Present Death 61

I watched I, Daniel Blake a few months ago on a plane to Ghana. The overwhelming feeling that this is real, this is really happening to people today in the country where I grew up, kept welling up inside me. In the foodbank, when she started shovelling in the baked beans with her hands, I could no longer stop myself from sobbing. This caused great consternation on KLM. White-haired comfortable looking men in business class are not supposed to break down over the Sahara.

The feeling came back when I started to read down this list from Black Triangle of people killed by benefit cuts. I could not get past the first few. I could though total up the names, and there are 101 dead people here, the tip of the iceberg. How many more lonely deaths are unreported or unattributed to their cause?

I was led to this by thinking of yesterday’s disgraceful media attack on Jeremy Corbyn, again co-ordinated on both Sophy Ridge (Sky) and Andrew Neill (BBC). And this is what I thought:

The IRA and UVF are not killing anybody today. Tory policies are. Tory policies have killed far more people than the IRA and UVF ever did.

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61 thoughts on “Present Death

  • Michael Marshall

    I’ve been accused of being a zealot, because I’ll have nothing to do with anyone who votes Conservative. Fine, I’m a zealot.

    • Loony

      What do you mean by having “nothing to do with anyone who votes Conservative”?

      Do you mean that you wont ride on a bus if the bus driver has voted Conservative? Do you mean that you wont buy anything from a shop where the owners or workers have voted Conservative. Would you refuse medical treatment from a Conservative voting Dr.?

      Or do you mean something else entirely? – something connected with vacuous and purposeless virtue signalling?

      • Habbabkuk

        No, you haven’t been hardened, Bob – you are just describing reality. Thank you for that.

        Poverty, in its various manifestations, has been around for somewhat longer than the enemies of Conservative govts since 2010 would have us believe. Let us note in this connection the foundation, in the 1960s and 1970s (ie, well before the first Thatcher govt) of various admirable pressure groups such as Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group as well as a great number of specialised volontary charities.

        Now it is certainly legitimate to argue that poverty has increased (or decreased) under this or that government and to advance arguments in support but it is just plain silly to argue that only Conservative govts – or particular Conservative govts are responsible for the phenomenen itself.

  • glenn_uk

    Can you imagine the contrast in the official reaction, were any of these people killed by terrorists instead of poverty? They would become heroes. We would be treated to interviews with tearful family members, colleagues and friends – all saying what a wonderful individual we have lost, how good, kind and generous they were.

    There would be a harsh condemnation, talk about striking back. No price could be put on justice, our lives might well have to change to accommodate new security measures to ensure this did not happen again. This has played out a number of times already on supposed threats, never mind when people actually did die.

    Instead, we get a collective “meh” from the Establishment, media and the big opinion makers.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Politics is dirty business.

    The problem here is that while there are hundreds dying of malnutrition or cold (because heating bills are disgrace), millions are Ok with the presently low interests rates, which help them pay back mortgages on their overpriced properties. Hundreds of thousands also happy with low interests rates, high property prices which help them fill in their rental properties with tenants and pay back their buy to lets. For all those people what is currently presented to them in Labour (by BBC or SKY or dozens of “independent” sources) is that Labour will lead to massive nationalisation, this in turn will lead to economic and financial chaos, unemployment, high interests rates, house prices crush, millions in negative equity, and so on. Add here anti-immigration rhetoric, nuclear deterrence and will understand what I am talking about.

    While Tories will unlikely to gain any serious ground in Scotland, they are projected to do well in England.

    It will only become political issue if this problem will start affecting wider classes of population. But at present even with ever worsening NHS which affects quality of life of wider population is still safe for Tory to announce early election.

  • el sid

    Election? What election?

    I thought all that mattered was Pippa’s wedding.

    • Uzbek in the UK

      One society, different worlds, is not it?

      And yet, there is market for such news. We are ourselves to blame for that.

