I, Daniel Blake 773

More space has been devoted by the mainstream media in the last week to the terrible effects of “austerity” on the vulnerable, than in total since the Westminster election. That is entirely in the context of Ken Loach’s Cannes Palme d’Or winning film I, Daniel Blake. The film itself will now get a much greater cinema distribution than it might otherwise have anticipated. I think it is worth highlighting some excellent points made at the winners’ press conference:

Ken Loach:

We talked about finding a style that was absolutely clear and plain and unadorned…there’s a quotation from Bertolt Brecht…”and I always thought the simplest of words must suffice. When I say what things are like, it will break the hearts of all”. And the thing that we tried to do is to say what things are like, because it not only breaks your heart, but it should make you angry.

It is an issue not just for people in our country, but all across Europe. There is a conscious cruelty in the way we are organising our lives now, where the most vulnerable people are told that their poverty is their own fault. If you have no work, it’s your fault you haven’t got a job. Never mind that… throughout Europe there’s mass unemployment and in Britain there’s two million known unemployed but in reality four million. And the most vulnerable people are caught, disabled people are caught. The increase in suicides… in fact in the places where these assessments take place, some people who work there have been given instructions on how to deal with potential suicides, so they know this is going on… It is deeply shocking that this is happening at the heart of our world… the heart of it is a shocking, shocking policy.

Paul Laverty (scriptwriter):

After travelling the country, in Scotland and all the way down to England, travelling round foodbanks, listening to people’s stories, talking to welfare rights organisations, disabled groups, what was remarkable was how many of the most vulnerable people were the ones who bore the brunt of it. Now in this particular instance Daniel is a very competent man who has had a life of work, who’s got friends, who’s smart, intelligent, he’s had a very, very full life. But what really amazed us was talking to experts… the people who work with mental health, the stories we heard about that would just break your heart.

The people who are disabled, they have suffered six times more from the cuts than anyone else, and there was a remarkable phrase by one of the civil servants we heard who talked about the cuts, who said “low-lying fruit”, in other words the easy targets. So this story could have been much harsher, it could have been somebody with mental health difficulties… we could have told a story from someone who is much more vulnerable, much more heartbreaking.

I think it’s very important to remember too the systematic nature of it….talking to whistleblowers, people who worked inside the Department of Work and Pensions… there are several people we met, and they spoke to us anonymously, and they said they were humiliated how they were forced to treat the public. So there is nothing accidental about it, and it is affecting a huge section of the population.

I have inveighed long and hard against the massive increase in the wealth gap between the rich and poor in the UK and in the West in general. It is great to see popular resistance today in France to the extreme erosion of workers’ rights that has facilitated this.

In an indisputable measure of the growing inequality in society, the life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing for the first time in 150 years. Let me say that again. The life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing for the first time in 150 years. Our desperately unequal society now becomes more unequal at an exponential rate. The UK has more than 100 billionaires, and it has foodbanks and children crying from hunger, not developing properly due to malnutrition. I sense a true swelling of popular discontent that has the potential to break through the consent manufactured by a billionaire-owned media and billionaire-owned politicians.

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773 thoughts on “I, Daniel Blake

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  • Mark

    I was amused to see the completely impartial BBC mention Ken’s win in their 10pm bulletin on Sunday night. They showed 2 seconds of his speech, muted, as they proceeded to talk all over it. Don’t want the masses to hear about austerity now do they?

  • bevin

    Well said.
    But a real horror that such things need to be said after all that British society has been through. Almost two centuries after the Poor :Law Amendment Act of 1834, which established the principle that society does NOT owe its most vulnerable members a proper maintenance; almost seventy five years after the Beveridge Report, which invested the War with a proper, socially uniting, purpose, we are back, this time without the excuse of ignorance, at a point at which society itself is being denied.

    William Cobbett, at the end of a long life for the most part devoted to the interests of the class from which he sprang (and never left) warned the House of Commons then that to deny the right of all to a decent living is to call into question the right of the wealthy to enjoy their property. That it calls into question the entire legal system and returns the people to that, notional but necessary, era in which there was no agreement on the need for law and government.

    Daniel Blake is outlawed for the crime of having been sick and remaining vulnerable. Others are outlawed for being unable to find work. Others for refusing to work in the moral equivalent of slavery. And some are outlawed because the Departmental quotas dictate the need to kick so many off the welfare rolls.

    All of these victims have the natural right to do what is necessary to preserve themselves and those who depend upon them. It is a right which trumps the laws put in place to protect property.

    The government knows this. The ruling class understands that it is inviting anarchy, but it is so confident in its ability, through is use of violence and its employment of propaganda- which takes us back to the question of education- that it is saying to Daniel Blake, weakened in a dozen ways, “Bring it on! Try it. We will crush you.”
    And it speaks, so it claims, for all of us.
    Include me out.

    • lysias

      Would the Russell ministry’s policy of not-so-benign neglect with respect to the Irish Potato Famine (which is what turned the failure of the potato crop into a humanitarian catastrophe) have been possible without that Poor Law Amendment Act? (It should be said in fairness that the limited relief measures of the preceding Palmerston ministry in the first year of the potato failure were enough to prevent famine. But then Palmerston’s ministry fell, and Russell’s laissez-faire ministry took over.)

  • craig Post author


    I really don’t have the slightest idea what you are complaining about? If you write something that is not just swearing at me I will reply.

  • Mark Golding

    Interestingly William Beveridge, the architect of the post-1945 welfare state, was highly active in the eugenics movement and said that “those men who through general defects are unable to fill such a whole place in industry are to be recognized as unemployable. They must become the acknowledged dependents of the State… but with complete and permanent loss of all citizen rights – including not only the franchise but civil freedom and fatherhood”

    While a belief in eugenics is now largely a thing of the past, the values underpinning it have not gone away. According to Hansard more recently a British MP was prepared to publicly voice the view that a disabled child was an unnecessary drain on society’s resources.

