Nadine Dorries thinks if you’re able to use Twitter, you shouldn’t qualify for benefits. This is exactly why it shouldn’t be up to people like her.
This is what happens when people with no medical training (quite the opposite it would seem: http://www.badscience.net/2008/03/nadine-dorries-and-the-hand-of-hope/), and no actual understanding of the people in question, start making judgements about who should and shouldn’t get financial assistance.
How often do we hear stories like this one? “I know someone who claims incapacity benefits and he looks fine to me…”, and so on. This is what Nadine Dorries is encouraging people to do via her blog: contact the DWP (who presumably have nothing better to do than respond to endless accusations from the general public who think there’s something a bit fishy about their neighbour’s new television) to report people who tweet too much whilst they are eligible for incapacity benefits.
The claimant who sparked this blog post from Dorries; the woman Dorries has decided to put in the stocks, is Humphrey Cushion, a woman who worked as a home carer and is currently on the waiting list for two foot operations (after that, there’s no reason to think she won’t be returning to work). The ignorance displayed towards her demonstrates beautifully the flaw in this system of grassing people up. For example, Guido Fawkes writes on his blog: “She claims to have arthritis but it clearly isn’t affecting her thumbs.” It wouldn’t do, Guido, it’s in her foot.
So being able to use Twitter doesn’t mean you’re fit to work. In fact, it’s the only form of anything resembling a social life for some people who are severely ill. Neither does having people round, or being able to leave the house once in a while.
But the truly insidious thing about this story is that Nadine Dorries has been accused of ‘scrounging’ herself. In 2009 Dorries was accused of claiming her main residence as her second home, meaning that she would have been claiming £24,222 of your money she wasn’t entitled to. She also claimed various hotel bills including mini bar use – during parliamentary recess – on expenses. She said this claim was submitted “by mistake.” Despite being a fan of benefit claimants being plastered all over the internet and even reported to the state if their next door neighbour doesn’t happen to trust them, Dorries declared the Daily Telegraph’s disclosures on parliamentary expenses fraud to be “witch hunts”, and whined that some MPs may be driven to suicide by the revelations about their theft of public money. Has she never heard the expression “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?”
Professionals should be the only ones to make decisions and judgements about people’s ability to work. Neighbours and acquaintances making ignorant assumptions is bad enough. But should Nadine Dorries be making these judgements? In the words of one Tory councillor who I spoke to this morning: “No! She’s a moron.”