Ask Your MP to Vote Against the Tories’ Brutal Treatment of the Disabled, as ATOS Resign from Conducting Disability Assessments

It’s been some time since I wrote about this wretched government’s vile assault on the disabled, through the rigged assessments (the Work Capability Assessments) administered by the multinational company Atos Healthcare, and designed to find as many mentally and physically disabled people as possible “fit for work” so their support can be cut. See some of my previous articles — Doctors Urge Government to Scrap Callous Disability TestsWhere is the Shame and Anger as the UK Government’s Unbridled Assault on the Disabled Continues?Photos of the Paralympics Demonstration Against Atos Healthcare in LondonCall Time on This Wretched Government and Its Assault on the DisabledThe Tories’ Cruelty Is Laid Bare as Multiple Welfare Cuts Bite and Photos: The 10,000 Cuts and Counting Protest in Parliament Square, September 28, 2013.

Nevertheless, not a day has gone by without me thinking about the horrors of life under the Tories — and their assault not just on the disabled but also on the unemployed and the underpaid — and being close to despair at how my fellow citizens, in significant numbers, have embraced the filthy lies spewing from the lying lips of ministers and the merchants of hatred and division in the tabloid newspapers.

In response to this assault, campaigners launched an e-petition in December 2012,  which became known as the WOW petition (war on welfare), and which called for a cumulative impact assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick and disabled people, their families and carers, and an immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association in June 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: The 10,000 Cuts and Counting Protest in Parliament Square, September 28, 2013

10,000 Cuts and CountingA sea of flowers at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestAtos kills; enough is enoughMichael Meacher MP speaks at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestOne death is one too many!The Dean of St. Paul's and a campaigner
Killers: Atos and the governmentThe crowd at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestDisabled campaigners at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestDisabled People Against CutsThe poet Dickie Lupton at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestThe Gunpowder Plot
Louise Irvine GP speaks at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestJohn McDonnell MP speaks at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestRick B and Jane of the WOW Petition at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protestAlison Playford and Ian Chamberlain at the 10,000 Cuts and Counting protest

The 10,000 Cuts and Counting Protest in Parliament Square, September 28, 2013, a set on Flickr.

On Saturday September 29, disability activists, the Very Rev. David Ison, the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the MP Michael Meacher and representatives of the Occupy movement held a protest in Parliament Square entitled “10,000 Cuts and Counting,” at which and John McDonnell MP and Louise Irvine, a GP and member of the British Medical Association (BMA) and the National Health Action Party, also spoke.

The event was described as “a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for those who have had their lives devastated by the austerity programme, including more than 10,000 people who died shortly after undergoing the Atos Work Capability Assessment, the degrading test used by the government to assess the needs of people receiving benefits related to disability and ill health.”

In my many articles about the Tory-led government’s relentless and disgraceful assault on the disabled, I refer to the assessments as a process designed to find mentally and physically disabled people fit for work, when they are not, as it has been clear from the beginning that Atos has been hired not to conduct objective evaluations, but to cut financial support for disabled people on the orders of the government. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the Tide Turning Against the Tories, as Labour Pledges to Scrap the Bedroom Tax and Sack Atos?

Ever since the Tory-led coalition government got into power and ministers made it clear that they were seeking to do as much damage as possible to the poor, the ill, the unemployed and the disabled, and to dismantle, if possible, every state-owned enterprise, and anything that expresses some notion of communality and doesn’t involve naked profiteering, misery and uncertainty have been on the rise, and with good reason.

As I have stated in numerous articles over the last few years, the assault on the unemployed and disabled has been particularly heart-wrenching, as the Tories, their spin doctors, their Lib Dem accomplices and their cheerleaders in the mainstream media have portrayed the unemployed as skivers, despite there being only one job available for every five of the country’s 2.5 million unemployed, and have portrayed disabled people with similar flint-hearted distortions.

As a result, wave after wave of vile policies have been introduced with very little outrage from people who probably don’t regard themselves as particularly cruel or heartless — the reviews for the disabled, run by Atos Healthcare, which are designed to find people with severe mental and physical disabilities fit for work, so that their benefits can be cut; the workfare programs for the unemployed that are akin to slavery and allow well-off companies to fundamentally undermine the minimum wage; and the overall benefit cap, the most popular policy in this new Cruel Britannia, according to a YouGov poll in April, in which 79 per cent of people, including 71 per cent of Labour voters, supported it. This is forcing tens of thousands of families to uproot themselves — with all the attendant social costs, particularly for their children — and move to cheaper places, which tend to be those with high unemployment, creating ghettoes, as part of a disgraceful process of social cleansing. Read the rest of this entry »

Petition and Protest: Stop This Callous Government’s Sickening War on the Disabled

Please sign the petition to the British government to end the “War on Welfare,” which currently has over 55,000 signatures but needs 100,000 to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate, and, if you can, come to the ‘10,000 Cuts & Counting’ protest in Parliament Square on Saturday September 28. 

The British government’s assault on the poor, the ill, the unemployed and the disabled is so disgraceful that it’s often difficult to know which particular horror is the worst, although every time that their attacks on the disabled come under the spotlight I’m reminded of the importance of the saying, “The mark of a civilised society is how it treats its most vulnerable members” — attributed, in various forms, to Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Harry S. Truman — and it strikes me that the most disgusting of all the oppressive policies directed at the most vulnerable members of society by sadistic Tories masquerading as competent politicians — backed up by their Lib Dem facilitators and the majority of the mainstream media — is their war on the disabled.

The people behind these assaults overwhelmingly identify themselves as Christians, even though no trace of Christian values exists in their policies, and they are, instead, waging war on the very people that Christ would have told them are in need of their protection most of all.

I have been covering the government’s war on the disabled since 2011 (see my archive of articles here and here), and a brief explanation of what has been happening can be found in an article I wrote last August, in which I explained: Read the rest of this entry »

End the Tory Butchers’ Assault on the Disabled: For New Year, Please Sign the War on Welfare Petition

Please sign the “War on Welfare” petition now to call for an end the Tory-led government’s assault on the disabled!

Since the Tories came to power two years and seven months ago, with the assistance of the Liberal Democrats, they have reshaped the political landscape in the UK in the most horrific manner, launching a savage age of austerity aimed at the young, the working poor, the unemployed, the ill, the old and the disabled, in defiance of the Christian values they supposedly hold.

In response, a group of concerned citizens have launched an e-petition urging the government to change course, which already has over 9,000 signatures since its launch just three weeks ago, and needs 100,000 signatures by December 12, 2013 to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate. The “War on Welfare” petition, which has a website here, and is being promoted as the #wowpetition, calls for “a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick and disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.”

Driven by a Thatcherite and neo-conservative obsession with destroying the state (with a few exceptions, including their own salaries and expenses), the Tories have been taking advantage of the economic crisis created by bankers and politicians (themselves included) in the global crash of 2008 not to rein in the bankers, but to endorse the enthusiasm for austerity amongst so-called economists — those who have not learned that austerity measures in a recession lead only to economic collapse. Read the rest of this entry »

The End of Decency: Tories to Make Disabled People Work Unpaid for Their Benefits

What is wrong with the people of Britain? For two and a half years now, the Tory-led coalition government has been waging war on the most vulnerable members of society — the disabled — and hardly anyone seems to care. In order to cut the welfare bill, the government is paying a fortune to Atos Healthcare, a French-based multinational company, to conduct reviews of disabled people in order to find them fit for work, whether they are or not.

This process, which necessitates cruelty and indifference on the part of the assessors, is hugely stressful for the people subjected to the reviews, and has contributed to hundreds of deaths since it was first introduced (also see here and here for links to some harrowing stories).

I have been campaigning against it for the last two years — see, for example, my articles, Today the Tories Took £100 A Week from Some of the UK’s Most Disabled People: How Can This Be Right?, RIP Karen Sherlock, Another Victim of the Tories’ Brutal, Heartless Disability Reforms, Doctors Urge Government to Scrap Callous Disability Tests, Where is the Shame and Anger as the UK Government’s Unbridled Assault on the Disabled Continues? and Call Time on This Wretched Government and Its Assault on the Disabled. Read the rest of this entry »

Doctors Urge Government to Scrap Callous Disability Tests

Two weeks ago, doctors at the annual conference of the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents 141,000 doctors and trainee doctors in the UK, delivered a resounding rejection of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which is being used by the government to establish that people who have physical and/or mental health disabilities are fit for work.

The inflexible computer-based system, administered by ATOS Healthcare in sessions that last for just 20 to 30 minutes, has been repeatedly condemned by disability campaigners, and/or by those subjected to it, and at the BMA conference, as a press release noted, London GP Louise Irvine said the WCA system “was causing ‘distress’ to thousands of people with long-term health conditions deemed fit for work, as well as subjecting the doctors involved to ‘McDonaldisation’ of their careers.”

She added, “There is no empathy in the system, it is all accusatory.”

Although David Snashall, a London-based consultant in occupational medicine,  “urged the meeting not to call for the WCA to be replaced, arguing that there was a scrutiny process in place to improve the system,” the BMA supported a motion to demand that the WCA should be ended “with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm to some of the weakest and vulnerable in society.” Read the rest of this entry »

Brutal Benefit Cuts for the Disabled Are Leading to Suicides in the UK

When it comes to callousness, the supposedly caring veneer of David Cameron’s Tory party disintegrated almost as soon as the expedient governing coalition with the hapless Liberal Democrats was formed, when our new leaders announced, with evident relish, their intention of haranguing those without work at a time when there was only one job available for every five unemployed people.

Targetting the unemployed during a recession would be cruel under any circumstances, and it was disgraceful to see the government peddling the false notion that anyone without a job was a workshy scrounger and parasite — and to see that particular lie being lapped up by large numbers of my fellow citizens, thereby revealing that, beneath many people’s superficial respectability beat hearts of hatred, forever burning to find a scapegoat and to make them suffer.

With a sleight of hand, involving an absurdly strict cap on immigration that seemed to have been sourced directly from the fascist BNP, Cameron and his fellow butchers of the British state diverted attention away from immigration but made sure that the new scapegoats consisted of people without a job — even if, or perhaps especially if — they have physical or mental health problems. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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