Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019


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Kim Sanders-Fisher

Before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election we had cause for optimism; the result dashed all hope. The Tory campaign was abysmal, candidates didn’t bother attending hustings and Boris was getting jeered and heranged by the public so frequently that his brief appearances on TV had to be tightly stage managed by the BBC; he even scurried into a fridge to hide! A Labour manifesto stuffed with positive pledges and opposition MPs especially Corbyn were ignored or attacked by the media, but the word was out and mid winter people stood in long lines determined to vote. I will never accept that a huge number of former Labour voters were willing to forgive a decade of savage austerity to vote for the guarantee of yet more pain and suffering under the Tories. I am certain that the only way Johnson could have achieved a Tory ‘landslide victory’ is by stealing the postal votes; we must Challenge and Investigate that result. That disastrous corrupt election ‘win’ has provided a soaring Covid death toll as we head for a crash-out Brexit.

Just over a year ago, ten days before that fateful Covert 2019 Rigged Election, the Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Tories’ shame as number of homeless children rises – and rough sleepers DOUBLE,” appeared online. I know it wasn’t headline news in the right-wing tabloids, but there was a shocking Dispatches broadcast that spelled out the horrifying news of desperation was aired around that time too. I simply cannot believe that among numerous deprived communities up north, where what was shown in that documentary was part of the lived experience of destitution, but Brexit and fantisemitism took precedence over watching children starve was just not at all credible. Labour MPs were coerced into selling this fake news to the public as the PM and Tory MPs were never asked to explain the incredulous triumph. That was the stark reality I still cannot get my head around.

At that time the Skwawkvox documented, “New research by the housing charity Shelter shows that there will be 135,000 homeless children this Christmas – an increase of seven thousand in just two years.” People have tried to convince me that it was the older generation who were hankering for the pre-EU Nirvana snake oil the PM was touting, but did they not care about their own children and grandchildren? They said, “The number of people sleeping rough has also doubled under the Tories to 5,000, and the number of people dying homeless has risen by more than half in just the last five years, to 726 last year. Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said: It is shameful that after ten years of the Conservatives in Government, 135,000 children will be without a home this Christmas. Rising homelessness is a direct result of decisions made by the Tories: slashing investment in new low-cost homes, refusing to help private renters and making huge cuts to housing benefit and homelessness services.”

The Skwawkbox also pointed out that, “The Conservatives’ manifesto makes clear they have no plan to tackle the crisis of rising homelessness. A Labour Government will end rough sleeping within five years and fix the root causes of rising homelessness with the biggest council and social housing programme since the 1960s, stronger rights for renters and extra funding for homelessness services. The Conservative manifesto contained no additional funding for social housing and no new measures to combat rising homelessness or rough sleeping. The Labour manifesto sets out a plan to end rough sleeping within five years, with 150,000 council and social homes a year, new funding for homelessness services and housing benefit and a charter of renters’ rights.” A Channel 4 Dispatches programme went out on Monday night showing the plight of the UK’s more than four million children living in poverty: This alarming documentary shows where the UK was at before the rising unemployment of the Covid crisis.

But national crisis or not the Tory Party priorities never change. The Mainstream Media aren’t as vigilant at keeping Tory corruption under wraps as they were during the Covert 2019 Rigged Election campaign, so the public are discovering the extent to which the Pandemic has been exploited with public money squandered while basic support is still neglected. The Canary Article entitled “As councils could be forced to put homeless people back on the street, a property management company gets a £4.5m rent holiday,” was posted one year on from the Skwawkbox piece. They reveal that, “An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) has revealed how government policy could put thousands of homeless people back onto the streets during this pandemic. This could happen as the government is telling councils in England to treat homeless people from outside the EU differently to those from within.”

Meanwhile, the Canary report that, “a separate investigation from BIJ reveals how Spelthorne council in Surrey gave property management company WeWork an 18-month rental holiday. This ‘holiday’ means the company won’t have to pay £4.5m rent to the council until after the 18 months end. That’s assuming of course that WeWork survives that period given its current woes. Both of these investigations come at a time when the public wants restrictions placed on corporations in receipt of cheap credit that’s funded by the taxpayer.” They point out that, “‘both highlight continued inequality under the Tories.’ Of the homelessness crisis they say, ‘280,000 people in England are homeless, with thousands more at risk. It went on to say that while ‘a lot of homelessness goes undocumented’ that the figure of 280,000 was ‘an increase of 23,000 since 2016’.”

