Monday, 15 August 2016

Two Months In Politics Is A Long Time!

I've allowed this to slide for too long, but I had to say something on the recent watershed in British politics. What a joke!

At first the news seemed to imply that remain had won the referendum, then the news revealed the reality. A shocking outcome, certainly, but when you think is it really that surprising? We've been subject to years of political arrogance that has disenfranchised the working class. This has coincided with the latest wave of migration, particularly from the continent. The Labour government, though certainly not alone in this, did precisely fuck all to help communities on both sides integrate and arrogantly assumed that people would tolerate the situation. It is here that the rampant and vicious xenophobia of the exit campaign took root.

But it is erroneous to assume that the working class are intrinsically and comprehensively racist. This was a shout of rage from still-deprived, and increasingly so, communities who want change. It was inchoate, possibly even inarticulate, and, quite possibly, in some small quarters even racist. But the message is clear: we are fed up with YOU: the people that take our power and act against our interests while claiming to do the opposite. People that claim they know best while communities crumble through deprivation. People want an easy scapegoat and that was provided by migrants, but they are a symptom and not the cause.

People were right to reject the EU. It is a vastly undemocratic institution - at its core. It is run by an economic elite comprised mainly of white men. It is unrepresentative and almost unaccountable. Unfortunately to reject it entirely is simplistic, because there are benefits that come from being within it; free movement of people for example. I believe in open borders, but I also believe that people should run their communities, not states or governments. The EU cannot really provide open borders because it is an institution built out of nation states and nationalist structures. Open borders means nothing if you can't get a passport or can't afford to travel anyway. These are still elitist propositions.

It is a fortress that, in recent years, has allowed refugees fleeing war in the middle east (largely fuelled by western imperialism) to drown rather than be helped. As such it is itself racist, never mind the thuggish rhetoric of those campaigning to leave; there is racism on both sides.It is a capitalist institution that seeks trade deals which oppress the working class: TTIP, for example. Fundamentally it is a structure whose existence cannot be justified and is not necessary. All the advantages it offers (such as movement across Europe) are temporal; they can be revoked just as easily as they can be offered. It is a sop offered for the benefit of capital, nothing more. Movement of people exists because it is economically beneficial to capital. That is all. Should that change, so would the policy.

People might argue that the EU protects human rights. But that merely shows the paucity of our own laws. If people have to appeal to the EU courts to get justice then something has already gone drastically wrong. Why is this not being addressed? What guarantee is there that the EU will be any more just than local courts? Does it address the fundamental problem of justice under capitalism: that justice exists only for those that can afford it?

 This was a shout that toppled a leader that had only been in power for a year. It seems like a small victory given the hawk that now sits in number 10, but don't forget, Cameron didn't comprehensively win in 2010. He had to appeal to the traitor Clegg to be his kingmaker. When that ended he won the first election for his party in decades - only to foolishly offer a referendum intended to appease the swivel eyed eurosceptics within the Tory party. That cost him his head and his legacy. A result that won't put food on the table for those still suffering the injustice of austerity (a policy supported by the EU, I might add), but a result nonetheless.

It's also a result sneered at by the liberal media. The soporific snobbery of Polly Toynbee and Owen Jones has been insufferable; they cannot understand why we would want to leave. Yes, that's the problem! You lot sipping Pimms in Islington don't understand!

And speaking of the odious Toynbee she's been a cheerleader for the leadership challenge initiate in the wake of Brexit against Jeremy Corbyn. This is an extraordinary state of affairs that has culminated in Labour spending the income from members to exclude those members from having a say in who leads the party - while landing those who resisted that effort with a whopping tens-of-thousnds-of-pounds legal bill. Is this the party against or for austerity?

