Our choice is to treat people with dignity or go back to the 1930s


3:15 pm - June 27th 2011

by Sue Marsh    


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I was interrupted this morning by a doctor’s appointment, where, yet again, I have been sent home to bed, my laptop is to be confiscated and I have to rest on pain of a hospital admission on Thursday if I don’t improve.

I’ve had 7 weeks now of a crohn’s flare that screwed up my immune system, which led to a virus, which turned into a chest infection. If I don’t get better, pneumonia is just a blink away.

And all I really wanted to say before I am exiled to a world without even my cyber friends is this. The last few months have taught me that welfare is the murkiest department of all.

Crammed with hard-liners, right-wingers, hang-em-an-whip-em, scrounger-crushing, hawks. There has only been one narrative for about 30 years – “How do we stop paying people who are sick?”

I don’t exist in their ignorant model of disability – or many other people’s. Should any of us get beyond our station and dare to fight them, dare to speak out and try to make people see, they can be pretty confident that the fight will kill us before anyone’s really noticed.

I am disgusted by my country – that’s the truth of it. Disgusted at what passes for parliamentary research, disgusted that lives can be sacrificed on “assumptions”, disgusted with the Machiavellian power struggles that dull even the brightest political stars, disgusted with the arrogance of politicians who never bother to respond, disgusted with a media who choose to look the other way. 

But most of all I’m disgusted with myself. Because however hard I try, however determined I am, however much I want to do this, it’s killing me. My stupid, useless body just can’t keep up with my perfectly capable brain. However I try to coerce it, or pamper it or persuade it, it just won’t play the game.

Those politicians who are so convinced that we can all just pick up our beds and walk might want to spend a week with me for living proof of someone trying to do just that. They might want to see what it’s doing to my life, to my family and friends who get more frightened for me by the day. 

They know what they want to do and they’re just going to do it regardless. It’s OK, sick and disabled people have no union, they can’t strike, they have no powerful friends or glamorous celebrities. They’re too tired or sick or disabled to fight, so don’t lose any sleep over them. 

As Kaliya concluded in her session at the Compass conference on Saturday: “We have a choice. We can do this. We can push these reforms through and change the very nature of how we treat the most vulnerable in our society. We can follow the path of 1930s work programmes, institutions and eugenics once deemed acceptable both here and in the US, Canada, Japan and elsewhere and we can turn our backs.

Or we can decide that the sick and disabled have little rights to basic dignity. 

As a society, we have to start to look behind the scrounger wall they are building around us and decide if abandoning us is a price worth paying.


A longer version is on Sue Marsh’s blog

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About the author
Sue is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She blogs on Diary of a Benefits Scounger and tweets from here.
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Reader comments


What will you do if these ‘reforms’ pass?

Maybe you will focus on getting better? I don’t think writing blog posts like this has made any difference whatsoever.

Tell you what, manoamano, instead of glibly advising Crohn’s sufferers to overcome their crippling, incurable disease by using the power of, um, ‘focusing’, why don’t *you* try focusing on becoming a better-informed, more human individual? Just a thought.

@1

“Maybe you will focus on getting better?”

That’s what I thought; if she just focused she could heal the damage caused by severe Crohn’s disease and thirty-plus bowel tumours.

E.T did it.

There has only been one narrative for about 30 years – “How do we stop paying people who are sick?”

The narrative has been “How do we stop paying people who wrongly claim to be too sick to work?”

Which is not quite the same thing.

5. Julian St Jude

There are a few people who abuse the system by claiming to be unfit for work, when they are not. The politicians of both parties use this as a justification for enabling the system to abuse the many, who are genuinely unfit for work.

The disabled will be given the “Right” to work for less than the minimum wage. With that “Right”, will follow the “Responsibility” to do so. When 65 year olds with all nature of disabilities are forced to do demeaning work for disgracefully low wages, they will be expected to be grateful for having been “liberated from the dependency culture and from poverty of aspiration.”

The paradox being of course is that people who advocate returning to a given time for reference, they are seen as the ‘modernisers’. How bizarre that people who wish to return us back to Victorian values with regard to the disabled are seen as the ‘progressive’ end of the Labour Party.

Someone called for more ‘diversity’ within the Labour movement, well look at he wide ‘diverse’ views on the disabled.

1. We hate the disabled
2. We really hate the disabled.
3. We have the fuckers so much that we want them to be forced to sign away their human rights

A full gamut of opinion there, I think we will agree.

Sue, my local Co-op needs a shelf stacker, but the guy who put in for it is not the brightest cookie in the jar, you could snap up the job, if you were ‘allowed’ to undercut him by a couple of quid an hour.

ad – I can assure you that you are incorrect and that my question is the one they have asked.

