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I wonder if Mr Plod has a good sense of humour or a good photoshop. Pic Credit : Scott Scott on Twitter

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The mantra  that we cannot afford to pay the 3.9 million 50s women their pensions until they are 65 and soon 66 is based on the premise that there is no money in the National Insurance Fund. The big question is why?

I have already in a previous report for #Backto60  shown that the accounts of the National Insurance Fund are in fact in surplus. But detractors point out that they soon won’t be if the government hands back £77 billion owed to the women.

But what if we have reached  this situation because the government has raided a fund  which is 91 per cent spent on pensions for other benefits. And what if the Treasury deliberately decided to  undermine the fund by avoiding paying any money into it?

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I have to declare an interest here, I have no idea what equal opportunity is meant to mean in Britain, in fact it irritates me to my bones because the government is hell bent on driving the poorest people in Britain into early graves.

As a Community and Youth Worker I’ve heard it and discussed it a lot over the years, long before it was wheeled out to generally fill the vacuum of inequality, trumpeted by people with big ideas on what to do with poor, vulnerable and deprived people. Preferably without doing anything about poverty, vulnerability and deprivation.

The narrative goes, ‘what we need is equal opportunity and then if anyone fails it is their failure to engage, failure of imagination, failure to strive and succeed’.

Anyone left behind is no longer just poor, vulnerable and deprived, they are also useless and hopeless, incorrigible losers who wilfully refuse to get with the programme and want to spend their days sleeping off a life on benefits, as George Osborne put it. People are reduced to what the Nazis called ‘Untermensch’, subhuman, “inferior people”.

Growing up in a multi tiered education system (little has changed), all my expectations of a working adult life were, unbeknownst to me, drummed into me via education. I got nothing from home, my mother was too busy ‘making ends meet’. As a single parent she had to be all things to all people, yet her life was dictated around making every last penny in her purse count for our survival as a family. I knew it because I lived with it, but what I did not know, even to this day, was how she did it. I saw her worry herself to an early death, but she strove to protect us from the consequences of poverty as much as she possibly could, yet I grew up with a poverty mentality which I learnt by osmosis. It is still with me doing what it has always done, scoping my life, focusing like a lens on what seems realistic or possible to me. It’s an internal ceiling beyond which I cannot reach. To this day, £100 is a lot of money, £1000 is a great deal of money and a million quid is, ‘fuck off, you must be joking’. A million pounds has no point of reference in my life, it’s an entirely abstract concept of which I have absolutely no experience or expectation.

That’s a very different education from formal education. Put simplistically, it’s the difference between learning from life and learning by rote. On the one hand, no one is trying to teach you anything, it’s learning by absorption, by immersion, osmosis, whilst the other is gained by instillation, repetition and application to the mental task of learning ‘stuff’. There is a world of separation between actual lived life and education. Education is meant to be a protected space in which children can be economically inactive in order to gain an education for the life they will eventually lead. But here’s the problem, children are not blank sheets to be written on, they are already full of the lived experience of their life and circumstances with few, if any, references outside of that experience and children are only too aware of differences in status and upbringing (on which so much bullying is based). They know where they fit and where they don’t. What they lack is an understanding of the structuring and processes of how they know their place within a given social environment. Every classroom is a tiered environment, all unwritten, but it is an environment of social and economic inequality which makes a nonsense of equality of opportunity.

Equal opportunity might work, though I doubt it, if it was accepted that it is going to be very expensive to deliver for the most deprived people and least expensive for those for whom opportunity is already a given according to their lived circumstances. Trying to educate a child about equal opportunity who has no expectation of going home to a meal, or heating, or even a family home, is a task that stretches far beyond the classroom and which the education system cannot address. In fact, many teachers and schools are voluntarily attempting to address deprivation, and having to dip into their own pockets to do it, but that is a long way from ideas of equality, it’s about survival. And the reality of that survival is the need for money and resources, survival costs physically, emotionally and psychologically, and no amount of poor bashing and blaming or political double speak can obviate the facts. As one head teacher observed on the effect of poverty on education, “You will go through so many behaviour barriers before you’ll get to the real truth. It’s unbelievably embarrassing for that child.” I know, I was that child.

