Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Benefits Sanctions: Media Sheep

 

The Scottish media is filled with reports that Scots had their benefits sanctioned almost 900,000 times last year.

See the Herald, STV, Evening Express, Sunday Post.  All the articles are based upon a report issued by Citizens Advice Scotland.

These articles are wrong!

The Daily Record, surprisingly but pleasingly, has reported accurately that the 900,000 refers to the UK as a whole and not to Scotland only.

Wings over Scotland reports the 900,000 figure as being across Scotland but with some hesitation about its accuracy stating that, if true, then each of Scotland’s 178,000 unemployed would have been sanctioned 5 times within the year.

 

Before any think that I support sanctions as an effective remedy and that 900,000 sanctions across the UK is acceptable.  No!   It is abhorrent.  At a food bank I see those sanctioned; no money, no food, no energy to cook even if there was food.  Sanctions should have no place in our society.

 

I raise the media’s error because it seems to be symptomatic of an industry which relies on being spoon-fed.

Does no-one question any more?  Does the media simply pick up one report – unfortunately it seems as though the Press association may have started the ball rolling – and reproduce it?

Debunking was easy.

I read the CAB report and its Executive Summary states,

During 2013, nearly 900,000 sanctions were applied to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants. The rate of JSA sanctions has more than doubled since 2010.

This has resulted in a significant rise in the number of sanctions cases coming in to bureaux in Scotland.

This makes no connection between Scotland and the 900,000 figure.

A Google search showed the Guardian in February reporting the figure as being UK-wide as did this site for the unemployed.

 

Clearly the story is wrong but it is still running.

 

Was this beyond Scotland’s media?  Apparently so, well most of them any way.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Miliband: Tory Cross-Dresser

 

Not only is he wearing their clothes, he talks like them too.  Of course, he says he is different, but his plans for benefits show he is walking in the footsteps and dancing to the tunes of the Tories.

Let none be fooled by his pretence of a social conscience.

The Tories have successfully framed the benefits debate as strivers versus skivers, working versus the work-shy, benefits’ scroungers versus the rest, them versus us.  They are different, they are getting that to which they are not entitled, they are taking from you.  But the Tories lie.  Of course, there are some scroungers: there are scroungers at the bottom, scroungers in the middle and at the top.  Where do the Tories look?  The bottom.  Those most disadvantaged.  And they abuse them.  Call them names.  Separate them from the rest of society.  And their right-wing lackeys of the press follow suit gladly.

 

It’s as though they (the disadvantaged) were the cause of our economic collapse and must be punished rather than being the victims of the scroungers at the financial top of society.

 

Now because this framing has been successful, Miliband has to respond and he does so not by challenging the Tories’ views but by adopting them to get the benefit of being tough and apparently sugar-coating them to gain credence from the left.  No amount of sugar-coating can mask the sour intent.

 

He says,

And we can restore the link between hard work and reward.  And to properly reward hard work and effort, we need contribution to be at the heart of our welfare system too.

We talk about the problem of people getting something for nothing.  And we are right to do so.

But there is a problem that politicians rarely talk about of people getting nothing for something.  How many times have I heard people say: “for years and years, I paid in and then when the time came and I needed help I got nothing out”?

Here he uses the Tories’ framing.

hard work and reward

properly reward hard work and effort

something for nothing

nothing for something

and then he brings in his key action:

we need contribution to be at the heart of our welfare system.

Surely the point of the contributions is that we all pay in when we can for the good of all. 

To make sure that someone who has been working for years and years, paying in to the system, gets more help if they lose their job, than someone who has been working for just a couple of years.

and

To make sure that someone who has been working for years and years, paying in to the system, gets more help if they lose their job, than someone who has been working for just a couple of years.

Why?

Are the financial needs different because one has been working for ‘years and years’?  The system should be about meeting need and not about rewarding anyone.  Do we not all pay taxes some of which goes to the NHS?  Is Miliband suggesting that we should get better care if we have contributed more.  No! Not yet, at least!  

We all contribute through taxes and we get back what we need.  The same principle should apply to benefits but the macabre dance towards punishment and rewards continues. 

Miliband’s basic premise is that working is hard but good, one contributes to society and deserves a reward.  But not working is easy and bad and deserves the minimum only.  This is typical divide and rule, an ‘us and them’.  We look after us and abuse them.

Having a job should be a right but now it is a privilege. Does Miliband think it’s easy to be unemployed and looking for work with the threat of sanctions ever present?

To be honest, I don’t think he cares. 

Rather than stand up for all including the disadvantaged he follows the Tories because he is afraid that to do otherwise would be damaging electorally. 

Stand up for what is right.  The more he moves to the right the more the Tories will move to the right and the dance continues.

STOP!

