Opinion: Should I stay or should I go?

For those of you who don’t read the Daily Mail every day, there was a lead article last week all about how awful the Liberal Democrats are. No great surprise there, I hear you say. The reasons given this time were that the Lib Dems are looking to keep the 50p tax rate in place, uphold the Human Rights Act, and “frustrate every effort to cut immigration”. The party is also trying to promote too many green policies as well, ones that “threaten to cripple business”. Apparently, we are “reverting to type as the fringe party mouthpiece of Left-wing causes”.

Yet according to the left wing press, the Lib Dems are either achieving nothing in the Coalition or are basically a bunch Tories with gold ties on. So depending on whether you read the Guardian or the Mirror, the party is either being bullied into submission by Cameron and his crew and may as well not even be there, or are in league with Satan, helping the Conservatives destroy the welfare state, the education system and the NHS.

It’s my Achilles heel, my faith in humanity. I really would have expected more incisive commentary on the Lib Dems in government by now (not from the Daily Mail, obviously), but I’m still holding my breath. Essentially, both the left and right wing press hate us for one simple reason: we’re in the way. Of what is, as far as I can see, a basically shared interest between them in wholeheartedly pretending it’s the 1980’s again. The left wing press wants to talk about riots and “Tory scum” and cuts whilst The Clash plays softly in the background; the right wing press wants to dream about Margaret Thatcher running the country again. This is slightly giving away my age here, but I was a teenager in the 1980’s and for those of you were too young to be there, let me tell you something about the 80’s: they really sucked. I mean, really, really sucked. Why our entire press corps is tainted with an unrequited nostalgia for the decade is beyond me.

And beyond most people in the country, I think. I believe that the majority of people in Britain want to deal with the present and have the problems that face the country sorted in a reasonable and effective way. For instance, I don’t think most people either want all of the rioters given the death sentence, or given medals of honour for their brave struggle against the bourgeoisie. Again, perhaps I give people too much credit but I don’t think most people are that extreme in their thinking.

Problem for the Lib Dems is, we live in an age where mass communications still counts for a lot and most of it in this country is against us. Somehow, someway, we have to figure out a solution to a problem that doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

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43 Comments

  • Nick, in 20 years time we will be saying “The 2010’s sucked. They really sucked. We threw the sick and disabled to the dogs, we privatised the NHS and my child can’t go to Uni because he’s frightened of debt all while letting those who caused the crisis get away scott-free.”

    As a disabled person who relies on the NHS, my life is looking pretty grim. I had such great hopes when I voted LibDem, yet all those hopes have been thrown back in my face. And whenever I post here about my anger and feelings of being let down, I am called a “Labour Troll”.

    I hope your MPs are happy with their great pensions, £60k+ salaries, expenses and taxpayer-funded homes. I hope it’s worth it to you.

  • Nick Tyrone 5th Sep '11 - 7:01pm

    Duncan:

    I think you can play The Clash softly in the background, so long as you stick to the dub tracks on “Sandinista!”, or the frankly kind of wimpy “Combat Rock”.

  • David Allen 5th Sep '11 - 7:23pm

    Very annoying. They’re all so beastly unfair.

    Perhaps it’s because, you know, it IS possible to be both an ineffectual whinger and a crucially important swing-voting toady, all at one and the same time!

  • NatalieImbrugliaFan 5th Sep '11 - 8:04pm

    Talking of theme tunes, I guess the really big, substantive question ahead of conference is, WHAT music will Clegg walk out to? Gerry Rafferty – stuck in the middle? or maybe Natalie Imbruglia – Left of the Middle (afraid that was the sound track to my teens Nick).

  • Tony Dawson 5th Sep '11 - 8:28pm

    We must apologise to Mr Allen for never being part of his Bush-Murdoch-Gaddafi fan club. We are not worthy.

  • Tony, serious question here – why do you (among many others) assume that anyone who criticises anything Lib Dem must automatically be a Labour member/voter? I’ve seen it here many times and it never fails to amuse me.

