Obscure novelist Hensher recently wrote a piece which trotted out every lazy stereotype in the book about sick and disabled claimants, which led to the angry response on twitter.
In a piece entitled “Some people on disability benefits are fit to work” he feigns sympathy for the more extreme examples of Atos abuse. He then goes on to display all the usual lazy prejudices about people with mental health conditions along with breath-taking ignorance of the very benefits system he’s writing about.
Shrugging off anxiety as a condition completely, he makes the claim that depression usually only lasts a few weeks. His grotesque assumptions lead him to speculate that someone who can ride a bike is probably ‘fit for work’.
Astonishingly he even comes dangerously close to accusing people commenting on the After Atos website of benefit fraud claiming: “A campaigning group, After Atos, has the slogan Not One Shall Be Lost. The trouble is, reading its website, that some clearly deserve to be lost to the benefits system.”
Hensher made it personal, but he didn’t it like when people fought back. When he was challenged last night he predictably avoided talking about the facts and pleaded to all his twitter friends he was being bullied. Then he threatened to leave. As if anyone gives a shit.
Hensher’s research skills don’t appear to have taken him further than the Daily Mail. It doesn’t even seem to have occurred to him to find out anything about the people he was abusing or the system he was criticising.
Had he put some effort in he would have discovered that the chances of getting any kind of sickness or disability payment for a few weeks depression have always been non-existent. It takes longer than that for the fucking application process. Entitlements were seldom for life and re-assessments were commonplace. The lurid examples of benefit fraud he quotes are incredibly rare. And the international study he bases part of his argument on suggests the very opposite of what he implies.
He then goes onto to propose doctors should be involved in the system – which to their shame many of them now are – to prevent what he concedes are some tragedies. Yet prior to the new regime, every claimant on out of work benefit had been signed off work not just by their own GP, but by a DWP doctor at exactly the kind of medical assessment he proposes.
It would be easy to dismiss Hensher as yet one more irrelevant clown, too stupid or bigoted to understand what Atos is really about – which is the redefining of sickness and disability in line with neo-liberal aims.
But fake friends like Hensher, who dress up their vile propaganda as concern, are the lowest form of scum.
In a week in which The Observer was rightfully mobbed over Julie Burchill’s piece of shit, it is telling that class based abuse of unemployed, sick or disabled people is now so common it almost passes without notice, even in the ‘liberal’ press.
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