More dirty tricks from government over welfare reform?

The welfare reform bill is back in the House of Commons after 14:30 today as part of “ping-pong” between the Commons and the Lords, but you wouldn’t know it if you relied on the usual methods of finding out.

The last event for this bill was debate in the House of Lords on the 14th and I have been checking the Parliament website and waiting for an email to inform me of the next event for the bill, to no avail. Until this morning the order of business for the House of Commons simply said “Consideration of Lords amendments if necessary” and until a few minutes ago the official Welfare Reform Bill web page still said that the next event was “To be announced”.

WRB webpage shows next event TBA
The WRB webpage at 11:15 today


The order of business for today and the official website have finally been updated with very short notice for the debate. This matters because MPs don’t always attend debates – they have many other things to do in their offices and their constituencies or elsewhere.!/markmiwordsblog/status/171915754663444482

The agenda for today now includes:


Welfare Reform Bill – Consideration of Lords amendments”

And the website for the bill now says:

Next event

  • Ping Pong | 21.02.2012

An email has finally arrived in my inbox to inform me of this update. It carries a timestamp of 7:56 but it only turned up in the last half hour.

We have to ask why the announcement of this has been delayed until the day itself. Is this normal behaviour for Parliament? Or perhaps this is an effort to bury the bill in an effort to prevent MPs who plan to rebel from turning up?!/johnleechmcr/status/171897318671523840

With the government also having taken measures to limit the debate today to one single hour in total and with Lord Freud having previously re-amended the Lord’s amendments late at night after peers had gone home, my money is on the latter.

Here are the proposed amendments for today: Consideration of Lords Message – Welfare Reform Bill

Update: I received an email at 11:56 which carries another development. In addition to limiting the debate to a maximum of one hour the government have now grouped together all of the amendments and objections today into one vote. [PDF]

21 FEBRUARY 2012
Consideration of Lords Message
Government motion to disagree with Lords Amendments 3B and 26B + Government motion not to insist on Amendment 19A and to agree with Lords Amendments 17B to 17D and 19B + Government motion to agree with Lords Amendment 73BA

[1 hour after commencement.

21 February 2012

By Order of the Speaker

Lessons from a troll

My experiences in the last couple of days have highlighted a few things.

It is hard to tell the different between someone who is saying things just to provoke you (a troll) and someone who genuinely believes what they are saying and is trying to convince you. Sometimes they believe what they are saying but are still trying to provoke a reaction for their own amusement. Indigo Jo Blogs sets out a case that this kind of trolling is simply bullying in RIP trolling isn’t the worst kind. Some people are of the opinion that telling people with M.E. that their illness isn’t real and that they don’t deserve help is actually gaslighting – a form of abuse through making people doubt their own minds. This kind of approach seems common in politics as Lisa Ansell wrote in Trolling as political debate.

Many on the right of politics believe that welfare should not exist. Instead they believe that individuals should have savings and pay for their own insurance privately to cover them against unemployment and being unable to work through illness and disability, and for healthcare. The problems with this approach are many but it seems impossible to convince proponents of the idea that it will lead to suffering and homelessness, or perhaps they just don’t care about that.

There is still a big problem with people believing that ME and Fibromyalgia are somehow not real or are minor or trivial. This has been fuelled by articles and blog posts from tabloid papers. Both are defined as neurological physical diseases by the World Health Organisation but this is irrelevant in deciding if they are real anyway – even if they were caused by mental health problems at the core they would still be just as disabling. It is an absurd suggestion that anyone would want M.E. or would voluntarily stay in bed for most or all of the day, every day, in isolation, or voluntarily use a wheelchair or a walking stick all the time when going out. These would be stupid things to inflict on yourself for the benefits available, if you even manage to get them.

Some people seem to believe that if they can work through their illness or disability then anyone who does not work must simply not be trying hard enough. They seem to have no understanding that the amount a person is affected by a particular health problem can vary massively between different people and different problems. It seems inconceivable to them that an invisible illness could be more disabling in its effects than a cancer or surgery of some sort. They think that particular health problems, like cancer and chemotherapy treatment, are the ultimate in human suffering and that nothing else can be worse. I know a few people on chemotherapy and I know that it is a horrific experience, but it isn’t the only thing that can make someone so sick – especially if someone is on a low dose.

I captured some of what was said to me recently using Storify, embedded here. (Click here if it doesn’t show below after a few seconds.) Warning, it does contain strong swearing on my part where I got too frustrated to hold back.

Continue reading “Lessons from a troll”

Welfare Reform Bill protest news links

A wheel and a foot with a chain across them

Yesterday’s protest went amazingly well. I’m not functioning enough to write much about it yet, but here are some news links. I will add more as I find them. Please sign the petition to stop and review the welfare reform bill and read Why I protested [My own blog]


Mainstream media

Disabled people protest at Welfare Reform Bill [BBC video]

Protesters show anger over Welfare Reform Bill [BBC]

Campaigners protest in London over disability cuts [BBC Breakfast video]

BBC Radio news headlines [BBC London 94.9 FM] (Jump to 57 minutes)

Disability campaigners stage central London protest against welfare reforms [Guardian with video]

Disabled bring Oxford Circus to a halt in welfare cuts demonstration [Mirror]

Wheelchair users chain themselves together and blocked central London over welfare cuts [Mail on Sunday]

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street [Sky News]

Disability campaigners occupy Oxford Circus [ITN Video]

The demonisation of the disabled is a chilling sign of the times [The Observer]

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street [LBC]


Blogs and photos

Activists join together to fight ConDem attacks on the disabled [Indymedia]

stop the welfare bill – civil disobedience [Indymedia] Great report with lots of photos

Disabled People’s Protest In Oxford Circus [Personal report from Pseudodeviant]

“Because I’d rather die than go back into an institution”  [Benefit Scrounging Scum]

An ‘amazing success’ – disabled protest blocks Oxford Circus [Coalition of resistance]

I’d Rather Die Than Go Back Into An Institution [CWU Northwest]

Disabled people lead central London blockade in Welfare Benefits protest [Ekklesia]

Photo sets: Demotix1 Demotix2 DPAC [Flickr]


We also got some attention from a Tory Basildon Councillor.!/CllrMackenzie/status/163239121161175040

And a great reply from @pseudodeviant!/pseudodeviant/status/163266240213811200


Responsible Reform report media roundup

The Responsible Reform report on the replacement of DLA by PIP has slowly been gaining media attention. Here are some of the appearances that I know of.

Sue Marsh on BBC Radio 5 with Maria Miller, minister for disabled people

Sue Marsh on BBC Newsnight with Chris Grayling, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions

Note that what Chris Grayling said here was untrue.

Baroness Meacher on BBC News

Margo Milne on talkSPORT radio

Kaliya Franklin on Technical Difficulties, Resonance FM

A transcript is available at Indigo Jo Blogs.

Latentexistence on The Pod Delusion, also Resonance FM (Starts at 9:36)

A transcript is available on my previous blog post.

Sue Perkins on The News Quiz on Radio 4 (Starts at 8:44)

The News Quiz on iPlayer

More stuff:

For many links to articles around the web please see  the “all big ideas start small” blog.

Read the report:

Sign the petition: