Sanction figures: Shurely shome mishtake?

Stuart Sorensen:

I wonder which set of figures to believe. I mean, it’s not as though the tories and Lib Dems have ever lied about numbers, is it?

Originally posted on Vox Political:

There’s something not quite right about the DWP’s latest statistics covering benefit sanctions.

I’d go into it in detail but, in the spirit of the saying that a picture can tell a story better than a thousand words, let’s just have a look at this graph instead (courtesy of @UKJCP on Twitter).


By my reckoning, somebody’s calculations started to go seriously amiss in November 2012.

What do you think has happened?

And who do you think is to blame?

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A new free download

Are you a mental health social care provider? Are you unsure about the quality and content of the available training courses? Does this make you uncertain when booking trainers? If so – you’re not alone.

Not every training provider has practical experience of the subjects they teach. Some rely almost solely upon the information they glean from textbooks and online searches. They know the information they have prepared but can’t really relate to the lived experience of your staff. Nor can they answer questions in any meaningful way because they don’t have the experience to back up their training.

I understand and share your concern. that’s why I’m making available a collection of workbooks that illustrate the depth and content of my training courses. I won’t be putting everything up all at once but the plan is to rotate different workbooks in sequence. The first, An introduction to mental health work is available here


Help us advertise Care To Share Magazine | Care To Share Magazine blog


I know this won’t appeal to all my blog followers but for those of you who either work in or have an interest in health and/or social care…..

I really would appreciate your help in sharing this link (& maybe even downloading & displaying the poster yourself). If you could see your way to helping us out like this I’d be really grateful.
Thankyou in advance.



What to write about? | Care To Share Magazine blog

I’m reblogging this from the Care To Share Magazine blog. Anyone can write for us. Indeed, that’s the whole point.

Fibdems Stay true to form

I’m a Northern lad, born and bred in West Cumbria where, as the saying goes, we call a spade a shovel. That’s our version of the famous Yorkshire imperative to ‘Say what you mean and mean what you bloody well say’. To put it bluntly we don’t take too kindly to liars in this part of the world – especially the kind of liars who cheat their way into positions of authority. We’re not too keen on cruelty either. That’s why we don’t vote tory. West Cumbrians are too compassionate for that.

The Conservative Club in my hometown was demolished years ago, its few members relegated to little more than a shack adjacent to an old graveyard, itself the site of an ancient plague pit (according to local legend). It’s a fitting location for the followers of toxic, tory ideology. The symbolism is compelling and undeniably appropriate. But at least the tories are honest – well, after a fashion.
It’s true that they’ve broken almost all of their election promises but that’s hardly a surprise. They are tories, after all. Conservative ideology has always favoured privilege and the creation of the downtrodden and desperate majority necessary to maintain it. We may not like what we get from the tories but at least we know what to expect. They’ve always been cruel and greedy. To call a spade a shovel:

They’re wolves in wolves’ clothing.

Nick cleggThe Liberal Democrats however are a completely different kettle of fish – a particularly rotten kettle at that, complete with the pungent stench of betrayal and odious self-interest.

During the run up to the 2010 general election these wolves in sheep’s clothing positioned themselves as champions of the poor, the young and the disabled. Their leader, Nick Clegg, even warned that a tory victory would result in widespread rioting – a prediction he quickly forgot all about when it actually happened. A prediction he disregarded when it was expedient for him to support the very tory policies that brought the riots about.

These turncoat betrayers have enabled, supported and collaborated in the destruction of everything they pledged to defend before the election. From student tuition fees to human rights and legal redress; from publically maintained schools to an NHS free at the point of delivery. The Lib Dems have betrayed us all.

The official FibDem mantra is that they have acted as a foil, a softener that diluted the worst ravages of tory abuses but that’s a lie. The truth is that, like all collaborators before them, they enabled the rape of the welfare state, the scapegoating of the poor and the destitution of the vulnerable. And the people know it.

This weekend the FibDem deputy chancellor, Danny Alexander spoke about Lib Dem values. I’m sure I’m not the only one left to wonder just what those values might be. Even the party chairman, David Laws admitted that this collective of cheats and turncoats is quite prepared to lie, to disregard and ultimately break any election promise in order to hold on to power. So much for Danny Alexander’s ‘Lib Dem values’.

There again – he did only say that they’d fight the election according to Lib Dem values (whatever they are). He said nothing about what they might do after the polling stations have closed. In that respect perhaps he really did…..

Say what he meant and mean what he bloody well said.

The Convention 19: The future

The European Convention on Human Rights is not, as we have seen, universally popular in Britain. Neither is the UK’s Human Rights Act (1998). Not everyone agrees that these rights should be in place for everyone. Some argue that it is foolish to give the same rights to foreigners or to criminals and many within the current coalition government are vehemently opposed to any European legislation affecting what goes on within these shores.
I first wrote this in June 2011 – sadly government hostility to the ECHR remains just as strong two and a half years later.

From my perspective these arguments are all rooted in what is known as ‘special pleading’. The idea is that some people are somehow ‘special’ or more deserving of rights and consideration than others. As is probably clear by now I see things a little differently – and I hope that you will too.

