Monday 14 October 2013

18 months of Labour Welfare policy in 1 Article

As you all know, I was devastated to learn there would be a shadow DWP reshuffle. Most of you disagreed, sure that nothing could be worse than Liam Byrne.

But did you know we are now on our 3rd Labour DWP team now? Oh yes, before there was Liam Byrne, there was Douglas Alexander, a brief and disasterous union. You can see my responses to their first forays into welfare media here and here

But I'm sick and I'm tired. I'm exhausted and so are the legions of welfare warriors who have attempted to spread truth where there is dishonesty and compassion where there is cruelty. There simply isn't time to go through the same well worn stages of misapprehension and mistakes all over again before the 2015 election.

So here, I will attempt to fast forward through the mistakes and betrayals, the misconceptions and the common beliefs in the desperate hope that we can avoid making all the same mistakes AGAIN and just move forward with policy that will not lose us the next general election.

First, the new team will believe that talking tough on welfare will reverse the mistaken public belief that Labour are "soft on scroungers". Oh, the detail might be fine. If you remove your pressure valve and read Rachel Reeves article yesterday dispassionately, there is quite a lot that was good in it. But the tone is all wrong. Let me give you an example. The "jobs guarantee"

Here's what Rachel said : "under Labour the long-term unemployed would not be able to "linger on benefits" for long periods but would have to take up a guaranteed job offer or lose their state support. "Nobody should be under any illusions that they are going to be able to live a life on benefits under a Labour government," she said. "If you can work you should be working, and under our compulsory jobs guarantee if you refuse that job you forgo your benefits, and that is really important."

Now, she could have said "By cutting back on tax relief for 6 figure pensions, we will ensure that everyone who has been out of work for 2 years or more is guaranteed a paid job at at least minimum wage. We care about long term unemployment and we will never return to growth unless we tackle this issue. Only those who refuse appropriate paid work will lose their benefits" (Note "appropriate, immediately reassuring all those with disabilities that they won't be forced into slave labour they are too unwell to manage)

You see? Exactly the same policy, totally different approach. 

The first tries to out-Tory the Tories, be harder, talk tougher. This way, so the perceived wisdom goes, is the right approach. But it isn't and we can accept that today or wait 6 months, maybe a year. But in the end, Ms Reeves will accept it, just as Liam Byrne finally had.  I have some sympathy - every IPPR/Demos/Policy Exchange/Pollster assures new ministers that this is true, but it isn't.

You see, welfare polling is nowhere near as simple as it first seems. People want "tough" from the Conservatives. They believe it and accept it. But they don't want it from Labour. They don't believe it and "hedging" the message just makes us sound unstrustworthy. 

"But welfare polling is appalling!" I hear you say. Yes, yes it is. There is no question. But the "opinions" are based on lies. Lies fed to the public by both Labour and Tory governments for way too long now. Sure, this is unfortunate for Labour, but there is only one way it will ever change. And that is challenging the myths and breaking the political consensus. So do we re-introduce hanging just because the majority of the public say they want it? Of course not. 

And crucially, how much does it matter? Do people vote in a general election based on welfare policy? No. Emphatically no. In the You Gov tracker on the issues most important to voters, welfare doesn't even figure. Even amongst UKIP voters, it is only the 4th most important issue behind the economy, immigration and Europe. So do Labour plan an election strategy based on their weaknesses or their strengths? 

Well of course the answer is their strengths. The NHS, education, living standards and justice. Labour only win elections when those issues are front and centre. 

But does that mean we don't challenge the Tories at all on welfare? Absolutely not. But it has to be done incredibly carefully and sensitively, with genuine knowledge of the issues.

Here's another example. If I said "The coalition have limited sickness benefits to one year" that wouldn't be true. Instead I have to use this incredibly cumbersome sentence : "The coalition have limited sickness benefits to one year, but only for those who paid into the system or those who have working partners. This policy only punishes those who have "contributed" all their lives. Those who are judged to be too sick to ever work are not affected."

Without all of those caveats, we play IDS game of ignorance. But the caveats are vital. In every welfare phrase, there are caveats. Caveats that protext the most sick or the most disabled or the most unfortunate. You need to learn them all from the start.

People DON'T want people with disabilities to suffer. Poll after poll confirms this. Just 11% want to see disability benefits cut. Yet this government are cutting them by at least 20%. That's 1 in every 5 people with profound disabilities losing everything. 

People DON'T believe that parents of young children should be forced to work. The DON'T believe that pensions are even benefits at all. There are plenty of "welfare" areas that a Labour government can challenge on successfully. If I ask people "Do you want your hard earned tax money supporting scroungers" of course they will reply "NO!" with passion. If I ask "Is there anyone you worry for under the governmnet's welfare reforms" the answer is totally different. We must personalise at every step. 

But the most fruitful is Tory incompetence. Every single welfare "reform" is in chaos. Universal Credit, PIP, ESA, the Work Programme, the Bedroom Tax - it's an absolute disaster and at least one of these will blow up spectacularly in the government's face before 2015. Probably all of them. They have failed totally and utterly and all that has happened is the benefit bill has risen not fallen. As I describe in much more detail here we MUST take the fight to the Tories with passion and belief. They've failed and we have about 18 months left to show the public how badly. 

So when an interviewer asks "Do you support the overall benefit cap" the answer is "Not if it forces 200,000 families from their homes and costs more than it saves". When they say "Ahhh, but so many are festering on benefits long term" you reply that in fact "Long term unemployment is just a tenth of 1% of total government spending. That's one person in every thousand! - hardly the most important issue facing Britain today." If we don't challenge these myths no-one will and the public will of course stay exactly where they are. 

Campaigners have shown repeatedly that public opinion is not set in stone. The Bedroom Tax seemed like a jolly good plan until we repeated endlessly that 400,000 of the 600,000 affected had disabilities, that there simply weren't the homes to move to. PIP was going swimmingly until sick and disabled people pointed out that 4 x Glastonbury crowds would lose the support they relied on to leave their homes or get dressed and feed themselves. Suddenly the government delayed the bulk of the rollout until after 2015, terrified of endless media stories of people with profound disabilities forced into starvation and isolation. 

But we shouldn't be doing this alone. Even when it might not be an obvious "vote winner" an opposition party owes it to the public to speak truth to power. A Labour opposition particularly has the responsibility to do what is right, not always just what seems popular at the time. We are best when we do this. Sadly, think tanks and academics and advisors will be convinced that that means losing votes. We don't have 18 months to convince the new team this is wrong. 

There are more misconceptions - that social media is not representative of "ordinary core voters". As Liam Byrne found over the workfare debacle and many, many other faux pas, it is and it often matters greatly. After 4 days of sustained horror, thousands of lost votes and mainstream coverage springing directly from the online outrage, he finally realised that this just wasn't the way to go. Those that had begun to dare believe Labour could change, were horrified all over again. Delicate trust that had built was demolished and there are only so many times you can get it back. 

Rachael Reeves will almost certainly get a few chances to get this right. But only a few. It won't take long before activists and members up and down the country decide she's just "Liam Byrne with hair" (as one particularly funny tweet put it yeterday) and then it won't matter how far she travels, how good she gets, how accomplished at her brief, no-one will hear a word she says any more. Just as they didn't with Byrne. Even when he got it right, no-one heard him and when he got it wrong they spread it across all media like a virus. 

After realising how disastrous it is to write Daily Mail Articles for the Guardian, the next step (as Byrne could confirm) is trying to write fluffy bunny articles for the Guardian and save the Daily Mail articles for the Daily Mail. That doesn't work either. The same people mistrust us, but now they have proof we really ARE double dealing - "Look they say one thing here and another there" No no no. 

Here's another myth "People have lost faith in the welfare state. Therefore we need to talk tougher and means test as many things as we can. They don't want people getting something for nothing". This is completely wrong too. They may well have lost faith in the welfare state, but as we see around the world, the countries who get tougher and tougher and crack down hardest, lose more and more support for social security (see the US as the Granddaddy of examples here) The countries with the most generous welfare settlements (See Norway and Iceland) have the highest level of public support. 

Means tested benefits are generally hated, universal benefits generally loved. So Disability Living Allowance which ISN'T means tested, is a very popular benefit, Employment Support Allowance which IS means tested is hated and considered to be where all the scroungers lurk. Pensions are universal and everyone adores them - no politician dares to cut them. Jobseekers allowance is means tested and everyone hates it, though anyone can lose their job at any time. Child benefit until recently was non-means tested and no-one ever thought to question receiving it. Ditto maternity or paternity leave. Personally, I have some sympathy for means testing at times, but don't let anyone tell you it's what the public wants. They might say they do but the reality is totally different. 

Yet another step will almost certainly be "saying the right thing in public, then shafting us horribly and quietly behind the scenes" (we're back to the dreadful workfare case again) People WILL notice, they WILL hate you for it and you WON'T get away with it. We live in a world of 24 information freely available to all. There will ALWAYS be an eagle eyed blogger or campaigner who notices you changed the wording/made a dodgy deal/went back on your word etc. 

So. Let's start from the best place we can. If you must talk about welfare never say welfare. Say "social security". If you must talk about social security, talk about the horrors facing people with disabilities, or people desperately searching for work when there are no jobs. Talk about how pensions give us faith in the system and most of all, never open your mouths without reminding the public of the latest Tory "welfare" failure. Over and over and over in a loop, so that there is no-one left who believes the Tories are really doing what they say they're doing, but in fact are simply hurting YOUR Mum or YOUR Dad,  YOUR brother or child. 

And remember. In 97 we won on the NHS. We won because people finally understood that Conservative policies only ever lead to a broken and hopeless Britain. We won on education and compassion and the minimum wage. We won because people believed we would make their lives better. We didn't win by promising to hate the hated and hurt the suffering. We never will. The Tories might, because that's what they do, but we never will. 

By 2015 the sheer numbers involved in this attack on ordinary lives will be the NHS 97 equivalent. Everyone will know someone who has been hurt by these "reforms" An elderly relative left in their own filth for want of care. A friend with cancer who worked for 30 years told she's not entitled to sickness or disability support. A child refused the education they need, a colleague made homeless by the bedroom tax. Even a boss earning plenty who lost his child benefit and had to give up his golf holiday - it all counts. Social Security is for all not just for "scroungers"

We have no choice. We have to get this right NOW. Not next month and certainly not next year. As I'm sure Liam Byrne will gladly confirm. If not, we will be torn apart by our own, already reticent to trust us and return to the ballot box in 2015. We will be torn apart by a Tory press who know we'll never be Iain Duncan-Smith (Why oh why would we ever want to be???) and we'll be torn apart by floating voters who don't really give a damn what we say about "welfare" as long as they worry about putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads or getting the kids new school shoes. 

It's a lose lose. Actually, it's a lose, lose, lose, lose, lose. And it doesn't have to be that way. But it means trusting the people who really know, who are living through the hell. The few experts who can bust any myth for you, counter every nasty Tory swipe at compassion. 

And most of all it means realising that everything you thought you knew was wrong and you only have a few short weeks to get it right. 

This isn't about "them" it's about "us" - every last person in the country with a child, every last pensioner, every last person living with an illness or disability and we simply can't afford to get it wrong again. We don't have time. 


  1. The real problem is very simple. UNUM. The insurance company invited into government in 1993 by Chris Patten. Since then they have funded all the "research" that governments get on benefits and welfare. Since then they have provided almost all the "expert" advice to ministers. Since then they have run a succession of events, seminars, and conferences, ensuring that almost ALL MPs are thoroughly indoctrinated with their approach and simultaneously allowing them to make significant contributions to political party funds and offer generous freebies to politicians.

    As the world's leading provider of unemployment insurance it naturally suits UNUM to make it clear to the working people of the UK that to survive a crisis they cannot rely on the state benefits their taxes have paid for, but instead will have to fork out £20 a month for one of UNUM's back up plans. UNUM's advice has never been about anything other than destroying the state benefit system in order to maximise profits.

    Until UNUM's pernicious influence is torn out root and branch it really doesn't matter who holds the portfolio, whatever the party, the policy will be UNUM's. The policy will be to make the sick, disabled, unemployed, and low paid suffer and die, so that working people can be fleeced to the tune of billions of pounds a year.

    It is the most scandalous example of political corruption of my lifetime, and Reeves is just as much a part of it as Byrne, Duncan-Smith, Hutton, Patten, and all the others who have sold out their responsibility to the people they are supposed to represent.

    1. Apparently another thing UNUM have been doing in the UK since the early '90s, is buying out insurance companies providing private disability pensions, and then kicking the recipients off of their claims following WCA-style testing. Sadly the Brits rolled over and took it, unlike in the US, where many successfully sued UNUM in class actions, and in many states even got them banned.

      An account of one such experience of abuse appears in Diana Holmes' 1998 book "Tears Before Bedtime" ISBN-13: 978-1860339080 ,

      Wouldn't it be fabulous if, with the magic of the internet, some of UNUM's victims could only find each other, and then find a public interest lawyer to take up their cause?

  2. For the day following the comments of Rachel Reeves we suffered tweets from Tory MPs and supporters saying 'game, set and match to IDS!'. To have to read that over the graves of his victims and the wasted ESA, WP, and UC billions, billions that could have done real good, was sickening.

