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Lies, damned lies and welfare reform

Posted on July 11, 2012 by

The “No to independence” campaign launched last month, and at its showpiece event we listened to Alistair Darling talk of the things that we’ve shared as the United Kingdom – we heard him talk proudly, for example, of the NHS and the Welfare State. At the same time David Cameron was spelling out future welfare reforms for a system which will exclude the under 25s from housing benefit and which may lead to people on benefits in the South East receiving more money than those in the less affluent areas of Britain. Once again, David Cameron is targeting the poor and the most vulnerable in society in an effort to fix the mess that the rich and the greedy caused.

Around the same time, I deeply affected by some comments on the Highland News website. I don’t usually read the Highland News, but I followed a link to an article about a man – an alcoholic before he was a teenager – who’d been up in court in Inverness. The story was a depressing one detailing a litany of violent acts and anti-social behaviour. However, it wasn’t the story that affected me as much as the comments on the webpage, since removed – and rightly so – by the Highland News. These comments initially focused on the man named in the article – a troubled and difficult individual -­ but soon became more wide-ranging. They moved on from the article in particular and began referring to the “feral underclass”.

It was clear that the comments were about those out of work, sick and in receipt of benefits. The people posting talked about putting ”wasters” on the “Auschwitz Express” and gassing them; they discussed how to remove the “scroungers” and suggested they fight each other to the death. One post suggested that the whole of “the Ferry” – South Kessock, a deprived area of Inverness – should be bombed. Some of the posters named other families,who were nothing to do with this particular article, highlighting their dependence on benefits and discussing ways of getting rid of them and stopping them being a drain on the taxpayer. There were gleeful suggestions that these “scrounging scum” should be euthanised or otherwise “got rid of”.

There was no hint of compassion for those people who were less fortunate or struggling to make ends meet on breadline benefits. The few voices that were raised to challenge those posting this torrent of insults and shocking language (it ran to six pages I think) were derided as “liberal apologists” who clearly knew nothing about anything. Those posting spewed their vile, hate-filled nonsense from behind pseudonyms, smug in their own living-rooms and no doubt with self-satisfied smirks on their faces. It was nauseating, and it upset me all week.

These two events are inextricably linked in my mind. The UK government has been persistently targeting the poor by trying to remove those claimants who they believe do not deserve benefits – the well-publicised “scroungers”. They’ve very successfully persuaded the general public that somehow the responsibility for the state of the economy lies with people in receipt of welfare, and the media gleefully perpetuates that myth. Headlines scream outrage about families with lots of children getting massive amounts of benefits; programmes like the BBC’s “Saints and Sinners” encourage people to see dishonesty and trickery going hand in hand with benefit claimants and so believe that this is the norm.

The endless attacks are designed to encourage us to think that only by reducing the cost of welfare, only by kicking these “wasters” off benefits, can we regain control of the economy. People buy into the idea that draconian measures to reduce the costs of welfare are the only way to reduce the deficit. But while removing under-25s from Housing Benefit entitlement may save £1.8bn, Vodafone allegedly avoided paying £4.8bn in tax when HMRC settled a dispute, and the cost of bailing out the banks is said to run into the hundreds of billions of pounds.

A survey by Prospect magazine recently suggested that people think that 40% of those claiming benefits are committing fraud. The truth is somewhat different – only around 3% of benefit recipients are getting more than they are entitled to through fraud or error (which is more likely the DWP’s error than theirs). This mismatch between popular opinion and reality is a direct result of a climate of hatred encouraged by the Tories and the mainstream media.

By promoting this view the UK government has chosen to ignore the one thing that will, in reality, tackle welfare dependency and make welfare affordable. The only way to successfully reduce dependence and spending on welfare is to create jobs. Jobs for unemployed workers, jobs flexible enough for single parents and jobs with employers who can support workers with disabilities.

The coalition has shown no real commitment to economic growth and no real commitment to creating sustainable jobs. Instead, they persuade us that to cut the deficit we need deep and damaging cuts to benefits. It’s a smokescreen that allows them to look like they’re fighting to balance the nation’s books when in fact it’s a God-given opportunity to further an ideological agenda that’s been a fundamental part of Conservative thinking for decades (whilst the Liberal Democrats let them get on with it and cheer from the sidelines).

