Vote to close your eyes

There are people are considering voting Tory, even people who live in working class communities blighted by poverty and the searing destruction of the soul that deprivation engenders. They’re considering voting Tory because they don’t want another independence referendum, because they don’t want to think about the calamitous consequences of even a supposedly successful Brexit, because they wish that all this politics business would just go away and leave them alone. They’re people who’re reacting against a gun being placed against their temples by voting to pull the trigger. They’re voting Tory to make uncertainty go away, when all that voting Tory will achieve is to destable our society even more. They’re voting for the symptoms because they’re afraid of the cure.

Two reports published this week lay bare the social chasms caused by Conservative rule. This is the party which preaches against division but which causes the greatest divisions of all. This is the party which claims that differences of political opinion in a democracy are a bad thing, while creating differences of life chances and opportunities which define and distort entire lives. This is the party of careerist cant that seeks stability on the back of lies, but what else do you expect from comfortable people who blame poverty on the poor. The poor are to be punished for their poverty because the poor must be castigated in order to do better. The rich must be rewarded and cossetted. And all the while the gulf between the haves and the have nots grows wider, social mobility ossifies, equality becomes a distant dream, and the Tories preach against the supposed divisions of wanting to do something to remedy the shameful state of affairs that they’ve created.

A report from Glasgow University this week lays bare the catastrophic effect of benefits sanctions on people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Dr David Webster of Glasgow University has calculated that benefits sanctions now exceed the number of fines imposed by courts of law. Court fines come about after criminal prosecutions, after the accused has had a chance to state their case before a court in which their interests are represented by lawyers and advocates. There is a clear standard of evidence, and a high bar of proof that must be established. Then, and only then, can the court take the decision to deprive a convicted person of a part of their income in restitution for their crime and when that decision is made it must take into account the person’s income and their ability to pay.

None of these checks and balances apply to those who are deprived of part or all of their incomes when they are subject to benefits sanctions. There is no legal representation, there is no balance of evidence, no standard of proof. All that is required is the opinion of a DWP case worker. Those sanctioned by the DWP lose a greater proportion of their income than people subject to court fines. Unlike a court, the DWP doesn’t consider whether their sanctions will leave a person destitute and without any income at all. Worst of all, back in 2011 a whistleblower claimed that DWP staff were given targets and had to sanction at least three claimants a week. The DWP strongly denied there are national targets, but evidence continues to mount that staff in individual offices are indeed pressurised by management to impose more sanctions.

According to a report from the National Audit Office in 2016, in 2015 alone benefits sanctions led to around £132 million being withheld from the poorest people in the country. Between 2010 and 2015 24% of Jobseekers Allowance claimants were sanctioned. The report found that despite the claims of government ministers that sanctions work by encouraging people to find work, the truth is that the sanction regime actually makes it harder for claimants to find work. It also found that some job centres were twice as likely as others to refer clients for sanctions although the DWP had no information on the causes of the variance, leading to the supposition that some staff members were more likely than others to impose sanctions for the same “offences”. When justice is capricious, there is no justice at all.

Those who have been sanctioned and left destitute have no other options but to seek assistance from foodbanks. As the sanctions regime has grown, so have foodbanks spread. A report released this week from the Trussel Trust, the largest provider of foodbanks, says that there are now over 2000 foodbanks in the country, providing over 1.2 million food parcels annually. According to the report this figure is a minimum figure, as it doesn’t include food parcels distributed by informal networks such as churches, housing associations, and community groups.

Theresa May claims that the reasons people have to resort to foodbanks are “complex”. But they’re not complex at all. People have to seek assistance from foodbanks because they don’t have anything to eat and no money with which to buy food. That’s not complex. That’s quite simple to understand. And it’s not just people who have been unfairly penalised by the benefits system who have to seek help from foodbanks, increasingly it’s people who are actually working, but who are reliant on zero-hours contracts, so-called gig economy jobs, or whose wages simply can’t support their families – a problem that is increasing as the Conservatives take an axe to housing benefit, tax credits for the low paid, and other benefits which once helped support those in low paid employment. More and more in the UK the much touted Tory line that work is the route out of poverty has become a cruel joke.

Yet the demonisation of the poor continues. According to figures from the Dept of Works and Pensions, benefit fraud costs the taxpayer £1.3 billion annually. This figure is less than the £1.8 billion annually representing payments made in error – in other words the DWP would save the taxpayer more more if it concentrated on dealing with its own mistakes rather than chasing those defrauding the system. The amount underpaid in error was £1.3 billion in 2012 (the most recent year for which I could find figures) – the same as the amount lost to fraud. But all these figures are dwarfed by the estimated £16 billion annually lost to tax fraud, and the even bigger figure lost to tax avoidance schemes. Yet this Tory government has slashed jobs in tax offices, and continues to prioritise penalising benefits claimants. This is not unrelated to the fact that benefits are claimed by the poor, whereas tax fraud and tax avoidance are predominantly practised by middle class people who are more likely to vote Tory.

