Piers Morgan and Jameela Jamil: they both look fine but one of them has a serioius disability. Yes, Piers Morgan is hopelessly bigoted.
When This Writer learned that a person with one of the so-called “invisible” disabilities was being victimised by Piers Morgan, I made a remark to a friend about what should happen to it and forgot about it.
But here’s the thing: this comes in a week when we’ve learned that the Department for Work and Pensions is deliberately hiding evidence that it has been victimising people with disabilities – some of them to their death.
Ministers have been seen smirking about it during debates.
And of course we’re living under a government that has actively “othered” people with disabilities, demonising them to the point where people think it is acceptable to mock, humiliate, and even attack them.
Considering all of the above, I think it would be appropriate for Mr Morgan to spend some time living with the pain of a hidden disability.
Perhaps somebody at ITV should apply a jubilee clip to Mr Morgan’s reproductive organs prior to the airing of Good Morning Britain one day, and we can all see how far he gets before the pain becomes too much.
I reckon that would constitute a fair approximation of a hidden disability.
I don’t think he’d last very long. I would like to think it might instil in him a little respect for people who have to deal with that level of pain, all over their bodies, every single day of their lives.
But that’s probably a forlorn hope, isn’t it?
Piers Morgan has been ‘inciting hate‘ against sick and disabled people after he attacked a disabled actress. Morgan claimed she was making her illnesses up.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Chris Williamson speaking to a crowd in Brighton on August 8. He had to carry out his talk in the open air after bigots falsely claiming he was an anti-Semite intimidated staff at two hotels.
Brighton was the venue for shameful scenes when a gang of bullying bigots managed to get an event at a local bookshop cancelled with a campaign of intimidation. When it was moved to another venue, they launched another campaign of hatred against that.
Why did these bigots intimidate staff at Waterstones Brighton – and try to shut down the rescheduled event at the Rialto Theatre?
Simple. It was the launch of a book by academics examining the “anti-Semitism” crisis in the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader – and the bigots opposing it are dedicated to shutting down any discourse on this subject that doesn’t support their own position.
You see, these are people who claim to speak for the UK’s Jewish community – but don’t. It is a role they have assumed for their own political ends.
They claim that the people they are trying to silence are peddling hate – but the only hatred on display comes from them.
Consider the book whose launch they were trying to stop: Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief by Greg Philo, Mike Berry, Justin Schlosberg, Antony Lerman and David Miller.
Publishers Pluto Press describe it as “a ground breaking study revealing how accusations of antisemitism damaged the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”
Its promotional copy states: “During the summer of 2018, numerous members of the Labour Party were accused of anti-Semitic behaviour by their detractors. The controversy reached fever pitch amid claims that the Labour Party had become ‘institutionally racist’ under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and that the prospect of a Corbyn-led government posed an ‘existential threat’ to Jewish life in Britain.
“This book clears the confusion by drawing on deep and original research on public beliefs and media representation of antisemitism and the Labour Party, revealing shocking findings of misinformation spread by the press, including the supposedly impartial BBC, and the liberal Guardian.
“Bringing in discussions around the IHRA definition, anti-Zionism and Israel/Palestine, as well as including a clear chronology of events, this book is a must for anyone wanting to find out the reality behind the headlines.”
The event at Waterstones was set to feature a discussion of the book by its authors, joined by film director Ken Loach.
And who were the authors? From the hatred directed at them, they must be a disreputable gang of anti-Semites – right?
Greg Philo is Professor of Communications and Social Change at the University of Glasgow, and Director of the Glasgow University Media Unit. Mike Berry is a lecturer in the Journalism School at Cardiff University. Justin Schlosberg is a media activist, researcher and lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is a former Chair of the Media Reform Coalition and Edmund J Safra Network Fellow at Harvard University. Antony Lerman is Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna and Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at Southampton University. He has written on multiculturalism, racism, antisemitism, and Israel/Palestine for the Guardian, Independent, New York Times, Haaretz, Prospect, Jewish Chronicle and London Review of Books. And David Miller is Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol. He is a founder director of Public Interest Investigations and a director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies.
So: No – not anti-Semites. Academics.
Still, the campaigners against their book managed to get the Waterstones event shut down, as Skwawkboxelaborated yesterday:
“An event this evening near Labour’s conference in Brighton, to launch a book by five academics that examines the wider context of antisemitism allegations against the Labour Party, has been cancelled by bookseller Waterstones after a ‘vicious’ and threatening campaign by the party’s opponents.
“The event was scheduled to start at 7.30pm and would have featured a panel discussion including the authors and world-famous film director Ken Loach. An organiser of the launch described the campaign as ‘vicious, large-scale and threatening’.
“Brighton was also the scene of threats – including in person – that forced two venues to cancel a recent event involving suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson. Staff were so traumatised by the sinister campaign that at least one was unable to resume work.”
Pluto Press put the cancellation as mildly as it could – but it was still clear that the “external pressure” put on the store was intimidation.
We are disappointed to announce that tonight's launch for 'Bad News for Labour' has been cancelled by @Waterstones, Brighton due to external pressure put on the store… https://t.co/dhQdRu0DYm
We are very concerned that @Rialto_Brighton is hosting a roster of people expelled & suspended from @UKLabour for antisemitism. This is not about freedom of speech, it’s about racism & hate. We wonder if they would be so quick to host homophobes or other bigots? pic.twitter.com/3h3GjVA74D
Just a note; when this debacle of a conference is over, I & the 3000 people who make up the Jewish community will be left in a city that has tolerated, accepted & encouraged antisemitism. @Rialto_Brighton@Waterstones will never again be places I feel welcome. #DontHostHate
I would like to see all of the above interviewed by the police, in relation to the threats suffered by staff at Waterstones and the Rialto. Such behaviour is illegal and must not be tolerated.
It is especially abhorrent when it is being carried out by people who are claiming the moral high ground, accusing their victims of anti-Semitism and threatening violence to prevent those victims from presenting a case that could exonerate them.
I was particularly interested in the tweet by Gary Spedding, highlighted here by Jackie Walker – another innocent victim of the bigots’ smear campaign. Mr Spedding co-wrote a particularly virulent online article, falsely accusing me of anti-Semitism. When I wrote to him, pointing out the errors and asking him to take it down, he and his co-author refused, flinging a few personal insults at me along the way.
These were the threats to a meeting where Jews, blacks, whites and socialists met to object to book burning. No one turned up for @GarySpedding's threats – apart from Christian Zionists telling Jews about God's purpose for them…it was a great meeting Gazzer. We laughed a lot pic.twitter.com/EmoESw05hg
I am pleased that he has implicated himself in this hate campaign and hope that Sussex Police contact him at their earliest possible opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong – I have maintained, from the moment I first started writing about it, that anti-Semitism does exist, in the Labour Party and throughout UK society.
But it doesn’t exist in the book that these bigots have been attacking, and it doesn’t exist in the academics who wrote it. I’m unfamiliar with staff at Waterstones Brighton or the Rialto, but I’ll hazard a guess that they don’t spend their days consumed with hatred for Jews either.
On the other hand, I’m willing to bet that the authors of the hate-filled tweets you’ve just read do spend their days consumed with hatred – and vent that hatred on anyone they can shoehorn into their enormously wide definition of anti-Semitism.
It simply isn’t acceptable.
These aren’t campaigners fighting prejudice against Jews.
They are vicious, hate-filled bigots.
And they need to be stopped before they seriously harm somebody.
One more thing – they did get an aspect of their campaign right: the slogan “Don’t host hate”. That’s a good slogan, and it can very clearly be applied to these bigots.
