Iain Duncan Smith vs Reality

February 26, 2016

A recent comment of mine on Facebook has set myself a challenge: to show people in general what our glorious DWP destroyer, sorry I meant leader, Iain Duncan Smith is really like.  Peel away at his fabricated facade and the truth begins to be revealed.  And that truth is pretty nasty.

On Facebook, a user called Shawn Power shared a web page: “The IDS Files: Iain Duncan Smith vs Reality”.  I urge you to have a look – it places his lies against the truth – and there are a lot of lies.  Here are a few:

The IDS Files - The Truth is Out ThereLong Description

 

Iain Duncan Smith

vs

Reality

While Tory Leader, Iain Duncan Smith’s biography on the Conservative Party website, his entry in Who’s Who, and various other places, stated that he went to the Universita di Perugia in Italy.

BBC Newsnight:

This is not true: his office now admit that he went to the Universita per Stranieri, which is also in Perugia.

Mr Duncan Smith’s office has now admitted to Newsnight that he didn’t get any qualifications in Perugia or even finish his exams.

Source: BBC Newsnight

Again, while Tory Leader, the first line of Iain Duncan Smith’s biography, on the Conservative Party website, claimed he was “educated at Dunchurch College of Management”.

Mr Duncan Smith’s office has now confirmed to Newsnight that he did not get any qualifications there either, but that he completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total.

Source: BBC Newsnight

When IDS was Tory Party Leader, his Conservative Party Biography claimed he had been a Director at GEC Marconi.

This was not true, he was a junior marketing executive.

Source: The Independent 

[With thanks to The Klaxon for this one]

Debbie Abrahams MP: “Why does he [IDS] refuse to publish the details of the number of people who have died within six weeks of their claims for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance, including those who have been found fit for work?”

Iain Duncan Smith: She knows very well that theDepartment does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance.”

Work and Pensions Questions, House of Commons 22nd June 2015 Hansard

On August 28th 2015, just over one month after IDSclaimed they didn’t exist, the DWP released into the public domain the statistics on deaths of ESA claimants.

Source: The Department For Work and Pensions

“Britain has the highest rate of jobless households in Europe.” Iain Duncan Smith, House of Commons

Daily Telegraph

Britain did not have the highest number of jobless households in Europe.

IDS later admitted the ‘error’ and has corrected the Commons Record

Source: Fullfact.org

The Centre for Social Justice estimates, the cost of family breakdown is £20-24 billion. And the Relationships Foundation puts the figure at nearer £40 billion.

……… The costs to society as a whole …. are very difficult to quantify – but research suggests they could be up to £100 billion.”Iain Duncan Smith

Daily Mail

“…….. we can see no reason to accept the claim now in circulation that “broken homes” cost Britain £100 billion.

…….the very CSJ report from which the lower estimate is extracted warns against certainty in this area: “it is impossible to quantify with any accuracy the cost of family breakdown to the Exchequer”.

Source: FullFact.Org

“in 13 years of Labour rule, 70 per cent of the four million jobs created were taken by people from overseas” Iain Duncan Smith, reported in The Sun and the Daily Mail

there are no figures to back up any claimregarding the number of ‘jobs created’ that were taken by workers of any nationality.”

Source: FullFact.Org

In a parliamentary debate, Iain Duncan Smith claimed that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that private sector rents had fallen by 5 per cent last year.

The private sector rent figures came from the website FindaProperty.com, not the Office for National Statistics as originally claimed in the House of Commons by Iain Duncan Smith. Source: Inside Housing

What the EU is now trying to do is get us to provide benefits for those who come to this country with no intention to work and no other means of supporting themselves, with the sole purpose of accessing a more generous benefit system.” Iain Duncan Smith

Channel 4 FactCheck asked the government for estimates of how big the problem of benefit tourism actually is, and whether it had got better or worse since the introduction of “right to reside” in 2004.

A DWP spokesman said the department had “no information available”.

Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

The public thinks that homelessness is about not having any reasonable accommodation to go to, that’s not what the definition is. The definition inside government and places like Shelter is that children have to share rooms… Nobody, and I can guarantee this, nobody will be made homeless in the sense of the public’s view of it – without a home to go to – as a result of this.” Iain Duncan Smith

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “The Secretary of State said that, according to Shelter, families where children share a bedroom would be defined as homeless. This is simply not true. Shelter uses the same definition of homelessness as the government, as set out in the Housing Act 1996, passed by the last Conservative government.” Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

We are creating a new benefit, because the last benefit [Disability Living Allowance] grew by something like 30 per cent in the past few years. It’s been rising well ahead of any other gauge you might make about illness, sickness, disability or, for that matter, general trends in society.”

Something like 70 per cent [of DLA claimants] had lifetime awards, [which] meant that once they got it you never looked at them again.” Iain Duncan Smith,

While there has been a 30 per cent growth in the raw number of claimants, this is significantly lower once demographic changes are accounted for.

Similarly, while it is true that over 70 per cent of DLA claimants are on indefinite awards, it isn’t necessarily true that these people are ‘never looked at again’.  Source: FullFact.Org

On average, every week there are about half a million new jobs coming through at the Jobcentre” Iain Duncan Smith on LBC Radio

“After contacting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they could not verify what Mr Duncan-Smith may have said this morning. However, they did confirm:

On average Jobcentre Plus continues to add 10,000 jobs to its books every working day.”

10,000 jobs per working day is certainly not half a million per week.” Source:FullFact.Org

These figures show the benefit cap is already a success and is actively encouraging people back to work.” Iain Duncan Smith

With the information Mr Duncan Smith has put before us, his figures don’t show the benefits cap is already successful at getting people back into work.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The Secretary of State believes that the benefits cap is having an effect.”  Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

Of those who are looking for full-time jobs, 4/5 of them are finding them, so about 1/5 of those looking for full-time work are not finding full-time work and settling for part time work.” Iain Duncan Smith

“...there does not appear to be any data by which the Work and Pensions Secretary can substantiate his claim. ” Source:FullFact.Org

Where you see the clustering of the large families is really down at the very lowest incomes, with those on significant numbers of welfare…and those at the very top level of incomes.”

We have paid rents on houses in London in some cases of over £100,000 to families are too large to house anywhere else.” Iain Duncan Smith

DWP figures show that some 160 claimants out of more than 3 million were getting the equivalent of £50,000 a year or more in 2010.That’s 0.0004 per cent of cases.

The Daily Telegraph researched how many families were getting over £100,000 in 2010 and found only three, all in the London borough of Westminster. Source: Channel4 FactCheck

Tax credit payments rose by some 58 per cent ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20 per cent.” Iain Duncan Smith. Daily Telegraph

[[HMRC] said that in 2003-04, £16.4bn was paid, and the following year £17.7bn.

That’s an increase of 8%, not 58%.

And in 2008-9, HMRC said, some £25.1bn was paid. In the following year, it was £27.3bn. Which means that in the two years prior to the 2010 general election, spending on tax credits increased by 8.8 per cent, not 20.
Source: Channel 4 FactCheck

It will come as no surprise therefore that fraudsters from around the world targeted this [tax credit] benefit for personal gain. Iain Duncan Smith. Daily Telegraph

when we asked HMRC how many non-UK nationals were responsible for tax credit fraud, it said: “The tax credit system doesn’t record nationalities of claimants, so we don’t have those figures.” Source:Channel 4 FactCheck

A radical welfare reform programme designed to tackle entrenched poverty and end the curse of intergenerational worklessness is set out today by new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith.

DWP Press Release: Reforms will tacklepoverty and get Britain working again

and

Department for Work and Pensions – European Social Fund in England

“Researchers in deprived neighbourhoods in Glasgow and Middlesbrough found that worklessness was not the result of a culture of worklessness, held in families and passed down the generations…..

There was no evidence of ‘a culture of worklessness’

Despite strenuous efforts, the researchers were unable to locate any such families.

Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was a very rare phenomenon, which is consistent with recent quantitative surveys of this issue.”

Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Are ‘cultures of worklessness’ passed down the generations?

The Image at the top of this page was created by the awesome Mr Brian Hilton.Further reading:

Sorry about the poor contrast between the text and background.  Go to the site to see it more clearly

If you live in Chingford and Woodford Green, I’d love to hear from you.  If you have had benefits or tax credits stopped or “sanctioned” I’d love to hear your story.  If you depend on Food Banks and charity because of this government’s policies I’d love to hear from you.  You can leave messages in the Comments section.  Or if you want anonymity you can use the Contact Form – link at the top of the page – and I will absolutely protect your anonymity.  IDS needs to meet the truth.  Please help me make that meeting happen soon.  Help me make sure that it hurts him.  We do not need a character like that in government.  In fact we don’t need a party like the Tories to be anywhere near the levers of power.  The longer they cling to office, the rich  will get richer, at the expense of the poor.  The rich get richer, the poor get poorer – you’ve heard that saying before.  But how about “The rich get richer, the poor get angrier“?  Let’s use that anger to get rid of IDS and all of his kind!


