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Once again, the government outflanks me. Once again, if I’d said that this was what the Tories would oversee once in office, I’d have been shouted down as hysterical, grotesquely distorting the motives and intentions of those I didn’t agree with like some mirror-image Jeremy Clarkson. From the Diary of a Benefit Scrounger last Saturday:
I have severe Crohn's disease. Probably one of the most severe cases in the country.

I have had 7 major life saving operations to remove over 30 obstructions (blockages) from my bowel.

I take chemo-shots every two weeks that suppress my immune system, ensuring that I regularly have to fight infections. Exhaustion, pain and nausea plague every single day of my life.

I have osteoporosis and malnutrition.

I have had major seizures and a stroke.

Nonetheless, I have just heard from my own Disability Living Allowance application, that it has been rejected. Completely. I will receive no support at all from DLA. Despite claiming successfully in the past, despite only getting weaker and more frail and less able to live independently, my reconsideration was rejected.

The only option now is to appeal. I will have to fill in a horribly complicated appeal form over the Xmas period, wait up to one year to go to tribunal, and probably go bankrupt in the mean time.

The state will pay thousands to hear my appeal.

The only conclusion I can come to is that if I don't qualify for DLA, no-one with bowel disease can. [Diary of a Benefit Scrounger]
This is not an error by a rogue assessor—in fact it's firmly in line with what the assessors are tasked with doing. Equally, it’s no error by the DWP, which has been steadily churning out publicity discrediting any and all welfare recipients, releasing a steady stream of tales of cheating and riotously implausible excuses—though, when questioned about those examples or indeed about flagrant mistreatment of claimants like Sue Marsh, it claims with almost touchingly childlike dishonesty that it “cannot comment on individual cases”. (You’ll recognise the phrase from when other government departments or the police have also ballsed up or lied.)

No, this is straightforward coalition policy. It’s austerity logic: if she is no longer classified as disabled, the state will not have to waste any more of its precious resources on her. People like her are being “cured” up and down the country. Seriously, it’s like fucking Lourdes out there.

The coalition faces a challenge, though. Distasteful though the idea might be, disability can affect decent sorts too—even right-wingers. And the more of them who find themselves turned down for benefit claims they were previously and legitimately entitled to, or are found “fit for work” against all the evidence, the more resistance the coalition might encounter to its arbitrary benefit-slashing wheeze.

The trouble is, the government can’t rely on anyone useful in Parliament to stick up for it. The only people prepared to defend its targeting of disability benefits are, by definition, able-bodied affluent types, and even then there aren’t many prepared to stick their heads over that particular parapet (it’s political correctness gone mad, etc). What the coalition needs is a disabled Uncle Tom, a Quisling on wheels—someone who’s prepared, from a wheelchair or maybe even a dialysis machine, to cheer it on in the Chamber. “Won’t someone free us from the tyranny of benefit payments?” they could weakly cry. “I’d have been on my feet years ago if the state hadn’t been paying me to stay supine!” They could be wheeled out to amp up the DWP’s mood music in interviews, on discussion shows, even on—apologies—the stump.

But who could the coalition find to play this role? All the candidates with suitably disabling or debilitating conditions are pro-disability zealots, ideologically opposed to being stripped of their slush funds and thrown off the gravy train. There’s only one sensible answer—someone will have to take one for the team. Maybe a deal can be done with a couple of the Lib Dem peers so keen to reform the Lords, a quid pro quo: we’ll railroad through the elected Chamber you favour, and in return we get to break your legs. Finally, after the setbacks of tuition fees, Europe and voting reform, you get to proclaim an unequivocal Lib Dem win, and all you have to do is give up the use of your kidneys. You’ll be saving your party, your government and your parliament—and helping to plug one of society’s biggest financial drains into the bargain. Now, has your Lordship ever seen the film Misery?

For some reason, the following never seems to be mentioned in this context—the elephant in the Chamber—but surely nothing could be more pertinent. Before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron suffered the terrible loss of a son who had severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy. If that son had lived, he would have required intensive day-to-day caring. How would the PM have reacted to him being turned down for benefit or even generally treated as workshy? Or is it just brutally simple for millionaires—the issue of benefits never even arises because their family will always provide?


