Tag Archives: suicides

Brendan O’Neill is a knob

Brendan O’Neill is a knob.  A professional troll, his ‘edgy’ contrarian views are no more than Kevin the Teenager style outbursts at what he has decided in his little mind represents the British left.

Most Jeremy Clarkson wannabes like O’Neill are reduced to scrawling letters to their local council in green ink complaining about the communist conspiracy at their local swimming baths.  Occasionally they get given a column at the Daily Telegraph where their pub bore invective can be laid out in full view by cynical press barons, dragging them out like freak show performers in the hope of cashing in on that ever elusive click through internet ad revenue.

So we shouldn’t take the opinions of Brenden O’Neill too seriously when he attacks disability and welfare campaigners for caring about the growing number of suicides linked to welfare reform. 

In his latest spittle flecked rant for the Telegraph, O’Neill lectures us that campaigners discussing those suicides with a direct link to benefit cuts is ‘depravity’ and ‘low, apolitical, super-cynical emotional blackmail.’

With escalating pomposity O’Neill refers to the sad case of the family man who ended his life, blaming cuts to his Housing Benefit.  O’Neill tells us that this actually had nothing to do with his benefits being cut but was “the act of someone in a fevered, unstable state of mind. “

In fact the Coroner in the above case said quite the opposite, but then what does she know – unlike O’Neill, she’s got a proper job.  But O’Neill is correct that this was clearly a very desperate man.  And here lies a hole in his argument so wide the entire Top Gear team could drive through it.

If an obviously suicidal man was pushed into such drastic action by having a ‘fevered, unstable state of mind.‘ then what was he doing on Job Seekers Allowance in the first place?  Is this what ‘fit for work’ means to these scum?

The same applies to the man who set himself on fire outside a Jobcentre in Birmingham recently.  Right wing zealots like O’Neill can’t have it both ways.  If these tragic cases represent people with ‘serious mental-health issues’, as he alleges, then they should have been on the benefit for those with ‘serious mental health issues’, which is Employment Support Allowance, not the dole.

That they weren’t goes to the very heart at the brutal and inhumane flaws of this Government’s welfare reforms.  Both men appear to have been dumped on Job Seekers Allowance, the benefit for those unemployed, not unwell.  It has been suggested that the man in Birmingham was recently stripped of sickness benefits and found ‘fit for work’, a direct result of the DWP’s current hounding of sickness benefit claimants.

So whether these events were linked to benefit cuts or mental health (or even both), the safety net of the welfare state has failed both men.  And either way O’Neill is wrong.

O’Neill singles out Calum’s List for particular invective, a website which has chronicled the tragic losses of life that have been linked to the welfare cuts. In his deluded little world he has decided that this is all a conspiracy by the Guardian in an attempt to ‘approach working-class and less well-off communities through the politics of pity’.

Calum’s List have responded:“Calum’s List is written by the disabled, and by people who are bereft and Brendan O’Neill is too unprofessional or ignorant to approach the subscribers of this website for a point of view, or balance, and instead opts to stick his bully boy boot into a group of disabled people, widows, widowers, bereaved parents and orphans trying to find a voice for their anguish in the absence of mainstream media and all but a few politicians taking any interest in what is a subject that does concern most decent right minded people.”

It may surprise O’Neill to know that benefit claimants actually care about benefit cuts.  As do many of the working poor and the growing army of temporary and part time workers, most of whom rely on benefits some or all of the time.  In truth the Guardian have been dragged kicking and screaming into highlighting the very real human suffering which is taking place as a result of welfare reforms.  It has been sick, disabled and unemployed people along with parents, the low waged, casual workers and pensioners, who have been raising their collective voices.  And despite the tidal wave of abuse directed at claimants from all sections of the mainstream political establishment, they are starting to be heard.

As millions of people are pushed deeper into poverty by welfare reform – and it’s only barely begun – slowly but surely public opinion is changing as suddenly people realise it’s their mum, their brother, their friend, or even themselves that is being plunged into economic despair.

Brendan O’Neill is a political oddball who knows nothing of the people he claims to represent.   He edits the crank website ‘spiked’ which is little more than a mouthpiece for former members of the misnamed Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). This strange 80s left wing sect managed to find themselves on the right and now preach extreme libertarian capitalism as the solutions to the problems created by inequality and class.  Only more capitalism can save us from capitalism.

Insulated as Brendan O’Neill is in his cosy world of pseudo-intellectual cultists and libertarian fantasisers, he has managed to convince himself that the views of him and his cult are shared by us normals.   It’s true they have loud voices and in some cases deep pockets.  But few are listening anymore to their cheers for the bankers and businessmen.

O’Neill’s faux outrage at the bereaved and disabled who are attempting to tell their own stories of the consequences of this Government’s actions is best ignored.  It is telling however that it is the supporters of these reforms that are really reduced to using emotive slurs to stop people telling the truth about what’s really taking place because of social security cuts.

According to O’Neill, tales of homelessness, poverty, suicide and ill health should be hushed up.  To even mention them means we’ve lost the argument.  And yet it is him evoking the ghosts of desperate events to mount a political attack on the people left coping with these Government created tragedies.  A more super-cynical attempt at emotional blackmail would be hard to find.

UPDATE 6/4/13 part 2: Brendan O’Neill Is Still A Knob

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Leaked Jobcentre Plus Suicide Memo!

The Guardian reports on a “six-point plan” being distributed to DWP workers dealing with ‘job seekers’ who claim to be suicidal. Here it is in all it’s glory:

1) As most job seekers are liars and cheats many threats of suicide are likely to be bogus. It is important to establish the genuine suicide cases from those who are attempting to skive workfare provision. Job seekers should be asked which methods of suicide they have considered, or whether they have taken opportunity of the countless ‘suicide websites’ to research their opinion and network with other suicidal individuals. Have they found a ‘suicide buddy’ yet? Fifteen minutes access on the Job Search computer may be allocated to job seekers to research suicide websites as well as the effective fatal administration of prescribed medication, self-gassing, hanging, slit wrists and stabbing themselves in the heart. It is vital that job seekers are empowered to make choices about options themselves, with the encouragement and continued support of the DWP.

2) Once satisfied that a job seeker’s claim of feeling suicidal is genuine then it is important vulnerable claimants feel motivated and empowered in this decision. Explain to claimants that suicide may well be an appropriate outcome for some people and that they should not feel stigmatised or discouraged by friends and family. Many job seekers who have committed suicide in the past have been completely successful outcomes for the DWP, with none seeking further benefits or training support. Whilst we remain committed to finding people employment at Jobcentre Plus we fully recognise, and will co-operate with, the more complex needs of some of our target group. No-one is to be discriminated against for committing suicide.

3) We recognise and understand that for many long term job seekers suicide can seem challenging and daunting. Encourage claimants to take small steps. Suicide statistics reveal that suicide attempts, far from being selfish, are in fact a ‘call for help’ with many going on to kill themselves properly in later attempts. DO NOT DE-MOTIVATE CLIENTS WHO ATTEMPT SUICIDE AND FAIL! Remind them gently there’s always a next time and discuss more effective methods of self-administering fatal injury.

4) It is not uncommon for job seekers to become anxious or agitated in the lead up to their suicide. Whilst distressing for client advisors, who may well have worked hard towards this outcome, these doubts can be overcome. Explain to the job seeker that they are worthless and their lives are not living. Referring to them as chav scum, parasites, useless eaters is perfectly acceptable in this case. Re-enforce any negative or self-destructive behaviour whilst cautioning against statements of self-worth, dignity or confidence. The DWP is investing heavily in encouraged suicide, in return we expect suicidal job seekers to ‘do their bit’ as well. It is entirely appropriate to discuss the possibility of benefit sanctions if the client appears to be ‘bottling out’.

5) Whilst all methods of suicide are to be viewed as ‘positive outcomes’ it is important to distinguish responsible suicide from irresponsible and anti-social behaviour. Throwing yourself off a bridge or under a train, whilst it has a positive impact on unemployment figures, may put pressure on other Government agencies. A quiet suicide, in the job seeker’s own home, is to be encouraged. If the client is homeless then jumping in the Thames on a cold Winter’s night may be a seen as a reasonable and environmentally responsible approach.

6) Workfare providers A4e will be rolling out the Work Programme Suicidal Clients Option soon. Job seeker’s will spend thirty hours a week at A4e’s offices being told they are shit and worthless. It is anticipated that this will dovetail with A4e’s current job search provision, meaning both mainstream and suicidal clients can be told they are shit and worthless together. This will not only minimise costs, but will allow clients previously considered ‘job ready’ to consider whether more appropriate action may be taken towards a successful outcome for the DWP.