Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ULSTER Loyalists last weekend rioted in east Belfast and one threw a lighted petrol bomb into a police car in which a policewoman was sitting.

Levels of violence in the British occupied six counties have been rising lately but for many it never stopped, even after the Good Friday Agreement. Sectarian attacks are rarely reported in the English media.

Nevertheless there have been positive shifts within the rank-and-file of the loyalist community away from extremism and violence. And leaders have taken positive steps to distance themselves from the British neo-Nazis who used to run guns for them. The New Communist Party has always supported the right of the whole Irish people to united and free nationhood under whatever government the people there choose to elect, as part of our general support for national liberation struggles throughout the world. When the nationalist community in the occupied north was utterly deprived of civil rights and took to armed struggle as the only means to achieve both civil rights and to shake off British occupation, we supported their decision. It has always been our position that the people in active struggle are in the best position to judge what strategy and tactics are appropriate at the time.

And the armed struggle did accomplish a major progressive shift in the situation in the north of Ireland. But it took a heavy toll in deaths, serious injury and constant fear.

In the early 1990s the leadership of Sinn Féin sent a proposal for talks to Prime Minister John Major. The New Worker was invited to photograph Gerry MacLoughlain on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street presenting the letter.

Major responded positively but the Ulster Unionist supporters of his own party laid out such impossible preconditions [effectively total surrender by the nationalists] to talks that the process came to nothing.

In 1997 the Labour government of Tony Blair was elected and one of the first things it did was to pick up the threads of this peace process. After long and difficult negotiations the Good Friday Agreement was hammered out. It has a lot of faults but it was presented to the people of Ireland, north and south of the border, nationalist and loyalist alike.

Overwhelmingly they all voted for it. The struggle for complete Irish freedom now passed from armed struggle into a peaceful, political phase. And our party still respects the judgement of the nationalist community and their elected representatives.

Sinn Féin’s involvement in the Northern Ireland Assembly has had a positive impact, especially in education, which has benefited all the working class people of the six counties. The demands for civil rights have been achieved — as much as can happen in a bourgeois democracy.

Nevertheless sectarian violence continues and the reunification of Ireland is yet to be achieved. And there are still a few in the nationalist community who would prefer to go back to the armed struggle.

We may understand their view but it is not the job of the NCP to tell the people of the occupied north of Ireland how to conduct their struggle — they’ve had enough of British people telling them what to do. The majority of nationalists clearly do not wish a return to the armed struggle now and we respect that. Sinn Féin continues to gain in the polls, north and south of the border; this would not happen if there was any significant level of support for a return to the armed struggle.

Our job is to campaign among the labour and trade union movement for pressure on the British government to completely withdraw its colonial occupation of the north of Ireland; that is our responsibility in the matter. We cannot see into the future and the armed struggle may be necessary again but that is for the people in the occupied six counties to decide.

In the meantime we base our demands on our own Government in respect of Ireland on those made by the elected representatives of the nationalist community there — in the same way that our demands for peace in the Middle East are based on the demands of the elected leaders of the Palestinian community in its struggle.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121214/troubles_not_over_for_the_north_of_ireland.html

Snoopers’ charter knocked back?

Posted: December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

by Daphne Liddle

HOME Secretary Theresa May has been forced to withdraw and rewrite her Communications Data Bill, known generally as the “snoopers’ charter” after it provoked opposition from Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and a significant number of backbench Tories, including former Home Secretary David Davis.

The Bill coincides with similar measures being proposed around the western world: in the United States, in Australia and in the United Nations and involves governments demanding that internet service providers keep records of every electronic communication.

The draft Bill would allow the government to order a communications service provider — such as Facebook or BT – to collect and store the communications data relating to all of the traffic they deal with. This would include details of internet usage, including websites visited, internet searches, private social media messages and even the online video games played.

We are told that the demand is coming from police authorities who insist it is urgently necessary to retain and monitor billions of private communications in order to track down “terrorists and paedophiles”.

