Archives for posts with tag: Esther McVey


I find myself in an extraordinary situation. The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) forms have arrived and my head is full of the silent sound of synaptic klaxon’s going off, screaming, ‘Danger, danger!’

To achieve this monumental task requires throwing any semblance of independence out of the window and to be compliant to a system that I know is entirely corrupt, brutal and, above all, is a source of the most absolute distress.

It is an existential crisis which involves walking into a vipers nest of skull fuckers and I know better than that. Except… in or out, I don’t know if I can survive this and it feels like a lose, lose situation in which my mental and physical health, which is what it is all about, are on the line and right now both are in really bad shape.

Internally it feels like a state of collapse in which I am hanging on by my finger tips, my guts hurt, my body is shaking, my eyes are burning and the pressure is beating down like a steam hammer.

It is a situation in which doing nothing is itself a choice which guarantees losing the support which they control. On that basis, I can end this just by writing to them and telling them to fuck off and accepting the consequences, which will mean accepting financial hardship which I do not know if I can manage or survive.

The other choice, which feels even worse, is to engage in a process in which I know my GP does not support me, getting reports from my therapist and the hospital who I know do, and filling in their filthy forms with forced attention to every minutia of detail in a system in which the stated purpose is, as the Independent reported (13 December 2012), ‘More than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut when Disability Living Allowance is replaced by a new benefit, Esther McVey, the minister for disabled people, announced today’. Before a single assessment had been made McVey was telling parliament and us that the express purpose of PIP (the new benefit) was to cull the number of disabled people getting support and that was in just the initial stages of assessing 560,000 claimants, the reality of the roll out of PIP is even worse.

Worse still, this is all now being resided over by a prime minister with pitiless lizard eyes and a heart as black as the bottom most pits of hell, for whom lying is her native tongue and is corrupt to her bones.

And I am not even exaggerating.

PIP isn’t happening in a vacuum, its happening in the context of the worst government in UK history who laugh and jeer at the hardship they cause and give not one shit for the thousands of deaths they are already entirely responsible for causing.

I have to make a decision but am incapable of separating myself from the vileness of the current regime enough to do anything other than write this horrific shit out. I could cuss till my spleen turns blue and still not get the vileness out of my blood and bones.

My dearest friend Eileen has just sent me Harry Leslie Smith’s book, ‘Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future’, I haven’t read a word of it yet but I know it’s going to be soul food and that’s what I want to be in and doing with my time and energy, that’s where my heart is. That is what I WANT, not pulled between different degrees of badness where there is no balance and I’m just begging at the table of bastards who mean me (us) harm.

If this sounds remotely self pitying, I guess I am going to have to own that, it fills me with sorrow, this world that they have created which I oppose with every atom of my being.



A letter a day to number 10. No 1,506

Friday 29 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

In my letter of 26th July I wrote that we are ‘patronised and even despised for our modest lives’. Just writing that I knew it was a subject I needed to come back to.

My life is a small life, lived from a small space and place. No £millions here. Thank goodness. I’ve never aspired to that nonsense.

As it happens, there is nothing wrong with modest lives and modest living, but that is exactly what is being brutally attacked.

There has been a relentless campaign against us and I am not immune from its insidious power. In a few days I will lose my vehicle, which, as someone with mobility difficulties, is a cause of enormous anxiety and distress. I literally do not know what I am going to do, but here’s the thing, the worst of it is that I feel ashamed in a way I never have before. It is a shame based on fear of deliberately targeted brutality.

In an area and indeed a country where so many are struggling just to get by and doubtless also shamed and fearful, I am ashamed of having such a need. And that feeling comes right from the top, a measure of the success of the war on poor and vulnerable people.

I have no reason to be ashamed, especially living in rural Britain, or of having restricted mobility. But here it is, it’s crept in, promoted by maliciously vicious politicians and a maliciously predatory media intent on shaming our lives. As Guardian writer Barbara Ellen put it, “How shaming the poor became our new bloodsport.” “How long would it take,” she asked, “for “poor-shaming” to embed itself in the national psyche as borderline normal?” The answer is six years, from 2010.

