Don’t knock armchair activism – its an important part of our work

copied from DPAC

There are a lot of activists who don’t like petitions. They don’t sign them. They don’t share them. They look down on them as not being worthwhile.

And quite often they are right. Most petitions are a waste of time and energy. But just occasionally one petition will take off and it will change the world, just a little bit.

A case in point is this petition – Hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions that killed my brother

After 211,778 signed this petition the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee have taken up the case and launched an inquiry :-

Here is the press release from and an article in the Mirror about it


MPs set to hold benefit sanctions inquiry following 200K petition after ex soldier died when his Jobseekers’ Allowance was stopped

More than 211,000 people signed a petition started by Gill Thompson calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions after her diabetic David Clapson, 59, was found dead in his home.

Gill’s three-month campaign called for an independent inquiry into benefit sanctions – which refers to occasions that money is withheld from claimants if they fail to meet the terms agreed.

The Department for Work and Pensions cross-party select committee has now agreed and its inquiry into benefit sanctions is due to start early next year. It is expected to be completed shortly before the General Election 2015.

David from Stevenage who worked for 29 years had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped and died three weeks later. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit meaning the fridge where he kept the insulin he used to treat his diabetes was not working.

He died from diabetic ketoacidosis three weeks after his benefits were stopped caused by not taking insulin. A coroner found that when David died there was no food in his stomach.

Gill, 57, from London welcomes the decision to hold an inquiry. She said: “I’m still getting my head around the announcement. It’s still so overwhelming. When I started the petition I didn’t know what would happen.

“It’s wasn’t just for David. Nothing can replace him but the one thing I thought I could do was to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“I’m not normally a campaigner and David wasn’t someone who liked being made a fuss of, but sometimes in life there are certain things you have to do – and starting this petition was one of them.

“I am so glad I did it now. I hope through this investigation lessons will be learnt. People turn to the state when they are in need – that is what the system is for – a safety net for hard working people like my brother when they need a bit of support.”

Debbie Abraham’s MP for East Oldham and Saddleworth has been calling on the DWP select committee to hold an inquiry into “inappropriate use” of benefit sanctions since November last year.

Mrs Abraham’s who is a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee said:

“Gill has shown great courage in the wake of her brother’s appalling death to take on this cruel government and its inhuman policy of targeting vulnerable people who are reliant on social security.

“The huge response to Gill’s petition with more than 200K signatures is proof that the British public will not stand by and do nothing when they see vulnerable people suffering.”

“The government has done everything it can to avoid having this inquiry. There is increasing evidence of the negative effects of social security sanctions on some of the most vulnerable in society, which shows that their so-called welfare reforms don’t work. This is a government that doesn’t give a damn about ordinary people.

“Latest figures show that there are now more people in working families who are living in poverty than in workless and retired families combined.”

So come on you armchair activists – and you street activists – Get Signing and Sharing – petitions can change the world – just a little bit.

Here’s one that is close to DPACs heart to be getting on with

Please sign it and share it. you never know – you might be changing the world, just a little bit, again. We’d be very grateful if you do.


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One Response to “Don’t knock armchair activism – its an important part of our work”

  1. Chris Says:

    My petition has not taken off because I do not have the funds or the help to spread it about in social media.

    But my aim with the petition is not just signatures,
    but to inform the women born from 1953 and men born from 1951 of the coming NIL STATE PENSION FOR LIFE
    coming with the flat rate pension,
    when for a great many the state pension is their sole food and fuel money.

    The state pension is payable if remain in work or are early retired in lieu of redundancy under the massive austerity job cuts. Many women especially are on works pensions of only a couple of three grand a year, with men on average about four grand a year only.

    This means works pensions in the lowest 4 per cent of income level.

    The working poor are on stagnated wages a decade into the past.

    The most recent Which guide to pensions avoided telling people about getting vastly reduced or nil state pension for life coming with the flat rate pension.

    As benefits are being increasingly lost to all ages, with sanctions equally to a disabled person at 60 as a young mother with a new baby.

    So far the only 2015 manifesto that offers hope is that of The Greens who offer to replace all the cruel benefits regime with:

    – universal Citizen Income, automatic, non-withdrawable
    supplement for the disabled and for those living alone.

    – Bettered State Pension, leaving no citizen without a full state pension, as is being done by the flat rate pension.

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