The European courts have their priorities wrong. Why aren’t they stopping the disability deaths?

The villain of the piece: Iain Duncan Smith drives all of the government's policies that discriminate against the sick or disabled. Others have memorably noted that his idea of helping them is to kick away their walking-sticks to see how far they can crawl.

The villain of the piece: Iain Duncan Smith drives all of the government’s policies that discriminate against the sick or disabled. Others have memorably noted that his idea of helping them is to kick away their walking-sticks to see how far they can crawl.

The UK Coalition government is to face trial by the European Court of Justice over an alleged failure to correctly assess the benefits EU migrants are entitled to claim. This is very laudable, but begs the question: When are the European courts going to address the Coalition’s transgressions against its own citizens?

I refer, of course, to the continuing scandal of Employment and Support Allowance, the disability benefit that isn’t (according to the government’s plans for another so-called benefit, Universal Credit).

Vox readers are, by now, well aware that the so-called “work capability assessment” that allegedly determines whether a person is entitled to the benefit or is fit for work is in fact a sham, run by a French Information Technology company (Atos), using a computerised, tick-box assessment system that is based on a scheme that earned the American insurance company that devised it (Unum) a criminal record, because its sole intention was to prevent as many people as possible from fitting the criteria necessary to win a claim.

The application of this assessment system has led to an average of 73 deaths every week. This means that, between the moment I woke up this morning and the time I’m writing this (around midday), at least two more people are likely to have died – either because their condition has worsened due to the strain of the assessment procedure, or through suicide; their mental health was not strong enough and they decided to give up, rather than fight for what should be theirs by right as UK citizens.

A BBC documentary (Week In, Week Out, May 28, 2013) recently quoted a statistic that claimed people with chronic pain – who are therefore entitled to claim ESA – are twice as likely to die prematurely than those without, so why is the Coalition forcing them through these fake “medical” examinations and then telling them they are fit to work – effectively trying to induce such premature deaths?

That question has been taken to the European courts – and the United Nations’ International Criminal Court. The response, so far, has been breathtakingly disappointing. It seems that they need proof that the UK’s own justice system will not rectify the problem before they will agree to take action.

How much proof do they need?

Within the last couple of weeks, Linda Wootton, a lady who had endured multiple organ transplants due to illness, died – within days of receiving notice that a work capability assessment had found her fit for work and her ESA had been cancelled.

In the same period, a High Court tribunal ruled that the Coalition has broken the law by discriminating against people who are mentally ill. This is exactly the kind of discrimination that causes the suicides. It is something about which the government has been warned – not rarely, but continually and with passion. And what is the government’s response?

It intends to appeal against the decision. It says it has made enough concessions to the mentally ill already.

We know what happens when the government appeals against court decisions. It loses.

And then it changes the law, in order to make its actions legal again.

That is the act of a criminal regime.

But the international courts are still sitting on their thumbs.

By the time I finish posting this article, according to the averages, another ESA claimant will be dead – making three, or thereabouts, since I woke up this morning. If the international courts finally get their act together, examine the mountain of evidence that has built up against the Coalition over the last three years, and find it guilty of corporate manslaughter – or procuring suicide under the Suicide Act 1961 – it will be a tremendous day for the most vulnerable people in the UK.

And make no mistake – the chronically sick and disabled are far more vulnerable than most European migrants.

But one fact will remain: Thousands upon thousands of these vulnerable people will have died, and no court decision will ever bring them back.

ESA isn’t the only benefit system that is failing the British people. Look at Stephanie Bottrill, who committed suicide because she was facing eviction. She couldn’t afford to pay the Coalition’s hated Bedroom Tax.

You see, these aren’t just numbers. They’re people. Thousands and thousands of real people. With real families who are left to mourn the loss.

In the UK, the Coalition and the press have worked hard to create a lack of empathy for these people – calling them scroungers, or skivers, or work-shy. In reality they are nothing of the sort. They are seriously, seriously ill. They are victims of a libellous hate campaign. And they are too sick, and too poor, to mount a challenge against what is happening to them.

Now, I don’t want the Comment column after this article to fill up with hate-speak for Johnny Foreigner. The fact is, the Coalition probably is denying benefits to migrants.

My rationale for suggesting this is the fact that it is denying benefits to the UK’s own citizens, and is perfectly comfortable with letting them die as a result.

