My response to Brandon Lewis when he invited me to support the Conservatives

Image result for brandon lewis and theresa May

I was surprised to get the following email from Brandon Lewis, the Conservative party chairman, yesterday. 

I’ve published my response below the email.

Brandon lewis1

Brandon Lewis 2

brandon lewis 3

My response:

I want to share some news with you, Brandon,

I won’t ever be supporting the Conservatives. 

The government claims that austerity will ensure our children don’t inherit debt. That’s utter rubbish. I have seen my 2 youngest sons struggle making ends meet to get through university. Their tuition fees cost a lot more than our young people are permitted to borrow through the student loans company to meet their living costs each year. Despite the poorest students struggling to get by, they will still come away from university with a debt that is the same size as my mortgage was in 2003. My sons also lost their Education Maintenance Allowance because of your government.  To be frank, your party have caused my family and loved ones nothing but increasing hardship.

That’s how much this government values young people. Not very much. Certainly not enough to invest in their future, or in in opportunities that are meaningful and secure. My generation had access to free higher education. This generation is the first in a long time to be worse of than their parents were, in multiple ways, and not just because of the heavy costs of an education.

Jobs have become increasingly precarious. Worker’s rights and conditions are deteriorating and exploitation is flourishing because you have viciously attacked trade unionism and undermined the principle of collective bargaining. You have also deregulated the labour market because you are, after all, the ‘business friendly’ party.

Conservative corporatocratic principles have tilted the balance of power away from workers, leading to blatantly exploitative employment practices and grim, insecure working conditions. Your ‘business friendly’ agenda is the reason for bank bailouts, excessive pay for CEOs, increasing socioeconomic inequality, as well as the exploitation of national treasuries, people, and natural resources. Such an approach constitutes proto-fascism. 

Historically, fascists have operated from a social Darwinist perspective of human relations. Like the Conservatives, they create and value inequality. In terms of economic practices, this has generally meant promoting the interests of successful and monopolistic big business while destroying trade unions and other organisations of the working class. Fascists also promoted nationalism. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out the numerous uncomfortable parallels here, including your party’s stranglehold on the media. 

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power” – attributed to Benito Mussolini, but probably came from Giovanni Gentile, the philosopher of fascism, in the first edition of the Italian Encyclopedia (Enciclopedia Treccani).

In 2013, JP Morgan wrote a document, which I read at the time – The Euro Area Adjustment—About Half-Way There. Firstly,  they say that financial measures are necessary to ensure that major investment houses such as JP Morgan can continue to reap huge profits from their speculative activities in Europe. Secondly, the authors maintain, it is necessary to impose ‘political reforms’ aimed at suppressing opposition to the massively unpopular austerity measures being imposed at the behest of the banks. 

The authors write: “The political systems in the periphery were established in the aftermath of dictatorship, and were defined by that experience. Constitutions tend to show a strong socialist influence, reflecting the political strength that left-wing parties gained after the defeat of fascism.

“Political systems around the periphery typically display several of the following features: weak executives; weak central states relative to regions; constitutional protection of labour rights; consensus-building systems which foster political clientalism; and the right to protest if unwelcome changes are made to the political status quo. The shortcomings of this political legacy have been revealed by the crisis.

Whatever the historical inaccuracies in their analysis, there can not be the slightest doubt that the authors of the JP Morgan report are arguing for governments to adopt authoritarianism to complete the process of social counterrevolution that is already well underway across Europe.

What JP Morgan is making clear is that anything resembling ‘socialism’ or left inclinations must be removed from political structures; localism must be replaced with strong, central authority; labour rights must be removed, consensus (democracy) and the right to protest must be curtailed. In short, JP Morgan called for authoritarian measures to suppress the working class and wipe out its social gains since the post-war settlement. This is the unadulterated anti-philanthropic voice of neoliberalism, which your party has embraced. 

Last year 16,333 people in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea voted in the general election for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, a constituency that has always been Conservative. Curiously, as the Financial Times pointed out, Kensington is where the senior European bankers live.  Andrea Orcel, chief executive of UBS’s investment bank, is among its denizens. BNP Paribas employs 7,500 people in London, and above VP level, most of them live in the vicinity of South Kensington station. – 25% of inhabitants of the South Kensington neighbourhood in particular work in finance. It is inferred that the swing happened in part because of the complete hash that your party is making of Brexit.

