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Crippen reports on the 11th May protest / 13 May 2011

Crippen\'s cartoon about the 11th May protest march against cuts

Crippen\'s 11th May protest cartoon

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It was a tough decision for those disabled people who went on the anti-cuts march on Wednesday 11th May. Do they march and appear to be supporting the non-user led charities and organisations that organised the event, or stay away in protest that the charity Leonard Cheshire was one of the lead organisations?

Some people found a compromise and went there with the specific purpose of meeting those crips that weren’t usually involved in public protest, and weren’t aware that there was a user-led alternative to the charities that supported them. Our own Liz Carr and Penny Pepper were two such people and who made quite a few new friends and contacts on the march; disabled people who had never had the opportunity to talk with politically aware crips before.

Others went on the march for a similar reason but also carried placards that had a message on both sides; ‘Stop the cuts’ on one side and ‘Rights not Charity’ on the other side. Richard Downes of Brent Advocacy Concerns (a user led organisation) was one such person and reports that he was able to guide a few more disabled people towards those crip organisations that are fighting the cuts AND the charities!

Other politically active disabled people, including myself, were of those who decided that any involvement with such an organisation as Leonard Cheshire was a step too far, especially as we’re constantly receiving information from former and existing clients of Leonard Cheshire, all claiming to have been abused and discriminated against by that organisation.

Probably because it speaks to my prejudices regarding some of the organisers of the march on Wednesday, the comments that I’ve heard from disabled people who did take part, and some of the video I’ve seen on UTube all seem to confirm my worst fears.

“The march was over-organised with charity workers telling us when to smile at the cameras, what to shout out and generally treating us like children!” was one comment expressed by a woman wheelchair user.

Other people commented too:
“I’ve never felt so disempowered and patronised [by the organisers]!”
“I came all this way to protest and now they’re telling me to quietly make my way back home. I came here to protest and I WANT TO PROTEST!”

Having watched excerpts of the march on video and seeing disabled people herded like docile sheep by tabard wearing organisers – each tabard carrying the logo of their specific charity – I personally feel that it did little to challenge the government’s slash and burn tactics. There was nothing on display that reflected the raw anger that crips throughout the country are feeling. Anger that was elegantly expressed by one protester who, despite struggling to articulate her feeling due to her impairment, managed to say to camera “This government don’t give a fffff ...FUCK!”

The best video of the march that I’ve seen so far is, ironically the one by Scope. And it does pick out the more positive aspects of the march. Click here to watch it.

For further information about groups and organisations OF disabled people who are fighting the cuts, please click on the following links:
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)
Brent Advocacy Concerns
Inclusion London
Mental Health & The Wider Disability Movement
Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN)

And for those of you living in Brighton and area, there is going to be a Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts (BDPAC) meeting on 19th May. Go to the Creative Cafe website for full details.

PS. For those who aren't familiar with disabled people's stand against Leonard Cheshire you can read a pretty good summing up by clicking on this link.

Keywords: disabled peoples movement,disabled peoples protest

Comments

Bob Williams-Findlay

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18 May 2011

Cameron said, "We're all in this together" and we know this is untrue. Some in society still benefit via a fat bonus, for example, whilst others lose their benefits.

In a similar fashion, I believe the historical role of 'charities' is oppressive, but not all charities buy into this ethos. Major disability charities in recent years appear to 'talk the talk', but fail to 'walk the walk'.

From a personal perspective I wasn't prepared to stand side by side with people who are, at a drop of a hat, prepared to act as the Government's "condoms" as they screw us; stand chanting about "rights" in public whilst behind close doors the same rights are being denied.

Unfortunately, the Hardest Hit campaign is sending out mixed messages - see the Daily Mirror of 16th May - negative sterotyped images to pull in public sympathy. "The disabled are weak and vulnerable" - have severe physical impairments and are utterly dependent - plays right into the ideological game being played by the Government. The old saying, "My enemy's enemy is my friend" isn't always true, especial if one of my enemy's enemies is simply pissed off because they haven't been employed enough by my enemy to do their dirty work for them!

Ann Whitehurst

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15 May 2011

Love the cartoon

Barbara Hulme via Face Book

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15 May 2011

http://www.kingqueen.org.uk/blog/archives/6 this is one of the [blogs]that I read that explains a lot!

Pink PJs

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15 May 2011

Interesting though to consider why people are so angry at charities like Leonard Cheshire and Scope and yet mental health survivors are often, sometimes more than a bit miffed, at our national charities, but haven't expressed such anger... I wonder why? Actually, it might be helpful, if disability activists could explain more about the reasons behind the antipathy towards charities??

Chris Gwynne via Face Book

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15 May 2011

What pisses me off is how there seems to be a hierarchy of disabilty with some of these groups, a kind of " i'm more disabled than you" kind of attitude. i accept that some folk are worse off than me and some are better of than me in terms of problems. so what. we need to help each other. not fight each other. we'll gripe amongst ourselves when the cuts are beaten.

Debbie Jolly via Face Book

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15 May 2011

Great! also loved John of Guardian vid: close ups of LCD tee shirts, shots of two women trying to make a point using megaphone and being told by organisers that people couldn't hear the others ( Jane Asher's cooking tips for the 'vunerable'?) complaining that it was too stage managed, people saying it was like they were on a sunshine coach and had to smile and wave for the cameras ...

