Right-wing hate campaign clouds debate on benefits


Sue Marsh blogs at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger

Today, the Daily Express and Daily Mail are full of cheating, scrounging sick people.

Chris GraylingThe Express screams: “Blitz on Britain’s benefits madness”, contrasting those on “sickness handouts” with “hard working taxpayers”.

According to the the Express, Tory MP Philip Davies joined the outcry, saying:

“People are sick to the back teeth of being taken for a ride by people sponging and scrounging and abusing the system.”

While the Mail screams:

“Scandal of 80,000 on sickness benefits for minor ailments… including diarrhoea.”

To accompany the claim that “drug addicts” have been allowed to claim, they included a picture of someone snorting white powder through a rolled up note.

The papers go on to list “blisters”, “headaches”, “depression”, and “problems with scholastic skills” as evidence that there are hundreds of thousands of people living the good life at “taxpayers” expense who have nothing really wrong with them.

For a moment, let’s forget the fact that only the first ailment a person lists on their claim form is taken into account in these figures. Let’s ignore the fact that someone with “nail disorders” might also have cancer or kidney failure. Let’s ignore the fact that someone classified under “drug abuse” might also suffer from schizophrenia or multiple sclerosis..

I have “diarrhoea” but why? Well, because of the 32 growths I’ve had to have removed from my guts and the seven major operations to remove rotten lengths of bowel, leaving me with half as much intestine as your average ill-informed hack.

My friend has “blisters.” She suffers from the rare skin disease Epidermolysis Bullosa. Her skin blisters and comes away at the lightest touch, leaving her scarred and in constant, terrible pain.

“Headaches?” Cluster headaches (also referred to as “suicide headaches”) are thought to be one of the worst pains known to man, not something to be confused with a hangover.

I could go on, but I’m sure you’re beginning to see why these horrible articles, fuelled by “statements” today from Chris Grayling, minister for Work and Pensions and our very own prime minister, only serve to turn a sensitive, delicate subject into a form of attack. They aim to pitch one condition against another whilst asking more fortunate citizens to view those who are unwell with mistrust and contempt.

Perhaps there is a legitimate debate to be had over which conditions “hard working tax-payers” are willing to support. There is certainly some validity in the claim that many sick or disabled people would love help and support to find a job.

However, surely none of us agree that this is the way in which to conduct that debate? Surely allowing our politicians and our media to whip up hate and prejudice against a particular group of society is something we should all be ashamed of?

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  • http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com Sue Marsh

    Anon E Mouse – I do wish you wouldn’t be so aggressive. I thought I DID answer your question with my example – but just to be very clear, yes, I do think that alcoholics should be treated the same was as down’s syndrome children. Alcoholism IS a genetic condition, so to the other comment yes, you can be born with it. Very few alcoholics stay ill for ten years without some underlying abuse or mental health problem, that was my point.

    If you want to debate with me, so you think you could acknowledge when I DO make a point and engage with it rather than your “typical Labour” this and that?

  • scandalousbill

    Anon,

    You say,

    “Discriminatory? You are saying that people who commit crimes against other people in order to freely and illegally participate in the taking of prohibited substances should be treated equally to people who have disabilities.

    “Why wouldn’t there be discrimination in that case? Do you not care about criminals and their victims at all?”

    “Are you really saying that the position of the Labour Party activists is that criminals choosing that lifestyle and harming others should be treated equally as law abiding people not choosing their lifestyle and not hurting others?”

    First point, is we all are, or should be, equal before the law. Whether you believe a person who smokes a joint is a criminal is an individual opinion. The law, at this point, regards this person as a criminal. However, when we use that criterion as the correct basis for denial of fundamental rights, whether in the extreme case of rendition, torture or other abuse, to obtain confession or information even if it saves other victims, we risk becoming as bad or worse than those we incarcerate.,

    Rights are universal, to deny them to a sector of the population, or to an individual, reflects back upon those who implement the denial as well, regardless of the justification purported to rationalize the implementation.

  • Ed’s Talking Balls

    I’m quite happy that you have contempt for my attitude. I can live with that.

    It won’t surprise you in the least to hear that I hold your views in contempt also.

    People are different; conditions are different; the causes of these conditions are different; discrimination does occur in society and, in many cases, this is perfectly right, precisely because people are different; healthcare is a very difficult term to define; money is finite; there are competing demands of this limited pool of money; funding all treatments for all people at all times is absolutely impossible; some people (successfully) attempt to defraud the system; some people exacerbate their conditions and make no attempt to help themselves.

    Given that I firmly believe the statements above to be true, I stand as firmly as ever behind my opinion.

    And, for the record, I never once attempted to label all benefit claimants as the same (i.e. lazy, greedy, looking for a quick buck, etc). That would be nonsense. I have been very consistent in believing them to be entirely different and that is precisely my point.

  • http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/ joe kane

    Where I live has nothing to do with my arguments about the problems of a modern society needing modern approaches to solving using modern health service.

    Conservatives have no idea how to run a modern society or how to deal with its modern problems. They live in the Victorian past of rich philanthropists blaming all societies ills on the individual. How convenient they make a packet exploiting modern advances in science, technology and management then, when their money-grubbing exploitation leaves social chaos and social problems in its wake, they take refuge in defunct moralisms and blame the victims they are largely to blame for creating.

    Hence the reason they call themselves ‘conservative’, as they live in the morality of an extinct past, but are more than willing to take advantage of modern society when it suits them, except when it comes to paying their taxes of course, which go towards cleaning up the damage their selfishness and greed causes.

    “And you believe these people should be treated the same as someone with MS. Charming.”
    – It’s not a question of either, or. It’s both. This is a modern society with modern problems. There are plenty of resources and skills to solve all or most of society’s afflictions. Only small-minded readers of the right-wing British tabloids ‘think’ otherwise, for want of a better verb to describe their utterly petty vindictive anti-social attitudes towards their fellow human being.

  • http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com Sue Marsh

    Now, here we go. Our dear leader, DID make an awful lot of speeches about getting treatment for drug abuse. This treatment is VERY costly.

    There wouldn’t be a problem at all in throwing alcoholics off benefits if all the rehab centres had been built, if all the counsellors and funding were in place to help them, but they’re not are they?

  • Anon E Mouse

    joe kane – From your response I would guess you have never lived in an inner city council estate where you hold your breath every time you get home hoping you haven’t been robbed by a drug addict. Again.

    Regarding treating everyone the same please explain to me why criminal drug addicts should be treated the same for the illegal criminal choices they make in life as a person with disabilities? Why should they? You are rewarding criminality by claiming it is an illness instead of unacceptable behaviour.

    This attitude is the reason that disability campaigners are just not taken seriously by governments, either left wing or right wing like Labour and the Tories. My reason for questioning your living situation is your response is typical of someone who hasn’t walked the walked and just forwards some psycho babble theory without any practical thought into the matter…

  • Anon E Mouse

    Sue Marsh – I do find your posts entertaining. It’s why I follow your personal blog.

    The trouble is you keep answering questions you are asking yourself not the ones I put forward and your responses are typical of Labour supporters trying to avoid directly answering a question – that was my point about Gordon Brown made earlier. Instead of just saying he liked Hob Nob biscuits he waffled for hours instead of answering the question. Yvette Cooper is another one who throws this and that into the mix instead of answering a question.

    As I have said before your possibly valid points are wrecked by this approach and it’s a shame. Anyway.

    Alcoholics can be “cured” by stopping them drinking. They are certainly less deserving than someone with a disease with no known cure. The two things are completely different.

    Nothing will convince me that a heroin addict, robbing peoples houses to feed a habit, should be treated the same as a law abiding person with crippling arthritis. Sorry. And believe me Sue, my opinion is held by the majority in this country. And rightly so.

    You describe my posts as aggressive. That’s just because they advocate an opinion you disagree with and with the title of this piece being ” Right-wing HATE campaign clouds debate on benefits” you can hardly be described as a passive contributor…

  • Anon E Mouse

    scandalousbill – If someone wants to smoke a joint the only person that is affected is the smoker.

    If someone robs houses to feed a heroin addiction other people are affected. And you believe that person who chooses to engage in illegal activity should be supported with taxpayers benefits, treated the same as genuinely ill people and have their addiction classified as a disability?

    Come on.

    Working with the elderly and disabled really humbles people “There but for the grace of God go I” springs to mind daily and it is incomparable to choosing to take drugs. The cure is to stop the drug taking. Job done. Truly disabled people would do anything to cure themselves that easily.

    You see, leaving aside the am-dram in your remarks about rendition and stuff (which a Labour government allowed through our airports btw, not the Tories) the way people are cared for is not a fundamental right – it is the sign of a decent society that looks after the less advantaged but a line simply has to be drawn.

    Ask the old person being robbed for the twentieth time that the criminal is doing it to feed his habit and society actually pays him benefits for an “illness” and I can imagine the response. I’m in the majority in agreement there.

    I would say you and I have conversed regularly on this blog scandalousbill and it is clear that Sue Marsh has the ability to vitalise people with her articles. They are always buzzing. I just think if she took a second so see the wood for the trees and then blogged on her thoughts, she could advance her cause far further without the obvious tribalism…

  • Anon E Mouse

    scandalousbill – Finally (have a good weekend btw dude) check this link on arthritis:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthritis

    Should a person eating as many pies as John Prescott really be treated the same as those wretched individuals?

  • scandalousbill

    Anon.

    You say,

    “Should a person eating as many pies as John Prescott really be treated the same as those wretched individuals?”

    Did you mean Eric Pickles?

    Enjoy the sunshine!

  • http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com Sue Marsh

    Anon E Mouse – You asked me a straight question and I gave you a straight answer. Your incessantly antagonistic responses do nothing to further your arguments.

  • Anon E Mouse

    scandoulousbill – Actually both as I posted earlier!

    Have a good one…

  • Anon E Mouse

    Sue Marsh – Have a good Easter – hope the kids and the chicken pox have cleared up.

    (Actually the question was about the heroin addict but hey…)

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  • http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com Sue Marsh

    Thanks Anon E Mouse you too.

    Heroin addicts have just as many reasons for A) Falling into dependency and B) Remaining addicted as alcoholics. If you’ve ever known anyone battle with heroin demons (as I have) you’d know that nothing is ever clear cut.

    Surely we’re talking about failures of society here? The ONLY way to sort them out is to address them and tackle the route causes. Throwing them off benefits will not help at all – you’ll just have the same people living on the streets and committing more crimes.

    They need rehab, counselling, support and understanding. However much people may want to pillory them, it won’t stop a single person drinking or taking drugs.

  • http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/ joe kane

    “joe kane – From your response I would guess you have never lived in an inner city council estate where you hold your breath every time you get home hoping you haven’t been robbed by a drug addict. Again.”
    – Where I live has nothing to do with my arguments – in the same way, these right-wing corporate newspaper propaganda fantasies you choose to parrot have nothing to do with the reality of the problems created with living in a modern society, which can be solved by that self-same society, if it so chooses in a responsible and caring way because it already has the wealth, skills and resources to do so.

    As for psychobabble, I’ll leave that to you and your nostrums about what is and isn’t unacceptable behaviour, and what is and isn’t criminal behaviour. The most lethal drug in history is tobacco, which is perfectly legal. The next most lethal is alcohol. Again, perfectly legal. The problems they create have nothing to do with illegality of use. The problems associated with modern processed food having nothing to do with criminality. Same with sedentary living.

    “This attitude is the reason that disability campaigners are just not taken seriously by governments, either left wing or right wing like Labour and the Tories.”
    – I don’t know anyone who supports criminals and their illegal activities. To claim that addiction, which is an illness, is about morality is the ethics of the medieval world, which associated illness, plagues etc, to morality and the presence of devils and witches. Hence the witch-hunts and scapegoating of sick and disabled people today by the usual right-wing loony-bin corporate press.

    I also know that the ConDem Government’s policies are making people poorer, and their plans to make public service workers unemployed is going to create huge social problems associated with increasing poverty. Claiming this isn’t so is nothing but more right-wing lies.

    The government does take seriously disabled campaigners otherwise it wouldn’t indulge in vast government-news media campaigns of lies, demonisation and scapegoating. If it was a simple matter of using arguments which stick to the facts, the government and its obedient chorus in the right-wing corporate news media would be silent, as they have no arguments which stand a moments scrutiny, as your intellectually bereft comments more than illustrate.

    If there is one thing that can be said about modern western society is that many of its greatest social problems are directly associated with unequal distribution of wealth and justice. Hence the reason Britain is almost in a league of its own compared to other Western European states in terms of wealth distribution and the scale of its poverty and the problems that come with it. The largest area of deprivation in Western Europe is just up the road from me, East Glasgow, which has social indicators comparable to some Third World countries. It has such social and medical problems precisely because of deprivation and neglect, not because of the personal morality of the people who live there.

    Claiming the British government’s has no responsibility when it comes to the social well-being and welfare of its own citizens, that it can be left to some kind of self-regulation, I would have thought to have been discredited given what such neoliberalism has done to the property and then the financial markets.

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Mouse accuses me of misinformation but doesn’t point out what except to say that I am the one making assumptions about people.

    It is Anon E Mouse who is making assumptions about obese IB claimants, of which there are 2,060 if you include ESA and SDA. There are between 4,000 to 5,000 people with Prader-Willi Syndrome in the UK; they will make up a significant portion of those listed under obesity in the figures.

    The Mail, Sun, Express and Coalition narrative on these figures relies entirely on assumptions about those claiming for those conditions. The bubble is popped by unmentioned facts which when mentioned make people like Mouse throw a tantrum because their passive-aggressive charade falls apart.

  • Phil

    @ Sue Marsh.
    Good article! … and in general you do a great job in speaking out as you do.
    Very briefly, may I share a few thoughts :
    a) it wouldn’t harm disability groups to talk about the Tax & Benefits system, as one entity with two arms to it. This government has chosen to have fewer HMRC Inspectors and to take a soft line on tax avoidance (with the odd piece of tough rhetoric on tax evasion). This reveals the Conservatives’ true attitude to the “hard-working taxpayer”, about whom they claim to care.

    b) The Conservatives have a commitment to reduce Inheritance Tax, and a desire to reduce the 50p top-rate Income Tax, Corporation Tax and Capital Gains Tax, to help the very rich to become even richer. To achieve their aims later in this Parliament, this government first has to reduce spending on the low-paid, people with a disability or chronic ill-health, the unemployed, the middle class, women, children, teenagers & students – and accordingly it chooses the areas for cuts (welfare and public sector services, in particular). The talk about reducing the deficit is merely a smokescreen, an attempt to minimise the amount of unpopularity their agenda would otherwise create.

    c) from comments made below blogs, it appears that there are hard-working taxpayers out there who think, very naively, that any reduction in the total welfare bill would mean a reduction in taxes for the many. No, it won’t. The tax burden on the middle classes and employed workers will still be what it is, including the VAT increase and the various other measures taken by Osborne. Those who stand to gain tax advantages from welfare cuts will be the wealthy. So, in real terms, what is planned is a transfer of monies (yes, out of the hard-earned taxes of the many) from the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society to the wealthiest. Thus, rather than a specious discussion of “deserving poor” versus “undeserving poor”, the real debate should be “adequate welfare system” versus “less taxes paid by the very wealthiest”.

  • Anon E Mouse

    joe kane – If you feel the urge to respond why don’t you respond to what I’ve said instead of just incoherently ranting here.

    I subscribe The Times and read the comments sections of Guardian and Independent – I do not read or subscribe to the views of The Daily Mail and not just because of Gordon Browns links to it. It just so happens that my view coincides with the majority view in this country. I do not believe heroin addiction is as valid a “disability” as an MS sufferer.

    Tobacco and alcohol are both legal substances on which taxes are paid on consumption. To attempt to bring these items into your post is fine but has nothing to do with illegal drug addiction. If my Grandmother hadn’t died they wouldn’t have buried her. It’s the same thing and meaningless. You are answering points only you have made.

    I never mentioned the government making people poorer you did.

    Prove the government is involved in what you describe as “lies” by the right wing media please.

    The gap between rich and poor increased under Labour – this government raising the Tax threshold does exactly the opposite. Labour removed the 10p tax rate so I assume you must detest that party eh?

    Finally I never mentioned the responsibility of the government in these matters. You did…

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You are still posting misleading comments regarding claims I haven’t made then criticising me for those same things.

    To be clear it was you that claimed that people with PWS were the same as the ones I mentioned. I didn’t mention those people. It was you who compared those with a genetic disorder to those choosing obesity by their life style choices.

    I think to compare the two in unfair on the PWS sufferer and you devalue their illness with such spiteful comparisons. I even illustrated my point by mentioning the number of pies eaten by John Prescott and Eric Pickles – very considerable I feel.

    What is disappointing is that you believe that self inflicted conditions should be treated equally as unfortunate people with disabilities, including the genetic disorder you introduced and I responded to.

    I believe in personal responsibility and do not think the two cases are equal, otherwise the position is that people could simply start troughing the pies and be treated the same as faultless individuals with genetic disorders.

    You display a very uncaring attitude Mason Dixon, Autistic…

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    You’re a caricature Mouse, projecting every fault you have onto others.

    I quoted you saying you didn’t want to hear about “the reasons they eat to much” and pointed out a very clear example of why you don’t want to hear it: it’s inconvenient.

    I am not the one making assumptions about people; I am not the one making sweeping assumptions that people with addictions and obesity on IB are cases of ‘self-inflicted’ problems. Some will be, some won’t be; but neither of us have the information available to determine by what degree. So why assume? Ass.

  • http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/ joe kane

    #45
    Obviously you don’t want to be taken seriously and are just a right-wing troll, but I’ll just make a few points for the benefit of others.

    “joe kane – If you feel the urge to respond why don’t you respond to what I’ve said instead of just incoherently ranting here.”
    – Such personal attacks are typical of internet trolls, so is ignoring their own accusations and then responding as if they didn’t believe them.

    “I never mentioned the government making people poorer you did.”
    – Well spotted. It is part of my argument that many modern ailments are caused by poverty and not by personal morals, as you and your fellow pre-industrial, pre-modern Conservatives claim. The social problems that come with a modern wealth technologically advanced society can also be solved by it quite easily if it so chooses to do so. Ignoring them or blaming them on individuals doesn’t make them go away.

    “Tobacco and alcohol are both legal substances on which taxes are paid on consumption. To attempt to bring these items into your post is fine but has nothing to do with illegal drug addiction.”
    – Just to remind you, it as you seem to have forgotten, it was the ConDem Government which brought drug addiction into the debate about welfare. It is that I am responding to. Maybe you don’t believe such right-wing lies and propaganda after all. Who knows what you’re talking about, as you can’t seem to keep up a coherent and consistent argument from one comment to the next.

    “I never mentioned the government making people poorer you did.”
    – Again, well spotted. I make this point for a reason which you will find in my arguments if you care to address them instead of letting me know what it is I have written.
    Increasing poverty through deliberate government policy will only cause more crime. More poverty causes more ill health. If Cameron is so concerned about either then why is he doing so much to make sure both will increase?

    “Finally I never mentioned the responsibility of the government in these matters. You did…”
    – I know I did, again well spotted. This is supposed to be a discussion about government policy choices and government propaganda disseminated in support of thought policies, or maybe you hadn’t noticed and thought it was all about you and your barely coherent thoughts.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You are still doing it. Please tell me where I mentioned anything about the reasons people eat too much.

    You attempted to use an unchosen genetic disorder to forward your flawed position that a lifestyle choice was the same thing. No one reading this blog believes it is the same thing because it obviously isn’t.

    Your initial comment was a stupid remark. Everybody reading it knew that was the case. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would have immediately withdrawn the comment and apologised. For some reason you seem unable to admit you are wrong and continue flapping around, clutching at straws and looking silly in the process.

    To be clear Mason Dixon, Autistic: You may consider that genetic disorders are the same as lifestyle choices but in common with everybody else I do not.

    It is offensive to compare unchosen medical disabilities with lazy, fat, pie eaters and unfair on PWS victims…

  • Anon E Mouse

    joe kane – This government will decrease poverty by changing the tax system in the opposite direction to Labour to the benefit of the worker. Removing 10p Tax by Labour hit minimum wage workers like myself, in the pocket. I now have more of my own money and if an unemployed person finds work so will they.

    Since you consider my responses barely coherent please feel free to ignore them – I won’t be offended….

  • George Lamb

    Anon and others who support “Personal responsibility” or the idea of any Fraud being despicable waste of tax payers money.
    Lets cut the bull shall we and jump to the conclusion of this discussion. Some not all (and I will not get in to emotive use of stats that frankly do not exist) will under your regime be judged “fit to work” as a result of having a condition that is more to do with how they live their life than any outside factors. They will lose benefit from the DWP and local authority, depending on a huge number of factors including where they live, if they have support networks, access to non work related income, the provision of effective and adequate work and personal related support, in short become in the old meaning of the word “destitute”.
    I would contend that some of these after a period of time will die, a significant number choosing to do so through suicide. Others will die through complications from their already existing health issues; others will spiral out of control dying as a result of new diseases and health problems. The main point is that they will be dead. Is this the policy that you advocate yes or no?
    You may try to obfuscate with arguments that suppose my outcomes will not take place. However you already argue that some people are so weak morally or in personnel integrity that they claim benefits for “non illnesses” so to extrapolate your own theory some of the benefits cheats will not posses what it takes to find and hold employment. Hence they will die probably only after being a drain on other state resources, like health care, police, and charities that receive funding from central or local government in other words your pocket and the pocket of other tax payers. So go on explain why these people need to die, and then explain why you and other hard pressed tax payers should get to choose who dies.

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    “You are still doing it. Please tell me where I mentioned anything about the reasons people eat too much.”

    You didn’t and I never said you did; my point was the opposite, that you ignore the reasons and openly stated you didn’t want to hear about them. Helps if you actually read what people write rather than parse text and fill in the blanks with your imagination.

    At no point here have I stated however that lifestyle choices are comparable with genetic conditions. That is entirely your invention projected onto me. You accuse others of exactly your own faults.

  • http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/ joe kane

    #50
    “Since you consider my responses barely coherent please feel free to ignore them – I won’t be offended….”
    – Now you’re merely repeating what I say about you back to me. The mark of a troll.

    I’ll say it again, I care about the victims of right-wing propaganda spread by abusive anti-social internet trolls. What your feelings are are of no consequence.

    What the Labour Government did or didn’t do is of no consequence in this thread about the ConDem Government’s policies of blaming the increasing social problems it is creating on the victims of its unnecessary welfare spending cuts.

