Paul Walter will no doubt write up his usual fantastic report of PMQs for Lib Dem Voice later and I don’t want to take away from that, but I thought it was worth highlighting that the toughest questions David Cameron faced came, not from the opposition, but from the Liberal Democrat benches.
I absolutely cannot stand it when Government backbenchers demean themselves by asking obviously planted questions. The snivelling toady look is really not edifying. It makes the MP appear like they don’t have a mind of their own and they are entirely in the Whip’s thrall.
Liberal Democrats don’t do snivelling toadying that well. We see authority as something that has to be rigorously tested rather than cowed to. Nobody did that better today than Bob Russell the MP for Colchester, who highlighted the disparity between the aims of the Government to give disabled people the back to work with the real life experience of one of his constituents. Robert Oxley had a leg amputated after a motorbike accident and his other leg is severely damaged too. He was able to go back to work, but the transport on which he depends, his motability car, has been removed by the Department of Work and Pensions, who have decided that he doesn’t qualify for DLA.
Bob didn’t mince his words – dismissing those who sat on the Tribunal as “callous cretins” and asking Cameron where the words “fairness” and “all in it together” fitted into Mr Oxley’s experience.
This is what PMQs should be about. I was actually impressed with David Cameron’s answer. He seems much more willing to look into things himself than any other Prime Minister. He was quite clear that he’d seen decisions from tribunals that “fly in the face of common sense”. He talked about having gone through the process of filling in the forms, presumably for his son Ivan, who sadly passed away last year, being soul destroying and complicated.
Let’s hope that some high level intervention brings about a speedy review of Mr Oxley’s case and that he is soon given back the car he needs to get to work.
Here’s the full exchange from Hansard:
Prime Minister, our Government say that we want to help disabled people back to work. Two years ago, my constituent, Mr Robert Oxley, a father of four, had a serious motorcycle accident, which resulted in one leg being amputated and the other leg no longer functioning. A year later, he recovered and his firm gave him back his job, which he has been able to continue for a year through disability living allowance and Motability. Regrettably, those in charge, including callous cretins on the tribunal, have taken away his DLA and took away his Motability car on Monday, and he is now out of work—or he will be. May I ask the Prime Minister where in that story the words “fairness” and “all in it together” feature? (Colchester) (LD):
I am very happy to take up the hon. Gentleman’s case. We have all seen cases in our constituencies where tribunals have come to conclusions that completely fly in the face of common sense. I am very happy to take up that case, have a look at it and see what can be done. We should do what we can to help disabled people, particularly with the mobility needs that they have. Having filled out those forms myself, I know just how soul destroying and complicated it can be and how much we need to help people who cannot get around to make sure that they do.