    What was worse still though was that from their point of view, as twisted and spun from any semblance of decency as it may be, they were right. Her comments may have been electorally felicitous in terms of the southern middle class Labour appears to want to appeal to, but she should have considered how they would sound to the thousands of natural Labour supporters who work day in and day out and, in some instances, literally leave their sick beds to fight Tory policies. To add to that, reinforcing the Tory scrounger narrative with comments about 'people who can work should work', as though are thousands of people the length of the country turning down perfectly good jobs is to hand the Tories victory.

    Labour could promise summary execution of the long term jobless and the Tory/media would still paint them as soft on claimants. Given that New Labour introduced Atos and the WCA, increased conditionality, and severe sanctions, you'd have thought someone at the top of the Party would have had the brains to appreciate this. Not a bit of it, they are embarked on the same journey of demonisation as the Tories, and New Labour before them, albeit with some Fisher Price platitudes crayoned onto the box of hate-speech.

    Where do they find these MPs? well in Rachel Reeves case it was in a bank. And there's the problem, Labour are now as divorced from the reality of poverty and unemployment as the Tories.

    1. The game of politics is firmly in the hands of the Middle and Upper class now. They are all petrified of anyone shaking their cosy myths that we are 'all in it together' or 'we are all Middle class' or whatever empty platitude some spin doctor dreams up. The Tories and Labour are only really concerned with the South and then the Middle classes and those above them; the ordinary person, the poor and the Working classes, have been deemed as not worth bothering with.

      The whole system of politics needs changing, because democracy isn't working anymore; there are no checks and balances, and the reality is that we are being held to ransom by all parties who only care for the rich and privileged. There is too much power in London and the South East, and politics along with the media, business, law and many other things are too resolutely Middle class and they serve the Middle class and their interests and their concerns. I see no real difference either between the Left Middle classes now and the Right Middle classes. They are all complicit in their silence because they benefit from the growing class and wealth divides.

      I would rather have a Labour government in any day, but there has to be a concerted effort to redress the balance and check the injustices that are destroying people's lives, all in the name of ideology. Perhaps we all need to get out from behind ideology and just get real and see what needs to be done.

  3. I for one would not be entirely reassured if Reeves had said, "Only those who refuse appropriate paid work will lose their benefits". I don't trust Westminster to define criteria that relate to the diversity of real people's lives, and I don't trust the DWP to implement them with humanity and flexibility.

    1. Precisely. Who would decide 'appropriateness'? the DWP Decision Maker who's never met you? the WCA assessor with pigeon English and an ink-jet diploma? some bloke Ed Miliband met on his solitary expedition to Doncaster North?

      Rachel Reeves had a chance to reaffirm Labour's comittment to sacking Atos and changing beyond recognition or putting an end to the grotesque WCA that sees sick and disabled people constantly harassed and treated like criminals, some in the final weeks of their lives, for their paltry benefits. She could have denounced a sanctions regime which seeing thousands of people left destitute on the most dubious of pretexts to the point that Red Cross parcels are now required in Britain for the first time since the war (is that what that generation fought for?), and she could have signaled an end to the obscenity of Workfare...and how else would an old member of the Labour movement have described working for no wage but as an obscenity?

      Instead she chose to recycle the Tory myth that people are turning down perfectly good minimum wage jobs just for the privilege of doing a £70 a week 'apprenticeship' in floor washing at CheapskatesRUs.

      If Labout think that will get them elected, they're mistaken. Not only will it turn away and demoralise thousands of activists who they rely on to do the footwork and pavement bashing, but it is unlikely to persuade more than a handful of waverers that the party the Tories and their media constantly portrays as 'soft on scroungers' isn't just that.

    2. There is an interesting study just published opening the debate on whether the disabled (and others) should be regarded as having a right NOT to work.

      The philosophical ramifications could be better expanded, but it makes the point that 70 years of gov't initiatives to shoehorn sick and disabled people back into the workplace have largely failed - with the only claimed successes being those who would have recovered enough to return to work anyway.


      "For 70 years in Britain there have been attempts to increase the number of disabledpeople in paid employment. They have failed to do so, even in contemporary societywhere, in theory at least, the Equality Act, 2010 should prevent employers fromdiscriminating against disabled people and there has been substantial investment inincreased mandatory pressure on disabled people to prepare for work and thesubsidisation of their wages when they are in work. This paper argues that given this record a new approach needs to be taken, one that rather than reiterating the tired mantra of a right to work for disabled people, argues for a right not to work. The paper suggests that such a right is, in fact, closely related to demands that disabled people should have a right to work, and is required if the exploitative and disabling aspects of paid work are to be avoided."

