Sue Marsh has accepted a position with the new Work Capability Assessment provider Maximus, who hold a number of government contracts. Anyone reading this probably already knows and already knows what their opinion is, based on what I have read elsewhere. I do not yet know what my opinion is and I'm writing this mainly to help me settle on it so I can resume focus. Here are a series of binary statements which can either be true or false, but I believe to be true.
The world is 'black and white' in terms of what it is, what it allows and how we are able to describe it.
Anyone that believes otherwise is not thinking clearly or has insufficiently developed communication skills for describing the world.
They resort to cliches about 'shades of grey' to excuse themselves and to artificially create uncertainty to make others believe their position is understable.
In fact, what is called 'understanding' is often just a philosophical acceptance that they can't understand something but will treat the matter in a way that maximises beneficial outcomes.
The inability of some to see the black and white world comes down to an inability to properly divide things which are unrelated and associate things which are related.
"Has Sue made the right choice?" is a poor question.
Sue is a mother and a wife.
Sue's first and primary responsibility is to her children, then her spouse.
Sue's choice benefits them most and it benefits them more than if she had chosen differently.
As a mother and a wife, Sue has made the correct decision.
Sue's primary responsibilities are not exclusive, they exceed but do not negate others.
Sue is a writer who did not choose but accepted the role of campaigner and figurehead to an influential and dynamic disability rights movement when she emerged as a natural leader.
Sue is aware that a great many people invested trust, goodwill, resources in her and her work.
Sue might incorporate that work which she was already spending much of her time on into the work she is going to be doing for Maximus.
Both roles are only incompatible if Maximus asserts exclusive ownership of Sue's work.
Only if both roles are incompatible does Sue's position as a campaigner become compromised.
Sue would not agree to a contract without reading and understanding it first.
If the contract prevents any future campaign work, the value of the contract to Sue and her supporters must exceed that of future campaign work.
ESA and the assessment system are unfit for purpose.
There is no political support for abolishing them.
There is no evidence that reforming them can improve them to a humane level.
There is abundant evidence that they are flawed in principle.
A humane level of treatment for claimants requires the system and its underlying premises to be abolished.
This equates to there being no more contracts for assessing claims once that system no longer exists.
This conflicts with Sue's new role at Maximus.
Sue's role at Maximus can not influence government policy.
Government policy is what makes the process what it is.
The government appointed two academics to perform roles similar to Sue's and they were first pressured secretly into changing their recommendations before having them accepted only in principle and almost none were put into practice.
Sue will resist to the point of being immune to such pressure from her employers and the government.
Sue does not posses the biases demonstrated by the government's reviewers, particularly Malcolm Harrington who stunningly argued with an Oncologist giving evidence over the(lack of) benefits of work for Cancer patients.
Maximus has a record which demonstrates a culture that is very much against disability rights.
To Maximus, disability rights only exist when they align with the goals of Maximus.
Maximus insists the role that Sue fills be 'results driven' and we are left to consider by ourselves what they consider to be positive 'results'.
Maximus' description of the ideal candidate requires them to serve primarily the needs to Maximus.
It does not call on the candidate to make the ethical case for business, but to make the business case for whatever improvements, without any specific mention of ethics.
Sue can not change the culture at Maximus, which is focused on the business case and requires her to consider things only from the perspective of a business case.
Maximus can not change Sue either.
Sue is the product of her history, relationships, experiences.
Maximus as a company is blind to those sorts of things.
Maximus is behaving consistently with a predictable mindset towards opposition by co-opting a pragmatist.
The benefit to Maximus, apart from Sue's skills if they choose to properly utilise them, is to isolate Sue the pragmatist from idealists and radicals.
This works on the presumption that none among those margins can be effective like a pragmatist.
This ignores that Sue is not the only pragmatist.
This ignores that the movement developed in the UK has not formed into blocs and factions with exclusive boundaries.
Someone can fall out with Sue over this, but not fall out with me and if I don't fall out with Sue, then that someone is not completely isolated from Sue. I fell out completely with the 'weekend warriors' of 38Degrees and UKUncut who respectively represent in my eyes a Labour party astro-turf campaign and a politically correct collective of comfortable middle-class Social Justice Warriors from Tumblr who abandoned disabled people when we most needed them and took undue credit when the media attention was there. I am not isolated from either of them though because of connections with people steadfast in their idealism and loyalty to those groups and the ones I associate with.
So is the overall answer a shade of grey?
No, it's the sum of a few hundred completely binary statements, some of which I've managed to type.
Sue's decision will do good for her and her family.
Family matters and they have already suffered so much.
Sue's decision might not do good for the cause of disability rights in regards social security, individual prosperity and the welfare state.
It might not do harm either.
Good things sometimes come from bad decisions, bad things sometimes come out of good decisions.
This makes basing decisions too much on predicted outcomes potentially dangerous and unethical.
Dire warnings based on predicted outcomes should not therefore prevent a person from doing the right thing for the right reasons. Vice-versa: doing something you know is wrong because of the promised good or avoided bad does not automatically translate into it being for the right reasons.
I do not know if Sue has chosen the right thing.
I choose to believe she always does things for the right reasons.
Sue will remain a good person. Maximus will remain a bad company.