    Economic inequality in the West has been on the increase ever since Thatcherite-Reagan neoliberalism was introduced.

    To claim this government “will” decrease poverty with its continuation of the exact same neoliberal economic policies which has only increased poverty and inequality and produced vast public and personal debt balloons is arrant nonsense and right-wing propaganda.

    You claimed ‘addiction’ had nothing to do with this discussion about Tories claiming drug addicts are sponging off the taxpayers – now you are claiming the tax system will decrease poverty and increase employment. What changes to the tax system has to do with ConDem Government propaganda designed to justify its welfare spending cuts aimed at sick, ill and disabled people I’ve no idea.

  • Anon E Mouse

    joe kane – This government has already taken more people out of poverty with it’s tax changes than the party I supported my whole life pre Gordon Brown did in 13 years.

    You can rant and rave about about markets and waffle on about Reagan blah blah. You can even use sixth form student terms like ConDems (please) but the facts speak for themselves and minimum wage workers like myself have more of our money than we did under Labour.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – Comment 21 you said: “Like those with Prader-Willi Syndrome?” with reference to my obesity comment.

    Your remark was a crude attempt to try to undermine my perfectably reasonable remark about obesity caused not by a genetic disorder but by overeating. That’s why I mentioned the fat, croquet playing Lord Prescott and the number of pies he eats.

    There is a saying about being in hole and stopping digging Mason Dixon, Autistic. It’s probably time for you to stop now and move along. There’s nothing to see here and a PWS sufferer would not like you to compare their condition with a person eating the pies….

  • BenM

    Oh dear.

    Anon E Mouse doesn’t do stats.

    That clanging sound is Mouse’s credibility being chucked in the trash can.

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  • Anon E Mouse

    BenM – The clanging sound was of people’s jaws hitting the table in expressions of incredulity at your remark.

    (I guessed it couldn’t have been your intellect rattling in your skull). I love stats BenM and regarding the last election on this very fine blog I recently posted:

    Labour’s worst performance in a general election since 1918.
    More seats were lost than at any general election since 1931.
    The Conservatives achieved their second biggest swing from Labour since Thatcher in 1979.
    2% more than Michael Foot in 1983 – 3% less than John Major in his landslide defeat of 1997.
    Over 4000 councillors lost since Tony Blair’s election as Labour leader.
    No government has lost so many votes/ percentage points as Labour 1997 and 2010.
    Five million voters lost since 1st May 1997.
    More people voted Conservative in Wales than Labour for the first time ever.
    Gordon Brown was the least popular Prime Minister since records began.
    The PLP never elected Brown or Miliband. Or the Labour Party members.
    The biggest budget deficit in British peacetime history was inflicted on this country under Labour.
    The Labour Party owes in excess of £24million – it’s bust.

    I don’t do stats? Please. The remark was about Mason Dixon, Autistic claiming eating as many pies as Lord Prescott was no different than the genetic disorder, PWS. I say it is very different.

    Anyway normally you avoid my questions on this great blog BenM but do you think self inflicted obesity is equivalent to a genetic disorder?

  • Clare Fernyhough

    The point of the article above was to demonstrate how accurate facts are withheld in order to manipulate public opinion. By all means, we should know all of the statistics, including those concerning alcoholics and drug users, but let them be accurate at least. Moreover, we need a completely different and positive approach to welfare that does not stigmatise any claimant. I apologise in advance for the length of comment, but it is something I feel passionate about.

    Whether you have a genuine health problem, you are unemployed, or you have an alcohol/drug problem, the idea of ‘welfare’ is that it achieves just that. A dictionary definition of welfare states: 1: The good fortune, health, happiness, prosperity, etc., of a person, group, or organization; well-being: to look after a child’s welfare; the physical or moral welfare of society. 2: Financial or other assistance to an individual or family from a city, state, or national government. 3: A governmental agency that provides funds and aid to people in need, especially those unable to work. There is much more to the concept of welfare than financial aid, and the current and proposed system will continue to fail because it does not address this concept. For example, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with people receiving benefits, whatever their circumstances, if those benefits and the systems in place to administer them empowered people to change their life course, providing the individual with happiness and good fortune, and in doing so benefiting communities as a whole: this would be genuine welfare reform.

    There is no doubt that there is a small percentage of claimants who have been able to trick the system, but how they have actually been able to do so remains a mystery to me. As someone with a genuine health problem, I can assure people that there is absolutely no way that someone would have been signed off work long term with some of the trivial health problems described. Anyone who has been through the process both during the period under the Labour Government and this Government, will tell you just how difficult it is to obtain any support even when you have legitimate health problems. I have been chronically ill for 14 years and I have suffered much deprivation as a result. At the beginning I was given full support, but then after 18 months, despite my condition becoming worse, that support was removed (I have an undiagnosed neurological condition). I kept trying to go back into work, but after only a few weeks I would be very ill, and after a few months I would be near to collapse. I would then try to claim disability benefits again, but without success even though my G.P. made it clear that I was not capable of working. I was allowed ‘income support at a sick person’ which was no more than JSA, but at least it meant that I was spared having to look for work; often I had to sell anything of value in my possession in order to buy food however. Eventually I was forced back into work out of desperation since I would be in arrears with all utilities and I was basically starving. The cycle just continued until finally I had a massive deterioration 5 years ago. I was left without any income for 2 months; often I just had bread to eat. At that point I called social services and asked to be put into a care home. It was then that they stepped in and I finally received the practical and financial support I needed. With that support I was able to finish a degree and work professionally part time doing jobs that were less strenuous than the unskilled jobs I had before. Unfortunately, I had another deterioration 2 years ago that made it impossible to continue working. The point I’m making here is that it has never been easy for the disabled to obtain disability benefits, let alone someone with no apparent health problem.

    During those 9 years of absolute hell when I was trying to work and obtain a degree, I was aware of individuals in my community who gained full disability benefits for drug and alcohol abuse. I can’t tell you how hurt and angry that made me feel; it just wasn’t fair. I was working and studying, and spending the rest of the time in bed. I rarely even had the energy to bathe. Nevertheless, many of these peoples’ addictions are rooted in serious depression, which we should take account of if we are truly serious about peoples’ ‘welfare’. I knew one of these people personally from a time years ago when I was canvassing in the area. He was a drunk yes, but a very damaged and tormented soul. He was a gentle and kind young man. Unfortunately, he died about 5 years ago, as many alcoholics do. The other woman I have in mind was a close friend at one time. We worked together as waitresses in a motorway café. She was married to a farm hand and had her own house and car. Her marriage fell apart and she lost everything. She fell in with a bad crowd and ended up a drunk and a heroin addict, regularly beaten by partners. She will probably die early too. No one helped that man or enabled him to change his life; similarly the woman. She is vilified in the community; no one cares or even if they do, they don’t know how to help.

    On the other hand though there must be many addicts out there who play the system, and many who just don’t want to work. Whatever their backgrounds, rather than removing their benefits, successive governments should have made rehab and counselling a condition of receiving them, helping them work towards becoming independent adults. Most will never work again however because of the physical damage drink and drugs cause. If these people are then migrated onto JSA though, as anyone will understand who has attempted to live on it, the money barely pays utility costs let alone food and other personal necessary items. The temptation for many would be to slip back into a life of crime; many former prison inmates face just the same problem. It is a cycle which is hardly ever broken.

    Governments are not willing to invest in the programmes to enable such people to re-engage with society, partly because these programmes cost so much. For example, there have been trial projects where social workers and mentors work intensively with problem families and they have achieved great success, but in these times of austerity, it is unlikely that the government will approve further funding for such projects as they are very expensive. Even before the current cuts, rehab places were very limited; no doubt many centres will close over the next few years. It does make you wonder what would happen if we were to invest in such projects all over the country as opposed to bearing the long term cost of keeping people in prison, costs to the NHS, costs to communities in terms of policing problem estates and repairing the damage caused, cost to insurance companies due to robbery , and of course, the long term cost to the state in terms of welfare payments.

    The whole idea of what ‘welfare’ stands for could be changed within current systems, which would completely remove the idea that the majority of claimants are somehow ‘scrounging’. I detest how successive governments threatened and initiated all sorts of ‘work programmes’. I remember friends in the 80s who were forced to work full time on pointless projects that did nothing to advance their employability. They were treated with a great amount of disrespect within communities and by those who oversaw the work programmes. Currently, they want to force people to work full time for what would amount to less than minimum wage, which is tantamount to slave labour. As it stands, claimants are paid by the government for doing nothing. Why can’t this just be seen as an actual wage, not a benefit? A wage in return for an equal amount of work, perhaps a couple of days per week, whatever work that may be. No one would be considered unemployed. Communities across the country need improvements and again, even before the cuts this was the case. There is so much in my community that needs attending to. If claimants were mobilised to provide such help, keeping in mind that they shouldn’t actually be used to replace traditionally paid positions, real progress could be made. Couple that with training or education in areas of employment that this country requires (the ‘green revolution’ perhaps?) and self employment support for those not suitable for such training for another couple of days a week and each claimant would be engaged in something worthwhile. Since no one can live on JSA they should be allowed to earn something on top of that to supplement their incomes. I am chronically disabled and housebound. Time and again on disability forums we have said that we all have computers or laptops and a phone, and would be prepared to work even from our beds for an hour or two a day in return for our benefits if suitably flexible work could be found for us. People have even written to the DWP to ask if this would be possible; they have received no reply.

    In conclusion if we are allowed to earn this ‘government wage’, we wouldn’t be scroungers; we would have a sense of dignity and purpose. Imagine over a generation how this could transform our country. I sometimes feel that successive governments would rather encourage the status quo so that benefit claimants become the natural scapegoat for this country’s ills, and in doing so, it redirects peoples’ focus away from the continual incompetencies of Governments in general, and away from those in society who are really to blame for the financial nightmare we now find ourselves in. We also should note that even in boom times, there are never millions of jobs available. At the moment there are only around 500,000 UK job vacancies (600,000 during boom periods), so there will never be enough jobs for the millions of unemployed and disabled. Governments are aware of this of course, but there has never been a serious attempt at solving this dichotomy. It is about time then that we had an honest debate about welfare especially since another million people are about to join the ranks of the unemployed. Has no one even thought of offering some of these people who work in the public sector an opportunity to continue to work in the job, albeit at much reduced hours equivalent to the JSA amount? I know of people prepared to do this so that they can maintain their workplace skills and because they love their job. If that were not possible they also have many skills that could be used to train the unemployed, which would save the government money since they wouldn’t be paying excessive amounts to private companies that are about to take over the administration of the work programmes. There are real opportunities here then to use the unemployed to administer their own programmes and save the government money to boot.

    People are being manipulated by the media every day with regard to this issue and it is only right that people like Sue Marsh continue to expose such propaganda so that we can have a candid debate in regard to the facts, not the fiction designed to divide us.

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    “Your remark was a crude attempt to try to undermine my perfectably reasonable remark about obesity caused not by a genetic disorder but by overeating. That’s why I mentioned the fat, croquet playing Lord Prescott and the number of pies he eats. ”

    No, my remark was in response to your statement that you were not interested in the reasons why people with ‘self-inflicted’ conditions as I have explicitly made clear and you have repeatedly preferred your own made-up version of what my opinion is to my actual stated opinion. The full facts are inconvenient to your entire case which presume that those with addictions or obesity are mostly undeserving when you do not have the evidence on hand to make such a presumption.

