Mar 172015

Today, the Guardian published an interview of Rachel Reeves, in which she says of the Labour party: “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,……. Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

This is a huge disappointment for those who had been expecting the Labour party to take a principled stand against what the Coalition is doing to unemployed and disabled people who cannot work, lone parents, carers and pensioners who rely on benefits and to voice their concerns and anger.

Forget it. The Labour Party does not represent you.

But that is not even the worst. Rachel Reeves seems to think that you cannot be claiming benefits and working at the same time, although some disability benefits like the Independent Living Fund, Disability Living Allowance,Personal Independence Payment and Access to Work are designed precisely with this in mind. All parents raising children are entitled to Child Benefit, although it is now mean-tested. Do we have to assume that Rachel Reeves will forfeit her allowance when she has her baby? Should we assume that neither David Blunkett nor Ann Begg had or have to rely on some form of disability benefits to support them in their Parliamentary life?

Is the assumption that claiming benefits only happens to others, slightly apart from the rest of the human race, and who don’t deserve to be represented although they are already the most politically marginalised and unrepresented group?

Maybe before speaking, Reeves should have had a chat with Yvette Cooper. Yvette Cooper could have told her that when she was struck by ME, she had to claim disability benefits during six months because she was too sick to work. She was lucky to totally recover after 4 years, but when she needed it, the state was there to support her, and I am not sure she would have been very pleased to be told at the time that her own party did not represent her anymore because she could not work. (see below for more information)

Rachel Reeves made a huge faux-pas today, which might not gain the Labour Party any extra votes from the Tory party, but which has lost for Labour the last hopeful voters who still believed that the Labour Party was the party of compassion and solidarity and who discover that it has lost its soul.

On 21st October 2009 while Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper made the following statement to the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME. Of particular interest are Yvette Cooper’s comments about her uncertainty about if she would have qualified for ESA at the time, when she knew she was unable to work, and also a recognition all the way back in 2009, six years ago, that the WCA was flawed when dealing with fluctuating conditions.

I am happy to say a few things first. It is a pleasure for me to be here. Tony Wright MP and I first discussed setting up the all party group on ME back in 1998. I obviously have a strong personal interest in it, having been an ME sufferer back in 1993. I was off work for about a year. I had to work part time for a year or two after that, and then it was another couple of years before I stopped getting any relapses.

I obviously have a personal interest in this, and although it is true that I am the third Secretary of State to come before the group, I think I am probably the only Secretary of State from the Department for Work and Pensions who has actually claimed sickness benefits. As well as having statutory sick pay for six months, I also claimed what was then invalidity benefit for six months, before going back to work. I was lucky to have a supportive employer who allowed me to work part time — I worked alternate days, as that was the best way for me to do it when I started back at work — and who was very considerate when I had bad days. I am very conscious of the difficulties and challenges that people can face. That includes both those who have the condition and can work, although they can only work certain times and need it to be flexible — that was the position I was in for some time — and those people who cannot work at all.

I am happy to listen to the concerns that the group wishes to raise. I have also been through the new work capability assessment, from the point of view of how I felt and the condition that I had at the time. I know that I was not able to work; I was desperate to get back to work, but would I have passed the work capability assessment in terms of getting the ESA?

I have been through all those sorts of questions because I have a personal interest in it, but I am interested in hearing your views too.

We have done a lot of work to try to ensure that the whole approach to the employment support allowance takes account of fluctuating conditions and fatigue, not only inability to do things. It should look at those conditions where someone is able to do something, but it wipes them out for the rest of the day. It is not that someone cannot do a particular thing because they are incapable of doing it, but it wipes them out.

That must be taken into account in the assessment process. A lot of work has been done to try and do that, and to build that in to the assessment process. I obviously have personal experience of how that is going, but we are keen to keep trying to do that, and ensure that we respond to what I know is a difficult condition.

We are pleased to note that Yvette Cooper is restored to health, not only being able to hold down a demanding job, but also now having the spare energy to be able to run away from difficult questions about WCA:

Video courtesy of Kate Belgrave


[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 13:45

  19 Responses to “Official: People who don’t work, don’t matter to Labour”

  1. I feel like Patrick McGooghan – I am not a number… but I am a deposit for a new suit for my advisor !!!

    I’m not disabled yet, but have been told by a surgeon that I have two operations to both ankles that are imminent and I need to rest, otherwise it will lead to the fusing of the tibula and fibula on both. I was given a sickline to back this up and told to only leave the house when necessary.
    Five months later, was called before ATOS; not only was the whole interview fabricated (eg. “He kept up with me, walking at normal pace” – nope, got lost twice as she had disappeared from sight), but the “Healthcare professional” didn’t have a clue how to undo a surgical support “moon” boot. So, she declared me fit.
    Walked into Job Centre – “Why are you here ? It’s obvious you cannot work”… then
    Got referred to Igneus – total time spent across 3 visits (about 10 minutes); the last visit – The “advisor” was swinging on his seat, wearing his expensive suit (obviously paid for by the unemployed), points his finger and says, “Got you a job in McDonalds working in the Kitchen. Take it or your sanctioned”; So, mentioned that amongst other jobs, including Admin, Supervisory, Engineering (Software, Mechanical, Gas), that he could have got from my CV – IF HE had read it with me (he didn’t) – why do you think I’m suitable for a fast food kitchen when I have the Boot and also a Walking stick for my other ankle – Job Centre told me to give you the choice – funny, was there 4 days ago and they didn’t, in fact they suggested University for IT Qualification.
    He then, sent me onto one of their courses, while sanctioning me (only found out when Housing Benefit was not paid this weekend). No letters, No Nothing.

    …. actually I might as well be number 6

    • you need to make a claim on grounds of nil income for HB. You need to conatact your local council to do this

      • The Labour Party do not deserve our support – they are an alternative party in name only – they subscribe to the same clueless attitudes as the Conservative Party. I am voting Green and if the Labour candidate loses I shall write to them and let them know why. The Labour Party have been hemorrhaging votes since the Iraq war and the Welfare cuts of Brown simply sped up their collapse. I for one am not prepared to prop up the labour carcass any longer! Voting for a party that promises to be harsh on unemployed people, will result in a government harsh on unemployed people. The Labour Party have not formed a left wing government in 36 years – and have no plans to start now!

  2. Paul Weaver waiting for a response from you as I have requested to be part of this group via the Green Party head office – the Green Party’s disability review will determine whether I stay or leave the party – I am at the moment hanging on by a thread because of the hyprocacy – i.e. ILF and assisted dying – Debbie and my issue. Supporting disabled students allowance for disabled students in HE but not disabled students rights to mainstream education in schools and colleges – where was Caroline Lacus when ALLFIE needed her to support our amendments to the Children and Families Act – did not even wanted to meet up with us – as disabled peoples lead organisation. You can find my email address via Alliance for Inclusive Education website – wait to hear from you. I was the former Green Party’s disability spokesperson – and I was the one who had to rewrite the whole of the social care policy and deal with a whole load of flack from Brighton Green Counselliors who wanted to retain the medical model of social care.

    • You’ll need to put that question to Caroline not DPAC, Simone

    • Simone,

      I will contact you directly on this matter as you have contacted me via email and answer your questions.

      Thank you for responding to me.

  3. The link between the un-disabled majority and us has been cut by over a decade of propaganda about ‘the disabled’ being scroungers and getting benefits we were not entitled to.

    With the rise in unemployment we were seen as ‘well off’ when our benefits were compared with the ‘deserving poor’.

    We are good managers of our money and can use benefits for things they were not intended for. i.e. DLA mobility can pay for internet and delivery instead of paid workers doing shopping. Many other ways of economising are used.

    The ‘luxury’ we experience cannot be allowed by any of the LibLabCon parties. We are to be forced into a servitude of provision. Shopping WILL be done by the workers provided by the Social Services; Transport WILL be provided by the Council and the LHAs; There will be NO freedom of choice, we will accept the ‘charity’ of the State or go without.

    If we take the choice of going without it will not end. Our struggles to overcome obstacles that the non-disabled cannot even imagine will be seen as ‘proof’ of not being ‘disabled’.

    Unless we can combat the change in attitudes we will return to the days of being ‘happy smiling cripples’ being grateful for the crumbs from the tables of our masters that have been paid for by us and generations of our families.

  4. I am convenor of the Green Party Disability Group and I invite you to join the Green Party of England and Wales as we believe in fighting for the rights of disabled people where ever they may be.

    The Green Party Disability Group is run by disabled members of the Party for disabled people so our experiences help with us understanding the needs of the dsiabled people in the Party and within our communities.

    Unlike the Labour Party once you are a member of the Green Party you can join our Disability Group for no additional membership fee.

    We listen to our members and fight with them for our common good.

    To join the Green Party go to

    And if you want further details, contact me on

    Our new website, a work in progress right now but does have some information on it is at

    • That’s great…but can you tell us why the Green party supports assisted suicide/dying which most disabled people see as a threat to their very existence. In these days of swinging cuts to support and increasingly negative attitudes towards disabled people it is surprising and shocking that the Green’s have not considered the ramifications of state sanctioned suicide/death for disabled people. We do not want or need assisted suicide or death,neither do the majority of the medical profession, so why do the Greens?

      • Debbie that is great – are you also going to tackle the Greens on why they support retaining the DSA but not support an inclusive education system – Green Party hyprocacy.

        • I think as part of ALLFIE you should- I am not a Green party member like you ,or a member of any political party

    • Splitting the vote away from labour in next election will just empower the tories. I voted green party at last election, because I was sick of labour, but realistically we have to vote the opposition to the tories that we think will get in.

  5. I think we have to take a leap of faith that no matter what labour might say now, once they get into power, they will remember that their support base is human rights, tories clearly don’t give a stuff about walking over people’s rights, but labour have a long history of claiming to represent the people. What might not be politically expedient to do now, might become more politically correct if labour gets into power, its not like we can do worse than having the tories in power, it’s just a crying shame that the tories have been able to get away with such a shameful display of calous disregard for the vulnerable people in our society.

  6. So what party for the Millions who have done their 35-40 years at the coalface.


  7. I take very little notice of Yvette Cooper, especially Yvette Cooper and ME. The hospital which took her in and helped her closed and that one resource saving lives closed without a whimper from her.

  8. Linked to and commented ” I feel there should be some deep thinking on the part of truly progressive and left wing MPs such as Michael Meacher and John McDonnell about what the correct course of action on their part should now be. Considering the more right leaning economic thinking from Labour is not going to be reversed unfortunately, perhaps the time is right for those who are principled elected representatives like them to take a stand and switch to a party which respects their views more or become independents, they certainly are not having much of an impact on today’s “Labour Party”.”

    • Do not forget that John McDonnell does not support inclusive education –

      • John McDonnell has been very supportive to disabled people and to DPAC. Have you tried talking to him on this? Cant believe he’d dismiss it

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