Monday, October 10, 2011

"Caron writes a scurrilous and trashy blog................."

.................said the Secretary of State for Scotland.

So scurrilous and trashy, he went on to say, that it was even prepared to interview him.

Mike Moore was chairing RNIB Scotland's fringe meeting on the Welfare Reform Bill at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday where I was speaking and that's how he introduced me!

Now, I think  it is such a positive thing that a Cabinet Minister was happy to take part in a meeting where people were expressing quite a lot of concern about a measure being taken by the Government. I know that Mike cares deeply about these issues and has actively gone out of his way to meet people who are concerned about them so he can feed those worries straight to Iain Duncan Smith.

I was thrilled to bits to see that the meeting was absolutely packed - and everyone left with a clear purpose of how they could help to change the bits in the Welfare Reform Bill - to write to our Lords and say that they wanted the terms of the motion passed at Federal Conference in Birmingham to be implemented. For me, the four main points are:

  • opposition to the arbitrary time limit for contributory ESA. Ken Reed, the incoming chair of RNIB Scotland gave one of the best reasons I've heard why the limit is a bad idea. "If you lose your sight in an accident tomorrow, it's going to take you 12 months just to get used to being blind, let alone having to find a job as well."
  • making sure people can get representation to appeal against decisions as so many are wrong
  • a presumption that the most seriously ill people with long term conditions should go into the support group and stop being hassled for continual assessments
  • keeping tabs on ATOS with the idea that in the long term these decisions should be made within the public sector. We don't have private companies running our courts for a reason and this shouldn't be any difference
Mike German, Archy Kirkwood and Celia Thomas are our peers who are most involved with the Bill in the Lords, but Scottish members may also want to write to our former leader Nicol Stephen. The relevant e-mail addresses are:

Nicol Stephen:
Celia Thomas:

You can write to the others at House of Lords, LONDON, SW1A 0PW. I want every single Liberal Democrat who cares about these issues to make sure our Lords know that the party needs  them to make these crucial changes to the Bill. As I'm writing this, I've seen George Potter's update on how Liberal Youth is continuing to campaign on his motion. 

I hope that RNIB went away from the meeting feeling like their concerns had been understood and listened to. I'll write a fuller account of it later, but I just wanted to flag up what I'd been saying about writing to the Lords. Please write yourself and ask others to do so.

Mike's description of this unworthy tome was meant in jest - trashy is a word I've used myself many times to say what it's all about. Not sure I quite qualify as scurrilous, though, which the the free online dictionary defines as:

"1. grossly or obscenely abusive or defamatory
2. characterized by gross or obscene humour"

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