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The assault on the poor and disabled

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The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by skwalker1964 on Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:48 am

First topic message reminder :

I reblogged this post in 'honour' of the Tory party conference and Ivan asked me to post it here, too. You can find the original post complete with links at: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Here are two true stories:

A friend of mine once picked up a hitch-hiker at a motorway service station. The bloke looked a bit down on his luck, so my friend asked what his story was. The guy said he’d been living in service stations, bathing in the shower facilities at lorry-driver stops, for several days as he tried to make his way from one end of the country to the other to where a hotel job was waiting for him if he could get there. He’d lost all his benefits and had no way to get the money to take a train or bus.

My friend gave this man all the money he had in his pocket, which was £60. The man seemed genuinely overwhelmed and grateful, seemingly unable to believe that someone would give him a fairly serious amount of money within minutes of meeting him, on the basis of the story he’d just related.

I asked my friend whether he thought the man had been genuine, or might he have been ripped off? His answer was that his gut instinct was that the man was for real – but that if he wasn’t, he’d rather be conned than be hard-hearted and risk ignoring someone in genuine need.

By contrast, the incredibly rich (some $287 billion in today’s money) industrialist Andrew Carnegie once famously said that it would be better for the world if a rich man threw his millions into the sea rather than give any to the ‘unworthy’. To be fair to Carnegie, he gave away a vast proportion of his wealth – but the rich and privileged have a long history of presuming that, from their pinnacle of wealth and comfort, they are able to decide who is ‘worthy’ and who isn’t. The concept of the ‘deserving poor‘, by denoting that some poor are by definition not deserving, has resulted in great suffering while allowing the wealthy to feel satisfied with their lack of concern or action.

The current crop of Tories are truly in line with their predecessors in this regard – except that they’re even worse. Even though they can’t possibly be ignorant of the consequences, they push this line in the most cynical way, with the aim of dividing the British public, fooling the undiscerning into allowing or even approving of policies aimed at stripping the vulnerable of crucial protections. And for the basest of reasons – for short-term political gain (persuading some people that the Tories are ‘at least doing something about something!’), and to release even more public funds that can be channelled into tax-cuts for the already-rich or even greater profits for private corporations.

With their limited moral imagination, the Tories really only know two tactics. Both are calculated to appeal to the baser instincts of the small-minded and thoughtless: fear and vilification. There may be different facets or manifestations – they might try to invoke suspicion, or envy, or to dehumanise or caricature one set of people to get another set to back their policies – but the roots are the same.

I’m working on a post about economic fear and the way that’s fostered by government spokespeople and tame media, but it’s proving to be quite a big project and I’m not going to be online much over the next few days, so it will be a little while in coming. But the other tactic – vilification or demonisation of the vulnerable or resistant – is so plain that this post almost writes itself. Whether explicitly or in the omission, the Tories are at it constantly.

Just in recent weeks, we’ve had:


  • Iain Duncan-Smith accusing Britons of not working hard enough, while bare-facedly distorting figures on fraudulent claims for disability benefit (claiming a 30% fraud rate when in fact it’s bare over one percent) to gain public support for his hateful Welfare Reform Act.


  • A smug Frances Maude announcing that the bottom 10% of civil servants has a year to improve or be fired – conveniently leaving out the fact that if everyone in the civil service was a workaholic genius, there would still be a bottom 10%. Being at the bottom doesn’t mean you’re incompetent or unproductive. He insists that this is not an ‘attack’ on the civil service, even though at the same time he’s making cuts of 25% in civil servant numbers and talking of removing any terms and conditions that are better than those of the private sector that the Tories and their pals have already robbed.


  • Andrew Lansley calling on doctors not to take industrial action and having his department and tame journalists conduct an orchestrated propaganda campaign to persuade the public that doctors are rich, privileged, selfish and uncaring of their patients (‘After all’, he might as well say, ‘we’ve robbed the rest of the public sector, why should doctors be any different?’) This in spite of the fact that the doctors’ pension scheme is not in shortfall and that the Health Secretary, having specifically abdicated his legal responsibility for healthcare provision in his new Health & Social Care Act, is really not entitled to comment one way or the other, let alone to impose new pension terms.


  • David Cameron underlining again that the Tories are on the side of ‘strivers’, thereby saying that they’re not on the side of anyone who can’t strive, or who simply wants to live a decent, balanced life.


  • Iain Duncan-Smith (again!) announcing plans to remove benefits from anyone who dares strike against the removal of pay, pensions, conditions and protection that is now the norm for the treatment of ordinary working people.


  • Claims by Communities Minister Eric Pickles, vocally supported by Housing Minister Grant Shapps and many others, and by the right-wing press, that the UK has 120,000 ‘problem families’ who cause 80% of societal problems, even though not one of the criteria used to decide who is a ‘problem family’ relates to criminality, but instead refer to poverty and physical or mental illness.


  • Endlessly repeated soundbites about ‘benefit scroungers’ to justify capping housing benefit, even though the vast majority of people receiving this benefit are working, but can’t afford outrageous rents.


  • Cameron and others vilifying transport workers for daring to plan industrial action during the Olympic Games money-making exercise, even though industrial action is really their only negotiating weapon and it’s perfectly sensible for them to aim it at the periods when it will be most effective. The Tories really do want a workforce that’s powerless to stand up for itself.


I could go on, but I want to keep this post to a readable length.

The aim of all these policies and pronouncements is very clear: persuading whichever sections of the public that are not affected by a particular measure that those who are affected are not worthy of support, and definitely not worthy of help.

The consequences of these and other Tory measures are not hard to imagine – and they’re already being played out. Disabled, ill or mentally ill people spend their days in fear at the prospect of having their benefits stopped because they’re ludicrously assessed as fit for work, while some even attempt or commit suicide. People are forced to accept part-time ‘work’ that offers few (or even zero!) hours while the government crows that it has reduced unemployment; jobless people are forced to work for free and sleep under bridges by companies who ruthlessly exploit them to maximise profit. And so on.

In this context, it’s patently clear that the Tories’ policies, attitudes, sleaze, self-enrichment and their unholy alliance with powerful corporate and media interests show that they are not fit to judge a vegetable show, let alone judge whether a vulnerable person is ‘worthy’ of help.

Fortunately, we get to choose whether we believe them. To choose whether we agree with the kind of approach to life that says that, while no system is perfect, it’s much better to err on the side of goodness than of suspicion and selfishness, that it’s better to set up or protect systems that protect the genuine many than one which might prevent a very few ‘playing the system’ but that also strands people in genuine need in a situation of despair. We have the privilege of deciding what kind of society we want to be.

From everything I’ve written, you’ll probably have guessed that I absolutely agree with my friend, rather than with Carnegie, about which side it’s better to err on. But Mr Carnegie did say something that I agree with very much:

‘A man who dies rich dies disgraced’

In our current government, and in the people who support and fund them, we have a lot of walking ‘disgraces in the making’. Let’s think for ourselves, see them for what they are, and not make it easy for them to become even bigger disgraces than they already are.
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Sat Aug 13, 2016 3:59 pm

This must be why George Osborne has been made a Companion of Honour...  Mad

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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Chas Peeps on Sun Aug 14, 2016 5:24 pm

These damning statistics are confirmation of a society that discriminates, excludes and exploits as key planks of its economic strategy. Our Conservative, Coalition and Blairite Governments have all pursued US republican style policies so it really shouldn't come as any surprise that this is where the UK has got to. It is shameful. Greens could work with any political party on the shared platform of electoral and constitutional reform but would struggle work with a Blairite Labour Party that did so little to reverse the widening inequality in the UK. The Country desperately needs the Labour Party of social justice, industrial democracy, modernisation and progressive constitutional reform back in the national interest. Will we get it? headbang
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by boatlady on Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:46 pm

Not if the Parliamentary Labour Party gets its way, it seems
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by sickchip on Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:33 pm

It should come as no surprise. This is what happens when we elect loony right extremist neo-liberals to run the country and write the rules.
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:03 am

Benefits rule change forces 500 disabled people to give back vehicles every week

The ‘Motability’ scheme allows disabled people to lease mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs and cars. To qualify for a vehicle under the new Personal Independent Payments system, a person must not be able to walk for 20 metres. This is less than half the 50-metre limit the Department for Work and Pensions enforced previously. By the end of 2016, 35,000 are expected to have lost their vehicles over the course of the year.

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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Aug 19, 2016 5:52 pm

The spiteful Tory war on the disadvantaged among us, coupled with Gideon's austerity policy generally has not noticeably improved anybody's standard of living.  On the downside, various enactments have actually COST the exchequer money.  In the current example, repossessing second-hand motability vehicles, depreciated by about 66% since new.  Also the decision to stop issuing tax discs, which is costing tens of thousands in loss of revenue and added collection expenses.

And the amount I have to pay in tax hasn't gone down either, so who is benefitting from the changes under a Tory administration?
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Sun Aug 28, 2016 3:51 pm

Government ‘has stripped Paralympians of their Motability vehicles’

Paralympians heading to Rio next week have lost their Motability vehicles after being reassessed as part of the government’s programme of benefit cuts and reforms.

