I’m re-blogging this article I wrote about four-and-a-half years ago, because of accusations today being aimed at Jeremy Corbyn that he has supposedly spoken up for Osama bin Laden.

What Corbyn actually said was the following; –

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died.”

He went on to say that Osama Bin Laden should have been put on trial. Even Boris Johnson has said the same.

The accusation is therefore a typical right wing media quote-mine.

The reason for re-blogging is that, at the time, I thought the killing of bin Laden looked underhanded, suspicious, and unnecessary, and as Corbyn appears to be saying much the same thing, I think it is a good time to re-articulate the reasons why.

You may notice my writing style was slightly different back then; in particular, I tended to use contractions a lot more, a bad habit I have made a conscious effort to iron out of my work in subsequent years.

TheCritique Archives

by Martin Odoni

So here we are then, ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a post-Osama bin Laden world. I can’t say I’m impressed with how this new world seems so far, but nonetheless, he was shot on May the 2nd 2011, and so of course, the world is put to rights.

Sometimes, just sometimes, assassination can be acceptable. In times of war, it can be justified or at least mitigated in certain conditions. And let it be remembered that bin Laden declared war on the USA in the 1990’s, so his supporters (what few there are) can hardly protest against his death on the basis of it being an act-of-war. (Not that I see much sign of them doing so.) But does that all mean that this particular assassination is acceptable?

When an assassination is attempted, it must, not just can, must, be mitigated by the…

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Heartbreaking, and as someone who used to live near Clydebank, reading it feels that little bit more real.

c/o Benefit Tales

Benefit tales

A single mum has revealed how she battles poverty to feed her three young children and mother every day.

The woman and her mother, who live together in Dalmuir, visit West Dunbartonshire Foodshare in Clydebank every week to get the week’s food, the Clydebank Post reports.

The young mum told how her bank runs dry every month as benefits are sucked away into the rising bills and cost of living.Her mother relies on her support after her benefit was docked to pay back a housing debt she says she paid, but could not prove. Now the family of five live in poverty, relying on the kindness of others to feed them.

 The young mum, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Clydebank Post: “Once you pay the TV license, bills and food you are left with about £3. I get nothing, I go without food every day, it’s either me or…

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  1. When the woman herself is the one committing rape. (They do sometimes happen, but they’re very rare.)

End of list.

by Martin Odoni

by Martin Odoni

NOTE: I nearly wrote this article back in June, but in the end I decided to wait until evidence was in the public domain of post-Work-Capability Assessment deaths.

Seifeddine Rezgui is the name of a killer. On the 26th of June 2015, armed with a Kalashnikov, he attacked a hotel in Port El Kantaoui, on the north-east coast of Tunisia. His frenzied attack, committed on behalf of the extremist terror group, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), left thirty-eight people dead. Thirty of them were British citizens, whose memory was lovingly saluted three days later, when the House of Commons observed a minute’s silence. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, then ordered that a national minute of silence would be held on the 3rd of July, exactly one week after the attacks.

Iain Duncan-Smith is the name of a killer. Since becoming Secretary of State for Work & Pensions in May 2010, he has embarked on a program of haphazard, unnecessary, inefficient and myopic reforms that have led to the deaths of literally thousands of the country’s most vulnerable people. Many of those who have died were disabled or severely ill in ways of which he has no expert knowledge, but he has blundered on with his reforms regardless. Some of these reforms, ostensibly about saving money (which is apparently more worthy of saving than lives), have cost enormous amounts to implement, and are yet to show any positive return whatever. This week, on the 27th of August, the figures for the numbers of people who have died while claiming benefits were released by the Department of Work & Pensions. While the numbers must be treated with a measure of caution given that the precise cause-and-effect measurements are still unknown, the marked and profound acceleration in the death-rate – an upswing of some two hundred per cent in a little over two years – since Duncan-Smith arrived in office clearly indicates his work has had a disastrous impact on tens of thousands of people. The memory of those who have lost their lives to these reforms has not been lovingly saluted since the figures were released, and the House of Commons has not observed a minute’s silence. Having not held a minute’s silence in Parliament, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, then did not order that a national minute of silence would be held on the 3rd of September, exactly one week after the figures were released.

Indeed, I can find no indication that Cameron has even spoken about the figures since their publication.

I am not in any way trying to play down the tragedy of the massacre at Sousse, but it is clear that British priorities are warped; thirty British deaths are apparently worthy of calling the nation to a standstill for when they are the handiwork of a fanatical foreigner, but thousands of British deaths are not even worthy of a mention when they are the handiwork of a fanatical Minister. Duncan-Smith is clearly responsible for many, many times more British deaths than Rezgui, but it is Rezgui whom the British public are most likely to vilify. So it seems killing British citizens is only a matter for outrage when foreigners do it. When the British ruling class do it, it is a matter for shrugged shoulders.

Parochialism and xenophobia have always been foolish frames-of-mind, but when they blind us to the crimes of ‘our own’, so to speak, they are also immensely dangerous, as they allow those in power to get away, almost literally, with murder.

Thanks to all who helped force the DWP to reveal the truth. Now we must prepare for an even greater battle, to force a change of policy.
c/o Thomas Sutcliffe.

aspiblog

INTRODUCTION

This post is about the recent revelations from the DWP of just how many people have died shortly after having their benefits axed – revelations that were carefully timed to coincide with the dissolution honours in an effort to minimize the coverage they got. Having finally had to admit defeat after fighting a long rearguard action against making any revelations at all (well done Mr Sivier and Ms Zolobajluk for your roles in making this happen) they produce the figures at this time of all times!

