Today (1st March 2017) at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) Corbyn grilled May over the Tories “sneaking out” of legislation that will disastrously impact sufferers of a range of severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and dementia.
May surprised us all by calling Corbyn’s leadership “incredible” in an attempt to make an awkward joke — a choice of words that can surely only backfire on her.
Corbyn called out her constant lying and attacked her never ending hypocrisy — from the Tories’ treatment of disabled people — to their accusation that Labour will bankrupt the country.
After embarrassingly losing yet another court case a few months ago— which ruled in favour of disabled people with severe mental illness — allowing them to claim a higher rate of disability benefits — The Tories have changed the legislation to make sure that mentally ill claimants do not receive the benefit awards that the independent court said they are entitled to. The Tories have been condemned by multiple disability rights groups for this decision, as well as leading mental health charities such as Mind.
The Tories’ overruling of the court’s decision is just the latest attack in a series of attacks on disabled people. Only a few months ago The United Nations (UN) condemned the Tories’ treatment of disabled saying that they were systematically violating the rights of the disabled.
The Tories completely disregarded and childishly disputed the findings of the UN’s report — their latest disgusting move to over-ride the decision of the court illustrates that they have no regard for the disabled and are determined to continue their eugenics program on the most vulnerable members of society.
Corbyn began attacking May by asking:
Just after the last Budget, the then Work and Pensions Secretary resigned, accusing the Government of
“balancing the books on the backs of the poor and vulnerable.”
Last week, the Government sneaked out a decision to overrule a court decision to extend personal independence payments to people with severe mental health conditions. A Government who found £1 billion in inheritance tax cuts to benefit 26,000 families seem unable to find the money to support 160,000 people with debilitating mental health conditions. Will the Prime Minister change her mind?”
May then responded with her usual lies and rhetoric in a bid to justify the Tories decision to ignore the law, saying that the Tories wouldn’t be cutting the amount spent on disability benefits and claiming that:
What we are doing is restoring the original intention of the payment agreed by the coalition Government, and agreed by this Parliament after extensive consultation.
Corbyn responded by calling out May’s nonsense:
Extensive consultation is an interesting idea, because the court made its decision last year, the Government did not consult the Social Security Advisory Committee and, at the last minute, sneaked out their decision.
The court ruled that the payments should be made because the people who were to benefit from them were suffering “overwhelming psychological distress”. Just a year ago, the then new Work and Pensions Secretary said:
“I can tell the House that we will not be going ahead with the changes to PIP that had been put forward.”—[Official Report, 21 March 2016; Vol. 607, c. 1268.]
The court has since made a ruling. The Prime Minister’s colleague the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen) said:
“In my view, the courts are there for a reason. If they have come up with this ruling, which says that the criteria should be extended, then I believe we have a duty to honour that.”
Is she not right?”
May responded by claiming that:
personal independence payment is better for people with mental health conditions.
The figures show that two thirds of people with mental health conditions who are claiming personal independence payments and in receipt of it are awarded the higher daily living rate allowance, compared with less than a quarter under the previous disability living allowance arrangements.
On the issue of sneaking out this legislation May responded:
This is the second time that the right hon. Gentleman has suggested that somehow the change was sneaked out. It was in a written ministerial statement to Parliament. I might remind him that week after week he talks to me about the importance of Parliament; well, we accepted the importance of Parliament and made the statement to Parliament.
And claimed that:
My right hon. Friend the Work and Pensions Secretary called the Chairman of the SSAC and spoke to him about the regulations on the day they were being introduced; he also called the Chairman of the Select Committee on Work and Pensions and spoke to him about the regulations that were being introduced; and he called both offices of the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, but there was no answer and they did not come back to him for four days.
Corbyn responded by calling out May’s lying:
Calling the Chairs of two Committees and making a written statement to the House does not add up to scrutiny, and as I understand it no call was made to the office of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams), the shadow Secretary of State.
The reality is that this is a shameful decision that will affect people with dementia, those suffering cognitive disorders due to a stroke, military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and those with schizophrenia. Will the Prime Minister look at the effects of her decision to override what an independent court has decided, and think again?
May responded by claiming (quite ridiculously) that:
The issues and conditions that the right hon. Gentleman raises are taken into account when decisions are made about personal independence payments.
And equally ridiculously that:
The court said that the regulations were unclear; that is why we are clarifying the regulations and ensuring that they respect and reflect the original intention that was agreed by this Parliament.
AND EVEN MORE RIDICOUSLY THAT:
this Government are spending more than ever in support for people with disability and health conditions, and we are spending more than ever on people with mental health conditions. What we are doing with personal independence payments is ensuring that those who are most in need get most support.
Are we supposed to take this response seriously? The Tories have ignored the UN’s report findings — they are overruling court decisions because they don’t like the result — all of this does nothing but cruelly punish the disabled! Is this how you support disabled people? By trying to send them to an early grave? What a sick joke this government is — sick.
Corbyn responded by illustrating the Torie’s hypocrisy:
The Prime Minister’s hon. Friend, the right hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), said this week that the Government have to
“make it very clear that physical and mental health has the same priority”.
In 2002, the Prime Minister made a speech to the Conservative party conference. I remember it very well; I was watching it on television. She described her party as the “nasty party” and said:
“Some Tories have tried to make political capital by demonising minorities”.
This week, her policy chair suggested that people with debilitating conditions were those who were
“taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety”
and were not “really disabled”. Is that not proof that the “nasty party” is still around?
In reference to the shameful comments made by George Freeman — Policy Unit Head for the Tories and a key aide to May.
The comment was so shameful that Freeman was forced to apologise — May said, adding:
The right hon. Gentleman asks me about parity between mental health conditions and physical conditions. It is this Conservative Government who introduced parity of esteem in dealing with mental health in the national health service. How many years were Labour in government and did nothing about it? Thirteen years!
Corbyn responded by firmly setting the record straight:
It was a Labour amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that resulted in parity of esteem being put on the face of the Bill. I am surprised that the right hon. Lady has forgotten that; she could have taken this opportunity to thank the Labour party for putting it forward.
Apparently, May has forgotten that — as she has used this response numerous times in the past.
Corbyn went on to bash May over her chronic amnesia:
The Prime Minister made a speech earlier this year supporting parity of esteem for mental health, and I am glad she did so. However, 40% of NHS mental health trusts are having their budgets cut, and there are 6,600 fewer mental health nurses and 160,000 people with severe mental health conditions who are about to lose out on support. Can she not recognise that parity of esteem means funding it properly and not overriding court decisions that would benefit people suffering from very difficult conditions? We should reach out to them, not deny them the support they need.
May responded with her standard claim that the Tories are:
spending more than ever on mental health—£11.4 billion a year. More people each week are now receiving treatment in relation to mental health than previously.
And recited yet another of her often used lies as a response:
There is one thing that I know: if we are going to be able to provide that extra support for people with disabilities and health conditions and provide treatment for people with mental health conditions, we need a strong economy that enables us to pay for it. And the one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain.
As I reported last week: government debt has gone up by over £90Billion over the last year — the deficit has ballooned under the Tories — all while vital services are being cut and underfunded. After 7 years of austerity, we have precisely the opposite of what was supposedly intended.
Corbyn responded by challenging May — and setting the record straight on this — saying:
That is rich, coming from a Government who, by 2020, will have borrowed more and increased the national debt by the total borrowing of all Labour Governments.
And bashing her over the Tories’ treatment of disabled people:
“The mental health charity Rethink has said:
“The Government has spoken forcefully about the importance of parity esteem between physical and mental health, yet when presented with the chance to make this a reality…it has passed on the opportunity”.
As a society, we are judged by how we treat the most vulnerable. The respected mental health charity Mind has said:
“This misguided legislation must be reversed”.
Finishing by blasting May with:
Will the Prime Minister look again at the decision of the court and its consequences, withdraw this nasty decision, accept the court’s judgment and support those who are going through a very difficult time in their lives? That is how we will all be judged.
May responded by deflecting away from the facts:
The right hon. Gentleman talks about funding and he talks about borrowing. I understand that today
May was then “interrupted” —interesting to note that May doesn’t finish her point about Tory borrowing — after the speaker intervenes she continues on a slightly different note:
The right hon. Gentleman talks about accepting the court’s decision and paying for that. When asked how Labour would pay for the increase if it was put in place, I understand that the Labour shadow Health Secretary said today, “Err, we’ve not outlined that yet
May on the one hands claims that the legislation isn’t about saving money — then claims here that the legislation is about saving money and that Labour wouldn’t know where to get that money from — which is it May?
She finished by saying:
That just sums up the Labour party and the Labour party leadership. After the result in Copeland last week, the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) summed up the by-election result by saying that it was an “incredible result” for the Labour party.
And then finishes with a strange bit of word play:
I think that word describes the right hon. Gentleman’s leadership: incredible.
Calling Corbyn “incredible” — the idea, of course being that Corbyn is not credible. I don’t know who writes May’s strange wordplay jokes — but is it not a bit odd that she calls Corbyn incredible? And that the word is used as an insult?
She certainly had a smug look on her face after saying her hilariously clever joke. I guess that’s what considered to be humour by a bunch of rich bastards in Whitehall?
Today’s PMQs certainly had a few odd events — May’s “joke” being the strongest. Once again Corbyn called out her BS and lies — again no doubt the disabled victims of the Tories will be ignored by the mainstream press as will Corbyn’s strong performance.
Watch the full battle here.