Sunday, 24 July 2011

ESA is Corrupt - Will we ignore that too?

I don't know if you saw this extraordinary article in the Telegraph, "I'm starting to think That the Left Might Actually be Right" but when right wing journalists start to seriously question free markets and de-regulation, something has shifted seismically in our political landscape.

Before lefties get too excited, I don't think for a moment that scores of Tories are about to start voting Labour. The article is more nuanced than that. It's also brave.

In the last couple of years it's got clearer and clearer that our establishment and the institutions within it have corruption running through them like a stick of Brighton rock. MPs expenses, our media, our police forces, our government, the Football Association, Banking, energy companies, the care service - it's now hard to think of a major institution that hasn't been rocked by scandal or exploitation.

But all too often, we forget why this matters. We get so caught up in the drama of the scandal itself, we forget who it's hurting. More importantly, the solutions rarely seem formed in the real world either and often leave us feeling even more disillusioned than before.

We are told that the MPs expenses scandal was dealt with. Almost any member of the public probably disagrees. Largely, we have no idea what convoluted legal technicalities parliament massaged its own ego with, but we know it hasn't changed anything. Because the public weren't concerned with the technicalities. They wanted to know why MPs earning over 60k a year got so much paid for in the first place. As ever, the media thought we cared about duck houses and second homes when actually we wanted to know why on earth they all get to claim for flat screen tellies and have their monthly food bill paid when the rest of us must pay for these things ourselves?

If parliament think the public are in any way reassured by their fudge, they're wrong. We just knew that it was yet another battle we'd lost, and we sighed another heavy sigh and went back to our resentment.

We are told that the bankers are now "paying their fair share". Again, I challenge our ruling class to find a single member of the public that agrees. The industry that gambled away our money, took stupid risks, influenced the very markets they were supposed to work within and in some cases, cheated people out of billions of pounds are sitting pretty in their Soho bars swilling Crystal and laughing til their sides hurt. This year, bonuses will be 14 billion. Meanwhile we appear to have underwritten their stupidity. While they bray and jeer, hospitals close, police officers and soldiers lose their jobs and disabled people must hand over their meagre support to keep the Range Rovers running.

The public are furious, make no mistake, but with our government complicit, our media corrupt and supportive and our police apparently all tied up in the same stinking mess, we sighed another impotent sigh and accepted what we could never change.

I could go on but you get the gist. Ordinary people up and down the country have known for a long time that they are powerless. Energy companies want to raise their prices by 20%? Well, we just have to pay it then. We have no faith that the regulator or government will stand up for us. Pensions cut? Benefits cut? Nothing you can do.

The phone hacking scandal was a breakthrough. Just for a second or two the scales seemed to fall from our eyes and oh-so-briefly the lid has been lifted on this Pandora's box of decay. The very interconnected nature of the phone hacking scandal showed people how the whole system has broken, not just small elements within it. Even more importantly, it took just a few small voices to make the breakthrough. Tom Watson and Chris Bryant and Hugh Grant and Max Mosely and a handful of others took on the mightiest powers and somehow after years of patient groundwork, they won.

But it was never a secret. Little changed other than the disgusting revelation that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked. Then the stories and testimony of those wronged was suddenly heard. It had been there all along, it had just been denied and covered up by the very people charged with protecting us. Finally David broke through and Goliath toppled, but it was just one small part of the jigsaw.

If you'll forgive the lengthy introduction, I want to relate this to my own battle.

Years ago campaigners told the then Labour government that Employment Support Allowance was wrong. Not just misguided or badly designed but cruelly and inherently wrong. No-one listened.

We told them that it was based on flawed research and assumptions. They ignored us.

We told them people were suffering. Not just a few, but millions of genuinely sick and disabled people. They simply deny it.

We told them too few people qualified. They used the media to discredit us. Endless stories of scroungers and skivers undermined our arguments, denied our evidence and covered up the victims. Despite these stories being found misleading or downright untrue, the PCC left us to fight alone. Huge private businesses were brought in to divert money from those in need to those with influence. They were lauded by those in power, reviled by those they were supposed to serve.

Stories of deaths have surfaced already as a direct result of sickness and disability policy. They are stories of anguish, despair and great hardship, but only the Guardian will print them.