People on benefits aren’t to blame for the economic mess we’re in – politicians and bankers are. People like the former Barclays chairman Bob Diamond, who earned tens of millions of pounds in a few short years as his bank fiddled interest-rate figures and choked the economy by refusing to lend anyone any money, are responsible for the current situation – not the man desperate to work who receives £67.50 per week unemployment benefit, or the woman who gets £50 a week in housing benefit to live in a damp little flat in Govan, or the man who may be denied his mobility allowance because despite being blind, he has no other health problems so won’t get enough ‘points’. Conservatives were deeply reluctant to condemn Bob Diamond, but they queue up to condemn benefit recipients.

Here in Scotland, the Scottish Government already knows that the way benefits are being cut isn’t the way to improve people’s lives. The Scottish Parliament has passed the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill which is designed to reduce the damaging effect of the UK government’s actions on welfare recipients. The SNP has also given an indication of its desire “for a progressive welfare system that reflects our nation’s values and ensures fair and decent support for all our people” (Nicola Sturgeon 28/06/2012). To do that they’ll need to work very hard to undo the cruel myths propagated by the coalition UK government and the UK media.

I know that there are people who do not want to work. I worked in benefits through the 80s, 90s, and into the 21st century. I remember people who were lazy, feckless and not interested in getting a job. I can remember the man who was signing on as unemployed, who was found to have a part-time job as well as a full-time job and who had just had a fortnight’s holiday in Florida, when I couldn’t even afford a weekend in a caravan in Tenby. I can remember the man who had secured a mortgage using the income from his benefits and was then claiming more benefit to help pay the interest on his endowment mortgage.

I couldn’t even afford to stay at home looking after my wee ones, because I had to work to pay our mortgage. I can remember being satisfied when their benefits were stopped because, despite being given every chance, they were either committing fraud or were not interested in working or helping themselves and it was the right thing to do. I can remember them and others like them – even their faces, many of their names and the reason I can is because such cases were so few and far between.

I think I can count on both hands the people I met who were real “scroungers”, the people that the government would have us think are everywhere. The truth is that the vast majority of people, when given the right kind of help, can work and are pleased to do so. The problem with giving people the right kind of help is that it costs money. This money is small beer compared to what a life on benefits costs, in both money and in wasted opportunities.

For the hardest to help, it means taking a tailored approach. It’s difficult, complicated and expensive to resolve these problems, so to make any targeted measures really work we absolutely have to have a plentiful supply of jobs. Growth and the creation of sustainable jobs are not part of the script for Westminster because the Conservatives are using the economic crisis to justify their pursuit of privatisation, a smaller public sector and less welfare. Rather than trying to fix things, it is easier for the UK government to persuade people that benefit recipients are useless, criminal and lazy, and to blame them for the fact that the rest of us are struggling in this time of austerity.

An independent Scotland must put eradicating poverty and creating a better welfare system at the heart of its policies. To do that we must have jobs. We can’t win people over with the economic argument – one side says black, the other white, and it’s far too complicated for ordinary voters to get to the bottom of the figures. But we can win people over by planning for better lives, and that means jobs.

By working to secure jobs, an independent Scotland will make welfare affordable. We must develop a welfare system which offers hope and support and doesn’t demonise those who are struggling and need help. We must strive to have a fair welfare system which supports those who are sick and ill, and which assesses their entitlement by applying medical evidence and clinical judgement to each case – not using private companies to carry out interviews that take little or no account of the medical history and prognosis for the patient, which leads to people being found fit for work when they are terminally ill or to people taking their own life as a result of draconian, nonsensical and cruel decisions.

In an independent Scotland, measures to help people back into work need to be given back to the public servants who can do it best. Private companies operating training or job search programmes for the unemployed do so to make money. Many have shown they do not have the best interests of their clients at heart – they’re simply interested in profits made by hitting targets, invariably based on finding some excuse to slash someone’s benefits.

An independent Scotland should not – indeed must not – allow rich multinational companies to profit from the misery of others, either by declaring sick people fit or by using the unemployed for cheap unpaid labour and then dash their hopes when the promised real jobs don’t materialise. This is immoral and deceitful.

Of course there must also be a plan for people who cheat the system and who try to duck their responsibilities – there have to be penalties for those who refuse to engage with the world of work and will not take the help that is offered. Fraud detection must be robust and we should remove the incentives to commit fraud that are endemic in the welfare system just now. We need, however, to recognise that these people are a small minority and not label all those claiming in the same way. Most of all we must push the message that people are valued. Most of us are just trying to live a good and settled life whether we’re on benefits or not.

