Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Familiar Scene

A while ago I made a speculative article about a piece in the Daily Mail reporting on twenty-three cases of benefit fraud being heard in a Birmingham magistrate court. I speculated that in order for such a piece to have been written the Mail would need to have known about these court appearances in advanced, considering they even had one of their own cameramen there to take pictures. Unless they check the courts pages of every local newspaper in England, it seems they did get a tip-off (which I finger the DWP for). The Mail expressed the usual outrage but none of the cases reflected outright criminality, many of them could have been errors caused by poor Jobcentre advice. The Mail also overplayed how many people were seen in the courtroom in one day and downplayed that this was because the DWP booked the court space as a bloc to save money. Those being prosecuted represented months of investigation in the entire area around Birmingham. I can be confident of this because the Mail weren't able to run a repeat of this story every week.

In fact, they've only just got round to doing it again and this time dubbed it a 'special investigation', this time with 8 people in the same court. Birmingham is perfect for this because it has a high population and a higher than average number of benefit claimants. Talk about loading the Mail loading the dice here and it's still taken them six months to get a sufficiently high number in court at once again.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Extremely Important: Emergency

Yesterday something happened in the House of Lords that the government weren't expecting. Whilst the chamber wasn't exactly flooded, opposition to the Welfare Reform bill was enormous. About fifty peers spoke and the vast majority expressed grave concerns about the content of the bill and the intentions of ministers. The government have been jarred.

Just a short while ago I received a link to this blog-post on Where's The Benefit explaining what was going on. The government are moving against the opposition and imposing damage control in the most underhand way they can. At 3:30pm today they will table a motion to move the committee stage of the legislative process to one of the smaller rooms in Parliament. They are doing this to limit the exposure and scrutiny of the bill.

The only way they can be stopped is to warn those in Parliament who oppose the bill or believe it must be scrutinised properly. The mainstream media aren't interested in this, but it is possible to get this issue to trend on Twitter and Facebook in the next half hour. Please go to Where's The Benefit and tweet and re-tweet the post, as well as linking it on Facebook.

This could decide the fate of the Welfare Reform bill.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Case #1: I Am The Lawd

At 3:10pm today the House of Lords will debate and vote on passing the Welfare Reform bill through its Second Reading. I will be one of thousands watching the horror unfold in slow-motion on the BBC Parliament channel. I do not expect the public school-boy behaviour that occurred when the bill was going through the Commons, but the bill's supporters will be no less vacant in their arguments. Yesterday though there was time after one debate for a question to be asked specifically about how Personal Independence Payment will affect Autistics. It happens 24 minutes in and Lord Freud had this to say: