Vox Permanent – our venture into print

Mike Sivier's blog

You may have noticed there has been no new article from Vox Political today – only reblogs from other people’s pages.

This is because I have been quietly celebrating the anniversary of my birth. I am 21 (and if you believe that, I really must be a politician)!

There is news to tell, though – and here it is:

The first Vox Political collection – Strong Words and Hard Times – is now available and may be ordered from this address.

The intention is to make an eBook available in the very near future, as I am aware that this may be more desirable for those of you who live in the digital age (and those of you who are living on a tight budget).

If, like me, you like to hold a book in your hot little hands, smell the fresh ink on the pages, and carry it…

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Flawed Coalition figures claim crime is down. What about fraud (George Osborne)?

Mike Sivier's blog

It must be a brutal blow for the Coalition government, after announcing that crime has dropped by a respectable amount, to then have to admit that a large chunk of fraud has been omitted from the figures.

“Crimes recorded by police in England and Wales have fallen by 7 per cent in the year ending March 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics,” stated the BBC, proudly acting once again as the Coalition’s mouthpiece.

At around the same time Jeremy Browne, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention, was telling us about mistakes at Action Fraud, which now receives all reports of fraud on behalf of all police forces in England and Wales: “Between November 2012 and July 2013, 2,490 reports (of which 1,738 were reports of crime) were not processed correctly due to a fault in the IT system,” he reported.

Oh dear – another cock-up.

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Why cant you fucking leave us alone Mr Cameron

OK firstly I’d like to say Thank You to the readers and followers of my blog you all mean so much to me as this blog is a means of escape from the dreadful times many many of us are living under and I fill the pressure of how you all feel on a daily basis which gets harder as each day passess but I carry on fighting in the hope one day our lives will get better and we can all raise a glass to Camerons passing and look forward in the hope the next government will treat us all as equals. I have had the pleassure to meet many citizens both in my time on social networks and in direct action so Thank You all you give me the will not to give up and throw in the towel.

Now I am going to lay bare here the effects this Government is having on me and my family members who live with me, I do not want sympathy as I have no doubts at all that what I say is duplicated across the nation and indeed I am just one small pawn of a much bigger picture.

Everything I say here is my words and is fact in truth as unlike Camerons Government I do not lie and have principals, compassion and empathy to my fellow citizens. I am the sory of guy who if I had a pound in my pocket and saw someone with greater need than myself I would gladly give it away that is how I was brought up.

I live in a 4 bedroomed property in Havant that was once the biggest council housing estate in Europe but now many have been brought privately including mine I brought this house back in 1986 just after getting married because at the time my wife and her mum were living here alone with 2 spare bedrooms and thus the council were trying to move them on but her mum who had just lost her husband did not want to move so I said OK we will jointly but it using your 60% discount and you can carry on living here rent free as I will pay the mortgage.

So this is what we did and I paid £13,560 for it not knowing what the future would hold and had I have known what I do now with the limited housing stock I probably would not have brought it, I was told that the money raised from house sales would be reinvested in new housing to meet the needs in the future clearly that has not happened.

During my time as a homeowner I have never claimed mortgage interest support despite having periods of unemployment and now disabled why? because unlike many of our wonderful MP’s I have morals and thus doing that goes against my ethos to buy this house was our decision not the taxpayers and thus the thought of me paying for it ourselves appeals a lot and can hold my head high that we alone brought and paid for it.


This house I brought was in much need of refurbisment as it lacked a decent kitchen, bathroom had no central heating or double glazing so I mortgaged for £50,000 to get all this much needed repairs done and decorated throughout.

I am lucky in that we are not in negative equity like many are but we are now at a situation that we could not sustain any mortgage increases so if the interest rate goes up we are buggered due to the cuts we are having to take indeed this government has left us no room to move.

My wife bless her she deserves a medel not only does she care for me due to SAH Stroke she cares for her now elderly mum plus works part-time at the local co-op she works her cotton socks off and is shattered at the end of the day. Our mum needs a lot of care and I take care of her driving needs when she needs to see the GP, visit hospital or needs prescriptions collected and keep check on her in the evenings but most of her care is needed during the day when my wife is home.

My wife thinks of nothing else but the care of us and the DWP simply do not understand how could they unless they have lived it.

My wife had the shock of her life a while ago when she had a bill from the DWP to repay over 16k of carers allowance this is going back over 10years as they said she went over her hours that she was permitted to work, as payslips were not available this was worked out on NI credits, how excuse me but why did you leave it so long 10 bloody years and furthermore my wife has always had a lot on her mind and checking if she was going over her hours was the last thing on her mind rightly she thought what she was doing was more important.

