Sunday, 1 February 2015

Bedroom tax campaigner lambasts Tameside local press for bias!

The above photo shows an action in the campaign against the Jobseeker's Allowance outside Burnley Jobcentre in the 1990s:  in the foreground on the left is Steve (Starlord) Fisher. 
WE are publishing below a letter that was sent last week to both the Tameside Advertiser and the Tameside Reporter and Chronicle newspapers, from local environmental activist, Steve (Starlord) Fisher (pictured above).  The issue of a free press in Tameside is something that we have previously reported on in Northern Voices. In September 2012, in an exclusive, we revealed that the Tameside Reporter had been bought by New Charter Housing Ltd, a housing company that also owns Tameside Radio and has close links to the Labour council in Tameside. In 2008, we also reported in Northern Voices magazine, claims made by  Private Eye magazine (1220) that  Tameside Council was meeting with local newspaper editors to 'suppress sensationalist reporting'.  We have no misgivings about publishing Mr Fisher's epistle in full because we share many of his concerns about press censorship.  This concern was also noted by one of our readers who predicted at the time of the takeover that we would see, the 'banning of dissenting voices' and lashings of corporate agenda.  Should anyone therefore be surprised that local newspaper sales are plummeting. 

'Many readers of your "redoubtable" newspaper are no doubt reading under the illusion that it reports fairly and faithfully on current affairs in Tameside.  Well I can assure you that's not the case at all.  They can't honestly say they didn't know, that they can't report on everything, that it's neutral in its reportage.  Far from it, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.  How do I know this you might ask?  Well I'll tell you.
'I and many of my friends in 'Tameside Against the Cuts' have been protesting unstintingly every Thursday afternoon for the last 6 months outside Ashton Jobcentre against 'work-for-dole' and illegal & unlawful Benefit Sanctions and many other social injustices.
'The local press have been told many times by phone and email.  We've invited them but they're just not interested & to date no article has been published about our important voluntary "Community Contribution".  That is the level of biased reportage in Tameside.
'Our "Community Contribution" counts for nothing, jarring no doubt with New Charter's social engineering agenda. They do not approve of our activities.  We do not even meet with their new conditionality criteria for getting a New Charter tenancy.  They simply don't recognise our way of "giving something back", failing to recognise the positive work that we do in the community.  But who put them in charge? No one! They just own and control the bulk of Tameside Social Housing, the Tameside Reporter, and Tameside Radio in their empire building 'Quest' for power and influence.
'Astonishingly, I recently read 3 articles about a new related campaign launched outside Hyde Town Hall by Emma Mohareb-Leyla in January:  I've been told she was also published in the Manchester Evening News.  It's great that she's been able to highlight some of the issues we've been campaigning about for the last 2 years!  So why have we been ignored?  We are treated like lepers!  Why has it taken somebody else to get this published? How does one get an audience with the press-barons of Tameside?
'On the 25th September 2013 one of my 3 letters about the Bedroom Tax was published in the Reporter. Every reference to New Charter was excised! New Charter then had the gall to publish their riposte the following week! Where's the editorial independence when a social landlord like New Charter have a vested interest in the Bedroom Tax?
'My last published letter was about KFC in Hyde, but that too was severely edited culling most of the really interesting stuff. My next 4 letters in a row went unpublished. It's really hard to get a letter published in the local press let alone articles reporting what's actually happening in Tameside.
'For the last 2 years Tameside Against the Cuts have protested all over Ashton: on Ashton Town Hall steps and Market ground & outside Ashton Magistrates court against TMBC's unfair Council Tax and their use of Marstons bailiffs; outside New Charter Housing & Ashton Pioneer Homes against the Bedroom Tax (tenants have been evicted); & outside parasitic Work Programme Provider organisations paid thousands of pounds by the Government to force the unemployed to work for their dole and undermine wages!  They are treated worse than many convicted criminals.  To date we've targeted only StandGuide, but i2i, Work Solutions, and Avanta, are also in our sights lest they think they've been forgotten!  We are well aware of a number of slave-labour stores in Tameside and would like to target them too!
'We've very effectively concentrated our efforts on Ashton Jobcentre where many of the poor and the vulnerable can be found.  These innocents have been unfairly targeted by the Tories ideological agenda and made to pay for the gambling excesses & extravagances of the greedy and materialistic rich and powerful.
'Ashton Jobcentre was chosen by this poxy proxy Government to pilot their draconian Universal Credit which gambles with the lives of the poor, making them destitute & homeless, driven to foodbanks and even to suicide.  Worse still this avowedly Tameside Labour Council are collaborators. These turncoats capitulated and rolled-over to have their belly's tickled. They feebly argue that they had to be in it in order to 'shape it'! Yet after 2 years they refuse to say how they've 'shaped-it' with apparently nothing to show for their treacherous behaviour.
'The name Universal Credit tells you all you need to know. For one it ain't universal! Secondly 'credit' is a proxy for debt.  We live in a consumer 'credit' society, for which read "debt" society, in which we subsist, bound in servitude to the rich. The vast majority are indebted to and enslaved by the rich.
'What is needed is far more revolutionary, the introduction of a Universal Unconditional Guaranteed Basic Income Scheme for ALL to ensure a basic or minimum level of existence for all as a right whether in work or not which is in harmony with the principle of Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs'. That would indeed be truly universal unlike Universal Credit which is not!  This Government have the vision of a bat out of hell knowing only the price of everything but the value of nothing.
'A Basic Income would really empower the poor who could then truly choose when and where to work, and to do 'Good Work'. Those who want to have more than the bare necessities of life can work for them to satisfy their desires, but no longer can they force people to labour for them.
'This is the politics of fairness, not the politics of envy. I have no desire to be rich, nor do I desire to be poor.  I desire the freedom to serve as I see fit to fulfill my soul purpose on earth.  Those infected with the disease of greed can still work and be rich if they so wish. They could also seek psychotherapeutic help.  They could perhaps even take-up Buddhism.' 