Unemployment, poverty, disaffection and isolation prevent people from contributing positively to society. Changing our attitudes to welfare will help to change that, and will help to start building a Scotland where achievement is more prevalent than failure; where aspiration is greater than despair and where policies are designed to increase the chance of people living a fulfilled life, contributing positively to the society they live in, rather than being vilified and hated for their “scrounging”. And to do that, we can no longer afford the expensive luxury of Tory governments elected by the south of England to cut taxes for the rich at the expense of the vulnerable.

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    28 to “Lies, damned lies and welfare reform”

    1. redcliffe62 says:

      Keeping it simple, the Tories need to hold onto their southern seats in Kent and Sussex and Hertfordshire so more money in benefits needs to be going there as a weighting and Housing Benefit Allowance. This seems to be an investment property scam for landlords to keep costs atrifically high to me.

      What should happen is that there should be a weighting allowance outside the SE so people are tempted to move away, but that does not suit Tory sentiment.

      I read that the real population in London is well above the official number. I wonder what the census showed and if it picked these aspects up, as many people head to London for streets hopefully paved with benefits if not gold.

    2. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      Good article Sue.

      I think that while were at building a better welfare state, we can close those loop holes that allow the rich to avoid tax.

      The wealthy undermining the tax base due to greed is far more destructive than the poor fiddling their benefits but both need tackled.

    3. Doug Daniel says:

      The difference between the £1.8 billion that will be “saved” by removing benefits from under-25s and the £4.8 billion Vodafone are meant to have avoided is even more stunning when you keep in mind that this is ONE COMPANY. How many tens or hundreds of billions is being evaded/avoided by the corporate world as a whole?
       
      The UK is run for the benefit of businesses. Scotland must be run for the benefit of people. The purpose of governments is not to prop up failed business models, it’s to protect its citizens and allow us to live our lives as freely as possible. The current UK government is actually harmful. It’s more of a threat to our ways of life than any external forces. The Scottish Government tries its best, but all it can ever do is mitigate against the damage inflicted by the neo-liberal nutters in Westminster. The Better Together campaign think Scotland would be unable to defend itself if we were independent, but removing ourselves from Westminster control is possibly the single most effective measure we could take to protect our living standards.
       
      The way things are going, the UK might as well cut all spending on defence, because there’ll be nothing left to defend. Oh wait, of course, they have to defend their reputation as a world power…

    4. mrbfaethedee says:

      Excellent article!
      The young and the poor are the targets of the state now in the current episode of divide and rule. Their treatment by the state and the vitriol being generated against them on media platforms is a disgrace.
      I agree with you that a tailored approach to welfare is what’s need – though not just for the hardest to help – but whatever is cheapest to be the only option in welfare management. Everyone on welfare should have a person assigned to manage their case and whose job it is to manage both sides of the equation – gettign individuals to really make the effort to get off welfare as much as possible, and on the other hand to make sure that in all the ways it can the agencies of the state are working for the benefit of the individual (and family).
      Difficult cases should be escalated and dealt with has required, there are many reasons to feel sorry for the hardest cases, but none of these excuse the failutre to break the chains of dependency and anti-social tendency that in some cases now spread over generations. The children of those who won’t accept help in takign a suitable role in society deserve better from us too, as do all those kids currently in care.
      How easy it is though to simply vilify a whole swathe of our own folk, while at the same time cutting resources to help them and putting more of that sector in the hands of those whose agendy is simply profit.
      Rioters lose, banksters booze!

    5. douglas clark says:

      Excellent article.

      This is all just a game of whataboutery by the Unionists and the red tops. The drip drip drip of ‘news stories’ is, in fact, a mere propoganda tool to divert attention. It is a divide and conquer strategy that has served these people well for centuries.

      Whilst they point at benefit scroungers our eyes are removed from the genuine scroungers on the state, who all appear to either work in the square mile or have the ears of an utterly corrupt Westminster political machine.

      We should look to Tammany Hall as a model of better practice, that is how far we have fallen.
       
      IIRC the Icelanders arrested their corrupt bankers. We should have done the same and should also have pursued them under proceeds of crime legislation.
       
      We have tried the ‘too big to fail model’ and it has let us down. You can see parallels in the other big story of the week on this blog.
       
       
      And mugs – like the commentators in the newspaper you mention – buy into it to the extent that they sound like the BNP. (Nearly had a Godwin moment there!)

      As Joan Baez sang “there but for fortune, go you or I”.

    6. Helen says:

      I have a friend who was made redundant.  Facing life on the dole he went off to college, gained qualifications and in so doing discovered he was talented in the sciences.  He was encouraged to take himself off to university, which he did. He sailed through his science degree at a Russell Group university. What did he find when he graduated? No jobs. Rather than face the dole, he continued with academy and earned himself a doctorate.  Not something a kid from a council estate does every day, at least not in those days it certainly wasn’t. Armed with his PhD, what did he find, ah yes, no jobs, certainly not with employers who were willing to hire him.  One of his friends was lucky. Armed with his science PhD, he landed himself a job as a receptionist. A receptionist at a warehouse.

      My friend didn’t hang about though. He flew off to America where there was indeed an employer willing to hire him. If I remember rightly, he interviewed at 6 institutions and all of them offered him a position.  When his contract was completed, rather than remaining in the US as an illegal citizen, he returned to Scotland to… you’ve guessed it. No jobs.  By this time of course, Blair was PM and things were supposed to be different.  They were. He was 33 years of age. And qualified to the teeth. Employers told him time and and time again he was too old, or over-qualified.

      He was advised to take a Masters degree, after all, things would be much better in two years time when he would probably graduate with another useful degree in the sciences surely. After a great deal of talking around (yes, he wasn’t quite so convinced by then, who would be?) he finally took the place at university rather than facing a life of boredom and being constantly told by the politicians via the media he wasn’t educated, wasn’t trained and needed to get off his backside. Off he went.  He took his third degree easily. And surprise surprise. No one was willing to hire him.

      After two years of desperate searching, yes TWO years he finally convinced an employer to hire him. He was paid just a little over minimum wage, worked on average 15 hours overtime without overtime pay for years. Years he worked at that  company and he was judged not by his talents, but by his salary.   Finally the company folded.

      That was three years ago. He’s not been able to find any work since.  Nothing.  What have public servants done for him? When he returned from the US they advised him to learn to use a computer. On what planet would you need to be to even think a research scientist needed a course to learn to use a word processor?  He was teaching people how to use the internet in 1989 for goodness sake. Yes and those public servants had his CV stating that, right in front of them, ever two weeks when he signed on. How soul destroying does anyone think that is? It’s like having a teenager informing a school teacher the best thing they can do to find work is to learn to use a pencil!

      His last degree was in computer science.  When he couldn’t get a job, what do you think the public servants suggested to him, month in month out over those two years? Yeah, they suggested he learn to use a computer.  That was it. That was the only suggestion they ever made.  And they made it time and time again. On what planet do public servants live, where people earn three science degrees, one of which is a PhD and one of which is in computer science degree and the people with those degrees are given great advice like that? Is that the Abacus Planet that is awash with quill pens?

      He is now a complete wreck of a human. He barely eats, he barely leaves his home, he barely speaks to anyone. He has no TV, no newspapers, and is clinically depressed. When he has periods where his depression lifts, he reads. He reads books, his one pleasure in life. He has no kids (let’s face it, our society told him to study study study study rather than work, earn some money he could use to perhaps meet a wife, have a family – we denied him it all). 

      He wants nothing to do with our society.  Why would he? He’s been rejected and lied to all his life, since the 1980s, and it is our society that has lied to him, rejected him time and time again, refused to allow him to enter our society in a way he could live an adult life with meaning, and we blame him, we have people writing into the media suggesting the unemployed, yes people like him, should be bombed…… He’s had years of this abuse, years of being blamed, made to work his socks off, promised the treat of job if he performs like a lap dog one more time, only to be abused by the societal master when he does.

      He says his worse mistake ever, was coming back to these islands rather than take his chances as an illegal immigrant. And he isn’t the only one in this mess.  I’ve been to meetings where the room is filled with double graduates of all ages, some of them have one if not two PhDs yet they’ve no job, no place in our society.  

      Another acquaintance of I have through my friend has her PhD. She’s been lucky this year. Her PhD in science didn’t stop her finding a job. And she didn’t have to leave the country to get it either!  Her local supermarket gave her a literacy test and a numeracy test. Yes, she successfully managed the wee sums, and was accepted on to their two-day shelf stacking course. She did ever so well on that two day course and is now employed as a shelf stacker 3 half days a week.

