Scheming, lice-ridden vermin: All the airbrushing in the world could not erase the brutal, calculating dishonesty of the Conservative 2010 election poster.
This guy has been impressive from the get-go: Today (Tuesday) Andy Burnham will call on the Coalition to put its plans for further NHS privatisation on hold until there is clear evidence that the public wants the health service to be sold off.
The speech in Manchester is being timed to take place before the Conservative-led government signs a series of new NHS contracts that will – underhandedly – tie the hands of a future government.
Sly little devils, aren’t they?
The British public has never given its consent for far-reaching and forced privatisation of services – and that’s what Mr Burnham will be saying.
He will point out that the forced privatisation of the NHS is entering new territory and becoming harder to reverse: Contracts are being signed that will run throughout the next Parliament and beyond, tying the hands of the next government in a crucial area of public policy.
Not only is this unacceptable to Labour, but it has never been accepted by the public, and Mr Burnham will say that comedy Prime Minister David Cameron needs to be reminded that the NHS does not belong to him but to the British people – and he never received our permission to put it up for sale.
He will remind everybody that Cameron was dishonest about his privatisation plans before the last election. Cameron said there would be “no top-down reorganisation”.
If he wants to continue to force privatisation through, he should seek the consent of the public at the 2015 Election, Mr Burnham will say.
And he will contrast the increasingly fragmented and privatised travesty that Cameron wants to force on you – where service has become a postcode lottery dependent on the cost-effectiveness of providing certain forms of healthcare in your locality – with a public, integrated NHS as Labour intends to re-form it.
It was confirmed last week that NHS spending on private-sector and other providers has exceeded £10 billion for the first time.
“For all its faults, it is a service that is based on people not profits,” Mr Burnham will say. “That principle sets our health service apart and was famously celebrated two years ago at the Opening Ceremony of our Olympic Games.
“When his reorganisation hit trouble and was paused, David Cameron explicitly promised that it would not lead to more forced privatisation of services. But… on his watch, NHS privatisation is being forced through at pace and scale.
“Commissioners have been ordered to put all services out to the market.
“NHS spending on private and other providers has gone through the £10 billion barrier for the first time.
“When did the British public ever give their consent for this?
“It is indefensible for the character of the country’s most valued institution to be changed in this way without the public being given a say.”
Among the long-lasting agreements due to be signed by the Coalition in a bid to tie the next government into its privatisation of services are two contracts for cancer care in Staffordshire lasting no less than 10 years and worth a massive £1.2 billion; a five-year contract worth £800 million for the care of older people in Cambridge; and a contract in Oxford and Milton Keynes set to begin a month before the General Election for medical staffing.
The last of these is using a ‘reverse auction’ process where the lowest bidder wins, confirming fears of a ‘race to the bottom’ culture and contradicting claims from the Government of no competition on price in the NHS.
Once again Labour shows us that there is no depth to which the Cameron administration will not stoop. This time they are using the summer Parliamentary recess to sign contracts intended to prevent any future government from restoring our health service and reversing the appalling damage they have done so that they and their friends can profit from the suffering and sickness of the poor.
They could not do more damage if they were a filthy, sickening, scheming plague of lice-ridden vermin; in fact, that is exactly what they resemble.
Farage: The UKIP leader voted against an EU motion for laws to end marital rape in 2006 – now that such a law is going through the Welsh Assembly, would he hypocritically support it?
Back in 2006, UKIP’s then-Members of the European Parliament voted against a resolution calling on member states to legislate against violence on women, including marital rape.
According to at least one UKIP supporter, this was done “simply because of their opposition to the EU and all its works”.
How unfortunate for UKIP, to be seen to support the continuation of domestic violence – including marital rape – simply because the idea of making laws against it was put forward by the wrong people.
That isn’t statesmanlike – it’s childish.
Now a UK legislature has taken forward the ideas in that EU resolution; the Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill aims to end domestic abuse, gender-based violence and sexual violence.
What a pity UKIP has no Assembly members!
If it did, the party could clarify its position – although this is not without its drawbacks.
If UKIP still opposes such legislation, then we will all know that the party supports a loathsome philosophy – that it is all right to commit physical and sexual abuse against a partner in the home.
If UKIP now supports it, we will all know that it is a party of hypocrites who would think nothing of allowing such abuse to continue, in order to push forward its own agenda.
Without Assembly members voting on the proposed Welsh law, UKIP does not need to clarify its position – but that lets Mr Farage and his friends off the hook far too easily.
Isn’t it time UKIP clarified exactly where it stands on this issue – so we can all be sure to despise that party for the right reason?
(The above article has been sent in letter form to the major national newspapers and the BBC. Let’s see if the mass media can do their job.)
(Note to any readers who are getting bored of all this concentration on UKIP: I promise I’ll write about something else tomorrow.)
The next debate on the controversial Assisted Dying Bill is to take place in the House of Lords on Friday – and all those opposed to the Bill are invited to attend a planned public protest outside the House while the debate is taking place.
An online petition has also been raised on the Change.org website. This states:
Lord Falconer’s bill aims to make it legal for doctors to end the lives of those they judge to be terminally ill, if the dying individual requests this intervention. This issue affects everyone, but our experience as disabled people informs our belief that the law should not be changed.
Not Dead Yet UK opposes this because:
It would be unacceptably dangerous to make it legal for one individual to end the life of another, because statutory safeguards cannot be made effective;
Clear evidence from other countries, where assisted dying has been introduced, shows that people are being assisted to die when they are not terminally ill. This is not the intention of the legislation, but there is evidence to show that it happens and when it does it is often to disabled people. In the light of this, Not Dead Yet UK takes the view that ‘Assisted Dying’ would be more accurately described as ‘Assisted Suicide’;
People can be led to perceive themselves as a burden, especially when support services are cut, and this may contribute to their decision making;
We believe that a positive approach to the lives of disabled people, old and young, should be a priority for society;
This means appropriate support for living and an accessible environment;
Disabled people are being hit harder than many by the recession, which gives us the clear message that our rights and opportunities are low priority when times get hard. ‘Assisted Dying’ is often linked with the cost of disability, particularly Social Care and Continuing Health Care, which are becoming increasingly unavailable. We find this a legitimate and relevant cause for concern;
In a recent poll by the Royal College of GPs, 77 per cent voted against legalising assisted suicide and many doctors acknowledge that it is very difficult to accurately predict when someone will die and they often get this wrong.
If you oppose the Bill and can make it to Westminster, please join the protest.
Yet again UK government ministers, having painted themselves into a corner, have tried to manoeuvre out of trouble by misleading other MPs and the general public.
Readers of this blog – and its writer – were disgusted (although not surprised) to hear Iain Duncan Smith protesting innocence on behalf of his absent employment minister, Esther McVey, in a statement and short debate on Universal Credit in the House of Commons yesterday (July 9).
We have all endured too much of this. It is time honesty – or at least, more of it than is currently evident – returned to the corridors of power.
With this in mind – in hope more than expectation – I have written to John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, to request action. He chairs debates; it seems likely that he should be the one who puts and end to dishonest practices. The letter runs as follows:
It may have been inappropriate for Chris Bryant MP to make an accusation of deliberate deception against a group of ministers during the debate on Universal Credit, but in my opinion he would have been correct if he had done so.
We know that the Employment Minister, Esther McVey, told Parliament on June 30 that the Department for Work and Pensions’ business case for Universal Credit had been approved by the Treasury; we know that Sir Bob Kerslake said on Monday that the business case has not been signed off; and yesterday we heard from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions that the Treasury has only been signing off on annual budgets.
There is a significant difference between a business case and an annual budget. It would stretch credulity too far to ask the British people to accept that the Employment Minister, the Secretary of State, the head of the Civil Service or anybody in the Treasury cannot tell the difference.
Therefore we must conclude that at least one member of the government has lied to Parliament and to the public. Since the Employment Minister’s statement referred to a comment by the Secretary of State on December 5, in which I am reliably informed that he did not say the business case had been signed off, it seems likely that she is the culprit.
It is also possible, however, that she was misinformed by the Secretary of State himself. Logically, if the Employment Minister did not check Mr Duncan Smith’s speech in Hansard, then she must have asked him what he said. In that case, the Secretary of State has knowingly misled the Employment Minister, Parliament and the public.
You will be aware that it is possible for MPs to commit Contempt of Parliament, if “any act or omission … obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions… or … has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results”. An attempt to mislead the House regarding the status of a flagship policy such as Universal Credit must certainly qualify as such an offence.
Perhaps you are aware of the case of Nicholas Scott, a minister of state for social security in the John Major government of 1992-7, who ‘talked out’ a private members’ bill aiming to outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability. Asked if he had deliberately filibustered, he denied it – but was found to have misled Parliament.
The then-Prime Minister had previously given his word that any minister who knowingly misled his or her fellow MPs should be sacked. It is to his shame that he did not honour this promise.
MPs accused of contempt of Parliament may also be suspended or expelled.
I regret to say that this is the point at which my knowledge runs out – I do not know whether a member of the electorate may request the investigation and possible dismissal of a Member accused of misleading Parliament, or whether the request must come from another Member. Perhaps you could assist me in this respect.
At the very least, it would seem that if Mr Bryant or another Member raised an official complaint on grounds that one or more of the team at the Department for Work and Pensions has misled Parliament, an investigation would be in order. Perhaps – again – you could assist me with information on how this may be facilitated.
This seems an appropriate moment to explore Parliamentary procedures on contempt/misleading or lying to MPs, as Hansard is littered with incidents of such behaviour – not only by ministers of state but by Cabinet ministers including the Work and Pensions secretary, the Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office) (Mr Shapps), and indeed the Prime Minister himself.
I cannot speak for everybody but I do know that many members of the electorate are utterly sick of this behaviour and want it ended.
No Member was ever elected to Parliament in order to lie to us and an example should be made of those who do.
Don’t expect Conservative ministers to do the honourable thing when they are found to have misled Parliament – it turns out they have ‘previous’ (or is it ‘form’?) in this regard.
Take a look at the YouTube clip above. It is from an April, 1994 episode of Have I Got News For You and refers to Nicholas Scott, then a minister of state for social security, who ‘talked out’ a private members’ bill aiming to outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability.
On behalf of the Conservative government of the day, he made it his business to ensure that it would remain possible to discriminate against disabled people.
Asked if this was true, he denied it and – as the very young-looking Ian Hislop states in the clip – “he was lying, of course.”
Angus Deayton (remember him?) fleshes out the story: “John Major previously gave his word that any minister who knowingly misled his fellow MPs should be sacked… It sounds like John Major has knowingly misled his fellow MPs as well. Perhaps he should go sack himself.”
Of course Major stood by his minister – Scott was only doing what Major had told him!
In fact, Parliamentary convention has long held that anybody committing ‘contempt of Parliament’ by deliberately misleading fellow MPs may be suspended or expelled, as highlighted previously by this blog.
The clip makes it clear that Conservatives have been ignoring such rules for decades – and that the person to blame is usually the one at the top – John Major, back in the 1990s.
David Cameron, now.
This makes sense. Look at Iain Duncan Smith, who has loudly and continually fibbed his face off about his so-called “welfare reforms”, in spite of the mountain of evidence showing that tens of thousands of people have died because of them.
That is as discriminatory as a law can be.
Commenters on this blog, in their multitudes, have asked why Iain Duncan Smith has remained in his post after setting in motion the sequence of disasters that have hit the Department for Work and Pensions on his watch. Looking at the Scott/Major affair, we can deduce that the man we call RTU has not been ‘Returned To Unit’ (in this case, the backbenches) because he has been doing exactly what David Cameron wanted – victimising the disabled in the worst possible way.
What does this say about Cameron, whose own late son was disabled? Cameron claimed all the disability benefits he possibly could, before he became Prime Minister and ordered RTU to cancel them or change their eligibility criteria so that almost nobody could legitimately claim them.
Meanwhile, Cameron has to answer for multiple offences of his own. Most recently he lied about waiting times in the English part of the National Health Service, but this article also highlights his false claim – in a party political broadcast – that the Coalition was “paying down Britain’s debts”, and the false claim that spending on the NHS had risen in real terms since the Coalition took office.
What conclusion can we draw from this? It’s obvious, really.
Your Conservative-led Coalition government has been lying to you. It is lying to you now. It will lie to you in the future.
This is not in the national interest. How can it be in the national interest for the government to pass laws that harm the disabled – and to pass laws that could harm the sick by delaying medical aid – and then lie to you to keep you quiet?
It is ideologically-motivated cruelty. Nothing more.
It will continue as long as your vote supports it.
“This particular Secretary of State, along with his Department, is pushing people through [the] cracks and hoping that the rest of the country will not notice that they have disappeared.” – Glenda Jackson MP, June 30, 2014.
If the man this blog likes to call RTU (Returned To Unit) thought he would be able to show that his behaviour had improved, he was sorely mistaken – as the comment above illustrates.
It is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.
But we were discussing the debate as a trial. Let us first look at the evidence in favour of the government.
There. That was illuminating, wasn’t it?
Seriously, the government benches were unable to put up a single supportable point against the mountain of evidence put forward by Labour.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary-in-a-State, resorted yet again to his favourite tactic – and one for which he should have been sacked as an MP long ago – lying to Parliament. He accused Labour of leaving behind a “shambles” – in fact the economy had begun to improve under intelligent guidance from Alistair Darling. “The economy was at breaking point,” he said – in fact the British economy cannot break; it simply doesn’t work that way. His claim that “We were burdened with the largest deficit in peacetime history” is only supportable in money terms, and then only because inflation means the pound is worth so much less than it was in, say, the 1940s – or for the entire century between 1750 and 1850. He called yesterday’s debate “a cynical nugget of short-term policy to put to the unions,” but the evidence below renders that completely irrelevant.
He said complaints about long delivery times for benefits were “out of date” – a common excuse. He’ll do the same in a few months, when the same complaint is raised again.
“Universal Credit is rolling out to the timescale I set last year,” he insisted – but we all know that it has been ‘reset’ (whatever that means) by the government’s Major Projects Authority.
He said there had been four independent reviews of the work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, with more than 50 recommendations by Sir Malcolm Harrington accepted by the government. This was a lie. We know that almost two-thirds of the 25 recommendations he made in his first review were not fully or successfully implemented.
He said appeals against ESA decisions “are down by just under 90 per cent” – but we know that this is because of the government’s unfair and prejudicial mandatory reconsideration scheme – and that the DWP was bringing in a new provider to carry out work capability assessments. Then he had to admit that this provider has not yet been chosen! And the backlog of claims mounts up.
He tried to justify his hugely expensive botched IT schemes by pointing at a Labour scheme for the Child Support Agency that wasted hundreds of millions less than his Universal Credit, without acknowledging the obvious flaw in his argument: If he knew about this mistake, why is he repeating it?
Conservative Mark Harper said Labour opposed the Tories’ most popular scheme – the benefit cap. That was a lie. Labour supported the cap, but would have set it at a higher level. We know that the Coalition government could not do this because it would not, then, have made the huge savings they predicted.
Now, the evidence against.
First up is Rachel Reeves, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions: “After £612 million being spent, including £131 million written off or ‘written down’, the introduction of Universal Credit is now years behind schedule with no clear plan for how, when, or whether full implementation will be achievable or represent value for money.
“Over 700,000 people are still waiting for a Work Capability Assessment, and… projected spending on Employment and Support Allowance has risen by £800 million since December… The Government [is] still not able to tell us which provider will replace Atos.
“Personal Independence Payment delays have created uncertainty, stress and financial costs for disabled people and additional budgetary pressures for Government… Desperate people, many of whom have been working and paying into the system for years or decades and are now struck by disability or illness, waiting six months or more for help from the Department for Work and Pensions.
“The Work Programme has failed to meet its targets, the unfair bedroom tax risks costing more than it saves, and other DWP programmes are performing poorly or in disarray.
“Spending on housing benefit for people who are in work has gone up by more than 60 per cent, reflecting the fact that more people are in low-paid or insecure work and are unable to make ends meet, even though they may be working all the hours God sends.
“More than five million people — 20 per cent of the workforce — are paid less than the living wage. Furthermore, 1.5 million people are on zero-hours contracts and 1.4 million people are working part time who want to work full time.
“This… is about the young woman diagnosed with a life-limiting illness who has waited six months for any help with her living costs. It is about the disabled man whose payments have been stopped because he did not attend an interview to which he was never invited.
“The Government are wasting more and more taxpayers’ money on poorly planned and disastrously managed projects, and are allowing in-work benefits to spiral because of their failure to tackle the low pay and insecurity that are adding billions of pounds to the benefits bill.
“The Government are careless with the contributions that people make to the system, callous about the consequences of their incompetence for the most vulnerable, and too arrogant to admit mistakes and engage seriously with the task of sorting out their own mess.
“What this Government have now totally failed to do is to remember the human impact, often on people in vulnerable circumstances, of this catalogue of chaos. Behind the bureaucratic language and spreadsheets showing backlogs and overspends are people in need who are being let down and mistreated, and taxpayers who can ill afford the mismanagement and waste of their money.
“To fail to deliver on one policy might be considered unfortunate; to miss one’s targets on two has to be judged careless; but to make such a complete mess of every single initiative the Secretary of State has attempted requires a special gift. It is something like a Midas touch: everything he touches turns into a total shambles.
“Meanwhile, the Secretary of State will spew out dodgy statistics, rant and rave about Labour’s record, say “on time and on budget” until he is blue in the face and, in typical Tory style, blame the staff for everything that goes wrong.”
Julie Hilling (Labour) provides this: “The Government do not know what they are talking about… They talk about the number of jobs being created, but they do not know how many of them are on zero-hours contracts or how many are on Government schemes or how many have been transferred from the public sector.”
Stephen Doughty (Labour/Co-op): “another stark indictment of their policies is the massive increase in food banks across this country.”
Helen Jones (Labour): “When I asked how many people in my constituency had been waiting more than six months or three months for medical assessments for personal independence payment, the Government told me that the figures were not available. In other words, they are not only incompetent; they do not know how incompetent they are!”
Sheila Gilmore (Labour): “Although the problems with Atos were known about—and it is now being suggested that they had been known about for some time—a contract was given to that organisation for PIP. Was due diligence carried out before the new contract was issued?”
Gordon Marsden (Labour): “Many of my constituents have been caught by the double whammy of delays involving, first, the disability living allowance and now PIP. They have waited long periods for a resolution, but because a decision is being reconsidered, their Motability — the lifeline that has enabled them to get out of their homes — has been taken away before that decision has been made. Is that not a horrendous indictment of the Government?”
Emily Thornberry (Labour): “I have been making freedom of information requests.. in relation to mandatory reconsiderations. When people get their work capability assessment, and it has failed, before they can appeal there has to be a mandatory reconsideration. The Department does not know how many cases have been overturned, how many claimants have been left without any money and how long the longest period is for reconsideration. It cannot answer a single one of those questions under a freedom of information request.”
Natascha Engel (Labour): “The welfare state is designed as a safety net to catch people who absolutely cannot help themselves… That safety net is being withdrawn under this government, which is certainly pushing some of my constituents into destitution.”
There was much more, including the devastating speech by Glenda Jackson, partly in response to Natascha Engels’ comments, that is reproduced in the video clip above.
The vote – for the House of Commons to recognise that the DWP was in chaos and disarray – was lost (of course). A government with a majority will never lose such a vote.
But once again, the debate was won by the opposition. They had all the facts; all the government had were lies and fantasies.
By now, one suspects we all know somebody who has died as a result of Coalition government polices on welfare (or, preferably, social security). Two such deaths have been reported in the Comment columns of Vox Political since the weekend, and it is only Tuesday.
That is why it is vital that this information reaches the general public despite the apparent news blackout, in the mainstream media, of any disparaging information about Duncan Smith or his DWP.
Share it with your friends, use parts of it in letters to your local papers or radio stations, even mentioning it in conversation will help if the other person isn’t aware of the facts.
Don’t let it be suppressed.
You don’t want to do Iain Duncan Smith’s work for him, do you?
He knows he’s in trouble: Mike Penning, staring down the hole in his claims about Atos.
The Liverpool Echo has reported the death of a woman who had been ordered to claim the new Personal Independence Payment – and was then denied any benefit payments for six months.
At the same time, we have learnt that disabilities minister Mike Penning has been caught giving false evidence to a Parliamentary committee on the way contracts for the assessment of disability benefits have been awarded.
The two are not unconnected, it seems.
Annette Francis was found dead at her home in Garston on May 22. She had been suffering severe mental illness but had not received a single penny of disability benefit for six months, since the Department for Work and Pensions had stopped her claim for Disability Living Allowance and told her to apply for PIP.
She did so – but was still waiting for her first payment at the time of her death. She leaves an 11-year-old son, who is currently in the care of his great-aunt.
Problems with the private companies that carry out work capability assessments for benefits including PIP and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) were discussed with disabilities minister Mike Penning in December last year – right around the time Ms Francis’s DLA was being cut off.
He told the Commons Work and Pensions Committee that problems with the firm carrying out the assessments – Atos – were created because it was not possible to make a profit on the contract it signed with the previous Labour government.
He said: “We are picking up the mess behind that.”
If he was telling the truth, he didn’t pick it up quickly enough. But it seems more likely that he was lying.
According to Sheila Gilmore, a Labour MP who sits on the Work and Pensions committee, “he is not entitled to access advice given to the previous Government on the assumptions Atos made as part of their tender”. In that case, he could not possibly have been aware of the terms under which Atos was employed by Labour and was therefore lying to his fellow MPs.
So we are left to ask which situation is worse – one in which a woman has died because a private company carrying out a public service was upset that it couldn’t make a profit, or one in which she died because the same public service has been unforgivably delayed while the private company and the government have been arguing about how much profit it should make?
Either way, unless Penning gets his apology and correction sorted out quickly, he should be booted out of Parliament in disgrace.
His boss is Iain Duncan Smith, who will be appearing on the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday. Do you think this will get a mention?
Picture the scene if you can: It’s shortly after 11.35pm on Thursday (June 5) and all my inboxes are suddenly overflowing – with the same message: Iain Duncan Smith will be on Question Time next week.
The implication was that there is an opportunity here – to show the public the homicidal – if not genocidal – nature of the changes to the benefit system this man mockingly describes as “welfare reforms”.
We were given the name of only one other panellist who will be appearing in the June 12 show, broadcast from King’s Lynn: Private Eye editor Ian Hislop. He is certainly the kind of man who should relish a chance to take the politician we call RTU (Returned To Unit) down a peg or two – in fact the Eye has run articles on DWP insanity fairly regularly over the past two decades at least.
Personally I’d like to see him joined by Michael Meacher and Owen Jones, at the very least. A rematch between Smith and Jones would be terrific television (but it is unlikely that the coward IDS would ever agree to it).
All such a panel would need to get started is a question about “welfare reform”. Then they could start at the beginning with the involvement of the criminal US insurance corporation Unum, which has been advising the British government since Peter Lilley was Secretary of State for Social Security. There appears to be a moratorium on even the mention of Unum in the British press so, if this is the first you’ve heard of it, now you know why.
Unum’s version of an unproven strand of psychology known as biopsychosocial theory informs the current work capability assessment, used by the coalition government to evaluate whether a claimant of sickness benefits (Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance or Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment) should receive any money. The assessment leans heavily on the psycho part of the theory – seeking to find ways of telling claimants their illnesses are all in the mind and they are fit for work. This is how Unum wormed its way out of paying customers when their health insurance policies matured – and it is also how Unum received its criminal conviction in the States.
Members of the public have tried to use the Freedom of Information Act to pry updated figures from the DWP. I know of one man who was told that the 2011 figures were provided in an ‘ad hoc’ release and there was no plan for a follow-up; the figures are not collected and processed routinely. The last part of this was a lie, meaning the DWP had illegally failed to respond to a legitimate FoI request.
Having seen that individual attempts to use the FoI Act to get the information had failed, I put in a request of my own and suggested others do the same, resulting in (I am told) 23 identical requests to the DWP in June last year. Apparently this is vexatious behaviour and when I took the DWP to a tribunal earlier this year, it won.
But the case brought out useful information, such as a DWP employee’s admission that “the Department does hold, and could provide within the cost limit, some of the information requested”.
Now, why would the Department, and Iain Duncan Smith himself, want to withhold these figures – and lie to the public about having them? It seems to me that the death toll must have increased, year on year. That is the only explanation that makes sense.
The DWP, and its Secretary-in-a-State, have had their attention drawn to the deaths many times, if not in interviews then in Parliament. DWP representatives (if not Mr Duncan Smith himself) have taken pains to say they have been improving the system – but still they won’t say how many deaths have taken place since November 2011.
If it can be proved that DWP ministers were aware of the problem (and we know they are) but did not change the situation enough to slow the death rate (as seems to be the case), then it seems clear that there has been an intention to ignore the fact that people have been dying unnecessarily. This runs against Human Rights legislation, and a strong case could be made for the corporate manslaughter of thousands of people.
