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Archive for June, 2021

Britain Lost in Wembley

The only winner was coronavirus

Wembley match
A half-full Wembley Stadium (match ended a few hours ago)

RECENTLY in this blog I wrote about my personal experiences dealing with our local and national government. They use COVID to deny us any meaningful service. Today is the last day to register for post-Brexit (EU exit) settlement and only a few days ago, or two weeks late, a local council finally contacted me (a reply to my E-mail about lacking a mobile phone; but they asked me for my mobile number, so clearly they didn’t even bother reading my message!).

Here’s a roundup of recent posts on this matter (it’s good that I’ve chronicled it herein as it turned out to be a lot worse than I had imagined):

So England won the football match (well done to the players!), but we all lost as a country because COVID and whatever “mutants” or “variants” or “strains” exist will have spread by the end of that match. This was known in advance, but our government chose to pretend that football can distract us enough. My wife and I are both disappointed and very upset at the density of that crowd… as if football is more important than containing the virus.

Politicians: We laugh at your safetyTo put it in very simple terms, based on photos like the above (many more photos such as this, also video footage) you would not know COVID-19 cases and deaths soared across the UK (up by 60%-70% this past week alone) and you would not believe they deny access to essential government services, as I’ve noted in this blog for almost a year…

When Liverpool FC chose to host the match against Atlético Madrid last year the club was rightly blasted for it, even by the local authorities. What were they thinking? One last “blast” before lock-down? How many people died as a result of that match, which also saw Liverpool crashing out of the Champions League? (Karma.)

According to the BBC, “[a]round 43,000 fans at Wembley, 1,800 of them Germany supporters” were in that match, which ended hours ago. Our government officials just wanted to pretend we’re doing well against the virus, but those Tories (sociopaths) will regret it when we go into lock-down again. Will the public hold them accountable for it? For a second day in a row over 20,000 new COVID-19 cases are reported in the UK, but they still stuff almost 50,000 fans in one single venue, tightly packed into Wembley (mostly without masks; see photos!) because “flag waving” is apparently “ESSENTIAL” work, unlike British residents who need to register and don’t have a mobile phone (like us). A Tory Britain basically tells me that I cannot meet a government clerk “because COVID” (even while the number cases of per day was less than 1,000!), even for an essential service, but almost 50,000 fans are tightly packed inside Wembley for football (when the number of daily cases is >20,000). This is truly incredible, isn’t it? I’ve long pointed out to them that its absurd I can go dine in a restaurant (where people touch foods that people put inside their mouths), yet meeting a government clerk behind a plastic/glass screen is considered too “risky”…

Filling up Wembley? OK. Meeting a person for an essential service? No way! This is what happens when you elect Tories. Facts just cease to matter.

The Tories Are Lying and You Should Consider Going Into Lock-down Again (Irrespective of What the Government Says)

Manchester and the northwest badly hit

Manchester COVID-19

Just over 3 weeks ago we went into lock-down again (personal decision), seeing the non-linear growth in the number of COVID-19 cases, not to mention how the government had (re)opened lots of non-essential things — all this while denying access to very critical services. They forced us to take a phone of a friend to bypass their oppressive restrictions [1, 2].

Apparently you can meet ‘mates’ down the pub but cannot see a public official to get important work done! Worse yet, those public officials don’t even respond to you. They don’t speak to you and there’s nobody to talk to. Not even in E-mail or over the phone.

While vaccination does lower death rates, it comes at a hidden cost. And morever we cannot entirely rely on it as if it makes people invulnerable and thus we can just go back to “normal”.

If you value your safety and well-being, and if it’s possible for you to work from home, consider doing that for months to come. Don’t trust what our ‘Orange One’ says. We have a psychopathic and insane Pry Minister who keeps spreading false optimism about coronavirus (this misplaced optimism is bound to make things even worse!). Patients admitted with coronavirus are up 40% this past week alone, yet the lying psychopath pretends it’s all going to be “business as usual” next month. Deja vu (last summer).

We shall stay home. Our leaders are nihilistic (what sane person says “bodies [can] pile up high”?), far worse than incompetent and more sinister than merely misinformed.

National Government and Local Councils Give the Middle Finger to EU Citizens Long Settled in the United Kingdom

SEVERAL days ago I wrote about difficulties associated with applying to remain in the UK. You must have a mobile phone, you cannot settle the matter in person, there’s nobody to speak to etc.

Here is the screenshot I showed of the support number they gave:

eu-national-contact

That exact same number is noted in many other places. So I’ve attempted about 12 times to phone Home Office regarding this. That was yesterday. Just to make the inquiry. But that number, which is widely advertised, never worked. And the response to it varied between 3 states (silent or two types of tone, depending on when you phone them). I thought their phone system was down and they later admitted this to me (when I finally spoke to them this morning). “Essential” service…

As for the Council, they did not respond at all since Saturday. I expect they will just ignore my very detailed E-mail. When dealing with Manchester City Council the experience was largely the same. They hardly give a damn…

The Home Office number was down all day or all afternoon yesterday. Now it’s back. Waiting on the line took ages, with me being in a queue (no ETA, no number in the queue stated) for a very long time. That in itself is bad enough, not to mention how options (even if carefully listened to and then selected) for how to route the call do not match what’s relevant as per the site where this number is advertised (as shown above). With only a few weeks left it should be expected that they will treat this as a high-priority thing.