But even right-wing politicians are not happy at the idea of their private communications being available to the police in this way and there has been a mighty backlash against the proposals abroad and in Britain.

David Davis told the Guardian: “This bill needs to go straight back to the drawing board. What it requires is a wholesale rewrite.” Even then, Davis said, it would still probably not make it on to the statute book before the next general election.

He called for a system more targeted at “those with suspect backgrounds” but conceded that the security services and police need greater powers.

The Lib-Dems and rebel Tories also protested at the costs that would be involved in such wholesale snooping.

Davis described the estimate of £1.8 billion as “written on the back of an MI6 fag packet”.

The Cabinet has now conceded the Bill stood no chance of being passed and has withdrawn it for redrafting.

In an article in the Sun newspaper, May made clear she would accept the substance of MPs’ and peers’ concerns but remained determined to push through these “vitally important laws” without any further delay as they were needed to “track paedophiles and terrorists”.

She wrote: “I have been absolutely clear that we need to introduce this bill in this session.”

She also said: “Anybody who is against this bill is putting politics before people’s lives”.

The National Union of Journalists is opposed to the Bill, saying it endangers journalists’ sources of information — as well as being a serious attack on the privacy of citizens’ electronic data.

Law enforcement agencies will be able to trawl that data and cross reference it with other data sources through a communications data search engine, revealing social connections and confidential communication between journalists and their sources.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “This draft bill is a major assault on civil liberties for all citizens and a threat to press freedom. For journalists it would be a direct attack on the way they work and would severely undermine their ability to protect their sources, materials and whistle-blowers.”

There is no particular urgency for the ruling class for this measure; they are just eager for it because it is technically possible. But anyone with any sense is well aware of the ease in which electronic communications can be monitored, with or without legal sanction, and will not commit anything really confidential to any piece of electronic equipment.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121214/snoopers_charter_knocked_back.html

DPR Korea space triumph!

Posted: December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

DPR Korea space triumph!

by our Asia correspondent

DEMOCRATIC Korea entered the space race with the successful launch of a weather satellite this week. “The satellite has entered the planned orbit,” a Korean Central Television news reader declared in a broadcast that played national songs with the lyrics “Korea does what it says” with shots of the launch pad at the Sohae Space Centre on the west coast of the DPR Korea.

The United States has grudgingly acknowledged that Democratic Korea now has a working satellite in space but only to lead the pack in denouncing the DPRK for daring to challenge the big power monopoly on space technology.

US imperialism maintains and upgrades satellite systems around the world for espionage and military monitoring purposes. But the north Korean polar-orbiting earth observation satellite that so enrages them is entirely for peaceful scientific and technological purposes.

The Unha-3 (Galaxy) rocket blasted off the launch pad in the bitter cold shortly before 10 am on Wednesday and successfully put a Kwangmyongsong 3 (Bright Star) satellite into orbit soon after.

Two previous rocket tests in 2006 and 2009 had been successful. But an attempt to put a research satellite into orbit last April failed when the rocket broke up two minutes after lift-off.

The legion of bourgeois media pundits all claimed this was a major technological or engineering failure that would take the north Koreans a year or more to resolve.

So this launch, long planned to coincide with the start of commemorations to mark the first anniversary of the passing of dear leader Kim Jong Il, clearly took the imperialists by surprise.

When the Korean Committee of Space Technology delayed the launch for a few days they all crowed about another failure. Now they’re bleating at the United Nations about alleged breaches of Security Council resolutions.

The United States and Japan, itself not much more than a puppet of US imperialism, have called on the UN Security Council to denounced the DPRK for using ballistic technology, even though this is the only possible way to put a satellite into orbit. This nonsense has also been dutifully echoed by Britain and the rest of the European Union.

Russia and China, who had previously urged Democratic Korea to abandon the launch, have also expressed their regrets.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry official said: “The DPRK is entitled to the peaceful use of outer space, but that right is currently restrained by relevant UN Security Council resolutions”, adding that the DPRK, as a member of the United Nations, is obliged to observe the Security Council resolutions.

When asked “What action the Security Council should take?” the official said the Chinese side holds that the Security Council’s response should be “prudent and moderate” and conducive to maintaining the overall peace and stability of the peninsula instead of escalating tensions there. But Democratic Korea is determined to continue the peaceful development of space technology. “ No matter what others say, we will continue to exercise our legitimate right to launch satellites,” a DPRK Foreign Office official declared.

“The right to use outer space for peaceful purposes is universally recognised by international law and it reflects the unanimous will of the international community. So this issue is not one over which the UN Security Council can say this or that,” he added.

He called on the international community to “use reason and remain cool so as to prevent the situation from developing [in an] undesirable direction.”

The north Korean official further insisted that the launch had been “part of peaceful work in line with the country’s scientific and technological development plan for the economic construction and improvement of people’s living standard.”

The Americans had overreacted to the previous rocket launch in April out of hostile feelings. This had forced the DPRK to re-examine the nuclear issue as a whole, he said adding:

“The concept of hostility will not be of any help, and confrontation will not help settle anything either”.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121214/dpr_korea_space_triumph.html

THE COALITION MUST GO!

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

by Daphne Liddle

WE KNEW Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn mini-budget, announced on Wednesday, was going to be hard but that does not make it any easier to swallow. He is determined to carry on with his policies that are driving more and more low-income families towards the abyss of utter destitution.

At the same time he continues to mock us all with more cuts in corporation tax.

The three pence a litre rise in fuel duty, which would have had a knock on effect on the price of all commodities. has been dropped.

But the Chancellor has also pegged rises in benefit levels to just one per cent a year, regardless of inflation rates. This will see the value of benefits squeezed at a time when prices of all essentials — housing, food and domestic fuel — are steadily rising.

This will put many families on the brink of economic collapse over the edge. But it will save the Treasury £4 billion a year.

He has also pegged rises in the threshold for higher level tax at one per cent, regardless of inflation. This is letting the very rich off very lightly.

The day before the mini – budget announcement, Osborne called on all Government departments to find another £5 billion in cuts in order to provide a pot of money for a modest programme of investment to stimulate the economy.

Relaunch

This will be used to relaunch the programme of replenishing and renewing school buildings throughout the country that the Labour government of Gordon Brown put in place in early 2010.

David Cameron’s first act as Prime Minister in 2010 was to cancel this. Now the Con-Dem Coalition is implicitly admitting it was wrong to do so. But the costs of scrapping it and then resurrecting it will be enormous and add to the Government’s debt problems that are still growing in spite of his draconian austerity policies.

There will also be spending on transport infrastructure — mostly for the benefit of car owners and little on public transport.

But nothing has been mentioned about building new council houses — a measure that would provide employment and help to alleviate the current desperate housing shortage.

The private rented sector has failed to meet the needs of the growing army of homeless families because the rents it charges are too high and Housing benefit will no longer cover them.

The only way forward is more good quality council housing.

out of step

Osborne is continuing to be further out of step with other major western capitalist powers, which are investing more seriously to stimulate their economies and reduce unemployment.

Osborne is not an economist but a hard-line right wing politician who wants to use high unemployment to keep the working class in its place — even if this does put up the number forced to claim unemployment benefit and reduces the number of people able to pay tax.

And the economy in Britain is steadily going downhill because of his dogmatism. He and Cameron promised to be able to balance the book by 2015; now this is deferred to 2018 — but they are unlikely to be in power by then.

Workers who are homeless and jobless or on the brink of disaster cannot wait that long. Their lives and those of their children are being ruined now.

The Con-Dem Coalition is already divided over Europe, over civil liberties, over Leveson and over many other issues.

It must be brought down and we must force a general election as soon as possible.

And we must ensure that the only realistic alternative government, Labour, is not also following the same poisonous austerity policies.

Rank and file trade unionists and community groups are already more active than they had been for years before the economic crisis of 2008.

