Tag Archives: question

‘Left-wing’ Mash Report axed by BBC to make way for ‘new comedy’. It won’t be funny!

“Blatantly Backing Conservatives”: I know this image refers specifically to BBC News. It seems with the arrival of ‘Tory Tim’ Davie, the Corporation’s right-wing bias is spreading to its comedy output. Look out, drama and documentaries!

The BBC has axed Nish Kumar satire show The Mash Report on the grounds that it was biased toward the political left.

Director General ‘Tory Tim’ Davie at first said he would not make big changes to the corporation’s comedy output, saying that comedy had always “poked at authority”.

He seems to have changed his mind.

Of course, ‘Tory Tim’ is at a bit of a disadvantage when referring to political bias, since it is widely understood that he owes his position to Tory intervention:

Mash had been a target for right-wing commentators since 2018, when Andrew Neil singled it out while complaining that the corporation’s comedy output was too left-wing.

Neil is, of course, chair of that ultra-right wing publication The Spectator, so he’s a fine one to complain about bias!

Asked for a comment on Twitter, Nish Kumar responded with this:

Was this something he wasn’t allowed to do on the televised show, and he was taking the opportunity now?

Meanwhile, let’s have a look at the kind of bias supported by a show with similar ratings to The Mash Report. I refer to Question Time. This is an actual question from the March 11 edition:

Do I need to spell out the wrongness of the question and the thinking behind it?

This Writer certainly wishes Kumar, and co-presenter Rachel Parris, a brighter future beyond the Beeb.

As for the corporation’s new comedy output: I look forward to seeing the new wave of diversity heralded by ‘Tory Tim’.

Looking at comedy history, I think we’re about to be deluged with right-wing material that simply isn’t funny.

Source: The Mash Report axed by BBC bosses after claims of ‘left-wing bias’ | Metro News

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Tory opinion poll asks ‘degrading’ question about disability – and it will help form national policy

As a man in a relationship with someone who has a disability, I can confirm that this is disgustingly inappropriate.

What do you think of this tweet by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire?

Four those who can’t read images well, the question is: “Do you agree or disagree that you would be happy to have a physical relationship with a disabled person?”

The implication is that people with disabilities are sub-human and should not enjoy the same relationships as the rest of us – and that shows despicable prejudice by the Tory government.

As I say, my own partner has a disability so I know this subject very well.

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Disabled comedian Rosie Jones shames Tories with damning verdict on disability law and benefits

I didn’t see this when it was aired on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday – and I’m sorry because it was one of the few times that sad rag of a show would have been worth watching.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, comedian Rosie Jones, who happens to have cerebral palsy, was asked to comment on what it has meant for herself and other people who have disabilities.

She didn’t hold back. Her comments about the benefits Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and its successor Personal Independence Payment (PIP) were scathing.

And all through, Health Secretary Matt Hancock sat like a nodding dog. At the end, he was even smiling at the torment his government forces people to suffer:

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Will the Tories answer my question about Dominic Cummings?

I have submitted a question to the Tory government, for its representative to answer during the daily briefing. You can read it above.

For those who can’t read image files well, it says: “Given the support offered by government ministers to Dominic Cummings after he travelled 260 miles to visit his family when he should have been self-isolating, would it have been permissible for all the other families in a similar situation to have made journeys to be with their own families? If so, why was this not explained to us? And if not, then aren’t Mr Cummings and all the ministers who supported him acting irresponsibly? Should they not reconsider their positions as members of the government?”

In fairness, I may have submitted it a little late to be in today’s (May 23) briefing.

But do you think I’m ever likely to get an answer?

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Lying DWP facing court action over failure to improve safeguarding after claimant deaths


The one organisation in the UK that regularly gets away with forcing innocent people to their deaths may soon have to account for its behaviour in Parliament – and in a court of law.

Sadly the Parliamentary action is unlikely to make any difference at all; MPs have called for accountability far too many times and all Department for Work and Pensions does is utter meaningless promises to improve its procedures. Then it ignores those promises in order to continue persecuting vulnerable benefit claimants.

The current pressure from the Commons Work and Pensions committee follows last week’s adjournment debate on the deaths of claimants including Errol Graham, who starved to death after the DWP cut of his benefits for no good reason.