      Look at what we are doing to people, here in the UK. Just look around, look at what we are doing, people!  Basic reading writing and counting tests for PhDs? Shelf stacking jobs, if your lucky, for people with science PhDs?  For goodness sake!  Are we so cruel, so blaze, we don’t see the injustice, the shameful indignity and insult of that? Are we? 

      Compassionate Scotland? Where? When? I see a Scotland happy to fob off it’s own people, a society, once bored fobbing off those people, or no longer willing to pay for their fobbing off via welfare, in lieu of that society’s failure to ensure an adequate encompassing economy,  is more than happy to abuse and crush them and we’ve been doing it since the days of Thatcher if not before.

    7. Spout says:

      Good article.
      One day people will not be leaving Scotland to get a life & wage, and people in Scotland will thrive.
      We all need to talk and persuade our fellow Scots for self-determination – countering the right-wing bile that seeps from Westminster every day and rejecting “UK’ identity politics that has at it’s heart nothing but geo-political gain (at Scotland’s expense).

    8. Tris says:

      Brilliant piece of writing. And as someone who has worked for many years in this area, I totally agree. I too remember the out and out crooks because they were few. Most of them were unfortunate people who had had bad starts…terrible parents, health issues, weight problems, frankly downright ugly people that no one wanted. And always all there was funds for was papering over the cracks and fiddling the figures to make it look like we were doing a good job.

      It’s a shame that targets became the only thing that mattered in the business of getting people back to work. It’s a shame that sick and unemployed people have been made political pawns. 

      It was bad under Labour but beware the Tories.

      They  have demonized sections of society so that they can remove support from them without public backlash: the unemployed first, then the sick, now the old are being targeted. “Why should they get help with transport or with winter fuel?” IDS, Osborne and Clegg are asking.

      The methodology is Hitlerian. Jews, Muslims, Homosexuals watch out. What is Clegg doing in this vile company? he appears to have lost the plot. 

    9. James Morton says:

      It is nothing more than Bait and Switch tactics – they target the so called workshy scroungers, when it fact they are after anyone who actually needs benefits and financial support. There are always people who will game the system, thats Human nature…but they represent just one percent of the total welfare budget, and even that actually includes people who are not cheating the system but being paid too much by it. This amount is dwarfed by the amount that goes unclaimed every year, but you never hear anything about that.

      You need to invest in jobs, and you need to invest in people. But more than that you need to make work pay. But in this country from Thatcher onwards, you saw wages fail to keep up with the cost of living and people relying on more and more credit. It cannot be right to be in a position were it actually pays to be unemployed than be employed but thats the UK that Thatcher built, and built on by Major, Blair and Brown.

      The state industries are long gone, and organised labour is but a whisp compared to what it once was. Yet the coalition are still talking about keeping pay under control as if it were a inflationary driver. It isn’t anymore….wages aren’t keeping up with inflation so it hardly going to be that. It’s the market that’s driving up the cost of living. Osbornes plan A isn’t working because they are attacking the victims of the financial crisis, not the villians. We have a sovereign debt crisis because we bailed out banks that had engaged in reckless behaviour, partly fueled by a bonus culutre that rewarded failure and well as success, and in some cases rewarded high risk failure far more than safer and less risky investments. This crisis has been aggravated by an almost idiotic transfer of public wealth to private vested interests. This also happens to be another reasib why Plan A won’t work imho. Shrinking a public sector that was largely farmed out to the private sector in part or in whole, in some vain hope you can control spending won’t work because the contracts themselves are usually fixed at 10 years…any attempt to re-negotiate them or cancel them will end up costing more than the actual contract was worth. (a certain Tram project and the building of two air craft carriers spring to mind)

      The workshy are a product of this environment. Failed policy is as much to blame as their unwillingness to work. There simply is no incentive to do so. They are of course a useful villian to pick on to distract people from your failings as a government and to keep the real intended victims in the dark until you are ready to strike at them.

      Back to Basics, Care in the community, YOPS, TOPS, Community Works Programs, Employment training, Training for Work, New Deal, New Start, Big society. If any of this could have worked, it would have worked, It didn’t work because it doesn’t work. People eventually realise that they are being p*ssed on and it’s why the Tories took such a hammering in 1997, not just in Scotland but in the UK as a whole. It was just a sickener that Labour abandoned its principles to pursue failed Tory doctrine.

