Tuesday, 22 March 2016

'Beware the IDS of March !'

by Andrew Wastling

The fact that Tory Chancellor Osborne is now being portrayed as to the right of Iain Duncan Smith Smith should give no one any comfort. It's somewhat akin to saying that Burke was slightly nicer than fellow body snatcher Hare.
 As the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) ,one of the largest trade unions in the UK, with about 200,000 members throughout the civil service and government agencies, making us the UK’s largest civil service trade union rightly points out :
'Hand-wringing can not erase from our memories the policies he has relentlessly pursued, including the benefits cap, the bedroom tax and
cuts to support for sick and disabled people.Duncan Smith's resignation will be almost universally welcomed, particularly by DWP staff and the millions of people who have borne the brunt of his cruel policies.
'He presided over years of suffering and surely ranks as the most hated work and pensions secretary in living memory, epitomising Tory arrogance and indifference to the effect of brutal cuts.'
What does appear to be somewhat unusually lacking from the ongoing narrative seems to be the near meltdown of Iain Duncan Smiths flagship Universal Credit Project just before his hasty nightime scuttle overboard from his role as ships captain .
 As commentator Bernadette Meaden pointed out at the end of last week online at independent Christian political think tank Ekklesia :
'On the day he resigned, the DWP lost  a four year legal battle to keep the problems with Universal Credit secret. Mr. Duncan Smith's
flagship project is in deep trouble, but until now we haven't been allowed to know quite how deep. Universal Credit may prove to have
been a colossal waste of public money, and if it is abandoned, it would be a humiliation for Iain Duncan Smith. As one commentator
pointed out two days ago, "the more IDS fights publication, the more it looks as if he has something to hide".
'He may prefer not to be at the helm if his flagship crashes on to the rocks.'

In addition  the day before Mr Duncan Smith's resignation, Disability News Service  revealed evidence that the DWP had dismissed concerns raised by a coroner under Rule 43, the “prevention of future deaths” process.
 The letter concerned the death of Stephen Carre, who had taken his own life after losing an appeal against being declared fit for work by the DWP without reference to information from his GP, his psychiatric nurse, or his psychiatrist.
 When we add to this toxic mix the independent  research last year by  public health experts from the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford which found that the Work Capability Assessments  may have been associated with an additional 590 suicides.
 We know that other aspects of Welfare reform, like sanctions and the bedroom tax, have been associated with other people taking their own lives – it is obvious IDS has jumped ship well in advance of the rats !
'The public health experts research from the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford  found that every  additional 10 000 people reassessed in
each area was associated with an additional 6 suicides (95% CI 2 to 9), 2700 cases of reported mental health problems (95% CI 548 to 4840), and the prescribing of an additional 7020 antidepressant items (95% CI 3930 to 10100).'

 The reassessment process was associated with the greatest increases in these adverse mental health outcomes in the most deprived areas of the country, widening health inequalities – we all know to our cost exactly where Rochdale stands both in terms of  'deprivation' and 
'widening health inequalities' from a series of independent reports and research documents over the past two years.
 This research concluded conclusively that :
'The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an
increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing. This policy may have had serious adverse consequences for mental health in England, which could outweigh any benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits.'
The massive anger and growing  public opposition to cuts to disability benefits has been reflected in the fact that  more than 145,000 people
have signed an emergency 38 Degrees petition in the last 24 hours calling for PIP cuts to be cancelled.
 Media campaigns manager Adam McNicholas, at 38 Degrees, said prolonging uncertainty over cuts was “cruel and unjust”, concluding
that :
'The political circus surrounding the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith should not overshadow the reality facing people who rely on this critical safety net.
'This policy hasn’t yet been killed off - so the ongoing uncertainty for people who need Personal Independence Payment goes on.'
Concluding that : 
 'The British people have called for compassion - they’ve said it’s not good enough for the government to make excuses and kick this issue into the long grass. Prolonging the uncertainty is cruel and unjust. It’s time to bin this policy and this should be the first decision of the incoming secretary of  state.' Further people should not fall for the tory spin that new  Work And Pensions Secretary secretary Stephen Crabb is some kind of proto-proletarian 'horny handed son of toil' from the estates riding over the hill from the Valleys to rescue IDS's victims from the
  'nasty party'.
Even with a possible U-turn on ESA and Welfare - it will still be more of the same , more pain and no gain for ordinary working people and the most vulnerable in our communities who are paying directly for the failure of the banking class & the political elites who act as their apologists & facilitators as the tory austerity budget is being balanced on the backs of people in wheelchairs and those who are unable to walk unaided without sticks or callipers.
 A weekend of Tory infighting saw Mr Duncan Smith condemn George Osborne's 'arbitrary' cap on welfare spending and obsession with 'short-term savings'.
 IDS said  the chancellor had targeted cuts at the poor because they 'don’t vote' Conservative anyway.
 This is  - it should be remembered - the very same Iain Duncan Smith who once infamously said he could live off  £53 pounds a week : then resolutley ignored the three hundred thousand plus online petition from the British people demanding that he prove he could do just that.
 They will continue not to  'vote Conservative anyway'  and the tory party will continue to view them as 'un-people' not deserving of consideration.
 So it will be interesting indeed to see how Stephen Crabb reacts when he realises that he's been set up as a convenient political 'patsy' to take the rap for Duncan Smiths abject failure on the fast collapsing Universal Credit.
 Though his own track record on cuts to disability benefits is by no means an unblemished one.
 Indeed as  Disabled People Against the Cuts : DPAC helpfully point out today:
'Besides Mencap, Stephen Crabb appears to be associated with a Christian advocacy group named CARE (Christian Action Research & Education)
http://www.care.org.uk, who claim that their vision is “to see a society that has a greater regard for human dignity and increasingly reflects God’s grace and truth through public policy, media and local practical involvement with vulnerable people.
'Crabb’s voting history flies in the face of what they are claiming to stand for, and they want to think carefully about associating themselves with a man who is willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable in society. I dare say Christ would not be very impressed .'
Incidentally DPAC list those other MP's who voted for cuts to ESA from all political parties and their campaign page :  “Force disability
charities to sever links with MP's who voted for #ESA Cut “
appears to already have claimed the scalps of Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith who voted
for the ESA cut while being a Patron of disability charity Richmond  Aid , the charity released a statement condemning him for voting for
the cut .
 Likewise  Peter Bottomley MP, Nick Gibb MP and Tim Loughton MP, all voted repeatedly for the cut to ESA. All three of them are also Vice Presidents of the Coastal West Sussex branch of Mind (CWSM). DPAC point out that :
'Mind was contacted, and a petition was started  and within a day –CWSM had issued a statement to say that they were going to “discuss
the position of the three MPs at the next board meeting".'
The hypocrisy of some members of parliament standing on boards & charities with  all the kudos such roles entail whilst voting in favour of cuts to benefits for disabled & vulnerable people is truly staggering to cite just a few shocking examples of double standards we have :
Stephen Crabb MP Patron, Pembrokeshire MENCAP.
Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP Patron, Prostate Cancer Charity,&  Patron,
MS Action.
Esther McVey , Patron, Wirral Holistic Cancer Care, &  ,Patron, Full of Life.
Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP Patron, Richmond MENCAP.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP Patron, Herts Action on Disability.
Rt Hon David Cameron MP Patron, Cancer Research UK Relay for Life,
Witney ,Patron, Versus Cancer ,  Patron, Lawrence Home Nursing Team,
 Patron, Motability & Patron, Trips, Outings and Activities for the
Learning Disabled.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP Patron, Resolve Alcohol and Drugs Charity .
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP Patron, Isabel Hospice & Patron, Herts Action
on Disability.
Rt Hon William Hague MP President, Northallerton & the Dales Mencap Society.
Rt Hon William Hague MP Vice President, Yorkshire and the Humber Muscle Group.
Rt Hon Theresa May MP Patron, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.

So to conclude this Budget fiasco is  a “tory smoke & mirrors “  black op .
The Tory party are clearly more moved by the plight of a few hundred of their own MP's on Europe than the plight of Britain’s  millions of poor & vulnerable .Their personal priorities are self evident ,
 Meanwhile the verdict is out on our new Work And Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb , everyone deserves a chance – even a tory ! - however
as  TheyWorkForYou point out his voting record in the House on Welfare and Benefits can be found at :

is as follows:
Consistently voted for reducing housing benefit for social tenants
deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the "bedroom
 Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line
with prices.
 Consistently voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods
for those unable to work due to illness or disability.
 Consistently voted for making local councils responsible for helping
those in financial need afford their council tax and reducing the
amount spent on such support.
 Consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits.
 Almost always voted against spending public money to create guaranteed
jobs for young people who have spent a long time unemployed.
 In Act 1 , Scene 2 ,of Shakespeare’s , 'The Tragedy of Julius Caesar' the Soothsayer tells Caesar  before his political comeuppance to
'Beware the ides of March' .
If you'll allow me for a second an authors conceit of altering the Great Bards words  slightly we all need to,
 'Beware the IDS of March' for it's not just the Bullingdon Club hooray Henry’s & Henrietta of Cameron, Osborne & May  who need to watch their backs  from IDS – his
cancerous Universal Credit is so embedded &  enshrined in Britain’s Welfare State & Benefits System that any possible future  removal of this toxic tumour could now kill the patient without the right checks and balances being put in place.
He may well have jumped ship cowardly refusing to go down with his ship as is the Captains usual duty but he's left the ships tiller entangled with such a intractable ,mangled  & proverbial Gordian Knott of such rabid right wing ideologically driven policies that  it might well prove impossible to untangle the helm and set a new saner course before the whole Welfare System crashes on to the rocks – and for anyone totally dependent on state benefits as so  very many are in Rochdale that's a major problem for us all should that system collapse into administrative chaos on the non too distant horizon.

No comments: