COMMENT: Cameron’s ‘shameless’ generation by John Pring (Disability News Service)


October 10, 2012 by admin



It is a word David Cameron used last December when discussing his plans to tackle “problem families”, describing the “Shameless” culture that some commentators believed was entrenched in British life.

The Daily Mail inevitably branded these families the “Shameless generation”.

But the word also neatly sums up this week’s Conservative party conference, at least at senior ministerial levels.

In his speech to his party’s annual conference in Birmingham today, the prime minister declared that his favourite moment of the summer was placing a gold medal around the neck of Paralympian Ellie Simmonds. He then conjured up – and not for the first time in a major speech – memories of his now-deceased, disabled son Ivan.

He also spoke of how work was the only “real route out of poverty”, before moving on seamlessly to trying to justify the further savage cuts to working-age welfare that his chancellor is planning if his party is returned to power in 2015.

Then the prime minister returned to his family, this time to his father, who died two years ago. He painted a picture of a man who was proud to have worked hard all his life, despite his impairment. The message was clear: if he could do it, why couldn’t other disabled people?

What he didn’t mention, of course, was his father’s privileged upbringing. Educated at Eton. Fast-tracked into a partnership in his own father’s stockbroking firm. A family made rich through generations of wealth accumulation in banking, estate agency and stockbroking.

That kind of privilege and wealth means you don’t have to deal with inaccessible public transport, or compete against vast numbers of unemployed, non-disabled people for jobs, while facing 19th century buildings – and attitudes – workplace discrimination and shrinking social care budgets.

But the prime minister wished away these obstacles and instead tried to convince the country that his late father should be a role model for the tens of thousands of imaginary benefits-scrounging work-shirkers who he and his ministers insist – against all the evidence – are defrauding the country of billions of pounds in disability benefits every year. Shameless.

Two days earlier, George Osborne had pledged £10 billion of cuts to welfare spending in the first year of a new Tory government, if his party wins the next election. On top of the £18 billion cuts to welfare already made during this parliament.

Osborne spoke of the unfairness of a “shift-worker” leaving for work early in the morning who “looks up at the closed blinds of their next-door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits”.

Was it ignorance or recklessness that spurred Osborne on to justify his cuts in this way? Surely he was aware by now that his government’s work and pensions ministers have been warned time and time again that rhetoric like this leads inevitably to disabled people – whether working or not – being harassed, abused, even assaulted, by those who see a wheelchair, a cane, an assistance dog, and think only: “Scrounger.”

There are many good reasons why people might not open their blinds first thing in the morning. They might have a mental health condition, they might be waiting for a care worker who never turns up, they might, as @latent existence wrote on Twitter, be painfully light-sensitive. They might even be trying to hide from hostile neighbours, jealous of their supposed easy life on benefits.

Even one of the chancellor’s Tory colleagues, Adrian Berrill-Cox, a disabled barrister who fought the Islington North seat at the last general election, was concerned about the “collateral damage” that Osborne’s words might cause, and told me he was “a little bit worried” that people might be “incited” to abuse disabled benefits claimants because they had misunderstood what the chancellor was saying.

This, then, was a conference aimed at softening up the nation for a further attack on public spending, and particularly on welfare. It showed a government preparing for a fresh assault on working-age benefits, and possibly the introduction of means-tested disability living allowance, or at least its replacement, personal independence payment. Both Berrill-Cox and Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, floated this idea. Neither were speaking for the chancellor, or the government, but the coincidence was striking.

Perhaps it was not surprising that there was no sign of the Conservative Disability Group in Birmingham. Its usual stall was missing from the conference exhibition, and its website declares that its last event was in 2010, adding, rather pitifully: “Sorry we haven’t got any upcoming events.”

Understandable, perhaps. It must be difficult being a disabled Tory in a world of 20 per cent cuts to spending on disability living allowance. Perhaps members of the CDG discovered their own sense of shame.

But despite this conference bathed in darkness and despair, there was the merest hint of a bright spot. Esther McVey, the new minister for disabled people, suggested that her understanding of the words “listening” and “co-production” could be slightly more advanced than her predecessor, Maria Miller, who appeared to define co-production as “the art of convincing disabled people that you are listening to their ideas, while simultaneously ordering your civil servants to do the exact opposite”.

When I approached her after a fringe meeting – having been told a couple of weeks earlier by her office that she wasn’t available for a full interview – McVey wasn’t prepared to comment on Osborne’s words or on his gleeful announcement of £10 billion of new welfare cuts, and quickly switched off my recorder. It was too soon, she said, and took my card so she could arrange a future interview.

