Together We ‘Minorities’ CAN beat the Uphill Struggle for Equality

A new report from the uni of Sheffield has found Welfare reform reinforces growing class prejudice reminiscent of Victorian era –

” many people now attribute unemployment and poverty to the failings of individuals, rather than to structural weaknesses in the British economy and entrenched socio-economic inequalities. Worryingly, negative views around welfare were also extended to the physically disabled and mentally ill. The research therefore suggests that, in the aftermath of the recession, there has been a decline in empathy and understanding for some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in our society

Today the Guardian have turned over comment is free to black contributors, this is fantastic and exactly what we need more of as according to FleetStreetFox  “it’s 2014 and we’re speaking about foreigners in much the same way we did 100 years ago, with just as much nastiness, stupidity and flawed logic“. Other reports have arrived at similar conclusions, both the British Social Attitude survey and the Archbishop of Canterbury have shared concerns about the rise in racism. As a white woman I can’t speak on what this means in everyday day, but I empathise from the perspective of being disabled; I also accept it is my responsibility to challenge any racist attitudes wherever I find them.

I can’t help thinking this decline in empathy and understanding has something to do with the lack of challenge from the Country’s’ leaders towards prejudice, instead the current Political discussion is full of ‘blame culture’. When comments such as “we’re like under siege’ from ‘huge numbers’ of migrants“,  “some” disabled people are “not worth the full wage”, “Women ‘to blame’ for being raped” or  ‘people getting really good benefits are going to charity food banks; not only go with out challenge but are also regularly justified by skewed statistics pulled from the ether, we as a nation, are  in trouble.

The ease with which we can find comments like the above, and blogs and posts from people experiencing not only an increase in prejudice, but also discrimination, is terrifying;  further it is hard evidence of the reality of life in Britain for many of us from the ‘minority’ sectors of society. Continuing to to accept our problems are the fault of other minority group members, and, or choosing to believe the bigoted hype of the elite ran main stream media, can only result in the continuing collapse of the society we’ve grown up with. Acknowledging our own prejudices and electing to view them from the other side  is the way we individually fight back.

The really crazy thing about this, is we the ‘minorities’ actually  form a ‘majority’, and the only thing holding us back, are our individual fears of difference and of change. As a long time community activist I believe in people, not in a notion that all people are good, but in the belief we are better when we come together. As a collective sharing our strengths, skills knowledge and experiences we individually grow more powerful; but together we become formidable and through utilising the diversity, we can create change.

It is only by using our collective strengths we can challenge the structural weaknesses and demand the changes to the existing socio-economic inequalities that encourages prejudice to grow, thus ensuring our children and grandchildren benefit from a fairer and more equal society.

Together We Are STARS shining in the  dark and fighting against the Capitalist Light Pollution

 

 

Here We Go Again – DWP to Repeat the ATOS Disaster ?

I’m sure I’m not alone in being totally unsurprised, albeit sick to my stomach at the latest revelation to be leaked from Tory proposals for Benefits, the drastic cutting of  ESA; it appears that new claimants placed in  WRAG will only receive 50 pence a week more than JSA. This has led me to wonder if this extreme reduction has anything to do with the increase in the number of people claiming out of work sickness or disability benefits?

The fact the cut was ‘leaked’ on the same day, and to the same source as the claim, Maximus will be the company taking over the contract from ATOS, also leaves me unsurprised. I can imagine the key players from DWP and Maximus sitting around the table and plotting this decimation of ESA as a part of the contract. The key aim of Welfare Reform has always been to slash Benefits, irrespective of need, and now seemingly wants to privatise all out of work benefits; therefore given Maximus’ existing  involvement in running the Work Programme, and the new Health and Work programme  this pairing seems a perfect match.

However when John Pring initially suggested, Maximus was the preferred bidder to replace ATOS, he also revealed the company’s “chilling” record of incompetence, discrimination and alleged fraud“. Thinking back to when ATOS was initially awarded the contract for WCAs, there were similar concerns around the unsuitability of ATOS, and we all know the outcome of that appointment.

It appears the DWP have completely failed to learn from the ATOS debacle and is planning to enter into another disastrous contract with a seemingly corrupt company, all for Corporate Greed.  Further the DWP seems to be continuing the rhetoric of  blaming us being ill; refusing to acknowledge their attacks on poorest and most vulnerable people through both the continuing  scapegoating and their discriminatory Policies, are in any way responsible.

The ‘leaking’ of these two announcements today suggest the DWP are maintaining their insidious behaviour, softly ensuring their plans emerge into the public psyche in an attempt to build public support:

‘the poorest people are choosing the higher paying benefit to avoid looking for work, because  they are lazy, the DWP are doing the majority a favour by stopping these idlers take the easy option, and are bringing in a company who will stamp this out’

What can we can fight back against this? Johnny Void suggests we gather the information necessary to take Maximus out of the picture and I agree; but I also believe we need to demonstrate WHY sick and disable people need the extra money to survive, lets collect your stories that demonstrates precisely what we do with the difference between JSA and ESA, because if we don’t – We Will Lose it!

