Archive for November, 2013

The Real Source of the Coalition’s Employment Policy: Morgus from Dr. Who’s ‘The Caves of Androzani’

November 30, 2013

Sometimes, life really does follow art. This week we had Boris Johnson telling a gathering of City bankers that ‘greed is right’, almost, but not quite, following Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko. The other night it struck me that the government’s way of tackling unemployment also seems to bear more than a little resemblance to another piece of 80s screen fiction, the Dr Who story ‘The Caves of Androzani’.

This was Peter Davison’s final regular appearance as the fifth Doctor. In it, the Doctor and Peri land on Androzani Minor, where they get caught up in a struggle between government forces, led by Major Chellak, and an army of androids, created by the mad scientist Sheraz Jek. Androzani Minor is the source of the drug Spectrox, which massively extends the human lifespan. Its production is controlled by a massive industrial combine, the Conglomerate, whose chairman is the avaricious and ruthless Krau Morgus. This has, however, been disrupted by Sheraz Jek. Jek had previously been employed by the Conglomerate, creating an android workforce, who could harvest the raw Spectrox safely. He was, however, betrayed by Morgus. Androzani Minor is subject to periodic mudbursts, geyser-like blasts of boiling mud caused by tidal action when the planet passes close to its larger twin, Androzani Major. Morgus sabotaged Jek’s instruments so that he was caught without warning in one of the mudbursts. Horribly disfigured and driven by an all-consuming desire for revenge, Jek has stopped production of the drug in order to force the Androzani government to kill Morgus. The government, in its turn, has sent in troops under Chellak to quell Jek and his androids and restore production.

Morgus, however, has managed to turn this situation to his own advantage. A ruthless businessman with absolutely no morals, Morgus is deliberately using the war to raise the price of Spectrox. He supplies the government forces with the arms and equipment they need, while also secretly supplying Jek through a group of mercenaries in return for shipments of Spectrox.

Spectrox in its raw state is highly poisonous, with the victims of Spectrox toxaemia dying in three days. The Doctor and Peri contract this after falling into a Spectrox nest. The plot revolves around the Doctor’s and Peri’s attempts to escape from Chellak, Jek and the mercenaries, and the Doctor’s efforts to find the antidote before they finally succumb to the poison. He is concerned primarily with saving himself and his companion. His mere presence on Androzani acts as a catalyst for increasing confrontation between Chellak and Jek, and the political and criminal machinations by Morgus, which finally culminate in his overthrow and downfall by his PA, Trau Timmon.

It’s a taut story, which combines the political thriller with elements of Restoration drama and Jacobean tragedy. At certain crucial points, Morgus turns to speak directly to camera. As in Jacobean tragedy, nearly everyone dies at the end, with the exception of Peri, Trau Timmon and the Doctor. Here’s a fan trailer for it from Youtube:

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It’s Youtube address is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjH_hZZhaXw.

Morgus himself is smooth talking, exploitative and ruthless. When he finds out that one of the Conglomerate’s mines has produced too much copper, he arranges new equipment containing a bomb to be sent to the plant, which is destroyed in the resulting explosion. Fearing that Androzani’s president is aware of his duplicity, he personally pushes him down an empty lift shaft. Calling Trau Timmon to inform her of the tragic accident, he muses, ‘Still, it could have been worse.’
‘How so?’, she asks.
‘It could have been me.’

Here’s another fan produced piece from Youtube, showing Morgus as one of the fifty great Dr Who villains of all time.

It’s on Youtube at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3mlkV6tmA0.

Particularly noteworthy here is Morgus’ solution to the social problems caused by unemployment. At 0.55 on the video he states ‘those without valid work permits will be sent to the eastern labour camps’. Morgus makes this comment in a conversation with the President, who drily observes ‘Where they’ll work for you for free’.
‘I hadn’t thought of that’, replies Morgus.
To which the President simply says, ‘I know’, while all the while looking at Morgus with eyes that say the complete opposite.

It’s this episode that reminds me very strongly of the government’s policy. After all, what is the Conglomerate’s deportation of the unemployed to forced labour camps except a form of workfare?

