Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Letter 92: The Work Programme. It's not the claimants who are the "lying thieving bastards"

"Who does Government work for? The electorate, or politicians? The answer lies in today's vote on whether or not to redraw the parliamentary boundaries before the next general election. Whom would this have served best? The Conservative party of course, remembering that at the last election you were 19 seats short of gaining an overall majority. If it's it true that there are currently approximately six million people missing from the electoral register, surely it's more appropriate to focus on people having a vote before redrawing any boundaries favouring your Party? Ah, but silly me, partisan politics doesn't work like that does it?
Never mind, now the voting is lost and over, might we move back to important issues? It is said that the moral test of any society is how it treats the weakest members. If "Panorama The Great Disability Scam?" is anything to go by, British society is in a very bad way. In office, as Coalition, you work for us and I am ashamed of what you are doing to vulnerable disabled people under the guise of finding them work.  
Please - stop telling us that this payment by results system is working. Like the assessment process itself, it is deeply flawed. 
Please - stop private companies taking public money for poor performance. Was A4e not enough?
Please  - do something NOW to stop the bullying of sick and vulnerable people. Anyone with a shred of decency can see that a culture where claimants are nicknamed "LTBs" or "Lying Thieving Bastards" is one which needs serious overhaul. Problem is, employees of private companies who use this kind of language take their orders and their cue from Ministers at DWP, which suggests that it's there the problem lies.
The sick are not scroungers. They are SICK, often having complex needs and unpredictable days of good and poor health - which your Programme seems to deliberately ignore. Such health patterns and the fact that employers are often unwilling to employ disabled people makes them hard to place NOT fraudsters. The use of an overly harsh system to harass ill people is making many of them sicker - and worse. This is both cruel and unfair - and starting to feel like your policies are driven by ideological zeal rather than a desire to help, as you claim.

You might not be hearing this enough, so I need to make it plain:
What you are doing is wrong. You do not have this voter's blessing to put people, obviously too unwell to work, through such bullying. These people deserve our respect and support. They also have a morally justified right expect and receive protection, appropriate care and decent benefits from the State.

I hope you remember that sick people vote, as do their carers, families and friends. And that many of the not-yet-disabled are as sickened as I, to see these people being victimised.

With best wishes, etc

* Parking: a practice used by private firms employed by the DWP to run the Work Programme  (allegedly) to keep the hardest to employ on the books, thus allowing firms to still claim they are being worked with and collect a generous fee for doing so. Out of the 68,000 ESA claimants put on the Work Programme so far, just 1,000 have found a job lasting three months or more. It would appear that you are looking in the wrong place for fraud in the benefit system, Dave."

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Letter 91: The Historic Speech & Dave's In/Out Referendum Are Just Too Iffy

"Dear Dave,
Is it terribly disappointing to hear that I didn't tune in to your historic speech this morning? I just couldn't bear it, after the interviews and articles and speculation. So much of it had already been fed to us over the past few weeks, there didn't seem much point. And besides, you weren't really making it for me, were you? (Heck, most of us realised a long time ago that despite all that talk of "national interest" and "giving the British people a choice", you really were only speaking to your own party and UKIP today).
Don't get me wrong - a discussion about the EU and our role within it is important, but right now your call for one seems neither genuine nor necessary. And crude attempts at blackmail won't help our standing at all.
 I heard you speak last Monday on the Today programme, about why and when you'd be calling for a referendum and that was enough for me. You see, though I listened really carefully, I was left feeling very confused as to what your position really was. Thank goodness for Nick Robinson; two minutes and he'd cut through all that sophistry. He said that what YOU were really saying was that you've ruled out an in/out referendum for the UK and the EU for the present. In fact he was right, because now I see the date you've given for it taking place is... 2017.
Hang on though, that would only happen IF you won the next general election without the Lib Dems. I see what you're doing there - a little bit sneaky, Dave. Surely people should see your full term before they decide to vote for you? After all, surely you want to be judged on getting down the National Debt, reducing the deficitbringing overseas business here to get the economy moving and making the UK a fairer better place for all, don't you?
Anyway, back to the IFsIF the Conservatives won the next general election, IF you can persuade the other EU countries, particularly Germany, that they need or want treaty change, IF Britain can get what it wants in negotiations and IF you can win a referendum, then there WILL be a referendum. This would suggest that what you are really saying is :

'We'll have a referendum in 2017, possibly, but only in certain circumstances.'

Which anyone with half a brain would see as probably not happening, as there are just too may IFs, aren't there? And why I couldn't be bothered to tune in at 8.00 am this morning. It all felt a bit too much like trying to work out which cup the ball was under for 50p on the High Street. And to be brutal, you've made lots of promises in the last two years and broken them, so why should having a proper referendum and grown up debate (which I suspect you'll promise with all your heart) be any different?
If I'm honest, I don't understand why you gave the speech at all. It seems like you have a very unpleasant party spat on your hands, rather than something the rest of the country cares about. Couldn't you have sorted it out at Party headquarters? Then you could have focussed on areas of REAL national interest, such as those 200,000 extra children who will be forced into poverty as a result of your changes to tax credits and benefits. Or the damage to social cohesion that your new bedroom tax will bring. (Has Lord Freud really got EIGHT bedrooms? Nice to know he understands the problem).
If these issues don't interest you, how about you address the inequality of your austerity measures? Are you aware that of the £18.9 billion worth of cuts announced in the Coalition's emergency Budget of 2010, £13.2 billion, or 70% is coming from women's incomes? Or that, in 17 NHS hospitals, due to cuts there are now dangerously low levels of nursing staff? Or that for the sixth month in a row, Government borrowing has increased? Now these problems are of interest to us all, not just your party Eurosceptics. And if you want a real referendum to hear the nation's voice, try calling one on the top down reorganisation of our NHS you're engineering. That would be more useful right now.

Best wishes, etc"

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Letter 90: Coalition statistics, damning lies & 500,000 jobs created in the past year

"Dear Dave,
 Could you put your speech down a minute and answer a question? I've just read something in the news and need to ask if it's true...
Statistics are difficult aren't they? In terms of truth and accuracy, I mean? You know the 500,000 jobs you say you've created in the last year - is it true that one in five are in government work schemes which include tens of thousands of people claiming benefits? If so, that would mean that many of those 105,000 are probably still claiming job seekers allowance and doing voluntary or mandatory work experience in supermarkets and charity shops, wouldn't it? So, these people don't really have proper jobs. How misleading.
It also means that George wasn't really correct in his Autumn Statement, when he claimed that employment was at a"record high" and that the UK has "a greater proportion of its people in work that either the eurozone or the US" (That's disappointing and not just because you have a Chancellor who gets his figures wrong.)

You know, I've even read that thousands are being included in the 500,000 just for regularly turning up at job hunting workshops, which are part of the DFE work programme. Massage anyone?

It does beg the question of course... Are you creating back-to-work schemes to boost the employment figures? That would be terribly dishonest if you were, you know.

With best wishes, etc"

Monday, 14 January 2013

Letter 89: More spin and hot air: the Coalition mid term review

"Hi Dave and Nick,
I trust you are both rested after a comfortable, warm, well fed wealthy Christmas season. Sorry I've not been in touch for a while, I've been struggling to write to you about Benefit Reform. Eight times I drafted a letter, but each time have felt so distressed by what you are doing, I had to stop. Now I'm calmer, I'm back. After all if, as Edmund Burke said  "bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny" and "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing", I ought to keep dropping you a line and keep looking for the compassion in your Coalition. 

I've been keeping up to date with how you've been governing, though I'm sorry I missed the relaunch, sorry mid term review, on Monday. Quite a bromance, I heard and such a good report you gave yourselves. Too good to be true as it turns out. Imagine - omitting your failure to fulfil SEVENTY promises. That's bordering on downright deceitful.

Never mind, we expected it of you. It looks like you started as you mean to go on ( do "no topdown reorganisation of the NHS" and " no tuition fees" ring a bell?) To be honest, one of the most predictable things in UK politics over the past two years has been the lying and the misinformation. (That and the increase in the National Debt of course.) And probably why voters hold politicians in such low regard. After all, if you will go around acting like your word is your bond, saying:


and then you lie, mislead, are economical with the truth, misinform, obscure, omit, "publish without fanfare", people will say that you are untrustworthy and with good cause.

You've missed a trick though; the electorate aren't as silly as you think. They may have switched off, but it's not because you've pulled the wool over their eyes, nor because they are stupid. It's because you're feeding them puff and spin and they are fed up with it.

How depressing is that? More than you'll know.

With best wishes
Bern O'Donoghue (Ms)"