I clicked the link to the longer version at Sue Marsh’s blog, I strongly recommend that everyone else do so as well, mainly due to the awful editing in this bit:

As Kaliya concluded in her session at the Compass conference on Saturday: “We have a choice. We can do this. We can push these reforms through and change the very nature of how we treat the most vulnerable in our society. We can follow the path of 1930s work programmes, institutions and eugenics once deemed acceptable both here and in the US, Canada, Japan and elsewhere and we can turn our backs.

Or we can decide that the sick and disabled have little rights to basic dignity.

Which originally read as:

As Kaliya concluded in her session at the conference. “We have a choice. We can do this. We can push these reforms through and change the very nature of how we treat the most vulnerable in our society. We can follow the path of 1930s work programmes, institutions and eugenics once deemed acceptable both here and in the US, Canada, Japan and elsewhere and we can turn our backs. We can decide that the sick and disabled have little rights to basic dignity.

Or, we can open our eyes, start to listen, and think NOW, together about the kind of society we want to live in.”

9. Éoin Clarke

Sue,

In the couple of years I have known you, your campaign educated 1000s of political activists. You write intelligently on these matters. Now that awareness has been raised so effectively by yourself, I hope you can take a little time to get better.

We are all depending on you to continue to educate us and raise awareness. 🙂 Remember you give a voice to many who would all to readily succumb to the vitriol and lack of humanity so readily spieled by some. That’s very brave of you and earns you all our respect.

Sending my love and warmest regards,

É

‘The narrative has been “How do we stop paying people who wrongly claim to be too sick to work?”

Which is not quite the same thing.’

Yes but when spouted by out of touch politicians it just means repeated, unnecessarily grueling tests for the vast majority who *are* genuinely sick. People will always game the system; 0.5% fraud is a great achievement, any company would be more than happy with it.

Not to mention the tax evasion/avoidance at the top, which is an order of magnitude bigger…

Sue … I have followed your blog since you first started it and have been affected by the ups and downs of your illness, including the time that you nearly died. I remember the terror you felt when you first heard the CSR proposals and the incomprehension that the politicians were not hearing the real facts of your, and so many other people’s difficulties, in getting through the day let alone the perpetual struggles with the benefits system.

But more than all of that, I recognised so many of the things that you reported, as being exactly the experiences of my own daughter who has ME/CFS. Prior to meeting you, I had thought that our’s was unique to ME sufferers, who are routinely dismissed having Yuppie Flu or psychological problems. If someone who has objective evidence of a severe illness, could be dismissed, accused of making a fuss and subject to the Orwellian assessment process, then this must be the common experience of individuals with disability and long-term illness throughout the UK. This situation must not be allowed to continue!. Rest and get better than you are now.

12. So Much For Subtlety

As Kaliya concluded in her session at the Compass conference on Saturday: “We have a choice. We can do this. We can push these reforms through and change the very nature of how we treat the most vulnerable in our society. We can follow the path of 1930s work programmes, institutions and eugenics once deemed acceptable both here and in the US, Canada, Japan and elsewhere and we can turn our backs.

Eugenics? Come on. When people start using dishonest arguments like that they have lost the debate.

Or we can decide that the sick and disabled have little rights to basic dignity.

No they do not have a right to dignity. This is an absurd path to go down. The next step is justifying honour killings because they offended someone’s dignity. After all, if men have a right to their honour, they have a right to protect it.

13. So Much For Subtlety

5. Julian St Jude

There are a few people who abuse the system by claiming to be unfit for work, when they are not. The politicians of both parties use this as a justification for enabling the system to abuse the many, who are genuinely unfit for work.

Who are the few and who are the many? To quote the Guardian again:

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, which cover the period from 27 October 2008 to 31 August 2010, show that 887,300 of the 1,175,700 applicants for ESA failed to qualify for any assistance. Of those, 458,500 (39%) were judged fit to work, while 428,800 (36%) ditched their claim. A further 16% were placed in the “work-related activity group”, in which individuals are deemed able to take on some level of work but still receive a level of ESA support. Over a third (36%) of people who made a claim for ESA between October 2008 and February 2010 and who were found to fit to work at assessment have appealed, with the original decision overturned in almost four in 10 cases (39%).”

So nearly 900,000 out of nearly 1.2 million failed to qualify for assistance. You think that there is just a little fraud in the system? Of the some 450,000 people who were found fit to work, just 150,000 have appealed. Why not as it costs them nothing? Of those just under 40%, or 60,000, have won.

So we have gone from 1.2 million being assessed to just 60,000 winning on appeal. This is not “the many” that are genuinely unfit to work.

The disabled will be given the “Right” to work for less than the minimum wage. With that “Right”, will follow the “Responsibility” to do so.

There is a responsibility to work. Anyone who can, should. More than that, they must. They have an obligation to the rest of society. That is not to say they should work for less than the minimum wage, but better to work for less than not to work at all.

When 65 year olds with all nature of disabilities are forced to do demeaning work for disgracefully low wages, they will be expected to be grateful for having been “liberated from the dependency culture and from poverty of aspiration.”

And what is wrong with that? Demeaning work? As if sitting at home watching TV is so ennobling.

14. Declan Gaffney

I wonder if the reason posts like this attract such vituperative comments is the envy felt by people who know that for all the difficulties, frustrations and pain that people like Sue and Kaliya face every day, they are still leading lives which are richer, more purposeful and more rewarding than theirs.

15. So Much For Subtlety

11. Syzygy

But more than all of that, I recognised so many of the things that you reported, as being exactly the experiences of my own daughter who has ME/CFS. Prior to meeting you, I had thought that our’s was unique to ME sufferers, who are routinely dismissed having Yuppie Flu or psychological problems. If someone who has objective evidence of a severe illness, could be dismissed, accused of making a fuss and subject to the Orwellian assessment process, then this must be the common experience of individuals with disability and long-term illness throughout the UK. This situation must not be allowed to continue!. Rest and get better than you are now.

There is no objective evidence of ME/CFS. None. There is no test for it. All that is required is that patients report a small number of symptoms over a six month period or longer – symptoms such as being tired.

What is more, there is no decrease in mortality for people with CFS. Nor is there any other observable health risk. In fact it is exactly what you would expect a psychosomatic disease to look like. Which may explain why the only known treatment that works in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Oddly enough viruses rarely respond well to positive thinking.

Orwellian? I don’t see how a simple interview to determine if someone is fit to work amounts to Room 101. If we actually applied genuine medical standards to this condition, no one would get any benefits for having it at all.

Sue, I think you’re a star. You’ve educated loads of people about the national travesty which is disabled and benefits policy in this country and you’ve done a great service. Awareness of this national disgrace is now spreading rapidly.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. And remember that the true scum in this country are the arrogant, sociopathic politicians. And their cohort of bullies and haters in the rightwing media.

On a side note. Perhaps a union for the disabled is a potential good idea? After all I believe that there has been/is unions for the unemployed.

To anyone thinking of responding to So Much For Subtlety’s posts. Don’t bother.

We’ve already debunked most of his/her arguments on other threads. But they have just ignored that and continues to make the same arguments over and over,

He/she is obviously a troll who thrives on attention. So probably best to just ignore them I think.

18. So Much For Subtlety

14. Declan Gaffney

I wonder if the reason posts like this attract such vituperative comments is the envy felt by people who know that for all the difficulties, frustrations and pain that people like Sue and Kaliya face every day, they are still leading lives which are richer, more purposeful and more rewarding than theirs.

I see remarkably little vituperation. But suppose you’re right. How do you know they are leading lives which are richer, more purposeful and more rewarding?

Could you please expand on how you see long-term disease as a rewarding experience? You mean like the Catholic Church claims suffering is noble?

19. Declan Gaffney

‘How do you know they are leading lives which are richer, more purposeful and more rewarding?’

Than yours? Just a hunch.

I fondly remember talking with Sue over the years, especially about her experiences as an activist, but also about her concerns about the future of DLA. She will be sorely missed here in cyberspace, but I hope that a break will turn out to be for the best. Sue’s Diary of a Benefit Scrounger blog has been essential reading and she has achieved so much, and inspired so many in her campaigning for the fair treatment for disabled people, standing up for the NHS and speaking out against the Conservative lead coalition. I sincerely hope that Sue will feel better again in the near future and it will be possible for her to post to us again.

Having been put correct enough times before on the ESA figures he’s using (falsely quoting the Guardian, who merely reports the DWP press release), So Much For Subtlety has shown he has absolutely no interest in taking the topic seriously and will remain at that flimsy junction indefinitely.

I could cite that the Benefit Integrity Project for DLA and another one for IB not long after that did precisely what the Work Capability Assessment is doing now and now as was the case then; thousands of genuine claimants are being turfed off. The objective then as is now is money-saving, but it didn’t save money before and won’t this time as other services suddenly find themselves being overwhelmed by greater need. Over time those claims will be established again, some of them back-dated.

Then as now, intellectual gimps quoted figures they made no effort to understand and made claims based on them that were wrong.

22. So Much For Subtlety

16. Graham

You’ve educated loads of people about the national travesty which is disabled and benefits policy in this country and you’ve done a great service. Awareness of this national disgrace is now spreading rapidly.

We spend billions every year on people who have every conceivable type of illness. They don’t even have to be British nationals or pay tax. How is this possibly a national disgrace? Because we ask people to go to one interview and work if they are able? How is that shameful?

On a side note. Perhaps a union for the disabled is a potential good idea? After all I believe that there has been/is unions for the unemployed.

But would it be a Union? Instead of fighting to keep the profits of the labour of their own hands, they would be demanding a larger share of the fruits of everyone else’s labour. We do have organisations sort of like that but they are not Unions. At best it would be a lobby group and God knows we have those.

