Is this saga More or Less over? VP blogger puts down BBC editor

This is the last (so far) episode in the More or Less saga: My response to the comments of the programme’s editor, Richard Vadon, regarding the segment on the programme covering the DWP’s release of statistics relating to deaths of claimants of incapacity benefits – published as promised in a previous article.

Thank you for your very fast response to my further complaint. I think you have reacted a little too quickly, in fact, judging from the comments you make.

Firstly, allow me to remind you that I am the person who made the Freedom of Information request to which the DWP’s statistical release is an attempted response and about which all of the media discussion following that release – whether acknowledged or not – is based. I have been dealing with this matter for a little over two years so forgive me if I suggest that I may have a little more authority on the subject than Full Fact, Ben Goldacre or your team. Your opinion of those people is of no interest at all. They have all gone into this from the wrong angle and I am disappointed that you see fit to defend this.

I notice that in your further comments, you are selective about the points I raise and perpetuate certain vague references that were made in the programme. For example: “The figure that the DWP released is only a subset of those who have died…” Why did the DWP only release the figure in that way when the FoI request wanted the full picture? No investigation from your programme and no comment from you. Yet Mr Stephenson says the DWP was asked for information about the irrelevant “within two weeks of being found fit for work” point. Why not do the job properly?

Your comments about people who have been found fit for work are confusing. By virtue of having been refused benefit by the DWP – as I stated before – they are defined by the government as being just as likely (or unlikely) to die as the rest of the non-incapacity-benefit-claiming population. You are making a distinction that is not accepted by the law. Are you saying that the test is wrong to send these people out without benefits, possibly to their deaths? If so, then why not say that on the programme? If not, then what, exactly, are you saying?

I await your response to my other points.

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  1. gfranklinpercival September 17, 2015 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Nice one!

  2. James Kirkcaldy (@Bradford_Indie) September 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Mike, it is highly likely that many people will run up against cognitive blocks much like ‘climate change deniers’ when considering your position and arguments. Some of the possible implications for all of this scares a lot of people, to the extent that they refuse even to entertain such possibilities let alone hunt out data to prove false or verify them. Keep pressing for the data Mike, we all very much appreciate your efforts, thanks!

  3. Adam Clifford September 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Good on you,Mike.Proud of you.

  4. mohandeer September 17, 2015 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    You are not going to get them to respond properly and admit they have subverted the original request under your FoI and substituted, instead, figures arrived at from a totally irrelevant point of view in order to make the pieces fit a different agenda – their own. I studied the figures released from the DWP and your original request and compared it to the Full Facts “interpretation” and I use the word specifically. How someone sets about determining facts from statistical figures is just as dependant on what the perceived outcome should reflect and as such the determinations can be arranged without much consideration to the accuracy or the construct of the analysis. The actual delivery of the statistics by the DWP was not intended to make analysis easy. I do find it odd that an organisation claiming to deliver “full facts” has chosen to ignore some of the factors available, it’s all in the wording of the DWP delivery and apparently Full Facts has ignored it. Well done to you because it took me approx. 4 hours and 40 or more pages of A4 until I came to the same verdict you did, but not once was I satisfied with the figures they came up with. I don’t know how you do it, but well done.

  5. amnesiaclinic September 17, 2015 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Brilliant, Mike.

    Well done.

  6. Lovejoy September 18, 2015 at 12:58 am - Reply

    I admire your doggedness Mike, keep fighting the buggers!

  7. wildswimmerpete September 18, 2015 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Yes, Mike I echo previous comments. It strikes me that “Full Facts” is a Tory-sympathetic outfit with a not-so-hidden agenda.

    • Tony Dean September 18, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Actually Fullfact is nothing of the kind, it is just in this instance they have cocked things up very badly.

      • wildswimmerpete September 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm - Reply

        @Tony Dean
        Are you sure. They strike me as having a right-wing bias.

  8. mrmarcpc September 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Good show again Mike.

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