Shoot the organ-grinder, not the Atos monkey…

The BBC News website, in its article about the death of Cecilia Burns, who, seriously ill with breast cancer, has died after being adjudged fit for work, doesn’t allow comments, which is a pity when it makes witless statements like this, staright out of the IDS playbook:-

The government is seeking to reassess all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit – and its successor employment support allowance (ESA) – by 2014 in an effort to encourage more people back to work and to cut the welfare bill.

Which, based on all the evidence available, is utter garbage.

ESA was designed from the ground up to strip desperately needy people out of the disability benefits system. It is absolutely nothing to do with getting them back to work for two reasons. One, most are incapable of work and probably unemployable, and Two, there are no fucking job! Nor were there when ESA was conceived.  It was designed to do that, not by the Tories, who are more than happy to utilise it, but by James Purnell, for Labour, doubtless with the connivance of David Freud, before he defected to the Tories and got a peerage for his pains.

As I said at the time, I became unable to work during the Thatcher years, but I had no difficulty with my benefits, nor did I have any fear of losing them, until Purnell and his partner in dishonesty,** Freud, came on the scene.

**In their depiction of the chronically sick and disabled community as “scroungers”.

Atos (Labour appointees, let’s not forget), are currently being pilloried, and rightly so, for their adherence to a system that sees many desperately ill people, like Cecilia Burns, pronounced fit for work.

What we must never lose sight of, though, is that Atos are merely puppets, dancing to the tune of multiple puppet masters – Cameron, IDS, and Grayling. These are the people whose corporate dishonesty is directly responsible for the policies that Atos implements, and the rules (known as the “descriptors”), by which people are assessed.

That Atos are unprincipled arseholes is beyond doubt, but the real villains, the people directly responsible for the many hundreds of deaths (1,100 and counting), not to mention vastly more people plunged into penury and/or driven to suicide by the loss of their disability benefits, are the triumvirate of evil scumbags above, among whom the prime mover is Cameron, whose hatred of the chronically sick and disabled community goes beyond anything that can be considered sane.

Cameron is on record, on Thursday, July 16 2009, asking the question “How we can make life better for disabled people?” (Hat tip to @TobyLatimer100 on Twitter.)

A year later he’d embarked upon his campaign to destroy us.

That speaks to either a staggering level of hypocrisy worthy of Hitler, whose “sympathy” for the sick and disabled extended to exterminating them, or a sea-change in his mental state between June 2009 and May 2010. And based on Cameron’s insanely hypocritical performance at the Paralympics’ opening ceremony, I’m opting for both.

Either way, though, Atos are arguably the wrong targets.

I understand why they are the targets, especially during the Paralympics, but shooting the monkey will barely discommode the organ-grinder.

After all, there’s no shortage of monkeys.

23 thoughts on “Shoot the organ-grinder, not the Atos monkey…

  1. 25yrs ago I was diagnosed as having ME, later diagnosed privately as Lyme disease. Originally it took me over 5yrs to win DLA. I am extremely worried at all the changes the government is making- what is going to happen. What can we do about the situation?

    • What can we do? Nothing. They ignore marches, protests, occupations and demos – what’s left? Even if demonstrations and occupations managed to destroy Atos – they won’t, just making a point – it would benefit nobody, as the government would simply appoint another company to implement the exact same rules. Or do it themselves.

      The only recourse we have is the ballot box, but even there there’s no certainty, given that we have one of the most apathetic, ill-informed, and plain, old-fashioned, dumb, electorates in the developed world, I’m really not banking on that coming out right.

      And even if Labour get in in 2015, let’s not lose sight of the fact that they created the current system and appointed Atos – we might not be any better off.

      In 1986, under Thatcher, I was assessed – vigorously too – by a real, flesh and blood doctor, not some numpty with a computer. I got my benefits. Now, though, if I was still of working age, I have little doubt I’d be reassessed and found fit for work.

      Sorry I can’t off anything more positive, but honestly, all I see is that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Our one hope, in the event of a Labour victory, is that Labour MPs have more of a moral compass, and more principles, than the Tories – let’s face it, the bar isn’t set very high!

  2. i watched that opening ceremony. i felt sick when cameron was interviewed at what he said then ,so 2 faced.. and again when i saw his tight lipped face as our para olympians came into the arena in the parade. not a wave,not a smile not a flag /nothing. he looked like he hated em all. his wife no better. only once did i see a smile from him.. no a laugh is better. that was at something either he or she said to the other. both were laughing so probably something derogatory about the disabled. (anythings possible with him lets face it)
    and the queen was no better. good to see the young royals cheering them on .especially the usually po faced princess ann with her olympian scarf.good on them.

  3. I believe we can attempt to change the current situation by lobbying hard at the Labour Party and remind them – as there are so many of us pushing up the Disabled Benefits; thats a whole lot of votes!

    • Considering that the current assessment system was devised by Labour in the first place (even though the fine detail is currently down to Cameron IDS and Grayling), I seriously doubt that they’d be in any hurry to dismantle it.

      But lobby how? At best we can email or write to them – we have no leverage. The Tories understand leverage, of course – money talks.

      Anyway, over the past year Labour MPs, and peers, have been lobbied rather a lot by the sick and disabled community, especially over the WRB and the NHS. It’s not as if we’re sitting on our hands and hoping for the best. If they don’t know how we feel by now, then we’re screwed.

      And if we withhold votes from Labour unless they promise change, that would a very good way to get the Tories back in 2015 as I pointed out here

      For better or worse, getting the Tories out and Labour in (nobody else has a prayer, quite frankly), and THEN putting pressure on them is the only way forward, but we’ll still have that same problem – no leverage.

      There really is no simple answer until such time as Labour elect a decent leader, in every sense of the word “decent”. And that’s not Ed Miliband.

    • whether Ed Milliband is a good enough leader or not, it IS our only chance. unless he steps down in favour of his brother,which i have heard could be in the offing, however Ed has said that if labour do get in they will do all they can to reverse as many of the tory decisions and implementations as they can. they may not be able to do a lot where the NHS is concerned (why i dont know) but other decisions they can overturn.remains to be seen 1.which they are talking about and 2. how many they will overturn

      • Despite reckless promises, unless a future Labour government can change the law, and just take back the NHS without compensation (in which case it would still take a huge amount of public money to put right), they’d be up to their necks in litigation from now til hell freezes.

        We might not like it, but every company that’s bought up chunks of the NHS has done so quite legally, and has legally binding contracts. They’re not going to go without a fight.

        And, of course, we’d have got David Miliband if the unions hadn’t buggered it! I don’t buy the “tainted by Blair” nonsense for a moment – that, if it had any merit, which it doesn’t, could apply to a large part of the current party. Anyway, Blair’s long gone and taint wears off!

        • it is said though that if you can lift a finger to press a button you will be found capable of work…….that was said by an Atos member apparently.

          • I’ve heard that too – I suspect it’s apocryphal. What is true is that if you can lift an empty cardboard box, you’re doomed. One of the few advantages of getting old – I’m out of this crap.

            • dunno about it being apocryphal.i heard that on one or other of those 2 programmes on tv where they had undercover people working within their ranks.
              i am with you on the age thing.thank goodness.mind you we have far more to worry about in another way.

              • Retirement age-have been for 25yrs due to Lyme disease-Read Prof Donald Scott and Prof Garth Nicolsons research and about Chemtrails -now that is something to worry about.


                  • Nothing sinister there – it’s always been the case. In the Guardian, for example, only the Comment is Free section always allows comments. Elsewhere in the paper, it’s always been something of a moveable feast. Most other papers are the same.

                    No idea what criteria are applied when deciding whether or not to allow comments – there seems to be no discernible pattern.

                    • if you have a facebook or twitter account i find if i copy the URL and then share it on my wall i can then put my 2penn’orth in on there. gets it out of my system even if those who would normally read it maybe wont get to see my comment ,or the editor/ journalist etc of the paper that printed the article. though you never know how far a share on those sites will travel.might get back to them eventually. but they wont care anyway. minutes after printing an article they are already turning their attention to something else.

                    • still gets in the public eye tho maybe not as fast.depends on your many you have following different blogs
                      tho thats no different to how many contacts you have on social network sites i guess and wether you have your settings for public or just friends

                    • My blog posts are sent to about 800 people, and posted on Twitter, then there’s all the regular readers who haven’t subscribed, plus casual readers, so I have a pretty good reach.

