Hit the BANKERS, not ME !

Hit the BANKERS not ME !

What kind of a society are we becoming ? Right across Europe it's the sick, the poor, the vulnerable, who are being made to pay for the sins of the bankers. Again I ask , where's the outraged voice of ME ??

Greg Crowhurst, July 1 2010

Permission to repost

"Then they came for the sick and disabled ....... " Twisted Witch

Just a little while ago , before the election :" Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman, commented in relation to the Government's Welfare to Work programme : "The rhetoric sounds great – 'We're going to focus on what you can do and not what you can't do' – but we all know that what that really means in practice is getting tougher and setting the bar higher." He adds: "What worries me is the idea of a future Tory government going further, faster down this track and already budgeting for millions of savings, saying there's obviously people who don't need this money.". How ironic !

Only today , out of desperation, I posted this comment in relation to the Coalition's welfare policy : " All I can see are the Lib-Dem's nodding heads ; as what little of my sanity that is left, starts to crumble. God knows how we are going to cope ."

With little protest , the previous Government's Welfare to Work programme,a mere walk in the park, surely, compared to what the Coalition are currently considering, found seriously ill people, people with debilitating conditions and serious disabilities , even those with Severe ME, illegible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the benefit that replaced Incapacity Benefit in October 2008.
This is because they had been subjected to the notorious Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which took little account of variable symptoms, generalized pain, exhaustion or the underlying seriousness of a person's condition.


" contains a series of questions, called "descriptors", that relate to physical and mental functions, and from which claimants score points. The test fails to include questions relating to energy, stamina, illness and malaise. Instead, it focuses on specific physical functions, such as reaching, bending and continence. "
writes Melissa Viney

According to a Citizens Advice Bureau report , those seriously ill and disabled people , found fit for work under the last Government and denied ESA , were subsequently written off, just left to cope with greatly reduced benefits on Job Seekers Allowance and little support. (Source : Not Working . CAB Evidence on the WCA.)

Yet introducing ESA and the WCA in 2007, Peter Hain, described them as "A new, progressive vision for our welfare system ."

This extraordinary counter-intuitive reasoning has its roots, says Jonathan Rutherford in the American right's philosophy that the poor are the cause of their own poverty because they fail to take advantage of the opportunities "available" to them..

This all began in 1994 the Conservative Government brought in UNUM, the giant American Medical insurance Comoany, to advise them on welfare reform, a member of that group was Mansel Aylward, who in 1999, as Chief Medical Officer at the DWP, devised the new Personal Capability Assessment (PCA), contracted out to the American Corporation Atos Origin, where the " emphasis was no longer on entitlement, but on what a person is capable of doing."

The intellectual basis behind the PCA was UNUM's "The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits ", written by Mansel Aylward, which is based upon the biopsychosocial model of illness, designed to "liberate" the disabled from the " medical model" . According to the biopsychosocial model, under which untold tens of thousands with ME have suffered grievously, " Disease is the only objective, medically diagnosable pathology. Sickness is a temporary phenomenon. Illness is a behavior...a social phenomenon rather than a health problem. The solution is not to cure the sick, but a "fundamental transformation in the way society deals with sickness and disabilities. "

The transformation was this : " Sickness is a social and cultural phenomenon rather than a health problem. The solution is not to cure the sick, but to transform the culture of welfare. No one who is ill should have a straightforward right to receive benefit.", the " extreme agenda " which has been adopted by former banker David Freud, now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Pushing the neoliberal agenda to triumphant heights, the new Government says the "only" way to save money is to slash welfare spending. It wants to wants to cut incapacity benefit , the employment and support allowance, cap housing benefit and subject all those on disability living allowance (DLA) to strict medical examinations. Effectively as many claimants as possible must be bumped off benefits.

To prepare the ground, the Disabled have been thoroughly demonized; labeled even by the Prime Minister as "Scroungers"; and the need to reduce " welfare dependency" is being shouted out , as loud as possible, to all who can hear.

And this is not just happening the UK . As Naomi Klein points out the G20 : "Faced with the effects of a crisis created by the world's wealthiest and most privileged strata, they (the G20) decided to stick the poorest and most vulnerable people in their countries with the bill."

Dan Tanzey asks : " How much more will the poor and powerless be expected to pay for a crisis created by the rich and powerful?"

Klien comments : "Already, workers, pensioners and students have taken to the streets against austerity measures in Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Greece, often marching under the slogan: "We won't pay for your crisis." Mothers in Romania and pensioners have taken to the street to demonstrate against Benefit cuts, a " a diverse mix of union members and community activists, parents and children and people of all ages have been out protesting in New Jersey against budget cuts."

As Klein argues, why should any of us take orders from the G20, an " ad hoc institution with none of the legitimacy of the United Nations" ? Right across the world it is the poor who are being made to pay for the banking crisis. In Spain , a striking civil servant asked " Why should hard-working people like us pay for the mistakes of bankers?" As the Daily Mirror asks " Do we just sit there and nod politely as we’re told that nearly one in eight public sector jobs will be axed over the next five years?

Since when did taking 725,000 people off the wage bill to toss onto the benefits bill make any kind of economic sense? Soaring unemployment will destroy ­families and communities, but it won’t help fill the economic hole we’re in."

As Fred Shipman points out : " It needs to be emphasised that it is not the public sector which has caused the deficit but the irresponsible activities of the bankers and speculators of the private sector."

It is certainly not people with Severe ME who have caused the Economic Crisis and they should not have to be lying this day, as many are, in fear and trembling.

Bishop Tutu once said " I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights. " . Denied even the basic right of proper medical care for decades , under the biospcyhosocial regime that has now gone global, people with ME know more than most, how evil that regime is. Are they just going to sit there and nod politely while even what little they have left, their benefits are stripped away from them ? Sadly, judging from from the deafening lack of response by all the main ME Charities to the proposed welfare cuts , that is exactly what is going to happen.


  • Twisted Witch : New Statesman May 2008
  • Greg Crowhurst Joe Public Blog , The Guardian, June 30 2010
  • Melissa Viney, Bending the Rules, Guardian , October 28 2010
  • Citizens Advice , Not Working , 2010

  • Peter Hain, Labour & the Sick Note, New Statesman, 27 Nov 2007

  • Jonathan Rutherford, E pluribus Unum, The Guardian 17 March 2008
  • Jonathan Rutherford, The welfare reform bill’s hour of need, The Guardian 22 June 2009
  • Naomi Klein , Let’s take no orders to slash and burn from this G20 Club, The Guardian 29 June 2010
  • Dan Tanzey, Letters, Work, Welfare and Budget cuts, The Guardian
  • Romania’s Mums protest against Budget Cuts, Euronews, 1 July 2010
  • Financial Times http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e2fe6f6-633a-11df-99a5-00144feab49a.html
  • BRUCE SHIPKOWSKI Thousands Rally In NJ Against Budget Cut My Fox, New York,
  • Fred Shipman, The Poor should not have to pay bankers’ gambling debts, 17 June 2010
    The Argus , http://www.theargus.co.uk/yourargus/letters/8225652.The_poor_should_not_have_to_pay_bankers__gambling_debts/

www.stonebird.co.uk : The Lived Experience of Severe ME


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