20 years ago, Ireland mourned as the UVF slaughtered the innocent at Loughinisland.

Step Back Ireland

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Loughinisland 18th June 1994, the sleepy village set between Downpatrick and Ballynahinch county Down settled in to watch the Republic of Ireland take on Italy in New York’s iconic Giant’s Stadium in the World Cup finals as World Cup Mania swept across Ireland north and south.

Shortly after 10pm as Ireland lead the Italians 1-0, the second half had just kicked off, and inside the Heights Bar all eyes were on the television. The bar is tiny: there were 15 men inside, and it was packed.

At approximately 10:10pm, two Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) members wearing boiler suits and balaclavas, and armed with assault rifles walked into the pub and opened fire on the crowd. Six men were killed outright, and five other people were wounded.

One of the intruders dropped to one knee and fired three bursts from an automatic rifle. Barney Green was sitting with his back…

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Covid-19 for dummies-“the front line”

seftonblog

Here is the report of the state statisticians for the period ending 17th April 2020.

Key Points – Analyses based on date of registration

  • ·  The provisional number of deaths registered* in Northern Ireland in the week ending 17th April 2020
    (week 15) was 424; 11 fewer than in week 14 but 134 more than the 5‐year average of 290. Over the last 3 weeks, 410 ‘excess deaths’ (i.e. deaths above the average for the corresponding week in previous years) have been registered in Northern Ireland.
  • ·  Over two‐fifths (42.2%) of all deaths in week 15 were classified as ‘respiratory’ (179). Please note that all COVID‐19 related deaths have been included in this classification.
  • ·  There have been 5,245 deaths registered in the year‐to‐date, 30.3% of which (1,589) were classified as ‘respiratory’. The number and proportion of respiratory deaths is lower in the year‐to‐date than the 5‐year average of…

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Another key disability debate – so where were all the Tory ministers hiding?

Stop UK lies & corruption

On 24th February 2020 Debbie Abrahams tried to fight back tears as she read out the names of those who died in DWP-related circumstances.  It was the people who paid the ultimate price for the Tories being voted in since 2010.

As this was also a health and social care issue you would have thought the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care would bother to turn up for it, right?  Wrong.

We therefore asked for relevant portions of Matt Hancock’s diary for this period and there were none.  In order to account for where he may have been prior to the debate taking place we asked for the diary entry nearest to the debate – there wasn’t one!

We can only think of one reason why there were no entries in for that day.  He was having the day off (perhaps more than a day).

Hancock's day off ‘Hancock’s day…

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DWP destroyed reports linking benefit sanctions and cuts with suicide

Politics and Insights

errolErrol Graham, who starved to death in 2018, following his social security support being cancelled by the Department for Work and Pensions. He left a heartbreaking letter which described his circumstances leading up to his death. His family found the letter after he died, weighing less than five stone.

Department for Work and pensions (DWP) officials have admitted that up to 50 reviews into deaths following harsh social security cuts and sanctions have been destroyed.

The government has been accused of a ‘cover-up’ after destroying the reports which link suicides to sanctions and peoples’ benefits being stopped. Around 50 reviews into deaths following the loss of social security payments before 2015 have been shredded, officials have blamed data protection laws. 

However, the data watchdog has said there was absolutely no requirement to destroy the reports by any particular date and that a “public interest” exemption could have been used.

The…

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The impact of government policy on free speech in universities: Once you hear the jackboots, it’s too late

Politics and Insights

protest picFreedom of speech is generally considered an integral part of a functioning democracy. In 2014, I wrote abouthow the process of dismantling democracy started in earnest from May 2010 here in the UK, and has been advancing by almost inscrutable degrees ever since, because of pervasive government secrecy and a partly complicit, dominant right wing media.

In order to “protect democracy” governments are subverting the law. This is a fundamental paradox, of course and Edward Snowden saw this could lead to the collapse of democracy and critically endanger our freedom of speech. Snowden reminded us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. It has to be one that is free enough to allow a diverse range of political commentaries, rather than a stranglehold of right wing propaganda from the Murdoch empire and its ideological stablemates.

