‘Adopt a Lord’ is counterproductive

Baroness Murphy

Following on Lord Tyler’s exchanges with Zoe Williams in the Guardian, I have to confess to being increasingly alienated by mass e-mails and letters about the Health and Social Care Bill. We have always had mass mailings from union members and religious organisations on certain issues but I first noticed I was receiving large numbers of misinformed and politically naive mailings during the Higher Education (fees) bill. These are quite different from the carefully written briefs from voluntary organisations,  professional bodies and unions who make their points openly, often legitimately defending their members’ corner and pointing out the impact on a special interest group of parts of a bill, which are very welcome, indeed essential. Now of course it is good to hear from individuals who have a personal interest in a bill and we get many highly valued letters from members of the public pointing out angles and corner of a bill we hadn’t thought of but the ones i have received from the mass lobby are not like this. For a start they follow a pattern; they don’t make recommendations for amendment or change but oppose a bill outright and the letters give the impression of having been constructed from a template created elsewhere. You see it’s not how many opinions we get that has an impact, it’s the persuasion of the opinions that counts. Those that are well informed, considered and balanced I will read and note. Those that are from ‘rent a voice’ on behalf of politically motivated groups are simply irritating.

40 comments for “‘Adopt a Lord’ is counterproductive

  1. Gar
    22/10/2011 at 5:56 pm

    And yet there are people who promote the idea of mass write-ins as a way to winning a campaign.
    There are also far more people who know what a campaign is, even if they do not know what a “cause” is; may be people have far more time to conduct campaigns of their own, encouraged by radio and TV chat campaign shows such as Jeremy Vine’s (who does quite useful work)

    I wonder how many get to reading the Bills at all, at any stage?!

  2. ladytizzy
    22/10/2011 at 7:37 pm

    All completely understandable, Baroness Murphy but some of us are not blessed with the ability to wade through hundreds of pages of a Bill, make sense of it, and then attempt some constructive criticism in the space of a 12 week (at best) public consultation. Most people don’t even know what a public consultation is let alone know how to submit one.

    MPs could be much more helpful but most follow their party line which is pretty futile if your MP wears the wrong colour rosette. It is not surprising that peer’s pigeon holes are increasingly well stuffed even without this blog, which has a remit to encourage “…dialogue between the public and Members of the House of Lords.” We all have our opinions on which bloggers and commenters here are fab and those not so much but we have all bothered to commit time and effort in the name of dialogue. (At this point, I must acknowledge my own petty offerings in the heat of exasperation, and duly apologise to all I have offended.)

    Though it is tough to take on board half-witted outpourings, nonetheless they have been made for a reason and so should count. They are, at least, one step up from moronically signing a petition.

  3. Dave H
    22/10/2011 at 8:06 pm

    The trick of a mass write-in is to get people to focus on one or two points each and explain them in their own words why they support or object. That way at least the letters are different and may give a wider range of views on the subject. To some extent you can rely on the big organisations to dismantle the whole thing in detail, so there’s no need to try and understand all of it beyond an overview. Just make your letter personal and show that you’ve taken the time to think about the issues involved and you stand more chance of getting it read.

    I agree with ladytizzy about people becoming disillusioned with their MP – they’re nearly always going to vote the party line, as I’m sure Monday’s referendum vote will show. I’m sure Lord Norton would point out that if we had an elected Lords, it would go the same way.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      23/10/2011 at 12:23 pm

      If we had an elected Lords, it would go the same way.

      • Lord Blagger
        23/10/2011 at 5:55 pm

        In other words, the Lords are going to flick the V to the electorate as they do now.

        The MPs are going to do the same.

        It’s only at an election will they promise and lie to get themselves elected, as they do now.

        The solution is for the electorate to be in control of politicians, both short term and long term as they are in Switzerland, for a first world example.

        1. Right of recall
        2. Referenda on major decisions.
        3. Petitions

        • Lord Norton
          Lord Norton
          23/10/2011 at 6:12 pm

          Lord Blagger: Your comments have no relationship to my observation.

          • Lord Blagger
            23/10/2011 at 8:23 pm

            Oh but they do.

            Other posters have been making the same observations as me.

            1. Lords ignore the electorate – see the threads on Welfare where the request is posted to comment on the welfare reform bill. End result, Lords decide they don’t want to be bothered with the electorate who pay 2,700 a day, per Lord.

            2. Ditto for the commons.

            As you point out, the Lords will behave the same ways the MPs.

            I’ve pointed out with the evidence that they already are flicking the V to the electorate.

  4. Gar
    22/10/2011 at 8:13 pm

    I regret to say though that if it is the bill I looked at the other day on Health & Social welfare reform, it really is rather superficial.

    People just feel they have got to campaign against it because it is a Health Bill!

  5. muffie02
    22/10/2011 at 10:26 pm

    with respect baroness , IF or “elected ” representitives LISTENED and took note of our communications – instead of in many cases just trotting out the “party line ” all the time or putting other “vested interests ” before the wishes of the people they are “supposed ” to serve – then maybe your mail box would not be so full

    unfortunatly the fact there IS no equivelent blog like this by the people in the “other place ” leaves most of us with little option than to send in our views and in many cases vent our frustrations to those who show any sign of listening

    BUT as things stand – we have little alternative – but we do appreciate that at least some note of comments is being undertaken

    maybe if those of your house could put some pressure on those of the “other place ” to do the job they get paid for – vis represent the wishes of the people , and not dictate to us all the time – this would lessen the amount of mail ??

  6. MilesJSD
    23/10/2011 at 12:15 am

    Baroness Murphy, Gar, and ladytizzy are each contributing factors central to this matter and to participatory-democratisation generally.

    Using simply the three principles of good-communication and honest-argumentation (1 Clarity 2 Charity 3 Self-Corrigibility)
    one quickly appreciates that recipients such as BMurphy should be provided with a trained impartial staff to analyse each communication perhaps using different colour highlighting, and reasonably verbatim summaries, espewcially of (principle 2) the good intention that may be both hidden and foggily-expressed.

    When I replay last year’s Youth Parliament sitting from the green seats
    (which at that time I almost bitterly complained to LOTB was ‘pusillanimous’, ‘puerile’, ‘very disappointing’, ‘lacking in sound formal-argumentation and balanced moral reasoning’, and not at all maturely-adult and ‘fit-for-purpose’)
    I recall the contrasting strengths of senior school debaters, and of the community-education ‘reach-out’ almost worldwide by Toastmasters International,
    and would bet my pocket-money that hundreds of thousands if not millions of British citizens truly could, and perhaps would, ‘qualify’ as ‘participatory-democratisers’
    and provide such small and reasonably disinterested ‘clearance teams’ as the various inputs to parliamentary members and committees show to be necessary or in any minor detail informative or effectivising-to-Purpose.

  7. pleasehelpus
    23/10/2011 at 3:27 am

    How do you feel about the “politically motivated”, “constructed from a template created elsewhere” not very well informed, ill-considered and un-balanced opinions and statements made by politicians and other lords?

    I dont see much sign of any critisicm in debates about those.

    The typical forumla of a debate seems to follow this rather simplistic procedure.

    Member a) Raises amendment, and raises highly important points.

    Member B) Replies with several “politically motivated”, “constructed from a template created elsewhere” not very well informed, ill-considered and un-balanced opinions that usually dont actually answer the points raised.

    Member A) Begs leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Why cant we see some real guts and determination and dare I say it, integrity in the lords, where they dont accept things like the above.

    They should INSIST the questions and points are answered in FULL.

    They should not be fobbed off with vague statements, promises of more info to come at some unknown stage, promises things will be all right etc.

    They should be insisting on facts, honesty and proof.

    Not just accepting, what the public can see is absolute tripe, that has been said so many times before, as gospel.

    Or is there some ‘protocol’ that people in the lords are not allowed to have a backbone?

    Some protocol that people in the lords are not allowed to do their job properly?

    Some protocol that people in the lords must accept being fobbed off?

    I think I know why the public are not allowedd to comment directly in the lords – is it because you are all frightened what is said what not stand up to a moments scrutiny from honest determined members of the public who have a backbone, and wont be fobbed off with lies, political propaganda, missing data, and misleading statements?

  8. maude elwes
    23/10/2011 at 9:33 am

    When I read this thread heading my first thought was, this person does not like the job. Doesn’t want those who club together to make some sense of our system to make the pace, as that breathes so heavily on their time. And of course, it is a tedious business pretending to go through their observations and objectives when so much of it is on hand. What a waste of the good time I’m having here with all my perks. I won’t be able to enjoy them if the ‘herd’ continue to bug me this way.

    The line telling us, ‘of course, we do want to hear from the ‘real’ public’ because we can condescend nicely with one imbecile at a time. They, after all, are the deserving few.

    This is the job you are in, and with that job comes responsibility. You people set this method up as you ignored those who lack power. And those who unite to hammer you, do so because they feel it gives them some clout. As size does matter so much to you people. You then can boast of your necessity.

    You all repeatedly say, you don’t hear enough from the ‘real’ people. They are not getting the message to you, which is why you are so out of touch. Well, if you cannot cope with a full mail and email box, how are you going to cope with the 100’s of thousands of signatures that are going to build up in order for the people to have a debate and a bill they want heard and noted? Is the job out of your remit?

    Clearly this is not the right place for those who cannot bear pressure. Is it?

  9. Clive Arnold
    23/10/2011 at 11:18 am

    —>letters give the impression of having been constructed from a template created elsewhere.<—

    You mean like the ones politicians send in reply to constitants?

    Very patronising remarks from a person in a position so far removed from real life as to be insulting.

    I challenge you to take over my caring role on the allowances receive caring 24/7 for a severely disabled wife with no help and no back up and THEN wonder why so many disabled people and their carers want to know why a government (with no clear mandate to rule) is intent on attacking the allowances and benefits they rely on to exist (not live) and take ANY means possible to bring their concerns to those who are part of the attacks.

    Get out of your ivory tower and look around you Baroness Murphy, this country is vilifying disabled people and you are seemingly part of it.

