WoW Petition for rethink of disability ‘reforms’ hits its target

We're on our way: The WoW Petition is on its way to Parliament, having hit the 100,000 signature mark necessary to trigger consideration for a televised debate.

We’re on our way: The WoW Petition is on its way to Parliament, having hit the 100,000 signature mark necessary to trigger consideration for a televised debate. [Image: WoW Petition website]

What a great result for the WoW Petition – it has reached its target of 100,000 signatures with time to spare!

The petition calls for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform and a new deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions – rather than the political aims of the current Westminster administration or any motive to cut welfare budgets.

WoW (it stands for resistance to the ‘War on Welfare’) demands an immediate end to the humiliating work capability assessment and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act, along with an independent, committee-based inquiry into welfare reform. And it wants an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits, along with other demands.

Passing the magic 100,000-signature mark does not mean the petition has automatically won a chance to be debated in Parliament; the Backbench Business Committee has to agree to put it forward first.

It is fortunate, then, that the petition has won the endorsement of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Russell Brand, Yoko Ono and Bianca Jagger (according to the Daily Mirror).

“This is a hugely important issue because many disabled and sick people cannot go out and protest against these devastating policies,” said comedian Francesca Martinez, who launched the petition in December last year.

“It is vital that those of us who can, join together to ensure these basic rights aren’t eroded away. With 83 per cent of disabilities acquired [rather than congenital], anyone can find themselves with an impairment, or [living] as a carer, and we must make sure that people are adequately supported when in challenging times.

“This is what a civilised society does. Instead of demonising those on welfare, we should be proud to create a society that provides for everyone regardless of health or ability. We will never forget the many tragic deaths already caused by this government and we will continue to fight in the hope that we can protect those in need from despair, poverty and death.”

Of course we don’t know exactly how many tragic deaths have been caused by the government because it is still refusing to tell us – the Information Commissioner recently upheld the Department for Work and Pensions’ refusal of a Freedom of Information request on that very subject (by me).

One death that we can commemorate is that of WoW Petition co-founder John Dyer, who sadly passed away in November. Fellow co-originator Rick B said: “We are resolute to take this democratic mandate and pursue the cause of making justice for sick and disabled people, and carers, a reality.”

Rick said that he himself almost died in July 2012 because of government ill-treatment.

Let’s all agree that we’re a far cry from where we were in October, when the petition had just 62,792 signatures, didn’t look like it was going to make it, and I wrote: “Are we all so apathetic that we are happy to sit around, eating our horseburgers and gossiping about whether the stars of our favourite soap operas are sex fiends… that we can’t be bothered to spare a thought for people – perhaps people we know – who are suffering for no reason other than that the government we didn’t even elect demands it?”

We’re not – and what a great feeling it is to be able to say that!

But my gut instinct tells me that we should not sit back and expect others to finish the job – not yet. It’s great that the petition will be considered in Parliament, but let’s make sure that our MPs know how strongly we feel about this.

What I’d like to suggest – and this is just a thought that has come to me as I was writing this – is that those of you who have taken part in the Twitter campaign might like to post another tweet saying something like “I want a Parliamentary debate for the WoW Petition

If you’re emailing someone, you could add that line after your signature – and this could be especially effective if you are sending a letter to the press – newspaper, magazine or online media.

And you could also add it to any messages you put on Facebook or similar social media.

We’ve got public attention now – let’s make it all worthwhile.

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25 thoughts on “WoW Petition for rethink of disability ‘reforms’ hits its target

  1. antistats

    Reblogged this on antistats's Blog and commented:
    This is a great response from the people of Britain! Thanks to Vox Political (Mike Sivier) for bringing us the good news and all his efforts in highlighting this campaign. Cheers Mike!

    1. Mike Sivier

      It keeps the subject in the public domain and offers people who are genuinely affected by it a chance to air their views, though – and that’s a good thing.
      The sad fact is that the Coalition’s leaders still believe they have the weight of public opinion with them; they would only change their minds if that shifted and campaigns like this might help achieve that.

  2. Karen M

    Speaking for myself (and mindful of DWP eyes and ears) the public debate must include IDS, he cannot hide behind the skirts of McVey or blame her, or any others, for his colossal mistakes- including allowing ATOS to carry on regardless since 2010 without obvious penalty. In the past I have blamed the permanent secretary Robert Devereux- but since the revelations about IDS (allegedly) passing the buck I feel the blame DOES lie with IDS.

