Appeals Court Rules That Tories’ Hated, Useless Bedroom Tax Involves “Unlawful Discrimination”; But Will It Ever Be Scrapped?

28.1.16

A campaigner holding up an "Axe the Bedroom Tax" sign at a protest in 2013.It’s been a while since I found the time to write about the depressing realities of life in the UK under the particularly cruel and inept government of David Cameron and George Osborne, as I’ve been so busy lately with my work trying to get the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed. However, not a day goes by that I’m not enraged by their persistent efforts to destroy the state provision of almost all services in the UK, to punish the poor for being poor, and to enrich the rich for being rich.

So I’m pleased to note that there was a small victory yesterday, regarding the bedroom tax, when the appeals court ruled that it was discriminatory in two particular cases. The bedroom tax — technically, the “under-occupancy penalty” — is an abomination, and when I last wrote about it, I described it as a policy “whereby a cabinet of millionaires, with more rooms than they can count, passed legislation forcing people on benefits living in social housing who are deemed to have a ‘spare room’ to downsize, even though there are few smaller properties to move to, and many people, treated as worthless ‘units’ by the government and kicked out of their homes, have had to be rehoused in the private sector, thereby increasing the overall housing benefit bill.”

Of course, the only people who really have “spare rooms” are those like the Tories who live in mansions. Most of those subjected to the bedroom tax may have a room that, technically, is not a bedroom or a living room, but I find it unthinkable that a decent human being would begrudge another the luxury of a spare room.

That said, many of those suffering from the bedroom tax are not using their extra room as a spare room — it  is, instead, a necessary room because they have disabilities, and the so-called “spare room” is needed for equipment or for carers, or because they are single parents — most often, single fathers — and it is the only way they can have their child or children to stay, or even because the person with the spare room is “a victim of extreme domestic violence,” living in a house “fitted with a secure panic room to protect her from a violent ex-partner.”

Those are the Guardian‘s descriptions of the situation faced by a single mum, in whose case, the appeals court ruled, the government’s bedroom tax policy “amounted to unlawful discrimination.” The other case was “brought by Paul and Sue Rutherford, grandparents of Warren, who is seriously disabled child and who needs overnight care in a specially adapted room.” See Paul Rutherford’s response here on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC2.

“In both cases,” as the Guardian described it, “the claimants faced a cut in housing benefit because they were deemed to be ‘under-occupying’ the additional rooms which were classified as spare.”

The Guardian also noted that campaigners “welcomed the ruling and called on the government to change the rules to protect women who need special sanctuary schemes, and to give disabled children the same rights as disabled adults” — developments that are of course hugely important.

For anti-bedroom tax campaigners in general, however, it remains imperative for the bedroom tax be scrapped altogether. This is also the position taken by the Labour Party (a position it held even before Jeremy Corbyn became the party’s leader), and it is also taken by some Tory MPs, who either fear an electoral backlash, or have recognised that it is yet another policy that has not been thought through — the kind at which Cameron and his cabinet excel.

As the Guardian also explained, “A DWP evaluation of the policy published last month found that it it was not meeting its key aim of freeing up larger council properties Just one in nine affected tenants were able to avoid the tax by moving to a smaller property.” That evaluation, by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research and Ipsos Mori, also found that “[t]hree-quarters of people affected by the bedroom tax [said] they have had to cut back on food,” while “46% said they had cut back on heating, 33% on travel and 42% on leisure.”

Responding to the news of the appeals court verdict, which, disgracefully, the government has pledged to take to the Supreme Court (prompting anger from Paul Rutherford), the following message appeared on the JeremyCorbyn4PM Facebook page:

The hated bedroom tax has seen families forced from their homes, panic rooms for domestic violence victims classified as ‘spare rooms’ and two third of those hit by it suffer from disabilities. It has saved no money, freed up almost no space and dragged thousands of families through court. It’s now the Tories’ day in court, as just a couple of months after parts of the welfare cap were ruled unlawful, they have lost a key legal battle on the bedroom tax as well. How much more of the Tories’ welfare policy is illegal as well as immoral?