The Canary say, “It also stated: Shelter’s extensive analysis of official rough sleeping and temporary accommodation figures, along with social services records, shows that in one in every 200 people are without a home. For the first time, its review of government data has also exposed that close to 220,000 people in England were threatened with homelessness in the last year. Crisis on hold,” they noted, “As coronavirus spread, there were calls for action to help homeless people and rough sleepers. On 17 March, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced £3.2m to help rough sleepers to self-isolate. This was on the same day that chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £350bn to support business. Homelessness campaigners said the government needed to ‘go further’ to help rough sleepers because self-isolation isn’t feasible. Then later in March, MHCLG announced its ‘Everyone In’ programme to house rough sleepers. This would ensure rough sleepers had a roof over their heads during the pandemic.”

The ‘Everyone In’ program clearly demonstrated how rapidly the problem could be solved if the Tory Government had the political will to take action. Just like the necessity for austerity measures and the neiliberal moaning about a magic money tree; the myths supporting conscious Tory cruelty are being debunked. Austerity was already coming unstuck before the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Johnson scrambled to find a new lie to placate the masses, but we must not fall for his ‘levelling up’ con as it is already being disproven by Tory spending. Sunak conveniently discovered a magic money tree forest, but “Crisis back on.” The Canary report, “Manchester Evening News announced on 14 May that ‘ministers quietly pulled the plug on the [Everyone In] programme’. According to BIJ, following the Manchester Evening News coverage and its own coverage the government announced ‘additional funding of £105 million to carry on the work’. But yet again there appears to be another twist against rough sleepers.”

According to the Canary, “Because, according to BIJ’s investigation: councils in England have been told to decide on an individual basis whether to accommodate people with NRPF [no recourse to public funds], without using government public funds. NRPF is a condition the government imposes on someone due to their immigration status. It doesn’t mean the person is in the UK illegally but means they are ineligible for public funds. This can happen even if they have lived in the UK for a number of years. One man featured in BIJ’s investigation has lived in the UK since 2003 and has a daughter here too.” The Canary explain the catch, “In order to qualify for public funds the person must get indefinite leave to remain. But to get this you must have lived in the UK for at least five years. Additionally, you’ll have to pass a ‘Life in the UK’ test and an English language test, and pay a fee of £2,300. NRPF status could therefore throw thousands of people back onto the street.”

Meanwhile, The Canary highlight that, “WeWork gets a £4.5m rent holiday. Yet big businesses were bailed out through the Covid Corporate Financing Facility CCFF. This facility helps “larger firms” with cash flow problems. But at least now it seems as if the public is fed up. A recent study by non-profit research and campaigning organisation PositiveMoney showed some people are not prepared to tolerate the government’s bankrolling of big business anymore. The study revealed: 63% of respondents said large corporations should only be given financial support if they agree to certain environmental and social conditions, such as cutting carbon emissions and protecting workers’ jobs. Only 5% believe that large corporations should be given financial support with no conditions attached, while 15% answered that they should not be given financial support under any circumstances.”

Highlighting the “Gross imbalance” in Tory spending priorities the Canary say, “Since the pandemic began and the UK government announced support measures, it was clear who would be the biggest benefactors. And unsurprisingly for a Tory government, it was ordinary and vulnerable people who were left out. As reported by The Canary, many thousands of people have been left out of the government’s furlough scheme. This scheme allows UK employers to keep their staff on payroll, even if they can’t work, during the pandemic. But the voluntary nature of the scheme meant employers didn’t have to offer it. This meant they could simply let their employees go with no pay. Moreover, some workers weren’t covered by the scheme – meaning they had no choice but to work during the pandemic, if they didn’t want to face destitution.”

“The Canary contacted MHCLG for comment. An MHCLG spokesperson said: Our rough sleeping taskforce has one overriding objective – to ensure as many people as possible who have been brought in off the streets in this pandemic do not return to sleeping rough. That’s why we’ve ensured councils across England can support vulnerable rough sleepers from EEA countries. Councils are also able to provide emergency accommodation for foreign nationals where they are in the UK lawfully. The £105 million announced last week will mean councils are able to continue to provide safe accommodation to vulnerable rough sleepers, help break the cycle of homelessness, and continue our work to end rough sleeping for good.” Sounds like solid Tory PR spin!

Pointing to what they describe as “Disaster capitalism” they mention an earlier article, “As reported by The Canary, Spelthorne Council was exposed due to its investment in commercial property. The investment came about as a result of Tory cuts to local councils. They, too, are feeling the pressure of meeting the basic needs of the public and the needs generated by the pandemic. This Tory practice of favouring the rich over the poor and vulnerable has been the party’s trademark. It’s not new to this pandemic. And the findings of the BIJ investigation underline how dangerous that is in the midst of a pandemic. It’s a time when we should have real solidarity, not just words. It might be a stretch to hope the Tories will ever change, but at least there is hope that some people will no longer tolerate it.”

The Canary Article entitled, “The number of homeless people dying rises for the fifth year in a row,” provides additional shocking statistics. They say that, “The number of people dying while homeless in England and Wales has risen for the fifth year in a row, new data shows. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there were an estimated 778 deaths of homeless people in England and Wales registered in 2019. This is an increase of 7.2% from 2018 when there were 726 estimated deaths and the highest number since the data series began in 2013. The number of estimated deaths of homeless people has increased each year from 2014 when there were 475, the data shows.”

The Canary relay quotes from, “Shelter’s chief executive Polly Neate said the figures showed how dangerous homelessness and rough sleeping can be even before the coronavirus outbreak. She added: ‘No one should die on the streets or in a temporary bed in a hostel.” The Canary show the graph, “Coronavirus in numbers: UK death toll rises by 532.” Neate’s response, “It is awful to think so many people spent their final moments without a safe home in 2019. These figures show how incredibly dangerous homelessness, and especially rough sleeping can be, even before we had a deadly pandemic to deal with. Coronavirus has made the streets even more dangerous. At the start of lockdown in March thousands of people were offered accommodation, but with the economic fallout of the crisis resulting in thousands of job losses, many people will be facing the trauma of homelessness this winter.”

The Canary continue with Shelter’s Polly Neate, “These are not just statistics, they are real people who have tragically lost their lives during a nationwide housing emergency. Today, it is important we remember them and we use this terrible loss as a catalyst for positive change.” They say, “London and the north-west had the highest numbers of deaths in 2019 with 144 and 126 estimated deaths of homeless people respectively. This compares to 28 estimated deaths of homeless people in the north-east and 33 in Wales. The ONS data, published on 14 December, also found that 37.1% of the estimated deaths were related to drug poisoning, while suicides among homeless people increased by 30.2% from 86 estimated deaths in 2018 to 112 in 2019. Most of the deaths in 2019 were among men with 687 estimated deaths (88.3%).”

According to the data, “Among homeless people, the mean age at death was 45.9 years for males and 43.4 years for females in 2019, compared to 76.1 years for men and 80.9 years for women in the general population of England and Wales, the ONS said.” The Canary report that, “A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: ‘Every death of someone sleeping rough on our streets is one too many. That’s why we are investing over £700 million to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness this year alone, as part of our mission to end rough sleeping for good.” They said, “Today we have announced extra support for rough sleepers and vulnerable people to help them recover from drug and alcohol dependency.” The Tories excel at making grand ‘anouncements,’ but so often it’s just Prspin and empty pledges as their follow through is not so stellar.

The Canary say that, “Homelessness charity Crisis’s chief executive Jon Sparkes said the rise in suicides among homeless people was ‘shocking’ and urged the UK Government to expand the safeguarding system used to investigate deaths of the vulnerable to include anyone who died while homeless. He added: ‘It is devastating that hundreds of people died without the dignity of a stable home. Every one of these human beings will have had different lives, different characters and different stories. It is heartbreaking that what unites them is the systematic failure of successive governments.’ Sparkes also called for homeless people to be given ‘prompt and equitable’ access to the coronavirus vaccine.”

It is now obvious to the UK public that this situation is a political choice so we must not be fooled by the ‘levelling up’ lie to tolerate the lame Tory excuses for deliberately cruel negligence any longer: this is the reality of Tory ‘Decimating Down.’ The Canary note, “He added: ‘2020 has proven that with political will, change is possible. Earlier this year, hundreds of lives were saved by providing emergency accommodation to people rough sleeping to protect them from coronavirus. But the emergency has not ended for people homeless across the country, even without the threat of coronavirus it is clear that homelessness in and of itself is a serious threat to life. People experiencing homelessness still face huge health inequalities and many barriers to finding a safe and secure home. We urge the UK Government to save lives by ensuring people who are homeless have prompt and equitable access to the coronavirus vaccine and by delivering the affordable housing we need to end homelessness for good.”

Why ‘Decimating Down’? You do not create equality by dragging all of the working poor down to the same level of destitution! The word ‘levelling’ in and of itself implies equality, the diametric opposite of the Tory agenda, so we should banish it from our reporting. Repeat that lie for the Tories often enough and it will morph from another incredulous fantasy pledge like the “oven ready’ Brexit deal and the 40 new Hospitals that then became 48, all too soon an accepted probability despite evidence to the contrary. Johnson has a sneaky habit of getting other people to reinforce his lies for him, now he has got his MPs to claim that he was only referring to the withdrawal agreement. Crash-out Brexit is being spun as a sunny Australia special, but in reality it has more in common with the fate of those shipped out to our former penal colony. Public money must be used to support community needs; it is not a Tory slush fund! Stop endorsing Tory lies and well disproven myths, take to the streets on mass to protest loudly: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!