The Truth Behind Philip Hensher’s Bike Riding Slur

hensher-twitter2Philip Hensher’s delusions about benefit claimants with mental health conditions have further unraveled as the source of his recent outburst in The Independent has been revealed.

It seems that Hensher was referring to this document (PDF) when he said:

“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. Beside some genuinely sad cases, we find this testimony: “I travelled on my mountain bike [to the interview] as I can’t stand being on a bus for more than 15 minutes. I get off before I panic.” Now, I don’t say they should definitely go back to work. I don’t know the full facts. But is it not reasonable to say that someone who can cycle the equivalent of a bus journey of more than 15 minutes should have their fitness to work examined?”

The website he refers to is the result of  a wide ranging survey of people’s experiences of the Work Capability Assessment.  The full quote, which Hensher uses to insinuate that riding a bike might be evidence of benefit fraud, is as follows:

“I travelled on my mountain bike as I can’t stand being on a bus for more than  15 minutes. I get off before I panic. Last time I tried was 2 years ago and I got off after about 2 miles with 5 still to go and walked the rest of it.”

Hensher will be pleased to know that this individual, who suffers from such acute anxiety they are unable to travel on public transport, was found fit for work.

What Hensher doesn’t know is that the same person also described their experiences after losing sickness benefits.  After Atos have released their response to this part of the survey:

“Finances: ended up over £600 overdrawn, thankfully HSBC are an even better bank than I had realised and helped me work out a repayment solution – only ~£40 left to go atm. Council have taken me to court once already over unpaid rent due to housing benefit being stopped. Mental Health: I spent a lot of time working out how I could kill myself while making it seem an accident so as to upset friends/relatives as little as possible. I also left the house even less than before. Motivation to do anything, which was low to begin with, became almost zero Physical Health: I lost a lot of weight because I didn’t have either the quantity or the quality of food necessary. Social Life: What social life? Work Life: n/a”

Philip Hensher appears to have left twitter after he was roundly condemned for his backward views on mental health conditions.   Unable to answer the points raised, he chose to swear at people and then run away.  If only life were so simple for the thousands of people currently being impoverished by Atos and abused by people like Hensher in the national press on a daily basis.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid


59 responses to “The Truth Behind Philip Hensher’s Bike Riding Slur

  1. rainbowwarriorlizzie
  2. just like scummy politicians who sell out their communitys these scumbags deserve to heckled where ever they go not just on twitter

  3. Hensher- not just a twat, but a coward too.

  4. Sadly those of his ilk are far too common. Mental illness is seen as somehow less worthy of support than something obviously physical, even though mental illnesses can have physical symptoms also, and, as you said previously, can last way longer than weeks or months!

    I have severe paranoid spells alone lasting months at a time, and a letter from the doctor from years ago saying so, nothing changed since then, on top of other symptoms! Though I wouldn’t expect such an ignorant man like Hensher to understand that!

    • not just that, but mental health is seen as joke. Picking on someone who isn’t (presumably) claiming on the basis opf physical health for undertaking a physical activity is sheer ignorance. Now we can see the cost to this person, I doubt Hensher will take note nor care.

  5. Isn’t it obvious, as it is to me, and my first thought on reading that somebody who cannot use public transport because of their mental condition as described would find being confined in a workplace with lots of other people equally distressing- even if they could get there?

    • Exactly! What else is left after working with other people all the time? Paper rounds? Licking envelopes at home? Possibly window cleaning? can’t think of anything work at home that could pay a wage and didn’t involve additional stresses of self employment/sorting out own taxes NI etc…. And with mental health probs hardly likely to start own business!

      • I have never suffered from mental health problems and cannot begin to understand how terrible it must be; I have, however had friend’s in this situation and tried to help as best I could. I also have some small idea by reading how these conditions affect the sufferer and in my mind, anybody who can be a callous as Philip Hensher and any other Tory for that matter is lacking in human compassion and has, as my dad would have said, no heart but a swinging brick.

    • I suppose finding work in an isolated location would help (e.g. a farm) but how many jobs like that are there going? And if a person is so bad that they are constantly thinking of killing themselves they wouldn’t be safe around heavy equipment like that used on a farm. The problem with these politicians is that they are out of touch with people who have mental health issues, as they are with the rest of the population that aren’t as fortunate as they are, and even if they do develop a similar problem themselves over mental health, they already have a lot of resources to fall back on. If you aren’t rich, a white male, Christian, or a member of the Royal Family, you aren’t a person to the Tories.

  6. ATOS Work capability tests for people with mental health problems are all based upon physical requirements not a persons ability to relate to other people. ATOS and the DWP are fully aware of this too, which is why so many people with mental health issues are passed as ‘fit for work’ . ‘Can you make your own tea/coffee/breakfast? can ? great youre fit for work’ seems to be the mantra

    • something survived...

      bit of a bollocks question! I don’t make breakfast or lunch because I’m so broke I can have one supper every 2 days. On making supper, economy pasta, I’m then too knackered to wash up or do any other tasks. If JSA was enough to have 3 meals a day I might have 3 meals a day! but it would not pay for my energy levels and health, so I still wouldn’t be up to cooking. BTW over 20 people share the cooker so it’s a lottery if you get supper at 5pm, midnight, 3 or 5 am, or not at all. My kettle is packing in so my ability to make coffee could be affected. Many days I have nothing or just a coffee. On days of power cuts I have nothing. Atos assessors go home to houses with beds…. meals,,, full fridges…
      4 years sleeping on 1/3 of a bust sofa. Hey atos – wanna swap?

  7. Did you see Peter Wilson ( commenting on Sky News this morning about benefits and how they need to be controlled? What does a farmer’s son/privately educated/Olympic shooter know about benefits? Bugger all, it seems, but it doesn’t stop him commenting on the evils of it. Anyway, the “story” he was commenting on with such vitriol was this fake one in The Scum Why let facts get in the way of a good old propaganda story? Anyway, I’ve brought his attention to it on twitter, the top-hat.

    • something survived...

      omg… I may have voted for him in a sports poll at some point – yuk!

      Don’t suppose he noticed the paralympians getting their funding and benefits cut? or maybe ‘spaz’ sportspeople don’t count?

  8. I read two reports today . one was the Dr ruth one about mental illness and benefits and how mental ppl are treated the other was about mental illness and work it was forewarded by dame carol black of.atos fame. It went on how mentally ill people cost the country billions and how much it cost employers billions and benefits dependancy and absenteeism and how the country will fall apart because of mental people. Incredibly next.part and with a straight face it went on about how mentally ill people were often stigmatised !!

    • something survived...

      that’s okay, we have designed some lovely showers for you all; there is no water, but plenty of gas to clease the earth of the foul existences of the disabled… sieg heil.
      Of course mentally ill people will feel worse if hassled to prove they are mentally ill. As soon as they have a good day, their benefit can be stopped. Since the assessors are mostly not doctors, and don’t examine you (just do a computer questionnaire), they are clueless about all of the things they are meant to be assessing. Physical health and disabilities, mental health, learning disabilities. They know sod-all about any of them.

      Hensher’s belief doctors should do it is also wrong. Forcing someone to have a medical examination is wrong, and it breaches the patient confidentiality and doctor-patient relationship. We may as well ask why Hensher’s medical records can’t be published online? Well for the same reason ours aren’t. It’s private.

      What if the ‘doctor’ was a pervert and abused people? Complaining could get your benefit stopped or appeal refused.

      In all cases their duty to the patient/truth would conflict with the role of government assessor trying to get people found fit for work.

  9. Pingback: The Truth Behind Philip Hensher’s Bike Riding Slur | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |

  10. I keep reading these reports almost always forewarded by some dwp doctor who states something like ‘its scientifically proven that all work is good for you .’ Do they include falling off scaffolding on building site or working with toxic materials and no health and safety and limbs chopped off and suffocation and post traumatic stress to name but a few . But of course its the employess fault ain’t it.
    Oh by the way bosses can avoid paying nmw if employees sleep on work premises . Welcome to eighteen hour shifts and sleeping on a mat .

    • something survived...

      I was watching night TV and there were work injuries on building sites. A man nailed or drilled something into his finger. He nearly lost the finger, but didn’t. If he lost the finger or severed the tendon he would have to stop being a builder. Another builder fell through a hole in the floor, several floors up on a building site. Arbeit macht frei.

  11. The ruling elite are unconcerned with human suffering, they just want to drive as many people off benefits as possible and then abolish the welfare state altogether. When people die because they have been thrown to the wolves and abandoned, they just don’t care, at all. They have convinced themselves that the welfare state is no longer affordable to justify to themselves their pathological greed, heartlessness and selfishness.

    Mental illness because it is largely “invisible” leaves the mentally ill particularly vulnerable to being demonised and dismissed as “scroungers” faking their illnesses so they can live a life of leisure and luxury at the hardworking taxpayers expense. As the most vulnerable, they will be the prime target of the predators.

  12. I thought they would applaud someone on benefits riding a bike, after all were they not saying recently how disgusting and outrageous it is, that some people claiming benefits are overweight and unhealthy.

    • something survived...

      Some work programmes here used to give you vouchers to get a bike, but it doesn’t pay the whole cost. It has to be a normal bicycle with no modifications and only in a few standard sizes, and only at shops in the scheme. You can’t go if you’re too tall or short, also the bikes all seem to be male/big only. No disabled ones, or trikes. (I need to make a trike; but, when I make it, I can’t use it on a road due to traffic, the risk of assault/vandalism/theft, etc.)
      Assumptions about bikes: that you are safe to be on roads, big enough to be seen, enough strength and energy to use the bike, etc. Also you need uninterrupted consciousness (I have epilepsy etc.). Oh you also need to be able to clean and maintain the bike, and have somewhere to store it!

      Hensher said going to the shops proves you’re fit. Duh! It only proves you are having to buy, prepare own food because you need to eat. Does Hensher have servants or something? Is he aware of where food comes from? From a shop! We have to GO (=walk) to a shop, and buy the food, and carry it all back. Most of us have to do it alone even though disabled, as nobody else is there to do it for us. Even most people far too disabled to do any of this, DON’T get a relative or care assistant to do this. Ever tried getting one? Hen’s teeth! If the one person that could go for us is a child – that is counted now as child abuse, child neglect, child labour, and truancy.

      Hensher’s like the countless idiots in the street who stop you and make stupid comments about you lugging your supermarket shopping home. They say you are stupid and ‘bought too much’. Real answer: you waited till everything ran out and you had enough money, then you walked to the supermarket. You are buying food you need to live. It’d be mad to tell you to make 20 trips! And no you don’t have the luxury of a car either. So you are on foot.
      (This is what I told the police when they tried to nick me for burgling my own house! It turned out that there was a burglary, they never said where but somewhere else, and I’d just been evicted and was moving house. Lacking any transport, I had to carry everything, nonstop over months, to the new place I’d found. The cops asked me to prove I owned my own rag rug! Impossible to prove. But they stopped and searched me anyway, I think they do it on purpose. I was evicted from the other place and everywhere else, by the way, for being disabled.)

  13. People like ” Philip Hensher” think they are important, well, they have an opinion based of words selected from a paragraph. If the editor had any balls he/she would fire this guy’s sorry arse and put him in the same position as the people he seems to dislike, then we shall see what scum are made of!

    • something survived...

      Yes, the Independent should sack him. At the very least, for his swearing (‘fucking’, ‘sex dwarf’, etc) and abuse on Twitter. But also for his hate speech against LGBT people, the poor, the unemployed, the sick, and the disabled.

  14. I’ve got MH problems and was unable to work for many years. I thought the response on Twitter to Hensher was pathetic. If you think you can change people’s minds by abusing them, you’re wrong. This blog is also incredibly skewed and does not accurately represent what happened.

      • That storify does not tell anything like the totality of what was thrown at Hensher.

      • Tantrum indeed: “You are lucky not to be hearing from my lawyers after suggesting that I incited the murder of the mentally ill.”

        ‘LawyerS’? Who does this prick think he is? His LAWYERS? Are these churnalists this divorced from the consequences of their words that they can’t understand someone trying to engage them in a discussion at a level above the tone of his own comments? No, instead he stirs the shit and then spits out his dummy when the ‘twitter nazis’ (to quote Delingpole) respond. Unbelievable.

        Still he can at least walk away without any comeback; people can’t walk away (no pun intended) from ATOS and the DWP without losing everything.

        • something survived...

          this says that he has several lawyers, so he is hardly in a position to know what it is like to be unable to afford one lawyer – or even the court costs to represent oneself, or even a stamp to write to a lawyer. If he knows anything about the law he ought to be aware of the cuts to legal aid – even most criminal defence legal aid is cut. The main cuts are in things like trying to defend yourself in court against DWP and Atos.

    • “If you think you can change people’s minds by abusing them, you’re wrong”
      Fair enough.
      But direct your comment towards IDS et al before you turn your gaze upon the vulnerable.
      Fair enough?

    • sometimes people aren’t interested in changing minds, especially entrenched views from media whores. the guy is obviously a hack and a lot of people wanted to tell him so. I don’t condone abuse, but if you’re going to make a living traducing a very very serious issue just to wind people up for money then frankly i don’t have much sympathy.

  15. Lance Armstrong

    This is shite. The unemployed are expected to cycle 90 miles to and from work everyday, the equivalent of at least a 6 hour bike ride each way.

    • On yer bike!

    • Just in time for the snow and ice! So if you weren’t claiming for disability beforehand, as you slide offf your bike and under a gritter you will be now!

      Still that’s no excuse, eh IDS!

    • ???
      where did this come from?
      90 minutes via public transport or 20 miles by other means is what the DWP stipulates.
      Not sure where you are getting 90 miles/6 hours from???

      • You seriously would have to be as fit as a fiddle to cope with this; this is extreme cycling. 180 miles a day x 5 is 900 miles a week. Anything over 60 miles a weeks is getting extreme. 900 x 50 = 45,000 miles a year! Most drivers clock up only £10,000 miles a year. Taxis are expected to clock up 30,000 miles a year. IDS and the DWP must be INSANE to expect anyone to cycle these distances! Nuts, just nuts!

        • And say the job started at 8am, you would have to start of at 2am to get there on time. And if you finished at 6pm you would arrive back home at midnight giving just two hours to recover before you had to set off again. When would you sleep? Or did crazy IDS and the nutty DWP not take this into consideration in the “better of in work” calculation?

    • something survived...

      yeah cause all the unemployed are ablebodied!???

      yeah I was on the moon the other week in the crater of Gouda nibbling away and thinking of wandering over to the sea of Mozzarella. when over my head there flew a pig.

  16. i think a lot of these mp,s need to be sacked with their attitude against any one whose got a disablement of anykind why should they judge when its us who say who gets into the house its about time some lost out jeff3

  17. I read the article and nothing he says is beyond reason
    Trying to pariah him for asking if someone claiming sick benefits who can ride a bike needs there fitness to work looked at will achieve nothing. The case obviously needed more info.

    • Hensher had the full quote that provided the extra info that established the case as being an obvious mental health one, then deliberately cherry picked the quote in a manner thgat minimised the mental health element, amd made it sound as though a person with reported physical difficulties was fine to cycle.

      You read his statement that didn’t contain the contextualising info that he already knew and his readers did not, and thought “we need more information here”, but have strangely yet to understand that Hensher had the information all along.

      This makes him guilty of misdirection and muddying the waters so that truth cannot clearly be perceived. This is particularly disgusting when the result of his calculated lies and misdirection is that people think worse of some of the sickest and most vulnerable members of our society.

  18. Hensher = ‘Presstitute.’

  19. More labels I know a person with Manic Depression who hates the term Bi-polar as he reasoned he is not a polar bear!

    • Bi polar seems to make no sense whatsoever. I know a guy labelled with this and he doesnt know why its called that. Its obvious to him and everybody else whats wrong with him from his behaviour (he is and admits being plain bonkers) so bi polar does seem an odd name.

  20. I’ve only just heard about this hensher character and this ridiculous hit piece.

    I’m so sick of churnalism: of hacks providing hit pieces for cash. These wankers are nothing more than shit stirrers. They are worse than the grubbiest whore; spewing hatred for money solely to stir the ignorant masses.

    And i’ve just made the mistake of reading James Delingpole’s twitterfeed. What a massive twat.

  21. hiii i saw your site and this is very nice and informative if you want to see our site you can Visit

  22. Excellent work as always, Johnny. Here’s another good response, by blogger Emma Round:

    As if one platform wasn’t enough for him, Hensher’s article has also been republished online on the website of a magazine called ‘The Gulf Today’. Apparently this is a 36-page English-language daily newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates so I guess he may be getting an airing in a print edition as well. The headline now reads ‘Some citizens on disability benefits are fit to work’:

  23. I think that many people who have a physical illness can also be pushed into mental illness by the ATOS government agents. Lets not forget ATOS are doing what the government tells them and Labour cannot boast about their caring because it was they who introduced this system. If Labour wish to take up the high moral ground they must first confess their own wrongdoing.

  24. Reblogged this on Diary Of A Madman and commented:
    And here for the defenders is his twitter meltdown..

  25. Talk about’ work-shy ‘claimants. Mr Hensher once admitted that he spent most of his time as a well paid House of Commons clerk writing his first novel and that he was fired for doing so. Presumably he was ‘ fit for work ‘, but defrauded the tax-payers who were financing him.

  26. Pingback: Philip Hensher’s Crass Hypcocrisy and Benefit Lies Exposed | the void

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s