Sunday, 22 January 2012

When An Unstoppable Force Meets A Slightly Movable Object

Andrew Bell's last message to me, opening the way for an appeal to the BBC Trust over how he has chosen to handle my complaint.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Hold Me To This

Next month, the WPLS(Work and Pensions Longitude Survey) data for August 2011 will become available. This is statistical information about various benefits administrated by the DWP and it takes so long to process it all that the schedule is that quarterly snapshot figures are published six months later.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Making A Molehill Out Of A Mountain

The following is my response to Andrew Bell's letter explaining his understanding of my complaint regarding the BBC2 programme The Future State Of Welfare With John Humphrys, which was broadcast on 27.10.11 . I am using my real name for my complaint but have left this out. I've enlarged the text for easier reading.

The Investigation Is On-Going..

I was e-mailed a PDF of the following letter from Andrew Bell at the BBC and expecting a physical copy soon. 

Monday, 16 January 2012

It's Not Reform; It's Munchhausen's By-Proxy

Commence theatrical blog-post opening. Baron Munchhausen was the famous character no one has heard of and was known for his magical, seemingly impossible adventures, heroics and deeds of daring. Handsome, compassionate, brave and loved by all. But what he was most known for was that none of this true. He was a spectacular liar, fantasist and attention-seeker. This makes it slightly more believable that he is based on an actual person by the same name and same characteristics. Think of him like Dracula; strange, foreign, rich and well-suited to being played on-screen by Gary Oldman. He'd also be good playing Hans Asperger too I reckon.

This article was re-written in its ENTIRETY to accommodate this picture
Unlike Dracula, the Baron has a mental condition named after him and unlike Hans Asperger, the Baron has TWO conditions named after him: Munchhausen's Syndrome and Munchhausen's By-Proxy. As I explain the difference, consider the 'what if' scenario of there being Asperger's By-Proxy.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Thing Is...

It was widely reported, in those few places it was reported at all, that David Freud's antics last Wednesday were stopped when crossbench and opposition peers realised what he was doing. Unfortunately, that would not have stopped Freud, who it appears is on the cusp of giving up all but the thinnest pretense of decency and respect for Parliament.

What stopped Freud? He went ahead and told us, perhaps one of those famous Freudian slips: 'procedural muddle'.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Freud And Error

I've begun noticing a rather obvious difference between David Freud's tabled amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill and that of other peers in the House of Lords: Freud's are a lot less clear about what they actually do. Many amendments made by peers you can guess at what their function is and be quite accurate. Not Freud's; almost any amendment he tables, you have to go look at the actual bill, at the actual line being changed and even count how many words like 'is' and 'a' are used before you can guess at what Freud's amendments affect. Unfortunately it now seems that another pattern is emerging after Freud's antics on Wednesday.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Guess What?

Yes, it's our favourite subject again at The Files: The Future State Of Welfare With John Humphrys! Got an e-mail today from Andy Bell the Complaints Director at the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit.
"Dear ****** **********


I am dealing with the complaint you have made about this programme.


I had hoped to have written to you by now setting out how I intend to investigate it and a likely timetable, but I am afraid that it may be a few more days before I am able to do so. I apologise for the delay but I will certainly be back in touch by the middle of next week.


Yours sincerely"
Of course, I'm so serious about this now that I've started using my actual name with them. It also reminds me that I need to crack on with that full line-by-line rebuttal of the programme I'm moving through at glacier pace.

Us And Them

I was wrong. Last week in the run-up to the publicity and release of the Responsible Reform Spartacus Report I made an airy-fairy impassioned post on there being no 'us and them'. Our 'enemies' are not wrong-doers but misguided. In my defense; I was quite ill at the time with a stomach bug. 

I am studious in my fact-checking and correcting any errors I make. I can be proud that no welfare minister or their supporters can ever prove me incorrect in my critical analyses of the claims they make and the policies they push. I can not however say that they can not prove me wrong on anything because yesterday in the House of Lords, David Freud proved me wrong: there is an Us and Them. There are malicious people that know exactly what they're doing and Freud is one of them. He'd never have a fight unless he won either way. I'll get to the point now.

EDIT: If anyone asks, my balls up on Amendment 45 and some interpretations were deliberate. In these stories, names are often changed to protect the innocent, k?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Phallus Of False Cause

Short post. I will make a short post. This time it will be short. My over-long posts are not me trying to compensate for something Dr Freud, it's just that your great-grandson and his friends don't like playing fair. Why do you think it has anything to do with my mother? Because I'm talking to you? You've been dead for some time now? Ok then, but I just think it's because you're kind of known for bringing it up no matter how irrelevant.

The Snivel Service

Ministers need to be seen as far away from actual stuff as possible. Departments put out press releases, newspapers get briefed by aides and internal reports get written and moved about according to how on-message they are. As time has gone by some of them have got less careful (Maria Miller) and others started out that way (Chris Grayling) and it becomes a bit obvious when they are pressing their faces right up to the one-way mirror they stare at us through. When they do this, things written by civil servants stretch the bounds of impartiality to which they are bound and cabinet ministers are expected to not ever put them in that position. The use of departmental resources for overtly party political purposes is expressly forbidden by the Ministerial Code. The Broken of Britain have made complaints but it's not possible to conclusively prove wrong-doing.

On Monday the DWP press office over-stepped their bounds and posted the following messages on Twitter including a link to their information page for Personal Independence Payment, which is perfectly fine, but then(in reverse order):
"Introducing new face-to-face assessment & regular reviews to make sure support going to those who need it most."

"This has led to hundreds of millions of pounds in overpayments. We’re replacing DLA with Personal Independence Payment"

"DLA an outdated benefit. Vast majority getting it for life without systematic checks to see if condition has changed."

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Cameron's Law; The Reverse-Savant

Savant Syndrome has a complicated and misunderstood relationship with the Autistic Spectrum. Some simple figures:

  1. 28% of 137 parents of Autistic children surveyed believed their child met the criteria for having a Savant skill at a level that would be exceptional even in non-Autistics with normal IQs.
  2. A researcher a decade ago in the US estimated those with any level of Savantism to be 1 in 10 among Autistics.
  3. Half of all Savants are on the Autistic Spectrum
  4. Prodigious Savants, those who have exceptional abilities in multiple skills are virtually the most significantly learning disabled and disadvantaged people imaginable
  5. It's a Fact: those most disadvantaged use their mental resources so much more efficiently than the Prime Minister David Cameron that it is a scale that is barely calculable. Perhaps 1:50³ยบ plus a Banana-Shark.
  6. David Cameron can not say he is the slightest bit disadvantaged though.

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Coalition's Worst Nightmayor

A single large crumb from the forthcoming report has been released: the Mayor of London made his own response to the consultation for DLA reforms a year ago, so it was included among the papers Sue Marsh and Kaliya Franklin got from their Freedom Of Information inquiries. LeftFootForward has a copy here. His concerns are expressed as strongly as any campaigner, certainly more strongly than what the supposed Opposition in the House of Common has expressed. Boris Johnson's involvement seems to be genuine; he could not have been certain this letter would have been made public at any time where it would work to his own benefit.

I'm still feeling speculative however and it seems possible that the government got wind of the report. On Thursday the Daily Mail and Express each printed a story claiming that half of those Jobseeker's Allowance recipients who have been referred onto the trial workfare plan have supposedly failed to engage with it and had their benefits stopped. There is absolutely no public source for this, no data, no press release, nothing. FullFact.org investigated immediately and noticed that the Mail claimed their source to be 'a source close to the programme' which basically sells out Employment Minister Chris Grayling as having secretly briefed the newspapers. The truth of the claim can't be verified because it will be a month before the report for it comes out. But the Coalition ministers are getting more reckless; a year ago it was almost impossible to deduce if, not just who, was responsible for the articles which these ministers keep publicly distancing themselves from.

