Independent reviewer of WCA said it was not fit for roll-out

Disability rights campaigner Sue Marsh on the ESA roll-out

The Hardest Hit

When the Coalition government rolled ESA out nation-wide we were assured that ESA was fit for purpose, and that the independent reviewer (then Professor Harrington) had confirmed this. What we were told, by the then Employment Minister Mr Grayling, was that Professor Harrington had said, “I believe the system is in sufficient shape for you to proceed with incapacity benefit reassessment.”

But Sue Marsh, disability rights campaigner, was not convinced by this. In her own words, “Harrington was clearly an intelligent man who had made thoughtful and intelligent suggestions for improving the assessments. I could never understand why he agreed to put the most vulnerable claimants through a failing test.

So she decided to ask him.

And this is the response she got:

“To your question:

I NEVER—repeat–NEVER agreed to the IB migration. I would have preferred that it be delayed but by the time I said that…

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History of the Belén in Spain

Nativity scene - Belén de la casa de la entrev...

Nativity scene – Belén de la casa de la entrevista (Alcalá de Henares) Diorama Pesebre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In most cities, towns and villages in Spain, there is a special focal point for Christmas; that of the nativity scene, known as a ‘belén’ (Spanish for Bethlehem) which is set up in the town square or besides the church. In some villages, just the main characters in the story of the birth of Jesus are represented, whilst in larger towns, very elaborate beléns are set up which may include allegories of the town and surrounding area, as well as the main story.

The First Beléns

According to legend, St Francis, whilst on his pilgrimage to Holy places, celebrated Mass on Christmas Eve 1223 in a cave in a little Italian town called Greccio. He set up a living representation of the birth of Christ for the townspeople including a donkey and an ox. This is therefore considered to be the first ever ‘belén’. The same legend says that because it was so cold, St Francis used a doll to represent the baby Jesus. At the moment representing the birth of Jesus, the doll began to cry.

English: Nativity scene in Barcelona (2009)

English: Nativity scene in Barcelona (2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first Belén using figures on record was created by Arnolfo di Cambio in Florence in 1289 using white marble. Part of this original scene is still preserved to this day in Rome. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, churches throughout Italy were decorated at Christmas with beautiful nativity scenes created by famous artists such as Andrea della Robbia.

Beléns in Spain

The belén was introduced to Spain by the Franciscan monks in the fifteenth century. The oldest surviving Spanish Belén dates from the sixteenth century and is called the ‘Belén de Coral’. It is housed in the Monasterio de las Delcalzas Reales in Madrid and is made of coral, bronze and silver. Carlos III had a belén created for his son, Carlos IV, which had more than 200 figures created by the Valencian artists José Estévez Bonet and José Ginés Marín and the artist from Murcia known as Salzillo. This belén is known as ‘El belén del Principe’ and many of the figures are preserved in the Royal Palace. It’s nice to think that the Royal children will be able to look at the same figures as all their forebears. Salzillo became, in effect, the father of the craft of creating Beléns in Spain; a craft which is continued to this day by skilled artists.

It is part of the tradition of Spain for the children of the family to be taken along to see the nativity scenes in much the same way as children in other parts of Europe will be taken to see Santa.

Rosalía de Castro (1837 — 1885)

Interesting information about a less well known Spanish poet



Rosalía de Castro was a poet and novelist who wrote in both the regional language of Galicia, gallego, and in Castilian Spanish.  She is best known for her “Cantares Gallegos” which are considered the greatest works of poetry in Gallego and of primary importance in its recognition as language.  Rosalía de Castro is also regarded as a pre-cursor of modern Spanish poetry and today is an icon of Galician culture.

During her lifetime Gallego was considered a lower-class dialect with Castilian Spanish thought to be the only language suitable for literature.  In addition, the literary efforts of women were not taken seriously, so for much of her life Rosalía struggled in the face of indifference, ignorance and scorn.

Rosalía was the illegitimate daughter of a priest and a mother with few economic resources.  Her baptism certificate states that her parents were unknown.  She was brought up in the countryside by…

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