” The Labour Party ‘ has a moral obligation to act’ ” ~ Says Open
Letter by Campaigners
I read with great intrest that campaigners have written to Labour
Leader Ed Milliband demanding he acts in the intrests of sick and
vulnerable people. I just wonder what that action in their behalf is
going to be and WHEN it is going to happen …if it ever does ?
With the removal of Denis Skinner from Labours NEC this week many
people , myself included, wonder if the party still merits the title
” Labour” party ?
Given it appears to be made up of what is made up exclusivley of what
our MP called a “Metropolitan Elite ” in a recent New Statesman
interview, [ ” The Party’s been hijacked by a metropolitan elite
Labour MP Simon Danczuk ” , The New Statesman, 13 June 2014 ,
The Labour Party “has a moral obligation to act”, the author of the
letters go on to write, and reminds the Labour leader that sick and
disabled people represent a “significant group” of voters who can
“make all the difference at the next general election”. Agreed indeed
they do …One wonders why they even need to be told this ?
This open letter reads:
Dear Mr. Miliband,
“We never thought we would see a Britain in which terminally ill
people rely on foodbanks to eat, or cancer patients miss their
treatment because they don’t have the bus fare to get to the hospital.
We never thought a bedroom for a severely disabled child would be seen
as an undeserved luxury, or sick and disabled people would have their
incomes reduced or removed for missing an appointment at the
Jobcentre. We never thought people with incurable illnesses like
Parkinson’s or Motor Neurone disease would be told by the Department
for Work and Pensions that they would get better, and should prepare
“But we are seeing all this and more. Quite simply, the sick and
disabled people of Britain are facing an unprecedented crisis which we
never imagined could happen in the UK. It is a national scandal.
“We are all of us caught up in a system worthy of Kafka. We are either
awaiting assessments, or reassessments, appeals, or reconsiderations.
Others are living in fear of being caught up in that system, and
losing the means to survive. For us, there is no longer any ‘social
security’, just an ever-present anxiety that at any moment the dreaded
brown envelope may arrive on the doormat and put us at the brink of
destitution. Some are just too ill to keep fighting, and simply give
“The Employment and Support Allowance fiasco has now escalated to a
DWP case load of over 6 million. Over 4 million Work Capability
Assessments have been carried out as part of the relentless programme
of assessments triggered by the current government, and it was clear
from the outset that Atos were never going to be able to cope. The
human suffering caused by this reckless implementation of the
over-rigorous & target-based Work Capability Assessment has now become
a national scandal which demands immediate action.
“In May 2010 just 28,300 claimants were awaiting assessment: the same
figure has now spiralled out of control to over three quarters of a
million. Of 1.2 million people on longer term incapacity benefits
tested, at least 80% have qualified under the much stricter Work
Capability Assessment, showing us very clearly how ill they really
are. These are the very same people who the right wing media have
labelled as fakers and scroungers, and yet no publicity has been given
to the fact that of these claimants, a mere 980 have been placed in
work via the DWP’s Work Programme.
“It is absurd that the government are claiming success when the
evidence is that over half a million claimants have successfully had
decisions overturned in their favour, over three quarters of a million
have reclaimed and many have ended their claims simply because they
have recovered before being offered so much as an assessment.
“The DWP is using a deliberately protracted queue of claimants
awaiting assessment as a means of concealing large numbers of
claimants who have simply fallen off the radar, never to be caught by
the National Statistics. You will appreciate the huge significance
this has upon the dubious claims of historically low unemployment,
currently being used to claim success for the Government’s ‘long term
“On Monday in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State for Work &
Pensions employed lie upon lie to distract from his inability to
deliver. Again and again the Coalition government has used selective
or distorted statistics to provide provocative headlines which helped
them to win public support on the welfare argument. We are the victims
of these lies; we feel the effects in our everyday lives as attitudes
to sick and disabled people become harsher, and people view us with
suspicion as potential scroungers or fraudsters.
“Yet the truth is available. We can give you all the facts and
evidence you need to challenge the propaganda. We need you to defend
us, to defend the welfare state on which we depend, and expose the
lies of the Coalition.
“At the moment Labour is sympathetic to the numerous tragic individual
cases, but you are failing to take on the wider argument, be the party
of truth and a real Opposition. We are looking to Labour to stop
apologising for the welfare state, and to defend the social security
we all need if illness or disability strikes. You could, if you used
the information we have available, convince the public that they
cannot trust the Coalition’s claims of success on welfare.
“As the party that established the welfare state and the NHS, many of
us look to Labour to defend those institutions, and defend the people
who need them most. As you have said yourself, the current government
is very good at defending the interests of the strong, but very bad at
defending the weak. We expect better from the Labour Party. We expect
you to defend the weak, the sick, the old, the poor. Instead you seem
to have adopted the Conservative language and agenda which is all
about ‘hardworking people’, excluding all those of us who cannot work,
or who have given up paid employment to care for a sick or disabled
“The Labour Party, and you personally, really need to get a sense of
anger and urgency about this crisis. We have reached the stage where
tinkering with the system is not enough, we need urgent and radical
action. At the moment, the government is paying hundreds of millions
of pounds to private companies to administer a disaster, and cause
incalculable harm to people who already lead difficult lives. You must
do something, you are the Opposition. We have nowhere else to turn,
and terminally ill people cannot wait.
“If you do not feel a moral obligation to act, consider the fact that
according to the Department for Work and Pensions, there are ‘over
eleven million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or
disability in Great Britain’. In addition, according to Carers UK
there are six and a half million carers. Electorally, we are a
significant group. Our votes could make all the difference at the next
“Something is dramatically wrong Mr Miliband, and it is your duty as
leader of the Opposition and as a prospective Prime Minister to make
sure we get a fair hearing and a decent level of social protection.”
Source: New Approach, please see link at :
It’s going to be a very close run General Election and Labour had
better start listening to the voices of the people who set up the
Labour Party to give them a voice in Parliament before they find those
very people no longer think them at all relevant to their political
aspirations or beliefs.
If the Labour Party continues to claim to be the party of the
organised working-class they had better start acting like one before
those organised members of the working-class set up new parties and
other groups to give them that voice once more.