We live in a society which has lost all sense of proportion because that is what suits the wealthy and the powerful. A vote for the Conservatives is a vote to ignore the kind of society that Britain is becoming. Vote Tory, vote to put the bullet in your temple. Vote to destroy your community. Vote for private greed. Vote to close your eyes.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at

Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at for details of alternative methods of donation.

frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

0 thoughts on “Vote to close your eyes

  1. Pingback: Vote to close your eyes | speymouth

  2. Well I met a pensioner today who told me she was going too vote Tory. She was oblivious to the fact that the Tories were going to slash her Pension by removing the triple lock on Pensions and take away her Winter Fuel money and screw the Fishermen again. Oh and that her sons and daughter were going to have to slave until they were 67 before they got the effin poorest State Pensions in Europe.

    Well none of that registered as it was all SNP this and SNP that and a regurgitation of the bile poured out of the BBC everyday day and what is printed in the Daily Heil etc every day. Some people really need to be denied the vote on the grounds of sheer mental incompetence they are a danger to themselves and everybody else. I despair!

    • I’d give the vote to 16 year olds before I would give it to 70 plussers (and I count my own father in that assertion).

      The casual racism, inherent selfishness, and misplaced “affection” for our illustrious Royals of a big number of that demographic is holding us all back.

      That the Tories have shamelessly chased and nurtured their vote should come as no surprise; that people fall for it all though is somewhat depressing…

      • Understand why you say this. I am 67 and know a good few people 70 and over. All understand and would agree with Paul and the fact that some people are dense when it comes to understanding. I know many younger than me equally as ignorant.
        You cannot talk about age groups or any other groups. Where would that end. It is the human condition regrettably.

    • Totally agree with you , it really is beyond belief the things some people believe , This Labour Party in Scotland who keep pushing this pish it’s the SNPs fault for passing on tory cuts , how the f/k did they dream up that one , eventually our government are going to run out of our money trying to reverse this tory mantra of austerity cuts , maybe the SNP have been to good in protecting people who would rather die than vote for them , it’s too bad the tory cuts cant be passed on to them , let them see how bad it could get .
      Soon the folk who thought they were voting Labour will find out they actually have a tory council courtesy of deals made by the labour party how do you explain that one Kezia ? .

  3. Another excellent piece, Paul. I despair of these Tory voters and Ianmore2016 I share your frustration and despair too.

  4. That is a cracking post, Paul, and clearly sets out what those of us who have had e-bloomin’-nuff of the status quo are up against. Blind, deaf, wilful ignorance to say the very least. I’m almost tempted to agree with iainmore2016 about denying the franchise to those whose “sheer mental incompetence” represents a danger not only to themselves but to everyone else in society.

    • yep and to think they are out there unsupervised , you see them every morning with their copy of the Daily Record hidden inside is the Daily Mail just for a balanced view ha ha , and they dont get it ,they cant figure out voting tory means literally taking food out their own mouths , I like a lot of people despair at the rank stupidity surrounding us , friends overseas couldnt believe we voted NO , they laughed at the stupidity and figured we must be getting a great deal in return , I was too embarrassed to answer , oh aye a great deal was had . Under my breath i was cursing our fellow scots . My comment when i realised the vote was lost was F k/n Cowards and i still remember that bloody day . Useless people with no future in sight and destined to do exactly the same thing again .

      • Again I say you cannot say these things. It is dangerous. People are entitled to their opinions. As are you.

  5. Iain, like yourself, I despair.

    We are going to get another Tory Government whose commitment to democracy is a joke. Because of people like the person you spoke to they will still have a large majority.

    The only “saviours” we have is the SNP. We must do all we can to ensure they get in again in numbers in Scotland.

    • Absolutely! The SNP are all that stand between us an “doom”! I sincerely pity those in Eng/Wales who have absolutely no recourse, given the wilful ignorance of such a huge proportion of their electorate.

  6. Once again absolutely spot on Paul. How on earth do we get through to people that whether they are for or against independence, whether they are for or against the EU, this election is not about either of those things. This election is to get as many Westminster MPs as possible who will stand up for Scotland and oppose the Tories every step of the way. The ONLY way to do that is to vote SNP!!

    It makes you want to scream!!!!!!!

  7. My partner works in the care sector and told me that all of the service users she supports have received their postal voting forms. Most of the service users can’t read or right but are being giving a vote and are being persuaded to vote Tory or Labour by unionist propaganda TV coverage as it’s all they know.there are also being filled in by staunch unionist staff on their behalf.

