N.B. All article links in italics are Black Triangle’s
According to the Mail, 23% of all sickness benefit claimants have a criminal record of some form, including a police caution. According to the Chris Grayling comedy show this is ‘truly alarming’. What’s alarming in fact is how law abiding sickness benefit claimants appear to be.
According to this Chartered Institute of Professional Development report (PDF) aimed at encouraging employers to hire people with criminals records, as many as 25% of the general population has a criminal record. As those in receipt of sickness benefit are likely to be poorer than the general population, it might have been reasonable to assume a higher percentage of claimants may have been convicted of a crime.
Many people on sickness benefits have a mental health condition. It is a sad truth that people with mental health conditions are over -represented in the criminal justice system. An increasingly few people on sickness benefits may also have a history of illegal substance misuse, once again suggesting that these would skew the figures above the general population’s level of criminality.
So in fact we should all give a big cheer to sickness benefit claimants, who despite ill health and poverty seem to be less inclined to criminality than the population as a whole.
Of course the Daily Mail don’t see it this way. If you can commit crimes you can work seems to be the spin. Researcher Patricia Morgan – who presumably gets a quote because she had something to do with the research – makes the astonishing claim that:
“There are people who claim incapacity benefit because they are alcoholics or use drugs. They shouldn’t be allowed to, but they do.
“They do not need to work and often they steal to maintain their drinking or addiction. Generally people who work do not commit crime.”
At a time when bankers, coppers, MPs and newspaper editors have all faced unprecedented investigation into their own illegal activities, this statement may even be a bit much for Daily Mail readers to take. Perhaps this is why comments don’t seem to be being accepted on the piece.
The three most senior tories, David Cameron, George Osborne, Boris Johnson, have all been involved in illegal drugs, along with Louise Mensch, Nick Clegg and a host of other government figures. The only reason they don’t have criminal records in because they didn’t get caught. Cameron has claimed his history of Class A drug use is part of his ‘personal life’ and refuses to speak about it.
Yet the DWP is quite happy to delve into the personal details of sickness benefit claimants and splash them across the front pages in little more than a crude publicity stunt.
This non-story reveals two things. It’s ‘silly season’ meaning that MPs have swanned off on holiday and there’s not much for hacks to write about. Secondly it shows that, slowly but surely, public opinion is changing towards claimants as Government smears become ever more ludicrous.
People are waking up to the reality of losing a welfare state that benefits everybody but the rich. And this Government, steeped as they are in contempt for the poor and benefit bashing, will not know how to cope with that.
Joe Kane Writes: ‘Unemployment Fuhrers in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones’Factcheck: ‘Casting an eye over Westminster’s jailbirds’, The FactCheck blog, Channel 4 News, 31 May 2011“Let’s put it like this: an MP elected to the last Parliament was four times more likely to be jailed than the average Briton. And if we take the House of Lords into account, it seems that a politician from either House was more than twice as likely to go to jail than the man or woman in the street.”
Here are two convicted violent criminals, one has spent time in jail, and both still have their snouts in the Westminster trough and there is nothing the taxpayer can do about it.
Eric Joyce – MP for Falkirkhttp://ericjoyce.co.uk/
Here is a remarkable interview with Eric Joyce MP where he admits to basically stealing cars, and gives his support to consensual violence amongst adult men – ‘Regrets? MP Eric Joyce has a few’, Channel 4 News 26 Apr 2012http://www.channel4.com/
Lord Watson of Invergowriehttp://www.parliament.uk/
‘Shamed politician Lord Watson costs the taxpayer £10,000 a speech’ (Jul 15 2012)
Black Triangle Campaign comrade Harvey Duke writes:In their vile, intolerant extremism, the Daily Mail ‘journalists’ (in reality, far-Right propagandists) remind me of the old apologists of apartheid within South Africa.Of course, this is not surprising – as the Daily Mail also attacked Nelson Mandela and all opponenets of apartheid as ‘terrorists’, thugs etc.Now, the targets of press lies are often the bravest of the brave: individuals who struggle to lead some kind of life, despite crumbling bones, cancer, missing limbs and illnesses which may exhaust or cause depression or inflict appaling levels of pain.Whilst all of this is bad enough for any group of people to endure, to then have to face a daily barrage of smears and hate-propaganda makes it much harder. And all the lies accompany the most inhumane social policy: cutting the incomes of the poorest people to switch resources to propping up the richest!Last night, taking a wee break from research and writing, and trying to unwind for a while from a week full of stress as a Welfare Rights Officer, listening every day to people damaged by benefit cuts, we watched the film: ‘Dreams of a Life’.It’s a documentary and partial dramatic recreation of the life of a woman who was found dead on her sofa, in front of her TV, after lying there for 3 years.Although she had jobs, and had friends, somehow she had become isolated and at a young age died and no one noticed. The film explores how this can happen, by talking to people who knew her and were appalled to find out what happened to her.It may be that she suffered from depression, and had experienced abuse, although the exact reasons for her isolation may never be known.The film showed also that she was a beautiful, vibrant individual despite a well-hidden sadness.The unforgettable final scene is a TV news clip of a crowd around Nelson Mandela, on a visit to London.One part of the clip is gradually focused upon: it is the face of the young woman who would later die alone.There is enough money in the world to prevent people from falling through safety nets, and there is no reason to slash safety nets so that thousands and then millions end up falling through to lonely and premature deaths.Those who justify cutting benefits have blood on their hands, and their smear stories are crimes against humanity.I look forward to the day when they are out of work because the rich who they represent have their trillions of pounds of unearned, stashed wealth taken off them.When that happens, we can make sure that everyone who needs a hospital bed can get one, that everyone who needs some financial assistance to survive in difficult circumstances is provided for.Let no one suffer alone!Fight on brothers and sisters – we are on the same side as all the great movements against injustice!