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No doubt any who win gold medals will be hauled off to Downing Street for a photo, so that our 'compassionate Conservative' PM can share their glory. Mad
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Wed Oct 05, 2016 4:14 pm


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And then Theresa May has the nerve to call Labour "the nasty party". Mad
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:06 am


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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:18 pm

Baroness Sherlock Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Opposition Senior Whip (Lords)   7:13 pm, 21st March 2016

"Disabled people have suffered greatly at the hands of this Government. They remain among the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the country. If the new Secretary of State is indeed a one-nation Conservative and committed to helping disabled people to thrive, should he not start by reconsidering the repeated cuts that his predecessor made to their benefits? Perhaps he could help those who have lost their Motability cars."

Lord Freud The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions  

I shall pick up some of the other issues raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, including, for instance, whether we will reconsider other things. There are 24,000 more people on Motability than at the start of 2013. They may be different people, but the process is being directed at the people who need it.
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The good news and the bad news

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:08 pm

First the GOOD news is apparently that you don't need a million quid in order to have a comfortable retirement.

The bad news is that you will probably need at least half that, in savings yielding between 2% and 5%, and even then only if you managed to pay off the mortgage while still at work. Most risk-averse savings media pay 1% or less at the moment so you are really forced to take your chances on the Stock Market or on Bonds (where you may get back less than you invested).

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If, like an appreciable-sized chunk of the community you have no savings of any kind, it may be the right time to stop voting Tory if that's what you've been doing.



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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Nov 09, 2016 7:43 pm

State pension triple-lock should be scrapped, say MPs

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".... according to exit polls, the election result seems to have been .... about the clear backing of America’s white and wealthy voters for Donald Trump – including white graduates, and white female voters, with a revolt by poorer whites left behind by globalisation, who did indeed turn out in greater numbers for the Republican candidate than in 2012.


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Back to the Drawing-board on British pensions then, Guys?
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Fri Nov 18, 2016 10:42 pm

120,000 children in the UK will be homeless this Christmas.

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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by sickchip on Sat Nov 19, 2016 8:05 am

Never mind, Ivan......at least her majesty's council house is getting a nice refurb - £370 million of taxpayer's money....money well spent.
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The Undeserving Poor

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:24 pm

This Guardian article says it all:

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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by boatlady on Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:16 pm

OMG - I obviously haven't been paying attention - I thought PS was one of the good guys - when was he replaced by this Torybot?
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Mon Apr 03, 2017 11:50 pm

‘The Guardian’ view on bereavement benefit cuts: cruel, stingy, wrong

Almost the first move Theresa May made as PM was to sack the man who had been chancellor for the previous six years, George Osborne. Her pointed remarks on the steps of No 10 that day last July about making decisions not for the powerful but for those for whom making ends meet was a struggle, seemed aimed directly at the wealthy and well-connected Mr Osborne. But this week, as benefits cuts that by 2020 will take £12bn out of spending on help for the country’s poorest families take effect, the truth comes home: she sacked the minister, but the policies he designed remain. This will be a week of arbitrary meanness, a week that shames a civilised society and sets a bleak pattern for the future.

The worst of the cuts are the changes to bereavement payments. Families with young children who lose a parent on Thursday, when the cuts take effect, rather than on Wednesday, when the old system still applies, will lose out by thousands of pounds – more than £100,000 in rare cases where there are very young children. Until now, the system has reflected the value of national insurance payments made by the dead person. The benefit was paid in lieu of the pension they had not lived to receive. In other words, it was an earned entitlement. In future there will be a tax-free lump sum of £2,500 for childless widows or widowers, or £3,500 for those with children; and a monthly tax-free payment of £100 for the childless or £350 for a parent, for a mere 18 months.


If you want to read on:-
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Sun May 21, 2017 11:52 pm


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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:56 pm

Conservative MP dismisses disabled woman who tells him "tens of thousands of people are dying"

In the sixth richest country in the world, Dominic Raab tells a disability activist that putting more funding into health and social care is “just a childish wish list” unless there is a strong economy.

Oxford University has released research showing that in 2015 in England and Wales alone there were 30,000 excess deaths caused by cuts to health and social care.

This election is life or death for us. Anybody who votes for the Conservative Party, who are going to further these cuts, they are complicit in those deaths.

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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by Ivan on Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:51 am


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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

Post by snowyflake on Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:05 pm

The Conservatives are having a cull.
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Re: The assault on the poor and disabled

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