Maybe it wasn’t too soon, though. Maybe the explanation lay somewhere else.

Maybe she just wasn’t prepared to have to hold her nose and join the ranks of Osborne, Cameron, Miller, Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling, the government’s own shameless generation.

Disability News Service

9 thoughts on “COMMENT: Cameron’s ‘shameless’ generation by John Pring (Disability News Service)

  1. Paul Taylforth says:

    John is you really think McVey will be any different then i’m afraid you are deluded, Cameron doesn’t suffer people who don’t tow the line. Her years of subserviance to Grayling should tell you enough about her….and if that doesn’t did you not see how doe eyed she was listening to all that shite from Cameron at the conference…and of course who was she sat right next too?….Samantha Cameron!

  2. Paul Davidson says:

    Hello People. This is so painful to write about andthe words wont quite come out right. but it wont stop me expressing my outrage toward’s a Shameless father. no need to mention his name we were all warned he would do it, talk about his son. with the Film crew at the ready to pan in on key word’s catching the eye movement on que. then panning round on his wife. the eye’s have it. dont they just melt your heart. dont they just think we will be silenced amid their obvious grief. caught forever on camera.

    Gordon Brown and his wife done just the same. can anyone remember that one. eyes camera pan to applauding wife.

    Well let me tell you this grieving dady could never be so composed. so in tune with a camera no applauding wife/spouse to get the nation behind them in their grief.

    I have raised the profile my my own precious child. ‘KEVIN’ My how I long to hold my brave little Leo whoe’s eye’s will sparkle in the sky for an eternity.

    I bet Mr Cammeron did not lay on a cold pavement stretched out alongside a busy dual Carrage way on a winters night ‘SCREAMMING, SCREAMMING. SCREAMMING. On finding out his precious child was going to ‘DIE’. ‘DIE’ ‘DIE’.

    Dady had just hours earlier signed up to a useless training scheme. in a desperate bid to improvehis math’s English so he could to a silly inteligence test for prospective employers. 7th November it was 1997, when I proudly signed of the dreaded DOLE’.

    I had no one for support no friendly doctor no explanation of how my Kevy was going to ‘DIE’ Some time soon. no written information. just get lost and get on with your training scheme while screamming in the street’s.Newcastle and gateshead. year in year out.

    Kevy passed away due to a very RARE Disease 4am best guess Sunday 8th March 1998 I was due to start work the next day ata plastic’s factory. I was actually incredibly ill and traumatised. but they always needed slaves at that factory with miniscule wages. five hours later I actually called the factory to let them know my Kevy has just you know gone forever, and I could not start the next day. but please DO LET ME KNOW IF I CAN START AGAIN. IM still waiting for the reply. I’m still waiting for written explanation obout the disease that took my son and of how they injected him with a vile substance to finish him off.

    On the wednesday I stood over his grave having no money even for a single flower the kindly D.H.S. Turned me down for a crisis loan. a lone not a hand out.

    The vicar had totake me home a short ride. but Oh so long in my heart and soul. less than an hour later I was wondering around my second home. (THE JOB CENTRE’). WITH EYE’S SO STARK RED.

    Dady could not afford a wheelchair he tried to carry his 9 pound six ounce son to the hospital when he first took ill he could not carry him 30 yard’s due to his ‘BAD BACK’. EXCRUCIATING PAIN IN THE BASE OF IT. MOTHER SCREAMMING YOU B…..D. I cant carry him I scream in agony as im crouching down in shame. we having to walk almost a mile for a bus with a child that was die’ing.


  3. jeremy williams says:

    PM Mr Cameron & all MP’s
    Everyday disabled people from all over the uk try begging you to hear them. Every day you ignore them. Welfare reform of working age benefits is failing to protect vulnerable disabled people. It’s not a question of how this is inflicting suffering on disabled people, that much is obvious the words working and disabled dont safely go together. The question disabled people and their families need an answer to is why and how you choose to ignore people are dying. No one is saying that working age benefit dont need a reform only disabled people cant survive in a work related category or group. Millions of pounds wasted on testing and retesting tribunal costs retesting resulting in most decisions overturned some die waiting some have been forced to work dangerously. because changing the medical does not change the disability you ignore this its your ignorance that is inflicting a possible death sentence on every disabled person in the uk.
    In 2009 you gave a speech titled “How can we make life better for disabled people” if anyone read it without party names and personal refs they wouldnt ever credit it to any of you by the way disabled people are treated under your rule. That speech was awesome spoken from real experiences fully understanding the support and protection disabled people need to live as normal a life as the can. It is little over 3yrs since then how is it that disabled people are starving suffering and forced to take their own life over measures forced upon them by your party. in short the party you control is hurting disabled people which means everything you once stood for has gone. this you claimed you believed.
    1. i hope i’ve reassured you that though we are facing difficult economic time as a country though tough decisions will be made about what the state can and cannot do. It would run entirely against the grain of the Conservative party i lead to neglect the people who need our help the most.