So I’m having it. If you see these people, or anyone else pushing their message, then flag it up with #DontHostHate
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
After a week in which she desperately tried to steer the public discourse away from the racism in her own policies, it must have been disheartening for Theresa May to hear a former chair of the Conservative Party saying the following to Robert Peston on his Sunday morning show:
Considering the way Parliament hosted a debate – in fact, more like an institutionalised slagging-off of Jeremy Corbyn – over the allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, at least one response was going to be obvious:
Will there be a House of Commons debate on institutionalised racism in the Conservative Party at some point this week? Just asking for a friend.
Believe it or not, though, the UK’s mainstream media seem keen – desperate, in fact – to sweep this under the carpet. Racism? Islamophobia? In the Conservative Party? The very thought!
At least, that seems to be the attitude.
I had to go to alleged Russian propoganda and fake news site RT to find a report on what Baroness Warsi told Peston viewers – and it was revealing:
“In light of the recent anti-Semitism row that has engulfed UK Labour, with wall-to-wall MSM broadcast, print, and social media coverage that has painted the issue as a “crisis” for the main opposition party, one may have thought this would have grabbed the attention of the media establishment.
“The reality? Cue the tumbleweed.
“Indeed, not even the presenter interviewing Baroness Warsi, Robert Peston, picked up the revelation to investigate the matter more fully.
“So, why the media silence? Could it be that the MSM are more focused on misdemeanors, perceived or otherwise, committed by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, as part of what some see as a concerted campaign to undermine his authority and weaken his standing as leader, for fear that one day he may become prime minister?
“Others may suggest that Islamophobia is not seen by a majority of the British media as such a terrible scourge on our society as anti-Semitism.
“Whatever the reason for the MSM blackout on Baroness Warsi’s admission, the concerns of many that large sections of the media apply lower moral standards to the Tories than to Labour, will not be adequately addressed while claims of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party are ignored.”
I have written on racism in the Conservative Party in the past – yes, even before the Windrush scandal – and it would be easy to link to those articles to show examples.
But I think it would be better to offer a Muslim’s view on Islamophobia. Here‘s Aleesha – some of you may already know her from her Twitter account; she also writes a blog, and this is some of what she has to say:
“As a young British Muslim woman involved in politics, I’ve seen the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric in British politics, and nobody is acting on it, nobody is condemning it and quite frankly, it’s disgusting that our politicians can get away with it.
“Very recently, Conservative MP, Bob Blackman shared an islamophobic page and article on his Facebook and then apologised for it when he was called out. However, this isn’t the first time that Bob has endorsed the anti-Muslim sentiment, he previously retweeted anti-Muslim posts from Tommy Robinson, a notorious bigot. Moreover, Bob Blackman had also hosted an anti-Muslim extremist in Parliament, a man who praised the Rohingya genocide, called for genocide of Kashmiri Muslims and called for Islam to be “wiped out” from this planet. What annoys me most about all of this is the entire fact that it’s hardly made the news, just briefly and there’s hardly any outrage, and our MPs aren’t condemning it or calling it out. I’d at least expect our Muslim MPs to call it out regardless of political ideologies but all I see is silence. Just imagine for a second that Bob was a Labour MP, or imagine if, in this instance, it was another religion. Just imagine the outrage. The silence from Theresa May and the Tories and their inability to act on this speaks volumes.
“Bob Blackman’s islamophobia isn’t just one case in politics. There are many. One of which dates back to the London Mayoral elections, where Zac Goldsmith launched an islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan. The Tories didn’t act, nobody acted and Zac Goldsmith still remains as an MP for Richmond.
“Go to Sadiq Khan’s Twitter profile, browse through his Tweets and look at all of the replies to them. You will almost always see islamophobic and racial abuse tweeted to him.
“I’m also writing this just after reading a Tweet from the official EU Leave account that said Britain has an “exploding” Muslim population.
“Why is nobody acting? I have been blocked by Tory councillors and Tory MPs when I call islamophobia out. Why are these MPs and councillors supporting islamophobes? It makes me think that the Tory party has an actual problem with islamophobia, not to mention the dozens of times I’ve been religiously abused by Tories.