17. Graham

We’ve already debunked most of his/her arguments on other threads. But they have just ignored that and continues to make the same arguments over and over,

Debunked. An interesting word. If by that you mean some people objected to the facts, sure. But as these are government figures as reproduced by the Guardian – hardly prone to opposing welfare – which presumably did some fact checking, I think that most sensible people aren’t going to be relying on the unsupported, fact-free objections by a small number of anonymous posters.

In the meantime there is no reason to think the figures are not as I said they are.

Graham

Thank-you … the fact that the ‘troll’ misunderstood my meaning, let alone trotting out the rather tired psycho-social explanation, unhampered by any knowledge base, was sufficient warning.

24. So Much For Subtlety

21. Mason Dixon, Autistic

Having been put correct enough times before on the ESA figures he’s using (falsely quoting the Guardian, who merely reports the DWP press release), So Much For Subtlety has shown he has absolutely no interest in taking the topic seriously and will remain at that flimsy junction indefinitely.

I have yet to be “put correct”. And I am not falsely quoting anyone. That is a direct quote from a Guardian article. They did not merely report the DWP press release. What is more, what if they did? The Guardian is a reputable Far Left newspaper. DWP is a government office. That is two layers of credibility to the figures. Who are you? Some guy on the internet.

I have not been put right. Nor is it *me* that has repeatedly shown no interest in taking the topic seriously. *I* have treated the evidence with respect. Alone.

I could cite that the Benefit Integrity Project for DLA and another one for IB not long after that did precisely what the Work Capability Assessment is doing now and now as was the case then; thousands of genuine claimants are being turfed off.

Then do so and we can have a sensible discussion. Of course the BIP was just an improperly launched attempt to distract attention in the lead up to the election and as such worthless, but don’t let that get in the way.

Thousands? Let me agree with you. A programme that takes 1.2 million people and discovers that 900,000 of them shouldn’t be getting benefits is a massive success even if several thousand – less than one percent – are treated badly.

The objective then as is now is money-saving, but it didn’t save money before and won’t this time as other services suddenly find themselves being overwhelmed by greater need.

Good. Money saving is an entirely valid and worthwhile exercise. Do you have any idea how long it takes me to earn £9,000? And let’s wait to see how it works out before you pronounce it a failure.

‘Credibility’ isn’t the issue; only true or false. In the case of those figures it’s the DWP being directed by Chris Grayling to publish an incomplete picture. The original source is the DWP Longitude Survey, the raw data for which is on the DWP tabulation tool. You were corrected in that most ESA claimants even after two years are still in the assessment group. It is the assessment process that is fraudulent, not the claims. People are assessed repeatedly until the ‘correct’ result comes in. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from looking at the DWP tabulation tool.

Unless you’re just allergic to the truth.

@13 So Much For Subtlety

Who are the few and who are the many? To quote the Guardian again:

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, which cover the period from 27 October 2008 to 31 August 2010, show that 887,300 of the 1,175,700 applicants for ESA failed to qualify for any assistance. Of those, 458,500 (39%) were judged fit to work, while 428,800 (36%) ditched their claim. A further 16% were placed in the “work-related activity group”, in which individuals are deemed able to take on some level of work but still receive a level of ESA support. Over a third (36%) of people who made a claim for ESA between October 2008 and February 2010 and who were found to fit to work at assessment have appealed, with the original decision overturned in almost four in 10 cases (39%).”

So nearly 900,000 out of nearly 1.2 million failed to qualify for assistance. You think that there is just a little fraud in the system? Of the some 450,000 people who were found fit to work, just 150,000 have appealed. Why not as it costs them nothing? Of those just under 40%, or 60,000, have won.

*Yawn* just for the record. As has already been pointed out to SMFS the current test for assesing whether someone is “fit for work” has been repeatedly shown to be seriously flawed. And is sytematically finding people with serious illnesses and disabillities to be “fit for work” when they are clearly not.

This independent report into it by the Citizens Advice Bureaux http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/not_working (endorsed by numerous major disabillity charities) was pretty damning in it’s conclusions. To Quote:

The assessment does not effectively
measure fitness for work. It does not
take sufficient account of variable
symptoms. There is little recognition of
generalised pain and exhaustion, or the
seriousness of an underlying condition.
It takes no account of the context of the
work environment, including a person’s
education, skills and circumstances, or
the discrimination they may face in looking
for work, all of which can significantly
affect the scale of the person’s barriers to
work. The guidance for the health care
professionals (HCPs) administering the test
gives extreme examples, which is likely to
lead to very harsh decisions.
 Application of the assessment is
producing inappropriate outcomes.
Citizens Advice and other organisations
have been concerned for many years about
the quality of medical assessments for
benefits. We still hear repeated reports of
rushed assessments, assumptions being
made without exploration, inaccurate
recording and poor recognition of mental
health problems.
These problems create major difficulties for
our clients and undermine the Government’s
aims for ESA. People with serious illnesses
and disabilities who could not reasonably
be expected to work are being found fit for
work. Other people who might, with
considerable support, be helped into work,
are effectively being ‘written off’ by being
found fit for work and therefore ineligible for
ESA. Many of these people are too ill to sign
on, or are not eligible for any other benefit,
and so are left with reduced incomes and no
help or support to find work. Furthermore,
many of those found ineligible for ESA also
lose access to an extremely helpful route into
sustainable work through the disability
element of tax credits.