It is a futile and brazen affair: Corbyn, like him or loathe him, was elected legally according to the rules accepted by all concerned. He's not even been the leader for a year and the knives couldn't have come out quicker. No sooner had remain lost the referendum, Corbyn was scapegoated. We have the likes of Margaret Hodge arrogantly blaming him while ignorant of the fact her constituency voted to leave. But they don't care about that, they have sought this opportunity from day one. Consequently this situation will not be resolved when the hapless and desperately unpopular Owen Smith (coming out from behind Angela Eagle and stabbing her in the back, while arguing that Labour is egalitarian) inevitably loses. Another crisis, another challenge, and so on until 2020. Corbyn will end up being ousted by the death of a thousand cuts. This to me is a dismal inevitability. They do not like him, they do not like his views, they do not care how hypercritical they are as long as the Blairte scum once again get power. They will do whatever it takes, with increasing desperation, until Corbyn is bled dry.

This then is the immediate future. People need to forget Corbyn. Don't get me wrong, he seems like a nice guy, but he is stuck within a system that will destroy him. He refuses to fight against that system while running a capitalist party. Labour is exactly that and that is why they want him gone, because they want that capitalist element to reassert itself. Owen Smith is just another corporate lackey, just another voice for a slightly less red blooded version of capitalism. He won't offer change, and he can't deliver it. He hasn't a prayer of winning this election, no matter how desperate the tactics of the anti-Corbyn contingent. But the reality is that Corbyn and the ballot box will not give us the change we need. That can only come from the grassroots. We must reject the system and replace it through direct action, making it and its representatives irrelevant, as they surely are.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Ghost Whistler vs the Internet

Over many years I've been online and one thing I've noticed; the internet is an awful place for conversation.

Don't get me wrong, I think as a source of information and even opinion it's superb. There are many positive aspects to this technology, which is good since nothing I do or say will get rid of it! Not that I want to.

The problem is message forums. I don't know what it is but I have managed to cross almost every single forum I have been on. Not deliberately, you understand; but the nature of the medium makes it impossible to discern honest intention and to differentiate between that and dishonesty.

But by far the worst aspect are the cliques that form. Even on places that profess to be more open minded, or to oppose accepted norms and values, such as capitalism. These forums will still be governed by prevailing attitudes determined by a clique who will refuse to extend the slightest charity when interacting with someone new or someone different.

There is also a curious phenomenon wherein those who are subsequently marginalised will be unable to respond in any way to defend their position. If they try this will be taken as evidence they are lying, because well he would say that, wouldn't he!

I don't think we see this in real life. Talk to someone for real and you have to acknowledge their presence in all aspects. They might be in your face. At the vbery least they will be right there talking to dyou, and that demands respect. It's a lot harder to bullshit to someone's face, than through a series of pixels. Tell someone to their face they are a liar and see what happens.

The internet has sanitised that vital aspect of communication and thus made it easier for people on forums to create vapid echo chambers wherein dissenting opinions, regarldess of evidence, can be silenced. It has become easier to dismiss someone who may simply have misspoken, or someone like me who finds communication difficult.

I can write text, I can put words together (you may disagree of course), but the problem individuals like myself have is that we have to dwecode our own thoughts. There is a cypher, created by cogonitive (dys)function, that takes what we intend to say and translates it, through the very same language, into something we may not. The problem with that is that we don't know this is happening. When input into forum converation there are no allowances made for this and attempts to explain are ignored. Again this is because people do not extend charity or courtesy online as they must in person because real human presence demands this.

Finally the last corrupting facotr is the prevailing cultural values that seem to find a home online. Currently there seems to be a backlash against progressive values and understanding. Advocates of these values are deemed regressive and examples of fringe or outlier behaviour are proferred as justification for intolerance. These people make no sense to me. What is wrong with tolerance, compassions, respect or courtesy? Why is the assumption that, when someone seems to mispeak, it can't be because he might have a cognitive impariment or anomaly? Why is it that they are instead deemed ot have subscribed to a regressive ideology? What in fact is regressive abotu this other than to limit people's ability, if not desire, to behave like an asshole to others? Why is it assumed that such cognitive anomalies are instead just loony left excuses for laziness?

