Let’s get political, political,
I wanna get political…
I did not want to share a pic of me in eighties keep-fit garb, but in these turbulent times of political arseholery and catfishing, I wanted to be honest and transparent about what a podgy, middle-aged Olivia Newton-John impersonator really looks like.
Ah, ONJ, seeing your lycra-clad body in the reveal sequence at the end of Grease was the first time I realised I wanted boys to gawp at me like that and burst into song whilst transfixed by my gyrating nethers.
Your Let’s Get Physical video made me purchase leggings and legwarmers which certainly did make my ‘body talk’, but it was only saying: PLEASE REMOVE THIS UNFLATTERING FITNESS ATTIRE IMMEDIATELY.
As you may have guessed from my tomfoolery with ONJ’s lyrics, today I am not seeking sex with you via the metaphor of keep-fit (that’s for another day).
Instead, I am seeking to speak body politics with you, by which I mean how political decisions can affect your body.
Things will get a bit serious for the next few paragraphs.
Today I read this:
“My much-loved partner Mark, of 23 years, is dying from mouth cancer. No cancer is good but this form is particularly cruel, restricting his ability to eat and speak.
“He lives in a Universal Credit area and words totally fail me as to how barbaric and inhumane the system is. This is the reality for many of our most vulnerable people in society and Mark wanted to tell his story, to reveal the shocking truth that lies behind Theresa May’s “Strong and Stable” Social Care plans.
“Sadly his story is far from unique.
“Mark’s story began when was diagnosed with terminal Cancer by a Macmillan Nurse at Guy’s Hospital. She told him to apply for fast track Employment Support Allowance (ESA) as he was not expected to live beyond 6 months. Due to the postcode lottery it turned out that he should have applied for Universal Credit (UC).
“This took weeks to reveal itself and Mark had to live on very little money as he was self-employed but unable to work. Having struggled to complete 60 pages of the ESA form his efforts were wasted. Moreover ESA can be backdated to the date of diagnosis, but UC cannot.
“By the time Mark was able to start over with his UC claim his health had severely deteriorated and his concentration levels had become poor due to high levels of morphine medication. He sat next to me at my computer whilst I completed the form. In his condition, he was a bit befuddled with the incredible levels of detail required, but without completing all the mandatory boxes you can’t progress through the form. In short, the process is completely unsuitable for the physical and mental states of the people who have to use the system. In addition, you only have limited time to complete the form online before it shuts down and this requires you to start over.
“The system then requires that the claimant is “verified” by Experian. According to Experian, Mark doesn’t exist, although he is very much still with me as I write this story. Several “helpline advisers” did not help, simply parroting the statement that they did not deal with online applications, although this was the number given on the UC website.
“Mark was asked to take his identity documents to a Job Centre, quite a trial for a man who had not been out or, indeed, off his bed for over a fortnight, stick thin and sleeping most of the time. I was told that, without verification, his claim would not go through. After verification of his terminal illness had finally taken place, I thought all was well and he had fast tracked his claim.
“How wrong I was.
“The following day, Mark was told that his claim could only be processed once he had completed a to-do task and that once again he needed to verify his ID online. His first payment, if his claim is accepted, will be on the 24th June, months after he needed the money to live his final months in some level of comfort and dignity.
“But Mark’s story does not stop there. He subsequently found out that he has to have a “Fitness to Work” telephone interview. I called the Universal Credit Work Coach to ask if she was aware that he is terminally ill and has difficulty speaking as he has mouth cancer. She said she did but said it still had to be done. I cannot think of any words that express my contempt for her callous and emotionally bankrupt approach to Mark’s predicament. I have spoken with others about Mark’s experience and it seems that this is quite the norm in our “civilised society”.
“Theresa May’s Government are presently rolling out Universal Credit across the UK. God help those that are desperately ill with no one to look after and support them through this Kafkaesque nightmare of a system which makes it virtually impossible for vulnerable people to live their final days without misery.
“If Mark was on his own, he would be dying in utter desperation and starving to death in his flat as food banks don’t do home delivery.
“Universal Credit is universally inhumane. An animal receives better treatment than humans under Theresa May’s Strong and Stable Care System.”
You can view the original post by one of Mark’s friends on facebook here.
Now then, I accept that Mark’s partner may be a Labour supporter but I don’t think she is making this up, or using his experiences to make you vote for Jezza.
I think she is desperate.
I think many, many people are desperate.
Today, Olivia Newton-John has announced that the breast cancer she saw off many years ago has returned and spread to her spine.
ONJ, we can all only thank the Gods of Xanadu that you won’t have to rely on Universal Credit.
As for the rest of us, we’d better get not just fit, but RICH too. Immediately!
Or, y’know…just vote for something different…