UN disability report: It IS time to focus – but not on details we’ve already covered

Nobody's idea of a Mastermind: Damian Green looks very similar to a contestant on the revered quiz show - but he seems clueless about his specialist subject.

Nobody’s idea of a Mastermind: Damian Green looks very similar to a contestant on the revered quiz show – but he seems clueless about his specialist subject.

Blogger Neil Crowther has responded to yesterday’s report on the letter to Ban-Ki Moon, calling for the United Nations to condemn the Conservative Government for dismissing its findings on the violations of human rights here.

The Tories have been found guilty of systematic violations of the rights of people with disabilities, according to the UN.

Mr Crowther suggests that complaining to the UN is “wasted energy”. Unfortunately he goes on to suggest two courses of action that are themselves a waste:

  • The whole point of the inquiry was to shine a light on UK government support for people with disabilities – that work has been done; and
  • It is pointless to discuss the amount of money spent on UK government policies when it has already been established that the policies themselves are at fault.

The article does make some very good points about the timing of the UN report’s publication – forced to take place during the week of the US Presidential election thanks to the complicity of the right-wing Mail on Sunday, so it would be buried beneath coverage of Trump.

But the fact is that this effort has quite clearly succeeded, therefore a new angle is needed, in order to revive interest.

A letter to Ban-Ki Moon is a new angle; revisiting arguments that have already been made is not.

Some have concluded that the government has complacently dismissed an  inquiry report by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into the devastating impact of austerity measures since 2010. I believe they are wrong and the government is on the run.

Why try so hard to bury bad news if you are so confident that the news is inaccurate, or its implications so light?

Perhaps it’s because this is the beginning not the end of a process, one that will refuse to go away for some time and which will become tougher as time goes by.

As President Obama would say, now is the time to focus.   Complaining to the government, or to the Secretary General of the United Nations, about the tone of the government’s response is wasted energy.  Did anyone really expect them to say ‘its a fair cop’ and to embrace the criticism?  Instead our focus has to be on unpicking the government’s arguments:

  • Yes, money isn’t everything and there’s more to life than social security, so let’s shine the light on how well government is supporting people to escape poverty, to exercise choice and control and to participate fully in practice – what is happening to people’s everyday opportunities?  Just how far will the proposals in the Green Paper, or action to implement the Care Act go to address these issues?
  • But with respect to the money, let’s not let the government get away with its glib claim to be spending more today than in 2009-10. Let’s ask how much it would have been spending were it not for cuts, count the human cost of those cuts, and also scrutinise just how well the considerable amount of public money is being spent in support of human rights.

In forcing publication of the UN Committee’s findings and its own response and publishing the Green Paper the government has provided a major opportunity to put it to the test.

Source: Following the UN Disability Committee report – it’s time to focus | Making rights make sense

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9 thoughts on “UN disability report: It IS time to focus – but not on details we’ve already covered

  1. joanna

    Seriously, What can the UN do? I didn’t think they could dictate UK policy no matter how bad it is.
    As for the government being on the run! The government doesn’t care and they have no respect for criticism, they can just choose to ignore it.
    Lastly if the UN does have teeth, this government are so slippery and very competent at self-preservation, (they have had lots of practice), that the sick and disabled are bound to suffer more, right under the noses of the UN.
    What could possibly change anything for the better?

    I realise that I am being pessimistic, but too many things happen in life, that are totally unjust, and tragedies are allowed to play out.

  2. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    I really do not think there is any chance of making this government do its job properly by running the country for the benefit of EVERYONE. It is a Tory government intent only on furthering the already super rich at the expense of decent management for those of us who are not, and especially those in need of support which is what we all pay our taxes for; except, of course, for those who do not pay them and I refer to the tax-exiles who profit from the hard work of ordinary folk here and live lives of luxury in off-shore tax havens.

    It is time all “decent” people woke up and realized that a Labour government would be all for fair promotion of business but, at the same time, the promotion of fairness and care for those in need of support; especially the infirm and disabled.

  3. Dez

    Has there been any attack from Labour from the benches or Prime Ministers question time? Something as tacky as this should be all over the media.

  4. Harley

    Until the DWP admits that welfare reform is one of the biggest drivers of poverty, amongst certain groups of citizens in the UK, there can be no hope of holding the government to account. What we now have is a perfect storm of cuts, caps and frozen entitlements while at the same time a heap of new responsibilities and costs, e.g., council tax contribution and the necessity of a phone and internet connection because Universal Credit is supposedly “digital by default” with the unemployed supposed to spend 35 hours alone and unaided looking for work or face a loss of all income for months, even years. When challenged the DWP usually says that devices are available to claimants in Jobcentres and places like libraries failing to consider that many people live miles away from such places, which necessitates walking miles and miles there and back because such people are too poor to frequent transport costs, – some are not well and others elderly in their sixties – and libraries put a time limit of one or two hours free internet per day on those who cannot afford to pay.

    Frozen working-age benefits were never designed to meet these extra costs and they are driving people into poverty.

    As Ken Loach says this is “conscious cruelty” on the part of the government and pseudo-ministers like the truly awful David Freud.

    Yet so far the DWP has abrogated all responsibility for the unfolding catastrophe.

    1. mohandeer

      The DWP is not an extension of the Conservative government and should therefore, as a public funded, non political based organisation, be accountable as a separate entity charged with responsibility for their actions and the actions of their staff. Only then, when the DWP staff, top to bottom, can be made to answer for any and all charges that can be evidenced, against them, will the DWP become accountable. The problem then is the Unite Union, to which most of the staff belong, will not allow any of their members to answer for any criminal activity in unjustly circumventing the system they are supposed to represent, nor face charges of negligence, incompetence or downright spitefulness.
      Catch 22 situation.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        You are mistaken.
        The DWP is an extension of the Conservative government. It’s a government department, currently run by the Conservatives.
        It is still accountable for its actions – but if you’ve ever tried to hold a government department to account, you’ll understand that this doesn’t count for much.
        No, there is no problem with the union – are you sure it’s Unite? I wonder who told you that.

  5. Black Triangle (@blacktriangle1)

    Neil Crowther contradicts himself.

    What is the UN investigation and report if not the ‘unpicking’ of Tory welfare reform?

    The arguments have been made out and lost by the government.

    The main issue is their rule by diktat with impunity. How do we hold them to account?

    If not by law then, at very least, in the court of UK and international public opinion.

    As Law Lord Lord Hailsham said, we live under an ‘elected dictatorship’ in the UK – [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elective_dictatorship] and this is the crux of the matter.

    Crowther’s commentary is both wrong and unhelpful and undermines our side. He should be supporting our joint efforts instead. He offers no solutions.

    John McArdle

    Black Triangle Campaign

  6. gillian francis

    I agree wasting energy on a response that’s designed to drop shutters on those disfranchised about any aspects of the ” whining poor”, ” benefits” ” supposedly bad Tories” is a waste of energy.
    Their responses need to be highlighted for the faults inaccuracies contained within.

Comments are closed.