Scroungers, Strivers and Schadenfreude

imageI haven’t been able to watch more than a minute of Benefits Street. The reaction of those who refer to the people featured as “thieving scum” etc pushes me to a place that’s beyond anger; a sort of deep disappointment, hopelessness. I know they will never be convinced of another point of view, unless it happens to them.

I was homeless once. I had to queue in the dole office to get a benefits cheque as I was ‘of no fixed abode’. There wasn’t any drugs, drink, or mental illness involved – I had to get away from home due to my mother’s spiralling violence and abuse.

I was young, innocent, frightened and not streetwise, in the least. My story could have had a very bad ending. I was one step away from hopeless.

Some friends of friends had a squat in London, so at least I wasn’t out on the streets; but I remember the grinding cold, the continuous ache in my bones and hunger. After a while, my nutrition was really bad due to lack of funds. I bought spaghetti, oxo cubes, cheap bread. There were no food banks back then.

Strangely enough, I was safe. Safer than I had been at home. The guys in the squat were bikers, who had a strong moralistic code. They would even send me off to stay with their mothers or grandmothers if they had a party. They looked after me like a band of hairy, greasy, leather clad, big brothers.

I never begged, but strangers were still kind. The chip shop owner used to give me food. The people at the local pub allowed me to use their bathroom, the bakery used to slip me a loaf about to go stale. Sounds Dickensian, but this was only a couple of decades back.

We all got ill. With no heating or hot water, it’s an effort to keep clean (although I bathed the best I could with a basin of water every day). The cold air was the worst, it got into your lungs and carried any passing cold right into the trachea. I got asthma eventually, after a series of chest infections. It’s a weakness I still carry.

I looked like a waif in an army greatcoat far too big for me, woolen hats, Dr Martens and layers upon layers of clothing over my jeans. A long way from the immaculate beribboned child I once was or the flamboyant art student I was but a few months before. Fashion was long gone.

I got out when things changed. The population of a squat is a transient one. As my surrogate brothers moved on, new people took their place.They were mainly middle class rebels, with a bit of money, which was spent on drugs.

Soon I felt unsafe. I managed to get a decrepit, half derelict house in a rough part of London through a housing association. Downstairs was uninhabitable, dark, damp and full of rubble. I didn’t want to think about the rats. Upstairs was as bright and clean as I could make it, with donations from friends, skip diving and junk shops. It was an address, at least.

I finished my studies, got a job and everything changed. I was one of the lucky ones, well educated and with the will to turn my life around.

After a few years of working my way up, I was running a small company, turning over £4m a year, with a share of the profits. I had tens of thousands in the bank, which I spent.

I could buy anything I wanted to. A sports car. Luxury holidays. Dinner at the best restaurants. Cases of Champagne. Cocktails in the swankier bars. Designer clothes – a massive apartment, decorated to the highest specifications. Lending my friends large sums of money. Frequent weekends away for my friends. It was a manic circus around me.

It was all so meaningless. Just wrapping paper. All that money kept me distant from my friends in different jobs, the teachers, the care workers, the actors, the struggling designers.

I didn’t want to hang out with people like me, I didn’t like the middle class rich, all babies, property, school catchments and tennis clubs. I had nothing to say to them. I still don’t.

Maybe it’s because I have seen both sides of the story, I feel happiest somewhere in the middle. I decided to work part time a few years back, but 4 days a week quickly became 7 and, although I wasn’t earning anything like I used to, I was still highly paid compared to many of my peers and partners.

It burnt me in the end, all that ‘striving’. All I ended up with was a great deal of “stuff” and mental and physical exhaustion, which is a kind of living death.

Now all I need is enough to get by. I can live luxuriously enough on half my last salary. I know that there’s always a story behind hardship, most people aren’t feckless ‘scroungers’, they have got trapped. And it’s no fun, I can promise you that.

It only takes one turn of the wheel of fate and it could be you.

Maybe we should try sympathy instead of schadenfreude.

A lesson from the Delhi gang rape

When a nation has a history of misogyny, how many generations does it take until its culture accepts the equality of women? That’s a difficult question to answer, because this country, the UK, isn’t there yet. We still have objectification … Continue reading

A response from The Times

Thank you for your email.

Strangely enough I do not think we disagree all that much.