  • Simon McGrath 5th Sep '11 - 9:22pm

    “As a disabled person currently unfit to work, I see the support for those of us dependent on benefits being eroded by a tsunami of hatred from Cameron, IDS, Freud, and Grayling.”
    Really, what a load of nonsense. do you have any evidence at all for this?

  • @simon McGrath

    “Really, what a load of nonsense. do you have any evidence at all for this?”

    How very discourteous of you. Unless you yourself is sick or disabled and finding yourself in very difficult and worrying times, you have no idea of the perceptions that someone like David G is going through.

    Everyone is entitled to form an opinion from their own experiences of recent events, and for you to call them nonsense is damn right rude

  • @Simon McGrath:

    As a disabled person myself who works in a charity that helps fellow disabled people, I am appalled that you claim ignorance. Disabled charities have been reporting recently about the rise in disabled hate crime. Over 50 charities recently joined together to BEG the government to reconsider the reforms *and* the language used. I work for a disabled peoples’ charity and I can assure you this is real. I have been spat at in the street for being a “scrounger” (even though the benefit I receive allows me to work). People who I help every day are increasingly becoming scared of leaving their homes, and many report verbal and physical attacks. The Tabloids are full of misleading and downright wrong statistics, they are calling disabled people “scroungers” and “feckless” (yes, disabled people, not just the truly workshy). There are now documented cases where disabled people have lost their benefits and gone on to commit suicide. The Guardian and Independent have been the only papers really to report this. And the only people with any influence sticking up for us appears to be the Greens & Liberal Youth.

    I’m appalled and disgusted you feign ignorance of what disabled and sick people are facing right now. Read the excellent “Diary of a Benefit Scrounger” blog and “The Broken of Britain” to get a true picture. You, a Liberal Democrat, should be sticking up for us, instead of pretending everything is rosy.

  • Paul McKeown 5th Sep '11 - 11:57pm

    Excellent post, Nick, and every word true.

    Of course, this vicious rhetoric is nothing more than that heard from left and right for several decades, ever since the emergence of the Alliance, just in the past a lot of it was restricted to the odd snarky comment, as the snarks feared taking the LDs seriously. The LDs have now achieved government, something which was never in their scripts. You can expect a lot more of the same treatment.

    You can’t leave the carping in the press unanswered, though. Most people just read the headlines and assume they are the truth.

  • Tony, serious question here – why do you (among many others) assume that anyone who criticises anything Lib Dem must automatically be a Labour member/voter? I’ve seen it here many times and it never fails to amuse me.
    Because Tory supporters are on average so old that they exceed even the upper age limits to be a silver surfer, thus leaving Labour as the most likely party affiliation

  • But surely it must be right that benefits can go up as well as down, depending on the state of the nation’s finances?
    Not sure that this is terrifying, though the hype in advance may well be.

  • @Oranjepan:

    We have been trying to make “tempered responses” ever since Labour started the current “reforms”. Nobody seems to listen to us. We have been blogging, contacting MPs, giving evidence in Parliamentary Committees and doing all we can to raise the issue. For the first year of the Coalition, hardly any LibDems would talk about this and anyone who challenged the “reforms” were called “Labour Trolls”, even LibDem voters who felt let down such as myself.

    I think you yourself make a large number of assumptions. The paragraph above is one. It is not our fault nobody has been paying us any attention, except to smear us and soften the public up with sensationalist, one-off fraud cases and then suggest we are all like that. If nobody listens, does one not shout louder?

    Another assumption you make is this:

    “Large volumes of people have evidently become accustomed to current health, education, and welfare systems as luxuries by right without any conception of the contract involving an agreement that social improvement and personal improvement go hand in hand ”

    You seem to assume we do not want to better ourselves. That the NHS and welfare benefits are an excuse to stay stagnant, perhaps? And you describe them as “luxuries”. Obviously you have no idea of what being disabled is like. When you are ill, health care is not a “luxury”. When you are bedridden or going through Chemotherapy, welfare is often the thin line between starving and living. Many of us who do work are made able to through DLA, and with this being cut so deeply, it will just end up with a bigger benefit bill overall as we will now have to claim full benefits. Do you really see having a roof over your head and enough food to eat as a “luxury”?

    Just like the Tories and New Labour, it seems many LibDems now want to blame the disabled person for his lot, expect more out of him that he can actually give. We are described as “workshy” by the tabloids, even though gaining employment as a disabled person is infinitely more difficult than an able-bodied person doing so. Nobody seems to want to blame the private sector, for example, for not hiring more disabled people. And why should they when it is not in their financial interests? They don’t need the expense of adapting the workplace or workplace duties when the economy is booming, and they certainly won’t be doing this in a recession. It is not the disabled man’s fault that, in a capitalist society, nobody will hire him because he has a mental illness. It is not the fault of the woman on morphine that nobody will hire her. Yet the media and the government blame them instead of the private & public sectors who won’t hire them.

    You assume being on benefits is a “trap”. For most sick and disabled people, it is a “lifeline”. Only people who have never been faced with hunger because they did not meet the requirements of capitalism would assume it to be some sort of trap. Tell me, what is the alternative when faced with hostile public and private sectors as pointed out above? Could you live on £93 a week, bearing in mind life is more expensive while disabled?

    Further, you are trying to frame the debate on your terms, like all good politicians. Most of us sick and disabled people are framing the debate as a life-and-death struggle because for some if us, this is just that. There have been suicides (which, I might add, the government admitted it knew would happen) already. There are people now being found “fit for work” who have gone into mental breakdown. A man who had a heart attack at the ATOS assessment & later died was found “fit for work”. It is highly patronising, in my opinion, to tell those being affected that they must prove their arguments and themselves as relevant, to play on your terms. Another case of the able-bodied telling us what’s good for us, and what we should do, that’s how I see it.

    Imagine that you were disabled yourself. Now imagine that, every few days, the tabloids and/or the government brings out some new, often inaccurate stats to paint the sick and disabled in a bad light. Imagine being disabled knowing hate crime is up, being frightened of leaving your home. On top of all that, imagine having a now uncertain future due to the government’s choice of making the disabled bear the brunt of the cuts. AND if that wasn’t enough, think about how it would feel knowing the party you voted for, the one who promised to protect you, turned against you, too.

    If you want to change welfare and the lot of the disabled people of the UK, you could start by putting yourself in our position and stop erecting barriers. You and your party should be helping us and working with us out of moral imperative, not for simple political gain.

  • Don’t spout off hypocritically abourt “Incendiary comments” and “a more tempered response” when your first line brands those disabled people daring to speak up as “disabled militancy”.

    Truly sickening stuff.

    Some people really have lost touch with basic decency.
    At least the liberal democrat youth have at least some understanding of the issues even if they are being ignored by the coalition.

  • I think it is very sad that we have such an appalling press in this country, tied to vested interests. It suits both Labour and the Tories to scapegoat the Lib Dems for every problem in the land. If you look at our poll ratings – averaging around 11% – they are dreadful, but no more dreadful than they often are between elections. However, previously that was because we failed to get any media attention at all or were deliberately ignored. Now it is because we are being pilloried from left and right. Nonethless, one recent poll (ICM 21 Aug) put us at 17% and another (IPSOS 22 Aug) at 15%.

    If you look at where our vote has gone, most of the defectors have gone to Labour. They have been in the comfortable position of opposing without actually having to propose anything. That will not last forever. At some point, they will have to come up with policies and then they really will have problems. Some has gone to the Greens. At constituency level, that is not likely to hold up in an election situation. Likewise, much of the rest has gone either to “Don’t know”.

    It is unlikely we will get back to 24% come the next election, but providing we are given fair media coverage by most of the broadcast media, the scope for revival is considerable.

    That is, as long as we don’t let our MPs vote to privatise the NHS…..If they do that, then it really will scupper us totally.

  • “Incendiary comments such as ‘a tsunami of hatred’ may be understandable, but they are both unhelpful to disentangling the underlying political issues and somewhat dubious”

    Surely not as unhelpful as the seemingly weekly ‘scrounger’ hysteria encouraged in the media by selective government data? I would suggest it is fair to say that disabled people DO feel a ‘tsunami of hatred’ and it is not a coincidence that government supporting newspapers are using government data (selectively, of course) to whip up that hatred. The silence of the Lib Dems on this issue should shame every single one of you.

  • @Oranjepan

    Some nice mealy mouthed equivocation. You’d fit right in amongst the other mediocrities at the top of the party.

    “For newly vocal constituencies attempting to exert pressure, such as students and the disabled, they must engage with these aspects of the issues to prove their relevance to the debate.”

    They needn’t prove anything to the liberal democrats, who as we have unfortunately come to see are politically irrelevant.

  • Paul McKeown 6th Sep '11 - 12:22pm

    “They needn’t prove anything to the liberal democrats, who as we have unfortunately come to see are politically irrelevant.”

    Rather funny. Even more irrelevant, for instance, is the Labour Party, which isn’t in government and therefore can only whinge from the sidelines, pretend it would have done stuff differently and misremember recent history.

  • Nick Tyrone 6th Sep '11 - 3:05pm

    Picking through the debate on the disabled which I’m neither inclined nor qualified to comment on, Tom brought up a point about the 80’s being one of the most politically interesting decades of the latter half of the 20th century. While that is almost certainly true, I tend to think that it’s for quite negative reasons. In Britain, there was the ultimately incredibly destructive for almost everyone Thatcher-Scargill debate; in America, the hardening of the right and Iran-Contra. I think it was the decade in which the right were able to appeal to a great deal of people they would have had trouble reaching before, selling their “brand” to a wider audience. For instance, I think that’s the reason that not only did Blair take Labour to the right once they got into power, but from a purely psephological stand point he was probably correct to do so.

    I suppose that’s why I look back on the decade with such distain and wish we could all move on from it. Well, that and memories of having to listen to “Nothing’s Going to Change My Love For You” by Glen Medeiros ad nauseam on AM radio.

  • I sense your angst Nick.

    The closest analogy I can think of is that it’s like a student going through college or university in the 60’s /70’s. There was a great deal of campaigning, chaining ourselves to railings and banning the bomb. And it was all good worthy stuff.
    But then the student qualified, and had to get a job as an accountant, surveyor or solicitor, settle down and consider starting a family.

    The analogy starts to break down here because the core of the Lib Dem party still thinks like the campaigning student.
    But the Lib Dems that have been thrust into the co-pilots seat of government, now have to (reluctantly) think like an accountant, surveyor, or solicitor.

  • …………..Just like the 1980′s when establishment dogma on national ownership of industry was overturned there is a smell of reform in the air. How and why we pay for what forms of welfare are questions which are being asked, so those who are affected must get their arguments sorted out – and this presents an opportunity for LibDems to seize advantage in the debate………..

    A LibDem waxing lyrical about the 1980s; now I’ve heard it all. Over 3 million unemployed as ‘the acceptable cost’ of a political experiment. Record house re-possessions, North Sea oil revenues wasted, the start of ‘non-regulation’ of the financial sector, the police force being used to implement government policy, the list goes on.
    …..” there is a smell of reform in the air”…There sure is; it’s just that the ‘smell’, that you welcome, offends many of us.

    ………………………..Government priorities must shift because the public will not, cannot and should not provide permanent subsidies for imperfect personal choices resulting from imperfect policy. Policy must be reformed…………

    The ‘government priorities’ seem to include convincing the public that they, the public, should not subsidise scroungers. Of course running articles, in the right wing press, to portray claimants as scroungers (unless proved otherwise) is a good way to start.
    “.Policy must be reformed”…What a lovely phrase, right up there with ‘reorganisation’. Translated, ‘reformed’ just means ‘Saving Money’.

  • My mum grew up in the 70’s, although she criticises the 80’s, she has far more to say about how hard the 70’s were and acknowledges that a lot of the strife of the 80’s was necessary, and she’s originally from Brixton.

  • @Oranjepan: to pick up your point about David Cameron and his, sadly deceased, disabled son, well, Cameron claimed DLA to help with the care costs of his son. Mr. Cameron is reportedly worth over £30M. Yet he, with all his riches, claimed DLA and now has the audacity to describe some disabled people as “scroungers”. He has made personal pledges to parents of disabled children during the election and went back on these pledges immediately after forming the coalition.

    What kind of man, who once had a disabled son, pursues such policies that will make the already difficult lives of sick and disabled people much worse? A man who acts as such as not an honourable man. What kind of government knowingly makes scapegoats out of the weakest members of society, taking the most from them to pay for a crisis caused by bankers, politicians and the rich? Certainly not an honourable government.

  • @Oranjepan

    It seems you’re trying to argue for a Parsonian ‘sick role’ definition of disability (Talcott Parsons was the right-wing American sociologist who, in the 1950s, defined disability and illness as deviant), as modified by Unum’s spin doctors at Cardiff University’s ‘Unum Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research’ to argue that disabled people with long-term conditions are actively resisting recovery and therefore should not be supported. The sheer illogicality of this should hopefully be visible to all, but it forms the basis of much of current government policy towards disabled people (and by current government policy I’m referring to a process stretching back to Purnell, not simply to Freud, Grayling, IDS – and Webb).

    “I think you lose it for immediately ascribing an unwillingness on the behalf of employers to address this inequality. Whatever social aims an employer has these come after their economic priorities.”

    Actually social aims are irrelevant to the argument, the first priority of any company has to be to operate within the law, because the consequences can be not being able to operate at all, and refusing to employ disabled people, discriminating against them in the recruitment process, and allowing those attitudes to persist within your staff, are all illegal, and the chain of illegality runs all the way up to the CEOs and directors. If you allow discrimination to persist at any level in your company, then you are potentially personally liable, and may find yourself defending your actions in court.

    Which unfortunately undermines your argument of profit uber alles. Companies operate under the forbearance of society, not irrespective of it.

    “the natural calculation employers undertake when dealing with specific circumstance”

    Where I come from we call that disability discrimination and don’t try to dress it up in pretty words to make it look better.

    “I’ll draw your attention to your own figures of 4.2% of GDP required in welfare support for 7-11% of the population”

    Thank you, as should hopefully be clear to everyone, that’s a bargain. What are the alternatives? By definition many of the people we are discussing are unable to work, either at all or without government support, many are unable to care for themselves without help. The old system was for the state to support many disabled people in ‘institutions’, many of which would have needed a sharp makeover to warrant the label ‘gulag’, modern society won’t stand for that, so the alternative would be care in the medical or residential care systems, both of which have costs often in the thousands/week range, against which £93, or whatever, is a remarkable bargain.

    “government finances are currently under severe pressure from a growing economic crisis caused by previous overspending.”

    I’ve rarely seen the Tory party line recycled so literally and with such an apparently straight face! Isn’t it about time you cut the apron strings and started taking responsibility for your own actions?

    “umm, doesn’t Cameron have a disabled child, and said he’d give the issue ‘special attention’?”

    Cameron’s disabled son Ivan sadly died several years ago. Unfortunately, as has been observed by many disabled commentators, Cameron doesn’t seem to have learnt anything about the experience of disability for a normal family from his own exposure. His promise that the most severely disabled had nothing to fear from the cuts was rapidly followed by the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the benefit targeted solely at the most disabled of all benefit claimants. Saying he lied sounds stark and unparliamentary, but the evidence speaks for itself, the most disabled have been consistently targeted, right down to the unbelievably petty decision to remove DLA Higher Rate Mobility from people in care homes. His attitude to individual cases in which he has become personally involved is perhaps best illustrated by the case of Riven and Celyn Vincent: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/19/mother-disabled-daughter-care – ‘it’s not my fault, it’s the local council’s fault (never mind I’m the one who cut their budget)’

    “I can perfectly understand why it would be less of a priority at this time compared to during boom years.”

    That seem strangely at odds with government policy, which proclaims it aims to drive all the so-called scroungers off IB and into work as though it were its number one priority. Meanwhile DWP quiet admits the people it is forcing off IB are genuinely disabled, the employers proclaim that most of them wouldn’t consider a disabled applicant, particularly one who had been on IB,and the money allocated to provide practical help to aid disabled people into work via Access to Work is actually being cut (never mind ATW makes a 40% profit for the government on every pound spent), as is the number of people helped. There is obviously a problem here, a policy that requires addressing all three legs of a tripod of needs is pressuring only one of them – the disabled people actually affected, undermining another – ATW, and leaving the third, the bosses, alone. Does this policy meet the challenge of being ethically and logically implemented?

    “you also undermine your argument by moving on from a desire for greater equality (which I wholeheartedly support) to claiming that’s not what is motivating you, rather you say that it’s really a matter of basic ‘survival’ (in which case wouldn’t £93/week have a far greater impact for far more people if it were used for international development, for example?)”

    I have to credit you for the sheer chutzpah of trying to claim it would be better to let disabled people starve or freeze here than abroad – something we as disabled people are hearing frequently is other disabled people saying ‘if I lose this benefit then on JSA I’ll have to choose between eating and heating’ – many disabled people have severe problems with temperature and as a consequence have far larger household bills than non-disabled people. Every penny of the entire national budget could have more effect in Somalia or elsewhere than here, but I don’t see the Tories stepping forward to sacrifice the police en masse, or the new carriers, or Trident. No, the Tory party will fight to bring the budget down to the last disabled person. As for equality or survival, am I asking too much to demand both? And of course equality does not preclude targeted support, that is in fact a fundamental principle of the Equality Act, which recognises the difference between equality of opportunity – ‘Adam, Bella, I need you both to go up to the top of the stairs’ – and equality of outcome – ‘…but there’s a lift around the corner that’ll take your wheelchair, Bella,’ and enshrines in law the need for reasonable adjustments as a prerequisite to equality for disabled people.

    “this is in direct contradiction to your earlier reasoning that companies should overlook any budgetary calculation in order to remove structural inequality from society.”

    Actually I suggested they should consider legality their first priority. Of course many employers brandish the financial argument, that disabled employees will cost them money, yet that doesn’t actually hold up in the face of evidence. Most reasonable adjustments to disability are financially trivial (and many did have ATW support available, some still do), while many disabled people are equally as capable as non-disabled, provided management are willing to offer them the flexibility to work around their disability, equally disabled people tend to stay in post longer and take fewer sick days. In the (paraphrased) words of the advert: “Customised chair, £500. Flexible working hours £0, Being seen not to be a bigot, priceless.”

    “What I’m hearing is you picking and mixing opposing arguments to suit your interest, despite the fact they are full of holes when put together.”

    Oddly enough that seems to be the problem with your argument, too. I don’t believe there are any holes in my argument, simply blind-spots in your willingness to accept it. Ultimately I am happy that my argument hangs together in a rational fashion and that I am arguing from the ethical standpoint of ensuring every member of our society has the support they need to be able to participate in it as an equal. Can you claim the same when you are advocating removing the sole economic support available to people recognised to have financial needs over and above those of others who are out of work?

    “I see no effective solutions coming from your side”

    Strange that, considering all the focus I’ve put on needing to change the attitudes of employers to allow those who can work with appropriate support to do so. In fact I’m advocating something that is needed to make even the professed government policy work, but which is strangely absent. But of course you believe that economics trumps all (even the law and fact) and that disabled people shouldn’t expect to be employed – back to the workhouse for us then!

    “Which is clearly why you’re making a negative stand in opposition to current policy changes”

    ‘Negative’ from your viewpoint being ‘dares to oppose the party line’? From where I stand, I’m one of the people who are fighting against a disability agenda originally formulated for the financial gain of an insurance company subsequently labelled an “outlaw company” by the California Insurance Commissioner and successfully sued in class action suits across America — this is not exaggeration or hyperbole, if you doubt me go away and look at the history of Unum Provident and their role in formulating current government policy towards disability benefits (you might also consider Unum’s current sales drive for disability insurance). This agenda involves a wholesale adoption of the Parsonian Sick Role c.f. your “the contract involving an agreement that social improvement and personal improvement go hand in hand”, and the recasting of disabled people as a problem whose issues are of our own creation c.f. your “imperfect personal choices”.

