Sunday, 25 May 2014

Tories use Social Control Tactics in their ideological war against the many

This post is in response to a very good article from the link below: (please read this piece and join the campaign against the demonisation and vilification of disabled people) 

Jayne, we can go back the Benefits Integrity Project (BIP) (a misnomer as it lacked integrity and benefited nobody) introduced by the outgoing Conservative government in 1996 without proper consultation or Parliamentary scrutiny. The BIP cost a small fortune to set up and run, and it failed to uncover the massive fraud committed by recipients of DLA; or indeed recover enough monies to cover even its own running costs!

The BIP and the mentality behind it rubbed off on the Blair government who began witch-hunting disabled people almost from day one of their coming into office. This culminated in the debacle of ATOS and the WCA, sadly Labour initiatives.

A great shame of the 1997-2010 Labour administrations was their unstinting use of propaganda to attack disabled benefits’ claimants. This punitive approach made it easier for the ConDems to continue the attack on us, despite the fact, as you rightly point out, that levels of benefits fraud by disabled claimants barely register on the fraud radar.

Thus Jayne, your observations that the whole exercise of attacking benefits’ ‘cheats’ is a form of social controlling is correct. This social controlling being just another component in the wider ideological war being waged by the Tories in their quest to impose neo-liberal policies upon the majority.

Come on Labour, deviate from the path of ‘caring’ capitalism; get divorced from the mock marriage of neo-liberalism; and if you feel you need a ‘scapegoat’ look no further than Amazon, Vodaphone, Philip Green, Barclays, etc and their tax cheating ways. Don’t piss around chasing less than a £1 billion in benefits’ ‘fraud’ when you could be seeking out the £120 billion fiddled by big business and billionaires!

IDS Covers Up Yet Another Failure

He's hiding yet another failure. IDS's life is a succession of failures. He lied when he claimed he had studied at Perugia University; he failed in the army where he was known as Iain Drunken-Smith; and of course he flopped as the leader of the Conservative Party.

Iain Duncan-Smith, liar and failure of the first degree - the prerequisites of a good Tory Minister
Smith is hiding the fact that his string of failures has increased with his idea of a Universal Credit failed. He won’t admit what most people in the disability and anti-austerity movement knew from the very inception of this crackpot idea.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with a universal benefits’ system. Anything that takes the bureaucracy out of our benefits’ system and instils it with some ease of use and, as importantly, fairness, should be supported. However, IDS’s idea of a universal credit was not to create ease for the claimant but rather as a punitive measure that stigmatises the very act of benefit claiming making it so difficult to access that only the desperate would bother.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Welfare State to Blame for Food Banks

Does Tebbit really ‘eat humble pie’ after earlier attacks on benefits’ claimants abusing food banks by accepting “…emergency handouts to save money which they then spent on junk food.”?

Lord Tebbit applies charity model to food bank recipients

Lord Tebbit, after visiting a food bank Trussell Trust food bank in Haverhill, Suffolk, lavishes praise upon the staff and the procedures they use to dole out food. He observes: “There was no slap-happy handing over of boxes.”  Which in the code of those with a charitable disposition means ‘responsible spending of tax-payers’ money.’ Or in the language of the hungry ‘give the buggers just enough to survive’; in other words, don’t over indulge them.

In Tebbit’s view starvation in itself is not sufficient reason enough to claim food from a food bank. No, the applicant must prove they have a genuine need to this resource and how they have arrived at this sorry state. In this respect the hungry person isn’t short of genuine reasons:

·       Wages from work being so low people can’t afford the basics of life
·       Benefits completely cut by job centre sanction
·       Benefit slashed as a result of wrong decisions made at WCA
·       Bedroom tax imposed upon social housing tenants
·       Qualification for new disability benefit, PIP, denied due to introduction of stricter qualifying criteria
·       Income so low that rent, travel, etc eats up most of money.

Thus, when Tebbit admits:“Some had fallen foul of the bureaucratic processes of welfare support, leaving them waiting for, or even denied, the cash support to which they were entitled” he appears to recognise that a problem exists. However, his judgement of the situation is disingenuous in that he places the blame on the welfare system.

