Tag Archives: MIND

Esther McVey has just been owned by mental health charity Mind. People won’t take the lies any more

Esther McVey: She’ll lie to Parliament so you know she’ll lie to anybody else.

Conservatives like Esther McVey still haven’t got the message that we can tell when they are lying.

And I’m not referring to that old joke about their lips moving.

This time it was the mental health charity Mind that gave the game away, after Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey referred to that organisation in Parliament.

Here’s the Twitter thread the charity wrote the following day:

The charity concluded: “We need MPs to vote against these regulations which create a real risk for people with mental health problems. And we need as many people as possible to join us. Find out more about the campaign here > bit.ly/2zvDFlB

Ms McVey is currently embroiled in a scandal over her apparent involvement in a dodgy-looking political campaigning organisation, as secretary. She denies any knowledge of it…

But who can believe her when she lies so blatantly – and stupidly – in Parliament?

That’s still an offence for which she should be expelled, by the way.

As for Mind: There’s a “curry and quiz” night at a local cafe on Friday. I think I’ll go along.

That organisation has earned our support, I think.

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Speaker signals that ‘dynamic’ democracy means questions like Brexit cannot be forever closed

John Bercow [Image from The Guardian].

This will increase pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to change Labour’s stance on Brexit – and he should, but only at the right time.

We all know it’s a terrible idea; we can all see that it is already harming the UK’s economy; but the evidence against it must be unequivocal before Labour can call for a halt, for the good of the nation.

It is a useful intervention, though – and of course, even if Brexit does happen in spite of all good sense, it opens the door for a reversal in the future, when the adverse effects become incontrovertible.

John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, has warned democracy is under threat and said those on the wrong side of a referendum result do not have to accept their case has been lost forever, in remarks welcomed by campaigners for people’s right to change their mind on Brexit.

The Speaker is duty-bound to remain neutral on political issues, but his comments appeared to make a thinly veiled reference to the EU referendum, defending the right for people to argue for a second vote.

He made the speech at a reception on Thursday for Operation Black Vote in the House of Commons, where he warned there were “threats to representative democracy that should concern us”.

“Democracy is not just about one vote once every five years or one vote once on a particular issue causing all argument on that matter to be considered legitimately shut down,” he said.

“That is not the way democracy works. Democracy is a dynamic concept. People who are on the losing side are not obliged to accept that their view has been lost for ever and they are perfectly entitled to continue to argue for it.”

Source: Referendum voters should be able to change their minds, says John Bercow | Politics | The Guardian


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Prize for father of infamous Tory ‘nudge’ unit means Nobel committee should be ashamed

Richard Thaler: His theory has allowed the UK’s Conservative-led governments to victimise thousands of vulnerable jobseekers.

It is a travesty that the Nobel Prize for economics has been awarded to a man whose theories were used by the Conservative-led Coalition government of 2010-15 to manipulate unemployed people into inappropriate work.

Richard Thaler’s ‘nudge’ theory acknowledged that people frequently make bad decisions in their lives, thus contradicting one of the central tenets of economics – that people will always act rationally for their own good.

The theory suggests that the way choices are phrased or presented – the ‘choice architecture’ can be framed so that it nudges people towards the most beneficial outcome without restricting their personal freedom.

That is not what has happened. Look at the Coalition’s Behavioural Insights Unit, an organisation originally attached to the Cabinet Office, that used the theory to ‘nudge’ people towards decisions that benefited the Conservative Party and not the individuals concerned.

The best example of this is the fake questionnaire put out by the Department for Work and Pensions to manipulate jobseekers into doing what the Department wanted, rather than what was in their own best interests.

In theory, Thaler may have had a point. In practice, the UK government turned it into attempted mind control.

As the Skwawkbox article in the link above states, the questionnaire was rigged to suggest people had strengths that their answers did not bear out: “Untold numbers of people running around trying to use ‘strengths’ that actually have nothing to do with their actual personality – all under the threat of losing their income if they fail to comply.”

So ‘nudge’ theory was used to lie to vulnerable people, and to threaten them with destitution if they did not do as the Tories demanded.

And for this, the Nobel committee has given Richard Thaler a prize?

A demand for an apology would be better – along with financial restitution for all those whose lives have been blighted – or ended – by the implementation of his theory by genocidal politicians.

Richard Thaler has won the Nobel economics prize for his contributions to behavioural economics.

He championed the concept of “nudging” people, through subtle changes in government policy, to do things that are in their long-term self-interest, such as saving for a pension.

“Richard Thaler’s contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making, said the Nobel committee.

“His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioural economics, which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and policy.”

Source: The economist behind the Nudge theory just won a Nobel prize


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Mind boss lies to protesters over DWP contracts

161104-paul-farmer-and-protesters
This is bitterly disappointing behaviour from a major mental health charity.

Mrs Mike benefits from a Mind-run art class, here in Mid-Wales, but will certainly think twice about attending if the charity is a DWP poodle.

Perhaps it is time for a reorganisation at the top – before the charity loses all of its supporters.

Mind’s chief executive has lied to service-users and other disabled activists who were protesting about his charity’s close links with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Disabled activists who gathered outside Mind’s headquarters on Monday declared “war” on the charity because of its support for DWP policies that they say have damaged people in mental distress.

The protest, led by mental health service-users, was sparked by the decision of the charity’s policy and campaigns manager Tom Pollard to join DWP on secondment as a senior policy adviser.

The noisy protest saw activists brand Mind an “absolute disgrace” and brandish a bag containing “30 pieces of silver”, which they said was “blood money” for Pollard.

When Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, left the building to speak to protesters (pictured), he told them the charity had “no contracts with DWP” and that he was “not interested in future contracts at this stage”.

But after the protest, a disgruntled member of Mind staff leaked details that appeared to be from the charity’s internal website, which showed that it was applying to join a DWP framework that will allow it to bid for employment and health-related contracts, each of which could be worth between £2 million and £30 million a year.

Source: Mind boss lies to protesters over DWP contracts

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Perverting the course of justice: Once a crime, now government policy

Chequebook justice: Your unelected government wants to ensure that nobody can challenge its policies and decisions - by putting justice within the reach of only the wealthy.

Chequebook justice: Your unelected government wants to ensure that nobody can challenge its policies and decisions – by putting justice within the reach of only the wealthy.

David Cameron and Chris Grayling have been messing with the justice system again. This time, according to The Telegraph, they are planning to make it “tougher” for judicial reviews to be brought to court, to stop the process being “abused” by pressure groups and campaigners.

There’s a lot of Telegraph-speak in that first paragraph, as the Tory-supporting newspaper was working desperately to make governmental perversion of justice acceptable. What this actually means is that Cameron wants to make it impossible for organisations that are capable of mounting legal opposition to unreasonable Conservative/Coalition policies ever to do so.

The only people able to seek judicial reviews of government policy would be individuals who are directly affected – and the government is hoping that these mostly poor people would be unable to afford the cost, thanks to changes in Legal Aid that mean it could not be claimed for welfare or employment cases.

You see how this works? With those changes to Legal Aid and the possibility of wholesale privatisation of the entire court system, where justice was once open to everyone, it will soon be a privilege available only to the wealthiest in the UK.

To Cameron, and his crony Grayling, justice isn’t for you. In fact, it won’t be for anyone. The UK will be about money and power, just as Michael Meacher stated in his recent blog article.

So, for example: The ‘Poundland’ case, which The Guardian reported was to be heard in the Supreme Court yesterday (Monday). The original judicial review was launched in the names of Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson, who were both directly affected – but were both unemployed and penniless, and therefore could not afford to take the case to court on their own. Their case was brought with the aid of Public Interest Lawyers – who would most likely be barred from taking part, being considered a pressure group with no direct interest in the matter.

The original case resulted in the government taking the unusual – and highly suspect (in legal terms) – step of passing an emergency retroactive law to legalise its employment schemes, after the tribunal ruled that all of the Coalition’s schemes were acting illegally and opened the government up to a potential £130 million worth of claims for wrongfully-withheld benefits.