  8. and yet, despite Davidson Dugdale, and Rennie, and the entire MSM making this a single issue election, conveniently skirting around the immoral Stronger Together Rape of our Nation, by declaring long and often that a vote for them is de facto a No vote in a ‘mock’ referendum. If the Pro Independence Movement wins a very modest 40 seats, 2/3rds of those available, this would still not be mandate enough to bring forward Indyref 2 before April 2019.

    Davidson actually admitted on Brewer that she couldn’t care less if the SNP had a mandate, which they have now.

    This brutal little person has only one agenda; reduce Scotland to an English dependency, and in the process destroy our civic society.

    Unfortunately many hundreds of thousands of Scots citizens back her in this obscene goal. They perceive themselves as the top of the pile and want to remain there.

    Dugdale and Murray are a political joke, and Rennie barely matters on any level of public life.

    The Elitists in our society will vote with eyes wide open, Paul, because they demand that the status quo prevails, and will attend their churches chapels and synagogues to pray to their particular Laissez Faire Creator this week end to make sure this happens.

    The recognised Scottish Establishment, sub branch of the London Elite, will do anything to thwart the democratic will of the Scottish People.

    It is their oil, their land, their whisky, their fish, their clear mountain air.

    The rest of us, the Hoi Polloi, at mere lamplighters, street sweepers, hedge trimmers, and waitresses.
    Metaphorically speaking of course.

    The Tory Way is to ensure that the rich get richer, and the rest pay for it.

    Davidson, Carlaw, New Labour Dugdale, and Morningside Murray, do not give a flying feck about the welfare of the Many, when the Few pay them so much to fuck up our society.

    10 days to go.

    40 MPs and we have a mandate. Any attempt to deny us will be resisted by all possible means.

    They have been warned.

    • Well said – as always, Sir. When you try to talk to Unionists (a dirty job, but someone has to do it) all you ever hear is “we don’t have the money (for Independence), Independence will reduce profits, businesses will leave in droves if Scotland becomes Independent” and so on and so forth. It’s all about the wealth of the few and the compliance of the many – you never hear a word about a fairer, more equitable, less divided (and divisive) society. And if you try to tell them that it’s not ALL about money, they either fall about laughing or look at you as though you are speaking Martian. It’s heart-breaking.

      • from memory, Wendy, their Holy Books are full of wee yarns about benign Masters and their recalcitrant slaves.
        And that’s the way they want it to stay. God’s on their side.
        We are their goods and chattels. As a woman, the Decalogue treats you as a man’s possession; as a man, I’m cautioned not to ‘covet’ you, another man’s wife.
        It’s as though time froze 2000 years ago for the Elite.
        We shall be independent. There shall be a Hung Parliament, with NS the King Maker.

        • With the ‘Corbyn effect’ gaining traction, I wonder does that make it less likely that the Red Yoons will vote Tory, leaving the non-SNP vote fatally split? Dare we secretly hope for a clean sweep of the Scottish WM seats?

          I admit it doesn’t make that much difference to the parliamentary arithmetic whether the SNP have a few more or a few less WM seats than at present, so long as they have a decent number … by wow! Think of the propaganda coup with Scotland a seamless sea of SNP yellow 🙂

    • No threats please Jack. All be can do is talk and persuade. Discuss the positive not the negative.

      • I mean of course legal political diplomatic and persuasive means, Andy. I am known as a lover not a fighter, but there are some Unionists who are tough love.
        The lady who is the light of my Universe was born in Belfast.
        We have witnessed first hand the psychotic madness in that troubled place which Torrance and others imply would break out here if we persist on our ‘divisive’ path.
        Nonsense of course; right is on our side, and of course international law.

  9. I don’t think there’s much doubt what the Conservatives stand for. Equally, I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever what the political union stands for either. Neither stand for stability or strength. They don’t stand for unity and most undeniably they do not stand for care and tolerance.

    If you vote for Libdem or Labour, you enable the political union to continue to supress your right to choose. If you vote for the Conservative party in Scotland you vote for this almost certainly, but above all you vote to put the most vulnerable in our population at risk of the most desperate of circumstances. You vote for survival of the fittest, for a dog eat dog society. Do not doubt for an instant just what use Conservatives have for the poor, the disabled and the disenfranchised.

    We must be better than that. We must be better than hatred and intolerance for its own sake. We have to be better than selfish greed and ignorance. Setting the clock back a hundred years is NOT an option and be aware, that is exactly the type of society a Conservative and unionist future will deliver.

    Those who believe in the concepts of tolerance, cooperation, consensus and social justice won’t be welcome in that world.

