Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Before I Turn The Cannon Back On Welfare-Reactionaries...

My view of the future is that campaigners have done all they can in regards to the policies of the current government. Now it is the explicit intent and values of who will be in office in 2015 that matters(likely to be a Labour majority or Labour-led coalition), that represents our best chance of reversing unprecedented national catastrophe. To that end I was turning my focus towards the future and the possibility of continuing The Files beyond this year. Then this week happened and I couldn't ignore it. The Coalition and their supporters in the national press and 'think'-tanks have come out spamming supposed defences of their policies; apparently working on the principle that if you lie often and lie big it will just stick.

Looks legit
People of middle-age and older tend to agree that successive governments starting with Margaret Thatcher's cabinet had an active policy on using certain benefits to hide unemployment, namely benefits for those too sick and disabled to be expected to look for work.

It is true because 'everyone just knows', so it must be. The thing is that there isn't a shred of evidence for it. It didn't stop George Osborne invoking it this week, without at all being challenged. Likewise in fifteen years it will be taken as truth 'because everyone knows it' that a third of Incapacity Benefit claimants dropped their claim rather than face an assessment. That goes further from being a claim without evidence to being a claim which is an overt lie, of which the government has the evidence to the precise contrary. It's also not even a figure for existing Incapacity Benefit claimants, but new Employment Support Allowance claimants and it is entirely consistent with the off-flows for short-term claimants.

Ministers must be made to answer for the lies they have pushed this week, but not now, because they won't be adequately challenged until those with the national platforms to do so get a grip. I have no idea what 'get a grip' means, but what I'm hoping is that they do not leave themselves open to the argument that they are surrendering in the battle of reason and facts by focusing on human interest and the impact of policy. Because quite frankly welfare campaigners won that battle so utterly that the Minister for Employment understandably does not want to be in the same room as us, the best there is: Spartacus.

The victories won by Spartacus did not come about from focusing on personal anecdotes- we had them but they are not the backstop, just the context on which the Evidence-based argument is asserted. Much Comment, Editorial and News articles featuring in the parts of the media nominally critical of welfare reform do not at all resemble this. Journalists are obsessed with treating the subject matter as human interest rather than serious current affairs with far-reaching implications on many things. The exception are those supporting welfare reforms, who identify that the Facts matter and therefore they make a concerted effort to misinform on matters of Fact. That is what has happened this week and the well-resourced, mainstream critics have failed to make an adequate response as a result.

Zoe Williams had an article up today stating:
"We won't eradicate this vitriol against the poor with reason or facts or fury of our own; only greater equality can rebuild normal trust in one another. Or, in other words – don't get mad, get even."
I don't think I could possibly disagree more: this is in effect another way of spreading the myth that the benefits system is complicated, so it's not worth discussing all the gritty details that would debunk overnight every myth pushed without developing a human interest counter-narrative to each one. There is a good reason why welfare reform supporters spend so much time and energy inventing or cherry-picking Facts to suit their case: they are all that actually matters in the long-term. It's why Spartacus, Black Triangle and DPAC's efforts have been so successful. Look at recent history, look at the evidence- Reason and Evidence works.

It is with Reason and Evidence I will respond to the falsehoods the welfare-reactionaries have pushed earlier this week and then the garbage they've come out with today and will come out with tomorrow. I'll try to have posts up for Thursday and Friday. 


  1. I note the "50%" of DLA decisions based on paper assessments(everybody knows that this is based on what DM's stated was the MAIN reason for decision and contains testimonies/evidence/reports/contact numbers etc)surely the Government must know that anybody who has ever filled in or even seen a form would know this further that it is estimated that 25% of PIP decisions will be based on paper assessment,I wonder what percentage of the caseload that would reach in say twenty years time-.

  2. I have no idea if you ever read my inanities but a thought has occurred to me.A justification for not exempting (beyond the exemptions of course)properties/rooms subject to the "spare if we say it is tax" was that they had looked at this but allegedly it was far too difficult to outline so they left it up to local Councils.So difficult that there is a reduction in Council Tax scheme(locally administered) nationally decided; if there is an adapted room/dialysis room ,wheelchair user in the property-ah but it is specific to the poorest of course-no too hard.