Why we need a NEW 'Disabled People's Resistance Movement' by Bob Williams-Findley.
"We have campaign groups like Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Black Triangle (BT), and I'm aware of the effort that is going into what disabled people are doing right now, but I believe we need to have a visible "resistance movement" which brings all the strands together in a 'Rock Against Racism' style approach.
"This doesn't need to be organised in the traditional Disabled People's Organisations style; our central drive has to be to gather support for disabled people in face of the savage attacks that are falling upon us.
"This 'movement' needs to be militant, visible, and extremely challenging - I agree with linking with UK Uncut and employing direct action methods to get our message across - we also need to use other media and alternative forms of protest too. Working with non-disabled people will be essential.
"Duncan Smith has demonstrated that the Government has a 'kill or exploit' policy which is creeping nearer and nearer to the Nazis' T4 programme. Our lives ARE at risk; it's no longer about being excluded or marginalised and offered inadequate services - the fact IDS used the word "fester" transforms the landscape - people with impairments are now viewed as "a sickness" - the same type of landscape the Nazis created for the Jews and other 'unacceptable groups'.
"No doubt he'll claim he used "fester" to mean 'left without support', but we know that this is bollocks because the Government like all of those before them maintain our social oppression. The mask has slipped, finally the ruling elite reveal their resentment and contempt for the "ABNORMAL, CRIPPLES and FREAKS" who have been burdensome due to the Welfare State. The knives are out; they ARE out to get us!
"We MUST mount a resistance, fighting cuts and oppressive policies, is not enough in relation to this ideological onslaught - it is a State run 'hate campaign' and more and more disabled people will die.
"I'm not going over the top or being alarmist, this is a measured political analysis of our current situation. Me simply putting out a "call to arms" will achieve nothing in itself; what is required is for disabled people, especially activists, to come together to shape our destiny - unless there is a genuine effort made to build a resistance movement, many of us will not have a future."
Bob Williams-Findley is well known within the disabled people's movement both as an academic and an activist. Please leave your responses to Bob's article within the comments section of this blog. Thankyou.
The Big Society Sucks! - a poem by Ann Young
I will not go quietly
Or rebuild bridges burnt
I'll make my own way now
With many lessons learnt
Hard work needs reward
It's the only way
A good day's work
For a decent pay!
We fought so hard
For our equality
Don't throw all that away
By wanting work for free
I'll not work for nothing
It seems so wrong to ask
I'm a disabled woman
Reclaiming my working class
I was offered voluntary work but rejected it. I have worked so hard to get where I am and giving away my hard earned knowledge for free goes against everything I believe in as a disabled women with strong working class values. I do believe there is still a mainstream view that we have nothing of value to offer, so I just wanted to voice my own thoughts regarding Cameron's Big Society rhetoric.
Ann Young April 2010
UK citizens who were detained illegally at the US run Guantanamo prison in Cuba are to be paid millions of pounds compensation by the British Government.
And quite right to. Innocent people being locked away in an inhospitable place, away from their families and friends and all because they appear different to the rest of society should be compensated.
For someone to be denied their place in society and to be incarcerated in a place not of their own choosing must be a terrible experience to undergo. Imagine being treated as though you were not safe enough to be let out into mainstream society. Imagine having your right to a decent education, to travel where you want and socialise where you want taken away from you. Being kept segregated from family and friends and having your Civil Rights abused in more ways than we could imagine.
Thousands of Disabled people are being detained in this country under these very conditions. With no accessible alternative housing being made available to them, other than the care homes they currently reside in. Run and controlled by charities, many of these places are no further forward in their thinking than the work houses of the last century.
Unless we fight for the rights of our Disabled brothers and sisters who are being detained in this way, we are as bad as those who lock people up and throw away the key.
'Free Our People' (and a bit of compensation for them wouldn't go amiss either!)
For more information you can contact the Direct Action Network (DAN) by clicking on this link.
On Tuesday 26th October 2010 at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park at 1300 hours, the campaigning group MAD PRIDE have organised a day of action to oppose welfare benefits cuts for people labelled Mentally Ill.
UK mental health service users and survivors will publicly assemble to re-enact the opening chapter of Michel Foucault´s seminal book ‘Discipline and Punishment’.
A life-size effigy of a prominent Conservative/ Liberal Democrat merger politician will be publicly executed by method of hanging, drawing and quartering, after which the remains of the body will be burnt. There will also be a variety of other visual and subliminal stunts on the day.
Speaking to one of the organisers of the demonstration, she told me that “the economic downturn caused by the irresponsibility of bankers and big business has led to the Coalition government to enact the biggest cuts in public services since the Second World War.
“Further, that instead of targeting bankers’ bonuses and rich people’s profits, they are hoping to make huge savings by attacking the welfare benefits of vulnerable people unable to work, including people with severe mental health problems.
“In particular, they would like the public to think that people with depression, anxiety disorders and other mental ‘illnesses’ are malingerers and scroungers – when in fact all of us find it a terrible day to day struggle just to get by.”
As we are now aware, in George Osborne’s recent emergency budget he has pledged to take 360,000 people off of Disability Living Allowance by 2013 – which will plunge over a third of a million vulnerable people, most of whom will have mental health problems, into dire poverty.
This will put lives at risk. Already, 6000 people are thought to have committed suicide a year in the UK, although the true figure is definitely far higher. The stress caused by the threat of welfare benefits cuts, as well as the impact of the material deprivation that will result, will undoubtedly lead to a huge increase in suicides amongst people with mental health problems – an outcome that members of MAD PRIDE and other survivor support groups wish to prevent through campaigning and giving each other one-to-one support.
Mike, another member of MAD PRIDE adds, “This is no time to cut benefits and services for people labelled mentally ill. Our numbers have swelled significantly over recent years because so many members of the armed forces have gone through two very long and desperately hard wars. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Iraq and Afghanistan, those conflicts have taken an exceptionally heavy toll on the mental health of so many of our brave troops.”
More cuts to disabled people’s benefits are promised in George Osborne’s upcoming ‘shock and awe’ spending review to take place on Wednesday 20th October. Added to cuts in housing benefits, the VAT rise, and a whole range of other austerity measures, the future looks grim for the poor and those less able to object or protest – whilst the bankers will get to keep their bonuses.
“We’re not taking this lying down!” is the united cry from survivor groups across the UK.
MAD PRIDE can now also announce that, also on 26th October 2010, there will be a Nationwide 24 hour medication strike.
All UK mental health service users will default on their psychiatric medication for one day, in protest against the coming welfare benefits cuts. Further, all UK mental health service users will not engage with any mental health services whatsoever on that day, in a bid to demonstrate the collective power of mental health system users and survivors everywhere.
In a recent survey commissioned by Scope, almost half of those approached claimed that they didn't know any Disabled people!
Now either they only count wheelchair users as being Disabled people and are using this as their yard stick, or they move in circles that exclude all but the non-disabled members of our society. A worrying thought when over 90% of these same people felt that Disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else.
This response shows that we crips are still pretty much invisible in day-to-day life and if the Government go ahead with their proposed spending cuts, and the effects that it will have on Disabled people, this means that we'll be pushed even further into social exclusion and maybe even cut out from the mainstream altogether. The next poll could well show that ALL of those approached didn't know any Disabled people!
Members of the Disabled People's Movement are advising the CON-DEMs that they need to carry out a full impact assessment before making any cuts. The Government needs to understand the full consequences of reductions in Disability Living Allowance and Incapacity Benefit before embarking on this knee-jerk reaction to current over spending.
I'm always sceptical about what Scope has to say about the Disabled people that they claim to represent, but on this occassion I find myself agreeing with their Chief Exec when he says: "Without fully understanding the nature of disabled people's lives, or the impact these changes will have, the Government may find itself causing extreme distress and financial hardship to disabled people which could end up creating greater dependency on the state and an even greater demand on the public purse."