I can't deal with people that think like this. To me racism, misogyny, and other oppressive social structures must be challenged. Why would anyone want to adhere to them. The answer is simple: because they benefit, directly or indrectly, consciously or otherwise, from the privilege offered. Why else do people object to Black Lives Matter, or feminism, or...whatever? We all benefit from supporting these efforts to dismantle established hierarchies. Even those who think they don't.

Unfortunately the internet is full of people who climb inside to have their conditioning reinforced and their prejudices pandered to. We are all raised within a certain culture and that includes submitting to the propaganda we've heard all our lives, and thus normalising and rationalising those values. There's nothing difficult about that and it is nobodies fault for how they are raised. But there must come a time when we challenge these views. It is sad that efforts, including my own, to understand these structures and to learn about what they are have been marked by dealing with some of the most intolerable and repugnant people I've ever come across who are every bit as unpleasant as those they criticise.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

How I Survived the Cameron Years...

That was the subtitle I chose for this collection of thought vomiting I laughably call a blog. It appears to now be complete, since the Cameron years are - almost - over. His arrogance has cost him his job as Britain's premier feudal overlord and, as I write, he has been replaced by Theresa May about whom the less said the better (condescendingly, she promised to be a champion of the poor but her voting record says otherwise).

So it seems that I have survived. These words are not coming through from the Other Side (tm) and are not the product of a seance. In fact I appear to have been returned - unlike Cameron - to the Work Related Activity Group. I received a letter on Thursday informing me of my victory over the forces of ESA darkness. At least I hope so otherwise I'm in for a nasty shock! :D

I have not recorded my experience at the interview since there really wasn't much to tell. Most of those reading will know what to expect; it was a routine affair (fortunately I suppose). My appointment was 20 minutes earlier than when I was seen, despite there being no one else present. The same receptionist was present as the last time, but, pleasantly, she was much less snarky than before. Perhaps we can attribute that to a change in management as these tests are carried out by Maximus and not ATOS. Though I imagine it's too much to assume they are significantly improved over their predecessors.

The interview process was pleasant enough: the interviewer could well have been from any medical (or not) background. I have no idea and didn't see any point asking. The questions were the usual psuedo-friendly mix of polite medical inquiry and subtle pressure - i.e., asking how I attended and who my companion was is all an attempt to elicit a kind of response. We all know this.

There are two fundamental truths I can point to by way of advice to anyone else undergoing this experience from my own:

1. Take someone with you. I had a friend who very kindly volunteered his time to attend and offer invaluable support. I can't express my gratitude enough for this, particularly as he was left to sit and observe. Not the most fun way to spend your time! I cannot offer hard data to support this, but I strongly suspect the presence of another really helps the case.
2. The moment you knock on the door the test starts. From that point everything, including how you enter the building, ascend the floors to the waiting room, how and whom you speak to, is part of the test. It's not Bladerunner's Voigt-Kampf test, but it's close. In fact, and again without hard evidence, I suspect that being kept waiting for 20 minutes is also part of the test. There was no real reason for it, they have plenty of assessors - in fact the whole top floor of the DWP building is given over to this process. Everything is there to test you, no matter how pleasant it may appear.

So this is a happy way to end the Cameron years, for now at least. I am supposed to now be available for Work Focussed Interviews. I've technically already had one, back in June, when I spoke to the adviser on the phone. At that point I was ready to throw in the towel. He was supposed to get back to me but didn't, now I suspect he will.

But the problems still remain: this is still a horrific situation and any victory, and associated happy feelings, must be tempered. There are also plenty of people with far more serious conditions experiencing far worse than I. This system is ridiculous: I mentioned that the entirety of the top of the DWP building is devoted to the medical testing. That itself is absurdity: why are these tests not done by one's own GP or even through the NHS? Why is this bureaucracy necessary? Why is money spent on hiring a private insurance company to administer a test we all know to be, at best, arbitrary, at worst discriminatory? These questions betray the reality: that the poor and sick are to be treated with utmost suspicion if their value as production drones is ever called in to question.

