Mar 302011
 
Bob Williams-Findlay

Bob Williams-Findlay

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was formed by a small group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on the 3rd October in Birmingham, England. The march was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest. DPAC isn’t a formal organisation but rather a collective of individuals seeking to campaign alongside those who believe that disabled people should have full human rights and equality. Our campaign is for everyone who refuses to stay silent about the injustices delivered by wealthy politicians on ordinary people and their lives.

At first glance our campaign name: Disabled People Against Cuts seems fairly straight forward – just like that famous label on the tin – but the co-founders of DPAC have a deep distrust of labels and believe it is dangerous to simply take things at face value. I thought it might be interesting to take the lid off DPAC and explore the possible meanings that can be attached to our name. The reason I’m engaging in this exercise isn’t because I’m bored with nothing better to do; it is because I want to challenge some of the approaches that have been adopted in recent months in relation to the impact of the cuts on disabled people.

For me disability is a political question; it isn’t simply about a collection of individuals who just happen to have significant impairments. There is no agreement within society as to what “disability” is and subsequently who it affects. There are dominant set of ideologies and practices which Mike Oliver has presented as ‘the individual model of disability’ and there is a radical alternative known as ‘the social model’ which has come through the Disabled People’s Movement. (1) It is also important to state that there are a host of hybrids which employ aspects of both models as well. (2) I work largely from within the social model of disability and it is from this perspective I’ll be exploring the current approaches on display. My starting point is the crucial question: who and what are disabled people?

Who and what are disabled people?

In my opinion exploring this question is one of the hardest tasks to undertake because there are so many factors which need to be taken into consideration. Within ‘the individual model of disability’ the presence of ‘disability’ is viewed as a ‘personal tragedy’ or misfortune – it is therefore socially constructed in negative terms. To be classed as “disabled” is to be seen as ‘abnormal’ or a ‘burden’ on the rest of society, and as a consequence, a ‘lesser’ person. Many people seek to avoid being ‘written off’ in this way or simply can’t see themselves within the stereotyped imagery which stems from this articulation of disability and therefore they ‘reject’ the label of being “disabled”.

Stereotyped imagery plays a major role in how society views who is and who is not ‘a disabled person’. Pearsall says that a stereotype is:

… a ‘widely held but fixed and oversimplified idea or image of a particular type of person or thing.’ (3)

What this means is that there are countless numbers of people who might be regarded by others as being ‘disabled’, but refuse to see themselves as such and others who believe they are ‘disabled’ but nevertheless fail to measure up to the appraisals which define people with impairments as ‘disabled’. I think it’s important to recognise that whilst an individual might reject the ownership of ‘dissbled’ as an oppressive label, it doesn’t mean that the State nor the rest of society isn’t prepared to use this label in relation to them. Sometimes this will be used to include them in the notion of “the disabled” (sic) whereas at other times it will be to deny them the use of the label if they decide that they haven’t matched the expected contours of qualification. This happens a great deal within the field of benefits and social care services.

Again, I believe many fail to appreciate the significance of language in the social construction of sterotyped imagery. Let’s take that label: ‘the disabled’ – this is often criticised because it is said to be dehumanising and denies the dversity among ‘disabled people’, unfortunately, this criticism underplays the politically oppressive nature of this label. Within dominant culture ‘the disabled’ are not a social group bound by a defined identity, but rather as a ‘collection of individuals defined by their perceived abnormality’. Thus ‘the disabled’ become a pathologised “Other” – where the public gaze sets them apart from the rest of society – this is how it acts as a form of objectification.

Before looking at an alternative perspective in detail I want to say that the dominant individual model of disability shares one common feature with the social model of disability. Both models state that ‘disabled people’ are people with impairments but equally hold the view that not all people with impairments are ‘disabled people’. Just as the State and society makes assumptions about who is and who isn’t a disabled person – I believe sections of the Disabled People’s Movement are guilty of doing a similar thing. Through our gaze we have tended to conflate into one ‘identity’ people with impairments who fall into the dominant definition of ‘disabled people’ and those who embrace the political identity of being a Disabled people. The difference between label and identity is often problematic for disabled people.

I want to acknowledge that there are other people with impairments who accept the dominant views associated with ‘disability’ and see themselves as ‘people with disabilities’ – however this doesn’t always mean they’re prepared to put up with inequality or discrimination. I would however suggest that it does influence how they address the causes of their experience of inequality and discrimination. Too often it is assumed that by having an impairment or the label ‘disabled’ thrust upon you, you become part of a specific community with a distinct culture – this is far from the case. It is still possible to have an impaired body but view the world from an “able” (sic) perspective. Many people with impairments have never had an opportunity to see themselves as anything other than through the dominant perspectives and others reject the alternative perspectives for a variety of reasons which are too numerous to discuss here.

The ‘disabled’ identity

How should we view our ‘disabled’ identity? I believe this example taken from the experience of mental illness is a common feature in our lives:

Most of us don’t mind having a social identity based on our professional roles.  In fact the more successful we are in our chosen field, the more of an ego boost we may derive from the same. But what in the case of an illness or a health condition when we are given a label, such that it becomes our identity? (4)

Individuals can have a multitude of identities depending upon their relationships within specific social environments, however, for many disabled people their ‘identities’ can be denied, lost and distorted as a result of how they experience their lives as ‘disabled’ people. In many cases it is true that the labels that are imposed upon us can become our identities as the above quotation suggests. In my opinion it is also the case that for many disabled people we have a dual disability identity – on the one hand we have the imposed identity that comes through the legal definitions and cultural representations found with the society, and on the other, the identity that many of us try to construct through living our lives in opposition to the oppression we encounter. In other words politically and socially aware disabled people have been self-defining what it means to be a disabled person. Thus majority within the Disabled People’s Movement have come to reject the imposed identity in favour of a socio-political one. Using the social model of disability Mike Oliver argued:

For me disabled people are defined in terms of three criteria;

(i)   they have an impairment;

(ii)  they experience oppression as a consequence; and

(iii) they identify themselves as a disabled person. (5)

