, the working poor, the unemployed, the ill, the old and the disabled, in defiance of the Christian values they supposedly hold.
In response, a group of concerned citizens have launched an e-petition urging the government to change course, which already has over 9,000 signatures since its launch just three weeks ago, and needs 100,000 signatures by December 12, 2013 to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate. The “War on Welfare” petition, which has a website here, and is being promoted as the #wowpetition, calls for “a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.”
Driven by a Thatcherite and neo-conservative obsession with destroying the state (with a few exceptions, including their own salaries and expenses), the Tories have been taking advantage of the economic crisis created by bankers and politicians (themselves included) in the global crash of 2008 not to rein in the bankers, but to endorse the enthusiasm for austerity amongst so-called economists — those who have not learned that austerity measures in a recession lead only to economic collapse.
The results have been predictable. With unprecedented cuts to the welfare budget, including the butchering of the NHS, the start of an unprecedented assault on the school system, and an attempt to destroy access to universities for all but the rich, there is widespread and ever-increasing misery, and the austerity programme has been a complete failure. The cuts to the welfare budget will continue to hit the working poor very hard in 2013, as well as those unfortunate enough not to have a job, because most benefits are paid to those in work, rather than those who are unemployed, and savage cuts across the board will come into effect at the start of the new financial year in April.
In 2012, however, for those paying attention, the worst effects of the government’s assault on the most vulnerable members of society fell on the disabled, as a result of the Work Capability Assessment, designed to find disabled people fit for work when they are not, in order to reduce costs. This vile system is administered by Atos Healthcare, which is employing medical personnel willing to betray their profession for their masters in Atos’s management, and in the government. For further information, see my articles, Where is the Shame and Anger as the UK Government’s Unbridled Assault on the Disabled Continues?, Call Time on This Wretched Government and Its Assault on the Disabled and The End of Decency: Tories to Make Disabled People Work Unpaid for Their Benefits. Also see my photos of a protest against Atos here, which includes the photo featured above.
Despite this, as evidence of the failure of the government’s austerity programme, George Osborne is on target to borrow £212 billion more than he promised by 2016 in his spending review in 2010, and council leaders in Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield are warning of massive civil unrest unless the government halts cuts which they say “unfairly penalise the north relative to the south,” in the Guardian‘s words.
As the Guardian explained:
Reacting to the latest cuts announced to council budgets this month — under which a further 2% of spending reductions were unveiled by the chancellor, George Osborne, in addition to the 28% already in train — the council chiefs say ministers in Whitehall appear to be adopting a “Dickensian” view of the world, which is a betrayal of traditional one nation conservatism.
Calling for a change in the way funding is allocated, to make it fairer to the north, they say that while everyone agrees on the need for savings, the coalition austerity programme has gone too far and will soon backfire with chaos on the streets and further economic stagnation. “Rising crime, increasing community tension and more problems on our streets will contribute to the break-up of civil society if we do not turn back,” they write.
“The one nation Tory brand of conservatism recognised the duty of government to help the country’s most deprived in the belief that economic and social responsibility benefited us all. The unfairness of the government’s cuts is in danger of creating a deeply divided nation. We urge them to stop what they are doing now and listen to our warnings before the forces of social unrest start to smoulder.”
2013 needs to be the year that people in Britain — and England in particular — rise up against the unparalleled cruelty of the Tory-led government in numbers that cannot be ignored. I will be doing all I can to work towards an alternative future for the UK — one that doesn’t involve a return to horrendous poverty and an ever-increasing chasm between the rich and the poor — and encouraging those who claim to have faith to ask themselves if what they are doing in response to the government’s policies is appropriate, but in the meantime, as the New year unfolds, the least I can ask you to do is to sign the “War on Welfare” petition, and show the Tories that there are at least 100,000 people who very actively care about their hideous assault on the disabled.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
While this is obviously important, keep in mind the same things are happening here. The fiscal cliff cuts will go into effect on Jan 1st. Some are splitting hairs with the legalese in this and saying no, it starts Jan. 2nd. Which somehow negates the effects of the cuts? Yes, their “logic” is really that disfunctional.
Regardless of what the current exchange rates are (and what country you live in), how are you supposed to survive on literally nothing? I know that lots of aspects of this have been talked about already (ex. all disabled people who can’t afford rent for a decent flat should be segregated outside of London?). While various benefits are there and should be there for people who genuinely need them, keep in mind several things:
You’re taking about actual human beings. Not just numbers in a Ministry report.
These human beings have actual emotions and the normal need to feel some sense of control over their lives.
Could YOU live on 100 quid a week, or whatever Osborne’s new “minimum benefit level” is?
When I lived in London, I was there for about a month. The first week was in West Kensington. The next three were in Euston Square. This also gave me time to cover quite a bit of London and to see the differences in neighborhoods and many people in general. At times the thought came to mind, how do people afford this?
I’ve been lucky enough to see firsthand the housing and “class” differences in many countries that are now dealing w/austerity measures. While an adequate explanation doesn’t fit into a nice and neat BBC World News soundbite, it’s the same stuff. Everybody wants to have some sense of control over their lives, and to feel happy in their life. Is a disabled person less deserving of that than someone else? Wherever it is, it’s human dignity. Why is that so hard for the Tories to understand?
Thanks, Tom. Great points. My hope is that the desire to remove the poor out of London to other places will be stopped by councils in those other places, who don’t want to become ghettoes so that London can wash its hands of them, and the Tories will realise that there is a limit to how much, in a short period of time, you can cut all the safety nets and drive people into abject poverty, with soaring homelessness.
Unfortunately, there are two other options – the first is the return of the Victorian workhouses; and for the second we need to remember Nazi Germany.
On Facebook, Dessie Harris wrote:
Happy New Year Andy xxxx
Alces Acres wrote:
Stephen Summers wrote:
Happy new year Andy.
Thanks for the New Year wishes, Dessie and Steve, and thanks for signing, Alces. To anyone signing, please also respond to the confirmation email sent by the e-petition site, or it won’t be valid.
Beebs Tweet wrote:
Happy New Year Andy. And shared the petition.
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I tried to sign, but as usual with such petitions, could not. I wish there were some like this for the entire EU.
Thanks, Beebs and George. I agree, George, that it’s annoying that e-petitions are so UK-specific when the issues are so often across the EU. I suppose what we need is some sort of cross-EU petition site, with all languages catered for!
The petition’s here, by the way: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154
Currently on 9,683 signatures. Hope we can make 10,000 by tomorrow!
Sharing the article, Neil Mckenna wrote:
Thanks, Andy. April really will be the cruellest month …
I dread to think how bad it will be, Neil. I’m trying to find some time to look into the full extent of the punitive, ill-thought out policies regarding people in social housing. What kind of wretched country are we living in when no one, it seems, cares that people with more rooms than they could possibly use – and with numerous houses in various locations – tell people in social housing that their homes are not homes, and introduce legislation requiring them to move if they have a spare room? That’s just one of the changes coming. There’s the across-the-board cap on benefits, of course, which will see many people forced to move from where they live, and have roots, and children at school, and, as with almost everything this government turns its hand to, the plans are so ill-thought out that there won’t actually be any savings.
Neil Mckenna wrote:
I couldn’t agree more. We”ve just got to get the Coalition out Andy. Thanks and great and informative article as ever.
Thanks, Neil. I’m just trying to do my bit, although I do feel that we’ll need more than just words and online actions this coming year. Just as Tony Blair illegally invaded Iraq, the Tories and Lib Dems are illegally attacking the poor, the ill, the unemployed and the disabled. They didn’t say they were going to do any of this, in their manifestoes, and they didn’t secure a mandate from the voters to come up with such a Frankenstein’s Monster of a coalition government. That makes them illegitimate.
Wakey-wakey, people of Britain. The poison that courses through you, blaming the unemployed and immigrants for your discontents, is letting the real criminal scum wreck your lives and your futures with impunity. Don’t you realise that, behind your backs, the Tory butchers are laughing their heads off at how easy it is to manipulate you through their campaign of black propaganda against the most vulnerable members of society, backed up by the right-wing and/or complacent media?
Cristina Ferreira Henriques wrote, in response to 9, above:
Is that a threat of a project…? I’ll help. When the illness is global, the line of attack needs to go beyond national borders too… Wish you a fruitful and productive 2013.
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I’ve retweeted this from others.
Thanks, Cristina and thanks again, George. Well, let’s see, Cristina, how could we take this forward? I just thought of it now, but it’s arisen because George and I have often discussed pan-European problems, and I think something with a specific EU focus might be a powerful tool! Anyone else think so?
Alces Acres wrote:
Shared in my Group for Chronic Pain & Migraine folk, more sigs on the way.
we arent going to change the tories minds it dosent work like that ..thease monsters are incapable of changeing there mindset its in there dna to be cowardly and cruel all we can do is hurl them from power ..smash them..beat them ,lol but there is no other party that is trustworthy or has the welfare of humans at its core there isnt a single mp in this sceptic country worth trusting as power corrupts absolutly and there all currupt all i can suggest we do is try to help those poor sods who are in the front line of thease cuts ,try to give wot we can,food,shelter human warmth do wot you can ..perhaps the only way is for social anarchy on the streets and when the fires are thretening the tory scums homes maybe and only then will they change [it will be to save there own necks of course..but maybe change will then come.
How far back in time does Camaron want to go I wonder?
Thanks, Damo. I didn’t mean to suggest that it was possible to change the Tories’ minds, although they do claim to be fine, upstanding Christians, so I will continue to point out that their actions would have made Jesus sick.
You’re right to point out that we can all try and help those on the front line of the cuts. Perhaps that really is the best way – mass mobilisation of food deliveries, for example, with as much media attention as possible.
Wishing you the best for the New Year!
It’s a very good question, Thomas. It seems to me, however, that the Tories very clearly want to destroy the welfare state completely, which means returning to the mid-19th century at the very latest.
and wishing you the best andy ..but if the tories destroy the welfare state ..are we going to see workhouses no there are to many people now we will see tent citys just like america ,people litteraly like the liveing dead ..just like skid row and ive seen that in america andy you woudnt belive it beyond description
Well, we just have to keep trying to remind people that the current policies will destroy civil society, Damo. I’m not sure that a majority of people really want Britain to be like the US when it comes to the treatment of the most vulnerable members of society.
Trust me, Damo. You DON’T want to end up like the social system here. The Tories know they can’t get away with massive cuts immediately across the board. Which means the Coalition is taking Obama’s “bi-partisan” approach. They’re also paying attention to spin and the language used as they go along.
Here, the govt. says hungry people are “nutritionally challenged”. Does anyone at the Health Ministry say that?
When Cameron talks about PTSD cases, has he EVER talked about a civilian? If he has, please post the link, because I’ve never seen it.
How does the NHS treat people who need help with mental health problems? In my experience, other groups such as the Samaritans continue to do great work on an extremely limited budget.
When MP’s are elected, can they have both govt. and private health coverage? Here, if I have it and move/change jobs, it doesn’t automatically transfer.
While some minister might look good with stats from their latest report, these are actual human beings w/normal emotions and concerns. Someone should ask Cameron, if God forbid the worst happened and you and your family lost literally everything, what would you do? In the last 2 Stateside elections and in the last UK one, I’ve NEVER seen anyone do that. Why? Is that considered to be too embarassing in some way? I mean, it IS your job to deal with this stuff.
Nutritionally challenged? That’s pretty disgusting, Tom, but not surprising, given the extent to which everything these days is spun by politicians and their advisers.
ive been to america and seen some of the conditions there i also have american friends in ny and california and they keep me posted its bad in america realy fucking bad and my heart goes out to the decent people who are suffering there..what is going on already with thease neocons there and here when are we all gonna start fighting back ..we can start by rounding bankers up and hanging them,lol,lol no wishfull thinking aside why are we not protesting in the streets like greece ,spain wots wrong with us we seem to have become so passive….
and so easily distracted …like lambs to the slaughter
Agreed, Damo. It’s depressing to watch people either (a) taking whatever’s dished out and accepting punishment like good Puritans, or (b) enjoying making vulnerable people suffer. Option (b) is the one that depresses me the most, but the combination of both is stifling the necessary opposition to these wretched people. It’s going to be a busy year, trying to open people’s eyes to the truth of modern Britain – a temple to ruthless, dead-eyed greed.
but its the way of things now andy dead eyed greed its the new emotion the tv is full of thease revolting programs esp the food and property ones theres the revolting nigela licking her lips makes expencive nonescence food spending on one meal wot a poor family spends on food for 3 days all the while people starve and then theres sarah beeny whinging about not being able to afford to do up her 2000 room stately home all the while greedily looking at her property portfolio…REPULSIVE you know were fed thease discusting programs and people think its normal that greed is normal there was some vile program on over the holiday on an up and comeing sea side town [being gentrified] and these horrors kept going on about propertys every other word was fucking propertys well wot about the poor locals being pushed out by these scum bags all for wankey little holiday let at £1000 a week ..of with there heads andy orf with there heads
It’s a vicious cycle. Speaking for many here, for whatever reason(s) they put personal survival first before ongoing protests to create actual change. Mnay politicians know this and count of this to maintain their power.