So when one leading Conservative politician is secretly arguing the facts for balanced debate, yet a group of others(always the same people) are secretly poisoning debate; the problem isn't the Conservatives. The problem is something Boris Johnson doesn't have to worry about but which Cabinet Ministers do. What those ministers briefing the newspapers have in common is David Cameron, who Boris Johnson can ignore.

David Cameron is responsible, so David Cameron will be examined very closely by The Files as we approach the day of the report.

Everything That Is Going To Happen This Year, Is Happening Right Now.

Truth, Justice and the Autistic way should not be matters of strategy. They should stand by themselves; self-justifying and self-evident realities, the premises on which debates begin and move forward on. Those who stand for these (I particularly like the 'Autistic way'), their upholding of these ideals should not rest on them ever having to out-wit anyone in a time-sensitive manner. They are intricate and yet simple ideas meant to be carefully considered as lenses through which to see the world all the time.

They are challenged however by equally valid and fundamental forces: all who know life wish for Safety, Prosperity and Happiness. But these are fragile and often fleeting because they are ultimately illusions. Unlike Truth, Justice and the Good one I like, those things are not often regarded as ideals to aspire to, distant goals that should be forever aimed for and followed through with. They are something which people often believe they have and because they have them, rather than keep striving for them they regard them as real, existing, present-tense property they have every right to hold on to jealously for as long as can be. Safety, Prosperity and Happiness can be threatened and taken away. People who value these over Truth, Justice and free drinks for Autistics can be manipulated into doing what those creating the threats want. They can even resolve to hang onto what is theirs at the expense of the Safety, Prosperity and Happiness of others. This is shameful, so whilst people can be diligent in their on-going reflections in how they treat and affect others, making amends or learning from mistakes now and then, it is a devastating concept to grasp that you could be responsible for so much pain merely from following your rightful pursuit of such reasonable goals.

But that is what The Files, The Broken of Britain, Black Triangle, friends, families, charities and probably you reading this are up against: there is no 'other', there is no 'enemy' and there is no 'them'. This is an opposition in the public's attitude that ultimately does so much harm but so little wrong, save for not being perfect (we can't all be Autistic). Our motives are similar but not the same and our circumstances are constantly questioned. If for once they were looked at objectively, then we've achieved what we needed to. That is what is happening right now, in the build up to next week. This has been long in the making, in the background of lukewarm and often inaccurate national media reporting of welfare reform. We thank Sue Marsh for what has been a brilliant crowd-sourcing project that won't simply repeat the points that we have said before and the ministers in charge of welfare reform have ignored. It is a strategic plan that exists purely out of the necessity created by utter myopic foolishness from the government. It will also hurt them, not like they hurt us but enough to remind them what it feels like to be examined by hostile people.

Save for a massive disaster of conscience in this country, next week a mirror is going to be held up and they will look in it and scream at it and keep screaming until this infamously forlorn year is done. The Files will be pressing the point as the date approaches. 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Most Welcome Slander

Following on from my recent preachy theme on how words should carry meaning, implicit in this is the moral demand on journalists to not simply repeat what a public figure has said, or what other newspapers are printing. I think some journos do this because of that cursed desire to be 'neutral' and not taint a News piece with Comment, or what is perceived to be Comment or opinion. Others just want to get stuff wrote-up and ready to go to the sub-editors as quickly as possible so don't bother doing some basic fact checks on what they are reporting. It seems perfectly fine to report that: "Duncan Smith said that in the decade to 2009/10, welfare spending increased by 45% in real terms – to £147bn – with the housing benefit bill reaching £20bn, up from £11.2bn in 2000/01" because the Fact is he did. His own 'facts' do not need scrutiny.

I disagree.