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Time for a political party that really understands and listens to people before the press. So fed up with anodyne British politics, but I get more and more doubtful that things will ever change. No wonder there is apathy among the electorate. But I still admire you for trying.

  5. If Ed Miliband had any sense he'd have made you a life peer and shadow DWP minister.

  6. Our Rachel seems to be chasing Tory votes at the expense of natural Labour ones. Time to reconsider I believe!

    1. The problem is that she's chasing Labour votes which is the point of Sue's article. The traction of IDS narrative affects the Labour vote and its how you respond to that narrative that will count.

      I've met Rachel Reeves and she is by no way "Liam Byrne with hair". What's needed is an accelerated learning curve based on evidence and reason. This article helps in that process.

  7. The majority of the Public ( including myself ) are not politically aware or very savvy in Political speak. It's difficult to sieve through the ambiguity to find the point that is actually being made.

    Liam Byrne was forever confusing me, but I did see his 'tone' soften towards the end of his tenure. He was making very radical statements on BBC Hard Talk about welfare. To be honest I'm not sure that Labour have a definitive message on welfare, they seem to be sending out very mixed messages depending on their audience. This is where the Tories are strong, they don't care, and relish every opportunity they get to say it.

    DLA may well be a loved benefit, but if you're not working you're likely to be in receipt of the hated ESA in combination with DLA. And in my experience if you lose ESA you are then reassessed for DLA. I see politicians often refer to ESA as gateway benefits, especially Ed Miliband himself.

    You're most likely to be getting both these benefits where I live, but maybe in the wealthier parts of Britain Disabled people will only be in receipt of DLA.

    I do believe most Disabled people are at the point of trusting no one. It's very rare that we read Mainstream Newspapers or watch the News and see compassion. Reeves first week is just another huge let down. But that doesn't mean I want the Tories to win the election. I understand what Labour are trying to do to get into government, and after three years of demonisation I doubt a Labour Government could offer us anything worse.

    I know you want the Disabled to debate their points from a position of integrity and honesty because the lies will always be proven. But we are always on the defensive from these big Headline grabbers and the endless programs of poverty porn. It would be nice to hit back with a few Headline grabbers of our own.

  8. Hi Jim, I hope I have a cracker for early next month ;)))

  9. When you have to tell the authority how to behave, you become the authority. The world changes... :-)

  10. There's nothing wrong with expecting long-term unemployed people to get a job - provided they're fit enough to work.

    But it must be a real job with real wages.

    Rachel Reeves when she speaks needs to talk in a way that the public understands in that she must emphasise in all her speeches that she is not talking about the long term sick and disabled but those fit and able to work only as they are two completely separate issues
    one group very genuine the sick and disabled and the other work shy scroungers

    she also needs when talking about the long term unemployed to understand that it would be far better if the DWP called the fit unemployed person at their home with an offer of a job instead of them turning up on mass only to find that there are no jobs or unsuitable jobs for them to undertake which is is waste of their time and money in just turning up on the off chance of a job when in reality for the majority there isn't one

    if there is no work available but unpaid social type of work possibly getting some home help done for a pensioner etc then this type of job seeker should get an enhancement to around 100 pounds a week for a full 40 hour week so that when a full time job does crop up they will be able to move straight into it providing the job is suitable and they have whatever qualifications are necessary to do the to a high standard

    as i say if Rachel Reeves stuck to what i have outlined she will be the natural leader of welfare reform all she needs to do is to keep it simple and to ask if she is unsure there are many people like myself or sue who are best placed to advise her she does not need to be Einstein to fix welfare reform

    as i have always stated it's a very simple undertaking welfare reform you just have to be a person who not only understands it but a person who can identify where the pitfalls lay and take the steps to get a better class of staff at the DWP as most errors are this end which as we all know costs people their lives of which there is no need for that

    mp's /lords are also to blame for not understanding welfare reform they have to keep referring to notes when speaking plus the fact they have no experiences of spending a week in their local job centre when all the facts and figures should be in their head nothing is worse then having to read from your notes if your interested in welfare reform you should have all the answers to hand in your head and not keep looking foolish from the reading of notes which only undermines your credibility and loses the publics confidence

    off topic a scroungers program tonight I've not watch it but with 11 kids and not working do i need to watch it the press no doubt will love it as will David Cameron and IDS

  11. in todays edition of the Daily Express was an article about mum on benefits with 11 kids.readers online posted thier views and opinions,what really shocked me one person had wrote"throw the whole family into the gas chamber "and words like" vile" and "filth ". I did report it,but the comment wasnt removed.It has been there all day.Surlely this is against the law,its inflammatory and hateful.Also a lot of people under the nazi regime were murdered in this way. also Idont know why people hink its labour the welfare party,in the 80s the benefits system was good ,it was only later it all changed.