So, while I applaud the European Court of Justice for taking this step against the UK government, I must also add this:

Get your priorities right.

Postscript: You know, it isn’t my job to point out these things. There are people in this country who are employed – in fact, there are people in this country who are elected – to do so. Why aren’t these people spending every waking hour campaigning for justice, for their constituents and for the nation as a whole? Why aren’t they fighting the media lies? Where is the opposition to this government criminality?

Post-postscript: Have a look at this article, reporting that the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights has found the Coalition government in breach of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Now we have proof that the Coalition is actively discriminating against the disabled, and breaking UN conventions to do it, will the UN, finally, step in?

Oh! I just looked at the time. That’ll be another person dead, then.

37 thoughts on “The European courts have their priorities wrong. Why aren’t they stopping the disability deaths?

  1. HomerJS

    When the government are aware of the possible consequences then you could accuse them of manslaughter. But when they become aware of actual consequences, and not only continue but actually make things worse, then you can only believe that the consequences are actively desired. Which makes them murderers.

  2. kittysjones

    They ARE aware of the consequences, because we have told them, and they have DWP’s own figures of the deaths. Ask yourself why IDS refused to carry out an equality impact assessment, and why there is NO inquiry into the significant and sharp rise in death rates since the introduction of the “reforms” (cuts) and since the Coalition renewed the contract with Atos and added targets – 7 out of 8 of us to lose
    our ESA :

  3. Pingback: The UK Government have got it wrong about our Human Rights. | kittysjones

  4. Leighton Lewis

    This should be taken up by every MEP ! It begs the question: Why Havent The MEP’s Taken It Up ???

  5. Dave

    One of the best pieces I’ve yet read about the governments welfare reform and how little they care about the disabled. Is this mass murder or manslaughter? It seems to me that, not only are the government aware that their policies are killing people, but they’re more than happy to let more people die. To me that’s premeditated murder. I don’t think there has been a leader in Western Europe since Adolf Hitler, who has enforced laws designed to kill the undesireable citizens of his own country.

  6. Pingback: Will your arm grow back soon? One-armed Gary's shock at disability benefit quiz Maria

  7. Lisa Blanco

    Except that the UK government is being taken to task by the *European Court of Justice* which has nothing to do with the *European Court of Human Rights* They are two individual and whole *different* courts that work independently of each other. One polices the treaties signed for a free market within European Countries. The other policies Human Rights, as held by the European Convention on Human Rights. There is no court – currently – that policies the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (particularly as some major countries have not signed the document)

    1. Mike Sivier

      If one European court can take action against the UK, then so can another. The ECHR is perfectly aware of the situation. There seems to be a lack of political will involved. That’s why I write articles like this – to put these organisations under the spotlight.
      As for the UN convention, I believe you want the International Criminal Court.

  8. pat

    Off topic
    Re posting by mike 26th May “ conservatives want to limit GP appointments”

    38 degrees started a petition this is part of the email I received from them today

    “”Good news. It looks like we may have nipped it in the bud. Jeremy Hunt has been forced to respond to our 180,000-strong petition. number of times we’re allowed to visit our GP.

    Here’s what he said on twitter in full. He couldn’t resist being rude about us, but it’s still positive news””:


    And he’s made a public pledge to “never” introduce a limit on the

    Well done Mike and thank you for highlighting the article, thus giving everyone the chance to oppose it, well done also to 38 degrees.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Thanks for bringing this up, Pat. I would have preferred it in answer to the relevant article but I can also understand why you might want to put it under the one everybody’s reading today.
      Please don’t make a habit of posting off-topic.

  9. pat

    I am a full time carer for my disabled mum-in-law, I am in receipt of income support & carers allowance, I also suffer a chronic disease, and Atos are doing everything they can to take it away from the sick & disabled, I could not put myself through all that added stress, its I am to scared to apply for ESA & PIP, because of the way the Govt bad enough now
    I was admitted to hospital over the weekend, vomiting up blood, (stress related) due to my recent diagnosis of a tumour on my pancreas, am awaiting major surgery, to have it removed, when I explained to the doctors & nurses who were treating me, that on the day of my diagnosis, 15th may, I arrived home to find a letter from my HA informing me that they are starting court proceedings from the 17th June, to evict me from my home of 25 years, because I am in arrears, I cannot afford to pay my bedroom tax, I am making reduced payments when I can but have to cut out food to do so, doctors & nurses I spoke to were shocked to say the least
    some of the female patients in the same bay with me, could not believe, that I have to pay £22 per week, most of them thought that amount was a months payment.
    I got a phone call today from our tenants community centre, great bunch of people who run it, they have set up their own food bank to help people in need, affected by the bedroom tax in our local community, they have included me to receive food parcels, i was in tears with gratitude from them, we have a wonderful community spirit in my area, this Govt should hold their heads in shame that it has come to this in the 21st century

      1. Joseph Smith

        Perhaps Mike. The time has come to have a peoples court, it may not have legal rights or powers but it would serve to highlight the injustices and get other court off their backsides.

      2. Leighton Lewis

        This Seem’s To Me That The European Court’s Are Giving In To The UK Government,
        Of Whom Has threatened To Repeal The “Human Right’s Act 1998” In The UK !
        They Need’s To Take Action Against The UK Government’s Blackmail !

  10. Brigitte

    2008 saw me wake up with no use of my legs cause untreated congenital heartblock leaving me like I am chronic inflamatory arthritis ra factor in a 5year period I have had to challenge in the last 3years I involved my mp not only myself but my carer have been treated like animals I’ve endured extreme anti social behaviour forced at times to just stay in my car quite frankly words fail me at what exists round and round the mulberry bush trying to get resolution and peace in my life I get high care high mobility ESA support group the lot shelter told me they would get me out of here not the case the person sent in to local authority is now sorting shelter told me some time ago don’t make a fuss about your ot saying you can’t even take out your own rubbish as the local authority will put you in residential care my housing needs done by ot listed 3substantial needs and several medium even social services can’t understand why I am still here the whole lot is a sham I’ve nothing to prove my medics are appalled at the treatment of me days just existing in my mobility car to avoid the horrendous anti social behaviour words fail me

  11. guy fawkes

    I commend you for this piece Mike full of your usual passion for subject matter and facts, but I wish you would stop harassing your commenters about posting out of context or only scanning long winded documents due to time restrictions or other commitments in their life.
    You can be a bit intolerant of others at times.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Let me get this right: You’re criticising me for asking people who comment on particular articles to make sure their comments are ABOUT those articles, and to ensure they have READ those articles as well?

      I think any blogger worth his salt would have every reason not to tolerate such behaviour.

      People who read the comments on this site want to find out what other people thought in response to the individual article directly above that individual comment column. It’s my responsibility to make that experience as easy as possible for them, and part of that involves dealing with the material you mention.

      In fact, moderation of the comment column remains very light, and I welcome observations that correct inaccuracies in the text, so I think your claim that I am ‘intolerant’ is way off the mark.

      In fact, if either of us is displaying such an attitude, I’d say it’s you.

  12. guy fawkes

    Would you like to elaborate on how I am intolerant? I may disagree with the fact that you swllow piecemeal data from any intelligensia without question, but I wouldn’t say I was intolerant.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The problem is, you come along, say you like an article, and then proceed to search for ways to undermine it. You actively try to find fault, That’s intolerance. There are many examples of this in Vox Political’s recent past.

  13. guy fawkes

    You can appreciate the way an article is written and even some of the contents but can still disagree with parts of it also, is that a problem for you mike? I wouldn’t say it implies intolerance on my part, we all have to take the good with the bad at times.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Double standards: I’m intolerant, but even though you’re the one trying to pick holes in my articles, you’re taking the good with the bad – or at least, that’s what you seem to be saying.

      It’s not as if I haven’t tried to explain why your point of view and mine have diverged, when they have. Look at your failure with fiscal multipliers. At the end, you were talking about profit for reasons known only to yourself. Profit isn’t really a part of it – the whole phenomenon is about how money passes from one person to another, adding value as it goes. Money doesn’t just pass from one pair of hands to another and stop; that’s not how it’s supposed to work. Once you receive money in any way, you make choices about what to do with it. You will always have to buy food and pay bills; you may be able to afford luxuries; you may even be able to put some away for a rainy day (bank or private pension) and there are always taxes. Profit is not relevant to that. The money moves. It passes into the hands of others, in the proportions you have decided. Some of the people or organisations to which it has passed will also have received money from other people because their business is sales. They have to replenish their stocks and pay their own bills/taxes/buy luxuries as well, if they can afford it. The people who provide their stocks use the money they receive – from this person and whoever else they supply – to buy the raw materials they need to make their product, along with paying their own regular outgoings. So the same money has gone through three pairs of hands (so far), adding value each time – it has helped all three to pay their bills, but it has also helped two of them to continue their business.