Even one of the experts who helped design it has admitted it is flawed. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/22/new-disability-test-is-a-complete-mess

So the fact that a lot of people are being found “fit for work” by a seriously flawed test, designed to be virtually impossible for anyone who is not paraplegic to pass does not really tell us very much about the true levels of disabillity and fraud.

There are some callous people in the world. Illness should not be part of the cut and thrust of party politics. Step back, please and consider, it could be you.
i work daily with soke very ill children, some of these have Crohns, ME/CFS , leukaemia. They suffer as children, they suffer as adults. Please don’t punish them more.

Dear Sue,
I followed your blog from the early days, and daily through your last extended stay before Christmas in hospital where you nearly died and you related how even some who work in hospitals were ignorant of the horrors of your condition and your pain. You are so brave. I know you are so strong within, but that it is so hard to do so every day.
You fight so hard for justice and have my love and respect. I think you deserve to rest a little and take a little time out. For once, put yourself first for a while.
We are all here.
Love from PF
XX

Yes Sue, pay attention to “So Much For Subtlety” and think through the consequences of yourr position. If we consider that the and disabled are entitled to a modicum of dignity then…

The next step is justifying honour killings because they offended someone’s dignity.

Stupidest.

Comment.

Ever.

Just my ha’pence worth. As far as I’m aware the monies for the sick and disabled are administered by the DWP and drawn from the benefits ‘bucket’. But assessments are performed by the NHS under the aegis of the DoH. So why not switch to having said payments pulled from the NHS/Health ‘bucket’?

If the real strategy is to weed out the fakes then put those who prescribe the medication and who know who has multiple hospital stays in charge of paying out. Separating this out means less need for inter-departmental communication (a simple check on the DWP database connected to NI number that this person is Sick/Disabled) and with no need to share out confidential patient information. No greater pressure on GPs than they’re already under and at least the chance of the person on the other end of the phone having some idea what you’re going through should there be some problems with payments.

Of course if as Sue suggests they’re trying not to pay the sick then sure keep them lumped in with those simply unable (or unwilling) to find work.

Sue,
Once again thank you for bringing these injustices to light. Labour should be the party fighting against injustice, and the demonisation of the sick and disabled because of a few bad apples must stop now. As Cahal has said, a fraud rate of 0.5% is amazing, and it should be no surprise that a test designed to fail people, has failed a lot of people.

One of the things that puzzles me about this specific case is: Sue Marsh can obviously write. Obviously and clearly so.

So, umm, why doesn’t she try getting a job as a freelance writer on t’internet?

I realise that this is entirely orthogonal to the point of this post/thread, but this has been puzzling me for months.

Yes, I know, in laptop being taken away etc it doesn’t work, but as a more general question: why not?

Tim,
Would you employ someone who could have to stop work suddenly and for an indetermined period of time due to their illness? Or would you prefer to employ someone with no medical problems who will turn up and work every day without fail?

Because there’s no economic model for making freelance writing on the internet pay? There are a lot of freelance writing on the internet scams but because the internet is built on giving away content or services and making money through things like Google Ads and merchandise.

Take one of the internets most horrifyingly bad web comics, Ctrl Alt Delete. It’s a humorous comic famous for misogyny and being about as funny as finding out your mum has cancer. The author would identify himself as a writer, but his actual business model is selling merchandise to socially awkward teens and selling google ad space on his site. The criminal art he produces is the vehicle by which he does this, and because there are a few thousand people in the world who for some reason like it, he has a viable business model.

I know you want to characterise her as someone who is taking advantage of the taxpayer just because she’s got a few dozen tumours or whatever, and you were one of the few commentators to support scrapping the minimum wage for disabled people, but telling people they shouldn’t get support and should just write freelance on the internet is bizarre. She’s had an article on Cif, but Cif don’t pay most of their writers, so there is no write on the internet – 2nd step to be filled in later – profit! process for her to follow.

Shorter Worstall: “Let her eat cake”

Tim should just end all his posts and articles with ‘In summary, let them eat cake.’

Then he could gradually eliminate all the text before that point.

How to make money from writing:

Blackmail

Ransom notes.

Shag a celeb and sell the story to the tabloids. Doesn’t matter if you look like the elephant man, a footballer will oblige. Beware of super injunctions.

Ghost writing. You don’t believe celebs actually write the crap that infests the bookshops around Christmas time do you? See Katie Price who’s “written” more books than she’s read.

Journalism. Pretty much extinct, newspapers are written by unpaid interns patching up the psychotic drivel of celebrity columnists.