I loathe that it has got inside me, that it has risen unbidden and certainly unwanted, promoted by shamelessly evil people, such that it should be treated as a hate crime and the worst of it is that it’s just a PR campaign to undermine us, a way to inflict policies that no civilised society would tolerate for one moment without that relentless campaign. This is what David Cameron, George Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith (“Poor-Shamer General” – Barbara Ellen), David Freud, Esther McVey, Priti Patel and many others, including the mainstream media, have achieved, wilfully, deliberately and with malicious intent. It is a pernicious evil that is going to take years to undo, it has dragged us into a gutter world of lies and violence, and it is utterly unforgivable.


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,428

Monday 09 May 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I hope that your relentless war on the poor haunts you for the rest of your days. I also hope that Iain Duncan Smith will be reviled and prosecuted for his obscene escalation of the sanctions regime, punishing the poor for merely being poor. And not just him, but everyone who has had a hand in it, including David Freud whose peerage is a slur on the nation, Maria Miller, Esther McVey, Mark Hoban, Priti Patel, Justin Tomlinson and not forgetting George Osborne targeting the poor to pay down his and the bankers debts. The list extends beyond them, I merely wish to highlight those named. Just to be clear, Labour are culpable in this too, including Tony Blair, but in nothing close to what this vile system has escalated into under your government.

There is no excuse. To wage an ideologically driven war against the poor is both baseless and heartlessly cold blooded. You have all corrupted a laudable and once proud system of social security into a penal system. You have turned Jobcentres, once called Labour Exchanges, into punitive dens of misery and human suffering.

Whatever Iain Duncan Smith’s stated reasons for resigning from the DWP, it followed a four year legal battle which ended in him being ordered to disclose Universal Credit internal reviews in the week prior to his resignation. No attempt by him to spin himself as a champion of the poor can expunge his dismal record and hate filled actions.

So many lives have been lost, such that Smith would never dare release the true figures, but sought to suppress and fudge them in every way.

I have written before (letters 1,017 and 1,037) that no court in the land would hand out a sentence depriving people of the means of survival and yet more sanctions are handed out than fines in Magistrates courts. People are judged and sentenced in secret without representation and driven into penury for up to three years to survive by what means, no one knows, or to die, many taking their own lives.

Last, but by no means least, is the disproportionate attacks on disabled people, nine times more than for most citizens and for severely disabled people it is 19 times. Disability hate crime has gone through the roof under your government, in one year alone, 2014-15, it increased 41% with the  Disability Hate Crime Network saying this was an under estimation of the true scale of the problem. Whatever mealy mouthed denials we hear from government on these issues, it cannot be denied that it is happening under your government and on your watch.

Your war on the poor will end, it is a matter of when, not if. We measure the time in human suffering and death, we will not forgive and we will not forget.

Benefit sanctions are ‘Britain’s secret penal system’

Miller and Atos face angry heckling at disability poverty conference

22_march_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,379

Tuesday 22 March 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I see you’re backing George (we are all in this together) Osborne. I can’t believe he’s still banging that drum, it is long past its sell by date. A millionaire heir to the Anglo-Irish baronetcy of Ballintaylor and Ballylemon cannot possibly say to ordinary people, ‘we are all in this together’.

With all the hardship Osborne has inflicted on the UK, name one single effect austerity has had on his life, or yours for that matter.

Twitter has been on fire with people naming and shaming MPs who voted to cut ESA by £30, and in particular those, like you, who are patrons of disability charities. Several MPs have now been ousted by charities who have had enough of their bare faced hypocrisy.

As far back as 2012 Esther McVey announced, ‘More than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut when Disability Living Allowance is replaced by a new benefit’. At that time the new benefit (PIP) didn’t appear to even have a name and yet already more than 300,000 disabled people would be arbitrarily deprived of support. But that isn’t the worst of it, not one of the people who would lose their benefits had even been tested, so this was an entirely ideological move which can best be described as a cull.

Of course Iain Duncan Smith explained that the changes to the Government’s Personal Independence Payment scheme (PIP) improved funds for “those who most need it”, which was just newspeak for a preplanned and premeditated cull. No matter how he tries to spin his compassionate credentials now that he’s resigned, the fact is that his cuts are written in blood on the lives and families who have reaped the devastation he is entirely responsible for causing.

