Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

Guest blog from another victim of betrayal by David Cameron

Posted on 1 December 2012 | 12:12pm

Unconnected to Leveson, out of the blue comes an email from a former RAF pilot accusing David Cameron of betrayal over his claim that former servicemen and women will not lose out as a result of welfare changes.

Betrayal is a powerful theme, and the numbers who feel it are swelling. Environmentalists who were promised the greenest government ever, and who can count the speeches from Cameron on the subject on zero fingers, a trend unlikely to be reversed by his appointment of a climate change denier as energy minister. Health service workers and users who were told of his passionate belief in the NHS, and his promise that there would be no top-down reorganisation. Heads, teachers, parents and pupils at schools busy making plans on the basis of a Building Schools for the Future programme axed as soon as he became Prime Minister. Armed forces assured they would have all the resources they needed – remember how he exploited that one against Gordon Brown? – and now having to face cuts bigger than anything ever put forward before.

The list goes on and on, those betrayed over Leveson, like the Dowlers, the McCanns and the Watsons just the latest to join it. And today, former serviceman Martin Oxborrow makes clear he too is part of Cameron’s Betrayed. Please read on.

“No Ex-Serviceman or woman will lose their benefits as a result of these changes”- Prime Minister David Cameron -House of commons 2011

I spent 21 years of my life in the RAF, firstly as an Aircraft Technician and later 17 years as aircrew becoming a C130 Hercules Captain. I travelled extensively around the World and carried out Air to Air Refueling duties in the Falkland Islands and performed Famine relief in Ethiopia in 1985. I was awarded Specialist Aircrew status having completed my initial 16 year contract which meant I would continue flying until I was at least 55.

Then it hit me; I became anxious and developed a fear of heights – not helpful in maintaining my authority as an Aircraft Captain.  I was immediately grounded, lost my Flying Pay and was diagnosed with Phobic Anxiety and associated Depression. It was difficult in the Macho environment of the RAF to maintain a normal existence; eventually I was discharged in December 1997; I was unable to continue as an Officer even in Ground Duties because of the Medication I was on.

As soon as I had left the RAF, I applied for Incapacity Benefit – I was somewhat less financially sound on a Pension having earned some £40,000 pa in my last years. Over the next 15 years, I was examined by many GPs, and went through many DWP ‘All Work Tests’. I was always advised that I was unfit for work and should not even attend interviews. I went through many forms of Therapy and Counselling but my condition seemed to remain basically the same.

Life took even more of a dip in 2005 when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of  Non Hodgkin’s’ Lymphoma and experienced 9 Chemotherapy sessions. I was lucky and the Cancer had been caught early; I remain very grateful for the treatment I was given by the NHS which was superb (apart from one incident involving a District Nurse who had to be struck off – but that’s for another day…).

I remain in 100% remission from Cancer and my wife and I had changed our lifestyle an awful lot to cope with my illness; we have horses and Dogs which are quite Therapeutic and give much amusement. I still suffer though and up to 2 or 3 days a week I am unable to get out of bed – the anxiety and depression are just too debilitating.

This year I had my 60th Birthday. In the same week I received information from DWP that my benefit was changing to Employment & Support Allowance- “I need not worry; the paperwork said my allowance would not change much if at all”.

Some weeks later I was told that I had been placed in the ‘Work Group’ (as opposed to the ‘Support Group’). This meant that I had to attend ‘Work focused Interviews’ with a view to ‘Returning to Employment!’ To say I was surprised was an understatement; I appealed following all the instructions, and asked my GP if he could write on my behalf to explain the position with some authority–which he did.

My appeal went to a Tribunal; at this stage I wrote to my MP, our Welsh Assembly Member, Iain Duncan Smith and the Shadow Minister for Work & Pensions – I was desperate. The only person to reply was Elin Jones our Plaid Cymru Assembly Member; she offered to write to the tribunal on my behalf.

My appeal was thrown out- I was to remain in the Work Group. I had attended an interview with the local Disability Employment Adviser who could only offer me ‘Surf Therapy’ (!) but he did say my interview would ‘count’.

The final installment of this sorry saga was a request to attend a medical Examination by ATOS in Carmarthen, 20 miles away. I asked for a closer appointment in my local Hospital but they couldn’t do this. I did not want to drive far –my medication suggests I shouldn’t- so my wife drove me and we attended together.

