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Cowardice and courage

Posted on September 11, 2013 by

The Scottish and UK press are both leading today with coverage of the intervention in the bedroom tax debate by UN special investigator Raquel Rolnik (below).


The Guardian (which is also sharp enough to pick up government housing minister Grant Shapps’ extraordinarily petulant response on radio and TV this morning) and Daily Record both give it front-page treatment, but the former has the killer paragraph.

“The bedroom tax could constitute a violation of the human right to adequate housing in several ways, she said, if for example the extra payments forced tenants to cut down on their spending on food or heating their home. She said her conclusions should carry weight in British courts, where a number of legal challenges to the bedroom tax are under way.

‘It depends on how much the judiciary here takes into account the international legislation. In principle they should because the UK has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” she said, referring to the document which defines adequate housing as a human right.'”

There’s been other good news for opponents of the tax (that is, civilised human beings) in recent days. The Fife Courier reported what could be another vital court victory, when a QC ruled that there should be a minimum size for a room to qualify as a bedroom, and that existing usage of rooms should also be counted as a factor. (Particularly good news for disabled people using rooms to store special equipment or for modified purposes, and so on.)

Edinburgh City Council had also embarked on a programme of reclassifying some “spare rooms” to avoid the tax, a policy adopted by several councils across the UK.

Meanwhile, Labour spent most of last week continuing to prevaricate, dodge and refuse to commit to repealing the hated tax if elected in 2015. And its deputy leader in Scotland, Anas Sarwar, continued the party’s policy of trying to use the tax to force the Scottish Government to make tens of millions of pounds of cuts to Scotland’s public services budget.

Let’s be clear about this – Labour’s plan to beat the bedroom tax is to surrender. They demanded – and continue to demand – that the Scottish Government simply accepts it, and pays the UK government the ransom it is in effect charging to allow poor people with nowhere else to go to stay alive.

This site has long argued that the only way to defeat the bedroom tax is to resist it at every turn, through legal means and through practical strategies like reclassification of rooms (as well, of course, as the ultimate solution of independence, ensuring that Tory governments can no longer impose policies rejected overwhelmingly by Scottish voters, MPs and MSPs). The past week has represented some major strides forward in that battle, helped by an SNP-pioneered strategy of refusing to evict people for arrears in order to buy time.

Labour, meanwhile, continue to tell the poor “Just pay up, we’ll tell the Scottish Government to rob someone else to give you the money back, although we won’t say who. And by ‘someone else’ we probably mean the public services you use, so you’ll suffer either way.” 

We can think of no more dismal, feeble and cowardly form of “opposition”, either in Holyrood or Westminster. Today shows what can be achieved if politicians, officials and ordinary people unite to actually fight injustice, rather than use it for petty party advantage. The victory isn’t yet won, but if and when it is, it’ll be no thanks to Labour.

Let’s never put ourselves in this position again. Let’s not pay Grant Shapps and his ilk their blackmail money. Let Scotland have the government it votes for, 100% of the time rather that just when England happens to agree with its choice.

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    74 to “Cowardice and courage”

    1. Morag says:

      That was worth waiting for.

    2. Atypical_Scot says:

      The Scottish people and their government hate and dispute the bedroom tax along with most of the people in the rUK. The EU swiftly concludes that this is the correct and moral position.
      How did Westminster, with two houses to debate the rights and wrongs of this policy, manage to arrive at the opposite position?

    3. Labour are an utter disgrace and they back up the tory party who want to scrap the human rights act, come on Labour people, time to move across to LFI and dump Westminster.

    4. Bill McLean says:

      Never, ever, in my long life and much travel have I read of or heard of anything quite as dishonest and useless in politics as Labour in Scotland. They only ever had one asset and that was the ability to pretend to be for the working class and lie to them at every turn! Their current favoured tactics in the Independence debate defines their dishonesty and hypocrisy better than I ever could. Their arrogance and ignorance that presumed they would always be top dog in Scotland has bitten them hard and they know it. I hope they are destroyed in the very near future before they hurt any more ordinary people in Scotland!

    5. scottish_skier says:

      UK violating human rights on a mass scale. Well this is jolly embarrassing now isn’t it.
      Maybe the UN should look at sanctions? If Obama is desperate to bomb somewhere, maybe a resolution for military action against the UK government for human rights violations?
      The Tory reaction is classic; epitomises that of someone who’s done something really unpleasant that they know was nasty, and have been called up on it in front of everyone.