I totally accept – and have written – that abuse is a huge problem and that its extent has been underestimated.

I am sure that one reason for this was a failure to understand its nature. Therefore explaining and articulating what child abuse is and what a users do is vital. As my mother is a concentration camp survivor I understand the importance to victims of being heard and believed.

Our one area of disagreement concerns whether defending the rule of law, and the presumption of innocence, makes one the “peado’s friend”. I would argue that all victims and defendants need this presumption and it can’t be simply ignored.

I am confident that historical accounts of Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith will reveal their true nature and I expect the truth to be damning. But it must be possible to argue for the process of law without being accused essentially of being an accessory to abuse.

With very best wishes

Daniel (Finkelstein)
TheTimes

Tory on truth serum – a new series

Lord J Arthur Rank

Lord J Arthur Rank

Every Friday, I will be publishing an interview with a Tory on Truth Serum. Here you’ll get to ask the questions you really want an answer to and for a change, get the real unvarnished truth, Tory style.  This week the Tory truth about BENEFITS.

Lord X:  Well, well, young filly. What do you want to know?

SW:  Following the Autumn statement, can you tell me about the big picture behind benefit cuts? What are your eventual aims?

Benefits are a disgrace. Communism. They have ruined this country and brought up generations of feckless, work-shy oiks. And lazy malingering types pretending to be ill.  If I had my way, I’d abolish the lot. In 2011 we paid out £35 billion to the bastards. £5.5 million went to the fucking foreigners, thanks to those retards at the EU.

SW: How are you going about making these cuts? 

This is just the start. Osbourne is just tinkering at the edges. But they’ll soon see.  We’ve started with two key groups. Feckless families that are working in a half-arsed way and claiming tax credits and the long-term filthy scroungers that claim they are off “sick”.

It works like this – the families will have to stop breeding, they won’t be able to support the kids they’ve got and they are going to be stuck with them until they are 25, because we’re no longer giving hand outs and council houses to them when they grow up. Hopefully, they’ll get off their sorry arses and do another job to make ends meet.  Then we won’t have to give them any more money. That’ll teach ’em. I see no reason why the kids shouldn’t work as well. No excuses.

As for the malingerers, they’ll have to PROVE that they can’t work. Even the ones with cancer should be economically viable. They can clean toilets or something. Or work at a nuclear plant. They are dying anyway, so they can’t moan about chemicals and stuff.

SW: I see. So what happens to all those people, like the employees at Remploy that are out of work through no fault of their own?

My heart bleeds, ha ha. Those idiots should have seen the writing on the wall by now and got themselves other jobs. The trouble with these people is that they think they are entitled to something. Well, they are not.  And they can stop whining about foreign workers taking their jobs. The only reason those Johnny Foreigners were let in was to do the really crappy jobs these twats refused to do. Serves them right. The peasant class needs to be put back in their places. They are entitled to NOTHING.

SW: Peasant class? That sounds positively medieval to me? You can’t be serious?

Look, young lady. This country is going to the dogs. And you know why? Those socialists upset the natural order of things. Well, we’re putting things back to how they should be. My chaps were born to lead. It’s a natural right. We know what’s best for the country.  There will always be menial jobs available for people who are not like us and they should be pleased to have them. If people are not economically viable, we will make sure they die out. I wish we could exterminate them all now, but we have to do it gradually by running down the NHS, ensuring they have to eat cheap, crap food and ensuring education doesn’t give them any silly ideas. Simple really.

SW: Right. That’s certainly “interesting”. So once you’ve called the sick and the poorer worker families to heel, what’s next?

Single mothers. Filthy little sluts. They are just vandal incubators and a waste of oxygen. We’re going to take the babies away as soon as they pop them out. And they’ll get absolutely nothing for them. Anything they get from the state encourages them to breed. Disgusting.

SW: So what will happen to the children?

Children’s homes, of course.  We’ll keep hold of the best looking and compliant ones for our special party circuit. The rest will be trained to work and work hard. We’ll sell them to our partners, G4S and they can use them as cheap labour when we finish privatising the police, the civil service, the NHS and the banks.

SW: I’m feeling very nauseous at the moment, so I think we’ll leave it there until next week. Thank you Lord X for talking with us. It’s been…enlightening.

No problem at all, young lady. Now get down on your knees and sort me out, would you? I’ve got a stiffy coming on and I need it relieved. There’s a good girl….

Leveson, tweets and the MSM

Two camps fighting it out on Twitter. Hacked off Hugh and his “victims” and MSM. Both sides crying “It’s not fair!” The Leveson report is fairly sensible and even-handed. No real shocks, just that regulation of the press remains voluntary. … Continue reading

OUR NEW POLICE STATE – BEING PRIVATISED UNDER YOUR NOSE

Corruption

Right now, in the UK, our Police Force is undergoing privatisation by stealth.  The Government don’t want you to know, neither do ACPO.

Remember The Olympics?  Think back to the panic about security. Remember how some crappy, hapless, private security firm really cocked up and the Army were called in? That was G4S.  These people are already taking over our Police Force.

For those with longer memories, G4S  incorporated Securicor. The same Securicor that lost prisoners with their prison vans a few years ago. Their modus operandi seems to be “pay them peanuts and hope they turn up”. 

This company is now taking over the work of the Police.  Their track record is suspect, to say the least. And I don’t remember Police Privatisation being an overt part of this government’s manifesto?

Whatever happened to Bobby?

British policing has traditionally been well respected. There have been a few bad apples, but in general, they are traditionally decent sorts. Especially when compared to their counterparts in other countries.

The good cops are the types that have a real vocation for the work. The kind of Policeman that treats people like human beings. Even if that person is a knife wielding crack fiend.

Policemen like this really believe that they are there to play their part in making society better. Policemen like James Patrick . A serving officer in the Metropolitan Police, since 2004. He has written a book “The Rest is Silence” which has resulted in a charge of Gross Misconduct, the possible loss of his position and pension and approbation and bullying  from his senior officers. He is BANNED from using social media, even privately, although all the information he reveals is in the public domain if you look for it.

A career Police Officer in the force is putting his livelihood on the line because he’s seen what this Government is quietly doing under our noses. Privatising the Police. Running down the existing force and replacing them with poorly trained, inexperienced, private workers.

A new culture that hasn’t been questioned

James Patrick gives full details in his book.  Even exposing how senior Police Officers wangle things to make a demonstration by dissenters impossible.  There is a small group of “whistle-blowers” but they have all been subject to privations. That’s why this issue has been more of a whisper than a roar.

Following the well publicised cuts of 6000+ plus officers last year, the Police are now finding it increasingly difficult to respond to mass events. There simply are not enough policemen on duty, even if leave is cancelled and rest days ignored.  Add to this the creep of a 9-5 culture and no incentive for personal development, the morale of the Police is at an historical low.

Those that are on duty, are working to new rules. The text-book rules of management consultants. Paperwork, targets, results, focus on particular crimes, less priority on others. Reclassifying offences to fit the boxes that must be ticked. They call it “Operational Policing”. It gives the government of the day “Crime figures” they can sound-bite about, but it severely restricts actual reactive policing. But it will make some people a lot of money.

Targets are a hit and miss for crime

A high profile example of “Operational Policing” in action was recently exposed by Ian Pointon, chair of the Kent police federation, following the arrest of senior officers on claims that they were clearing up unsolved cases by encouraging offenders to admit to those crimes which would be “taken into consideration” with their actual offences.

Kent police has a performance culture that focuses too keenly on ticks in boxes,” he said. “Targets are set for individuals, teams and the force as a whole. Officers feel under enormous pressure to reach those targets, particularly in relation to the rate of detected crime and crime reduction.”

“That pressure is all-pervading. Officers know that failure to reach those targets can have a detrimental effect on them personally.” He said.

The net result of this new culture, is that as a citizen, you could be reporting a burglary, but if  burglary “targets” have been reached and the priority target is now “drug offences”, your burglary will be given a lower priority.

Conversely, if you were carrying recreational drugs for personal use, you could be let off with a caution or have the full force of the law thrown at you. It depends on where the target focus is at that particular time.

And the paedophile with two charges of abuse against him, may have a third “taken into consideration”, leaving a paedophile loose in your neighbourhood, uncharged and uninvestigated.

Privatisation by stealth – a thief in the night?

Forces all over the UK are being pushed to “partner” with a “Private Provider”.  In Lincolnshire, a £200m contract has been awarded to G4S to provide services.  The company representing G4S legally was White and Case, with a chap called Tom Winsor as a partner, who is the same Tom Winsor who conducted an “Independent Review” of the Police “on behalf of the government.  Wheels within wheels that stand to gain financially from such arrangements?

So what are these services that companies like G4S are providing?  This is a list of some of the roles that West Midlands and Surrey forces have put out to tender:

“Investigate crimes, detain suspects, investigate incidents, manage major incidents, patrol neighbourhood, manage high risk individuals, disrupt criminal networks…”

There is a separate tender for “custody services”.

What role do our existing, trained, experienced Police Officers have? Are they going to be dispensed with and replaced with cheaper, private sector workers without Police pensions and other benefits? It certainly looks like this is the long term plan.

Money, money, money

David Taylor-Smith, the CEO of G4S Security Services, UK and Ireland said “We look forward to the Prime Minister’s support in helping British Companies to compete even more effectively” when on a recent trade mission with David Cameron in Africa.

He also predicts: “Mass police privatisation and that private companies will be running large parts of the police service within 5 years”

Their ambitions don’t just stop at the Police.  Their “market opportunity” contracts, those that are each in excess of £3M, will mainly come from government (92%).  They aim to expand into the NHS, DWP, Police, Prisons and even Banking.

And the PCC’s? The people that no-one could be bothered to vote for? They are there to control BUDGETS for their area. They’ll be liaising with companies like G4S, according to their political affiliations, of course.

There is a tangled financial web with tendrils reaching into the pockets of several serving government ministers which is revealed in detail in “The Rest is Silence” – if there are any curious investigative journalists still out there, there’s enough of a story to be a virtual powder keg under the government.

Anyone fancy being Jane Tennison?

We all love a good Police drama. Perrenially popular, they give us sheeple a degree of comfort in an increasingly lawless and corrupt society. We’ve all empathised with the exciting detective work undertaken by characters like Jane Tennison and Morse. And they always get their man.

Well, thanks to our friends at The Private Policeforce (TM) brought to you by G4S, you can try it for yourself! Here’s an introduction to an actual job description for “Civilian Investigators” in the Warwickshire area:

Main purpose of role:

Investigate offences of crime and to actively participate in a wide range of evidence gathering and crime investigation tasks.

You get to play detective basically.  It doesn’t specify salary and appropriate experience, but you can read the full text here: http://www.policingsolutions.co.uk/civilian-investigator-jobs

Tax payers money + government budgets (tax payer’s money) =Profits for Private Companies

A simple equation.  We’ll continue to pay income tax and local taxes for our Police Forces, but will have little say on who these forces are run by,the quality of services, who performs the services and how much profit they make.  It will be in private hands. Those same private hands that are operating the Workfare schemes, the same that are taking over hospitals and other public services. Those same private services that will offer jobs to their friends in high places when they retire from what was once public service. Who will they answer to?

I had never imagined that politics would determine the policing this country receives, but it does. Welcome to your new Police State, privatised by Government. Paid for by us. Answerable to the shareholders.

Click to access 16791.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_police

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jun/20/g4s-chief-mass-police-privatisation

Carla Bruni: “My generation don’t need feminism”

A woman’s place is in one of her homes In Vogue magazine this month, Carla Bruni tells us that women of her generation (she claims to be 45) “don’t need feminism“. But she does need a couple of weeks of … Continue reading

McLibel – Muzzle for free speech?

20121124-195204.jpg

I am,personally, deeply puzzled about the Lord McAlpine defamation case. I wish someone could explain to me the following:

1. Old not hot gossip

As online gossip about Lord McAlpine in connection with children’s homes and child abuse circles has been around since the 1990’s; some of them blatantly casting his involvement in child abuse as fact, far worse that what has transpired since; why didn’t he act on those responsible back then?

There were insinuations about his relative “Jimmie” McAlpine who lived near one of the North Wales children’s homes. He is dead now, but as Lord McAlpine wants to clear his family name – why wasn’t action taken?

The key to this is that had Lord McAlpine taken action earlier, this gossip would not have implicated him or his family when the public were looking for “Senior Tory Paedophiles” following Tom Watson’s initial parliament question on further investigation of “A Paedophile ring with links to 10 Downing Street”.

As there were lots of stories, including an in-depth article from “Scallywag” magazine, now defunct, naming Lord McAlpine and his cousin; we can see this is how his name got into the frame as a “key suspect”.

It also puzzles me that people were twittering about Lord McAlpine before the initial Newsnight programme was actually aired. I expect it was due to the material referred to above.

2. Newsnight

For the sake of clarity, I downloaded the programme that had been fined £185,000 for defaming Lord McAlpine. I watched it very carefully and Lord McAlpine was not named. Nor were heavy hints dropped that could lead to Lord McAlpine being wrongly identified with the accusations.

Why did the BBC settle with Lord McAlpine out of court when they HAD NOT defamed him nor contributed to the material already in existence on the web for many years?

3. ITV

Philip Scofield passed a card to David Cameron on TV, containing names of Tory Party members who had been named on the Internet. No names were mentioned. You could not see the names on the card. I have no doubt that Lord McAlpine or simply the McAlpine name was on that list, as anyone who did a quick search online would come across the old material above. But why is only Lord McAlpine filing for defamation as there were clearly others on the (UNSEEN) list. Again, I don’t understand why ITV was fined £125,000 without going to court to defend the fact that they had NOT PUBLICLY named Lord McAlpine or any of the others on the list.

4. Twitter

The gossip from the large amount of online material that implicated Lord McAlpine and other members of the McAlpine family, obviously informed those that mentioned his name on Twitter.

THIS IS THE MATERIAL THAT IS AT FAULT – NOT ITV OR BBC. Why isn’t Lord McAlpine taking action against the originators of the defamation, not those that were merely repeating it.

Why are Twitter users being expected to settle out of court?

I’m no lawyer, but even a layperson like myself can find information on UK Defamation Law and I would like to draw people’s attention to the following clauses:

(6) Fair Comment and statements made in good faith
Fair comment on a matter of public interest, arguments made with an honest belief in their soundness on a matter of public interest (such as regarding official acts) are defendable against a defamation claim, even if such arguments are logically unsound; if a reasonable person could honestly entertain such an opinion, the statement is protected.

Statements made in a good faith and reasonable belief that they were true are generally treated the same as true statements; however, the court may inquire into the reasonableness of the belief. The degree of care expected will vary with the nature of the defendant: an ordinary person might safely rely on a single newspaper report, while the newspaper would be expected to carefully check multiple sources.

Could those that named McAlpine on Twitter be said to be making:
A) A fair comment on a matter of public interest?
B) A statement made in good faith and reasonable belief that it was true?

This would have to be tested in a court of law, but it seems that those Twitterer’s may be able to prove a case.

5. Damage to personal reputation

Of course, Lord McAlpine wants to defend his name as he states he is entirely innocent. He also fears that “mud sticks” and that he will always suffer from the distasteful allegations made about him.

May I venture to suggest that MORE damage is being done to Lord McAlpine’s personal reputation in the way his lawyers are going about extracting money from people who HAVE NOT MENTIONED HIS NAME and for threatening to muzzle free comment on social network sites like Twitter.

If I had speculated about Lord McAlpine on Twitter about this case, I would want to go to court because it seems there is more to this than meets the eye and I smell a rat. Free Speech on social networks is important, particularly as our mainstream media owners have both political and business biases that colour their version of the news. We cannot rely on them to give us an even-handed version of the truth or to act in the public interest.

Paradoxically, the Levenson enquiry may muzzle them further so that they would not go near a controversial case like the North Wales Children Home abuse because they might offend people in high places and get sued. I don’t condone phone hacking or paying off corrupt policemen, but I do support gutsy investigative journalism.

I wonder if there is a journalist man or woman enough to investigate WHY the BBC and ITV paid out without a murmur, when the charges were unwarranted and who is responsible for dragging the McAlpine name into the mire originally and why?

I’d like to know. Bet many of you reading this do too.

Palestine wins the social media war

The Israeli Government need to sharpen their social skills – in more ways than one Israel has superior weapons power, and boy, don’t we know it,  but their politicians could do with some diplomatic and media skills training. They came … Continue reading

Child Abuse report branded “hysterical” by mystery Tory spokesperson

    Ah… Here we go again. The level-headed report from the Children’s Commission has been blasted by a mystery Tory. Maybe it’s going to spoil someones’  paedophile fun?  I’ve asked “Dave” for information, but not expecting a response.   … Continue reading