*Ed: Please also refer to next posting.
Nov 7 2007
May be reposted
14 years of living with severe ME ; poverty, a painful, paralysed struggle, every single moment. It was our wedding anniversary yesterday.
What a particularly exquisite joy it was then to witness the BBC’s Marl Daley, famous in the UK for his expose of institutional racism in the Police force, launch into a devastating critique of UNUM, on the news at 10 last night.
UNUM ‘s extraordinary , growing, life-destroying influence over ME sufferer’s lives has been the bane of our life, for well over a decade.
Dr Peter Dewis did his uncomfortable best to try and explain how UNUM has moved on ; about as convincing as anyone who authored the infamous Disability Handbook with Prof Michael Aylward could be.
In its ongoing relationship with the government, UNUM has sponsored meetings at the 2003 and 2005 Labour Party conferences, titled ‘The missing million: disability and pathways to work’ and ‘Welfare Reform: The way forward’, respectively.
Illness, UNUM argue, is a dysfunction of the person; the problem of illness is located in the individual’s beliefs and behaviour.
In 2001 UNUM launched New Beginnings , a public private partnership which has been hugely influential in shaping Public Policy, especially in relation to the Department of Work and Pensions ‘s (DWP) Pathways to Work programme – designed to get disabled people back into work.
Labour’s Welfare Reform Bill received Royal Assent on May 3rd 2007; the ill are rightly worried that this is a drive to force them off benefits into jobs they are too ill to perform.
Alongside privatisation of the NHS, once unthinkable, privatisation of UK welfare reform is now gathering apace with UNUM as its major player.
In the age of Blair “ideology has surrendered entirely to ‘values’… there are no sacred cows [and] no fossilised limits to the ground over which the mind might range in search of a better Britain”, Hugo Young warned in the Guardian, in 1997.
*It was particularly good to see Ian Gibson MP on the programme last night , questioning UMUM’ s involvement; his Parliamentary Inquiry into ME/CFS raised grave concerns about the vested interests at the DWP.
To be disabled or ill under New Labour has always been to be poor, punished and penalized.
There is always hope though.
United Health Europe were prevented from taking control of GP services in Derbyshire. Pat Smith, a pensioner, took the case to court and won. “This shows what people power can do,” she said.
Mind you, Chan Wheeler, an ex Chief Executive of United Health has recently been appointed the new commercial director of the NHS.
Just for a moment last night , it felt like a victory.