Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cameron's Big Speech

Front page of today's Daily Telegraph reports on a speech David Cameron is going to make next Tuesday. It could be the speech that neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown have ever had the political courage to make. And it may be the speech that persuades many more people (including even Simon Heffer perhaps) that it's time for a Cameron Government. How are we going to reduce the millions of people on benefit, both unemployment and incapacity - and what role is there for the private sector to play in delivering the policy. This is a very controversial territory - and it will not be the first time that David Cameron has ventured into it. He has spoken before about his interest in the Wisconson approach - which may well turn out to be too ruthless for the UK taste, but is in the right general direction.

Whenever I've been accused of being a bit of a wimpish Tory, I like to shift the debate onto this subject (or abortion) where I'm unquestionably a man of the right. I like the idea of anyone wanting to claim unemployment benefit being required to do something for it (after a suitable period of time) - even if it is a job that has only marginal direct benefit to society. I also believe that we should introduce a tough regime in respect of access to incapacity benefit. And I think we should expect single parents to work as soon as the youngest child reaches the official school starting age. This just seems to me to be common sense - and fair to all those who do work, and who have a genuine need of benefit

I note that the Telegraph report refers to David not having ruled out putting a time limit on some benefits. I don't know whether this is true, but I would take some persuading to support this. It seems to me that if someone qualifies for benefit, it should be paid.

In his Saturday Column, Simon Heffer goes too far for me - no surprise there. He blames current high benefit dependency on poor educational standards, on unfettered immigration, and on consistently weak Governments who will not tackle such a difficult problem. I can go along with all this to a degree. But I don't agree with his blaming the Minimum wage. I understand the principle that wages should be based on a contract agreed between employer and employee, depending on what the market dictates, but I do not accept that the minimum wage does the damage he claims - and won't do if it continues to be set at the right level. I would be surprised if any Conservative Government would want to undo this Labour introduction. It doesn't read as if Simon is totally on board, which is a relief because I'm not at all sure a Heffer manifesto would ever win a majority, let alone in 2009.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

The problem with subversly using or encouraging misuse thereof or turning a blind eye to misuse of government programs like the invalidity benefits system is that at some point the subverted system has to be properly regulated.

During Thatcher's era as PM the invalidity system was used as an instrument to hide the real unemployment figures. How do I happen to know this? Because my Welsh father was on invalidty benefits when government encouraged unemployed people to be on invalidty benefit. My father was unemployed, not disabled. As far as I know he wasn't even given a medical, the unemployment office simply switched him to invalidity benefits and he was no longer a statistic on the unemployed register - 'magic' or manipulation by government of statistics? No wonder I am such a cynic!

When you grow up in a family where your dad can hardly write a sentence, has no pension plan, no long term anything, then you know the hard side of life, the bitter reality of living on a run down council house estate, written off.

There was a time (maybe its still that way), that an unskilled or semi-skilled man in his 50s just can't find a job in South East Wales within reasonable public transport distance. With a motorbike and then a car he could commute to Cardiff for work.

Poor people have less access to private transport and need reliable public transport, sadly many employers are wary of taking on someone who lives a distance away who does not at that time have a car or motorbike - particularly if the job involves shift work and/or irregular anti-social hours when the public transport system is not running.

So just because some public school educated rich kid is told there are 50,000 vacancies in Wales does not mean there are 50,000 long term unemployed people able to fill them; for starters they need access to a reliable public transport system.

These are people with very limited means and very little hope of ever getting anywhere. Get real Mr. Rich Public School Educated twitface. There are ways of getting the long term unemployed back to work, but quick tricks and foolish rhetoric is NOT ONE OF THEM. This is the fastest way the Conservative Party can show crass stupidity and crass lack of "connect" with joe public. The working poor don't choose to live cheek to cheek in poverty. Provide a vibrant economy that generates jobs, a good transport system, a good health system, a well maintained housing stock, that doesn't stealth tax earning people to death - that is the message that the leader of the Conservatives should be shouting from roof tops, not the silly pig-ignorant public schoolboy rich kid twit 'fixes'. Get off that track, and fast.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Btw, the so called "Wisconsin approach" approach (if memory serves) was put in place with concurrent support/agreement of President William Jefferson Clinton (aka, "President Bill Clinton"). Wisconsin is a largely Democratic state, a "liberal state", just north of Illinois where Hillary Rodham Clinton comes from. Funny thing, both Bill and Hilliary were lawyers who worked in the same law firm. Both now super-rich dudes who know as much about being on benefits as Royalty knows about eating "seconds" or "thirds" from cake shops. Tip: the stale smell doesn't always translate into a stale taste.

Anonymous said...

So basically Glyn, you support the government interfering in people's lives, punishing those who do not live as the Conservative party wishes, and badgering sick people?

This approach is unimaginative and just plain wrong. Slashing spending is obviously more impoertant than good governance for the Tories.

Praguetory said...

I'd never accuse you of being a wimpish Tory, Glyn.

Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats said...

