Vox Political: Labour Should Not Let Disabled People Die Just to Curry Favour with Press

This is another piece of Mike’s that needs to be reblogged. In his piece, Why are disabled people being asked to die for Labour’s election hopes, Mike reports how Liza van Zyl, a campaigner against the work capability assessment system and the deaths it has caused, was told by the Labour MP Owen Smith that Labour did not support any change to the current work capability assessment. They were afraid that it would damage Labour’s chances of getting into power by allowing them to be attacked as soft on benefits. The article begins

… Especially when it won’t improve those hopes?

Extremely disturbing news has reached Vox Political, courtesy of Liza Van Zyl on Facebook. Extremely long-term readers may recall Liza was the lady who received a visit from police who claimed she had committed a criminal act against the Department for Work and Pensions, just before midnight on October 26, 2012 – being that she had been highlighting the deaths of sick and disabled people following reassessment by Atos and the DWP for Employment and Support Allowance.

Fortunately for those who still have to undergo these assessments, she was not discouraged and has continued to fight for those who cannot stand up for themselves. However, she is currently suffering severe disenchantment with the Labour Party, as she recounts below:

“We heard from Owen Smith MP today [Saturday, March 7] (a member of the left wing of the of the Labour Party leadership) that it is important for disabled people to continue to die, lest any commitment by Labour to scrap the Work Capability Assessment generate a negative response in the press and affect Labour’s general election chances.

“He said that while he personally doesn’t like the WCA, his Labour colleagues will not support scrapping it because of fears it will play badly with the right wing press and damage Labour’s electoral chances… I’ve since been contacted by other disabled people who’ve raised the issue with their Labour MPs, and the response has been: Yes, the WCA isn’t nice but if Labour commits to scrapping it, it would appear to be ‘soft on welfare’.

“The similarities of these responses (and given that Owen Smith is a frontbench shadow sec of state and therefore presumably is up to date on party strategy) indicates that this is an agreed line or represents an actual decision. This is profoundly disturbing, given that a great many Labour MPs know in detail exactly what suffering and deaths the WCA is responsible for among their own constituents: Tom Greatrex organised a powerful meeting of Labour MPs with Chris Grayling two years ago. Dame Anne Begg is herself a disabled person, as are other MPs.

Mike asks the question when this decision was taken, and why didn’t left-wing MPs like John McConnell, Dennis Skinner and Jeremy Corbyn protest?

He also makes the good point that this policy will not benefit the Labour party, but will actually harm it. Disabled people and their friends and families also vote, and they won’t support a party that continues to let their loved ones die, all for its own cynical political advantage. The opinions of the right-wing press can be discounted. Their readers won’t vote Labour, and so there is no point courting them.

He also points out that if, as he hopes, Labour does decide to scrap the work capability assessment, then its silence on this policy in order to win the election also makes it guilty of the same misrepresentation and lies that have resulted in public distrust of politicians generally as self-interested liars.

Mike also points out that he has written to Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow minister for welfare, and Ed Miliband about this issue before, only to be met with stony silence. He has suggested that people should write to the very same right-wing press, of which Labour seem so afraid, to point out how their refusal to change the WCA will stop then and others like them from voting for the party. He himself is perfectly willing to draft the letter.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/03/10/why-are-disabled-people-being-asked-to-die-for-labours-election-hopes/. Go there to let him know what you think about this policy.

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