      Now consider what happens when that money supply is cut off. Nobody gets to pay their bills; nobody gets to replenish their stock; nobody gets to create new products. Not only is the original amount removed, so is the extra value that is created, simply by it being in circulation.

      It is a law of economics, and you called it nonsense – that’s the actual word you used – and when I tried to help you understand by pointing you to some useful articles, you tried to tell me they were no good. And now you’re trying to tell me that I’m wrong to suggest you’re intolerant?

      Let’s move onto another matter: Trolling. I have warned you several times when you have strayed into territory that may easily be defined as trolling. You might not agree with that but look up a definition of trolling and you will see that it involves picking an argument over side issues in order to cause the maximum amount of disruption.

      If you don’t think you’ve been trolling, then can you please tell us all what your problem with my alleged intolerance has to do with the article about the European courts?

  14. mglion82

    Very good question, I can only assume that the EU are picking their battles. Start interfering in a government’s domestic social policy rightly or wrongly and you open up a can of worms.

    Plus while I hate this bunch of Tories for what they’re doing to disabled people, the UK is still my home, not the whole of Europe. I’m not sure I want to owe that much of a social debt to the EU.

    1. Leighton D Lewis

      Thank you very much for helping to fight against the Fascist Tories, The Poor get’s More Poorer,Whilst There Fat Cat Friend’s Are “Simply” Extremely Greedy Indeed !

  15. guy fawkes

    All I will say about economics at the moment is it is creating demand but not always supplying what people need like housing and that is the crux of the problem. Yet most peoples incomes are going on increasing utility bills, food, rent not mortgage which is protected by quantative easing. The things that people are most in need of water gas electric etcetra are all costed above inflation and all done by slight of hand and ‘creative economics’ whereby the poorest are working just to keep still.
    If the fiscal multiplier is the economics we are using as you stated earlier, it is not working otherwise the economy would not be in the state it is in. Why are my comments constantly moderated I’m not a troll.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The fiscal multiplier is a phenomenon that occurs in any system that uses money, no matter what theory the government of the day follows.

      It’s the austerity policy of the Tory-led Coalition that isn’t working – the fiscal multiplier effect simply demonstrates this. By taking money out of circulation (the cuts to, for example but not exclusively, benefits), much more is lost from the economy than the amount removed by the government.

      I’m moderating everything at the moment because several recent comments have had the potential to create legal issues for the site.

  16. denise clendinning

    i think the government have done a brilliant job of causing as much friction to this country and while were on here having a go at each other while they are all of on their jolly,s around the world. when my husband had a job we use to take holidays we saved all year went with out things just to have a break from this country, but now we go with out things because my husband was made redundant this government has decided that because my husband is a few years off retirement and we have to have benefits until then to live plus we still have a mortgage and they have taken all my husbands private pension my sons carer,s money and my disability money all they give my husband now is 25pounds a week to help us out and we are called scroungers. my husband paid thousands in tax ind insurance and this is what we get . im not asking for hand outs but social security was put in place as a safety net im afraid the net we have been delt with has a big hole in it .

    1. mytribe

      I am glad that someone else has brought up the subject, I think that people look down at you when you claim disability benefits, my husband worked for years, before being too ill to work, now we have to exist on benefits no one remembers that he paid Tax & N.I. incase he was in this situation, thanks to the government and the media he is now a scrounger who has never done a days work in his life.

    2. Joseph Smith

      These people who join the governments view that everyone in receipt of benefits is a scrounger forget the clues in the title, it’s called National INSURANCE, almost every one has some form of insurance be it car house contents life. NI contributions are payable by law there’s very few who don’t pay something. That’s what it’s for! You’ve paid in possibly not by choice, and in your time of need you jump over largely invented government hurdles to get what you are legally entitled to. Possibly. This government are doing their level best to destroy the publics safety net even to the point of calculatingly killing over 4000 a year by culpable manslaughter. This evil force in our society called coalition government, needs rooting out and consigned to the dung heap which awaits them, the ring leaders, smith, Cameron, hunt, must face trial for manslaughter.

Comments are closed.