But that is not enough. We must increase the pressure on union leaderships to lead properly and organise action — including co-ordinated national strikes and all-out strikes (for longer than just one or two days) — or stand aside for new leaders who will fight.

Lives of workers, pensioners, the disabled and young people depend on it. This Government has to go — and soon.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121207/the_coalition_must_go.html

by New Worker correspondent

IT MAY have been cold and frosty outside but it was nice and warm in London’s historic Marx House as delegates and guests gathered for the 17th Congress of the New Communist Party of Britain.

That historic house in Clerkenwell Green, with its memories of Lenin and the Marxist pioneers of the British working class movement, was once again the venue for the NCP’s triennial congress last weekend.

Sadly ill-health prevented some comrades from taking part in the discussions, like NCP President Eric Trevett and National Treasurer Dolly Shaer. But both their voices were heard in messages to Congress that were read out by national chair Alex Kempshall during the opening of the first session on Saturday afternoon.

Eric said: “This Congress is a very important event. It equips our party with a forward strategy that takes into account national and international events…We operate in a major imperialist country where reformism has been the major ideological force in the labour movement from its inception. We find in a more recent period that many communist parties capitulated to the revisionist ideas of social democracy and there was much talk of crisis free capitalism. The present crisis has wiped away the basis the basis for such false ideas”.

“In the present attack on the working class young and old alike are having to face the reality of the class struggle for millions of people”, Eric declared. “Our way forward is to maintain the organisational unity of the working class, combining the struggle for peace and the fight for jobs and social amenities and to merge these struggles to achieve the defeat of the capitalists and their system. Our Party can be proud that it has a developed strategy that is in conformity with the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism and takes into account the concrete realities of our struggle”.

Dolly, who is recovering after a major operation, was also there in spirit, greeting delegates with a message that said: “I wish more than anything that I could be with you all over this weekend to help further the work of our Party”.

Congress stood in silence to remember comrades Albert Williams, Katina Elllis and Otto Cahn who had all sadly passed away since the last congress. And after the formalities of electing tellers, the Congress panels and standing orders committees, general secretary Andy Brooks moved the main resolution in a speech. This covered imperialism, revisionism and the growing resistance to the draconian austerity plans that the ruling class in Britain and throughout Europe are imposing on working people to make them pay for the economic crisis, which has plunged the capitalist world into the biggest slump since the crash of 1929.

As the crisis deepens, so does the danger of even more imperialist aggression. “We meet again at a time of sharpening contradictions and the primary contradiction in the world today is between United States imperialism and the rest of the world it seeks to dominate,” Andy said.

“As the political and economic crisis deepens around the world the struggle for markets and spheres of influence becomes acute, so much so that the aggressor countries, in their need to win the battle for markets and minerals turn to war and crude methods to replace diplomacy and negotiations. The United States is the major imperialist power and is keeping to its aims of provoking war and building up its military machine. The American people and the world peace movement are largely ignored — as was former President Eisenhower when he warned of the danger of the military industrial complex. It is precisely that section of the ruling class that has gained the upper hand and is responsible for the foreign policy of the United States”.

Andy’s speech was followed by a solidarity message from Michael Chant of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML). Michael said: “Our two Parties, NCP and RCPB(ML), are dedicated to building a Party of a new type in today’s circumstances, a Party composed of professional revolutionaries. Our two Parties are dedicated to the same cause. We do not just co-operate, but take up for solution the problems of contemporary society on a national and global scale, including working together to solve the issue of What Type of Party in today’s conditions.

“Our Parties agree that modern definitions are necessary for the success of our work, and we are united in taking up the programmatic slogan: One Class, One Programme! All the efforts in the discussions we have had over many years are focused on finding the way forward based on this programmatic slogan…the outlook of the communist party is a very optimistic one. This is because our parties base ourselves on the most advanced theory, the theory of Marxism-Leninism, which gives us confidence in the sureness of our victory.”