Say you will not follow the Tories because they and their media supporters are wrong and perpetuate a lie.  The disadvantaged do not deserve to be disadvantaged.  They are disadvantaged and that is punishment enough without the political classes scapegoating them.

 

I do not even dream of a change.  

 

Music in the Morning No. 397 – Rhonda Vincent

 

Come into today with some bluegrass.

Kentucky Borderline                                    Rhonda Vincent and the Rage

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 396 - Holly Tomás

 

Just 3 weeks ago Holly made her first appearance and I’m delighted to welcome her home to sing Burns.

Ye Banks and Braes                                                                 Holly Tomás

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 395 – A Fine Frenzy

 

Another returnee this morning - after more than 4 years – but so worth the wait.  I thought i had already featured this song but, when I looked, I couldn’t find it.

Sit back, close your eyes and relax.

 

Near to You                                                                               A Fine Frenzy

 

A little bit of perfection!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 394 – Blue Roses

 

Laura Groves (Blue Roses) brings you her ‘Greatest Thoughts’ this morning.

 

Greatest Thoughts                                                              Blue Roses

 

Thank you, Laura.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 393 – Praise the Lord

 

And I will fall at Your Feet
I will fall at Your Feet
And I will worship You here

These words will always move me, having played a significant part in my being brought to faith.  Not only are these significant words they are important  every day for I am not worthy of standing before God, before Jesus.

Falling at His feet is all I can do.

This Is Our God                                                                        Hillsong

 

You are a great God!

Amen

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 392 – Hiromi

 

Thirty months after her first incredible visit, Hiromi returns using the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 as the base for the most wonderful music.

Piano Sonata No.8  'Pathetique Mvt 2 (Adagio cantabile)        Hiromi

[Playing with Hiromi are: Anthony Jackson: bass;  Simon Phillips: drums]

 

I hope she finds her way back here soon.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 391 – Praise the Lord

 

It’s not Sunday but I have no option but to Praise the Lord.

 

At the food bank at which I volunteer I was humbled today not because I did anything wrong but rather at the trust that another had in me.  I won’t give any details: that would be utterly wrong and so I stick with the general.

Let’s call her Lady for she was a lady.  Lady walked in looking near to tears.  We sat down and she opened her heart.  I got her coffee and we moved to a quieter place.  She opened her heart more and more. So much had happened and was happening in her life.  My heart went out to her.  But in the midst of her pain she was transformed as she talked about her adult child.

Church was a safe place; God’s love enveloped her.  I was humbled that I was the person God chose to be there for Lady.  I was honoured by Lady’s trust and I pray that she was strengthened by the Love she found in church.

This is not uncommon although it is the first time I have been used.

And so I thank the Lord for all he has shown me and given me today.

 

How I love You

Love You, Jesus

 

How I Love You                                                            Christy Nockels

 

Thank You, Father.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 390 – Mark Orton

 

This happens so often now!  A new artist pops up on my screen with music which demands its place at the head of the queue for this slot.

Today it’s Mark Orton and ‘Night of the Skeptic’ from Orton-composed score of the film ‘Nebraska’.

The opening accordion sounds so atmospheric, so Parisian, before a guitar, then violin, and then piano break in.  Eventually with the violin dominant the accordion takes more of a back seat yet brings back its sadness.  Towards the end the discordant piano increases the piece’s darkness.

Enough!   Sit back and let Tin Hat work their magic on you!

 

Night of the Skeptic                                                  Mark Orton and Tin Hat

 

Oh!  I could listen to this over and over and over.  I just have.

See you tomorrow

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Music in theMorning No. 389 – Donald Byrd

 

A wee bit (7 min) of jazz brings you into Wednesday morning.   Donald Byrd and his band play ‘Flute Blues’.

 

Flute Blues                                                                         Donald Byrd

[Donald Byrd: trumpet; Bobby Jaspar: tenor sax and flute; Walter Davis Jr: piano; Doug Watkins: double bass; Art Taylor: drums.]

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Cameron: White Supremacist?

 

Very unfortunate juxtapositioning of the story of a tragedy and a photo of David and Samantha Cameron might lead one to suppose that the No. 10 couple are white supremacists.

If any feel I am trivialising a tragedy then please accept my apologies.  That is NOT my intent.  My heart goes out to the families of those killed.

This is a screenshot from the Independent.

Indie1 20140610

 

You may think, of course, that I have created this.  Not a bit of it.

Go here - https://archive.today/SRuVj -  and look at the 7th story on the left.  The pic below shows the positioning on the page.  [Note: don’t magnify pic below: you can’t read any words]

Indie2A 20140610

Music in the Morning No. 388 – Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac

 

I hadn’t heard this track  - Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) - until 10mins ago: it’s from the Coen brothers film, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’.

I think you’ll love it.

