Ah, decisions, decisions.
My very first tweet about Maximus last week elicited an almost immediate email from their PR director asking to meet me for a "chat". He spent several paragraphs persuading me that Maximus in the UK was an entirely separate company to the Maximus in the US so roundly exposed by the dedicated disability journalist John Pring.
You all know I believe in engagement whenever it has even a chance of making things better for sick and disabled people. You also all know that I vowed years ago I would never become one of those people who believe their own opinion is more important than the opinions of those they claim to represent. I will never sneak around in secret making deals and suggestions that haven't come from you. I will never take anyone's money or tempting offers of personal gain in order that you can always be sure what I write isn't compromised by anyone or anything else.
A long time ago, the PR boss at Unum got in touch. I met with him despite much personal anxiety and he told me everything the Maximus guy said last week. (Which gave me a wry smile. If I'd known they were all so saintly, I could have given this up years ago ;))
I've stayed in contact with the Unum guy and I do believe it has helped us several times. I've also long been in touch with their counterpart at Atos who has often been able to clarify things or even help me to oppose IDS and the DWP
But my Daddy always said "Watch the tiger when it's licking your ear". Seriously, he must have said it several times a week my entire life. I'm far from silly or gullible when it comes to politics. I'm well
aware that the only reason these men bother with me is to improve their own reputation or counter
some of the toxicity of the disability debate in the UK. I ve always believed that as long as it benefits us, there is no harm and I've always thought very hard before using anything they've told me.
But later this month, Unum have asked me to attend and speak at an event they're organising on the NHS aiming for more focus on prevention and less only on cure. This is something I feel very passionately about, and if me speaking could change the way healthcare is delivered for the better, then it seems pointless to refuse just because I might find the hosts distasteful. I am told that there will be attendees from the corporate world that campaigners like me often struggle to reach.
So as usual when these things crop up, I thought I'd leave the decision to all of you. Of course Unum want more prevention, it would mean fewer claims they have to pay out on, but I very much want more preventative action too, so I can't see why it matters who does the inviting. Of course, they want to be able to say "Ah, but Sue Marsh is coming, see how much we've changed." But I'm not against being used if the using goes both ways.
I will never be corrupted by these men and I will never be less than 100% honest when I discuss them, but if you all think it's a matter of principle, then I'll respect that view. If you think something could be achieved by having our view represented in theses kind of circles for once, then I'll gladly attend and do my best for all of us.
I'd be grateful as ever, if you could leave your views in the comment thread below.