After 20 minutes waiting in line I finally got to speak to an actual person, whereupon the Home Office told me that indeed their system was down yesterday (no calls could be made), and that moreover the number in the site is not correct and for the wrong department. Incredible. Truly incredible. Sheer incompetence. The correct number, they’ve told me, is 0300 123 7379.

So I phone that up. And guess what…

They don’t have a place in the queue, you cannot even wait and the queue and may need to call another time. So basically there is nobody to speak to. At a time such as this one has to wonder what went through their minds when they decided to turn away callers with queries, such as issues going through the process.

This leaves me having a pessimistic hypothesis affirmed. The government (both national and local) hardly cares about EU citizens, even those who are highly skilled and have been settled in the UK for ages. To them, we must be seen like a “burden”… I believe that the term for that is systemic racism.

Ongoing Investigation: Does the UK Home Office ‘Force’ EU Citizens to Carry Around Tracking Devices?

To fire this off amicably and constructively, I am going to disclose what was already mentioned here last year and earlier this year (at the expense of my personal privacy). Technically, even though I’ve been in the UK for over 2 decades, I never swapped my German nationality for British. Seeing the aftermath of Brexit, I don’t regret it either. There’s that sense that people will never see you as “true British”, even if you get naturalised as one. What was supposed to be more of a routine application to settle became more like campaigning, not truly out of choice but due to circumstances. As it turns out, settlement after Brexit seems somewhat conditional, for all sorts of hidden obstacles and weird barriers seem to exist.

In this latest round of Brexit bizarro world, it seems virtually impossible for EU citizens who are in the UK to settle unless they carry a so-called ‘mobile’ ‘phone’ (tracking device). Landline? Not enough! They want to know where you are all the time.

Following a related challenge at a local (regional) level, I’ve decided to step it up a bit by challenging this at a more national level. With only a few weeks before the deadline, no excuses like “coming soon” will be acceptable. Most people aren’t going to tolerate it, even if the site still says “BETA”. They need to get their act together to disprove this supposedly ‘laughable’ idea that we’re ‘second-class’ citizens to our government.

As a starter, here’s an E-mail sent this afternoon, along with a bunch of screenshots that I’m including in-line. The E-mail is self-explanatory, I hope:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a resident of the UK and I’m based in Manchester. I need to apply for EU settlement but am unable to do so. The Town Hall does not offer the service anymore; I’ve exhausted my options there as they no longer offer identity verification and they blame COVID-19 for it (since over a year ago).

Looking at all the options online, I must have a mobile phone to use an “app” for it.

by-post

book-person

Alternatively, I can enter document details for documents to be sent to Home Office, but I cannot complete the process because this one too demands a mobile phone number.

Attached is proof that I cannot proceed with my landline entered. It must be a mobile phone number. I do not have that. In the screenshot I entered not my personal number (I tried the real one about 4 times already, from multiple computers in fact; my wife tried hers also) but a “4444444″ number, for the sake of protecting my number in this E-mail communication (it is not secured). It doesn’t matter what landline number is entered, it will always reject it.

mobile

example-number

only-mobile

So, looking at my options, when searching for my postcode, Salford, Trafford and Manchester aren’t applicable anymore. Halifax area is the nearest such service (to me), shown in the list from the official government site. Based on your Web site, you still offer this service.

manchester

I would like to book an appointment in which to settle this step. I do not intend to buy a mobile phone for this.

Your Web page at https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/equality-and-diversity/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/id-verify-scheme says:

“A mobile phone or other device that can receive text messages or email.”

halifax

I can bring one of my many laptops and, provided you have Wi-Fi, I will then connect to my E-mail account from my laptop and complete the process. You can see me in person, see all the original document etc. A lot better than “apps” that aren’t secure and not everyone can run (there are accessibility-related aspects as well).

I understand that this isn’t your ordinary kind of request (I am based far from you, but you are the nearest place that still offers this service, based on your site), but having spent a long time researching the matter it seems like all other options absolutely compel the applicant to have a mobile phone. Such a requirement would be in violation of a number of fundamental rights.

I look forward to your reply. The deadline for application is the end of this month (I have been trying for over a year, to the point of challenging the local municipality with a formal complaint) and it doesn’t look like any of the nearby municipalities entertains or facilitates this kind of service anymore.

I am actually rather shocked that less than 3 weeks before the deadline the site is still “BETA”. This means it will never be stabilised, it never actually reached maturity. I hope this isn’t meant to sent an discomforting message to EU citizens, who like myself lived and worked here in the UK for over 20 years.

Please get back to me as soon as possible,

[redacted]

I will follow up with their reply (if any). Failing that, I will speak to Home Office directly. They hide away the phone number, it’s hard to find a person to speak to, there’s no E-mail address, but there’s this generic number (not specific to this service):

eu-national-contact

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