For the past few months we at Disabled People Against Cuts have been receiving emails daily from disabled people and disabled parents with children who are being left without any food or any money for heating. They have had their benefits sanctioned and all money taken away from them for a period of between 2 weeks and 3 months. Disabled people who have never committed any crimes in their lives are being forced into shoplifting simply to be able to eat themselves or to feed their children.
The reasons they are being sanctioned are pathetic, looking for too many jobs, being late to sign on because they were at an interview for a job, having to help a pregnant partner before coming out and being 5 minutes late. Imagine being left utterly destitute in this way by a gang of uncaring, heartless millionaire politicians who think being starved will ‘encourage’ you to find one of the non-existent jobs. It is hard to believe that in a country which is still one of the richest in the world people are being deliberately and callously left to starve and freeze.
Surely democracy, if it exists, depends on government of the people by consensus rather than by the use of force or fear which is tyranny. Yet this week’s appearances by government ministers in front of the DWP select committee only highlights that no such consensus exists in the UK today.
And what of our own minister for disabled people – Mike Penning aka Machine Gun Mike and that DWP henchman Iain Duncan Smith. When the mere thought of being in the same room as a small group of disabled people exercising their democratic right to attend a select committee hearing drives DWP ministers to resort to mass protection by police guards heavily armed with machine guns pointed towards disabled spectators while they waited in the corridor to go into the rooms and after they came out of the meeting I think it is fair for all citizens to ask just what has this government become. Certainly they really cannot be viewed as democratic or legitimate in any way. Neither can they use the excuse that such ‘vulnerable’ people as us are in any way a threat to them – or are we? We are large in numbers and most of us are allowed to vote in elections.
One disabled woman who was there said
“we are being treated like terrorists because we are disabled people – disgusting!”
and another said
“ A very disturbing sight to se an MP having guns pointed at 3 unarmed people in wheelchairs and about 8 other disabled people and carers who came peacefully to exercise their democratic right to sit in on a hearing.”
As if being threatened with a machine gun was not enough disabled people legitimately attending meetings in the House of Commons are now regularly being subjected to more and more ridiculous security checks. Yesterday when I attended the BIHR charter launch I was forced to remove not only my watch but the quite ordinary belt from my trousers so it could be scanned. What exactly could be hidden in a belt I have no idea and can only assume this was done to cause me to be humiliated. Needless to say I wasn’t I was simply left wondering how disabled people being treated in such ways could possibly equate to the UK government being viewed as ‘good’ on upholding human rights in other parts of the world.
However I won’t dwell further on that as the subject is fraught with problems if we start to remember the Blair years, Guatanamo, and other abuses carried out in the name of democracy.
I simply want to reiterate that the very fact that DWP ministers felt the need to be protected from us and to be hidden away behind machinegun carrying police in this way simply illustrates how successful we have been with our campaigning so far. Shame on them all.
See also this FOI request to DWP about the incident on Monday which was made by someone not known to DPAC.
11 December 2013
Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
My questions refer to security processes surrounding the Work &
Pensions meeting held on 9th December 2013 at 16:30 in the Wilson
According to multiple witnesses (members of the public, mainly
physically or mentally disabled) who arrived to observe the above
meeting, they were initially met by standard airport and court type
security, metal detectors, belongings checked, they were frisked -
all pretty much what I would expect.
The public area was off camera (although some public members did
appear in view of the camera to find their seats and I did witness
one electric wheelchair user briefly on camera.
However the witnesses stated something rather disturbing which
wasn’t seen on camera which could explain their unusual silence
throughout the proceedings. There were several policemen or
security guards with machine guns, not pointed down, instead
pointing TOWARDS the public area throughout this meeting.
My questions are as follows:
1. Who from the DWP asked for these guards with machine guns to be
2. Who from the DWP asked for these guards to keep their machine
guns pointed toward the public area?
3. Please provide the report which deemed it necessary to have
guards with machine guns pointed toward the public during this
My fourth question is only for if you’re unable to answer any one
of the above questions.
4. Please specify the Government department I should send this FoI
request to if you don’t hold the above information on any question
I ask above.
(For public reference, the meeting can be watched here although the
public area and the guards with machine guns are off camera: