Thursday, 1 December 2011

If - by - cuts.

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about cuts. All right, here is how I feel about cuts:

If when you say cuts you mean taking meagre benefits and decent services away from the poorest and most vulnerable people in the land, cuts - a bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the cuts that destroy the NHS, the libraries, the public services and the pay and pensions of public servants, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say cuts you mean taking vast amounts of money away from pointless Trident renewal, away from foolish, bloody and expensive wars, away from wanton boundless privatisation, away from greedy bankers, executives and assorted wreckers, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

(With huge apologies to Judge Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr.)

Friday, 18 November 2011

State Television, BBC, Ignore complaints.

The BBC have issued the following response to my complaint about their misleading hate propaganda:

"Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC One’s ‘Britain on the Fiddle’ on 3 November.

We have received a wide range of feedback about this programme and feel it’s worth highlighting that considerable correspondence to us has been generated by online lobby activity. Bearing in mind the pressure on resources, the response below strives to address the majority of concerns raised but we apologise in advance if not all of the specific points you have mentioned have been answered in the manner you prefer. Please be assured we’ve raised your concerns with the programme and have done our best to issue a substantive response.

Panorama's ‘Britain on the Fiddle’ looked at a number of issues surrounding public sector fraud, including benefit fraud, the nature and extent of the unlawful subletting of council properties, the issue of identity fraud and the misuse of blue badges. The programme also followed the work of some local authority fraud investigators and by doing so revealed how time consuming and costly inquiries into suspected fraud can be.

The programme made it clear that fraud effectively takes money from all of us, especially those in genuine need. On benefit fraud, including incapacity benefit specifically, the programme stressed that most people on benefits really need them and don't cheat the system.

Far from concentrating on the economically deprived, the programme featured, for example, the case of a man claiming benefits to pay for a council flat whilst owning and running a pub business many miles away - travelling between both destinations in a luxury car.

Furthermore, the film featured fraud investigators tackling the misuse of blue badges. Many people have since written to Panorama to express their gratitude to the programme for highlighting the problem which causes them distress and much inconvenience.

We don’t agree that the cases featured in our film were extreme or were not broadly indicative of instances of benefit fraud. That is not the experience of the local authority fraud investigators who were kind enough to allow us to film their work. Dr Mark Button, from the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies said in the programme:

"I think a lot of organisations are not realistic about the levels of fraud that they face because in any organisation there are large levels of fraud that are undetected. So if they rely on detected levels of fraud they are not getting the picture of the levels of fraud within their organisation."

Emphasising this, it is important to note that just recently the Audit Commission released its most up to date figures for detected fraud against local government which explains that these figures are only the tip of a very large iceberg.

We believe the programme explored a subject which is clearly in the public interest and did so in a fair and impartial manner.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Stuart Webb

BBC Complaints"

So, using "undetected" fraud as the basis of a theory that there is widespread fraud and then treating it as fact? Do you see a fraud in there somewhere? 'Undetected' means precisely that.

And notice that they did not answer either of the two points that I raised.

"It is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him."

Abraham Lincoln.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

My complaint to the BBC about Panorama.

This programme had very serious problems with misleading information and reckless language. These problems are too numerous for me to set out in full, so I will provide two examples:

Firstly, the programme referred to a figure of 'twenty-two billion pounds.' This not only conflated fraud with error but also included fraud across all government departments. This is grossly misleading.

Secondly, the programme implied that disabled people cannot play sports such as golf and claim disability benefits. In fact, many disabled people, such as those with deafness, autism or diabetes, for example, can play golf and other sports.

Along with using inflammatory language such as 'on the fiddle' and 'swindle,' the misleading impressions given by this programme could contribute to the rise in hate crime against disabled people, which the Equality and Human Rights Commission recently reported as already a very serious problem.

Link to programme:

Friday, 26 August 2011

Atos rebrand - a better look.

With more logos.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Atos - an Organisation that carries out its Business in a Deeply Shameful Manner.

Many years ago at school there was a small group of us in what was known as a PHU or ‘partially hearing unit.’ This was a specialist classroom for the deaf and hard of hearing kids. During playtimes and lunchtimes we would go out into the ‘general’ areas – the playground, canteen, etc, and mix with the hearing kids.

