Description: David Cameron is standing under a sign that reads ‘Big society fashion show’. He is accompanied by two Tory MPs who are wearing their traditional blue suits. Cameron is stark naked but is holding a box in his hand that has ‘Big society clothing’ printed on the lid and which covers his genitals. A little boy, holding his mother’s hand is laughing and pointing at Cameron whilst saying: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
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Largactyl Shuffle against the cuts – a history walk about disabled people’s right, Saturday 26 March 2011, 12noon, Start at CoolTan Arts, finish at Imperial War Museum
CoolTan Arts and Disability Lib join forces and organise a Largactyl Shuffle against the cuts, an alternative inclusive demo for disabled and non disabled people to march together and make their voices heard against the cuts.
On the same day Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are going to take part in the main TUC march in protest against government cuts. See http://www.dpac.uk.net/ for more info.
The Largactyl Shuffle against the cuts supports the main march, but aims to be a bit more low key so as to accommodate those of us who just don’t do big crowds. We will however be connecting with colleagues from Disabled People Against the Cuts on the main march through the web.
For International Women’s Day 100 years Celebration but just as importantly to show solidarity in Ending Male Violence in all it’s forms against Women and Girls in the UK and Internationally.
Million Women Rise
Meet 12pm Hyde Park (Speakers Corner End, Nearest Tube: 1 Minute from Marble Arch)
set off at 1.30/pm March through Oxford St, Regents St to Trafalgar SQ 3.30 – 5.30pm Rally and Celebration in Trafalgar Square (Nearest Tubes: Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Charing Cross)
Coaches, Buses & Mobility Access for the march – Drop Off: Park Lane (Park Side) and Pick Up: Pall Mall – West Regents Street, Central London
If your organisation would like to book a stall for the rally at Trafalgar Square, please contact the Million Women Rise Info Line on 07727 419634 or email email@example.com
DPAC is happy that James Elder-Woodward gave us permission to publish his speech given at the Welfare Reform: Who Benefits? A major conference by Inclusion Scotland – Friday 4th February 2011, Glasgow
Welfare Reform Conference 4th February, 2011
By James Elder-Woodward
Now listen up – Disabled people are under attack
The forthcoming cuts to our welfare will devastate our quality of life and deny our human rights as never before. For the past twenty years or so, we’ve continually had welfare reforms – but they’ve always meant the same thing; cuts to our quality of life and further restrictions on our equality of life opportunities.
But this will be the biggest and deepest cut of all By 2015
• The ILF will be no more
• DLA will be no more
• Incapacity Benefit will be no more
• £18b will have been taken out of the welfare system
• 3.5m disabled people will have lost over £9.2b of critical support
• Moving disabled people from Incapacity Benefit onto Job Seekers Allowance will account for half (£4.87 billion) of these losses.
• This represents a loss of £9k for each person moving onto JSA
• Only ‘severe and critical’ need will be meet by local authority social services,
• Which means our right to independent living, to family life and all our other rights under various UN Conventions will be seriously curtailed
• And probably countless other support programmes will have been cut or substantially reduced
• Including, more than likely, our own disabled people’s organisation; be it some social club, educational group, user-led service, or campaigning organisation Never in the history of welfare reform will the lives of so many in need be so ravaged by so much, to meet the political agenda of so few in power
Because this is motivated by a utilitarian government who say, in order to make people work, you must make their lives hell; make them as poor as the proverbial door-mouse; poorer than the poorest peasant working in the field
Don’t get me wrong – we all accept the need for welfare reform
My God it’s a monstrous beast; complicated; dysfunctional; incomprehensible; illogical – you name it, it’s that.
Don’t get me wrong, either – we all agree it’s been abused
You’ve just got to watch “Still Game” on television to see how Winston abuses the system to get a home help or a disability benefit. Yes it’s comical, but it also mimics the very DNA of many in society that those on benefits are lazy layabout scroungers who need a good kick up the backside to find work
So programmes like “Still Game” don’t do genuine disabled people like us much good because we’re all tarred by the same brush. We’re all made to feel like dirt, not just by society, but by the very system which is supposed to be there to help us. We all have our own stories about how the system treats us. We all have heard the negative attitudes towards us as n’er-do-wells, feckless spendthrifts, and altogether no-gooders.
