This General Election Is a Matter of Life and Death

The Conservative Party’s commitment to austerity kills people. You have a moral obligation to vote against them in this General Election.

Are you sick of politics? Me too. But there’s one more thing you have to do, vote against the Conservative Party on June 8th 2017, lives are at stake. (Hear me out).

Nobody is talking about what actually matters in the General Election campaigns at the moment. Slogans don’t matter.

This is the first election in over 25-years pitting neoliberalism and socialism head-to-head. It doesn’t matter.

You may have seen one of the parties in government before and loved it, or hated it (Damn Thatcher and/or Wilson!) — that doesn’t matter either. Your opinion of Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May? Irrelevant.

Brexit could not matter less right now. Not compared to this.

Here’s what matters, according to the Government’s own figures, people are actually dying as a direct result of Conservative Party policies.

They really are — in so many different areas of British society, and in Yemen, where the Government continues to assist Saudi Arabia militarily.

The underlying trends are indisputable in the Government’s own statistics. But, to try and actually articulate our present insanity, I’ve put an estimate on the number of extra deaths another five years of Conservative Government will give us in a few key areas:

  • Disability
  • Homelessness
  • Mortality rate increased in 2015 for the first time in over 30 years.
  • Yemen

Disability: 10,000 extra deaths

Between 2010–2013, 1 million out-of-work disability benefit recipients had their eligibility re-assessed by the Coalition government’s Work Capability Assessment checklist. Doctors and disability rights organisations raised concerns about the effects of this process on the mental health of claimants.

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that for each additional 10,000 people re-assessed, there were an extra 6 suicides, 2,700 additional reports of mental health problems and an additional 7020 antidepressant items prescribed.

Don’t miss the multiples: 6,000 suicides between 2010–2013 are linked to the grueling Work Capability (Re-)Assessment.

How many more deaths have been linked to Work Capability Assessment since then? We don’t know, the government didn’t write things down.

After this report was published, the Department of Work and Pensions admitted to the Information Commissioner that it failed to record what happened to recommendations from it’s own internal reviews of cases in which the department’s own actions lead to suicide or other deaths of a claimant.

To understand why these assessments might lead to suicide — well, the assessments mention them.

In March 2017, it was discovered that disability claimants with mental health conditions are routinely asked why they have failed to take their own lives.

From an article in Disability News Service:

Dr Jay Watts, a clinical psychologist and academic… said that [Work Capability Assessments] were “degrading and humiliating experiences for most if not all claimants”.
“Individuals are required to parade their distress and feel compelled to answer intrusive questions (for the means to live relies on this).
To ask about suicide or self-harm in this context brings huge risks.”

So, what’s our predicted extra death count? I’ll use the 6,000 from 2010–2013, as there’s nothing else to use — they didn’t write it down.

Number of extra deaths in a Conservative 2017–2022 government: 10,000.

Homelessness: 89,079 extra deaths

Homelessness, the national embarrassment for any wealthy country, isn’t measured in one unified statistic — it’s a mixture of different housing vulnerabilities:

  • rough sleepers
  • those in temporary accommodation
  • those housed in hostels
  • those waiting to be housed by social services departments

The Government produces statistics on some of those areas, and they show an upward trend in the number of rough sleepers and those in temporary accommodation since 2010 (both had been falling before the coalition government).

Chart showing those acknowledged as homeless and in temporary accommodation since 1998 from Office of National Statistics — emphasis mine

In December 2016, Shelter conducted a study to create a unified total for homelessness in Britain, and their conservative estimate puts the number of homeless in the UK at 254,514 people.

In 2011, the NHS found that the average life-expectancy of people homeless in any of these ways in the UK is 47 years old, compared to 79.5 for a male born in 2014.

If the 250,000 homeless are distributed in the same way as the general population, 35% would be expected to die homeless, at the age of 47, that wouldn’t die if they weren’t homeless. An extra 87,000 people.

Homelessness is an eminently solvable problem, and as the Department for Communities and Local Government admits: “one person without a home is one too many.

The government’s own statistics in this are show a strong correlation between Conservative government and increased homelessness. It holds true anecdotally too. One homeless worker told me:

During my last 11 years of working with homeless people I’ve almost lost count of people that I’ve known that are dead now.

Shelter and many other homelessness charities point to two key factors in the rise of homelessness — the housing crisis and the rise of private rented sector; an area of clear difference in policy between the Conservatives and Labour. (Incidentally, 95 Conservative MPs make at least £10,000 per year as private landlords)

It is worth a quick look into the sharp end of the knife — rough sleeping. The upward trend since 2010 is huge.

Case in Point — Rough sleeping: 1,312 extra deaths

According to the government, the number of rough sleepers has increased by 240% since 2010.

Rough Sleeping Statistics from Department for Communities and Local Government

This is shameful in itself, but homelessness charity St Mungo’s calculates that in London between April 2010 and March 2016, at least 129 people died who had been seen sleeping rough in the same year.

We can use this ‘death rate’ (2.8% of rough sleepers) to extrapolate that number for the rest of the country to a total of 535 deaths, 294 of which are only from the increase in rough sleeping over the 6-year period.

Extrapolating the very strong trend towards more rough sleeping, and another Conservative government will see 9,906 rough sleepers on any given night in England’s streets by 2022, with 1,312 dying in the process.

Number of extra deaths in a Conservative 2017–2022 government: 1,312, with 9,906 people sleeping rough in 2022.

More of us are dying now: extra ‘extra deaths’

In 2015, the mortality rate went up for the first time in over 20 years (by my research, 1984 was the last increase).

Source: Office for National Statistics, emphasis mine.

Age-standardised-mortality rates adjust for the age of the population, so that you can compare two different years. According to the Office for National Statistics:

Mortality rates have generally been decreasing over the last 20 years, but there was a significant increase between 2014 and 2015 for all persons and both sexes

Why are more people dying? Maybe a squeezed NHS, the rough sleeping, the Workplace Capability Assessment deaths — are all taking their toll.

It could be an anomaly, but mortality rates among pensioners aged 85 and over have been increasing since 2010 — and you’d expect austerity-related death to reveal itself there first.

According to a study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine:

Rising mortality rates among pensioners aged 85 years and over were linked to reductions in spending on income support for poor pensioners and social care. Findings suggest austerity measures in England have affected vulnerable old-age adults.
Between 2007 and 2013, each 1% decline in Pension Credit spending (support for low income pensioners) per beneficiary was associated with an increase in 0.68% in old-age mortality.

So, it turns out — the less support we give low income pensioners, the more likely they are to die. Go figure.

Number of extra deaths in a Conservative 2017–2022 government: I don’t know, but more people are dying, faster, for the first time since 1984 (the year, not the George Orwell novel)

Saudi Arabia’s Bombing of Yemen: 27,000 extra deaths

This should probably be the biggest issue in the UK right now — it’s atrocious. As Russia is to Assad in Syria, The UK is to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The UN has estimated that since March 2015, over 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen by Saudi Arabian bombing, and over 40,000 more have been injured.

More than 3,500 children have been killed or injured in the fighting.

The UK has licensed over £3.3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015.

Or, since the bombing began the UK has sold £4.17 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia every day.

We haven’t only sold the weapons though — the government’s hands are much dirtier than than.

Written evidence from the foreign office states explicitly that the Government sped up the delivery of precision-guided weapons, and provided on-the-ground training to Saudi Arabia.

As Russia is to Assad in Syria, The UK is to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The Written Evidence goes on to explain how ‘strategic’ the UK’s alliance with Saudi Arabia is, meanwhile UK-made bombs continue to fall on what the UN calls “one of the worst crises in the world.”, with UK military guidance and support.

In February 2017, the Campaign Against Arms Trade took the Government to the High Court over the continued UK involvement in the bombardment.

“What does a regime have to do — how many breaches of international humanitarian law must it commit? — before this Government deem it an unacceptable partner to deal in arms with?”
Brendon O’Hara MP, December 2016

We don’t know what a Conservative government will be forced to by the High Court, or if less UK-assistance will result in less deaths in Yemen — but we will be less complicit. Jeremy Corbyn is on record opposing the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.

The US and Brazil also sell arms to Saudi Arabia, so we’ll given the UK Government a third of the deaths from March 2015 — January 2017.

Number of extra deaths in a Conservative 2017–2022 government: 27,000

What to do now?

Well, it’s quite simple, you need to vote tactically against the Conservative Party in your constituency on June 8th 2017.

Forget your cognitive dissonance, Brexit, the ‘viability’ of Jeremy Corbyn. Forget all of it. People in the UK are dying as a direct result of Conservative policies, it’s in their own statistics, and they’re actively continuing with the same policies. In Yemen, the UK Government is actively sponsoring genocide.

A Conservative government is not viable.

My rough, but not unreasonable estimates put the cost of another 5 years of Conservative government at at least 120,000 human lives.

So, vote against the Conservative Party, and we can discuss everything else when less people are dying.

Sources

I’ve linked up all of my sources inline, and used the Government’s own statistics and charts wherever possible.

I also verified, but didn’t include, the correlation indexes of studies and R2 values of the rough sleeping extrapolation. By all means check the data and correct me. I’d love to be wrong. (because people are dying).