Our ‘disabled’ identity stems from understanding that as people with impairments we experience oppressive social relationships created by the nature of the society in which we live. What does ‘the nature of the society’ mean? Oliver drew upon the ideas expressed by the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation who suggested that disability was:

The disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes little or no account of people who have impairments and thus excludes them from the mainstream of social activities. (6)

I have argued elsewhere that this does not provide us with a full picture of the processes involved. In my opinion often our ability to participate is simply down to agencies taking ‘little or no account of people who have impairments’ and thus excluding us; however, I would also argue that it is more a case of how they “account for people who have impairments” which ultimately leads to us ‘not being taken into account’ in the final analysis. (7) The focus on people with impairments’ loss of ‘functional ability’, their “Other” status and the creation of sterotypes have all contributed to the view that disabled people can’t live ‘normal worthwhile lives’. (8)

The reverse side of this is that the nature of society is determined by social relations forged largely by people without impairments who were expected to conform to specific social roles – especially in terms of production and reproduction. The structures, systems, culture and social environment therefore serviced or expolited “normal people” (sic) at the expense of those who were significantly impaired. Thus disablism is the oppressive social relations which exclude people with impairments from or marginalise them within mainstream social activities. This then is the argument which lies at the social model of disability, however, I believe not enough attention has been paid to how disablism manifests itself at both macro and micro levels of society. In other words how people with impairments are disabled by society isn’t as understood to the extent it should be and as a result many disabled and non-disabled people prioritise addressing the disabling barriers that exist at the micro level rather than challenging the nature of disablism itself which is maintained at the macro level.

Within the Disabled People’s Movement over the years there has been a watering down of the ideas expressed by likes of UPIAS, Finkelstein and Oliver to the extent that ‘disabism’ is simply reduced to the experience of discriminatory attitudes and practices found within society; lost has been our ability to question the actual fabric of society itself and the implications this has for disabled people. I would argue the majority of disabled people don’t talk in terms of the experience of social oppression anymore (I difficult concept for many, I know) but rather the lack of access to ‘the world of the able-bodied’ (sic). The weakening of the argument has also led to a distortion of way the social model of disability is applied. Birmingham City Council for example claim to operate within the social model, yet their current policies and practices are totally oppressive. The tools that were fashioned to assist disabled people to fight against their oppression and for their liberation have grown rusty from neglect and misuse – a new generation of disabled people exist who believe the old ways and ideas have had their day. I fear this is kind of dismissive thinking is likely to lead to disabled people being stranded like a beached whale on some distant shore and as a result the horrid stereotypes of being “helpless” and “vulnerable” will return to bite us on the collective bum.

Disabled people under attack

The needs of western capitalism are changing and this in turn impacts upon all social relations within society. Not only that; the changing relationship between State and society require an alteration of the positioning of the majority of disabled people within society. The externally imposed identity of being seen as ‘disabled’ is being re-moulded through language, definitions and practice. It is for this reason I believe greater attention needs to be paid to the socio-political identity of being ‘disabled people’. This identity is a form of self-determination; it is about accepting not simply the fact that as individual you have an impairment, but that this has to be understood in terms of your social relations both with other disabled people and a wider disablist society. It requires one to embrace a political social group identity which goes beyond the realities of being an impaired person. How then should we view this identity? I believe Oliver makes a crucial point when he states:

Using the generic term does not mean that I do not recognise differences in experience within the group but that in exploring this we should start from the ways oppression differentially impacts on different groups of people rather than with differences in experience among individuals with different impairments. (9)

There has been a tendency to buy into an individualistic approach to understanding the experience of disability – the notion of a hierarchy of impairment or disability is quite strong among some groups of people for example. Instead of addressing the nature of the social relations specific groups of people with impairments have within society; the impact these relations upon their lives, too often we simply judge the outcomes and then proclaim some people with impairments are more ‘disabled’ or more ‘deserving’ than others. This divides us and prevents us from developing strategies to change the nature of society and people with impairments’ social relationships within it.

In my opinion the contours around who is and who is not regarded to be a ‘disabled person’ are changing as the Government attempts to dismantle the Welfare State. I say, “regarded”, because I’m talking here about the imposed identity and the implications this has for us. I don’t trust for one moment the facts and figures that come from the Department of Works and Pensions, although I do accept that people with significant impairments are at least twice as likely as non-disabled people to be unemployed. Nevertheless, I would argue that it is very difficult to appraise the real percentage of disabled people who are unemployed or in receipt of some form of welfare benefit. Within the field of social policy and reports from the mass media there’s almost a “common sense” understanding that ‘disabled people are dependent creatures who are unemployed and on benefits’. These ‘set views’ were

manipulated first by New Labour and more recently by the Coalition Government. As democraticdeficit point out:

There are several ongoing strands to the coalition’s current ‘crackdown’ on what the right-wing press calls ‘workshy scroungers’. (10)

As early as 1992 we witnessed a Tory Government target people with mental ill-health within the benefit system. Today the attack is via the Heathcare Disability Assessment systems which link Atos Origin with UnumProvident (UK). It should be noted that:

Professor Aylward was instrumental in how Labour’s Welfare Reform Act was to be implemented by the DWP. Who?

… the former Chief Medical Advisor to the UK government, Professor Mansel Aylward, was instrumental in advising the UK government to set up these medical assessment centres based on the model in America, and he is still funded by the same American company used in his example, with his research centre in Wales funded by Unum Provident (UK). (11)

In my opinion this attack isn’t just about reducing the welfare bill, it is also about making “disabled people disappear” and no longer a concern for the State. Clearly, they cannot make disabled people disappear in reality, but the Government can and is re-defining who fits within the labels that are being thrust upon us. On the one hand we have an ever decreasing number of disabled people who are being presented as “dependent”, “deserving” or “vulnerable”, yet on the other, a growing number of disabled people are finding out they aren’t really “disabled” after all! Suddenly, the inability to walk isn’t a “disability” any longer where a wheelchair provides mobility. This shift isn’t just about moving disabled people off benefits as I’ve already stated, it is about reducing disabled people reliance on a whole raft of welfare services including social care.