 

Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)                 Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac

 

What a find!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 387 – Davy Spillane

 

Just 5 weeks ago Davy made his first visit and I am delighted to welcome him back. 

This morning he brings us pain and despair in a magnificent rendering of ‘Caoineadh Cu Chulainn’ (Cu Chulainn’s Lament).  Until now I had never heard any instrument cry but, in his hands, Davy’s uilleann pipes cry the heaviest tears imaginable.

Caoineadh Cu Chulainn                                                 Davy Spillane

 

With my eyes closed and after umpteen viewings I am still moved and despite the pain I hope you were able to appreciate the beauty within this recording.

And tomorrow there will be more lovely music for you.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

BBC Reformed

 

What a  difference!

There is a new BBC without the biased unionist message.  Difficult to imagine that the BBC could change itself.  It hasn’t.

But there is still a new BBC. 

Visit BatemanBroadcasting.Com and find fresh radio, free from the standard bias we have imposed on us every day.

 

Music in the Morning No. 386 – Praise the Lord

 

Today the first two lines of Psalm 42 are taken

 

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

 

and woven into a wonderful song of worship.  But before then I pray,

 

 

Father God, I long for You.
I long to know Your presence
But often I am too closed to be aware
Too often I know, in my head only,
’That You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee’

Too rarely, Father God, do I truly know this
Too rarely, Father God, do I live this from my soul
For I am weak and I wander
For I am lost although well-meaning in my wandering
I am weak and I fail as I try to be strong
For I come when there is nothing else
Too often, Father, You are the last refuge and not the first

Every week my prayer says, 'Too often I don't'       
And 'Too rarely I do'
This is where I am,
This is my place
And from here I pray for Your forgiveness
And for the wisdom to learn and move closer to You

And then I may truly know
’That You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee’

 

 

 

As the Deer Pants for the Water                                                Robin Marks

 

Father, I give myself to You.

Amen

Saturday, 7 June 2014

News and Weather Where You Are

 

Author and poet, James Robertson, catches the situation perfectly!

UPDATE: June 7 @ 13.16  I note the massive and excellent WingsoverScotland has just posted this video too.  I didn’t follow.  Not saying Wings copied from me either.

 

Enjoy!  Laugh even!  Despair at the sentiments he accurately portrays.

Music in the Morning No. 385 – Rachael Yamagata

 

Another new – to me- artist for your Saturday delight.  Rachael sneaked up on me through Spotify and she jumped straight into the series.

 

Reason Why                                                                Rachael Yamagata

 

I’m constantly amazed that there seems to be an endless supply of music I love.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Music in the Morning No. 384 – Beethoven

 

Beethoven’s music hasn’t appeared here as often as his general popularity would suggest and I bring not one of his ‘classics’ but a work without an opus number (WoO 57). 

Don’t be put off; this is absolutely spellbinding.  The more I listen the more I get from this, especially as I listen with my eyes closed.

Enjoy.

Andante for piano in F major ("Andante favori") WoO 57       Beethoven

[Sviatoslav Richter]

 

I have to find some more relatively unknown Beethoven.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

A Reply from David Cameron?

 

No!

Last month, Mr Cameron said the result of the Scottish independence referendum would be "decisive, legal, fair, irreversible and binding".

Within the press there was doubt about Cameron’s meaning and, therefore, I contacted the Prime Minister’s Office through their website - https://email.number10.gov.uk/ - as follows,

On the Today programme on Tuesday, 20 May, Mr Cameron said the result of the Scottish independence referendum would be "decisive, legal, fair, irreversible and binding".  During the on-going debate, opinions expressed by politicians and the media have implied that a 'Yes' vote would be irreversible and that a 'No' did not preclude another referendum in some unspecified year. 

As a result of Mr Cameron's reply today, The Telegraph suggests another possible meaning: that, regardless of the result, there could be no more referenda on Scottish independence.

Clearly, there are two very different interpretations of Mr Cameron's words: which did he mean

1. a Yes is irreversible and therefore there will be no more referenda

2.  the result is irreversible whether it be Yes or No and there will be no more referenda

Can you clarify?

Did I get an answer?  Don’t be silly!   There was a reply though.

A quick email was all that was needed.  Dave could have knocked it off after dinner but that was too much too expect of our Tory leader.  Quickly shuttled out of No. 10 to the Scotland Office.  Fortunately, Carmichael didn’t reply: at least their letter was well-constructed and written in good English.

 

There was no clarification of Cameron’s position.  There was bumph.

… if people in Scotland vote to leave the United Kingdom that would be a permanent decision.  If people vote to stay within the UK, both governments have agreed to accept the outcome of the decision and all three pro-UK parties have committed themselves to strengthening and enhancing the devolution settlement in Scotland.

Absolute bumph!

There were lots of pro-union leaflets included too and very soon they’ll be helping to make compost.