If we put our mum in residencial care it would have cost the state at least 30k a year and they are making her pay this back all for going over a maximum of a couple of quid a week DWP really you are the scum of this earth.

The Earnings limit has long known to be a farce and goes against Camerons ideal and policies as much as my wife would love to do extra hours she cant due to your crazy policies, My wife got a bonus this year as she does every year in recognition of her hard work but do you know they even stopped her carers allowance because of this, that is akin to giving her a punch in the gob for her efforts blimey no wonder the nation is in the mess it is.

We will never give our mum over to residencial care because we take pride in looking after her and see it as our duty and where she will be best looked after.

We have two sons both still live her, one has just left music collage and is embarking on his career in music he has his own band her https://twitter.com/cagedspectrum


My other son lives in one room with his girlfriend and there 10 month old son, yes I am proud to be a granddad and get to see him loads although it will be nice when they can get there own place as this house is now getting a bit overcrowded but for the moment I am loving it as we are close and live as a family unit of 4 generations. My older son he did 3 years in college doing computer studies and then was doing a fake Apprenticeship which was nothing of the sort and learnt nothing useful so is now a self employed computer technician.

As for me I worked for 15 years post SAH Stroke until September 2007 but was then made redundant due to the global financial crash my employer could not get anymore loans to upgrade his truck stock so was forced to close I tried real hard to get another job but no one wanted a 47 yr old Stroke Survivor one emplyer even told me this to my face do I blame him no of course not I would think the same if I was in his shoes after all he had the pick of the best able bodied people.

We are stuggling to maintain our heads above water due to the ever increasing price rises, funny old austerity as it does not affect retail or the services they carry on thinking we have a bottomless pit of money, when I left work in 2007 I was hounded by my creditors for the few debts I had and then the DCA’s who are the scum of this earth and made my life living hell with the endless phone calls and letters it was a time when I came close to ending it but I was helped by a very good debt help forum and I got my life back on track with there help and support, that forum I owe a lot too it can be found here:


When I had my SAH Stroke and the period I was working I never claimed a penny in disability benefits this was because I thought there was someone more in need than me after all I was working and wrongly thought when the need came the government would look after me how wrong was I because now I do have a need I find myself fighting tooth and nail for every bit of entitlement but hell my Stroke did not take away my fighting spirit so bring it on Mr Cameron if you think you are big enough because I am not one for giving up and your draconian policies has made me more aware.

‘Named and shamed’ by C Leslie MP. Oh, the disgrace..


It’s not up on Hansard just yet, as it wasn’t quite 3 hours ago yet, but I’m told that I was ‘named and shamed’ by Tory MP Charlotte Leslie today in Parliament, for my ‘venom’ in challenging the claims, actions and attitudes of Julie Bailey and her ‘Cure the NHS’ group (Cure):

I am equally perturbed and disturbed that a lot of that venom is coming from two Labour Party Members locally – Diana Smith who has worked for David Kidney and Steve Walker and I would very much like to know that the party opposite will condemn those actions.

(Edit: you can now get the full Hansard record here, and I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone for the kind wishes and support!)

Ms Leslie needs to check her facts, since I’m not a Stafford local and only visited the town some time after I’d published my article…

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UK unemployment is anything up to 12 MILLION, not two and a half!

Mike Sivier's blog


Please note: As ever, this is a layman’s view of the figures. If anyone can help add colour and detail to what follows – and correct it if necessary – please do.

Let’s hope we all live long enough to look back and laugh at the euphoric reporting of the Coalition government’s slanted employment figures.

“UK unemployment fell by 57,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to May,” the BBC reported, quoting today’s release from the Office for National Statistics.

What a shame that the figure is meaningless as it bears no relation to the number of people who are out of work and not paid the minimum wage (or above), which would be a better yardstick. That figure is anything up to 11.71 million, using estimated figures from the ONS report.

This includes not only the number officially counted as unemployed, but those counted as…

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Strivers vs Shirkers? Ten Things They Don’t Tell You About the Welfare Budget

Via  Mehdi Hasan @ huffingtonpost.co.uk

welfare budgetWith the Conservative Party unveiling a new ad campaign in marginal seats, which basically divides voters into hard-working ‘strivers’ and stay-at-home ‘shirkers’, and with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg launching an attack on universal benefits, it seems the perfect time to debunk 10 key myths about the UK’s welfare budget and, specifically, ‘out of work benefits’.

(Yesterday, you may have seen me tackling some of these falsehoods on BBC1’s Sunday Politics – if not, you can watch my debate with Tory MP Chris Skidmore on the iPlayer; scroll forward to 29mins40secs in…)

Here are the 10 things about welfare that they – Tories, Lib Dems, some New Labour figures, the centre-right press and the CBI – don’t tell you:


Fact: According to the Resolution Foundation, “far from hitting only the out of work, 60% of the value of the £3.7 billion cut would fall on in-work households”. Why? Because the 1% rise – which equates to a real-terms cut – affects universal benefits like child benefit and tax credits like child tax credit.

Also, the benefit loss for a low to middle-income household is about twice the size of the personal allowance gain (the same allowance gain, incidentally, that the Tories have tried to use to deflect attention from the 1% squeeze).


Fact: First, according to the DWP’s own figures, the majority of all welfare spending is on pensioners – 53% – with out of work benefits accounting for less than a quarter of the welfare budget.

Second, on average, between 2000 and 2010, welfare spending grew annually, in real terms, by 1.75% – compared to 5.5% in the 1950s and 1960s, and 3% in the 1980s (under Margaret Thatcher).

Third, benefit spending in 2011-12 accounted for 10.4% of GDP, lower than under Margaret Thatcher in the mid-80s (11%) and under John Major in the mid-1990s (12%). (There are also a million fewer people on out of work benefits now than there were in the mid-1990s, off the back of the previous recession.)

Fourth, it may surprise you to discover that benefit spending as a share of GDP fell during the first 11 years of the last Labour government; it only began to rise in 2008, after the financial crash, as hundreds of thousands of Britons found themselves out of work through no fault of their own.

(They key point here is to distinguish between benefit spending figures presented in scary, cash terms and those presented – much more accurately – as a proportion of a nation’s GDP.)


Fact: While the chancellor George Osborne was correct to point out, in his Autumn Statement, that “average earnings have risen by around 10% since 2007” but “out of work benefits have gone up by around 20%” he chose a narrow, self-serving time period, i.e. the past five years. Over the past 30 years, wages have outstripped benefits.

As economist Jonathan Portes, head of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), pointed out: “In 1979, unemployment benefit (the predecessor to Jobseekers’ Allowance) was about 22% of average weekly earnings; today it’s about 15%, a relative decline of about a third. What’s going on? Simple: JSA has been indexed to inflation. In normal times, earnings rise faster than prices…”

But as Osborne knows, we are not living in ‘normal times’, partly thanks to his growth-killing austerity measures…

On a side note, Jobseekers’ Allowance is currently £71 a week, or £10 a day. Could Osborne, or any other Tory minister, live on £10 a day? Could you?


Fact: The majority of children and working-age adults in poverty in the UK live in working, not workless, households. That’s 6.1million people – 2million children and 4.1million adults – a million more people than are living in poverty in workless households. Low pay is the biggest cause of poverty in this country – a fifth of British workers are paid less than the ‘living wage’. The national minimum wage is now worth less in real terms than it did in 2004.


Fact: Families with more than five children account for 1% of out of work benefit claims; families with more than three children account for less than 10% of claims.


Fact: Despite repeated Tory references to “three generations of worklessness” (Iain Duncan Smith) and “four generations of families where no one has ever had a job” (Chris Grayling), this whole “culture of worklessness” and inter-generational fecklessness is a complete exaggeration based on little or no empirical evidence.

Consider the conclusion of a recent, in-depth report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF): “Despite strenuous efforts, the researchers were unable to locate any such families. Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was a very rare phenomenon.”

In fact, a Bristol University study of Labour Force Survey figures found that only 0.3% of UK households have two generations – let alone three or even four (!) generations – that have never worked.


Fact: The government’s own figures show that just 0.7%, or £1bn, of benefit expenditure is overpaid due to fraud – compared to, say, £70bn lost to HM Treasury through illegal tax evasion.


Fact: According to the homeless charity Shelter, only one out of every eight people who receive housing benefit is unemployed – the vast majority of HB claimants are pensioners, carers, people with disability and, of course, people on low incomes (see myth 4).

As even the Daily Mail conceded back in October, there has been an 86% rise in housing benefit claims by working families over the past three years.


Fact: As public policy analyst Declan Gaffney has pointed out: “Benefit claims are much less likely to be ‘long-term’ as people seem to believe. The majority of people on Jobseeker’s Allowance claim the benefit for less than three months; less than 10% claim it for more than a year.”


Fact: According to the National Audit Office (NAO), means testing “makes the administration of benefits more complex and is associated with higher costs as well as increased rates of fraud and error”. The NAO also notes that “there can be disincentives for recipients of means-tested benefits to return to work”.

(With thanks to the Resolution Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Declan Gaffney, Jonathan Portes, Chris Dillow and David Wearing.)

Follow Mehdi Hasan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mehdirhasa

Government signals biggest disaster ever for Britain’s roads – privatisation

Mike Sivier's blog

The Highways Agency is to be privatised, according to new government plans for the biggest disaster in the history of motoring in the UK.

The agency was formed under the last full Tory government in 1994 and operates, maintains and improves (ha ha) the strategic road network – the motorways and major ‘A’ roads that take one-third of the nation’s traffic, in terms of mileage. These are your roads – you pay for them with your taxes. They do not belong to the Conservatives and selling them off is nothing less than the theft of national assets.

The change should signal an end to Vehicle Excise Duty, otherwise known as road tax – but there is no mention of this in the Coalition government’s press release, so it seems likely that the Tories in charge of this project are hoping to siphon your tax money into private hands as profit again…

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How’s Britain Really Doing?

By Darren Lynch

In this time of manufactured hatred against those in society who rely upon State support for their day to day existence, I believe it is time that a wider look at the overall economic effects of government policy should be laid out for all to consider. Local MP’s need to be collecting and collating figures from responsible authorities regarding not only benefits issue, but also from such organisations as charities and food banks, as well as the police with regard to hate crime, to present an accurate picture of what is happening in society.

We need to see accurate, and independently verified figures, compiled by people on both ends of the social spectrum, with contributions made by people at all levels of society.

We need to hear from owners of existing and former businesses, from manufacturers to small retailers, to see what, if any, effect they are seeing on their bottom line, and encouraging them to submit opinions on this subject.

We need to hear from people who have been made redundant, as well as from those who have found work, to discover what difficulties, if any, they are experiencing.

We need to hear from the law courts, to determine what, if any, increase or decrease there has been in regard to their civil case workload.

We need to hear from councils, in a way that does not permit “spin,” as to what difficulties they might be facing.

When we have all the information collated, we should present it to all interested political parties, as well as to every branch of the national media, along with interested international press bodies, to ensure that the truth of our society today is exposed for all to read in the press and/or watch on TV, Youtube, social media and so on.

What we need along with each category of information, is documentary proof of statements made by those supplying that information. If actual documentary proof is not readily available, links to that proof would suffice.

When we have a government in which a Minister can dismiss official statistics on the basis that he “believes” he is right and the ONS is wrong, the only way to convince his superiors of the danger he presents to society is to collect, collate and present information in a manner that cannot be disputed by that Minister. Personal stories, backed up by either documentary proof, or links to it, are what is now required. the press is not the body to carry out such a survey, as the press can be rightly accused of bias towards one or another political ideology.

I am going to set up a page in order that people affected by the changes to society under this government can post details of their experiences, as well as their findings, from which I propose to create a spreadsheet divided into categories that will cover each type of experience or discovery. I will declare on that page that I am merely collecting and scoring the information provided, and that I will not “spin” it in any way. All links to, and collections of, documentary evidence will be completely open to the authorities. I fully expect it to turn into an “armchair protest march” because I, personally, do not believe that there is a positive outcome to the information that can be provided. I am, however, willing to be proved wrong in this assumption. I am hopeful that people from all walks of life will be willing to contribute their stories. whatever is eventually published, at the end of August, will be a street level reflection upon this government’s performance since 2010.

My intention is to score each article, using a “1” for positive information and “-1” for negative. In a very basic way, therefore, the total at the bottom of the sheet will illustrate whether or not the changes to the system are useful or harmful to society as a whole.

I will post the link to the page here, probably tomorrow. Watch this space.


Portsmouth FC

rklp's Blog

PORTSMOUTH Football club. What do you think when you see that name? Some may see the name as failure, an embarrassment to football, a club that should have died out like the Dodo.

For me I see a Phoenix that has risen from the ashes. A club galvanised by its supporters and brought together by the local community. Some of which have dedicated all of their time, sweat blood and faced legal proceedings to grant the dreams of the many supporters across the globe. A dream that has finally been realised thanks to everybody involved, no matter how small the contribution.


On Sunday 14th July 2013 it was announced that PFC have broken the 10,000 mark for season ticket holders. As of midnight Saturday the figure was 10,114. That is truly remarkable for a club that a little over 3 months ago were on the brink of liquidation…

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