These wonderful work programmes, designed to find us work fail too. Private companies are paid billions to "help us into work" yet their results are abysmal - in some cases just 8% successful, yet we continue to pay them money that could be supporting those who need it. More than that, politicians are content to roll them out across the country, despite the fact they fail.

We write our stories, we appear on TV and radio shows, we write to Ministers and MPs, we blog, we make videos, we forensically analyse every committee and House of Commons vote, but still, the politicians steam-roller through, ignoring, denying and covering up.

We expose a great injustice, they deny it. We produce tables showing how many people are going to be hurt, they discredit them. We try to warn the public that one day it will be them. One day, there will be no safety net at all if someone they love becomes sick or disabled, but the mighty cogs of the establishment grind into action to assure them all is well.

Our own David and Goliath battle will end as all the others. In a year or two, maybe more, the whole ESA house of cards will come crashing down and those in power will feign astonishment. They will say they weren't warned, they will say it was all done with the best intentions. Well they were warned, they just chose to look away. Everything is on record now and in every committee transcript, every edition of Hansard, there will be evidence, presented by me and hundreds like me to prove that we warned them from the start.

I am totally convinced that ESA and the Work Programmes associated with it will come to be seen as one of the greatest failures of a compassionate, democratic nation that we ever allowed to go unchecked. The news will be crammed  with an endless stream of people who are terribly unwell, dying in poverty and desperation. Today, I am seen as a radical, an eager voice with an axe to grind. In a few years, I and all the others trying to tell this story will briefly be the new Tom Watsons, but by then it will be too late.

I want to stop this now. I want politicians to halt ESA altogether and hold a full inquiry into the statistics, facts and evidence available. I want to convince them to listen now. Just for once, I want them to accept that perhaps those affected by their collusion know what they're talking about. We want to help them, not hamstring them, but we can't help if their arrogance makes them deaf and blind to our concerns.

Our case is building, just as Mr Watson's built. Today, over 270 charities have come together to threaten legal action. A further 50 charities have signed an open letter calling for an end to the defamation sick and disabled people are facing daily from the government through their tame media. Crisis have warned of sick and disabled people facing homelessness. Oxfam have warned of sick and disabled people facing poverty. The Unions have warned of sick and disabled people facing hardship. Scope have warned of a worrying rise in disability hate crime. Bloggers like me have tried to tell our stories honestly to highlight just how dreadful ESA is.

I wonder today if the game is nearly up? Perhaps people simply won't sit back any longer and sigh those sighs of disillusionment. Perhaps they will start to listen before it's too late. Certainly, I see no sign of that in government. When even the Minister for Disabilities, Maria Miller acts as a willing mouthpiece for propaganda and defamation of the very group she is elected to represent and champion, it looks unlikely.

They may not believe me today, but they can listen now or they can wait and deny and ignore until it's too late. They can deal with a shambolic, chaotic ESA today and accept that it was flawed from the start or they can deal with millions of desperate people in a year or two's time.

I imagine we all know which route they will take, but wouldn't it be nice, just for once, if they stopped and listened now. Before too many people got hurt?


  1. "One day there will be no safety net at all if someone they love becomes sick or disabled". These words should be repeated over and over.

    The system that accepted me in and helped me when i first became disabled would not accept me and help me now.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. I am sorry to say that there is no safety net in today's society if you be come sick or are disabled. Yes there are some benefits which are getting eroded away. Do you think a truly human society would keep this disadvantaged group in poverty? Try living on JSA or ESA/IB. That is not living that is scraping by or struggling to survive.

  3. Central Government agencies are now pushing more and more work to charities for the unemployed, old and disabled and yet charity funding is being cut by local government. This is the start of the plan of Dave's big society which is simply an underhanded shift to welfare capitalism.