But isn’t it great how this government is using our social model to do away with our DLA
Yes, by 2013 the DLA will be no more. DLA, the only non-means tested benefit for disabled people designed to meet the extra cost of living with a disability will become the Personal Independence Payment. Like the DLA, PIP will have two parts to it; personal attendance and mobility. Disabled people’s call for independent living will be answered by the PIP, for the PIP will be based on the principles of independent living
But hang on a minute, according to this millionaire government – I call them this, because there’s more multi-millionaires around the Cabinet Table in number 10 Downing Street, than the whole of central Scotland. Anyway, they say by using the principles of independent living, this means if you have a self-propelled wheelchair; you won’t need as much mobility allowance, because you can move around independently.
I say: until I can get onto every bus and train by myself; until I can get into every Indian Restaurant, every butcher, baker and candlestick maker (if there’s any left) on every street – I need every penny of my mobility allowance
What do you say?
It’s reckoned that 360,000 disabled people will be affected by the demise of the DLA. What really gets my goat is taking away the mobility allowance from people in residential care. This will well and truly throw away their key to independence and participation within society, locking them within segregated care homes for good
But, this ploy of saying if you have an aid to daily living you don’t need as much PIP, along with others, like having to be reassessed every couple of years, will reduce the existing DLA budget by 20% – that’s a saving of £1.4b
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m going to be cured of my cerebral palsy within the next two years – which means that any savings will be offset by expensive and degrading reassessments every two years. Nevertheless, half a million – that’s half a million disabled people will lose their DLA
This public school boy government; they are mostly public school boys anyway, who wouldn’t know a jammie piece if it hit them on the head from a tenement building; they say they want to provide “fair and progressive” reforms in public services, but what is “fair and progressive”; and what about the maintenance of quality of life and human rights.
There’s been a big debate over the need for universal benefits like child benefit and free travel for those over 60. Now I agree with universal benefits, if they are truly universal, not just based on age, like only the young and the elderly – why not disabled people as well?
I am sick and tired of being means-tested – aren’t you?
Why do we need to be the ‘deserving poor’ before society helps to remove the barriers society has created to keep us out in the first place? Why do we need to be means-tested before we can get help with our personal care, or house adaptations and technical aids? Why should only the ‘deserving poor’ be supported to exercise their citizenship? Why can’t we all be supported to exercise our rights of equal citizenship?
But that is the basis of our social welfare system.
The eighteenth century social philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, upon who’s thinking Victorian utilitarian welfare was based, thought that those on poor relief – that is welfare – should receive “less than the lowest peasant in the field”
Well these changes to our welfare benefits certainly make sure that will happen today – give the sick, the disabled, the unemployed less money, then they will be more motivated to go out to earn is their utilitarian way of thinking.
But how do you find work, when there’s no work there? How do you work, when there’s a mountain of discrimination against you in the labour market? How do you work, when there are cuts to the budgets of services and equipment to help you work? How do you work when social services won’t help you to get up out of bed in the morning?
All of this won’t be helped by taking £20 a week from you and putting you on a Job Seekers Allowance, just for one year, before taking it off you altogether. Then what will you do?
I wonder how I would fare today, if I were young and without job experience, as I was in 1970 when I left university. It took me and my careers adviser 546 applications before I got my first job. I’d be well and truly starving in the gutter if I had to find a job within a year. And that’s even if there were 546 job opportunities for me now, which I doubt
But it’s not just the quality of our lives that will be ravaged by these cuts – it’s our human rights as well. Believe it or not, but the UK government has actually signed several conventions on human rights, including the UN Convention of Rights for Disabled People.
This reinforces many of the rights of non-disabled people, including the right of privacy, family life, independent living; and most importantly the freedom from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.
We have been hearing of people living on sandwiches and tea because they only get 15 minutes a day of home help. We have been hearing of people sitting in soiled nappies all day, because they can only get help to go to the toilet once or twice a day. And I have heard of home helps leaving the service due to work overload and a sense of guilt at not being able to do their job properly. One person had a workload of 40 people (or ‘tuck-ins’ as she called them) to see in a four hour shift – that’s 6 minutes per person, including travelling time. This really is a shocking state of affairs, which will only get worse as the cuts bite deeper and deeper
They say you’re never oppressed until you feel oppressed. Many of my contemporaries felt oppressed. Segregated in their family homes, unable to get out and do the things they wanted; even worse there were those in residential homes. They couldn’t even decide what to eat each day of the week. The gruel was just plonked down in front of them whether they wanted it or not.
Things have changed now, thanks to people like, Paul Hunt, Ken Lumb, Ken Davis, Mike Oliver and many more who saw their poverty of life opportunities, not as a result of their physical conditions, but as a result of the social injustice society was throwing at them. They did many a battle of the minds with many a politician and bureaucrat to win what little freedoms we have today
If not for their sake, at least for your own, join with us in the fight for our freedom movement. Let’s fight for our freedom of family life and privacy; our freedom of movement and community living; and our freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment.
