Liberal Conspiracy: How much do we really Care?

by Joseph Cottrell-Boyce

Last Thursday the BBC released a video of 83-year-old Muriel Price, sobbing pitiful protests to an empty house as she lay stranded in her bed, her agency carer having failed to turn up to work. Her quiet desperation painted a shameful picture of how little our society values the elderly and vulnerable.

I found it hard to watch Muriel’s video, but wasn’t remotely surprised by the content. Just as with other recent care scandals in the UK, the pattern of failure and neglect was all too familiar to me.

I stumbled into agency care work as a 19 year old looking for employment that required neither qualifications nor experience. After two days of basic food hygiene and health and safety training I was sent to out support young adults with learning difficulties in day centres and residential homes for £5 an hour. I was utterly unprepared for the demanding work. Some of my clients had extreme behavioural difficulties; no one had told me what I should do when a charge of the same body mass as me bit an old woman in a shopping centre for example, or kicked children in a playground.

There was also little support; often I’d be left bathing, changing and moving clients alone, when for safety reasons these should have been two-person jobs. This was backbreaking work for me, and often humiliating for the person being cared for. Then there would be the times at the end of an exhausting 7am – 3pm shift when my manager would call and inform me he hadn’t managed to find cover for the afternoon and I’d have to do a ‘double’ sixteen hour day.

Although most of my colleagues were diligent and genuinely caring, I regularly witnessed malpractice. In one care home, waking night staff would tie emergency alarm cords out of reach of disabled residents, leaving them crying impotently for help in the night as the staff would catch up on sleep. I saw teenagers with learning difficulties locking in rooms for hours to ‘cool down’, by staff who’d had no training to deal with their complex needs.

Then there was the casual neglect. I’d regularly come on shift to find that an incontinent client had not been changed in the preceding 8 hours, or incapacitated clients who should have been up, washed and dressed had instead been left in bed while their carers watched TV.

To my great shame as an awkward 19 year old I never spoke up or reported wrongdoing. I did the best I could and kept my head down. I also saw the futility of complaining about individuals; this wasn’t about a few bad eggs, it was a systematic problem. We were all undertrained, underpaid and overstressed. I knew that colleagues who were negligent were also exhausted by erratic shift patterns, long commutes between different jobs and the usual stresses of trying to feed their families below the poverty line.

As frontline workers, we were also in the firing line for the failings of more senior staff; either our own managers or thinly spread social-workers. If something did go wrong or if our company lost contracts we knew that as agency workers we could be sacked at a moments notice.

The net result of all this was a sense that our work was unimportant. To many, care work was just another insecure stop on a merry-go-round of crap, poorly paid jobs and occasional spells on the dole.

It shouldn’t be like this.

Caring isn’t just another job; it is a vital component of a civilised society. The justifiable public outrage at widespread substandard care is testament to this. And despite all the stress, the antisocial hours, the lack of training or support and the rubbish pay, in many ways I loved my job. I got a buzz from enabling people to lead fuller lives than their circumstances would otherwise allow. At times the work could be genuinely rewarding and even fun. I’d go home drained, but feeling far more fulfilled than I had in the mind numbing call centre job I had paid my rent with up till then. Caring should be a vocation, but the current framework denies workers the support and security to make this possible.

Norman Lamb MP, Minister for Care and Support, has recently called for recommendations on how to reform the care system, stating the need for sweeping change. This is encouraging, but really the recipe for reform is very simple and is already working in other countries.

A few years ago I met a Swedish woman who had recently qualified as a care worker after two years of formal training. She was on a decent salary and was employed directly by the state on a permanent contract. She also had opportunities for further training and education to develop her career in the sector. She felt valued and supported and consequently took her job very seriously.

In Sweden, caring is a profession. In the UK it’s a dead end.

The neglect experienced by Muriel Price was not inflicted by one lazy carer; it is systemic neglect which implicates our priorities as a society. If we take the care of our most vulnerable seriously we need to invest in carers, giving them the tools and support to do their job properly and pay which reflects the demands of their vital work.

Joe Cottrell-Boyce is a Policy Officer at the ICB’s Traveller’s Project

via Guest Liberal Conspiracy

Liberal Conspiracy: Watch: EDL leader gets arrested on ‘charity walk’

In articles published here last week, I reported that the ‘charity walk’ in support of two year old Amelia looked circumspect since the money was going to an EDL account not directly to the official fund-raising page.

The charity then snubbed the donations from the EDL – but that didn’t stop Tommy Robinson and co from using her cause anyway.

Here’s a video posted today (by Hope Not Hate) of the English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson getting arrested today on his ‘charity walk’.

I have to say I’m uncomfortable with this. It’s perfectly legitimate to report on how the EDL are trying to exploit various causes for political ends.

But I don’t think he should have been arrested merely for going on the walk. Neither am I comfortable with left activists celebrating his arrest – since such arbitrary police action will come back to bite them sooner or later. And it has already, plenty of times.

In all such circumstances the police should be asked to clearly explain why they are obstructing political acts and be asked whether their actions are disproportionate.

via Sunny Hundal Liberal Conspiracy

God Is In The TV: Track Of The Day #301: STARS – Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It

Stars come across as “oh so very lovely”; they’ve even described themselves as the most romantic band in the world.  And yet underneath it all, they really are tough as fuck. To quote the words of this particular song, “take the weakest part of you, then beat the bastards with it”. This is their utterly fantastic new video for ‘Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It’. Released in celebration of the defeat of DOMA in the States. In a just world, this band really would be MASSIVE

via Mike Hughes God Is In The TV

God Is In The TV: PREVIEW: Wickerman Festival 2013



The 26th and 27th of July this year welcomes the return of south west Scotlands Wickerman Festival near Dundrennan for a twelfth year. The festival takes it name from the festival site, which was the location of the 1973 film The Wicker Man, and the event culminates with the spectacular burning of a towering 40ft Wickerman.

wickerman burning

The two day event will see acts as diverse as disco legends Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, Primal Scream, Public Service Broadcasting, The Enemy, KT Tunstall, Dexys, Bellowhead, Admiral Fallow, Dreadzone, King Charles, Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, Holy Esque, Waylayers& North Tyneside Steelband and many more, as well as well as a host of dance acts which features Hacienda icon Greg Wilson and a host of adult and child friendly activities such as cinema, fun fair, circus entertainment, grass sledging, mountain biking and array of arts and craft activities scattered throughout its fields.

Wickerman Festival 2012

Tickets can be purchased from

via Paul Marshall God Is In The TV

God Is In The TV: Track Of The Day #300: MS MR – Fantasy

ms mr

MS MR are a NYC duo who like to shroud themselves in a little mystery. Essentially in the electro box, they have a bit more about them than just that. The debut album is ‘Secondhand Rapture’, which is an appropriate title, for I got a distinct feeling I was listening to Florence & The Machine quite a few times. That’s no bad thing of course and it’s an entertaining set of tunes, well worthy of a small investment of your time.

MS MR – Fantasy from MS MR on Vimeo.

via TC God Is In The TV

Liberal Conspiracy: The government is trying to scrap the England Coast Path, and we need your help

by David Hodd

Does a coast path matter? As a nation we love the coast: whether we are talking of the Thames marshes depicted by Dickens and Constable, the rocky headlands of the South West, the White Cliffs of Dover or the formerly black beaches of Seaham’s coast.

Our relation with it is ingrained in our culture. No one is more than a 2 hour drive from it. This importance was recognised by the National Trust, with its Neptune Campaign – which was begun to protect the coast through acquisition, and to safeguard access along it.

Cornish business leaders are well aware of the £307 Million contribution the South West Coast Path provides the region’s economy each year.

But the English Coast Path is a £239k project to extend it around the English coast, and this means opening up access on land where some landowners have an instinctive dislike of the great unwashed.

Whilst Environment Minister Richard Benyon has been steadily sapping funding for the project, the Welsh Assembly have got their national coast path up and running, and as Visit Wales shows, it is the cornerstone of their tourism campaign.

I don’t expect an environmental, cultural or wellbeing argument to cut any ice with the famously buzzard hating Under Secretary. But right now, we need policies that get more of us spending more money, and circulating it in the economy.

A coastal path does this, and unlike quantitative easing, puts the money where it is needed and used. The coast path will benefit places like Hastings, Scarborough, or Workington. The Welsh path, in its first year, is thought to have generated £16M to the economy.

“Not interested in the environment, show me how you benefit business” ministers regularly holler at Natural England. But when presented with the economic benefit (on National Parks for example), it seems they are not listening.

Their prejudice filters out all reason. As with their attempts to sell off the Forestry Commission, we now need to show them what we think of their economically illiterate policies.