Celebrity columnist. There’s an opening here. The Daily mail would love to have a disabled columnist who’d slag off the disabled as workshy scroungers. Now’s your chance. Check wages compensate for self-loathing.

Novelist. Need a trend or gimmick, current best bet is change your name to something Nordic and write telephone directory sized gloomy novels about mutilated women and suicidal detectives. Or gun porn, always a best seller, pretend you’ve been in the SAS and do all your research online. Money porn, if Lord Archole can make a career out of it you can.

Crap novels not selling? Invent a religion. Worked for L Ron Hubbard

Huge academic tome on state of nation. dense with figures, graphs, statistics. Thicker the better. No one will read it, everyone will pretend they have. If successful speak only in dense statistics. You will be a political guru in no time.

Invent a fad diet. Tell suckers to eat haddock and banana and soon you’ll be eating caviar.

Never write articles more than a paragraph long because diminishing attention spans mean nobody pays attention to anything but the first and last sentence anyway

38. manoamano

“I wonder if the reason posts like this attract such vituperative comments is the envy felt by people who know that for all the difficulties, frustrations and pain that people like Sue and Kaliya face every day, they are still leading lives which are richer, more purposeful and more rewarding than theirs.”

Then why are they moaning so much?

I reckon this is the thread where SMFS jumped the shark. By claiming that treating the disabled with basic human dignity will somehow lead to legalised honour killings, having himself complained about slippery-slope arguments _in the very same post_, he’s now forfeited all claim to ever be taken seriously again.

40. Tom (iow)

@23

You are restating completely false points which I put right at length in the last thread on this. (For example, just the most basic facts, e.g. that the ESA assessment is made without any reference to somebody’s ability to work, it simply gives arbitrary points.)

You did not respond in that thread. Yet you just restate the same false points here as if that never happened. Who is the fraud here?

@23 SMFS

“The Guardian is a reputable Far Left newspaper.”

Says more about how far-right you are, really.

@39

He isn’t here to genuinely debate people, only to vomit out a stream of hate and prevent constructive debate.

He’s not interested in the facts here, or interested in helping the disabled in any way. Disabled people and their issues just provide a forum for him to demonise people receiving benefit.

Note he doesn’t actually express his views on disability and disabled people at any point. It’s just an opportunity for him to go ‘scroungers scroungers scroungers’.

Personally I wasn’t surprised by it all, but some disabled people I’ve met have been quite shocked and upset at the hatred they see coming out whenever people with disabilities get discussed online. When Sue talks about going back to the 1930s she isn’t exaggerating. There’s a lot of disabled people cost too much (and something should be done about them) mixed in with are they really disabled (I’ve seen arguments that the definition of blindless is too lax and needs to be tightened up so people who see some heavily blurred colours can’t say that they’re blind).

SMFS only comes to this site to prevent constructive debate. He doesn’t come to contribute ideas or raise intelligent points. It is all about derailing threads and changing the subject to something else.

43. Julian St Jude

13 Most people on sickness benefits have already been judged by their own doctors and then by DWP doctors as unfit for work. However, the government has decided to move the goal posts.

Of course, those who are fit for work and are able to find work should work. No one is disputing that.

However, if the formula “If they can walk and they can talk they can work” is applied, an awful lot of people who are genuinely unfit for work will be thrown off their benefits. This will doubtlessly result in many deaths and suicides.

If you believe that it is acceptable that 65 year olds with all nature of illness and disability should be forced to dredge shopping trollys out of canals for £1.50 an hour or less, that says more about you than it says about the disabled.

It is an enigma that people such as yourself speak with such great passion about the fact that £2-3 billion is lost due to benefit fraud and yet you maintain a monastic silence about tax evasion and avoidance, which is costing upwards of £50 billion. Moreover, that is before we take into account all the other forms of jiggery-pokery, which is endemic in the corporate sector.

I dare say it is tax cheats and other white collar criminals who are the keenest to throw the first stone at disabled people on benefits.

@31

Why not? I’d guess first of all, the benefits system. Then, the poor pay and thirdly, her health.

Having had diverticulitis seriously enough to warrant the removal of part of my colon I have the utmost sympathy with Sue. I felt bad enough for the years I was ill and it was nothing compared to the severity of Sue’s illness. It’s hard for a healthy person to comprehend how much it affects you and grinds you down.

Best wishes, Sue.

Ben2 @ 41

SMFS et al are the true legacy of the New Labour years. In 1992 the Tories won an election that the pollsters thought they would lose. People were still every bit as greedy, selfish and misanthropic as before, but they were too ashamed to admit to the general public that they went along with the Tories.

Now, nearly two decades later and after thirteen years of New Labour, people are no longer ashamed to hold disgusting views. Oh, don’t get me wrong, most of the vermin that infest these boards still post under pseudonyms, but they no longer feel the need to keep the worst of their views under a bushel. It is now perfectly acceptable to openly attack the disabled.