Whilst you are busy trying to deal with the firestorm that’s currently gutting your government, the tyranny of austerity rages on across the UK and the one thing that can be stated with absolute certainty is that we are not all in this together.

06_march_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,363

Sunday 06 March 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Following on from yesterday, the absolute truth that Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are entirely intended to be punitive is that nearly 14,000 disabled people have had their mobility vehicles taken away from them, depriving them of the jobs they already had, might have had, or any chance that they could have had in the future. There is nothing about such a draconian move that in any way incentivises work or seeking work.

The ludicrous spin that the DWP constantly regurgitates that the cuts to social security are in any way creating additional support and incentivising work for anyone is a tired sick lie perpetrated by callous right wing thugs who knowingly put people in harms way.

I guess that spending £178 billion on arms, or defence as you like to call it, and renewing Trident is really incentivising peace, whilst cutting flood defence spending throws lives into chaos and destroys the peaceful lives of thousands.

Hounding the poor and most vulnerable whilst allowing billions in tax evasion, reportedly £119.4 billion in 2013/14, and rising, is the most heinous crime against us.

If people complain and question why they should pay for the unemployed, sick, disabled and not shout about their paying for the likes of Google, Starbucks, Amazon, Ebay etc. the propaganda might be working but nothing else is.

Esther McVey, the Minister for people with disabilities in 2012, told parliament that welfare reforms would lead to 330,000 disabled claimants either losing their benefit altogether or seeing their payments reduced. That she could do so prior to a single assessment taking place means that these cuts were ideological with no regard for the hardship caused or the well being of those deprived of vital support.

But it is the lies that are the most gut churning and anger inducing from over privileged, expenses claiming, gold plated pension holding, inflated pay rise awarded, arrogant politicians who know nothing about hardship and care even less and who smile as they destroy lives. That’s more than enough to explain the rise in mental health problems in the UK although there will be no impact assessment and therefore any causal link can be denied because that’s just the way Iain Duncan Smith works.

16_january_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,317

Saturday 16 January 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

It is unforgivable that in 2016 Iain Duncan Smith is still running a tick box assessment system with the express aim of denying people help based on narrow and stringent criteria absent of any human or humane considerations what so ever.

Smith has removed any consideration of disability and illness from his assessment regime, the only criteria for assessments are work related, work focused and swingeing definitions that deny people who are sick or disabled help and assistance based on any personal needs or circumstances at all.

This is all of a piece with the maliciously and duplicitously rebranded ‘Fit Notes’, another ideological move in abandoning social care and writing sickness and disability out of the official lexicon.

Smith claims that ‘the “fundamental flaw” of ESA is the way it divides claimants into those who are fit for all work and those who can’t do anything at all’. Wrong, in fact many disabled people work and have done all their lives aided by a benefit system that did not discriminate against them. I am in a position to know as I am one of them. Disability Living Allowance was a support benefit that was awarded whether one worked or not. The same was true of the Independent Living Fund which you axed in June 2015 and also true of motability which people are now being routinely denied under Smith’s Personal Independence Payments (PIP) at the cost of their ability to work.

The only criteria in Smith’s draconian regime is benefit denial. Esther McVey told MPs in the House of Commons in 2012 that 300,000 people would lose benefits in the move from Disability Living Allowance to what she then described as a ‘new benefit’, which we now know as PIP. That was a bold claim to make prior to a single assessment being undertaken and told us all we need to know about this despicable regime of benefit denial.

Making war on poor, sick and disabled people and those suffering from life threatening diseases like cancer has been rightly described as ‘chequebook euthanasia’. That this war is being conducted under an endless torrent of the most despicable lies whilst giving tax breaks to the rich and huge corporate handouts is the sickness that needs addressing, but just like sickness and disability in ordinary people, that sickness too is rendered invisible by the disease and national affliction that is your government.

A tragedy of errors: National Audit Office slams DWP performance

08_january_2016A letter a day to number 10. No 1,309

Friday 08 January 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

The DWP death squads strike again.

I don’t want to hear, as I did today, another person breaking their heart and saying, ‘I can’t take this any more!’ But – let – me – be – very – clear – about – this, I will and I will not begrudge them a second of my time, all the time they need to let the terror and the grief out; that time I will give, and will continue to give, willingly with every breath of my being. Because I know, as sick and disabled people across the land know, my day too will come: the brown kiss of death envelope will arrive because George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith and his death squads are gunning for us. That isn’t conjecture, that’s fact. I’ve already survived two battles with them but they’ll try again, as certainly as blackest night follows day.

Another life has gone, Dawn Amos, and on the day the agonising decision was taken to switch off her life support machine a letter informing her that she no longer qualified for her personal care allowance was sent by the DWP and found two days later by her husband. The DWP who, as they frequently inform us, never comment on individual cases said, “Our thoughts are with the family of Mrs Amos. The decision was based on evidence which included the opinion of Mrs Amos’ own GP.’ The opinion of her GP? GP’s practice medical science, not opinion, and Mrs Amos was reported as suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and, as her daughter said, “Obviously she was ill enough for the benefit because we had to watch her die.’

The DWP doesn’t use evidence, it uses tick boxes with the sole intent of getting people off benefits even if they are on deaths doorstep. The tick box process was assessed by David Daish, a programmer and software tester, who reported, “The assessor can basically say anything they like. Nothing in the software forces them carry out the assessment fairly.” He described the test as, “little more than a glorified Word document: A piece of programming that is not integrated in any way, has no checks and balances to make sure the business process it is supposed to support works as it should, that is, the PIP assessment itself, is in my view unforgivable. I’m inclined to think it is deliberate.”

Esther McVey told parliament in 2012 before a single assessment had taken place, “More than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut when Disability Living Allowance is replaced by a new benefit.” Set the target, meet the target, ignore the evidence. That is the reality we are seeing and living with today. I don’t know how many more people will die before we bring this filthy regime to an end, but die they will and their blood is on the hands of you and your government and, the oh so smug, Iain Duncan Smith in particular and his hired mercenary death squads.

12_august_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,176

Wednesday 12 August 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

A friend remarked on Twitter yesterday that she reckoned Priti Patel is going to get a lot of mentions in my letters. I have a feeling she’s right as Patel raises the bar on far right wing bigotry to hitherto unseen heights. I didn’t think anyone could ever outclass Esther McVey but I think Patel is going to make McVey look like Mary Poppins by comparison.

I love a story like this. As Wikipedia tells it, Patel’s parents fled Uganda just prior to Idi Amin’s expulsion of Ugandan Asians and by a sublime twist of fate opened a series of newsagents in my neck of the woods in greater London. In the mid seventies I lived on the outskirts of Uxbridge in Chiltern View Road which was just far enough from the town centre for an Asian run newsagent and general store to run a flourishing business and to be an absolute godsend for the locals. Of course I have no idea if that store was one of the Patel family stores, but it’s well within the realms of possibilities.

Patel grew up enjoying the safety and succour of a nation far from the depredations of Amin and the terrible reality of persecution and death that her parents foresight saved her from. Her life flourished, she was well educated, went to the University of Essex and joined the Conservative Party. After graduating she was snapped up by Andrew Lansley, blah, blah. She later spent time in PR, working closely on a project to limit the damage to British American Tobacco’s reputation that its Burmese investments had caused and lobbied your party on their behalf.

She returned to the party and after a poor start was air lifted into a ‘notionally safe Conservative seat’, the new constituency of Witham in central Essex which she won in 2010. After the 2015 general election she was promoted to cabinet level becoming Minister of State for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Priti Patel, an A-list right wing Tory, pro the reintroduction of the death sentence, anti same sex marriage, anti prisoner voting, officer of Conservative Friends of Israel, pro bedroom tax, absent for a vote on Human Rights Act 1998 Repeal Bill, pro UK military forces in combat operations overseas and now attack dog for the DWP in the war on the poor who smiles as she delivers her attacks. Not bad for someone who but for luck and good fortune could have ended up in a refugee camp but instead found succour, freedom and fortune in the UK. She says, “Coming from a country where you’re persecuted means that you want to work hard and to contribute to the society where you end up. You become patriotic because you make your new country your home.” She has a hell of a way of showing her gratitude and contributing to society by persecuting the poor.