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 20th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
This is what I pay bloody taxes FOR. Does the government think that not helping disabled people will suddenly make them become *less* inconvenient for the rest of us? Soon it'll be like the US. We'll have to spend ages working out which of our friends we can afford to help, which fund raiser or charity is kosha... Argh.
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Furious
This is what I pay bloody taxes FOR.

Exactly! MAN. Being self-employed I am due to do my tax return within the next month, and good LORD I am so tempted to just donate all the money I've set aside for taxes to some sort of disability-related charity instead. CHRIST.
Dec. 20th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
It gets better: by turfing the scroungers off DLA the tories are turning them into acute cases -- which cost a couple of orders of magnitude more to accommodate in hospital on a semi-permanent basis. But that's okay, because the fund-holding GP practices will have to start sacking the expensive patients to make way for the deserving healthy and wealthy.

But there's no need to worry! We're getting a couple of new aircraft carriers and a brace of new Trident submarines, so everything's all right!
Dec. 20th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
> the fund-holding GP practices will have to start sacking the expensive patients to make way for the deserving healthy and wealthy

It's OK, that's what charities are for.
Dec. 20th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
We're getting a couple of new aircraft carriers

Actually, yes. Six months ago the plan was to stick EMALS on one and flog the second, hopefully to India or possibly even Brazil. Airgroup would be a single joint RAF / FAA of at most 24 F-35C's with a few AEW Merlins* thrown in for good measure.
Now, there's significant pressure to retain the 2nd CVF and procure a much larger airgroup. All of which comes from operations over Libya. The RAF's Typhoon deplyment was, uh, problematic not least because of having to base out of Sicily and the logistic difficulties inherent with that. Having some RAF crewed jets sitting on a deck off the Libyan cost suddenly looks more attractive especially when fighting the usual Whitehall turf wars.
Second was the political embarrassment for the UK in only being able to deploy a few attack helicopters off the Libyan coast, the kind of mission that the recently decommissioned Ark Royal and a dozen SHARs would have been perfect for. This gets compounded by France deploying the CdeG and it's Rafales. You can bet that David Cameron and co found this uncomfortable at the very least.
Not that this will become apparent for the next year or two, wait for the next defence 're-balancing' or however it's presented. We'll see the Army facing the vast majority of the cuts, with a few cosmetic scraps cut off what's left of the RAF and RN by then.

*There's a long convoluted saga over the UK's continued inability to buy a few Hawkeye 2000s, the word clusterfuck doesn't even begin to cover it.
Dec. 20th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
My Dad has Parkinson's.

Last two-three years he has been in a residential care home. Two care homes, as the first one decreed him to have dementia (Parkinsons, it happens) and off-loaded him to the dementia home. This also changed his medical status and achieved NHS funding for him. One of the main criteria was attempting to get out of a chair on his own, thus being at risk of falling.

His Parkinson's becomes gradually worse. He no longer has the muscle control to lift himself out of a chair, let alone walk. In fact they've just given him a magic chair with side rests to it, to stop him slumping sideways.

All of which means he's now CURED!!

If you no longer have the strength to climb out of your chair and get yourself into trouble, you don't need the same level of dementia care, thus QED no longer need funding.
Dec. 20th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
we’ll railroad through the elected Chamber you favour, and in return we get to break your legs

Shame they don't volunteer IDS to have his legs broken. There's a long queue of volunteers who'll happily do it for free. And slowly.
What makes me even more incandescent with rage over all this is the absolute failure of the Labour Party to provide any kind of opposition or even moral leadership on this. Isn't sticking up for those that can't stick up for themselves what the Labour Party is for? Instead, trying to find Ed Milliband saying anything on this turns into a futile game of political Where's Waldo? Bastards
Dec. 20th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
Is the Labour Party being very dumb or very smart?

Labour are suffering the absence of a genuine Nye Bevan character, or even anyone of the stature of either an honest and/or competent Kinnock or T. Dan Smith. This current doom isn't 1948 by along chalk, and back then we managed to _establish_ the NHS - in an Olympic year, and on less budget too.

So in the absence of an attractive Labour party, are they merely hiding out of the limelight and watching the other two tear the Liberals apart? Then six months before an election, they pop back up again and offer an alternative to the Tories that isn't wholly discredited. Having done nothing for a couple of years, there's less than usual to hold against them.

Recycle a few of Obama's blander (and hardly used) "Hope" posters, and there's a Labour election campaign.
Dec. 20th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
I fear your optimism may be misplaced.
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
I sadly have to agree.

Nothing I've seen of Labour policy since they lost the election speaks of them having understood any of the important lessons they need to come to terms with to become an electable party again.

Their whole policy of 'let's just sit quietly by and hope the Tories cock things up so spectacularly we get voted back in by default' might be a viable policy, but it's not a very smart one.
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't claim this was optimism, just a grim interpretation of how vacuous current Labour is. Marketing is no substitute for politics, even if it does get a slightly less vile set of bums on the front bench.
Dec. 20th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
Yup. I know literally dozens of people who, were they to occupy the sweet spot Ed Miliband finds himself in, would devote themselves to destroying the Tories with enthusiasm, athleticism and a virtually solid gold guarantee of success. I cannot recall in my lifetime a situation where a government had set themselves up as perfectly to be knocked down, discredited and destroyed. Yet what we have is wabby little exchanges of insults at PMQ, and no bollocks, no spine, no fire.

I am in a state of political despair and bafflement about this, and I am not alone.
Dec. 20th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
You're ascribing a competence to the Labour leadership that I don't believe exists. Given their completely inept handling of things so far, and their seeming inability to articulate any kind of alternative to the constant narrative of 'Labour caused the debt', don't expect any sort of miraculous recovery anytime soon.
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:02 pm (UTC)
I fear it's just never occurred to the millionaires, the privilidged elites, that others might require help. After all, they are alright, so why worry?
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
The sad thing is that many of them actually do want to help. This is them helping.

Andrew Lansley is genuinely passionate about the NHS. A “greedy tosser” he isn't, though there are plenty of other words that could be inserted into the NHS rap instead to reflect perhaps his naivety and his unshakable faith in the healing powers of the private sector.

Grant Shapps at housing is working hard to improve (and gets very angry about the lack of) provision for homelessness, although this might just be because he has seen the housing projections for the next couple of years and is keen to engage in pre-emptive defensive manoeuvres.

Liam Fox still firmly believes in the hawkish shadow foreign policy he was running at Defence (and don’t write him off yet; he’s still the darling of the Right and we may yet see him back in the spotlight, though whether as PM in 10 years’ time or arrested for leading a group of mercenaries in an attempted coup in Côte d’Ivoire I wouldn’t care to speculate).

Even Iain Duncan Smith at the disability-denying DWP likes to think that he’s practising a brand of muscular Christianity, meaning that he comes across as an unholy blend of Jesus and Norman Tebbit: “Take up thy bed and look for work”.

Cameron may be no zealot (witness his recent unconvincing Christian shtick), but his ministers’ unswerving convictions actually make them more dangerous than cynics.
Dec. 20th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
If clueless blind sincerity was all we needed, we'd still support Blair.
Dec. 21st, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
This is true, there are in life few things more dangerous than absolute believers. And this has ever been the problem with the Tories, they've always been passionate worshippers at the alter of this odd belief that the free market will cure all that ails us.

Which is something that baffles me a bit, because if there is one thing the ongoing global financial meltdown surely teaches us, is that the free market experiment has well and truly failed.

I sometimes wonder if the Tories have a feeling that they might only be in power for one term, so they're having to go at everything all guns firing. But then I look at the Labour party and think, yeah, they're still unelectable, the Lib-Dems have pushed the self-destruct button, so I reckon the Tories win a second term just be default.
Dec. 20th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
As you may have seen on my blog, my family is going through something similar (not as financially critical) with my mother, who is also seriously ill with Crohn's disease. She doesn't qualify for DLA because she is over 65, not because any of her symtoms are in any way reduced by making it to 83. She doesn't want or need any of the money attached to DLA, what she does want and needs is the restoration of the blue parking badge that meant she could leave the house which was withdrawn from her this month. No DLA = no entitlement to a blue badge. Gits, the lot of them.
Dec. 20th, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)
This is not political.
Labour started this system and ex Labour ministers and current Labour surrogates are still cheer leading for the current system.

Labour closed Remploy, began and kept ratcheting up the hate towards people on Incapacity Benefit.


Both main parties are as guilty as each other and there are very few MPs who will speakout against these atrocities for fear of looking "soft on scroungers".

The staff "nurses" at ATOS have been caught on their facebook pages ranting against those they are meant to be assessing as scum. I have seen the links and they were verified.

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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