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.