    You have lied repeatedly and when caught out, your response is to lie even more.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Clare Fernyhough – It would be hard to disagree with an awful lot of your post and personally I don’t – particularly your last couple of paragraphs where you articulate a possible solution to this problem.

    The main problem is there is simply no money available in this country to look after everybody who claims disability benefits. The last government has left the country bust with it’s reckless spending on public services and now we have to pick up the tab for that.

    All right wing governments, Labour or Conservative, are in the same position. The only reason things looked good for Labour was the worldwide economic boom benefitted them on the tax take.

    I would far rather the country spend it’s money on looking after the genuinely disabled than on stupid non jobs like Climate Control Outreach Project Co-ordinators – whatever they are.

    But I would also like those in genuine need, clearly like Sue Marsh and yourself, to be differentiated from people such as the obese who can be “cured” by eating less. That self inflicted obesity devalues real disabilities people suffer from.

    Finally people need to realise that papers like the Daily Mail or The Sun are the most popular on sale in Britain – The Daily Mirror and The Guardian are only read by a tiny minority (I refuse to read The Guardian because of the tax avoidance it engages in whilst criticising the bankers for less avoidance than they themselves commit).

    Therefore unless an appeal is made which chimes with those readers, it simply will not work. It’s why Blair did so well and Miliband will do so badly.

    Sue Marsh’s daft headlines to her otherwise thoughtful articles and the worthy subjects on which she writes, devalue the otherwise excellent points she makes. In fairness she doesn’t always write these headlines, just the articles.

    I feel there needs to be a discrimination between those in genuine need and those with “curable” self inflicted illness such as obesity or illegal drug addiction. What is disappointing though is that some of the contributors here seem more concerned with the formation of some childish socialist state which hands out money to people than real care and help for those less fortunate than ourselves…

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You attempted to compare peoples weight problems through straight forward gluttony (like Lord Prescott eating all the pies) with people suffering from the genetic disorder PWS which can present as obesity.

    Please reread the post you made at Comment 21 and explain where I have “been caught out” lying as you so rudely put it.

    My position is fat, pie eating inflicted obesity, exemplified by the likes of Lord Prescott or Baroness Billingham is not the same as a genetic disorder. One can be cured by eating less food and taking exercise and the other cannot…

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Anon E Mouse, I did no such thing and that is where you are being caught out being a blatant liar.

    Having explained to you what part of your ramblings I was responding to, you’ve rejected this and given no reason except to keep re-asserting your strawman.

    My position is that your argument in relation to the addiction and obesity figures for IB that were the recent news item rely on a presumption about those claimants. I pointed out the very obvious reason why you expressed that you had no wish to hear about the reasons why they might engage in ‘self-inflicted’ behaviour; which was that a more fuller picture of the facts was inconvenient to your argument.

    This is demonstrably true, which is why you have resorted to lying about what my position is.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You continue to be openly dishonest.

    A person suffering from the genetic disorder PWS will not be receiving IB for anything other than that condition.

    Please read what Sue Marsh wrote regarding people’s first claim on the form, reread what you wrote in Comment 21 and stop comparing big fat pie eaters like Lord Prescott with a serious disability (instead of a lack of willpower where fattening food is concerned).

    You keep acusing me of something I haven’t said and YOU presume that pie eaters like Lord Prescott would list obesity rather than a genuine genetic illness on a claims form. You have no evidence they wouldn’t tell the truth about their situation and the suggestion is ludicrous.

    Someone either has a genetic disorder or they do not. To suggest you know better than individual suffers shows an arrogance that is frankly shocking.

    You should stop your posts now Mason Dixon, Autistic because your comparison of PWS and obesity is a disgrace and you should feel shame for making your remarks. This isn’t a game you know. Real people’s lives are affected and people with your attitude belong in another era frankly. I have no intention of continuing a debate whilst you hold such horrible views belittling genuine people with disabilities…

  • BenM

    Anon E Mouse

    One stat I like is this one: Conservatives 307 seats. They couldn’t muster a small majority against a Prime Minister generally regarded as awful.

    Now Brown is gone and the Lib Dems have sold their soul, Labour are in the strange position of simply being able to out poll the Tories without really doing much. That would be a delicious irony.

    After all, the Tories struggle to poll much above 37pc even now – against an opposition you class as useless.

    Sure, the Tories are hell bent on gerrymandering the seat boundaries, but that would seal the Lib Dems failure and their electoral fate too.

    As for your other query – I don’t particularly much care for distinctions between self inflicted injury or not. All I know is we are human beings, with all attendant flaws attached. And that we are more than capable of collectively mitigating against stupidity and sheer bad luck through a strong welfare state and health service.

    Rightwing propaganda that only pretends otherwise is not grounded in evidence, economics or finance.

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Anon E Mouse,

    “A person suffering from the genetic disorder PWS will not be receiving IB for anything other than that condition. ”

    This is patently incorrect and as I have already told you, you do not have the evidence on hand to make this kind of presumption about IB claimants. I for one would not list Autism as primary disability unless specifically directed to do so and I did not on my DLA form; listing instead sensory issues specifically. People with genetic or pervasive neurological disorders will tend to do this because they can’t distinguish their condition from themselves, just their difficulties as they experience them.

    Your passive-aggressive crocodile tears aside I have quoted exactly what you said, that you do not want to hear about the possible underlying causes of a condition, which may in fact turn out to be a symptom of something else:

    “Why on earth wouldn’t you want more money to go to those in genuine need like MS sufferers and less to greedy fat self inflicted obese people.

    And please don’t start the “let’s look at the reasons they eat to much” stuff.”