Michael was followed by a number of fraternal delegates from other communist and workers’ parties who brought messages of support from around the world during the sessions over the weekend and joined comrades and friends for a reception in the hall on Saturday evening.

These included Ioli Gouma and George Giannakis from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Loukas Papagiannis of the People’s Progressive Party of Cyprus (AKEL). Joe Appard delivered the message from the Communist Party of Malta and Jack Callan brought greetings from the Workers Party of Ireland.

The struggle of the Cuban people against the US blockade and the fight to free the Miami Five was highlighted in the message from the Communist Party of Cuba given by Rafael Sardinas from the Cuban embassy in London, while DPR Korea diplomat Myongsin Mun brought greetings from the Workers Party of Korea and told Congress the good news about the imminent north Korean satellite launch. Messages from old friends of the NCP, like the comrades from the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Communist Workers Party of Finland, Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE), Communist Party of Mexico and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) were read out over the weekend along with the greetings from Dermot Hudson of the UK Korean Friendship Association, Left Front Art and the Britain- Vietnam Friendship Association.

Ideological issues and the day-to-day struggle in the peace and trade union movement were taken up by delegates in committee and on the floor of Congress along with the key issue of the future of the New Worker and the need to expand its sales and influence across the labour movement.

Ray Jones, our printer who is also a member of the Central Committee, opened this discussion by announcing that the New Worker would be going tabloid in January. This was forced on us because our existing machines were rapidly coming to the end of the operational lives and no suitable replacement was available on the market.

Though this means abandoning a paper size we had used with little variation since 1977, it will lead to an overall larger paper. The new equipment would enable us to use colour on any page of the planned 12-page New Worker that will hopefully come out in January.

On Sunday delegates voted to endorse the reports of the standing orders and panels committees — thus the new central committee was elected and the main resolution, setting out the NCP’s policy for the next three years, was agreed.

Winding up NCP leader Andy Brooks said the document was an important collective work that began in January on the Central Committee and has now ended with the adoption of the main resolution as amended by Congress. Now the task is to project our analysis into the movement and raise the profile of the communist alternative across the country.

It was a busy and worthwhile two days. It ended, as always, with a rousing rendition of the Internationale.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121207/mapping_a_path_to_a_socialist_future_the_17th_congress_of_the_new_communist_party.html

Iran brings down spy drone

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

by ore Middle East Affairs correspondent

IRAN has force-landed another American spy drone over its territory and, while experts begin to probe the machine to extract its programmes and data, the Islamic Republic is threatening to take international legal action against the United States for this blatant violation of their airspace.

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced on Tuesday that a US spy drone had been captured by Iranian forces over the Persian Gulf upon its intrusion into Iranian airspace. The drone shown on Iranian TV this week is a US Boeing ScanEagle — a small, long endurance robot used by the US Navy for aerial reconnaissance. It can stay aloft for more than 20 hours, at a cruising speed of 60 knots. It is equipped with a stabilised turret system containing electro optical and infra-red cameras that can provide real time video feeds to operators in ground control stations within a range exceeding 100 km.

The lack of damage shows that the drone was not shot down but was electronically hooked and landed by the Iranian air defence teams.

Last year, the Iranian military grounded a US RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone while it was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225 km) from the Afghan border.

On 1st November two Iranian war-planes fired on an American Predator drone that had violated the Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf. A week later the Iranian Air Force repelled another unidentified aircraft that entered the Iranian airspace.

The US Navy has denied losing any of its drones and some reports in the imperialist media suggest that the spy-craft may have been part of a number operated by the United Arab Emirates, one of America’s long-term lackeys in the region.

There’s no doubt that the Americans have long concentrated their spy operations in the Gulf on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant and the Islamic Republic’s air defence systems. This is clearly in preparation for a possible air attack to take out Iran’s nuclear installations if the Islamic Republic refuses to abandon its nuclear research that the imperialists claim is part of a programme to develop atomic weapons.

Resorting to aerial and satellite reconnaissance and the targeting assassination of Iranian scientists shows that the imperialist intelligence agencies have failed to penetrate the cloak of secrecy that surrounds Iran’s nuclear efforts by conventional means.

But these efforts have been significantly stepped up over the past two months according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

Citing unnamed American officials, the newspaper said the increased US surveillance of Bushehr has been conducted in part by US unmanned drones operating over the Gulf.

The increased US surveillance of Bushehr, on Iran’s south-western coast, has been conducted in part with the Pentagon’s fleet of drones operating over the Persian Gulf. The effort resulted in the interception of visual images and audio communications coming from the reactor complex, these officials claimed.

The Wall Street Journal report also revealed that the Americans are attempting to eavesdrop on phone calls made by the plant’s staff to get a better understanding of the activity taking place beneath Bushehr’s protective concrete igloo.

Tehran has formally complained to the United Nations about these repeated aerial espionage missions.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121207/iran_brings_down_spy_drone.html

Palestinian successes

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

THE PALESTINIANS have won two battles in recent weeks. The first was in the struggle with the Zionist aggressors in streets of Gaza and the second was on the floor of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. The struggles were led by rival wings of the Palestinian national movement — Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood that runs the Gaza Strip, and the coalition led by Fatah, the nationalist movement founded by Yasser Arafat that controls the Palestinian government which runs the autonomous zones in the occupied West Bank. Both claim to be the voice for all the Palestinians in the occupied territories and both have scored important victories in recent weeks.

The guns have fallen silent in Gaza and the Palestinians are now picking up the pieces following the devastation caused by over a week of Israeli air raids and missile attacks. The fact that Israel was forced to end the fighting before launching a ground invasion is a measure of the success of the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile last week’s UN vote to grant non-member observer status to Palestine was another defeat for US imperialism.

Last year US imperialism blocked a Palestinian bid for UN membership on the UN Security Council, forcing the Palestinians to go straight to the General Assembly where there is no veto, and all decisions are passed by a simple majority.

An overwhelming majority voted in favour of Palestine, leaving US imperialism and its Zionist lackey totally isolated in the world forum. The 193-member assembly voted 138 in favour of the plan, with only nine against and 41 abstentions.

The imperialist camp was divided. France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland all voted yes while Britain and Germany both shamefully abstained.

The Americans and Israelis ludicrously claimed that elevating the status of the Palestinian government would hinder a peace process they themselves have stalled time and time again over the years. But in the end the Americans could only force the Czech Republic, Canada, Panama and some tiny Pacific island states to stand by the Zionist entity when the vote was taken.

The British government abstained claiming the Palestinians had not undertaken to resume “unconditional” talks with the Israelis — a British demand which essentially means unconditional surrender to Zionist demands. But the interest of British imperialism is simply to keep step with their American partners while posing as the friend of the Arabs to boost arms sales to the feudal Arab tyrants in the Gulf. Some say that the UN vote is meaningless and that the Palestinians have got nothing apart from a symbolic boost to the status of the Fatah-led Palestinian government. This is, in fact, what the Israelis and their American masters are saying at the moment.

But the UN decision goes beyond symbolically giving Palestine some sort of seat in the General Assembly. First of all it puts Palestine on equal standing with Israel in international law which means that any future talks will be between two states and not between a military occupier and a people under occupation.

The vote also gives overwhelming endorsement of the Palestinian Authority’s bid to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem, the territories seized by Israel in 1967.

It also opens the door to Palestine joining various UN institutions, including the International Criminal Court, which then could hear indictments of war crimes against Israel.

