The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment

I support The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment – please do so too at

Here is a copy of The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment to download.

It follows on from Responsible Reform – the #iamspartacus report and is by the same people.


Justice: Fairness And The Big Society

OU on the BBC: Justice: Fairness And The Big Society – OpenLearn – Open University.

About the brilliantly led debate on BBC 4 on Fairness and The Big Society

Professor Michael Sandel, as a friendly observer of British Politics, finished by saying he was excited that the British were having the debate about fairness (implying the cuts in public spending and the campaigns against them, and the rhetoric of The Big Society versus the implementation of it and the criticism of this).  He said it was a once-in-a-generation moment.

It was very encouraging to me when he brought out that there is an “underground” consensus that there IS something between the state and the market that needs renewing; though the definition of this “civic engagement” (as he called it, trying to be politically neutral), the vision of what it looks like and how it should be renewed, differs.

Of course, he also brought out that most people are cynical about Cameron’s Big Society (as am I).

The question I’m left asking, is whether the debate we’re having (which he identified) will go anywhere.  The two sides seem very unlikely to be able to listen to each other.  And it seems unrealistic to think that the Government will ever change direction as a result of this “debate”.

Top 10 Mistakes in Behavioural Change

Top 10 Mistakes in Behavior Change.

Take these at face-value: don’t read your own assumptions into them.  They seem like common-sense, but are more powerful, true, and uncommon as assumptions.  They are helpful when viewed as “freeing” statements of how things are, NOT implications of what you should do.

  1. Relying on willpower for long-term change: Imagine willpower doesn’t exist. That’s step 1 to a better future.
  2. Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps: Seek tiny successes – one after another.
  3. Ignoring how environment shapes behaviours: Change your context & you change your life.
  4. Trying to stop old behaviours instead of creating new ones: Focus on action, not avoidance.
  5. Blaming failures on lack of motivation: Solution – Make the behaviour easier to do.
  6. Underestimating the power of triggers: No behaviour happens without a trigger.
  7. Believing that information leads to action: We humans aren’t so rational.
  8. Focussing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviours: Abstract – Get in Shape. Concrete – Walk 15 mins today.
  9. Seeking to change a behaviour forever, not for a short time: A fixed period works better than “forever”.
  10. Assuming that behaviour change is difficult: Behaviour change is not so hard when you have the right process.

“They should do something about it”

People from all political persuasions increasingly say “they should do something about it” implying that the Government should intervene in whatever situation is concerned.  But they don’t consider that this means spending money raised through taxes; also that it will never be possible to raise enough money through taxes to intervene in everything that needs fixing, so therefore every new government has to prioritise and choose which problems to try to address (so the decision at the ballot box is between different sets of priorities); also that, just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it can be fixed through outside intervention, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the Government is the best “agent” of change in each situation or should be the “agent” to do the intervening.

It’s most strange when people who are politically Conservative are the ones saying “something should be done” – they don’t see that having the Government intervene in another situation means that Government gets bigger and higher taxes are needed, which surely goes against Conservative ideals.  But it is also strange when people who are more traditionally Labour supporters come out with the “they should do something about it” line – they don’t see that, however much Government can be a positive agent of change, Government can never take the place of collective action by and within society and people.

Free trade doesn’t have to lead to global inequality

Just read the article “Buy Some Stuff, Enslave Somebody”. It’s a very good article, about an issue that has been with us for a long time but we haven’t faced up to it. The writer uses the concept of “plausible deniability”, with it’s associations of dodgy dealings and conspiracy theories, to describe the attitude of celebrities (and even Chief Executives) who promote companies engaged in in-humane and anti-environmental practices – and then say they didn’t know or even that it isn’t their problem.

However the writer, Josh Rosenblatt, goes on to say:

With free trade has come an explosion of global inequality

I don’t think there is a causal link here. If trade were truly free, companies who bought “sweatshop” labour would find their workers leaving and working for companies who paid them better, so companies paying lower wages couldn’t survive or would have to raise wages. This is what “should” happen in truly free labour markets. The problem isn’t with trade being free, but in free trade being imperfectly free. And as trade can never be perfectly free, the whole system needs balancing by some other non-market forces. So I’m saying that it’s not the fact that traders trade that is the problem, but that the system by which traders trade can never be right enough – it needs something more. And I’m not arguing for a system (like communism) that abolishes trade!

Capitalism involves entirely selfish individuals?

The shocking thing about most models and theories behind capitalist economics, is that they are predicated on the principle that every individual (or person or business etc) will always choose the outcome that is selfishly best for them. (The principles that flow from this starting point go on to suggest that, in a free market, this will lead to the best outcomes for all. Of course, the market is everything but free.)

Have a read of The Mind of the Market – a very interesting perspective, looking at evolutionary pressures and how homo sapiens actually has a need for fairness, not just selfish gain.

Ask them!

How does a local council ensure it combats the racism inherent in its structures?

By asking all the people and communities what they want, and how they want the services delivered.

Anti-racism beyond the attitudes of individuals is achieved through Community Development.