Between July and August 2013, The Guardian newspaper was subject…

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After a miserable decade of austerity and inequality, how did the Tories get re-elected?

Politics and Insights

How Britain voted 2019 age-01

Voting preferences according to age in the 2019 general election.

I’m writing a series of articles about the general election results in December. I’m looking for opinions on this topic. 

If you’re interested in writing about the election, drop me a message here at Politics and Insights.

George Monbiot’s view

George Monbiot says:  “Something has changed: not just in the UK and the US, but in many parts of the world. A new politics, funded by oligarchs, built on sophisticated cheating and provocative lies, using dark ads and conspiracy theories on socialmedia, has perfected the art of persuading the poor to vote for the interests of the very rich. We must understand what we are facing, and the new strategies required to resist it.

“When the…

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DWP accused of altering disability assessment reports to cut or end successful claims

Politics and Insights

gailPictured: Gail Ward, who was told that she did not qualify for Personal Independence Payment, despite living with a rare and potentially life-threatening heart condition – Prinzmetal’s angina – attacks can occur even when she is resting. She also had other health problems. Remarkably, Gail was told by the DWP that she doesn’t qualify for PIP. She won her appeal after waiting 15 months for her case to be heard at a social security tribunal.

It has been claimed that officials within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have edited or removed thousands of work capability assessment reports submitted by privately contracted healthcare professionals.

It’s alleged that officials reduced qualifying points awarded during face-to-face assessments, delivered by ‘independent’ private firms, and in some cases disposed of the reports entirely.  

The Daily Recordreports that during the last year paperwork was altered or amended in around 1,840 cases, while…

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The election in the media: against evasion and lies, good journalism is all we [don’t] have – Alan Rusbridger

Politics and Insights

This post is by Alan Rusbridger, chair of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

In his first 1,000 days in office Donald Trump made 13,435 false or misleading claims, according to the good folk at the Washington Post who painstakingly monitor the president’s habit of bending the truth. How we Brits have smiled at this con man’s Teflon gift. Could never happen here.

But consider the lessons political managers around the world might have learned about our election and how we struggled to negotiate the increasingly blurred lines between truth and falsehood; facts and propaganda; openness and stealth; accountability and impunity; clarity and confusion; news and opinion.

 It rather looks as if one or two skilled backroom manipulators (we can guess) studied Trump’s ability to persuade enough people that black is white and, rather than recoil in disgust, came to the opposite conclusion: it works.

One…

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Britain dutifully bows down to the ruling elite.

Left in New Zealand

Congratulations to the people of ‘Great’ Britain for voting the ruling elite into power yet again. You certainly do know your place. Now they have a mandate to treat people with disdain and contempt, for the next five years. I always thought people in the US were dumb, but there is a new kid on the block vying for the title. How can a party offering no credible policies, with a history of inflicting misery on millions, with a leader who hides in a fridge when things get mildly difficult remain in power. I could glibly say you get what you deserve, but that would be grossly unfair to the millions who can see through this charade of thinly veiled fascism.

It would appear that many people from where I grew up in the north have had a lobotomy, believing all that the billionaire controlled media had to say pre-election…

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Is hypocritical PM a ‘terrorist sympathiser’? He called for Osama Bin Laden to face trial in 2001.

Politics and Insights

BorisBoris  Johnson, a grubby liar and hypocrite.

Yesterday, I was the person who spent just two minutes researching Boris Johnson’s position and previous comments in the media on Osama Bin Laden. While researching, I found the Telegraph article that the Johnson wrote in 2001. The Conservatives have condemned Jeremy Corbyn’sstatement that Bin Laden should have faced a trial. 

Grubby, nasty quote mining and giant unverifiable inductive leaps over the amoral void, by habitual hypocrits and liars. That sums up Conservative propaganda.

In 2011, a special forces raid on the al-Qaida chief’s Pakistan compound resulted in Bin Laden and four others being shot dead.

George Osborne, among other Conservatives, claimed a Labour Party led by Corbyn would “pose athreat to national security”because, he claimed, Corbyn “sympathises with terrorists”.

This claim has been made…

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