Mar 312016

Letter published in The Guardian on 30th March 2016:

The announcement by the new work and pensions secretary, Stephen Crabb, that the changes to personal independence payments (PIP) in George Osborne’s calamity of a budget are to be scrapped is welcome news for hundreds of thousands of disabled people (Report, 22 March). Yet even the statement that there are no further welfare cuts planned for this parliament is cold comfort to those who live every day with the misery created by years of attacks on the support they require to participate in society.

The storm surrounding Cameron’s government over the budget has thrown a spotlight on the extent of inequality at the heart of its plans. IFS figures on the government’s tax and welfare changes have shown that the rich will gain while the poor lose out – so much for “compassionate conservatism”. If Stephen Crabb is serious with his talk of the people behind the numbers he needs to do more than just stop new cuts – he should reverse those that have already been made. We suggest he starts by returning the £30 a week he recently voted to steal from those receiving ESA and committing to scrap the notorious work capability assessments that have regularly found people with terminal cancer “fit for work”.

Anita Bellows Disabled People Against Cuts
Linda Burnip Disabled People Against Cuts
Ellen Clifford Disabled People Against Cuts
Mark Dunk Unite the Resistance
Bob Ellard Disabled People Against Cuts
Andy Greene Disabled People Against Cuts
Debbie Jolly Disabled People Against Cuts
Roger Lewis Disabled People Against Cuts
Paula Peters Disabled People Against Cuts
Alison Playford Occupy London

 Posted by at 12:51
Mar 292016

From The Canary

Conservative MPs ‘broke the law to win the 2015 general election’

Consider that if the Tories had not been elected last year – there would, at the very least been no cut to ESA, and in all likelyhood the policies that have harmed disabled people would have been in reverse, so as part of Operation #ToryDump, we say :

Get involved!

Do you live in one of the 24 seats whose Tory candidates were helped to victory by the RoadTrip campaign buses?

Amber Valley, Broxtowe, Bury North, Cannock Chase, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Dudley South, Erewash, Kingston, Lincoln, Morecambe and Lunesdale, North Cornwall, Northampton North, Nuneaton, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Pudsey, Sherwood, South Thanet, Sutton and Cheam, Thornbury and Yate, Torbay, Weaver Vale, Wells or Yeovil.

If you do, consider contacting your local police force to make a complaint about your candidate’s spending declaration – and to remind the police that they can apply to the courts for an extension to investigate the allegations.

[“Get Involved” text above also copied from The Canary]

 Posted by at 22:42
Mar 292016

Please answer all the questions-if you want to say anything more about why you did or didn’t vote for Labour or why you did or didn’t vote for Corbyn – add it as a comment

 Posted by at 15:48
Mar 282016

 Press release; Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

For immediate release 27-03-16.

Crabb Must Go!! Resign Mencap!! – Demonstration at Crabb’s Office in Haverfordwest. Sat, 2nd April. 11AM till 1PM

Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly Against Austerity are organising a demonstration outside Stephen Crabb’s Office for this Saturday 2nd which will take place from 11AM till 1PM. Demonstrators will be demanding that Crabb recognises public opinion and resigns as Pembrokeshire Mencap patron following his recent vote to cut ESA by £30 per for disabled people.

Organisers say that as there has as yet been no statement made by Stephen Crabb’s office, nor Mencap Pembrokeshire indicating that Crabb is to resign as Mencap patron so they feel that they have no other option but to press ahead with the demonstration.

The 38degrees petition calling for Crabb to resign as patron of Mencap Pembs is close to reaching 12,000 signatures. It had already achieved 2000 signatures within its first two days. Notably before Crabb was appointed as DWP secretary.

Jim Scott, the organiser of the petition said; “There is now overwhelming pressure from all quarters for Crabb to resign this post. The Mencap Facebook page (Stackpole Walled Gardens)  has been inundated with comments requesting that Crabb be removed as their patron. A great many people have written and emailed Mencap locally as well as nationally. Many people have even said that they will be withholding their donations until this matter is resolved. The petition continues to grow. Public pressure as well as the efforts of DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) has already forced 4 ESA voting MP’s to resign their patronages of other disability charities as part of DPAC’s on-going campaign aptly named ‘Operation #ToryDump’ . It is just a matter of time now. Crabb simply cannot and will-not get away with voting in Westminster for cuts such as the ESA cut which is a ‘done-deal’ now for Crabb and cannot be ‘undone’ .  Yet then masquerade as some kind of champion for disabled people while back in Pembrokshire, his game is up! These cuts have already caused widespread poverty, destitution, homelessness and many suicides among our most vulnerable and deserving members of society. Crabb, and all other ESA voting MP’s simply have to go.”

Romayne Phoenix, National Co-Chair of The People’s Assembly said; “With Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation and the government forced to backtrack on Osborne’s disastrous budget, there are many more British people now recognising the hypocrisy of having Tory patrons of these disability charities & charities which focus on care. The pressure is on – and Crabb’s appointment looks to have been a mistake made in a hurry that the `Tories will regret for a long time.”

A spokesperson for DPAC said   “The strength of disabled people has been shown over the past few weeks-we will not support any charity or MP who voted for the cuts to ESA. The charities must remove such MPs, if they do not it will be more confirmation for disabled people whos side the charities are really on”

Natalie Bennett – Green Party leader publically signed the 38degrees petition calling for Crabb to resign when visiting Fishguard last week for an anti-cuts debate. Bennett was joined in signing the petition by Alice Hooker Stroud – Wales Green Party leader, Chris Overton – Withybush Hospital campaigner and Kay Dearing of SOS (Save our Sixth Forms Pembrokeshire).

Other MP’s are facing similar pressure including Liam Fox, another Mencap Patron who has had a petition lodged against him to resign as Mencap patron for North Somerset.

Speakers invited to Saturdays demonstration  include, National People’s Assembly Against Austerity, DPAC (disabled People Against cuts) and other local disability groups, Wales Green Party, Plaid Cymru, The Labour Party, The Green Party, Lib-Dems, Plaid for Pride, Welsh Green Pride, TUSC, Left unity,  and many more local campaigners.

Organisers say “This will be a united show of strength demonstrating cross-Party & multi-Campaign support, this will show Crabb and the Charity involved that even just a few weeks from a major election here in Wales, all Parties and campaigns are willing to stand together to show a united front in the face of such injustice. Austerity is ideologically driven and is ruining people’s lives, people are dying out there yet wealth among the richest has doubled in the past 5 years. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what Crabb’s Government is up to, but we need to be united in order to put a stop to it.”

The organisers urge all concerned citizens of Pembrokeshire and elsewhere to attend the demonstration and add their number to those demanding- Crabb must go! They also welcome spokespeople to attend and speak on behalf any other respective organisations who wish to be represented. You can contact them via their Facebook page for more information. (Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly (against austerity)

Protestors will gather shortly before 11AM on Saturday at Crabb’s office, Upper Market St Haverfordwest, SA61 1QA.



Notes to editors;

The speakers list for this event is being constantly updated and can be checked here; (Facebook event page).



Attached showing Sticker and campaign banner picture.

A special sticker has even been created for the event , these stickers are available at;

Crabb the grab resign as mencap Patron

Crabb resign sticker


Mar 242016

Would like to add some things from yesterday’s action of parliament by disabled people and their supporters yesterday.

The first one is this: Yesterday action was not a rally, it was not a protest. It was an occupation a direct action, an act of civil disobedience in direct defiance of the way the conservative government are treating disabled people and denying them their basic human rights.

Second one: We meet at 10 am. Parliament denied disabled people access into the building for 1 hour 30 minutes until 11.30 am 30 minutes before PMQs began. It is a public building and there is a cafe and access to a toilet and a place to keep warm. A public building. Disabled people and its supporters were denied access to this space.

Point out some of us got around this by pointing out its a public building you all work for us, and we are going to use the toilet and have a hot drink and take medication, and if you deny us access we will make such a stink in the media about it about blatant discrimination against disabled people.

That is how Martin Tolley and Peirs got into the building yesterday….they tried to stop us we pointed out access issues and went in. However, it is important to stress, many were left out in the cold, on the street for 1hr 30 minutes and a mass protest and shouts of let us in let us in which we have footage of could be heard….it caused a lot of anger yesterday.

Third: Many Twitter accounts and Facebook account users struggled to share pictures of our protests etc yesterday. Including all of us in parliament who had a hell of a job getting the word out. So keep sharing pictures today and re sharing

Fourth: There were many activists from all groups who joined us in solidarity and support yesterday and I would like them to be acknowledged for the work they do, the support they give because without them we could not have pulled yesterday off.

Protestors holding placards saying "No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts" - Photo Credit: Paula Peters

Photo Credit: Paula Peters

They are as follows: Occupy London, Winvisible, Global Women’s Strike, Women of Colour, Boycott Workfare, Unite Community Activists, Free Psychology Network/Alliance, Bob Williams Findlay who travelled from Birmingham, an activist who travelled from Manchester, Adrian, Martin Tolley who travelled from Suffolk to name just some of them here…..

Special thanks goes to Ali Playford who suggested yesterday’s protest to DPAC and did the lion’s share of the organising of it.

Fifth: An activist tipped off the BBC while in parliament what we were doing, they filmed immediately and wanted to parliament staff stopped them…the government stopped the BBC from filming that is the truth, the government stopped them.
However, the BBC were also outside parliament yesterday and filmed us coming out of parliament and interviewed Claire from Winvisible and me. So did sky news, ITV etc. It must be pointed out we had journalists inside from Morning Star, Guardian, Steve Topple who came from Suffolk to join us and they filmed us and interviewed us and took pictures and defied the government to get the truth out there.

Sixth: The first MP out to stand in solidarity was John McDonnell MP shadow chancellor who hugged me and thanked us all. All six questions at PMQs yesterday from Jeremy Corbyn were on disability, every one of them. John came out and told us that and he told us what was said we have video footage of what he said to us. He gave us solidarity and it meant a lot to us.

Paula Peters and Caroline Lucas selfie - Photo by Paula Peters

Paula Peters and Caroline Lucas selfie – Photo by Paula Peters

Caroline Lucas wanted pictures with us…she asked me Paula Peters to for a picture so I used my phone and took a selfie with Caroline…she did not take that picture. I did and when someone says “one of the organisers use my name.. I have one. It is Paula Peters. I am a DPAC activist. She spoke to the media, and she told us she was with us. She took some pictures.

SNP Mps came out and joined us they took took pictures, they filmed the occupation which we are really glad they did.

Seventh: Disabled People defied the government yesterday we took banners into parliament which is not allowed, we filmed the occuaption of parliament which was not allowed, we took photos which were not allowed. We defied them, they told us No they got an up yours in response, we were determined to get the truth out there and we did.

Eight: MPs stopped the debate for a minute or so and listened in silence to our shouts and our screams of anger. We were told by SNP Mps who joined us afterwards and Caroline Lucas and John McDonnell that they could clearly hear the shout of no more deaths from benefit cuts, the tory government has blood on its hands and cameron and osborne are murderers we want justice…they listened in silence and we were told that Osborne was white faced and trembling in his seat….they heard us plainly, loudly and the anger in our voices….all 600 MPs heard us yesterday that is really important to stress.

Nine: We were there for over an hour yesterday…we walked around the lobby we went to house of lords doors and Ali was pushed back by the police, she kept going and we backed her up we walked around the lobby in a circle and we owned that space yesterday….The police the staff just stood there incredulous but we carried on…

Ten: The house of commons chamber was shut down, the MPs had to find another way to get out of the chamber after PMQs. David Cameron and George Osborne were clearly rattled.

Eleven: We then went out of the lobby area, we walked through the doors to the corridor and retraced our steps out of the building. We all waked out together in the middle of the corridor holding our banners, shouting out no more deaths from benefit cuts, we went past the armed police, we walked through the great hall with our banners and we never stopped shouting out…Yesterday we took back parliament. Disabled people and their supporters did that. We defied every law, we defied the word NO and we told them cleary we would be back.

We walked out of parliament defiant, unrepentant, emotional and into a crowd of media who wanted to talk to us and film us which they did.

BBC interviewed Ellen Clifford from DPAC in their TV studio yesterday, and i spoke to a journalist yesterday from there who used our pictures in defiance of the government.

This is a message to David Cameron: You will not stop us you will never break us and we have so many ways to get the truth out there in all forms and we will NEVER stop defying you and resisting you until we get our full inclusive rights restored to us, until we get these cuts reversed until we put a stop to you.

As we said on the way out We will be back you know we will and the police know we will too.

Disabled people are warriors and we ain’t afraid to take this government on for the fight for our rights…Disabled people are the spearhead of resistance to this government and have been for six years and that is important to point out and the horrendous cost we have all endured in able to take this government on should never ever be ignored.

This took place last Thursday 24th March 2016, while I was travelling to a meeting and I was on the London Underground.
“I had a very bizarre experience on the London Underground on Thursday afternoon 24th March 2016. 
I was on my way to a meeting, got on a carriage of the train and it just pulled out of the station when i realised just got on the wrong train going in the wrong direction.  I was plugged into my I POD listening to music as I do, as i struggle travelling and the music is the only way I know how to cope with it and deflect the anxiety. 
I was going to get off the next stop and travel back, and I was absently looking around the train carriage, as you do, glancing quickly over the other passengers, and then I spotted a lady passenger reading a copy of the Times newspaper and she is reading something, and then looks up at me quickly, goes back to the article she is reading, then looks back at me and does a double take of me. 
She and then a few others spot the DPAC bag in my lap.  She looks at me again. 
She rises from her seat and comes up to me.  I take the ear phones out of my ears, I thought am i going to get abuse, I can’t get off the train its moving. 
She said, excuse me, just seen this picture, and holds out the paper to me.  (The picture is the picture of the DPAC occupation of lobby parliament on Wednesday 24th March 2016 when we are coming out the gate with our banner)  She said to me, is this you, and points at the picture.
By now half the carriage is looking at me. 
I thought shit, do I say that you have me mixed up with someone else and hope she sits down and I get off quickly at the next train station and get the hell out of there. 
I look at the picture she is holding out to me.  I thought sod it, be nice and tell her, and I reply, yes it is, along with a lot of my fellow activists.  
She took a step backwards. 
Then she shouted out to the people in the train carriage, “hey everyone, this lady here with a lot of disabled people occupied Parliament on Wednesday.  Bloody good job on you all!
The carriage then errupts into cheers and shouts of well done. 
The train comes into the station, but the passengers started asking questions to me, Who are DPAC, and how exactly disabled people are impacted by the cuts to services and benefits.  I ended up going seven extra stops in the wrong direction as the passengers wanted more details about DPAC, the details of the DPAC website and how they could support us.  So I handed out what DPAC leaflets I had in my bag and said donate to DPAC so we can get more disabled people to protests and meetings and get their voices heard. 
One of the male passengers said “Good on you love!  That David Cameron and George Osborne and fuc**** cu***! They are the scroungers, The Tories!
Don’t think I will forget that train journey anytime soon.   Paula Peters.
 Posted by at 16:03
Mar 232016

DPAC members and allies from Winvisible, Occupy London, Unite the Resistance and other groups Occupied the Lobby of Parliament today:

Disabled People Against the Cuts Lobby Parliament (Credit Global Women’s Strike)

Video by Alison Playford showing  the police response to the protest

BBC reporter forced off air amid DPAC disability rally in parliament (thanks to Christopher Lawton)

Ellen Clifford being interviewed by BBC News the day after the protest

London 360 Interview protestors

Buzzfeed Article: “Disability Campaigners Protested Against George Osborne’s Cuts Outside PMQs

Guardian Article “BBC reporter forced off air amid disability rally in parliament

ITV News “Campaigners hold protest in House of Commons lobby

Storify made by @Anitabellows12

 Posted by at 14:19
Mar 202016

SCOPE that well know charity parasite claiming to collect money to enrich our disabled lives welcomes Crabb with a tweet

Something that even the social media person at SCOPE seems to know is that Crabb has replaced IDS as secretary of state.

IDS is now doing an impersonation of God and the saviour of all  disabled people. He loved us all really and is telling the world how misunderstood he has been-He was always on our side and ‘helping’ us. It’s all as believable as a goldfish riding a unicycle.

SCOPE have been practising being our ‘saviour’ for years. It’s a performance they’ll be polishing up after That Tweet welcoming Crabb.

Crabb voted for the £30 pound cut to ESA WRAG- It could have been worse: welcome Stephen , can we sit at your Government table and have some money please –its very difficult to manage on our income of over 100 million –times are hard.

Of course SCOPE aren’t the only charity supporting those that voted for the £30 cut or keeping  ties with MPs to help them along see DPAC’s #ToryDump for more of them. We know who’s side they’re on and it isn’t ours, despite what they try and tell us.

MENCAP have Crabb as patron too, but don’t seem to want to get rid of him. MENCAP national pass the buck by saying he is patron of a local MENCAP?? Local MENCAP did rattle on about MPs from all walks of life or something incoherent in the week…buck passing at its finest, until a few hours ago when MENCAP national released a statement to ITV gushing their congratulations to Crabb You can join the thousands that have already signed the  the petition for MENCAP to get rid of Crabb HERE

But what about Crabb?

We’ve made a little background list.

-Voted for £30 cut to ESA WRAG

-Supported the introduction of the Bedroom tax

-Supported the introduction of the chaotic and decimating Personal Independence Payments

-Voted against increasing social security payments in line with inflation

-Voted against prolonging social security payments for those with chronic health conditions and disabled people

-Voted for the welfare cap

-Voted to include child benefit in the welfare cap rather than exclude it

-Voted to exclude more people from tax credits

-Supported reduction in corporation tax

-Supported scrapping education maintenance grant

-Supported air strikes in Syria

If that’s not enough, Crabb continues to have links with an organisation that supports some so called ‘gay cure’

Pink News reported that the MP employed interns in his parliamentary office through a scheme organised and funded by Christian Action Research and Education (CARE). CARE has previously sponsored events which refer to gay and bisexual people as “sexually broken” and advocating that they can become “ex-gay”. The organisation has funded internship places for young people to be placed with MPs as researchers or interns.

Addressing the concerns in 2012, Mr Crabb confirmed that he had received interns from the scheme while an MP. However, despite criticism of CARE, he refused to distance himself from the group when asked, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr Crabb also reportedly began his political career while an intern for CARE in the 1990s[i].

Crabb also voted against the equality of same sex marriage in 2013

And there’s more…

Expense fiddles

Not underpants this time, but houses. In 2009 Crabb claimed over £8,000 to refurbish his flat, sold it for a huge profit ( paid 68,000 sold for £240,000 ten years later), then flipped his second home expenses to family home. He then claimed £9,300 in stamp duty and £1,325 in mortgage interest.

In 2014 Crabb employed his wife on the public payroll –and we paid for that too

So no DPAC doesn’t welcome Crabb

Let’s  give the last word to his constituents. Here’s what some said on his surgery wall-note the inaccessible office too

“Y do U hate the sick”



 Posted by at 20:20
Mar 202016

Its been an amazing week – culminating in the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith

What ever he resigned for – and we don’t believe a word that he says about standing up for disabled people – the fact remains – he is gone.

What happens with the new Minister Crabb, we have yet to discover – we’ll be posting what we know about him in the coming days – but what we do know is:

The fight is not over – DPAC will carry on fighting to win back the rights we have lost and then carry on fighting until disabled people are able to take their proper – entirely equal – place in society. Nothing less is acceptable.

But in the meantime here are some of the highlights of the last week:


We begin Operation Tory Dump – to lobby charities to sack patrons  who are Tory MPs who voted for the Cut to ESA


A prescient feature piece by Linda Burnip was published in the Morning Star on the morning of Budget Day which pointed to the theme that would dominate the rest of the week : Disabled people to fund Tax Cuts for the Richest


Ellen Clifford on Channel 4 News being interviewed about the cut to PIP:

Also on Thursday: Paula Peters, Ellen Clifford along with members from Croydon and Bromley DPAC ambush Zac Goldsmith over his vote for the Cut to ESA

DPAC Members protest outside awaiting Zac Goldsmith

DPAC Members protest outside awaiting Zac Goldsmith (Picture: Paula Peters)


With nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide, Zac has no option but to listen to DPAC activists about his vote to cut ESA

With nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide, Zac has no option but to listen to DPAC activists about his vote to cut ESA (Picture: Paula Peters)


Ellen Clifford, Paula Peters and London DPAC members ambush George Osborne  and prevent a photo opportunity he had planned with Zac  (read more about that here ). See video taken by Baz Sneddon of below:

Friday evening – IDS Resigns!!


Ellen Clifford interviewed about the resignation of IDS on the Breakfast Programme, BBC 5 Live, Saturday 19th March

DPAC Calls for a party to celebrate IDS going in Parliament Square on saturday evening – DPAC members and press are there, here are some videos taken:

Roger Lewis DPAC interviewed by ITV News (video by ChunkyMark)


Finally, Channel 4 News film of IDS Resignation celebrations in Parliament Square


Disability campaigners welcome IDS resignation.“Ding Dong! IDS is gone.”Disabled activists celebrate Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation as Work and Pensions Secretary.Mr Duncan Smith said the latest cuts to disability benefits were “not defensible” in the latest budget.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Saturday, 19 March 2016

Sunday and onwards

 Operation Tory Dump  continues, find out how to take part here

and look out for future campaigns to take part in  here on the DPAC blog

 Posted by at 12:50
Mar 152016
DPAC Members protest outside awaiting Zac Goldsmith

DPAC Members protest outside awaiting Zac Goldsmith. Zac has been sacked as Patron of charity Richmond Aid for his vote to cut ESA

The resignation of IDS and replacement by Stephen Crabb as DWP Minister changes nothing as far as this campaign goes. While Tory MPs use disability charities for cover while voting to harm disabled people we will keep persuing them. Keep up the pressure on the charities to cut all ties with Tory MPs who voted for the cut to ESA

There is an Operation ToryDump Tweetlist that you can use to lobby charities on Twitter

Here are the MPs who voted for the ESA Cut that we’ve been able to identify (with your help) that have roles with disability charities.  There are many more to add, so keep checking back to this page. We will try to keep running updates on the progress with each Charity.

When you contact the Charities – keep it civilised – we don’t want to get accused of intimidation – for instance you could just ask them if you feel that XYZ MP is a fit and proper person to be a Trustee/Patron/President of their charity given that MP has just voted to cut ESA payments to disabled people.

