Tory Majority Day 5: Media Narrative, Welfare Reforms and Housing Benefit London

Tuesday May 12th. ME Awareness Day

I started watching the news again last night.

I thought I detected a slight shift in the media narrative.

There was a tone in some reporters’ voices similar to one you would hear from a person pleasantly surprised that their team has *amargaret_thatcher_quote_2ctually* gone ahead and won the cup!

I hope this euphoria doesn’t infect the rest of broadcast media and I’ll start to hear the sycophancy we last saw when Margaret Thatcher was in power.

I wonder if Krishnan Guru-Murphy will tonight start the serious analysis that is needed to unpick future Tory policies.

Media Picture

Media power and influence 

Why am I paying so much attention to the media? Well it’s because that’s the way that politics is communicated.

It’s the media that sways our opinion and informs us. Those obsolete election pamphlets that you have in your recycling pile are an afterthought. Mainstream press is more influential and important.

A Lib Dem MP said during the election campaign: “The Conservatives have much more money and funding than us. They can do social media, telephone canvassing, leaflets, all of that sort of thing.”

How galling to think that the Lib Dems lost in part because their supporters aren’t as wealthy as those supporting the Conservatives.

Coalition borrowing vs Labour borrowing 

Why oh why do people believe the narrative about national debt and borrowing falling under the Coalition. Are people so taken in by the supposed strength of the Tory message that they unquestioningly think it’s true?

Here’s one of many articles which attacks the received wisdom that the economy is in better hands under the Tories.

It’s this sort of insidious ambient noise from the media that sways thinking and voting.

Calling IDS and Gove on Twitter


Ian Duncan Smith

Whilst setting up my Twitter account @disabledbrit I tried to find the official Twitter account for Ian Duncan Smith and Michael Gove.

You try it.

There are some very angry people out there who – I think – are doing some very obvious and tacky, vitriolic things to insult these architects of Tory policy.

They are playing into the camp that advised Cameron on his media strategy before the first TV debate: the one where he rose above the arguments and behaved as if that dissent was beneath him.

As a result I still haven’t found the right Twitter accounts. If anyone can point me in the right direction please let me know.

I heard from a good friend with MECFS this morning. 

It’s the first contact we’ve had since the election result. She also lives in an area which is blue. She says it is now topped up and almost brimming with blue due to an increased majority.

She said she is hearing moans from people with MECFS about the proposed welfare cuts.

While I was reading it I thought: “Oh yeah. Wonder if it will have as pronounced an impact on them as it will on me?”

She timed the next part of the message impeccably: “Of course as these people have husbands and wives with salaries they can’t appreciate how it feels not to have a financial buffer.”

I’m glad she said that. It dissipated my resentment at those that say they will be affected, but they won’t really.

If you’ve got a second income, are not wholly reliant on welfare or are being looked after by someone who can support you financially, you won’t be as affected by these welfare cuts as I will.

Who did I vote for? 

I voted for the Liberal Democrats.

First past the post and voting Green 

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.

A friend I socialise with on Facebook is a journalist. They are very well respected and have a long newspaper and broadcast CV. They were open from the off about their decision to support the Green Party in this election.

Since Friday the area they live in is now blue.

On Sunday I posted onto my timeline: “Do people not understand first past the post? Everyone who voted for a party who wasn’t Tory, Labour or Lib Dem and thought they were doing the right thing actively made this election result happen.”

I snorted with laughter when my friend clicked on “Like” on my status.

I’m unclear as to whether they saw the irony in their approval of what I said.

Contacting ME Charities 

I contacted some of the ME Charities this morning to let them know about this blog. I heard from Dr Charles Shepherd who is known within the community as the medical advisor to the ME Association.

He let me know of some initiatives which should – at last – improve the Work Capability Assessment process for people with CFSME.

Follow their website to hear their news as it’s released.

May 28th Queen’s Speech 

It appears that May 28th is D Day. That will be the Queen’s Speech.

I’m still in denial – I can’t believe this is going to happen.

I thought we were moving towards a more collegiate and European model of politics. I actually wanted a hung parliament, that’s what I was voting for. I believed that was the true democratic representation of the UK.

Maybe it is true that people only care about politics when it’s advancing on their doorstep and self interest and belief in the right wing media has replaced a national social conscience.


The Bedroom Tax has already happened to me 

I’ve already had to move home because of the bedroom tax. That’s the policy where if you are on housing benefit and are deemed to not need an extra room that might be your property, you will have your housing benefit cut.

In answer to a person I talked to on Twitter who commented on the comparison between Coalition Housing Benefit Policy and Labour Housing Benefit Policy, here it is:

The Coalition introduced a top level cap on Housing Benefit. Labour had a policy that there was no upper or lower cap on Housing Benefit. i.e. if you lived in London and your rent was £1000.00 pcm, Housing Benefit would cover it.

The Coalition policy of a Housing Benefit cap has negatively impacted on so many people who are disabled. It is cruel, damaging, unnecessary and deeply prejudicial.

The United Nations has been undertaking an investigation into the Coalition Government’s policies and their impact on disabled people since 2014 and this housing policy is one area they are covering.

The Tory manifesto proposes another lowering of housing benefits. This will affect people who are assume their rent was covered by moving to address the last cut – like me.

London housing crisis 

I have already been affected by the bedroom tax. I had to move to bring my rent under the benefit cap in my area when I first claimed benefits. Before I was on benefits I rented a flat at £950 pcm.

The maximum amount a single person living alone can claim for Housing Benefit in London is £879.00 PCM so I had to move.

The impact of the house move 

Imagine that if you can for a moment. I was seriously ill with MECFS, I was, at that point, still employed but on sick leave, I had no idea what to expect with the progression of my illness because health care was absent or appalling.

In the midst of all of that I had to search for, find and then move home. Because I knew that landlords wouldn’t accept me on Housing Benefit I had to do this before I claimed benefits.

All because the Coalition capped Housing Benefit as part of their Austerity Policies. 

London rental prices 

In London it is highly unlikely that a 1 bedroom flat or house will be for less than that cap as anyone who rents here knows. The Guardian reports in this article that the average price of rental of a a 1 – bed flat in London is £1,211.

Somehow I managed to find one though.

That’s how I’ve ended up in sub standard housing.

I have already been affected by the Coalition welfare cuts. Because I’ve been through that, an ATOS assessment, fighting an ATOS decision and appealing, a failed DLA application and all that comes with it,  I really shouldn’t have in any denial left in my heart and bones about what could happen with future Tory welfare cuts.

My heart keeps saying: “They can’t do it, can they? They won’t do it, will they? The opposition, they’ll fight for my cause won’t they – Nicola Sturgeon will step in. It’s not a large Tory majority, the back benchers will stand up won’t they?”

But my voice sounds as thin and unconvincing as a child’s…

© Lindy 2015 

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