  • Loony

    Sure people are having a hard time and at the edges these hard times are fatal. Is this because of Tory policies or is it because the UK is entirely bankrupt but that the population collectively refuses to acknowledge that bankruptcy and continues to demand moar, moar, moar?

    If people do not like the situation then they should remember that when in 2007/8 they collectively stood by and watched the greatest transfer of wealth from poor to rich in the recorded history of humanity then there would inevitably be their inaction.

    Jeremy Corbyn cannot save you – you can only save yourselves. But if history is any guide you will do nothing but bemoan your fate and resolutely refuse to accept any form of responsibility for your own refusal to act.

    …and those of you who think yourselves so clever, so classless and free would have done better to recall Leonardo “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end”

    • Alcyone

      I was initially left speechless. But then you articulated it very effectively thus:

      ” Jeremy Corbyn cannot save you–you can only save yourselves. But if history is any guide you will do nothing but bemoan your fate and resolutely refuse to accept any form of responsibility for your own refusal to act.”

      I would emphasise for others (I know you get it), no kind of social collective movement/politics is going to help. This is where the individual (meaning: indivisible, whole) comes in . I see lots of fragmentation, not much that is sane and whole. Therefore the modern world is rife with depression and the therapists are only going to lead you up the garden path, just as the politicians are.

  • Bob

    Perhaps I have been hardened by years of working in the benefits system and the NHS but deaths in the UK because of government policy are nothing new, but when I started in the Civil Service in the 1970’s I am sure figures weren’t kept. The first time I was told a claimant had committed suicide saying it was because of our refusal to make a grant, I was naturally shocked but we were never asked to give evidence to a coroner so I am not sure how the cause and effect was ever recorded, or where it was recorded. We were never asked to review the decisions we took in such cases, of which, over a twenty year period I saw a few. These were all very tragic cases, as are those today, but I will take some convincing there has been an increase.

  • Robert Crawford

    I watched Cathy Come Home when I was a boy on my parents TV. It still haunts me.

    I am glad I do not have a TV now, because I would be daft enough to watch this horror story, by the same producer.

    A man stopped me in the street recently and said, ” I am not a junkie can you give me some money to get something to eat I am close to fainting”.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, I am so blessed to be able to help.

  • Made By Dom

    How many more bodies of the murdered and victims of war are going to be dug up by the media in order to push their petty agendas.
    One of my father’s friends and colleagues was killed by the IRA in the mid 70’s. As traumatic as the event was, it didn’t suddenly change my father’s opinions of the situation in Northern Ireland. He wanted the troops out.
    I only point this out as I recently read something by Peter Hitchens that implied part of his hatred for the IRA was based on the fact that he met a member who threatened to punch his teeth down the back of his throat.
    Incidentally, I once met a guy who boasted about how, as a soldier, he used to defecate on the graves of IRA suspects and how the PARAS used to deliberately vandalise a statue to Bobby Sands…. first with paint and then tarred and feathered.
    The desire to view certain communities as sub-human and provoke their anger was not accidental. This was British government policy.

    First post.. sorry its not more light-hearted.


  • Anon1

    I, Daniel Blake is a load of soppy old rubbish made by a millionaire lefty luvvie for other overpaid, self-indulgent luvvies to sob and virtue signal over that bears no resemblance to real life in any way.

    • Ball


      How would you know? Are you claiming to have watched it.

      Someone with your mindset, I find that very unbelievable.

    • MJ

      Yeah and if you think single mothers are so great, why don’t you go and live there?! Yeah and Africa should just go out and get a job!!

    • Sixer

      How many shifts volunteering in a food bank have YOU done.

      I have done plenty and the food bank scene in I, Daniel Blake wasn’t as bad as some things I have witnessed.

  • Russell

    This is so true. The Tory nightmares are emotionally detached from their narrow minded actions. The fact you cried shows you are not detached. Yet too many people are. The internet has opened my eyes to the real goings on in Government and it’s far more disgusting than I had imagined.

    Yet I believe the internet offers the best chance we have to awaken poeple up. It seems to be happening painfully slowly but it is happening. Even if we share what we know with just a few close friends it’ll slowly percolate into the mainstream.

    • FatCandy

      That’s probably why the Tories want to regulate it. Sites like Wikileaks, Craig’s, Wings Over Scotland, OpenDemocracy, Newsnet etc. will all be branded as purveyors of hate speech or anti-British opinion and will be blocked from general consumption.

      Good news if you’re a VPN provider as UK business is about to seriously takeoff.

      • D_Majestic

        I even reckon that if Dizzie May gets elected, they will soon take steps to ban VPNs. I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

        • ThrowAway

          [banning VPNs] Would be highly unlikely too many folks use them for work within the UK as secure tunnels to their workstation from home. Mays “work-to-death” cult wouldnt want to slow productivity now.

  • Peter Beswick

    I am not suggesting that anyone should do what I would do if pushed to the brink.

    In fact I will say do not do what I would do.

    I am not inciting crime.

    If I was at my wits end I would pick up a brick and throw it through a police station window or council offices’.

    If I was not given a prison sentence I would keep doing it until I was and then when I was let out and not given adequate means to live out my life without misery I would do it again.

    Free medical and dental cover, warm surroundings, three meals a day, telly, craft hobbies, library, newspapers, treats, and if that is your thing, any recreational drugs that you want. No brainer?!

  • Jim

    You’ve praised Andrew Neil’s scrupulous impartiality on here before Craig, make up your mind. Any chance of posting a link to the horrendously biased piece? Any comments on Andrew Marr’s terrier-like taking apart of Green yesterday? Still think the leaders debate yesterday was some sort of disgraceful stitch-up? What a joke.

    • morag

      Why were questions about devolved and Scotland only policies put forward in a debate about Westminster?

  • Sharp Ears

    I went to an afternoon showing of I, Daniel Blake in the local Odeon. Initially I could not believe that is was being shown in the main cinemas, in Surrey! So bravo to them.

    Anyway, there were about 12 of us there. Throughout, you could hear the sniffling and see the handkerchiefs out. When it ended, there was silence and all of us left in tears.
    Those salty tears when emotions have been deeply affected.

  • patacorn

    I cried too Craig and to my shame I did not stand up and applaud the film at the end as we would have done in my youth. I am sure everyone would have joined in and experienced the sense of a shared active solidarity the film clearly intends to inspire. Instead, we all just quietly left the theatre as passive strangers.

    • nevermind

      of butt breaking global interest, thank you J, Craig knew there must have been a link and said so, and many others here also thought that his unexplained sudden death was somewhat special in the long line of calamities during the Clinton era.

  • nevermind

    Will it/Could it be screened at DTRH? some thoughtful education for anyone to watch. There is not much on early in the mornings, its quiet, children play and with enough verbal advertising on site, many more would see this reality.

    Thanks for the low down, Bob, I reckon that your service has now almost morphed into a funeral parlour, only doing their job.
    3-4000 death in road accidents per year, an increasing amount of them cyclists, some who were also motorists, then add to that the accepted death through heavy pollution, people who have heart attacks behind the wheel, whilst going shopping, pm10’s and pm2’s are estimated to cause 30-40.000 respiratory related death.
    The effects of home fires, gas appliances and other heavy pollution is not even included.
    modernity is having its price, this is never an issue at any election, I’m grateful that others feel like I do when watching Cathy come home, I Daniel Blake, or Jenin Jenin.
    Can it be denied that humans are first and foremost selfish animals, secondly animal lovers and lastly human?

  • Alcyone

    “I could no longer stop myself from sobbing.”

    As I said earlier, and it was deleted: Usually when people cry, they cry for themselves.

    Craig, with all your deletions, and I saw an innocuous remark of Habby’s being deleted too: What are you so afraid of?

    • craig Post author

      I don’t know why it was deleted, Alcyone, but possibly because it is totally untrue. I for one have never cried for myself, except perhaps as a very small child.

      Let me counter with another observation. When people try to sound cynical and clever and heartless, it is because they are scared of something.

      • Habbabkuk


        Every word of my own comment (which complemented the one from Bob) was true. Factual, polite and on topic. Perhaps you should look at it for yourself. Once you have dome so and decided either to restore it or to let the deletion stand, I shall be in a position to judge whether your protestation of innocence is true or whether at least one of the mods is runnnig rings round you.

      • Alcyone

        Thanks for your reply Craig and answer to my question about the deletion. I am pleased that you responded. I sense there are more than a few who have experienced some erratic and not readily explicable deletions. Please reflect upon, and review, as you see fit. In the same breath, thank you also for facilitating the discussions here.

        On the subject of crying, and I’m being serious, take an extreme case of somebody close dying. Does it make the slightest bit of difference to them? Usually people will cry because of their own inner emptiness.

        I shall disregard your remark about “cynical and clever and heartless” etc., as on this occasion, un-typically, you are quite obviously and almost by your own admission, allowing yourself to deliberately deflect by “counter(ing) with another observation”, apparently for the sake of it.

        Tears are a completely useless form of compassion, it’s the action that follows that is all. Or even a good thought that is sent in the silence of a strong and stable heart. (I couldn’t resist that just to lighten up. 😉 )

        • Alcyone

          If someone is hungry or thirsty, it’s no good crying–it will not quench their hunger or thirst one jot.

          Similarly, if one is anxious or depressed, it’s no good crying–they are not going to feel better about themselves.

          Yes, Love is an/the answer, but surely tears are not love, are they? Sometimes I tangibly feel food is love granted by Nature and when cooked with a further dollop of love, Heaven. A tiny baby being breastfed must feel similarly. But it’s crying is a reflection of it’s own anguish.

          Now, alcohol is just an escape hatch, a simulation. but who am I to observe, given my addiction to nicotine via e-cigs?

          PS Somebody brought me some authentic, lovingly home-made classic chicken curry and rice today. I’m going to have my second helping now and savour the love in every morsel. Why have the supermarkets bastardised all Indian food? So much of it so disgusting.

        • nevermind

          ‘Tears are a completely useless form of compassion, it’s the action that follows that is all.’
          No they are not, they are bonding people in a common pain, be it physical or psychological, they are a common denominator in most humans.
          I ‘m almost sure that your much mentioned cult idol was in tears, when he was sexually abused by his so called mentors.
          tears are a valve, a release of many emotions and if we were unable to grieve, we would not be what we are, 5deg. removed from a chimpanzee.
          your unhappiness at others actions might be alleviated if you get of your arse and achieve some yourself, rather than bicker in a heartless manner, go fill your boots.

    • Uzbek in the UK

      Do you think that this phrase is appropriate? Clearly you used it in the reference to Auschwitz. Otherwise why is this transition to German all of a sudden.

    • D_Majestic

      The gang of three. Oh, sorry-it was the gang of four back in the day. We clearly need a further nomination.

    • Leonard Young

      Milan Kundera discusses this very point in his novels, notably in the Unbearable Lightness of Being, where he posits that expressions of sorrow or grief for others are born out of self-pity or an empathy whose origins are essentially projections of one’s own grief or suffering. But that does not matter. What Kundera also meant was that altruism is an expression of identification with the suffering of others, and the ability to understand what it might be like to suffer a similar fate oneself. It is an affirmation of the golden rule: Do not do to others what you wish not to be done to yourself.

      The distortion of this universal truth has been enacted so many times by Conservatives, who rather than call upon their imaginations to see that a small change in their circumstances might result in a similar position of disadvantage, create the “us and them” paradigm, where everything is explained by laziness, fecklessness or wilful neglect, rather than privilege, selfishness or being plain lucky.

      It is a hangover from the reasoning of so many Victorian aristocrats and heirs who simply refused to contemplate just how lucky they were. It is a blindness that is as true today as it was then.