That is the worth of a man, and, to end on a considerably more downbeat note (the struggle is far from over): this isn't really a victory. I don't want to be in this situation. I don't want to be dependent on the capriciousness of capitalism and the whims of its neo feudal aristocratic overlords. I remain at their suffrance and what they deign to giveth can justeth as easily be snatched back.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Still Going

I started this blog thinking I could do something useful, provide some decent citizen journalism, or at the very least offer something credible for, at the risk of stroking my own ego, posterity. But in truth I have found it very difficult to keep up with my own standards. This is true of all the writing I engage in. It isn't that I don't enjoy it, or that I don't know how (YMMV), but that I just struggle to maintain the concentration. This is part of the problem, mental health-wise, that I have tried to address in recent years; all to no avail. Unfortunately it is simply perceived as an excuse by our society. In response to that, I offer none. I am what I am, and if that means I'm lazy then lazy I must be.

I was due to have a WCA on the 7th; instead I rang and said I couldn't go through with it and that they could pursue whatever consequences they saw fit. Curiously they offered me the opportunity to postpone the interview, which I did, though I'm not sure why. Apparently claimants have the right to a one-time 'no questions asked' postponement.

Today I received the new appointment, which is Monday the 27th at 9-40am. I can't say I'm looking forward to it. I don't really want to be sat in the waiting room, which I will be because one of their tactics is to deliberately keep 'customers' waiting. It's part of the assessment process. I don't want to be surrounded by strangers, and I don't want to the attention of staff like the receptionist who was present last time. Her attitude was thoroughly unpleasant and judgemental, with that permanent "I'm better than thou and I can barely tolerate your presence" attitude.

I also don't think I have a cat in hell's chance of passing a Work Capability Assessment. Amusingly I compare my chance to pass to my certainty that I will most assuredly struggle in a working environment. I believe that I need support, but support there is not.

I was supposed to have a Work Focussed (aren't they all?) Interview at the JC last Thursday. I didn't attend and again rang up saying that I wasn't going to attend and that whatever consequences were forthcoming I would accept. I've no wish to fight these people any more, I haven't the energy. I was offered a telephone appointment instead, which I took. It didn't go anywhere though. The guy was friendly enough and his attitude was sympathetic, to be fair, but what can he offer? What can he do? The system isn't designed to help or support people. He mentioned that I should write to my MP. But why; the guy is a Tory who voted to cut ESA by 30%. He wants me to court the attention of someone like that? Irony! That aside, all he could offer was to talk to colleagues in the Work Choices programme and that we would talk in a month. I did tell him that I had no chance of passing my WCA, so there's not much point. I guess we will find out, I saw no point in refusing to talk again.

Work Choices is another DWP programme, which immediately makes it suspect in my book, even though I don't' know it very well. It specifically targets people out of work for health reasons, but I can't see what it can offer. Ultimately it's going to be the same old same old, maybe with a slightly softer approach so as not to be seen as bullying the disabled. Not that bullying has ever been something the DWP has had a problem with. Who knows maybe they will have something unique to offer, but in terms of healthcare, mental health support, training, etc, none of it will meet the need. A little bit of 'confidence building', some box ticking, polishing up the old CV etc. Meaningless: no amount of polish will make my CV competitive, I haven't the experience, and, with a history of unemployment on grounds of mental health, there is precisely no chance of finding a job, never mind a decent one. That assumes I can tolerate the nightmare anxiety labyrinth that is Universal Jobmatch.

What future is there?

PS: I notice that comments are apparently being made, but they aren't showing up on this page, only the email notification. If I don't respond to anyone kind enough to comment, know that's the reason why.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Looking For A Job

I've no idea how I'm going to handle full time work, but as there is no way short of a miracle that I will pass another WCA, I have little choice. I'm not even sure of the point of attending and, given that I don't have three forms of ID (as required), I doubt I'll even get in the building. The receptionist at the place is a stone faced haridan who has a habit of deliberately making people wait - all part of the test no doubt.

Consequently - and for a long time now - I have been searching on the still-appalling Universal Jobmatch website. This site is so broken and so poorly designed as to be completely useless. In fact it's beyond useless to the point of actually being counter productive.

Nothing is stored correctly, adverts are mislabelled and misrepresented, out of date and in some cases, don't even provide the means to actually progress forward. I would have used the word apply, but since clicking the link takes you further down the rabbit hole of online recruitment website links, one after another, it would be erroneous to do so.

The overwhelming majority of adverts pertain to telesales in one form or another, often mislabelled as 'customer service' or even 'sales assistant'. So jobs that should be retail, which is the most likely gig I'm going to get, are never actually shop work. All of these jobs require someone that is committed to being a profit hungry sales jockey. That is most assuredly not me and there is no way on god'd green earth I can fake it. Nor should I have to, it's absurd to expect a successful labour market to be built on such mendacity.

One of the worst features of this site is that, instead of moving through the adverts as you click next page, it reshuffles the existing adverts. Consequently you just end up looking at the same adverts repeatedly. Given that most of them are the same kind of job, all mislabelled, it's like a terrible hall of mirrors where nothing is real. Since none of these agencies ever bother to respond to emails the whole thing, really, is a massive waste of time.

Of course the government won't give up this system any time soon. The contract may be up for renewal soon, but the site requires more than a change in ownership, it needs scrapping and a complete overhaul. It is utterly broken at the most fundamental level and functionally useless.

This just leaves dealing with jobs advertised in real space. Unfortunately this is no better. I saw that WHSmiths (do they still exist?) wanted part time staff (everything is part time). But the application requirements called for a five year checkable work history - for a job selling magazines and Top Gear dvd's! Hardly Fort Knox! Waterstones too had a couple of adverts; you might think they'd be a good place to work, but no. The first was for a 'bookseller barista'. Their shop now, inexplicably (though probably due to the exorbitant price of books these days), has a cafe and as such they need someone to man the espresso machine while on hand multitasking flogging paperbacks. Unfortunately, the barista required someone with coffee shop experience. Such is the nature of the job that it requires an exotic moniker to make it sound more exciting than the reality of making tea and serving it to yuppies at silly prices.

Annoyingly they also listed a vacancy that turned out instead to be a CV gathering exercise. I asked about the position (my CV is useless and I don't carry a copy around with me since there's no point). But they said that not only did they not actually have any vacancies at present, but they had lots of CV's on file anyway. What is the fucking point of that? Why even bother? I complained on social media, which of course is the equivalent of pissing into the wind. What can you do? Had I made a fuss in the shop it would have had the opposite effect.

The reality is that jobs like this, shops and business in the city, will get their staff from the local student population. I've no doubt they have similar adverts regularly placed in student unions and that loads of kids, who make ideal part time staff (the least likely to complain about shit terms and conditions as well), will give their CV's in. You can see this in the make up of the staff in these places. Someone like me doesn't stand a chance.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Top Down Reform of the NHS In Action

No top down reform, that's what the liars in the Tory party said before the collective herd of ignorant ill informed morons that voted for them managed to enable a coalition. 

Five years later, and a change in the face at the Department of Health, and it's another set of treacherous promises, all designed to obfuscate the truth. This time it's all about a seven day NHS. This against a backdrop of, amongst many things, increased difficulty getting a routine GP appointment.

So the privatisation of the NHS is going well.

I've just been to my local surgery, in person, to try and book an appointment. Ordinarily this is difficult enough, thanks to the Coalition's decision to turn PCT's into private enterprises and give a bunch of local autocrats the power to do as they please. My surgery has, apparently for a month now, only been open in the morning. Staffing issues is the reason, despite their being enough staff every time I have visited prior. We have always had a surgery here, for as long as I can remember.

The real reason for this, I suspect, is that the programme manager, along with a number of the senior doctors, are more interested in their private business, 'Work Doctors'. They are supposed to be working for the NHS, for the community, as is the local surgery. However ever since our local surgery lost it's two long standing doctors to retirement, they have struggled. Merging with a neighbouring practice, against a backdrop of Coalition changes, has created a piss poor provision run by these people. Appointments with my GP are impossible at the best of times with waiting times running into hours. Now it is impossible to be seen here except in the mornings. What makes this worse is that I have to compete (yay capitalism!) with those patients from the neighbouring cohorts who also want to be seen. 