  4. Oh Sue,
    I have been waiting for weeks for someone to say all this... I tried to post the other day but lost it & gave up...
    I've wanted to scream, what about the corruption involved in the decimation of disabled/sick people's lives??!!
    I can be very articulate but not consistently & this last week i can hardly string 2 thoughts together coherently but that doesn't mean i don't know... I've thought all week what if my WCA was now? They would have me on a plate!
    I know that you & Bendy Girl are very tired & been suffering these last weeks & want to thank you (& others) again for your clear voice & incisive arguments...
    Believe me you are not radical, only in the sense of speaking out... i'm even afraid to join twitter lol... I have no objection to fair assessment... instead we are now existing in terrified limbo... No privacy, dignity, compassion or trust because we know we will be corruptly assessed somewhere along the process... & as with the hacking etc who will be accountable???
    Will it be ATOS? no they just'pass on' their 'findings'... Will it be cameron or miller or osborne or IDS?? no they are at the top like murdoch & will just say they weren't told & didn't realise... Will it be dwp??? no again!!! & yet as you say we have been pounding them with evidence & understanding of their aims & cosequences...
    I know we are no value to them but that does not mean we are of no value... i have to hold on to that knowledge as i relapse (plenty of evidence of my relapse the last year & i've been clear why i won't take extra medication because i'm afraid of the government even if it does mean eventually losing my rationalty totally again).. I won't shrink to fit...
    LOADS & LOADS i've heard through the hacking scandal could be applied to the welfare scandal & i want to SHOUT it but i'm not as articulate as you...
    Could there be a way of taking some of the stuff that's been said but just changing the name of the perpetrators to make comparrisons & make it stand out to people that what they are doing to thousands every day is every bit as despicable as what they did to milly & her family??? & i say that entirely without disrespect because with so much grief around us my heart is breaking...
    How many people are alone (or with family) in terrible pain & mental confusion only to have this torture laid on top?
    Well i am for one!.. I am alone, chronically disabled just waitiing for my private nightmare to be revealed time & again only to then be dismissed!
    I know i haven't explained well what i mean but that's ok because you have... I just wanted to say you give me strength & thank you again...
    Best wishes... Nita :)

  5. Another great post Sue, well thought out and presented.

    Why can't we take out publication spece in papers and put our views across,In fact why haven't the leading charities done this?

  6. Brilliant, brilliant post Sue! As an articulate person myself, I can only wonder at your gift for writing such incisive and well-argued posts. We owe you a great debt - and so does everyone in the country if they only knew it. I will alert my MP to this post; although he's a Tory, he has had his own concerns about Atos and he is at least receptive. I get the impression that he's just not influential enough to make anyone listen.

  7. 'Private companies are paid billions to "help us into work" yet their results are abysmal' Indeed they are if you think of them in terms of actually getting anyone back into work. They were never intended to actually do that, the real point of the exercise is plundering the public purse. From that point of view they're a resounding success, which explains why they're being rolled out across the country. ESA amd the work programs are not failures, they're plundering the public purse to great effect. You start out here by saying that the Establishment are corrupt - sometimes I don't think you quite understand how right you are :-)


  8. Another post which is more brilliant and eloquent than I could ever write. Even without my brain fog, you still articulate so well what most sick/disabled people are feeling. Thank you again, Sue.

    Just wanted to add a sort-of off comment post. Lately I've been posting on Liberal Democrat Voice to try and engage with them. I thought they'd be far more amenable than the Tories to hear arguments about what effects their welfare policies have been having.

    Surprisingly, I've already been "moderated" and most of my posts they refuse to publish. The LibDems are very sensitive right now, it seems. They don't want to be confronted by a regular voter with what their policies are doing to people like me. I've been labelled a "Labour Troll" even though I also point out I was disgusted by Labour's welfare policy as well. They simply don't want to engage with the facts at all. I think it must be a case of collective fingers-in-ears. Even the Tories at ConservativeHome will, at least, engage with the facts and listen to me. LibDems won't even do that.

    They are so certain they are right, and so drunk with the first bit if power they've had for years, that they seem to be wilfully ignorant of what they are doing to people. To them, anyone who points out the increased violence & abuse disabled people face is a Labour Troll. Anyone who questions the fact that the rich and bankers are getting off lightly while sick/disabled people suffer is nothing but a "Deficit Denier".

    They almost make me feel more sick than the Tories and Purnell do. Which is some feat..