“Are we just going to ignore it? When will we give these cases the rightful outrage? Islamophobia is absolutely normalised in British politics and nobody is really doing anything about it. The silence from our politicians shows their inability to act and their legitimation/endorsement of these views. Are we going to act, or are we going to do nothing and let MPs like Bob Blackman host more extremists in Parliament?”
Consider Baroness Warsi’s words at the top of this article and the answer is clear – at least as far as the Conservatives are concerned.
Islamophobia? They love it!
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This is what Theresa May wants to do with foreigners – get rid of them or send them to prison.
Let’s be honest – Theresa May is a xenophobe.
Look at her record and it’s easy to conclude that she didn’t order airstrikes because she wanted to help the poor displaced Syrian children – she did it to kill foreigners.
Yes, it’s right to remind Mrs May that she voted to turn away asylum-seekers in 2016.
But let’s remind ourselves of her 2013 decision to flood London with advertising vans telling illegal immigrants to “Go home”.
It was a decision that prompted Mrs May’s fellow racists to report innocent British citizens to the immigration authorities, on the flimsiest of grounds.
Theresa May gave an impassioned speech defending her decision to launch airstrikes against Syria co-ordinated alongside the US and France.
May drew upon traumatic accounts of the country’s ongoing devastation in order to reinstate the point that Syrian residents are in severe danger.
We have seen the harrowing images of men, women and children lying dead with foam in their mouths.
These were innocent families who, at the time this chemical weapon was unleashed, were seeking underground shelter in basements.
Syria is currently in the midst of a Civil War described as one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time. According to WorldVision, the conflict has left 13 million Syrian citizens in need of assistance; more than 5.6 million have fled the country in search of asylum, whereas a further 6.1 million have been internally displaced. Half of these affected victims are thought to be children.
In 2016, thousands of these minors travelled unaccompanied to Europe in search of aid. When they arrived, MPs took a vote on whether or not to accept them.
At the time, Theresa May, alongside 293 other MPs, voted against accepting them.
Jeremy Corbyn criticises ‘fake anti-elitism’ of Trump and Farage, at Labour’s National Policy Forum.
Once again, Jeremy Corbyn is talking sense. So of course, The Guardian has relegated this story to a supporting position on its ‘politics’ web page.
Everything Mr Corbyn says about the Tories (in the excerpt I have quoted), is accurate, and This Blog has reported increasing levels of hate crime – throughout society, not just aimed at immigrants and migrant workers, since it began, nearly five years ago.
And the fact is, immigration is not the cause of any of the UK’s problems.
Tories are the cause of the UK’s problems.
Immigrants didn’t introduce privatisation into the English NHS and then cut services in order to pay dividends to company shareholders. Tories did.
Immigrants didn’t restrict the number of new houses being built, making it harder for everyone – including immigrants – to get a home. Tories did.
Immigrants didn’t mess around with the education system, bringing schools under private ownership and introducing new criteria for awarding places in them. Tories did.
Immigrants did not make it possible for companies to undercut workers’ wages and conditions, fending off protests from weakened trade unions. Tories did.
And immigrants didn’t introduce rationing of public services across the board and call it “austerity”. Tories did.
Theresa May’s Conservatives are at the vanguard of the wave of right-wing hatred rising across the world.
The hate started here.
So let’s show the rest of the world how to put an end to it.
Let’s be world leaders at being better than that.
Jeremy Corbyn has insisted Labour will not make “false promises” on reducing immigration as he accused Theresa May of complicity in whipping up hatred against migrants.
The Labour leader warned against sowing division by pandering to anti-migrant sentiment, saying it had already had consequences with hate crime rising in Britain and the US following the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as president.
Both the leave campaign and Trump made cutting immigration central in their pitch to voters and were criticised for what many saw as alarmist rhetoric.