This is disgusting. This morning I received notification that I have a Work Capability Assessment on the 7th of June. This is not something I have been looking forward to. My attempts to get a diagnosis for any of the issues that I face have comprehensively failed. My last appointment with the aforementioned GP got nowhere, as usual. In fact, the evidence I presented to support my case for a successful Aspergers diagnosis, have disappeared into an administrative black hole (ie, they lost the paperwork I gave them, which will not be easily replaced in a hurry). It's a farce at this point and it's long since past the point where I feel they stopped taking me seriously. 

My attempts to address the metabolic problem - whatever the fuck it is - that has plagued me for over a decade have similarity met with no success. All of these are, IMO, valid issues to raise at a WCA, but without supporting evidence (never mind an actual diagnosis of some kind), there is little point in me attending. Not only that but to even be allowed to proceed with the assessment three forms of ID are required in lieu of a passport (i don't own one, nor am I legally olibagated to). I don't think I have anything beyond a tatty (at this point) birth certificate and a bank statement - and I sure as shit don't want them having access to what's on there. You can't trust these filth with anything.

So there it is. That's the state of support for people like me. As ever I stress there are plenty of people far worse off than I, though I shouldn't need to mention that since I am not against the divide and rule tactics that the ruling elite employ. Everyone who needs support should get support. At the moment there is nothing. In fact even the appalling Universal Jobmatch has proved to be not just a haven for shitty/funny adverts, but is so dysfunctional as to be completely useless. 

There is, quite simply, no future.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

From the Office Of... 2

(This too precedes the resignation of a certain appalling senior Tory...)

So I received a letter in respect of my email to the local Tory overlord regarding the plan, now implemented it seems, to cut ESA for those in the WRAG by 30%. This cut reduces ESA to the same amount as JSA. The reasoning of course is pernicious: despite these people establishing their case as being unfit for work they are still regarded as being capable of work. I have spoken about this before; the WRAG is just spin because the government still regards these people as being fit for work and capable of 'work related activity', despite being medically found otherwise. Really there should be no need for an WRAG, but the distinction is made because the government feels these are people that can be cured somehow. Even then it goes on, as I say, to disregard their problems.

This time, the response was more than an email. I got a letter with a six page attachment from the Employment Minister - the awful tobacco lobbyist Priti Patel (it really is!). Before I dissect what she says, I will address what the my MP had to say, which, unsurprisingly, isn't very much.

Essentially he makes two points, both of which are bullshit, indicative of the huge disconnect between the Tories and not just the rest of society, but the systems they assume control of.

Firstly he shares the above assumption that ESA WRAG claimants:

"are (by definition) able and expected to look for work."

He hopes I will agree. I do not. These are people that have passed a test, a notoriously onerous and prejudiced test, establishing they have difficulties regarding being able to work. All you are doing is dismissing the problems these people have; this is pure cynicism. This is how you whitewash disability in a capitalist market and this is how you empower divide and rule.

People in the WRAG are not able. They are meant to be placed in this group if their problems are known to be curable (which begs a whole series of other questions). Even the acronym is pernicious: Work Related Activity Group.

The second point made by the local fuhrer asks:

"It's also worth noting that, even though the Lords were happy to vote against their change, they have been strangely silent on how they'd pay for the enormous increase in spending which it would require."

The last part begs the question, but that aside we all know that this can easily be paid for. This doesn't even warrant discussion; the Tories have borrowed beyond even the last government. They've repeatedly peddled austerity and yet cut taxes for those that can afford them and who already receive massive subsidies and benefits. Yes, we can afford this; we have to because these are people that need to be supported if we are to even pretend to be a civilised society.

So there are two (two seems to be the numerical them thus far) conclusions I draw:

1. Support is cut from those who need it most by those with no right to do so. Then, it is argued, that said support cannot be afforded. Given the decision is arbitrary and made without evidence it is akin to burning someone's home and then arguing that repair or replacement cannot be afforded.

2. The WRAG should enable those with 'curable' conditions to receive adequate support, free from constraint or unreasonable demand, such as expectations of recovery made without due care. Instead the conditions experienced by those within are used as weapons against them.

As I mentioned, his response included a six page load of Tory hogwash from the Minister of Employment (it really does). To be honest, most of what she says you've already heard since my MP ultimately agrees with it and summarises it. But there are some parts worthy of note:

The system should not support lifestyles or rents not available to the taxpayers who pay for that system.

Well isn't that handy; eviscerate people's wages and then complain about all those scroungers living it up with their plasma screens and their brand name shoes. Or, consider that the Tories vote for inexplicable and unjustifiable pay rises themselves and apply the same standard...

I believe that it is only fair that those whoa re capable of taking steps to prepare for work receive the same rate of income-replacement benefits as out of work claimants.

Huh? I personally don't care what YOU believe. You were not put into power to materialise your beliefs (though that's just being naive, since that's precisely how representative parliamentary democracy works and why I no longer support it). Not the phrase 'prepare for work'; a nebulous phrase that the reader is encouraged to view as synonymous with looking for work. But it's not the same thing at all and, fundamentally, I do not see any justification of the proposition. Why should such people - again, these are people that are sick and cannot currently work - be arbitrarily financially deprived? Where is the evidence that cutting their income helps them?

I can also confirm that claimants in the ESA WRAG will not be required to carry out the same job seeking activities as a Job seekers Allowance claimant as a result of the is change. However, claimants in the WRAG will continue to be required to undertake work related activity. There is a great deal of flexibility in the types of work related activity that claimants may be asked to participate in and activities must be appropriate and reasonable for each individual claimant taking into account their circumstances.

Unfortunately we know this is bullshit; at best ESA claimants will be required to do exactly the same as JSA. Not least of all because the JC+ and it's allies have not the first clue how to provide a more nuanced and suitable service. Anyone who complains or fails to meet the burden they are set will of course be sanctioned. This is just rhetoric.

It is time to think about how we can improve the way people are assessed for sickness benefits that is less 'binary' and more positive in looking at what people can do and the support they will need to do it.

Sounds wonderful. Sadly that ideal is far from where we are right now. When I was on the Work Programme what I was interested in was completely ignored and mention of mental health immediately dismissed by someone with no idea what he was talking about whatsoever.

Your constituents (sic) particularly mention the difficulties people with mental health conditions face with entering employment (sic). We know that 47 per cent of all ESA claimants have a mental health condition as their primary barrier to work. Being out of, or away from, work can not only sustain the symptoms of a mental health condition but also reinforce negative views about capability and future prospects.

This is capitalist thinking at its most sinister and most ignorant. The reality is that it is not being away from work that is the problem since that begs the question, what is meant when we talk about work. It is being away from community, society and the ability to flourish as fulfilled human beings. Work - of the correct kind - can be part of this. So what is work? It is that which fulfils us and improves society, either adding to knowledge, culture or understanding. But there are further questions about the nature of that work: do people need to be driven away from family and community in economic cages like battery chickens merely to produce profit, keeping nothing they create so as to enrich another? I do not agree.

Mental health is incredibly complex and poorly understood at best. Capitalism only exacerbates those environments that alienate us and so her spiel is idle rhetoric, and ultimately dangerous.

We also know that previous schemes did not do enough for disabled people including those with mental health issues. This is why the Work Programme focuses on giving some of the hardest to help people two years of support as it can be a real struggle to get back into work.

And yet it has proven, as was inevitable, to be a dismal failure that has succeeded only in enriching private sector parasites and sub contractor agencies who are as ticks on the public purse. The Salvation Army, of whom I see no evidence they are in any way suited to this kind of endeavour (beyond a few choice bible verses), were not even the primary provider for me. They subcontracted from 'Rehab Jobfit'. They were the people I was assigned to and yet all they did was sell my contract to the Salvation Army.

Is that the kind of support the Tories mean?