Aye, RIGHT THEN, Liam!
Meanwhile, while you “consult” we are being attacked all the day long and your party has given absolutely no commitment to reverse ANY of the cuts imposed upon us! Forgive us, if we don’t believe or trust in you!!!
In the meantime – we will continue to provide the only meaningful opposition to the ConDem jackboots over disabled people’s throats – while you merely pretend to be the ‘opposition’!
When you meet with Black Triangle, we guarantee you that we will “speak truth to power” and it won’t be a very comfortable exchange. IF you keep your promises to “consult” with us, that is.
A “cosmetic exercise” is the phrase that immediately springs to mind!
By Sue Marsh
Earlier this month, Labour’s work and pensions spokesman Liam Byrne used the second of his Beveridge reports to speak about disability.
When was the last time you heard a politician discuss disability without resorting to the language of condescension? Of judgment? Possibly even of hate? In the reform of disability living allowance, we are assured by the government that cuts of 20% need to be made so the benefit targets those who “really need it”. The subtext is that many do not. Easy lies about “free cars and bungalows” hide horrific details about profoundly disabled people considered able to “bathe” if they can wash above the waist with a flannel, or paraplegics considered “fully mobile” because they use their wheelchairs too well.
Assessments for employment and support allowance (previously incapacity benefit), we are told, find the majority of claimants to be feckless scroungers, “trying it on”. This nicely avoids mentioning the national scandal of hundreds of thousands of people found “fit for work” who have profound heart failure, those on transplant lists, those receiving chemotherapy.
As if this wasn’t sinister enough – horrifying even – for sick and disabled people, it was a consensus shared by all three main political parties in the UK. With a slavering, complicit media, eager to whip the inert public into a frenzy of hate, those of us with serious illnesses or impairments were totally abandoned.
Add social care cuts, a decline in access-to-work schemes and the abolition of the independent living fund, and we faced a future that was not just bleak, but unsustainable. So Byrne’s speech was significant. He promised to “talk to disabled people up and down the country”. He wanted to make “rights a reality” for sick and disabled people. As a disability campaigner, I care that he broke the political consensus. He talked about us as though we were human beings. He promised to listen.
Did he do so out of a profound sense of right and wrong? Almost certainly not. He did it because sick and disabled people have become organised, vocal and credible. He did it because, politically, it started to make sense. But he did it. And perhaps, just perhaps, the darkest days for our most vulnerable turned a corner.
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