Lord Tebbit, our welfare state has existed, despite constant Tory opposition from day one, for almost six decades. It is your party, the Conservatives, along with their partners in crime, the LibDems, who have created the need for food banks.

Your government’s policies are forcing benefits’ claimants to wait longer for their claims to be processed, thus placing them in penury.

Your government’s policies are sanctioning more and more claimants, quite often for spurious reasons, all too often for minor infringements of benefits’ rules.

Your government’s policies are wrongly finding sick and disabled people fit for work, thus reducing the amount of benefits they receive.

When a leading Conservative speaks out against the draconian policies his government has imposed upon some of the poorest people in the country; against groups of people least able to defend themselves, then and only then will I recognise any humanity coming from the words or deeds of a Tory.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Suppliers' Demands

So, just when I think everything is hunky dory at chez Seán another load of hassle. An email from my energy supplier informing me that “…an objection to the electricity transfer has been raised by your current supplier.”

The fact is that I’ve only just moved into the property and signed up to a new energy supplier at the same time. Yet there is an assumption by energy companies that new tenants somehow know the previous occupants of the property. For instance when I tell my supplier I haven’t a Scooby as to the name of my predecessor they generally sound quite surprised.

But why would I know the person who occupied my new drum prior to my occupancy? They then ask whether my landlord knows the previous tenant. Of course the landlord knows who lived here prior to my moving in. However, why would the landlord know from whom their tenants purchase energy?

This next bit is quite worrying. 

Unfortunately, an objection to the electricity transfer has been raised by your current supplier. An objection can be raised for a number of reasons, so don’t worry. Your current supplier may have already contacted you regarding this, but if they haven’t we would advise you to contact them to discuss the reason for the objection.”

First my supplier, who know that I’m new to the property and have no idea who supplies energy to my home, insists on speaking in terms of ‘Your current supplier…’ (no pun meant), as though I had any say in the matter.

Then I’m told an objection to the transfer has been made. On questioning my supplier as to the nature of the objection I’m reliably informed that ‘my current supplier’ (honestly no pun intended) is not obliged to name the objection.

Look, it matters not a jot to me what the previous tenant got up to in the privacy of his or her, now my, crib. But isn't the idea of energy companies raising objections without offering up an explanation a bit strong? 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Parking Bay Squatters

Things have been going swimmingly with my move. All the boxes emptied and contents stored away. BT phone and BB up and running. TV reception excellent. The place feels like home.

At first I thought having a car parking space outside my flat, effectively my own car port. Prior to moving a red BMW driver had taken the spot as his own free parking bay. My housing officer managed to have a friendly word and he ceased parking there.

Since Wednesday several cars have taken advantage of my PAs going about their business in my car and parked up when they’ve spotted it vacant. On one occasion the car was parked so far back that I couldn’t get around it in my wheelchair; thus I was effectively trapped in my home – fortunately this inconsiderate person didn’t park for too long.

What happens when someone parks up for the weekend and I’m trapped in my home? Or if I can’t get out of my home to get to work?

Sadly it’s Friday night and my housing office won’t be open until Monday morning. In order that they’re aware of the situation I’ve sent them a lengthy email requesting that the landlord fixes a lockable folding parking post at the end of my parking bay to put a stop to squatting drivers.
Simple solution to parking bay squatters

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Better Bus Design for Wheelchair Users

A little while ago Liz Carr ran into problems on a bus because she wished to travel in her wheelchair facing the driver, as most normies do, but the bus driver insisted she travel facing towards the rear of the bus with the back of her chair against the cushioned pad.

Liz then received the following:

"With regards to Transport for London (TfL) policy concerning the positioning of wheelchairs on buses, I must report that the drivers are correct in insisting wheelchair users travel facing rearwards, with the back against the backrest and brakes applied. This is a legal requirement that needs to be enforced. Drivers should of course be polite and helpful in doing this and they are all being trained on this issue as part of our new ‘All Aboard!’ training this year.

