We have a dream. This is our dream.
Three score years and six ago the welfare state was formed. A vision of Britain as Jerusalem for all, a beacon of hope in a country battered and bruised by the ravages of war. Principles so important that despite the crippling debt of the post war years, our grandfathers and grandmothers made sure their dream of a society caring for all was a priority. Despite two world wars and countless people disabled in the pursuit of justice it took another 25 years for disabled people to start our own road to freedom.
Now is the time to remember the founding principles of the welfare state. Now is the time to rise up. Now is the time to remember ‘rights not charity’ Now is the time to make equality of opportunity apply to all people, now is the time to measure our worth in talent not gold.
It is obvious that Britain has defaulted on it’s promissory note of welfare for all, a famous note signed by Lloyd George, Beveridge, Attlee and Bevan with their hopes and dreams of a better world, a fairer future for all. A beacon of hope carried forward some 25 years later by Lord Morris with his Chronically Sick And Disabled Persons Act , the first in the world to recognise and give rights to people with disabilities.
We refuse to accept a system bailed out by the taxpayer is so bankrupt it can no longer meet it’s obligations to the basic welfare of all people.
We refuse to believe in a world which bankers choose to increase bonuses whilst disabled people choose between food and heat.
We refuse to believe local authorities deem it right and proper to save money by leaving old ladies overnight in their own urine, we refuse to believe that removing respite care can be right.
We refuse to believe that we should be blamed, targeted, made less human by those who sip from the cup of success.
It may now be a nightmare, but we too can dream. To dream is a right for all humans and the first step on the road to justice. Without our dreams we have no hope, and we all have hope. Our rights, our dignity, our existence can all be threatened, but the flame of our hope cannot be extinguished. The hope of a world in which all people are seen as human first, human, with fundamental rights; to eat, to drink, to live, to love, to be free, to dream. We can dream of a day when all children grow together, learn together, play together regardless of ability. We can dream of a day when those children become adults, accepting adults who see the world as equal, a world of ability not disability. We can dream of a world of people with the right to have their basic needs met in whatever form they arise.
We are asked “when will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as those rights, first enshrined in statue are under threat. We can never be satisfied as long as disabled people are victim of unspeakable horrors. We can never be satisfied as long as we remember Fiona and Francecca Pilkington, driven to such desperation by disablist bullying that suicide seemed their safest place. We can never be satisfied as long as we remember Christine Lakinski, urinated over as she lay dying in a doorway. We can never be satisfied as long as we remember Colin Greenwood, kicked to death by teenagers he couldn’t see. We can never be satisfied while disabled people kill themselves for fear of the DWP. We must embrace our diversity, our differences, our talent and work together until we can dream the dreams of all.
We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with fatigue cannot gain access to the transport, to the workplaces, to the leisure spaces of our cities. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are segregated, denied appropriate aids and parents broken by the lack of support.
We make to you this promise. We will not cease from mental fight. Nor shall our pens sleep in our hands. Til we have built a new accessible Jerusalem. Til we have built a Jerusalem we can again be proud of, in England’s green and pleasant land.