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This Writer’s experience after Prime Minister’s Questions today demonstrates the danger of publishing unwise words – and I don’t mean my own.
At the very start of the session, Theresa May said: “I am sure that Members throughout the House will wish to join me in marking Holocaust Memorial Day this Saturday and in remembering all those who endured such appalling suffering in the holocaust.”
In fact, she seems to have made a common mistake, that HMD commemorates only the genocides perpetrated by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945. This is a falsehood. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn went some way towards correcting this as he stood to ask his first question: “I join the Prime Minister in commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day. Many Members will be signing the book of remembrance and attending the event tomorrow. We have to teach all generations that the descent into Nazism and the holocaust must never, ever be repeated anywhere on this planet.”
But of course it has been repeated – again and again. It is hard to describe the horror of the Shoah (as Jewish people describe the Nazi holocaust), but we have witnessed many occasions in which the same has been attempted against other ethnic groups.
The Cambodian genocide in the 1970s took anything up to three million lives. In Rwanda, in 1994, the highest estimate of the death toll is one million. In 1971, up to three million people were killed in Bangladesh.
There are smaller genocides, too. But are they to be treated with less horror, less revulsion, just because fewer people died? In East Timor between 1975 and 199, up to 200,000 people lost their lives. Are any of those lives less important than those lost between 1939 and 1945, or in Cambodia, or in Bangladesh? A similar number died in Somalia between 1988 and 1991. Were those lives any less important? What about the 200,000 Kurds said to have died in Iraq between 1986 and 1989? Or the 166,000 in Guatemala between 1962 and 1996?
Or the 30-40,000 deaths in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995? I was in Bosnia with a charity trying to help rebuild, in 1997. The things I saw, and the accounts of the people I met, will stay with me until the day I die.
What about the thousands of people who are understood to have died as a result of Conservative policies to people with long-term illnesses and disabilities since 2010?
They didn’t happen, according to people on Twitter today (January 24).
Perhaps it was unwise, considering the tidal wave of hate against me that has been swelling on Twitter over (false) claims of anti-Semitism that have been made against me – but I have been campaigning for many years against the Tory policy to push sick and disabled people to their deaths, and this was an opportunity I could not pass up.
So I tweeted:
— Mike Sivier (@MidWalesMike) January 24, 2018
Can open. Worms everywhere.
First, there are those who deny that people with long-term illnesses and disabilities are being pushed to their deaths by Tory policies.
Here’s one now – Julie Hull:
A vile comment and equally grotesquely insulting to Conservatives, to true victims of genocides, and to the disabled. You and this kind of ‘kinder gentler politics’ bring shame on the party you pretend to love.
— Julie Hull (@rivier) January 24, 2018
I’ll repeat her words, in case she chooses to delete the tweet later. She wrote: “A vile comment and equally grotesquely insulting to Conservatives, to true victims of genocides, and to the disabled. You and this kind of ‘kinder gentler politics’ bring shame on the party you pretend to love.”
Strong words. But it wasn’t clear what they actually meant, so I had to seek clarity. I asked: “Are you denying the deaths of sick and disabled people due to Tory policies?”
— Julie Hull (@rivier) January 24, 2018
And she wrote: “Yes.”
So Tory spending cuts in health and social care didn’t lead to the deaths of nearly 120,000 people since 2010 – mostly older people and those whose health issues mean they live in care homes? That will be news to the authors of this study, published by the British Medical Journal.
So Tory benefit cuts didn’t cause a “human catastrophe” for sick and disabled people in the UK? That will be news to the United Nations.
Julie Hull, that’ll be news to the UN. According to UN systematic abuse of disabled by Tories has led 2 thousands of deaths of disabled and sick! Eugenics!
— Pam Sanby (@PamSanby) January 25, 2018
So Tory benefit cuts didn’t lead to the unexplained deaths of at least 2,400 people between 2011 and 2014? That would be news to me.
(If you click on the link, you’ll see it refers to fewer than 2,400 deaths. This is because the Conservative government at first tried to withhold some information from me. The remaining facts were provided later, under the cosh of the UK Statistics Authority).
And what of the other deaths? You see, the Department for Work and Pensions only records the deaths of claimants up to around two weeks after a decision is made to cut their benefits. Many, many people have died after that period – due to a number of causes.
Who can forget David Clapson, a former soldier who died of diabetic ketoacidosis caused by severe lack of insulin, three weeks after his benefits were stopped – for missing one meeting at the Job Centre. He had no money to pay for the electricity to keep his fridge working, meaning the insulin he kept there became useless. At the time of his death, he had no food in his stomach at all. A pile of CVs was found next to his body. His death was not recorded by the DWP as it occurred after the Department’s two-week limit.
