Wednesday, 1 February 2012

This means war.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Today Lib Dem MPs voted in support of the government's welfare reforms. As a result, from April, thousands of seriously sick and disabled people will lose support. As a result, severely disabled children will never be able to live their lives independently and with dignity. As a result, cancer patients and other people with long term, serious and degenerative conditions, in some cases terminal, will be expected to go through stressful work capability assessments. As a result, policy made by Lib Dem conference, just last September, is no longer worth the paper it is written on and the same applies to our party's constitution. As a result, we will see, up and down the country, human misery and human suffering by incredibly vulnerable people on a truly devastating scale. We will see deaths and we will see suicides because of the way Lib Dem MPs voted tonight and because of their failure to get the government to make it's policies ones which were humane instead of ones which were aimed first and foremost at balancing the books on the backs of those too weak to fight back.

As far as I am concerned, this means war. I will be doing all in my power to get this debated and condemned at our spring conference in Gateshead. And I will do all I can to make sure that our MPs, who betrayed the party, betrayed our principles and betrayed tens of thousands of vulnerable people, will have time to reflect on the suffering they have just caused.

Before the vote took place I wrote this email to Jenny Willott MP, the party's disability spokesperson:
I am writing to you as a fellow member of the Liberal Democrats and as the original author of the Liberal Youth motion on ESA at our autumn confence last September. 
I was listening to your speech today in the House of Commons prior to the vote on the Lords' amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill and I will make no secret of the fact that I was bitterly disappointed by what you said. I personally feel that you have completely missed, not only the spirit and the letter of the policy made only four months ago, but also what I imagine most Liberal Democrat members would consider fundamental liberal values on support and protection on the vulnerable. 
At time of writing, the vote on the Bill has not yet taken place but, from your speech, I can already see that my fears about the vote are almost certain to be proved correct.
As such I intend to submit an emergency motion to spring conference and to ask and encourage every conference rep I know to question and hold both you and all our other MPs to account for your voting record on the Welfare Reform Bill. However, before I do so I would very much like to be sure that the emergency motion I intend to submit is accurate and that I am not misjudging you or your speech due to potential lack of information on my part. As such I would very much appreciate it if you might find time in your, no doubt busy, schedule to discuss this issue with me. 
Yours sincerely,
George W. Potter
It is deeply depressing to see my worst fears confirmed. I am filled with rage at this. It is utterly, utterly disgusting what our MPs (and peers) have done and I will do all I can to make sure that this issue is brought well and truly to the eyes of the membership, the media and the public at our spring conference.

I swear, if it takes me my whole life, I will not rest until there has been a reckoning on this. From now on, it's war to the hilt for the liberal principles, policies and values that our party leadership seems to have thrown in the rubbish bin along with their integrity.

57 comments:

  1. Thank you, George - and can I say something as I expect your comments are going to be filled with debates back and forth.

    I am not a politician. I am not really that political at all. I'm not good with debates, with weighing up pros and cons and crafting convincing arguments and not listening to anything the other side is saying. All I am is a mother, a disabled person, with a disabled son. Debate is something people seem to get into, and they'll do it for hours because to them it's just talk. But this is my life they're cutting. They're cutting my existence, and the existence of my son. They're ripping it up by the roots - and I'm sorry if that's too rhetorical or anecdotal for many people but I don't know how to put it any other way.

    In short, this isn't a debate for me - it's not a speaking exercise; and therefore I was horrified to see people casually cast a vote which will affect PEOPLE, not just statistics. I think that's what shocks me most of all - I'm not a human being, I'm just a debate.

    I thank you, George, for remembering that somewhere in all this political push-and-shove, there are people at the end of it. Maybe people don't think that's very "professional", but I think it makes you more human. And I appreciate that.

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  2. The only sense I've heard from your party lately!

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  3. I think you will find you are not along George.
    http://spiderplantland.co.uk/?p=7768

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  4. George,

    Firstly, an excellent and well put blog which I wholeheartedly agree with. It is, frankly, shocking the way that your MPs are betraying their Party just because they have a taste of power and are unwilling to stand up and be counted for the values that I'm sure many of them originally aspired to.

    The Welfare Reform Bill will be devastating for many people - myself included - and leave disabled people in a dire situation, with no opposition to turn to and no end in sight for the misery that will be caused from April onwards.

    I beg of you - if you have any influence in the Liberal Democrats, please ensure that they return to their roots and stand up for liberal values.

    Otherwise, the Liberal Democrats may as well cease to exist.

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    1. All I can do is to do all I can. And that's exactly what I intend to do. For what it's worth, I don't think the majority of the membership have forgotten the values - the problem is our MPs getting too wrapped up in government to realise the consequences of their actions.

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    2. I will be at the Spring Conference too in inverness and totally agree with you. I think our MP's have got to like being in power to much. They have forgotten what is in the coalition agreement and what is not. What is not they don't have to vote for.

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  5. A brilliant post George, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

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  6. Dear George Potter,

    If the Lib Dems were in sole power your comments would have some relevance. Your inability to distinguish between party policy (what we aspire to) and coalition decisions (what it is possible to achieve) is a major drawback in taking what you say seriously.

    I have been faced with the same problem in local government. Unable to get other parties to agree 100% with party policy I had for years to get concensus on a whole range of issues in both an all party and a two party coalition cabinet. Half a loaf is better than none.

    That's the reality of politics. Moaning that 100% pure Lib Dem policy isn't being implemented and that conference decisions are not getting into government policy serves no purpose except to give succour to our opponents.

    What you might very usefully be doing is laying into the Labour Party for destroying not only the economy, but the NHS and many public services during their 13 years in power and for having no coherent policy for sorting out the mess they left behind.

    As it happens, the welfare reforms are widley supported by the public. As a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in 2010, I can tell you that the single most vehement set of responses I got was about people and families who make living off the state a lifestyle choice. This was not from affluent middle class voters, but hard pressed members of the working class in inner city Leeds. None of those who expressed their views to me could understand why people should get benefits higher in many cases than most of them earned.

    Now the reforms may not be what we might have chosen if we were in control but some sort of reform is necessary. Perhaps you could write about that.

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    1. The welfare reforms were not in the tory manifesto, our manifesto or the coalition agreement. When we passed policy, unanimously I might add, I'd expect our MPs to listen. They did not listen.

      I did not necessarily expect them to do exactly what we wanted but they didn't even put forward compromise amendments or back compromise amendments. Because of their actions people who have nothing to fall back on will suffer and some of them will be placed in a situation where they end up taking their own life.

      I am not talking here about people living a life of luxury off the state, I am talking about people living on the margins and struggling to cope with debilitating conditions. You clearly haven't got a clue what you're talking about and the fact that you're so eager to shoot your mouth off when you've got no idea of the impact of the cuts to disability benefits shows how idiotic you are. How the fuck is it right that terminally ill cancer patients should be forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops? How the fuck is it right that people who have paid into the system their whole lives should lose support after just one year despite being unable to support themselves?

      How about you actually go and see some of the people being impacted by this? How about you actually look at the lives our MPs have just made harder before you rush to bark out loyalist dogma regardless of the human cost?

      I am not damaging the party, what is damaging it is our leadership ignoring our democratic principles, ignoring our fundamental values and doing something that will be massively politically damaging once the realities of these changes hit.

      I despise Labour but at least they made the arguments here and voted the right way - they did a better job of standing up for Lib Dem policy and values than our own MPs did!

      So, in conclusion, go away, educate yourself out of ignorance about what these reforms will really mean and then come back and criticise.

      If you actually want to do that then I suggest you start here:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/lisa-egan/welfare-reform-bill-protest-_b_1239973.html?ref=uk

      Failing that, ask any kind of disability or cancer charity about the welfare reform bill. Or ask the CAB. Then you might actually have the germ of a beginning of knowledge about what you're talking about.

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    2. Also Dr Mick Taylor, I very hope I run into you at conference so we can discuss this further.

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    4. What planet are you living on Mick? Your attitude reads like oh we can't get all our manifesto through so it's ok to pick on the disabled. It's attitudes like yours that has put your party as low as 8% in the polls. You are sleep walking to a massacre at the next general election.