Who is to blame for Maddie McCann’s disappearance?

February 23, 2016

Well here’s a hot potato if ever I saw one.  The outspoken Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins said it was “time to speak out” after Kate and Gerry McCann fronted a campaign to raise awareness of the Child Rescue Alerts scheme, which sends out text messages and emails if a child goes missing.

Ms Hopkins, a mother of three, wrote that the couple were “too self-assured to hire a babysitter and too self-centred to care” before the three-year-old disappeared in Portugal in 2007.

She also said Kate and Gerry McCann “didn’t deserve £11million of our cash to look for Maddie.”

Show me a family from a council estate who left their child alone to go out eating and drinking who have been lauded with such support and the protection of the state.

The McCanns put their own children in harm’s way. Those kids were in danger. Because of their parents …

Maddie wasn’t lost because someone took her. She was lost because she was left to be found.

Hopkins’ article has caused a bit of an uproar.  But interestingly, according to the Standard’s web page, 87% of respondents think that the McCanns share the guilt.  Not a nice thing for them to learn, obviously – but they do need to realise that the majority of the readers of the Standard are not staunch supporters of their campaign.

Twitter comments are divided:

One Twitter user said: “Agree with absolutely everything @KTHopkins has said about Maddie’s disappearance, she’s only saying what the rest of you think anyway.”

Anna (@HalfBloodAnna) tweeted: “Katie Hopkins victim blaming the McCanns suggests people have no self control, the blame lies with whoever wrongly took what wasn’t theirs.”

Another user said: “There’s lots about this story that many people have felt uncomfortable with – but no one has dared say it before, well done.”

“Yes they made a terrible mistake,” wrote another commenter.

“Thousands do the same thing every day and get away with it. Cruel for Hopkins to rub salt in it surely. How did she become our moral guide?”

One Twitter user said: “Agree with absolutely everything @KTHopkins has said about Maddie’s disappearance, she’s only saying what the rest of you think anyway.”

Anna (@HalfBloodAnna) tweeted: “Katie Hopkins victim blaming the McCanns suggests people have no self control, the blame lies with whoever wrongly took what wasn’t theirs.”

Another user said: “There’s lots about this story that many people have felt uncomfortable with – but no one has dared say it before, well done.”

“Yes they made a terrible mistake,” wrote another commenter.

“Thousands do the same thing every day and get away with it. Cruel for Hopkins to rub salt in it surely. How did she become our moral guide?”

MissBee (‏@MissBee73 ) tweeted: “Someone posted an article by Katie Hopkins about the McCanns which led me to an internet frenzy on stuff about them. I feel disturbed now.”

maddy

Maddy disappeared in 2007 while her parents were having a knees-up elsewhere with their friends

It is certainly true that the McCanns have been portrayed as perfect parents, whereas they left their very young daughter “home alone” while they went out drinking and partying with their friends.  In the UK, leaving a girl Maddie’s age home alone would be a criminal offence.  Also, their involvement in the Portugal police’s investigation may have hampered rather than helped that investigate.

One thing I wonder is: let’s say Maddie is found.  She will have lived with and been brought up by her “new parents” for much longer than the time she spent with the McCann’s.  Would the McCanns want her “family” to be broken up and imprisoned?  Would they want Maddie returned to them, even though they are, to all intents and purposes, complete strangers who have brought Maddie up for many many years?  What exactly do the McCanns want?

The chances are that Maddie is dead, or is being brought up by lovely people she knows as Mum and Dad.  Do the McCanns want o destroy her life just to prove a point?

Kate and Gerry McCann should drop this.  No good can come of it.  Obviously they greave and have had no closure.  But what’s most important to them: their own state of mind, or Maddies?

 


When she said to take her hand

February 20, 2016

When she said to take her hand
I never dreamt it was to guide the knife.
“Let me touch your heart,” she said,
“My fingers long to feel the beat.”
So I took her hand and helped her to her feet
And placed it where she’d feel my life’s tattoo,
She’d feel the drum that marched the wine of life
Through arid sand, that made the dunes a place
Where, although parched, could make life spring anew.
Perhaps it’s best I never saw the smile
That, when she cut away my tenuous life,
Split her face forever into two.

smile-knife-resized

Image from hdwyn.com

 

 


Apple vs the FBI: Go on, Apple!

February 18, 2016

At the FBI’s urging, a federal magistrate has ordered Apple to create a program that will allow the FBI to get into an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.  They claim this a one-off thing; they just want to gain access to the shooter’s phone.  On the radio I heard a federal justice spokesman explain it like this:  “If the FBI had a warrant to enter and search a house, but the house had a combination lock that would permanently lock the door if the wrong combination was entered a few times, the FBI would knock the door in using a tank.  All we want is for Apple to supply us with the tank.”

But that is nonsense.  If the locked-door scenario happened, the FBI would bring their own tank to knock the door in.  They wouldn’t ask a lock manufacturer to build the tank for them.

The US government have wanted a back-door into Apple’s iPhones for a while now. This has especially been the case since September 2014, when Apple introduced new encryption into its iPhone operating system that would make it mathematically impossible for the company to unlock them for investigators. This was a departure from the past, when investigators could get access to a device if they sent it to Apple headquarters with a search warrant.

The US authorities are painting this as strictly an anti-terrorism move, and that it would apply only to the iPhone in question.  But that is plain wrong.  Ever since the Ed Snowden revelations, FBI director James Comey has been trying to figure out a way around the software as he and Apple’s Tim Cook have traded barbs publicly and privately.  And now he and his colleagues are using thie San Bernadino murders as a way to create case law that could force tech companies to provide back doors into their products.  The FBI claim they want Apple to create a master key just for the one iPhone; but once the precedence had been set, the authorities would use the Apple master key whenever they felt like it, and would be on sure ground to insist other Silicon Valley companies do the same.

Security professionals have pointed out that back doors are not the way to carry out investigations: see here and here for just a couple of examples.  The tragic San Bernadino shootings are, I’m sorry to say, just a way for the US authorities to get the back doors they want on faulty reasoning.  I’m happy Apple have contested this court order.  I don’t like Apple products or their propriety approach, but I’m at one with them that individual freedom is paramount.  After all, isn’t individual freedom what we are trying to defend from people like ISIS?

In addition to that: criminals might get hold of back door tools and use them to steal identities, bank details etc; and oppressive foreign governments might use them to persecute pro-democracy activists.  The authorities will obviously claim that no one will be able to access these master keys.  But the US government, among others, have suffered theft of data frequently; and foreign governments have spies, whose job is to steal secret tools and information.

To go back to the locked door and tank scenario: in this case the US authorities should bring their own tank – the NSA.  Or do they really expect us to believe that the NSA couldn’t crack this one phone?

Apple-Logo

Apple: doing the right thing


Nothing behind me

February 18, 2016

There’s nothing behind me.
I can almost see it
Billowing at my shoulders.
A cloak so black it cannot be.

I’ll glimpse it in a mirror,
Vast dark wings I know aren’t there.
On the street, in a shop window
My reflection halo’d by a hole in space.

I’m falling into madness; I whirl
To confront it. But it’s not there
And I know it’s not behind me
Taunting me with its absence.

I wonder how long I have
Before it bores of my starts and twitches,
And it enfolds, engulfs, envelopes
And all there is, is nothing.


Blowing Whistles

February 18, 2016

If you’re at all interested in the case of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, you may be interested in watching the excellent documentary film Citizen 4.  You can download it from here.  Well worth checking out.

Edward_Snowden-2

Ed Snowden.  Image from Wikimedia.


Why putting back doors in message apps will not stop terrorism

February 17, 2016

I’m not a security expert.  So why don’t you listen to one?  This video is Bruce Schneier, a well-known security and cryptography expert, taking questions at DEFCON 23.  He addresses the issue of back doors at about 07:20, but the entire video is worth watching.

If you don’t want to watch it, I’ll paraphrase:   The feds say that ISIS recruits via Twitter.  A recruiter will get into conversation with people,  and the feds can monitor that okay.  But then the recruiter says “go download secure-app X” and all of a sudden the authorities can’t monitor them any more.  This makes the cops sad.  So they want to put back doors in all the messaging apps.  But that is not going to solve the problem!

(About 09:10) “This is not a scenario that any type of back door solves. The problem isn’t that the main security apps are encrypted. The problem is that there is one security app that is encrypted. The ISIS guy can say ‘Go download Signal, go download Mujaheddinsecrets, go download this random file encryption app I’ve just uploaded on Github ten minutes ago.’ The problem is not the encryption apps that the authorities want to get into, the problem is general purpose computers.  The problem is the international market for software.”  Back doors are not the solution for the problem the authorities claim to have.

You’d have to put back-doors in all messaging apps.  Not just the mainstream ones.  Not the not-so-popular niche apps that some people like to use.  ALL apps.  Including ones created by ISIS guys and uploaded to whatever-server-wherever-whenever.  “So we need to stop talking about that [back doors] or we’re going to end up with some really bad policy.” [about 10.00]

 

 


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