Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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Basic Income: An Alternative to Universal Credit?

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Are a few Basic Income Pilot Schemes an Alternative to Universal Credit? 

Could a basic income replace Universal Credit? 

The BBC reports today.

A survey has found support for local experiments to explore paying people a basic income as an alternative to Universal Credit.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) found 40% of people questioned backed local tests to see how such payments would work.

Only 15% would oppose the idea, a Populus survey of 2,070 people found.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions questioned the idea.

It said a basic income “would not work for those who need more support”.

The RSA describes a basic income as “a regular, unconditional payment made to every adult and child. It is not dependent on other earned or unearned income, is not means-tested and is not withdrawn as earnings rise”.

The article gives some discouraging  examples .

Some countries have tested paying a basic income to citizens.

In western Kenya, the government is paying every adult in one village $22 a month for 12 years to see if a regular payment can help lift them out of poverty.

The Netherlands and Italy have also launched trials, while Scotland is considering piloting basic income schemes in four cities, including Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell recently said that Labour would include a plan for universal basic income in its next general election manifesto.

However, a two-year trial in Finland, where a sample of 2,000 unemployed adults were given €560 a month, will not be extended.

And in Canada, Ontario’s newly elected centre-right government said it was scrapping a three-year basic income pilot project that hoped to discover whether it was better than existing welfare schemes.

The RSA survey found the cost of funding basic income was a concern for the public, with 45% of those questioned fearing it was “unaffordable”.

The examples could have been extended to Italy where the 5 Star Movement’s proposals never got beyond voter-bait and France, where a watered down version proposed by failed Socialist Party Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon last year was basically laughed out by trade unionists.

They conclude:

Anthony Painter, director of the RSA’s action and research centre, said: “Basic income is no magic bullet, but with HM Opposition exploring the idea and the Scottish government looking to pilot it with four Scottish councils, basic income is increasingly seen as one plausible response to modern economic insecurity.”

A DWP spokesman said: “A universal basic income would not work for those who need more support, such as disabled people and those with caring responsibilities.

“It’s reasonable for people to meet certain requirements to receive their Universal Credit payment and these are agreed with people in advance – sanctions are only used in the minority of cases when someone doesn’t meet these requirements without a good reason.”

Not to mention the details of the above Canadian trial:

Canada’s Ontario government cuts basic income project short

The Independent adds,

The findings emerge after the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, told The Independent that Labour is set to include a pilot of the scheme in the party’s next manifesto for a general election.
Mr McDonnell revealed to The Independent earlier this week that he had recently discussed the idea with former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was “really keen” on getting a pilot of the scheme in the next manifesto.

Asked whether he could envisage a pilot of basic income forming part of Labour’s next blueprint for government, he replied: “It’s one of those things I think we can get into the next manifesto and see, it’s worth a try. There have been pilots elsewhere. I’m trying to wait for the feedback.”

He continued: “If you look at what’s happened elsewhere in other countries – and I think Scotland is looking at it as well – they are doing it on a small geographical basis in particular towns. Guy is looking at that now and coming forward with proposals.

“It will be thrown into the discussions about the next manifesto – that’s one of the ideas that a lot of people are pressing for.”

Most people are pressing for a replacement to Universal Credit, not Basic Income.

An opinion survey, to stir up interest in a report issued in February this year (to resounding indifference)  proves little.

But it’s is no secret that the key McDonnell’s adviser, the pro-Brexit James Meadway, who worked for the  New Economics Foundation, has long been favourable to this idea.

No doubt others in this small circle are as well.

The reasons why Meadway and the Shadow Chancellor  imagine amid the chaos of a post-Brexit economy a Labour government is going to be the time and place for the plan are open to imaginative speculation.

It would be a better idea if Labour were to concentrate on preparing a Universal Replacement for Universal Credit rather than speculating on the merits of “pilot schemes” for Basic Income.

And as for the principles of Basic Income….

Extreme Caution is recommended.

For a start, would it mean enough income for all to live on, including rent, bills and all the rest?

Next, setting it up would be a mammoth task, which governments have shown, with Universal Credit, frankly not up to the job, not to mention all their private contracting friends who keep getting shown up as incompetent bunglers.

Is the Civil Service, its New Public Management, and all the chancers making a profit out them, up to the task?

This is also unlikely to mean “luxury communism” as some of its enthusiasts, and detractors,  claim.

It’s hard to see more than a minimum being offered.

The ‘basic’ would be pretty basic, and the luxury remain in the hands of those with the best jobs and, above all, the ownership to keep themsleves in the style to which they are accustomed.

We should look at the background as well.

Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for

Given that UBI necessarily promotes universalism and is being pursued by liberal governments rather than overtly rightwing ones, it’s tempting to view it as an inherently leftwing conceit. In January, MEPs voted to consider UBI as a solution to the mass unemployment that might result from robots taking over manual jobs.

But UBI also has some unlikely supporters, most prominent among them the neoliberal Adam Smith Institute – Sam Bowman, the thinktank’s executive director, wrote in 2013: “The ideal welfare system is a basic income, replacing the existing anti-poverty programmes the government carries out.” He added that UBI would result in a less “paternalistic” government.

From this perspective, UBI could be rolled out as a distinctly rightwing initiative. In fact it does bear some similarity to the government’s shambolic universal credit scheme, which replaces a number of benefits with a one-off, lower, monthly payment (though it goes only to people already on certain benefits, of course). In the hands of the right, UBI could easily be seen as a kind of universal credit for all, undermining the entire benefits system and providing justification for paying the poorest a poverty income.

In fact, can you imagine what UBI would be like if it were rolled out by this government, which only yesterday promised to fight a ruling describing the benefits cap as inflicting “real misery to no good purpose”?

Despite the fact that the families who brought a case against the government had children too young to qualify for free childcare, the Department for Work and Pensions still perversely insisted that “the benefit cap incentivises work”. It’s not hard to imagine UBI being administered by the likes of A4e(now sold and renamed PeoplePlus), which carried out back-to-work training for the government, and saw six of its employees receive jail sentences for defrauding the government of £300,000. UBI cannot be a progressive initiative as long as the people with the power to implement it are hostile to the welfare state as a whole.

So, with the present ‘agile’ IT in the DWP system it looks even less of a going proposal.

There are other reasons to reject the idea:

The respected Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) – who seem not to be part of the charmed Basic Income circle around the Shadow Chancellor- have made an extensive, very critical, examination of Basic Income.

Solution or illusion? – the implications of Universal Basic Income for Disabled people in Britain (June 2018)

These are their conclusions.

UBI is not the demand we should be making if we want an end to the suffering that welfare reform is causing. We urgently need the abolition of sanctions and conditionality, of benefit assessments designed to deny disability and Universal Credit. The social security system is now one that is intended to create an intolerable environment for benefit claimants. The social security system of the future must be one capable of providing adequate social protection and standard of living for all in need of safety net support. Achieving such a radical transformation is no small task, requiring wholesale scrapping of existing systems and a fundamental redesign. Given the history of disabled people’s exclusion and the marginalisation of our issues it is reasonable for disabled people to fear that attention and resources dedicated to the task of implementing a UBI will be at the expense of effecting the level of change needed to ensure disabled people receive adequate support.

Costs.

Proponents of UBI tell us that disabled people would not be worse off under UBI but there is a dearth of evidence to support this claim. On the contrary, simulations for the introduction of a UBI to the UK indicate that the only way to ensure this would be through a partial UBI system run in parallel to a continuation of disability benefits. Supporters for such a system are then silent on the detail of how this separate system would work for disabled people, how it would address the many and considerable failings of the current system and how it would be afforded. A recent paper from the University of Bath presents an idea for a UBI with additional disability and severe disability premiums which when micro-simulated produces strong reductions in inequality and poverty but would be very expensive and require significant increases in income tax. The report author concludes: “The unavoidable reality is that such schemes either have unacceptable distributional consequences or they simply cost too much.”

No Improvement on Low Benefit levels.

Financing even a modest UBI set at a Guaranteed Minimum Income level in the UK would require high tax rises, as demonstrated by an OECD study . The World Bank report, which promotes the idea of UBI as an international response to the changing nature of work, concludes that when it comes to the UK, “taxing cash benefits and eliminating tax allowances is not enough to cover for the UBI” . This is because the level at which current benefits are paid is so far below a Guaranteed Minimum Income level that it would require the raising of significant additional funds to afford. In the UK a monthly BI amount that would cost the same as existing benefits and tax free allowances would pay £230 yet the poverty line for a single person is £702. The fact that benefit levels in Britain are so far below the poverty line point back to issues with the current social security system that need urgently addressing.