    6. X_Sticks says:

      So, even when the UN tells the tories they are wrong they STILL don’t get it.
      “Ms Rolnik told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she had received “hundreds of testimonies” and said there was a “danger of a retrogression in the right to adequate housing” in the UK.
      She cited examples of disabled people, or grandmothers who were carers, and said the measure seemed to have been designed “without the human component in mind”.”
      “Mr Shapps, responding to her comments on Today, said that she had not been invited by ministers and “she has clearly come with an agenda”.
      “That is why I am writing to the secretary general today to ask for an apology and an investigation as to how this came about.””
      Mr Shapps want the UN to apologise for having critisised their iniquitous bedroom tax while their banker friends make off with billions stolen from ordinary people. Says it all really.
      Independence is the only solution for Scotland. 

    7. mogabee says:

      Will Labour now re-invent their position? ( Lie in other words )

    8. She is only saying what anyone else with a shred of compassion in the UK is saying – IDS’s ‘under occupancy’ wheeze is inhumane, random and spiteful and the real damage it is going to cause with family dislocation, homelessness and folk being forced into unsuitable accommodation has yet to hit home.

    9. scottish_skier says:

      I think the UN should support the rebels in the north of Britain in their fight for freedom and democracy.

    10. mogabee says:

       YES………The Winged Rebels………has an appeal!!

    11. Juteman says:

      I hope the UN chemical inspectors check the toilets in Glasgow Council offices.

    12. Peter A Bell says:

      Very well said, sir!

    13. Marcia says:

      I heard the piece on Radio 4 this morning. Mr Shapps was rather rude about her visit. She can come again. Will the Tories and the Liberal lackeys now withdraw the UK Government from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights? If they did, the Scottish Government should ask the UN to become a signatory which would infuriate Westminster.  

    14. Bill McLean says:

      I wonder how many spare bedrooms Her Majesty has? Indeed I wonder how many spare homes she has?

    15. Indy_Scot says:

      Given that it now looks increasingly likely that the Conservatives will win the next UK General election in 2015, I find it inconceivable that any Labour voter would vote against their own country and allow another 5 years of Tory rule over Scotland.
      Surely they do not agree with David Cameron that “we are all Thatcherites now”.

    16. Juteman says:

      Being a part of this union increases our standing in the world.
      Eh right!

    17. proudscot says:

      Motormouth Sarwar should change his first name from Anas to Anus, as most of what comes out of his mouth is raw political sewage! He is the worst kind of champagne socialist, coming from a multi-millionaire family, who wouldn’t recognise a genuine socialist principle if one poked him in the eye. He and his leader Milliband are two of a kind in that respect, and hopefully increasing numbers of Labour voters will see through them and begin to realise the only way to achieve a genuinely left-of-centre government in Scotland is to vote YES in the independence referendum.

    18. Bill C says:

      Labour, meanwhile, continue to tell the poor “Just pay up, we’ll tell the Scottish Government to rob someone else to give you the money back, although we won’t say who. And by ‘someone else’ we probably mean the public services you use, so you’ll suffer either way.” 
      Nail right on the head Stu.  I could use all sorts of foul language to describe the way I feel about the Labour Party in Scotland. Suffice to say that the hypocrisy of Labour over this and   other issues e.g. Trident on the Clyde, makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomach.  They are truly the party of hypocrites, charlatans and self servers. 

    19. Robert Kerr says:

      Note well that Ms Rolnik is UN, that is United Nations, not EU, European Union.
      This is a very real game changer. Westminster is in the cross-wires big time.
      Do not think for a moment that the referendum shenanigans are not being watched also.
      Hail Caesar!

    20. HandandShrimp says:

      So what are the Tories going to do? Leave the UN and the EU and the Human Rights Convention and the Tufty Club?

    21. Rod Mac says:

      Lest we all forget it was Labour that introduced this disgusting “tax” in the first place.
      I would suggest more people live in Private Rented Property than in social housing nowadays.
      They were the first hit to complete and utter silence by everyone  the SNP included.
      Much the same as poll tax did not register on the conscience of any in UK until England and Wales had thel tax a year later.
      Labour introduced this , and ATOs and Workfare , the Tories are only bringing it up to date.
      So when everyone shows their hatred of the Nasty Tories let us not forget the Labour Party are every bit as bad.
      The Tories have done LESS damage to Scotland (Thatcher and all) than Labour have done.
      Labour are a curse on Scotland and its populace.

    22. Jingly Jangly says:

      Lets not forget that it was Labour under Gordon Brown who introduced the Bedroom
      Tax in 2008, The Tories have expanded its reach but it is a Labour Idea.