Committee chairman Stephen Timms has announced that he will question ministers on their department’s refusal to protect people like Mr Graham and the thousands of others who have died as a result of the cruelty imposed on them by the DWP, on the orders of the Tory government.

He said despite scores of internal inquiries into claimant deaths – many of them as a result of suicide – officials were unable to show that they had done anything at all to improve the safeguarding of vulnerable claimants.

“The idea that people are taking their own life as a result of DWP actions is so awful,” Timms said. “It is unacceptable for the DWP to keep obfuscating. It cannot avoid the subject any longer. This is clearly something serious and it needs to engage and resolve it.”

Mr Timms mentioned the National Audit Office (NAO) report showing that, despite reviewing at least 69 suicides that could have been linked to benefit denials over the last six years, the DWP had not acted on any of the recommendations of those reviews.

The figures in the report did not include cases like that of Mr Graham, in which suicide was not the formal cause of death.

Sadly, the Commons committee is all-too-likely to be fobbed off with the usual protestations from DWP ministers – that they are doing something. They – and/or their forerunners – have made such claims before and got away with it.

We may hope that Mr Graham’s family have more luck with their court action against the Department.

They are claiming that the DWP acted against the law by failing to take all reasonable steps to check on the health of a claimant they knew to be highly vulnerable before removing his only source of income.

Family members are also arguing that secretive investigations and reviews being conducted by the DWP into benefit-related deaths are unlawful and must be reformed.

There is also the question of a promise made by a DWP representative at Mr Graham’s inquest, in order to prevent the coroner from writing a ‘Prevention of Future Deaths’ report, which would have required the DWP to formally explain what steps it was taking to improve its safeguarding policy.

The DWP’s chief psychologist, David Carew, told coroner Elizabeth Didcock that a safeguarding review would report in the autumn of 2019. He said it would urgently consider measures to protect highly vulnerable claimants at risk of having their benefits cut off, including changing safeguarding guidance to staff.

But no such report has been made. There was no review team, no formal commission to publish a review, and staff have received no changes to their guidance.

In short, it seems Mr Carew misled Her Majesty’s Coroner; he lied.

We may hope that a judge will give appropriate weight to all this information.

There are calls for an independent inquiry, with some MPs suggesting that this may restore confidence in the DWP.

This Writer disagrees. As the Labour Party stated in its election manifesto last year, there is no way to restore confidence in a government department that has deceived MPs, the courts and the public in order to ensure a steady stream of benefit-related deaths.

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Tories withdraw illegal leaflet telling disabled jobseekers to downplay their conditions

Arbet macht frei: There was a big fuss over an image like this recently, so I’ll tell you what: I’ll stop using it when Job Centres stop persecuting the benefit claimants they process.

A “well-intentioned” leaflet urging people with disabilities to mislead employers about their conditions has been withdrawn by the Department for Work and Pensions, after questions were asked in Parliament.

The official DWP leaflet, issued by a Job Centre in Dorset, told jobseekers to avoid using words like “chronic” or “depression” when applying for work. They were told to use “more general terms” and to avoid making things “sound worse than they are”.

It stated: “Avoid words that sound worse than they are, eg: chronic, degenerating, etc.

“You may find it helpful to use official diagnosis terms, eg multiple sclerosis, PTSD.

“Equally, you may wish to avoid terms such as depression, ME, or low back pain etc and use more general terms such as low mood or a mental health condition, a fatigue-related condition, an ongoing pain condition etc.”

Shadow minister for disabled people Marsha de Cordova raised the issue in a point of order in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday, October 8).

She said: “In essence, the DWP is encouraging disabled people to downplay their disability or health condition.

“It cannot be right that the Department expects disabled people to downplay their disability or health condition.”

Hours later, the DWP announced that the leaflet had been withdrawn.

A statement read: “This was well-intentioned local advice but has been withdrawn, as we would always encourage jobseekers to speak freely about a health condition or disability.”

The wording of the leaflet had been used before, in a “positive health statement” that was circulated by the Dorset NHS trust issued in 2013 – so it is reasonable to believe that the offending leaflet was produced in Dorset.

It was still against the law, though.