  9. The left is right and has been for years the problem is that the those on the right like most conservatives and labour keep getting further to the right and like that madman in Norway also on the right that platform is getting over populated in the UK and indeed throughout Europe

    Dose it matter i hear some say ? Well yes it does because the right wing of politics is very narrow as they dislike the key ingredients that make up a fully balanced UK society like immigration the sick and disabled there top two dislikes for starters

    The main problem with the conservatives and those that follow them is that they lead to a country of fear in the long term as everything starts to go downhill and then you get a backlash unleashed on the public at random from those they blame the government for not listening to them. IE they have not got rid of the immigrants and the sick and disabled are still to costly so get rid of them

    It's very simple stuff to understand but the trouble is the public are very slow learners in part because of their own selfishness and turning a blind eye on reality and the future is and will be extremely unstable over the coming years as the Austerity measures kick in

    To sum up those who follow on the right wing of politics like the conservatives are a menace worldwide and always have been and i for one cant see a future in the UK for my two teenager children they cant either at least that's a good sign as they go on to university and hope they can do well and come out with a good degree and hopefully find a niche in the world and do some good

    For my own part at least i have a few on line friends and am happy with that it may not be much but it's a darn sight better then being in the company of the likes of David Cameron and co

  10. Sorry,the frivolous comment above was a technical error,so to speak.Please ignore.

  11. There are to ways to understand the political conservatives one is what in general they stand for and what their supporters wont of them.

    Firstly and foremost everyone has to stand on their own to feet and make money for the big businesses. Secondly to talk immigration down as it's a hot potato and when the public get fed up David Cameron will say I'm dealing with it cause he's not but it bides him time

    You then have the public on the right and on the extreme right who will be voting Conservative and they like David Cameron himself will wont to SEE ACTION on the sick and disabled and on immigration also and woe betide the prime minister if he just keeps talking without taking any action.

    Well as i said he cant take action on immigration but he can and does wield the stick on the sick and disabled to good effect in some cases where people die and for his followers they think he is doing well but there will be a few who wont the immigration as there top priority not the sick and disabled

    With the BNP party also on the right everything is out in the open and everyone can see what they stand for and in general it's not good and is rejected and always will be. And yet many conservatives hold dear in private BNP values and the public cant see it which i find bizarre to say the least

    David Cameron is a top talker but it's all bull he does most successfully weave in and out of condemning BNP values whilst maintaining strong views himself that the sick and disabled will be punished come what may but in his speeches he can make it sound there'll be OK under his leadership and so the public then feel reassured and vote for them

    Utter complete madness the conservative right wing must to stay in power keep attacking the sick and disabled and be seen to tackle immigration anything else no one cares a damn the conservative just go with the flow as i said in my post above the conservative view is very narrow

    They like Norway cant make any headway on immigration as it's way to big a subject well out of the bounds of David Cameron to even get a look in

    If he had his way tho like the BNP party this country would be in complete meltdown in all corners we at least should be thankful to the BNP for their openness unlike the conservatives who keep everything controversial a secret and only talked about behind closed doors and once in power it then all spills out in to the open and the public then don't like it and start complaining for the next five years.

    So what you have is a conservative government working flat out to destroy the sick and disabled knowing full well that to all intent and purposes no one will be fighting their corner and if they do it will be easily dealt with so that will be perceived by the public as helping them

    To get rid of this madness we need to destroy the mental conservative way of thinking which is just money and power there again very narrow how do we do it i hear some say

    God knows i don't ever see a day where a conservative minister could enter into a new way of thinking for the good of mankind

  12. For a much better insight into the way conservatives think this man will enlighten you like no other and hopefully you will be able to understand on what their overall problem is as well as learning how society works

    Noam Chomsky

  13. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In addition, he is a member of other professional and learned societies in the United States and abroad, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award, the 1999 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, and others.[118] He is twice winner of The Orwell Award, granted by The National Council of Teachers of English for "Distinguished Contributions to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language" (in 1987 and 1989).[119]

    He is a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Department of Social Sciences.[120]

    Chomsky is a member of the Faculty Advisory Board of MIT Harvard Research Journal.[121]

    In 2005, Chomsky received an honorary fellowship from the Literary and Historical Society.[122]

    In 2007, Chomsky received The Uppsala University (Sweden) Honorary Doctor's degree in commemoration of Carolus Linnaeus.[123]

    In February 2008, he received the President's Medal from the Literary and Debating Society of the National University of Ireland, Galway.[124]

    Since 2009 he is honorary member of IAPTI.[125]

    In 2010, Chomsky received the Erich Fromm Prize in Stuttgart, Germany.[126]

    Chomsky has an Erdős number of four.