    23. AmadeusMinkowski says:

      See Newsnet article on BBC Trust probe into BBC Scotland (Raymond Buchanan’s report) over their (mis)-handling of Irish Minister Creigton’s EU comments. One might naturally conclude that this is the origin of Buchanan’s choice to depart from the BBC. Buchanan’s taking up a job with the Glasgow based Weir Group (Engineering Company!); smells, doesn’t it?

    24. Grant_M says:

      Raquel Rolnik was interviewed on the BBC News Channel this morning (‘rewind’ to around 11:23am)

    25. Labour can’t oppose the bedroom tax as they introduced it for private tenants first.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place, they end up just floundering about calling for Scottish govt to rob another department to pay the tory tax. #bettertogether robbing the poor to pay the rich home counties and city of London elite.

    26. Murray McCallum says:

      As well as for the clear moral argument, the UN special investigator should be thanked for saving UK taxpayers’ money.

      Of course – if it does mean the end of this tax!

    27. tartanfever says:

      Listening to the BBC R4’s short hourly news bulletins this morning give little depth to this story and in the ten second summary basically says that Shapps has described this report as being ‘biased’.
      Does that mean she’s biased in favour of ratified international human rights ?
      What does that make Shapps and the tories then ?

    28. Murray McCallum says:

      “What does that make Shapps?”
      It makes him Michael Green and all that he stands for.

    29. JLT says:

      I really, really hope that this country become independent next year. With it, do we not only get a fairer society, but just maybe, we will see the end of the Scottish Labour party. We need to. The party really is a parcel o’ rogues.
      Hopefully, a new socialist party will arise, or the LFI really take off. But to Lamont, Sarwar, Baillie, Curran and the rest of those who work for the Scottish Labour Party …hang your heads in utter shame!

    30. Gavin says:

      It’s amazing: the Tory/Lib-Dem government are, with one hand, grabbing money off already desperately poor people while at the same time, with the other hand, dishing out cheap loans to help people to buy a first-time or bigger property (which will also help to push house prices up).

      The maximum house price in the scheme is £600,000. Applicants get up to 20% of the value of the home interest-free for the first 5 years. So that is a loan of up to £120,000. At even the very low interest rates today, say 2%, that equates to a gift from the government of £2,400 per year, or a total of £12,000!
      People on benefits are having paltry sums taken from them (tens of pounds), but these sums represent a huge proportion that they have to live on just for the basics of survival. And let’s not even start thinking about how much it costs, or the stress involved in moving house, or the difficulties of having to move out of your familiar area.

      The morality of this government is shocking. They are more concerned with getting into a foreign war than looking after their own population.

    31. Morag says:

      Where is Jonathan Swift when you really need him?

    32. AmadeusMinkowski says:

      In line with the notion that any political authority which stands outside the hallowed wall of UKplc is clearly not to be trusted, and should be ignored, see Today’s (11/09/2013) Telegraph rant on Barroso/EU & UK. The juxtaposition of the views expressed in this article with the Bitter Together’s mendacious mantras on “the goodness of Westminster and its value to Scotland” teaches us much of what we need to know about the Westminster bubble, and those living off/within it. 

    33. Clare Gallagher says:

      This is wonderful news to all who’re  affected by this heinous Tax!! But are we really going to see the Con-Dems repealing this? They’d have to admit they were wrong in the first place, and I can’t seriously see them doing this! They’ll make all sorts of excuses why they can’t! And then they’ll spit the dummy, when they realise they can’t have it all their own way!

    34. gordoz says:

      Now the SNP, Scottish Government and Alex Salmond get demonised and ridiculed on a daily basis, (have done for years), over everything never mind independence. But lets stop for one minute …… is this not huge ?
      I would like to put this to all the ‘right on’ ‘informed hacks’ out there from the right and pseudo left (or the MSM / BBC.for that matter).
      Unlike the combined Tory / Lib Dem and recent Labour administrations  of the UK , have the SNP, Scottish Government or Alex Salmond every been responsilbe for any measure  which has been found, (by a UN special investigator), to ‘Constitutes a violation of the human rights’ of anyone ? Answer – No.
      So perhaps you should consider this for future reporting of issues with fear or warning in the titles or Headlines.

    35. Bruce Hosie says:

      Rod says
      I would suggest more people live in Private Rented Property than in social housing nowadays.
      I would suggest that is one of the main points behind this policy. The slow but sure death of social housing either through local councils or associations. You either own your own home if you can affort it or you pay rent to the people who can affort to buy the houses or build them, Victorian times anyone.