It may be of use for you to arrange for one of our Travel Mentor team members to accompany you on a journey, and look to see if there is a better way for you to travel. Though ultimately, I’m afraid that legal reasons dictate that this is facing rearwards for the reasons explained. The travel mentoring team might be able to provide alternative options, such as our door-to-door Dial-a-Ride service, if this is felt to be appropriate."

I don’t mind which way I’m facing on a bus, although I draw the line at facing the ceiling, or floor. However I fully appreciate Liz’s desire to travel facing the driver; and I also agree, given the inherent dangers of travelling on public transport, that Liz should be given the choice of her own fate – that is to be mashed up backwards or smashed up forwards.

What pushes me over the edge and into a frenzy of uncontrollable red-mist can’t-recall-a-single-thing-afterwards rage is the fact they want us to sit the wrong way; and in doing so make it next to impossible to manoeuvre our chairs into the designate area.

Why do bus companies insist on placing an upright pole a third of the way along the wheelchair space? This pole makes it incredibly difficult for me to enter the bus facing forwards; attempt to turn 130° in a tight turning circle; reverse into the space, impeded by the pole; and back onto the cushion. All this usually on a moving bus.
The offending upright pole is on the left of the photograph - coloured green

One bright spark told me the pole was there to arrest my fall in the event of the bus breaking sharply and my brakes giving way – which they do anyway with some drivers at which time my chair behaves like a rodeo horse. So if you hear someone shouting YEEE HAW as an 88 nips sharpishly along Whitehall, that’ll be me.

Oh, by the way. If the bus breaks and I’m thrown from my bucking bronco, I’d rather hit the floor than a bloody pole which would probably drive my ribs into me vitals!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Problems Inherent in Using Independent Gas Suppliers

Still no luck with identifying the gas supplier to my new flat. Contacted my new suppliers yesterday but sadly their computer system was down; on Friday their free phone number was out of order. Hope I've not bought a pig in a poke. 'U Switch' recommended the supplier. Stating their rates were competitive and, in my as important, they had an excellent customer service.

The fact that the previous tenant, apparently, used an independent gas supplier means the property does not appear on the national gas customers' register. However, there are another couple of avenues that my supplier can explore, but not until Tuesday, the day before I'm due to move.

BBC: Sack Clarkson Now!

Ask yourself the question, why was Jeremy Clarkson recorded reciting a nursery rhyme? His actions are those of a not particularly bright school boy, the one who as he coughed shouted 'wanker'; who when confronted by the teacher then claimed he had only coughed. While the lad courts the laughs and guffaws of other school boys; Clarkson's remarks are more sinister as they pander to the racist elements amongst his TV fans and readers of rags such as the Sun and Mail. 

A couple of wankers maybe, but they are dangerous wankers who have a public stage from which they can propagate their nasty and vicious right wing agendas
Clarkson has been acting the cunt for years, sailing ever closer to the wind just to see how far he ca push the envelope of accepted behaviour. Slagging off people of various nations is a favoured pastime. But of course all carried out within a context.

The context, of course, being the Clarkson context bluff no-nonsense uttering made by a laddish TV presenter which renders racist and xenophobic words and statements as harmless and disposable jocularity.
Likewise jibes about lorry drivers killing prostitutes; or shooting bus drivers in the face; or even that public sector strikers should be shot in front of their families. Just Jeremy being Jeremy.

Now Nigel Farage of the crackpot UKIP Party is defending the BBC presenter’s use of the word nigger as merely "just typical" of Clarkson.  

OK Farage, in which case you’ll not object if I state that you’re a racist and xenophobic bigot leading a party which is in reality the Waffen SS wing of the Conservative Party composed, for the greater part of scumbags, assorted sociopaths, oddballs, misfits and crackpots – these being the better elements.

I’m sure you won’t mind, after all its "just typical" of me to wander too close to the borders of offensiveness.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Moving House Blues

Over the past couple of days feelings of déjà vu are seeping and creeping into my dreams and even my waking moments. Ten years ago I moved into my current address, a place I’ve never considered home. One of the reasons I’ve attached no feelings of domesticity to the property is the hassle I endured when moving into the place.