Under the Equality Act 2010, disabled people – including those with mental health problems – are entitled to protection if their disability has a substantial, adverse, and long term effect on normal day-to-day activities. It is therefore unreasonable to ask them to “downplay” their disabilities in any way.

So that leaves a thorny question still unanswered:

As the leaflet did break the law, and was passed to people who live with disabilities, who will be prosecuted for it?

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The future of the Tory class war? Job applicants to be questioned on their background

There used to be a saying about what happened to you if your face didn’t fit, didn’t there?

Now the Tories are extending it to your background.

They don’t want anybody from even relatively humble beginnings to have a chance at a position of influence.

All those jobs are to be earmarked for buffoons with Bullingdon and Eton backgrounds, like Boris Johnson, it seems.

It’s all part of the arse-backward Tory plan to ruin the UK as a viable economy.

The stupids are running the show – and trying to ingrain that stupidity into working culture.

Employers are to be encouraged to ask potential employees about where they fit in UK society and whether they see themselves as economically disadvantaged, under new plans that are likely to reignite concerns of a Tory class war.

Job applicants would face four multiple-choice questions under plans due to be rolled out in the civil service later this year, with questions including what school a worker or job applicant attended and whether they were in receipt of free school meals.

The Government claim the collected data will help to make workplaces for diverse and socially inclusive, but critics may argue the plans have ulterior motives and could see workers asked to divulge potentially sensitive information about their background.

Source: Tory plans will see job applicants asked about their social class


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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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Why did MPs fail to quiz minister on ESA suicide stats?

This seems a reprehensible – but all-too-typical – dereliction of duty by MPs on all sides of Parliament.

Labour’s shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, is usually red-hot on this subject, and I wonder if she has been notified and asked to seek explanation, at least with regard to those members of her own party who – it seems – couldn’t be bothered to ask the obvious questions.

Nine MPs on a Commons committee are refusing to explain why they failed to ask the minister for disabled people about shocking figures that suggest attempted suicides among people claiming out-of-work disability benefits doubled between 2007 and 2014.

The work and pensions select committee was passed the figures by Disability News Service (DNS) a few days before Sarah Newton gave evidence last month.

But despite being promised that the figures had “informed the briefing” prepared for the MPs on the committee ahead of the minister’s evidence session – and Labour MP Neil Coyle telling DNS that he was “sure it will be raised” – no effort was made to ask Newton about them.

And this week, none of the nine committee members who attended the session – Labour’s Frank Field, who chairs the committee, Coyle (pictured), Ruth George and Stephen McCabe, Tory MPs Heidi Allen, Andrew Bowie, Alex Burghart and Chris Green, and SNP’s Chris Stephens – would explain why they failed to ask the minister about the figures.

Instead, they hid behind the committee’s media officer, who accused DNS of trying to “circumvent” her by asking the MPs individually why they failed to raise the issue with Newton.

Source: MPs refuse to explain failure to quiz minister on ESA suicide stats


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Yes, Iain Duncan Smith – Vox Political HAS accused you of ‘outrageous action’. PROVE US WRONG

Iain Duncan Smith can’t prove us wrong. He deliberately refuses to collect the statistics that would confirm his claims – or ours.

Instead, he has claimed that This Blog (and presumably others) has accused him of “outrageous action”, without providing a scrap of evidence against the allegation.

This Writer is delighted that the Gentleman Ranker has tried to defend himself. I am currently working on a book covering this subject and his words may provide an excellent introduction.

The man we like to call RTU (Return To Unit – a Forces description of someone who trained to be an officer but was a washout) was responding to a request for information from Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee.

Mr Field had asked what data the DWP collects on the deaths of benefit claimants, in an attempt to find out whether there is any link between the work capability assessment (WCA) – carried out on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance and the Personal Independent Payment – and suicide, self-harm and mental ill-health.

The issue had been raised in research by Oxford University and Liverpool University entitled First Do No Harm.

This Blog reported on that document’s findings here – and you would be well-advised to refresh your memory of that article before you see the Secretary-in-a-State’s comments.

You should also read Vox Political‘s follow-up article in which a response from the Department for Work and Pensions – attempting to deny the research findings – is comprehensively disproved.

