It was billed as the great showdown by the welfare extremists. The Commons Select Committee,aided by Professor Harrington,would demolish the Atos representatives,discrediting the company,the DWP and the whole incapacity benefits process.
Perhaps a 10:30am start was too soon for much of the ESA/IB target audience still sleeping off their hangovers but for those claimants who did manage to drag themselves up a couple of hours early they perhaps wished they’d never bothered.
Chaired by the token disabled person,the committee presided over a sparsely attended Q&A session,firstly quizzing three senior Atos officials and then Professor Harrington himself. Glenda Jackson,looking increasingly like the stereotypical female socialist,took the lead but was easily swatted away by the Atos reps and was to embarrassingly admit the real truth towards the end of the session. One statistic defined the whole meeting,astonishing MP’s and causing anti-reformers to go on the defensive. 30%,yes,almost a THIRD of claimants don’t bother attending their medical assessments! Did these needy,financially struggling claimants simply forget? Did they miraculously recover or did they suddenly find work? Maybe though,just maybe,they feared being exposed as claiming a benefit they weren’t entitled to. For them,time in the benefits trough is over.
As a man using two walking sticks cut across the camera shot,probably towards the exit, Glenda Jackson unwittingly administered the coup de grace,killing off the argument of the pro-handout campaigners. “These people have learned to be ill!” Yes Glenda,and many of them are better at acting than you ever were.