Not all of us can go on a march; nor will many want to clash with police on the streets, like those students did before Christmas. But, like Ken Davis, Vic Finklestein and Mike Oliver, and all our predecessors, we can use our minds to argue, debate, use the new technology of Twitter and Facebook, to get our voices heard and taken note of.
Of course, some of us have and will march with others in protest. Disabled People Against Cuts are a loose connection of disabled people who demonstrated against the cuts in the streets of Birmingham last October. They have a three prong strategy; taking to streets; encouraging people to write to their MPs as well as visiting them in their surgery; and using social media, twitter, facebook, etc
Not everyone could go on their “Cuts will Kill” march last October; but if you look on their website you’ll find some of the many well wishers who posted their comments.
There are other sites on the web which you should take part in including www.benefitscroungingscum.blogspot.com
Hopefully, after this conference we’ll be able to circulate a list of sites to which you can contribute
And don’t forget YouTube
There are some really funny videos, some of which we’ve been able to download and play for you today, like “Liar, Liar”
Finally, we hope to join others on a quiet civilised march in March. “There’s another Way” march will be made in March, but Dave Moxham, General Secretary of the STUC will tell you more about that. I do hope, however, some of you will come along. It’s fun to be with people who feel as you do. The warmth of comradeship and common purpose, but to put it quite bluntly, if you don’t feel the pain – the pain of these cuts – you’ll be dead to the anguish others like you will be feeling
I urge you; feel the pain; feel the anguish; get angry; and react in anyway you can. For it is only by joining together, or by thousands of people doing their own individual thing – like putting your thoughts on paper, Facebook or YouTube – that such anguish suffered by so much oppression by so many can burst like a geyser, drenching this government of millionaires, for millionaires, in basic humanity and common sense.
Having discovered at the last minute that our local Council were planning £68 million worth of cuts to services, the Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Community Care Cuts (HAFCACC) decided we needed to be at the meeting.
In our short history we have a great track record on local action – lots of crips on the streets protesting and a couple of years ago we took the council to judicial review to stop the introduction of home care charging – sadly the case wasn’t successful but we made things very difficult for the local tories as we have done since.
So three HAFCACC reps showed up at the Town Hall last Weds to hear the Tory bullshit about the ‘hard choices’ that they had to make, why they thought it was necessary to cut millions from adult social care services, services for people with learning difficulties, Sure Start services and so the list went on…
We all know times are tough but it was clear from the laughter coming from Tory councillors that they had absolutely no concept of the damage the cuts would do to disabled people’s lives or any interest in what we had to say about it. In fact they were constantly distracted by their mobile phones.
The meeting was a disgrace and made a complete sham of local democracy – no wonder then that we made our anger, frustration and disgust known throughout the meeting – loud and often. “Tory Scrum” is a particular favourite of mine!
It was obvious that Tory councillors were uncomfortable having disabled people there telling them the truth. So before too long me and my partner, Andy were evicted by three ‘heavies’ – I didn’t leave before l told the assembled Tories exactly what I thought of them!!
The following day we heard that the Tory annual conference was being held at Hammersmith & Fulham Town Hall the next Saturday and the word was that Boris Johnson was planning to use the event to launch his mayoral campaign – a perfect opportunity to turn up on mass. Boris did show up but was hurried through a side entrance so he didn’t have to see our protest – so much for his desperate need to be loved by Londoners – it seems this only applies to Tory voting Londoners.
HAFCACC’s protesting against these cuts continues and we are busy hooking up with other local campaigning groups to strengthen our voices. I’ve got to tell you – there is something so bloody empowering about telling the truth to power – long will it continue!!
The Black Triangle campaign has been set up to help defend ALL disabled people from the constant media and government portrayal of disabled people as “scroungers” and thieves for claiming benefits that they are not entitled to. This despite the fact that benefit fraud for those claiming Disability Living Allowance one of the main benefits that can keep disabled people independent and in work is currently only 1%. The wide spread lie that a huge amount of those currently claiming health related benefits are frauds, combined with the pretty badly discredited assessment criteria that see the majority of claimants fail despite having high levels of care and support needs cannot be anything other than an attempt to put disability rights back to a time where most people with disabilities were kept hidden away from society.
Despite having the legal right enshrined by European law and United Nation convention, individuals with disabilities will have no access to homes, jobs public transport, family life, or dignity. Why will all these be lost, because they need resources, and this Con-Dem government seem to be saying that the British people “can’t pay won’t pay”. Blaming the economic crises on the disabled by constantly saying how high the welfare bill is, or how much extra services like “Access to Work” or “The Independent Living fund” cost so they are closed down to save money, is basically untrue and at odds with the much trumpeted “fairness” agenda the government constantly talk about.
The Black Triangle campaign is a small group of local activists who have already been active in direct action protests. We held protest actions, taken part in public forums, joined with the TUC, and STUC in joint action. We have organised FREE accessible transport to the STUC “Better way campaign” rally in Perth this coming Saturday. We will also be working with the organisers of the huge national rally in London on the 26th of March to provide FREE accessible transport.
All we need is people to use this transport, we need anyone who wants to go, even if all you want to do is show that you think disabled people deserve respect, then please come. Use the transport and show the government that you are a human being and deserve to be given the courtesy of being treated like one.
Go to the page that the Link below leads to and register, or go to Face Book and search for BLACK TRIANGLE. Or email me your interest in attending and I will pass your details on. Take the time to look at the main Black Triangle pages and see if any of the messages or posts give you a sense of what the campaign is all about. If you can please just register with the page, we are only asking for your support not your money.
Lastly please will you all have a careful think about all the people that you know. Work, family, neighbours, friends whatever, who ever, please think if this information could be of interest or use to anyone else. Let them know and give them the opportunity to make up their own minds if they wish to be involved or not.
It is over twenty years since a group of disabled trade unionist activists met on the outskirts of Walsall in the West Midlands to establish the Trade Union Disability Alliance. As I recall there were five or six unions represented among the delegates; all of whom had been busily working away in their own union branches and disability committees to either put ‘disability equality’ on the agenda or to encourage their unions to work from a social model perspective. TUDA therefore was set up to support disabled people in the workplace and union activists to spread the message through the trade union movement.
It was through the work of TUDA members in MSF and Unison that the TUC passed at its Congress at motion for comprehesive anti-discrimination legislation for disabled people. At the same time they pestered their own union leadership to put pressure on the TUC to set up a Disability Forum and have an annual conference for disabled trade unionists. This was a uphill struggle; whilst not hostile to disabled people, few in the TUC leadership had any understanding of the issues facing people who were a small minority in the workforce and an even smaller number inside the unions.
At lot of water has flown under the bridge since then, most unions now have disability committees and the TUC has finally entrusted disabled people to run their own forum. Nevertheless many disabled people still see the trade union movement as rather paternalistic in its approach to disability equality – often more charity model than social model. It is the same with the TUC which has often been compared to an oil tanker – very slow to turn! The decline of the Disabled People’s Movement had an impact upon TUDA’s membership and their influence in the unions and the TUC.
It was against this backdrop that DPAC feared the worse when little or information was coming out about the access needs of disabled people wanting to attend the TUC 26th March march. Then we were informed coaches were being parked up on the outskirts of London and trains were already being pre-booked. A letter was send by DPAC voicing our concerns to the TUC’s General Secretary and contact was made with others inside the TUC in an attempt to seek clarification. After banging away at the need to include disabled people, DPAC were in contact with an equality officer, then one of the organisers of the March; finally, we were told that the Chair of the TUC’s Disability Forum was making his members’ views known. Slowly, the information DPAC was seeking was released upon a TUC, however we remained concerned about the lack of “inclusivity” with regards to aspects of the organising and said so.
Many of us who have experience of organisations know how defensive they can become if they feel unduly criticised or fail to understand why people remain unhappy with what they are doing. For awhile some within the TUC felt disabled people were complaining just for the sake of it or had not considered how complex a task it is organising such a large event. DPAC from the outset sought to assist rather than simply carp; we want the 26th to be a success and to ensure disabled people can have their voices added to those who will be out of the streets that day. Fortunately, one of the co-founders of DPAC has managed to open up a dialogue with the Chair of the TUC’s Disability Forum which has helped to put things into perspective
After years of campaigning I know change rarely takes place over night and many large insitutions need a great deal of support and encourage in order to “do the right thing”. Living day after day with the impact of social oppression isn’t easy either. Many activists get bruised and brittle, suspecting the worst rather than expecting progress. I believe the last few weeks has asked many questions of both disabled and non-disabled people involved in resisting the cuts. Perhaps if we can learn the lessons from our experiences this will strengthen our ability to take on the real enemy – the Coalition Government!