As long ago as August 2013, the Independent demonstrated how idiotic the bedroom tax was. In an article entitled, “‘Big lie’ behind the bedroom tax: Families trapped with nowhere to move face penalty for having spare room,” Emily Dugan explained how “96% of benefit claimants who will be penalised cannot be rehoused.”

Her article stated:

[M]ore than 19 out of 20 families hit by the bedroom tax are trapped in their larger homes because there is nowhere smaller within the local social housing stock to take them. This is shown by figures provided by councils in response to Freedom of Information requests by the Labour Party.

For the 38 councils that provided full data, 99,079 families are expected to be affected by the bedroom tax, but only 3,803 one and two-bedroom social housing properties are available — just 3.8 per cent of the homes required to rehouse the families who are hit.

At the time, Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, captured the full unjust stupidity of the bedroom tax. “The big lie behind this Government’s spiteful bedroom tax is now plain for all to see,” he said. “Ministers like to claim it’s not a tax, but the truth is more than 96 per cent of those hit have nowhere to move to. This hated tax is trapping thousands of families, forcing vulnerable people to food banks and loan sharks, and there is now a serious danger it could end up costing Britain more than it saves as tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private rented sector. David Cameron’s bedroom tax is the worst possible combination of cruelty and incompetence. He should drop it now.”

Two and a half years later, the wretched bedroom tax is still in place, and Liam Byrne’s words are now echoed by the new shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Owen Smith, who said yesterday, “This victory in the court of appeal is a massive blow to the Tories’ bedroom tax. Labour has long argued that the bedroom tax is deeply unfair and discriminatory, which is why we have campaigned so hard against it. Surely the time has now come for the Tories to discover a conscience, listen to the courts as well as the public, and scrap the hated bedroom tax.”

They might also want to listen to David Cameron’s former speech writer Clare Foges, who, in June, argued that the Tories should “move on from the bedroom tax.” She wrote, “It is not working as had been hoped,” and called on the party to “[h]ave a principled mea culpa moment and move on.”

Last week, I was shocked to hear about the death of Frances McCormack, who was just a year older than me. She “was found hanged in same house her son took his life,” and “had been badgered over the removal of the spare room subsidy,” as the Daily Mail described it. Shockingly, she is by no means the only person to have committed suicide since the bedroom tax was introduced, and this alone should dictate that the disgraceful policy is scrapped.

However, if you want to know more about the many ways in which vulnerable people are being pushed to breaking point by our callous leaders, I recommend the website My Spare Room, described by one its creators, Eileen Alexander, as a site where “people describe in their own words their experience of the bedroom tax accompanied by a photo they’ve taken of the room in question.” She added, “These accounts show how people are driven to spend money they don’t have to hold on to their homes – often the only piece of security they feel they have. People make financial sacrifices that strip them of their dignity, their social life and their health.”

She added:

As Rob from South Yorkshire describes: “It’s very hard paying the £44 a month. I’m not working, I’m on the sick. And I have to find the money somehow. Paying the bedroom tax means I miss out on social activities, it affects my mental health, I have to buy cheap food, I can’t afford new clothes. But I pay it. I resent paying the bedroom tax, but I feel like I have to pay it because I didn’t want to lose my home.”

And finally, for now, if you are concerned about the Tories’ assault on social housing, not just via the bedroom tax, then please come and protest their disgraceful new Housing Bill, at the March Against The Housing Bill this Saturday, which begins at the Imperial War Museum at noon, reaching David Cameron’s taxpayer-funded residence at 10 Downing Street at 2pm. More details are on the Facebook page here, and for some background here’s a great letter in the Oxford Mail, and this Guardian article from January 12, “Tory bill could cost UK nearly 200,000 council houses, warns Labour.”

The bill passed the House of Commons two weeks ago (see this verdict by a housing expert), but also see the Morning Star on the House of Lords’ second reading of the bill just two days ago. It has yet to go to the committee stage, but as we should know by now, the Cameron government also has contempt for the Lords, so let’s make Saturday’s march even more impressive than the March for Homes that took place exactly a year ago. See my photos of that march here.

Please also note that the People’s Assembly Against Austerity is holding a national demonstration in London on Saturday April 16, the March for Health, Homes, Jobs, Education, so let’s make it as big as possible, like the huge anti-austerity march last June.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

39 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, looking at the good news in the UK yesterday, when the appeals court ruled that, in two cases, the Tories’ hated bedroom tax involves “unlawful discrimination” – in the case of a severely disabled boy and a woman fleeing extreme domestic violence. This is a great result – although the disgusting government is appealing it to the Supreme Court – but the whole bedroom tax needs to be scrapped. Like so many Tory policies, it has been both cruel and pointless, costing more money while needlessly creating misery, and, in some cases, leading people to commit suicide. People on benefits in social housing live in homes, not assets to be played with by politicians, and are human beings too!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    #Solidarity, brother! Off the sidewalks and into the streets!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes indeed, Jan. We should be out on the streets of Britain all the time with the sadistic shambles we’ve got pretending to be our leaders.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    And while I’m on the topic of protests, there’s a national demo against Trident on Saturday Feb. 27, organised by CND, which needs to be massive! http://cnduk.org/get-involved/events/item/2282-stop-trident-national-demo

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    A sadistic shambles pretending to be our leaders. That conjures quite an image. You should stop beating about the bush so much Andy and tell us what you really think 😉

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha! Yes, David. I generally spare US lawmakers the open demonstration of my contempt that I show Cameron and Osborne and their cabinet of inadequates! Perhaps I need to change my approach on Guantanamo …

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Heidi Here wrote:

    what on earth? now googling bedroom tax…

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Heidi, yes, you will think it’s a bad dream. People receiving benefits because they don’t have a job, because of disability, have to pay money they don’t have (around £15 a week) if they have what is deemed to be a “spare room” in their homes. The plan was to persuade them to move to smaller properties, freeing up room for others in need, but those smaller properties don’t exist as social housing; they’re only in the private sector. So if people have to move out of their homes, they often end up costing the government more in housing benefit for where they move to. Plus, you know, there’s also something unspeakably galling about the sheer hypocrisy of millionaire Tory ministers living in mansions, with more rooms that they can count, making life a misery for poor people who happen to have access to one room – just one room! – that isn’t technically a bedroom or their living room. How dare they?

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Andy, Being conscientiously respectful on GTMO makes good sense… Cross-party support on human-rights is essential… though can you even imagine trying not to call Trump out for being a vile blowviating narcissist, if the wretched place is still open in 2017 and he wins? You might have to sew your lips together 😉

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    I think the gloves would have to come off big time if Trump, by some malignant twist of fate, were to be elected president, David!

  11. Appeals Court Rules That Tories' Hated, Useless Bedroom Tax ... - News4Security says...

    […] Permanent Link67 […]

  12. Appeals Court Rules That Tories' Hated, Useless Bedroom Tax … | Kit4Security says...

    […] Permanent Link67 […]

  13. damo says...

    This is a victory for now and God willing its the start of the tide turning against the Tories….but…..be prepaired ,vile posh public school boys don’t like to lose ….keep your wits about you ,the filthy Tories will try some thing eles hopefully and I’m tired of saying this the public is wakeing up and will rise up and rid ourselves of the pestulance of the Tories,windsores and the blairites and all they represent…….let’s hope so

  14. damo says...

    Just watching the news Osbourne has upped the deficit to 20 billion by 2020 another 8 billion they say there gonna make more cuts to the NHS the stinking Tories are becomeing more and more deranged its all just becomeing more and more fucked up we better start digging mass graves for the poor and disabled all this while……London is enjoying a resteraunt boom……that about says it all

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Great to hear from you, Damo. Of course, the disgusting Tories immediately appealed the ruling, so it will go to the Supreme Court. As the Mirror noted, “Tories to spend MORE appealing Bedroom Tax decision than it would cost to abide by ruling.”
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tories-spend-more-appealing-bedroom-7278557

    Exempting abuse victims who have a room where they can escape a violent partner would cost £200,000.

    Labour’s Owen Smith, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Just the Supreme Court session itself will cost the Government more in legal fees than the £200,000 needed to exempt domestic abuse victims affected.

    “If the Tories had an ounce of decency they could have stood by the decision and exempted the two groups.

    “Instead they are instructing expensive lawyers to fight in the Supreme Court for the right to drive people further into poverty.”

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Ooh yes, a restaurant boom! How marvellous!
    As for the growing chasm between rich and poor, I just found this essay, ‘The Inequality Problem,’ by Ed Miliband in the latest London Review of Books (see, I always knew he was a much better person than he was as leader of the PLP): http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n03/ed-miliband/the-inequality-problem
    And here’s the Daily Mail on the problem – back in December 2014: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2866675/Growing-gap-rich-poor-Britain-two-decades-means-economy-9-smaller.html
    And an Observer editorial from last March: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/08/observer-view-on-london
    And the Independent, last January: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-widening-poverty-gap-should-be-causing-outrage-at-the-start-of-the-election-campaign-10016052.html
    Lots written, very little real action. We need to be out in force for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity’s big march on April 16, meeting, making plans and taking action: http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/hhje

  17. damo says...

    I hope people go ,theve got to I keep going on thease protest there’s more police than us as I’ve said before even Thatcher wouldn’t tolerate vile etonians we are in the age of the vile Tory public school boy if people don’t protest and fight back the wellfare state ,NHS,houseing,human rights it will all be gone by 2020 and when that happens there’s no getting it back …ever ,we have to fight back

  18. damo says...

    I just don’t belive in any polititions anymore and I just don’t,won’t,or ever belive or trust the media

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, that’s an interesting point about the Etonians, Damo – that Thatcher wasn’t one essentially. With Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson, though, we not only have three Etonians, but members of the Bullingdon Club – and yet far too many people just don’t seem to understand how malevolent their intentions are. If it all goes, we’d need a revolution to get it back. I do think it’s possible, but I don’t see the spirit there right now. Instead, people are sleepwalking back into some medieval dystopia – but with mobile phones as some sort of alleged compensation for the loss of a decent supportive society.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    I like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, Damo, but of course they’re engaged in a battle with the Blairite scum in their own party. More problematic is the media, because as soon as we get a left-wing leader they start working like crazy to try and make sure that he’s discredited. Remember when they had a go at Jeremy for bowing at the wrong angle – these people are deranged. I do think we need to support Jeremy and John, and the like-minded people around them, including their economic advisers, for example, but more importantly we still need to find a way to get the people to understand that they are being shafted by those who are currently in charge, who represent only the 24.4% of the electorate who voted for them.
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/19/john-mcdonnell-labour-technology-tax-economy-of-future
    http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/the-new-economics

  21. damo says...

    The English aristocracy have allways been hated and rightly so ,God damm limeys as the Americans say we live in an age of mass distraction mass brainwashing the peasants are appeased with crumbs and worthless buabbles dristracted by nonescence while they are litteraly being harvested and the weak left to die people don’t or are to stupid to understand the melevolence and cruelty of this bunch of pittyfull inadaquate posh boys who have wangled there way into power though nepotisum and corruption ….out in a real world there to dim,lazy,cowardly and weak …to even be employable there pathetic narrow shouldered and weak backed …..but they are in power they and there sponcers and handlers are on a frantic power grab ,grabbing for diminishing resources they will have us back to the 16th century not the 18th a feudal master servant nightmare . Poor Jeremy Corbin surrounded by such treason such trecheracey ,snakes in the grass on every side ,the worst type of snide bullshitting self serving champaine socalists ….the blaireites….they must be driven out,driven into the sea and drowned lol we haven’t got a hope in hell of stopping the Tory destruction unless labour shape up and it needs to start by Jeremy being surrounded by strong good labour people who are worth a damm and who give a damm

  22. damo says...

    The media litteraly need to be routed out ,they realy are snakes in the grass ,sorry to say this Andy but all those traitor right wing journalist and all the closet right wing bullshit liberal journalists ,the makers of love production ,the peodophile protecting BBC,rebekah brooks …..they need to hunted and given a good physical slap around kicked around a bit and scared witless ,run out of town,lol I know I may sound a tad extream Andy ….but what there doing and complicit in is the fucking over and destruction of this country and its peoples …the media is foul and corrupt ….and yes Andy they are deranged ….they need a good kicking and running out of town .

  23. damo says...

    We have an elite that feasts and floats on people sorrow and desperation ,that is causeing sorrow and desperation ,its becomeing like the hunger games all over the world

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    I couldn’t agree more, Damo, with everything you say. Every day I struggle to understand how these vile Tory con men are getting away with following the public – although I suppose they’re not, in any meaningful sense. Just 24.4% of those eligible to vote voted for them last May, after all. Time to rise up – and time for the Labour Blairites to be shown the door!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    What can I say, Damo? Every time I watch the news I’m appalled at the lies and spin I see being put across by people who masquerade as real journalists when they’re no such thing. So although just 24.4% of the people voted for the Tories, a much higher percentage of the media aggressively defend the status quo, and of course the problem with the Blairites in the Labour Party is that they too are part of the same cozy establishment – one that permanently enriches the rich at the expense of everyone else. They all have to go!

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, well said, Damo. ‘The Hunger Games’ all over the world. Look at the disgusting state of the UK right now – hatred of immigrants, disdain for refugees, a majority of idiots wanting to leave the EU, which can only lead to a fascist England. And all the while the poor get poorer, but most of the poor aren’t even seeing it.

  27. damo says...

    If we leave the euro from a bussiness tradeing point of view this country will be dead all those global brand from vile banks to car makers to the Russian billionaires they will dump the Tories and the UK in a nano second this country will become like Greece ,bankrupt with homelessness and hunger on every street ,the Tories will get rid of the human rights bill and introduce the UK bill of rights whatever that means …..and we will sevens into a feudal master serf society it will be like the old Romania or mugabes zimbabswe ,famin and chaos but maybe this needs to happen ??? To finnaly wake people up to finnaly once and for all rid ourselves of the vermin of the windsors and the aristocracy rid ourselves of the filth,people it seems Andy are to dim to comprehend whats going on in the world we have this toxic spin oooh them migrants are comein ere for our benefits ……??????……..the entire middle east is decending into or has decended into chaos ,anarchy ,barbarisum rape and mass killings a horror show started by bush, Blaire US UK governments ….its a natural human instinct to survive what are people supposed to do. Waite to be killed unless the hopeless world leaders deal with this ,this will spread across the globe …its maddness what’s happening ……all the while people sit in a coma watching x factor

  28. damo says...

    I mean do people not watch the news or read the papers not the mainstreem media ,Syria has become the twilight zone bombed back to the stoneage a place of death and horror ,people reduced to basic survival instincts liveing or not liveing as the case may be like cockroaches surronded by gangs of deranged madmen ….who would stay …..come on …..the thing that’s so sad is people say …..there comeing here for our benefits……wtf……??

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    People are clinging to their own delusional notions, though, Damo. Facts are no longer regarded as necessary. People invent their own facts. So during that wretched time in 2014-15 when the media slavishly covered Nigel Farage all the time as though he was the Prime Minister, one reporter was on a beach somewhere talking to a deluded young woman who, when asked what the percentage of immigrants was living in her town, said, with a straight face, 90%. The reporter, incredulous, pointed out that the real figure was 8% – but I bet she didn’t change her mind.
    People with comfortable retirement plans, rattling around in houses much too big for them, have become tiny-minded and flint-hearted, blaming immigrants, refugees and Muslims for problems they have largely invented, while other poorer people obsess about the influx of immigrants they see around them – which is certainly true in many cases, but it’s not the fault of immigrants that there aren’t jobs!

  30. damo says...

    It’s funny I watched again the reclaime the streets documentary last night it was such fun and so joyfull ggoing on those demos going on chritical mass every last fussy ,going to the mayday protest ….Andy what has happened I mean realy come on what the fuck has happened …were has all that spirit ,power gone if you showed those boys and girls at those demos in the 90s our future now …there would be a collective bellow of ……no……they would be horrified ,there’s another great doc on YouTube how Vietnam changed America ,how people protested how eventualy even the most flag waveing republican woke up to see how wronge it was ..were has all of that protest gone ….where……..what will it take Andy to wake people up ……Andy the world is in the worst shape I’d say even worse shape then since the end of ww2 ….what will it take

  31. damo says...

    Andy you and I have had this disscution for five years now were we have debated what needs to happen how people need to wake up ect ect …….and nothings happened in fact its all got a lot worse ……what will it take ????

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Damo,
    I read your comment this morning. I had no time to reply, but it stayed with me all day and I ended up discussing it with someone at Vinyl, the old-school record shop in Deptford where my band The Four Fathers are playing on Saturday, and where it’s quite easy to have conversations about whatever the hell has happened over the last 20 years.
    You made me vividly remember the spirit – and it’s not just that we were young then. I look at the young people now, and although I know there are people and places I don’t see where the status quo is being challenged, and people are letting their hair down, I find it hard to imagine how free people can really be with their permanent connectedness to their phones, the government’s control of space and 24/7 monitoring, and the materialism that pervades almost everything, and that has encouraged us to commodify everything.
    Thinking back to those really quite wild days, it seemed as if the establishment could be toppled, and that a better world might be possible. Now that innocence has largely gone, I feel. The hope in society as a whole has gone, and we really don’t fundamentally believe in the future; hence people are out to get what they can, and our societies in general – with gated communities, limos, luxury enclaves, and the supremacy of cold superiority – are getting more pre-apocalyptic. It’s genuinely very troubling.
    Was this the film you watched? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2snn3XDbLg

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    I don’t know what it will take, Damo, but I worry when all that seems to be happening is that swathes of our fellow citizens are moving further to the right or retreating into themselves and their family/peer units and trying to keep the bigger picture at bay. But we need to be out on the streets, as the Reclaim the Streets documentary points out, trying to take these scumbags down. Tonight I watched C4 News, and there was a great expose of electoral fraud by the Tories, who hid tens of thousands of pounds worth of expenses in by-elections so that it looked like they spent less than £100,000 in each campaign, which is the maximum amount allowed. But will it lead to anything? Probably not. Our leaders are simply not held accountable for anything they do, and are currently trying to make sure they can never be voted out again, even though, as you point out, the overall health of the nation is worse in many ways now than at any time in our lifetimes.
    http://www.channel4.com/news/conservatives-appear-to-have-overspent-on-three-by-elections
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/dec/14/conservative-power-grab-stay-in-power-permanent

  34. damo says...