The cost of equal opportunity is a political hot potato because the government have made it so, demonising and penalising those most in need. Research by Oxford University Professor, Danny Dorling, found that the UK is the most unequal country in Europe, small wonder given that austerity was a meticulously orchestrated attack on the poorest people in Britain whist giving handouts and tax breaks to the very richest.

Equal opportunity in modern Tory Orwellian Britain is a myth and a smokescreen for genocide, a genocide which is, as Mike Sivier of Vox Political correctly described it, ‘happening in plain sight’. It is the most cowardly of genocides, by depriving the most vulnerable people of the means of survival and blaming them for the hardship imposed upon them and denying them access to justice.

I have fought against injustice all my adult life but it is not injustice, per se, that I have a problem with. There will always be inequality and injustice, to a greater or lesser extent, and I cannot imagine a world without them. The problem isn’t injustice, it is the lack of access to justice, wilfully and intentionally denied those who most need access to justice by those who serve injustice and inequality as state policy. In all the rhetoric on equal opportunity, who talks about equal opportunity in justice? Not many. The government has, as a matter of policy, closed down access to justice for ordinary people as a cost cutting measure. Equality of opportunity costs as does equal access to law and justice. That’s just common sense. To deny such opportunities is wilfully evil.

There is no political will within the Conservative party for equality of anything, this is a government dedicated to inequality and injustice. They are the people who are hounding people to death and it falls to us to not just oppose them, but to make their lives as difficult as we are each, together and individually, capable of doing.

I am currently fighting the DWP for the second time on the basis of fraudulent claims against me. I won the first time and I intend to win this time, but this time winning is not enough. Winning doesn’t get their attention, they just carry on regardless and I know that no hard won victory on my part will dissuade or prevent them from doing exactly the same thing again at some point in the future.

This time I shall be pursuing a five figure claim for damages and compensation. It’s about consequences in a system they’ve rigged against us. I am angry, pissed off, I’ve been up and down like a yo-yo and the pressure they exert is immense because they are attacking my means of survival and now I want vengeance. Revenge. There’s a good word. It’s a word worth putting at the front of what we can and should be fighting for. They attack us without mercy and without justification driving us to despair and suicide. It’s time to take the fight up a level, for our rightful vengeance.

I am beyond caring that the system is rigged against us, that’s a given, it is time for doing something about the rage that accumulates and rips away at us and to remember that revenge is a dish best served cold, exacted with cold blooded intent.

But don’t lose yourself. Love and peace.

KOG. 29 May 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/may/01/teachers-buy-children-food-clothes-mattress-funerals-child-poverty

https://inews.co.uk/news/education/uk-unequal-society-europe/

http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/take-from-poor-to-give-to-rich.html

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/18/more-than-a-million-benefit-sanctions-have-starved-the-sick-and-disabled-since-2010-in-the-ongoing-tory-genocide/

https://fearandloathingingreatbritain.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/i-am-an-enemy-of-the-state-because-the-state-is-my-enemy/

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How ridiculous that we’re being told everybody will have to pay more taxes to fund the NHS when the Tories have been easing taxes on the rich for the last eight years.

That’s why I tend to agree with Peter Stefanovic, who tweeted: “Or alternatively the Government could tax those earning over £80,000 a little more, scrap tax breaks for the very rich, stop PFI deals bleeding the NHS dry & companies like Boots accused of charging NHS over £3,000 for a £93 cancer pain-relieving mouthwash.”

Let’s not forget that, with increasing privatisation courtesy of Tory tinkering, this is a request for us to pay more ‘healthcare’ corporation shareholders to do absolutely nothing.

More from Vox Political…

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Theresa May struts around as if she owns Britain and yet domestically and globally she is Britain’s worst enemy.

Nearly a year has passed since the catastrophe of Grenfell Tower. Even at the time it was played down by Theresa May and it quickly became clear that it was a political football, a battle of the privileged few against the lives of the victims. Politically (for the Tories), Grenfell is dead, promises lie hollow and empty in a vacuum of empty words. Real people with real lives, are completely ignored in the corridors of Tory power.