    Ultimately we’re talking about the demonization of a minority in the minds of the general public in order to justify the savaging of the support offered to members of that minority to meet their accepted needs, and isn’t that something any liberally minded person should oppose?

  • @Squeedle

    Thank you for pointing out that David Cameron, had indeed himself claimed DLA for his disabled son Ivan.

    For anyone who is unsure of the claim they can go to the following link and see exactly what David Cameron said during PMQ on the 19th January 2011

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9365000/9365260.stm

    Not only is Cameron on record talking about how difficult he found the DLA claim forms, he said because of his experience he was committed to making the forms simpler. He found the process upsetting and complicated.

    He is also on record for admitting that he claimed FREE Nappies from the NHS

    He first became aware of Riven Vincent during a mumsnet web chat, before the election, she asked him if he knew how many nappies disabled incontinent children were entitled to. He didn’t know. She told him FOUR. Four nappies per day, that’s all they were allowed.
    Later he said Mrs Cameron berated him for not knowing and that Ivan got four per day from the NHS.

    David Cameron and the Tories attitude is typical of a TORY Government, 1 rule for them, and 1 rule for us. Screw the public purse for all you can get, even though you are a multi millionaire, then vilify and punish the poor sick and disabled who are reliant on welfare themselves.

    The whole thing stinks of hypocrisy and I sincerely hope that someone brings this to the attention at conference

  • meant to say in my post above. skip to 15.30 on the clip to listen to David Cameron admitting to claiming DLA

  • Sue Sutherland 10th Sep '11 - 6:58pm

    I would just like to point out that the DLA form has changed since David Cameron had to fill it in. It’s gone up from 30 something pages to 55 and under OUR Government a sly little meanness has crept in. When I last filled in the form you could fill in a brief covering page and send it off immediately so that the benefit would be paid from the date on that page rather than the date that you finally managed to fill in the whole thing. This may sound no big deal but it took me about 3 months to complete. I have M.E. which affects my concentration, my mood and everything about my life and Cameron was right when he said it was upsetting to fill in because you have to face up to what you can’t do rather than persuading yourself that you life is OK really. So now, on top of all that you won’t get the money you desperately need when you need it, but when you’ve finally managed to lay yourself bare on 55 pages of a form which seems to be designed to confuse and upset. It has to be done I know , but how on earth did my Lib Dem party colleagues allow this nasty little change to occur?
    I realise that we are in a Coalition and that times are hard but it seems so petty to save a few hundred pounds from those who are claiming at the present time without any debate as far as I am aware. Let us make it clear that we want to cut back on the extravagances and tax avoidance of the wealthy rather than the necessities of the poor. I hope this is made crystal clear at Conference.

  • “It is completely ridiculous for you to attack people for opinions they do not hold. I don’t know how you decided that I’m arguing for “a Parsonian ‘sick role’ definition of disability”

    I’m away from home so unable to fully reply to all of Oranjepan’s points – I’ll pick them up next week if the debate is still active, but to answer this particular point, we simply have to look at Oranjepan’s own words.

    “dependency is a restriction on human rights and freedoms”

    “what is the point of the NHS if everyone loses fitness?”

    “Government priorities must shift because the public will not, cannot and should not provide permanent subsidies for imperfect personal choices”

    Three different statements blaming people for the consequences of being disabled seems to me to be a pretty strong indication that you view disability as a deviant social role, which is exactly the definition of the the Parsonian Sick Role, the basis of ConDem (and Labour) social policy and the reason that disabled people feel attacked from all sides.

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    @Nigel I don't see it as at all irrelevant if a person maintains a right to vote in another country. One person one vote is a fundamental principle of our democ...
  • Lee Thacker
    "Only the Scottish Liberal Democrats can beat the nationalists in huge swathes of Scotland." That is clearly not true....
  • Peter Watson
    @Chris Moore "the 350 MILLION figure was an effective piece of propaganda, but false." A failure to properly address this was one of the many disappointing asp...
  • Peter Watson
    @Peter Martin "the opinion polls were predicting a Remain win. It didn’t seem to add up at the time and so it proved." My hunch was that shy Brexiters were o...