I realise this may be inflaming certain passions but it needs to be said: If John McDonnell called Esther McVey a “stain on humanity” then he was being remarkably restrained.
Maybe some of you don’t remember Esther McVey’s record. As a political blogger, I can provide the evidence of it.
Do you remember when, as employment minister, McVey sold off the government-owned Remploy factories that employed disabled people – right after announcing that unemployed disabled people would be forced to go on the work programme, providing free work for unscrupulous employers? Her plan, it seemed, was to make the disabled work for benefits, rather than for a decent amount of pay.
How about the time when, as minister responsible for disabled people, she failed to attend a debate on the work capability assessment (WCA), and vital questions went unanswered? Questions such as why the WCA gives more weight to arbitrary ‘descriptors’ than to medical evidence when judging a person’s illness or disability, and why the government did not record the number of people who die through illness or suicide at any time after their application for a benefit was rejected.
She misled Parliament and the public about Disability Living Allowance.
She authorised procedures that were known to drive the disabled to suicide, meaning she could be said to have procured suicide from the disabled and otherwise disadvantaged population of the UK – which is a criminal offence under the Suicide Act of 1961.
She rejoiced at falling numbers of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance – but who were not finding jobs. What happened to those people? This Writer feared they were being driven to despair and suicide – bullied off-benefit by Job Centre Plus staff who can cut off payments if claimants fail to comply with their increasingly pointless demands.
It is no coincidence that, in 2014, someone edited her Wikipedia entry to say the following: “Esther Louise McVey (born 24 October 1967) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wirral West since 2010, and the Assistant Grim Reaper for Disabled People since 2012, second only to Iain Duncan Smith. She was previously a television presenter and businesswoman before deciding to branch out into professional lying and helping disabled people into the grave.” [Italics mine]
Her catalogue of lies eventually prompted me to write in article in which I appealed to David Cameron to “kick her in the backbenches”. That’s mild, compared to what I could have written, and John McDonnell’s comment is mild compared to it.
But after reading the relevant articles (links above), I think you might just feel the same way.
Yvette Cooper, speaking on the same TV programme in which Mr McDonnell refused to apologise for the language he used with regard to Ms McVey (Peston on Sunday) said it was wrong to refer to a female MP in such a manner and that it contributed to a “climate of abuse”.
We can discuss what an MP’s gender has to do with anything if you like, but what about the abuse of unemployed, sick and disabled people that was the defining characteristic of Ms McVey’s ministerial career?
Yvette Cooper – together with every other MP who has been whinging about abuse – needs to understand that Parliament isn’t just a swish social club for ex-public school boys and girls.
It is the seat of the UK’s national government, where decisions are made that affect the directions of the lives of millions of people. I am certain that Ms McVey’s decisions led to the end of many lives, although the Tories’ policy on monitoring benefit claimants makes that very difficult to demonstrate – people who might have been alive to watch Mr Peston’s TV show if not for her policy of chequebook euthanasia.
No. Mr McDonnell did not go far enough in denouncing her.
Personally, I would not have suggested that she should be “strung up” – but then, Mr McDonnell was quoting somebody else when he said that.
And the only reason I disapprove of it is that I would rather see her spend the rest of her life in prison to atone for the harm she has caused.
She should be watching the Peston show from jail, not appearing on it.
RP: You’ll have seen Esther [McVey] is here. You said some pretty harsh things about her, you called her a “stain on humanity” and you repeated this call to have her lynched. Do you want to take some of that back and apologise, because it’s not the kind of language you approve of, is it?JM: I simply reported what was shouted out at a public meeting…
RP: Now, that “stain on humanity” thing wasn’t reported, that was you in the House of Commons, wasn’t it?
JM: That was, that was and I was angry… I was angry…
RP: But is that the kind of language…
JM: But let me finish, sometimes you need, sometimes you need to express honest anger and that was about what this last government was doing to people with disabilities and it was appalling to be frank. And sometimes it is better to be honest with people about how you feel. Now at times in Parliament in particular it means using strong language but actually if it reflects your honest views I think it’s better to be honest than it is to be in any way deceptive.
RP: So just to be absolutely clear, you reserve the right, not necessarily about her, to use that kind of language in future.
JM: I think it’s about making sure you express your views honestly and fairly as well, that’s the most important thing. People have had enough of spin and triangulation, what they want is politicians who speak the truth. And to express themselves. But there has to be an element of expressing yourself in language which doesn’t go too far, I accept that, and occasionally I’ve gone too far and I’ve admitted that. But at the same time now, we’ve got to be straight with one another, we can’t have this you know “people can’t trust a politician whatever a politician says because they’re always saying one thing and doing another”. I think what people want, and that’s exactly why people have voted for Jeremy, is what you get is what you see, straightforward honest politics.
In insulting McVey in the way he did, was McDonnell showing refreshing honesty – which is what he claims and hopes?
Or was he underwriting and legitimizing the kind of violent and abusive language used by some Labour activists which Corbyn says he wants taken out of politics.
Source: (30) Robert Peston
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