Stop the war on the poor!

22_july_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,155

Wednesday 22 July 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

What a triumph for the violently malicious and the spinelessly mediocre the voting on the Welfare Bill was. Make no mistake, poverty is violence! That’s the bottom line. And those who drive poverty as policy are no more than vicious thugs and those who abstain from preventing violence are craven cowards.

And what does the author of poverty and despair, Iain Duncan Smith, do? He gloats and lies, “Nearly 50 Labour MPs have defied their leadership and opposed our welfare reforms which will move our country from a low wage, high tax and high welfare economy to a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare society. It’s clear that Labour are still the same old anti-worker party – just offering more welfare, more borrowing and more taxes.”

The actual cost of Universal Credit, estimated cost in 2012 of £12.85 billion, is now shrouded in mystery as IDS (a fatal socially transmitted disease) is concealing the cost from public view. Benefits to the unemployed cost £8 billion, a mere trifle in government spending terms, whilst in-work benefits are somewhere in the region of £76 billion driven by poverty wages, making businesses the real benefit cheats by an order of magnitude of 950% over the unemployed who are anything but cheats. Whoops.

But let’s take a look at the real bad boy of ‘welfare’, pensions, somewhere in the region of £90 billion and ask ourselves why pensions are considered to be welfare? Pensions are money paid forward in work, deducted from pay, to cover ‘worked for’ retirement. I receive an occupational pension which no one in their right mind would call welfare, it comes from money deducted from my pay entrusted to, in my case, a local authority, to hold and invest for my retirement. The aged are now universally demonised as the greatest drain on the NHS, which they built, many of whom fought a bloody war and rebuilt the nation afterwards yet whose hard earned pensions are branded as welfare. What a misbegotten, hell spawned, insult!

It comes down to this. The Welfare Bill is an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society which Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat (who they?) leader, called, ‘economically stupid’. I’d prefer economically malicious. It involves the deceitful rebranding of the minimum wage as a living wage, cutting in-work benefits which it’s beneficiaries, businesses, will be loathe to spare any profits from workers to address and the benefit cap will create dead zones of social exclusion in the Tory heartlands, whose denizens will doubtless pick up their Daily Mails and blame it all on immigrants.

It’s tax breaks for millionaires and austerity for the poor. That’s Tory Britain where the poor pay for the rich to get even richer and Iain Duncan Smith has found a new attack dog to replace Esther McVey.

01_may_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,074

Friday 01 May 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Three people from the DWP have pulled out of election debates at the last minute, Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and Mark Harper. It’s hardly surprising when each of them was certain to be challenged on their despicable treatment of sick and disabled people.

Their roles in the DWP can be summed up as: Iain Duncan Smith – a regime of forced obedience using sanctions: Esther McVey – forcing people off benefits and Mark Harper – forcing sick and disabled people into treatment under threat of sanctions.

These are people who have no interest in the welfare of the people they attack, each of them regards depriving people of the means of survival as reasonable and acceptable without regard for the survival of their victims. Most tellingly, none of them are prepared to defend the indefensible, they are individual cowards who expect others to do their dirty work and are unwilling to publicly face the people they attack. Smith eloquently expressed his contempt for us by walking out of a Commons debate on food banks so why on Earth would he bother turning up to face his constituents?

Government attack dogs are a special breed who never face the firing line, it is always others who fire and take the bullets, in war and peace those who govern enjoy the lucrative privileges of protected status sacrificing others for their misbegotten policies. Your government, however, has secured its place in infamy as the government that jeers and mocks, with couldn’t care less abandon, those they are happy to oppress and slaughter.

The Tories of Camden Ward W8 misused a support poster for stroke victims in an attempt to mock Ed Miliband, it disappeared pretty quickly but not before the media had spotted it. People who would do such a thing have no morals or scruples and that has been the over riding, disgusting, shadow hanging over these elections. Apologies and retractions are meaningless from people who have no common decency in the first place. If you get another term in office it will be a victory for ignorance, moral bankruptcy and self interest. I am sure you’ll be very proud.