    10. redcliffe62 says:

      If Scotland is independent with a Royal as head of state is it agreed by ALL that it is in the UK, and can that be defined in advance and added to the question if it is.
      Such as
      Do you agree that Scotland should retain the Royals as head of state, remaining as part of the United Kingdom which began in 1603, whilst controlling all its finances as an independent country for the first time since 1707?
        
      That would get 60% plus, as the UK tag is quite important to many. Worth considering.
      And would drive the fear campaign nuts if true as they could not claim the end of the monarch even subliminally. 

      Many say maybe to be on safe side we need to keep the queen and many of the same people assume independence ends that. The media does nothing to contradict that point.

      Legally the UK was not the same as the formation of GREAT BRITAIN. 
      Prove that the two are different and it causes the NO campaign multiple issues.

    11. MajorBloodnok says:

      Brilliant article, compassionate and insightful.  You wonder why the alleged party of the downtrodden and the working class (…er…Labour?) isn’t arguing for this and fighting for the preservation of universal provision (don’t answer that, they’re too busy promoting military schools (it’ll be national service next) and fighting to retain Trident).

      But you are right, if you are wealthy (a ‘wealth creator’??!) and behave fraudulently you might get a slap on the wrist and/or a knighthood, but if you are poor, God help you.  What I want independence to deliver is improved equality of provision and opportunity, in fact a more civilised society – avoiding this blind race to barbarism and the policies of the right that we are seeing down south.

      And as someone else said, even if Scotland ends up with a lower GDP (which is a moot point) if it’s more evenly distributed, then we’ll all be better off.

    12. YesYesYes says:

      To put this into some kind of perspective, let’s remind ourselves that the Bank of International Settlements’ conservative estimate of the notional value of derivatives in global capitalism today is $700 trillion dollars. Given that world GDP is just over $70 trillion, that means that the notional value of the derivatives market today is some ten times larger than the value of everything that the whole world produces in an entire year.
       
      Remember that these derivatives traders are people who don’t actually produce anything themselves. But the effects of their activities are such that they inflate the values of real capital assets which means that, ultimately, we have to pay higher prices for all the commodities that we consume, everything from wheat to oil, our governments have to pay more interest on their national debts and we have to pay higher interest on our consumer debts, everything from mortgages, to credit cards and personal bank loans.
       
      Meanwhile, there are some among us here in Scotland, who think that the problem with our economy is that a few hundred thousand people, dependent on benefits and most of whom are living in relative poverty, are being treated too generously by the state. Laugh? I feel like fucking crying. 

    13. Willie Zwigerland says:

      #Majorbloodnok
      How will everyone be better off if the people you intend to tax to subsidise all these universal benefits decamp to Carlisle or Berwick?

    14. Kenny Campbell says:

      Actually underclaiming benefits by people who don’t know what they can get dwarfs the amounts lost on ‘fraud’.
       
      It wasn’t so long ago that Scotland itself was tagged as a nation of scroungers and feckless wasters….and we still are to many who write in the Daily Wail etc.
       
      Just imagine how we’ll be seen when the Oil runs out…our feet won’t touch the ground as we’re booted out.
       
      The government committed to ‘creating’ another £35BN over the next 3 months last week. The money is created by the treasury and is fed into the banking sector by allowing them to swap their under performing ‘assets’ at a value set by the bank themselves minus 5%.
       
      They are supposed to under no more than a gentleman’s agreement lend the money back into the economy, however what is actually happening is the banks are ‘investing’ the money in commodities and other investments that produce nothing…driving up prices and making themselves a pretty penny.

      So far we have committed over £350BN to this Quantative Easing…not to mention the multitude of other bailouts, backstops and backhanders.
       
      Companies avoid tax in a scale that is unimaginable to the man in the street. Banks have been aided by a package of bailouts that are utterly incomprehensible in scale.

      No single Banking Bondholder in the UK has lost a penny. Not a single penny despite the turmoil.

    15. MajorBloodnok says:

      @Willie Zwigerland

      We already pay taxes here Willie, and in fact contribute more to the UK exchequer than we get back in pocket money (I refer you to GERS).  However, if these hordes move over the border just to get away from what will surely be a more equitable and civilised society (just to ensure that they can enjoy an appropriately neo-liberal standard of NHS provision, increased prescription charges, Labour-style military schools and university tuition fees) then obviously they can’t benefit from being Scottish citizens, come independence, so it’s their ain loss.

    16. Willie Zwigerland says:

      @MajorBloodnok
      Good luck with your land of milk and honey economics, when you won’t be able to blame the evil English tory unionists for all the ill deeds they’ve inflicted to Scotland.