It’s been said that all Science Fiction is, despite its settings in the future, or on other worlds or parallel universes, about the issues facing present society. Workfare was certainly being discussed in the 1980s, when it was first introduced in America by the Reagan presidency. It’s been pointed out that much of the SF of the period is a reaction to the new, Conservative policies of the period, the privatisation of the economy and the growing power of frequently ruthless corporations. It is the Corporation in Alien and its sequel, Aliens, that sacrifices Ripley’s crewmates aboard the Nostromo, and the planet’s colonists and the marines sent to rescue them fifty years later in order to acquire the Aliens for the company’s weapons’ division. Another corporation, OCP, is also the villain in Robocop. The company acquires Detroit’s police force after it is privatised, and sets up a young, rookie cop, Murphy, to be gunned down in order to turn him into cybernetic law enforcement officer of the title. Morgus and the ruthless, exploitative Conglomerate can similarly be seen as a comment on the economic and social policies of Reagan and Thatcher. It is possible to go somewhat further, and suggest that the story’s also a disguised treatment of the Iran/Contra affair, in which the US government supplied arms to Iran and the Contras in Nicaragua, in return for the freeing of US hostages in Lebanon, and the shipment of cocaine into the US by the anti-Sandinista forces in Nicaragua.

It also needs to be noted, on the other hand, that the story is not necessarily an explicit comment on free-market capitalism. It’s assumed that the Conglomerate is privately owned, but it’s not stated. Both the Fascist and Communist dictatorships have used forced labour in industry, and so the use of unemployed slave labour in Morgus’ work camps could simply be based on those examples, especially as the work camps are on the ‘eastern continent’. Dr Who’s writers were clearly well aware of the way totalitarian states, particularly Nazi Germany, operated when devising their villains, such as Davros in The Genesis of the Daleks. Even so, free market capitalism under David Cameron has very definitely followed Morgus’ Conglomerate in the introduction of forced labour for the unemployed, even if they haven’t started to send people to Siberia yet. As for Morgus deliberately manipulating production to keep it profitably low, and create a reservoir of the unemployed, which he can exploit for free, the Angry Yorkshireman over at Another Angry Voice has pointed out that Neo-Liberal economics demands a constant unemployment rate of 6 per cent or so to keep labour cheap.

So, one way or another, Cameron’s government is following the Science Fictional policies of Dr Who’s Trau Morgus. Only without bombing mines and personally assassinating leading politicians. And it’s similarly time that someone brought it all to an end, though hopefully we won’t have to wait for a visitor from beyond the stars.

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The Tories as the Party of Gordon Gekko: Part 94 – The Boris Johnson Years

November 30, 2013

I’ve commented several times before that the Conservative Party has all the morals of Gordon Gekko. Remember him? He was the monstrous incarnation of ruthless corporate greed played by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone’s 1980s film, Wall Street. This had the now notorious scene in which Gekko makes a speech in front of his fellow financiers praising greed. ‘Greed is right’, he intones, ‘Greed is good. Greed … works’. The film ends with Gecko himself ruthlessly betrayed and discarded by a younger protégé, a man Gekko has been raising up through the corporate ladder according to his own set of amoral principles. Here’s the speech:

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out like this in real life. The global banking system nearly collapsed due to the colossal greed of leading bankers and financiers through a system of toxic debt and a web of complex fraud. This brought down Lehmann Brothers and a whole host of other firms in Britain and America. The system itself has been saved by a massive bail-out by Gordon Brown, amongst others, with the result that Cameron’s coalition has seized on this excuse to curt welfare services even further under the pretext of ending the massive national debt this incurred.

And the bankers and Tory politicians have learned absolutely nothing. Indeed, they have become every more like Gekko. On Have I Got News For You last night they reported a speech made by London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, this week, in which he expressed pretty much the same appreciation for greed as Stone’s fictional anti-hero. Greed, according to Johnson, was a good thing, as it could, in certain circumstances, lead to economic growth. Now greed as the motor of economic growth and material benefits, with private vices becoming public virtues, was first proposed in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century by Bernard Mandeville in his Fable of the Bees. This was so shocking to the Christian culture of the time that he was bitterly attacked for his immorality, and denounced as ‘Man-Devil’. The idea was gradually taken up by other economists, including Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. Nearly three hundred years later, the idea is now so widely accepted that Johnson thought he could make it without adverse comment to his audience in the City. This is despite the banking collapse, and the recession and rioting, which then followed. One is reminded of the comment about the restored Bourbon monarchy in France after the Revolution: They have forgotten nothing. They have learned nothing.
And they are determined to act more and more like Gordon Gekko with no trace of self-consciousness or irony.

As an aside from this, one of the very few good things to be inspired by Yuppie greed in the 1980s is, in my view, Queen’s I Want It All. The song’s title and chorus seems to me to have been taken from the Yuppie culture of avarice. Unlike Yuppie culture, the song is genuinely bright, optimistic and fun. So to cheer everyone up after this post, and remind us just how great Freddy Mercury was, here it is:

Help feed people in need appeal now underway!

November 30, 2013

Ann McGauran

At this London food bank, volunteers are getting down to Tesco today to encourage local donations during the three-day nationwide collection of emergency food.  Lots of new volunteers are helping with this wonderful event running at Tesco stores throughout the country.

The Trussell Trust is partnering with Tesco and Fareshare to hold the food collection.  The aim is to ensure its network of food banks can provide emergency food to more local people in crisis. Someone in your street or round the corner from you could benefit from your donation this weekend. Donate a can or two of food at your local Tesco store today, tomorrow (November 30th) or Sunday (December 1st). By doing this you can stop someone going hungry in your area.

One of the people being helped in our London food bank today was Theresa (not her real name), 49.  She’s working three low-paid part-time jobs, but…

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Another Site of Interest: Londonfoodbank

November 30, 2013

My post on the stack of cards for the Samaritans on the desk of one of the interviewing staff at the Job Centre has been reblogged on Londonfoodbank. I’m glad they liked it and thought it was worth posting at their site. Londonfoodbank is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s about a food bank in London, and the people, who are forced to use them. Naturally, these people are given pseudonyms to protect their identity. In many cases, it seems that’s all they have left after Cameron, Osborne, IDS, McVey and the whole shabby lot of them have stripped them of their income and dignity. Among the few stories I’ve been able to look at so far are those of a woman, whose income mostly goes on paying her energy bills from NPower. This lady states that she once went without food for eleven days. Another woman was forced to raise money by selling her furniture. Others have trudged miles to them through London with their voucher to collect food. Londonfoodbank have also published a post giving their comments on the supposed recovery claimed by Osborne. In short, it isn’t visible from where they stand, and they have only seen more desperate people coming through their doors.

Londonfoodbank is at ‘http://londonfoodbank.wordpress.com/’. Go to it to see the real situation of the poor and starving in this country from the people at the frontline of fending off the starvation caused by Cameron’s policies.

Second Suicide Linked To Welfare Reform Reported This Week: RIP Victor Cuff

November 30, 2013

the void

atos-paralympic-protestAnother tragic suicide has been reported which appears to be linked to the brutal Work Capability Assessments used to strip people of benefits by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

According to South East London newspaper, the News Shopper, Victor Cuff, aged 59, hung himself in May after his sickness benefits were cut.  The newspaper reports that Mr Cuff had previously had suffered from depression and an inquest into his death heard that he had been “feeling down” and was having money problems after his sickness benefits were reduced.

This is the second suicide linked to withdrawal of sickness benefits which has been reported in just one week. On Monday the Bristol Post featured the story of Jacqueline Harris who took her own life after being found ‘fit for work’ resulting in her benefits being slashed.

Anyone who claims these suicides are not linked to welfare reforms has probably…

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ATOS Lies: Part Two

November 30, 2013

In an earlier post this past week, I stated that from my own personal experience ATOS lies and will falsify the answers a claimant gives in their assessment in order to have that person thrown off benefit. Others have had the same experience. Last week Johnny Void post another piece reporting the death of Victor Cuff. Mr Cuff was yet another tragic addition to the rising number of people, who have killed themselves after being declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS. He was the second person to have killed himself in despair that week, following the death of Jacqueline Harris in Bristol. Commenting on the post, TM (@cedawnow) describes his own experience of the ATOS assessment. He states that the nurse administering the test was angry that he did not give simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. He also states that ‘She lied, let me say that again she lied about my responses said she performed physical assessments that she did not and recommended a return to work in three months. Oh and not forgetting that she completely omitted to include my main condition in her report.’ Here is TM (@Cedawnow)’s comment in full:

‘Agreed it is the system that has been instituted by IDS and his cohorts of ministers and civil servants at the DWP who are ultimately responsible for these deaths and many more. But, I was just following orders is not good enough. Atossers are complicit in the current torture of the sick and disabled. It is their so called health professionals who write the report that the DWP uses to make a decision. How can the correct decision be reached when these people omit relevant information, out right lie and try and trick you into proving that you are actually fit for work. How about the old dropping your meds on the floor thing or asking you how you managed to get to the assessment.

In my own case the nurse who I saw was incredibly angry that I couldn’t just give her a yes or or no answer for her tick box computer programme and badgered me throughout to only give yes or no answers. She was the one who suggested that I was actually socialising when I went to the supermarket and leapt on the idea that if I had my dead mothers elderly dog living with me then I was somehow fit to work.

When the brown envelope dropped through my door I could barely believe that the nurses report was actually about me. She lied, let me say that again she lied about my responses said she performed physical assessments that she did not and recommended a return to work in three months. Oh and not forgetting that she completely omitted to include my main condition in her report.

Even the DWP disagreed with her and stated a return to work in a year and a half. Obviously I appealed with all the resultant stress which negatively impacts on my health and now I am in the support group waiting in fear for my next assessment to check if my degenerative conditions have somehow miraculously improved.

I refuse to excuse Atos as just carrying out their job as per DWP instructions. The nurse that I had the misfortune to see was actively trying to deny me sickness benefits not assessing my ability to work and she did not care how she did it whether that be a direct lie or omission of relevant information. Therefore as far as I am concerned Atos are complicit in the harassment of sick and disabled people and not just doing their job.’

His comment and those of many others as well as Johnny Void’s post on Victor Cuff’s death, are at http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/second-suicide-linked-to-welfare-reform-reported-this-week/#comments. The post is entitled ‘Second Suicide Linked To Welfare Reform Reported This Week: RIP Victor Cuff’.

I strongly advise everyone taking the test to take someone else with them into the interview as a witness to the questions and their answers to them. I also recommend recording the interview, although, as Mr Void, Mike Sivier and other bloggers have pointed out, ATOS have had people thrown out or even prosecuted for attempting to do this. Which to me shows very clearly that ATOS know they are in the wrong, and are extremely worried.

Second Suicide Linked To Welfare Reform Reported This Week: RIP Victor Cuff

November 29, 2013

the void

atos-paralympic-protestAnother tragic suicide has been reported which appears to be linked to the brutal Work Capability Assessments used to strip people of benefits by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

According to South East London newspaper, the News Shopper, Victor Cuff, aged 59, hung himself in May after his sickness benefits were cut.  The newspaper reports that Mr Cuff had previously had suffered from depression and an inquest into his death heard that he had been “feeling down” and was having money problems after his sickness benefits were reduced.

This is the second suicide linked to withdrawal of sickness benefits which has been reported in just one week. On Monday the Bristol Post featured the story of Jacqueline Harris who took her own life after being found ‘fit for work’ resulting in her benefits being slashed.

Anyone who claims these suicides are not linked to welfare reforms has probably…

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UKIP Cllr who called care children ‘takers’ got state grants for his own children

November 28, 2013

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the UKIP!)

A UKIP councillor in Cambridgeshire who accused 3 children in care of being “takers from society” – to their faces – received state grants for 8 of his own 10 children to attend public school.

UKIP’s Cllr Gordon Gillick stood up in a meeting and aggressively asked three children who had made a film showing what it was like to grow up in care “Can you tell us: how does it feel to be takers from the system?

Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors who were present at the meeting were so shocked they have written a cross-party letter of complaint about Gillick:

Words Fail Me

But amazingly I’ve discovered that Cllr Gillick is what he would call a ‘taker from the system’ too.

Gillick and his wife received state grants to send 8 of their own children to a local public school:

Eight…

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Roll-Call of the Poor and Disabled, Killed by the Government’s Policies

November 28, 2013

A day or so ago I reblogged the video Still Oaks had made on the people, who tragically committed suicide due to the government’s welfare policies. Many were disabled people, who had been declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS, when they clearly were anything but. Others were simply unemployed, who found it impossible to live on the meagre income supplied by the DWP. There’s a list of the people mentioned in the video posted by Still Oaks and Annanna, who helped Still Oaks make the video, over on the web forum DWP Examinations. The forum’s subtitled ‘Free Speech for the Disabled’, and is clearly intended to allow the disabled themselves to discuss and criticise the DWP and its policies. The people included in Still Oaks’ video are:

1/ John Walker

2/ Linda Wootton

3/ Elenore Tatton

4/ Brian McArdle

5/ David Groves

6/ Stephen Hill

7/ Nicholas Peter Barker

8/ Mark and Helen Mullins

9/Richard Sanderson

10/Martin Rust

11/Craig Monk

12/Colin Traynor

13/Elaine Christian

14/Christelle pardo,Kayjah Pardo

15/Mark Scott

16/Cecilia Burns

17/Chris Cann

18/Peter Hodgson

19/ Paul Willcoxson

20/Stephanie Bottrill

21/Larry Newman

22/Child EG

23/Paul Turner

24/Christopher Charles Harness

25/Sandra Louise Moon

26/Paul Reekie

27/Leanne Chambers

28/Vicky Harrison

29/Stephen Cawthra

30/George from Chesterfield

31/Wayne Grew

32/Kevin Bennett

32/Iain Hodge

33/David Elwyn Hugh Harris

34/ Elaine Lowe

35/ Lee Robinson

36/ Ian Carress

37/ Edward Jacques

38/ Charles Barden

The list is part of a wider discussion, ‘Death by Government’. Other posts by Annanna in this thread give some details on these poor souls. It’s a depressing mixture of people from all walks of life and types of disability. Some of them were obviously extremely talented academically. Christelle Pardo, who killed herself and her baby, Kayja, was a philosophy graduate. Others were manual workers, whose talents clearly lay with their hands, such as a farm labourer. Several of them had psychological problems, such as a young man who suffered from schizophrenia, epilepsy and alcoholism. This man’s alcoholism is not necessarily an indication that he was somehow responsible for his own poverty. It looks from here like self-medication. This is the term psychiatrists and mental health experts use to describe drug and alcohol use by the mentally ill to try and alleviate their condition. In our society, one of the ways people try to cheer themselves up when their down is to go for a pint or two. So it is with those suffering from depression or anxiety. It’s not hard to see how that can lead to dependence on this socially accepted drug, which in turn will exacerbate the sufferer’s condition. The important point here is that in these cases, alcoholism can be a consequence or a symptom of the disease, not a result of moral weakness of the part of the victim. Other victims included severely disabled people, for whom there should have been no question of them being able to work, such as a triple amputee.

I’ve come across a few severely disabled people, who nevertheless possessed the talent and strength of character to hold down often extremely well-paid and responsible jobs despite their appalling physical condition. One young lad I met a few years ago had a disease that left him almost totally paralysed. Nevertheless, he was a computer whizzkid, and his expertise allowed him to earn the kind of money some of us only dream about. And he wasn’t the only one. A young woman in a wheelchair told me over twenty years ago about one of her friends, who was also paralysed from the neck down. This man, was also a computer genius, working on them with the kind of stick attachment, which you see Stephen Hawking using to work his wheelchair and speech synthesiser. It’s one of the positive advantages of information technology that it has allowed disable people like these two to have a career of their own. The problem is the DWP seems to assume that if a few, very talented people can do it, then others in a similar position should. If they can’t, then it must be their own fault, somehow.

It should be self-evident that severely disabled people need considerable support and care. When I met the lad I mentioned above, it was in a meeting of one of the clubs in Cheltenham at the time. I think they were holding their AGM. He was taken in by his nurse, who then went to the bar to sit quietly drinking coffee once the lad had been wheeled to the table to talk about rules of procedure and the financial status of the club. Or whatever. Stephen Hawking is one of the foremost examples of a man, who has made spectacular achievements despite his terrible condition. Helping him do this, however, have been a supportive family, nursing care, and the type of advanced motorised wheelchairs and voice synthesis technology that many people can only dream about. All too many other disabled people simply don’t have that level of social, medical and technological support.