    Also I believe pressure must be maintained to debate all the issues of the petition without imposition of the whip at any point. Conscience and listening to expert opinion (such as the BMA, disabled people associations and charities) should be the chief motivators for change..

  3. poppy

    Well done, I thought at one point it wasnt going to make it. I shared it and tweeted to death, Lets hope we get a fair debate and get that twat IDS OUT TOO. XX

  4. jed goodright

    Sorry Mike, even having signed this petition, I do not think anything will happen because of it. This morning on Sky news there’s been practically uninterrupted comment about the helicopter crash in Glasgow and the number of deaths there. The following item was the continued deaths of elephants in Africa – nothing about the deaths of disabled people in the UK.

    1. Mike Sivier

      That’s because the news deals with things that are happening/have happened as close as possible to the time of transmission. This matter is ongoing, and has been for some time, so it won’t impact on day-to-day news bulletins in the same way as the stories you mention. When people die, laying the blame on the DWP, it is still news – we’ve seen that with Jacqueline Harris. When this matter wins its debate in Parliament, that will be news – and hopefully people speaking up for the cause will know how to get their message across in the right way to hit the headlines.

      1. Mike Sivier

        If people are subjected to the same story, even in different permutations, they go stale, become disinterested, switch off (unless it suddenly affects them). Keeping it new and interesting is hard, and that is why campaigners have to work hard to find ways of making that happen.

      1. Mike Sivier

        Yes. As a reporter I think that’s a sign of good journalism. Perhaps the paper had been monitoring the situation, or perhaps it had a tip-off so, when the tipping-point was reached, it was ready with a story. Good work!

  5. Pingback: WoW Petition for rethink of disability ‘reforms’ hits its target | Jay's Journal

  6. jaypot2012

    Reblogged this on Jay’s Journal and commented:
    Well done everyone – it’s taken a long time to get there though, which I myself find disappointing.
    Anyhoo – let’s get tweeting with “I want a Parliamentary debate for the WoW Petition“.

  7. Mike Sivier

    Interesting comment from Teddy McNabb on the Vox Political Facebook page:

    “wonder where the labour fronted petitioners have been for deacades, 3000,00 winter deaths 1997-2010 believe it bor not many were disabled and infirm, 2000 + care home closures the forced out residents lives being less valuable than the property and land, and the haunting mortality rate bears witness to the manhtra of “weakest first ” in 2003 our resident wardens removed in sheltered housing , residents being found dead days / weeks later, all mentioned have a high proportion of disabled, where was the outrage, finally will the wowpetition labour con have their supporter and IRA supporter John Mcdonnell present it, see his IRA mates history of rape cover – ups is now being exposed , party first filth using and abusing the vulnerable , whats new?”

    I said we should thank Teddy for presenting us with a taste of the reaction the petition might receive, providing an opportunity for the petitioners – who I hope he agrees are all people of good conscience who genuinely want to do some good – to prepare their answers. I hope the principle members of WoW are reading this and will take the appropriate steps.

  8. Jo

    I hear that Iain Duncan Smith will not be appearing to answer questions about his and the DWP’s abuse of statistics later this month, but intends to send Ester McVey along to take all the flack in his stead. Sounds like him doesn’t it?

    1. Karen M

      IDS is being called as a witness…

      4.30 pm, Monday 9 December, Committee Room at the House of Commons TBC

      Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
      Purpose of the session
      Universal Credit: The Committee held an oral evidence session on Universal Credit implementation with the Secretary of State on 10 July. This session will follow up the findings of the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee reports on Universal Credit, which have since been published.
      DWP statistics: The Committee held an oral evidence session with DWP officials on 10 July to examine the way in which benefit statistics are released to the media. This session will provide an opportunity for the Committee to put points raised in that session to the Secretary of State.
      DWP Annual Report & Accounts 2012-13: Publication of the DWP Annual Report and Accounts (ARA) for 2012-13 was expected at the end of June but has been delayed. Publication is now expected in the next few weeks. The Committee’s normal practice is to hold an oral evidence session with the Secretary of State and Permanent Secretary on administration and expenditure issues arising from the ARA. Given the importance of focusing on Universal Credit in the session on 9 December, the Committee intends to hold a further session, to cover wider aspects of DWP’s performance, in the new year.

      Lets hope the “TBC” is not a get out clause.

    2. Jim Keasley

      I really hope McVey doesn’t represent the DWP. Besides allowing Smith to wriggle out of the scrutiny he deserves I find McVey’s voice itself as painful to listen to as nails drawn over a blackboard.

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