Anonymous said...

Northern Voices recently republished, with acknowledgements, a "Tameside Citizen" blog item. We were happy that you agreed with the post. In return Tameside Citizen is happy to carry any statement, item etc which local campaigners would like to put out to the local community and which has been rejected by the local controlled media.

It is interesting to note that in all the fuss about "paying your way" "paying your taxes" etc New Charter Homes Ltd are a registered charity and are therefore exempt from paying council tax on empty property for the first months it is vacant. (6 or 12, I am uncertain which). Wonder what they do which is so charitable?

Zyzzyzus floridanus said...

Starlord makes an interesting point about a basic citizens income. But he omits to mention that the Green Party's basic income scheme, amounts to £3,744 per year. This has been criticized by The Citizens Income Trust who support the scheme, yet claim that a third of families will be worse off. He also fails to mention that some conservatives see a basic citizens income scheme as a way of cutting the administrative costs of means tested benefits and subsidizing low-paid work. Needless to say, a citizens basic income should not be linked to a requirement to work but enable us to refuse work. See Paul Mason's Guardian article 2/2/15 which is well worth reading.

Steve Starlord said...

Thanks Zyzzyzus floridanus,

It was only a short a 1000 word letter to the local press and no way can I cover all these points especially in a general letter such as this.

I did read some of the recent criticisms of the Green Party Basic Income scheme and also the Paul Mason article which I tweeted about at the time.

I am aware of how a Basic Income is perceived by left and right.

I'm glad you see the point about a FULL Basic Income giving the worker the economic power to refuse work, empowering the worker at the expense of the employer and therefore redressing the imbalance of power.

Last year I sent a letter mostly on Basic Income to the local press but it was ignored as my letters so often are, or when printed are severely edited/neutered. However, maybe that's just par for the course and is the same for everyone?

Many criticise my lengthy epistles which I also send by email, but whether I write short or long it makes no difference to publication in the local press, and yet week after week the usual suspects are printed without fail. Maybe they write hundreds of letters in order to get just a few published but I very much doubt it.

Love, Light & Laughter