  12. florrie you highlight the main problem in a nutshall that's the view of how many people think in the UK and i can tell you now if you did a poll you'd be shocked on how many people in the UK think on these lines including mp's and lords

    many people in the UK and the USA take a very dim view on anyone who is in receipt of any type of benefit full stop and that has always been the problem from day one and that will never change as it's historical

    we see today in the USA the conservatives/ republicans will if needed bring there country to a standstill to prevent obama's healthcare from taking root believing that if you cant pay for medicines hospital treatment you die likewise we wont give you any benefits so you die

    as i say you'd be very surprised how many millions of selfish and nasty people there are in the uk/usa and that is a fact of life none of us can change and that includes President Obama

    the USA is on the brink of default if it were to go down a social route likewise in the UK the daily mail and conservatives believe that if the sick and disabled continue to live like as now the uk will go bankrupt hence the hate from many mp's and the press for the sick and disabled

  13. It's time the Labour Party grew a pair and stood up for what's right. The reason they come out with hardline speeches like this latest one is because they are terrified to look as if they are in support of welfare at all because some nitwit left a note in the Treasury laughing because the Country was broke. Whoever did that should have been hung out to dry. It gave those Tory so and sos the leverage to dump on the Labour Party every time they opened their mouths. Constantly I hear how the Labour Party left us in this mess, how their spending on welfare caused the mess we are in. So of course if they want to be re-elected they are fearful of standing up for welfare rights. The Country as a whole has been brainwashed into believing the rubbish that this is all Labour's fault. No one ever seems to point out the problems in other countries, it's as if there was a world wide recession in every other country but our's. Our recession was not a knock on effect from what the rest of the world was suffering but purely caused by Labour and their spendthrift ways and particularly on welfare. Until they start addressing that issue they are NOT going to change people's minds. And if we feel unable to vote Labour because they are being too hardline on Welfare to appease those idiots with the blinkered view then we are doomed. Doomed to end up in the gutter, or even worse......

    Oh and Sue, such a shame you have limited health resources. We should put you in charge. Not necessarily of running the Country but certainly of overseeing policy, of writing speeches and motivating what's left of the decent part of the Labour Party into getting it's act together so people feel safe to cast their vote with them

  14. I'm sorry to say I told you so! Let me refer back to a comment made on a previous post about the young voting. "People say vote labour. And then out come labour saying that welfare is bad." Every time some new mp takes over shadow work and pensions its like they have got something to prove, and so out comes the 'hard line'. I despair that anything will ever change, and am more convinced that it is a waste of time voting for any party. Moving abroad is looking more attractive as the months go by!

  15. Sara i have always said that moving abroad is the only long term solution and for most of us here that will be the case

    it will be difficult but if we as a large group can get together at some point as we will need to be a group not only of various disabilities but also be financially viable to make it another country as the strongest among us will need to look out and help those most in need

    it is possible to pull this off in certain countries the other problem is getting a visa for that country as there will be no point staying in Europe as the costs and the way they treat the sick and disabled is the same as the UK

    countries that would be ideal would be certain countries of the Caribbean where a quite life would be guaranteed possibly Australia even Tunisia for those with the relative experience of that country and good old favourites Cyprus and Malta

  16. If the young are put off voting for labour because of a statement about welfare, then they are reading the wrong books at schools, colleges and universities. I am sure they believe that Labour offers them more options 'for life in general', regardless of what Rachel Reeves has to say. Don't give up on the youth, because they are not fools. They know, like most adults know, that Labour can be the answer to Great Britains 'problems'.

  17. another death has been reported by Dennis skinner mp. i don't have the name to hand at present but will post it in due course to go on to the list of those that have died from the DWP/ATOS departments

  18. No-one has died because of DWP/ATOS. If you don't like the DWP decision, appeal. I've twice appealed & twice been placed on the correct benefit.

    Never forget, that it was Labour who introduced ATOS into the system.

  19. I think part of the problem is that our politicians are so cut off from the real world, until that changes what hope do we have? With any party!!