While many disabled people would be in favour of tax rises to fund welfare provision – particularly corporation tax and a progressive rise in the higher rate of income tax – the use of this for a UBI rather than more traditional forms of disability and unemployment support would mean much of the benefit flowing back to employers rather than those in most need. In functioning as a wage subsidy UBI would act to significantly reduce employers NI contributions. It would be hard to make a case that this is a more progressive solution than simply reversing the damage that the Tories have done to current systems. For example measures such as restoring the Independent Living Fund, scrapping conditionality and sanctions, and re-establishing the principle of universal benefits payed for by progressive taxation where the rich pay a greater proportion.

Poorest households featuring as losers

The distributional impacts of a UBI mean that there are winners and losers with the poorest households featuring as losers under certain models and simulations . This has the potential to divide against each other groups of people who are currently united in our opposition to the rich elite who we see as responsible for growing inequality and poverty. Maintaining this unity is essential if we are to bring about society that is structured in the interests of the mass of ordinary people before the pursuit of profit by a tiny minority.

Britain is currently home to the biggest socialist movement in Europe where demands for a living wage, for health and social care support services free at the point of need and a social security system that provides an adequate standard of living free from conditionality are all popular. These are what we need to fight for, not opening the door to policies that will be used to maintain existing power inequalities, facilitate greater job insecurity and low wages and risk further public service cuts.

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 3, 2018 at 4:44 pm

49 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on BertieS.

    AnnoyedIrishMan

    August 3, 2018 at 5:47 pm

  2. Reblogged this on sdbast.

    sdbast

    August 3, 2018 at 5:52 pm

  3. How would this actually work since people living in different parts of the country have differing costs of living; rents in London are vastly more expensive than rents in Northumberland for example. If everybody was given the same lump sum as a basic income those living in cheaper areas would have a much greater disposable income, after paying their rent, than those living in expensive areas. Would a basic income involve means testing or have to be regionalised so that everybody was more or less equal as far as spending power was concerned? The only way this could work is if the basic income consisted of a stipend given to everybody when they needed it over and above essential variable living costs such as rent. Presumably it would also have to be free of the conditionality and sanction regime involved in claiming social security which we have now, otherwise it would be much the same as a slightly better version of Universal Credit wouldn’t it?

    At the end of the day the question is: What spending power would a basic income give to citizens?

    If the answer isn’t considerably more than the meagre benefits the needy get currently what’s the point?

    Red Flag

    August 4, 2018 at 7:41 am

    • Either that or introduce price controls/fixed rents as in the former Soviet Union.

      Stalin

      August 4, 2018 at 11:12 am

    • If the spending power of the unemployed would the same or, Heaven forbid, worse then it is under JSA/UC surely it would be better just to remove benefit ‘conditionality’?

      Stacey

      August 4, 2018 at 11:21 am

      • And also just pay unemployment benefits in the same manner as a pension i.e. no ‘interventions’.

        Stacey

        August 4, 2018 at 11:22 am

      • But that would mean closing down the ‘Jobcentre’ network and Jobcentre’ staff losing their jobs 😀 O’ Happy Day!

        Comply or Die

        August 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

  4. Stopping councils from charging benefit claimants hundreds of pounds in council tax from frozen working-age benefits would be a good first step. Councils can choose to charge whoever they want as much as they want thanks to Eric Pickles and his “localism” agenda. In Plymouth the council is planning to charge full-time students council tax! Blimey! As if the poorer continent of young people haven’t already got enough on their plates with loans and tuition fees; if you come from a wealthy family, of course, the bank of mum and dad will be there to help you, support you and bale you out if necessary. As usual it’s the rich what gets the pleasure and the poor what gets the pain.

    Jim

    August 4, 2018 at 10:42 am

    • A very good point.

      I was asked by a group of a variety of different left wingers, the people who publish Clarion, where I’d start on these issues.

      That was my first – get rid of the ‘localised’ percentage of Council Tax for claimants and those on low incomes and restore full benefit exemption. .

      The next was a serious sort of Housing Benefit (Red Flag), there are people not getting their full rent, problems with tenancies, and, not least, the need for affordable places to live.

      Then there is the need to be rid of the existing sanctions regime, which gives power to DWP officers over claimants.

      Then there is the bogus ‘back to work’ schemes run by the ‘unemployment industry’. We could perhaps have schemes paying the minimum wage doing socially useful things, helping parks, the environment and so on.

      There are many many other things to look at – dealing with people on part-time and low wages in a better way than UC does, not to mention a restoration of the ‘rapid reclaim’ for those sacked, or in temporary work.

      Finally there is the whole area of disability benefits.

      Well, there is no ‘finally‘ since I bet people can think of other things – if we were asked!

      Andrew Coates

      August 4, 2018 at 11:21 am

      • ‘rapid reclaim’ is still in place under universal credit – eight weeks to forever!

        Echinidia

        August 4, 2018 at 11:26 am

      • 8 weeks!

        Andrew Coates

        August 5, 2018 at 9:24 am

      • Council Tax is a real problem for me, I have to pay £17 per month (over 10 months) , which doesn’t sound much in comparison to what others pay, but my only income is £73 per week JSA, so effectively means that every fourth week I don’t have enough to buy food.

        trev

        August 6, 2018 at 9:14 am

      • The system is totally unjust.

        I just paid mine this morning: in Ipswich it’s £5 a month for those who qualify for Council Tax Reduction in my band.

        Andrew Coates

        August 6, 2018 at 10:06 am

      • Count yourselves lucky. In Cornwall I have to pay 25% council tax which works out at £26.00 per month when not working: Cornwall has the lowest wages in the country coupled with some of the highest living costs simply because its rural, beautiful and has become a popular place for the wealthy to retire. (Lots of gentrification and second homes hereabouts.) Inadequate Universal Credit frozen for four years, by George Osborne, was not really enough to live on in the first lace and was never supposed to be used to pay a portion of local council tax, which goes up every year, year after year, meaning less and less money to buy food and pay for utilities (which are also more expensive here than anywhere else in the country).

        Bo

        August 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      • It’s reasons like that which make many of us wish that Labour would make getting ride of this Council Tax ‘reduction’ scheme and restore the old Benefit exemptions.

        That and the massive increase of people getting into debt and having the bailiffs set on them for not paying what always seem like the last bill you need to pay.

        Of, and the cheer cost of collecting these amount from those hardly in a position to pay from their decreasing (in real terms ) benefits.

        Andrew Coates

        August 6, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    • With Universal Credit if you work part-time you will probably still be on it, because help with rent is paid as a part of Universal Credit, and unless you come off it completely for six months you will either still be on it or can roll back onto it without the horrendously long assessment period at the beginning. It’s one of the few redeeming features of the system, i.e., allowing you to work full time for less than six months at a time, or part-time, without having to go through the long and painful process of applying for UC multiple times.

      Bo

      August 5, 2018 at 7:47 am

    • I cannot remember a worse Tory government, with such a bad leader, and everything falling to pieces around their ears causing so much misery and yet in the latest polls Labour and the Tories are registering similar levels of support. Corbyn is a poor leader unable to gain enough support from doubters and floating voters which could propel his party into government. Corbyn’s ineffective and unleaderly dithering in respect to anti-Semitic issues which have blighted Labour, for far too long, years now, might well have cost the party any chance of gaining office; so many people that might have given Labour a chance are saying if Jezza can’t make a decision, grasp the nettle, and deal with a troublesome internal issue like anti-Semitism in the Labour party then what good would he be as Prime Minister, having to take life and death decisions on behalf of the nation during a state of emergency.

      I would give my right arm for a change in government but that isn’t going to happen under Corbyn.

      If Labour had any chance of winning it should be miles ahead in the polls by now facing a Conservative party, with no majority, at bloody war with itself, led by a weak, dilatory and insipid Prime Minister after inflicting eight years of cuts, caps, freezes and austerity on the nation with pretty much every policy failing on every level.If Labour isn’t in a winning position now with so much going wrong for the government as far as I can see it has little to no chance of winning a general election.

      Bo

      August 7, 2018 at 9:22 am

      • If Brexit goes very badly wrong Labour might be in with a chance.

