Readers may wonder why in this my latest instalment in my Electionwatch 2019 series I relate this to my first in my minor prophets series, concerning the prophet Amos, and this I will get to.
Amos operated mainly in the northern kingdom of Israel, even though he was from the South. His message was a lot to do with judgement and rebuke as he entreated the people to turn back to YHWH and practice righteousness and justice. While he appeared to be knowledgeable and articular, he came from a humble background – he was a herdsman and look after sycamore groves. He operated around 750 BC and was contemporary with Hosea and Jonah, whose messages complemented, living under King Jeroboam II.
He was prophesying primarily to Israel and to a lesser extent Judah, because that was what God told him to do and they were particular objects of God’s interest, which was to get his special people to turn back to Him, if need be using natural disasters to shake them up and later (from 722 BC), more drastically, letting them be taken into captivity by a hostile, foreign power (Assyria). While obedience to YHWH and practising justice and righteousness, especially to the poor and weak, may these days be seen as two separate messages, as far as Amos was concerned the latter followed the former. If they had truly loved God they would have loved their neighbour too. He also prophesied against the nations surrounding Israel, which between them did many wicked acts and God would punish them.
It was a relatively peaceful time and many in Israel were doing well. But there were the “haves” and the “have nots” and in the main the former did not care about the latter and often exploited them. The people were also religious but it was a false religion that did not honour God as he should. There was much repetition in Amos utterances but the sense of indignation over the wickedness he observed was all too evident. He images like a basket of over ripe fruit the people were compared to and a plumb line that could be used to expose crookedness, in the main fell on deaf ears.
Amos is not the only prophet to speak out against social injustice or the exploitation of the poor but he was one of the more prominent to do so and it is not surprising that Christians on the Left like to quote from Amos. Martin Luther King quotes from Amos in his famous “I have a dream” speech, which encapsulates what God’s expectations were. Amos message was more directed at individuals rather than institutions, who were expected to obey God’s commands. The government was under a king, who along with most of the kings of Israel and Judah was bad king, and was also an object of rebuke. Not only that, but the judges were corrupt and could be bribed by the rich and powerful. As for the priests, who were the custodians of the law and meant to be the conscience of the nation, they should have been teaching the way of God. Yet their main fixation was to maintain the status quo and threaten and shut up Amos and, as with many prophets, would have done so fully (i.e. kill him) if they could.
The situation in Amos’ time was quite different to that of today yet there are similarities, like the rich doing well as the expense of or ignoring those who are poor or have a just grievance. I share below a longish rant that raises important justice concerns by a local pastor friend that while I don’t entirely agree with, especially on the politics, does make important points. I think, for example, all political parties have much to answer for with respect to how they respond or rather fail to respond to Amos message. While the article below may be right that Conservatives have left behind some poorer members of our community, with policies like Universal Credit, from his condemnation of idolatry, often linked to child sacrifice, I reckon he would have been pretty outraged at Labours abortion on demand policy, for example and would be appalled that worship of Father God is being replaced by that of Mother Nature. But wherever we are politically, Amos plea for us to practice justice and righteousness and turn back to God is relevant for us this election times as it was to 750 BC Israel, and the onus on us as individuals to do justice and righteousness should influence how we vote.
There is much in the book of Amos I could discuss, but I will end with the final verses (9: 11-15), which helps provide balance: ““I will restore David’s fallen shelter – I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins – and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the Lord, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.”
My first point is while there is a severity in the message of condemnation and judgement Amos proclaimed to the people, who by their rejection found themselves cruelly uprooted less than thirty years later, there was also a message of hope. The early part of it, if we are consider Acts 15 when the Council of Jerusalem discussed how to accommodate new Gentile converts, has already been part fulfilled in Gentile believers joining God’s people. The latter part considers a glorious prospect for Israel and given anti Semitism and anti Israel sentiment have both featured in this election campaign, we do well to remember, YHWH, the Lord God of Israel, shall have the final word and his purposes cannot be thwarted.
It is a waste of time. I’m tired and frustrated, having spent the last 9 years trying to make Southend more survivable for the poorest and most vulnerable people.
If you want to keep punishing the weakest so they stop being poor, please do keep the current lot in power. Vote for them. And let’s build on the last 9 years and destroy more people.
I challenge you to read completely through the below and vote for the current lot.