One day there was a minor incident in which a deaf kid was teased by a hearing kid. During the next assembly, the elderly head-teacher reprimanded this child, pointing out that ‘bullying is bad enough as it is, but bullying a deaf child is disgraceful.’ I agree with this principle set down many years ago by an educated and well-respected man with an old fashioned sense of right and wrong.

Now fast forward 30 years or so and we see that for once David Cameron is right about moral decay – except not in the way he made out. There are few things more immoral than the way Atos bullies disabled people.

It would make for too long a blog post to catalogue the main abuses committed by Atos against disabled people. Unfair and badly-done assessments. False information recorded. Non-accessible testing centres. All this has been well documented and widely reported.

Now this Atos corporate organisation has stooped yet lower (something which might seem impossible) by bringing out lawyers and trying to shut down parts of sites such as Carer Watch where disabled people and their friends and relatives find refuge to talk about Atos’ very bad behaviour.

Disabled people – the people whose opinion really counts – have little doubt that Atos carries out its business in a manner which is deeply shameful. Bullying is bad enough as it is, but bullying disabled people is disgraceful. It’s not enough for them to devastate our lives; they also want to prevent us from talking about the devastation that they cause!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Why Ed Miliband’s Speech was worse than any Tory Offering.

Just under a year ago I joined the Labour Party partly because I was clinging to the desperate hope that Ed was red and that there was still a truly left-wing element within the party. Although since then there have been various assorted things that have dealt mighty blows to that hope, none were more effective than Miliband’s recent speech on responsibility. Now numerous people have already conducted a more decent and thorough post-mortem on this speech than I could hope to do, for example over at HarpyMarx, but the disability angle alone is enough to exercise me.

Miliband opened:

“The issue I want to talk about today can be summed up in a couple of stories.

While out campaigning during the local elections, not for the first time, 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.

And that it’s just not right for the country to be supporting him not to work, when other families on his street are working all hours just to get by.”

What makes this more sinister than any Tory product so far churned out by their hate factory is that Miliband is quite clearly ‘going for’ a genuinely disabled person. He tries to sugar-coat it by calling him a ‘a good man who cared for his children,’ but he nevertheless effectively encourages the audience to scrutinise disabled people and second-guess their fitness for work. It is not difficult to see how this can lead to grotesque unfairness – it is a McCarthyist/Orwellian society that promotes such uninformed and unqualified guesswork. Disabled people have enough things to deal with without this nonsense on top.

This over-simplistic guess – ‘[b]ut I was convinced that there were other jobs he could do’ – conveniently ignores the following points:

Even if he was able to do the work Miliband thinks he should be doing, there is the small matter of actually finding this work. How many people can afford to be fussy about the type of jobs they can apply for in the present climate?

Even if he did find this particular work, there is the further small matter of whether the employer will actually take him on. A survey has found that only 8% of employers are willing to take on somebody on Incapacity Benefit.

This is why Miliband’s speech is worse than anything put forward so far by the Tories. He is stirring up hatred against disabled people for things that are not even their fault.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Using the Law to Fight the Cuts.

Here's a handy 'cut out and keep' post on judicial review by Adam Wagner at The Human Rights Blog :

Judicial Review.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Canute against Disablism.

I’m a bit mentally frazzled at the moment, but it’s ‘blogging against disablism’ day, so I think I had better write something!

Sometimes hate propaganda can cause the victims to start to believe what is stated. If such propaganda is constantly drummed into you with little or no challenge, this can happen quite easily. Feelings of fear and shame can make it more difficult to challenge it.

One thing that is constantly drummed into us is this ‘black or white’ definition of ‘disability’ – if you can work you are "not disabled," but if you can’t, you are.

But does that definition square with reality? You could be deaf, blind, have downs syndrome or CP and in each case, you could do some sort of work – but you are also most certainly disabled. It's never as simple as the right-wing hater would have everybody believe.

A bit of thought tells you that this ‘black or white’ definition of disability is a false definition that has been imposed on us for political and financial ends. It is pure oppression and used for blaming and bullying disabled people. It is despicable and I reject it.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Just how Appalling can the Condem Government get?

Alison referred us to this on Twitter. If you can stand to, read it:

"Red Tape Challenge."

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Disabled, Cuts, and Suicidal?

Anne Novis asks:

HI everyone a Guardian journalist is seeking to interview disabled people who are considering or feeling suicidal due to government cuts for an article about this issue. If interested could you let me know here please, I will get their contact details for you asap. I know its difficult and I don't want anyone to feel they should or have to do this but even if its just an anonymous message this can be used to articulate the dreadful misery being inflicted on so many of us. Thank you

Contact details:

BBC Ouch have been blocking discussion of this.

Friday, 1 April 2011

How the Tories Attack Disabled People.

Here's a fuller list of the vicious attacks unleashed on disabled people by the Nasty ConDem Government. Thanks to Wheelthing from Ouch! for compiling it:

1. DLA to PIP
2. Possibility of 80,000 living in residential homes losing DLAMC
3. IB to ESA or JSA
4. Contributory ESA, paid only to those with sufficient NI contributions, is to be time limited to 12 months,
5. WCA
6. If migrated to JSA people losing disability status; thus, unable to access extra resources given to disabled jobseekers
7. ILF being scrapped
8. Housing benefit
9. The removal of security of tenure from social housing tenants disproportionately impact on disabled people
10. Eligibility criteria dropped for all but critical care support
11. Care packages cut
12. Access to Work is cutting back on items it will fund
13. Cuts to community transport systems
14. Removal of eligibility for Freedom Passes to people with mental health disabilities
15. TaxiCard’s subsidy is dropping; the contribution made by the user doubling; and, the two-swipe system being abolished. So, limiting the resource to around about a one mile journey.
16. Cuts in police budgets will see setbacks in their response to disability hate crimes.

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Fabulous Quote.

Many people who have failed the WCA medical have appealed but the exact figures aren't easy to find on the DWP website. But a quick online search suggests 40% successful appeals. Let me quote a parent who spoke about his own experiences of caring for his disabled son, in a speech to the 'Research Autism' conference in 2009. He said: "The very painful thing about disability – whether your own or your loved one's – is the feeling that the situation is out of your control. When the system that surrounds you is very top-down, bureaucratic, inhuman, that can only increase your feelings of helplessness ... but I do believe there are moments of despair, helplessness and frustration that could be directly alleviated by the work of government."

His name? David Cameron.


Monday, 21 February 2011

Tory Morals.

The Card-Players

Jan van Hogspeuw staggers to the door
And pisses at the dark. Outside, the rain
Courses in cart-ruts down the deep mud lane.
Inside, Dirk Dogstoerd pours himself some more,
And holds a cinder to his clay with tongs,
Belching out smoke. Old Prijck snores with the gale,
His skull face firelit; someone behind drinks ale,
And opens mussels, and croaks scraps of songs
Towards the ham-hung rafters about love.
Dirk deals the cards. Wet century-wide trees
Clash in surrounding starlessness above
This lamplit cave, where Jan turns back and farts,
Gobs at the grate, and hits the queen of hearts.

Rain, wind and fire! The secret, bestial peace!

Philip Larkin, 1970

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Questions about Trevor Phillips and Unum.

Please see this link:

'This time it's personal: Welfare Reform and the personalisation agenda.'

Now please see the following Wikipedia link about Unum and the 'Controversy' section.

1) What's going on here?
2) Why is Mr Phillips there? Isn't it a conflict of interest for him to be present?
3) Why is a company with this sort of reputation being used in reform that affects vulnerable people?

Any more questions that I should ask?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Disabled In The UK - The 'New Jews'?

Disabled In The UK - The 'New Jews'?

Info re: poster: "This poster is from the 1930’s, and promotes the Nazi monthly Neues Volk (New People}, the organ of the party’s racial office. The text reads: “This genetically ill person will cost our people’s community 60,000 marks over his lifetime. Citizens, that is your money. Read Neues Volk, the monthly of the racial policy office of the NSDAP.”

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Flaws of Economics.

I keep hearing (not literally) this claim from George Osborne that the private sector will be there to provide jobs for ex-public sector workers. I don’t pretend to be any sort of economics expert, but that seems such a sloppy and wishful hand to play when betting on people’s livelihoods and future.

At the same time as cutting jobs, Mr Osborne is also cutting welfare (or at least trying to.) I wonder if it could be argued that welfare can also be seen as a sort of ‘quantitative easing’ – people are given money to survive and they spend that money on products and services provided by the private sector. So it helps to keep the economy ticking over.

If welfare is cut, people will no longer have the money to pay for these goods and services, so that can hardly be good for the private sector, can it? With business quieter, they will be less likely to create new jobs, not the other way around.

So what will be the effect of job cuts? These are people who might be buying things from certain parts of the private sector. If they are put out of work they will be less likely to continue this trend. So the private sector is hammered again. And of course, if all these new jobs turn out to be one big mirage, then isn’t welfare spending likely to go up rather than down?

Let’s hope that there are big thumping flaws in my logic.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Early Day Motion on Disability Living Alllowance

Early Day Motion
EDM 1332


Williams, Hywel

That this House expresses concern at the presentation of the case for reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in the public consultation published on 6 December 2010; believes that the consultation incorrectly confuses correlation with causation between DLA claimants and employment levels or motivation to work; notes that DLA claimants tend to be older, less well-qualified, on benefits for longer and in poorer health than other disabled people; is of the opinion that many of the claims made in support of changing DLA are unsubstantiated in the consultation text or the supporting evidence; does not accept the argument that the identified problems with the present format of DLA are insoluble without the introduction of a costly new benefit; further believes that the presentation of the case for these reforms is highly flawed; and further expresses concern that the language used in the consultation may mislead readers when drawing conclusions from the evidence presented, and may therefore influence their response to the consultation.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

Cameron's 'Pathetic' Cuts.

Even the Mail offers a bit of support:

'Mr Cameron said to me that if he became Prime Minister he wouldn’t do anything that would hurt disabled children.

'Clearly he’s gone against his word and it’s affecting vulnerable families across the country.'

And lets give credit to some of the Mail's readers - they ain't being fooled any longer:

How many others are in this very same position ? This isn't a ''one off'' case. Disabled and vulnerable people of all ages ARE being targeted . '' In it together '' my backside !

Mother who met PM asks to put disabled daughter into care

Cameron to look at case of mother who asked for daughter to be put into care

Monday, 17 January 2011

Draft Letter to RNID Trustees

Removed from the See Hear board for being 'off topic.' I think I'll put it up again.


I am a deaf member of RNID and I am writing to express my unease at a number of ways in which the charity operates. My first concern is that of accountability at RNID. The standard response that I have been given by independent parties is that I should liaise with the board. After asking John Low on how to go about this, he advised me to contact board members individually by post via Featherstone Street. This seems rather cumbersome and I think, in the age of internet, there are better ways to expedite a feedback process. I see the role of trustee as rather like that of an MP – where the interests of constituents are carried forward through surgeries/consultation and that is what I think should happen at RNID. Simply giving out information unilaterally in the form of impact reports is inadequate.

My other main area of concern is that of the employment of deaf and hard of hearing people at RNID in general and especially at senior management level. A lot of the vacancies advertised by RNID seem to carry a stipulation of at least two years experience. Whilst normally this would be fine, it is disregarding the fact, which is often shown through RNID’s own research, that deaf and hard of hearing people are less likely through no fault of their own to have this experience. The lack of deaf and hoh people at SMT (senior management team) level seems to contradict many of RNID’s claims and aspirations; it is a dramatic vote of no confidence in deaf people if they are deemed unfit to hold a single vacancy at the highest level of a deaf organisation. How can RNID champion our suitability to work at all levels in other organisations if their own record is poor? How can it be in the best interests of deaf people not to speak and act for themselves and control their own affairs?

I would respectfully urge you to take on board these concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Tories Blaming and Punishing the Victims.

Both the government and the DWP like to make great play of the alleged fact that people ‘choose not to work’ and take benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice.’ They will make long speeches about how to change people’s behaviour.

However, the truth is that only one person exercises a choice about whether or not somebody can work – and that is the employer. Please see the following link. Who would have thought it could get worse than 27%?

“…only 8% will accommodate a return to work for those whose Incapacity Benefit is withdrawn.”

