Tag Archives: Chingford

‘Dear Chingford’: An open letter about Iain Duncan Smith

Smug: Iain Duncan Smith thinks his Parliamentary seat is safe. Can YOU help to wipe that grin off his face?

Smug: Iain Duncan Smith thinks his Parliamentary seat is safe. Can YOU help to wipe that grin off his face?

Here’s a little gem that Vox Political has been saving up since last December – an ‘open’ letter to the people of Chingford and Woodford Green about Iain Duncan Smith, from a person affected by his policies. It runs as follows [boldings mine]:

“Hello. You don’t know me, but I’m 40 years old, male, disabled and live outside of London, and recently employed. That’s all that matters really.
I’ve been employed on and off over the past four years. I’ve spent most of that time though under the system at the Department for Work and Pensions. It’s hell, it’s dehumanizing and it’s heart-breaking.

“I struggled my way to this job… but I’m here now. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for everyone. Some people can’t work, not that the Department for Work and Pensions cares. Under Iain Duncan Smith – your MP – people have died. I have read stories that should break your heart, if you have one.

“You do have a heart, don’t you? Good. Here’s what someone with a heart would do: Rid this country of Iain Duncan Smith.

“Seriously. Go and vote. You should be doing that anyway. But this time, I beg you, plead with you, not to vote Conservative. On behalf of everyone who dreads facing another five years of this man deciding whether we can heat our houses or feed ourselves every winter. For the old lady I read about today who can’t even afford a mince pie.

“Because it might be your mum next year. We’re all just a few meals away, a road accident, a terrorist attack or a heart attack, from really needing other people.”

Chingford and Woodford Green is a Conservative Party ‘safe seat’. Iain Duncan Smith won it in 2010 by a majority of more than 12,000. If he is to be unseated, it means thousands of people will have to vote for somebody else instead – or simply refuse to vote in this election.

Conservative mentality suggests that this is unlikely. Party supporters tend to do exactly as they are told and turn out to vote come hell or high water. But this year’s election is unusual – all the pundits are saying so, and we know that many people are influenced by what they get from the media, so it might just become true.

And, let’s be honest, removing Iain Duncan Smith from Parliament would be a net gain for the prosperity of the United Kingdom.

Bearing in mind the statistical likelihood that Chingford’s voters continue to act against all reason and return that candidate to Parliament, the only hope is that voters elsewhere refuse to support the Conservative candidates in their own constituencies.

Remember: It doesn’t matter if your Tory seems nice, or capable, or reasonable, or safe – a vote for any Conservative is a vote to put Iain Duncan Smith back in charge of benefit-related genocide. Yes, it may be described in those terms. Why else would the DWP hide the number of benefit-related deaths, if that number isn’t shockingly high?

Enough is enough. Let’s put the prosperity of the nation before our own selfish, sectional interests and do something genuinely good at this election.

Alternatively, as the “open” letter asks, will you let him take your mum next year?

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Meet the pain management nurse who is set to unseat Iain Duncan Smith

Kathryn Anderson

Kathryn Anderson

Gratitude is due to Andrew Sharp for notifying Vox Political of the one major omission in our story about the challenge to leading members of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition government by members of the National Health Action Party in next year’s general election.

Iain Duncan Smith will be challenged for his Chingford and Woodford Green constituency – not by a major media figure like, say, Rufus Hound, nor by a leading member of the NHA Party… but by a pain management nurse from North London.

Kathryn Anderson works at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital – but wants to make sure the people of Chingford and Woodford Green have a chance  to express their “disgust” at what she calls the work and pensions secretary’s “totally dismissive” attitude towards unwell, disabled or disadvantaged people who need assistance.

Who better to ram that point home than a nurse who spends every day working with people who suffer the chronic pain that is habitually dismissed as non-existent by the man this blog likes to call RTU (Returned To Unit – Army terminology for a failure)?

He might not say it himself but the work capability assessment his Department for Work and Pensions has forced on sick benefit claimants is nothing more than a crude essay in disability denial, written for him by an insurance company that earned a criminal conviction in the USA for using the very same formula to refuse claims on its policies.

“Just because this is considered a safe Tory seat doesn’t mean Iain Duncan Smith shouldn’t be challenged, and challenged fiercely,” the NHA Party candidate told the Chingford Guardian on Monday.

“As the deeply unpopular Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, he has shown just how incredibly cruel and vicious the Tory party can be, introducing the bedroom tax and making horrendous cuts to welfare and in the process, destroying lives. He has been far more interested in supporting the wealthy elite than supporting the vulnerable.

“It is also very clear that Iain Duncan Smith cares little for the NHS. The combination of his support for NHS cuts and privatisation, and his welfare reforms, are leading to an even greater reliance on healthcare support for those most in need.”

If Kathryn Anderson wins the seat, not only will the Monster of the Coalition Government be removed from Parliament, but a critical propaganda victory will be won – simply because she isn’t a political ‘Big Beast’.

She’s a nurse, from a London suburb.

Now, Labour is also fielding a candidate against RTU. Bilal Mahmood isn’t a ‘Big Beast’ either, but in the case of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, this is not an attempt to win a symbolic victory; rather it is a concession that a Labour victory in such a Tory heartland is nigh-on impossible. We should not dismiss Mr Mahmood’s abilities or intentions, but it is incumbent on all of us to admit that he has an uphill struggle ahead of him.