How about Michael O’Sullivan, who was driven to suicide bids after being found “fit for work” by the Department for Work and Pensions? A coroner, Mary Hassall, made it clear that she considered the DWP – and therefore the Conservative government – to have triggered his suicide.
There are many more incidents. If you have the stamina for it, try going through the list of articles on the subject, published on This Site alone.
And for anyone who still doubts that the Conservative government and its policies had anything to do with the deaths, bear in mind that the benefit assessment interview for both ESA and PIP includes a query about whether the claimant has ever considered suicide.
If they say “yes”, the next question is: “Why haven’t you done it?” Can you honestly tell yourself that a person with mental health problems, who has already considered suicide, won’t take that as a demand that they take their own life?
It’s called “chequebook euthanasia”. And yes, you can trace its roots back to Nazi Germany.
Oh, but never mind any of the evidence that has been amassed since 2010. Julie Hull says there’s no connection between the deaths of sick and disabled people and the Conservative government, so that’s all right then.
Is it? Really?
The other aspect of this is the following claim, repeated many times over the last few hours:
Minimising of the Holocaust is antisemitic, which you know and are doing deliberately to cause offence.
— Beth Rosenberg (@bethvaughan15) January 24, 2018
Beth Rosenberg wrote: “Minimising of the Holocaust is antisemitic, which you know and are doing deliberately to cause offence.”
- I have not minimised any Holocaust.
- Holocaust Memorial Day commemorates many holocausts and genocides, not just what happened to the Jewish people.
The first point should be self-evident from what I have written above. If anything, my critics are minimising the deaths of sick and disabled people currently taking place here in the UK – and that is unforgivable.
It is possible that the people complaining to me misunderstand the terms. For example:
What a vile human being, someone needs to look up the definition of #Genocide
— Jonny Braham (@jonnybraham) January 24, 2018
“What a vile human being,” tweeted Jonny Braham. “Someone needs to look up the definition of #Genocide.”
So I did – on the Holocaust Memorial Day website. I responded: “HMD website: “The Convention [The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide] defines genocide as … causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group… deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” among others.”
Ah ok so the tories made all these people disabled & now wants to wipe them out, I reiterate my previous tweet, you’re a vile human being
— Jonny Braham (@jonnybraham) January 24, 2018
That reply defies belief: “Ah ok so the tories made all these people disabled & now wants to wipe them out, I reiterate my previous tweet, you’re a vile human being.”
Who said anything about the Tories making anybody disabled?
As for the rest of it – we were discussing genocide and I provided the information requested of me.
Oh, and yes – I referred to holocausts in the plural. Look up the definition – this one is from the Oxford Dictionary:
1.“destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war.”
My insistence on this definition will become clear, later in this article.
As for the second: The tweet I’ve quoted makes it very clear that the person attacking me believes Holocaust Memorial Day to refer specifically to the genocide committed against Jewish people by Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. So does this one, from the same person:
The mythology from the left compared to the systematic murder of 6 million Jews. You are totally revolting and I’m not going to give a common little man like you any more attention.
— Beth Rosenberg (@bethvaughan15) January 24, 2018
She wrote: “The mythology from the left compared to the systematic murder of 6 million Jews.”
So HMD refers only to the Shoah and not to any other such events, according to Ms Rosenberg. Oh, and the deaths of thousands of people with long-term illnesses and disabilities have not happened, in her opinion.
Here’s S. Nicholson:
How dare you compare the systematic murder of millions of people with the fairy tale claim that controlling benefits is damaging?
You are completely despicable and so is Corbyn
— S.Nicholson (@sunick51) January 24, 2018
“How dare you compare the systematic murder of millions of people with the fairy tale claim that controlling benefits is damaging?”
Christina Wallis tweeted: “That’s probably the most deluded and disgusting comment I’ve ever seen on Twitter. How dare you.”
I responded: “In what way? Are you denying the deaths of sick and disabled people due to Conservative Party policy? If so, on what basis? Have you read the information available on this subject (there’s a lot)? Or are you just trying to attack me?”
I just find it upsetting that you're using an atrocity that lead to the death of six million people, including members of my family to make a political point. I wasn't attacking you, I've never attacked anyone in my life.
— ((Christina Wallis)) (@xtinewallis) January 24, 2018
“I just find it upsetting that you’re using an atrocity that lead to the death of six million people, including members of my family to make a political point. I wasn’t attacking you, I’ve never attacked anyone in my life.”
Oh, is that right? It seemed like an attack.
So we’ve established that the people quoted above consider the Holocaust to be the atrocity committed by Nazi Germany against Jewish people, and I am an anti-Semite for suggesting anything else.
