This audience member’s day job may explain why he whitewashed the deaths of disabled people on Question Time [VIDEO]

Question Time Disabled People Deaths
Support us and go ad-free

On Thursday 9 November, a member of the BBC Question Time audience said claims that disabled people had died due to Conservative government policy was “inflammatory rubbish”. But it turns out that the man was not particularly unbiased. As he is a Tory councillor from Sussex. And he was also completely wrong.

“Inflammatory rubbish”? On Question Time?

Chris Stevens is a Conservative councillor from Horley on the Surrey/West Sussex border. As an audience member during the Question Time debate, he was responding to claims [9:25] by Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty that Conservative government policy had sent “disabled people to their deaths”.

Stevens said that Chakrabortty was “like the Donald Trump of The Guardian“, and that his claims were “inflammatory rubbish”:

But there is a problem with Stevens’ claim it was “inflammatory rubbish” that sick and disabled people had died due to government policy. Because in reality, it is his own claim that is rubbish.

The government says…

One example of why Stevens’ claim is rubbish is a study by Oxford and Liverpool Universities. It found that an “additional” 590 people taking their own lives were linked to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Work Capability Assessment (WCA); as were 279,000 additional cases of mental health issues and 725,000 additional antidepressants prescriptions.

Also contrary to Stevens’ claim of “inflammatory rubbish”, are the government’s own figures [pdf, p8]. They show that between December 2011 and February 2014, 91 people a month died after being told by the DWP they were “fit-for-work”.

Read on...

One such example is that of Lawrence Bond. As The Canary previously reported, Bond suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after leaving the Kentish Town Jobcentre on 12 December 2016. The 56-year-old had longstanding health problems such as difficulties with mobility and breathing. But the DWP had declared him “fit-for-work” six months earlier.

“Grave” and “systematic” human rights violations

Only in August, the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Theresia Degener, said the UK government had created a “human catastrophe” for disabled people, where society viewed them as “parasites, living on social benefits… and [living on] the taxes of other people”. It is unclear whether Councillor Stevens thinks the UN talks “inflammatory rubbish”.

But in a 10-minute BBC interview, which the broadcaster only aired 20 seconds of, Degener went further, saying [13:25] that the government had caused:

People [to be] pushed into work who were not fit for work… It is right to assume that disabled people are capable of working… But… you have to take into account the vulnerability of disabled people, especially if they have psychosocial disabilities or if they are intellectually disabled.

The UN’s August analysis was the fourth report in 14 months it had released into the Conservative government. All of them condemned its treatment of disabled people, saying it had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of their human rights.

Get in the sea

But in Councillor Stevens’ world, this is all “inflammatory rubbish”. So he may like to tell that to the families of the thousands that have died since the Conservatives first came to power in 2010; and see if he gets the same rapturous applause he did from much of the Question Time audience.

The Canary asked Councillor Stevens for comment, but none was received at the time of publication.

Get Involved!

– Support Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) fighting for disabled people’s rights.

– Write to your MP, asking them to support the UN findings.

Featured image via YouTube/screengrab

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us

Comments are closed