    17. Arbroath1320 says:

      Excellent article Sue!
       
      Sorry for going O/T but I think folks might like to know about this.
       
      http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2012/jul/no-campaign-humiliation-referendum-question
       
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-18802962
       
      First we had wee Ryan and his wee dugs. 😆
      Then we had Patsy and her allies. 😆
      Now we have, not so much the promise of jam tomorrow from “Call me Dave” but more a case of jam on the face of the Dependence Brigade TODAY! 😆

    18. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @Willie Zwigerland

      As strange as it is to understand (well the parties in Westminster cant get their heads round it), not every person is a tax dodging multi-millionaire that can up sticks and move to where they pay less tax. Now there are some of these peole who do exist, but for most the option of moving country to avoid tax doesnt fit well with work life.

      Now for the other option of squirreling away money to offshore tax havens, well that needs the law adressed to make such schemes illegal. Provisions should also be made that those found guilty can have their assets seized to pay for the outstanding balance. This would be quite offputting from committing such acts for someone with a business in Scotland i.e risking that their livelihood may be seized if they dont play by the rules. Its easy to be blase when your assets are in another country and untouchable, but if everything you own in Scotland becomes fair game to the tax man then that changes the complexion slightly.

      Couple that with a host of other taxes that WE ALREADY PAY and the tax base is secure. Scotland already has less deficit than the UK as a whole and thats without control over economic levers to boost the economy.

      On top of that we also have people with extremely well paid jobs in life sciences, energy and the creative arts. They work where they are for the infrastructure and resources. They wont be relocating labs, rigs or universities south to avoid tax with them!

      But please continue peddling the myth that all people in Scotland would flee to the Neo-liberal south.

    19. MajorBloodnok says:

      @Willi Zwingerland
      Ahaha, you funny!  Now point out to me where anyone here blames the English for anything?  We don’t care what you lot get up to, just leave us alone to do our thing and you’ll be fine in your wee self-inflicted neo-liberal xenophobic utopia (where taxes go to subsidise the rich at the expense of the poor, as ye well know). Now, away with you back under your brig.
       
       

    20. Willie Zwigerland says:

      Majorbloodin
      This very article ends by pointing a finger at “Tory governments elected by the south of England”!  I thought Rev Stuart’s site was intended to provoke comment from those outside the Nationalist camp, rather than become an echo chamber, maybe I was mistaken.

    21. Doug Daniel says:

      Scott
       
      The one thing you forgot to mention is that most of the people who ARE able to up sticks when they decide they don’t like the tax regime tend to pay very little tax anyway.
       
      Willie is falling for Tory propaganda here. This idea that there are an army of rich people propping up the economy, just waiting to leave the country if we decide to increase their taxes by a few percent, is just nonsense. It’s propagated in the media by people who want to convince us of the need to tax people less – a media which is itself largely owned by tax dodging shysters.
       
      Scotland has a wealth of reasons for people to want to live here. How depressing it must be to think your home country has nothing to offer the world except tax haven status.

    22. MajorBloodnok says:

      @Arbroath1320
      By the way, I laughed my socks off when I read those links. Cheers for that!

    23. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @Willie Zwigerland

      “This very article ends by pointing a finger at “Tory governments elected by the south of England”

      The article says:
       
      “where policies are designed to increase the chance of people living a fulfilled life, contributing positively to the society they live in, rather than being vilified and hated for their “scrounging”. And to do that, we can no longer afford the expensive luxury of Tory governments elected by the south of England to cut taxes for the rich at the expense of the vulnerable”

      Now this is indeed factually correct. The majority of Tory seats come from the South of England and without this support they would not get elected. Couple that with the fact that Scotland only has 1 Tory MP (In the south of the country) along with the Labour voting tendencies of Northern England and you can see quite clearly that Tory governments are elected by the south of England.

      Now as for the blaming the sick, disabled, unemployed, young (insert underpriveliged group here), then yes the article is also correct. The actions of the tories (Read Tory Party) are to reduce the size of government so as to reduce the cost of government and give themselves all nice tax cuts on top of the tax cuts they manage past each budget by getting the poor to shoulder the costs, afterall they will be safe on their country estates and gated communities.

      As for people who vote tory, well they seem to come form the “I’m alright jack” school of thought that says fuck everyone else. Thats not the kind of world I want my daughter growing up in, thats not the type of culture we should be teaching our young (The very people we rely on to look after us when were old!).     

