Perhaps readers of Vox Political can help me with this:
According to an article in the Mirror on July 31, the number of Covid-19 deaths in hospitals rose by 13, bringing the total to 33,945.
This is just deaths in hospital, I’m assuming, as the most recent figures I had seen were nearly double as many. Right?
But the article does not provide any UK-wide figure at all. Why not?
I turned to the National Audit Office for help. Its most recent figures ran only as far as July 17 – and included only deaths registered in England and Wales: 51,264.
But that’s already a big, big difference.
Almost in despair, I turned to the Twitter feed of Chris Giles, the economics editor of the Financial Times. I found this:
When looking at occurances of deaths, it is likely the number will be higher, as @statsjamie has pointed out due to delays in registrations, but this will not be known for some time. His estimate is roughly
I trust Mr Giles more than the others – meaning the figure quoted in the Mirror is being up to date – yesterday – is likely to be less than half of the total more than a month ago.
But who’s right?
In honesty, I’m not surprised that the figures being touted around are all over the place.
I’m more inclined to believe Mr Giles’s high-end estimates because Boris Johnson’s rabble have been keen to play down the number of deaths from Day One, in their homicidally-insane rush to get us all back to work.
The confusion does invite speculation about the reasons for the Tory exaggerations, that can only instil false confidence in members of the public.
They are then more likely to get back into mixing with others, catch the disease and die.
Land of disillusion: Another former Conservative burns his membership card. [Archive image: Daily Mail!]
The only reason Grant Shapps has demanded that the Conservative Party publish its membership figure is to embarrass Theresa May. That’s fine by This Writer.
Mr Shapps attempted to unseat the minority prime minister last year, after her disastrous performance at the Conservative Party Conference – but before the series of further calamities that befell the Tory government in the months that followed.
And the party membership figure is sore point among Conservatives.
Back in 2013, This Site reported that David Cameron had admitted the Tories had a membership of 134,000 – not the nearly-150,000 quoted in the BBC News article below.
That was a drop of almost half the membership, from the 253,600 who voted in Mr Cameron’s leadership election in 2005.
Now, the figures This Writer is hearing suggest that membership has almost halved again, to around 70,000 – that’s a fall of almost three-quarters in less than 13 years.
It doesn’t mean that much, though.
Remember, nearly 14 million people voted for the Conservatives’ selfish and homicidal policies in June.
They won’t die out of their own accord – privilege understands self-preservation.
The battle for Britain has always been one of persuasion. We must overcome unreasoning tribalism and irrational hatred of those who oppose the privileged few, as well as the Tory policy arguments, to win the stewardship of the United Kingdom and its citizens.
The Conservative Party should “come clean” about how many members it has, its former chairman has said.
Grant Shapps said “transparency” on membership numbers was vital even if the figure appeared to be “embarrassing”.
The party last published figures in 2013, when it had 149,800 members but has refused to publish an update since then.
Activists and academics have estimated it has fallen to 100,000, or less.
This means the sorry excuses for humanity who get a kick out of humiliating the vulnerable, helpless and defenceless may be looking forward to a Winter of Malcontent, in which they can burn the homeless just as much as they like and be able to get away with it.
Police forces have already said cuts in staff forced on them by Theresa May and her stooges mean they will have to prioritise the crimes they investigate. One wonders how much priority they will give to injuries inflicted on people who are homeless and therefore, by definition, have nobody who cares about them.
Or do they?
I think the crime committed on Giles Metcalfe is a stain on our national character.
It shows up the British as uncaring, compassionless, cruel and sadistic – out for a quick thrill at the expense of people who cannot fight back.
If you hate to consider that such a description could be applied to you, then you need to do something about it.
So let’s find a way to get those homeless people off the streets and out of harm’s way. Nobody should be sleeping rough in the sixth- (or is it fifth-?) richest country in the world.
There are mechanisms for finding accommodation for these people – let’s make sure they’re being used properly.
Or would you rather just let people burn? There is a historical precedent for it, after all.
A man who had separated from his wife was doused in barbecue fluid and burnt to death in a town centre car park, a murder trial has heard.
Giles Metcalfe, 43, died from burns and smoke inhalation in Tunbridge Wells in the early hours of 7 March.
The publication of the DWP’s damped-down death statistics (we’ll be given ratios because the actual number of deaths is too inflammatory, we’re told) will be a victory for those of us who have campaigned for the facts, no matter what they actually say.
If you didn’t know already, the DWP only announced that it would publish these figures on Thursday (August 27) after This Writer supplied his submission to the Information Tribunal on the DWP’s appeal against providing the actual numbers – a submission which included a request to have the appeal struck out on the grounds that it is an abuse of process.
Suddenly the date of publication went from being “before the end of autumn” (according to Priti Patel) to August 27. Clearly the DWP was terrified that it would lose control of events and the public would get accurate information, and acted accordingly.
In short: IDS and his department fell apart like a paper bag in a thunderstorm.
It is impossible to say what the statistics will reveal, when they are finally published (at 9.30am on Thursday, it seems). Perhaps they will provide exhaustive information on the deaths that have taken place, broken down into the groups requested by This Writer and others (it is said to be in response to FoI requests), and also providing information on the causes of the deaths, with appendices containing the raw data used to produce the report.
Alternatively, we could get a dumbed-down piece of fluff that provides as little as possible that can be used to find out the extent of the carnage, but can be waved at us by Iain Duncan Smith as evidence that he has given us what we wanted… and as evidence that any figures demanded by the Information Tribunal are of little consequence.
That is the aim – damage limitation. To make it seem that nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Plausible deniability.
The DWP already believes it has plausible deniability for every dodgy death on its books; no DWP representative can be said to be directly responsible for any of the deaths – they were a consequence of claimants’ illnesses, right? Even the suicides can be claimed as indicative of claimants’ poor mental health – except we know that anyone confessing suicidal thoughts at a work capability assessment is immediately asked why they haven’t already killed themselves.
Not conclusive? Maybe not. But then, that isn’t the only evidence available. It’s all part of a bigger picture.
In December last year, This Blog published a series of articles (here’s one) explaining how the DWP’s behaviour may be equated with the Nazi ‘chequebook euthanasia’ programme that eventually became known as Aktion T4 – a programme that caused the deaths of 70,000 German people with (among other problems) mental illnesses, before its methods were used against entire races the Nazis considered undesirable, in the extermination camps.
“It could be argued that the Coalition Government doesn’t have any blood on its hands. Nobody goes around the United Kingdom subjecting the sick and disabled to so-called ‘mercy’ killings, after all,” I wrote.
“They just subject people – who are already in an unstable frame of mind – to a highly pressurised ‘fitness’ test and then demand to know why, considering their condition, they haven’t killed themselves yet. Then they let those people do all the work themselves.”
On Thursday, it’s just possible that we might find out how successful they’ve been. If there have been more than 70,273 deaths in the last few years, the Conservative Party will have beaten the Nazis.
And Iain Duncan Smith intends to continue. Only this week, he announced a new plan to purge the Employment and Support Allowance benefit bill of mentally ill claimants. He told us “Work is good for your health”.
In fact, if you have a mental illness, work can drive you to an early death via a combination of (among others) stress, anxiety, depression and paranoia.
Duncan Smith’s claim that “Work is good for your health” may therefore be seen as a lie – almost as great a lie as the slogan from which it was adapted.
You’ll be familiar with it: “Work makes you free” – it hangs in its more familiar form of “Arbeit macht frei” over the gates of the Auschwitz extermination camp that Duncan Smith visited in 2009.
‘Sarah’ – she doesn’t exist and her story is a fake.
How can we trust the Department for Work and Pensions’ figures on incapacity benefit claimants’ deaths when we’ve had scandal after scandal from it over falsified evidence?
The Department for Work and Pensions has been caught out in another lie – this time over the existence of people in two fake ‘case studies’ used to promote its cruel, unfair and vindictive sanctions regime.
‘Sarah’ was quoted praising the DWP for threatening to withdraw benefits if she refused to complete her CV, while ‘Zac’ praised the new benefit rules, which had allowed him to continue receiving his money because he had offered proof of a hospital appointment.
‘Zac’ – he doesn’t exist either and his story has also been faked by the DWP.
There’s only one problem – neither ‘Sarah’ nor ‘Zac’ exist.
The woman posing as ‘Sarah’ was also pictured in another government blog, The Daily Job Seeker, which offers advice on interview tips along with techniques and information about Universal Credit.