THE INHUMANE DESPICABLE SOCIOPATH

Others have done a splendid job of publicising the figures already, and most of this section is devoted to linking to the best of the many pieces that this scandal has generated. First however, a couple of pics to set the scene…

This, courtesy of Mike Sivier at Vox Political  is devastating revealing of the kind of monster we are talking about. This, courtesy of Mike Sivier at Vox Political is devastating revealing of the kind…

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by Martin Odoni

I would just like to express my admiration and heartfelt condolences to Mike Sivier over on the Vox Political blog. After a very long, arduous and hair-tearing battle against the delaying tactics of the Department of Work & Pensions, to get the real numbers of deaths of people claiming incapacity benefits, today he won, as the figures were revealed to the world. It genuinely is a great achievement, managing to force one of the most stubborn, secretive and underhand departments in all of the British Government to give way. But has there ever been a more heartbreaking boon at the end of such a long and gruelling journey?

What the statistics today revealed is that, near-enough, ninety-two thousand people claiming Incapacity Benefits died in the space of a little over two years leading up to February 2014. Across the three years from January 2011 to February 2014, the overall death-rate was about ninety-nine per day. But it was just thirty-two per day in the first year. Overall, the acceleration in the two subsequent years means an increased death-rate of two hundred per cent. That is only people claiming Incapacity Benefits, please note, not people who had been on benefits of any other description; we are yet to learn how many of them have died of impoverishment by other means. Even more alarming is that over four thousand have died within just six weeks of being classified as ‘fit-to-work’, making a very bleak joke of the Work-Capability Assessments. (Four thousand, please note, is roughly the number of Britons who died at the Battle Of Marston Moor, and as that battle is always presented as one of the most important chapters in our nation’s history, it seems reasonable to suggest that today’s discoveries should be treated with similar gravity.)

Arguments could be made – indeed have been made – that the deaths cannot be reliably confirmed as caused by the DWP’s policies, as the cause-of-death in each case has not been recorded. But the astonishing rate-of-acceleration among the deaths since 2011 leaves little room for doubt; DWP policies, as they have kicked in, have clearly had a very substantial impact, and one for the worse. If the acceleration were caused by something else, for instance the recession, why did the death-rate not start accelerating a couple of years earlier, and why has it not slowed down again over the two years since the so-called ‘economic recovery‘ began?

The figures, in the end, are only numbers and so I suspect many people will take a while to grasp their full significance. Trying to imagine ninety-two thousand faces, and trying to assign a name to each one, is perhaps the only way of turning a number into humanity. But for over ninety thousand people? That would take a very long time. That is the point.

So often in recent times, when challenged on the heartless cruelty of his Sanctions Regime, the Work & Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan-Smith, has offered only pseudo-religious platitudes of, “I am doing what I believe to be right” or some variation. How can this possibly be ‘right’? How can he possibly carry on insisting that he is doing people good when thousands of them are literally dying as a direct result of his malevolence?

Duncan-Smith’s conduct towards the unemployed and the disabled while he has been in office has often been described as ‘bullying‘, but is that really an adequate word? He is not just reducing people to tears, he is not just imposing his will on them in an unfair and intimidating way, he is not just making them feel small. He is killing them, he knows that is the consequence of his deeds, and he carries on doing them, usually looking for more and more people to victimise by cutting away more and more lifelines. That is not bullying, it is not even persecution, it is a blood-vendetta.

It says a lot about Duncan-Smith’s priorities, and those of many in the wider public, that the rapidly-increasing rate of deaths among Britain’s most vulnerable people is likely to be seen in many quarters as a ‘price-worth-paying’, in the fight against ‘sponging’. Even if benefit fraud were really as prevalent as many imagine – in reality it is less than one per cent of the bill and has been around that level for a very long time – is culling people really ‘better’ than wasting money? Never mind that it is a false economy anyway as no net money is being saved as a result of all this, but how sick must our culture be when it has come to believe equations like that?

What Iain Duncan-Smith has done is preside over a completely pointless and utterly avoidable humanitarian disaster in one of the richest countries in the world, and then imagined he could keep such a disaster neatly brushed under the carpet. So while I congratulate Mike on lifting that carpet enough to reveal what we had all feared lay beneath it, I commiserate him on what it has taught us. If ever there were a victory to despair at, it is this one. However necessary it is to reveal ugly truths, that does not mean we have to enjoy them. Instead, they should be seen with the disgust that motivates us to correct them.

_____

EDIT 28-8-2015: Correction – the number of people who died after being categorised as ‘fit-to-work’ is two thousand six hundred-and-fifty. The four thousand figure is taken from several media sources who counted a number of the claimants twice due to a misunderstanding of two groups of statistics. The real figure is substantially fewer, thankfully, but still terrifyingly high, and while it does not rival the death-toll at Marston Moor after all, it is still high enough for the Battle Of Bosworth Field nearly three times over.

With the Welfare State now all-but breathing its last, the pompous cliche about ‘benefits as a lifestyle-choice’ has become obsolete, and so it requires amending to something that is even more conspicuously stupid and cruel.
c/o Johnny Void

the void

think-before-you-give

Leeds City Council have teamed up with the police and so-called charities, to come up with the nastiest campaign yet aimed at discouraging the public from giving a bit of spare change to homeless people.

The above poster has been placed at key sites across the city warning people not to give money to beggars because it may help fuel their addictions.  As ever the homelessness industry demands that people give the money to them instead so they can spend it on drink soaked conferences in posh hotels that cost £700 quid a ticket.

No thought at all seems to have been given about how this campaign will further stigmatise homeless people who already often face abuse and even violence from some members of the public. Those attacks will now be more likely as homeless people are smeared as addicts or drunks by the very organisations that claim to be…

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