All those who like me went to the hardest hit event in Edinburgh or in any of the other towns across the U.K, did so with one single hope, and that was for a united and with any luck strong and unified voice. The appearance of a united movement of disabled people spanning age, sex, regional, and impairment boundaries, was to be a symbol of a resurgence of political and social activism by disabled people.
I like many was troubled and even sceptical by the behind the scenes funding and manoeuvring by the larger more business like organisations which were hoping to rehabilitate their names in the minds of disabled people, in much the same way as BP have tried to rebrand it’s self after the Gulf of Mexico leak. I do not propose to rehash all the arguments about why all of the big charities are not to be trusted or indeed let off with reproducing the same social oppression inside and outside their doors, not so much as the catalogue of misdemeanours is to long or too well advertised, we never tire of repeating “Thatcher the milk snatcher” and other truths to make our point about long held perceptions of conservative social policies, so we should never feel shy about reminding the charities how they have used images of disabled kids in particular to make the general public feel sorry for disabled people in order to get money from them.
This time though all the evidence is provided by SCOPE, have a look and listen to the audio in this link news.bbc.co.uk/today, the caring sharing, advocates for disabled people, champions of equality and disability rights are to raise £20 Million by indulging in a the same risky financial behaviour that gave us the banking crises in 08, and currently sees the economies of europe struggle to convince people they might be worth the paper they are printed on. In short they are going to sell bonds, a form of I.O.U if you will, a gamble that if in a few years time they will have more than the 20 Million they got, as they will need to pay back that amount and an additional amount on top as interest, so lets say a ball park figure of 25-26 Million may even be more.
Now dear reader I dunno about you but I just do not know where to start with this, it is wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m no economist, but I think we need to wonder at how they think once they have raised the £20 million, they need to pay it back, except they will need to pay it back with interest. Thats what a bond is it is a form of loan. So let’s say conservatively they will need to find an additional 5 million, and unlike other loans where you pay it back over time, a bond is payed back on a set date sometime in the future. I do not think coffee mornings or car boot sales will do it somehow, do you?
The next issue is why do they need this money? I have no idea, maybe someone can tell us, but my gut feeling though is that it will not be put in to frontline services to alleviate the poverty of experience and the isolation of disabled people. I have no evidence to back up my gut feeling, but I strongly suspect the money will go in part to secure contracts from the government to provide services like group homes, employability, education, social services, and more. It will I’m sure help to fund the increase in infrastructure that will be needed, more buildings, staff, pensions, and glossy printing telling everyone what a great bunch the people in SCOPE are.
I also suspect, and here I will allow arguments in favour of me being cynical, for that is true. I can see that some of that money will be spent on lobbyists who will make sure that every government knows how cheap SCOPE are and how they can continue to do the bidding of whatever government, as long as they still have the vital contracts. No hope in that dialogue then of the lobbyists telling IDS to stick his single benefit, or to change the work assess tests, after all they cannot possibly help SCOPE with it’s business plan or paying off it’s huge debt.
These lobbyists will also have the job of cutting the throats of all the other charities who are bidding for the same money, that might actually give me some pleasure as most of the other bidders will be of the same ilk as SCOPE, but it’s hardly democratic or in the best interests of disabled people if only one so called charity become the one stop funding shop. It also centralises money and power leaving local groups on a hiding to nothing. Also backing up these lobbyists will be a team of full time workers employed to continously apply for funding from the lottery, comic relief, in fact funders large and small. More centralisation and lack of local accountability and diversity.
Make no mistake this is the same corporate mindset that Tesco uses, be every where, do everything, make yourself seem indispensable. Plus like Tesco have a strong corporate image, and a powerful PR department, which by the way also needs payed for. So OK, I admit this might be all my imagination and over excited cynical inner voices running riot and I could be completely wrong about SCOPE, after all, did they not pay with the other large charities for the “Hardest Hit” events! Plus we all should never become blinded to the fact some of the workers are very good and committed to all the right causes and with the right skill sets, however, they are normally those at the bottom of the pay scale doing the hands on stuff rather than the senior management. Plus we should never be undermining other disabled people who get many different benefits from people like SCOPE. To be clear though, I am attacking the corporate, profit driven, managerial, top down SCOPE and other similar charities, not the local user involvement.
This is my parting thought though – Hardest Hit was as much about the wider economic state that was brought about by bankers and the financial markets crashing the worlds economy in to a brick wall, The Hardest Hit was disabled people saying that “we will not be made the scapegoats”, last but not least the Hardest Hit was about unity. All hues, creeds, impairments, political leanings and none, all faiths and none, charities rich and poor. In fact SCOPE and other achieved the holy grail of combining a message and a cause that broke down all the barriers between the impaired, managing to bring vested interests together in common cause, whilst all the time rubbing their hands thinking about the £20 million they hope to raise from the same bankers and bond markets that they just paid for people to protest against.
This level of duplicity and willingness to support the economic system that brought the Hardest Hit in to being will be why the Hardest Hit will keep paying through the pocket and through lack of proper advocates who use and support the social model and who would be our champions not our oppressors.