Couldn't have put it better myself Richard.
(The cartoon is from an original idea by Alison of Skegby Methodist Church - Feb 2010)
Sad News - I've just heard of the death of disabled activist Rowen Jade. Rowen has always been a passionate campaigner for an inclusive education system. After graduating with a Law degree she worked for the Alliance for Inclusive education, several centers for Inclusive Living and latterly as a freelance consultant in disability equality. My sincere condolences go to her family and many friends. Rowen will be missed by us all.
On Wednesday the 16th June the Disabled people's Direct Action Network (D.A.N) will take to the streets in solidarity with the National Day of Action against the dismantling of the Welfare State.
D.A.N demonstrations will be taking place in Manchester and London and will welcome all people who identify, or who are regarded as disabled, whatever their background or impairments.
For those of you who have never been on a D.A.N demo it's important that you know that D.A.N. uses the strategy of non-violent civil disobedience and does not beg for the right to protest. This means that all of D.A.N's protests are without permission and participants could be seen as breaking the law and leaving themselves open to arrest. However Robert Lizard Solicitors will once again represent any Danner who may be arrested during the demonstrations.
There are usually PA's available to offer support to Disabled protesters but you are encourage to bring your own support team if possible. British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters are being recruited for the event on the 16th, so if you are an interpreter or know of someone who could help in this respect, please let the organisers know.
Log onto Clair Lewes' blog for more up to date information about the event. Regular danners are requested to contact Becca Y and Steve G as usual.
Information about the general protest can be found on the Defend Welfare site.
To see D.A.N members in action visit this You-Tube site
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is writing to all primary and secondary schools in England inviting them to become Academies and therefore independent of local authority control. This could mean thousands of schools leaving local authority control.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT (Teachers Union), argued that it was wrong to stop local authorities from having a say in proposals for new schools, and that [the proposal] represents a costly and unnecessary solution to a problem that simply does not exist. She added that such "Academies and free schools are a recipe for educational inequality and social segregation".
She's hit the nail on the head there ... For example, how many of these Academies are going to want to continue with integrating disabled children into main stream education when there'll be no financial incentive? Remember, these schools will be looking towards their local business community as part of their funding drive and these funders will expect to generating some form of profit from their investment. I wouldn't think that they'd take kindly to forking out for additional tuition and support for disabled children.
There's also going to be an emphasis on presenting as a school of elite learners and achievers, a 'corporate image' that will attract more high achiever pupils and investers. This is just an old Tory strategy dressed up as an exciting new way of looking at education in this country. We'll soon end up with an even bigger divide between the rich and poorer members of the community, and with the remaining state schools loosing their best pupils and teachers to the cash rich Academies.
It will be interesting to see what this government comes out with regarding disabled people specifically, apart from the general changes that they are proposing that will have inevitable consequences on our lives. Be sure that I'll keep my ear to the ground and report back on anything else that comes to light.
Please leave a comment at the end of this blog and let me know what your thoughts and feelings are about this issue and the others that are coming out of the woodwork.
I thought we'd go the route of a little light relief this week, especially having lifted the lid of the so called 'assisted suicide' or 'mercy killings' again last week.
I often get asked for cartoons about specific situations, but it's rare that I get given an idea to develop as well. The other week a member of the Skegby Methodist Church, Alison wrote to ask if she could use a couple of my cartoons in an article she was writing as part of her course at University.
No problem ... and I sent her off some fresh computer images so that she wouldn't end up with a poor copy taken from wherever she'd seen them (I hate it when that happens by the way. You've only got to ask and, providing your a Crip or one of our allies I'll gladly send you a clean copy in this way). Back came another email thanking me for the images and also including the idea for this weeks cartoon.
Obviously based upon how Disabled people, especially wheelchair users suddenly become invisible when, for example queuing for something in a shop ("Oh sorry mate, didn't see you there" - having reached across the top of you to place his order!). It's a funny idea and I hope that my cartoon does it justice! Thanks Alison.