MP, Link to Charity, and Charity contact information.

Latest Additions Friday March 18th @ 3.30pm-ish

List of Dumped Tory MPs to date

Also ……

 Posted by at 16:35
Mar 122016

By Ellen Clifford writing in a personal capacity

The majority of the DPAC steering group believes disabled people should vote to stay in the European Union.

Today we publish two pieces. The first, below, outlines a ‘no’ vote perspective, the  other HERE outlines why it should be a ‘yes’ vote to stay in EU on the 23rd June.

No to the EU

With the EU referendum looming in June this year a number of articles have been published debating the left case for a no vote on the EU (1). Here I will seek to summarise some of the key left case arguments as well to as to address the question from a disability perspective. I believe the conclusion drawn by a range of anti-austerity campaigners that the capitalist monolith of the EU cannot be reformed and must be opposed, is equally applicable to Disabled people fighting oppression and the impact of austerity cuts. John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want writes: “a vote to remain in the EU is automatically a vote for the continuation of austerity and neoliberal capitalist rule” (2).

One point to make from the outset is that breaking with the EU would not impact on the ability of Disabled people in Britain to use the European Convention on Human Rights. At some stage the Tories may try to take Britain out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and that is a fight we must be prepared for. However, it is a question that is separate from the membership of the EU.


Austerity and Neoliberalism

As an internationalist, the idea of a no vote on membership of the European Union can at first instinct feel wrong, but a no vote to the EU is not the same as turning away from Disabled people in the member states of the EU. Indeed a no vote is very much in solidarity with Disabled people who have born the brunt of austerity measures imposed on them by the EU in countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Since 2008 spending on disability services in the Irish Republic has been cut by 10% (3) with major cuts in disability-related services also occurring in Greece, Portugal and Spain (4). Bail outs given to Greece came in return for the imposition of austerity on a colossal scale. Health spending was capped at 6% with a quarter of the budget cut over just two years. In Achaia province two thirds of those prescribed drugs said they could not afford to buy them. Major depression more than doubled and suicide attempts grew by a third and yet mental health services were cut to the bone. It is estimated that the number of stillborn babies grew by 21% (5).

There can be no doubting the pressure brought to bear by the EU in imposing it neoliberal agenda. The “Fiscal Contract” signed by most EU member states in March 2012 obliges signatories to change their constitution to ensure balanced budgets under the supervision of the European Commission, an unelected EU body that acts unashamedly in the interests of big business at the expense of social or environmental rights. When the European Central Bank cut off emergency funding to Greek banks, effectively shutting them down and bringing the Greek economy to a halt, the Syriza government felt it had no option but to capitulate to the EU and sign up to a bail out package demanding austerity and privatisation. The EU thus forced through an agreement that over rode the democratic will of the Greek people who had voted against austerity. Just as the Tories have been using the financial crisis to take forward their own ideological agenda, so have EU institutions involved in the Troika (6) been using the debt crisis to impose “structural adjustment programmes” across Europe with the aim of clearing the way for multinational countries to come in and seize public assets.

Anti-austerity campaigners in Europe are clear about the role the EU plays in enforcing austerity, while nevertheless resisting its implementation by their own nation states. It is in the interests of international solidarity and resistance beyond borders to stand with our anti-austerity allies across Europe in saying ‘No’ to the EU.


Fortress Europe

A no vote also stands in solidarity with Disabled people from outside the current borders of the EU. Those borders, enforced by the EU joint border control taskforce Frontex, leave them with no escape from the poverty, wars and terrors created by Western imperialism. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented how, whenever human rights clash with the policies of racist exclusion, the EU will always prioritise the latter (7). The creation of “Fortress Europe” has seen unprecedented cooperation between countries in and just outside of the EU. A HRW report explained how in 2009 Italy began forcing migrants from Libya to return there where they would be detained by the authorities. In exchange Italy offered Libya $5 billion over 25 years in infrastructural investment. HRW collected harrowing accounts from migrants held in the detention centres including torture and rape. The EU’s response was to give Libya a further $80 million to build detention centres and strengthen its southern frontier.

Taking a principled stance in opposition to the EU does NOT mean agreeing with or supporting the nationalist, racist arguments of the likes of UKIP, while a yes position also means voting the same way as political undesirables such as Cameron (whose ‘bunch of migrants’ comment marks him as much a vicious racist as UKIP’s Nigel Farage) and Osborne.


The Disintegration of Social Europe

It is very much in the interests of British capital to stay in the EU while pushing ahead regardless with plans to curtail human rights in the UK through the introduction of a British Bill of Rights in place of the Human Rights Act. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) backs continued membership of the European Union (8) – they also dedicate a section of their website to defending the governments Work Programme from which many of its own members extract profits and Maximus UK’s managing director Chris Blackwell is ‘an active member of the CBI and regularly speaks at major events’ (9).

Those in favour of staying in the EU often cite the reforms that came in through the social chapter of the Maastricht agreement in 1992 including parental leave and working hour directives. However the idea that the EU continues to offer some kind of “social Europe” to protect against the ravages of neoliberalism is a myth. The European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said in a 2012 interview that “The European social model has already gone”. Recent years have shown the EU repeatedly undermining trade union rights in favour of business. Employment barrister John Hendy QC has written, “The EU has become a disaster for the collective rights of workers and their unions. It is essential that the international institutions of human rights law be upheld, it is yet more vital that working people and trade unions across Europe achieve the solidarity necessary to prevent the further depredations of the EU” (10).


How should Disabled people vote?

On the question of what is in the best interests of Disabled people in the UK, firstly it is a false division to treat the interests of Disabled people as an entirely separate entity from those of the rest of the 99%. Wider social issues such as workers’ rights and the racist myths used to justify ill treatment of migrants also impact on our lives and are important to us. Secondly the argument that Disabled people in the UK have too much to lose by leaving the EU is insufficiently convincing to justify voting in favour of an institution that acts so clearly in the interests of the 1%, that forces Disabled people to suffer under austerity to keep the bankers’ bonuses piling in and that condemns refugees (many of whom are Disabled or children) to drown in the sea.

With regards to the situation in the UK, where has the EU been in stopping the Tories from their relentless attacks on Disabled people? If we look across Europe we see routine treatment of Disabled people that would be considered unthinkable here, even now following the dramatic regression we have experienced since 2010. An expose by French newspaper Liberation in 2014 revealed the terrible conditions suffered by thousands of Disabled people sent to live in institutions in Belgium (11) while caged beds are still routinely used in areas of Europe (12).

Advances in disability equality and inclusion are not the result of EU policy, they are the product of struggle by Disabled people. Sweden, a country considered for a long time to be a world leader in independent living, did not join the EU until 1994. Demands made by STIL, the Stockholm Co-operative for Independent Living, set up in 1983 and inspired by the Independent Living Movement in California, forced the introduction of Direct Payments, using demonstrations and actions that gave them a “radical reputation” that they “exploited in our dealings with the authorities” (13). In Norway, which is not an EU member, disability benefits are a universal right, while in EU member states including Sweden these are increasingly limited. There is no automatic link between EU membership and higher standards of support and inclusion for Disabled people.

Key successes in the fight against Disabled people’s oppression have not been handed down from EU bodies but won by grassroots Disabled people and our allies. The independent living movement was formed by Disabled people breaking out of residential care; the social model of disability was developed by Disabled socialists; Atos was driven out of the contract running the WCA by Disabled campaigners.

Illusions in the EU are an obstacle to building the movement we need. The force to effect real change lies with the struggle from below and that will remain the case whether the UK is in or out of the EU. However losing the referendum would be a blow to Cameron’s government and the businesses that profit from our misery, and this can help our struggle break new ground.


Reasons to vote No to the EU:

* The EU is negotiating secret trade deals such as the Transatlantic and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. TTIP threatens to introduce a new wave of privatisation in key sectors such as health and education. It also seeks to grant foreign investors the right to sue governments for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions.

* The strict criteria of Economic and Monetary Union limits public sector expenditure and government borrowing. Euro member states now face fines if they fail to enact “implementation law” to cut spending deficits.

* The EU promotes zero hours contracts, casualisation and low pay as part of its structural adjustment programme.

* The EU promotes privatisation. Various EU directives, regulations, policies and the EMU criteria are forcing public services into the private sector. Large parts of the conditions to obtain further “bailout” loans are to sell off public sector institutions.

* The EU seeks to undermine trade union rights. The suspension of trade union collective bargaining is a strict condition of EU “bailouts” in Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Greece. A number of European Court of Justice rulings have found in favour of business over workers’ rights to defend themselves.

* The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy has allowed the development of armed drones, economic support for the arms trade and an armed European Gendarmarie Force (EGF).

* The EU is the antithesis of democracy. The EU government is the unelected and unaccountable European Commission which legislates and proposes policy to the Councils of Ministers. The European Parliament only has very limited powers of “co-decision” with the Commission.


Further reading


War on Want:

Human Rights Watch:


  1. Choonara, “The EU: A left case for exit”
  2. Slorach, “A Very Capitalist Condition: a history and politics of disability”



  2. The Journal, 15 September 2015. See
  3. I B Portero, “Are there rights in a time of crisis?” Disability and Society, vol 27, no 4 (2012).