The DWP has been forced to admit that their comments were among a series of quotes on leaflets that were “fabricated” for “illustrative purposes”. All references to ‘Zac’ and ‘Sarah’ have now been removed from the various DWP information outlets.
The revelation that the DWP has been lying about its policies, using fake identities, has aroused yet another storm of protest against the Department and its Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, the former Army bag-carrier who, This Blog maintains, should be removed from office as SNLR – ‘Services No Longer Required’.
It seems the DWP is claiming this blockhead had no knowledge of the deception, but it is impossible to accept this claim. The fictional accounts are intended to justify his failing policies and it is impossible to believe that civil servants would have created them if he had not demanded it.
Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn was quoted saying: “It is a damning indictment that civil servants are now being forced to make up quotes to cover for the failed political agendas of ministers, after the numerous debacles of Universal Credit, the work capability assessment, and the delays facing disabled people trying to get personal independence payments.”
Further embarrassment is in store for the DWP, after the industry body responsible for regulating the behaviour of organisations producing public relations material, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), launched an investigation into whether any of its members were involved.
CIPR president Sarah Pinch said: “Falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support is a naive and opaque technique which blatantly disregards the CIPR’s standards of ethical conduct. It is deeply disappointing if public relations professionals allowed it to be published.”
“A naïve and opaque technique which blatantly disregards… standards of ethical conduct.”
Let’s look at the DWP’s planned publication of Age-Standardised Mortality Rates for claimants of benefits including Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, and Several Disablement Allowance.
Firstly, we must ask why these figures are being prepared by the Department for Work and Pensions, and not by the Office for National Statistics (the organisation that has produced other age-standardised figures for the UK Government). Why?
The DWP and its representatives in Parliament have claimed that the creation of ASMRs has been undertaken by the Department, in order to meet “the high standards expected” by the UK Statistics Authority. Has anybody seen evidence that the UKSA has made any such demand?
Considering the ASMRs themselves, they provide a rate of deaths, per a certain number of the population, in comparison with the death rate among the population as a whole. It seems they are primarily used to predict future deaths. But the number of people on ESA is constantly fluctuating, meaning that a ‘standardised’ rate will be misleading – especially as we are led to believe the figures used will cover a 10-year period between 2004 and 2014.
Even if the DWP publishes a year-by-year analysis, the death rate per, say, 1,000 will not tell the whole story as a lower ratio in a year when more people were claiming may mask a higher number of deaths.
And that’s if the DWP is using reliable figures in the first place!
The only way to have factual accuracy from this lying tool of Conservative Party ideology is to have the data on which it is based – the genuine numbers of people who have died.
Iain Duncan Smith has responded to the concerns of fellow Catholics over the harmful effects of benefit sanctions on health – by lying to them.
Earlier this year, Catholic magazine The Tablet published an open letter from fellow Catholics to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urging him to rethink his welfare reforms, and warning that vulnerable people will be harmed by cuts.
Now the man we call the Gentleman Ranker, in tribute to his failure as an Army officer, has responded with a letter published in the current edition. Thanks to Samuel Miller for bringing the matter to This Blog’s attention.
In it, he claims that “safeguarding the vulnerable” is at the heart of the Conservative Government’s changes to the benefit system, and goes on to say, “Let me be clear that there is no evidence to suggest that sanctions have caused claimants’ health to deteriorate.”
Take a look at this excerpt from the Department for Work and Pensions’ own guidance on the effect of benefit sanctions:
Note that it does not say anything about there being no evidence that claimants’ health will decline – it automatically assumes that this will happen.
“It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health,” according to the DWP’s official guidance.
It goes on to say that, in the case of claimants with a medical condition, a DWP decision maker (DM) must decide whether they would suffer a “greater” decline in health than a “normal healthy adult”.
Yet again, Iain Duncan Smith is revealed to be a liar and, more importantly, a man who would deceive the public in order to continue inflicting harm on his fellow human beings.
Is this a Catholic attitude?
Is it a Christian point of view?
Remember, Iain Duncan Smith lied to Parliament recently, when he claimed that statistics on the deaths of incapacity benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants are not collected by the Department for Work and Pensions. Not only are they collected, they are being prepared for release to the public.