      • Alcyone

        Thank you for highlighting that Leonard. I’m not surprised as I know and understand Kundera’s probable source.

        But aren’y you confusing the separate acts of ‘crying’ from ‘altruism’, ‘compassion’ and associated right and good ‘actions’. Crying is a futile action, the actual feelings behind which are as you and Kundera said, essentially referred self-pity. There is a Joy in giving that is absent in crying. Crying is emotional, unresolved accumulated problems welling up. Altruism is quite another Thing–a form of Love. Love and crying therefore have nothing to do with each other. Except those who cry are fooling themselves that they are offering up love; of course it is difficult for them to acknowledge that they are crying for themselves.

        I hope that puts paid to Craig’s allegations of clever and cynical and so forth.

        Craig is a very clever man, older than he once was, younger than he’ll be; but that is not unusual.

        PS I observe that sometimes people are involved in good acts, yes they are good people, but then they get caught up in the wasted energy of fight and conflict. There is another way as suggested by Kundera’s book title. It’s a wholly different dimension that involves stepping out of the very murky river of humanity. It takes more than a pair of very big balls which undoubtedly eg Craig and Assange have. It takes a curiosity to get to the bottom of every fucking aspect of life: anger, duality, conflict, religion, nationalism, patriotism, desire, pain, fear, anxiety, pleasure, joy, beauty, goodness, sharing, relationships. The whole shooting match, which could all be one embrace of sharing love. God will be redundant. But the multiple dimensions at the sub-atomic level will be firing fully in line with the infinite energy in the Universe. Now, baby please stop crying. That’s not personal is just another side of Dylan.

        • Leonard Young

          Alcyone: There is a rather large difference between the narcissistic or indulgent tears of a unbridled ego and the tears of someone moved by the plight of others. I rather think that Craig is identifying with the latter, and the trouble taken to post about it honestly. It’s a shame you do not appear to recognise the difference.

          • Alcyone

            Shame etc is your cliched judgment–it takes two to tango–say what you will I’m not in your dance or judgment.

            Let’s not personalise it to Craig. If a person is driven to tears out of alleged compassion, I ask them to go behind it, have a good look at their insides and describe and articulate the process to physical tears. I am open to understanding even the tears of a marble statue of the Virgin Mary.

            So sorry you missed my points and the chance to come to understand a small subject together. It’s ok it makes no difference, it is the lot of human beings. Now let’s return to whatever we were doing respectively. Mine is a nice long hot bath. May your beliefs stand you in good stead. As for Craig, well it’s his trip. Not for me to persuade anyone on any ‘thing’.

  • Sharp Ears

    Not looking so good for Theresa?

    General election: Theresa May changes social care plans
    11 minutes ago
    Theresa May: This is the right way forward photo

    Theresa May has said proposed changes to social care funding in England will now include an “absolute limit” on the money people will have to pay.

    The prime minister denied claims of a U-turn, saying she was responding to “shameful” claims that people would be forced to sell their family home.

    Last week’s Tory manifesto did not mention a cap but the PM said her plans still offered a long-term solution.

    But Labour and the Lib Dems said the policy was “in meltdown”.

    Plans to make people receiving care at home liable for the full costs if they are worth at least £100,000 have proved controversial since they were announced on Thursday.’

    Still no numbers though.

    • D_Majestic

      Long ago, Private Eye had a photo of Dennis Healey in large wellies. The caption was something about needing a good pair of boots when in deep ordure. Perhaps Theresa should put off the crocodile shoes and don something similar to Dennis. And PDQ too.

    • Michael McNulty

      I believe this was a big favour to their wealthiest supporters who were in line to take over the NHS. It would have been a massive transfer of residential property from the working and middle classes to rich investors for low costs. Care-workers earn little and patients whose minds are no longer all there can be fed cheaply, and I think it likely they would have used some properties thus acquired to home a few residents in each with a couple of carers. When other peoples’ houses become yours so easily you can make those arrangements.

      The Tories mentioned ten million pensioners which is a big number but it affects every one of Britain’s twenty+ million homeowners, most of who will live long enough to get old but few of whom will make enough to fund old-age care. (And now Theresa’s blaming Jeremy?)

      • Michael McNulty

        Once started there’s no saying where this policy could have ended up especially if money-grubbers lobbied to go further. We could have had medical panels where you had to prove your poor old mum is still mentally capable and you can look after her while they argue she isn’t and must go into care. It’d be the opposite of health panels now for disability benefits but hypocrisy’s no barrier.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Damian Green, Cabinet member and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said yesterday that the Conservatives would not look again at the social care proposals published in the Conservative Manifesto.

    Theresa May today did the exact opposite – promising a cap on the amount people would have to pay, a policy that was in the 2010 and 2015 manifestos and dropped for this one.

    I trust that it will be plain to everyone what a disgusting opportunist Theresa May is, exactly how much the ridiculous slogan “strong and stable” is worth, and exactly whose manifesto and policies are in chaos.

    Furthermore, I don’t believe her for an instant. No amount of the cap has been stated, and in any case the cap was previously deferred twice, I believe. Her Government, Cabinet and Party are shameless liars.

    • Jim

      You forgot to mention it was Marr on the hated BBC who made mincemeat of Damian Green.

  • Ishmael

    And labour before them. This goes far beyond the Tory party. This fundamental degradation has been going on for decades.

    And old friend died (heroine overdose) as a result of the conditions government creates in society. We are simply bits of meat to be used until we die.

    Thats not how I personally “feel”, thats material reality, And no human being deserves this treatment, but god knows what those who enact this system deserve.

    • Uzbek in the UK

      “We are simply bits of meat to be used until we die.”

      Modern day slavery. Debt is the best and most efficient slave master.

      • Ishmael

        “Modern day slavery”.

        Agree. And what a mind job they have done on society that people don’t see what they are. See BBC

        It’s little wonder the rise of people like Nigel Farage, who’s unfathonalbe and totally incoherent positions seems to amount to a screw everything up policy.

        Maybe as it all crashes down some will get a taste of freedom. As least some may feel they actually exist for a time, and act like it.

        Reminds me of The Doors clip

    • Ishmael

      BTW, I don’t need to watch the film, iv lived it over a large part of my life.

      And you know what, Id rather that than be one of the so called winners, or even a “citizen” and the taxes they pay to help those who don’t.

      And they say we are scum. Surely the element or abuse and robbery, murder, in society is just what the corporate government do. Only difference is they seen to be above those pesky laws.

  • lysias

    I just finished reading a horrifying and infuriating book about the American health care system, Elisabeth Rosenthal’s “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business”. Those interested will find a favorable review of the book in yesterday’s Washington Post. The American direction is the direction in which I fear the UK is going.

  • Republicofscotland

    “when she started shovelling in the baked beans with her hands, I could no longer stop myself from sobbing. ”


    I have to inform you that, in Scotland a woman actually did exactly that, she opened the pull-ring can of beans and began devouring them infront of shocked foodbank staff. The woman said she hadn’t eaten for several days.

    Ken Loach based his harrowing scene on that terrible event.

    Unfortunately under the nasty Tory party, many people have died, due to sanctions.

  • Jim

    God, has he deleted it? A pathetic and dishonest propagandist. Just watching Andrew Neil forensically unpick the Tories on social care on yesterday’s Sunday Politics.

  • Muscleguy

    Maybe he did not pay for the flights but was invited and someone else arranged and paid for them?

    I’ve never flown business class but my wife has, on business. On long haul flights to Asia recruiting students and on a tight schedule which required she hit the ground running. So all that way, including changing planes in Dubai and she is a nervous flier so they paid for business class. It’s still a LOT cheaper than First if you look.

  • max

    I had exactly the same reaction to that incredible film, also on a flight somewhere, and also to the consternation of my fellow passengers.

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