The Geneva Convention forbids occupying powers from moving “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”, leaving Israeli officials potentially vulnerable to a challenge over its aggressive settlement on stolen Palestinian Arab land. The question of who leads the Palestinians is matter only they can decide on. The Palestinian question itself can only be resolved with the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs, including the right of the refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel and to establish their own independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121207/palestinian_successes.html

Child poverty facts and figures

Posted: December 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

  • There are 3.6 million children living in poverty in the UK today. That’s 27 per cent of children, or more than one in four.1
  • There are even more serious concentrations of child poverty at a local level: in 100 local wards, for example, between 50 and 70 per cent of children are growing up in poverty.2
  • Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one member works.3
  • People are poor for many reasons. But explanations which put poverty down to drug and alcohol dependency, family breakdown, poor parenting, or a culture of worklessness are not supported by the facts.4
  • Child poverty blights childhoods. Growing up in poverty means being cold, going hungry, not being able to join in activities with friends. For example, 62 per cent of families in the bottom income quintile would like, but cannot afford, to take their children on holiday for one week a year.5
  • Child poverty has long-lasting effects. By 16, children receiving free school meals achieve 1.7 grades lower at GCSE than their wealthier peers.6 Leaving school with fewer qualifications translates into lower earnings over the course of a working life.
  • Poverty is also related to more complicated health histories over the course of a lifetime, again influencing earnings as well as the overall quality – and indeed length – of life. Professionals live, on average, eight years longer than unskilled workers.7
  • Child poverty imposes costs on broader society – estimated to be at least £25 billion a year.8 Governments forgo prospective revenues as well as commit themselves to providing services in the future if they fail to address child poverty in the here and now.
  • Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998/9-2010/12 when 1.1 million children were lifted out of poverty (BHC).9 This reduction is credited in large part to measures that increased the levels of lone parents working, as well as real and often significant increases in the level of benefits paid to families with children.
  • Under current government policies, child poverty is projected to rise from 2012/13 with an expected 300,000 more children living in poverty by 2015/16.10 This upward trend is expected to continue with 4.2 million children projected to be living in poverty by 2020.
  • 1. Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Tables 4.1tr and 4.3tr. Department for Work and Pensions, 2012
  • 2. Child Poverty Map of the UK, End Child Poverty, March 2011
  • 3. Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Table 4.3db. Department for Work and Pensions, 2012
  • 4. For example, G Hay and L Bauld, Population estimates of problematic drug users in England who access DWP benefits, Department for Work and Pensions, 2008, suggest that 6.6 per cent of the total number of benefit claimants in England were problem drug users. While drug misuse may prove to be a key reason this group of people finds it hard to escape poverty, it clearly has no explanatory power for the other 93.4 per cent of claimants.
  • 5. Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Table 4.7 db. Department for Work and Pensions, 2012
  • 6. GCSE and Equivalent Attainment by Pupil Characteristics in England 2009/10, Department for Education 2011
  • 7. Life expectancy at birth and at the age of 65 by local areas in the UK, 2004-6 and 2008-10, Office of National Statistics, October 2011
  • 8. D Hirsch, Estimating the costs of child poverty, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2008
  • 9. Households Below Average Income, An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2010/11, Department for Work and Pensions, 2012
  • 10. M Brewer, J Browne and R Joyce, Child and working age poverty from 2010 to 2020, Institute for Fiscal Studies, October 2011

http://www.cpag.org.uk/child-poverty-facts-and-figures

So more children will have to pay for Cameron and Osborne’s chums greed. Nice. 😦

From Barnardos

Barnardo’s say the poorest families will be pushed further into poverty in response to the autumn statement by the Chancellor today.

What did the autumn statement say?

Many working-age benefits will go up by 1% in April, which is lower than both the current rate of inflation and the rate experts predict for next year.

 

What does this mean for poor families?

The IFS predicted that the chancellor’s last benefits change in 2010, changing benefits to rise in line with CPI rather than RPI, would be the strongest factor driving 1 million more children will be in poverty by 2020. This latest statement only reinforces this sad fact.

 

Chief Executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

Yet again it is children from impoverished families who are unfairly suffering most under the government’s austerity measures. By effectively breaking the link between benefits and inflation in his Autumn Statement today, the Chancellor has ensured a bleaker and bleaker future for Britain’s poorest families.

Families most in need will not only lose out on as much as £140 next year and despair to see their benefits increase by a meagre 1% over three years, but the safety net for the poorest could be weakened forever if new legislation on uprating announced today goes ahead.