“We will not make false promises on immigration targets as the Tories have done or sow divisions, but we will take decisive action to end the undercutting of workers’ pay and conditions, reinstate the migrant impact fund to support public services and back fair rules on migration,” he said.
“This is a government led by Theresa May who, as home secretary, authorised taxpayer-funded vans to tour the streets emblazoned with ‘go home’; who, as home secretary, made up stories about being unable to deport foreign criminals because they had a pet cat; who, was part of a government that called disabled people on benefits scroungers, shirkers, and skivers.
“We will never use that language,” he said.
“It is this culture in which rising levels of hate crime have occurred. Far-right views are now being presented as part of the mainstream, egged on by sections of the media that publish the most hateful and dishonest bile on a routine basis.”
In a direct pitch to Brexit supporters fed up with the status quo, Corbyn echoed the leave campaign’s slogan, saying only Labour could “take back real control”.
A weekend of action against alleged UKIP hate-mongering is to take place later this month.
In the immediate aftermath of the appalling terrorist attacks in Paris, UKIP leader Nigel Farage took to the airwaves to blame immigration and multiculturalism and claimed that there was a “fifth column” operating in this country, according to Hope Not Hate.
“We’ve got people living in these countries, holding our passports, who hate us,” the organisation quoted him as saying.
He went on to claim that most French cities had “no-go” areas for non-Muslims.
“Sadly, he is at it again,” wrote Nick Lowles for Hope Not Hate. “Last week, in a speech to a hard-right conference in the US, he repeated his claims.
“Farage’s incendiary language is dangerous and will only whip up fear, suspicion and hatred. He is clearly moving to the right, so we need to redouble our efforts to stop him and his party.
“With just 65 days to go until the General Election, we need to step up our campaign. UKIP boast that it will win several seats and, more worryingly, could hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. UKIP also poses a real threat in 410 council wards.
“If you are appalled by Farage whipping up hatred and are worried about UKIP holding the balance of power, then please sign up to get involved.”
[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]
After yesterday’s article on Gaza was written, Yr Obdt Srvt opened the new edition of Private Eye and read the following on page 29:
“Downing Street’s promise on Monday to review all the UK’s arms export licences to Israel will come as no surprise to anyone who has perused a recent report from MPs… The report revealed the continuing mystery of licences for £7.8bn worth of equipment, mainly ‘cryptographic equipment, software and technology’.”
But page 5 of the same magazine states: “Many of the countries the UK supplies are flagged up by the Foreign Office as being ‘countries of human rights concern’. They account for £11.9bn of UK arms sales and include China, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, who have been sold ‘cryptography’ equipment – essentially kit to disguise communications, infiltrate external websites and protect their own from surveillance.”
That costs £7.8 billion in Israel but only £3.1 billion to all these other countries, does it? And it’s before taking out sales of any shoot-bang-kill weapons, too.
Arms exports to Saudi Arabia total more than £1.5 billion, and to China another £600 million or so. That leaves £1 billion between Yemen, Iran (!) and anyone else not mentioned in the article.
It’s not believable. Even if the software licence was the most expensive ever, it beggars belief that Israel would be willing to pay 16 times as much as – for example – Iran, for the same equipment.
Meanwhile, an article in today’s Guardianclarifies how this kit will be used. The country’s right-wing government is intent on suppressing dissent against its military operations in Palestinian areas and has worked hard to ensure that around 95 per cent of the public support it.
This leaves five per cent of the population, who are afraid to voice their opinion openly for fear of being attacked in the street. Left-wing commentator Gideon Levy, who has written in opposition to the assaults, has suffered epistolary attacks from (among others) Eldad Yaniv, former political adviser to ex-prime minister Ehud Barack. Yaniv wrote on his Facebook page: “The late Gideon Levy. Get used to it.”
It does not seem far from the realms of possibility that a government that has generated this kind of support would buy surveillance equipment to snoop on its detractors in search of any evidence that could bring them down.