Sign up to the Ramblers petition now. Not sure a coastal path is your priority? Go for a walk this weekend on the coast nearest you – preferably a bit that Benyon’s landowning mates want you not to see, and then reconsider the maths, and think how much you value the view.

via Guest Liberal Conspiracy

God Is In The TV: The Pixies reveal a new single ‘Bagboy’ their first new music in ten years

Just two weeks after Kim Deal announced she was leaving the band, The Pixies have released their first new piece of music for ten years with a new single “Bagboy.” You can download it and watch the video directed by LAMAR+NIK below!

The band’s frontman, Black Francis said this:

“The lyrics, coincidentally, were composed at a Starbucks Coffee in Harvard Square in Cambridge, about a hundred feet from where, 25 years ago, I composed some of the lyrics to an old Pixies song called ‘Break My Body.’ Twenty-five years later, some Starbucks in Harvard Square…I thought that was kind of interesting. The music for the song has been around for a few years. There are some demos I made with Joey and David a few years ago in Los Angeles, related to a film idea that still has yet to see the light of day, although work on the music continued. So a lot of the musical idea had been kicking around for awhile. It’s pretty simple, kind of a blues-based, two-note kind of thing, really.”



“Bagboy” was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales in October 2012 and produced by Gil Norton.

via Bill Cummings God Is In The TV

Rocksucker: The Rest of This Week’s Singles: Foals, Lumineers, Peace and more!


Here are the rest of this week’s singles, as perfunctorily presented as this introduction…

Drake feat. Sampha – “The Motion”

Drake is every footballer’s favourite R&B/commercial rap smoothie, except for those who’ve pinned their colours to the J. Cole mast.

There’s pretty much nothing else to say about this except that there are some alright-ish sort of bumping beats. Go listen to Nick Drake instead; unless of course you’re a footballer, in which case get back to your harem of supermodels and work out how to forge an emotional attachment to “The Motion” later.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

a quaila quail

Foals – “Bad Habit”

Nope, still don’t get Foals. It’s intricate and sweeping and marching, all those sorts of things, but at its core it’s far too predictable to make enough of an impression.

Foals certainly aren’t bad but we’re yet to see what all the fuss is about. Just sounds like a better version of Two Door Cinema Club to us.

And that beardy singer could do with cracking a smile just once in his life, not that we factor that observation into the quailing.

Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!

a quaila quailhalf a quail

Joe Goddard feat. Mara Carlyle – “She Burns”

Markedly less ‘fun’ sounding than Goddard’s day band Hot Chip, this softly popping and clicking groove is also more rewarding than much of their In Our Heads album of last year. Even if it is a bit Jamie xx.

Good video, too, which sees the honey-voiced Carlyle being prepared for her funeral. Don’t worry, she’s not actually dead.

Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!

a quaila quaila quailhalf a quail

The Lumineers – “Stubborn Love”

The Lumineers: they’re better than Mumford & Sons.

That’s about as far as it goes, unfortunately. An all too easy grasp for ‘emotion’ that anyone with a basic chordbook, keening voice and violin-playing friend could put together in, ooh, let’s say five minutes.

Some songs feel universal because they nail a particular feeling or feelings common to many. Other songs feel universal because they’ve taken notes from the former category and see it as fair game to endlessly regurgitate and recycle their ideas until the illusion of actual meaning is created.

Guess which category “Stubborn Love” falls into. You can shove those dungarees right up your dungarea and all.

At least Lumineers have a handle on dynamics, which saves “Stubborn Love” from the ignominy of featuring in our Worst Singles category.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

a quaila quail

Peace – “Lovesick”

There are some good tracks on Peace’s recent debut album In Love; “Lovesick” is not one of them. As we said before, “Lovesick” hints at “a grotesque future in which Peace shed all their good aspects and follow the money, gratingly predictable serving of stadium rock anthemry that it is”.

But, like we said, they’ve got some good stuff too. Let’s see which path they choose.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

a quaila quail

Pylo – “Enemies”

Video of a bearded man walking on a beach. First line is “help me up, I’ve fallen down”. You know what to expect.

Well, actually, you don’t; “Enemies” wields unexpected dynamic shifts throughout its slow-burning course, most strikingly when it becomes some sort of brooding waltz in the second verse.

It’s earnest, relentlessly so, but at least it’s surprising.

Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!

a quaila quaila quail

See you next week, everybody!

The Rest of This Week’s Singles: Foals, Lumineers, Peace and more! appeared first on Rocksucker. Visit Rocksucker for more music news, reviews and interviews.

via Rocksucker