The recent atrocities in Gaza have been met with absolute silence from Number 10 and its incumbent. The UN has voted to send international war crimes investigators to Gaza, a vote in which Britain abstained. Abstention, like silence, is a vote, in what is self evidently a humanitarian crisis.

The despicable treatment of the Windrush generation, has risen to become the most recent visible tip of the iceberg of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’, but the Windrush victims of Theresa May and her government are just part of a national war against the poor and the lives of ordinary people.

The DWP has turned Britain’s social security safety net into an Orwellian nightmare, targeting the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain.

With the NHS in crisis, ideologically driven by Jeremy Hunt, it now emerges that thousands of skilled foreign workers with jobs to come to have been denied visa’s when the county, and particularly our NHS, is crying out for them.

These a just a few of the crises facing the people of Britain. The examples are legion and it is almost embarrassing choosing a seemingly select few on a weekend when homeless people sleeping on the streets are being socially cleansed in Windsor whilst welcoming people sleeping on the streets for the spectacle of a royal wedding.

All this is being presided over by someone who is more the embodiment of a Voodoo curse than a human being.

Gaza is, quite rightly, called a genocide, yet Britain is in the grip of an economic genocide which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives. It is impossible to know anything like the real figures of this economic genocide because the government has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide them and their role as the primary cause in the murder of UK citizens.

We are told that Identity politics is something that we should not engage in as it’s a distraction from the real debate we should be having about policies. But that’s just more misleading flannel and bullshit. It is politicians themselves who drive identity politics, Trump being the most hideous global example. In Britain, Theresa May, the media and the right wing of the Labour party have entirely focused on Jeremy Corbyn. Theresa May and the Conservatives relentless attacks on Corbyn are as brutal as they are a series of manufactured lies.

Try as she might to attempt to portray herself as a leader, Theresa May is, in reality, a monster. Since taking office she has abandoned any pretence at truth and simply lies her way through Parliamentary business and to the nation. What Cameron and Osborne did as a couple of over privileged posh boy mouthpieces for the neoliberal take over of Britain, May pursues with what looks like a personal vendetta against the people. She exudes a miasma of evil that is terrifying. She is, like a cancer, destroying Britain from within.

Her power lies in her slavish devotion to wealth. There is always money for whatever misbegotten scheme she comes up with next, as she delivers cuts, hardship and death to the rest of us. Whilst eradicating the poor, who were innocent of any crimes leading to the global financial crash on which the Tories entirely bogus austerity was based, she throws money at the criminals who caused it as she asset strips the nation and our meagre lives for profit.

The publics greatest enemy in this war against us is not May and the Tories, it is the complicit media which legitimises her and upholds her every day. Were the media to do its job instead of following the money and the prejudices of their billionaire owners, May wouldn’t last a moment. On this particular weekend it is appropriate to consider May riding in the carriage of a quisling media supporting an enemy force occupying the UK, where her victims, sleeping rough on the streets, are removed whilst an army of servile sycophants gather for her parade, sleeping rough on the streets.

For Britain, it is a time of insanity, a psychological attack of immense proportions, reducing and diminishing us to disposable ‘stock’ and economic slaves. I don’t have to look far to discover what that feels like, I have only to ask myself, “How are you doing Keith?” The answer is, “Not well.” Like so many others I am personally under hostile state attack. Sure, I’ll fight them all the way, but that’s not the point. I am retired and have terminal cancer, that I am having to fight for my own survival, against the state, in my autumn years, is a travesty of life and social justice. The government presume to dictate the measure of my worth yet no one, but no one, has that right, even though they bogusly exert the might through deceit and treachery.

The pressure is immense, at times I find myself wanting to climb the walls and rip my face off, but one thing is absolutely clear to me, the need to fight them, because surrender is death. Their end will come, that is unquestionable, the only matter is when and in that, every body and every voice matters, certain that ***We are better than this!*** We are not mere victims, we are also the cavalry. If not us, then who? It is our humanity that they have declared war on, and it is our humanity which leads the fight.