The data has been delayed for several years, however – because he wants it released in a form that will not reveal what is suspected to be a horrifying amount of blood on his own hands.
The claims in the rest of the letter pale into irrelevance next to these facts.
How can anyone trust the claims of a habitual liar?
Please follow the link to the Huffington Post article by Maggie Zolobajluk (with a little assistance from This Writer).
Undoubtedly most – if not all – of you have already signed the petition on Change.org (and if not, why not?) but the tribunal on the DWP’s appeal against providing the benefit-related death statistics is unlikely to take place until late September or early October and it is important to keep this issue in the public eye until then.
Following last week’s budget announcement of £12billion in benefit cuts, how many people will die as a result? Dramatic as it may sound, there is already solid evidence that deaths directly correlate to the harsh family benefits caps like those the government plans to introduce. But that evidence is being hushed up. And you can help it become public by signing the petition I’ve set up on Change.org, which appeals for its release.
I’m asking Iain Duncan Smith to stop blocking the publication of these death statistics from the past four years, which reveal how many people have died within six weeks of their benefits being stopped.
MPs are being urged to support a Parliamentary motion calling on the Conservative Government to publish death statistics relating to people on benefit, in line with This Writer’s Freedom of Information request that was granted on April 30.
Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons, allowing MPs to draw attention to an event or cause.
MPs register their support for EDMs by signing them. According to the Parliament UK website, the first signature on this motion belongs to Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn.
The EDM, number 285, was tabled yesterday (July 13) by Marie Rimmer, who put Iain Duncan Smith on the spot in a Commons debate a few weeks ago, alongside Debbie Abrahams.
It states: “That this House notes that on 30 April 2015 the Information Commission took a decision that the Government must disclose the number of incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance claimants who have died since November 2011 until May 2014 within 35 calendar days; acknowledges the petition signed by over 230,000 members of the public calling for this data to be released; further notes that even though the 35 day deadline has passed this data has not been released; has concerns that the data released may be a standardised figure rather than a full picture; and therefore calls on the Government to ensure the release of this data in full and without further delay.” [Bolding mine]
The tabling of this motion, and Mr Corbyn’s support for it, puts the issue of benefit deaths right at the top of the political agenda.
The last time the government published the death figures relating to Employment and Support Allowance, the main incapacity benefit, they showed that 10,600 people had died within 11 months, between January and November 2011. Note that figures for the traditional “suicide season” of December that year were omitted.
The public has had no further information on ESA-related fatalities for three and a half years. It is therefore impossible to calculate whether changes to the benefit system brought in by Iain Duncan Smith have been effective – or whether they have contributed to an increased death toll.
The fact that Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn has been the first to support this motion means that, if he becomes Labour leader, the party will make this matter a priority. None of the other candidates – so far – have expressed any interest in the plight of the long-term sick and disabled.
Vox Political therefore urges readers to contact their MPs – of whatever party; Conservatives are also concerned about this issue; and urge them to support EDM 285.
In addition, those of you who are members of the Labour Party are urged to support Mr Corbyn in his bid for the leadership.
Disability rights campaigners protest outside the Houses of Parliament, in Westminster, London, after they had disrupted a session of Prime Minister’s Questions.
In the same week David Cameron tried to put us off signing the petition on ESA deaths by saying mortality statistics would be published – but failed to mention that the numbers would be fudged into an ‘Age-Standardised Mortality Rate’ ratio, rather than be a straight statement of the number of deaths…
In the same week that the Gentleman Ranker, Iain Duncan Smith, tried to tell MPs that his Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t collect those figures…
In the same week that the Labour Party told us the DWP’s flagship Universal Credit will take nearly 500 years to roll out across the UK at the current rate, while the cost has increased to £15.8 billion…
… a disabled pensioner named Susie called an LBC radio phone-in and spoke emotionally to Iain Dale about her worries over the forthcoming budget and its implication for another benefit, Disability Living Allowance. Here’s what she had to say:
It is abundantly clear that this poor lady is being driven out of her mind with anxiety about her future – a future which the Conservative Government is deliberately keeping uncertain by refusing to give any hints about its plans for sickness and disability benefits.