This week I have received the results of my examination and many more letters from Job Centre Plus. The ‘Medical professional’ (she told us she was a Nurse but I don’t think she had any Psychiatric qualifications) stated that I attended on my own(!) and she awarded me no points or ‘scores’ in any of their tests. None of the questions asked related to my symptoms or illness, so I have nothing wrong with me. She was more interested in whether I could stand on one leg or not.

The accompanying letters told me my benefit would be stopped, but I could appeal. I should, it said, ‘contact my former employer and ask to be re-employed’. I do not consider that the RAF would be interested in a 60 year old Hercules Pilot on Medication, Type 2 Diabetic, and unable to get out of bed 3 times a month!

I have appealed (again) but do not hold out much hope. My wife says that all this stress has put me back 10 years. I do not consider that this is what was intended by the Prime Minister or any of the Coalition Ministers when they changed the Benefit System. I heard the Prime minister  in the House of Commons state very clearly that “No Ex-Serviceman or Woman will lose their benefits as a result of these changes”; well I am very sorry to say this Mr Cameron, but you lied. I and others are living proof of this.

** Martin left school at 16 with 5 ‘O’ levels and completed a full Apprenticeship as a Skilled Mechanic working on Rolls Royce, Jaguar and Aston Martin vehicles prior to joining the RAF.  In 1991 he married Gabby, a Sqn Ldr Catering Officer in the RAF and they have a daughter Holly, now at  University studying Mathematics .He has two Sons from his first marriage and three Grandchildren.He now lives in very rural Wales finding the pace of life, beautiful scenery and wildlife suits his illness and occupies himself with his cars,horses,dogs,the internet and occasionally plays his Guitar.he can be contacted on b15oxo@mailsaq.net

  • Dave Simons

    It’s an extremely interesting e-mail that touches on a lot of issues. First of all I wonder how much, if at all, ‘the Macho environment of the RAF’ has changed since the 1990s? It is an indictment of Macho culture itself, in which a person is judged OK when they are fit and healthy but useless, insignificant and dispensable when they are not. We had a good example of a regime which practised the values of that culture in Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s, and some subsequent governments – US Republicans and the Tories in the 1980s – and institutions like Wall Street and the City of London – have apparently learned little from the experience. Second, it’s worth bearing in mind that the therapeutic value of ‘very rural Wales’ and similar countryside in the UK is, as always, under threat, with Tories again advocating the effective bricking over of the south-east and coveting any greenery outside their own backyards for the purposes of property development and the attendant increase of motorised traffic. The big issue though is the catalogue of negative experiences Martin has endured, and the impression I get from the e-mail is that things have worsened significantly in the last two and a half years – correct me if I’m wrong?

  • Anonymous

    Betrayal eh… its ironic I’ve just been watching this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7IhK_ncgfg

    Have a look around about 11 minutes, as far as I can tell Peter Mandelson thinks Alastair betrayed him, and the two don’t speak till this day. (Nothing to do with their fisticuffs which came long before that.)