I would argue that historically, individual disabled people have found themselves in situations where the imposed identity of ‘disabled’ is taken from them. People with impairments can, therefore, slip in and out of being considered ‘disabled people’ by the assessments and rules that are applied – their ability to obtain support it whipped away over night. I am therefore concerned with the focus of much of debate around welfare reform and benefits because to my way of thinking it is only addressing part of the Government’s agenda. I believe the debates around reforming the Welfare State and changes to the benefit system need to be situated within wider debates about disabled people’s ability to engage within mainstream society. Many people talk about a return to Victorian times, but inadequately discuss how charities and institutions were employed to remove disabled people from the public gaze.

Against cuts

Over the past year I’ve grown alarmed at how easily some disabled people have been prepared to play “the cripple card” and plead a special case for ‘the most vulnerable’. In playing this card they have lurched from talking about being denied rights one minute to being vulnerable and heartbroken the next. From my perspective these campaigners have offered a simplistic message via stereotyped images of disabled people and their lives. In doing so they have assisted in constructing the new contours that are being drawn around disabled people in order to divide them. Much of the campaigning done by these individuals has lacked context and therefore it has pandered to the established norms associated with ‘creating “newsworthy” stories’. By taking “the crippled card” approach they have surrendered not only their own dignity and respect, but excluded disabled people who do not fit into their constructed imagery or “stories”.

What has been largely absent is an analysis of the disabling nature of the cuts on disabled people’s lives. It is the policies of the Government, the withdrawl of services, higher costs, lack of job opportunities, etc. that are making disabled people “vulnerable” – it’s the situations we’re finding ourselves in not simply the fact we have significant impairments!  I’ll make no apologies for repeating myself: Oliver said, ‘…we should start from the ways oppression differentially impacts on different groups of people rather than with differences in experience among individuals with different impairments’. I would suggest this process begins by having a clear understanding of why we are disabled people and the need to overthrow the imposed identity which helps to create our social oppression.

I see myself as a disabled person because society excludes, marginalises and devalues people with impairments through unequal and differential treatment. From this position I recognise the need to challenge and change the nature of the society itself. Along with the other co-founders of DPAC I believe disabled people are currently disabled by systems, structures and services which either fail to meet or inadequately meet our needs, but the reduction in public expenditure at national and local levels, the removal of services, the destruction of jobs and communities will only result in greater hardship and social exclusion. We oppose all cuts because they impact upon disabled and non-disabled people’s ability to bring about a just and inclusive society.

There are services run by local authorities which are not run in the best interests of communities – including disabled people – but simply taking an axe to them does not provide us with an opportunity to change the service or provide a better one. The cuts will take us away from and not towards building a more inclusive society; cuts will reduce our ability to expose the disabling nature of the society in which we live. Cuts right across the board will hamper ordinary people’s ability to take control over their lives and for some disabled people, though marginalised within the mainstream now, they will find the cuts bringing about their exclusion from all mainstream social activities. For others the cuts will result in premature death caused by worry, increased poor health and inadequate support arrangements.

Disabled People Against Cuts is about defending disabled people against the savage measures being inflicted by the Coalition Government, but we also recognise our campaigning has to be understood also within the context of disabled people taking control over their lives and determining who and what they are. By taking the lid of Disabled People Against Cuts I hope I have demonstrated that the struggle we’re engaged in has profound implications for the future lives of disabled people in the UK. Our campaign could never simply be about protecting the status quo – for that would be an act of betrayal.

–Bob Williams-Findlay

Footnotes

(1)    Oliver, M. (1990) The Politics of Disablement, London, Macmillan

(2)    Finkelstein, V. (2002) “The Social Model Repossessed” Coalition (February) p.10-16.

(3)    Pearsall, J. (1998) ed. The New Oxford Dictionary of English, Oxford, Oxford Press p.1823

(4)    http://www.thrivingmind.org/diagnosis-labels-and-identity-crisis/

(5)    Oliver, M. (1999) Capitalism, disability and ideology: A materialist critique of the Normalization principle p.2

(6)    Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (1974) Fundamental Principles of Disability, London, UPIAS

(7)    Findlay, B. (1994) ‘Quality and Equality in Education: The Denial of Disability Culture’. In P. Ribbins & E. Burridge (eds), Improving Education, London, Cassell Publishers. 126 – 140

(8)    Leonard, P. (1984) Personality and Ideology: Towards a Materialist Understanding of the Individual, London, Macmillan

(9)    Oliver, M. (1999) Capitalism, disability and ideology: A materialist critique of the Normalization principle p.2

(10)             http://www.democraticdeficit.com/atos_origin_cracking_down_on_workshy_scroungers.html#step99

(11)             http://www.democraticdeficit.com/atos_origin_cracking_down_on_workshy_scroungers.html#step99

Mar 292011
 

Many thanks to Sean for allowing us to publish the speech he gave on behalf of disabled people at the 26th March TUC rally at Hyde Park.

Sean McGovern

Sean McGovern

“HELLO WEMBLEY!!!

WHOOPS – SORRY WRONG GIG!

Hello Comrades, I’m Sean McGovern, a disabled trade union activist; and, I’m honoured to be here today part of this anti-cuts movement. Which is growing daily!

Comrades, disabled people are fighting for the most basic of human rights.

• The right to work;
• the right to a living income for those who can’t work;
• the right to sustenance;
• the right to decent care support;
• the right to live without hate crime; and
• the right to dignity!

May I congratulate some of our popular media? Well done the Daily Heil, the Sun and Express, you purveyors of disablist propaganda. Along with the rubbish-end of TV and attention seeking politicians you’ve managed to demonise disabled people.

In times of recession and economic downturn governments and their media hounds need a scapegoat; history has shown us this; today it’s the turn of disabled people – who’s next?

No wonder hate crime against disabled people is on the rise.

While the bankers caused this economic crisis disabled people’s support and benefits are being blamed.

So much so that we are feeling the brunt of the ConDem ideological cuts.

They say these cuts aren’t ideological – liars!

• Replacing Disability Living Allowance with a Personal Independence Payment, with predicted savings of 20% – naked ideology!

• Introducing a draconian set of Work Capability Assessments – viciously ideological!

• Migrating disabled people from Incapacity Benefit to poverty level JobSeekers Allowance – driven by ideology!

• Removing hundreds of items from Access to Work; a scheme that earns 20% for every pound spent! – stupid ideology!

• Supported employment schemes such as Remploy under threat; thus adding to an ever-increasing unemployment queue and benefits bill – misguided ideology!

Not content with attacking our jobs and benefits they’re bent on depriving us of life enhancing resources. And calling it the BIG SOCIETY!

Day centres are closing. Council care is being cut. Direct Payments bills slashed as eligibility criteria are squeezed to critical only.

Comrades, every day disabled people are dying due to ConDem ideologically driven policies. They must go!

Today the struggle shifts up a gear! From here we must return to our cities, towns and villages to organise everyone against this ConDem regime; these enemies of disabled people, these enemies of the people – our class!!”

Mar 272011
 

Go to the Disabled People make History blog for more details…

On Saturday 26th March, yesterday, there was the biggest rally organised against the stringent cuts from the Coalition government. Disabled people are the hardest hit by these cuts and despite many barriers, disabled people have participated in the march. They came on trains and coaches from all over the country – from Scotland and Wales as well.

DPAC negotiated and campaigned the TUC to provide access so that disabled people are also included in the march and they have responded by providing access as can be seen on the Access and Disability page of the main March for the Alternative website. For disabled people who really couldn’t make it – we have an online map to show the disabled people who wanted their virtual protest registered. There are many stories there.

The day after the event it is already very obvious that we have very little media attention and for many disabled people this is the first time they have been on such a march. As disabled people, they went through considerable effort to get there with many barriers not faced by non disabled people. We shall make sure that our struggles are recorded and not lost. We can see that the media are only full of the violence as seen on our televison screens and echoed in all the newspapers. It is important that these stories are collated so that they are part of our history.

Here are

Kirsten Hearn’s account

Stephen Sumpter’s account


Supporters from DPAC, Black Triangle, Disability History Month and London Austistic Rights Movement, Newham Coalition of Disabled People

Mar 242011
 

History doesn’t do justice to the lives of disabled people. All too often we are hidden from history because our lives aren’t considered worthwhile and when we do appear the accounts are shaped by the views of others within stereotyped presentations of who and what we are. Rarely do disabled people get the opportunity to speak for ourselves and in so doing leave our imprint within history.

Today we want to make our voices heard and speak out along with others who wish to protest against the unjust measures being taken by the CONDEM Government. Today we want to ensure the 26th of March 2011 goes down in history as the first time since the 1920s that disabled people en bloc have joined a mainstream demonstration called by the Trade Union Congress.

To make sure disabled people on this March and those supporting us through virtual protests and other activities aren’t forgotten or left as footnotes in history, DPAC is launching a new project: Disabled People Make History in collaboration with Disability History Month and Spaghetti Gazetti.

We are asking disabled people to make notes during the day about either the events that are going on around them and their involvement, or on how they found the media coverage of disabled people’s participation, (this of course can include non media coverage), and then using whatever media suits them forward it to us so that we can get good coverage of disabled people and their stories at the demo together. If you want to we would also like to hear the main reason(s) you have come on the demo, what is that has got you involved in the rally and what you are doing to challenge this. We are looking for written material, texts, photos, clips, etc.

Depending upon the support we gain for this project our ultimate aim would be publish an edited book about disabled people’s participation within and experience of the biggest demonstration against the cuts. Of course there will be disabled people who would’ve liked to have been here but for various reasons can’t be, therefore, we will be inviting them to speak about their support and what alternative activities they took part in.

If you wish to be involved in or follow the progress of Disabled People Make History you can do this via: http://disabledpeopleprotest.wordpress.com. Email address for sending in your contributions will be dpac26march@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing your stories post 26th March – this is just the beginning!

DHM logo

Mar 242011
 

Please help distribute the flyer and join us on Sat 26th March. Look for DPAC banner  and lets march together. Rights Not Charity. Bring whistles, drums, blow your horns, harmonicas, bring a tin can but bring some noise. Bring warm clothes, wear comfortable shoes and bring food and drinks, and whatever else you might need because even when the sunshine’s it can be cold in March, the demo is likely to be very slow moving and buying snacks in London can get expensive.

Read this post for advice on bust cards and legal advice. It might not be relevant to you but its best to be aware.

Safety on the 26th March 2011

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/ministry_of_defence_group/mod-news/index.cfm/id/C5B3EF2A-25CB-4D2C-ABF4778F96F19004

For details of all Tube upgrade work this weekend, alternative routes and a map, please click here

On Saturday legal observers will be on the march, they are volunteers who are there to observe and monitor police behaviour and to support all demonstrators. They may issue you with information about your protesting rights (sometimes called “bust cards”) which (unless your intentionally risking arrest) you are unlikely to need but it may be good to read and maintain for your own empowerment.

You can read more about this at the address below.

The Legal Defence & Monitoring Group (LDMG) has updated and republished

“No Comment: The Defendants Guide to Arrest”. This little booklet is essential reading for anyone at risk of arrest, or considering taking part in non-violent direct action.

You can download a copy of “No Comment” from this website: www.ldmg.org.uk or

http://www.ldmg.org.uk/files/No_Comment_4th_Edition.pdf

DPAC supporters  will be meeting with activists from London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) and other allies at Savoy Street near Charing Cross at 11am to join the TUC march.

Some others  will be meeting slightly earlier at 2 neighbouring accessible cafes: Caffe Amici , 7B Kingsway, London WC2B 6YA and the Costa next door. The Costa opens at 9am. Many thanks to Jan Pollock for finding and suggesting them.

The march is going to be HUGE and we understand that disabled people want to join their different groups and friends but given the sheer crowds it might make sense to join the disabled people bloc because this will have its own stewards. Access will not be easy but we can help each other or get help if we are together. Tubes (not many accessible anyway) may be closed, buses unable to access streets and talking on mobiles difficult. For information regarding access details go to March for the Alternative website.

The online map is getting filled up by online protestors and for those who wish to join that way – send a email to dpac26march@gmail.com

Flyer and leaflets for download is at DPAC wiki

You can photocopy this and put them on top of other placards if you wish.

In solidarity, see you there.

Mar 242011
 

We got the chance of trying out our new DPAC banner today at the Budget Day protest rally from Trafalgar Sq to Downing St organised by Right to Work and Coalition of Resistance. This is supported by Stop the War, Labour Representation Committee, CND & DPAC.

When we arrived at Trafalgar Sq there was already a good number of people with banners and placards. Some of our fellow activists from the Atos demo were also there. At just a little after 5, we set off – it gave us a fore taste of what it might be like in 3 days time but obviously it was a short route and there were not that many of us. It made me realise that I cannot hold up a banner, drive a wheelchair and tweet at the same time!

At Trafalgar Sq with DPAC new banner

We were told that the Tories hid from the protestors that morning and did not turn up – they cancelled. What does that say to us?

We heard a few speeches, I gave mine – we all took photos and networked and went our separate ways fired up for the big day on Saturday.

Photos are at DPAC Flickr.

—–Eleanor Lisney

Mar 232011
 

On Budget Day, 23 March, Right to Work is calling for nationwide protests against Osborne’s cuts and to build for 26 March. DPAC will be attending.

In London Right to Work and the Coalition of Resistance are jointly organising a protest – assemble 5pm Trafalgar Square to march to rally outside Downing Street.

Pass the following motion in your anti-cuts group, trade union branch, campaign group:

“We believe that ordinary people should not have to pay for a crisis caused by the bankers and the corporate hyenas. We reject Osborne, Cameron and Clegg’s austerity programme and cuts.

Accordingly on Budget Day, 23 March, we agree to sponsor and support the protest called by the Right to Work Campaign and the Coalition of Resistance – assemble 5pm in Trafalgar Square for a march to a rally opposite Downing Street.

This protest will be used to help publicise the TUC demonstration on the following Saturday.”

Mar 232011
 

DPAC supporters  will be meeting with activists from London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) and other allies at Savoy Street near Charing Cross at 11am to join the TUC march.

Some others  will be meeting slightly earlier at 2 neighbouring accessible cafes: Caffe Amici , 7B Kingsway, London WC2B 6YA and the Costa next door. The Costa opens at 9am. Many thanks to Jan Pollock for finding and suggesting them.

Mar 212011
 

PLEASE SEND YOUR MESSAGES FOR THE ONLINE MAP TO DPAC26MARCH@GMAIL.COM. IT TAKES EXTRA TIME TO SIFT THROUGH COMMENTS HERE AND TRANSFER THEM.

Here is the launch of the promised map to show disabled protestors who would have gone on the demo if they could but due to the many barriers, were unable to. We are adding all the messages we get as fast as we can. We are touched and encouraged by many of the messages in solidarity. Do read them by clicking on the pins from up north in Scotland, down in Cornwall and also in Wales. We are having lessons in UK geography in tracking the first part of postcodes – we try to be accurate to the nearest city!
View TUC 26thMarch DPAC online Protest in a larger map

But we were asked if we can also add allies onto the map too.. So those who wish to add their messages of support can do so too now.

Please let as many people as you can to add their protest online so that the footsteps/protests of disabled people and their allies can be visible and be counted in the TUC March for the Alternative!

Send your emails of support to dpac26march@gmail.com

Mar 202011
 

logo

From the March for the Alternative Website

We want to make it easy for as many people as possible to get involved with the March for the Alternative, to show just how widely people are concerned about the government’s programme of fast, deep spending cuts. We’re trying to make the day’s events accessible to disabled people, with a short march point and a static protest, but we appreciate there will be lots of people around the country who aren’t able to make it along at all.

We’re backing an initiative of Disabled People Against Cuts and Beyond Clicktivism to produce an online map in solidarity for disabled people who cannot make it to the 26thMarch rally.

To add your protest online – http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/03/email-us-your-protest-to-be-in-solidarity-with-the-protesters-on-the-streets-on-26-march-online/

Mar 202011
 

protest posterIn preparation for the TUC rally next Saturday, we would like to pass you some information and advice.

Access details for the rally is at http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/march-logistics/access-and-disability-2/

Please note that there is scooter hire facility included in that link and all the notifications to be made for disabled people.

DPAC will be starting from Savoy Street – look out for our banner(s) with other disabled groups and organisations. There will be at DPAC supporters at the static point in Hyde Park as well (tbc).

Firstly, it will be a long day so please bring something to eat and drink with you in case you cannot get to any provisions in the day. Bring whistles, rattles or things to make noise with. Bring something warm to wear as well – just in case.

Secondly, although we don’t anticipate that there will be any problem with  or that anyone is likely to get arrested if you are attending we feel that it is best to pass on this legal information to you just to be on the safe side and so if you needed to you know what your rights are.

Legal Observers in orange bibs will distribute 50,000 of a special
small-size (A7) version of the Bust Card on March 26th. These Legal
Observers are volunteers and are totally independent from the police
and march organisers. They will be there solely in support of those
attending the demonstration. Please note that there will also be Legal
Observers from ‘Liberty’ wearing green bibs who will be ‘monitoring’
the events generally, but NOT doing legal support work.

Due to the scale of the event the Legal Observers handing out Bust
Cards will not be able to reach all those participating, so they are
sending out this important information in advance – please forward to
your members and networks throughout the UK.

We advise every group and contingent to chose a Legal Support person
from one of their members attending. Such a person could distribute
Bust Cards to colleagues and others nearby (please print out plenty of
copies of the text below to distribute). They should carry a note book
and ensure, in the event of any arrest or police harassment of
marchers, that:

– information is collated (eg. name/description of person, time,
place, ID nos of police involved and any aggressive behaviour by them)
– witnesses identified and contact details taken
– good legal representation is arranged (see the recommended
solicitors’ phone numbers on the Bust Card below)
– follow-up support offered by your group if needed in the days/weeks
after the demonstration.

Such information should be held in confidence, used solely for the
purpose of supporting a participant, and should be shared only with
them and their legal representative for that purpose.

Do print out and circulate to your contingent/members/participants…

BUST CARD – LEGAL ADVICE

If you are arrested
– You have the right to free legal advice at the police station
– You have the right to have someone notified you’re in custody
– You have the right to read the PACE code of practice C which lists
all your rights
– You have a right to silence. Say “No Comment” to all questions in a
police interview
– An appropriate adult must be called to the police station if you
appear to be under 17, or have a learning difficulty.

Recommended solicitors (please note the phone numbers)
Bindmans 0207 833 4433 Hodge Jones and Allen 07659 111 192

Legal Advice – Stop and Search
– Before searching you a Constable must give you their name and
police station, the power they are searching you under and the reason
they are searching you.
– You do not have to give your name and address or answer police
questions under any stop and search power.
– If you witness an arrest, write down what happened as soon as
possible afterwards. Court cases may take place months or even years
later so it’s vital you record what happened while it’s fresh in your
memory.

Other support

On the day if you witness an arrest or want support contact our Legal
Support office: 07946 541 511

from the Green and Black Cross Bust card

More Legal Briefings can be obtained at this link

As we have said we do not expect any problems but this is just a precaution.

Mar 182011
 

The Work and Pensions Committee have launched an inquiry into the migration from Incapacity Benefits to Employment and Support Allowance, including the Work Capability Assessment.

ESA replaced incapacity benefits for people making new claims from October 2008. To be eligible for ESA, a person must usually undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The introduction of ESA in 2008 was initially limited to new claimants. Existing incapacity benefit claimants are now being reassessed under the Work Capability Assessment. The process will last until 2014 with around 1.5 million people being reassessed.

Reassessment commenced on 11 October 2010 with a trial in Aberdeen and Burnley. At the end of February, Jobcentre Plus began a limited introductory phase, and will move to full national reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants from April 2011.

Short submissions (no more than 3,000 words) are invited from interested organisations and individuals.

The deadline for submitting evidence is 14 April 2011.

Full terms of reference and further information about submitting evidence can be found on the Inquiry page.

More information at the Parliament website.

Mar 182011
 

You might like to know about the petition to Save the NHS. Right now the government is rushing through plans which experts, and groups representing doctors and nurses, warn could break the NHS up and hand control to private health companies. It’s also a huge waste of money at a time when funding is already squeezed with beds and wards being cut.

It worked when enough of us signed the petition against privatising England’s forests. The more of us that sign up to Save the NHS, the more chance we have of winning. Please sign now:

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-petition

Mar 152011
 

In a previous blog, in conjunction with Beyond Clicktivism,  we have said that DPAC will be working on getting a map online in solidarity for disabled people who cannot make it to the 26thMarch rally.

We have an e-mail account where you can send a short message – please not stories but you can add a photo/image (please make it a small file – like a thumbnail) with it – with your post code, just the first part to be able to position on the map but not to actually pinpoint your actual address. And if you do not know how to change the size of your photo, we can do it for you. But the more you do, obviously, the more you can help us to get as many in as possible.

I give you an example

example of image Name to be displayed on message(do not forget to send a photo or an image if you would like to add that)

Eleanor L.

Post code CV1

Message – I wish all success for a powerful message of the disabled people against the cuts  in protest! I am there in spirit and will be looking eagerly for news. I am a wheelchair user and am angry at the attack of the Tory lead Government against disabled people with the cuts – which affect all of us, with visible and invisible impairments. Solidarity with everybody who is marching!

This will be monitored against trolls, and inappropriate material.

And e-mail to dpac26march@gmail.com

Mar 142011
 

Linda Laurie5,000 people turned up to march on the Lib Dem spring conference in Sheffield on Saturday. £2 million was spent on security to protect them so we weren’t allowed to get anywhere near them and surprise, surprise, Nick Clegg didn’t come out to speak to us despite his claiming that he and his ministers wouldn’t hide away. I went to speak at the rally after Linda Burnip (from DPAC) asked for a volunteer (speaker for Disabled people ). This was what I tried to say although speakers were curtailed to a few minutes each.

“Apparently we are all in this together.

Apparently the country doesn’t have any money.

Sorry

Apart from the

* £2 million that we are paying for the security to protect the Coalition govt Lib Dem millionaires, including Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne, inside our City Hall.

* Apart from the £20 million that we are paying for Will and Kate’s wedding.

* Apart from the £6.5 million bonus that the boss of Barclays bank is getting.

* Apart from the £20 billion of our money that the British govt have spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Apart from, according to Nick Clegg last April, the £100 billion it will cost us to replace Trident.

Apart from the £210bn in avoided, evaded and uncollected taxes according to the Public and Commercial Services Union who organise Inland Revenue Staff, so they should know!

That is how they spend our money.

Yet the Lib Dem Coalition govt says that it is your fault – students, disabled people, pensioners, trade unionists – that the country has a budget deficit.

They say we must pay for the deficit with the destruction of the welfare state.

* The Liberals and their Tory friends say the NHS must pay with cuts of £20bn and the loss of 53,000 jobs including 6,346 jobs in mental health services by 2015.

* The ConDems say public services must pay with spending cuts of £31.9bn and job losses of 725,000 by 2015.

* The Liberals meeting today in City Hall say that poor people must pay with welfare spending cuts of £11bn.

They say that workers in the public sector must pay by having their pay frozen for 2 years.

* The Liberals and Tories (is there any difference any more?) all say that children must pay with a 3-year freeze in Child Benefit.

