Last week we heard that Vladimir Putin probably approved London murder of ex-KGB agent Litvinenko.
You can read the full report here.
Off the back of this, we hear that
‘David Cameron considers new sanctions against Russia after ‘state-sponsored murder’ of KGB spy in London’
But what about the deaths that are happening here and now in the UK? Deaths that we can’t attribute to some ‘others’ – some bogeymen – deaths that might encourage us to take a long hard look at ourselves?
Did you hear about Frances McCormack who was found hanged in most desperate circumstances after being badgered for bedroom tax following the tragic death of her 16 year old son?
Or Luke, a man with schizophrenia whose life had been going pretty well until his mum, with whom he lived, died, and the department of work and pensions decided he was fit for work.
He fell into a familiar cycle of being off work sick, claiming job seekers allowance, being unable to meet the DWP’s rigid rules, losing his benefits, finding he had no money to live on, he took his own life.
Even now, after we’ve been told that workfare has come to an end, we find that…er…it hasn’t…
You could claim ignorance – but that doesn’t wash
A brief hop around the internet would take you to this dreadful quote from a Work Programme adviser:
‘Almost every day one of my clients mentioned feeling suicidal’
Or something similar.
Overall, the suicide rate in the UK has increased by around 1000 a year since austerity measures, that primarily squeeze the poor, have been in place.
That’s over 6000 people taking their own lives – that’s a 20 percent increase.
And yet there’s been no inquiry into those deaths
We read that ‘Almost 600 Suicides Could Be Related To DWP Work Assessments, Claims New Research’ (November 2015)
And yet we carry on squeezing – people with mental health problems are 3x more likely to have their benefits sanctioned – either stopped or reduced for anything between 3 weeks and 3 years than other claimants.
That was 19259 folk in 2014.
Am I applying the same ‘could be’ here that linked Putin to the death of Litvinenko?
I think the evidence is mounting…
And yet, instead of considering sanctions against the people’s republic of the Department of Work and Pensions, the government continues to sit on its hands.
To put this into some perspective, it’s a bit like watching 2 planes slaughter 5000 people when they flew into the twin towers, shrugging your shoulders and saying, ‘Hey, these things happen…’
You might contest that the link between the department of work and pension’s work capability test and suicide is unproven.
Ditto the £50 thousand worth of debt the poorest – in financial terms – of our young graduates will find themselves in with the removal of their maintenance grant…
Ditto the bedroom tax that’s plunging already poor families deeper and deeper into poverty. A tax that’s being placed on people who have no alternatives.
Ditto the loss of the Independent living fund…a fund that enabled folk with disabilities to live full and meaningful lives…a fund that the government has ‘transferred’ to local authorities that has been swallowed up in the £10 billion cuts that have been imposed on local government.
Ditto the loss of attendance allowance – money paid directly to older people with disabilities – the transfer of money to local authorities will have the same outcome.
Ditto the loss of Remploy – an organisation whose goal was to enable folk with disabilities to work.
Ditto the postcode lottery/ random benefit sanctions (benefits being stopped for anything up to 3 years) – there’s been a 600% increase in sanctions on people with mental health problems.
Just to remind you – that’s 19259 people in the years 2014-15 compared with 2507 in 2011-12.
Ditto the 8% cuts to mental health services over the course of the last parliament –
cuts that despite government assurances are set to continue
Ditto the tripling of those who use food banks – over 900 thousand, 87% of whom are using them as a result of the benefit sanctioning above
Ditto the massive increase in homelessness in 16-25 year olds in England & Wales – 3x the official figures according to a study by the University of Cambridge
How cutting housing benefit from folk 25 and under is intended to help these 83 thousand folk with this crisis is anyone’s guess.
Ditto the fact that 3.7 million, over a quarter, of all children are being brought up in poverty
You’ve got to admit, the mounting evidence is compelling.
So who’s responsible for this?
Whose heads should we put on spikes? Iain Duncan Smith; David Cameron?
I don’t think it would take a gigantic leap of logic and faith to hold our great leaders accountable for some manner of corporate manslaughter.
Well, yes. BUT…
Aren’t we all accountable here – for allowing these peddlers of fear and hatred into power – the people who tell us who to fear and who to mourn – and we buy it.
The very people, whose policies are responsible for the deaths and the suffering of thousands of our fellow citizens, use sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors to point our gaze in the opposite direction.
LOOK EVERYONE – TERORISTS!!!
It’s not even very good sleight of hand!
With little effort you can find the evidence of all the punitive policies that target the poor and vulnerable.
What happened to Alexander Litvinenko was tragic – evidenced by picture of him, his son and his wife spread across the media.
Something must be done.
But let’s just stop a moment to think of the people dying because of government policies? Aren’t their deaths worthy of significant airtime? Of a public outcry that things need to change?
The, ‘Thank fuck it’s not me’ attitude can only carry us so far.
One life is one too many.