Thursday, 14 April 2011

Daily Mail Glasgow offices invaded by Anti-Benefit Cuts Protesters

This afternoon around 15 Anti-Benefit Cuts held a leafleting session outside the Atos assessment centre in Cadogan Street, Glasgow advising other claimants on how to deal with benefits medical examinations. It was part of the 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts being held in at least a dozen cities around Britian organised by a network of claimants' groups. Members of the Crutch Collective, the SWP, SSP and others held up banners and placards declaring that Atos robs from the poor to give to the rich, while IWW songs played in the background. The Work Capability Assessments carried out by Atos have been heavily criticised by CAB, the Child Poverty Action Group and others as being unfair and not based on medical opinion. The process is driven by the government trying to cut 2.5 billion from Employment Support Allowance to pay for the public debt caused by the banks gambling on the financial markets. Those going in for the assessments appreciated what was being done.

Luckily the Glasgow offices of the Daily Mail were just around the corner at 20 Waterloo Street. A number of protesters walked past security on the ground floor and went to offices on the first floor where the Daily Mail staff were kind enough to let them in. All the journalists there were told to stop telling lies about disabled people. They were handed leaflets that stated that the Daily Mail has led the propaganda against the most vulnerable in society, making attacks on benefits for sick and disabled people possible. Despite aggressive, threatening and inappropriate behaviour from some of the journalists the protesters left peacefully having made their point. Metro journalists in the adjoining office were keen to differentiate themselves from the Daily Mail. The protest continued outside where passing members of the public showed their support. The police were called, but there were no arrests.

Photos to follow.

Full text of Daily Mail leaflet:
Daily Mail:
Stop the lies about Disabled people

Disabled people, people with illnesses, parents, people on low wages, unemployed people, carers and others demand an end to the defamation by the Daily Mail of people who need benefits to survive.

This protest takes place as part of the third national day of action against benefit cuts. The aim is to challenge the legitimacy of the Westminster government's drive to move claimants off Incapacity Benefit, putting around 1600 people a day through a medical test run by private company Atos Origin. The test has been widely discredited by the CAB, Child Poverty Action Group, and others. A damning CAB report concluded “"Doctors pay more attention to the computer than the client”.

Yet the Daily Mail has been using the results of Atos Origin's computer-based tests to mount a campaign against disabled people and people with illnesses claiming Incapacity Benefit. Their lurid claims have included “76% of those who say they're sick can work” and “Thousands in Britain on incapacity benefit because they are too fat to work”.

Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts says:

The lies and half truths that the Daily Mail has published have resulted in an increase of hate crime attacks against disabled people. We are not prepared to sit back and allow them to continue to peddle their disgusting disablist propaganda unchallenged.”

Anne Novis MBE, has issued this call to action:

Yes you, and you and you, all of you who stand by and say nothing or encourage such vicious and undeserving attacks are just as responsible for what is happening. Those who stand by and allow this are equivalent to those who stood by when disabled people and Jews were targeted by the Nazis for annihilation. Too harsh for you? Its our lives we are fighting for, our very lives, some have already killed themselves due to what is happening, many more are considering it. Will you stand by?”

Martin Campbell of London Coalition Against Poverty has said:

The Daily Mail needs to know the disgust and anger its fear-mongering lies provoke. All those who experience the stress, insecurity, illness and sometimes destitution that result from Atos Origin's disastrous computerised “medical assessment” have a clear message for the Mail: Stop the lies! Stop the Defamation!”

The Daily Mail has led the propaganda against the most vulnerable in society, making attacks on benefits for sick and disabled people possible

The Day of Action has been called by networks of claimants' groups around Britain, including the Crutch Collective in Glasgow. The first two days of protest against benefit cuts have seen demonstrations, meetings, unemployed discos, public pantomimes and occupations in cities across Britain. Atos Origin have been forced to close offices, protesters have gathered inside and outside workfare sharks A4e and demonstrations have taken place from Downing Street to local town centres.

Protests are taking place in 12 cities across Britain, and include an online action for those not able to travel by the 'Armchair Army'.

Since 1st April 2011, a mass assessment of Incapacity Benefit claimants is being rolled out across the country. This despite the CAB condemning the replacement “Employment and Support Allowance” (ESA) and the medical tests run by multinational company Atos as “not fit for purpose”; and strong criticisms from Child Poverty Action Group and others. "Doctors produce inaccurate reports .. reporting incorrectly what the claimant has said about their own conditions and taking their answers out of context." and "Doctors pay more attention to the computer than the client;" [CAB report 2009].

The tests do not work: One in four ESA decisions are appealed and the CAB's evidence suggests that 70% of appeals are successful.

The Daily Mail has led the propaganda against the most vulnerable in society, which has made these attacks on benefits for sick and disabled people possible:

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