    • “We must be better than that. We must be better than hatred and intolerance for its own sake. We have to be better than selfish greed and ignorance. Setting the clock back a hundred years is NOT an option and be aware, that is exactly the type of society a Conservative and unionist future will deliver.”

      That’s almost word for word of a Jennie Lee speech to Lochgelly miners in the early 1930’s, Sam. I have a copy somewhere and I’ll see if I can dig it out when I’ve time. If you’re not familiar with it, that’s quite a thing..

      • Actually, I was wrong. It was a speech to the Miner’s Gala in Lochgelly in 1927 just before she was selected as a candidate for the ILP after her famous address to conference. She said:

        “We must strive to be better than those who seek to spread the gospel of hatred and intolerance for no other reason than to satisfy their own lust for greed and power. A vote for the Conservatives in the coming election will set us back to the penury of last century, of that be in no doubt. We must break free from their shackles that hold us down. That time is now.”

        Two years later she was elected in North Lanark overturning a conservative majority of 2,000 winning by 6,750 votes. But you probably knew that already.. 🙂

          • She was let to become Baroness Lee, wife of Nye Bevan and founder f the Open University. A real firebrand in her day – the Mhari Black of the 1920’s.

  10. Unfortunately I agree with everything said here. It is heartbreaking. There are moments I feel absolutely desperate, and other times I feel hopeful that it won’t be as bad as I think, that Scots will actually vote for their country and not for Westminster. That Scots might actually have faith in their compatriots and vote for them. That they might actually NOT believe the nonsense in the media that Scotland is falling apart because of the SNP and realise that their standard of life is because of the SNP and not in spite of them.

    This is without doubt the worst election I have experienced, in so many ways. From the sound bite slogans to the vicious personal attacks, the no policies other than “Stop the SNP”, the callous disregard for democratic process and the utter utter contempt of people who think differently, look different, or are struggling with poverty or health. I can’t get over Ms May’s manifesto – a list of aspiration (??) with no costing and the enormous u-turn, the fact that Labour’s manifesto is for the first time in years actually socially motivated. And I definitely can’t get over Manchester and the political capital being made out if it. I can’t wait for it to be over.

    I seriously do not want another Tory parliament, but I think that the hatchet job already done on Corbyn has been successful enough to ensure Ms May’s return on 9th June, hopefully with a reduced majority. I want a clean sweep for the SNP. I want another referendum, and I want independence. I live in hope.

  11. I 100% agree with the messages above as I too am very frustrated. We have two years to win minds. Let’s be calm, swear a lot and get on with it.

  12. This may not be related directly to Scotland, but a couple of interesting articles have appeared recently that show just what we are dealing with when it comes to the UK establishment, which is always present and does not depend on whether Labour or the Tories are in power in the UK.
    This first one has been picked up by the Guardian.
    Link to original article: and the Guardian article can be found here:
    The second article that might be interesting for some people and maybe explains why Tony Blair has escaped any official censure; because it would also have brought down Cameron as well. Anyway it is worth having a read:

    • Gordon Bennett Iain! I had seen the Guardian article but not the original and certainly not the True Republica one. The Guardian one was posted on Twitter and more or less says what Corbyn said in his speech, but the TR!

  13. ” benefit fraud costs the taxpayer £1.3 billion annually”… not only is this less than the amount paid in error, it is also less than the ‘fine’ of £1.7 billion (actually a contribution to EU coffers suggested by the European Office de Lutte Anti-Fraude in recompense for lost customs duties) for negligence that allowed criminal gangs to flood European black markets with illegal Chinese goods. There is now no Customs & Excise presence at most of the major ports: think about that in the context of ‘no deal’ on Brexit and be very afraid.

  14. Very well put. The problem is you are mainly preaching to the converted and the question is how do we open the eyes of working and middle class Tory voters? I have hope that young people (and young at heart like me) who don’t read the Tory press will see the light and realise that voting matters. I’ve been urging all the younger folks in my friends list to get out there and make a difference

    I really enjoy your blog. I’m a Labour Party member but I’m supporting the SNP to get independence then we can have a real political debate in Scotland

    Keep up the good work! Janet

    Sent from my iPhone


  15. I really hate those who turn a blind eye to what the torys have done 30 000 people driven to suicide a year thanks to the dwp work capability assessments which for 7 years is 210 000 people how can anyone still vote tory when tory policies have done that makes me sick

    • Aye … it is beyond belief, Robert Harrison. I try not to actually “hate” anyone because that’s like taking poison yourself and expecting your enemy to die, but I hate with a passion these iniquitous policies and the blindness, deafness and utter complaisance which allows them to continue! Would that we could shake some sense into folk!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.