    36. Dcanmore says:

      I had the unfortunate pleasure of being in the same room for two hours with Grant Shapps at a Government Select Committee hearing in 2011. He was giving ‘evidence’ on behalf of the government on a particular subject that affected myself at the time. He came across as the most ill-informed, ill-prepared buffoon of a politician I’ve encountered in my life.
      I can’t put into words what a spectacular idiot this man is. I understand why he is Minister Without Portfolio (a position with no specific responsibilities) because he would probably be very capable of fucking things up in a relatively short time if he was Minister of Something. A classic case of Dave parachuting a personal friend into a tasty government job where he can do little damage. That encounter really opened my eyes to the kind of people who are in charge and reside in Westminster today.

    37. HeatherMcLean says:

      .” Let Scotland have the government it votes for, 100% of the time rather that just when England happens to agree with its choice.”
      Agreed to the first part of this staement but somehow I don’t think England will EVER agree to the SNP as the government of our choice!
      The way things are going with the Scottish Labour party I’m beginning to doubt whether they will ever again be the government of choice for the Scots!

    38. velofello says:

      So the bedroom tax plan may be destined for deposit in the “round file”.They say history repeats itself, next up a window tax?
      The Tory political philosophy is to sustain and develop London – a City state? So in order to draw talented worker bees to London various schemes need to be devised. The housing subsidy: the HS2 rail drawing drone bees from the Midlands.
      Just as it was once said, the consequence of UK  economic policy leading to higher unemployment in Scotland is a price worth paying, so now squeezing the benefits of the poorest in society to facilitate development of London is a price worth paying according to Tory beliefs.
      And anyway, as Gordon Brown proposed last week, Scotland’s earnings surplus – the difference between what Scotland remits to the UK Treasury, and the spending grant we receive in return can be spread to help the needy in the outer reaches of England beyond London..
      Labour’s political philosophy? They gave up on that some time back. The pursuit of power and the career rewards that can come with political power is their raison d’être. 

    39. Jeannie says:

      Labour’s political philosophy? They gave up on that some time back. The pursuit of power and the career rewards that can come with political power is their raison d’être.
      Oh…well said, Vellofello!

    40. fittie says:

      Nick Clegg challenges Gordon Brown on Housing Benefit

      Wed, 11 Nov 2009
      Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg today challenged Gordon Brown at Prime Minister’s Questions on planned cuts to Housing Benefit.
      Current Government plans are to scrap excess payments to local housing allowance claimants where their rent is lower than the rate of the allowance. This would see some of the poorest families in the country up to £780 a year worse off.

      Nick Clegg asked:

      “How is it possible that in the middle of a recession, with unemployment now at two and a half million and rising, this Government, a Labour Government, wants to change the local housing allowance rules to take £15 a week from some of the poorest families in Britain?”
      Nick Clegg challenges Gordon Brown on Housing Benefit | The Liberal Democrats: News Detail
      HOW THings change

    41. Gillie says:

      The problem is that Westminster doesn’t give a damn, and hasn’t given a damn for decades. 

    42. Rod Mac says:

      This latest wheeze by Scottish Labour (sic)  will be heralded by the compliant Scottish media as a wonderful idea and the bad SNP  will be portayed as opposing a great Labour progressive piece of legislation.
      Noyt one of those sycophantic Journos will ask a Labour Spokesperson the difficult questions. 
      “Which budgets do we take the £50 million from?”
      “How does paying the tax help repeal it?”
      Why will you not just side with the SNP and agree to no evictions?
      We all know how the media and BBC in particular will play this

    43. Alan Gerrish says:

      Still can’t understand why SNP have not blasted SLAB for introducing the iniquitous tax in the first place.  Question Time, FMQs and particularly that diabolical Scotland Tonight “debate” – why, oh why, Nicola did you not slap Sarwar with it? It would have stopped him in his tracks (well maybe for long enough for him to think of another lie) and reached a lot of folk who still don’t know the truth.
      Anyway, full marks to Raquel Rolnik for exposing the Coalition on this one, and it could be a bit  of a gamechanger in the battle for the undecideds, but only if the YES side get a bit more assertive and willing to start kicking ass with stuff like this.
      Btw, I take it that RR’s comments on the Bedroom tax apply equally to the private rented sector with all the legal ramifications flowing from that?

    44. ianbrotherhood says:

      Glasgow City Council banned the march this Saturday, but a rally at Glasgow Green and protest (in a designated area outside the SECC) go ahead. Details here:

    45. Derick Tulloch says:

      Rod Mac says:I would suggest more people live in Private Rented Property than in social housing nowadays.
      No, not at present.
      Numbers and percentages in Scotland (2011) are
      Owner Occupied 1,507,000 dwellings 60.1% (rising numbers/  falling as a proportion)
      Council Rent 317,000 12.7% (falling for both absolute numbers and as a proportion)
      HA rent 277,000 11.1% (rising slightly both numbers and as a proportion)
      Private rent 305,000 21.2% (rising both numbers and as a proportion)
      Empty 99,000 3.9% (rising both numbers and as a proportion) A scandal
      See tbl stock by tenure in

    46. Marcia says:

      Dunfermline by-election set for 24th October.

    47. Juteman says:

      So the Scottish branch of the British Labour Party want Scotland to take unilateral action on the Bedroom Tax? They seem to dislike unilateral action when it comes to Trident. 
      I thought they oposed action that only helped someone in Dundee, but not in Derby?

    48. dmw42 says:

      Although the ‘bedroom tax’ has been the headline grabber, I think (hope) that there’s more to come from Ms Rolnik’s report. Ms Rolnik said she was particularly concerned by the impact of bedroom tax, thereby indicating that she’s also concerned about other abuses.
      She’s widely reported as visiting council estates, food banks, homelessness crisis centres, traveller sites and new housing association developments stating “My immediate recommendation is that the bedroom tax is abolished”. During these visits, she cannot have failed to have heard complaints about the damage being caused by other welfare cuts imposed by this Westminster government (and backed HM’s ‘loyal Opposition’).
      As these savage cuts to welfare would also, I assume, be in breach of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, I can only hope that, although her ‘specialism’ is housing, she includes welfare in her report, and requests one of her fellow UN ‘special rapporteurs’ on welfare to undertake a similar analysis.
      For YES Scotland’s part, they need to make damned sure that this report isn’t swept under the carpet and should be highlighting all over the place that Westminster policies are so bad for the people of Scotland that the UK Government is being officially reported to the UN Human Rights Council.

    49. Rod Mac says:

      Ms Rolnik  can stand by for the Westminster smearing to begin anytime soon.
      The arrogance from Westminster really kicks in when any Johnny Foreigner dares to question the all seeing ,all knowing Westminster and its troughers.
      The sneering is aided and abetted by the journalists that also live by supping in the Westminster/London bubble.
      Their contempt for Johnny foreigner will no doubt hit new levels with this report.

    50. gordoz says:

      Is there a bigger political UN condemnation for the UK ConDem government than ‘Constitutes a violation of the human rights’ ?
      What a gift to YES & SG

    51. Jimbo says:

      Whoever dreamt up this iniquitous tax should be made to live off of benefits for a year – deductions made, of course, for every spare bedroom. I doubt very much if they would cope.
      We are in a recession. They claim the best way out of it is to get people spending money, yet the Westminster inepts deem it a good idea to take hundreds of millions of pounds out of circulation, ergo out of the pockets of the people who need to spend their money just to live. As a consequence retailers suffer a drop in trade, which in turn puts more jobs at risk.
      The Westminster imperialists can’t afford the money to help the needy – but they can find the money to build new Astute class nuclear submarines (7 planned, two in service, 4 being built) at a cost of £1.16 billion each.
      Welcome to the UK – Where thousands of pensioners die every year because their choice is to heat or eat. Where the poor and vulnerable pay a tax for the privilege of having a spare bedroom. Where people on low incomes have to go to food banks, Where the Westminster elite prefer to throw money at useless prestige weaponry so that they can strut on the world’s stage, pretending that they are some kind of world power. They’ve got the mink coat but can’t afford knickers.

    52. tartanfever says:

      Brilliant BBC bias on Reporting Scotland today.
      Story starts with John Swinney being asked about the budget/ new Forth crossing.
      Labour then allowed (and supported by Brian Taylor) to go on about the Bedroom Tax and be painted as the true ‘opposers’ of this horrible policy. SNP allowed no response to Ian Gray’s attacks on them.
      If you’re going to claim impartiality, surely you have to have your two opposites actually talking about the same issue ?
      BBC Scotland an absolute joke.

    53. gordoz says:

      @ Rod Mac  1.13pm
      Spot on Rod, the difficult questions for Labour never covered in Scottish Press.

