Is there any cruelty the right-wing papers won't endorse?
Is there any cruelty the right-wing press won’t endorse?
Today they cheer on work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith as he promises to close the ‘disability employment gap’ – a nice IngSoc term for ‘make sick people work, they’re only faking or being lazy anyway’.
His plans to ‘reform’ (read: destroy) the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and tests for sickness benefits could be dangerous. As the Times reports today, the charity Mind said four out of five Jobseekers’ Allowance claimants with mental health problems found Duncan Smith’s back-to-work schemes ‘made their mental health worse or much worse’.
On Thursday IDS will finally reveal how many people have died after having their disability benefits cut or stopped.
Despite all this, most of the Tory rags think his latest wheeze is a grand idea.
The Daily Mail is pleased the government is tackling our ‘sicknote culture’, while the Telegraph was so excited it forgot to quote, or even acknowledge, any possible opposition from charities and campaigners. Not even the Mail or the Sun did that.
Speaking of the Sun, the country’s favourite paper complains that ‘only 90,000 people have come off sickness benefit’, and says of IDS:
“Work and pensions secretary Mr Duncan Smith is a man the Left love to hate. But that says far more about them than it does about him.
As today’s changes show, he is dealing with the dependency culture created by Labour that has trapped so many people on benefits.”
It will come as news to people who cannot work because of illness, and who rely on state support to live, that they are ‘trapped on benefits’, or that they should hate the Labour party for making them ‘dependent’.
The argument IDS makes – parroted by the press – is that the options ‘fit’ and ‘unfit for work’ are too narrow, and that some people can work a bit, or do some kind of work.
No doubt attempts to remedy this will be administered with his trademark care and transparency.
But perhaps only 90,000 out of over 2 million have been kicked off sickness benefit because many people really are sick and need those benefits.
This seems too much for Iain Duncan Smith to process. To him, they aren’t working and they should be.
If there are other points of view, he’s unlikely to find them in newspapers so abject they won’t even scrutinise his policies.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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