> During Thatcher's era as PM the
>invalidity system was used as an
>instrument to hide the real
>unemployment figures.
Then there was an about-face (under Major?). A big exercise to take the majority of recipients off invalidity benefits caused hardship during the crude assessment process.

It looks as if both Labour and Conservatives are again proceeding from the assumption that benefit recipients are scroungers until proved otherwise.
Frank Little

Glyn Davies said...

Sanddef - I don't know what the Conservative proposals are yet, but would very surprised if they will be about 'slashing spending' - don't know where you got that from. Wouldn't surprise me if they cost more - particularly in the short run. Will have to wait and see.
What you see as 'interfering in peoples lives, punishing those who do not live as the Conservative Party want and badgering sick people', I see as helping people out of dependency, and into a more fulfilling life. There are over two and a half million people on incapacity benefit, a figure that has risen exponentially over recent years. I just do not believe that there are that many people in Britain who should be written off.

Christopher - What you write about your father only makes my point. If he was unemployed, he should have been registered as unemployed - and your general point about increasing opportunity is agreed. This is what successive Governments have tried to do, as best they can. I just do not know what you mean by 'quick tricks and foolish rhetoric'. The Conserative Party has done a lot of work on what we can do to improve social cohesion in Britain. It is one of the most important challenges that will face us if we win the next election. Let me know what you think of David Cameron's speech after you have read it, or the reports about what was in it.

Glyn Davies said...

Praguetory - all compliments accepted.

Frank - no-one is talking about benefit scroungers on this thread - except you. Surely you agree that the benefit system should be fair. Do you really think that there are over 2.6 million who should be on incapacity benefit? Don't you agree that people who live under benefit generally live less satisfying lives, and would be better off working if they are able to. Do you really think that the present position is acceptable? Tell us what you would do to change it. No good just criticising others who are willing to look at ideas about how we can improve the lives of the millions who are now on benefit.

Anonymous said...

But I don't agree with his blaming the Minimum wage. I understand the principle that wages should be based on a contract agreed between employer and employee, depending on what the market dictates, but I do not accept that the minimum wage does the damage he claims - and won't do if it continues to be set at the right level

It has done no end of harm to my business, I only employ 7/8 at any time, and it has caused me financial
pain. I have voted Conservative all of my life, but feel like abstaining from now on, after comments like yours.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

"Let me know what you think of David Cameron's speech after you have read it, or the reports about what was in it."


Jerry Dixon said...

You are not the Conservative I thought you were.
Too many years drawing a salary from the quango's etc.
Have you any idea how hard it is to run a small hotel, shop, offive these days?
I think it best you stay in local politics.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think Glyn, that people on incapacity benefit would not prefer to work if they could? The ammount they receive on benefit is paltry and hardly enough to live on.

Just to glibly say, they should get back to work, is a favourite of politicians who know absolutely nothing about the hardships these people go through.

Where are these jobs going to come from? What sort of jobs do you think people on invalidity benefit could actually do? The majority are not scroungers, but have a genuine illness and are incapable of physical work. A lot have mental health issues and might be able to just about survive on the meagre ammount they get on benefits, but are not capable of holding down a job which might make heavy demands on them.

This is typical Thatcherite policy from a non-caring society.

We should be protecting our vunerable and weak members of our society, not make them feel pariahs and scroungers - they have enough problems as it is.

Glyn Davies said...

Some comments here that inspire me to post on 'My purpose in Blogging'. My supper is imminent - so I'll repond later tonight.

Jerry Dixon said...

even if it is a job that has only marginal direct benefit to society. I also believe that we should introduce a tough regime in respect of access to incapacity benefit. And I think we should expect single parents to work as soon as the youngest child reaches the official school starting age. This just seems to me to be common sense - and fair to all those who do work, and who have a genuine need of benefit

Glyn is bang on there, it is the minimum wage I was talking about.
North Wales is full of lazy buggers, some I know for a FACT could work, yet claim incapacity benefit.

johnny foreigner said...

glyn said....

"I also believe that we should introduce a tough regime in respect of access to incapacity benefit."

johnny says....

So, you are obviously unaware of the current "tough" methods of disability claims assessment. That being the case, kindly allow me to enlighten you.

Disability claimants are now subject to examination by computer. The system is termed the LIMA system. (Logic Integrated Medical Assessment).

This method takes assessment from the examining doctor's hands and merely requires the doctor to indicate the NEAREST answers to the computer prompted questions. Many cases are currently under review as a result of anomalous findings being produced by this controversial system.

The DWP are currently using a method of claims denial imported from a notorious American Insurance Company called UNUM.

Basically speaking, their view is that their doctors are better trained than any others when assessing disability.

UNUM have been fined many millions of dollars in the USA for unlawful claims denial and have been described by Mr. John Garamandi, former Insurance Commissioner for California, now Lieutenant Governor of California as:

"An outlaw company who have operated in an illegal fashion for years". He also describes UNUM as having run "claims denial factories".

UNUM's methods have been introduced into the DWP by the previous Chief Medical Adviser, Prof. Mansel Aylward, who has since been rewarded by his appointment as Director of the UNUM Provident School of BioPsychoSocial Science at Cardiff University. Incidentally Prof. Aylward is also Director of The Wales Centre for Health a Phoenix that has arisen from Rhodri's bonfire of the Quangos.

Prof. Aylward, considered by many to be the local agent for UNUM, is currently being 'courted' by Edwina Hart AM, our Health Minister, as a fit and proper person to undertake local Health Service provision reconfiguration.

In fact, Huw Lewis AM unctuously described Prof. Aylward as a person of great "stature and integrity". Huw went on to suggest that Aylward be appointed to oversee the configuration of Health service provision throughout Wales.

This is the same Prof. Aylward who has been closely involved with UNUM for many years and, due to their criminal record, clearly promotes calls for questioning the suitability of Aylward's appointments in the provision of Public Health care.

Your boss, Mr. Cameron has recently called for a re-assessment of every Disability Benefit Claimant. Presumably, he too would wish to use the same methods of claims denial currently inflicted on the genuinely disabled population of the UK, unless of course, you know different.

Although the Tories were responsible for massaging their unemployment figures by encouraging claims of disability when inappropriate, the legacy of the exposure of this 'con' is that the genuinely disabled are frequently accused of malingering and exaggerating their symptoms irrespective of obvious and clear disability. They are looked on with suspicion and are regularly disenfranchised from Benefits on the basis of the most flimsy and questionable 'evidence' of DWP doctors.

Incidentally, the director of course which turns bog standard doctors into self-styled Examinig Medical Practitioners is our old friend, yes, you've guessed it, Prof. Mansel Aylward. That's nice and cosy, isn't it?

Here's a simple question for you Glyn:

"Please provide your observations on Governmental association with a company which has been described as an "outlaw company".

If you don't wish to answer, or are unable to, don't worry too much, you'll be in good company. I have asked this question many times of Ministers, MPs, AMs and other Politicos, all of whom have avoided or prevaricated an answer.

Are you up for it?

I do hope so.

Your pal.


johnny foreigner said...

Oops! Typo alert.

The name should read John GARAMENDI.



Glyn Davies said...

jerry dixon - now I'm not sure why you comment as you do - because I'm not sure that we disagree that much. I assume you object to my reference to the minimum wage.

Well, I was opposed to the introduction of the minimum wage, believing that it was better to leave wage levels to the market. But I did take the view that it would not have a very damaging effect on the wider UK economy if it was set low enough. Clearly, it would have a negative impact on any business paying less than the minimum wage - and still does so today, making life difficult for some traditionally low wage sectors. I'm sure that some businesses have folded as a result.

My point was that I do not believe that an incoming Conservative Government would scrap the minimum wage, but I don't know this - perhaps I'm wrong. Philosophically, I would be content to see it abolished, but I think there would be a political price to be paid - and I just don't think its going to happen.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I agree with most of what you say - except that I suspect that there are some (albeit a small percentage) who look on incapacity benefit as a normal way of life, and are capable of some form of work. Of course, the majority on benefit are vulnerable people, who cannot work, and for which society has a responsibility. But over recent years, the numbers have risen so rapidly, that any responsible Government has to make sure that the system is working fairly. If someone is unemployed, we should make sure that they are on some route back to work. And if someone is on incapacity benefit, we should make sure that they are not capable of work. Far from this being some form of 'Thatcherite'policy, I don't think this is seriously challenged by any mainstream political party anymore.

Anonymous said...

That Tory idiot Michael Gove was on BBC 24 earlier this evening talking on this matter. I say "idiot" because he described incapacity claimants as "taking the country for a ride".

Glyn Davies said...

johnny foreigner - its all fair comment - but I'm just not sufficiently knowlegable to answer the question you put about the associations with a US insurance company. All I want to see is a fair system of assessment. Its what most people want to see. Like most politicians, I have lobbied on behalf of people refused Incapacity Benefit when it seemed to me that they obviously qualified. But I also know of cases where it seems to me that recipients don't qualify. Seems to me to be an overwhelming case for continuing assessment.

Now, I don't know precisely what David Cameron is going to say on Tuesday - and I do not know what sort of assessment the Party has in mind. But I would hope it to be fair and thorough. I've read several, sometimes conflicting reports in newspapers. I have noted that the only opposition from the Government to these reports is that the plans are a copy of Labour's plans.

Glyn Davies said...

Sanddef - I don't think Michael Gove is an 'idiot'. In fact I think he is a really first class politician. Now I've not seen him speak on this subject, so cannot say whether I agree with what he's said or not. But I do consider this to be defining issue about the balance between society's responsibility to its people and the responsibility of individuals to society - and I hope that Cameron's speech will be the catalyst for an overdue proper debate.

johnny foreigner said...

If it's of any help Glyn, there is a link to short BBC report regarding UNUM on my blog at:

Further interesting info. may be found at:

In fact the first two pages of a Google search for UNUMprovident provides more than enough info. to at least enlighten yourself as to the true nature of this company which is currently hand in glove with the DWP.

This matter is certainly not going away.

Your pal.