* The ConDems say that 3,000 council workers in Nottingham must pay by losing their jobs.

They say that public sector workers must pay through cuts in their pensions.

Our own council in Sheffield – run by the Lib Dems – says that the youth training charity Sheffield Futures must pay by losing 28% of their funding.

* Sheffield’s Lib Dem Council says that South Yorkshire Police have to pay with £40m of savings and 1,100 job cuts.

They say that 270 Sheffield council workers have to pay with their jobs.

They said that Sheffield Forgemasters had to pay by axing an £80m loan to them.

* The Liberals and Tories say that 120 carers in Barnsley have to pay by losing their jobs.

The Coalition govt says that disabled people have to pay by losing their Disability Living Allowance, by losing Employment Support Allowance after 12 months, support from the Independent Living Fund which has been abolished, support from the DWP Access to Work scheme that enables many of us to work and pay taxes, by having our housing benefit cut which will put up to 450,000 disabled people at risk of losing their homes according to independent BBC research and the National Federation of Housing Associations, and by disabled people living in residential homes losing their Mobility Allowance,

Disabled people are more likely to be unqualified, unemployed with only 47% being in paid employment in 2009, be paid less than non-disabled people, experience barriers to employment, incur more expense as a result of living with an impairment, have to rely on public services and live in low-income families.

* The ConDems say that the Big Society will provide the services lost through the cuts. We are told by the Tories and their LibDem allies that the Big Society is supposed to be about communities taking more control, more charitable giving, social enterprises taking on a bigger role, people establishing public services themselves.

The Big Society is a big con that is headed by the big con himself – David Cameron – supported by his lackeys – the Lib Dems

The Big Society is a cover up for the cuts being made by Nick Clegg and his mates the Tories whilst they award contracts like the £500m one given to the French owned company Atos, to bully people, like those with terminal cancer back into work, and harass people such as a former miner in Chesterfield whose family say they believe the stress of undergoing 2 Atos medical assessments led to his death from heart failure.

The main difference between the Big Society and the Big Issue is that some people buy the Big Issue.

The Lib Dems didn’t have to have their spring conference here in Sheffield where:

270 council workers face losing their jobs

1,100 staff from South Yorkshire Police face losing their jobs

A £80million loan for Sheffield Forgemaster was axed.

156 job cuts are expected in Barnsley NHS

145 job cuts are expected from Doncaster NHS

Having their conference here demonstrates their contempt for people here in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

· Yesterday in the House of Commons, Labour had an opportunity to vote against the Coalition’s planned attacks on Disabled People, but they abstained! Trade unions, which have been described in the past as ‘Lions led by donkeys’, now need to take a lead too! Organising a mass demo of 2 milllion plus on 26th March is great, but that has to be just the start. Demonstrating is not enough.

· Disabled People call upon the TUC and the public sector trade union leaders to join with us, with students and others to take action now before it is too late to save our NHS, to save our public services, to save our universities, our schools, our jobs, our city, our country.

Disabled People say Rights Not Charity.

Disabled People say Can’t pay, Won’t pay.

Disabled People say “We have no time to waste, a new campaign coalition is needed; a coalition that brings together both disabled and non-disabled people. We need an active voice in the mainstream – a voice that challenges the lies about DLA, exposes the real agenda – cuts in welfare – and combats the ideology that says DLA should only be for the “most vulnerable”, If we don’t all stand up and be counted then many of us will see our benefits stolen from us by one hand and a one-way ticket to the euthanasia clinic Dignitas in Switzerland offered by the other!”

We say to Nick Clegg and the other traitors inside that building = shame, shame, shame on you. Shame on you for turning blue.

—-Linda Laurie

Mar 102011
 

Description of cartoon: David Cameron is in a tank with the words ‘big society’ printed on the side. He is wearing a helmet and a camouflage top. There are also half a dozen wheelchair emblems painted on, as though they were confirmed hits. Under the tracks of the tank are various signs that have been crushed and broken. They include signs that read ‘United Nations disability rights convention’, ‘human rights’, ‘independent living fund’ and ‘article 19’. There is also a newspaper laying on the ground called the Tory news. This has printed on its front page ‘ Cameron condemns those ruthless dictators who have no regard for human rights!’. In front of the tank is a young wheelchair user. She is blocking its progress and is also glaring up at Cameron. Cameron has a surprised look on his face as the tank gun visibly wilts!

Read more about this cartoon on Crippen’s blog at – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/our-voices-being-heard/

Mar 092011
 

Debbie Jolly Debbie Jolly, a co-founder of DPAC argues that disabled people are subject to false accusations from the media, false economies by a government that misrepresents the true nature of disability, and a duplicitous morality from a government that claims to support those disabled people in greatest need.

The combined impact of the cuts, the media attacks, and the coalitions’ duplicitous morality on disabled people has yet to be experienced fully. At present the trends are not optimistic. We predict an increase in homelessness and poverty for a group already below the bottom of the income pile. DPAC’s action as part of the March for the Alternative will see disabled people protesting as active political citizens fighting for their human rights by virtual means organised by DPAC and Beyond clicktivism from their homes, and in person. Disabled people are experiencing the worst attack on their rights and their right to independent living in living memory.

Read the full article at British Politics and Policy at LSE

Mar 092011
 

by benefitclaimantsfightback

The 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts has been called for April 14th 2011.

Millions are set to be affected by savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits. People with disabilities, illness, the unemployed, single parents, carers the low waged, part time students, volunteers, homeless people and college students are all likely to see a devastating drop in disposable income with many slipping even further below the poverty line.

The poorest and most vulnerable are being asked to pay for the mistakes and extravagances of the richest. Meanwhile poverty pimps like Atos Origin and A4e are set to rake in hundreds of millions on government contracts to bully and intimidate people from claiming the pittance handed out in benefit payments. Many disabled people have threatened suicide if these cuts are allowed to continue. Some have tragically already carried out that threat.