That’s not a judgement of them in any way. It’s just stating fact that I see every single day.
I’m with you, Damo. Crappy programmes are one of the reasons I stopped watching TV; that and the news, which is designed not to inform but to paralyse and keep people in a state of fear – and to keep the drip-drip of materialism in the forefront of people’s minds.
Yes, it is indeed a vicious cycle, Tom. And that makes it difficult to work out how to get people to think outside of the box in which they’ve trapped themselves …
Guiding activist thought for the day from Mickey Hart. If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.
Yes, I like that, Tom!
dont get me ranting on the news,lol i can see why you got rid of your tv ,lol but andy theres a perverce side of me that actualy likes to see how dumb tv is nowerdays but saying that you do get programs like britans hidden houseing crisis ..the bbc news is now the most dumb of all 20 second sound bites of banality cat stuck up tree that kind of thing,lol,lol
i dont think people are capable of thinking outside the box anymore there becomeing more sheeplike every day dumbed down to the point of total passivity like i said lambs to the slaughter useless eaters i mean were at a tipping point globaly ..shit realy is comeing down the line and people are sitting on ther hands doing nothing esp in this country and by doing nothing we,ve sent out the message to the torie,s and the bankers that they can and will do exactly as they please even if it means death to the most vulnerable people the people with absolutly nothing as we all know the tories are such cowards they dont dare pick on the strong ..but on those at the sharp ,brutal end of life..how cowardly and cruel..and we do nothing are we just pissing in the wind andy ,you know you try and rally protest and nobody cares or seems to care god help those with the least when the benefit cuts come in, in april
I think not watching TV has removed an element of uncontrollable anger from my life, Damo. I’m so permanently outraged by this government, and people’s inability to comprehend, and their casual cruelty, and the strutting scum making a fortune at the expense of others, that adding the drivel of the so-called news to it was just a bit too stressful!
What happens after April may wake a lot more people up, Damo, but I agree about what an uphill struggle it is to fight back. Part of the problem is that many of the people who do understand what’s going on seem to start from a position of dejection, of feeling defeated, when they should realise that all that does is play into the hands of the oppressors.
april will be to late the damadge will allready have been done people need to protest now..but they wont ..we wait and see how this all pans out realy terribly for some..though i laughed bitter chuckles today reading how the tories are whingeing about being perceived as the nasty party again …nanny ,mummy,im not a nasty party am i..no giddeon your not your just doing the right thing this must be said in a pose of slumped shoulders belly protruding gormless expretion on the face and feet must be pigeon toed or is that toad,lol,lol oh and said in best bbc english,but with a lisp,lol as most torie males walk with a lisp and talk with a wiggle,lol
Ha! Glad to be away from the nasty party for ten days, Damo! Great sketch of the Tory male!
this is the age of revenge of the public school boy even thatcher booted out all the eaton boys from her cabinnet and now there hell bent on revenge
Yes, you’re onto something there, Damo. And 13 years of exile enraged them, as they spent all that time seething about how they were born to rule.
It all goes back to there Nancy’s and still haveing a wet nurse up anthill at least 18,lol
I meant to wright nanny s,lol,lol
Yes, but what that means is no love, Damo. They’re sent off to boarding school at the age of 8, and before that they have a nanny but they don’t have love from their parents.
Thank you for this petition.I am struggling on the work programme in which the help received is really nonexistant.I am driven to contemplate suicide, I am in a low place.
Thank you for stopping by, Marilyn. I am sorry to hear that you are suffering so much under this wretched government. If you have access to Facebook, please check out Atos Miracles (that’s an ironic name, based on Atos’s seeming ability to cure the disabled), where many disabled people are sharing stories and giving each other advice: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ATOS-Miracles/259364897425986
Campaigning investigative journalist and commentator, author, filmmaker, photographer, singer-songwriter and Guantánamo expert
Email Andy Worthington
Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist: