Philip Hensher’s Crass Hypocrisy and Benefit Lies Exposed

hensher2hensher1The above two tweets are what happens when someone writes a less than flattering review of one of Philip Hensher’s shit books.

This is the same Philip Hensher who whinged in The Independent yesterday that: “I have a belief that nobody should be forced to endure being called a “cunt” or subjected to threats of physical violence as a condition of their work.”

Hensher has been widely condemned after writing a sub-Daily Mail rant about people on sickness or disability benefits – which got very close to libeling people who had taken part in a survey by campaign group After Atos by implying some of them were fraudulent claimants.

This led some people to challenge Hensher on twitter, sometimes using strong language, to which he replied in kind.  Guardian journalist Zoe Williams also questioned Hensher’s piece.  He responded by describing her as ‘an awful person’ to her colleague Deborah Orr.

As the obscure novelist began to lose his temper he resorted to lying about the ‘abuse’ he was receiving, furiously re-tweeting anything critical of him to his media chums.  Hensher claimed that people were calling him a cunt and accusing him of inciting the murder of ‘handicapped’ (his word) people.

In fact at this point no-one had called him a cunt, and the tweet he was referring to said the exact opposite:

Predictably after Hensher lied that people were calling him a cunt, some people then ended up calling him a cunt.

This led to Hensher stropping off twitter journalist-style and then spewing up the garbage that polluted the usually deserted comment section of The Independent website yesterday.

Using the genuinely unpleasant shit that was recently directed at Mary Beard and Suzanne Moore as cover, Hensher launched into a breath-takingly dishonest diatribe.

Hensher claims that no-one challenged his ‘facts’ when in fact several people calmly and without insults took his bullshit apart piece by piece.  In case there is any doubt about his wild claims, in yesterday’s piece Hensher said:  “The number of people asking the Government to support their ill-health, in addition, has risen in a way difficult to believe in recent years.”

So let’s dispute that particular piece of crap with a graph from a report published by the DWP themselves:


The number of people on out of work benefits due to sickness or disability has been falling steadily, since long before the brutal and notorious Atos assessments were introduced.  The huge leap in people claiming sickness benefits actually happened in the late 80s when claims jumped by almost a million people as Thatcher destroyed the UK’s industrial heartland.  This was almost 30 years ago and many of those people were approaching retirement age even back then.

Hensher then goes on to say that he expected “an explanation of why such claims have risen so sharply, and out of line with almost every comparable economy.”

Since claims have not risen sharply then it would be somewhat difficult to explain why they have.  But Hensher’s nonsense about claims being out of line with almost every comparable economy are easily demolished, with yet another graph (a fuller analysis of which was also tweeted to Hensher, which he ignored).


This graph comes from the OECD report that Hensher seems to be referencing.  As can be seen quite clearly, the UK’s rate of people on out of work sickness or disability benefits is only marginally higher than the OECD average and significantly less than Hungary,Sweden, Norway and Finland.  This graph also shows how claims have been more or less static in the UK, although they have risen sharply in France and the US, two of the countries Hensher mentioned as having no such rise in his first piece.

So Hensher is bull shitting and his opinions seem to be based on little more than tabloid scare stories and his own nasty little prejudices.  At a time when disability hate crime is soaring, and an increasing number of tragic suicides have been linked to the Atos assessments Hensher was discussing, it is fucking irresponsible and downright unpleasant of The Independent to publish this kind of garbage.

But free speech is free speech and they can say what they like.  Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to apply to the rest of us normals who don’t have a newspaper column.  All of the comments on the piece originally written by Hensher have been removed by the newspaper who could have simply moderated out anything over the top – as anyone else who runs a site which accepts comments sometimes has to do.

And this is the thing.  The internet is a fucking bear pit and always has been.  Some of the misogyny is horrible, though more a reflection of society at large than anything to do with twitter and the internet.  Sometimes people say stupid and aggressive things when they are angry.  Some other people just say shit to wind people up.  This is the territory that anyone who writes on the web needs to navigate and is something that most bloggers have come to terms with.

This doesn’t mean  misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, disablist abuse and racism shouldn’t be challenged on the web, they absolutely should.  Strong language and debate however is a different matter.

The nasty background chatter of parts of the internet should not be used to drown out or fend off genuine criticism.  And if a writer swears at people, like Hensher does, then he should fucking expect people to swear back at him.  Whilst it’s impossible to know what Hensher and The Independent received in their inbox, there were no direct threats of violence aimed at Hensher on twitter – just a couple of vaguely menacing tweets, one from a disabled person saying ‘I bite’, and another quoting Rudyard Kipling.  Not very pleasant, but hardly a campaign of violence, abuse and intimidation.

Hensher on the other hand slandered thousands of people with his uninformed rant about benefit claimants.  It seems that Hensher can dish it out, but can’t take it himself, something he condemned in others when he was part of a twitter hate mob himself.


UPDATE: The writer of the comment that Henshaw claimed proved people “wanted him dead” and that someone hoped that he “fall over and be permanently crippled” has responded to his piece in the comments on The Independent:

“Oh, So I’m nameless? I was the one who wrote the “slip over and find out what it’s like” comment. What I actually wrote was: “get out in that snow you love, slip over and break your spine, you’ll soon change your tune. “It only takes a minute … to fall in love”, the song says, it only takes a millisecond to end up paralysed for the rest of your life!” My comment was NOT a wish that you would end up disabled, but that you and your readers would realise how simple it is to become disabled.”

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

58 responses to “Philip Hensher’s Crass Hypocrisy and Benefit Lies Exposed

  1. Pingback: Philip Hensher’s Crass Hypcocrisy and Benefit Lies Exposed | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |

  2. The artist formerly known as.....

    I agree with most of this apart from one key sentence.

    Hensher said: “The number of people asking the Government to support their ill-health, in addition, has risen in a way difficult to believe in recent years.”

    The key part is “asking” which implies that the number that is rising is actually applications and not succesful applications/claims for ill health being paid out.

    But I applaud JV for this passage as it backs up a few things I’ve said on earlier threads.

    “But free speech is free speech and they can say what they like. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to apply to the rest of us normals who don’t have a newspaper column. All of the comments on the piece originally written by Hensher have been removed by the newspaper who could have simply moderated out anything over the top – as anyone else who runs a site which accepts comments sometimes has to do.

    And this is the thing. The internet is a fucking bear pit and always has been. Some of the misogyny is horrible, though more a reflection of society at large than anything to do with twitter and the internet. Sometimes people say stupid and aggressive things when they are angry. Some other people just say shit to wind people up. This is the territory that anyone who writes on the web needs to navigate and is something that most bloggers have come to terms with.

    This doesn’t mean misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, disablist abuse and racism shouldn’t be challenged on the web, it absolutely should. Strong language and debate however is a different matter.”

    Cheers for that.

    • The problem is that a perfectly good point is drowned out when its clothed with “vulgar abuse” and it allows the issue to be sidetracked and lost in “you said this, I said that that”. The issues that are being raised on this blog are not helped by abuse, even though the angst is easily forgiveable, because they are far too important to be lost in side shows. Civility may be very hard at times when the person you are dialogue with appears to have sadistic tendencies but I wouldn’t give into to the Bear-pit, nothing can be done approach.


    You must be published. Has anyone approached you yet?

    I hope so. I sincerely hope so.

    Xxx Aunty

  4. Classic self-rightous bully. He sees nothing wrong with what he said because he is a better person than others. Critcising him, however mild or mean is victimising him because to himself, he is a god in his own mind, above all not equal to himself, only ranked higher by upper gods. He is allowed to speak because his thoughts are automatically right and those below don’t matter, they don’t have full personhood and cannot obtain so, therefore are unable to criticise him and if they do so, is a great sin against the god that his mind tells him he is.

    Sorry for the pretenious language but thats the way I find best to describe people like him.

  5. Hensher may not be a “cunt” but he is most certainly a liar,a distorter of a truth,a bully and a hypocrite.

  6. I want to back up the notion that fair points are hindered, not helped by foul language, however understandable

    • CodewordConduit

      It really depends who you’re speaking to.

      You seem lovely and very erudite – I can’t imagine swearing at someone like that without feeling very embarrassed.

      But if some wanker broke into my home and left a big steaming turd on the carpet, I’d have a swear.

      Hensher kind of did that to the internet.

  7. what about those with turrets syndrome, who may be one of the claimants being criticized by Hensher?

  8. Does Tourettes apply to writing? Anyway, we are only talking about what you can control.

  9. I believe the term of choice is ‘owned’.

    Another sad right wing shit big’s inevitable hypocrisy exposed.

    I just tweeted him to let him know. I don’t expect a reply 😀

  10. Yeah…..he’s a cunt. Anda useless one, at that.

  11. The depiction of disability in the media with reference to the inclusion London and strathclyde report on same were referenced in the levenson enquiry. Hensher should be aware of this.

  12. Rosemarie Harris

    I have never heard of him until his bit of the beano was published and as usual people like him expects to get away with lies and more lies,yet when other people in the know tell him in the language they want to share with him he throws his bits of paper out of the Rubbish bin and acuses every one of name calling …Well at least when people express themselves to him they took the time to do it ,unlike him who blamed others because he wrote bloody lies not facts,cowards accuse people then run.

  13. Give me the bearpit of t’internet any day when you witness the absurdio ad reductum of the infotainment of the discredited msm.

  14. Clive Lord

    I won’t labour the point about swearing, but is it about losing control or choice as in plebgate?

  15. Why does this site get a certificate warning Twitter

  16. because you comment on here chewie.

  17. It’s this phone guy . Fecking eejit

  18. Off. Topic but here is a list of police officers who have commited crimes

    Click to access PoliceList.pdf

  19. That’s an awful lot of very naughty piggies. Do you know if, per capita, they are a naaghtier lot than the rest of us? What is the percentage of criminality vis à vis the general publc in the ranks of our protectors (hah!)?

  20. Pingback: Philip Hensher’s Crass Hypocrisy and Benefit Lies Exposed | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues |

  21. Maybe this twat would like to travel miles in all.weathers just to get treatment . Following his logic all hospitals should close..idiot.

  22. building such monolithic hospitals only, could lead to bigger problems should the said building happen to set on fire, be the subject of a bomb scare etc. where a mass evacuation was needed, where would patients go then? There is also the problem of travel not only for the patient, but also for your visitors should you be admitted, that’s if you survey a lengthy journey in the first place.

  23. ps survey should read survive.

  24. Hensher is gay I believe, so he should know all about bigotry & prejudice. As recently as 1967, when the law was changed he could have been jailed simply for being such.Gay men & women lived in constant fear of being “outed” until then. Perhaps he should wind his neck in a bit & reflect on that fact, before he sets off on another rant against the sick, disabled & unemployed,. Or is this the last “acceptable” form of prejudice?

  25. Well put-together piece. I have contacted Henschers editor in regards to this in my capacity as a Green Party candidate dealing with ESA and disability issues.

  26. I see scameron claims he’s gonna crack down on corps tax avoiders.. how long has he taken to get round to that. I think it means. Hmrc will offer the corps to pay their debt off when they can get round to it. No worries..

  27. Wikipedia entry on Phil hensher

    His early writings have been characterized as having an “ironic, knowing distance from their characters” and “icily precise skewerings of pretension and hypocrisy”[1] His historical novel The Mulberry Empire “echos with the rhythm and language of folk tales” while “play[ing] games” with narrative forms

  28. question time last night, again the BBC attacking working class people, with anna soubery? answering the judgemental question ‘are working class people too fat?’ She did not know what she was talking about for most of the program, which made it even more cringing to watch than usual.

  29. Still on the subject of QT Angela Epstein the double high income family member,objecting to having her child benefit withdrawn and how unfair it was, came across pretty well when answering these stage managed questions, not floundering at all like Anna was and even came across as a reasonable person, even though she’s not.

  30. Landless Peasant

    I called him a cunt, not on Twitter because I don’t use it, but on here, and I’ll say it again; Hensher you are a First Class CUNT.

  31. If people put as much effort into sorting out the world we live in as they do in taking offence everywhere they can, it would be a much better place.

    I find all of this stuff very childish and shows humanity at its worse. Total idiocy from all sides. I am bored of the swearing too, it just detracts from the message. Lefties have massive ego’s same as the tories but in fighting and personal bitterness is a speciality.

    • Hail Mary, full of ire, hallowed be thy namesake, Whitehouse, ya crazy anachronistic Puritan. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all, have a bit of heated dialectics (does you good), or do we all just need to get to the back of the bus and doff our caps or curtsy, m’lady?
      Get off the vinegar!
      ….are they taxing corpses now?..
      ..nothing would surprise me in this lunatic asylum of a ConDemNation.

  32. Philip Hensher is a CUNT

    Fuck this Nazi bastard!!

  33. Mary
    This govt. which you probably voted for, is being well paid to sort out Britain, before it even thinks of sorting out the world, but seems to be failing miserably.

    Despite all the insults it and new labour have heaped on the unemployed it has failed to put a dent in unemployment. Has increased our debt despite cutting welfare to the bone. It is humiliating and killing the sick and disabled via atos, so our comments and explitives belong to those of us who are trying to redress the imbalance of power, via social networking, as well as campaigning in other ways.

    My guess is you probably have nothing else to moan about except the activities of other people, hence your attack on those who post on this site.

  34. rainbowwarriorlizzie
  35. There are a number of interesting points being raised here. I dislike the use of the C-word, although its crisp short sound is so powerful, because I feel it dishonours women. Within the context of the tweets however the word was used to comment upon Hensher’s behaviour – in agricultural language – not a pure discription such as his use of the term ‘sex-dwarf’.

    Hensher is indeed a nasty piece of work because he employs double standards. Hensher appears to be suggesting that its okay for him to sit in his ivory tower – a white, middle class nondisabled academic – writing on subjects he knows little about, passing judgement upon others as if he alone has the wisdom of Solomon, but it’s not okay for those made vulnerable by his actions to employ the only tools they have to hit back with. I don’t condone threats, however, Hensher is being hypocritical. Verbal abuse can take many forms, in my opinion, within his original piece Hensher was abusive towards certain groups.

    Freedom of expression isn’t a blank cheque; it carries with it social responsibilities. I spoke of Hensher’s background, not because there is anything wrong with being that kind of person per se, but due to the fact that it appears to influence how he looks down upon others from his ivory tower. His second feature, for example, sets himself up as the victim of hate – the misunderstood – rather than the “Good guy” just trying to put things right. The tone is completely different; a crude attempt to re-write history. There’s no comprehension on his part of what took place because he is void of any understanding of social consequence. Hensher simply sees the issue as the expression of opinion – ideas to be gently tossed back and forth with tea and sandwiches as practised within the cafe settings of old.

    The world isn’t like that in 21st century of CamClegg Britain where sick and disabled people are being hounded, living in fear or end it all. This reality has no meaning for the arrogant know-it-all ivory tower dweller. Ignorance is dangerous expecially in the hands of a person who appears to have a narcissistic personality disorder – “….a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior.” Crucially, vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with this disorder very sensitive to criticism or defeat Hence, Hensher can dish it out, but can’t take it. If this assertion of mine is correct, then Hensher is more ‘crippled’ (sic) than most of us are.

  36. Dear johnny and all . Filed under ‘ 6ou couldn’t make this up’ I am posting this link to an item that appeared in the independant itself .

  37. Isn’t it amazing how video evidence is available after an incident or death has occurred, such as that of Gemma Hayter.
    Why are there not volunteers locally monitoring such activity on video and sending in the appropriate agencies to deal with the incidences before they get out of hand.
    We hear of reduced public services, but we never hear of voluntary work such as this being offered to people, preferably vetted sufficiently beforehand to ensure they are not avid voyeurs of such violence.

  38. Aden Baker Blog

    I don’t know if Hensher is a cunt, but I certainly know he shouldn’t be expecting respect from people if he can’t give some!

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