Political promises – worth the paper they’re written on?

Along with other commentators, an article in today’s Guardian by my own Tory MP, Zac Goldsmith (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/07/third-runway-heathrow-betrayal) set me thinking. In his article, Zac makes the comment:

political promises need to mean something

In my own comment on the article, I point out to Zac and his colleagues that if you value your integrity, you can’t demand that some promises are kept while supporting policies that clearly break other promises.

Let’s look at some of the promises in the Tories’ 2010 manifesto that gave some reassurance to disabled and sick people, who are often some of the poorest in our society (for information on the link between disability and poverty, see Leonard Cheshire’s report, Disability Poverty in the UK, 2008). Page 15 of the manifesto contained this promise:

recipients of incapacity benefit who are genuinely disabled will continue to receive the financial support to which they are entitled

and the Foreword contains this statement:

…fiscal responsibility needs a social conscience or it is not responsible at all: so we will not allow the poorest people in Britain to pay an unfair price for the mistakes of some of the richest

There is clearly some breathtaking promise-breaking happening here, as MPs’ caseloads are burgeoning with cases of disabled and sick people, who are quite clearly too disabled or sick to work, losing all support and ending up in even greater poverty than they were already experiencing (for confirmation that MPs’ caseloads are indeed swollen by these cases, see transcript of the Westminster Hall debate on Atos Healthcare on 4 September). Some reports, including those included in recent Panorama and Dispatches documentaries, are totally heartbreaking; disabled and sick people in desperate hardship – some even dying, due to suicide or to the condition that supposedly leaves them ‘fit for work’ – as a result of incompetent, compassionless, unrealistic welfare reform and gross mismanagement of the benefits system.

Half way through this Parliament, it just won’t do to blame the disastrous Work Capability Assessment and Atos contract on the previous Government. The Coalition needs to get a grip… all they’ve demonstrated so far is that they really don’t care either about disabled and sick people’s wellbeing or, for that matter, about the expense to the taxpayer of  incompetent assessments and hundreds of appeals.

So yes, Zac and your Tory colleagues, political promises DO need to mean something. This Government’s manifesto promises URGENTLY need to ‘mean something’ for the hundreds of disabled and sick people and their families experiencing unimaginable suffering and hardship due to the utterly inept Work Capability Assessments undertaken on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, and for those mourning the loss of disabled and sick people who’ve died following these incompetent assessments.

Promise or no promise, the human cost of Iain Duncan Smith’s supposedly compassionate approach to welfare is far, far too high. As if this isn’t enough, the human cost is set to become a great deal higher when Disability Living Allowance is replaced by Personal Independence Payment, for which the assessment process is destined to be similarly incompetent and inhumane.

3 thoughts on “Political promises – worth the paper they’re written on?

  1. Do the government ever truly keep their promises? Nothing is ever as it seems when it comes to policies. IDS needs to experience what we ourselves are going through and try and live this way for a while. I am totally bed bound unable to walk or even stand, now catheterised and in that much pain it hurts no matter what I do. I often get asked; “do you have carers coming in as you are clearly in need?”. I reply “no I’m under 60 so am not entitled to free personal care and cannot afford it with the councils harsh financial assessment that doesn’t allow for any children over 16, any insurances or debts etc”. I often find I am told “that’s what the care component of DLA is for to provide for your care its not spending money!”.

    Firstly, the government and council policy of financial assessment for working age people in need is for one thing, AGEIST. It is discrimination at the highest degree.
    Secondly, the magical care component. I suffer with being doubly incontinent because of my severe illness and disability. The council will not provide the size of pads I needed to cope with this so I had to take ones that constantly leaked to the extent my bed was wet. They won’t supply bed pads, only one or the other and you only get four pads per 24 hours anyway. I have interstitial cystitis and need to urinate a lot. I was having to buy larger additional pads and bed pads, extra bedding, nightclothes and underwear due to persistent washing. I bought washable bed pads, my washing machine is on 24/7 and of course the dryer as its always raining. On top of that I cannot eat and drink certain things due to my IC and IBS and need other specific foods. My severe ME has made me intolerant to a lot of foods I eat so again I am buying for a special diet. My family are all out all day so I need to have items beside me to br able to manage myself. All this costs money and a lot more than the allowance given and that’s before I even think about buying a care service to give me the help I need. The costs of this alone without my additional expenses would only afford someone 6 hours of care a week and that’s at the normal daily rate and for someone on the highest level of DLA care.

    So, our government that promised to look after the most vulnerable and needy in society; to fight against discrimination and to stop people fraudulently claiming government monies they are not entitled to, think on. While you sit comfortably in your cosy homes, or second homes or posh hotel rooms often fraudulently claimed at our expense and far above the the fraud rate of disability benefits; we the most vulnerable in society are suffering at your hands.

    Your promises mean nothing.

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