I draw attention to it because, back in September 2016, former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker was suspended by the Labour Party after members of the Jewish Labour Movement complained that she was an anti-Semite, for believing exactly the same thing.
According to The Independent:
“In terms of Holocaust Day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Day was open to all people who experienced Holocaust?” she said at a training workshop on dealing with antisemitism at Momentum’s conference.
A number of people in the room immediately spoke out against Ms Walker’s comments and told her that Holocaust Memorial Day already included commemoration of other genocides. She responded: “In practice, it’s not actually circulated and advertised as such.”
Look at Theresa May’s words, quoted above. Look at Jeremy Corbyn’s. It is clear that they are referring to the Nazi atrocity. Together with the tweets above, I would say there is evidence that Ms Walker has a point.
For those who posted your hate messages in the hope that you would condemn me: At least you’ve done your bit to get Ms Walker’s suspension lifted.
For clarity, Holocaust Memorial Day does commemorate other atrocities – in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. That means it leaves out many, many other such horrific events. Ms Walker, if I recall correctly, was unhappy that transatlantic slavery is not mentioned.
Fortunately, there were people who were willing to stand up and be counted on my side too:
120,000 deaths by the #DWP
100,000premature deaths by #NHSCrisis
1000's deaths by #homelessness
100's of deaths by #prisoners suicides
All useless feeders on the #Tory agenda#Fascism is stalking the streets of Britain Now.
— David Stirrup (@David4rds) January 24, 2018
Not if your 1 of the 120, 000 dead disabled people.
— Kanjin Tor ™ (@xugla) January 24, 2018
No it's really not. I'm disabled and I'm seeing people like me dying on the streets.
— Captain Janeway🌹🐝 (@janeymachine) January 25, 2018
Yes because Jews are the only ones who died in the Holocaust. My people died in the Holocaust as well, so its not Antisemitic.
— Dan #LFC #Socialism (@Danielbjones6) January 25, 2018
'Control of benefits'? Was that for real? People are being systematically denied benefits as a result of the WCA. They have died shortly afterwards, according to coroners as a DIRECT result. The DWP does not deny this, yet you do? Grow up for Gods sake.
— Neil (@nsbooth98) January 25, 2018
One more thing: The Holocaust Memorial Day website has an image entitled “The ten stages of genocide”, which I’ll reproduce below:
As you can see, the Conservatives are well on their way with their genocide of people with illnesses and disabilities.
Stage One – Classification, Stage Four – Dehumanisation and Stage Six – Polarisation have already been implemented, with government and their tame media encouraging their supporters to ostracise those who have long-term illnesses and/or disabilities, and to refer to them as “scroungers”, “skivers” and worse. The Tories have the Daily Mail, among other rags, to spread their hate.
Attempts have been made at Stage Two – Symbolisation, with the bid to make disabled people wear badges on the London Underground. On the face of it, this was to allow them access to facilities for the disabled, but advocates for disabled people warned that it would make them targets for people who had been indoctrinated with the hatred symbolised by Stage One and Stage Four.
Stage Three – Discrimination is exactly why the United Nations criticised the UK government several years ago. The government was found guilty of “grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities”.
Stage Five – Organisation is covered by the Department for Work and Pensions. You see, violence doesn’t have to be carried out with guns these days – it can be done with a keystroke when a benefit claimant is deprived of their allowance. The assessment system for ESA and PIP assumes either that illness and/or disability is all in the mind, or that the claimant is trying to avoid working for a living, and current information has it that the government wants to clear 80 per cent of claimants from the benefit books.
Deprived of their means of survival, sick/disabled people are left to their own devices. They can’t claim Jobseekers’ Allowance – as directed by the DWP – because they would be sanctioned very quickly when their illness made it impossible for them to meet one or more of the conditions required of someone searching for a job. So they starve to death like David Clapson, or commit suicide, like Michael O’Sullivan, and the government can deny any responsibility, in accordance with Stage Ten – Denial.
We have already seen the Conservatives deny any wrong-doing to the United Nations; we know they do not collect information about the well-being of former sickness and disability benefit claimants who have been cut off by their cruel assessment system.
That’s how the Tory genocide of the sick and disabled works. If you denied it before reading this article, please reconsider your position.
The phrase most commonly associated with the Holocaust inflicted by the Nazis is “Never again”.
The fact is, since 1945, such events have happened again and again.
It is outrageous that I should be vilified for pointing it out.
Postscript: Believe it or not, I received the following after publishing this article:
You're the first to assume your experiences are the same for everyone so don't lecture me on disability and living with a Tory govt. People die – it's the way of the world.
— kathy #FPBE (@kb32904) January 25, 2018
“People die – it’s the way of the world” has to be one of the most sickening attempts to justify the Tory persecution of sick and disabled people that I have yet seen.
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