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Scandal: Esther McVey.

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has created a serious headache for the Conservative government with her silly chatter about the ‘rape clause’.

If you still don’t know, this is the rule that forbids parents from receiving benefit for a third child unless it is the product of rape. The mothers are forced to relive the trauma of that crime in front of assessors in an ordeal that Ms McVey had the sheer, unadulterated arrogance to describe as “double support” for them.

I know. If you felt a fraction of the anger, reading those words, as I did writing them, then it is a miracle Ms McVey hasn’t becoming confined to her home by a crowd of enraged British citizens whose sense of decency has been so violated by her words that they feel the need to stand up against her.

The SNP’s leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, certainly stood up against her at Prime Minister’s Questions. He asked: “Does the Prime Minister agree with her Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who is sitting just along from her, that the rape clause provides victims with “double support”?”

Mrs May’s response was as infuriating as that of her minister. She started by admitting that the issue was extremely delicate: “It is an incredibly sensitive issue, and of course I fully recognise the sensitivities that are involved for the mothers involved.”

Then she ruined it by siding with Ms McVey: “We have taken great care—considerable time and care—to set up procedures, following extensive consultations, that mean that no Government staff will question these mothers about what they have experienced. The point my right hon. Friend was making was that a mother will be granted the exemption through engaging with specialist professionals, such as health and social workers, who may be able to provide them with support in those circumstances over and beyond the issue of their entitlement.”

No. That’s not what she said. McVey said the assessment itself was extra support. It isn’t. It is another assault.

That’s what Mr Blackford said in his response: “That is not quite the point that the Secretary of State made when she seemed to offend all who were at the meeting of the Parliament in Edinburgh. Rape Crisis Scotland has clearly stated: “Hinging benefits on proving trauma isn’t a choice, it’s a disgrace and one which may well re-traumatise women.” The chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland has said that the rape clause “is fundamentally damaging for women—forcing them to disclose rape and abuse at a time and in a manner not of their choosing, at pain of financial penalty.” This is the form, Mr Speaker, with a box for the child’s name. What kind of society do we live in?”

Mrs May’s reply was shocking: “We live in a society in which we have taken every care to ensure that this is dealt with in as sensitive a manner as possible.”

That is a lie.

We live in a society whose government believes that people who aren’t born with a title, or money, are property; they don’t understand why you should have any rights and expect you to do as you are told by your so-called “betters”. They do not understand the distress that their demands will cause. Even if they do, they’ll deny it in order to get what they want.

The sensitive way to deal with this issue is not to make it a condition of receiving benefit – but that is beyond the understanding of a creature as low, as vile, as base as the woman currently squatting in 10 Downing Street.

And under her government, sensitivity has been banned from the Department for Work and Pensions. Consider the other nightmare policies that have generated horror stories in the news lately. Let’s start with the continuing war on people with disabilities:

“Disabled people are being forced to skip meals and sit in cold homes in a climate of benefit and social care cuts, according to new research.

“Analysis by ComRes on behalf of the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity shows almost a quarter of disabled adults aged 18-65 in the UK missed at least one meal in the last year, while a fifth said they were not able to keep their home warm.

“The findings follow a recent report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that found disabled people had disproportionately borne the brunt of tax and welfare changes since 2010, with disabled families facing an annual income loss of up to £10,000.

“Leonard Cheshire said their latest research shows the impact has been “catastrophic” with essential heating, food or travel often becoming unaffordable.

“Absence of any social care, or inadequate support, also left more than half (54%) of those who need it feeling isolated and lonely, according to the latest research. Meanwhile 53% said the lack of help had a negative impact on their mental health.”

The intention is to drive disabled people to suicide. If enough of them do it, the Tories will be able to fund another tax cut for their rich friends.

How about Universal Credit – the hugely expensive, critically flawed system intended to cause “poverty, hunger and suicidal despair”? Here‘s a whistleblower to discuss that nightmare:

“The cruelty and suffering the Government’s new universal credit system is inflicting on thousands of vulnerable people in “abject poverty” has been exposed by a benefits case worker.

“He tells of a system beset by delays and confusion, of suicidal claimants, of seeing “suffering on a daily basis” and how “turning away those in abject poverty” has become “part of the job”.

“Even parents without the money to feed their family, he says, are turned away, leaving children to “suffer in hunger for weeks”.

““Often,” he adds, “the call involves telling them we can’t pay them anything else, even if they are genuinely penniless and will be for weeks.

““Many claimants react in anger, others break down in tears. It’s only minutes until we’re dealing with the next caller – and the last caller is quickly forgotten.

““I see so much suffering on a daily basis.””

The latest scandal is that payment delays are forcing women back into abusive relationships they have been trying to escape:

“Demelza Lobb, of Refuge, which offers support to those escaping domestic violence, revealed to MPs that some women who had to wait weeks to receive their benefit had returned to dangerous situations “because they would have an income”.

“Lobb, who specialises in the impact of financial abuse, said many women who find themselves in a refuge may have to start their own Universal Credit claim again from scratch – leading to a lengthy weight for their first payment.

““It has led to several women saying to us ‘I’m going to go back because it might be easier, because then at least I know I’ll have an income, at least I know I will have food’.””


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