Tag Archives: Advisory Committee

Lie after lie over sanctions and FoI: Duncan Smith’s head should roll

The inhumanity of Iain Duncan Smith: He is pictured laughing at the plight of a rape victim who, under his 'reforms', has to pay bedroom tax for the panic room she needs in order to be safe from her abusive, rapist ex-partner.

The inhumanity of Iain Duncan Smith: He is pictured laughing at the plight of a rape victim who, under his ‘reforms’, has to pay bedroom tax for the panic room she needs in order to be safe from her abusive, rapist ex-partner.

Iain Duncan Smith must resign after he disgraced himself yet again, with a leaflet containing fabricated comments from non-existent DWP benefit claimants, according to a leading Opposition MP.

Debbie Abrahams, who has been a leading light in the fight to force the Conservative Government to reveal the true number of people who have died following Duncan Smith’s “welfare reforms”, said the Work and Pensions secretary’s behaviour was a “disgrace” and his position was untenable.

But don’t take This Writer’s word for it – here’s Ms Abrahams herself (all boldings mine):

“As a member of the work and pensions select committee, I have called for Iain Duncan Smith to resign following revelations that his department created a leaflet about sanctions containing made-up quotes attributed to non-existent benefit claimants.

“I instigated an inquiry into the use of sanctions by the work and pensions committee, which reported in March this year, and I believe after being caught out so publicly it must be impossible for Iain Duncan Smith to continue as work and pensions secretary and he should do the honourable thing and resign.

“This is yet another example of not only his incompetence, but what can only be described as very shady and unscrupulous behaviour not befitting a Member of Parliament let alone a Secretary of State leading a Government Department.

“Once again, Duncan Smith is caught trying to paint a particular picture of social security claimants. He is a disgrace and should do the honourable thing and resign. When his own department have to resort to this sort of tactic, in a desperate attempt to make it appear as though the system is working, no-one can be left believing that his draconian social security sanctions regime is fit for purpose.

“Only Mr Duncan Smith seems to believe that unfair and inappropriate use of sanctions on vulnerable social security claimants is acceptable. And now he’s shown that he thinks it’s acceptable for his department to produce literature that is fabricated in a desperate attempt to make people believe his sanctions regime is working fairly.

“It beggars belief that David Cameron can, in the light of this embarrassing debacle, continue to back Mr Duncan Smith as a credible work and pensions secretary when he has presided over such a catalogue of errors.

“In the last few weeks alone, the independent Social Security Advisory Committee has produced a report which says that the Government’s sanctions regime should be given ‘an urgent and robust review’.

“And following the Government’s appeal against the Information Commissioner’s ruling compelling the Government to publish figures on the number of people on Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance who have died between November 2011 and May 2014, including those found fit for work, a Tribunal has now been set for November 10 to hear why Iain Duncan Smith has refused to publish these data.

“I will never forget the fact that not only did Iain Duncan Smith defy the Information Commissioner’s ruling to provide these data on deaths of people on social security, but that he stated to me, personally, in Parliament, it did not exist. But then, just two days later, the Prime Minister said to me, again in Parliament, the data would be published, only for the DWP’s appeal documents to defy him as well, stating publication was not in the public interest!

“The select committee inquiry which I instigated reported in March and the mountain of evidence that was put before the select committee by religious organisations, academics and charities, not to mention those actually affected by inappropriate sanctions themselves, pointed overwhelmingly to a system that is inhumane and deliberately created to skew unemployment figures.

“The sad truth is that Iain Duncan Smith is doing everything he can to cover up the mess he has created.

“This is a mess that is ruining innocent people’s lives and, as the evidence suggests, even killing some.

“The only credible reason he’s going to such lengths to hang on to his job is because he knows he has so much to hide.”

A petition on the Government website, calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Iain Duncan Smith and his removal from office, may be signed here.

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Michael Fabricant wants to increase our chances of acquiring blood-borne infections. Why?

Misinformed: Michael Fabricant wants to lift a ban on gay men giving blood - but seems seriously misinformed about the subject. [Image: Evening Standard.]

Misinformed: Michael Fabricant wants to lift a ban on gay men giving blood – but seems seriously misinformed about the subject. [Image: Evening Standard.]

Perhaps he has been flailing around for a campaigning subject, what with all the good ones being in opposition to the Conservatives.

Perhaps he thinks pushing otherwise-healthy people into an already-overstretched National Health Service will be a good advert for privatisation. It’s crazy, but it’s a possibility.

There can be few other reasons for Michael Fabricant’s weak bid to poison UK blood supplies by allowing people who may not know they are infected to donate.

He reckons a ban on sexually promiscuous gay men should be lifted as straight men who behave in the same manner do not suffer the same discrimination, which is insane.

There are several things wrong with this. Firstly, he is misrepresenting the issue.

The ban does not affect only sexually promiscuous gay men – it affects any man who has had sex with another man, with or without a condom. This clearly discriminates against gay men who are in a monogamous relationship in which both partners are free of infection. They should not be covered by the ban.

Sexually promiscuous gay men, however, should.

Secondly, the ban was put in place – unless the memory cheats – because blood supplies donated by gay men were discovered to be infected with HIV. Anybody can see that a ban on anything that could spread HIV is entirely sensible and should only be lifted if technology has moved on enough for doctors to spot infected blood immediately or screen out the infection in blood that has been donated.

It has been suggested that this has happened and the time period of the ban should be reduced to the period it takes for screening tests to be effective. This seems reasonable, as long as a prospective donor can show that they have been through the screening process. Professor John Forsyth of the government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs has made it clear that the situation is under constant review.

So Fabricant should be calling for a reduction in the ban – not its outright removal.

Thirdly: In fact, Fabricant himself skimmed over the responsible approach to the issue, which is that “neither straight people nor gay people who have had unsafe sex should give blood.” He added, “within 12 months,” but we could probably reduce that according to when it is possible to screen for infection, as suggested above.

Perhaps that would result in too few people volunteering to give any blood at all. You can’t blame them for that – Fabricant’s Tories have forced hard times on the masses.

Who can blame them for turning to a bit of good old-fashioned earthy sex to cheer themselves up?

Note: This article has been revised after several commenters informed this blog of gaps in Fabricant’s information and of technological advances. VP is grateful to them.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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