The United Nations – that bright and unstained beacon of morality in our dark world – is to investigate claims that Britain’s welfare reforms are an infringement on the ‘human rights’ of benefit claimants
By now, we are used to the continual cheapening and debasement of the term ‘human rights’, transformed from the noble assertion that every individual is entitled to live in freedom and security to its new meaning as code word for the petulant, open-ended demand for benefits and services funded by other people.
This much is not new – almost every swivel-eyed anti-austerity protester seems to have a tale about how the Evil Tories are callously and deliberately violating their ‘human right’ to something or other. And as small government conservatives or libertarians we must continue to contest these fatuous claims as best we can. But now, those people who believe that their life circumstances endow them with a government-enforced claim on the wallets of their neighbours without so much as a thank-you have won themselves a new ally: the United Nations.
From the Herald Scotland:
United Nations officials will visit the UK in the next few months to investigate whether Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms have led to “grave or systematic violations” of disabled people’s human rights, the Sunday Herald can reveal.
A formal investigation has already been launched by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. UN investigations are conducted confidentially, but a leading Scottish disability charity has told the Sunday Herald it has been advised a visit by the Special Rapporteur and members of the committee on the rights of persons with disabilities is expected in the “near future”.
The only surprise is that this has not happened sooner, some time in the last parliament. After all, when your existence in a left-wing echo chamber destroys your ability to construct an intellectual argument or engage with those who think differently, the only remaining option is to appeal to outside bodies to bully, shame and intimidate your opponents into reversing course.
The British people, having just elected a majority Conservative government, have sense enough to realise that moderate centre-right policies which aim to encourage people back into the labour market where possible are not tantamount to a holocaust of the sick and disabled. But the Left have no intention of honouring the result of the election – if they cannot win at the ballot box, they will use the United Nations as a cudgel with which to beat the Tories into submission and a humiliating climbdown.
It should not be necessary to state that cases of benefits being wrongly withdrawn or sanctions applied without good cause are unacceptable. And to the extent that a targets-driven culture in Job Centres has led to unnecessary human suffering brought about by the overzealous docking of benefits, those directly responsible should be held accountable. But to suggest that bureaucratic incompetence and administrative errors amount to a deliberate infringement on the human rights of the sick and disabled is a leap which can only be taken if you swallow the Kool-Aid and believe that all Tories are heartless, evil people for whom human suffering is the goal.
Unfortunately, this view is on the rise, as shown by every stale internet meme which attempts to paint Iain Duncan Smith as some kind of monster:
But rather than spend the next five years running to the United Nations every time the government takes broadly popular measures to trim the welfare state, it might be quite refreshing if the Left would come up with some welfare solutions of their own.
If sanctioning benefits for failing to attend Job Centre interviews is cruel and inhumane, should benefits be doled out blindly and indefinitely with no reciprocal demand for action on the part of the claimant? And if not, what would a “fairer” sanctions process look like? It’s not enough – particularly for Labour, who in theory aspire to being a party of government again – to simply criticise what exists already. We need to hear concrete proposals for how Labour would run things differently, and if they intend to run a welfare system where benefits are never suspended for any reason lest it infringe on the ‘human rights’ of the claimant then they should come clean and say so. Vote Labour – unlimited welfare for all!
And what of the hated ‘bedroom tax’ – are the Left opposed to the principle or the execution? Should it be the case that people are granted a council house for life, with occupants allowed to remain in unnecessarily large properties despite the pressure on social housing and the long waiting lists for accommodation? If not, what evidence is there that a voluntary scheme encouraging social tenants to downsize would work? Again, if Labour believe that it is okay for the state to act as your landlord in perpetuity, respecting your ‘human right’ to live in the same taxpayer-subsidised accommodation regardless of any change to your circumstance, they should come clean and say so.
And yet the Left will never come clean in this way, because to state their demands openly would be so repellent to voters that it would make Jeremy Corbyn look like the very model of centrist appeasement. The Left cannot admit the truth about what they want – benefits forever for everyone with no means test, no requirement to look for work, no checks to see whether medical circumstances have changed and for the state to be landlord to everyone in Britain – because unrestrained, corrupt pseudo-socialism of this kind would scare away more voters than it would attract.
No, the British political Left are now much happier as they are, in opposition. Having incessantly ramped up the size of the welfare state during thirteen years of New Labour government so that over half the population are net dependants on the state, the Left are free to howl in outrage when government spending moves in anything other than a strong upward direction, and – as we have now seen – go running to the United Nations as though David Cameron and George Osborne were running some kind of illegal eugenics programme.
It must feel really good inside this ideologically certain bubble, where you and your left-wing chums are the plucky forces of good and everyone else is an Evil Tory monster. And it is so easy to sit on the sidelines and scream about concocted ‘human rights’ abuses rather than do the intellectual heavy-lifting of coming up with alternative policies to move more people into work and help more people live self-sufficient lives. But it is not the behaviour of a serious political force, let alone one which aspires to wielding power again any time soon.
But furthermore, it is high time the Left acknowledged that a policy can be wrong, or counterproductive, or contrary to what they would do themselves, without being tantamount to a war crime or human rights abuse. Different people can look at an issue and come to quite different opinions as to how to solve it based on their genuinely held political convictions. But it becomes almost impossible to foster meaningful dialogue and exchange of ideas when one side is publicly accusing the other of being an accessory to murder.
Disagree with Iain Duncan Smith’s changes to ESA and other benefits? Fine – but come to the table with your own alternatives. If you think that the status quo is great, with people festering for years on benefits who could otherwise be helped toward self-sufficiency, then have the intellectual honesty to say so. Or if you think that the welfare state should be far more generous in its support and far less demanding of evidence to support claims, then present your proposals – and the accompanying tax bill – to the British people for their consideration.
Just don’t go running off to the United Nations because you didn’t get your way on May 7 – it is the desperate and cynical action of those who have definitively lost the argument.
You are also a little ignorant about what human rights actually are. They were formulated internationally – with Churchill and the british having considerable imput – after WW2 and addressed the atrocities of the Holocaust, Stalin’s genocide and the rise of fascism. They were formulated to ensure those atrocities ever happened again. They are based on the central idea that all human life is equally precious and of worth. You can’t actually “weaponise” human rights. They are laws that protect citizens from tyrany. They ensure people are not discriminated against because of their physical characteristics – such as race, disability and so on. They are progressive, in that they ensure that countries who sign up to them ensure the basic wellbeing of all citizens. They provide a bottom line of what is decent and acceptable, if you like.
The current government has breached the human rights of disabled people , women and children. Not just by international standards, by our own Equality Act, too.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are all the rights we need, and (if we had a proper written constitution) would contain within them all the protection against discrimination needed by anyone. Nearly Everything else is meaningless, virtue signalling fluff, “human rights” expansionism at it’s worst.
Sadly our governments will not limit their power by establishing a written constitution to declare that the people are sovereign and that government should be constrained, so instead we have our rights handed to us in condescending drips and drabs like the Equalities Act
Human rights were intended to protect citizens from despotic governments that inflict harms and deaths on some groups. Why on earth should any government in a so-called first world democracy object to them? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness depend on fundamental rights to health care, access to housing, the right to a free trial, family life, and to not be oppressed. Your overly simplistic view skims over a multitude of potential barriers that many people may face.
But you grasp that the government don’t want to limit their power. This is a far right authoritarian regime. The masks are finally slipping. It’s people who think so shallowly like you that handed power to the Nazis and every other despotic regime.
None of our current human rights legislations prevent you from pursuing your freedom, liberty and happiness. So we have to wonder why you object to them so much
Noone is asking for unlimited welfare. People pay into the system and expect enough to meet their basic needs like food, fuel and shelter when they need some support because they lost their job or became ill, had an accident, became disabled. People claiming benefits have, in the majority of cases, including sick and disabled people, worked previously. And those claiming benefits are not the same people from year to year.
Benefits were originally calculated to meet only basic needs. They have since been cut and the cost of living has increased. For many families, benefits are the only income they have, and sanctions remove the means of people meeting basic survival needs. That’s hardly an “incentive” to do anything other than struggle to survive. And people have died as a consequence. You may be good with that, I’m not. If a person is too sick to work, no amount of state coercion will change that. You are blinded by your hatred of “the left” which has made you irrational and incoherent in terms of the welfare debate
The British public did not “elect a majority Conservative government” My precise figures may be inaccurate, but I think in the region of 24% of those entitled to vote did so. You may be right that the same 24% think the government’s policies are moderate. Those policies purport to ‘aim to encourage people back into the labour market where possible’. There would have been a grain of truth in that if the emaciated version of the Basic Income – the Universal Credit – was more than a 1% reality. Bedroom tax, principle or execution? The principle of getting rid of means tested benefits is long overdue, but not by the nastiest method of execution possible.
If (like me) you live in a leafy enclave where you can ignore the holocaust of the sick and disabled, please read Johnny Void’s chapter and verse details before defending it. And if using ‘holocaust’ against you seems excessive, the group actually executing it, led by Iain Duncan Smith, but with approval from the top, look to me at least as swivel-eyed as the average angry, distressed protester.
The British public elected a majority Conservative government under the electoral system we currently “enjoy”. Some people might not like the result it threw up in May this year, but few of them were pounding the streets of Whitehall in protest about the electoral system in the preceding weeks and months. My own political leanings were also harmed by the outcome of the election, but I have accepted it as a function of the system we chose.
I think it’s important to distinguish between bureaucratic failings which cause suffering, and government policy deliberately designed to do so. I can readily admit that the former has been taking place, but I would think some serious proof is required if you are going to make the latter accusation. It also frustrates me that most people criticising the Tory welfare reforms have no alternative system in their mind. I will always give you the time of day because you have a conception of a different system (the basic income) in your mind, and you make the case for it. But too many are willing to criticise the Evil Tories for their “inhumanity” while failing to propose any alternative solutions of their own. Welfare cuts are bad? OK, so what are the “right” levels of welfare payments, and what (if any) tests or requirements should be in place to check eligibility? The protesters never seem to have a ready answer – unlimited welfare for everyone, forever, with no conditions?
Of course, the basic income does away with the whole bureaucracy required to check eligibility and the various incentives to game the system. And it would also kill at a stroke all of these criticisms about benefit sanctions being equivalent to a “human rights” abuse. The longer this welfare debate goes on and the more toxic the tone becomes, the more appealing universal basic income seems to me.