There have always been scum in the Tory Party, nothing new there. No point in worrying overmuch about that, but the fact that scum has migrated to decent Parties that has caused the problem.

Sue, I don’t know if you are reading this and it must hurt to realise that nearly eight million people hate you without even meeting you, but the Country is not all like that, there are millions of people out there with our humanity intact.

46. blackwillow1

I read the venomous bullshit that SMFS writes, and I ca’nt help being reminded of the statement made by Norman Tebbit,”Get on your bike!” That basically sums up the attitude of the right wing towards the disabled. Getting on your bike, travelling long distances or relocating to find work, all things that disabled people find a considerable challenge. But that’s the mentality of the right, not to aid but to hinder. The tests that are inflicted, a description told to me by a disabled friend, upon the claimants are not designed to root out the fakers, they are deliberately engineered to redefine disability, making it virtually impossible to satisfy the criteria for a claim to be approved. All but the most severely disabled, people with no capacity for decision making, are being corralled like cattle at a market, assessed by people whose primary thought is not, “how much help does this person need?”, but rather, “how much will it cost to give them the help they need?” The worst part of all this is not, how the disabled are being abused, but how the coalition are taking such pleasure from it. V

@45

But that’s the mentality of the right, not to aid but to hinder.

To be honest that statement would be more accurate if you replaced the word “hinder” with “bludgeon”.

48. So Much For Subtlety

45. blackwillow1

I read the venomous bullshit that SMFS writes, and I ca’nt help being reminded of the statement made by Norman Tebbit,”Get on your bike!” That basically sums up the attitude of the right wing towards the disabled. Getting on your bike, travelling long distances or relocating to find work, all things that disabled people find a considerable challenge. But that’s the mentality of the right, not to aid but to hinder.

Of all the things Tebbitt said, that one ought to attract the least adverse comment. When coal was found in remote places, they recruited workers, often from far away, and opened the pit. When the coal ran out, what do you think we can do? Invent jobs where they are none? Of course people have to move. You can go all over the former Empire and find old Gold Rush towns, old mining settlements. Some of them have thrived. Some not. You seriously think that podunk Yukon ought to be maintained at its Gold Rush prime even though all the Gold has run out? For how long? Indefinitely?

Helping the disabled back into the work force is the best thing we can do for them. If the right wishes to do so, they are humanitarians. And no one is suggesting anyone relocate every day. Just once will do.

The tests that are inflicted, a description told to me by a disabled friend, upon the claimants are not designed to root out the fakers, they are deliberately engineered to redefine disability, making it virtually impossible to satisfy the criteria for a claim to be approved. All but the most severely disabled, people with no capacity for decision making, are being corralled like cattle at a market,

And this is bad because …. ? Seriously – why is it wrong to redefine disabled so as to help the most disabled?

Disability has been abused for years. We cannot afford it any more. It is totally destructive to those on benefits, those around them, society as a whole and pretty much everyone. Everyone benefits if the disabled are helped back to work. Especially the disabled.

49. So Much For Subtlety

24. Mason Dixon, Autistic

In the case of those figures it’s the DWP being directed by Chris Grayling to publish an incomplete picture.

So the figures are not false, they are just not the figures you would like to look at?

You were corrected in that most ESA claimants even after two years are still in the assessment group.

I see. So the fact that they are taking their time with assessing people is a bad thing now? For the record, are the figures false?

It is the assessment process that is fraudulent, not the claims. People are assessed repeatedly until the ‘correct’ result comes in. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from looking at the DWP tabulation tool.

Nothing at all. But why would I want to? You have done nothing to show there is a problem with the figures. You are making what appear to be specious objections. Make a case for why I should and I will. To state your opinion about the process as if it is a fact does not make it a fact. You do not know that they are assessed repeatedly until they get the right result. You want to think it is so.

25. Graham

As has already been pointed out to SMFS the current test for assesing whether someone is “fit for work” has been repeatedly shown to be seriously flawed. And is sytematically finding people with serious illnesses and disabillities to be “fit for work” when they are clearly not.

Some 60,000 people have had their assessments overturned. A lot of people but not a particularly high rate. That seems to suggest to me that they system is working fine. You have anecdotes, not evidence of systematic flaws.

This independent report into it by the Citizens Advice Bureaux http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/not_working (endorsed by numerous major disabillity charities) was pretty damning in it’s conclusions.

That would be interesting if the source was worth a damn. It is not. The CAB is yet another self-interested lobby group who do not research of their own. They are, at best, simply reporting what their clients have said. Useless.

And naturally they will be endorsed by lobbies afraid of their power base being eroded by being re-defined as able bodied.

It takes no account of the context of the
work environment, including a person’s
education, skills and circumstances,

Does that mean they seriously think that if you have a PhD in Interpretative Dance you should not be expected to work as a shelf stacker?

The guidance for the health care
professionals (HCPs) administering the test
gives extreme examples, which is likely to
lead to very harsh decisions.