PIL has now started a second judicial review – on the retrospective law – claiming it undermines its clients’ right to justice and violates article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the new procedures this, too, would be inadmissible.

On the same lines, the judicial review that ruled (in May) that the test used to decide whether people are fit for work actively discriminates against the mentally ill, brought by the Black Triangle Campaign with the charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness, would also be inadmissible.

So we have examples in which it is clearly in the interests of justice for new laws to be challenged – but which would be blocked outright under Cameron and Grayling’s plan.

According to The Telegraph, “Ministers plan to change the test for applying for a review so that only people with a direct link to policies or decision can challenge it, rather than anyone with a ‘sufficient interest.’

“The concerns echo those of the Prime Minister who previously said the judicial review process was slowing the country’s economic growth as well.”

In fairness, the paper adds: “There are fears that changing the judicial review process could lead to government decisions going unchecked, and charities have also raised concerns about not being able to use the process to challenge decisions and ensure the government is meeting its obligations.”

Meanwhile, Unison has been given leave to launch a judicial review of the introduction of fees for workers seeking employment tribunals.

The BBC reported that people wanting to bring tribunals must now pay a fee for the first time since they were created in the 1960s. It will cost £160 to lodge a claim for matters such as unpaid invoices, with a further charge of £230 if it goes ahead.

More serious claims, such as for unfair dismissal, would cost £250 to lodge, and a further £950 if the case goes ahead.

The plan here is clearly to make it impossible for an unfairly-sacked worker to take a firm to judicial review; how many poorly-paid working class people (and remember, wages have fallen by nine per cent since the credit crunch) have twelve hundred quid knocking around in their back pockets?

“The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights,” Unison general secretary Dave Prentis told the BBC.

“We believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.”

The judicial review will take place in October. Considering Lord Judge’s recent change of heart over privatisation of the courts, it’s a safe bet that by then the government will have ‘persuaded’ any judges hearing the case to support the new charges.

As Mr Meacher wrote: David Cameron’s instincts are “that there is no such thing as the rule of law, and that the only things that ultimately matter are power, fear and money”.

Judges find DWP ‘fitness for work’ test breaches the Equality Act and is illegal

Despair: It's what many people who have mental illness feel when faced with the DWP's Work Capability Assessment regime. Now there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Despair: It’s what many people who have mental illness feel when faced with the DWP’s Work Capability Assessment regime. Now there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

A judicial review has ruled that the test used to decide whether people are fit for work actively discriminates against the mentally ill.

The tribunal concentrated on the issue of supporting evidence, and found that – under the current system – no matter how ill or even delusional a person may be, they are responsible for gathering their own medical evidence and sending it in. Otherwise, the material will not be considered. For someone with a severe mental illness, this may prove impossible.

Paperwork documenting a patient’s history of mental illness may be ignored and their ability to work will be judged using evidence from a 15-minute interview with a stranger who probably has no mental health training and no idea what the experts have to say.

Reporting the victory, the Black Triangle Campaign wrote: “The judgment that the DWP is in breach of the Equality Act is a huge victory for everyone affected by severe mental illness, but it’s sad that it took a court case to force the DWP to take action.

“What makes it even harder to stomach is that it’s completely at odds with the government’s repeated insistence that mental health is a top priority… they are penalising the very same group by forcing them through this discriminatory process, which is putting lives at risk.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity MIND wrote: “The judgment is a victory, not only for the two individuals involved in this case, but for thousands of people who have experienced additional distress and anxiety because they have struggled through an assessment process which does not adequately consider the needs of people with mental health problems.”

And Paul Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said: “Now that the court has ruled that these tests are unfair it would be completely irresponsible to carry on using them. The Government must halt the mass reassessment of people receiving incapacity benefit immediately, until the process is fixed.”

We have yet to hear what Iain Duncan Smith has to say. Don’t hold your breath; you know in advance he won’t accept this.