And that’s just ESA!
When we come to PIP, there’s the issue of the thousands of claimants who have been parked – without assessment – for months at a time, waiting to find out if they’ll receive any money.
Universal Credit currently has no budget, it seems, but the DWP is clearly still wasting millions of pounds on a project that will never work as it is currently conceived.
It would be nice to think that at least one member of Thursday’s panel might read this article and consider standing up for the people, but it’s a long shot.
Possibly a million-to-one chance, in fact.
According to Terry Pratchett, that makes it an absolute certainty!
The result: The Tory who won is so unremarkable that I’ve forgotten his name. More interesting is the chap in the big hat behind him; at first I thought he was the Monster Raving Loony candidate, but it seems more likely he’s one of the voters.
One has to ask what is wrong with the people of a Parliamentary constituency when, after four years of a desperately inept and corrupt Conservative-led government, they decide to elect another Tory as their representative in a by-election.
Which of the government’s policies clinched it for you, Newark? Was it the brutality inflicted on people who are out of work – particularly those with long-term illnesses and disabilities? Does the fact that people are being driven to suicide at an almost-hourly rate turn you on?
Was it the determination to push your wages down in order to inflate bosses’ and shareholders’ salaries, forcing a higher take-up of taxpayer-funded in-work benefits? Do you like paying high taxes to support the very, very rich?
Was it perhaps the ongoing privatisation of the NHS? Do you think that’s healthy for the people of Britain? Perhaps rickets hasn’t yet reappeared in your constituency but it’s just a matter of time. Are you looking forward to getting tuberculosis?
Maybe you are looking forward to the government’s Legal Aid changes that will put innocent people in jail and leave criminals free to roam your streets and victimise you any way they want?
Or do you really want a Conservative majority in Parliament so they can push through their long-cherished dream of taking away your human rights? Is that what you want?
That’s what your votes supported!
Worse still, you put UKIP in second place. UKIP! The party that, besides supporting the destruction of the NHS (you’ve come out very strongly for private healthcare, Newark, I hope you know that) wants to put your taxes up (although they’re trying to hide that now because people found out and didn’t like it), and supports marital rape.
Way to go, Newark.
At least you had the good sense to kick the Liberal Democrats down to sixth place and the loss of their deposit – but that just means you’re schizoid, Newark! You reward the Conservatives for policies that are a hazard to your health, and punish their coalition partners for the same reasons!
Way to go, Newark.
It should be noted that turnout was just 52.67 per cent. Presumably the other 47.33 per cent are the “disenchanted” voters of whom Ed Miliband spoke so eloquently in his response to the Queen’s Speech (did you hear the Queen’s Speech, Newark? She listed 11 more-or-less pointless bills put forward by a zombie Parliament – which you have supported).
Let us hope those 34,779 lost voters can be persuaded to re-engage with democracy in time for next year’s general election, and restore sanity to your constituency.
Now go away, Newark.
You really don’t deserve all this attention.
(The latest Vox Political book collection – Health Warning: Government! – is now available. It is a cracking read and fantastic value for money. Only available via the Internet, it may be purchased here in print and eBook form, along with the previous VP release, Strong Words and Hard Times.
Cover story: The cover of the new Vox Political collection, Health Warning: Government!
The biggest – and, most often, the worst – political events of early 2013 have been immortalised in print, in the new Vox Political book, Health Warning: Government!
The follow-up to last year’s cult hit Strong Words and Hard Times covers all the biggest stories and scandals in almost 350 pages of fully-referenced facts, including the Coalition’s bid to privatise the NHS by stealth (Your NHS will die… unless YOU act now), the rise of the bedroom tax (Lunatics in charge of the asylum – the only way the Bedroom Tax makes sense), and of course the Coalition’s reintroduction of slavery after the courts judged that sanctions against people who refused to carry out mandatory work activity were illegal (‘Worse than two bald men fighting over a comb’).
The shadowy details behind government policies are examined, in particular regarding the involvement of the shady insurance company Unum – of whom our mainstream media are forbidden to pass comment – in the Department for Work and Pensions (When big business dabbles with welfare – a cautionary tale) and the Treasury’s feeble attempt to justify its austerity policies after it was revealed they were based on a false premise (Austerity programme proved to be ‘nonsense’ based on a spreadsheet mistake).