At the Action Group meeting I said "Don't target Nick Clegg"

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At the Action Group meeting I said "Don't target Nick Clegg"

Postby markR » Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:06 pm

At the Action Group meeting I said "Don't target Nick Clegg" - What was I thinking?
cc Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Hughes Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Doh! Yes I did say at the group that we shouldn't make an effigy of Nick Clegg out of respect for Simon Hughes who has been a good friend to Mad Pride, and would probably prefer it if we didn't do that. And he has been a good friend (and was to our past chair the late Pete Shaughnessy). He actually spoke at a Reclaim Bedlam demo and got on a chair in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum (the old Bethlehem Hospital site).

But I was to be proved completely and utterly wrong. Because what has Mr Clegg said when writing in the Times (also free on his website)? This arrogant, unfeeling and ghastly expression: the Welfare State should not be... "a giant cheque written by the State to compensate the poor for their predicament".

Help for the Poor - Been Around for Centuries
Now surely for a good few hundred if not thousands of years, States or Charities has been doing exactly that, because it is a civilized thing to do. Moreover in modern societies like the UK, we and our families have been paying taxes and National Insurance in case we or our relatives fall ill or become Disabled or too old to work. And politicians in power (the Lib Dems are maybe a little inexperienced in this) become managers of that system which does seek to meet need by compensating the needy. End that system overnight and not only is that a breach of contract but people will wonder why they should ever pay taxes at all. And to have thousands of people freezing and starving on the streets will be of course horrible for them, but I would suggest make even the rich uncomfortable.

I don't know whether you remember what Nick Clegg said about Dave Cameron's proposed marriage tax allowance - before the election. He called the proposal "patronising drivel" and said "I don't think it is for David Cameron to pick and choose who gets three quid a week."

That's right Nick. Why? Because it was arbitrary and palpably unfair.

Okay the Lib Dems make a big thing about fairness. It is allegedly central to their philosophy. It sounds good. If only it would be put into practice. Let's talk about fairness then.

When the Coalition came into power most reckoned the UK was in deep deep shit. Carry on as before and the credit rating agencies and the IMF would get involved - and the deficit would be more, perhaps much more expensive to service. Then there would be deeper shit. Ministers had to take a 5% pay cut.
Good, but actually a bit unfair on Ministers - why not all MP's? Well Ministers are MP's and have pots of money so they'll still be able to afford three meals a day.

What about the rest of the working population? A five percent cut for all in terms of a tax hike would be very unpopular, painful - especially for minimum wage-earners, but maybe not the end of the world.

And Benefit Recipients - a 5% cut to benefits would also be painful for us, but not unworkable either. Never mind Welfare reform - mixing up cuts with reform - is to head for a frightful muddle.

So that would target everyone in the Country (except for tax evaders of course) - it would be nasty but it would be FAIR. It would be British and Cricket (without betting syndicates) and there would be a breathless hush in close tonight.

Targeting the Poor is Unfair
Reducing people's benefits by 50% or more as is going on at the moment - with worse to come - is unfair and arbitrary. It is wrecking lives, causing distress and hatred among British people. And it is already causing deaths. I do not exaggerate when I say this was the philosophy (also borne out of economic dire straits) of the Third Reich and the German High Command of the Thirties. Oh yes it is as smoothly and urbanely presented as any debate at Eton, Westminster and St Pauls, can be. But that's what it is. Where, though is the sense of fair play?

Welfare Reform
On Welfare Reform however, well many Disabled People would indeed like to work. Firstly there needs to be jobs. Secondly there needs to be individually targeted support which actually meets needs. Ian Duncan Smith has been beavering away for years as a research wonk and in my view has come up with some good ideas, especially when informed by Disabled People. He has warned that proper welfare reform will not be cheap.

Welfare Reform under the guise of Cuts though, is not reform at all.

The Coalition say that this targeting of the poor - whether by encouraging mobility or culling, is a necessity borne out of Labour's excesses. And indeed Labour did start two major wars which were/are obscene as well as expensive. No getting away from that. (History should teach you - never start a war and lose it, else , for you, it really is Good Night Vienna.) They also bailed out the Banks which in the UK are huge and were carrying colossal losses. The Bailout was sudden, unexpected and completely unplanned. The bailout is why they think they have to cut now. As this, like the Wars, received the support of Parliament, Labour are not the only people to blame but the Conservatives and Lib Dems too. (Though the Lib Dems did not support Iraq to their credit.)

If you do have to cut, then make those cuts fair. And if those cuts were fair, we would indeed as Dave says, be "all in it together."

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Re: At the Action Group meeting I said "Don't target Nick Cl

Postby kateQ » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:32 am

Nick Clegg is obviously a wolf in sheep's clothing, especially for the many who voted for Mr Nice Guy and got the Tories. Nick Clegg's going to have to get used to people who believed the message of 'fairness' in his election campaign expressing the betrayal they feel.

To begin to redress the financial damage caused by the last Labour government through the banks bail-out and our very expensive involvement in two wars, the coalition is having to jump in with measures to do that. However, as we can see from the announcements at the Tory conference, their proposals to reform the welfare system have not been thought through properly. For example, the child benefit cuts will allow a dual-income family on £86k to receive the benefit, while a single-income family on £45k won't get it, which makes no sense. Their proposal to force all IB claimants onto ESA via a work capability assessment is equally flawed, and will obviously result in some, possibly many, being declared initially 'fit to work' and having to appeal.

Part of the process will involve having a face-to-face assessment with an 'approved healthcare professional'. Your claim may be turned down if you don't attend the assessment. How much is it going to cost to train these professionals so that they're sufficiently au fait with all mental health problems, drug treatments and side effects? So that they understand how cyclic or intermittent illnesses can affect people? So that they can interview and examine people with compassion and understanding? How fair is it, Mr Clegg, to present mentally frail people with the prospect of losing their benefits unless they attend an assessment that they may well be terrified of? Or to suspend their benefits while their case is going to appeal? And, once those people are declared fit to work, how are employers suddenly going to lose their fear of psychiatric illness and offer jobs to people who have spent long periods as psychiatric in-patients?

Of course, none of us want to see disability benefits paid to people who say their back pain prevents them from working, but actually run marathons and play golf. But mental health problems are much more complex than back pain: those 'approved healthcare professionals' will have to be exceptionally skillful to assess people fairly. Which makes me think that this process will be unfair on many.

Target Nick Clegg. He's in on it all the way.

And if your benefits are suspended, the food banks run by this charity may help you survive:

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