The last few days has bought several important stories that, mostly, vanished from the headlines when some celebrities were given some awards and something to do with the Kardasians in the white house and it wasn’t a visit.
Firstly we had the long awaited, and long delayed, release of statistics from the DWP relating to deaths of people who had been declared fit for work. Unfortunately but not surprisingly IDS has used the time to have his minions mutate the data into a format that makes it all but useless since it cannot be compared to other data.
Yes thousands of people have died within two weeks of being declared fit for work, but how many people per thousand died having been declared fit to work compared to how many per thousand on the same benefits and with similar medical conditions who were not found fit to work.
Without the numbers as part of the overall death rate we can’t do much with them other than speculate. So IDS strikes again and a government that keeps telling us it cares about being open and transparent has demonstrated that it is, yet again, about as transparent as a brick wall.
So I guess IDS is a happy man right now, he has escaped from that whole, annoying campaign to make him reveal the numbers and now, when someone files another Freedom Of Information request or starts another campaign he can say, "But I gave you the numbers you asked for already."
Then we had the end of that whole debate on Trident. Funny but I was planning to listen to the debates and watch the vote, did I miss it? It seems I must have given that Osborne just spent half a billion pounds on upgrading the infrastructure, docks, pens and other facilities that support the Trident submarines and would house their replacements.
This means that several Billion has now been spent on Trident most of which is for long term development, of a system we were supposed to be deciding the fate of next year. Isn’t it odd that when we are seeing weekly attacks on the waste of money that is the benefit system, when jobseekers and ESA recipients are being called scroungers and criminals there always seems to be the odd few hundred million or a billion or two down the back of the sofa for these little expenses.
Perhaps the debate is no longer a foregone conclusion that the government thought it would be, what with labour MPs being whipped (what a charming and undemocratic image that is) to support the Labour leaders line that Trident is needed. A new leader who is opposed to the colossal expense of an all but useless weapon system and one who would either call upon his MPs to oppose it or allow them to vote freely would put a big wrench in the works. A handful of Tories escaping the tyranny of the Tory whip and with most everyone else being against it and the Trident vote becomes far more risky.
So jump the gun, start committing money now then use the same excuse we were given for the Queen Elizabeth, that it is already happening so it would cost more to stop it than to finish it. An argument that should strike anyone with an IQ above that of a house plant as spurious given the fact that every government project is far more expensive that it’s initial quote. Once you start adding in the fighters our new carrier doesn’t actually have it would have been far cheaper to cancel it years ago and simply have the shipyard make a number of far more useful frigates and destroyers.
There is one more thing and this is likely to be a huge problem in time. By throwing even the pretense of democracy under the bus the Tories have all but kicked millions of Scots in the teeth. A parliamentary debate and vote on the future of Trident was one of the promises made as part of the stay in the Union campaign. Since just about every other promise has since been forgotten or dropped Trident is the last major one and given opinion polls that show it is very unpopular in Scotland going ahead with it without even bothering with a debate or vote smacks of a colonial master deciding what is best for the subject nations and those poor uneducated peoples who need to be ruled from London. That one will come back to bite England's rear end the next time we have a Scottish independence vote.
So I guess Osborne has reason to be happy as well.
Next we have the announcement that the rumours about the UN conducting a human rights investigation in Britain were correct. Specifically an investigation into the DWP and the way it treats British citizens has been called inhumane and now we have the UN conducting an investigation.
Nothing will happen of course, the UN inspectors will fly in since Britain is far too civilised to refuse them entry, they will wander around and have lots of meetings that will be reported by the media, who will then get bored and go cover something more exciting like a celebrity scandal. Eventually the information gained by the investigation will be taken to the UN human Rights Council for consideration.
After due consideration which will probably take some time several recommendations will be made, a few wrists may be slapped and it will be back to business as usual. The government is far too invested in Austerity and wealth transfer to allow little details like people suffering or dying to stop them. A change of government or a powerful and effective opposition is required for that, since the next election isn’t till 2020 and we are dependent on the Labour party to make up the numbers the SNP lack we are probably out of luck on that one as well.
So nothing will happen, just some data being filed somewhere and things will continue as they are, or get worse. Given that the UN Human Rights Council contains such paragons of human rights as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia is anyone expecting anything to actually happen a as result of this?
Business as usual in UKplc.
Finally we have the delightful news that we are looking at a further reduction in police numbers and this time not civilian staff but front line officers. Estimates are between 22,000 and 30,000 trained constables and sergeants though call me cynical, people do, but I suspect that number will not include many of the most senior policemen.
At present we have, what, 120,000 serving police officers so that's a reduction of as many as a quarter. Has crime gone down by a quarter recently or is it that people have simply stopped reporting crimes they know the police don’t bother with anymore.
How many of us live in areas where the sight of an actual police officer not racing past in a car has become so rare as to be surprising. The old image of the bobby on the beat something for old movies and Dixon of Dock Green.
Yet while our government has apparently decided not to bother with that annoying democracy and voting stuff in order to spend tens of billions on a weapon system and a bunch of submarines that apparently allow the UK to strut it’s stuff on the world stage little things like crime are inconsequential.
Call me cynical, wait, I’ve done that one already, anyway I have this feeling that if its an MPs house or a million pound plus mansion in the right part of London being burgled there will be plenty of officers to respond.
Such a huge cut and the loss of so many officers will make it all but impossible to continue to provide a police response to all crimes. Entire categories of crimes will effectively be decriminalised because the police will no longer respond to them, and therefore making them far more likely to happen.
I posted a while ago about the inevitable arise of private sector policing as a response to the lack of police numbers and now we see those numbers being reduced even more. Much as the NHS is being privatised step by step as a result of making it unable to perform its job so are we seeing the police going the same way.
Almost time to start taking out G4S or ATOS police cover.
Different week, same government.