Blaming disabled people for their own unemployment, when it is the behaviour of employers that is at fault, is intellectually barbaric.

(You may notice that I just put 'Tories' in the title and not 'Tories and the Liberal Democrats.' That was not an omission or error, it was a factual description.)

Monday, 3 January 2011

A New Year's Message from The Broken of Britain.

This year was not kind to people with disabilities. 2010 began with a steady trickle of horror stories about Employment Support Allowance introduced by the Labour government in 2008 as the replacement for Incapacity Benefit, thus creating a draconian system making benefits conditional on work-related activity for most claimants. This conditionality is based on assessment by ‘healthcare professionals’ who are not doctors and may not be familiar with the variety of health conditions they face. The assessment is run by private sector provider Atos, who refuse to release the details of the test used to assess eligibility for reasons of ‘commercial interest’. There followed more disability charities lining their own pockets by colluding in the unfair system rather than fighting for those they claim to represent; and continuing doubts regarding the future of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) paid to help disabled people face the additional costs of disability.

Labour eventually backed away from DLA, and disabled people sighed with relief. Past Tory zeal for chopping at the welfare state and the Tory papers’ penchant for calling disabled people cheats has not befriended the party to us, but the Coalition Government was not totally objectionable. After all, David Cameron has experience of disability in his family, the Tories made an election promise to safeguard DLA, and the Lib Dems were not a party of unfair and discriminatory cuts. Early statements and the news of big changes to come caused some unease, but the first real signal of the Government’s intention came in the Emergency Budget, with George Osborne’s announcement of unnecessary medical tests for DLA claimants.

Since June, news of substantial losses for disabled people has come thick and fast. The axing of disability bodies doing useful and necessary work in the cull of quangos; a Comprehensive Spending Review which removed the mobility component of DLA from those in residential care to much anger; time-limiting contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance to 12 months in the same review; the cutting of advice on benefits; the fudged Harrington review of Employment Support Allowance which avoided the major points of criticism; the three-year extension of a contract worth over £100 million per year to Atos; all whilst disability charities continued to cheerfully pick the carcass of the welfare state. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back – the Government decided to scrap DLA and replace it with a new, leaner system called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - the public consultation n DLA reformcloses on February 14th. PIP will cut the DLA caseload by 20% using testing similar to that used for Employment and Support Allowance. The case for reform is badly flawed and there are several damaging changes hidden in the small print. For example, six-times London Marathon winner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson could lose out because she uses her wheelchair too well.

The Coalition Government has heaped misery on disabled people in just six months, backed up by their tabloid attack dogs, targeting them more than anybody else. A week after breaking the camel’s back, the Coalition decided to bash its head into the sand by axing the Independent Living Fund. This money funds 21,000 people to live independently who would otherwise live in hospitals or residential care, at far greater economic and social cost. Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People, justifies the decision by deeming the ILF to be “unsustainable”. On a personal note, my best friend relies on ILF to support her care needs. ILF enables her to live independently and employ her high skills. Her contribution to society, including the tax she pays, is enormous. I suggest the Minister try telling her that her support is “financially unsustainable”.

By targeting DLA and the Independent Living Fund the Coalition have gone too far. A number of new disability rights groups and websites have responded to the proposals with focus and determination and are organizing alternative protest and direct action. Whilst the disability charities busy themselves forming consortia worth £654 million to bid for Government back-to-work contracts, protesting for disability rights is coming from the grassroots using our skills to raise awareness of our fights and to build political alliances. Public sector workers have been unfairly targeted as well; students too are victims of cuts and broken promises; these and other Coalition targets are our natural allies. We are campaigning on many fronts and ask that you join us in doing so by signing our petition to stop DLA reform and supporting our DLA campaign, as have a number of Lords and MPs including Jon Cruddas and Hywel Williams. We are getting MPs to ask questions, start debates and table Early Day Motions on DLA, pressuring the Coalition to back down.

2011 will be a good year for disabled people as we petition this Government to withdraw on DLA and the Independent Living Fund, and to bring fairness back into Employment Support Allowance. David Cameron and Iain Duncan-Smith have picked the wrong fight.

- by Kaliya Franklin and Rhydian Fôn James