Stephen Hepburn: Tories proving they are the Nasty Party

The film I, Daniel Blake portrayed a man battling the benefits sytem for help.
The film I, Daniel Blake portrayed a man battling the benefits sytem for help.

This week in Parliament I took the government to task on their wicked attacks on the very people who need help most.

Common decency would see us helping the disabled instead of kicking in the teeth vulnerable people with mental illnesses.

So I’m appalled that cold fish Theresa May and her heartless Tories rode roughshod over the law to cheat our friends and neighbours with conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism to illustrate her lot remain the Nasty Party.

I believe in economic prosperity and social justice, paying grafters a decent wage and looking after those who are struggling.

Any single one of us could suffer mental health trouble as much as a physical problem so we are all in this together when building an NHS and welfare state which saves every single one of us.

Which makes me appalled the Tories are acting like tin pot dictators to deny 160,000 Britons the Personal Independence Payments (PIP’s) that tribunals ruled they’re entitled to.

Worth between £21.80 and £57.45 a week after stringent tests, the payments would give a new lease of life to women and men in our communities currently feeling trapped in their homes.

No wonder a powerful coalition of 32 charities warn many disabled people will be left without vital financial support.

No wonder Damian Green, the new Iain Duncan Smith axeman as Tory Work and Pensions Secretary, refused to allow MPs a vote when he was terrified Labour would rightly defeat with Conservative rebels his £3.7-billion grab over the next five years.

And no wonder my Labour colleagues in the House of Lords rallied peers to chalk up a magnificent victory, forcing the Government to rethink the cruel policy. Jarrow’s late, great Baron Dixon would’ve smiled with satisfaction.

I fear the Tories will still press ahead with a monstrous callousness nailing the May myth she cares and would treat mental and physical illnesses equally.

The fact is disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as the non-disabled.

Denying the mentally ill Personal Independence Payments is on top of savage cuts in the 2012 and 2016 Welfare Reform Acts.

Cumulatively the Tories are seizing an estimated £28bn from 3.7m disabled and stone-hearted May doesn’t give two hoots whether her victims can make ends meet to survive without plummeting off a debt cliff.

Just over 2,000 disabled people have claimed PIP in my Jarrow parliamentary constituency covering parts of South Tyneside and the Gateshead Council area.

The process is stressful. People are forced to prove, often against flawed and arbitrary measures, they are truly sick and disabled. Many who genuinely needed assistance had it taken away, forcing them to win back their social security through an appeal.

And you know what? Something like three-fifths win after lodging an appeal so the process is clearly flawed.

Cuts endured by disabled people to fund tax gifts for the undeserving fabulously wealthy are immoral when the richest couldn’t spend all their loot even if they regarded avarice as a full-time job.

Labour believes the mentally ill are entitled to as much care, respect and support as the physically stricken. The Tories don’t.