The following is the text of a letter to The Guardian:-
“Lord Lester, a Liberal Democrat and distinguished human rights lawyer, quit as the prime minister’s adviser on constitutional reform a month ago. In a scathing attack yesterday, he revealed for the first time how he felt tethered by the government, describing its record on human rights as “dismal and deeply disappointing”. Guardian, 11/12/2008
Oddly, though, Lord Lester makes no mention of the continued persecution of the chronically sick and disabled by this most despicable of governments in general, and by James Purnell, Work and Pensions Secretary, in particular. One day it’s lie detectors, which even the most egregious criminal doesn’t face, the next it’s the avowed intention to make every sick and disabled Incapacity Benefit claimant work for their benefit. What about our human rights not to be continually victimised, for no better reason than to pander to Daily Mail readers?
I have been unable to work since 1986, and I am mostly housebound, yet James Purnell has the absolutely insane idea that because he thinks I should, I will be magically capable of work. It’s not going to happen. If I could work, I would. After all, there is no pleasure in living in poverty, as I have for the past 22 years. Incapacity Benefit pays me £95.90 per week, which is way below the official poverty level. Does Purnell seriously think that I, not to mention many thousands of others in similar situations, would willingly subsist on such a paltry sum if I didn’t have to? It seems so, and it beggars belief.
Purnell apparently believes IB is money for nothing. Indeed, he has said as much. It is not for nothing, it’s for being unable to work – it’s for being in severe, intransigent pain 24/7/365 since 1983, when I was struck by lightning; it’s for suffering the horrors of ME/CFS in the face of almost universal disbelief; it’s for having no immune system to speak of; it’s for being unable to breath properly due to severe COPD (I’ve never smoked, I suffered from the precursors to my COPD all my life); it’s for life in a wheelchair, and for a great deal more.
This is not free money, Mr. Purnell – I pay for it every moment of my life.