I believe that history (including some very recent history throughout Europe) has shown us that none of us are really safe from the abuses of those who would exploit or abuse us. The International Court has issued a warrant just this week for the arrest of the Libyan leader ‘Colonel Gadaffi’ on charges of war crimes. Libya, of course is not a European state but the former Yugoslavia was and it’s hard to forget the religiously motivated ethnic cleansing that happened there in recent years.
Less extreme is the way that our current government portrays disabled people (especially those with mental disorders) as ‘benefit scroungers’. The discrimination that seems to be inherent both in the benefits system and the wider job market against people with mental ill health combines to prevent them from finding work and then to penalise and vilify them for their failure to do so.

Hate crime is on the increase in our country, presumably as a reaction to economic austerity (that seems to happen whenever people’s livelihoods are threatened) and intolerance of all kinds seems gradually to be becoming more widespread and socially acceptable. Perhaps now, more than ever before, we need the ECHR to keep the UK ‘on track’ as a civilised country.

The assault on prisoners’ rights and their proposed disenfranchisement (as though losing their liberty wasn’t punishment enough) is worrying, but not so worrying as the increasing calls for a return to capital punishment. There has even been some limited support in this country for an American organisation called ‘Project Prevention’. This ‘charity’ aims to sterilise substance users, as much upon moral and economic grounds as upon any platform of compassion.

It is interesting that Vince Cable MP, a current UK government minister threatened earlier this month that the law prohibiting strike action may be ‘tightened’ to prevent aggrieved workers from taking action to protect their interests. However many argue that without the ability to withdraw their labour workers have no effective means of asserting their rights. It will be interesting to see if workers’ industrial safeguards are removed as Cable threatened and if so whether or not the new restrictions are challenged under article 4.

However that turns out in the future it is already the case that a good deal of our UK employment law is based upon ensuring that working conditions are reasonable and do not become so exploitative that they fall foul of article 4. It is Europe that gave us limits to the amount of overtime we can be forced to work and the national minimum wage (also unpopular with the current government) is based as much on article 4 principles as it is upon anything else. This article, along with article 14 which outlaws discrimination, has also done much to assist minority groups such as women or disabled people to achieve both employment and comparable pay and conditions.

In my own field of health and social care it is amazing how many hard working people are barely able to make ends meet as they exist on minimum wage, regardless of how difficult, exhausting and sometimes dangerous their work may be. Without a strong legal framework to protect them how much more exploitative would their working conditions be? As I write this I’m aware that a private members bill aimed at removing the minimum wage itself has recently been tabled in parliament by a coalition MP.

I don’t know what the future holds for UK but I do know this. Without the ECHR it would be far easier for exploitative and abusive people, especially those in positions of power and authority, to walk roughshod over the rights of citizens who already are struggling to survive in this tough economic climate.
Whatever generalised, unrepresentative illustrations cynical politicians may make about illegal immigrants or ‘loony lefties’ please remember that for most of us – and that almost certainly includes you, the reader – life would be far less secure and a great deal more difficult without the ECHR.

Thankyou for reading this.

Stuart Sorensen (June 2011)

About ‘The Convention’

This series of posts first appeared on Stuart’s blog in June 2011. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or even particularly authoritative reference guide to the ECHR. Rather it is a brief introduction to a much larger and infinitely more fascinating subject. You can download the entire series in PDF format here:

I keep doing this

Over the years I’ve written loads of stuff on various blogs, some of which I’m immensely proud of. I’ve blogged on mental health, psychology (yes – they’re different), politics (my hatred of right wing racist politics especially) training, social care, law, reasoning, debating style & technique, rights, emotional management, evolution, fallacies & scientific method and so much more.

Some of my musings have become so long winded I’ve turned them into Ebooks. I have around 5 years worth of writing stored away on my hard drive – and that’s not where it ought to be.

Every so often over the last few years life has got in the way. Like so many people in modern UK I’ve had my ups and downs (mainly downs) since the ConDems came to power in 2010 and launched their ideological assault on working people. Changing circumstances have persuaded me to take down most of my earlier musings. We all have to eat, after all. But that’s all about to change.

Over the next year or so I plan to reinstate everything either here in this blog or here on this blog (depending upon content and suitability). The various posts will be published in serialised format, just as they were originally, but with links to the complete PDFs where appropriate.


What a successful launch!

This morning the very first issue of Care To Share Magazine went ‘live’. Just over a month after I had the original idea a 28 page PDF (accompanied by 14 blog posts and a brief ‘editor’s notes’ piece by yours truly) saw the light of day for the very first time.

As I write this post the Care To Share Magazine blog has already had well over 600 views and articles are already being submitted for the second issue. I think this is really going to grow into something immensely popular.

So let me tell you a little more about Care To Share Magazine….

First let me tell you what it’s not. It’s not a commercial venture. No money changes hands in the production or publication of Care To Share at all. Contributors donate their time in writing articles on any Social Care related topic they choose. The monthly PDF is free to download and there are no paywalls or other payment mechanisms on the blog.

Instead Care To Share Magazine is a discussion platform where anyone with an interest in social care can submit an article for publication and discussion. The intention is to host open and frank discussion without worrying about editorial biases or corporate agendas. Too often social care providers (and social care workers) are scapegoated to fit political or editorial narratives. Care To Share aims to provide a viable alternative to that sort of media ‘stitch up’.

In issue 1 we have articles from carers, service-users and workers – each with a view to promote and each prepared to discuss their position on the blogs. We have representatives from community services and hospital care, from domicilliary support to residential and hostel provision. There are articles about mental health, autism, learning disabilities and homelessness. It’s a wonderful. eclectic mix of articles, some poignant, some inspiring, some downright frustrating but all interesting in their own way.

You can visit the Care To Share Magazine blog here to read this month’s offerings and get involved in the blog discussions.

If you’d like to contribute an article yourself Email me at . Articles should be between 500-1000 words long and they should be on a genuine social care topic. Thinly veiled advertising isn’t what we’re after. There’s a set of authors’ guidelines here. In general though, so long as your article isn’t illegal (EG libellous) or gratuitously abusive we’ll publish.

So what are you waiting for. Join our social care phenomenon and send us your views.

Are you in the right place?

130906 The Care Guy profile pic

This is my personal blog. This is the place where I rant and witter inanely about all sorts of things that take my interest from opposition to odious far right groups to personal learning projects such as my intermittent studies on evolutionary psychology.

If you’ve arrived here looking for information on my mental health and social care training and consultancy services you might want to click this link instead. That’ll take you to my commercial website: The Care Guy

You might also enjoy taking a look at Care To Share Magazine while you’re about it. That’s not affiliated with my business at all (or indeed anyone’s business). It’s a community of people who are interested in sharing ideas and insights into social care without any distractions from political ideologies, corporate agenda or media ‘fashion’.

With Apologies to Shakespeare’s ghost

A modern version of the ‘Hollow crown’ speech (Rich II Act 2 Sc 3) starring Tommy Robinson. Robinson’s shock resignation from the English defence League has been likened to the Pope leaving the Vatican after noticing it contained Catholics or Hitler denouncing National Socialism because some Nazis went a bit too far. It’s hard to believe that the presence of neoNazis among the EDL ‘footsoldiers’ surprised Tommy though. They’ve been a national joke for years as Russell Howard (among others) demonstrated beautifully:

Not that the rank and file of the EDL really need any help to make fools of themselves.

It’s worth remembering that the nonsensical rhetoric that these gullible people spout comes straight from the official EDL propaganda. It’s easy to laugh at the ignorance (and intoxication) of ordinary EDL members but lets not forget that this is the result of a strategy of misinformation deliberately aimed at the uneducated and disempowered. And the whole campaign since 2009 has been orchestrated by Tommy Robinson himself. It has been a campaign of hatred and bigotry that actively encouraged and glorified behaviour like this:

So like many people I find this Damascene epiphany difficult to believe. The idea that racism has come as a surprise to Tommy is quite impossible to believe. He knows the EDL is (and has always been) a racist, neoNazi organisation because he designed it that way. Robinson (whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) seems to be rewriting his own history despite the vast archive of evidence that always follows high profile public agitators.

Tommy Robinson wants us to believe he isn’t racist yet he courted racists for four years;
He wants us to believe he hates racists yet his official EDL social media pages have spouted blatant racism for years;
He wants us to believe he supports democracy yet as recently as two days ago he was busy attempting to intimidate those who disagreed with his anti Muslim sentiments;
He wants us to believe that he is leaving the EDL because he no longer supports street movements and yet he has been unvolved in organising such events right up until yesterday’s announcement;
He wants us to believe that this is about conscience when his stated reasons clearly demonstrate the immature motivation of a megalomaniac ‘spitting the dummy’ because he can’t keep personal control.

This is not a new phenomenon. Shakespeare described it well several hundred years ago. It’s remarkable how few changes are necessary to fit the speech below to Tommy’s own situation.

“No matter which thinktank. Of extremism no man speak.

Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs, make dust our paper and with rainy eyes write sorrow on the bosom of the EDL. Let’s choose journalists and talk of government subsidies.

And yet not so, for what can we betray, save our deposed footsoldiers to the ground? Our lands, our lives and all are Quilliam’s, and nothing can we call our own but publicity and that small model of the barren media which serves to ridicule and exploit our loyal supporters. 

For God’s sake, let us sit before Jeremy Paxman and tell sad stories of the death of racists; how some have been deposed. Some slain in war; Some haunted by the infidels they have deposed; Some poison’d by their Frauleins: some sleeping kill’d; All murder’d.
For within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of an EDL attention whore keeps Death his court. And there the antic sits,scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp. Allowing him a breath, a little scene, to monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks, Infusing him with self and vain conceit, as if this flesh which walls about our life, were brass impregnable.

And humour’d thus comes at the last and with a little pin bores through his castle wall, and farewell Tommy!

Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood with solemn reverence. Throw away respect, religious hatred, street violence and ceremonious demonstrations, for you have but mistook me all this while.

I live with cocaine like you, feel paranoia, taste grief, need bodyguards. Subjected thus, how can you say to me, I am a bloke worth listening to?”


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