Iain Duncan Smith started writing his letter without a leg to stand on. Here it is – read it for yourself and see if you have any sympathy for his attitude.

Note that he admits the DWP has a “duty of care” to benefit claimants. It has taken years to get him to admit this and it will be very important if – for example – corporate manslaughter charges arise in the future.

Where he says the report’s authors admitted there was no evidence of a “causal link” between the WCA and suicide, he is of course being disingenuous. Iain Duncan Smith would not be satisfied with any evidence other than coroners’ findings that all 590 suicides mentioned by the report were attributed by the perpetrators to the work capability assessment. That was never going to happen.

But the report did examine other causes and eliminated them. While it states there is no direct evidence of a causal link between the WCA and suicide, the deaths certainly aren’t linked to any other cause.

Note also, Duncan Smith’s claim that the lack of a causal link was not reported in the media is not true.

The comment that there is no evidence the people with mental health problems underwent a WCA is covered in This Blog’s follow-up article, but for clarity I’ll repeat it here:

“Jonathan Portes of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) told This Writer that… the DWP’s response ‘reflects a basic misunderstanding of how you do this sort of analysis! Looking at WCA cases would be precisely wrong. You need to be able to control for selection – to do that here, [you] need to look at [the] whole population.

“’Let’s try [an] example. Does Coke make you fat? You can’t just look at people who drink coke & ask if they’re fatter, but if in areas where Coke [is]cheap, [and] people [are] on average fatter, *controlling for everything else*, that does tell you something.’

“So, in order to ensure that the correct cause is ascribed to any particular effect, those who carried out the study had to examine the health of the population as a whole, and eliminate elements that could relate to everybody, rather than just those who took the work capability assessment. They needed to rule out “unobserved confounding” – unseen elements contributing to the results.”

And that is precisely what they did.

Duncan Smith’s assertion that being sent back to work can “promote and protect health, and also reverse the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence” is only accurate if the person doing the work is healthy enough for it – and, by definition, may not be applied to those whose mental ill-health has driven them to suicide.

Inaccurate WCA findings that claimants are “fit for work” or may be “fit for work” within a year of their assessment also mean that many ESA claimants will be sent back into the job market before they are healthy enough. In these cases, there can only be one result: Being sent back to work will make their health worse.

Of course it will; there is a reason they stopped working and claimed ESA in the first place. If that reason still applies, then sending them back to work can only have one result.

Anyone wanting to suggest that a large number of ESA claimants are committing fraud in order to avoid work should remind themselves of the facts: While a TUC survey has shown people think 27 per cent of the ‘welfare’ budget is claimed fraudulently, the government’s own figure is just 0.7 per cent. For ESA claimants it reduces even further, to 0.4 per cent. That’s one person out of 250, rather than roughly one in four – a big difference, especially when one considers the effect on their health of sending an ill person back to work prematurely, as Iain Duncan Smith appears to be advocating.

And then there is this:

160211IDSnote-outrageousaction

The handwriting is appalling so This Writer will try to translate: “NB: There are some out there in the media and social media who have used raw figures to accuse the govt of outrageous [sic] action. I would hope that the committee would not seek to follow suit. I note that having introduced the ESA and the WCA, the Labour Party now seeks to attack it as though they had nothing to do with it. Surely the committee should seek to recognise the good intent of those engaged in this difficult area.”

Those engaged in this area have no good intent whatsoever – let’s get that clear from the start. Their intentions are well-covered in previous articles on This Blog, which I will forward to Frank Field and his committee.

As for “some out there in the media and social media who… accuse the government of outrageous action” – I think he means me.

How nice to have official recognition and how clever of him to describe his own behaviour accurately.

Outrageous action? That’s exactly right.

Iain Duncan Smith’s department practises ‘chequebook euthanasia’ – WCA assessors use psychological ‘nudge’ techniques to push the mentally-ill towards suicide in order to reduce the “burden” on society caused by these “useless eaters”.

Even Frank Field – chairman of the work and pensions committee who contacted Iain Duncan Smith over the Oxford University and Liverpool University allegations – has raised concerns about this behaviour:

zTerminal

It is outrageous.

Even more outrageous is the fact that Iain Duncan Smith is trying to deny it.

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