        Ro

        August 7, 2018 at 5:54 pm

  5. Finland and Toronto have both pulled the plug on their UBI ‘experiments’.

    Terratech

    August 4, 2018 at 11:10 am

  6. A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions will have to pay almost £2m to around 4,000 people who were sanctioned for refusing to do unpaid work.

    https://www.thecanary.co/uk/analysis/2018/08/04/the-dwp-will-pay-out-almost-2m-after-breaching-thousands-of-peoples-human-rights/

    superted

    August 5, 2018 at 12:52 am

  7. Opt-out organ donation ‘in place by 2020’ for England

    A new opt-out system for organ donation will be in place by 2020 in England, if Parliament approves “Max’s Law”.

    Under the plans detailed by ministers, adults will be presumed to be organ donors unless they have specifically recorded their decision not to be.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45056780

    Dr Death

    August 5, 2018 at 8:52 am

    • At least it’s clearly stated you can opt out and an app will be developed to help you do so. Every uk woman is conscripted into the NHS Cervical Scraping Programme and until recently we weren’t even told we COULD opt out. Our medical details are held by the likes of Serco and Crapita. This started in 1988 and didn’t even make the news…

      katrehman

      August 5, 2018 at 1:44 pm

  8. Just a reminder to those posting racialist drivel, interfering with a serious discussion on Basic income, and to saugen meinen Schwanz in particular.

    Suce ma bitte!

    Andrew Coates

    August 5, 2018 at 9:31 am

  9. We will never be getting a universal basic income in England they will never allow it end of.

    Violet

    August 5, 2018 at 10:36 am

  10. Andrew Coates

    August 5, 2018 at 10:58 am

    • “Today he was attending his appointment and asking his advisor if his appointments can be sent to his partners telephone. I also advised him to stress the point that he has no computer access at home and is computer illiterate. They cannot continue to assume that everyone has access to a computer or has computer skills, it’s ridiculous. Trying to feed yourself is priority not trying to get a computer from places such as Brighthouse and become encompassed in a never ending circle of debt. We, as society need to bring this back up in conversation, it’s important. People are going hungry because they either haven’t got a computer device or the knowledge of how to use the internet.”

      This is the thing about universal crap – you need an actual computer plugged into the internet to claim this bloody benefit. A smartphone won’t work. And computers are bloody expensive. Then you have got
      to have internet access. Then enough electricity on the meter to run the bloody thing. All to claim a social security benefit!

      Skint

      August 5, 2018 at 12:03 pm

  11. This government and yes, it started under Blair to, have moved our society to one of presumption/assumption where opinion politics rules the roost providing it does not contravene the standing government at the time. They have turned UK society into people who don’t use critical thinking and base their judgements on being subjective rather than objective.
    Millions of people have and are being banned/censored online for example recently for mentioning a currently for centuries old scientific established and well documented and taught fact all because it offends people who have an as yet scientifically unproven hypothesis. In other cases people have while being taught to obey website rules been banned/censored for talking about law and or order.

    My next post will demonstrate another.

    doug

    August 6, 2018 at 10:23 am

  12. Working claimants being chiseled out of correct benefits.

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/universal-credit-claimants-missing-out-13036199

    I highlighted ages ago this would be problematic and low and behold so it comes to pass.
    Government decided to make the assumption that everyone claiming benefits are all paid on a monthly bases at about the same time, that somehow at the start of claiming any benefit, they have just received a months wages and don’t spend them covering last months debts. Almost always we are all paying back something so all of these assumptions are wholly wrong.
    If people were financially self contained we wouldn’t need loans and mortgages and banks and financial institutions wouldn’t be in business making funds from APR.
    To make matters worse people who are paid infrequent to DWP operation dates are systematically penalized despite HMRC operating by way of law RTI which allows departments like DWP to know via timescale to the exact second what a person has been paid.
    This is where assumption,presumptions,opinions and decisions based on feeling get you.

    doug

    August 6, 2018 at 10:35 am

    • Universal Credit is based, pretty much, on “belief” and assumption. doug. The government “believes” that capping benefits and a strict sanctions regime will “encourage” more people into work and so on. None of the “beliefs” that Universal Credit is based on are supported by hard evidence, data, or statistical analyses. The stats that the government releases are wholly sunny and the largely negative effects of its benefits “reforms” completely ignored: so the government says “50,000 more individuals have gone into work or increased their hours since the benefit cap was introduced” but doesn’t report that “4.1 million children are now living in relative poverty in the UK, accounting for more than 30 per cent of British children”.