KOG. 19 May 2018.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/18/grenfell-tower-victims-story-72-london-project

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/gaza-killings-israel-hamas-un-war-crimes-investigate-border-deaths-sniper-a8357981.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/18/arrest-of-vulnerable-62-year-old-windrush-citizen-is-outrageous

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/universal-credit-system-whistleblower-benefits-poverty-suffering-vulnerable-claimants-hunger-chaos-a7998731.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-visa-foreign-workers-denied-entry-theresa-may-doctors-engineers-jobs-brexit-a8354266.html

https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/research-linking-care-cuts-to-120000-deaths-is-fresh-evidence-austerity-kills/

https://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2016/05/how-a-single-word-shows-dwp-has-finally-owned-up-on-benefit-deaths/#.Wv-DuYoh2Uk

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I have lived with the violence of depression all my life. At 67 I can state categorically that my depression has always been about my occluded self, hidden or buried many many years ago, as far back as my childhood.

What was depression but my hidden self screaming to get out? I had no idea then that it would take the journey of lifetime to discover who I am and to begin to set myself free and learn to live more peaceably with myself.

Suggestions for dealing with depression range from regular exercise and eating well, to positive thinking and self affirming behaviour, to medication and counselling. Dishonourable mention must go to those who advocate pulling your socks up, which is almost guaranteed to incite violence, against the well meaning advisor or taking your own life. With the exception of quality counselling, and I would always recommend person centred counselling and interviewing counsellors to find one that suits you, almost all other advice tends to be aimed at treating the symptoms and not the cause.

Almost everyone I have ever encountered who suffers from depression has also had an acute sensitivity to injustice. Certainly in my case hyper-sensitivity to injustice has dominated my life. For me it stemmed from early childhood and abuse, but upbringing may not necessarily be the (only) trigger, it may well have been socially triggered by ones community and growing environment, schooling, church, groups and clubs, and a general sense of alienation, of not belonging. Later in life it might be triggered by bad relationships, job losses or unhappiness at work, poverty, ill health, moving, child birth (post natal depression), in fact all kinds of things which for some reason we are unable to deal with or resolve the inner conflict that arises. More generally, it may be an overwhelming sense of living in an unjust world which is full of hypocrisy and inhumanity, in which life is treated as a cheap commodity which is casually expendable and subject to horrific abuse.

There is an expression, ‘An injustice to one of us is an injustice to all’ and once sensitised to injustice, injustice to others can bear down in an unmanageable way along with a terrible sense of futility or impotence to do anything about it.

In fact feeling futile and impotent is a key part of the experience of depression because depression is a merciless adversary and if your experience of depression is aligned with a hypersensitivity to injustice, somewhere, lurking inside, is likely a terror of addressing injustice because addressing injustice risks exposure to the very forces with give rise to it. Therein lies a terrible dilemma, a fear that is closely linked to cowardice, facing it is to face shame and humiliation, and if you are a shame based person, as I was, I don’t think mentally or emotionally there is a worse enemy in life.

I would like make this very clear, the fear of shame is a huge human problem in a world which is terrified of being vulnerable and which tends to punish or ridicule mistakes and errors and, if nowhere else, the place we intimately learn this is in school, where the over riding emphasis is on getting things right and of being penalised for errors or mistakes. Coming out of school, as I did, and being learning phobic, was, for me, all about the fear of failure, being risk averse and fearing shame and humiliation

But here’s the thing, no one ever learnt a damned thing without making mistakes and getting things wrong. If you observe very young children, what you will quickly notice is they learn by trial and error, it’s innate and it is fabulous to watch because children are fearless learners. Learning to walk is a prodigious feat. Just think about what it takes to balance ones entire body on those two unsure little feet, yet every able bodied child will achieve it, the majority between 9 and 12 months old and certainly by 18 months. I don’t know if anyone has ever counted the number of times the average child falls over or plonks down on its bottom, before finally achieving this remarkable feat of fearless learning. If you want to achieve a fairly comparable feat as an adult, try learning to surf. It is impossible to achieve without spending a lot of time involuntarily immersed in sea water that behaves like a bucking bronco. Waves, the very thing you want to conquer, repeatedly send you arse over tit in the most ungainly fashion and which have absolutely no respect for your dignity. Why would anyone learn to walk or surf? Again, watch a child, it’s fun. On two feet the world is much more readily accessible and far more speedily than crawling.

