David Cameron says facing Ed Balls is like sitting opposite someone with Tourettes. A remark, he made, and resulting apology, made mostly by his spokeswomen, that shows us exactly what we are dealing with in my opinion. Forget the policies for a moment, agree with them or not, most activists rightly don’t, you could argue they are part of his job. I wonder though just how on earth this disablist remark can be justified. The answer to me is simple, it can’t. There have been many incidents of senior,and not so senior politicians making ‘off the cuff’ remarks, look closer, and they are anything but. They are, as I believe this to be carefully planted.
For most of this Parliament disabled people have put up with almost constant ‘abuse’ and put downs all wrapped up in the supposedly, not really, polite language of politics. We are it seems, the cause of the country’s ills, we are, benefit cheating, workshy, burdens on decent citizens, Harsher and harsher policies are being put in place to control us. The Cameron Government pledge to strip away our benefits, support services,and ultimately many of our hard fought rights. A media campaign fuelled by much misinformation, has helped reinforce the ‘justice’ of these policies in the mind of the masses, many of whom cannot be expected to understand disability, or the effects the changes have, because it hasn’t touched their lives.
So exactly what are we dealing with? The remark certainly had no place in the serious political arena, nor can it be excused as ignorance, Mr Cameron has experience of disability, a fact we are never allowed to forget. Many activists, me included, have maintained that its not just policy, but an attitude of ‘demonising’ the disabled’ to make their point. Right now probably we should thank Mr Cameron for proving our point, the stystemic ‘hate campaign’ against disabled people is not just political need, but personal bias, bias likely to be seen by many as disabilism. Yet again we have been used to score cheap points, but this time, it has nothing at all to do with policy.
Mr Cameron is educated and asute enough to realise what he has done, that his ‘off the cuff’ remark could cause distress and harm to disabled people, whether or not they have tourettes. His excuse of an apology means nothing to me, or likely other disabled people. The incidents merelyadd to the already horrific damage this Government has done. As far as I am concerned, the gloves are off, disabled people have been made to fight for survival, to justify every single right they have. Now he has proved he is merely prejudiced, and not fit for purpose, the only just outcome is that he is made to fight for his political life ,and fails.
I wish to make it clear that while I have every sympathy for the Cameron family’s loss, I have no respect for those who use such a loss against others.
When I wrote this I incorrectly named Ed Milliband as the wronged party, not Ed Balls. This has been corrected, and as asked by a reader I apologise unreservedly to Mr Milliband and Mr Balls.
I’m feeling a little bit reflective today, I starteed thinking about just where the rights fight is. The journey towards true equality is long, those fighting today are probably not going tosee it end. What we are definitely seeing is a change. Its slow, relatively small, and we have to keep fighting,but its there.
Some national newspapers are starting to write positive stories about us, not the usual ahh factor stuff, but articles that question why we are being treated as we are, and give us a voice. Its not a straight run, there are still negative stories too many, and some are unlikely to change their stance in a hurry, but as themedia tide turn gathers momentum,then their view will become more and more out of step, and hopefully noticed as such.
Grassroots activists people who have quietly fought the fight for years are suddenly being noticed,and asked their views. Its less of asking organisations what disabled people think, more of communicating with disabled people directly. Ordinary activists, yes we are real people, are being listened to, quoted, and having their views placed in the public domain. We have been shouting for years, now at last we are starting to be heard.
There are still those who want to stop us, there always will be, its the nature of the fight. On the bright side it means we are having an effect, making a difference. If not, it wouldn’t be worth the effort of hindering us. They can keep trying, but we will keep fighting. We know it happens because at the time of campaigns, the same things happen to many, too many to be random.
We have the first glimpses of a real opportunity to drive change, the very first chink of light at the end of what is still a very long tunnel. The fight is not over, but now it has truely started, we cannot waste our best chance yet to win our rights, Our fight goes on, Solidartity!
The Independant Living Funds provides severely disabled people with funding for caresothatthey can live more independantly, The fund no longer accepts new users, and those currentlybeing helped if the scheme closes as planned.
Disabled People Against Cuts has written a letter to the Government protesting against the plans. Details oftheleter and how to add your signature can be found here
I will start bysaying I am not against charities, and I recognise the valuable vital woek they do, I’ve worked with several. However there was one item on ITVs Text Santa last night that left me fuming.
Prime Ministter David Cameron pledged £25oK of Government money to the appeal. Yes it was a good thing to do,and yes its what most people would want, but lets just think for a minute. The country is in financial straits, services are being cut and many people are feeling the effects. I know that charities, and those involved are good ones, help the vunerable. The cuts though are falling hardest on the most vunerable, the very people who need the help of the charities, even more so because of the cuts.
What many people, ie those not affected don’t understand, is that the cuts don’t just affect the most needy financially. The cuts to services affect rights, changes to benefits, support provision, and general public services such as transport, all alter how those who rely on them, and its not just disabled people, can participate in society. The cuts are taking away not just money but people’s ability to be a full citizen, their choices and rights.
I really hope that Mr ‘call me Dave’ Cameron and his cabinet monsters enjoyed their ‘nice guy’ moment, its probably the last they will get for a while. In my mind the gesture showed them up for what they are, rights thieves, who think that ‘stealing’ from us can be forgotten, by shoving a few quid at us in charity handouts, they couldn’t be more wrong. We want rights, not charity, but because our rights are being ‘stolen’ by the Government, many will be forced to rely on charity handouts instead, just to survive.
Time litmied ESA, that is stopping contribution based ESA after a year for any claimant deemed to be capable of some work at some point is a key part of the Governments Welfare Reform. If it goes ahead it will place many disabled people at serious financial disadvantage.
Fellow activist and blogger Sue Marsh explains the policy and how you can help.
With Crimestoppers now being used as a weapon against benefit claimants, it is now more important than ever that we seek protection under the law. As the law stands people reporting benefit fraud, have anonimity, and can not be held accountable, even if they made the report out of malice. This petition seeks a change in the law so that those who knowingly accuse the innocent can be made to answer for their actions.