      What you write is correct, doug.

      The world is moving away from science and truth towards irrational and unproven beliefs and fantasies.

      Bo

      August 6, 2018 at 11:07 am

  13. Andrew Coates

    August 6, 2018 at 11:35 am

  14. Violet

    August 6, 2018 at 2:23 pm

  15. Andrew Coates

    August 7, 2018 at 9:32 am

  16. To the Nazis posting drivel, you’d be better off at home using your dole to munch at this new range of crisps;

    Andrew Coates

    August 7, 2018 at 9:33 am

  17. Is the new left-wing insult “gammon” racist towards white men?

    The latest put-down among Jeremy Corbyn supporters is facing backlash.

    The new left’s online lexicon has always riled its political opponents.

    Ever since Jeremy Corbyn rose to power, young, media-savvy supporters on social media have developed their own slang. Their leader is the “absolute boy”; if you’re a Labour moderate or Corbynsceptic, you’re a “melt”; “centrist dads” whine about Brexit and long for the days of “common sense” politics; and “slugs” – political enemies – can be “salted”.

    When I asked those who use this language about it last year, I ended up describing a whole new political culture. The slang has helped to create a united community, but has also been used by Corbyn supporters to define themselves against the general dismissal and mockery from the mainstream political commentariat.

    Their name-calling and in-jokes felt alienating to some online (who were at the receiving end), but politics has never been short of idiosyncratic insults (“melts” personally reminds me of Margaret Thatcher’s “wets”). The new left lingo grew out of a particularly confrontational time in British politics – let’s not forget Corbyn-backing MPs being called “moronic” by Labour commentator John McTernan on live TV, and the FT columnist Janan Ganesh tweeting (then deleting) that Corbynistas were “thick as pigshit”.

    But the latest insult has caused the most backlash. “Gammon” has increasingly become shorthand for a conservative middle-aged man, who is raging and red in the face when voicing his opinions, which are generally unimaginative tropes swallowed straight from right-wing tabloids.

    Going by my memory, “gammon” was first used as a political put-down in columns by The Times journalist Caitlin Moran, who used the term to describe the infamously puce David Cameron when he was prime minister. In 2010, she described him as “a C-3PO made of ham”, and wrote of his “resemblance to a slightly camp gammon robot”.

    Last year, a tweeter pointed out the identical scarlet and irate expressions of Question Time audience members during the post-general election special, calling them the “Great Wall of gammon”. This led to the use of a hashtag to mock over-representation of middle-aged white men: “#wallofgammon”.

    But the first person to popularise the term among the new left was Matt Zarb-Cousin, Corbyn’s former spokesperson. He called a man “gammon” who defended Jacob Rees-Mogg, after protestors interrupted the Tory MP’s speech at a university in February.

    It was then that some replying to Zarb-Cousin’s tweet online referred to the word as a racial slur – an accusation resurrected over the weekend by the Democratic Unionist Party MP Emma Little-Pengelly.

    “I’m appalled by the term ‘gammon’ now frequently entering the lexicon of so many (mainly on the left),” she tweeted yesterday. “This is a term based on skin colour and age – stereotyping by colour or age is wrong no matter what race, age or community.”

    I’m appalled by the term “gammon” now frequently entering the lexicon of so many (mainly on the left) & seemingly be accepted. This is a term based on skin colour & age – stereotyping by colour or age is wrong no matter what race, age or community. It is just wrong – — E Little-Pengelly MP (@little_pengelly) May 13, 2018

    But like reverse sexism, this argument doesn’t wash among the left – particularly not when used by right-wingers who usually reject what they dismiss as “identity politics”.

    “It’s funny that it’s the same people who would say ‘oh, it’s political correctness gone mad’ for anything regarding women or queer people or ethnic minorities, who are like ‘oh my God, I am the victim of a hate crime – someone call Trevor Phillips!’” says Ash Sarkar, senior editor of left-wing platform Novara Media.

    She rejects the idea that “any observation of skin tone ever is therefore racist. Racism is obviously intimately connected with our material condition”, arguing that it’s unlikely anyone who has been called a “gammon” has been “violently arrested, denied employment or attacked in the street –because that’s not the same as something like the n-word or p**i”.

    She feels the main reason the term riles people up is because their claim to having “common sense” politics is being questioned. “If you are a white, property-owning, middle-aged, middle-England man, which is kind of the figure being held up here, you’re used to your politics being universal,” she says. “If you name it and make fun of it, you are really questioning that claim to authority.”

    Yet a Times column this morning suggests there is a class-based element to the insult. “It is obviously a statement about culture and class,” writes the columnist Lucy Fisher. “Gammons are backward, provincial embarrassments.” Although she does concede that it has been aimed at “wealthy aristocrats” as well as “unskilled workers” and “small business owners”.

    Without a demographic study of the consumption of gammon (get on it, British Attitudes Survey), it’s difficult to tell which class with which it’s most associated.

    As a rather old-fashioned, traditionally English food, it rings truer to me as a lampoon of older people who are suspicious of change – stereotypical diners in National Trust property canteens and country pubs. (The only time I’ve encountered gammon while out on the campaign trail was when I had lunch with Ken Clarke in his Nottinghamshire constituency just before the 2015 election.)

    One thing certainly up for debate is whether name-calling based on someone’s appearance is where the new progressive culture wishes to be.

    Sunder Katwala, who runs the British Future integration think tank, tweeted this morning that “if the left’s project tries to challenge discourse on decency boundaries”, then defending “playground” language is “a massive own goal”.

    And Barbara Speed of the i asks “why (in the view of some left-wing people) it’s fine for them to laugh at someone’s appearance, but not fine when other people do it”.

    Yet, for all the lack of table manners, taking offence on behalf of politically-engaged white men and the disenfranchised gammon-eating masses in Labour’s industrial heartlands feels like a bit too much to swallow.

    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/05/new-left-wing-insult-gammon-racist-towards-white-men

    The New Statesmen

    August 7, 2018 at 10:19 am

    • I thought the gammon thing started up because David Cameron, the man who stupidly started the Brexit ball rolling, even though he didn’t want to, when prime minister was permanently worked up all the time and as a result had a very ruddy complexion. He also performed an unmentionable sexual act with a dead pig’s head which may also have had something to do with porcine reference.

      Ro

      August 7, 2018 at 5:59 pm

  18. Too much sleep linked to ill health

    More than seven or eight hours a night of sleep is associated with higher risk of premature death

    Abnormal sleep could be ‘a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk’. Photograph: Alamy
    Sleeping longer than the recommended seven or eight hours a night has been linked with a higher risk of premature death, according to new research.

    Researchers looked at data from 74 studies involving more than three million people and found those who slept for 10 hours were 30% more likely to die prematurely than those who slept for eight.

    Staying in bed for more than 10 hours was also linked to a 56% increased risk of death from stroke and a 49% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

    Poor sleep quality was associated with a 44% increase in risk of coronary heart disease, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

    Researchers said their study suggests abnormal sleep could be “a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk” and said GPs ought to ask questions about sleeping patterns during appointments.

    Lead researcher Dr Chun Shing Kwok, of Keele University’s Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, said: “Abnormal sleep is a marker of elevated cardiovascular risk and greater consideration should be given in exploring both duration and sleep quality during patient consultations.

    “There are cultural, social, psychological, behavioural, pathophysiological and environmental influences on our sleep such as the need to care for children or family members, irregular working shift patterns, physical or mental illness, and the 24-hour availability of commodities in modern society.”

    The study, which also involved researchers from the universities of Leeds, Manchester and East Anglia, said the research was limited as duration of sleep was self-reported and that underlying mental or physical conditions may have had an impact on “extreme sleep patterns”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/aug/07/too-much-sleep-linked-to-ill-health

    The Guardian

    August 7, 2018 at 10:57 am

  19. Ministry of Justice cleaners strike over ‘insufficient’ pay

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45098250

    This is precisely what happens when government contracts out once public work/services. Government are doing what i thought they would do when problems arose and that was to pass the blame and say how powerless they are. Stop the contract, bring it back inhouse, problem solved.

    doug

    August 7, 2018 at 1:06 pm

  20. Cash-strapped’ police taking second jobs

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45094820

    This is like nurses, proof police employees aren’t earning the sort of money people claimed they did and despite pointing it out, continued to spread a major misrepresentation of the actual facts.

    doug

    August 7, 2018 at 1:10 pm

  21. life expectancy rises final debunked

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45096074

    doug

    August 7, 2018 at 1:10 pm

  22. For a different take on Universal Basic Income:

    The Finnish basic income trial, of which I am part, finishes at the end of the year. Having been interviewed by nearly 70 separate media outlets, from the BBC to Le Figaro, the question I have been asked most often has been: how has the basic income trial changed my life? My answer is simple. In money terms, my life has not changed at all. However, the psychological effects of this human experiment have been transformative. I vastly prefer basic income to a benefits system fraught with complicated forms, mandatory courses and pointless obligations.