Back then Lambeth agreed to do certain enabling works to allow for my disabilities and waived the rent for a number of weeks prior to my moving in. Which was just as well considering the nightmares I was to face trying to get an electricity connection.

On receiving the keys to the flat, prior to the enabling works, I needed a floor put in as well as decorating carried out. First things first, I opened an account with British Gas (BG). However, there was no electric power coming into the flat. The lights didn’t work nor did the electrical sockets – and the little wheel on the meter wasn’t going round and round the way it would if there was power.

Back on the blower to BG, explained little wheel static. Yes, all the fuses were pointing the correct way…up. But they maintained they were supplying me from there end. This was not their issue it was a problem for the landlord to sort out – Lambeth Council.

Chatted to my housing officer advised me to sign up with an energy supplier – tosser. After explaining my conversation with my supplier, BG, he gave me an over-the-phone-shrug-of-the-shoulders stating that Lambeth had carried out its obligations.

Back to BG I go, a little despondent with my faith in humanity a bit dented but not at major motorway pile-up level yet – this would come about in painful increments over a period of 22-days. BG were awfully sorry to hear of my dilemma; they took another butchers at my account and carrying out a conscious Pontius batted me back to my landlord.

This toing and froing continued for another few gruelling sets before an umpire (a third party I’d got involved so as to salvage a soupcon of sanity) suggested that Lambeth re-checks the electric power to my flat. The electric engineers, the Wild Bunch or Magnificent Seven as I recall, were called back; after doing their tests they reported that all sockets and light fittings were A OK and in working order.

The only problem was, nothing worked. Light bulbs shed no light upon switching the switch. The radio emitted no sound upon hitting the on button. The hob no heat did it throw out when flicking the switch. Indeed, the little wheel in the meter cupboard stubbornly lay still as though in a torpor unable to complete a revolution.

“What can we do?” Whined the Wild Bunch moseying on out of my flat down the road apace. But of course the manager had a solution, that’s why he spent the inspection on his mobile having the craic with a mate while his desperadoes carried out the work. “We’ll get EDF in. This is obviously a problem that’s on the outside of the property – or in other words, we haven’t got a Scooby what we’re doing let’s mug the billy bunter off with someone else.

In other words they had carried out two electrical tests of the premises; and though finding everything in order on both occasions, and signing certificate to this effect. They were now saying the fact I had no power was due to external influences – outside the drum. Yet all sockets, etc inside the drum were registering live.
Along comes EDF to check the outside electrical ting and ting. Big geezer comes to my door and hands me a very large fuse, about the size of a 1.6 v battery. “Here you go mate. Nuthing wrong wiv yer fews. See, clean as nun’s conscience”.

Indeed, it was.

So, looking at the meter, which was still, well still. Flicking a light switch, and there being no light I asked the electrician why the meter wasn’t working and the lights not coming on.

“Not ma problem, cheef” chirps this fidgeter of fuse boxes. “It’s inside yer ‘ouse; I only do outside”.

“Any ideas where or what?” I quiz; attempting to tantalizingly trick him into giving up the secret of the missing leccy from 25 Pisspot Way.

“Well, it could be…” as he launched into the lingua franca of Sparkyland.

“Whoa, slow down. Let me write this down. Just a minute.” I pleaded.

“…behind yer fuse panel”. He finished as he turned on his heel and naffed off.

“Hang on. I didn’t get any of that. Give me a fucking break, pal”. I pled. Had I bled it wouldn’t have moved this smug bastard. The kind of fucker who measures his pleasure by the misery of mourning mothers.

Lines of demarcation have a place within our industries; teachers should teach children; nurses nurse sick people; chippies swing doors; plasters spread walls; brickies to do things with frogs that brickies do; and electricians to wire up.

However, I wasn’t asking this guy to come into my place and do the work of another tradesperson. No, I was pleading with him to impart his knowledge in lay language so as I could get my problem sorted.

Anyhow, another couple of days went by. The third party assisting me managed to get the electrical engineers out, for a third time. At first they ignored me as I pointed to the meter uttering “the problems in the meter cupboard!”

No, they went through their esoteric rituals of poking their devices around sockets and gaining great satisfaction when a light lit up the device. It was their version of the entrails of a dead goat giving out an auspicious reading.