“What is different this time is the anti-democratic spirit,” Levy states in the Guardian article. “Zero tolerance of any kind of criticism, opposition to any kind of sympathy with the Palestinians,” says Levy. “You shouldn’t be surprised that the 95 per cent [are in favour of the war], you should be surprised at the 5 per cent. This is almost a miracle. The media has an enormous role. Given the decades of demonisation of the Palestinians, the incitement and hatred, don’t be surprised the Israeli people are where they are.”
Is this not exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews in Germany, back in the 1930s? Isn’t it exactly what Roger Waters was protesting against, as mentioned in yesterday’s VP article? And did the Nazis not use surveillance techniques via their secret police, the Gestapo, to ensure dissent was suppressed and propaganda in support of their policies held sway over public opinion?
(It should be noted that none of this should be used to suggest that the Palestinian organisation Hamas was right to launch attacks on Israel. The plight of the people of Gaza is real but must be settled by peaceful means; violence can only ever make matters worse in the long run.)
Now come back to the UK, where we have a right-wing government that has worked extremely hard to ensure that the mass media put forward only stories supporting its policies and point of view. Is it not possible that a government in possession of the kind of surveillance equipment it is exporting to ‘countries of human rights concern’ – a government that is known to have extremely unsound beliefs about human rights – might turn that equipment on its own people?
They state: “We ask kindly that you remove this page as it incites hatred towards our staff and members. Thank you.”
The wording carries an implicit threat of litigation, as an administrator on Atos Miracles explained: “They are threatening to take legal action on those allegedly defaming them, as it incites hatred towards their staff. So can we take legal action for how they’ve treated the sick/disabled and vulnerable?
“As someone said, you take one of us on, you take all of us on.”
The post continued: “We have a right to our opinions, just as they think they have a right to (in conjunction with the cowards at the DWP) bully, disrespect and shamefully and callously treat the genuinely sick/disabled!
“People have died at the above’s hands. That is the reality.
“So, OH Assist, Atos, or whatever name you will now practice under…
“See you in court.”
Vox Political has not received any messages from OH Assist or Atos – which is curious as the DWP, at least, reckons this blog is about a “‘cover-up’ of the number of Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died” following Atos assessment.
Perhaps this is tacit admission of the validity of the articles on this site – who knows?
If that is true, it seems strange that they do not appear to have considered another fairly obvious conclusion – we all talk to each other.
Vox Political considers that any attack on sites that criticise Atos – under any of its many names – for the horrific results of its work capability assessment ‘medical’ tests is an attack on us all, and stands ready to assist any colleagues who come under such fire.
To OH Assist, we say: “What’s the matter, fellows? Aren’t you aware that UK law allows anyone to provide their opinion, or fair comment, on any subject, person or company, providing it is supported by factual evidence?
“If you were able to provide information that the number of deaths following Atos assessments dropped after November 2011 (the last month for which figures have been provided) you might have a leg to stand on. These figures would have to be verified by an independent source like, perhaps, the UK Statistics Authority in order to give them meaning.
“Why don’t you just come up with some evidence to show that you haven’t done what everybody believes?”
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I have complained to the BBC and the UK Statistics Authority about this disgrace.
Today (January 25) the BBC published a scurrilous little screed claiming that “nearly a million people who applied for sickness benefit have been found fit for work”. Needless to say, the figures come from the Department for Work and Pensions and aren’t worth the time it took to type them in.
The story states: “The DWP claims 980,400 people – 32% of new applicants for Employment and Support Allowance – were judged capable of work between 2008 and March 2013.
“More than a million others withdrew their claims after interviews, it adds.”
It goes on to say that disability campaigners had stated that the work capability assessment tests were “ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair”, but says nothing about the fact that an almost-identical story was withdrawn last year after it was found to be riddled with inaccuracies – if not outright lies.
Even more bizarre is the fact that the story does provide the factual reason for claims being withdrawn. They “either returned to work, recovered or claimed a benefit “more appropriate to their situation”.
