Friday, 13 March 2015

So, where have I been?

You don’t have to be that observant to have noticed the rather large gap between last June and a few days ago in which I produced not a murmur; I suppose it is only right that I fill you in on what happened during those months by way of explanation because at least one person missed me.

As you may have been aware, I was not in the best place about this time last year, having lost my welfare benefits due to a range of factors which I won’t go into.  I was also faced with the loss of the work I was doing at the university in Chelmsford and renewed calls from my wife for a divorce.  Well, I was sent into a tailspin, plunged further down the Abyss than I have ever gone and found myself almost completely helpless and defeated.

I was under the care of the local Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team and I was finally given some practical help rather than just medication to help me cope.  I had my first ever social worker who put me in touch with a support worker called Laurence from Family Mosaic, the Local Area Coordinator called Ben and the local mental health trust’s Employment Specialist called Richard.

Laurence has probably had the hardest job as he helped me get my welfare payments back again which really cheered my wife up as she had been supporting me with £100 a month to buy my groceries and toiletries, an amount she could ill-afford to spend out of her pittance of a wage.  I was on that minimum amount for about seven months which wasn’t easy to do with the price of living having sky-rocketed in the past few years but it did make me much better with my money when I started getting the £101 per week Employment Support Allowance in around November.  In fact, I know feel as if I’m quite well off which is a sobering thought but I suppose you need to struggle financially before you realise that, although the benefit payments are still quite atrociously small, if you’re careful you can survive after a fashion.

I still haven’t had any reply back about the complaints I lodged with the university but then I never really expected anything from them as the staff there don’t really like to admit their mistakes which kind of makes them a lot like the Department for Work and Pensions whose screw-up and inefficiency left me without any income and would have left me starving if my wife hadn’t have graciously bailed me out.  Oh, I did get all the money I should have received from the end of last March until my claim was reinstated but no apology was forthcoming for the loss of the claim forms I sent to them (twice) or the fact that they sent the wrong form to me to fill in which only complicated matters.

The divorce was finalised in July but I am still living with my ex-wife as we’re both having trouble getting re-housed because neither of us wants the other to be made homeless.  It seems, however, that the housing legislation is set up to make sure that any separation is acrimonious because the local authority have informed me that the only way to protect my ex-wife’s claim to a council property is for her to take me to court and have the joint tenancy made over to her.  This wouldn’t be so bad but there is no guarantee that I won’t be left homeless by the local authority who, thanks to the assholes in Westminster, have every opportunity to wash their hands of anyone in need of housing.  That’s our compassionate Government for you.

Slowly over the last few months I have started doing the odd bit of voluntary work again and some of it actually gives me the chance to use the initial teacher training I undertook last January to March.  I now have two students, on a one-to-one basis, that I help with basic computer skills and I gave a presentation on depression to some social work students for the local council back in November.  I am, however, not as busy as I once was and I’m not as anxious to go outside of the walls of my flat as I used to unless I really need to do something important.

It has been a hard slog getting to where I am now but there’s still a long way to go before I’m anywhere near back to a place where I can cope with life without the support of the small band of helpers I’ve been given.  And life isn’t helping much as there has been a lot of bad news lately that outweighs some of the good news I’ve had.  The biggest pieces of misfortune are finding out that my Dad’s cancer has spread and he now has tumours in his neck, lung and adrenal gland all of which has had the tin hat put on it by the passing of Biscotti, our Syrian hamster, caused by of all things cancer.

As you can imagine, I haven’t been up to writing anything over the last few months hence my absence but I’ll try to post something every so often from now on but I won’t be as intent on writing as I have in the past because I’m still struggling to cope with everything even though my situation has improved enormously from what it was.  I do still want to be a thorn in the side of my local MP though (while she still has a job) so I’ll try to be as cutting as usual about her and her complete lack of interest in her constituents because it amuses me.

Until next time…

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Who Does Jackie Doyle-Price serve?

I posed the question “Who do you serve?” to Jackie Doyle-Price in my open letter to her that has been sent out to the local media in Thurrock and I am in a state of excited anticipation to hear her answer (if I even get one).  That said, I thought I’d look at her voting record to see if I could ascertain an answer based on that so I swung on by and, lo and behold, the answer was staring me in the face but I’ll let you make up your own mind by listing the information I found below.

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Social Issues
  • Voted a mixture of for and against equal gay rights
  • Voted very strongly against smoking bans
  • Voted moderately for allowing marriage between two people of same sex
  • Voted strongly for laws to promote equality and human rights

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Foreign Policy and Defence
  • Voted strongly for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
  • Voted very strongly for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
  • Voted moderately for more EU integration
  • Voted a mixture of for and against a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU
  • Voted very strongly against strengthening the Military Covenant

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Welfare and Benefits
  • Voted very strongly for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the "bedroom tax")
  • Voted very strongly against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices
  • Voted very strongly against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability
  • Voted very strongly for making local councils responsible for helping those in financial need afford their council tax and reducing the amount spent on such support
  • Voted very strongly for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • Voted strongly against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Taxation and Employment
  • Voted very strongly for raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax
  • Voted very strongly for increasing the rate of VAT
  • Voted very strongly for higher taxes on alcoholic drinks
  • Voted very strongly for higher taxes on plane tickets
  • Voted a mixture of for and against lower taxes on fuel for motor vehicles
  • Voted very strongly against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000
  • Voted very strongly for encouraging occupational pensions
  • Voted very strongly for automatic enrolment in occupational pensions
  • Voted strongly against a banker’s bonus tax
  • Voted very strongly against an annual tax on the value of expensive homes (popularly known as a mansion tax)
  • Voted very strongly for allowing employees to exchange some employment rights for shares in the company they work for

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Business and the Economy
  • Voted strongly for reducing the rate of corporation tax
  • Voted strongly for measures to reduce tax avoidance
  • Voted a mixture of for and against stronger tax incentives for companies to invest in assets

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Health
  • Voted very strongly against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS
  • Voted very strongly for reforming the NHS so GPs buy services on behalf of their patients
  • Voted very strongly against smoking bans

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Education
  • Voted very strongly for greater autonomy for schools
  • Voted very strongly for raising England’s undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 per year
  • Voted very strongly for academy schools
  • Voted very strongly for ending financial support for some 16-19 year olds in training and further education
  • Voted very strongly for university tuition fees

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Constitutional Reform
  • Voted very strongly for reducing central government funding of local government
  • Voted very strongly for an equal number of electors per parliamentary constituency
  • Voted strongly for fewer MPs in the House of Commons
  • Voted moderately against a more proportional system for electing MPs
  • Has never voted on a wholly elected House of Lords
  • Voted very strongly for local councils keeping money raised from taxes on business premises in their areas
  • Voted very strongly for greater restrictions on campaigning by third parties, such as charities, during elections
  • Voted moderately for fixed periods between parliamentary elections
  • Has never voted on removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords
  • Voted strongly against transferring more powers to the Welsh Assembly
  • Voted strongly against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament
  • Voted moderately against more powers for local councils

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Home Affairs
  • Voted strongly for the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners
  • Voted strongly for requiring the mass retention of information about communications

How Jackie Doyle-Price voted on Miscellaneous Topics
  • Voted very strongly against greater regulation of gambling
  • Voted a mixture of for and against measures to prevent climate change
  • Voted very strongly against slowing the rise in rail fares
  • Voted very strongly for selling England’s state owned forests
  • Voted very strongly for capping civil service redundancy payments
  • Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws
  • Voted very strongly for the privatisation of Royal Mail
  • Voted a mixture of for and against financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods
  • Voted moderately against requiring pub companies to offer pub landlords rent-only leases
  • Voted strongly for restricting the scope of legal aid
  • Voted moderately for culling badgers to tackle bovine tuberculosis
  • Voted very strongly for allowing national security sensitive evidence to be put before courts in secret sessions
  • Voted moderately for a statutory register of lobbyists
  • Voted very strongly for limits on success fees paid to lawyers in no-win no fee cases
  • Voted very strongly against restrictions on fees charged to tenants by letting agents
  • Voted strongly for the policies included in the 2010 Conservative - Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement

The above information makes for very interesting reading because the text I have indicated in blue shows a distinct bias against the poor, disabled and disadvantaged whilst the text indicated in red shows a distinct bias towards the rich and advantaged.  As most of the area Ms Doyle-Price represents tends towards the poor and disadvantaged group, this seems to be a contradiction to her assertion that she truly represents her constituents.

Ms Doyle-Price did vote very strongly in favour of raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax but, as that benefits the rich as much as the poor, that isn’t really anything to be said in her favour.

It is quite funny to read that JD-P voted strongly for laws to promote equality and human rights when a lot of the welfare reforms and other legislation she has voted in favour of have done nothing but reduce equality and human rights in all but the groups who can afford to pay for those rights (the text in blue and/or green).

And, for a member of a party that is supposed to be in favour of ‘small Government’ (the idea that Central Government remains focussed on national matters whilst local council authorities take care of local matters), her voting record seems to indicate that she wants more power for Central Government as seen by the dark orange text which also includes the desire to keep the Scottish and Welsh under the yolk of a full UK Government that has little or no idea of the specific problems of those parts of the UK.

Of course, though she wants all the power centralised in Central Government, the purple text shows that JD-P is happy to thrust the responsibilities that should be held by that establishment on the local authorities who don’t have the power to make their own determinations or the adequate funding to undertake those responsibilities, thanks to her party.  Or, in the case of the NHS (National Health Service), thrusting the responsibility onto GP Consortia (or Clinical Commissioning Groups as they are more commonly known).

So, taking all this information into account, the answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this blog is as clear as day.

Jackie Doyle-Price serves the rich at the expense of the poor, disabled and disadvantaged; she serves Central Government at the expense of Local Government and, probably most importantly of all, she serves herself at the expense of the people she is supposed to represent.