This is something the naysayers – who popped up after Monday’s article – failed to grasp when they claimed the rise of the National Health Action Party showed that Labour had become impotent: The chances of Labour winning in Chingford are tiny. The blue-rinsed brigade would rather chew off their own writing hands than get into bed with a Red.

The NHA Party offers an acceptable alternative. Its members are mainly doctors and other medical professionals who are deeply concerned that a major Conservative Party policy will bring nothing but harm to the nation as a whole – and habitual Conservative voters may sympathise wholeheartedly with that point of view.

Look at Lord Tebbit. He reckons he has been a lifelong user of the NHS and the only member of his family ever to have enjoyed privatised medicine is his dog!

As far as the good of the National Health Service is concerned, the aim of the 2015 General Election must be to remove the Conservative Party from office (and, in the main, from Parliament altogether) and then to remove the private sector asset-strippers from the publicly-funded system. That should come above all party political allegiances.

That is why Vox Political, which supports Labour, is happy to call on all those in Chingford and Woodford Green – and in all the other Tory-held constituencies where an NHA Party challenger has arisen – to support them in their campaigns. In particular, help them overcome media resistance.

Tory-supporting money owns most of the press, and this means dissenting voices that offer an alternative to the Conservatives are likely to gain only a fraction of the Tories’ column-inches or TV exposure. Social media and people power can change all that.

If you live in Chingford or Woodford Green and you want people to know there is a viable alternative to Iain Duncan Smith, then spread the word – not just once, but often, until the message gets through that they don’t have to be the quiescent sheep that Tory High Command wants them to be.

Use the social media. Use newspaper letters pages. Phone in to radio and TV political programmes. Cause a stir.

Of course, if NHA Party candidates unseat RTU, David Cameron and all the rest, it means Labour will be more likely to win the election anyway, so Yr Obdt Srvt will get the desired result. But some readers have expressed misgivings about Labour’s will to go through with the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act.

The presence of NHA Party members in the House of Commons will hold Labour to its word.

If you live in a Tory ‘stronghold’ constituency, this is your best chance to save the NHS.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Is this spoof benefit form the basis for Coalition unemployment policy?

Thatcha 2

Take a good hard look at the picture above and then try to tell yourself it isn’t the basis for RTU’s (see the earlier article on Iain Duncan Smith) entire benefits policy.

It is taken from the Spitting Image spin-off book Thatcha! The Real Maggie Memoirs, published in 1993 – just one year after Smith was returned to unit – sorry, Parliament – as MP for Chingford.

He first came to prominence as Shadow Social Security Secretary under William Hague in 1997. It cannot be beyond credibility that he had bought the Spitting Image book and had been taking notes… can it?

Look at the image. The form is described as “Form SCRO/UNG(e)/R” – and now benefit claimants are derided by the Conservative-led Coalition government as “scroungers”.

Note 2, referring to a claimant’s address, states: “Ha! Now we know where you live, we can keep an eye on you. You might have to keep up that fake limp for a long time.” This is typical of the current attitude, that disabled people are faking it in order to get a state handout.

Note 5, for those with relatives, delivers a classic Tory line, “Well why can’t they look after you? Must you always come running to us? Claim disallowed.”

Note 7 is for those who are registered disabled: “Claim disallowed – and don’t bother coming in to complain, we’ve got steps up to the office heh heh.” Is this a million miles away from current DWP policy, to make it as hard as possible for the sick and disabled to claim?

The form disallows claims made by people with partners, with savings, without savings; it asks claimants if they are lying and, if the ‘no’ box is ticked, bluntly responds, “Oh yes you are. Claim disallowed.”

The question “You don’t know the meaning of the words ‘hard work’ do you?” is an exact reflection of the attitude put around by the right-wing press, encouraged by ministers in the Coalition government, as is the fact that there is no ‘yes’ box to tick.

An affirmative response to “Would you be prepared to take any work offered to you, no matter how poorly paid, degrading & menial?” elicits the response: “God, you’ve really got no self-respect left, have you, you scrounging little bastard. I pity you.” Isn’t this exactly the sort of emotional state that Coalition benefit policy is intended to create?

Note 19, for those who ticked a box saying that they wished to claim the money – and claim free NHS spectacles (this last included in tiny print) – states: “Aha! Got you! You obviously don’t need them if you can read that tiny print. Claim disallowed” in a move reminiscent of the ‘voodoo polling’ that appeared on the Conservative Party’s website earlier this year, asking people if they thought benefit increases should be greater than wage rises for working people. When people ticked the box saying they disagreed with this, the Tories were able to claim this meant support for their policy for a below-inflation rise in benefits, when in fact it was based on a false premise, as benefit rises were never greater than wage rises in real terms.

“We promise to process this claim within 28 days. Though exactly which 28 days is up to us,” the form states. This will ring true, particularly for anyone who has received notice that they have a limited period in which to appeal against a decision – and that period ran out the day before they received the letter.

Most damningly true of all is the warning: “Remember, to give false information is a very serious offence – unless of course you are Minister of Employment, in which case it’s essential.” This is certainly a sentence that Iain Duncan Smith seems to have taken to heart.

By now, you may be thinking that this is all taking a silly joke form from a book of satirical humour – published 20 years ago! – just a little too seriously.

But, when you consider the sheer number of similarities between what was wild humour in the 1990s and what is bitter reality now, there can be no conclusion other than that the joke is on us.