In other words, these people used the system in exactly the right way, yet the DWP – and the BBC – are pretending that they were trying to fiddle it in some way.
To explain what happened last year, let’s look at a letter from Sheila Gilmore MP to Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, and his response. You can find it on page 39 of the DPAC report on DWP abuse of statistics.
The letter from Sheila Gilmore states: “On 30 March 2013 an article by Patrick Hennessy entitled ‘900,000 choose to come off sickness benefit ahead of tests’ was published in the Sunday Telegraph. Please find a copy enclosed. I believe that the headline and the subsequent story are fundamentally misleading because they conflate two related but separate sets of statistics. I would be grateful if you could confirm that my interpretation of what has happened is correct.
“The sickness benefit in question is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). People have been able to make new claims for ESA since October 2008, but those in receipt of the benefits it replaced – Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, and Income Support on the grounds of disability – only started migrating across in April 2011.
“The article implied that many of this latter group were dropping their claim rather than having to go through a face-to-face assessment, with the implication that they were never really ill in the first place and had been ‘playing the system’.
“However I have checked the figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions and it would appear that the figure of 900,000 actually refers to all those who have made new claims for ESA since its introduction over four years ago, but who have since withdrawn their application before undergoing a face-to-face assessment. These people were not claiming the benefit before and generally drop out of the system for perfectly innocent reasons – often people become ill, apply as a precaution, but withdraw when they get better.
“Of the 600,000 people who have been migrated from Incapacity Benefit over the past two years, only 19,700 have dropped their claim. This is the figure that should have featured in the headline, but the 900,000 figure was used instead.”
Mr Dilnot replied: “Having reviewed the article and the relevant figures, we have concluded that these statements appear to conflate official statistics relating to new claimants of the ESA with official statistics on recipients of the incapacity
benefit (IB) who are being migrated across to the ESA.
“According to official statistics published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in January 2013, a total of 603,600 recipients of IB were referred for reassessment as part of the migration across to ESA between March 2011 and May 2012. Of these, 19,700 claims were closed prior to a work capability assessment in the period to May 2012.
“The figure of “nearly 900,000” referenced in the article appears to refer to the cumulative total of 878,300 new claims for the ESA (i.e. not pre-existing IB recipients) which were closed before undergoing assessment in the period from October 2008 to May 2012.
“In your letter, you also expressed concern about the apparent implication in the Sunday Telegraph article that claims for ESA had been dropped because the individuals were never really ill in the first place. The statistical release does not address the issue of why cases were closed in great depth, but it does point to research undertaken by DWP which suggests that ‘an important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their situation’.”
What he was saying, in his officialese way, was that the Conservatives had wrongly ‘conflated’ monthly figures into a cumulative total; they had misled the press about the figures’ significance; and the press release (which then mysteriously disappeared) ignored a clear caveat in the DWP’s own report that the reason the claims were dropped each month had nothing to do with fear of medical assessment but were because people recovered and went back to work, or else were switched to another benefit deemed more suitable to their circumstances.
Now the BBC has resurrected this story, with brand new, larger numbers that add in the totals for 2013 without telling you whether these were all new claims, or repeat claims, or a mixture; they are all treated as new.
The claim that 980,400 people had been found fit for work after medical tests – the feared Atos work capability assessments – is also extremely questionable – as the BBC well knows.
Its own Panorama programme, ‘Disabled or Faking It?’, investigated whether the DWP was knocking people off-benefit in order to hit financial targets – in essence, making people destitute in order to show a budget saving. A Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, ‘Britain on the Sick’, proved that this was happening. Both were shown at the end of July 2012.
I have complained to the BBC and to Mr Dilnot about the deeply offensive and defamatory way in which these lies have been resurrected, in order to encourage the general public to hold people who are genuinely ill in hatred, ridicule and contempt. If you believe this cause is just, go thou and do likewise.
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