    54. Arbroath 1320 says:

      UN special investigator Raquel Rolnik comes to Scotland and the rest of the UK to investigate the ‘bedroom tax’ and unsurprisingly she comes to the conclusion that it is an inhumane attack on the poor. 
      Grant Shapps writes to UN Secretary General demanding an apology because Raquel Rolnik had not been invited to visit the UK by Westminster. I’m sorry but as a signatory to and a member of the UN should the UK not be happy that the UN has brought this inhumane tax to their attention?
      Oh I forgot the UK doesn’t pay any attention to the UN except when it suits them and this quite obviously does not suit them. 
      Let’s not forget either that although we are all lambasting Shapps, IDS and the rest of the murderous governmental ministers this whole bedroom tax attack on the poor was initiated by the Labour party and THEY should never be allowed to forget this fact. Whilst it is Shapps who is sounding upset by the UN visit don’t be surprised if we never hear much from Labour. I suspect they will be doing their utmost to keep their heads down and hiding from this story.
      Despite this being an ideal opportunity for Labour in Scotland to come out and admit the bedroom tax is wrong and tell everyone what they would do to rectify this disgusting tax we will hear nothing from them other than continual attacks on the SNP as if it was the SNP who introduced this killer tax. Labour in Scotland are a disgusting group of self centred sanctimonious egotistical individuals. They don’t give a damn about the people of Scotland far less those suffering under this killer tax. 

    55. CameronB says:

      Ed Milliban and the other ‘red Tories’ clearly admire Benjamin Disraeli. Then again, the former Tory PM did write that the Chartists were right to see no real difference between the main parties:
      “They had long ceased to distinguish between the two parties who then and now contend for power. And they were right. Between the noble lord who goes out and the right honourable gentleman who comes in, where is the distinctive principle? A shadowy difference may be simulated in opposition, to serve a cry and stimulate the hustings; but the mask is not even worn in Downing Street; and the conscientious conservative seeks in the pigeon-holes of a whig bureau for the measures against which for ten years he has been sanctioning by the speaking silence of an approving nod, a general wail of frenzied alarm.”
      But the problem with supporting Disraeli, is that he thought there were two nations and not one (i.e. the rich and the poor). This was the natural order of things for Disraeli, who was more concerned about how the growing demand for workers rights might hurt the economic privileges of the ruling elite. Disraeli’s vision of ‘One Nation’ entailed closer cooperation between the ruling elites and the managerial class, so to undermine any potential for worker advancement.
      Sounds a bit fascistic to me, but then again, fascism is a very old political philosophy.
      BTW, Disraili’s solution to the emergence of ‘working class leaders’, was to co-opt them.

    56. Smokeball says:

      Atypical Scot
      “The Scottish people and their government hate and dispute the bedroom tax along with most of the people in the rUK. The EU swiftly concludes that this is the correct and moral position”
      She’s UN, not EU

    57. joe kane says:

      I can just image the coverage and the headlines if the UN was criticising the SNP Scottish Government for human rights abuses!

    58. CameronB says:

      Re human right in the UK. I found this quite interesting.
      “This concept of citizenship is unknown to English constitutional law which, under the influence of Burke, Bentham, Austin, Dicey and Jennings, has treated British citizens as “subjects of the Crown without the benefit of positive and fundamental constitutional rights giving protection against the state and its agents.” The rights that are recognised – “the liberties of the subject” – are “residual and negative” in nature, i.e. the individual is free to do what he or she likes save insofar as the activity is restricted by the law.[4]
      “The basis of the relationship between State and citizen is instead constructed on a variety of statutory provisions and common law rules which, taken en masse, seek to confer on the citizen certain rights and liberties normally associated with citizenship, whilst also imposing certain duties. For example, the case of Entick v. Carrington in 1765 established the limits within which officers of the State could act, the Reform Act of 1867 accorded a wider right to vote, and the National Insurance Act 1911 instituted a basic welfare system. These rights apply regardless of the nationality of the individual in question.[4]

    59. joe kane says:

      Better Together DWP Employment minister Mark Hoban was on the BBC2 Daily Politics show today tut-tutting about all the horrible human rights abuses directed against the LGBT community of Russia by the state government. As well as the atrocity of the bedroom tax, this is the same Minister and department overseeing the biggest attack on the human rights of sick patients and disabled people in the UK since World War II.

      The Labour Party agrees with everything the DWP is doing which isn’t surprising given many current key DWP policies such as demonising the poor, the unemployed, the sick and disabled began under the previous Labour Government. Labour’s only objection about the behaviour of its Better Together chums at the DWP seems to be they aren’t managing the attacks on the poorest, dressed up as reforms, efficiently or cost-effectively enough.