Harsh != Wrong.

We still hear repeated reports of
rushed assessments, assumptions being
made without exploration, inaccurate
recording and poor recognition of mental
health problems.

We hear.

So the fact that a lot of people are being found “fit for work” by a seriously flawed test, designed to be virtually impossible for anyone who is not paraplegic to pass does not really tell us very much about the true levels of disabillity and fraud.

Yes but the numbers going off benefits is so huge it does not matter. Some 60,000 people won on appeal. Out of 1.2 million. About a third drop their claims rather than face assessment. The system is working on such a scale that the small number of people who are assessed incorrectly is irrelevant. We don’t have that many paraplegics and so your claim is the usual nonsense.

50. So Much For Subtlety

41. Ben2

He isn’t here to genuinely debate people, only to vomit out a stream of hate and prevent constructive debate.

And yet I have never asked anyone to be banned. What is more one thing is usually guaranteed – debate follows my posts. What you mean is that you want an echo chamber where no one disagrees with you.

Disabled people and their issues just provide a forum for him to demonise people receiving benefit. Note he doesn’t actually express his views on disability and disabled people at any point.

You would think that you would be more consistent than this. How can I demonise anyone if I don’t actually express my views on them ever?

(I’ve seen arguments that the definition of blindless is too lax and needs to be tightened up so people who see some heavily blurred colours can’t say that they’re blind).

The definition of blindness is too lax. Again with the person I know who is fighting for the right to drive a truck even though she is legally blind.

42. Julian St Jude

Of course, those who are fit for work and are able to find work should work. No one is disputing that.

Yes they are. Everyone but me.

However, if the formula “If they can walk and they can talk they can work” is applied, an awful lot of people who are genuinely unfit for work will be thrown off their benefits. This will doubtlessly result in many deaths and suicides.

Deaths and suicides? If. You’re right. If. There is no evidence it is though so it hardly matters does it?

If you believe that it is acceptable that 65 year olds with all nature of illness and disability should be forced to dredge shopping trollys out of canals for £1.50 an hour or less, that says more about you than it says about the disabled.

Why aren’t they on the pension? I believe it is acceptable for 45 year olds who are currently classified as disabled to do so. Why not? Why is that worse than anyone else doing so?

It is an enigma that people such as yourself speak with such great passion about the fact that £2-3 billion is lost due to benefit fraud and yet you maintain a monastic silence about tax evasion and avoidance, which is costing upwards of £50 billion.

Because it is a nonsense that is not worth considering.

I dare say it is tax cheats and other white collar criminals who are the keenest to throw the first stone at disabled people on benefits.

I am sure it is necessary to your belief system to think so.

@48 SMFS

That would be interesting if the source was worth a damn. It is not. The CAB is yet another self-interested lobby group who do not research of their own. They are, at best, simply reporting what their clients have said. Useless.

And naturally they will be endorsed by lobbies afraid of their power base being eroded by being re-defined as able bodied.

So I see that you are obviously incapable of comprehending the notion that anyone can be motivated by anything other than self interest. Now why doesn’t that surprise me!?

Perhaps you will be interested to learn then that there has not been one, but two independent reviews into the work capabillity assessment. The second one commissioned by the government and carried out by an independent expert. And guess what? It also found the WCA to be severely flawed: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/23/incapacity-benefit-test-review

Do you see the weight of evidence stacking up against you here? Not that you have any interest in little things like facts or evidence.

52. Julian St Jude

49 So much for Subtlety.

You say “it hardly matters” if disabled people are driven to death and suicide? I will leave that self explanatory statement hanging in the air.

You believe that 45 year old disabled people should be forced to dredge shopping trolleys out of canals? Again, a self explatory statement which I shall leave hanging in the air.

I am sorry if you dont like factual correctness but the fact is that tax evasion and avoidance is costing the country upwards of 50 billion pounds and many times the sum total of all benefit fraud. That is before we take into consideration all the other forms of corporate jiggery pokery, which are endemic in parts of the corporate sector.

Truthshy Tories hate factually correctness more than they hate political correctness, don’t you?


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  1. Sue Marsh

    Our choice is to treat people with dignity or go back to the 1930s | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/uQlwU4z via @libcon

  2. Sam Barnett-Cormack

    Our choice is to treat people with dignity or go back to the 1930s | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/uQlwU4z via @libcon

  3. Tony Martin

    Our choice is to treat people with dignity or go back to the 1930s http://bit.ly/lIo1r0 Sue Marsh

  4. Angela la Land

    My parents lived in the 30's when every kind of prejudice abounded. Don't give up the fight http://bit.ly/jCirVL via @redfoxcountry

  5. Rachel

    RT @libcon: Our choice is to treat people with dignity or go back to the 1930s http://t.co/xu6BQLc

  6. Phil McDuff

    Link: Our choice is to treat people with dignity or go back to the 1930s http://j.mp/r8ysrN





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