Sep 052013

Comment posted to Sue Marsh’s blog earlier from DPAC and Black Triangle

“We’re really unclear on what is happening here- Sue you are going to meet Hoban and claiming to represent ‘vulnerable’ disabled people, as you like to say-is this correct?  We are astonished at your lack of understanding on this whole area re WCA e.g.  no mention of  medical documentation support, number of deaths under this system, sanctions, legal cases that have been brought forward etc. You also consistently take a medical model approach to everything as well as claim expert status in speaking for disabled people. Although we are pleased that Phillip Jones strongly urged you to put out the survey which at least gives disabled people a say, but only those who read your blog…

We  and many others are surprised and saddened that you have not sought any contact with either DPAC or Black Triangle who have been working on this whole area for a number of years, Black Triangle especially are making great inroads into radical alternatives on this horrendous test –How you can still claim that tinkering with the WCA is the right option , we have no idea -you also claim to support both DPAC and Black Triangle  but we can no longer really believe this unfortunately-have you been totally unaware of the calls to scrap this and the many protests against this? This comment will be posted on the DPAC site should it fail to pass moderation, DPAC and Black Triangle”

We were sent links to this and the Guardian article by concerned supporters and need to add that we found the process to post a comment for those that do read and want to comment on this blog would be  inaccessible to many disabled people via the Google account option- didnt understand the other options

Sue Marsh’s blog for those that dont know about it is at

but you’ll need to be quick, apparently this meeting is on the 10th Sept

She has also written a Guardian piece:



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  44 Responses to “A Response to Sue Marsh on her meeting with Hoban from DPAC and Black Triangle”

  1. Sue Marsh is self-serving attention seeker – always has been, always will be.

    • “Sue Marsh is self-serving attention seeker – always has been, always will be.”

      How prophetic your comment was, in the light of her betrayal to Maximus. Sue Marsh is a ‘Glory hound’ and one disability activist (I know) had her number from the beginning. You didn’t have to be a forensic graphologist to be able to unravel her agenda.

      She thinks she’s sitting pretty at the moment, but, Maximus will chew her up and spit her out.

      I think her faithful followers that have attacked me and others on social media are in for a shock when they find out how Marsh is “representing” their interests.

  2. Dearie me. So much energy expended warring among each other. How pleased the DWP must be to see this! Let us in future remember that while we share the same enemy, we each of us fight our own war, and we do that in our own way. Let’s fight the enemy, not each other. Enough!

  3. When a person manipulates anything for their own good regardless of the majority,then we have the right to ask what is her real agenda. To even admit that you didn’t want a survey is admitting you want things your own way. Now i’m not saying shes a Tory,but she sure comes across like one.

    • Agreed, Fran.

      Nor do I have any faith in someone who has just declared on her Twitter account that she has “this odd hunch that Hoban isn’t all that bad underneath”. !!!! (Sue Marsh)

      One whiff of a cucumber sandwich and she’ll be signing her life-long Tory membership form.

      This is the person who wrote a blog ‘in praise of Ian Duncan Smith’ remember?

  4. Did any of you posting on this thread see Parliament this afternoon, when Sheila Gilmore raised several issues with Mark Hoban, re WCA? I do not know where Sheila gets her energy from, when she just repeatedly hits a brick wall. Mark Hoban even had advanced written notice of Sheila’s ‘speech’, and yet proceeded to demonstrate, as far as I could make out, that he wasn’t remotely interested in genuinely listening to any of the points made, never mind addressing them!!

  5. Well Sue doesn’t represent me. The good thing about DPAC is that they don’t even try to represent all us disabled people they get us all involved in representing ourselves. The steering group organise things like the week of campaigning we have just had but everyone can go or if not join in online. Here is a picture of the numbers of people waiting outside the too small room at the House of Commons when they presented the Disabled Peoples Manifesto on Wednesday.
    The room provided was too small because they didn’t realise so many disabled people were invited to represent ourselves not some jumped up self appointed leader like Sue who arranges her private meeting with the Tories and who as I say certainly does not represent me for a start…

    • Sue is an appeaser – she’s done it before and will do it again
      If you like that sort of behaviour then stick with her
      It is well nigh impossible to post on her site I don’t even bother trying anymore

  6. Jeez. I thought we were all in this together? What’s the matter with you? Are you jealous that she is the one that gets to talk to a minister, and you’re ignored? Oh do grow up. If this is the way DPAC and BT treat individual disabled activists I want no part of your petty organisations. Have a talk with yourselves and apologise to Sue. Your statement has made me so angry I am going to leave both your organisations. I’d rather stand side by side with Sue than with you.

    • we’ve all spoken to many ministers as well anyhow although I doubt if we’d want to speak to Hoban and sell people out by doing that.

    • Chris, you obviously know very little about the continuous hard work of DPAC and Black Triangle. They have been at the forefront of lobbying and researching and reporting disability issues. Not just direct action, although why some on here are condescending and judgmental about that I don’t know. DPAC are being misrepresented and demonised here just for wanting accountability!!

      If you really want a hierarchical, hero-based disability movement, where one person behaves as if they have single-handedly achieved reforms on the behalf of supine, gullible ‘followers’, then carry on supporting Sue Marsh and her like. If you want an inclusive. democratically accountable movement that fairly represents the concerns of disabled people then you know who you should support.

  7. I am very disappointed by this. Why didn’t you talk to Sue instead of publishing this?
    Disabled people are not a single group with the same needs and issues, but at least we can try to work together over something as important as the WCA without giving them ammunition to ignore us. If we publish statements saying that Sue doesn’t represent us (all) then they can and will use that to ignore all of us.

    I was a senior manager in the civil service and had a lot of experience working with Ministers – and Sue is right that any meeting which just opposes them will not happen, or if it does will not achieve anything.

    As for that survey – Sue agreed to post it, but as I pointed out it was biased. (My profession in the CS was Statistician.) With more time I’m sure there could have been more consultation and a better way to collate people’s views – but at least the meeting gives a chance for someone to try to persuade them it really isn’t working. And more importantly, if they ignore a reasoned approach – this could have led to more good publicity for us.

    • We tried to post on the blog , as said numerous times-our comment wasnt published. Have contacted Sue on twitter who said she would send both DPAC and BT an email: we dont have them-The blog post asked for feed-in we gave it. The WCA should be scrapped, I also completed the survey saying this as did others. Not sure why we’re being demonised here. If 81% of survey respondents said scrap the WCA this whole set of comments are amazing. We have also been blocked from Facebook by people. If this is the idea of democracy and ‘feed-in’ then heaven help any one who dares to dissent. We look forward to the outcome of this meeting , but can already predict it-reform doesnt work, it hasnt worked, Harringtons recommendations were not taken up, Atos, Hoban and the rest are playing the game and will say disabled people do not want the WCA scrapped-so much for feed-in then, as for all uniting under this notion of ‘tinkering’ with the WCA -well isnt that exactly what this Gov wants?

      • I couldn’t post on the blog for months – I let Sue know and she asked me to send comments in separately.

        Nothing Machiavellian – my browser and security settings weren’t compatible with their settings. .

    • If you are a senior manager, you would not take too lightly that the figures quoted as people wrongly found fit for work in the Guardian article are 150,000 people when the people who actually won their appeals is 231,293. Do not you think that DWP would have noticed?
      We need people who understand the figures. It is not a personality issue or a question of who gets to meet Hoban. It is about putting the right case to Hoban, or to not do it because he will not listen as he did not listen to Sheila Gilmore today. The whole argument about scraping the WCA is based on the fact that any improvement suggested and implemented until now has not led to any improvement in statistics or claimants experience.

      • I don’t take the figures lightly (although sometimes I’m not well enough to check them all). I’ve reported DWP and its Ministers a few times.
        I also flag up the ‘errors’ and ‘misleading’ statements repeated in the media whenever and wherever I can.

        BTW I am no longer a serving CS, otherwise I’d be still gagged.

  8. If she doesn’t want us to be divided then she shouldn’t have agreed to such a ridiculous undemocratic meeting in the first place and if she is going then at least ask representatives from DPAC and Black Triangle to go to the meeting as well. At least the Disabled Peoples Manifesto presented in the House of Commons only on Wednesday is a solid piece of work by DPAC and others not a sell out for reforms we don’t even want.

  9. If you’re an activist you need to know this is how established institutions & govts divide & conquer to maintain control, this strategy is used throughout govt & corporate sphere to deal with activists and campaigns:

    Divide & Rule Lessons
    …strategy put forth by the public relations spy firm Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin (MBD).

    Ron Duchin graduated from the US Army War College, and served as special assistant to the Secretary of Defence and director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) before joining Pagan International and then MBD. In 1991 he gave a speech to the US National Cattlemen’s Association describing how MBD works to divide and conquer activist movements. Duchin explained that activists fall into four categories: radicals, opportunists, idealists and realists, and that a three-step strategy was needed to bring them down. First, you isolate the radicals: those who want to change the system and promote social justice. Second, you carefully ‘cultivate’ the idealists: those who are altruistic, don’t stand to gain from their activism, and are not as extreme in their methods and objectives as the radicals. You do this by gently persuading them that their advocacy has negative consequences for some groups, thus transforming them into realists. Finally, you co-opt the realists (the pragmatic incrementalists willing to work within the system) into compromise. “The realists should always receive the highest priority in any strategy dealing with a public policy issue . . . If your industry can successfully bring about these relationships, the credibility of the radicals will be lost and opportunists can be counted on to share in the final policy solution.” Opportunists, those who are motivated by power, success, or a sense of their own celebrity, will be satisfied merely by a sense of partial victory.

    • Thank you for this Martin – an extremely important piece of knowledge for all social justice movements that needed to be said. I’ve seen exactly what you’ve quoted here happen time and time again. I wish more people could understand that this happens.

    • It works both ways; those thinking they have co-opted others often end up co-opted themselves. Being aware of these strategies, and engaging critically, is useful. Refusing to engage by making unrealistic demands is not, unless you have a genuine chance of mobilising a large number of people to genuinely threaten the power of those in charge. Disabled and sick people don’t have this chance in the current social and political context. We have to suit our methods to our strengths and our weaknesses, and we have to take a decades-long view of this battle, because it is a long one.

  10. I don’t always agree with Sue but I respect what she does. I also have huge respect for both Sam Barnett-Cormack and Stef Benstead. Between them, and Sue, they are extremely able people with a good understanding of the issues in a wider context. Let’s not undermine them, but support them. I know they will do their very best to achieve what they think may be achievable; that has to be a great deal better than nothing.

    I hate the WCA and want it scrapped. But we must be realistic. If Sue goes in to the meeting with Hoban, all guns blazing, and insists the WCA must be scrapped, she’ll achieve nothing – apart from a reputation for being totally unreasonable. However, if she goes in with a set of reasonable requests, which will improve the WCA whilst we still have it, that’s much, much better than not going at all, because the outcome could be that a number of ESA claimants will have a fairer, more accurate assessment and get the support they need – at least in the short term.

    So I think people should consider, reasonably, what they really want. If you want to achieve nothing, at least in the short term, insist the WCA is scrapped and refuse to compromise. Let’s face it, neither the WCA nor the Bedroom Tax are in the same league as the poll tax. We won’t see huge numbers of non-disabled people going onto the streets to protest, because they’re not affected. There’s precious little altruism and idealism in this country nowadays. Since Thatcher, we’ve had an “every man for himself” culture in the UK. It’s not right, but it’s where we are.

    So yes, we could all just demand the WCA is scrapped but, sadly, if that’s our only demand, we’re likely to achieve very little in the short term. On the other hand, if we make reasonable requests, we may get some worthwhile changes. That’s the difference between pragmatism and idealism, in relation to campaigning and lobbying. We’re all idealists, but if that’s the only mode in which we’re prepared to operate, we’re unlikely to make a difference. So we have to resort to pragmatism; to be willing to achieve small improvements whilst making it very clear that our ideal outcome is total abolition.

    Do I like having to be pragmatic? No, I don’t. Do I want to fight for small concessions? Not really, because they’re not the whole job. But do I think we can achieve some improvements if we make reasonable requests? I think we can, because that approach opens the door to engagement and builds respect. Sometimes you have to be prepared to compromise, to help some people as an alternative to helping everyone. Because if we only go for total abolition, we won’t take opportunities to achieve small improvements and are likely to achieve nothing.

    The high profile, direct action that DPAC and BT undertake is important. It is an essential complement to the considered, pragmatic negotiation that others do. But if we start fighting amongst ourselves and refuse to respect each other’s strengths, we weaken all our campaigning and negotiations. The Government would prefer us to be divided, so we must be careful about the extent to which we criticise each other in public, because that just plays into the hands of those who want us to fail. And we want to win!

    • Excellent post Jane, totally agree with every word.

    • Agreed.

      It would just be making things too easy for Hoban, by giving him and ‘out’ where he can dig in his heels and pontificate about refusing to be ‘bullied’ by ‘extremists’,

      On the other hand, if reasonable concessions are asked for and refused (for example to stop putting those with progressive conditions into WRAG – as currently occurrs in 45% of cases), it can only damage Hoban’s image and show him up to be unreasonable, bigoted and inhuman.

      Unless Hoban wants to hand this kind of ammunition to disability campaigners, he will have to give ground – and this could save lives, as well as helping to erode the ESA/WCA travesty.

    • Damned with faint praise! I don’t see that DPAC and Black Triangle are counterposed to the ‘considered’ negotiation of Spartacus at all. That’s to imply that Spartacus take a better route and that other groups don’t produce considered reports and that’s not true. Michael Meacher, in the 30 minute adjornment debate, gave Spartacus the best PR they could ever have: totally overestimating their reach, their support and their influence.

      Spartacus are a tiny group of self publicists. They speak for no-one. They are not an organisation, they are totally undemocratic and without any accountability. They will glory-hunt for whatever they can attach their name to to get some reflected kudos and they will appropriate the real work of disabled people in the process.

      Unfortunately Sue is now some sort of sacred cow and everyone in the disability movement is aware that to attack her would result in damage to the movement as a whole. But movements get the ‘leaders’ they deserve: in this case, self-serving and arrogant. It’s not that long ago that Sue posted a blog claiming the WCA was vastly improved.

      Spartacus needs to improve its own accountability and democratic principles before it claims to be the voice of reason or to ‘represent’ disabled people.

    • What Jane Young says in spades.

      I don’t just want one disabled people’s campaigning group or collective. I *like* that there are different approaches which suit different people’s activism energy (cos I dunno about you guys, but mine’s seriously limited) and take different angles.

      There’s merit in being able to say “deal with US, or deal with those OGRES over there” as a political strategy – more than one can play divide and rule.

      Sue and Spartacus et al do policy wonking which makes my brain hurt with the longword but I respect it hugely and contribute what I can (from my armchair).

      DPAC and Black Triangle do direct action and radical politics which I can’t do for spoons reasons but I support just as much and am looking at how I can support more.

      Each of those processes and types of activism are worth doing and should co-exist as much as possible. Ideally neither would need to exist for disabled people but we all know how hideously far we are from the ideal.

      In reality we don’t have the public support to overthrow the WCA or even the government. Badgers get more support, protest attendance and media attention than we do. That’s a reality we have to operate in. Some people are turned off by direct action but attracted to political wrangling; others are turned off by political wrangling and find direct action attractive.

      There is more than one way to achieve our goal.

    • Sue

      The Work that DPAC & Black Triangle do is of huge importance, tinkering with the WCA is in my opinion a complete waste of time, it needs to be SCRAPPED NOW?

      I had campaigned over the issue of Recording WCA Assessments for several years, I’ve had meeting with politicians etc but am not so visible as many groups, what angers me is that certain individuals and that includes Sue ask for support but do NOT reciprocate that support?

      In the very begining of the WOW organisation starting I was contacted and asked If I’d support the organisation, I put up loads of stuff on my website, their logo, general info, contact det Sueails etc, after initial contact from them I never heard from them again, they never showed my organisation any support whatsoever, the idea that where all in this together is laughable to me and very sad.

      I support certain groups because of their aims, I support BT/DPAC because I think they’re the most honest about their aims, I’m afraid Sue and others I do not trust as much, I honestly think they like the TV and media appearances too much for my liking?

      Oh and for anyone who thinks I’m jelous about that I’m not, anyone who knows me or anything about me know’s I vary rarely speak to the media as I have an inherent distrust of them, I’m constantly asked by press.TV, Radio Newspaper etc to do various things but I refuse to use the media unless it’s on MY TERMS.

      Thanks to DPAC and Black Triangle for doing everything they do, you have my support for what it’s worth….

  11. ££ All i need to say

  12. No amount of reforms will make it right. It should be scrapped. I tried to write this on her blog but couldn’t log in and she is claiming people are voting more than once to fiddle the results of the poll. She didn’t even want to do the poll and is claiming she has the majority of opinions on her side. She sounds really dodgy to me. Apparently a lot of disabled people cannot log on to her blog either. At least DPAC and Black Triangle don’t toady up to Tory ministers. Probably she is trying to get some kind of well paid appointment from the Condems and sell out the disabled people she is claiming to help……

    • You obviously don’t care about the suffering people are going through at the moment if you don’t want any changes made to WCA. You just want it scrapped and I say you are living in a dream world if you think that is going to happen anytime soon, meanwhile the suffering continues. Don’t know why you can’t log into Sue’s blog, there are no problems with it, I’ve logged in several times today to make comments. I checked to see if you could vote more than once on the poll and you can, I was able to vote twice. Sue didn’t have to do a poll because she asked for comments on her blog and there are plenty there to work with. She is absolutely not claiming any majority of opinions, you are making things up now an,d quite frankly, your final comments are quite nasty and you sound extremely dodgy to me.

      • @Kat, I think that’s a pretty untenable claim for you to make about Jill ‘not caring about the suffering people are going through’, and a very nasty ad hominem fallacy. It’s clear Jill DOES care – the only difference is that she thinks a different strategy is needed to rectify the situation to the strategy you advocate. I think Sue has got it wrong on this occasion too, and yes my strategies, like others, are different to hers.

        I think everyone who is attacking DPAC and the Black Triangle here need to read Martin Bezzel’s comment here on this comments page. Sue I think is walking into a ‘divide and rule’ trap by setting herself up as the ‘reasonable stateswoman against the mean extremists’ which is in effect what she is doing – though she may not necessarily understand this is happening. A meeting with Mark Hoban was always going to be like bargaining with an anaconda anyway.

        • But surely while Spartacus is willing to take the political path of negotiation and DPAC are adamantly calling for the whole hog demolition of WCA then both parties can continue to work towards the ultimate goal?

          DPAC can push at the mountain and Spartacus (not Sue Marsh as a person) can chip away one rock at a time.

    • No, I am sure she is not a secret Condem agent – but I think your post will aid the Condems. They are very good at the divide and rule technique.

      As for that survey, she was persuaded to post it, but it was so biased I wish she hadn’t. It is difficult to write good neutral survey questions without experience, but this particular example, even though well-meant, led the respondents to one of the options.

    • I will only comment here to set facts straight. 4 people have told me they were able to vote twice on the survey. It is badly worded and leading. No-one has the right to tell other groups what they can and can’t campaign on. I’ve NEVER criticised BT or DPAC or any other group, however much I may have occasionally disagreed with their approach.

      I claim to represent no-one but those who identify with the Spartacus campaign. Those very personal attacks here that criticise me personally choose to forget that Spartacus is a group of many campaigners, unpaid for any of their work, they ask nothing from supporters but time. Hundreds produce our research and thousands support our campaigns. 10,000 people read my blog every day and thousands more read WeRSpartacus. Making this about me is cruel and wrong. It’s like blaming only Linda or John publicly for DPAC/BT policy

      I DID ask BT and DPAC to feed into this (on twitter) I ALWAYS do though they have rarely accepted. I linked to their week of protest and urged people to take part. Anyone at all was welcome to give their view on my site as I explained and there are absolutely no comments in moderation or deleted by me from the thread. I cannot see any comment DPAC claimed to have made before they decided to write this publicly. They’ve often criticised me publicly, even when I’m not involved (as with the Labour taskforce) but I have not resorted to public divisions.

      I had not posted the issues we would discuss with Hoban when you wrote this, yet you criticise me for ignoring important issues!!! I have posted them today. They include issues YOU’VE all campaigned very hard on – why did you campaign for recording every WCA for instance if you now don’t want that to happen?

      Finally, you say you tried to post to my blog but couldn’t which is why you posted here. Why couldn’t you email? You have my address and we’ve all been in contact before? Why did BT ignore the fact I asked for the MHRN details so that I could contact them ahead of the meeting and take their views forward too – did they forget that? BT were publicly unhappy with my Guardian piece too but failed to explain to their Facebook members why.

      Hundreds of people were upset by this yesterday, it achieved nothing. If you hate what I’m doing in future, perhaps you will at least give me the right of reply privately first, before you air our dirty linen in public and give politicians every reason to laugh at our chaos and dismiss us.

  13. Yes, I want WCA scrapped, I want ATOS sacked, IDS sacked and this government out. I hate what they are doing to us. None of what I want is likely to happen today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month, but Sue has a chance to talk to those nasty people and maybe make a small change. Refusing to talk at all until they agree to all our demands is not negotiation, it’s utter foolishness; more people will continue to die, more people will continue to have their lives destroyed.
    What’s your alternative? When will it happen? When are you meeting with representatives of the government to discuss WCA? When would you ask me your opinion on what to push for?
    This is exactly what Thatcher did with the miners – divide and rule. Instead, you’re doing it. Please stop. Thank you.

  14. I think there may have been a misunderstanding about why ministers grant meetings and what they’re for. Politicians in government do not grant meetings to people who are calling for their policies to be directly scrapped, unless there is some kind of revolution going on all over the country. Politicians grant meetings so that they can discuss whether some small concessions can be made to get the media off their back and enable them to claim that their overall policy has been implemented. With enough relentless pressure, it is possible to wear government down so that each meeting concedes a little more and a little more. This is Sue’s model of working, and this is why Sue has been given the meeting.

    DPAC’s calls to abolish WCA are important and much-needed, because they help to create a climate where it is recognised that the WCA isn’t going well. But DPAC is not going to get any meetings, because it is conducting this much louder form of protest.

    In the long term, calls to abolish WCA may well lead to its abolition, but only if some very big things change – like for example a new government – or if the constant engagement of people like Sue wears them down until policy looks almost indistinguishable from what most people wanted. Both strong calls for abolition, and engagement around compromise, are needed. What DPAC and Black Triangle are doing and what Sue is doing are both essential elements of getting real change for disabled people. Criticising each other makes no sense at all, please please stop it.

  15. I can understand the frustration, we all want WCA scrapped, but in reality is that going to happen anytime soon? Hoban is not going to say “OK then if you say everyone wants it scrapped, that’s what we’ll do”!

    Surely it is worth Sue Marsh trying to get improvements in the meantime – it doesn’t have to be “Either/Or” Why can it not be both?

    At least she has found a way to get to talk to him. Who else has?

    This is NOT the time to start fighting amongst ourselves!! Really. Divide and Conquer – it’s what they want.

    • Totally agree Bob.

    • To attempt any negotiation from a straight “No!” approach is not a negotiation and this government will simply throw you out of the door if you try to make a demand.

      If anyone could get ATOS and DWP to even abide by their own published guidelines it would be a major success. Hoban certainly isn’t going to simply confess his sins and ask forgiveness while stopping WCA’s.

      Sitting in front of a DWP minister is success enough. Getting them to see that they have lied and failed on Harrington would be a miracle. Scrapping WCA is just not going to happen.

  16. “Spartacus” have a track record of this kind of thing “Stolen Voices Silent Lies”.

  17. I am surprised and saddened to see a group such as DPAC attacking somebody who is trying to help people, somebody who has a lot of support for what she intends to do at the meeting. Perhaps you should go back and read both her blogs on this subject and then you might not be so confused. Would you also please remember that there are chronically ill people who Sue is also representing who want and appreciate her help. I am absolutely disgusted at all of this. Sue asked for peoples opinions, you are free to leave your opinion which is absolutely no more or less valid than anybody elses but please stop behaving like a spolit child, throwing your toys out of the pram because you can’t get your own way.

  18. Why are you surprised this self-important, media/attention seeking woman didn’t consult either of you? She and the other two groups (DPAC and Black Triangle) have failed to consult with any carer groups as well.

    You are all as bad as the government and ignore what we carers want to say. No wonder things are shite.

    Pot-kettle-black springs to mind.

    • Hello again, Clive DPAC and Black Triangle both work with carers and as I said before disabled people can be carers too

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