Thank you all for the wonderful response to my call for your opinions on what we should bring up in the Spartacus meeting with Hoban on Tuesday.
Tomorrow, I will post about the results and lay out a set of "Demands" for the DWP to act upon immediately, with no more delays or excuses. I hope as many of you as possible will be able to read the post and tell us what you think of the "demands" in the comments below the article Also to feedback if you think we may have missed something vital. This will be a chance for ALL campaigners to decide a final agenda.
We will pick the issues based on 3 things :
Popularity - Ie, the suggestions that got the most mentions. That way YOU are all speaking for yourselves, not me or the others attending.
Achievability - I believe it is vital in this particular meeting to focus on things the DWP have promised to implement but haven't or issues that we believe they can have little or no reasonable opposition to.
Urgency - Some issues are now so pressing, they simply cannot wait another week.
Since I started campaigning 5 years ago, I've always been VERY clear that my intentions are to campiagn politically. Many of us have our own issues that we focus on - perhaps the removal of the Independent Living Fund, the PIP 20 metre rule, Atos...the list goes on and on.
But, for my sins, I took the political route, believing that no matter how broken our democracy might be, it's always worth fighting for change. I mean to elaborate on this in a longer post soon. From managing to get the Lib Dems to oppose WCAs as part of their official policy (though they were then whipped to go against their own grassroots :( ) to lobbying peers over the welfare reform bill. From Labour's appalling attempts at "tougher than the Mail" attacks on sick and disabled people to IDS multitude of failures, it's the political aspect of all of this that makes me come alive.
From producing the Spartacus Report to every article I've ever written, you might notice, if you re-read a few, that I am ALWAYS writing as though to an imaginary politician.
Spartacus fights for change using the democratic process. Any change. I believe the majority of the iron-tough people still wearing a Spartacus "twibbon" or promoting the #WOWpetition read this blog because they support that approach. I believe that any change, any improvements are worth fighting for.
Those attending will be Dave and I, Sam Barnett-Cormack (@narco_sam) and Stef Benstead (@stefbedstead). Obviously Michael Meacher will be there too, but in the interests of balance, I asked if Robert Halfon could come along. As one of the few Conservatives who have spoken out about Atos, I hoped he would add a little balance
As I said in the earlier post, My position on WCAs is that I believe they should be abolished. That hasn't ever changed any never will.
However, I don't believe that I can reject any opportunity to make things a bit safer in the meantime if I possibly can. If it saves just one life or one family falling into despair, it will have been worth it. If I go into the meeting demanding that WCAs are scrapped with immediate effect, that chance will be lost. I fought for over a year for this meeting.
This government simply will not scrap WCAs. As we all know and have learnt to our considerable cost, they will barely compromise on buying a few more recording devices to record assessments, never mind scrapping the benefit altogether.
However, one increasingly persistent campaigner insists that I ask your opinion on this. He feels that I am being undemocratic and arrogant. That's fine, it's absolutely his prerogative to disagree with my approach and any similar comments will be more than welcome on my blog.
However, I suggested his call for a vote was unnecessary. I've consulted you all every step of the way, and hundreds of you have taken the time to leave feedback and suggestions for the meeting. I will be taking forward the issues you say are the most vital to you. Most importantly however, I see the comments thread as a vote in itself, open to all and un-moderated. I felt that this campaigner's suggestion was simply one of many. If enough people wanted me to go to the meeting and insist on full abolition of WCA's, and many comments had called for it, I would absolutely present that view. It's not about me, it's about all of you.
I don't want anyone to criticise this campaigner. He feels passionately about this issue, and believes he's doing the right thing to ensure that I act with transparency.
Unfortunately, the discourse hasn't always been terrible pleasant, but that still doesn't make me any more "right" than he feels he is.
With all of this in mind, here's a link to a very quick "Yes/No" survey, written by this campaigner himself. I initially said I wouldn't post it. I suggested that if this issue was so very important to him, he should collect the evidence himself, and I'd gladly take it into account. After all, that's the "Spartacus way" lol
Often called "voodoo polls" votes like this have no real value as respondents are self selecting. However, it's harmful to all of our campaigns, if one of the "team" is unhappy and tweeting dissent that damages the overall movement.
With that in mind, the question is, would you vote for
A) Demanding full abolition of WCAs and refusing to discuss further compromises or improvements
B) Making it clear our position has always been to scrap WCAs, but also, raising some of the most punitive issues in the hope we can at least improve things a little.
You can complete the survey by clicking on this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/73WGMFJ
Please retweet or share to help spread the word if you can, as time is short.