There is also the question of how much support or care an employer is prepared to spend adapting their premises to the needs of their disabled employees. Now I have to say I really have little knowledge of the equalities legislation in this area. I understand that businesses, or at least public organisations, like museums and libraries, are required to make their premises wheelchair-accessible. I’m also pretty sure that they cannot legally discriminate against a disabled applicant when it comes to jobs. I am also aware that there have been some very good employers out there, who have adapted their workplaces to accommodate their workers, who suffered from particular physical ailments. One lady I used to work with had a severe back condition, and so she sat in an orthopaedic chair at work. Others may not be so fortunate to have such caring employers. And in a crowded labour market, an employer can always find some other reason not to take someone on, regardless of whether or not they’re disabled.

My point here is that there should be no question that severely disabled people like the triple-amputee are not able to work. This does not mean that they should not be given the resources they may require to work, or that their talents should not be cultivated and neglected. It also doesn’t mean that they should be discriminated against either. It just means being realistic about the immense impact severe disability has on someone’s ability to work. IDS and his wretched crew, however, have decided that as exceptionally talented people like Stephen Hawking have succeeded in having a career, so people with less support and more modest intellectual gifts should do also. There’s a parallel here to the Stakhanovite system through which Stalin industrialised the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Stakhanov was a miner, who was given state of the art tools and support. His output was then measured by the bureaucrats, who then made it the standard for other miners, regardless of their ability, and the tools and other resources available to them. Stakhanov and his team smashed production records, and the USSR industrialised extremely quickly. The human cost, however, was immense. Cameron’s and IDS’ policies towards the disabled similarly makes the exceptional the norm, and, like Stalin, punishes those, who can’t keep up.

Still Oaks and Annanna’s thread, ‘Death by Government’, is at http://dwpexamination.org/forum/the-governmants-agenda/death-by-government/. It’s grim, moving reading. Like Still Oak’s video, it puts the people forward from behind the statistics, so you can see, who IDS’ policies have killed.

Information Commissioner rules on the cover-up of DWP-related deaths

November 28, 2013

Mike here reports on the Information Commissioner’s response to his complaint about his FOI request being turned down. Mike had asked for information on the number of people, who have died as a result of ATOS declaring them fit for work. The DWP refused, on the grounds that it was ‘vexatious’. The Information Commissioner has concurred with their decision. They consider that it was indeed vexatious, as Mike had urged others also to write in, making the same request. This has serious implications for anyone wishing to hold the government to account for any of their policies. The request for information on this issue was first turned down, as only one person made the request, and so it was judged to be not worth the civil servants’ time and effort to find the relevant information. Now they’ve refused on the spurious grounds that it’s ‘vexatious’, and is the request is framed by people ‘acting in concert’. The attitude is that of a petulant, bullying child, who knows the other person is in the right and it is they, who is acting badly. Nevertheless, they carry on, sticking their tongue out at the others, singing, ‘You can’t make me!’ This has serious implications for everyone wishing to question the government on their failed and bloody policies. Mike cites the case of Jacqueline Harris, a Bristol woman, who committed suicide after a two-minute interview by ATOS, as one of those, who has died as result of the government’s policies. I’ve blogged about her case. One of my commenters was so impressed by what I said, that he suggested that we launch a mass campaign to write to the government demanding answers to some of the questions I raised. I’m really touched that people out there thought I had said something worthwhile about Mrs Harris, something that could stop other needless deaths by a cruel and humiliating system. Now it seems there’s no point in writing at all, as the government will simply curl its lips and dismiss any request for information with a lofty sneer. Mike does, however, give a very good critique of the spurious quality and vacuity of the information Commissioners’ answers, and provides a few suggestions on how these can be overcome. Take heart, peep: this is just a setback. The war’s still going on. And like the Federation in the film Starship Trooopers – but without their violence and Fascism – we’ll win!

Vox Political

Long-term readers will know that the author of this blog has spent the last few months trying to get officials at the Department for Work and Pensions to release mortality statistics for people undergoing the assessment procedure for Employment and Support Allowance.

It is in the public interest for the nation to know how many seriously ill or disabled people are dying while they wait to undergo the controversial Atos-run medical assessment, while they await the result, and while they appeal against a result that puts them in the wrong group or claims they are fit for work.

These deaths may be due to deterioration in their health – whether or not it was caused by the process – or suicide prompted by the process or the decision.

An initial Freedom of Information request was rejected by the DWP on the grounds that it was “vexatious”. I disputed that claim, and…

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