Crippen

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15 May 2011

Take your points Peter ... my main worry is that being seen to 'accept' Leonard Cheshire in particular as a valid member of our protest is a thin end of a very big wedge.

Please have a look at this link for some history about LC and disabled people:

http://www.kingqueen.org.uk/blog/archives/6

Love the placard Rich!

Celia/Ians12 ... you're right. We've got to vote and fight to improve the voting system which is still very innaccesible for many.

Lynn ... Glad to help. Will be in touch re a mental health focussed blog (and I haven't forgotten the 'farmer' cartoon!).

rich

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14 May 2011

Hi Dave

thanks for the mention in dispatches.

Our placards simply read of and off. Both will be self explanatory to your readers.

To see the photojournal we made from the event featuring Sally Curran, Marisha Bonar, myself and others you can find the link below

Peter Farrington aka \"Sociable\"

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14 May 2011

I was there and I was representing myself not charity and I will continue to support "ANY" action which helps people notice us.

Don't forget guys the fight involves ALL of us not just those who share a particular view of disability and/or charities or any other aspect of the overall fight we are having.

Dividewd we fall together we CAN change things but this "I'm not playing unless we use MY ball" attitude applies as much to those who didn't turn up on the day as those who organised the event so please take a step back and re-think your position.

Lynn Harrison

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14 May 2011

Just wanted to say thanks for the mention of Mental Health and The Wider Disability Movement, Dave!

We're a group of people on Facebook who discuss, well, lots of things really. Most of us have a mental health diagnosis, some have other impairments as well, and some people don't have a mental health diagnosis, but we are all Disabled.

We're a fairly low key discussion group, which is for members only, but we're not exclusive, it's just that sometimes we discuss issues that are pretty sensitive and members are wonderfully supportive of each other.

I guess we started the group as we felt that we wanted to discuss and debate the place of mental health within the disability movement as we are all faced with challenging times to say the least. Also, because we wanted to look at the ways the disability movement and the mental health survivor movement have developed, looking at the similarities and differences and discussing possible reasons for this in terms of history and looking at ways we can come together.

I guess the reactions to the march are an indication of this with people from the disability movement having very strong feelings about charities such as Leonard Cheshire, whereas mental health survivors feel differently about their charities, at least on the issue of the march.

Celia

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14 May 2011

As most sick and disabled people don't vote its of no consequence to the politicians who have betrayed us all year on year"

Then this needs to change... everyone has a right to vote if not in person than with a postal vote! Tell your friends, help them apply to their council, make sure they exercise their right! And pass it on... use your vote!

Crippen

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14 May 2011

Thanks for the responses you guys.

Julia, can you post up a link to your organisation 'Deaf and Disabled People against Cuts' and I'll add it. Thanks

Dawn, thanks for your contribution. It was good to hear that things were better on your part of the march. Have started to get some more comments in by email about both good and bad experiences.

Linda, I agree. And it was pity that Ms Miller didn't feel able to take part.

Julia

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14 May 2011

I went as did my gang Islington Deaf and Disabled People Against Cuts, with our banner. We shouted 'you say cutback we say fightback, cut cut cut back, fight fight fight back'. But there wasn't much noise compared with most marches - we needed drummers and bands and megaphones - where was the wheelchair rolling sound system for example? At a different point I found myself with a group from Mind, some of whom had come down from Scotland to be on the demo. Lots of people were shouting 'Dont take away our DLA, don't take away our DLA'. Of course it's not just about DLA but it seemed pithy and got people going.

I was initially torn about going to the march as I'm no fan of Leonard Cheshire (they've just stolen a contract off my local DPO) or the charity model, and I did see tabard-wearing organisers but on the other hand they seemed to be like any march stewards. I didn't see anyone being herded, and I think for many of us this felt like a diverse and empowering march. There were some fantastic home-made placards. Apart from leaving me with extreme fatigue I was very glad to have been part of it. Couldn't stay for the lobby but was told that went well too, with our local MPs very impressed and ready to be more supportive to our cause.

Dawn Willis

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13 May 2011

Have to say that I went with RETHINK because I have worked in their front line service provision and as an 'Activist' and know that they truly do what they say on the tin.

This is not a top down charity! It's board, the people who employ the chief exec are Service Users and Carers.

The march was a march of empathy between the people there, many who cared little about in house disability squabbles and more about the opportunity to participate in an event where they felt they were perhaps safer than in something more 'militant'.

Let's respect 'how' people choose to demonstrate and not assume they are all downtrodden sycophants, that's a huge injustice to the integrity of the protesteres - me included!

Linda Burnip

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13 May 2011

I didn't go because of LCD's involvement so was able to see Maria Miller lying about us and saying that the vast majority of disabled people getting higher rate DLA are alcoholics and drug addicts. I also found her comment on evening TV that the government are working hand in glove with some of those who organised the march of great interest. Now we know just who to blame for all the crap we're being handed.

Doug Paulley

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13 May 2011

Fantastic blog Dave! And fantastic cartoon.

Doug Paulley

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13 May 2011

Fantastic blog Dave! And fantastic cartoon.

Arty Farty

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13 May 2011

I went, and did indeed find it extremely patronising and disempowering.

But we couldn't stump up the thousands of pounds that the charities obviously spent on the event nor could we get the national coverage that was achieved.

I think it's a case of sleeping with the enemy and hoping that we can persuade enough tame crips to see the light and realise just how disinterested the charities are with regard to our human rights.