      Reference –
      Billions To Be Spent On Bullshit – The Sorry Tale of Universal Credit
      the void
      06 Sept 2013 

      “IDS was being questioned yet again about Universal Credit, the ongoing farcical attempt to revolutionise the benefits system.  But what is perhaps most astonishing is that everyone from the insipid Labour Party to The Guardian is queuing up to say what a wonderful idea Universal Credit is in theory, if only it weren’t being introduced by such a fucking idiot.”

    60. Smokeball says:

      Jingly Jangly says:
      11 September, 2013 at 11:43 am

      “Lets not forget that it was Labour under Gordon Brown who introduced the Bedroom
      Tax in 2008, The Tories have expanded its reach but it is a Labour Idea.”
      There were restrictions on the amount of housing benefit payable for private lets well before then. The local housing allowance was introduced about 2008 but before then prospective private tenants had to have the rent approved by a local rent officer for housing benefit. There was a time when housing benefit – or rent rebate – payable for private lets was unrestricted but this led to abuse of the system when people, generally unemployed or students, rented properties they could never afford if they had a job. With social housing, the landlord will allocate a house or flat suited to the size of household – you can’t specify, say, a 4 bedroom house because you want each of your 2 young children to have their own bedroom and have a guest room as well. You’ll get a 2 bedroom place. Private renters, on the other hand, can rent what size of property they like, as long as they can afford it. The government long ago decided it wouldn’t pay for people to rent larger properties than they’d get as social tenants.
      Hitherto, there haven’t been restrictions on housing benefit payable in the social sector because social landlords already restrict the size of house allocated to a tenant. Most enants won’t be affected because of that.
      I do think that way the government has landed people and councils with the bedroon tax is appalling, in that it applies retrospectively and takes no account of circumstances or the unavailability of smaller properties. However, in a future independent Scotland I don’t think the answer is to go back to the status quo ante, except in the short term. Plans should be drawn up for the construction of 1 bedroom houses, and/or the buyback of 1 bedroom ex council houses as they come on to the market, as I understand Glasgow Housing Asociation is doing, and a system devised to enable the exchange of larger for smaller properties when people no longer need the larger one. Is it fair to make a family stay with their own parents or live in a too small house so an older person can stay in a big one after their family leaves? In the ‘bought’ sector, downsizing isn’t unusual.

    61. Jen says:

      as well, of course, as the ultimate solution of independence, ensuring that Tory governments can no longer impose policies rejected overwhelmingly by Scottish voters, MPs and MSPs
      Does it matter what party is in power within Westminister? I don’t think so.  I think British Labour were sticking up for the working class when they allowed a similar tax on private renters, bailed out the banks, busy with war making etc. Nothing different to the Tories. 
      I think we need independence in order to rid ourselves of a parliament who are committed to ensuring the poor stay poor and the dog eat dog mentality prevails.

    62. Morag says:

      Plans should be drawn up for the construction of 1 bedroom houses, and/or the buyback of 1 bedroom ex council houses as they come on to the market
      Why?  There was a great deal of wisdom in the decisions of the 20th century to construct larger properties.  It doesn’t cost that much more to have another bedroom in a house or flat, at the design and building stage.  It then allows much greater flexibility of housing allocation, for example to young couples who may be expected to start a family.
      This entire disaster is designed, insofar as it is designed at all, to address problems in the overcrowded south-east of England and London in particular.  Scotland doesn’t have these problems and doesn’t need this “solution”.

    63. Jen says:

      Smokeball says: 
      11 September, 2013 at 5:09 pm
      Is it fair to make a family stay with their own parents or live in a too small house so an older person can stay in a big one after their family leaves? In the ‘bought’ sector, downsizing isn’t unusual.

      Good point and an interesting dilemma: I am not sure how to answer that but is it fair to remove someone from a home when they may have spent a lifetime building community links such as neighbours and what about being near the family for emergencies and other lifestyle needs.  Many of my own friends live near their parents and some take part in the care of their parents.  

      In addition, it would take many years to ensure that there would be a adequate housing stock and funds to ensure that housing could be maintained appropriately.  I think this puts a system like this off for at least 60-70 years. 
      Location is also a problem, how does the government resolve the issue of maintaining adequate stock in certain areas.  In my own town, the lack of green space is available for all to see or not see!