    You however have not been able to directly quote what you claim I have said because I never did say anything at all resembling your strawman. Despite repeatedly correcting you on my position, with evidence, you believe you know my opinion better than I do. It is hard to believe you a genuine contributor here in good faith for debating purposes, rather than persistent troll with nothing better to do.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – Why you continue this I do not understand. Please reread your comment at 21 – you brought up PWS not me. Let’s not drift off onto another illness like autism please – your post was made regarding PWS – it’s your discussion Mason Dixon, Autistic and you are quite simply wrong.

    You continue to suggest that someone with a genetic disorder would make an IB claim for another illness, in your example obesity.

    That is frankly a stupid suggestion and the only reason I can see is that you want to be awkward and try to look clever. By continuing to reinforce your silly position you are having the opposite effect.

    I believe that people with genetic disorders would make a claim based on that disability and not something else. Why would they?

    I believe that people are usually honest but your suggestion, without any evidence whatsoever, is that they would try to claim for something other illness and I just don’t believe that.

    You can flounder on and on about this and that but you made the initial stupid comment not me. Please reread your comment at 21 – you brought up PWS not me…

  • Anon E Mouse

    BenM – Nice for you to acknowledge that I do do stats – thank you. Maybe the clanging noise was you slapping your forehead in resignation when you realise I’m right? (again).

    You say that Labour are polling ahead of the government and so they should. Leaving aside Blair polled 20% ahead without the cuts, pointing out the minuscule lead Labour has shows just how bad Miliband is.

    You are right on the boundary changes – they will benefit the Tories and my favoured choice, the Lib Dems. So Labour has an even bigger mountain to climb but without a 10% minimum lead and without voters in the South East and Worcester Woman, they are doomed.

    The SNP is going to cane them in Scotland and the latest IpsosMori Poll puts Labour neck and neck with the government: http://www6.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2011/04/20/the-tories-reach-post-election-high-with-mori/

    That is 3% higher than the Tories polled at the General Election.

    How long before Labour Party members wake up and realise that without the hapless and unelectable Ed Miliband they may have a chance because as it currently stands there is no credible opposition to the government in this country. And btw Mori’s latest poll agree with me on Ed Miliband and say:

    “Ed Miliband (36%) is less popular than Nick Clegg (41%)! They’re both equal on 51% for the proportion of the public who do not like them. The common narrative is that Nick Clegg is the most reviled man in Britain – this poll tells a different story”

    The link is: http://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/153397/eyebrow-raising-poll-figures-for-ed-miliband-and-george-osborne.thtml

    If you need any more stats just holler and perhaps instead of denying the truth do you think Labour activists and supporters may be better being positive about the party instead of all this anti government stuff which clearly isn’t working…

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  • http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/ joe kane

    #54

    You can rant and rave about about markets and waffle on about Reagan blah blah. You can even use sixth form student terms like ConDems (please) but the facts speak for themselves and minimum wage workers like myself have more of our money than we did under Labour.

    ps
    Don’t forget that the Tory Party in Scotland is on 10% of the vote.

  • http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/ joe kane

    #54
    “You can rant and rave about about markets and waffle on about Reagan blah blah.”
    – I wouldn’t expect any other response but such animal noises from someone like mouse, who because they can’t understand simple arguments about the effects of decades of Reaganite-Thatcherite neoliberal economics and social problems associate with them, can’t answer arguments based on such simple correlations.

    “You can even use sixth form student terms like ConDems (please) but the facts speak for themselves and minimum wage workers like myself have more of our money than we did under Labour.”
    – If your facts speak for themselves then where are they to prove that economic inequality in the UK has, all of a sudden, reversed itself under the ConDem Government after decades of growth, and economic stagnation for most people, since Thatcher and Reagan?

    ps
    Just to remind the ever forgetful mouse, that the Tory Party in Scotland is on barely more than 10% of the vote. It used to get 50% once upon a time.
    So much for other parties getting a ‘cane’ from the SNP when your own has been effectively destroyed in Scotland and the Labour Party is three times more popular. I think the Scottish Tories would be quite satisfied with the kind of support the Labour Party gets in Scotland.

  • Anon E Mouse

    joe kane – The only animal noises I hear are the low groans of disbelief at your remarks regarding Reagan and the fact that he turned round the US economy with his ideas – Reaganomics if you like (Along with finishing the hated Soviet Union by putting arms along their borders).

    Whilst you complain about that system – capitalism basically – why aren’t you livid that Labour, with the kind of majority governments can only dream of, continued along that path?

    Being a Labour voter I was more than happy up until 2001 when it became apparent that Labour didn’t actually have a clue on the economy. Not just from continuing the hopeless PFI or increasing public services beyond any economic sustainability, or even the selling of our gold reserves at a historic low but because of the blatant lies from the terminally useless Gordon Brown.

    This country was lead on a merry dance by Brown with the support of the right wing press (Daily Mail in particular) and crazy comments like “Ending Boom and Bust” along with rewarding more financial “experts” with honours than any government in history says it all.

    Any complaints you have regarding your “neoliberal economics” should be aimed directly at Labour and their lack of ideas about how to run an economy.

    “ConDem” is just childish – almost as much as your comment about “economic stagnation” – what planet are you living on joe kane? Did you actually miss the economic bubble the world has just gone through?

    PS Just to remind the ever delusional joe kane of two easy statistics. In either the UK government or the Scottish government Labour is not in power and with the leaders in each party it is unlikely they will be. As a (now) Lib Dem supporter I really don’t care what the Tories in Scotland poll just the fact he is more popular than the hapless Ed Miliband:

    “Ed Miliband (36%) is less popular than Nick Clegg (41%)! They’re both equal on 51% for the proportion of the public who do not like them. The common narrative is that Nick Clegg is the most reviled man in Britain – this poll tells a different story”

    The link is: http://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/153397/eyebrow-raising-poll-figures-for-ed-miliband-and-george-osborne.thtml

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