Strong and stable

Adorable isn’t it and no apologies for its use here as we have one in the cabinet and the rest of the cabinet want to tear him to pieces with hounds.

The second day of not talking about politics and the general election because everything must go on as before!

Theresa May’s strong and stable government that has cut 20,000 police officers and that has seen a 14% cut in funding for the armed forces we really shouldn’t talk about we are told.  Nor should we mention that yesterday’s Metro newspaper (owned by the Daily Mail) had a lead story of Police Officers needing to use food banks in order to get by.  So much for strong and stable in security terms Theresa May … and let’s not even bother discussing that Trident runs on Windows XP and massively exposed to the cyber attack that hit the NHS because parts of its IT system still run, like Trident, on the 10 year old Windows XP operating system that a 3 year-old could hack!

Strong and stable my arse.

The general election as much as Theresa May only wants it to focus on Brexit has now seen security matters at least rival Brexit in terms of what it is about and more likely overtake the Brexit issues.

When I heard that Theresa May was putting the army on the streets my first thought was at least they will have something in common with rough sleepers as over 30% of those are ex forces – and rough sleeping has increased 234% with the Tories – but then the army is needed to supplement the 20,000 fewer Police Officers we have under the Tories since 2010.

48 hours for Theresa May to regroup after her Dementia Tax U-Turn in which she lied to the electorate that it wasn’t a U-Turn and said a cap was in the Tory manifesto which it wasn’t. She can’t even lie effectively she is so weak.

48 hours in which Theresa May hopes we forget her pathetic and weak interview with Andrew Neil, a powder puff interview which despite constant interruptions from him, he never got Theresa May to answer any questions.

48 hours in which Theresa May is praying the Manchester atrocity makes us all forget how weak she is in terms of policy and leadership … and exposing the real reason why she took the decision not to debate her leadership and policies and also her abysmal record of failure as Home Secretary in which she ‘let in’ far more immigrants as a matter of her policy than the last Labour lot ever did!

The above shows how many MORE immigrant workers Theresa May allowed in. The graph below shows the overall impact

Theresa May as the Home Secretary since 2010 and directly responsible for immigration not only failed, she has constantly lied since over her own immigration target being below 100,000.  She is a failure which her record on immigration, police numbers and 14% cuts to the armed forces show as irrefutable fact.

If the security risk escalates and we see tanks on the streets then will she drive one down the street adorned like Thatcher in a Union Jack headscarf? It wouldn’t surprise me.

48 hours in which the Tory right-wing press use this free time to call Corbyn an IRA sympathiser and of course say nothing about two former IRA active’terrorists’ who are councillors for the Tories.

48 hours in which Theresa May aided and abetted by the TV media can regroup and portray herself as a strong leader. There’s nothing like a conflict to sell politicians and all of the human rights regressive breaches that entails.

Any takers on the little discussed part of the Tory manifesto which seeks to control free speech on the internet now coming to the fore as the internet is used by ‘terrorists’ we will be told and this is necessary?

Theresa May is a very lucky politician. The Manchester atrocity came at a time of her being seen as extremely weak and wobbly, incompetent in policy terms, condescending and autocratic rather than a strong leader and unable to even fend off a powder puff interrogation from the Tory friendly Andrew Neil.

She will milk and is milking the Manchester atrocity for all its political worth as any incumbent Prime Minister of any party would and be stupid not to do so.

ltra left wing well before they were released and the polices are not only NOT left-wing ones, the public likes them and they are costed unlike the Tory policies.  The policies also bear scrutiny again unlike the Tory policies yet that is of little consequence when the electorate is bombarded by the Tory press in this supposed 48 hours of non election issues.

Today sees a scurrilous front page of the Sun and an equally scurrilous cartoon in the Daily Mail about Corbyn being an IRA sympathiser yet both rags conveniently forget to say that two former IRA active members are elected TORY councillors.

Oh sorry I missed the memo which said no one can say a word about Theresa May’s extreme incompetence and give free rein to the Tory media to slag off her opponents while they can do nothing in response as Theresa May manipulates the free speech of all other politicians because of the atrocity!

Clever and very nasty manipulative politics indeed!

 

In adversity. The callous ignorance of homelessness

Today, everything stops as we reflect on the heinous atrocity in Manchester and anyone with a shred of humanity focuses upon the magnificent response of the ordinary people of Manchester.

Being a Liverpudlian it is genuinely not easy to laud Mancunians yet they did as Northerners do and what all Northerners do in adversity they came out to help and support others as it was the right thing to do.  No second thoughts on that. No issue of race, colour or creed,  just basic humanity of all the community.

It reminded me once again of the magnificent response of the ordinary folk in Sheffield at Hillsborough all those years ago who came out on their doorsteps asking if you wanted to use their phone to phone home and put a brandy or whisky in your hand without asking if you wanted one – wonderful humanity and the right and natural thing to do.

Yet as the day has gone on I’ve gotten angry and not from the atrocity or from the usual idiots decrying anyone who is not white, but from the ignorance of people when it comes to homelessness and those who find themselves homeless.  Social media has been rightly praising the homeless man who went to help and with so many calls that this man deserves a home.

What they are really saying is this homeless man has proved he is worthy NOW with the inference that before this he was NOT deserving of a roof over his head and somehow deserved not to have a roof over his head!  That really angers me and especially so when that is said or retweeted by people who work in (mainstream) housing and who really should be ashamed of themselves and their attitudes toward homeless people.

It is bad enough that the general public only genuinely care about those who are homeless (in all forms) for a few weeks before Christmas … and then for the rest of the year read posters on the escalator in Liverpool as I did today that castigate those who are homeless.  Don’t give money to those pretend homeless begging on the street they say,; there is no need and a bed for them all with the council’s wonderful No Second Night Out (NSNO) programme.

That really angers as it is 100% bullshit.  NSNO is a box ticking exercise that does not work and since its introduction in Liverpool the official rough sleeper count (itself a farcical delusion) has seen the count increase by over 80% in the last two years alone!  But hey tell a lie often enough and people believe it works!

What it also leads to is a perception that any homeless person on the street must be unworthy and must be deserving of being without a roof over them – they are all beggars after all and there is always a bed for them is more than bollocks, resulting it shock and horror when a homeless person has humanity and does the right thing as the gentleman did last night.

Gentleman? Even to me who has worked in homelessness for years found describing this wonderful homeless an as a ‘gentleman’ weird to write!  That is just so wrong isn’t it? The fact that many studies have shown over the past twenty years that a high percentage of street homeless men are ex-forces and many more stating that as any as two-thirds have mental health problems, the ‘homeless’ are pilloried as not deserving, common beggars, riddled with addiction problems and all round ne’er do wells … and the public and public authorities are more than happy to advance such arguments

Many councils including my own in Liverpool use their PR machine in full flow saying how wonderful they are, how wonderful that they spend £12 million on homelessness (and then in tiny print adding ‘and other services’) and how wonderful they are to fund the wonderful NSNO programme … Yes the one that doesn’t work and never has anywhere in the UK.  It is a tick box failure that provides every council with the excuse that they are doing something and nothing more.

The £12 million Liverpool claims its spends on homelessness and other services sounds a lot too doesn’t it yet that is all they NOW spend when once and they still do they got £32 million in Supporting People to fund back in 2003. It means Liverpool has siphoned off £20 million to spend on other services and to offset social care deficits which if they didn’t the social care crisis we read about today would have emerged a lot sooner – and almost every other local council in England and Scotland did this too.

What that cash grab on support did is remove the vital preventative role that support plays in reducing the need for care services and I and many others said at the time the incredibly stupid John Prescott removed the ring fence off Supporting People in 2009, there was an inevitable social care crisis only being deferred.  All local councils took money away from homelessness and other ‘non-deserving’ services by having the ring fence removed … and it was easy to do with ‘the homeless’ as they are non deserving people who are all professional beggars and have somewhere to sleep blah, blah,  blah, that everyone wants to believe!

Yet in extreme adversity a bit like a Dustin Hoffman film whose title I’ve forgotten a street homeless man goes and spoils that prevailing view and shows dignity and humanity and shocks people by doing so.  Of course very soon no one will remember this poor homeless gentleman and everyone will forget that many homeless men and women are ex-forces who have fought to keep us all safe and now have significant mental health problems ( you know that would be mental health which according to the last government is not a real disability!) … and ‘the homeless will once again go back to being locked up by councils due to 18th Century vagrancy acts as they are increasingly doing and seen as non-deserving.

My Mother used to say ‘… there’s always someone worse off than you’- a typical Northern saying and with much validity … except in the case of street homeless persons.

Rant over!

Theresa May’s policy and OAPs (old age pariahs)

Theresa May has arrogantly targeted the pensioner for cut upon cut and don’t be misled into thinking it is just the Dementia Tax, that is one of many pensioner cuts.

The latest attack is the Dementia Tax that is explained well by John Rentoul in the Independent here and which today on BBC Sunday Politics Andrew Neil the former Times editor and well known Conservative describes as a 100% tax rate on any asset over £100,000 and given this now but not previously includes your house with the average value being some £216,000 is a significant tax grab.  The media is replete with Conservatives queuing up to attack Theresa My’s Dementia Tax policy see here, here and here among many others, yet her closest political ally in the cabinet Damian Green the DWP Minister has today stated on the BBC Marr Show that the Dementia Tax as it is called remains and will not see a U-turn..

This adds to the abandonment of the triple lock which adds to the 75% cuts to the Winter Fuel Allowance  which adds to the LHA Maxima Cap cut aka the back door pensioner bedroom tax … all of which come on top of £8.6 billion of existing social care cuts since 2010 Labour claim and even the Financial Times says is a 19% cut in social care

It will be a hell of a lot more than 150,000 pensioners who lose out with the cut to 75% of Winter Fuel Allowance and is estimated at 10 million pensioners and all 12 million pensioners will lose out by abandoning the triple lock which becomes a double lock and particularly given rapidly increasing inflation which currently stands at 2.7% and is thirty-five per cent above the Tories 2% target.

The fact that around 500,000 pensioners in general needs socially rented housing are at risk of eviction with the LHA Maxima Cap cut seems insignificant by comparison with the 10 million plus who will lose out due to the abandoning of the triple lock and savage cut to the Winter Fuel Allowance.  Yet the fact that pensioners who are fully occupying their properties in low rent areas such as Hull and many other Northern towns and cities makes their Housing Benefit cuts all the more distasteful and offensive and not even a bedroom tax or spare room subsidy as they don’t have spare bedrooms yet are still cut.

Theresa May and the Tories were overtly targeting the pensioner well before last weeks manifesto which gave the added attacks of the Winter Fuel Allowance, abandoning the triple lock and the Dementia Tax.  In fact, historically, the triple lock for pensioners is not a normal Tory policy at all as the figures below (from official government figures) reveal.

In 1979 Thatcher inherited 58.9% of the social security spend being the pensioner which she reduced to 54.2% by 1983 and still further to 52.3% by the time of the 1987 general election.  Major increased it slightly to 53.6% of all social security spending by the 1992 election but cut it to 50.9% of the social security budget by the 1997 election.

We see a history of the Tories reducing the pensioner welfare spend in short.

By comparison Blair who inherited this 50.9% pensioner social security spend increased it to 56.3% by 2001 and to 64% by 2005 and Blair / Brown increased this further to 65.3% of the total social security spend by 2010.  If you adhere to the argument that buying the pensioner vote is good politics the Blair / Brown years certainly back up that posit.

Cameron clearly liked the posit as he took the inherited 65.3% of all social security spend being the pensioner to 67.02% by 2015 with the triple lock and couple that with a series of social security cuts such as the bedroom tax and the benefit freeze only applying to those below pension age and protecting the electorally sensitive grey vote was clearly a key factor in Cameron’s strategy unlike previous Tory administrations of Major and Thatcher.

We now see Theresa May reverting to more usual Tory policy of reducing the pensioner social security spend like Major and Thatcher.  Recent political history since Thatcher shows the Tories always reduce the pensioner social security spend and so the generous triple lock of Cameron is an aberration compared to normal Tory policy which cuts pensioner benefits … and this time May has gone way beyond this with the Dementia Tax.

The Dementia Tax attacks the pensioner not on social security benefits, those not a financial ‘burden’ on the state and it attacks those pensioners and other older persons who have worked and bought their own properties.  As Andrew Neil said indignantly and correctly this is a stealth inheritance tax on pensioners with a 100% tax rate on any capital, including their home, above £100,000.

In political terms Theresa May has made an almighty cock-up with the Dementia Tax and just as big a cock-up is refusing to reconsider it as her closest ally Damian Green confirmed today on the Marr show.

If only the grey vote knew all of the above eh?

 

 

DisMayism

Theresa May is a dangerous incompetent who has promised 25,000 fewer houses to deal with the housing crisis despite presiding over the lowest house building figures since the 1920s.

Theresa May is a dangerous incompetent who has slashed the ‘National Living Wage’ by 10% from £9 per hour to £8.20 per hour. You are worth 10% less than George Osborne promised as mandatory and compulsory in his budget of July 2015.

By the way has anyone seen, heard or read anything on this 10% cut to the minimum wage?!

Theresa May is a dangerous incompetent who will take away the Winter Fuel Allowance from 75% of pensioners as that is what official figures show.

Theresa May is narcissistic. Every so-called Conservative battle bus does not have the word “Conservative” on them at all. This is the cult of personality epitomised as they only have her name on them!

In an election which is being fought largely on May versus Corbyn with the Tories saying you can’t trust Corbyn then it is only right that you ask Can I trust Theresa May?

You can trust Theresa May … to be dangerous and incompetent and narcissistic!

75% of pensioners to lose winter fuel allowance? Yes!

Today saw John McDonnell the Labour Shadow Chancellor rip into Michael Fallon’s claim that the proposed pensioner means test for Winter Fuel Allowance would see £1.5 billion saved (and then paid into social care instead.)

The problem with this (apart from any likely savings would be lost given the cost of administering this new means test!!) is that the universally paid current Winter Fuel Allowance costs £2 billion in total.

Here are the governments own figures for the cost of the Winter Fuel Allowance:

As you can see in these official figures clawing back £1.5bn per year from the Winter Fuel Allowance mean that this leaves just £0.5bn to be paid out which means the Conservatives must be planning to take the Winter Fuel Allowance from 75% or 3 in every 4 pensioners!!

The right wing Tory media are running the (superficially correct) line that why should Mick Jagger and Alan Sugar and all other billionaires get the WFA and superficially that is a good point

YET

The figures show that 3 in every 4 pensioners will lose the up to £300 per year Winter Fuel Allowance not just the Mick Jaggers and Alan Sugars. It is a fundamentally errant argument!

Means testing the Winter Fuel Allowance is a massive issue and a massive political mistake by Theresa May IF the reality is known by the electorate that 3 in every 4 pensioners will lose £300 per year.

Pity for Theresa May’s sake that facts can be so pesky isn’t it!!!

 

Dismayism – Tories promise 25,532 FEWER houses under Theresa May!

The Conservatives promised 1 million houses from May 2015 to May 2020 which is 200,000 per year and 16,667 per calendar month.  The new Conservative manifesto released yesterday promises 500,00 more than this by the end of 2022 which is a reduction and fewer houses being built.

I do wish the nodding dogs of #ukhousing who have welcomed this could actually use a calculator which proves this is a reduction and fewer homes being built!!!

To explain:

1 million over 5 calendar years is 200,000 per year and 16,667 per calendar month and 3,836 per week.

Theresa May in the new Conservative manifesto has promised an extra 500,000 properties from 10 May 2020 to 31 December 2022.  This is a period of 137 weeks.