    64. Smokeball says:

      It is relatively recently that social housing has been allocated at all to young single people and couples without children. I suspect that is why larger, ‘family size’ houses were built and few smaller ones. and the smaller ones were for pensioners, though these have largely gone into the general pool. Nothing to do with it being as cheap to build a larger one, or it woud have made sense to make them all 4 bedroom, in order to accommodate all but huge families. Even now, childless couples won’t be allocated a house matching their planned family size, but the actual household size. If there are 1 bedroom properties, that is what said couple will get. It does mean that if they have children they’ll have to reapply for a larger house and wait for it -one reason why it would be good to have a system of exchange. Giving them a 2 bed house will put off this difficulty for some years,though it will arise if they have more than 2 children or 2 of different sexes once one of them reaches 10years old (can’t remember offhand if it’s the older or younger).

    65. CameronB says:

      The Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts that prices will surpass their pre-crisis peak next year, while Knight Frank has just put out a survey noting that Londoners’ expectations of the value of their houses have hit a record high.

      Goes well with;

    66. Hetty says:

      I don’t like Labour at all, especially now, but I am not convinced they would have taken things to quite such extremes and been as vicious in their treatment of disabled people. They did reduce VAT on fuel bills which Thatcher had implemented at full VAT, which would now be 20%, not 5% on utility bills which surely should not be Vatted (wrong spelling?) at all as it is an essential item. 
      The other thing is that with private rents (for which many people have no alternative), there maybe more one bedroom places than with social housing, though not ideal at all as we need more housing to be built for people on lower incomes full stop. We also must note that it is the con-dems who have introduced a massive cut in support for young people ( under 25 and up to 35!) who are now only eligible for very little help with housing costs ie rent, so it is really hard for them to get by and become independent especially with so few full-time jobs available. I am not defending Labour as I think they are dispicable, but as I say would they have had the nerve ( or support from their members) to implement such draconian measures and attack vulnerable members of the population in this way? The tories will just laugh in people’s faces and take things back to Victorian times, it’s just the start for them, a leapord never changes it’s spots.

    67. fordie says:

      So John Swinney  is going to pay part-ransom then. What do we think of that?
      Had a chat about bedroom tax with my car-sharer this evening (she’s not interested in politics). Her parents have a 3 bed council house and only need 2 beds. I pointed out their choices a) lose some benefit or b) lose their home.

    68. Saltire2014 says:

      Lamont-Sarwar – Scotland’s Axis of Feeble – ready and willing to sacrifice the country’s most vulnerable citizens to satisfy their tribal hatred for the SNP and the cause of Independence.  

    69. Northside says:

      @smokeballsays/@Jinglyjangly, I agree we shouldn’t go back to the ‘Status Quo’ we should move forward after we
      Rejoin the Family of Independent Sovereign Nations, and in our written constitution should be” that, from this day forth no dwelling built for habitation within this country should have less than ‘Three Apartments’ “.

      This along with regulation to prevent ‘Building Speculators’ Skueing the market. Also a minimum size for each apartment should be laid down down, as it was before Thatcher, thereby preventing the building of ‘Rabbit Hutch Homes’ by Rackmanite Developers.
      As in other European Countries, renting from the state/Housing assocs/ or private landlords shooed be regulated by a ‘Fair Rent Act’, something that used to be on the Statute Book, but disappeared during the ‘Enlightening’ Thatches Years.
      I would take great delight in an International Warrant being issued for breaches of Human Rights on everyone associated with this damaging, poorly thought out policy, starting at the beginning with the Honourable Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

    70. John Lyons says:

      There is of course another way to fight the bedroom tax. It’s correct name is the under occupancy tax. Households affected need more occupants. Every unemployed single mother in the country breeds to get pregnant! Tory policy encourages it!

    71. Murray McCallum says:

      C4 website: “UN official Raquel Rolnik puts up a feisty defence against Conservative condemnation and accusations from MP Nadhim Zahawi that she is being used as a “political football”.”
      Ms Rolnik showing passion about a subject – maybe J.Lamont  should watch this and see what it means to believe in something. (Raquel really launches about 2 mins in).

    72. Northside says:

      I have just watched the interview mentioned above, is it just me, or am I right to suggest that ALL of the Westminster ‘English Based Parties, inc Scottish Labour’ MPs and MSP’s, are no more than loutish, boors who think that ‘winning and argument is only gained by ‘Shouting Down’ thier opponen, and not puttng forward reasoned and honest counter argumentst.
      It happened with Ms Sturgeon last week with that sorry excuse for a politician Anas Sarwar on Scotland Tonight,and again yesterday on C4 News,with Ms Roilnik at the hands of uber- lout Nadhim Zahawi, is there a common thread running through this? Is it cultural, or what?

    73. call me dave says:

      ‘Bedroom tax’ appeal victory puts Fife man at centre of media storm
      Latest on this story.

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