Is there no vulnerability too profound to elude the attentions of the spin meister of Labour list – one Mark Ferguson? Should I really be expecting a higher standard from the Editor of a rag started by Dolly Draper, aided and abetted by Damian McBride…?
Yesterday he took a small faux pas by the Mother of a profoundly disabled man, which in itself had been elaborated on by a local rag, based on a radio interview with the family, and turned it into an anti-Tory rant, willingly knee jerked into national prominence by the Twitterati that follow him.
‘He’s had his benefits cut’ – could this be true? Save yourself the trouble – naturally it wasn’t, certainly not in the sense inferred by Mark Ferguson! I followed the story. It led me to an interview on the Tay fm radio site.
John Kerr is profoundly disabled and has been since birth. It follows that someone in his immediate family has always been responsible for accessing the financial benefits that taxpayers provide to care for him. Always.
Since we are not told John’s age, we can only make the assumption that he has recently come of age which would trigger a change in his benefits to an ‘adult’ rate. Possibly. Certainly the Department of Work’s and Pensions sent out a form that ‘someone’ needed to fill in to ascertain how much help he was entitled to. He hadn’t been ‘called in’ for a reassessment to see if he was fit for work – he had been sent a form to be filled in on his behalf.
The ‘someone’ responsible for filling in this form, we are told, is his Mother Dawn, she felt she was too fully occupied caring for John to spend time on filling it out – she gave it to ‘someone else’ to fill in. They didn’t finish the job. Thus the DWP receiving a half completed form.
If you ‘half complete’ a mortgage form, you won’t get the mortgage – or the house. It won’t be the evil Tories making you homeless.
If you ‘half complete’ a marriage contract, you won’t be legally married. It won’t be the evil Tories turning you into a fallen woman!
However, where benefits are concerned, and Labourlist, everything is the fault of the evil Tories.
John, who couldn’t possibly have given his informed consent to the ensuing publicity, found himself the latest poster child in the battle for anti-Tory pot shots. ‘Send us your poor, your huddled masses, your desperately vulnerable – and we will feed them through the spin machine and cynically use them to further our aim of unseating the incumbent government’.
Within a few hours, the article and Ferguson’s Twitter had been mindlessly repeated across the land. Ferguson added insult to injury by saying that it was a ‘Hell of a system in place, that they could send a blind man a letter’. Presumably Ferguson thinks that being blind means that you should no longer be treated with dignity by government agencies, the ‘does he take sugar’ syndrome perhaps?
Yes, the letter was addressed to John. Yes, someone else needed to read it to him. Yes, it did say that no further benefits would be paid after June 7th – he hadn’t applied for any! Yes, they can appeal against this decision and complete an application form – as they could have done in the first place.
Did the caring Labour spin meisters to whose attention this was drawn do anything to help the family? Make contact and offer help with filling in the form? Did they heck! They used the non-story to whip up their 5,000 odd supporters into a flurry of ‘disgraceful’, ‘stop attacking vulnerable people, oh whoops, forgot, that’s what Tories do best’, ‘this is disgusting, makes me hate the Tories even more’…and so on, and so on.
Well Mr Ferguson? Did the caring civil servants in the Department of Works and Pensions continue to pay benefits to people who hadn’t applied for them, when Gordon Brown was in power? Should blind people be considered sub-citizens who no longer have mail addressed to them? Is someone that vulnerable really a suitable subject to be publicised in 140 characters on your beloved Twitter?
You can say something very quickly on Twitter but you can’t say anything very subtle or intelligent or in-depth […]if you’re not credible, if you’re saying things that are inaccurate, you’ll be pulled up on it. There’s more space online to be pulled up for inaccuracies than there is in newspaper. And if you’re inaccurate, people will stop reading […] So I am as qualified or unqualified as anyone else and happy to be judged on the merits of what I publish.
Good! I’m pulling you up on that disgraceful Tweet. It was misleading, misinformed, and should have been beneath you to use the difficulties that a family was in through no fault of the DWP to score a cheap political point.
Note: A guest post by Anna Raccoon