137 weeks at 3,836 per week is 525,532 additional houses yet Theresa May has only promised 500,000 in this time.

Therefore the Conservative manifesto sees a reduction and 25,532 fewer homes being built under the (Dis)May administration than the previous Conservative administration!

QED!

 

The ONLY way to solve the “housing crisis” is in Labour’s manifesto

There is only one way to solve the UK ‘housing crisis’ and ten simple words in the Labour Party manifesto hit the nail on the head on page 63:

We will remove government restrictions that stop councils building homes…

Currently councils can borrow to build anything at all except housing and that is perverse and especially so when (a) we have a crisis of housing supply and (b) an even bigger crisis of housing affordability which have both been caused by (c) the ideological madness of councils not being allowed to borrow to build housing.

All party politics aside this is the ONLY way that the UK can solve its housing crisis and whether you believe the bigger crisis is under supply or affordability.

Every country needs to house its population that includes those able to afford to buy and those who cannot … and those who cannot afford is a hugely increasing number in the UK.

Home ownership peaked under Blair at 71% of the population in 2004 and today it is 64% a fall of over ten per cent and in a very short space of time.  That is the real political issue as fewer home owners mean less economic growth and mean a much higher percentage have to rent.

In 2004 only 29% rented and now it is 36% an increase of twenty four per cent in little over a decade … a decade that has seen councils unable to build, housing associations have ever reducing grant / subsidy and led to the chronically insecure private rented sector taking up the demand … and a much greater reduced chance of ever getting on the ‘housing ladder’ for you, your children and your children’s children.

The market has failed. The ideology of leaving housing to the market has failed and you, your children and your children’s children have been failed by the perverse and wholly ideological decision not to allow local councils to borrow to build housing – a policy in place for over 30 years and a failure of all governments in that time.

There have been short-term benefits for those who are home-owners with ever increasing assets even after the banking crisis yet now the equity built up in their house by the bank of mum and dad is not enough.

What the decision to allow councils to borrow to build means is very simple, it means housing will be built for actual housing need and not for housing profit of the private housebuilders and housing associations.  HA’s are not public bodies, they have no public duties and they have no compulsion at all to build for actual housing need – and that housing need has increased by 24% since 2004 with the fall in home ownership rates.

It is said that 80% of housing associations do not build at all and the 20% that do managed just 40,000 houses last year, a record breaking year … yet only 5000 or so of them were for social rent – a record low post-war number of HA’s building for social rent (aka actual housing need) which says (a) what HA’s want to build is determined by their bottom line and not for their claimed social purpose; and more importantly (b) HAs do NOT have the capacity to build the UK out of its under supply crisis despite the deluded sophistry of the National Housing Federation umbrella body.

Councils used to build 200,000+ houses per year and they can and will easily scale up to that number again because it is in their best financial interest to do so and that includes Conservative run local councils too and this is an apolitical point!  It is what the UK needs to do to solve the housing crisis whoever is in power at central and local government.

The real political perversity is that this Corbyn council house building plan is shared by the Daily Telegraph and this plan is the exact same principle of the Militant Liverpool Labour council of the mid 1980’s!  In the 1950’s and 1960’s the Labour and Conservative governments used to fight over who had built the most council housing too – and the idea has never failed or never not been the right policy, it merely fell out of political ideological fashion with BOTH the major parties.

In economic apolitical terms it is undoubtedly the best and most cost-effective housing policy for the UK AND it will lead to more home ownership too as the less you spend on rent the more you can save more quickly for a deposit – a simple undeniable fact along with the easier take up of employment that are just two obvious points we have all (conveniently?) forgotten.

Yes, some council housing was appalling in its architecture and it has to be said in its management and operation, yet still much better than the worst of today’s private rented sector …. and …. many lessons have been learned so that many of the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.

If Labour do not win the election the Tories should adopt this policy as it will work and you, your children and your children’s children will have a real chance of housing and getting on.  It is the ONLY way to solve the housing crisis.

 

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Originally published on my Joe Halewood blog page today