The Supporters Pack is a downloadable document that can be used to help share the facts and information in the documentary, including FAQs of this current election and a guide of how to use and share the film. This can be found here: Supporters Pack.
The Return to Doncatraz Reader can be purchased here for only £1.00 and is the official companion book for Return to Doncatraz, a guerilla documentary challenging the Tory claim there’s no money left and showing why it’s an excuse to slash-and-burn.
All money made from book purchases goes back into the not-for-profit organisation SilenceBreaker Media to help with the production of alternative media and accessible technology for all.
By Jane Watkinson
Whilst Channel 4 produced a fictitious documentary, UKIP: The First 100 Days – that explored the possibility of Ukip winning the 2015 General Election and Nigel Farage becoming Prime Minister – we have a real threat in that the Conservative Party could win this May’s General Election and David Cameron could return as Prime Minister. Why is this a concern, you may ask? Well Return to Doncatraz, an independent documentary by Jay Baker, looks at the rise of right wing politics in the UK and the need to tackle and stop such ideology and related policies creating such widespread inequality. To back the claims made in the documentary, the Return to Doncatraz Reader has been produced providing an extensive range of sources and detailed facts and statistics that destroy key Conservative (and mainstream) claims(myths), whilst looking critically at the political argument that is dominant today (i.e. “there’s no money left” “public debt is a problem” “welfare spending is too high” etc.).
Therefore, rather than looking at the first 100 days of a Ukip government – adding to the fanfare that the mainstream media already gives them – let’s consider what a Tory government would look like after 2015…
The Conservative Party had clearly outlined what they would like to do if they were reelected in their 2014 Autumn Statement. However, given the backlash to these plans – especially as it involved public spending being projected to hit low levels not seen since the 1930s (Wintour and Elliott 2014) – they did make some adjustments in their final budget on March the 18th 2015. The Office for Budget Responsibility has still warned, however, about the significant impact the Tories’ spending plans would have if they were reelected, saying they will create a “rollercoaster profile” with there being “a much sharper squeeze on real spending in 2016-17 and 2017-18 than anything seen over the past five years” (Grice 2015). Therefore, it is still right to talk of “colossal” spending cuts if the Tories were reelected, as “the cuts scheduled for next year are more than four times greater than the cuts Britain is facing over the next twelve months” (May2015 2015).
For even greater context and understanding regarding the need to prevent the return of the Tory regime, let’s consider some of the ‘great’ achievements of the Tory government:
*Sanctions against disabled and sick people increased in a year by 350% under the Tory government (Dugan 2014a). Such sanctioning is extremely harsh, as shown by how nearly half of the jobseeker’s allowance sanctions reviewed were overturned (Dugan 2014a).
*One of the main reasons for the improvement in employment figures is the rise in self-employment. Office for National Statistics figures show that self-employment in the UK is at its highest since records started around 40 years ago – whilst there has been an average 22% drop in the real pay of self-employed people since 2008-09 (Monaghan 2014). Self-employment has been termed “the last refuge of the desperate”, whilst increasing across the country (except Northern Ireland) there has been a drop or freeze in traditional employee work – except in London – which is not properly reported, especially in terms of the reasons for this trend, when job figures are headlining (Clark 2014).
*Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider in the UK, has found the demand for food banks increased by 300% from 2013-2014 (Green 2014). Under this government sanctions have become more punitive, with “half of those referred to food banks in 2013-14 as a result of benefit delays or changes” (Dugan 2014b). The serious consequences these sanctions have had on people’s lives are explored in the documentary with real life examples of this happening in Doncaster included.
*This current government has added more to Britain’s national debt than Labour did in thirteen (1997-2010) (The Huffington Post UK 2013)! Not as though the debt at the moment is a problem though (look below).
*There was a real term decrease in NHS spending for at least 1 year of this Tory government despite their promises to increase the NHS spending in real terms, each year (Full Fact 2013).
*Under this government there has been the lowest real annual increase in spending on the NHS since the 1950s feeling like a cut for many in the NHS (Appleby 2014).
*The changes to the way GPs are funded, brought in by this government, has seen around 100 GP surgeries, at least – “especially in deprived inner city areas, remote rural areas, and university practices” – threatened with closure (Cooper 2014). This relates to this government’s decision to remove the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (Cooper 2014).
*Spending by the NHS on private providers has increased by 60% under this coalition government (Campbell 2015).
We are told that there is no money left, but 2014 saw the increase, for the first time, of billionaires in the UK to over 100 (there were 88 in 2013) according to the Sunday Times Rich List, meaning “the UK has more billionaires per head of population than any other country” (BBC 2014). The Conservative Party support such a system because after all 50% of their party funding comes from the City of London (Watt and Treanor 2011).
Return to Doncatraz looks at the context for these issues, including considering the First World War, Second World War, the Post War Consensus, Big Bang, Nixon Shock and the international 2008 financial crisis and how we are seeing an ideologically driven attack upon nationally respected institutions such as the NHS whilst our state is being attacked under the guise of “there is no money left”. As Return to Doncatraz emphasises, debt was near 240% (237.94% in 1947 to be precise) of GDP after World War II (Chantrill N.D.a) – after being 135% in 1919 after the First World War (Chantrill N.Db) – and instead of the narrative being “there is no money left”, the government invested and borrowed to create the welfare state and a National Health Service!
Please help share these facts and the documentary to help shatter these dominant myths that are promoted by a Conservative bias media who are desperate for another Tory government so they can finish off what they’ve started. As London (2013) states, “almost 78 per cent of our press is owned by a handful of mostly foreign-based billionaires” who mainly have Conservative views. Community media like this documentary is a start in tackling this power grip on the circulation of knowledge.
You only have to look at how many lies David Cameron told in the leaders’ debate to see the need for people to keep highlighting and critically attacking the lies being promoted and retold over and over again, without any real challenge from the media. We helped highlight this when covering the #leaders debate (screen shots of some tweets included).
Other things covered in the book: trade unions, origins of the 2008 crisis, the influence of the right wing media, New Labour, income inequality, welfare facts, tax injustice, benefit reforms, housing crisis, child poverty, Section 75, mental health services, the rise of the right wing parties/movements, sexuality politics, election claims of the Tories critically examined.
Appleby, J. (2014). NHS funding: past and future [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2014/10/nhs-funding-past-and-future>.
BBC. (2014). ‘Rich List’ counts more than 100 UK billionaires [online]. [Accessed 11th of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27360032>.
Campbell, D. (2015). Coalition sneaking out regulations to speed up NHS privatisation, Labour says [online]. [Accessed 22nd of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/24/coalition-sneaking-out-regulations-to-speed-up-nhs-privatisation-labour-says>.
Chantrill, C. (N.D.a). Public Spending Chart for United Kingdom 1940-2015 [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/spending_chart_1940_2015UKp_11s1li011lcn_G0t>.
Chantrill, C. (N.D.b). United Kingdom National Debt Charts [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/debt_brief.php>.
Clark, T. (2014). Self-employment surge across UK hides real story behind upbeat job figures [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/06/self-employment-uk-job-figures-analysis>.
Cooper, C. (2014). Worst-hit GP surgeries to gain bailout as NHS admits reforms strike poor hardest [online]. [Accessed 22nd of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/worsthit-gp-surgeries-to-gain-bailout-as-nhs-admits-reforms-strike-poor-hardest-9667439.html>.
Dugan, E. (2014a). Sanctions against those on sickness benefit up 350 per cent in Government crackdown [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/sanctions-against-those-on-sickness-benefit-up-350-per-cent-in-government-crackdown-9667291.html>.
Dugan, E. (2014b). The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may to be blame [online]. [Accessed 11th of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/churches-unite-to-act-on-food-poverty-600-leaders-from-all-denominations-demand-government-uturn-on-punitive-benefits-sanctions-9263035.html>.
Full Fact. (2013). Is NHS spending rising or falling? [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <https://fullfact.org/articles/NHS_budget_health_spending_statistics-28697>.
Green, C. (2014). Anger as Employment Minister Esther McVey denies food bank use is linked to welfare reforms [online]. [Accessed 11th of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/anger-as-employment-minister-esther-mcvey-denies-food-bank-use-is-linked-to-welfare-reforms-9372032.html>.
Grice, A. (2015). Budget 2015: Chancellor throws the kitchen sink at Ed Miliband with barbs for the Labour leader and perks for voters [online]. [Accessed 19th of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/budget-2015-chancellor-throws-the-kitchen-sink-at-ed-miliband-with-barbs-for-the-labour-leader-and-perks-for-voters-10118215.html>.
London, T. (2013). Everyone should know who owns the press – for the sake of our democracy [online]. [Accessed 5th of April 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://leftfootforward.org/2013/06/everyone-should-know-who-owns-the-press-for-the-sake-of-our-democracy/>.
May2015. (2015). The scariest bit of the budget – the one graph you need to know [online]. [Accessed 19th of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.newstatesman.com/2015/03/scariest-bit-budget-one-graph-you-need-know>.
Monaghan, A. (2014). Self-employment in UK at highest level since records began [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/20/self-employment-uk-highest-level>.
The Huffington Post UK. (2013). George Osborne Has Borrowed More In 3 Years Than Labour Did In 13 [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/21/uk-borrowing-_n_4316084.html>.
Watt, N., and Treanor, J. (2011). Revealed: 50% of Tory funds come from City [online]. [Accessed 22nd of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/feb/08/tory-funds-half-city-banks-financial-sector>.
Wintour, P., and Elliott, L. (2014). Osborne moves to cut spending to 1930s levels in dramatic autumn statement [online]. [Accessed 21st of March 2015]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://gu.com/p/43pz9>.