“Bringing the Fight to this Morally Disabled Government”
This piece was inspired by: Labour squashes hope of u-turn on ‘fitness for work’ test
The attitude of Labour to disabled people is totally indefensible both in terms of its treatment of, and attitude towards, disabled people as the evidence from Australia (which went through a similar process of reviewing disability benefits some years ago) which I have posted at the foot of this post shows.
There can be no more excuses from the Labour Party that the welfare ‘reforms’ need to ‘bed in’ before a judgement can be made to end them now.
Many disabled people across the country have been working with Labour politicians such as Liam Byrne, Stephen Timms and Anne Begg in the belief that their horrendous treatment will be remedied by Labour, once this government is sent to whatever sinecures they have bought with their corrupt policies aimed at syphoning money from the poorest to the richest.
We have all known for years that it is a waste of time trying to engage constructively with people like Iain Duncan Smith, Grayling, Miller and Freud, who care little for truth, decency nor indeed the lives of their disabled constituents.
It now seems that Labour are different only in the tone of their rhetoric – hardly surprising given that they are also in politics as a career move before heading off to join previous Labour Ministers on the boards of the companies to which they are handing out the life and death decisions.
“We are the heirs to an extraordinary tradition, to great leaders who were above all the optimists of history.
The optimism of 1945 which built the National Health Service and the welfare state.”
In the same speech:
“The old way of thinking said that economic efficiency would always come at the price of social justice.”
A pity he’s still thinking ‘the old way’, because he also said in that same speech:
“All of us know in our communities people who are in genuine need and who worry about the impact of new medical tests, or changes to rules on them….
Reforming our benefits system is not about stereotyping everybody out of work, it’s about transforming their lives.
Real help matched with real responsibility. ….
On welfare, I will look closely at whatever the government comes forward with: not arbitrary cuts to benefits but a genuine plan to make sure that those in need are protected and that those who can work have the help they need to ensure they do so.”
Duncan Smith and the other liars at DWP use Newspeak too, it’s a jargon in which ‘Help’ means compulsion.
For someone who doesn’t believe in stereotyping, linking those on welfare to those who wrecked the banks or pay themselves huge salaries and bonuses – is as clear a way of saying that those on welfare deserve to be treated with the same contempt – as is possible without explicitly stating it.
“I met someone who had been on incapacity benefit for a decade.
He hadn’t been able to work since he was injured doing his job.
It was a real injury, and he was obviously a good man who cared for his children.
But I was convinced that there were other jobs he could do.”
The words of a doctor?
Maybe a consultant?
No, Miliband has the same skills as those who can look at someone and diagnose them instantly as being a scrounger who shouldn’t be parking in the disabled parking bay because they don’t look disabled.
Maybe some of us should start carrying our x-rays around with us.
“And there is a link between the man on incapacity benefit and those executives at Southern Cross.
What is that link?”
In both cases, it is disabled people who suffer the most from ill-informed rhetoric from an out-of-touch Oxford PPE alumnus and from the corporations (e.g. AtoS, Serco, G4S etc.) to which he and his party are increasingly handing over both money and responsibility, whilst removing accountability and humanity.
“The Labour Party stands for fairness and fighting injustice.
Those commitments are more important now than ever.”
Well that’s the good bit out of the way. I will now quote, in full, what he said about welfare, excluding the bit about pensioners.
“So what is Labour’s new approach to addressing these problems when there is less money around?…..
Government also has a particular responsibility when times are tough to ensure that rewards go to those who work hard and do the right thing.
That is why we have to take on irresponsibility wherever we find it.
At the top and at the bottom of society.
We have to end the situation where we have rewards for failure at the top — harming the company and its workforce.
That is why we need real change.
Like an employee on every remuneration committee so that top executives have to look an ordinary member of staff in the eye before they award themselves a pay rise.
We are determined to reform our welfare system too, so that it rewards those who do the right thing.
That’s why I’ve said that those on the waiting list for council accommodation should move up that list if they are contributing to their communities, being good neighbours, and seeking work.”
Again, the inevitable linkage between welfare recipients and the fraudsters and criminals who almost bankrupted the country.
Always, always, negative talk about welfare claimants with the addition of turning housing – which he and his precious fucking government spent years not building, into a privilege for those who conform; the kind of practice which used to be condemned when the Soviet union used jobs and housing in order to coerce acquiescence.
Ed Miliband’s Labour is not a new way of thinking, the principle of less eligibility goes back centuries as does the concept of the deserving and undeserving poor; actually, come to think of it, it is a new way of thinking for Labour: It’s thinking like a Tory.
When the Daily Mail can run the following headline and it is TRUE then you know the Labour Party has betrayed generations who fought for basic rights:
Now Ed Miliband gets tough with onslaught against ‘evil’ of benefits scroungers
Ex-miner with Emphysema? – Scrounger.
ME? – For fuck’s sake pull yourself together, it’s all in your mind. Get off your backside and get a fucking job!
Fibromyalgia – that was a good one to fake because it’s hard to diagnose, probably because it doesn’t exist: We’ll put you in the ‘bad back’ category of trustworthiness.
Dangerously overweight? – Put a lock on the fridge you greedy bastard.
Kidney problems? – Well you’re not on fucking dialysis all the time are you?
Parkinsons, COPD, Asthma, Angina, Cancer…? We can’t see anything wrong with you you feckless workshy bastards!
And if the disability is evident?
In a wheelchair? Let’s just tip that over because we know you can walk really.
Blind? Stevie Wonder’s blind.
Motor Neurone Disease? That hasn’t stopped Stephen Hawking and thus, as Grayling is the expert at showing, anecdote and the use of the exception is now an acceptable replacement for evidence.
New Labour lost 5 million votes because it ignored those at the bottom.
Miliband’s Labour is trying to buy some of the middle class votes by attacking those at the bottom.
“Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer — except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.”
~ Animal Farm by George Orwell
Extract from ‘Disability Policies and Programs in Australia’
In the last decade of the twentieth century the impact of neo-liberal philosophies of welfare began to undermine the structure of rights that had emerged in the previous decade.
Government services began to be contracted out to non-government agencies, under a policy of privatisation, while access was increasingly restricted, with tighter eligibility criteria.
In 2000, the national government introduced a range of welfare reforms based on the rhetoric of “mutual obligation” – a structure of harsher penalties and workfare for the unemployed.
The liberating potential of employment for people with disabilities became overshadowed by the compulsory search for work, and the punitive regime of regularly “proving” disability.
The medical model of disability still informed access to income and other benefits in the social security system.
In Australia, as in many other countries, moral worth rather than personal need has often marked societal responses to disability.
Thus disabled war veterans were always accorded higher status than the civilian disabled population, and were provided with higher quality of care and more extensive and less punitively policed benefits.
Similarly, rehabilitation services reflected the higher status of the war injured – and were focused thereby upon the needs of the male disabled. The national government’s Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (established after the Second World War) was expanded to include civilian disabled people – yet retained the original bias towards injured and disabled men.
Benefits and services reflect Australian cultural values and attitudes to employment, service to the country and gender.
Women with disabilities overall are less likely to gain access to government rehabilitation or enter job retraining programs.Examination of benefits and services currently available in Australia demonstrate a bewildering array, different state by state and region by region.
Eligibility criteria are rarely transparent – but are almost always dependent of the opinion of medical practitioners. Thus the medical model is heavily institutionalised in identifying and responding to disability – and the medical and quasi-medical professions are the critical gatekeepers for access to services.
In recent years occupational psychologists have begun to play a greater role in determining eligibility – particularly in regard to “motivation” for rehabilitation. This reflects a surge in concerns by government in the 1980s and 1990s at the growth of people receiving government benefits based on occupational injuries.
Given the political and social environment in which disabilities are identified and responses are developed, it is important to note that there cannot be a simple set of “objective” criteria, despite the desire by governments and some professions to argue for absolute standards and clear scientific assessments. Our research has suggested that political, social and economic environments play a large role in determining who can claim status as having a disability, and who is eligible for government assistance.
The Disability Support Pension offers an example of this process.
The government strategy to reduce the numbers in receipt on this benefit has targeted older and unskilled workers, who may be in receipt of this benefit after their medical practitioner has deemed them unable to work. Yet the lack of employment possibilities may be dependent on many other factors, rather than their impairment per se.
As the unemployment benefit is paid at a lower rate that the Disability Support Pension, it will ‘save’ the government resources if these people can be moved off the Disability Support Pension.
Getting disabled people ‘back to work’, which is the current Australian Government’s avowed intention, has not taken account of the costs of disability in pursuing work, for example taxi fares, extra support and so on.
Individuals continue to be measured as to their functional capability, or incapacity for work; the capacity of social system to support disabled people in the work place is largely ignored