          • That simply isn’t true.
            I am in the support group.
            I can both press a button and lift and move the empty cardboard box (and even the half pint bottle of milk!).

            In the lifting section you will score points if you can’t move a litre size bottle of milk. The point is that you won’t qualify on that basis alone whereas you would if you couldn’t move an empty box. However there is a big difference between that and being automatically passed fit for work if you CAN move the box.

            Likewise in the manual dexterity section you would automatically be unfit for work if you can’t press a button. If you can’t you might not automatically qualify for the benefit but you can still gain points. For instance they do look at slightly more complex things like whether you can use a “normal” mouse and keyboard, turn pages in a book, do up buttons, or turn on twist taps.

            I admit I was extremely concerned by the dispatches and panorama programs and the quote by the assessor about scoring 0 in manual dexterity if you could press a button. That is NOT what the WCA says. If that is how the test is being applied then a lot of people are not getting the points they are entitled to and are being denied either their benefit or the support group.

            It may well be that I was simply lucky to get a good professional assessor who did the assessment and scoring as it is supposed to be done. Even if that is the case I regard the test as far too rigid with the bar set way too high.

            Although I am in the support group I can easily see that many very sick and disabled people who need support will not get it using the inflexible points system which bears no resemblance to what is physically and mentally required in order to be able to actually carry out a full or even part time job.

            If one thing was made clear to me by both my reading of the WCA points system and the programs about how ATOS is implementing it, it is that the system is unfit for purpose.

            The WCA descriptors need completely rewriting. A points based system is not wrong per se. After all it is what we had pre ESA and it worked ok. People did not live in fear of losing their benefits. But it needs to recognise both what is needed in order to be able to work, whether someone is, in fact, employable and set the bar accordingly. It also needs to be implemented by proper doctors, not private companies, with our medical history and own doctors and consultants opinions properly taken into account.

            • I’d seriously take issue with “It simply isn’t true” when what you mean is it wasn’t true for you. Other people, and many of them, have vastly different experiences. Cecilia Burns, for example.

              The descriptors don’t need rewriting, the whole of ESA needs to be rewritten from the ground up, as it’s expressly designed to exclude the maximum number of people from the system. They (Labour – it’s their baby), made no secret of the fact that ESA is intended to get disabled people of benefits and back to work, ignoring the absence of jobs and the fact that many of us are not just incapable of work, but unemployable. Nothing of that has changed.

              The IB50, though, was a perfectly good, serviceable form** on which, without trying too hard, I racked up 115 points. If it was still in use for ESA there’d be no problem, but with extreme cynicism it was consigned to oblivion, to be replaced with the fundamentally dishonest ESA.

              **With just one seriously dumb question – Can you tie a bow in a piece of string? Well, yes, but as I said in my reply, that’s irrelevant when what I have real difficulty with is tying my bootlaces!

              Somewhere on my system, I have a document which demonstrates how far the ESA assessment form, never mind the physical asessment, has strayed from the ESA white paper, in a deliberate attempt to exclude as many people as possible. There was a link to it on my blog, before it was taken down (the page, not my blog post), but I have a copy and while publishing it would be a breach of copyright, I’ll happily send a copy if you want one.

              And if ESA is bad, wait until PIP comes along!


  4. I wonder how many of the contestants in the para olympics will be put on work related activitys because they are well enough to compete. This governments shocking I bet David Cameron got his DLA for his son who sadly died .He has forgotton the disabled and dying people of this country, They have been as good as raped by this government and Atos dont get me started on them they are totally rubbish why do we pay billions to a french company when a family doctor could do better.and show more compassion at the same time

    • Whether they attract the attention of the DWP/Atos would depend on the sport.

      A runner claiming DLA would be screwed, an archer, for example, wouldn’t.

      Although there can be a lot of walking in an archery tournament, back and forth to the targets to score and collect arrows, a disabled archer can nominate a proxy to do that for them. Thus all they have to do is step up to the line, shoot, and step back. They can also shoot from a wheelchair, or use a seat if there’s the need.

      Depends entirely on the sport – it’s just not as simple as being well enough to compete.

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