    “ignoring disabled peoples cries for help when they only have you is total neglect”
    2. we can’t wave a magic wand to make everything better. If you or someone you love suffers from disability, life is going to be hard a lot of the time. But i do believe there are moments of despair, helplessness and frustration that could be directly alleviated by the work of the government.

    “esa medical assessments introduced by the dwp performed by atos costing millions have factors opposite that of ib. fail to protect a disabled person being forced into surroundings not safe to someone with disabilities. the only thing alleviated by the work of the government is benefit refusal. the assessments are not magic wands changing factors wont make the disability better.
    3. Its a fundamental conservative belief that one size doesn’t fit all.

    ” so why spend so much money on uc if you think the above disabled people for obvious reasons dont fall into a universal category that is why these people are dying they cant and dont possess the ability to perform alongside an able body or sound mind person. ib was designed with this in mind and did the job intended and protected disabled the way they deserve. short term sic need wrag to help with move back into work not people that have no chance of ever going to work. cutting the benefit of ib claimants putting into action the sink or swim idea is no way to separate who can go back and who cant. esa & uc will be to universal to be whats needed to protect disabled people as there are to many different illnesses that cause a person to become disabled.”
    4. i do believe that you judge a society by the way it treats it’s most vulnerable.

    “i dont realy think its right i answer this i do not know what every other person in society thinks about the treatment inflicted on disabled people. this one i think people should decide for themselves.”
    I know that no one in government will drop the ignorance the show us. in time when people look back at now every other thing this government will have done will be clouded by the possible death sentences inflicted on this generations disabled population. that is a shame because the reason for esa and wrag were right the intention to reduce unemployment right the target no where near, instead millions wasted testing and retesting the sic will give nothing in return disabled people are unemployable.
    so please can you tell the suffering why you think they deserve this so the at least the next person to die will at least know why. you said when you took your son out people only saw the chair not the boy you called disabled people scroungers. that makes you worse because you know what that feels like now from both sides. anyone can see the love you have for your little boy as do we for our relatives grieving for them causes pain and anger how much more of this do people have to experience before anyone will hear their cries. no one is asking you to help those that wont help themselves just not to turn your back on the ones that cant, risking their life because without them there is no future. being disabled is not a crime punishing them for it is. have the people of this country got so selfish and full of hate that it pains them so much that they grudge helping a sic person not as healthy as us, one day it could all change and anyone of us could be where they are now. so to all mp’s these people need you the question is do you need them. i guess action not words will answer that question and action alone will prove just how much of a compassionate one nation you say we are.
    yours the suffering

  4. jeffery davies says:

    yes the tory party lives in 1700 hundreds where we are all slaves for their disposal but this lot and most of our mps would want yo utop go quietly while they award themselves more monies but dont worry we have to pay for our gas and electric and foood whot you say they get their for nowt living in london so when they say chamge suppliers they dont afto as they get theirs payed for by us how nice of them you starve they feed up in the commons underprice as its a perk and best of all cuts to our benefits and they dont take any at all but will award themselves 20percent more it goes on on torys only in it for the money so that their mates get rich and they get backhanders along the way ops bribery its called but honour they have none jeff3

  5. Serenity says:

    Andrew Mitchell said it all with his know your place pleb comment, the man has not even the integrity to own up too this faux pas, slandering the police in the process with his facade.
    They are all in it together clearly by not demanding a resignation for this despicable behavior.
    The politicians could teach us all we want too know about scrounging the money and long holidays they milk out of the system for themselves would make your eyes water, in addition too this they are muli-millionaires in their own right, they could afford to work for free when you consider the prestige and scope involved by itself, is this fair I ask? Does the worker on workfair working for benefits not look towards them and think this is unfair also?
    I offer my sincerest condolences on you sad loss Paul a heart-rending commentary which brought me too tears use your anger and fight these b*&^ar*%.

  6. Humanity2012 says:

    Shameless to be in the Tory Party of Con Dem Times and Shameless to Vote For Them

    Shameless Gas Price Rises and the Rest of Capitalist Rip Off Britain

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