    Chomsky was voted the leading living public intellectual in The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll conducted by the British magazine Prospect. He reacted, saying "I don't pay a lot of attention to polls".[127] In a list compiled by the magazine New Statesman in 2006, he was voted seventh in the list of "Heroes of our time".[128]

    Actor Viggo Mortensen with avant-garde guitarist Buckethead dedicated their 2006 album, called Pandemoniumfromamerica to Chomsky.

    On January 22, 2010, a special honorary concert for Chomsky was given at Kresge Auditorium at MIT.[129][130] The concert, attended by Chomsky and dozens of his family and friends, featured music composed by Edward Manukyan and speeches by Chomsky's colleagues, including David Pesetsky of MIT and Gennaro Chierchia, head of the linguistics department at Harvard University.

    In June 2011, Chomsky was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, which cited his "unfailing courage, critical analysis of power and promotion of human rights".[131]

  14. I cannot but agree with you Sue. You will win through in the end. I just hope it is happens earlier and not later so fewer people get hurt.

  15. Finally i have found people as angry as me, i'm going through the system myself, failed it twice and won first tribunal, awaiting the next one. I'm lucky that i have my wits and i'm stubborn with family to support me. What of those with no-one? mental health issues? Who can protect them? I want to help in anyway i can.

    Find me on

  16. My Wife has just, yet again, been awarded 0 points from Atos.
    At a time when we are feeling vulnerable and alone, it is great to find blogs like this where people are willing to stand up and speak for the sick and disabled.
    For this...I thank you all!!

  17. WELL SAID, couldn't agree more. I find my own health deteriorating rapidly and I'm positive this on going battle with the DWP is aiding this decline. Surely with enough voices repeating this message we can together get the powers to hear the fact we've had enough even if they won't care about us

  18. And another point to in that the aid to Africa is to be cut with them being told to they must start to farm their lands
    No mention to the bbc about the how the sick and disabled will fare under the new way of cuts

    Humphrey Hawksley reports from the Karamoja region of northern Uganda where the UN is pioneering an ambitious plan to end hunger and the region's long-term dependency on aid.

  19. i have failed my assesmnet 0 points i just got the letter today am am my wits end with it all i cant sleep .i have rent due i have no money they stopped it i had to walk it to the jobcentre in the heavy rain to fill out a appeal form i have had a few before an passed but no not this one nothing has changed for me its only got worse i have mental health problems i was crying an confused .at the jobcentre no family who i can trust or care..ha fair society yeh my arse.

  20. Anonymous
    you really need to be under a mental health care worker who would be looking after you and your needs
    if you don't have one i would seriously suggest you go to your doctors and ask be put on the list for a referral to your mental health team
    As for filling out any forms my advice is to get someone either at the DWP or citizens advice to do this for you doing it yourself is futile and counter productive as you are not qualified in law to get all of the facts relating to your health accurate hence you would lose your appeal

  21. The Bible states that hostile questioners tried to trap Jesus into taking an explicit and dangerous stand on whether Jews should or should not pay taxes to the Roman occupation. They anticipated that Jesus would oppose the tax, for Luke’s Gospels explains their purpose was “to hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.”[1] The governor was Pilate, and he was the man responsible for the collecting of Rome's taxes in Judea. At first the questioners flattered Jesus by praising his integrity, impartiality, and devotion to truth. Then they asked him whether or not it is right for Jews to pay the taxes demanded by Caesar. In the gospel of Mark, the additional, truly provocative question is asked, "Should we pay or shouldn't we?" [2] Jesus first called them hypocrites, and then asked one of them to produce a Roman coin that would be suitable for paying Caesar’s tax. One of them showed him a Roman coin, and he asked them whose name and inscription were on it. They answered, “Caesar’s,” and he responded “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” His interrogators were flummoxed by this authoritative (though ambiguous) answer and left disappointed

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