      It’s called enlightened self interest, where a better society improves the lives of most to the detriment of only a few, and even then the few could not be regarded as being poor or badly off in their own right.

      This site welcomes alternative views, but if you come on here saying that Tories are not interested in only themselves, and that more incredulously, they are not elected of the back of southern england voters despite all evidence to the contrary then you are going to have to expect responses that are curt.

      Your style of writing points to the fact you are not uneducated so you are most likely aware of the reality of what you write yet you still do so, as such I can only assume that you are deliberately trying to incite a response.   

      The fact still remains, that Scotland has been given a bad deal over the decades by all Westminster Governments, but especially Tory ones. We dont want to keep blaming them (but they are to blame for past problems), we want to get on with running our own country without them. We are where we are here and now, and we just want the chance to improve the prospects for ourselves and our children. Its not a difficult concept to grasp. 

    24. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      @Doug Daniel

      Im not so sure that “Willie is falling for Tory propaganda here”, in fact I think Willie is all about Propoganda, Unionist that is.

      Theres something quite long… shank & er about the style if you catch my drift, although more likely one of the ilk rather than the genuine article.

      (To utter the word results in instant referral to the sin bin)

      And asides from a stint on Football365 (where there is a charming note from the mod reminding people not to post pictures that could be used in court cases against them) there isnt a log of anybody using Willie Zwigerland as a name except for the last couple of days on this site alone.  

      If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…         

    25. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      For anyone who is interested…

      Ryan, his wee dogs and sausage rolls are back!!!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YkeWxhO-F7E#!    

      Maybe this time hell last a bit longer than the few days he was up on Bellas page. 

    26. Stuart M says:

      Lovely article, but you did miss the opportunity to note that the “No” campaign is being fronted by one of the biggest benefit scroungers going. Alistair Darling, the serial mortgage flipper who claimed his personal accountant’s fees as expenses from us, the taxpayers.
       
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/cabinet-expenses/5601879/Alistair-Darlings-expenses.html

    27. charlie says:

      Quality.

      I heard on Radio 4 ‘independent comment’ as there being a choice between Michael Winner getting a free TV licence and lowpaid working families getting their money cut. Er there are other choices and Mr Winner and Paul McCartney’s TV licence are not going to even pish in the wind. There’s a few other choices inbetween, but Con Lib Lab are not going to talk about them.

      Hope all is as well as it can be Rev

      Charlie

    28. douglas clark says:

      Attempting to extend my thesis that there is a lot in common between the way parallel events are panning out, I came across this:
       
      ” A fundamental, practical weakness of a tyrannical approach, backed by brute force, is that it is hopelessly inefficient. The overwhelming majority of those involved in such a system understand that they are being mercilessly exploited but even those who expect to emerge as winners ultimately find that their own position is insecure and constantly under threat. They are constantly running up the down escalator just to maintain position and know that will be swept back to the bottom if they ever ease up.  Nevertheless, this inhuman Babylonian model is still the one which comes most naturally to a psychopath. It’s in widespread use, whether in the context of an abusive family unit, a Mafia-style organisation or an entire Police State.
       
      In the most successful and more sophisticated variations of the model, people’s sense of their own worth is chronically undermined by a relentless tide of psychological assaults designed to rob them of confidence, security and perception. This approach reduces the need for the controllers to resort to outright physical oppression. Words themselves lose their meaning; a peace-keeping force consists almost entirely of trained warriors who are armed to the teeth; austerity measures require tens of millions of pounds to be paid to the people who collapsed the economy; rebels and insurgents are people who are trying to kick occupying forces from distant continents out of their homelands; and sporting integrity is a system whereby the biggest cheats in the history of British football are effectively given a guarantee that  they will win their next league campaign, even if the rule book has to be scrapped to make it happen. There is such an overwhelming, never-ending bombardment of lies, deceits and affronts to decency that it becomes harder and harder for anyone to stand up confidently, point to the truth and say, “There it is!”
       
      This is slam bang in the middle of an article about ICBINR, by a guy called Henry Clarson.
       
      I would highly recommend the whole article. You can read it here:
      http://henryclarson.wordpress.com/
       
      I think the author of this article and the author of that one would share quite a lot in common?
       
      It is, to some extent, an antidote to the likes of the Willie Zwigerland’s of this world. We really don’t need this false conciousness rubbish.



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