For the low income families in the UK who live on just £12 per person per day, this loss will be devastating. We know these households already have to choose between heating the house and buying school uniform. Any plans to bite further into their budgets risk tipping them into overwhelming poverty.

We know that children growing up in low income households are more likely to suffer from chronic illness, do less well in education and struggle to find work on leaving school.

Barnardo’s urges the government to help families climb their way up and out of the poverty trap by protecting their incomes and improving children’s life chances so that every child has the opportunity to realise their potential.”

http://www.barnardos.org.uk/news/Autumn_statement__More_child_poverty/latest-news.htm?ref=84299

Death by poverty

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

A NEW report from the Annals of Oncology shows that the rich-poor gap in cancer survival rates remains unchanged in spite of improved cancer survival rates generally. The crucial factor in survival chances is early diagnosis but in England 5,600 people every year miss out on having their cancer diagnosed at an early stage because of social inequality, according to the report.

The Cambridge University team that carried out the research analysed data on 98,942 patients and looked at 10 common cancers: breast, bowel, bladder, lung, prostate, womb, ovarian, skin, kidney and rectal, which are responsible for more than two-thirds of all new cancer diagnoses in England.

Patients living in poorer neighbourhoods in eastern England were less likely to have their cancers picked up early than those living in more affluent parts of this region.

The researchers estimate that closing this gap could benefit, each year, 2,000 men with prostate cancer, 1,300 people with lung cancer, 1,000 women with breast cancer, 700 people with skin cancer, and 600 people with other types of cancer, who are currently diagnosed at a late stage.

So why do poor people tend to have their cancers diagnosed too late? They are more likely to be working long hours to make up a little for the low hourly rate of pay; more likely to have financial problems; less likely to have enough rest and recreation and less likely to be able to afford good quality food. It is stress and anxiety that drive people to smoke, drink a bit too much and eat junk foods and people on low incomes suffer proportionately more stress because they have less control over their lives and are more at the beck and call of others.

And of course GP practices in poorer areas are more likely to be understaffed and oversubscribed with less time in consultations for patients to bring up niggling worries — patients who may feel embarrassed at wasting the doctor’s time over “something that is probably nothing”. The middle classes have few such inhibitions.

But cancer is only one factor in the widening gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. And there is a new factor that is likely to widen that gap considerably: being interviewed by the notorious agency Atos for the Work Capability Assessment.

This French-based company has been hired by the Government with a brief to reduce by billions of pounds the total cost of payments made to the disabled and long-term sick. It operates mechanistic computer based assessments that show someone capable of work if they can so much as lift a pencil.

People with very serious health conditions and even terminal illnesses have been judged fit for work, meaning their sickness benefit is cut and replaced with Job Seekers’ Allowance. But to keep Job Seekers’ Allowance they have either to attend regular sessions “to prepare them for work” or be able to prove they are actively seeking work. People who are very ill just cannot do this and stand to lose all support.

Those who appeal against the loss of benefits have a high rate of success in getting the decisions overturned, especially if they have legal advice and support — though such support is vanishing with the cuts. But even then they may not get their benefits back; the appeal procedure takes time and by the time they have won they can be due for another Atos assessment — which will again find them fit for work.

The firm was first brought in under the last Labour government but has been working overtime under the Con-Dem Coalition. And now every week more than 70 people die through illness or suicide shortly after an Atos assessment that has said they are fit for work.

The Nazis used to gas the seriously disabled and mentally ill, describing them as “useless mouths”. Our current Government, aided by the gutter press, is labelling them as “scroungers” and condemning them to death by destitution, slow starvation and suicide.

Public anger is growing at the realisation of what is going on. Atos has been called to account by the Scottish government and its directors are to face questioning by a Westminster parliamentary committee.

But the real blame must rest with the governments that hired Atos and gave them the brief to cut the benefits budget by so much. It is a task that cannot be accomplished without horrendous brutality.

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20121116/death_by_poverty.html