      You say labour destroyed the NHS,that's absolute nonsense.More doctors,more nurses & lower waiting lists & the fact that 95% of people that use the NHS rate their treatment as good,very good or excellent so Labour did not destroy it unlike the suicidal bill that your party has scandalously supported,a bill that i may add was in neither parties manifesto!. You'll pay the price at the ballot box & just dare try the 'oh but it wasn't in our manifesto' line on the doorstep as people will laugh in your face.

      Regsrds

      Ian

      (@Mancman10 on Twitter)

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  7. Dear George,
    You have put into words what I feel.
    I completely agree with the first comment.
    Disabled people are people and not statistics.
    I hope that none of our MPs have to suffer any disabilities - mind you if they did they would not have to go through the hoops that they have put into the way of the rest of us.
    You reap what you sow.

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  8. Leave your party. It is now nothing but a vehicle for the most rightwing experiment in social engineering in British history. If you and your colleagues remain in collusion with that, it will no longer be at the sacrifice of your party, which is finished for at least a generation. It will also be at the cost of your own integrity and genuinely held belief in a fairer society. Don't waste your time a minute longer.

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    1. I'm going to post about this in detail later but I'm not going to leave my party. The unanimous passing of the motion on ESA at conference last September shows that the membership hasn't changed. And I can't abandon my local party and my local community just because of a few dozen pillocks at the top - I owe them more than that.

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  9. Bravo, George. I admire and respect what you are doing enormously. But you already know that.

    Mickft: Of course there are some people, surprisingly few, that manage to make a good life out of welfare. Most don't. It's not really that generous. Of course there are many who work in the black economy and claim benefits at the same time, possibly dealing drugs, working building sites, running their own little businesses... etc.

    And of course that angers the "decent hard working families up and down the country" that Clegg, Cameron, Miliband and all their little helpers bang on and on about.

    If the DWP spent a little more on detecting fraud and a little less paying ATOS to meet their stringent targets, there would be far fewer fraudsters.

    But I'd rather that ten fraudsters got away with fiddling the comparatively small amount* that they do fiddle, than there was one person like the lady who commented at the top of the page, who had to go without.

    (*I can't remember the figures offhand, but I'm sure George has them. Benefit fraud costs the country a fraction of high end tax fraud, and tax avoidance.)

    As for all the people who get bent out of shape about folk living high on the hog on handouts, if they phoned the fraud hotline, or called their local police, or write to the DWP, or Jobcentre Plus, instead of bellyaching about all the people they know for a fact,who are on the fiddle (many of them their own relatives) that would be even more cost effective than employing fraud busters.

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  10. I knew this day would come George. When you tangle with the Tories you better be supping with a long spoon. I have stated elsewhere that I believe that the Tories are driven by hate and greed. Every day I see examples of that and every day I become more cynical. Too many of the elder Statesmen within your Party have sold their souls for the crumbs of power.
    When I see the likes of Clegg and that awful Jeremy Browne and how they have lap danced for a seat in Cabinet, and contrast that with the dignified manner the SNP moved from minor Party politics to the Party of Government, I thank God for Alex Salmond.

    Now, that would be one thing if the only thing you lost was an AV vote, but as you say, people will die because of this. Children will suffer because of this and families will be broken up because of this as well.

    To be fair to many of your foot soldiers and activists, this battle was not lost tonight, it was lost over the last ten years, as the Right Wing media has relentlessly repeated myths and downright lies regarding the unemployed and the disabled.

    The Left have been far too fragmented and too busy fighting internecine battles to be bothered about life for millions of people in our Country.

    The fact is that that Right have exploited the anger that the working poor have in this Country and turned it against the unemployed in society. This was shameful because this anger SHOULD have been used to campaign for better employment rights a better minimum wage. Christ that should have been used to campaign for full employment, but no. Fighting the Iraq war/dodgy dossier and the Blair/Brown debacle was more important. Arguing about who was briefing against who was more important than getting people back into work.

    George, I remember when you got some fire in your belly over at Lib Con over Sue’s plight and I applauded that. I believe that some of you get into politics for the correct reasons, if a few stay in politics for completely different ones.

    I wish I could offer some words of comfort, but I know you did everything correctly. You played by the rules, you joined the Party, you went to conference and you wrote and campaigned for your motion. The taxpayers alliance and Paul Dacre have deeper pockets than you and the grass roots.

    George, we are entering some pretty dark days. The Tories have won the propaganda wars. They have convinced the Country that we are on our knees because there is a parasitic underclass of unemployed, disabled and public sector workers draining the Country.

    We are heading for our own funerals tonight, killed by our own inability to unite and fight against the Tory machine.

    Sorry George, the post war settlement and the welfare state is over. You tried, mate but it is yesterday’s battle.

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    1. The post war settlement died long ago. But attitudes change and tides shift. Every great battle was not one in an instant but through the constant struggle of thousands of little people. If we keep chipping away at the propaganda then, eventually, we will change people's minds. We will overcome - even if it takes us a thousand years.

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  11. I wish I'd known what the 'quality' of LibDem cabdidates such as Mickft was before I cast my vote for them in May 2010. I'd have saved myself a lot of heartache.

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  12. 1) Is it possible for you to press for a vote of no confidence in both Nick Clegg and the coalition government that might result in a new election?

    2) Is it possible for a layperson to raise a petition asking for such and would it have any credence or chance of being carried forward?

    3) Given that Lib Dems leaders can only act on the decisions of the party as a whole, what happens if they give a vote of no confidence in Nick Clegg and depose him as leader of the party?

    These seem to be to be the only routes finally left open to us all, as disabled and vulnerable people and as sentient human beings who care about our fellows.

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    1. 1) It's possible to depose Clegg as leader but not through a vote of no-confidence. My concern is that doing so now would fail to achieve any good as it wouldn't succeed at the moment and by failing would undermine the long term struggle. I don't like it but that's my assessment.

      2) I don't think anyone within the party would listen to be honest :(

      3) If Nick Clegg were deposed then he would still be DPM but it would trigger a leadership election and there's no telling what the next leader would decide to do.

      There are some routes left open and I'm going to try and detail them when I have the time but I think that all we can do for the actual people affected by this is to rally together as a community to help them apply for the discretionary funding provided in the transitional arrangements, to try and keep morale up, to keep lobbying to make sure that the details not in the bill itself are made as fair as possible, to use legal challenges and to expose this whole rotten mess for all to see. If we can get through the next few years then the worst will be over - but I can't pretend it won't be hard.

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  13. Hi George,
    I'm a first time visitor here after reading your piece on the Guardian CIF - the piece you wrote is one of the few by LD contributors recently that hasn't left me cursing the fact I voted for your party.
    Thank you for fighting the good fight and I'll be looking out here to see what reply you get explaining why this had to be.

    Good luck,
    Neil

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    1. Thanks Neil. For what it's worth, I think that you look at your local Lib Dem party then you'll see that, in the main, they're the kind of people you'd be proud to vote for. It's just a shame about our MPs on the national level.

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  14. I think it is time that you and many others seriously consider if your party is the best way to work towards liberal principles. Your leadership have betrayed you their members and every voter who 'agreed with Nick' in 2010 and before. They no longer represent you.
    If you cannot win at your spring conference (and I wish you luck) then I think it is time for those who actually care about liberal principles to seriously consider their membership. There are alternatives.

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    1. I'm afraid there aren't really any alternatives for a liberal. But, if after Spring and Autumn conference I can't see any hope then I will definitely have to reconsider my position.

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  15. Your analysis of the effects of the votes is faultless.

    I've been a bit mean at you in the past but I genuinely feel sorry for you right now. You clearly have a major conflict of loyalty going on.

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    1. To be honest, you've been outright insulting in the past but I appreciate your sentiment. And I don't hold grudges.

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  16. I am not a Liberal. I agree of course with George but this is what one can only expect from a party of the free market. It was the Liberal Party under Asquith that opposed womens' suffrage and introduced the Cat and Mouse Act. The Liberal Party has always been hostile to organised labour. Witness the support for the erosion of basic rights such as having to wait 2 years before claiming unfair dismissal or having to pay a large deposit just to file a claim.

    The argument that this is a product of being in a coalition doesn't wash. If there was an ounce of principle amongst Lib Dem MPs then they could have simply told Cameron they wouldn't support the proposals. The reality is that they do support them and in the case of erosion of employment protection the key driver in this has been Vincent Cable. As long as you base your politics on support of capitalism and the market economy then the poorest in society will always be made to pay when the system goes into crisis.

    However I expect people will remember this particular betrayal longer than Lib Dems remember. And were there no Lib Dem MPs who voted in favour of the Lord's amendments?

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    1. I disagree with you over liberalism but I agree with you that these excuses simply don't wash.

      There were about 8 LD MPs who voted in favour of the Lords' amendments, Ming Campbell and Bob Russell, for example. And a few abstained. That's all though.

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  17. George, I believe that if the Lib Dems had been aware that coalition would have meant supporting this sort of legislation, the party conference in Birmingham would have come out with a very different decision.

    The trouble is that whenever this is discussed by Tories in parliament, the implication is that people who draw benefits are not really entitled to them and are all really capable of earning their own living which is far from the truth. The newspapers are even worse and even the BBC has a programme called Saints & Scroungers which concentrates are more on the scroungers than the saints. The whole debate is skewed which is why the government believes that it has public support.

    The even more disappointing aspect is that many of our Lords (and Ladies) put up a really good show against the worst aspects of the Bill.

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    1. I agree entirely. I'm not entirely sure what yet but something has to be done. And we'll have to make sure that it does get done.

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  18. George as a member of the SDP I was at the Hillhead and Crosby bye elections, as a Lib Dem I have been Constituency Party Chairman Election Agent, Southern Regional exec and County Council candidate. The Lib Dems have changed and this keep in power at all costs attitude has done the party no good as was back tracking on student fees. I joined the English Democrats because Europe was for trading with not to be mugged by, and despite being a magnet for right wingers is essentially a centre party run at the top by sensible people. If doing what's best for your country and realising that sticking to your ideals means standing up and saying so then I urge all Lib Dems to look at the English Democrats as a more idealistic centre party than the current Lib Dem coalition.

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  19. Would you rather Lib Dem MPs made a difference, or that they were seen to 'stand up for their principles' but did nothing because we were sat in Opposition again?

    Politics is a messy set of compromises. Don't enter it if you're not prepared to compromise on the things you believe in passionately in order to achieve what is possible.

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    1. Compromise maybe but pick on disabled people & people with cancer,forcing them into being assessed for work? Thats some bloody compromise Ben

      Ian

      (@Mancman10 on Twitter)

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    2. You can compromise on policy but you should never, ever compromise on principle. If you start compromising on principle then you might as well pack up and go home.

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  20. hmmm... and what is possible? in terms of the welfare reform bill - which is what this discussion is about - f*** all as far as I can see. NOBODY seems to realise what this bill getting through means! Wake up!!! It is going to be an utter disaster. And Lib Dems have not made a difference - they have voted for it.

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    1. I as a Labour supporter agreed with the cap but backed the amendments for the vulnerable but yes welfare does need reform but the problems always come down the line with the refor of it sadly. I have no doubt that in time MPs surgeries will be full of desperate stories of people affected by the bill & the cheering tories will not be cheering.Why can't we have the same attention to look at tax avoidance & evasion which VASTLY outweighs any savings made from these reforms.

      Ian

      (@Mancman10 on Twitter)

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  21. The only thing I can say is if you left the LibDems George,many LibDems,particularly the MP,s and leadership would be glad to see the back of you.

    Hang on in there George.Prick their consciences.Generally make life hard for them.In doing this you may win back your party.

    To many of us said nothing in Labour when it was swinging to the right.

    You have more Guts,Conviction,Passion in your little finger than some of these Sycophants have in their whole body.

    We may be on the losing side.But we are morally right,as a lot of your detractors well know.

    So keep on being a LibDem,hold your head high.And keep rattling cages.Good on you George.

    Peter Benson

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  22. As John Kenneth Galbraith so eloquently put it “Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite”, so don’t look to conventional politics for the answer.
    Nobody bothers where the line is as long as they themselves are above it, so nothing substantially will change until the disabled et al are in a majority or at least present a large enough coherent lobby.
    There is nothing wrong with the high level, apparently altruistic objectives of the Welfare Reform plans. The problem lies in a) the Government’s limited intellectual and managerial capability to ensure that these intentions are faithfully and fairly implemented and b) its belief that the end justifies the means, regardless of the collateral damage. As my own (Tory) MP so sympathetically put it, “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs”, (sic) with little regard to there being no need for one in the first place.
    The question of honesty and integrity vs. politics is an interesting one. Call me naive, but I have never really understood why they are mutually exclusive. A small gesture perhaps, but MPs sacrificing at least some of the £5.8m p.a. spent on lunch subsidies would be nice to see. I think I blame it all on Darwin and his wretched theory.
    If Phillip Aldrick is right (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9055090/Spending-cuts-may-be-fantasy-but-what-is-the-alternative.html), God only knows what we have ahead of us.

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  23. "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw

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  24. George this really is an excellent piece, FINALLY a Liberal Democrat prepared to not follow the party line. I'm amazed that most Lib Dem MPs voted against the amendments to continue the higher ESA benefits for the young disabled,amazed,what on earth is happening to your party?

    To MickftFeb 1, 2012 12:04 PM

    What planet are you living on? Your attitude reads like oh we can't get all our manifesto through so it's ok to pick on the disabled. It's attitudes like yours that has put your party as low as 8% in the polls. You are sleep walking to a massacre at the next general election.

    You say labour destroyed the NHS,that's absolute nonsense.More doctors,more nurses & lower waiting lists & the fact that 95% of people that use the NHS rate their treatment as good,very good or excellent so Labour did not destroy it unlike the suicidal bill that your party has scandalously supported,a bill that i may add was in neither parties manifesto!. You'll pay the price at the ballot box & just dare try the 'oh but it wasn't in our manifesto' line on the doorstep as people will laugh in your face.

    Back to the subject in hand,Well done George, The MPs who voted this through will have to answer to you & i'm sure many other Lib Dem grass roots members & of course the general public when they come desperatley complaining to MPs at their surgeries.

    Regards

    Ian

    I'm @Mancman10 on Twitter

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  25. Thanks so much for all the comments. I'll try and reply when I get home this evening.

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  26. Thanks so much for all the comments. I'll try and reply when I get home this evening.

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  27. Right, I'm wading in.

    1st George, I genuinely love you. We've been through thick and thin over this bill - you stuffed envelopes of spartacus reports for days. I know that you feel exactly as I do today and it hurts. After all our hard work, it really, really hurts.

    Why? Because we believed - and no doubt still do - that we can make a difference. Yesterday was about totally betraying democracy, simple as that, and anyone who argues differently has absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

    And those who say "Leave the Lib Dems George" Well it doesn't work that way. George is a LIBERAL, he believes in LIBERAL principles and just because his party may have temporarily forgotten, he believes it's his duty to speak for them and make things better!!! that's a noble thing.

    I'm a Labour supporter because I believe in LABOUR principles and just because my party too has temporarily forgotten what they are and should be doesn't mean I should give up. It's my DUTY all of our duty to make politics representative again.

    So well done George, I too won't rest until I've shamed the people who did this. Every day until I lose breath I will expose what happened yesterday.

    The game's up and if politicians don't know yet, they will soon enough.

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    1. Thank you Sue. I'm full of admiration for you and your drive. I'll always be willing and ready to help in any way I can. Given how our MPs voted, I think I owe you that.

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  28. Giselle Williams2 February 2012 at 14:56

    George - an absolutely eloquent and intelligent commentary.

    Like Andy Platt (Feb 1, 2012 05:06 PM) I consider your analysis of the effects of the votes is faultless. And like him, I've been a bit mean at you (over on the Guardian Cif) but I genuinely feel sorry for you right now. You clearly have a major conflict of loyalty going on. However, don't let the b*stards get you down and keep on fighting.

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  29. Giselle Williams2 February 2012 at 15:04

    George - also, do you think the Coalition is going to use the Parliament Act to silence the Lords over the Health Bill?

    I feel that if the LibDems vote this through then it will be the tipping point in England. I, just out of hospital after an op, and getting ready for my next op, will become an anarchist I fear!

    My question is genuine because maybe this is the next item on the Attack the Poor and Vulnerable Agenda which needs to be dealt with.

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    1. I don't think they'll dare use the parliament act on the Health Bill. The disabled, sadly, lack a voice - the same isn't true for patients and the medical establishment.

      The bill will still get through but it will be radically changed from what Lansley wanted.

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    2. Giselle Williams3 February 2012 at 16:24

      Thanks George. If you think the LibDems are still going to vote the Health Bill (in any shape/form) through, have you any ideas on what can be done by ordinary citizens (like me)who don't actually have a voice either (at this stage). If there is such widespread opposition, why would the LibDems allow the Tories and the ToryLites (Orange Bookers) to vote this Bill through? I just can't understand it.

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    3. What you can do is to ferret out each and every single flaw with the bill and lobby MPs and peers to change them. To be honest, I think that the eventual bill that goes through has already had enough amendments that the NHS will still be protected as a state owned service that is free at the point of use. The best test of what the bill is going to be like is to watch Shirley Williams - if she lends her backing to it after having opposed it for so long then I think we can be fairly confident that it's pretty safe.

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    4. Giselle Williams3 February 2012 at 20:33

      Thanks George. No, can't agree about Shirley Williams. I have every word, every clause, every vote, - everything on the Health Bill. SW has only really chased the Lansley being responsible for the NHS and the words of the latest amendment for Report Stage are better. However, she has done her worst by doing the deal with Howe on the 49% private patient input - which, as I tried to argue with you before, could be 100% for all the difference it will make. The outcome will be people like me, who won't/can't afford private care and wouldn't get it anyway because of pre-existing conditions, will go to the end of the queue as the single beds will now be taken up by private patients. Private Companies won't be spending their directors/shareholders money building new hospitals - the taxpayers will still be funding private profit.

      Anyway, won't pester you again on this unless you do a blog on the privatisation of the NHS!

      Keep fighting for the voiceless in the country. You are very coherent in your challenges to your MPs in Government. I just wish they were Liberals or even Democrats instead of enthralled at being "in power" or Cameron's needed mates to introduce such vicious regulations against the disadvantaged - can't understand what happened to Project Merlin though!

      All the best in your war! Kind regards, Giselle

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  30. George the greatest compliment i can give you is my grandfather would have applauded you today and would nod and say well done. My grandfather was a man of principle - he stood as a coppoerative aprty candidates in the 20's and then a labour city council for 37 years, life long socialist and humanitarian. He only ever worked, shopped and banked with the coop.

    So I agree 100% with your conclusion, and if more people like you stood up for your principles no matter how popular or not we would not be in the mess we are.

    I like you will work to expose to lies.
    People may think this is scare mongering in, i can say for certain the people who work in low paid jobs and get trax credits WILL be affected, the people like me will be affected..in fact unless you earn more than £35K a year YOU will be aaffected.

    Keep going

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much Beth. I'm proud to be on the same side as people like yourself.

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  31. George what can I say. You've worked so hard at getting your party to recover its moral compass, shame most Lib Dem Peers and MPs have chosen to abandon them.

    Thanks for supporting the Responsible Reform report, I'd like to take this opportunity to also thank Sue Marsh and her colleagues for their sterling work; the toll this took on their health demonstrates the folly of the WCAs and DWP Ministers excuses for allowing the current debacle to continue.

    My Lib Dem MP is one of the few who voted for the Peer's amendments, thankfully he has not sold his soul to the Conservatives and Orange Bookers.

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  32. George is outstanding and is a voice of reason in a party whose leadership appear to have sold their soul for a seat at the top table and, as a consequence, they have betrayed the people they claimed to support. I have researched the relationship between Atos healthcare, UNUM insurance and the DWP for the past 2 years and must advise that this was a done deal long ago as we move this country ever closer to the US style of welfare, funded by insurance.

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I'm indebted to Birkdale Focus for the following choice of words:

I am happy to address most contributions, even the drunken ones if they are coherent, but I am not going to engage with negative sniping from those who do not have the guts to add their names or a consistent on-line identity to their comments. Such postings will not be published.

Anonymous comments with a constructive contribution to make to the discussion, even if it is critical will continue to be posted. Libellous comments or remarks I think may be libellous will not be published.

I will also not tolerate personation so please do not add comments in the name of real people unless you are that person. If you do not like these rules then start your own blog.

Oh, and if you persist in repeating yourself despite the fact I have addressed your point I may get bored and reject your comment.

The views expressed in comments are those of the poster, not me.