 

Lets Talk about #Inequality – The Core Tool of Oppression

As a tutor of Inequality issues, if there one thing I’ve learnt over the years (In)Equalities is one of the topics that impacts on every Policy, everyone, everyday. If this sounds improbable it’s possibly because Equality is generally only attached to Human Resources in employment, Finance in Politics and rarely in schools and at home; however I would argue Equalities should be at the core of everything we learn, say and do.

I write this from the presumption that everyone suffers from Inequality in some way, whether that be via the labelling resulting from the ‘isms’, from one of the countless strands of financial inequality, or even from the (lack of) capacity for empathy.  This supposition is one that often causes conflict, with many people unable to recognise how, those in the 1% group controlling the worlds wealth, can experience inequality. My counter is, without experiencing or recognising the lifestyle of others, we lose compassion, and without this we cannot adapt our opinions, nor access the tools we need to positively challenge inequalities.

I fully understand the difficulties in this, as a blogger I usually write about current issues experienced by disabled people as a result of Welfare Reform and I use the blogging experience as a way of sounding off; thus I rarely write from the position I’m advocating today. However there is a vast difference between passing on tales of discriminatory polices and making a constructive argument for change, hence my option to use today, as my professional contribution to discuss what I consider to be, the greatest challenge the majority of us face today.

In order for regular people to be in a position to make a real difference, we need to collectively influence current Politics; and we can only do this if the majority of us make the same argument to our Politicians. Imagine if you will, every candidate for MP next year meeting/receiving communications on a daily basis, from numerous constituents; all offering similar constructive reasons why the Austerity measures don’t work and comparable equitable cases for the way forward.  Would they then be so keen to ignore their voters, particularly as then they would be subject to Recall?

This is the process required to champion for Equalities across the board, people naturally fear what we don’t understand, and fear is the greatest reason for attitudes of inequality. It is this lack of understanding and knowledge that allows the likes of UKIP spread untrue statistics around immigration, it underpins the rhetoric for scrounger agenda driven by the Tories for Welfare Reform and it is fear of big business owners, the 1% that results in yesterdays announcements that the UK is the only  country in the G7 where inequality has grown!

Trends in inequality

The majority of us irrespective of personal differences are scraping by, whilst the 1% are accumulating more wealth than the can ever use; this if nothing else ought to be enough for us for us to recognise where the real Inequality lies?

History has taught us that knowledge and learning is the key to challenging Inequality, and when we do we are in a position of power;  I consider  it is a fear of this power of majority, that drives the 1% to insist upon the continuation of Unequal Policies and Laws, Inequality is the core tool of oppression. Perhaps when we agree precisely who, benefits from Inequality, we will be ready to demonstrate our desire for Equity in all areas? And remember what the people demand is often what the people get

 

For Blog Action Day 

 

Blog action day 2014

 

The Truth and Statistics Campaign – Petition 2

Yesterday I asked if you thought our campaign for The Truth & Statistics was worth it; overwhelmingly you all share our need for truth, and for this I THANK YOU  and am pleased to report the sharing of the post resulted in another 200 signatures; today I’m picking up on the comments and you advice offered and setting out the current tags, possible promotional ideas  etc for our campaign.

Our second petition reads-

The House of Commons – Stop Ministers Spinning Statistics  Enforce the Recommendations of W&P Select of Use of DWP Statistics.

  Last year over 100,006 people said Hold Iain Duncan Smith to account for his misuse of Statistics, both The  Work & Pensions Select 3rd Report Monitoring the Perfomance of DWP 2012/13 and the Public Administration Committee 1st Report Agreed.

We demand The House accepts these Recommendation and Ensures Minsters and others present statistics in a way that is fair, accurate and “unspun”.

 

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/house-of-commons-stop-ministers-spinning-statistics-accept-the-recommendations-of-select-committees-stop-ministers-spinning-dwp-statistics

We are using Stop MPs Spinning Stats in all our posts/tweets/shares and #ImpeachDWP & #NOWPetition

it was suggested we also approach backbencher MPs we do trust, to engage them in this fight for Honesty from Ministers, I’ve picked up on this with members of the Work & Pensions Select (who have a vested interest)  –
Member Party
Dame Anne Begg (Chair) Labour
Debbie Abrahams Labour
Graham Evans Conservative
Sheila Gilmore Labour
Glenda Jackson Labour
Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative
Nigel Mills Conservative
Anne Marie Morris Conservative
Teresa Pearce Labour
Mr Mike Thornton Liberal Democrat
Dame Angela Watkinson Conservative

MPs who supported the 1st petition included  John McDonnell & Michael Meacher; I’m sure there were others but…time has done its usual job on my memory, if you are in contact with any MPs you feel may support us please tell them about it.

Roswynne Jones of the Mirror has from the start supported this campaign and I’m sure will cover the struggle soon; again as with the Politicians it you have contacts for any journalists – press or TV/Radio please contact them; should you, or indeed they, wish to speak to either myself or Debbie let us know in comments, Tweet @JayneLinney @DebbieSayers or via the same names on Facebook; we’d Love to hear from you.

It is Vital we don’t forget the reasons MP Misuse stats – they are using the spun data as a form of social control  applying  psychological coercion to as Friedli says  ‘formulate and gain consent for the current regime of welfare reform”. They do this without underpinning knowledge nor without concern for the real damage this causes to the mental health of the people they purport to serve.

 The question now is –  if We don’t Fight Back, Who will?

Please Continue Sharing, making contact – Together We Can Achieve Positive Change  xx

Check out the Amazing Official ‘Truth’ Campaign Poem by @juxtaposed

Cast-on Cast-offs 

MORE Reasons to Sign – STOP Ministers Spinning Stats (or LYING)

Over the weekend I’ve noticed three separate articles all linked to DWP actions that, we the public have been LIED TO about by Ids, McVey, Penning & even Consultants –

The Guardian wrote how – Frank Field MP has found Evidence behind growth in food banks and benefits claimants; Field as chair of the all-party group set up to investigate hunger and food poverty discovered “the disproportionately large increase (use of food banks) seen in the poorest households is due entirely to rising housing and fuel costs” . However this week McVey wrote to the Scottish Government this week stating there is “no robust evidence linking food bank usage to welfare reform”  

Fellow blogger Kitty Jones reported on – Rising ESA sanctions with a rise of “334% between December 2012 and December 2013″; it took a Freedom of Information request to release even these figures which are an ‘estimate. Debbie Abrahams MP asked McVey for an Independent investigation  into the growing number of sanctions last November, which she agreed to however ” the Government have now said they won’t set one up“; what could possibly be the reason for this, Abrahams believes “The last thing Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey want is for that uncomfortable truth to be uncovered by a focussed and independent investigation.”

Mike Sivier at Vox Political questioned How Prof Lichfield, the man assessing the suitability of WCA could claim he hadn’t “any information” and he hadn’t “seen numbers” on any people “dying every week as a result of being found fit for work after an assessment”; as Mike says “He could have, at least, looked up the government’s own statistical release‘Incapacity Benefits – Deaths of Recipients’ from July 2012“. Further it doesn’t take any mathematical experience to make an informed estimate as to the current figure, I did this this in February suggesting  the number could be as high as “38,564 deaths over the 3 years the Coalition has been in Government.”.

These are three different situations where Ministers and the DWP Press office lie to the public about the Reality of life as a benefit claimant in the UK today, and it is for these and numerous other incidents where the Truth is hidden and denied that Debbie & I have published our 2nd petition  demanding the House of Commons STOP Minsters spinning statistics.

We Deserve the Truth from our Politicians, particularly when their Polices result in Poverty, Abuse & Death, if you agree – Sign & Share the #NowPetition widely and help us #ImpeachDWP 

 

 

 

 

Lets Talk – Challenging Oppression through Positive Action

This series of Lets Talk has instigated a new campaign, I had no idea when I blogged about prejudice that a fellow warrior would pick up the mantle, taking it one step further with her analysis of challenging oppression through Law and Evidence.

But that’s the beauty of  communicating and working together, it sparks new ideas about challenge and this collaboration has opened up a proposal or a new way of working; social media has allowed a small group of women from Cornwall to the Scotland to join forces, sharing our experience and knowledge to make a stand.

Women2gether operate on the basis of  Inclusion, Collectivity, & Collaboration allowing  participants to dip in and out of the project, both to share and develop our understanding in a safe environment. This does not mean it isn’t challenging, the nature of the project requires confrontation, but only ideals are questioned, never the person; and in this spirit we hope not only to achieve our goal, but also demonstrate an improved way of working.

We intend to demonstrate and submit a case to the ICC that their recent ruling on the case submitted by Olga and Tanya Yeritsidou – “It is alleged that the austerity measures introduced by Greece’s government constitute peacetime genocide and crimes against humanity” – is unlawful. We believe this judgement is not lawful as it condones and enables national and international economic abuse of women by failing to give our perspective equal weight and gravitas in coming to judgement; and it is around this argument we are building a case for judicial review.

We accept this project is immense and we also expect a variety of  negative comments, therefore we are aware of the dangers of subconsciously adopting the apparent logic of dissenters; in order to manage this women2gether is open to all women, and men who believe in and support the rationale of  an equal balance between the genders, on a national or global scale, depending on their particular areas of interest.

The principles of particular area of interest is the key to this project as previously mentioned; allowing individuals focus on their own areas, be that idea sharing, research, collation, report writing, speaking with ‘experts’ etc., without fear of being overburdened.

If anyone is wondering what is the point of this, or think it is a waste of energy, I’d like to share why I’m doing this  – I’m Sick to death of being afraid to live and I’d far sooner die trying, than yield to the current levels of injustice being enforced upon me. If you can relate to this, let us know through commenting here, or tweet, direct message us via @JayneLinney/@Wildwalkerwoman/@DebbieSayers; we would love to hear from you.