The DWP has stated – repeatedly – that it is “irresponsible” to connect the deaths of people claiming sickness and disability benefits with the stress that its ministers have gleefully encouraged, by making changes to the benefits assessment regime that mean no claimant can feel secure about their immediate future – let alone their long-term hopes.
Susie’s call shows that all this bluster is bunkum.
Whatever happens in the July budget, DLA claimants are being migrated onto PIP, a benefit with much harsher – some would say unreasonable – conditions. For a start, it employs the same brutal ‘work capability assessment’ medical test (in fact a tick-box computer questionnaire designed to put people off-benefit if at all possible) as Employment and Support Allowance.
Not only that, but the claim process – originally estimated by the government to take around 2.5 weeks per claimant – has left thousands waiting more than a year for a decision.
The best way to end this deliberate infliction of suffering on those who are already suffering enough is to join together and present a united front.
Protests against DLA/PIP aren’t currently gaining national media attention – but the petition for the government to tell us how many people have died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance has.
Cameron’s false claim that the government will publish those figures has slowed the number of people signing it – exactly as he hoped it would.
So let’s all get behind it. Tell everyone you know that they have been misled by this stranger to the truth – and let’s get more signatures on the petition!
You may be aware that This Writer made his writing debut in the national news media today (June 25), discussing the struggle to get the DWP to update its statistics on the number of people who have died while claiming incapacity benefits.
It was appropriate that this should happen today, because it is the second anniversary of the launch of my first Freedom of Information request on the subject – you know, the vexatious one.
The article that appeared was, in fact, the second piece I sent in to The Independent. The first was considered – rightly – to be a little too involved for the casual reader, so I pulled back a little and wrote a new version.
Here’s what I originally wrote:
If percentages are the evasive politician’s favourite tool, what does this make ratios?
Ministers love to use percentages if the numbers don’t add up too well – but the Department for Work and Pensions has introduced an entirely new level of evasion.
In response to my Freedom of Information request for an updated number of deaths among sickness-related benefit claimants, the DWP has said it wants to publish the details as ‘Age-Standardised Mortality Rates’ (ASMRs) – as a ratio compared with the population as a whole.
Apparently the DWP has been working on this for no less than two years – it was first mentioned in a refusal to honour a similar request in 2013.
At the time, we were told: “We can confirm that we do intend to publish further statistics on this topic and these will answer a majority of your questions. As the statistics are intended for future publication this information is exempt from disclosure.”
Not according to the Information Commissioner!
His guidance states that any details withheld by a public authority must either have a planned publication date or a deadline for publication. Alternatively, if an information-gathering exercise is under way or there are related matters, publication may be delayed.
None of those conditions apply. I have an email from the DWP, stating that the Department has most of the requested information and could publish it within cost limits.
When I appealed against the DWP, the Information Commissioner supported me. But the DWP is taking the matter to a tribunal because it insists on holding back the information – until it can be fudged in the form of ASMRs.
That is not what I wanted when I made my latest FoI request in May 2014 – nor is it wanted by more than 225,000 people who have signed a petition in support of my request.
We want to know how many people have died, to compare with what we were told in a DWP release from July 2012 stating that, between January and November 2011, 10,600 ESA claimants had lost their lives.
Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has labelled this demand “disgraceful”.
Challenged about his refusal to publish the figures by Labour MP Marie Rimmer on Monday, he said, “Opposition Members deliberately try to misrepresent what happens… I find it disgraceful that she is going round making such allegations.”
He added, “The Department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance” – a lie. Labour’s Debbie Abrahams raised a point of order about it on Wednesday and the DWP has yet to respond.
It seems clear that any “disgraceful” behaviour is being carried out by Iain Duncan Smith and his department.
These are time-sensitive figures; they should be published regularly, so that policies may be modified – particularly if many people are dying. This means figures need to be published in a way that makes them easily comparable – which is exactly what Iain Duncan Smith is trying to avoid.
And how does the DWP justify its bid to fudge the figures? “Taken in isolation, the statistics… were likely to be misinterpreted. Specifically, incorrect conclusions were likely to be drawn as to causal links between assessment outcomes and mortality.”
Perhaps the DWP’s £49,000+ per year lawyer failed to notice that Freedom of Information requests are “motive-blind” – it does not matter why I or anyone else want the information, or why DWP representatives think we want it; all that matters is whether the DWP has it and can publish it within cost limits.
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