    During a House of Commons debate on abortion, a Conservative MP asserted that to abort a “handicapped” foetus could save the country £1 million over the course of a lifetime.

    Those zombies who have sold their soul to war and wealth take the view the human race as no different from any other animal: just as a farmer raising livestock seeks to breed more of the strong and weed out the weak, so human society should aim to do the same.

    • Alan

      “While a belief in eugenics is now largely a thing of the past,”

      What a very short memory you have! Tony Blair in 2006


      Tomorrow’s potential troublemakers can be identified even before they are born, Tony Blair has suggested. Mr Blair said it was possible to spot the families whose circumstances made it likely their children would grow up to be a “menace to society”.

      That’s eugenics! Nobody called him on it through.

  • K Crosby

    i was pleased to see the contempt for the Graun’s whinge at Loach and the film get the btl comments that it deserved. Pity we can’t see the ones censored by our liberal paragons (except here)….

      • Jim

        Absurd hyperbole as usual. The Guardian is chock full of brilliant stuff, it’s just that you have a visceral hatred of its perceived ‘bias’. It’s pretty balanced in my opinion, with input from all shades of the political spectrum.

        • Chris Rogers


          Perhaps you have elected to fill the Habitat role when Habbs is on vacation. The fact remains The Guardian is now in a death spiral due to most of its output being bollocks. Perhaps if you have access to a University Library which has a microfilm reader you can go an read The Guardian’s physical edition, focus on say 1990-2000, and then 2008-2016, then come back and instruct. It ain’t Peter Preston anymore and Rushbriger fucked it up one he abolished the Scott Trust, but now its an absolute rag, which can be verified by comparing its old print edition with the crap it now espouses.

          • Jim

            So keep telling me, again and again. I’ve been reading it for as long as you Chris, and it’s still excellent. It doesn’t always conform to everything I think, but it’s not ‘Moon of Alabama’ or ‘global research’ either. Paul Mason for instance is hardly Ghengis Khan, or Hayek or Friedman if you want to be more sensible, is he? It’s pretty balanced. I’ll grant you the overall editorial take on Corbyn is not favourable to your views, but it’s not supposed to be a hard left publication appealing to the Wolfie Smiths of this world. I think Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee are very good, you hate them. I think you’re an extremist, you probably think I’m a woolly minded centrist or something. Bevin would like to see me down in Tuol Sleng. I prefer balance.

          • Chris Rogers


            The comparison dates I gave you were utilised because between 1990-2000 The Guardian was just a printed entity, and as a printed entity, little history researchers such as myself actually used its news papers as historical fact, and this applies to The Times and FT in particular. However, the advent of the internet and The Guardian’s move online means from an historical perspective, that is with regards actual accuracy, The Guardian can no longer be relied upon. Indeed, its actually a bloody reactionary rag because its filled with alleged ‘Progressives’ who are in no way progressive, these now being deemed the Social Justice Warriors, namely, those who care about their own pocket depth more than the causes they supposedly push – they are for want of a better word: ‘paid propagandists’.

            Now, if you want something interesting to get the mind working, go read The Archdruid Report, who’s weekly column has more information within its limited text than a weeks worth of word output from The Guardian, the Comments are also superior.

            Now, I never once ever thought The Guardian was a leftwing newspaper, it was always a liberal newspaper to me, but its output for the last 7-8 years certainly has not been liberal, quite the reverse, much of it is hysterical. As for it being anti-Corbyn, well thats a fact, and whilst critique is always welcome – I too can critique Corbyn – The Guardian does not engage in critique, again it engages in hysteria, a hysteria which undermines any authority it once had.

          • Jim

            It’s agree to disagree time again Chris I’m afraid. I read all sorts of output, amongst them the one you mention, and the Guardian is pretty balanced IMO.

        • Shatnersrug

          Yes Jim,

          But you’re an establishment troll that has actively contributed to the guardian’s demise, so frankly, you would say that.

  • RobG

    It’s good to see a film about the effects of ‘austerity’. It’s also a rarity. I maybe wrong, but during the 1930s Great Depression there were a plethora of books and films about it. This seems to be lacking this time round, and is a measure of how repressive western society has become.

    Here in France today only one print edition newspaper is on the stands: L’Humanité, which is affiliated with the communist party. All the other newspapers couldn’t be printed, because the workers went on strike. They were striking because all the other newspapers refused to publish an opinion piece by the CGT union leader, Philippe Martinez.


    • eddie-g

      A pretty big difference between now and the Great Depression is that back in the 1930s, there was very little in the way of welfare. In some countries, there was none at all. So while there was coverage of the suffering back then, there wasn’t really much currency in arguing that politicians were making it worse – at least not in the way they are doing so today.

      Couple of other pretty crucial differences between now and then, but the critical thing to point out is that the current Great Recession has in most countries persisted longer than the Great Depression did.

      • K Crosby

        The social welfare of the 1906-1916 period was extended during the interwar because there were 7 million survivors of the 8 million trained in arms during the war. Although the contributory principle was maintained, the unemployment benefit fund was topped up whenever it ran out. That said, state spending on working class welfare by 1929 was at a level it didn’t reach again until the early 70s. That’s when the propaganda against the “workshy” began in earnest, despite the economy being 300% bigger.

        • lysias

          The Arbeitsscheue were conspicuous among the Asoziale who were shipped off to concentration camps in 1930s Germany.

      • RobG

        Lysias, the UK media only started widely reporting the fuel shortages in France on Tuesday, even though the refinery strikes and blockades started last week, and fuel shortages started at the weekend. As a result a lot of Brits have driven over to France completely unaware of what’s going on, and they have become stranded because of lack of fuel; but of course that all makes good headlines/propaganda about the ‘evil strikers’. Likewise, the usual stuff is wheeled-out about the nation being held to ransom by a tiny majority of militant unionists. Not true. If folks follow the link you’ve given to Le Parisien live blog they’ll see that there’s a huge amount of demonstrations going on all over France today, many of them stemming from the Nuit debout mass movement, and not from unions like the CGT.

        Some travel advice to Brits: on 2nd June the railway workers are going on permanent strike (thus far they’ve been striking for 2 days a week), and on 3rd June the air traffic controllers are going on a 3 day strike, which apparently will be nationwide (the air traffic controllers have been striking for ages now, but it’s only effected Paris and northern France).

        And of course France gets more than 70% of its electricity from nuclear power, and the workers there started striking today, which will mean power cuts, which could well mean that my internet connection will get disr…

    • Muscleguy

      During the Scottish IndyRef I campaigned with RIC here in Dundee. We had two interactions with the media during my time. The first was when Severin Carrel of the Guardian came with us on a mass canvas of a working class area of Dundee. One guy and I knocked a door and revealed a houseful of Yes voters, while we waited as the youngest member filled in a voter reg form Severin sidled up and started noting names. He patronised the head of the house and very nearly got lamped. He took no interest in those of us doing the campaigning, none at all. No report of it ever appeared.

      A few weeks later we were running street stalls and were shadowed all day by a journalist from l’Humanité who interviewed people who stopped to talk to us and over time every one of us. I’ve lost the link to his story sadly. But the contrast was stark.

  • eddie-g

    “There is a conscious cruelty in the way we are organising our lives now”


    I’m a nerdy economist and a lot of the time I’m telling people that austerity in Europe is bad macro-policy. And it is. The evidence that austerity makes fiscal crises worse is overwhelming.

    People in denial of these plain facts make my head hurt. But the real-life consequences of austerity, those break my heart. And in the case of Britain, which is not part of the single currency, this was not a policy the country was compelled to pursue. It is criminal economic malfeasance.

    And while I hold the Tories primarily to blame, I cannot ever forgive the Liberal Democrats for signing onto a coalition deal which agreed on the need for austerity. So much focus was on broken promises about tuition fees, but the grave sin was austerity, and a lot of them knew it. Vince Cable knew austerity was wrong, on this point he was in full agreement with Gordon Brown, but he chose to defend it.

    This is the misery they sowed, I hope they watch this film, weep, and never forget.

    • Loony

      How fortunate that you identify yourself as an economist – it provides an opportunity to shed some light upon the thinking of the high priests of money.

      There has been no austerity in the UK. Rather there has been a refocusing of public spending which has hurt some interest groups, but benefited others. From a technical perspective this contention is supported by reference to a swathe of public spending and public debt numbers. From a practical perspective compare the UK with Greece.

      You could always spend more, some countries have – Venezuela for example. Why don’t you tell the people how that is working out.

      • eddie-g

        “There has been no austerity in the UK”

        Thanks for identifying yourself as a loony.

        Your entire comment is a perfect example what people don’t understand about economics. Pretty much every line is a slogan of wrongness.

        • Loony

          If you had austerity would expect UK central government expenditure to be rising in real terms throughout the duration of the alleged period of austerity?

          On December 22nd 2015 the OBR opined

          “Central government expenditure (current and capital) for the financial year-to-date (April 2015 to November 2015) was £460.1 billion, an increase of £5.5 billion, or 1.2%, compared with the same period in 2014.”

          So pray tell, in what kind of world do you have simultaneous austerity and rising public expenditure?

          On the same date the OBR also advised:

          “Public sector net debt excluding public sector banks at the end of November 2015 was £1,536.4 billion, equivalent to 80.5% of Gross Domestic Product; an increase of £71.9 billion compared with November 2014. This increases borrowing by between £1.4 and £4.6 billion a year and adds 3.1 to 3.4 per cent of GDP to public sector net debt.”

          Oh look austerity is leading to an increase in debt, which happens to be the exact opposite of the situation that would be expected under austerity.

          Unsupported statements infused with ad hominem attacks do not constitute an argument any more than rising expenditure and rising debt constitutes austerity.

          • eddie-g

            This isn’t ad hominen – you have no idea what you are talking about.

            You wrote – “austerity is leading to an increase in debt, which happens to be the exact opposite of the situation that would be expected under austerity”.

            No. This debate was settled at least two years ago. It was the cornerstone of the austerity advocates’ argument, and it crumbled in theory and in practice.


            I’ll add too that fiscal data from 2014/15 is irrelevant because Britain had let up on austerity in this period (with an eye on the upcoming election? Who knows). 2010-13 was the austerity phase, when spending declined but debt also went up.

            You also seem unclear on how austerity is measured, the IMF paper might help, but I’m not holding out much hope.

            Anyway, you haven’t made a single salient point. Blame yourself if that hurts your feelings.

          • Loony

            @ eddie-g OK first English. You write “thanks for identifying yourself as a loony” That constitutes an ad-hominem, since it makes no substantive point and merely constitutes an implied insult.

            It is untrue to imply that any debate has been settled whereby rising debt and rising expenditure can be defined as austerity. Any attempt to do so would merely constitute an attack on the English language more egregious than the attack launched on the financial system.

            You don’t like my dates – we can go with your dates

            On October 20th 2010 Osborne set our a series of spending cuts amounting to £81 billion. The effect of these cuts was that public spending projections of £696.8 billion in 2010/11 would rise to £739.8 billion by 2014/15.

            I do not know why anyone would give credence to anything that the IMF may say as they are an entirely bogus organization. Just look at their forecasting record, and in particular their forecasting record in relation to Greece – a country that has suffered, and is suffering, austerity. In addition ask why they break their own rules in order to shovel money into Ukraine.

          • Hmmmm

            Some economists suggested that gov’t receipts would fall due to austerity, so you could expect gov’t spending to rise.
            In what world you ask? This fucked up one, obviously!

      • K Crosby

        “Refocus?” You mean more subsidies for rich bastards and more poverty for poor people? What a squalid specimen you are.

        • Loony

          @ K Crosby Taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich would meet the definition of “refocusing expenditure” – How else do you want to describe it?

          Why does seeking to explain what is going on make me a “squalid specimen”?

          @Hmmmm Government spending would not necessarily rise because of a fall in receipts – It is government debt that would be expected to rise, and it has.

          • Hmmmm

            Slightly my bad. Spending on unemployment ec to rise.

            I kind of get what you are saying, I think. This govt have basically sold redistribution of wealth to the wealthy as austerity for all. Cunning basterds… and they’re getting into more debt to do it.
            It makes the suffering even more horrific.

  • Loony

    More liberal hand wringing. There is no limit to the number of examples that can be found demonstrating manifest injustice, and for what purpose?

    How many British poor attempt to find relief from their existence by acquiring clothing produced by slave labor in some far away land about which they know nothing and care less.

    You are living in a world that is constructed around exploitation – exploitation of the environment and exploitation of our fellow man. Highlighting victims of exploitation is about as difficult and about as informative as highlighting the fact that there are stars in the sky.

  • Republicofscotland

    This article here shows that around 90 a month are dying due to strict Tory cuts to welfare. It’s an older article so I’d imagine the death rates have risen dramatically since then.


    As you say it’s mainly the disabled and vulnerable, who are in the firing line, with DWP staff, most not fully trained in medical matters doing the cutting. This shameful culture is backed up by a bonus system, paid in a the more you cut the bigger the bonus to the DWP unskilled medical staff.

    There UN, are supposedly investigating the Westminster governments shameful and Dickensian treatment of the UK’s sick, disabled and mentally ill people.

    Though going by this article, David Cameron thinks he treats the disabled well.

    “The Prime Minister said he was proud of his Government’s record on people with disabilities and said he would cooperate with any probe, but downplayed its significance.”

    “Of course I will look at any United Nations investigation but sometimes when you look at these investigations they are not necessarily all they are originally cracked up to be,”


    • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)


      “This article here shows that around 90 a month are dying due to strict Tory cuts to welfare.”

      Actually it doesn’t. The article carefully (and sensibly) avoids claiming a causal link of the sort you appear to be advancing.

      Here is a short extract from the article in case you overlooked it in your haste to reach for your keyboard:

      “There was widespread acceptance among campaigners that the data presented should be treated with caution. Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said it was hard to comment on the statistics as they only revealed the number of people who have died while on ESA, not the circumstances or details of the deaths. “.

      In the interests of accuracy, please do not twist what your sources say.

      • Republicofscotland


        You forgot to include this in the partial chapter that you cut and pasted.

        “Nevertheless, we do have serious concerns about the benefit system, particularly for those with mental health problems currently being supported by ESA.”

        Of course I’d imagine your of the opinion that it’s just a mere coincidence that thousands of people have died shortly after losing their benefits.

        • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

          Those concerns pre-date the benefit changes, RoS, as anyone working in the field will tell you.

          The fact is, RoS, that you misrepresented what your link actually said when you introduced your post as follows:

          “This article here shows that around 90 a month are dying due to strict Tory cuts to welfare.”

          It does not “show” such a causal link.

          You are a twister – but we know that already, don’t we 🙂

          • Republicofscotland

            “Those concerns pre-date the benefit changes, RoS, as anyone working in the field will tell you.”



            Could be more specific, provide more information on what you mean by your above statement.

            I am under the impression that more people than ever are now dying due to vicious Tory cuts to the disabled and mentally impaired.

            Thanks in advance for the information you’re about to provide.

  • Bert

    It is interesting that the capitalist filth fail to understand the rudiments of non-linear dynamics.

    In his book: “The New Case For Gold” James Rickards discusses the failure of neo-liberal economists to understand the emergent behaviours of a complex interacting economy. Sadly, in my view, these people do understand something of emergent behaviours but only understand then in terms of the good outcomes not the potentially hazardous outcomes such as the banking collapse (eminently predictable from as far back as thatcher’s first tranche of deregulation in the mid-1980s).

    One consequence of this “everything for us and nothing for the rest,” philosophy is that the real economy ends up dried up, anaemic and under-functional. The capitalists then find it increasingly difficult to extract profits as they are beginning to find out now.

    It is said that there are about $250Tn in dodgy derivatives in the top 245 US banks; that there is $100Tn in dodgy derivatives in Deutsche Bank; and there is another $100Tn in dodgy derivatives in the City of London. Max Keiser has suggested that across the world there are in excess of $1Qn in dodgy derivatives – and all of it waiting to go belly up.

    Add to this that there is an estimated $260Tn of debt wrapped up the global financial system; and the global GDP is about $79Tn/annum; and that it is reckoned that when debt reaches 300% of GDP it becomes un-repayable we must conclude that the world is bust, broke, insolvent, skint, cannot pay back all the debt that the Masters of the Universe have piled on. Working out; the world is carrying 330% of GDP in debt.

    Add to this that there is a new market in sub-prime lending going on in relation to car loans.

    Add to this that paper gold is estimated to be 100 times that of the real physical gold int he world and you have a whole load of crises that have piles up ready to go pop when the clowns in a Nation Banks can no longer keep the show on the road.

    There are plenty of catastrophes wound up in the system waiting to go bust.

    I hope I am not around when this mess finally unwinds – which, of course, it must.


    • Loony

      Well that seems to sum up the problem pretty well. As they say, not all problems have solutions and this looks like being one of them.

      The only quibble I have is that a lot capitalists probably do understand non linear dynamics – It is just that they do not care. Hence the problems you refer to are specifically excluded from their models.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Nobody understands non-linear dynamics, in any useful sense. They can be described, but nonlinear systems rapidly become completely unpredictable. And it is noticeable that capitalists still talk in terms of the ‘business cycle’, that useful vehicle for carrying dead weight, unaware that market fluctuations are fractal in nature. Mandelbrot suspected this and to some extent demonstrated it, Greenspan has never even thought about it.

        • Loony

          You are of course correct.

          By and large business understands exactly what you explain. Because the situation is as you explain it they exclude the possibility from their models and investment analyses – because it serves no business purpose to include it.

  • Republicofscotland

    You just have to watch channel 5 TV to see that “poverty porn” is the new we love to hate them shows.

    In which the more wealthy in society, look on in disdain at those who have very little or are disfunctional to a point. The idea is to turn one section of society against the other, a “us and them scenario”, one in which no emotional attachment in any shape or form is felt,when the less fortunate in society, bear the weight of trying to balance George Osborne’s hideous austerity policies.

    It is often said that we can judge a nation or a society “by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens” (attributed to Aristotle, 384–22 BC). What will history say about the Tories and their concerted attacks on the poor, disabled and sick, more to the point what does it say about society as a whole, that we allow all those deaths to go unpunished.

  • Aim Here

    I got the vibe that this film was always going to be one of Loach’s more popular ones, even before the Palme d’Or win. If you catch online links to the clips of the film after the early Cannes screenings, the comments sections tend to be clogged with people asking ‘Where can I see this film?’. There’s something about that realistic benefits office scene that definitely strikes a chord with anyone who’s been stuck in a Jobcentre queue.

  • Mark

    The Torygraph reacted in typical Little Englander, disgusted of Tunbridge Wells fashion with the headline ‘Ken Loach has picked the wrong villain: it’s capitalism which pays for his beloved welfare state’


    I like how a) it spectacularly misses the point, and b) the journo tries to offer an empathy towards Loach’s frustrations at the situation by claiming how much they hate their local council’s waste collection/recycling system! Oh how my heart bleeds for him…

  • Republicofscotland

    I don’t think in Westminsters case that it’s planned eugenics, no I prefer the term Americanisation, as Cameron and Osborne eye up possibly in a jealous manner, the minimal US welfare state.

    Millions of Americans can’t get health cover, live in what’s now known as Obamavilles, (previously Hoovervilles) they have virtually no chance of obtaining employment and are completely disinfranchised from society as we know it, as a whole.

    Those millions of American’s are the lost generations in part to a neocon system that has abandoned them. The American dream, one in which you can have everything your heart desires through hard work, is just that a dream, as big business and consecutive neocon politicians and big business, out sourced those jobs to foreign lands and bigger profits.

    I think the Tories see the American model as a future model for the UK, where millions of Brits are disinfranchised by a neocon system that willfully abandons them. Where the welfare state is token rather than purposeful. A system where the NHS is not free at the point of contact, but one where if you can’t pay you don’t receive treatment. Think of why the TTIP deal is being thrashed out behind closed doors, what is it they don’t want you to know?

    • Loony

      There is a lot of confusion as to what the welfare state is supposed to do. Is it supposed to provide short term, temporary relief for those who have fallen on hard times or is it supposed to provide an all encompassing support system for the permanently disenfranchised.

      If it is to support the permanently disenfranchised – then who are those people? Are they the people already within state borders, or is also for the billions of disenfranchised outside of state borders – or just for an arbitrary proportion of these billions who are able to secrete themselves into a country operating an all encompassing welfare state.

      Whatever the answers to these questions then someone needs to explain how it (whatever it is) will be paid for. Any honest analysis will quickly reveal that anything beyond a basic support system, for a limited number of people cannot be financed over the long term.

      No-one wants to hear this message, but no-one wants to hear that they have some kind of terminal disease. Just because something is unpleasant does not make it untrue

      • K Crosby

        ” Is it supposed to provide short term, temporary relief for those who have fallen on hard times or is it supposed to provide an all encompassing support system for the permanently disenfranchised”

        It’s to provide luxury for rich bastards, the rest is a fig leaf.

      • Republicofscotland

        “Is it supposed to provide short term, temporary relief for those who have fallen on hard times or is it supposed to provide an all encompassing support system for the permanently disenfranchised.”



        Unless of course you’re a royal, then it provides a life time of luxury.

      • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

        “There is a lot of confusion as to what the welfare state is supposed to do. Is it supposed to provide short term, temporary relief for those who have fallen on hard times or is it supposed to provide an all encompassing support system for the permanently disenfranchised.”

        Beveridge thought the former.

        Even as regards the NHS, the expenditure on which it was thought would actually fall by the mid-1950s (as compared with the start-up costs in the first few years), because people would be getting healthier.

        Typical New Jerusalem post-war Lavour govt “thinking”.

        • Loony

          Yes Beveridge thought thought the former – but then he never expected a population measured in the millions to be permanently unemployed and permanently unemployable.

          Beveridge also failed to foresee the descent of the economy into state sponsored looting. That is to say he did not foresee that the state would would co-opt vast armies of the poor to serve as a transmission mechanism for subsidizing the rich – as is the case with housing benefit.

          NHS expenditures are complex – Beveridge certainly did not foresee the costs associated with advances in medical science, he did not imagine that the NHS would perform a wide range of cosmetic surgery and most importantly he did not foresee that the state would allow itself to be held hostage by big pharma companies.

  • Cameron Brodie

    The Nazi Holocaust started gradually, weeding out the elderly and infirm through the withdrawal of the means of sustaining life. Just saying.


    Marx never did figure our what to do with the lumped proles, did he? Perhaps that is why British Labour have a gimp they wheel out specially to comment on the ‘underclass’.

    Btw, systems can not produce positive results unless the environment they operate in allow for such positive outcome to occur. Real change requires, real change. You won’t get that as part of the Union. Funny that.

    • lysias

      The eugenics movement in the United States sterilized a lot of people without their consent in the first half or so of the 20th century, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court approved the procedure in the Buck v. Bell case in 1926. The opinion of the court was written, shockingly, by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who has been a very revered figure in the U.S. legal community, especially in law schools. The opinion has the sentence, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” The new book on eugenics and the Buck case, Adam Cohen’s Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck, presents a devastating picture of Holmes, and of the dark side of the American progressive movement.

        • Cameron Brodie

          Ironically the USA caught the eugenics disease from the Brits. Even more ironically, it has always been the British ‘left’ who have historically been the strongest supporters of state planning and intervention into human reproduction. I’m sure the Fabian Society has purged all support for such deterministic biological apartheid. They are opposed to austerity, aren’t they?

          • lysias

            Most of the opposition to eugenics and sterilization in the U.S. came from the Catholic Church.

          • Herbie

            Prof E. Michael Jones is quite good on how they took the Catholic Church down.

      • Muscleguy

        And the stupid thing is we know estimate there are at least 100genes that impact to greater and lesser degrees on human intelligence. Upbringing and educations have very big effects because final intelligence is very much a product of genes plus environment. If you keep people ignorant and downtrodden don’t expect Einsteins to emerge from their ranks.

        Just wait until the right to universal education is eroded. It will happen, first by the creation of sink schools nobody wants to attend. Educational talent is not universal and we have to decide if all the good teachers are going to be captured by those able to pay or distributed more evenly. The UK government pretends good teachers can be had in any numbers any time to stall all these above average academies. It’s a nonsense.

  • lysias

    Looks like Saudi Arabia is going to take the charge that it was behind 9/11 lying down.

    Saudi Arabia: Legal Expert Says That U.S. Government Blew Up the Twin Towers on 9/11:

    Saudi Arabia is livid over the recent passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate that would allow 9/11 victims’ families to sue the Middle Eastern nation. The bill was recently passed by a unanimous vote, and while the Washington Times reports that President Obama has vowed to veto it, that hasn’t stopped the Saudi Arabian media from coming out swinging against the U.S. government.

    According to a Breitbart report, a reporter representing Saudi Arabia is now claiming that the U.S. planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to create the war on terror.

    The article was written by Katib al-Shammari, a Saudi legal expert, and published in Al-Hayat, which is based in London. It calls out the United States for its recent threats to “expose documents” proving that Saudi Arabia funded the 9/11 attacks, as well as detailing the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the worst terrorist attack in history on U.S. soil. According to the piece, these threats fall in line with a United States policy he calls “victory by means of archives.”

    Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/3130396/saudi-arabia-legal-expert-says-that-u-s-government-blew-up-the-twin-towers-on-911/#tSWiH6DMt06DTYPm.99

  • James Chater

    You write: “It is great to see popular resistance today in France to the extreme erosion of workers’ rights that has facilitated this.” As a resident of France, may I say a few words? First, I believe it was very wrong and rash of the French government to force this legislation through undemocrtically. Almost as though they were looking for a showdown. However, I think it is sometimes forgotten that entrepreneurs take risks, and if these don’t work out, it is sometimes necessary to dismiss people. So I feel cauht in the middle.

    • RobG

      James, as someone who also lives in France (and for a long time now), we both know how constricting French employment laws are, and they need reform. However, these recent reforms are aimed squarely at big business, not small entrepreneurs. Just look at article 2 of the new code du travail…


      … which is what has got the unions most up in arms.

      I know lots of one-man bands in my part of France who would love to take on an extra employee or an apprentice, but are too scared to do so because of the employment laws. It would, I feel, have been relatively easy to accomodate these small employers, but instead we’ve got the full corporate take-over job being rammed through by Hollande & Co. That’s why the big unions are at the forefront of these strikes and demonstrations.

      • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)


        The problem is precisely that “conventions collectives” (as “conventions de branche”) apply across the board to employers whether they are large or small and can therefore pose problems for small employers in that they inhibit flexibility, with consequences, as you point out, for the willingness of small employers to take on labour.

        I should be interested to hear your ideas on how “it would have been relatively easy to accomodate these small employers”

        • RobG

          Article 2 of the new code du travail allows subsidiaries of larger companies/corporations to opt out of employment law and negotiate their own deals with workers.

          This has nothing to do with small businesses and everything to do with bringing in zero hour contracts, etc.

          I can assure you that France doesn’t want to become the hell hole that Britain has become; hence the overwhelming public support for this present wave of strikes.

          • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)

            Yes, I know that. It’s called “plant agreements” as opposed to “sector agreements”.

            But was it not you who was posting about small businesses? Your post at 19h17 refers. Make your mind up.

            In that context, do you feel like answering my question at 20h07, Rob?

          • RobG

            The French government could easily pass a law which allows employees a waiver on the code du travail, if they so wish.

            To force it on all French workers is a travesty of justice.

          • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)

            Yes, Rob, and then people like you would immediately say “the employees will be forced to ask for those waivers” by their bullying bosses.

            Look, just admit it – you really don’t know what you(‘re talking about. Hence your wish-washy “solutions” “would ve easy”, etc, etc)

      • James Chater

        Perhaps the fundamental problem is that the Code du travail is too complicated. It is like a lot of legislation in a lot of countries, for instance, the French laws of inheritance and the US tax code. When a country, its citizens or its companies have to employ a whole army of accountants, lawyers and legal experts to ensure that they are staying within the law, this is money, time and resources that are tied up in ensuring compliance. If these resources could be redeployed to make things the country needs in order to prosper and contribute to exports, the economy would improve. Productivity suffers if the need to verify, monitor and control becomes too great.

    • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)

      Mon cher ami James

      Just on a technical (but not unimportant point) – this is the position wrt to the “Loi El Khomri:

      “La loi El Khomri en est actuellement au stade du projet de loi. Le texte a d’abord été présenté au Conseil des ministres du 24 mars 2016. Il a ensuite été examiné par la Commission des affaires sociales au début du mois d’avril.

      Le texte est débattu actuellement au Parlement.

      Après sa présentation à l’Assemblée nationale le 3 mai, le Premier ministre Manuel Valls a utilisé la procédure de l’article 49-3 de la Constitution qui a permis de faire adopter le projet de loi par l’Assemblée nationale en 1ère lecture sans vote des députés. La motion de censure déposée par la droite a en effet été rejetée le 12 mai (246 voix alors que 288 voix étaient nécessaires).

      Le projet de loi El Khomri est maintenant examiné par le Sénat. Il sera débattu en séance à compter du 13 juin. Avant son retour à l’Assemblée nationale fin juin-début juillet.

      Selon Manuel Valls, le texte devrait être définitivement adopté au mois de juillet. ”


      Hence it would have been better if you had said that the French govt “forced through” the 1st reading (which is possible according to the Constitution of the Vth Republic) but that it is NOT yet adopted.

      A small point, perhaps, but we must be accurate when we post, especially when most readers haven’t got a clue about the matter.

      • RobG

        Habba, the French upper house (the Senate) will rubber stamp this legislation that’s been forced through the French parliament. That’s why we’ve had the massive civil unrest for the last few weeks: it’s effectively law.

        Next you’ll be telling us that there hasn’t been a coup d’etat in Brazil; one of the most blatant in history.

        • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)


          And after the reading by the Senate the draft law will return to the Assemblée Nationale for its second (and final) reading, where it cannot be “forced through” (eg by the use of Article 49-3).

    • Jim

      I wasn’t really trying to change the subject, I’m as interested in it as you. Just a bit stir crazy and lonely, I’m off for a run in a min. ?

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Ken Loach is a bit of a Lad.

    His wiki is fascinating.


    He appears to have successfully pissed off all the really horrible people in any kind of authority – without compromise, and without worrying about the implications (like they won’t distribute and publicise some of his films – cos they find them much too close to the truth and much too offensive – cos that is just the way it is)

    Good Man.

    Apart from the fact that I didn’t have a kestrel (I did however have a budgie), his film Kes filmed just across The Pennines from my school in Oldham – was so spot on – it described us – well just as it was.

    “Kes Full Movie 1969 ”



  • Herbie

    “Conscious cruelty” is good, though oxymoronic.

    Cruelty is always conscious.

    It’s brutality that’s the unconscious one.


    No harm emphasising the fact that cruelty is conscious.

    Probably necessary these days.

    Well done!

    Anyway. I think one of the main problems the real left has had since the late 80s lies in its discourse. Still relies too much on long dense prose and rationalism, whilst elites have been busily inventing slogans, soundbites and appeal to emotion.

    So, “Cameron’s conscious cruelty” and the “conscious cruelty of the Conservatives” are the kinds of response that are needed these days.

    • Ben Monad

      “Anyway. I think one of the main problems the real left has had since the late 80s lies in its discourse. Still relies too much on long dense prose and rationalism, whilst elites have been busily inventing slogans, soundbites and appeal to emotion.”

      Most people operate on two levels of awareness. It’s easy to insulate oneself from untoward opinions and make justifications for behavior.

      The problem with the Left is that they cannot agree on principles or candidates because the intellect requires independent thought. Independent thought does not auger well with organization and cooperation.

    • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)


      “Conscious cruelty” is good, though oxymoronic.”


      If – as you claim – “Cruelty is always conscious”, then the phrase “conscious cruelty” is not an oxymoron.

  • Habbabkuk (get it right, man)

    From Craig’s lead post:

    “I have inveighed long and hard against the massive increase in the wealth gap between the rich and poor in the UK and in the West in general.”

    Fair – and justified- enough.

    Would it also be fair, however, to point out that this phenomenon is not limited to the “UK and the West in general”?

    What, for example, is the position in Russia, China and the BRICs?

    • Ben Monad

      Above find an example of sectored thought, removed from independence. Note it is concise and prosecutorial in it’s opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Opening up the arteries of those with the most plaque should be our goal, but it is a highly resistant disease….a Superbug of sorts.

  • Cameron Brodie

    I wrote this summary and analysis of Gidden’s book because, I believe, he has developed a fresh understanding of the nature of modernity – which I believe is still relevant. This is because he develops on themes such as security, danger, trust and risk: all aspects that I believe remain under-studied. Giddens reminds us that modernity is a double-edged phenomenon: creating great opportunities for us to enjoy but it also has a dark side: from degrading nature to the development of military that continues to threaten our existence.


    • Jim

      Double hermeneutics, disembedding mechanisms and models of reflexivity. I’m going to have to read that about twenty times! Interested that in the first part you mention something about the post-modern age being one of information, which Paul Mason talks about in his ideas on post-capitalism. I find his stuff pretty difficult too I must admit. Back to school for me! ?

      • Cameron Brodie

        I’m struggling myself Jim. I didn’t write that and sociology is not my natural territory. Thanks for clicking though. 😉

          • Cameron Brodie

            In case you don’t read Wings and still have the will and strength.

            According to Breidenbach and Zukrigl (1998), there are indications, on the microscopic level, of a new relation of community, location, and culture: “For more and more people, such as migrants, businessmen, young people, scientists, artists, or Internet users, fixed geographic spaces are losing their importance as key points of reference with respect to identity and everyday life, giving way to deterritorialised communities linked by common social, professional, and private interests” (ibid., p. 142). The reasons cited for these changes include not only intensified migration processes and worldwide tourism, but chiefly the establishment of interconnected digital communication media all over the world. We live in the so-called “media age,” in which the greatest influence on the postulated socio-cultural changes is attributed to media interlinked worldwide


  • RobG

    Yesterday Wikileaks released another load of leaked documents about the trade deals that are being pushed through between America and the EU…


    This is all linked to ‘austerity’, and it’s all linked to what’s going on in France at the moment.

    I can only hope that one day soon my fellow Brits will have the balls to stand up against this, like the French are doing.

  • Hieroglyph

    A great deal of what constitutes policy, over here in Oz, and the UK, is essentially predicated on bad mathematics. Neocon economists have been promoted to positions of great eminence, much above their ability, mainly due to their shameless careerism. They will happily use clever (actually, really stupid) mathematical models to prove an existing set of beliefs, as long as those beliefs are in tune with that of their sponsor, employer, or equally dubious university professor. They don’t model anything like reality; they model their own dismal, bleached view of reality, and congratulate themselves on their cleverness. Well, I say it again: people with a high IQ can be quite remarkably thick, sometimes.

    Of course, all those clever models have – in real time – been proved wrong. Everything they have ever argued has been proved – proved, mind, not just my opinion – absolute horseshit, by the fact of the financial crisis. Everything they know is wrong, and every paper they have ever written is pointless. Rather than have some form of existential crisis, and consider deeply the flaws in their modelling, they simply beam happily, carry on exactly as before, but look for somebody to blame. Poor black people were an initial target, which surprised even me. Can’t blame the Commies anymore, and they rather love China, so poor, working class people are blamed for the failures of a system they didn’t create, probably despise, and how no power to change. Pretty despicable really. Perhaps Rob G is right after all: their time will come, and the lamposts are ready.

    • lysias

      Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira/ les aristocrates à la lanterne!/ Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira/ les aristocrates on les pendra!

      Perhaps appropriate that the verses are in French, considering what is going on in France these days.

    • bevin

      Benjamin Jowett the Master of Balliol College, said to have been in love with Florence Nightingale, once said:

      “I have always felt a certain horror of Poltical Economists since I heard one of them say that the famine in Ireland would not kill more than a million people, and that would scarcely be enough to do much good.”

  • Stewie Newie

    Interesting to see reporters from the Grauniad, Times and Daily Mail ask fawning questions of Mr Loach in the video. That he resisted the temptation to demand of them why they insist on serving a clique of propagandizing elitist billionaire tax-avoiding gremlins demonstrates that he has more class than I ever will, but leaves the question unanswered. While a film is winning awards in Cannes, the lifestyle magazines that were once newspapers in this country will cover it. The underlying message is not one they need dwell on for long. If Ken Loach’s films are to change things meaningfully, the press that they rely on really should become more purveyors of news and less stunted imbecilic propagandist fools.

  • bevin

    “Ironically the USA caught the eugenics disease from the Brits. Even more ironically, it has always been the British ‘left’ who have historically been the strongest supporters of state planning and intervention into human reproduction. I’m sure the Fabian Society has purged all support for such deterministic biological apartheid.”

    This is only half true.
    The “left” in question were Benthamites and Malthusians. Such as the radical atheist Carlile, Francis Place the tailor and other marginal figures became followers of the utilitarians and orthodox political economy. Such as John Stuart Mill busted and punished when barely out of his teens for pushing contraceptives on the poor-to stop them from reproducing.
    It is a thread in the “left” which certainly became important but it was always a minority and played no part in the Chartist movement, for example.
    What happened at the end of the C19th was that many conservatives, particularly the imperialists, began to move toward a sort of racist, pseudo scientific progressivism which did have an appeal to many radicals. They weren’t just into eugenics and white supremacy either, they were extraordinarily prissy and censorious. When they took over London County Council one of the first things they did was to censor singers and comedians in the music halls, threatening to close them if agreed upon, pre-censored scripts were not adhered to.
    But this Fabian/ utilitarian strand though important on the left was of little weight in the working class movement where the old Cobbettian traditions of opposition to Benthamism, disgust at Malthusianism (of which eugenics is a part) and individual liberty were central.
    It is in the progressive movement, both in Britain and the US, that racism and other proto fascistic ideas flourished, often as a conscious opposition to the socialist theories of the paupers, the immigrants, the untermenschen, slavs and jews, non-Anglo Saxons, inferior races. All of whom were inclined to socialism.
    The utilitarians and malthusians long ago joined the neo-liberals, returning to their roots, taking their hatred of the poor, worship of power and racism with them. They are not part of any “left” that struggles against capitalism. They never really were.

    • Cameron Brodie

      Thanks for the correction and the insight. I had an impression of what you describe but lacked the detail. Glad to be reassured am not a loony crank.

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