    • Twm O'r Nant
      25/10/2011 at 9:40 am

      why a government (with no clear mandate to rule) is intent on attacking the allowances and benefits they rely on to exist (not live)


      I have been walking down the high street for some time with two sticks or a chair, and I have been very grateful for the
      wage paid to me during that time, no thanks to the NHS malpractising and professionally negligent surgeon, who did the maiming. He has spent a life time of criminal malpractise and never charged with it.

      That is by the way.I went to a private hospital with money saved from the wage,
      who commanded me to “Rise and walk!” I am more or less now thus able. They gave me a completely contrary diagnosis/prognosis from the low down, cheatin’, thieving’, health service practicioners.

      I hope that Arnold can do the same, for his wife.

      Benefits can be very demoralizing, and so can free sickness services. In the words of Leonard Cohen’s song,
      “Where none was sick, and none was well”

      To whom that applies is what the govt is examining now, about its own provisions.

  10. Hera
    23/10/2011 at 11:46 am

    Baroness, you are being very rude. The sick and disabled are not very well so a template is sometimes what they need, also they cannot always concentrate for long periods of time, so things need to be broke down for them.
    The Welfare Reform Bill, is not fit for purpose. This and the previous government just wanted to appease the public at large. So instead of going after a proper cause like the tax evaders and fraudulent expenses claimers, they go after the weakest in society. You say every one of the negative comments want to scrap the reform altogether and don’t want any checks. Well here is a radical idea; how about letting the REAL professionals who diagnose and treat the sick and disabled decide how ill they are?
    There that was an idea, what do you think of that? Oh and by the way that would be a lot cheaper than the millions waste on a computer tick test.
    But shall I tell you why the government and yourself go after the sick and disabled? we can’t afford the expense of lawyers, unlike the tax evaders and fraudulent expenses claimers. But never fret it will just take one good, kind, and generous million, to help us out, then maybe we will be able to take the fight to them.

  11. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    23/10/2011 at 2:59 pm

    Ladytizzy, keep the comments coming. Perhaps the blog is a good example of why we value personal comments rather than multiple near identical submissions. However much we may disagree with the sentiment expressed at least the content is usually clearly original.

    Muffie02. Yes I think we all agree it would be great if the Commons had a blog too but to be fair to the MPs almost all MPs now have a personal website where they blog and where comments are invited. Lord Soley when Clive Soley MP had a very active blog (that’s why he was such an expert when we started). It’s worth looking up your own MP online to see if they do have a personal blog and comment thread.

    Milesjsd; it would be lovely if someone read all my mail for me, but in the real world I do it myself. Sorry you didn’t like the Youth Parliament, lots of young people enjoyed it.

    Pleasehelpus. I can understand how strange it is watching a committee debate and thinking it does not seem like a very sensible way of doing business. I rather agree but first it’s important to realise that this is the formal public manner in which points and enquiries are put to the Minister and the Bill Team for an initial Government response. This is followed after the debate by the person tabling the amendment having further discussions with the Minister/bill team off stage or alternatively of course being satisfied with the Government’s response. A probing amendment may be no more than an exploration of an idea or a seeking of clarification. If at committee stage one is unhappy that the Government hasn’t responded appropriately or one wants to press an issue further, then one can bring an issue back at Report Stage for a vote. Then finally at Third Reading one can have another go. Many amendments are agreed outside the Chamber. But you have put your finger on an important truth, that the public performance of committee stages is not very helpful to good public understanding of how parliament really works. Your last sentence however seems to suggest that individuals can’t comment directly to peers and I hope I stressed that individual letters are very welcome. Its the mass mailings i don’t like.
    Maud Elwes, I wouldn’t be doing this blog if I didn’t enjoy hearing from people. But tell me this: if a thousand people write to me to say that the Earth is flat and I must vote against attempts to circumnavigate the world, do I think to myself “Gosh, must be a serious point here’ and change my mind to agree the earth is flat or should I think “Gosh, how did this misinformation get so well circulated and acquire credibility? ” The latter I think. by the way I never said I don’t hear from ‘real’ people.
    Clive Arnold… this is a good example of someone refusing to participate in a debate but throwing verbal bricks instead. Try some serious argument to put realistic and practical points.
    Hera, see above. But on your point that health professionals should decide on the benefits available to individuals I ought to remind you that the system was like that many years ago and most health professionals, including myself, found it almost impossible to recommend anything except the maximum benefit for our own patients. Because our relationship with our patients was more important to us than being accurate, even if that meant pulling the wool over the eyes of the DSS as was. The system became a lot fairer when an independent assessor intervened to assess the practical and social impact of disability with good medical evidence available to them. That basic system is the ones that needs improvement, we’d agree on that.

    • maude elwes
      23/10/2011 at 5:32 pm

      @Baroness Murphy:

      You cite ‘the flat earth society’ as a reason you find the entire process of the mass contact a waste of time. I am assuming this is because you feel, as the earth has been proven an orb, it therefore, should be agreed by all. So no need for further discussion.

      However, I feel you have the shoe on the wrong foot with this particular example. And here is why.

      Your example is based on two previously accepted facts. No one is disputing the earth, in this matter, is flat. As in this debate: 1) There is suffering amongst the old, infirm, disabled and poor. 2) To alleviate their distress and poverty is a desirable way forward.

      So, when you are contacted it is in order to plead for a way to achieve an objective of acceptance of facts, in order to settle on the desirable outcome they seek, rather than dispute the roundness of the planet.

      Your response however, appears to be, lets ignore the findings of the planet and rather than establish a map to assist mankind, your cry is lets burn the ships, and give the funds to another seafaring nation in order for them to set up as navigators and explorers of clemency, rather than our own admirals on this journey.

      Suffering should be alleviated by whatever means. Which therefore puts you in the group of ‘flat earthers’ when you refuse to accept the mass plea from those who contact you.

    • Baroness Deech
      Baroness Deech
      23/10/2011 at 7:51 pm

      I agree with Baroness Murphy. My inbox was full of identical letters, and now it has started with sex education at primary school. If I can, I answer hard copy letters, but have no secretary. Many of the emails arrived after the crucial vote of 12 October, when it was too late to make a difference, and I could only assume that the writers did not know what was actually going on. And yet there are millions of people out there who do not write. How is one to gauge what opinion is, especially as the weight of opinion had seemed to be that the NHS is performing really badly, and that any change can only be for the better. Some of my correspondents said just that.

      • maude elwes
        24/10/2011 at 3:08 pm

        @Baroness Deech:

        From this post of yours, I can only assume that you too are a flat earther.

        Your first complaint is that all these citizens are daring to let you know what they think, When common sense should tell them their time to complain has gone. This has to mean to you, their disquiet is going to disappear rather than expand in time.

        Dear me, does that mean you must forget their concern over the indoctrination of their children in matters that the parents feel is of no concern of government. And that same governments views, not being their views, indicates a need to let same officials know what is going on against their wishes. You should write and openly tell them you don’t want to hear about it because they have to put up with it, like it or not. That would be the ‘honest’ way out of your dilemma.

        How irritating for you. I can sympathize. The public daring to oppose what is put on the table for them to swallow and expecting you to do something about it. Not on, that. Democracy going to their heads that way. Time to dismantle this little show and let them know who really is the boss here. After all, I am not here to take them into account. Do they seriously belive I do this from a dedicated sense of duty?

    • atosvictimsgroup
      27/10/2011 at 5:45 pm

      Baroness Murphy you said

      “The system became a lot fairer when an independent assessor intervened to assess the practical and social impact of disability with good medical evidence available to them”

      The system became fairer? How you come to that conclusion astounds me and others, since we saw the introduction of so called independent assessors we have had NO FAIRNESS in the assessment process.

      Atos HCPs are making thousands of mistakes each and every day, their incompetance and fraudulent behaviour is destroying peoples lives, you think that’s an exageration I know but it’s fact.

      I’m very concerned that you have admitted whilst in your capacity as a Doctor, defrauding the DWP?

      ” found it almost impossible to recommend anything except the maximum benefit for our own patients. Because our relationship with our patients was more important to us than being accurate, even if that meant pulling the wool over the eyes of the DSS as was”

      Pulling the wool over the eyes of the DSS?

      • Lord Blagger
        28/10/2011 at 11:34 am

        Interesting reply.

        Doesn’t that back up my case that large numbers are on IB who shouldn’t be on IB?

        Doesn’t it back up the case that assessment should be done by people other than the patients GP?

        Doesn’t mean by the way, that the assessment should be fair. That should be the case.

        On Humphries little trip last night on BBC2, they interviewed a woman who was denied under ATOS, and then allowed back on IB, but this time without a reassessment. Something odd there both ways.

        They also had a GP who was incredulous that there were 2.8 million on IB.

        They had frank admissions too that people were on IB because of political convenience.

        • atosvictimsgroup
          01/11/2011 at 3:19 pm

          When Atos was asked If Humphrys could sit in on an assessment they were turned down, Atos obviously have something to hide otherwise why not let someone sit in and watch how they conduct an assessment?

    • Jean Lally
      28/10/2011 at 11:21 am

      It seems sensible to me that you want to get the most relevant information in the most efficient way possible. It seems to me that systems have not yet been developed to do this. I suggest:
      1. Organisations like 38degrees can give the Lords the total number of people objecting to a bill. I think that it is important for the Lords to know that, for instance, thousands of people are objecting to a Bill rather than a few.
      2. Organisations like Peer pressure may perhaps be able to summarise the points made by people, or make them available to their readership. People then contacting Peers can be asked to check to see what points have been made to each peer, and refrain from repetition.

      Other people may improve on these suggestions or give alternatives.

      With regard to the Health and Social Care Bill, I agreed with Lord Rea that the Bill should have been thrown out, if possible. Amendments will not change the fundamental threat inherent in the Bill,in my view. that services will, over time, cease to be free at the point of delivery. Suggesting amendments, therefore, is not always useful.

      Thank you for your interest and time that you have spent on this.

  12. Clive Arnold
    23/10/2011 at 4:08 pm

    I commented on the template letters you mentioned and compared them to the ones most/all people who contact their MP’s regarding any disability/carer related issues (this goes back well over 5 years as many disabled people and their carers will tell you) which you dislike.

    I offered you the chance to take on my caring role and allowance, you refused to comment (nothing new there as Ministers also refused to do the same for every carer that offered them the opportunity to do the same)

    Realistic and practical points? DLA works and doesn’t need changing as the alternative will cause the most vulnerable in society to be hit so hard as to make living intolerable so don’t change DLA as it will cause more problems that it solves.

    Your response will no doubt be that this isn’t an option as public finances are in such a state that there needs to be cuts, because- and here’s another “realistic and practical point”, it is the least defrauded benefit and it helps disabled people exist (not ‘live’) and others to stay in work.

  13. Gar
    23/10/2011 at 6:11 pm

    Or is there some ‘protocol’ that people in the lords are not allowed to have a backbone?

    Some protocol that people in the lords are not allowed to do their job properly?

    Some protocol that people in the lords must accept being fobbed off?

    It’s the best member’s club in London;designed and used as such.
    Unlike some of the other clubs, they actually pay a fee for attendance which is a bonus.

  14. DanFilson
    23/10/2011 at 6:32 pm

    What I said(see the following thread) to Lord Tyler, who did face an electorate several time but retired at a time of his own choosing rather than the electorate’s, applies even more to Baroness Murphy who has never faced the electorate.

    If you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Yes indeed, some of the correspondence is ill-drafted, intemperate, ill-informed and occasionally downright rude, but people have a great strength of feeling on issues like the National Health Service and the benefits received on account of disability, so no surprise if they get heated.

    Personally I don’t think template letters or emails work that well. Nor do petitions, and for the same reason as I dislike referenda – I prefer to phrase my own text rather than have someone choose the words for me.

    • maude elwes
      24/10/2011 at 1:52 pm


      But you are an intelligent, well educated and certainly articulate man. Many of the people in this group have great difficulty trying to write a competent letter of their own. So they seek help in so doing. Numbers do count, so we are told. And therefore, the group letter makes sense to them.

      There is no difference in one letter for all or all for one. That is simply splitting hairs.

      And, may I say, dodging the facts.

  15. Lord Blagger
    23/10/2011 at 8:26 pm

    The problem Clive, is that no matter what you want, or even need, your not addressing the issue.

    Government has spent all the money. It’s 7,000 bn in debt when you include the pensions. Bar the borrowing, its all been Bernie Maddoff’ed off the books.

    That ponzi is going bust. So to prolong the game so as they (MPs and Peers) get their cash, they will hit you (if you need care) or those who need care first.

    They don’t actually care about those in need, so long as they get their money.

  16. muffie02
    24/10/2011 at 3:36 am

    @baroness murphy – thank you for your reply – unfortunatly oliver colvile ( my supposed “representitive ” ) is not seemingly into blogging nor it seems into anything that go’s against the party line or supporting disabled people ( despite his prodestations to the contury ) the last time i emailed him i got a reply that oddly when compared to replies from other mps on the same subject turned out to be a “template” one too

    i have come to the conclusion that it is a total waste of my time and effort to appeal to him to actually support the disabled in any way – i and others have asked him to sign early day motions in support of disability issues – and to quote from “they work for you .com ” – This MP has never signed an early day motion.

    so baroness – what do we do when the person supposedly representing the views of those in his constiuancy – just decides he will ignore them ?? – and you wonder WHY you and other lords get flooded with mail ??

    it is said that a drowning man will clutch at straws – guess we will have to change that saying to “a drowning disabled person will clutch at a lords email address ”

    and i am sure that many others will tell you that trying to get any support from their MP’S is a fruitless exercise – yes we can vote em out next time round – but then the other lot are just as bad methinks AND by the time we DO get rid ( hopefully ) – the damage will have been done – and its hardly likely the next lot will reverse the changes

    so PLEASE – tell us what do we do when few if any will listen ?? – even those who’s well paid job it IS to do so ( but something conveniantly forgotten when they enter the commons so it seems in many cases )

    a goodly % of the people HAVE nowhere to turn – and people ask why there are revolutions in some countries ?? – we have seen the results of ignoring the people on tv recently – is THIS truly what we want to happen in this land ?? – because in my OPINION – thats going to be the outcome eventually when you have hoards of people left with little or no alternative

    i just pray god that i have crossed over BEFORE this comes to pass – as i honestly beleive it will, if someone somewhere does not start LISTENING to the people – and that includes those of us who are disabled

    ah well i have maybe 20 years to go if i am lucky – ( less if my health carrys on going down hill ) guess till then i can console my self with being one of the “great ignored of the uk ”

    ( oh and we must not of course forget “feckless scrounger ” ( according to some ) who just happens to have worked all his life from age 15 – till struck down at 48 by a stroke – who HAS and still DOES pay his taxes and charges and has served his community – and now needs the little help that he THOUGHT he was paying in for in the form of NI etc – guess i was WRONG again

    ho hum ………… what is the point anymore ??

    yours in utter dispair

    muffie 02

  17. Lord Blagger
    24/10/2011 at 9:33 am

    “feckless scrounger”

    Of which there are many. Lords and MPs included.

    If you haven’t worked out, it costs the tax payer 2,700 a day to keep a peer in their lifestyle.

    Likewise, there are vast numbers on IB because MPs find it embarassing that unemployment is so high. So they hid them on IB. Just as they have Bernie Maddoff’ed their debts.

    As for NI, if you haven’t realised, NI entitles you to nothing. MPs have made the rules and spent all your NI. The median worker has been stripped of 75% of their retirement income in the process.

    So why are you being targeted? Very simple. They have run out of money, and you are further down the list of priorities. You don’t rank as high as an MP and their salary, or peers and their turn up and collect the cash attendance allowance, or their subsidised drinking …

  18. Clive Arnold
    24/10/2011 at 10:18 am

    “Likewise, there are vast numbers on IB because MPs find it embarassing that unemployment is so high. So they hid them on IB”

    You keep coming out with this tripe but not providing any proof so how about once- just one you provide proof of that statement

    • Lord Blagger
      24/10/2011 at 1:08 pm

      I’ve repeatedly provided links to independent research, perhaps you might like to read them.

      1. Has the health of the UK in general got 300% worse over the last 20+ years? Clearly not. There is no evidence of a deterioration in health in the UK.

      There has been an increase of 300% of the number of people on IB

      2. Have people been moved from unemployment to IB? Yes.

      3. Is any of this explainable? Some is, 125K of increase is to be expected because of increases in the workplace of women. So more are entitled. However, there is no evidence that over the last 20+ years, that ill health has increase by 300%. None.

      You wanted a link, I’ll repeat it here so you can read it.


      Hidden unemployment. These are the women who could be expected to have been in
      employment in a genuinely fully employed economy – an estimated 430,000 in all.

      Double that for men, and you have 860,000 who shouldn’t be on IB

      A diversion of lone parents from Income Support. This accounts for around 125,000 women on IB

      Another 125,000 to add to the above figure.

      There is clear statistical evidence of a link between the local and sub-regional demand for labour and female IB claims. There is also clear evidence of a link between the male and female sides of the labour market. In simple terms, job loss and unemployment among men is being transm

      Let me paraphrase the statistical speak to normal. What it means is that the higher the level of unemployment, the more people who are on incapacity. They are associated. Now, in order to provide evidence for a causal link (This is why people repeat that correlation is not causation), part of the evidence is to show that the higher the dose (more unemployment) the higher the effect (incapacity payments). That’s what this is saying, and it very strong evidence that people are moved from unemployment to IB. It’s also evidence that unemployment causes incapacity. I’ve no doubt about that too. Mainly depression. However, in this case part of the cure is work.

      So what evidence do you have, since you haven’t provided any, that there really has been an increase of 300% in the number who are incapacitated? None. If there were, all it would show is that the NHS is a huge disaster.

      Can you explain the increase?

      That’s one of the major reasons why there is no money to pay the people who need it and should be getting more help. However, I expect you to ignore this part of my comment. You’ll just carry on defending the rights of the Frank Galahers of the UK to claim IB, when they aren’t incapacitated.

  19. tom voute
    24/10/2011 at 10:57 am

    Dear baroness Murphy, This is my personal response to Lord Tyler’s piece in the Guardian(sent the old fashioned way by post). It took me quite some time and I hope that some of it is of interest to you.

    Dear Lord Tyler,

    “The Lords are listening, but not to rent-a-mob email campaign” (The Guardian 21.10.11).

    I am one of the people who contacted the House of Lords by email. Your response to Zoe Williams’ piece is interesting and thought provoking. I follow the logic of your arguments and find myself often agreeing with them and yet, somehow the full story has been missed.

    I think we have to start with exploring the context in which 38 Degrees operates and why it has such a following. My understanding of the situation is that it is an act of despair. In the last general election each one of the three main parties lost the election (in whatever way you choose to count the seats or votes). Two of those parties who lost the election then formed a coalition and pretended that, as a coalition, they won the election (perhaps they even managed to convince themselves) and began to run the country on that basis and started to introduce some extremely controversial legislation – some of which is conceivably much influenced by hidden lobbying by economically illiterate market-fundamentalist groupings and various commercial interests. The only real mandate the coalition has is one for running the country on a “keep it ticking over” basis with minimum disruption and without any ideological agendas coming into play.

    In the particular case of the Health and Social Care Bill, the introduction of the NHS reforms long before the legislative process will be completed is, clearly, an act of breathtaking arrogance by, I repeat, a coalition of two parties who lost the election. For that reason, I find your argument that “…it would also have meant examining the bill far too late for the NHS staff who need to make progress…” not valid. This situation should never have been allowed to happen. It is unconstitutional and arguably ultra vires.

    I have read the House of Lords debates on 11 and 12 October and many contributors expressed their awareness of the deep attachment the British people seem to have to the NHS. (I note that you did not speak at that debate). A very important, more focused, examination of the reasons for this love for the NHS, however, did not take place. This lack of analysis is one of the sources of the avalanche of over-simplification and disinformation from all sides. There are at least two aspects to the matter. As I understand it, the NHS (with its undeniable shortcomings) is one of the greatest achievements of the British people in modern history because it combines two moral principles: free healthcare for anyone who needs it and the provision of universal health care as a public service, that is, one which in its day to day operations is essentially free from the profit motive but based on a public service ethos. The NHS is an imperfect but beautiful manifestation of social solidarity. I have simplified a very complex social phenomenon here.

    When people feel that the NHS is “under threat”, they do not always analyse or articulate which precise aspect of the NHS they think is threatened. It is clear, however, that your quoted statement that “beyond legal doubt, the secretary of state remains responsible and accountable for the comprehensive health service we all want to see” is easily perceived as a turn of phrase which carefully avoids any commitment to precisely those aspects of the NHS we hold so dear; such language is sometimes called “weasel words”. Alternatively, that phrase can interpreted as a blatant lie: “the comprehensive health service we all want to see” is one which is not an external market where commercial companies get involved. “What we all want to see” is that certain things in life and society ought not to be commercialised and the ministers’ words “we all want to see” can be interpreted as dishonestly misquoting the public mood.

    Yet another aspect of the issue is the text of the Bill itself. Generally speaking, people have to take an awful lot on trust because parliamentary bills and subsequent legislation are unreadable for members of the general public. I have tried to read the entire Health and Social Care Bill myself. I think I made some sense of it but ran out time and energy with all repeals of particular sections of other legislation. (God knows what devious tricks may have been smuggled in this way). It is certainly an extremely complex and in places rather disorganised document. (Some of us “slacktivists” try to do out homework!). Unless there is a very serious effort by the promoters of the Bill to come fully clean about their precise motives and aims and unless they can convince the population that there are no hidden agendas and below the surface commercial and political lobbying involved, a complicated bill of this nature is certain to be misrepresented by some of those who don’t like the look of it and is certainly tempting for those who sponsor it to simplify some of its contents to the point of half-truth.

    The Government has not achieved this level of trust for a significant section of the population because the Bill began its life in exactly the wrong way, that is without any serious advance search for general consensus of what is needed to improve the NHS. It would have been possible to draft a bill which would have had, broadly, all-party support as well as generally the support of those who work in the NHS if more time had been spend on finding consensus solutions. Having started the process (arrogantly) on the wrong foot, adversary campaigning has been the inevitable outcome and the government itself has thus all but eliminated the option of finding general acceptance. We are now faced with the perverse situation where the Government needs to meet an arbitrary time table for royal assent, not because it is a good bill, but to manage the chaos they have already created and to avoid political loss of face. This is the classic recipe for bad legislation.

    Furthermore, in a political culture (some political parties are more guilty than others in this respect) which prefers to hold it debates with the public about issues at the level of the tabloid press head lines, informed comment on points of detail is not easily achieved. With a few honourable exceptions, the politicians themselves, conniving with the tabloid press, have created the very situation where people will resort to “ill-informed and disconnected instant electronic communication” instead of “genuine political discussion and interaction”. The latter is hard to do if the politicians reply in sound-bites. I think that you have over-estimated the influence of 38 Degrees in this respect.

    This leads me back to my original point. 38 Degrees’ campaign is an act of despair where a government without a proper mandate is determined to push through extremely controversial legislation without adequate advance consultation and with so little understanding of people’s feelings about things that their bills come over as acts of unstoppable arrogance. Contacting members of the House of Lords (who are of course a revising chamber and are not meant to obstruct legislation) was an act of despair: “please, someone, somehow, stop that government which has no mandate for the havoc it is creating”. I agree that the “Owen/Hennesey wheeze” was a somewhat dishonest trick, and I myself did not ask any Lord to vote in any particular way, but I can understand it and sympathise with it. The passage of the Health and Social Care Bill op to this point represents a dismal failure of politics in this country.

    I strongly recommend that you read the 400-odd extensive emails to the Lords which were reproduced on the 38 Degrees blog “what did you write to your Lord?” Most of these are not “ill informed instant and disconnected communications” but thoughtful and moving documents, many of which will have taken quite some to compose, and they express their writers’ frustration with the failure of proper politics which the Bill represents.

    Now a point of detail. I have never before in my life taken an interest in the House of Lords, so please forgive my ignorance, but it would appear to me that your reference to “party whips” when selecting members of select committees is bizarre. How can an unelected chamber which has the function of scrutinising and revising legislation have party whips? If the Lords cannot scrutinise bills with full independence, free from the party system in the House of Commons, how can they do so truly objectively and, just as important, be seen to do so objectively? My understanding of the purpose of the House of Lords (or any second chamber in a democracy) is precisely to temper the excesses of party politics in legislation so that the legislation becomes workable, avoids major errors and unintended consequences, and has a chance of achieving a reasonable consensus in society. The party and party whips system in the House of Lords seems to frustrate these objectives. Can you justify the existing situation?

    Finally, will you take part in the forthcoming debates and the scrutiny process of the Health and Social Care Bill?

    Yours sincerely, Tom Voûte.

  20. Clive Arnold
    24/10/2011 at 11:02 am

    “Try some serious argument to put realistic and practical points.”

    1-Have you ever had to choose if you could attend medical appointments because you could not afford to get to them?

    2-Have you ever been unable to heat your home in winter?

    3-Have you ever had to care for someone with severe physical and mental health issues with no help from social services because cut backs mean people that were helping to get some progress were made redundant due to funding cut backs?

    4-Have you ever had to work 24/7 for a little over £50.00 a week?

    5-Have you ever been at such a low state as to contemplate taking your own life because people see you as a dole-scrounging layabout?

    These are just a few things that are part of my life-style as a carer.

    Interesting blog link from a person I admired and was proud to have known,


    Both now sadly no longer with us, they must both be disgusted with Cameron for presiding over these vicious attacks

  21. muffie02
    24/10/2011 at 3:13 pm

    @ lord blagger : quoth lord blagger : Very simple. They have run out of money,

    yes we keep hearing this – YET it seems they can subsidise wars ( providing the country concerned has oil reserves ) – and send millions overseas – waste money on sporting events we can’t afford – NOT collecting tax revenues from bankers and some rich folks – the billions we pump in to the EU each week – etc etc etc

    so the old “theres no money” ploy wont wash with a lot of us – theres plenty money for SOME THINGS – just not the sick and disabled of this land – as you observe we are not a priority ( but we know this )

    makes me wonder what they teach at the LSE and other places – certainly ain’t common sense – vis IF YOU ARE IN FINANCIAL +*&^ – THEN YOU DO NOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF IT

    maybe those in power need to take a few lesson from us poor folk who can and do have to live within our means – and are NOT in debt ??

  22. Lord Blagger
    24/10/2011 at 9:17 pm

    There is no more money. What you fail to realize is that this money is borrowed.

    It’s borrowed in two ways. First is the overt way, which is gilts. These are the main lenders.

    1. Banks – they are forced to lend their capital to the government

    2. Annuitants – they are forced to lend.

    3. Insurance companies.

    4. The government. Yep, you’ve got it. The government is printing money and in effect lending it to itself.

    However, that’s a small fraction. The biggest ‘borrowing’ is more secret. More hidden. It’s not on the books either. Very Bernie Maddoff.

    It’s the state pension, state second pension, civil service pensions. That is trillions. The government has taken money, and spent all the money.

    You’re seeing that with IB too. It’s an entitlement, paid for out of NI. However, the government doesn’t admit that its running an insurance scheme and invested the expected payouts as proper insurance schemes. The end result is that it won’t pay out, and you’re seeing the wiggles to get out of paying out. As well as stopping the scams. End result, genuine claimants get hit.

    So there is no money and you aren’t a priority. It’s not exclusive. However, you are right, they will borrow and scam there way to keep their income coming in, and to feed their egos.

    Hence the Lords will carry on costing us 2,700 a day, per Lord.

    Ever wonder why I’m against one if the largest quangos in the UK? And one that’s ineffective at doing anything, as your finding out.

  23. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    25/10/2011 at 11:13 am

    I think I should make it clear that I believe political lobbying of any kind is a legitimate activity and that includes inundating peers and MPs with opinions. The problem is that a lobby has to be seen in the context of who is paying for it, why it is being done, what is the intended aim. So often the mass lobby letters don’t tell us (although 38 degrees affiliates usually do) It also seems to me that a letter is only useful if it is clear that the person understands what the provisions of a bill are in reality. So many letters are written by people who believe a bill is quite different from the legislation as drafted. Muffie02, you say ‘No-one listens’ but of course the reality is that your MP may well be more convinced of the overall benefits of doing something other than you want. many of the complaints on this site are about peers and MPs not agreeing with the points expressed. Just as it is people’s right to express a view, it is parliamentarians’ right to an alternative view. As you say you can vote out your MP at the next election. Peers don’t have constituents, we have to rely on the constituency of ideas to decide which is the right way to go. Lobby us all you like but realise that crossbenchers make our own judgment based on all the information to hand.

    • maude elwes
      25/10/2011 at 1:18 pm

      @Baroness Murphy:

      Which goes a long way toward supporting the ‘need’ for the Lords to be elected. Doesn’t it?

      Otherwise there is no accountability. They are there for life collecting benefit. How cushy is that?

  24. Lord Blagger
    25/10/2011 at 1:04 pm

    As you say you can vote out your MP at the next election.
    So you have to vote in for 5 years someone who will be in most cases completely against your interests to get rid of the bad apple.

    Peers don’t have constituents, we have to rely on the constituency of ideas to decide which is the right way to go
    And we can’t vote you out because you’re not part of any democratic process, and as a consequence you dictate laws to us.

    We have to pay 2,700 a day for you to dictate.

    One major reason why there is no money for people who need IB.

    Who cares about crossbenchers. You’re being economical with the truth. The problem is that you’re a small percentage and the rest are whipped.

  25. Anne
    25/10/2011 at 4:25 pm

    Death will soon be a fragrant mistress to the continued suffering of people who will struggle this winter again. If governments did not overspend, this country would have more than enough money to cope with the current finances. As it is, the weakest in society will now suffer because of the Blair years. The replacement David Cameron, has done the same thing, lied to get into office and is just spending by the back door where us mere mortals cannot see it. It pains me when people are chosen by their constituents to serve, and all they seem to do is serve themselves. Until you have walked a mile in the shoes of someone who is on the receiving end of the cutbacks, I suggest a few MP’s shut the hell up and count their lucky stars they will be warm and fed this winter.

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