    Before the trial, the risk of losing unemployment benefits and the cumbersome process of reapplying for them were an obstacle to accepting small job assignments. he bureaucracy involved made accepting some not worthwhile, or simply too risky.

    The basic income trial started at the beginning of 2017. A random sample of 2,000 people aged 25 to 58 was chosen to take part and receive a monthly income of €560 (£475), with no requirement to seek or accept employment. The precondition was that the participants had received either a labour-market subsidy or a basic unemployment allowance from Finland’s social insurance institution Kela in November 2016. At that point I had just run out of a grant I had received and was officially a jobseeker, making me eligible to take part. The Finnish government wanted to find out if jobseekers obtain work more easily when the basic unemployment allowance is replaced with a basic income. During the trial the participants had the right to keep their basic income even if they found work.”

    Universal basic income hasn’t made me rich. But my life is more enriching
    Tuomas Muraja.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/07/universal-basic-income-rich-finland-work-benefits

    Andrew Coates

    August 7, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    • Funny you say that Andrew as Finland is one of the few countries to see an increase in life expectancy.

      doug

      August 7, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      • It’s a serious article, but it’s just one case, not proof of how a whole system would work.

        Andrew Coates

        August 7, 2018 at 4:54 pm

  23. Problem is dear old Eddie needs to understand perception these days comes out of a bottle of subjectivity so its a bit like throwing stones at glass houses, especially from a person who no doubt supports the notion of multiple genders beyond the established scientifically proven,documented,taught and accepted evidence.
    Basically Eddie like so many people have an unproven hypothesis that its rife in the party when in fact such prejudices are common practice for politicians of all parties including himself.
    If Eddie wants to help then go tell the Israel government to stop go killing unarmed Palestinians, get UK,Europe,USA,etc to stop waging wars on false premises, selling weapons of death while claiming to be angels.

    doug

    August 7, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    • Well said Doug! Dear old Eddie won’t do that though because dear old Eddie is part of the scummy left who advocate(what we aren’t allowed to discuss on here)!

      Foxglove

      August 7, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      • And neither will the Tories who like Tony Blair have spent the last 8 years of government lying through their back teeth. Its amazing how despite making no major waves against Tory governance that so many people from all sides can still feel so threatened by the presence of him as leader.
        Corbyn comes from a very intelligent family so while i may not like certain members of his party (old new labour sycophants) or completely see the light on his own plans for the country, he firmly still has my attention which is saying something as i don’t support any political party and the tired tweaked old ideologies they bring with them you can get from a book free with 5 litres of gas from any reputable petrol station.

        doug

        August 8, 2018 at 12:24 am

      • Corbyn only has two grade E A-levels, no higher education, and not even an undergraduate degree to his name and has a brother who predicts the weather based on sunspots. That’s what’s terrible and great about politics. If you can get enough people’s support you can rise to the highest political offices, despite not having the temperament, intelligence, capability, qualifications or experience to do so.

        Atilla the Gardener

        August 8, 2018 at 5:22 pm

  24. An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

    I know that I shall meet my fate,
    Somewhere among the clouds above;
    Those that I fight I do not hate,
    Those that I guard I do not love;
    My country is Kiltartan Cross,
    My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.
    Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
    I balanced all, brought all to mind,
    The years to come seemed waste of breath,
    A waste of breath the years behind
    In balance with this life, this death.

    – W.B. Yeats

    William Butler Yeats

    August 7, 2018 at 5:56 pm

  25. A scheme in Oxford called greater change wants to provide homeless people with QR codes so members of the public can give them money using smartphones.

    Or how about the government repair what they have destroyed causing massive rise in homeless?

    No chance under the evil Tory austerity regime.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/stories-45102437/scanning-homeless-people-with-smartphones-to-donate-money

    Violet

    August 8, 2018 at 12:00 pm


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