Liberal Democrats, the Welfare bill, and Reality…

Everybody was hopping up and down with glee last night over the Lib Dem conference resolution that Lib Dems in government should oppose the 12-month time limit on ESA. This is being hailed as a success for the disabled community.

They also voted in favour of people appealing against Work Capability Assessments being be eligible for legal aid, from which the government wants to exclude them.

They voted for the work capability assessments to be made “less stressful”.

And, finally, they voted for a review of Atos’ performance in carrying out medical assessments.

None of which I would argue with, but I would question their ability to actually achieve any of it.

Then, this morning, the Guardian’s online front page trumpets “Nick Clegg signals combative approach to coalition describing David Cameron’s party as political enemies.”

Ah, if only life were so simple.

It’s all very nice in theory, but in reality, not so much. Why? Well, basically, it comes down to numbers, and there are many more Tories than Lib Dems in both the Commons and the Lords, so what Cameron wants to happen is almost certainly what will happen, especially now Labour is essentially Tory-Lite, and many of the Labour peers are likely to vote the Tory line on this matter. As did their fellows in the Commons, including that scurrilous waste of blood and organs Ed Miliband.

And, of course, Clegg and his merry band have already done untold damage to the chronically sick and disabled of this country by backing Cameron’s insane “reforms” and his constant demonisation of the sick and disabled – too late to grow a pair now, you hypocritical sack of shit!

In the House of Lords, there are 218 Tory peers to 91 Lib Dems so, really, what the Lib Dems want counts for little. There are 240 Labour peers, 184 cross-benchers, 24 bishops and 31 other, and I’m willing to wager a sizeable proportion of each group supports the Welfare bill in principle if not in the minutiae.

(Source http://www.parliament.uk/ )

And in the Commons the Tories outnumber Lib Dems by 305 to 57 (same source).

As the Welfare bill has already passed through the Commons, I think we can guess the response to any changes the Lords want to make, assuming it doesn’t simply slide through the committee stage intact.

It would also be a mistake to expect any Tory peer who spoke against the bill to vote it down. Expressing an opinion is one thing, going against the party that put them there something else entirely. For the bill to fail in committee it would need  strong opposition from Labour and cross-bench peers. I’m not convinced that, especially from Labour, such opposition to the bill will be forthcoming.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope the Welfare bill is mortally damaged in the Lords, but I don’t think it will be and I’m realistic enough to appreciate that what the Lib Dem conference decides will be very hard to translate into a reality.

Very hard indeed – if not impossible.

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8 thoughts on “Liberal Democrats, the Welfare bill, and Reality…

  1. It’s taken 3 years ,almost, to get to this point. At least there is debate about the system , not long ago only 3 MP’s and 2 Lords knew anything about ESA.
    Whatever happens it is clear it cannot continue in this form.
    Now is the time to keep up the pressure.
    The extra costs alone ,for appeals, will make the MP’s sit up and take notice.
    New initiatives are now required from all campaigning Forums/ bloggs etc.
    Keep up the fight

    • Um – the bill which brought in ESA was passed by both houses – how can they not know about it? All MPs and all lords had a hand in it. (Or, at least, as many as bothered to turn up for the debates.)

      Some tossers on Twitter have been telling everyone that only 4 bloggers in Britain are actually doing anything on the disability benefits front, one of whom is a self-obsessed oaf whom I blocked and unfollowed over his selfish and constant whining about how hard his life was, and how it just wasn’t right or fair – who the hell ever said life had to be fair?

      Quite a few of us have been working our nuts off on the subject of benefits cuts for a couple or years or more, having seen this benefits shit coming when Labour was in power (they did, after all, introduce ESA and Atos), and in my case churning out thousands of words of advice on how to legally maximise one’s chances of making a successful claim, and for some knob to claim that the entire campaign revolves solely around four people is the most egregious bullshit. They just happen to be lucky enough to have the media contacts the rest of us don’t have.

      Ron.

  2. I hope that wasn’t the thrust of the comment that so offended you. On THIS particular issue and the motion specifically, yes, 4 or 5 people did work behind the scenes to make it happen. It was one situation where the slightest whiff of us winning would alert the Tory coalition partners and ensure that it was nipped in the bud.

    However, on every single last word about ESA, DLA and all the changes about to affect our lives, hundreds of people do incredible work whenever they can to make sure out message is heard. And it IS being heard. Finally. However toothless the motion, there is no doubt at all that it wouldn’t have happened a year ago.

    But that’s just behind the scenes. Every single blogger, tweeter, writer and activist makes sure every day, that we can even GET to the stage where people are hearing us. Why do you think there was a debate at ldconf at all? Because we’ve all worked together (I suggest like no campaign team ever) to put across a consistent, intelligent, well researched argument that blows their nonsense out of the water.

    Please, if one or two achieve some small thing, get a big glass of beer and toast them. We ld do it for any of our “team” who manage a hit against this terrible coalition. We are NEVER them and us, ALWAYS us. If we lose that, we lose everything xxx

    I’m going to write a blog about this now I think

    • Hi Sue,

      Not the fact that it namechecked the four of you (I know you and Kaliya, for example, have been beavering away for quite a while, though I’ve only recently become aware of CreativeCrip), but that it pretty much dismissed everybody else as of no consequence – as did follow-up tweets. And I seriously doubt I was the only one to feel just a tad peeved.

      OK, now I’ve cooled down I can see that it might just have been careless phrasing – but when something is read by, potentially, thousands of people, it behoves us not to be careless.

      And whatever I write – and this is going to sound terribly self-righteous but it can’t be helped! – I try to take care, especially on Twitter, that it can’t be misconstrued. Even then, it all goes pearshaped from time to time – nobody is perfect, not even me ;)

      Ron.

  3. I’m sad to hear you would take it that way. I can only hope that most people enjoyed the story and felt a little hope. I hope some were proud, I’d worked very hard. I hope most of all that they realised that I gave nearly three months of my life to working with George and I did it to achieve something for all of us.

    If you see that as personal glory seeking, then I’m very sad about it.

    • Take it WHAT way? I thought that was a positive response to your comment, and acknowledging the work you’ve done – would you care to enlighten me as to what you’ve taken offence at? And any hint at all that I thought you were a glory-hound? You appear to be reading stuff here that I didn’t actually write, and I think I’m entitled to an explanation.

      Ron.

  4. You accused me of “dismissing everyone else as of no consequence”, of
    being “careless with my speech”, you slam any tiny achievement we might have managed with the Libs in a blast of cynicism, you called people (presumably including me) tossers and one of my friends a self obsessed oaf. You call me “lucky” for having media contacts with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever what it took to achieve them.

    Wasn’t very friendly really was it?

    • Sue, if you tried paying attention instead of just going off on one, you’d know that my original comments were aimed at the numpties (the tossers, call them what you will), on Twitter who sweepingly dismissed every blogger apart from 4, so why you have chosen to take them personally I have, frankly, no idea. In your first comment you clearly understood what I meant – how come you suddenly don’t?

      “Self-obsessed oaf”? Yes, I stand by that, and it’s not just my opinion.

      And I’m still vainly looking for the “glory seeking” accusations I’m supposed to have made.

      Ron

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