When I first heard Sue Marsh has accepted a senior job with Maximus, I thought it was a joke! I know I may been a bit behind in providing my viewpoint, I was in Orlando about to embark on a Caribbean cruise when the news broke but I still think it is important I put my two pennyworth into the mix as someone who often sees things differently.
The first thing I must explain is that it is no secret I have not got on with Sue Marsh for the majority of the last 5 years, although people may be surprised to know we did get on for a few months until she wobbled on a comment I made, blocked me, and started hostile relations again. So I am very aware many people will read this article and see it as simply sour grapes, but that is not the case. This is my analysis of her appointment.
The first issue to discuss is her health. Unlike some people, I do not question the illnesses she has nor suggest her appointment suggests she is faking it, quite the opposite. Although I believe everyone can work, and she has proven with the right motivation, 75k a year, people will work, I would never suggest to anyone to make the jump she has. I do not believe anyone, sick or not, can go from not working for 20 years to suddenly doing a high powered executive job working 40 hours a week with lots of home work. Throw in long term sickness and it is a dangerous situation waiting to happen. Moving into work in a step by step process to build up hours, experience and confidence. I believe she would have been better being a self-employed consultant for Maximus, where she would have far more control over her terms of employment. She will find it tough and unlikely to survive the pressures physically and emotionally.
Both she and Maximus are crowing about her experience but what experience? The bottom line is she is a self-appointed Labour activist with a very prejudiced viewpoint so had simply moaned on Twitter for five years. As far as I am aware she never been on any formal committees nor worked with existing disability organisations, basically calling them all wrong. I know as a matter of fact she has taken credit for other people’s work. Her infamous blog is full of factual errors, lies, and things she just made up. In her new job, everything she says will be carefully scrutinised and her lies will be quickly exposed and blow up into maybe legal and criminal actions against her and Maximus as her new array of enemies will play every trick in the book.
The bottom line is she is probably the least experienced disabled person for the job. But this job was a political gimmick and I am sure it was a corrupt backroom deal as the job was designed for her and her alone. The question is now whether this was a fair and proper recruitment and whether her fixed appointment is a breach of European employment law.
The issue that worrying me the most about her appointment is her attitude towards people with high support needs, those she has consistently referred to as profoundly disabled and naturally vulnerable, which shows a level of bigotry I am unwilling to accept. While she is now acknowledging people within the support group can possibly work, those who should be working anyway, I believe she will see her role to ensure more people with high support needs are easily written off and parked on benefits for their entire life out of pity and compassion. My belief comes from her blog and the consistent prejudices towards us. And because she is ‘disabled’, her prejudices will be accepted and celebrated by Maximus and others, ensuring the greater exclusion of disabled people. She has made it very clear to me by email previously she is not interested in the inclusion of disabled people and that now makes her very dangerous as someone nowresponsible for playing god in terms of who is allowed to work, and who is not.
I am unsure she understands what the job is going to be in reality. The tidying up of letters and procedures, the bit she is selling her excuses on, will only take a few months. After this, her main job, whatever the job description says, will be damage limitation as she will be the PR gimmick, the disabled person paid to tell the media and endless conferences how wonderful Maximus is and answer all the accusations of murder, corruption, incompetence and so on. It will be her job to provide endless statements to the Anti-disabled blogger, John Pring, in his vendetta against disabled people and the government. And because she will be paid £1500 each week, she will fool herself into believing in the organisationand quickly be the puppet they wanted.
I believe Sue’s greatest difficulty will be her inability to take criticism as well as her egoistic nature. Sue has never taken criticism very well, blocking anyone on Twitter who challenges her, and while I think she thinks she has prepared herself for the backlash, what she is getting now is extremely mild to what will be coming over the next year. She has easily made herself the most hated disabled person in the UK, knocking me off that spot by miles. How will she coped when she is heckled at conferences or receives the death threats, the same ones she denied ATOS staff received? Most disabled people right now do not know who she is, like they do not know who I am, and will not care about her background, just seeing an evil nasty disabled woman who is against the vulnerable need to be wrote off. Any reputation she had or thinks she had is already gone and even if she resigned today, her credibility with anyone is lost.
For me, if there was a battle between myself and Sue, she is just let me win. It is interesting that I got a lot of stick for trying to work with ATOS as a consultant on my terms. The reality is the only money I had was my travel expenses back from the only meeting I had with them. I did not sell out because I remain consistent in my agenda and methods, working as a consultant, being paid to tell them how crap they were. Sue has sold out because they own her and what she can now say in and out of work. I am sure they will require up her stop her anti-government blog and curb her tongue, because that is what they are paying her for. I think the real reason I was given a beating is because I believe in the abilities of everyone, and this offends the bigotry of those opposed to the inclusion of disabled people. Therefore, the fact Sue remained prejudiced may rescue her from the worst attacks.
So with all this information, my prediction is that for one or more reasons Sue and Maximus will decide to mutually go their separate ways within six months, and it will probably be as a result of her health situation as well as a couple of out of court settlement caused by inappropriate things she has said in her role.
The big question to ask is do I need to work with her and will she work with me? She is now paid to be nice to me and listen to what I say politely, even if she simply ignores it. Whether she will be prepared to do this and for example show good faith by unblocking me on Twitter is another matter! But is there any point to trying to work with her? WCA/ESA is a dying project that needs replacing with something better and I think I want to focus my energy on being a part of the solution, since she has chosen to remain a part of the problem!
– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74