The first two days of protest against benefit cuts have seen demonstrations, meetings, unemployed discos, public pantomimes and occupations in cities across the UK. Atos Origin have been forced to close offices, protesters have gathered inside and outside workfare sharks A4e and demonstrations have taken place from Downing Street to local town centres such as Lydney and Crawley.

This time we have two months to organise for the biggest day yet. We call on all claimants, as groups or individuals, to organise and take action around the country on April 14th.

If you are planning an event in your town or city please add details in the comments below to be added to the facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164277070288955

You can also send details to notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you would like to see action locally, set up a group, event page or ask below. We will do out best to promote and co-ordinate all activity.

We are fighting for our homes, our livelihoods, our very survival. It’s time to show these public school parasites and their poverty pimp collaborators we mean business.

Actions/events are being discussed and organised in Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Nottingham so far.

UPDATE: First to call, the fine folk of Leeds

Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155593464493862&

Supported by:

o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Carer Watch fb page
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o Mad Pride
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Squattastic
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day

Mar 092011
 
Budget day leafletOn Budget Day 23rd March in London Right to Work has initiated two protests.
In the morning the Tory in charge of cuts, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  will address the ‘Redesigning Local Services – Change for the Better’ at the Barbican Centre in the City of London on the morning of Budget Day, Wednesday 23 March.
Right to Work is calling a protest from 9am onwards and invites all of those opposed to cuts to come along.
Also speaking at the conference will be Jeremy Pembroke the Conservative leader of Suffolk County Council who speaks on “Redesigning local services”. The conference blurb says: “Suffolk are leading the way with a new commissioning model of local government that will see the running of services such as libraries, youth clubs, highway services and children’s centres contracted out.” Suffolk is the model for Cameron’s ‘Big Society.’
Wednesday 23 March, 9am onwards, outside the Barbican Conference Centre, Silk Street , London , EC2Y 8DS
At 5pm we are asking people to assemble at 5pm in Trafalgar Square to march to a rally outside Downing Street at 6pm. This is organized by RtW and the Coalition of Resistance supported by Stop the War, Labour Representation Committee, CND & DPAC.
We are asking anti-cuts groups from across London to bring their banners. It has been agreed that public sector workers in uniform will lead the march behind a banner with ‘Defend Public Services – March With Us on 26 March.’
Mar 092011
 

'Rights ... but only if they benefit charities too!'

Description: Two groups of disabled people are protesting alongside of each other. One group is identified as members of the United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) by the logo on their tops. The other group members have various logos displayed including DAN and crips against cuts. This group are carrying a large placard that reads ‘Rights not charity’. The UKDPC members are holding a sign that reads ‘Rights … but only if they benefit charities too!’

Dave Lupton

aka Crippen – Disabled cartoonist

Anyone wishing to use any of my existing cartoons for their own web sites or publications are asked to make a donation to support the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) web site. Please make your payment by sending a cheque to Dave Lupton, 17 Cawsam Gardens, Caversham, Reading RG4 5JE and marked on the back DPAC – the amount you pay is discretionary. Thanks for your support.

Crippen’s web site – http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk

Crippen’s cartoon blog – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com

Mar 082011
 

I was invited by Women Against the Cuts to join their demo on International Women’s Day to speak about disabled women and the cuts for DPAC. The event was at Trafalagar Square. There was a good number of women already there and I was happy to spot my good friend Sabrina Qureshi from Million Women Rise – a great event with a march of about +5000 from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Sq last Saturday.

Zita Holbourne was there speaking for Black Activists Against Cuts and she did a poem too, and Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters. I was happy to see Sasha Callaghan from Black Triangle in the crowd and I asked her to speak alongside me for disabled women.

I did not realise we were videoed but HarpyMarx posted videos of us in her blog. Thank you!

For a transcript of my speech.

Photos of Million Women Rise on 5th March

Photos of today’s WAC event

Mar 072011
 

Big Society beg society

Description: A lot of wealthy looking people are on top of an ivory tower, drinking and laughing together. There’s also large bags of money up there with them. On the wall of the tower is the sign ‘Big Society’. At the foot of the tower is a group of disabled people. They are looking up to the people on the top of the tower and have a large
sign that reads ‘Beg Society’

Dave Lupton

aka Crippen – Disabled cartoonist

Anyone wishing to use any of my existing cartoons for their own web sites or publications are asked to make a donation to support the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) web site. Please make your payment by sending a cheque to Dave Lupton, 17 Cawsam Gardens, Caversham, Reading RG4 5JE and marked on the back DPAC – the amount you pay is discretionary. Thanks for your support.

Crippen’s web site – http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk

Crippen’s cartoon blog – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com

Mar 072011
 
Government funding to pay for many disabled people’s support is being cut. For many disabled people this means having less choice and control over their support, and receiving less hours of support. For people working as support workers this means job losses, reductions in pay, and other changes to working conditions. But these cuts, along with the benefit changes, are just the most recent change to the way disabled people are supported by the state. As we oppose harmful government cuts let’s also take this opportunity to think about what we want support work to be like, to defend what we like about support as it is offered now, and make changes where we think it is needed.

This is a call-out for stories and reflections on support work. If you have experience of support- whether as someone who has received support, someone who has worked to support someone, either paid or unpaid, as a friend or family member of someone who has received support, or as any combination of these- and would like to contribute to a blog about support work please contact: spprtconversation@gmail.com .

To respond to this call out please go to the Support Conversation Website.

Mar 062011
 

cartoon by crippen

Description: Three disabled people are up to their shoulders in shit. One of them is reading a newspaper that says ‘Cameron says we all in this together!’. One of the disabled people is saying:”I suppose some of us are deeper in it than others?!”

Dave Lupton

aka Crippen – Disabled cartoonist

Anyone wishing to use any of my existing cartoons for their own web sites or publications are asked to make a donation to support the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) web site. Please make your payment by sending a cheque to Dave Lupton, 17 Cawsam Gardens, Caversham, Reading RG4 5JE and marked on the back DPAC – the amount you pay is discretionary. Thanks for your support.

Crippen’s web site – http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk

Crippen’s cartoon blog – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com