Your ‘high employment’ narrative does not benefit citizens, who face zero hour contracts, little employment security and more than half of those people needing to claim welfare support are in work. Your definition of ‘employment’ includes people who work as little as one hour a week. It includes carers. It also includes people who have been sanctioned.

Now there is a perverse incentive to furnish a hostile environment of DWP administrative practices in action.

When your party took office in 2010, on average citizens earned £467 a week. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that we now take home £460 a week. In other words, average wages have gone down in real terms during the eight years of Conservative-Lib Dem and Conservative governments, while the cost of living has risen substantially. It’s a misleading to make these claims at all when weekly earnings are actually 1.3 per cent lower now in real terms than they were when the Conservatives took office in 2010.

Furthermore, the ONS also produced household data suggesting that the true rate of unemployment is 4 times greater than the government’s preferred statistic.

The Conservative’s official definition of unemployment disguises the true rate, of course. In reality, about 21.5% of all working-age people (defined as ages 16 to 64) are without jobs, or 8.83 million peopleaccording to the Office for National Statistics. I know whose statistics I believe, given your party’s track record of abusing figures and telling lies.

Here is more data here on the effect of chronic underemployment of the unemployment rate, and the depressing new reality of the gig economy.

Conservatives being conservative with the truth as ever.

As ever we are witnessing the same old cheap labour Conservatism, where profits grow and wages are a stagnated pittance. Private companies gatekeep resources and services that were originally intended to meet the most basic needs of citizens, costing the tax payer billions while offering nothing in return but misery and cruel ideologically driven behaviourist practices. 

The clue is in the name: the word “Tory” I guess. It derives from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe, which means outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, since outlaws were “pursued men”. It was originally used to refer to an Irish outlaw and later applied to Confederates or Royalists in arms. The term was originally one of abuse. As far as I am concerned, it remains so.

The Tories live by plundering. They steal people’s wages, public services, human rights and liberties, public provision and labour, in order to raise more money for the rich.

People know that wages are low, because of their daily experiences. The cost of living has risen, while wages have remained depressed throughout the last 8 years. People in work have had to queue at food banks, and in-work poverty is growing. Meanwhile you have pared publicly funded welfare support down to the bone. We pay for public services that your government seems to think we shouldn’t need. Your government is a sanctimonious, arrogant Victorian relic, with scant regard for citizens rights and democracy.

A personal account of why I won’t ever support the Conservatives

I’m a disabled person and from where I am trying to stand, I can see very clearly and first hand how your government have taken money from the poorest citizens and handed it out to your very wealthy and powerful friends. At the same time that you were imposing austerity on the poorest citizens and savage cuts on welfare and public services – placing a disproportionate burden on disabled people in particular – you were handing out tax cuts to millionaires to the tune of £107,000 each per year. Your austerity programme was very class contingent. Your generosity is pure elitism in action. Your ‘accumulation by wealthy through dispossession of the poorest’ approach to economics creates a hole in our economy which you attempt to plug every time by squeezing the poorest citizens. It’s a vicious cycle of vicious class discrimination and despotic behaviour, Brandon. 

And you richly reward private companies to gatekeep publicly funded services, causing those who have funded and continue to fund those safety net provisions distress and harm when they need to access the support they have paid for.

I have experienced this first hand. After working for many years, I became too ill to work in 2010, just as the Conservative-led coalition took office. I was forced to give up a social work job I loved because I was very ill. The last 8 years have been the bleakest I have ever known. Not just because I am seriously ill, but because your government have treated my human rights and those of other disabled people as somehow optional and increasingly conditional. Yet the whole point of human rights is that they are universal.

Disabled people like me have been forced to carry the heaviest burden of austerity because of traditional Conservative prejudices. In the last 8 years I have undergone 4 assessments, mandatory review, appeal and years of unwarranted distress and hardship, exacerbating my illness. I lost my home.

At my last ESA assessment, I was so ill that I collapsed. It was just 3 months after I had won my appeal. The nurse who conducted my first assessment said I was fit for work and I scored zero points. Her report must have been about someone else, because it bore no resemblance to my disability, my illness, my life or the assessment. At my last ESA assessment, I ensured that the interview was recorded. The doctor I saw could not understand why the Department for Work and Pensions had sent me for a reassessment when I was so clearly very unwell and having to take chemotherapy. Remarkably, following my collapse, he kindly sent me home in a taxi and Atos paid for it. It was either that or an ambulance.

Because my experiences claiming ESA were so distressing, I couldn’t face claiming PIP for SEVEN years. My local council had helped me, despite the miserly cuts you have imposed on them, (especially in view of the current surplus) because I needed aids and appliances in my home to maintain my mobility, and they offered support with my PIP claim. The assessment experience was once again appalling, leaving me in a lot more pain than when I arrived for the examination. Furthermore, I was told I could not have a point awarded for cognitive difficulties, despite the fact it was noted in the report that I needed prompting during the interview several times, and that my short-term memory is poor – I need aids to remember to take my medication, for example.

The assessor, having acknowledged my cognitive difficulties, went on to conclude somewhat incoherently that it wasn’t a problem. The point was the difference between a basic award and an enhanced award.  The reasoning for deducting that point went as follows: I used to have a driving licence in 2003. I worked as a social worker until 2010 – when I became too ill to work. She also said that I have a degree (gained in 1996, long before I became ill). Therefore there is ‘no evidence’ that [in 2017] my illness has caused cognitive problems, despite it being known to do so. I haven’t been able to drive since 2005 because I developed a sensitivity to flicker, which causes partial seizures. Just driving past lamp posts, telegraph posts and trees triggers vertigo, blindness, severe coordination difficulties, speech difficulties, altered states of consciousness, and muscle rigidity and twitching. I haven’t worked for 8 years, since becoming seriously ill. 

The DWP didn’t even bother to respond to my request for a mandatory review.

My experiences are not isolated events. They have become commonplace. Your government continues to refuse to listen to people like me. You have dismissed us, deplorably, as ‘scaremongers’. Such political gaslighting is shameful.

You have refused to listen to the concerns raised by the United Nations regarding the systematic and grave violations of disabled people’s human rights because of your excruciatingly punitive policies that create hostile environments for those social groups your government clearly despises.

So I’m sure you will understand why I cannot ever support an authoritarian government that refuses to listen to so many citizens’ accounts of their experiences of extremely punitive government policies, or one that refuses to democratically include them in policy design and support them in participating in the economy and society.

What is the point of a government of a wealthy country that not only fails to ensure that all citizens can meet their basic survival needs, but also remains completely indifferent to those needs?

So my answer is no, Brandon.

Ask yourself: what has your party ever done for people like me, my loved ones and my friends? 

With utmost sincerity,

Sue Jones

 

Related

Conservatism in a nutshell

JP Morgan wants Europe to be rid of social rights, democracy, employee rights and the right to protest (2013)



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29 thoughts on “My response to Brandon Lewis when he invited me to support the Conservatives

  1. Everything they do every policy every new law which they’re pushing out at a rate of knots bypassing Parliament to remove even more of our rights. We’ve been conditioned to believe that ‘They make a law we have no choice but to aqueise The truth is we are ruled by consent meaning if they propose a law ‘Statutory Instrument’ and we do not consent to be ruled by it, it can’t then be actioned – They’re selling off our Social Security (Welfare State is an americanism) by all means necessary. When you have to fight your government to stop them harming you, you have no choice but that it is the agenda. That they call us ‘Stock’ sums it up. As you and millions of others know these multinational corporations are fully installed in our infrastructure from DWP to MOD running most if not all of the governments IT systems. Frank Field stated clearly in the last Universal Credit update in Feb 2017 ‘It was a monumental mistake for all of government (And the Western World) to outsource their IT’

    Some of the country’s most controversial and discredited outsourcing companies are set to win contracts under the government’s new programme to find jobs for disabled people and other marginalised groups.

    The 11 organisations that have been successful in the bidding process will be allowed to tender for the back-to-work contracts that will be offered under the Work and Health Programme.https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/g4s-maximus-and-a4e-all-set-to-win-contracts-under-work-and-health-programme/?fbclid=IwAR2BizwVeIboPs25XZYH8TrDxpj3hBhrYL0xFGoLPpweIevN9zLQw2PVZ-U

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow Sue That was powerful. You are the first and only social worker I have quite a bit of trust in.

    The Social workers I knew Whilst I was in care were Terrible, first they blocked an excellent chance of my being adopted when I was 5 because I couldn’t walk and they could profit from my injuries to my feet (they were smashed with a hammer when I was an infant). When I was walking well at 10, they decided I had behavioural problems so they profitted from my being sent to a special school )had the reading age of a 13yr old at 10) The when I was 14 they couldn’t pull it off so I was sent back to mainstream school, but the educational Damge had been done!! Then still at 14 Iwas molested in care (curiously I was never fostered out), I was threatened with secure unit ( I had Never committed Any crime and I still haven’t) as a result I was raped on xmas day in 1985, needless to say I could not report it!!!

    I was kicked out of care when I was 16 then told me they couldn’t support me in any way because they had run out of money, which led me to nearly starve to death for two years ( I was constantly on YTS and I had to pay my own rent out of £28 not much for food, there was no food banks)!

    Now I am suffering with PTSD and I am constantly making plans to die, I have squirrel away more than enough medications for that purpose, now it is just a matter of time! A week ago I had a “capacity for work” assessment, now is the waiting game.

    I admire your courage and tenacity!!

    I am fresh out I have been rejected and abandoned way too many times, it is also disconcerting to emotionally feel like a frightened 14yr old in a 47yr body, I never look in mirrors because of this!

    Good luck Kitty!!

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating! and commented:
    This has to be undoubtedly one of the most moving replies you have ever done Sue.

    You really are one of the best bloggers out here with your depth of knowledge and skill for cutting right through the Tories bullshit, no matter who they are.

    Never change pet x

    A Geordie friend x

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Great Letter Sue.
    You summed up everything concisely. I have a life-limiting illness which will only deteriorate and never get better. What the Tories have done to this country in eight years of attrition is remarkable. It is remarkable only in its callous treatment of the sick and vulnerable and the fact that at the same time they are hurting the majority of us through wage freezes, cuts in services, most notably the NHS while the wealthy are paying less in taxes even though so many of them don’t pay them in the first place. I am at the end of my tether with the Government and feel very strongly that they never ever deserve a second chance. They have shown their true colours to such an extent that this present administration makes Thatcher look like a Saint in comparison.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I don’t think anything short of a miracle would ever make Thatcher a saint, she sold off that much of our countries assets, like the north sea gas and oil, British Rail, British Telecom, Corporation Transport and a lot of hospital utilities, brought in the poll tax, that I helped fight.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Not sure this will work but just wanted to say your letter is brilliant. I will never vote Tory either but am lucky enough to live in Scotland where our government takes. different path supporting young people and despite Westminster fights for the future of our children.

    Regards

    Mary Spowart

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I found this shortly after rereading your post and wondering what on Earth anyone could possibly add to something that lays-out the very epitome of the Tories. Well done. It’s an extremely religious site so I would not recommend reading any more -although I have included the link…

    “Now, for anyone who does not know, NPC is a gaming term, which stands for ‘Non-Playable Character’. It means the character in a video game who is controlled by the game itself, and thus only has a set number of pre-programmed responses to any queries that are put to it. Consequently, the NPC often appears robotic and inhuman when interacted with for a long period of time.” https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/142513303/posts/231

    Like

  7. Well said, thank you. Just had my first PIP assessment and don’t hold out a lot of hope for myself or any other poor bugger who needs a little support in time of need. To note, many have much greater need than myself and they have my sympathy. You do too, Sue. Hoping that life starts treating you better.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is a superb response backed up with evidence and intellectual rigour. It should be read by everyone, whether they vote Tory or not, but especially if they adhere to the Tory philosophy. Also, deeply, deeply moving.
    Can you not get it into MSM?
    Thank you and best wishes,
    Susan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Susan. I’m not sure if the MSM wouldbe interested in this. I do have some media journalist readers, who post my articles occasionally, but not sure if this is up their street

      Best wishes,
      Sue

      Like

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