Not sure where the below originated, does it matter? What matters is how you vote.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, after being told that 4 in 10 kids in parts of Barrow are born into poverty, stands IN A FOOD BANK, arguing that the government isn’t to blame for poverty. Satire died a long time ago. We’ve only despair left now and even she is struggling for breath.
“The government isn’t to blame for poverty.”
Settle in folks, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Since 2010, we’ve endured…
Central government funding for local authorities cut by almost 50%
Make that around 60%
The greatest reductions in local authority spending have occurred in already impoverished northern cities and poor London boroughs.
8% cuts in spending per pupil since 2009.The worst fall in education spending since the 70s.
Youth services funding cut by 70% since 2010. Some areas (like my hometown, Gateshead) as high as 96%.
The Tories are pledging £500m for youth services, only about £380m short of the £880m THEY’VE ALREADY CUT!
600k more children in poverty since 2012 and the number of children getting food from food banks tripled.
4.1 million children in poverty in 2017/18, up 50% from 2010. (Edit, the number of children in relative poverty *who come from working families* is up 50% from 2.1m in 2010 to 3.1m in 2018)
Child poverty increases have mainly been a result of public sector pay freezes and benefit cuts, weak wage growth and insecure work (e.g. zero hours contracts).
Number of food bank parcels distributed has risen from 40k to around 1.2 million between 2010-2017.
Let me say it loud for the folks at the back…. PEOPLE CAN’T AFFORD TO BUY FOOD!
In-work poverty at record highs. 3 million children in poverty come from working families. That means people who have jobs still can’t afford to live a decent life.
Around 120k deaths linked to Tory austerity https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/11/e017722
Which bit of this isn’t the government’s doing?
I’m not finished.
I’ve not even mentioned the harmful and completely ineffective benefits sanctions that have removed benefits from the most vulnerable in society for incredibly spurious reasons, keeping them trapped in a cycle of poverty from which it’s nigh on impossible to escape.
Or the fact that people with disabilities are being routinely discriminated against by the government. https://www.theguardian.com/…/disabled-people-million-benef…
If you’re not happy with me using the Guardian as a source, here’s the actual research study. Read that instead if you like.
But sure, poverty is nothing to do with the government, right? If only poor people would just stop being so bloody poor.
I’ve not yet mentioned the number of people dying after being declared fit to work by the DWP under this Tory government. At least they won’t have to worry about whether to pay bills or eat now though, eh?
Let’s not forget the homeless! Let’s not forget the 165% increase in homelessness since the Tories took over in 2010.
…not including the “hidden homeless” (unsafe, temporary accommodation, couch surfing, etc.)
And while we’re on the subject, we shouldn’t forget the 51% increase in deaths among homeless people since 2013 (when they started counting!)
People aren’t just choosing to become homeless by the way. 1 in 4 people applying for council support in 2018/19 were IN PAID WORK.
And over half of the homeless families in England in 2019 were in work.
Speaking of homes….
The number of government-funded social homes fell by a staggering 97% between 2010-2017.
Many are sold off to private landlords who then charge rents that low-middle income families just can’t afford. The landlords get rich, while the poor get screwed… again.
What about the 2015 Tory promise to build 200,000 affordable starter homes? Want to know how many have been built thus far?
Literally none. Not a single one.
So what else has been going on during this last 9 years? Well, despite austerity measures being introduced by the coalition government in 2010 to eliminate the budget deficit by 2014-15…
From 2010 to 2019, total gross government debt increased by £643 billion. I’ll say that again. Six Hundred and Forty-Three Billion Pounds. https://www.economicshelp.org/…/debt-under-conservatives-2…/
Put another (more useful) way, the national debt has risen from 65% of GDP in May, 2010 to 83% in 2019.
Of course, all of our problems are caused by Shrodinger’s immigrants, coming over here and somehow simultaneously taking all of the jobs AND scrounging off the state.
Except they aren’t, are they? Not by any stretch of the imagination. If we can just look at the actual evidence for a second, we would see that migrants who arrived in 2016 will make a total net positive contribution of £26.9 billion to the UK’s public finances over the entirety of their stay. This isn’t opinion; this is just maths.
Or maybe it’s all of those pesky asylum seekers and refugees. We’re full up right? They’re a drain on the system. Why don’t other countries do their fair share? Well…
In 2018, the UK received applications for asylum for 37,453 people (including dependants). This is far less than Germany (162,000), France (110,000), Greece (65,000) and Italy (49,000).
And if we the look at number of refugees currently residing in countries outside of Europe we see a very different picture to the one the daily mail would have you beleive.
UK 126,720 (for comparison)
Jordan – 2.9 million
Lebanon – 1.4million
Pakistan – 1.4 million
Turkey – 3.7 million
We actually take in a very small amount by comparison, but the papers want you to think otherwise so you’re focusing on that and not the fact that the richest 1000 people in the UK have increased their wealth by 183% in the last decade from £256 billion to £724 billion.
The idea that refugees and asylum seekers are all given lovely big houses and BMWs has been sold to us by the press, but it’s just not true. Many come here and find themselves living in poverty.
Side note: In 2019, we spent about £38 billion on ‘defense’. In other words, we spend a lot of money producing refugees. We kind of have a moral obligation to take some in.
Anyway, we’re not full. We’re not skint. If you want to find out where the money has gone, look up, not down.
Or perhaps it’s all Labour’s fault, which would be a wonderful retort if not for a couple of things. The GLOBAL recession was caused by a GLOBAL economic crash that began in 2008. You can read about it here.
Or here, where in 2015, the permanent secretary to the Treasury, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, explained that the 2008 financial crisis was “a banking crisis pure and simple”, and nothing to do with Labour overspending.
I mean you could argue, but you’d just be wrong. It’s opinion vs. fact, and even if it were opinion vs. opinion, the opinions of the world’s leading economists carry more weight than yours or mine. That’s just the way it is I’m afraid. Not all opinions are created equal.
Average Conservative deficit in the past 40 years – 22.93 billion.
Average Labour deficit in the past 40 years – 6.75 billion.
As a friend of mine wrote:
“…both parties have added debt, but one is clearly adding far more debt than the other, and given that this party has had 29 years as compared to 13 from the other, it seems odd to lay the fiscal woes of the nation at the party who have racked up less debt per year on average and have had less time in power. If one ignores the market crash Labour’s yearly average was 2.3 billion, whereas Conservatives ran 20 billion, but sure, the party with the 10x debt assumption per annum is the fiscally responsible party.”
So, given that it’s made things worse in every conceivable way, what the fuck has Tory austerity been for?
Well, the incomes of the richest fifth of households grew by 7.1% per cent in 2018, while the incomes of the poorest fifth of households fell by 1.5 per cent. So there’s a clue.
And as already mentioned, the richest 1000 people in the UK increased their wealth by 183% in the last decade from £256 billion to £724 billion.
While taxing those with higher incomes might seem unfair on the surface of it (if you’re dumb), higher taxes for richer households (up £1,300 on average) are more than offset by rising wages.
Labour’s plan to raise taxes on those earning over 80k have been met with scorn…. by those earning over 80k.
Like this guy who thinks 80k doesn’t put him in the top 5% of earners, but is actually dead wrong. Like he’s literally incorrect.
And that’s the issue. He’s looking down instead of up. He’s been convinced that people earning less than him (and his paltry 80k) are ‘getting away’ with paying less tax.
“They’d be getting a break that I wouldn’t get and that would be unfair. Why should they pay less tax than me?”
Well it’s because they don’t have as much money as you, dummy. You should be looking up, not down.
We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that it’s the people at the bottom who are the problem. But again, let’s just look at facts and evidence. Despite what you might get from Channel 5 poverty-porn and Daily Mail headlines HMRC and DWP lose more money via their own incompetence than they do from benefit fraud. Significantly more in fact.
Slightly older figures here, but the approximately £1.2 billion lost to benefit fraud (yes it does happen), is actually less than the £1.5 billion not paid out to people who could legitimately claim.
And let’s compare that to the £37 billion lost to tax evasion (2017-18 figures). Now compare who you should be directing your anger towards with who you actually direct your anger towards and just ask yourself why that is.
A third of the UK’s super rich have donated £50million to the Tories since 2005 – and 10 of our 151 billionaires have also donated. The Tory government is handing them almost £100billion in tax breaks and in corporate giveaways over the next four years.
People who have less than you aren’t getting more than you…. because they have less than you. Not rocket science, is it?
And in any case, if we take a look at the actual maths (not the ‘made up in our minds’ maths), we can see that if you’re earning £81,000, you’d be paying a whopping £4.17 a month extra under labour proposals. That’s very nearly five whole pounds! … THAT YOU CAN AFFORD BECAUSE YOU EARN OVER £80k A YEAR.
The answers are all right there, we just have to care to ask the right questions.
The question is, do we actually care? Well the poverty and homelessness figures above should at least concern you. Just because you’re in work, doesn’t mean you’re drinking the same champagne as Jacob Rees Mogg.
Speaking of whom…
The haunted lamppost, who has somehow convinced idiots to think of him as a man of the people, has reportedly earned around £7m from investments since the Referendum, while the people he’s supposedly a man of just get poorer and poorer…
But let’s leave Brexit and the referendum to one side for now. How are the Tories going to give us the “better” (than themselves) that we apparently deserve?
Let’s look at what they’re promising.
We’ll start with the 40 new hospitals across England over the next decade. Well if the progress they’ve made on the 200k starter homes is anything to go by, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
But in any case, while it might make a good soundbite, it’s not even nearly true. In reality they’re pledging money for 6 trusts to start upgrading, and “seed funding” for another 38 hospitals to start developing plans (no building work).
That’s not the same as 40 new hospitals. But never let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh?
The Tories deny that the NHS is up for sale. I hate to break it to you, but it already is.
The NHS is critically underfunded in a number of areas. Fewer doctors, nurses, hospital beds, and residential care beds per 1000 population than several countries across Europe
NHS nurses are chronically underpaid (Tory public sector pay freeze resulting in a real terms pay cut of 14% from 2010-2017), and are resorting to taking second jobs and using food banks to get by.
33,000 nurses quit the profession in 2016-17, up 20% from 2012-13. More nurses from the EU left in 2016-17 than the year before. I wonder what that might be about! https://www.theguardian.com/…/nhs-england-hospital-staffing…
As of 2017, the NHS was about 40,000 nurses short.
The Tories are taking the NHS to breaking point, which, along with the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, opens the door for more and more contracts to be awarded to private health care providers.
And before you say it, no it isn’t health tourism that is costing the NHS. Deliberate heatlh tourism costs about 0.3% of total NHS spending. IT’S NOTHING TO WITH ‘FORINERS’!
Anyway, the proportion of government health spending in England going to private providers has risen by more than three-quarters in the last decade and now stands at 7.3%, according to official figures for 2018/19
In all fairness, this is the continuation of a trend that has been going on longer than this government has been in power. However…
Jeremy Hunt, given the job of Health Secretary from September 2012 – July 2018, literally (co)wrote the book on how to privatise the NHS
And here’s a list of MPs with ties to private health care providers. You’ll notice there are one or two Tories on it.
You don’t have to be Poirot to figure out that the Tories saying they’re the party of the NHS is a bit like Josef Mengele putting “people skills” down as one of his key strengths.
And while we’re talking about Jeremy Hunt, do we remember his promise to recruit 5,000 more GPs? Well, by 2017, there were more than 1200 fewer than when he took office.
And if none of that is worrying you, what about Boris Johnson, who is repeatedly telling you that the NHS is not for sale, using taxpayer funds to host the lavish launch of a think tank campaigning to let American corporations run NHS hospitals?
But its all okay, because another of the Conservatives 2019 pledges is that they’ll recruit 50,000 new nurses! Yay! Except that upon closer inspection, it’s not that at all. It’s yet another lie. 18,500 of these nurses won’t be new at all, they’ll be existing nurses that the government will somehow convince not to leave, which will be tough going given everything I’ve just said. And even then, by Nicky Morgan’s own admission these 50,000 partially mythical nurses won’t appear for at least 5 years. Remember the 33,000 nurses quit in 2016/17? Well if even half that number leaves each year for the next 5 years… well, you do the math(s). https://www.independent.co.uk/…/boris-johnson-general-elect…
Right, let’s move on. What about the 20,000 new police on the streets being promised? Well, even if that actually happens, first of all, it’s just a replacement of the 20,000 that were lost due to Tory cuts since 2010.
And in order to replace those who leave or retire (Johnson has promised the 20k new offices will be *in addition to current numbers*), the police would actually need to hire around 50,000 new offices.
Another Tory pledge is to open 60 new youth centres. Lovely stuff, if not for the estimated 1000 Sure Start children’s centres closed since August, 2009…
…and the 763 youth centres closed since 2012.
Why should we believe a word the conservatives say? Apart from all of the stuff in this thread they are a party of people who consider the truth to be whatever’s convenient.
Editing videos of interviews with labour MPs to mislead the public. Here’s one with Kier Starmer…
And another with Jess Phillips…
And there was the rebrand of their official Twitter account as a fact checking service which then proceeded to tweet anti-Corbyn and pro-Johnson messages during the first live TV debate.
Setting up a fake Labour manifesto website!
Lies about the costings in their own manifesto
Johnson’s refusal to release a report into Russian influence in UK politics.
Lies about immigration.
Lies on buses.
And lies about buses!
You didn’t think he actually makes model buses in his spare time, did you? After this stunt, guess what comes up if you Google ‘Boris Johnson Bus’? Hint: it’s not the £350 million thing!
Tell you what, just read this.
The problem is, we don’t care any more. Johnson supporters don’t care that he’s an objectively racist, sexist, homophobic, lying, moron.
We no longer care about facts and evidence in making decisions about who is suitable to lead the country.
We don’t care about incompetence.
We don’t care about racism.
We don’t care about edited news footage that removes Boris Johnson being laughed at by an audience.
We don’t care about edited news footage that replaces Boris Johnson looking disheveled and placing a wreath upside down with footage from 2016 when he had slightly neater hair.
We don’t care about right-wing, billionaire, Tory donors who stand to gain from a Tory government influencing what we think at every turn.
Every turn. Whether you’re a Corbyn fan or not, and I know many people aren’t, you can’t deny that he is the most smeared politician in history. And that surely that has an impact on public opinion.
And that absolutely has an impact on public opinion.
We don’t care about blaming victims of Grenfell for their own deaths and not having the common sense not to die.
We don’t care about anything.
Fucking hell, I mean I shouldn’t have had to really say anything beyond child poverty.
“600k more children in poverty since 2012 and the number of children getting food from food banks tripled. 4.1 million children in poverty in 2017/18, up 50% from 2010.”
That should be enough!
But Jeremy Corbyn has wonky glasses.
But Jeremy Corbyn wore a scruffy coat.
But Jeremy Corbyn fell asleep on a train.
And Ed Miliband ate a sandwich funny
And Gordon Brown called a bigot a bigot
Yes, we know.
At this point, I’m not even advocating for Labour or Jeremy Corbyn. After 9 years of Tories, I’d take a fucking potted plant or a bag of crisps running the country over Johnson and co.
But ask yourselves, in the face of all the evidence, why you think the Tories are fit to run the country and Corbyn isn’t.
Why, specifically, other than just saying Corbyn isn’t fit to run the country, do you think Corbyn isn’t fit to run the country?
Let’s hear it. Genuinely interested. Other than just repeating daily mail and sun headlines, what have you actually got?
And in the face of all the evidence, what reasons do you actually have for voting conservative. Again, genuinely interested.
Answers on a goddammed postcard please.
Well this seems to have taken off somewhat! The responses have been largely positive which is great, but also an indication that this is just bouncing round a fairly left-leaning echo chamber. So please do share outside your circle if you’re brave enough!
There are a few negative responses though, which is good. Mostly those responses go something like this:
“This is all nonsense.”
“Oh. Okay, which bit specifically do you disagree with?”
“It’s just rubbish. Jeremy Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser. Boris will sort all of this mess out.”
“But what about all of the, you know, facts and evidence? Other than just repeating headlines, do you have any actual counter arguments or other evidence I may have not considered?”
“… … … …”
So to those people, who argue in the face of overwhelming evidence without any actual substantive argument, please know that it’s okay to be wrong sometimes. It’s not nice feeling. There’s a slight rising heat, a feeling of embarrassment, a hit to the self-esteem that doesn’t feel good. I’ve been wrong before, I know that feeling.
And it’s human nature to dig our heels in at that point. It’s called the backfire effect. When we’re presented with evidence that goes against what we believe, we’re more likely to hold on more tightly to what we already think than to change our minds. It’s perfectly natural to do that. It’s how our brains work.
But just see if you can notice when that’s happening, because if we can just loosen our grip, even a tiny bit, and be willing to accept that awkward feeling for a moment, then it can be liberating. We can learn things we didn’t know before. We can see alternative perspectives we might not have considered. And we can have opinions (whatever those opinions turn out to be) that are based on knowledge and understanding rather than on piss and vinegar.
I doubt you’ve read this far, but thanks if you have. And a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has shared it.