Patricia Betty , Essex, UK
We are All in deep trouble, and that includes the SNP
A strange message from Nicola Sturgeon. The Scots must kick out Labour in Scotland because they are no good for the country, but if the rest of the UK had voted in a Labour government, Ms Sturgeon would have been more than happy to join Ed Miliband, to keep the Tories out.
That sends a clear message to me.
It says that the SNP is more concerned with their own power plays than they are with the good of either Scotland or the rest of us. Mr Salmond (et al) has never got over his defeat in the referendum for Scottish independence. We thought at the time he was standing down, but he is too much into his own power games to ever do that.
The election gave him the ideal platform to declare the lion has roared in Scotland, and now their blood is up and one can almost hear the claymores clashing. How did they reach this fever pitch? It’s simple really.
The Scots were brain whipped by the SNP and the Scottish Sun into believing that Labour was in cahoots with the Tory party.
Red Tories was the insult often hurled on social media as misplaced nationalism got its bit between their teeth.
No amount of information or attempts at denying this false claim were tolerated in any way, and people both North and South of the border were persuaded by forces they could not resist that Ed Miliband was pro-austerity and in fact pro everything they hate.
England inflamed the situation by calling the SNP Tartan Tories, which is ironic really when you think this squabbling between nations resulted in the REAL Tories being elected.
In spite of professing to want to keep the Tories out, Nicola Sturgeon’s actions have caused many people in England to vote Tory because they feared Labour would meet the SNP with open arms. Some say she does indeed want the Scots to suffer for 5 more years of Tory austerity so they will be ripe for the independence vote.
Whilst the SNP themselves were playing both ends off against the middle, Tory spin doctors and the press who support them, were stirring the pot with lies and personal smears against Ed Miliband.
There is no doubt Ms Sturgeon is a personable wordsmith, who held Scotland in her thrall, but it’s hard to believe a woman of her intelligence and political position didn’t see through Murdoch’s propaganda.
So whipped up with nationalistic pride and nostalgia for William Wallace that on Election Day the people north of the border would have voted for Sponge Bob Squarepants if it meant he would lead them to separate from England.
Similarly, the normally slow to rouse English thought that to vote Labour would see the SNP in Westminster dictating all sorts of nefarious policies that would affect England in a negative way.
Nicola seems pleased with what she’s done, but she may live to regret her power play when Tory cuts start to bite into Scotland’s NHS, social security and care for the elderly.
The unholy ConDem coalition has deliberately created a division in the UK, a division greater than any in recent history. Nationalistic pride is growing in all corners of the UK, with Scotland desperate to leave the rest of us, and everyone clamouring to leave the EU.
For sure this election will go down in history for all of the wrong reasons.
Undoubtedly something must change in the first past the post voting system. Of course it will suit a Tory agenda to know that Labour will have a hard time beating them without Scottish Labour, and they won’t be likely to want change that in any event.
The future is bleak for all of us now, and the SNP won’t be able to stop any legislation from Westminster that affects Scotland. Those in work will suffer as their pay will not be increased, and our ability to protest against injustice will be taken away when Cameron gets rid of the human rights Act.
The bedroom tax is here to stay and the transatlantic trade deal (TTIP) will see our NHS sold off to rich oligarchs who will run it as a profit making venture. This will be locked into international law and any moves to redress the balance will be doomed to fail.
Crisis centres will be closed or sold off, and those unlucky enough to be on benefits will face more swingeing cuts and unfair rules which will snatch away money (even for mild misdemeanours like being late for an appointment at the benefits office) will be ramped up.
People have died, of starvation or suicide, and more will die because of Tory policies in the future.
In short the vulnerable and those who cannot fight back will face real hardship, and those who deserve empathy and compassion will find stony faced bureaucrats who don’t care if they live or die. It will be the end of the welfare state which has protected us over the years.
£12 billion cuts to health services and more cuts to other vital services like the fire brigade and the police force. Zero hour contracts and no job security while the non doms stash their money in tax havens and continue to pay no tax in the UK.
Commentators in the know have predicted neo feudalism and an economic crisis within a year.
One Twitter user said, “I advise you not to be poor, not to be ill, not to be old and not to be in need of a job.”
We are in a black hole right now and the SNP must share some of the blame for putting us there. But their ‘I’m alright Jack’ style of politics will soon come unstuck and Scotland may soon come to wish they had voted in a Scottish Labour party who as things are now had no chance to implement their policies which would have seen us all much better off.
and here at NEWTEK
Jayne Linney, Leicester
Op-Ed: An earlier version of this post was published online in May 2015 and has been updated here to offer a case study of what the Election Result means for disabled people.
In November last year I reported I'd received my PIP, Personal Independence Payment, award and disagreeing with it I had contacted the DWP, Department of Work and Pensions; due to the closeness to Christmas, the Call Centre staff member had put in my request for the assessment report and noted it was "my intention to ask for a Mandatory Consideration" (MR); this was so that I would not run out of time if post was caught up in the mail.
I duly waited for my copy of the assessment report, which arrived on December 23, 2014 and submitted my formal request for a MR along with the evidence on January 10, 2015. Five days later I received a letter dated January 11, it had clearly crossed with my own submission in the post, which informed me the DMs had already carried out a MR and had, of course, upheld the original decision!
I duly phoned, well actually my daughter phoned for me as I was screaming mad, the next working day; Nicki clearly informed them, that when I had contacted the department back in November, it was to request the assessment report, and on advice from the call centre staff member I was advising them I would be asking for a MR, to keep within the DWP time scale. She went on to quote a DWP response to a FOI that states:
“While a request can be made for a Mandatory Reconsideration by telephone or in writing, under no circumstance should an approach for advice be treated as a Mandatory Reconsideration request. However should this occur, any erroneous request can be withdrawn once the error has been identified and any subsequent
The DWP call centre operator took down the details and said she would send an email to the decision makers (DM), this is apparently the only way call centre staff can communicate with the DMs; the email requested they call me back and asked they review my initial phone call asking for my assessment report.
I waited to no avail until yesterday, Friday May 8, 2015, when I received another letter stating, the DWP decision-makers had determined my submission of evidence was a request to Appeal to Tribunal; this is despite the information in my reconsideration letter, the information taken during the phone call and their failure to phone me back!!
I immediately called them and spoke with a lovely woman at the call centre who read the notes made during the call with my daughter, and stated there were no further actions noted against it; she then whilst still on the phone with me, emailed the DMs explaining the situation and requesting another call back. More importantly she advised me. I now must initiate the Tribunal process within the next 4 weeks or lose my option to do in future!!
So I had to find the energy to complete a Notice of Appeal, and explain why a) it is out of time - it should have been completed within one calendar month of their MR (Jan 11) and b) I am actually asking FOR a MR?! I've also discovered I'm not alone in losing almost HALF my benefit in the transfer from DLA, Disability Living Allowance, to PIP
I was SICK of the whole Carbuncle of Welfare Reform before May 7 - now we await with trepidation the announcements of the next round of proposed £12billion worth of cuts; we have already read of the possible taxation of disabled benefits and making it harder for sick people to claim state aid by introducing “stricter” fit-for-work tests and/or tighter limits on eligibility; what's next remains as yet unknown.
What I am convinced of is it is time now for ALL of us affected by the discriminatory actions of the Tories, to come together and Fight Back in Unity; we must ensure that whatever campaigns, petitions, demos etc work collectively to complement each other in the Battle for Survival under a Tory Government
At the Guardian: My fight to get disability benefits inspired me to help others
Andre Neely, Student activist, part of Occupy UAL
We were evicted from our University, but the fight isn’t over.
On April 13th students occupying Central Saint Martins in Kings Cross were forced to leave after the University of the Arts London management advanced into legal action and took its own students to court. Fifteen students were named in an injunction which prohibits the group from occupational protests in University campus again.
The occupation lasted close to a month, having started in the 19th of March, three days after hearing about UAL's Management plans to axe 580 places on Foundation courses and make dozens of staff redundant - this followed news of the government’s budget cuts to Further education courses. While in occupation, protesters campaigned for the cause across all UAL campus and tried to negotiate with management, never reaching an agreement. There was also in the occupation space an aim to recreate what an arts school should be through holding workshops and talks, and offering all the students a place to work with free printing and computers.
In one of the bigger actions during the occupation a group of 150 students marched to the London School of Communication (one of UAL’s colleges) and were greeted by the police which removed not only the protesters but all students from the building and closed the campus for the rest of the day.
Foundation Arts and Design (FAD) courses are very important for an artists’ development since they allow time to experiment across different mediums and techniques before enrolling on a specialised pathway of the Fine Arts or Design.
They are free for Home and EU students under 19 years old which allows access to education for students from lower income backgrounds. Attainment gap has also been a priority for the course and results have shown that BME students are more likely to achieve better results in this course or in the future, if they have studied FAD. This cuts will not only damage arts education, they are an alarming step further in the growing elitism and institutionalised racism present in the neoliberal university and the country's education system.
The main reason behind the occupation was the fight against the Cuts to Foundation Courses and staff redundancies but statements issued by Occupy UAL could read other demands regarding Free Education, No to Institutional Racism, Democratise the University and The Right to Protest. Most of this issues haven’t seen any acknowledgment by management in any stage of the negotiations.
Since the eviction we have been joining protests around London for Free Education and defending Further Education from the huge cuts happening nationally, planning new ways of pressuring UAL’s management to back down on the cuts to FAD courses and joining other actions protesting against issues that affect both workers and students such as housing, racism and living wage campaigns - the end of the occupation wasn’t the end of the protest for us.
We have also been working - together with the groups occupying the London School of Economics, King’s College London and Goldsmiths - in the Free University of London, a project supporting a more democratic educational process and critiquing the current state of Higher Education.
If you would like to support this cause, Occupy UAL has created an online petition demanding UAL to stop the cuts to Foundation courses.
You can sign it here: https://www.change.org/p/university-of-the-arts-london-stop-the-cuts-to-foundation-courses
If you’d like more information and to stay updated, you can find Occupy UAL on Facebook or follow us on twitter @OccupyUAL.
Student activist, part of Occupy UAL
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