    I watched that very same c4 news last night and I wasent surpprised ….al that will happen is naughty Tories slap on the wrist ….forgotten ….next……….a saddness has come over the world…..there has allways been wars ,horror ..but this is differant there seems to be no fightback …..people just don’t seem to care ,there blinded ,there so distracted by nonescence esp those fucking phones and this rather sad and pathetic obbsetion with being connected ….constantly …theyve been so brainwashed that if your not connected 24/7 then there’s something wrong with you ….I mean for gods sake how fucked up is that…yuk…its funny we were all so exited by the 21st century we all had such high hope ….its just been a big bomb a big flop a nightmare for people…the way were all pinneing for the past ,we should be looking towards the future not the past I’m an opptermist but I’m finding it hard to be right now lol its funny I found my self listening to ..this is the age of Aquarius by ooh by that vocal group who did up up and away ,lol from the musical hair lol we need to rediscover something in ourselves ,something that’s becomeing lost the thing about us humans Andy is that we are at our very best when things are at there very worst ….can’t we be at our best all the time…Aaah that’s it the name of the vocal group, the 5th dimmention …go and have a listen to it Andy its on YouTube ..dxx

  35. damo says...

    If you want to see how powerfull people can be I watched a great documentary last night called united in anger about the groupe …..act up..a groupe of gay men ,straight men and women ,sex workers minnoritys people dying of aids it how they litteraly took to the streets ,protesting,protesting,getting arrested ,beaton,all of it screaming ,shouting …….dumping the ashes of there loved ones on the white house lawn……if it wasnt for this groupe there would be no antiretrovirals and other aids drugs now this brave fierce fearless group and there self sacrifice have saved millions of lives you should watch it its a fierce documentary ..united in anger.

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    When the 21st century started, Damo, I was temporarily living in King’s College Hospital with my wife because our son was born prematurely on Dec. 20 and we moved into a room available for those with babies in intensive care! So the start of the millennium was rather fraught for me personally, but politically I remember that there was still an active struggle for the future. The anti-globalization movement was massive, and Genoa hadn’t yet happened, when Italian police murdered a protestor to try and put us all off: http://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2011/07/25/genoa-g8-anniversary-protests/
    That was in July 2001, and then came 9/11, and since then our governments have tried to keep us permanently scared, without any justification, but it serves them well to distract us from seeing how useless they are in providing a decent economy with adequate employment for all, how they are incapable of prioritizing an environmentally-friendly worldview, and how they’re profiting so massively from war. It really shouldn’t be difficult for people to work out how much they’re being hoodwinked and lied to, and to get angry about it, but apparently it’s very difficult for people to genuinely take on board what’s going on. I find it perplexing on a daily basis, I have to say.
    The Age of Aquarius by the Fifth Dimension, btw, to remind us of another era, when things seemed possible, is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjxSCAalsBE

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. United in Anger is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrAzU79PBVM
    I must admit I hadn’t heard of this film before, although I do know quite a bit about that period, as I moved to Brixton in 1985. I like your comments about how the activists changed society’s response to the crisis.

  38. princess says...

    I too am affected by the bedroom tax and after 5 years of fighting the council,before this murderous policy,i had to downsize to a 2 bedroom house,from a 3 bedroom.i am not particularly happy,but felt pressured to do so,if not i would of stayed in my previous property,the problem is not many protested about the bedroom tax when they had the chance,they would rather sit at home and moan about it,i campaigned with the socialist party,to scrap the bedroom tax and was appalled by the turn out,despite posting leaflets and posters,at least over 3,000,only 4 people came to the meeting,despite lobbying the Councillors meeting,there was only 13 people,so what can the minority do without the majority?? people will turn up for carnival and free concerts,but no show for the real important issues

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties, and you are correct to point out how apathy seems to be the bigger problem. Unfortunately, I believe that, since the 1980s, people have been encouraged to become depoliticised, by politicians but primarily by the mainstream media, with the Mail and the Sun particularly to blame.
    In contrast, here’s the Mirror, yesterday, pointing out how ‘Brutal Tory cuts lead to massive rise in A&E admissions for mental health problems’, with those cuts including “the benefits cap and Bedroom Tax.”
    See: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brutal-tory-cuts-lead-massive-9093021

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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