The first story was Ed Miliband's speech. You can tell it's not going to go well for disabled people from the outset. He starts off by telling this story:
While out campaigning during the local elections, not for the first time, I met someone who had been on incapacity benefit for a decade.
He hadn’t been able to work since he was injured doing his job.
It was a real injury, and he was obviously a good man who cared for his children.
But I was convinced that there were other jobs he could do.
And that it’s just not right for the country to be supporting him not to work, when other families on his street are working all hours just to get by.
Which sums up the Labour party's attitude to ill and disabled people: No qualifications in assessing people's health but meet someone for a minute and deem them "fit for work" without any additional info besides that minute meeting. It's the Work Capability Assessment in a nutshell.
No wonder strangers in the street feel it acceptable to deem someone a "scrounger" when our political leaders are doing the same.
You can read the full transcript of Ed's speech on politics.co.uk. [Warning: May induce vomiting or violent behaviour.]
Liam Byrne's been at it too today. His plans include:
rewarding those on the council house queue who are in jobs or doing voluntary work.
Need social housing because you're too ill to work? Tough.
Yet in that same article it says:
The potentially tough ideas come as Labour prepares to vote against the third reading of the government's welfare bill this week because they feel it punishes the ill, including victims of cancer, and cuts childcare provision.
Erm, what about people who can't get social housing because they can't work. Is that not punishing the ill?
Miliband says similar:
Just take their current welfare reform bill.
We support their attempts to build on our plans to make those who can work do so.
But their bill will make it harder for people to be responsible.
It undermines childcare support for those seeking work.
It punishes people in work who save, denying them the help they currently get through tax credits.
It cuts help for the most vulnerable, those living in care homes, who receive support to get out and about.
And, it takes away money from those who are dying even though they have contributed to the system all their lives.
None of this will help people show more responsibility.
In fact, it does the opposite.
Nor are they ensuring there is the work available for people who are responsible.
In the same speech in which he says the man who's been assessed by someone with medical qualifications as unfit to work should be getting a job. One of those ones that don't exist.
Both Byrne and Miliband comment on how Labour has lost sight of it's direction as "the people's party." Byrne said:
"The worst statistic for me was that nearly 60% of voters said Labour was not just a bit, but seriously, out of touch with the lives of ordinary working people. For the peoples' party, that was a hell of an achievement."
It seems to me that they've lost more than that. It appears they've lost the ability for making their minds up. Either they want to force that man incapable of working onto JSA OR they want to help the "vulnerable". Either they want to vote against a bill that punishes the sick OR they want to prevent ill people from getting social housing. I would remark that they need to pick a direction, except I know which one they'd take so I think I'll settle for them acting like dogs chasing their tails.