  • Olli Issakainen

    Not betrayed by Cameron.
    The poor are nowadays told to abandon their “lifestyle” of welfare.
    Single mothers must go to work etc.
    There are deep cuts to welfare payments. Conservative political philosophy tells that people are lazy.
    Reducing benefits makes life on welfare more difficult.
    Nye Bevan once stated that the assertion of anti-socialists that private economic adventure is a desirable condition is profoundly unscientific.
    Yet the government will turn many aspects of welfare provision to the private sector.
    The costs of BANKERS are now being transferred to the public sector and to the welfare state which, by the way, is supported by 70% of Britons.
    Cameron and Osborne are now set to do nothing about the financial sector.
    No separation of retail and investment banking.
    But banks are out of control.
    The four pillars of international banking system are: drug-money laundering, sanctions busting, tax evasion and arms trafficking.
    Politicians do not care. Banks are too big and powerful.
    BCCI, which collapsed in 1991, was involved in money laundering and other financial crimes.
    CIA had numerous accounts at BCCI for illegal operations.
    Coutts, bank of elite and the Queen, has been involved in money laundering.
    Lloyds (43% owned by taxpayers) has been fined $350m for whitewashing Iranian money into the US.
    HSBC has laundered money by Iran, terrorist organisations, drug cartels and organized criminals.
    Lord Green is the former boss of HSBC.
    Barclays has laundered money from Columbian Medellin cartel.
    Standard Chartered had to pay £220m fine for illegal transfer of Iranian regime money.
    Barclays is the fourth largest bank in world after BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and HSBC.
    Barclays was fined £290m for Libor rigging.
    According to IMF global financial system remains as risky as in 2008.
    Cameron will not betray rightwing billionaires who own the British media.
    Rupert Murdoch is worth $8.3bn. He is a member of Bilderberg Group (like Mr Cameron) and Council on Foreign Relations.
    Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay are worth £2.25bn. They own the Telegraph and the Spectator.
    Jonathan Harmsworth (Lord Rothermere) owns the Mail. He is worth £1.02bn.
    Richard Desmond is worth £950m. His company Northern & Shell owns Express Newspapers and Channel 5.
    Anthony Salz of NM Rothschild sits on the Scott Trust board which owns the Guardian and the Observer.
    Rothschilds own 40% of the global wealth.
    They also own FT and the Economist plus Penguin.
    Rothschilds own Trinity Mirror (Mirror, People) through Schroders, BlackRock and JP Morgan.
    Rothschilds also own ITV and IPC Magazines and have a big stake in News Corp and BSkyB.
    So David Cameron has one law for the bankers and press barons and another for the poor.
    What we have learned from the financial crisis is that bankers are above the law.

  • http://twitter.com/LyzzyBee_Libro Liz Broomfield

    Well done to Martin for writing this and presenting the situation and your feelings so clearly and powerfully. Well done to Alistair for publishing it. Shame on those who have caused this situation.

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, this coalition is directing such agencies to consider personal assets, it seems to me. Like a liquidation through the back door. And these agencies are becoming more “fascist” as organisations since they themselves want to keep their job, so tow the coalition line.

    But in this case they are showing great disrespect for people that have volunteered to put themselves at the very sharpest edge of life in recent times, and what is more galling those giving disrespect are from their comfortable seats in some office. They need shooting they do, allegorically, and are frankly just a bunch of shithouses through their life, picking on such when it is possible.

    Adult onset type two diabetes can cause the most peculiar of body affects, but it seems certain people are ignorant of them. All the best Martin, hope you get a positive and sensible resolution to this case of state bullying. They are nasty, and totally ignorant. Enjoy the Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire West coastline, and stick two fingers up to them, when they are not looking mind.

  • Anonymous

    Oh come on reaguns – you can tell me Mandy isn’t a bit of a self-publicist? There was always a drama with him.

  • Anonymous

    HOLLY SHIT Martin, your not the Martin Oxborrow that used to rally years ago? Was it a Mini, obviously before you joined the RAF, when you were young?

    But of course, I might be thinking of a different Martin Oxborrow here. And heard on other blogs you live in Llandysul, on the Carmarthenshire/Ceredigion border – lovely part of the world – Afon Teifi must be one of the finest rivers in Britain, Cenarth Falls and all that. Grandad was from Tegryn, across the Pembrokeshire border from there, from a farm, before he left to dig anthracite in Cross Hands in about 1930…

  • ThursdayNext

    Martin’s story is told with great dignity, which only increases the indignation that his predicament provokes. Thank you for posting it.

    Martin should not be overly pessimistic about his appeal, many of them (about 40%) succeed. There is a guide to appeals by a fully independent advisory service, Benefits and Work:

    http://benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-appeals

    He should be able to find an advisor or lawyer who would act for free in representing or supporting him at the appeal.

  • Anonymous

    Off topic as usual Alastair (must be allowed one on Saturday at least) – tidy result for the Swans at the Emirates, ey pal, to state the bleeding obvious? Incredible – one ray of sunshine for today – but from the back garden lunchtime, there was one of these double rainbows, with the inner one totally comnplete, with all seven colours across the sky, spectrum like, and it was from the east, so ok, cold really serious weather coming friends – been 60% relative humidity for days now, which means only one thing – as if i didn’t feel it already in my ancestral druidic bones before anyway… : )

    Get ready, it’s getting non-Michael parky! : ) see what I did there Alastair (ref. twitter)? Oh never mind, I am lost with some… : )

  • Anonymous

    Song for Michu, plays for Swans, if you didn’t know, and is from the north west of España – the celt part – from this welsh group of people, singing in old gallician old brythonic language at times, in the name Annwn,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z0TmH478nA

    His surname is Cuesta, which means one from the hills, which makes sense to me, as with us Welsh. By the way, substitute the stringed lyre for his footie boots, but I didn’t need to say that ones more noticing in life here…

  • http://twitter.com/NicholasMilton Nicholas Milton

    Hi Alastair, why didnt you approve my comments on the environment and your blog? As I said happy to contribute a guest blog from Doha on the climate change talks here. That would at least put it above novels! Best wishes, Nick

  • Anonymous

    Western Mail/Wales on Sunday newspaper is on the case,

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/12/02/cancer-stricken-ex-raf-pilot-becomes-victim-of-benefits-cuts-91466-32345379/

    Getting involved with the civil service on joe public street is a nightmare – once they have you on their radar, they are like a dog with a bone, they don’t care, and you are passed from pillar to post.

  • Anonymous

    Michu is Asturian really, not Gallician, but almost the same, they are neighbours – old people from that part of the Iberian penninsula before the over-powering influence of Castile after the Moors, but better for me to leave it at that…..

  • http://twitter.com/zagbah zhivila agbah

    People don’t believe this government is waging war on the poor, sick, disabled, young, until it actually happens to them. Go join Spartacus Report group on Facebook. They provide support, advice and information, and, most importantly,masses of people who are going through the exact same thing. Anyone who says ‘Oh, it can’t be that bad’ is living in a fantasy Daily Mail world where everyone on disability benefits is a ‘scrounger’ and we all live in palaces. Welfare News Service and WeAreSpartacus.org have all the facts and advice on what you can do if you are disabled, and how non-disabled people can support us. 10,600 disabled people found ‘Fit For Work’ have already died since 2011. This government under Cameron is a liar whose utter hatred of disabled people is fuelling the disgusting press campaigns and sanctions against us. Today, the UN’s International Day for People With Disabilities, is the exact same day the Workfare ‘sanctions’ against us disabled have come into force. This government is sociopathic and it’s actions against us are utterly shameful. It is nothing less than a slow, quiet genocide of disabled people.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve got a book called Pillar to Post, by a nineteenth century author – was it the one that wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays? I will have to dig it out – it is in the bottom of a box in the attic somewhere.

    Tom Brown’s Schooldays is a good book to buy for those certain young ladies and gents this Xmas of a certain outlook, if you are stuck for ideas. They will find it fascinating, I am sure. My copy still has it’s outer shielding cover, with the old artwork.

  • Anonymous

    Want to know how far back we are going? In 1572 440 YEARS AGO!

    “And forasmuch as charity would that poor,
    aged, and impotent persons should as necessarily be provided for as the
    said rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars repressed, and that the said
    aged, impotent, and poor people should have convenient habitations and abiding places throughout this realm to settle themselves upon, to the end that they nor any of them should hereafter beg or wander about,”

    ELIZABETHAN POOR LAW FROM 1572!!!

    Convenient habitations not ghettos hundreds of miles from their traditional community.

    For those interested in when the demonisation of the poor really started to take off:
    http://soiniciulacht.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/fig_keyfindings_0_2.png

  • Anonymous

    Suppose I should say my paternal grandmother, Nan, had adult onset diabetes, where the body attacks the pancreas and destroys it for some reason. From about her late forties onwards she suffered terrible with unexplainable depression – several times when I went to visit Nan and Tadcu when young on my pushbike, she had a hanky in her hand, tears flowing, and Tadcu just said “don’t worry Huw, Nan is just upset at the moment”, from the depths of his heartbroken eyes.

    Got photos of my Nan when she was young, totally slim and vibrant, blonde blue eyed, the lady my Tadcu married.

  • Anonymous

    Some people, including myself, complain about “modern” foods, the way we process it.

    Milk, for instance – it’s molecules gets hammered during homogenisation, and flash pasturising does not help either.

    And wheat – don’t think it is natural for it to be ground so fine.

    Above processes’ do not agree with some people, with their protein molecule affects with some people’s immune system. No wonder modern milk and wheat processing is getting a bad name.