Depression is the occlusion of our fundamental self, a soul in hiding. Depression is violence and deep inside, at its root, is anger. For many, probably most, it involves a deeply ingrained sense of self loathing.

My journey through depression involved learning to be vulnerable again, learning to cry again, learning to be present to my weaknesses and failings and, above all, learning to deal with shame, shame that I learnt from a very young age and learnt to hide and to hide from. I learnt to be present to myself and I re-awoke to feelings and fears I had suppressed and repressed. My journey back to life began at 33. Part of my personal anger was having spent 11 years , from 5 to 16 in an institution that I detested every single day and still, inside, I carry resentment for those 11 wasted years of my life, which could have been spent exploring rather than stifling in classrooms to be spat out at the end into a factory.

I am no longer hidden from myself. At last I know who I am, the good the bad and the ugly and at 67 I have never felt more alive. I have tasted the deep abiding joy of life that all my life was simmering and yearning to be let free. It’s been a long and painful journey, a journey I can now respect and be thankful for. Am I free? No. But I now know how to better assert my freedom to be me and to assert myself in a world which is both repressive and oppressive, not least, in the UK, from a government which has no respect for me or any of us. What I am today, they cannot take away from me, try as they might. They have not undertaken the journey I have, it’s easy to see through them, they are more repressed than any of us. They are dismal failures at life. Anyone with any self awareness can see it, but they cannot steal who we are.

It is oft said that they don’t get it, and it’s true, they don’t. They don’t have a clue and I am not remotely depressed about that. I am here to fight for life and that means fighting them, because we are better than them and each and every one of us deserves better as a matter of right and entitlement. Let David Cameron (remember him, yesterdays man?) suck on that.

KOG. 14 May 2018.

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As the SKWAWKBOX covered on Friday, Tory MPs made an attempt to pass a bill yesterday to allow NHS patients to be charged for their treatment – a move described by senior medics as “a nail in the coffin” of the NHS and ‘catastrophic‘ for patients.

Read More: Tories to RETRY bill to make you pay for your NHS Fri 15 June

Last year I wrote an article about how the social security system in the UK has been re-structured around “ordeals”, which were introduced by the Conservative government in order to discipline and “disincentivise” citizens from claiming welfare support, by undermining any sense of security people may have of fulfiling their most basic needs.  Welfare support is extremely conditional and precarious. Ordeals are intrinsic to a system of punishment that the draconian Conservatives claim will “change the behaviours” of underpaid, unemployed and disabled people. By creating a hostile environment, the government are somehow claiming that it’s possible to simply punish people out of poverty.

My friend, Mo Stewart writes, today in the Guardian (Letters 

Read more: Disabled people facing government hostility in the UK – Mo Stewart

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Figures released by the government last week show just how much money has been saved by stopping legal help for most benefits issues.

Last month we revealed that legal aid for disability benefits cases has plummeted by 99% since George Osborne imposed massive cuts on the legal aid system in 2013. The number of cases where legal aid was granted fell from 29,801 in 2011/12 to just 308 in 2016/17.

Read more…

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I am about to be charged for an alleged Pension Credits overpayment of £8365.30 by the DWP for the second time, covering the exact same period as last time in 2014, based on false figures which were proved false by the very information that the DWP provided when I first claimed Pension Credits.

In their paperwork the first time around they stated, “I do not believe there is any doubt that you were paid both Incapacity Benefit and Pension Credit at the same time for the period 06/11/11 to 23/08/13.” On the sheet outlining my Pension Credits it states, “Incapacity Benefit for Keith Lindsay-Camer (sic) is not counted as income towards Pension Credit.”

On the first page of the current claim against me it states, “You do not have the right to appeal against the decision to take money off your Pension Credit.” On the third and final page it states, “You can appeal against this decision, but you cannot appeal until we have looked at the decision again. We call this a Mandatory Reconsideration.”