Satisfied with a job well done they attempted to leave the flat. No way Pedro. They were not going to pass until the wheel on my meter went round, round, round.

“The meter. Check the fucking meter. The problem is with the meter!” I screamed. By now I was frantic. This was after all day 22 without electric. “You’re not leaving here until there is electricity in this fucking place!” Roared a man teeting on the edge of a breakdown.

Slumping on the floor with my back covering the lower half of the front door, thus blocking their exit I sat, daring them to even try leaving without looking in the meter cupboard a couple of feet away.

“You’ll have to fucking kill me if you want to leave. And you know what? At this point in time I don’t give a fucking monkey’s for myself. So the choice is yours.” All said with a steely calmness; a kind of acceptance of my fate. The resignation of a beaten man.

“Alright mate, calm down. I’ll have a look but don’t blame me if the fault isn’t in the meter. My money’s on the ‘Erbert from EDF bollixing it up”.
Sparky opens the door of the meter. Whips out his trusty sparky-driver and whips off the panel over the fuses and says:

“Oh, yeh of course its blah blah sparky lingo…there you go mate, problem sorted…”

Flick! On comes a light. A radio in another rooms springs to life. The sparks help me up and I watch, with tears in my eyes the meter almost imperceptibly turn, the start of a revolution.

Almost ten years on from this very distressing situation I’m moving house again. Guess what? No, I have electricity in the flat. This time nobody, that is Ovo (my new supplier, EDF nor Which?Switch (who have a database containing a record of all energy suppliers and customer addresses) can find any trace of gas ever being supplied to the property.

All three have told me to get a MPRN (a meter point reference number) which is a unique number to a given meter and from this they can determine who supplied gas to the previous tenant.

After several days I discovered my gas meter resided in a kitchen cupboard, too low for me to access. But even if I could, what does a MPRN look like? It’s a series of numbers, I’m reliably informed by someone who works for an energy company and is familiar with the jargon and ways of her sector.

With this handy tip in ascertaining MPRN’s I take several photographs of the gas meter. One figure, 2005 followed by a colon and six numbers, isn’t the series of figures I need. Obviously the meter reading itself doesn’t qualify as a MPRN due to its mutability. Then aside from stickers with dates on them, maintenance information, there are no other numbers visible on the apparatus.

While I’m being batted to and from various energy suppliers and allied trades I’m explaining to my housing officer (HO) that I have a real problem developing. The HO, an extremely helpful young woman repeatedly assures me the problem will be sorted, before I move in on Wednesday next, 7th May.

Somewhere down the chain, as it transpires, there is talk of the previous tenant having used an independent gas supplier. This explains why each time I’m asked for my address the energy company agent cannot find any record of gas being supplied to property.

“Are you sure you have the right address?” I’m patronised.

“Well if it isn’t, I’ve been doing a burglar Bill turn for the past week” I respond in an concealed attempt at light banter – the fact I’m hitting high notes as I spit out my responses is a bit of a giveaway.

“OK. And you’re sure it’s a gas meter?” She inflects in that falling fashion made fashionable by Aussie soaps.

“Gas meter? I thought I was arranging a funeral for Fluffyfattybum my recently departed Liptov Baldspotted Rabbit!” drawled I, not attempting to mask the sarcasm.

“Sorry, what was that?” comes back she lazily, with equally indifference as she lavishly laced her mocking mock question.

“Yes, it’s a gas meter. Several things suggest this including the SI unit for gas measurement. But mainly the words Gas Meter printed on the device”. Spoken without irony as by now the fun had escaped from the situation and I was coming down from the natural high generated when I enter a fight.  

It’s late now. My problems are unresolved. There is little or nothing I can do until Tuesday, the day before I move into the new property.

So fuck everything.

I’m going to do something I’ve not done for a long time.

I’m going into my living room and get rat-arsed, hollering and hooting, tearing and swearing, rabble rousing, neighbour disturbing, beastly drunk!
You notice I’m referring to the new property as ‘home’. Because if I have the same problems as before it may never become my home, just another flat in which I rest my head.