Speaking to the DWP Pension Credit department on the phone I was told that over the 94 weeks between 06/11/11 to 23/08/13 I had been in receipt of an occupational pension of £44 a week, this amounts to £4136.00. They were unable to explain why they therefore planned to charge me £8365.30, other than saying this was correct and that I had no right to appeal the decision and there was nothing further they could do. Yet on the same sheet that outlined my Pension Credits for this period it states under Other income, “personal or work related pension for Keith Lindsay-Camer (sic) £27.39” (per week), this is correct and amounts to £2574.66 over the 94 week period.

I am reminded of the old saying, ‘Oh what a tangled web they weave, those who practice to deceive’.

In writing this I have laid out the factual information available to me at this time which I do understand, what I do not understand (in any reasonable terms) is the utter nonsense the DWP have made of it, nor why they have been digging again at something dating back to 2011 – 2013 which I thought had already been resolved in 2014, when they had all the relevant information available at that time.

With the benefit of experience I can clearly state that the point of this exercise in utter futility, which could cost me a great deal of money if I don’t challenge it, could still cost me even though I am challenging it, and will cost me in emotional and mental distress whatever the outcome, is to create a hostile environment for all those claiming benefits, including the State Pension, which is also called a benefit.

This is the hostile state in action which now covers all interactions with government departments, and is especially targeted at, but not restricted to, people who are the least well off.

Of course the government denies any of this, let alone addresses it. All we hear from Theresa May are flat denials, lies, or finger pointing exercises, usually at Labour and Jeremy Corbyn in particular. Iain Duncan Smith was famous for dismissing criticisms of the DWP as anecdotal. When he was criticised by the UK’s statistics watchdog for misusing figures to promote the effectiveness of the coalition’s benefits cap on getting people into work and that his claim was “unsupported by the official statistics published by the department”, his response was, “I have a belief I am right.”

Bear in mind that this is the power one (excuse for a) man exercised over the fates of millions of people.

What I have laid out in the first part of this article is my own case. I am not making it up. I have all the evidence in hard copy and digitally. I am not about to bow out in servile obedience to the hostility and oppression I am being subjected to. I will not deny my own humanity because the government wants me to and nor will I believe their lies and I am not a fool.

I am an enemy of the state because that is what the state have decreed through their hostile intent towards me. I am not misreading this and nor am I deluded and I take particular exception to people telling me what I should think, which is something that no one, but no one, has the right to do. I am not talking about debating opinions here. Everyone has a right to their opinions but opinions are worth less than the effort it takes to express them and, as far as I am concerned, my own in particular, though some, like my opinions of Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May (to name but two), are fervently held, but then, with good reason.

I am, as those who know me are well aware of, a political animal and never in my 67 years on this planet have I ever felt excluded from politics, as I do now.

As an individual, politics is the relationship I have with the state and the exercise of power by the state. Politics is fundamentally the relationship that all citizens have with the state. When citizens are excluded from that relationship by the state, then the state becomes their enemy. That is where we are right now in Britain where our livelihoods and well being are being attacked on a daily basis and it therefore falls to each of us to resist, as we are able,

I am reminded of John Donne’s powerful poem, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

KOG. 08 May 2018.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/may/09/iain-duncan-smith-benefits-cap-statistics

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jul/15/iain-duncan-smith-statistics-benefits-cap

Politics and Insights

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The prejudice and stereotypes that fuelled eugenic thinking during the last century. In the UK, the Conservatives’ policies reflect this regressive and authoritarian approach to a class-based ‘population control’. 

In 2015 I wrote an article that expressed my grave concerns about the Conservatives’ welfare cuts. I discussed the Conservatives’ announced plans to cut welfare payments for larger families, in what amounts to a two-child policy. Welfare rules with such a clearly defined eugenic basis, purposefully aimed at reducing the family size of some social groups – in this case the poorest citizens – rarely come without serious repercussions.

Iain Duncan Smith said in 2014 that limiting child benefit to the first two children in a family is “well worth considering” and “could save a significant amount of money.” The idea was being examined by the Conservatives, despite previously being vetoed by Downing Street because of fears…

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