  1. J Choonara, “The EU: A Left Case For Exit” (available from
  2. The Troika consists of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and the European Central Bank, two of which are institutions of the EU.



 Posted by at 14:29
Mar 122016

By Debbie Jolly

The majority of the DPAC steering group believes disabled people should vote to stay in the European Union.

Today we publish two pieces. The one below, outlines why it should be a ‘yes’ vote to stay in EU on the 23rd June. The other HERE outlines the ‘no’ perspective

So what exactly is the EU?

Many criticisms of the European Union are based on a lack of understanding of how its different parts interact. This tends to promote the myth of an unelected and unrepresentative European union with dictates coming from Brussels. In fact the main parts of its headquarters are in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.

Here’s a quick rundown of its main parts and what they do so we’re clear about how each of the member countries are represented and how the parliament works by individuals in each of the member countries electing members of the European Parliament:

European Commission-Commissioners are made up of a representative from each member country. Also where new laws are proposed

European Parliament-elected members of the European Parliament (MEPS), elected for each of the 28 member countries. The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and the Group of the European’s Peoples Party have consistently pulled in 50-70% of votes[1] . It’s the Parliament of elected MEPs that vote on the laws proposed by the commission

Council of the European Union-where government representatives of the 28 member countries/states have their say on the political direction of the union and their stake in it. For example Cameron’s latest ‘deal’ for an emergency brake on in work benefits for so called migrants was done here[2].

European Court of Justice-The 28 Judges come from each of the member states. As its name suggests it is a court of justice regarding member countries squabbles or issues where member countries are not fulfilling the rights of citizenship. They also take cases of discrimination and have established issues such as equal pay and combated issues around the forced institutionalisation of disabled people[3]

So the different parts of the EU and its parliament are representative of each of its member states and MEPs are elected by the people. The electoral system uses proportional representation -as opposed to the British first past the post system that allowed the Tories to govern again in Britain.

The right wing media mouthpieces such as the Express and Mail have been at the fore front of anti-European rhetoric.   So that issues such as free movement in Europe that allowed those in war torn countries to try and seek a decent peaceful existence ( more on that later), the working time directive and other social gains are always ignored, misconstrued or demonised.

Social policy gains from the EU: what has EU ever done for us?

While some on the left cite the EU or European Parliament social gains, social charters and key treaties, taking resistance, development and co-operation as the route to build on the social gains-the Eurosceptic left charge the EU with being a capitalist monolith that cannot be reformed, so let’s throw it all away.

We need to ask ourselves if we do that: what are the consequences? Will we really fair better under ‘Tory Boys Limited’?  They and Thatcher before them sought to limit or block every improvement in employee rights and social rights put forward by the EU. Let’s look in brief at some of the social gains that being part of the European Union gave us in employment protection against ‘the bosses’.


-Maternity and Paternity leave criteria, protection against workplace dismissal due to pregnancy

-Protection of employment if business is transferred or sold (TUPE)

-Protection from workplace discrimination re gender, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age

-Working time directive: rules on paid leave, holidays, working breaks, no more than a 48 hour working week (UK has an opt out option between employers and employees on this one , of course)

-Employment contracts and information they must contain for any employee

-Protection against less favourable treatment for part-time workers compared to full time workers, no right of employer to transfer someone from part-time to full time or vice versa without employee agreement

-Health and safety regulations in work

-Data protection on employees’ information and data protection issues more widely

And before we hear any cries of Europe imposing nasty equality and protection and undermining member countries sovereign whatever, please note that member countries can and did tinker around the edges. For example, whether paternity leave was paid or not. For more detail see reference[4] .

If we leave the EU these protections for workers will no longer be applicable and the current government would be all too happy to remove them. In fact Cameron wanted part of his recent EU deal to deal with the ‘red tape’ of these employment rights

Disability: why disabled people would be better in Europe than out

The European Union also have a wealth of social policy on gender issues and other equality issues. Here I’ll focus on disability issues

Non discrimination: as previously covered a variety of non discrimination measures to protect disabled people is written into treaties, directives and strategies at the European level on goods and services, access and independent living

Non discrimination by association: The principle of not discriminating because of association (e.g partner, child, parent etc) with a disabled person came via Europe through a European Court of Justice case and was written into the UK Equality Act 2010[5]

Forced institutionalisation: The European court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights has overseen many cases on forced institutionalization by member countries this is in line with commission signing up to the UNCRPD and its own EU Disability Strategy. As such precedents have been made to prevent both forced institutionalisation and combat conditions within institutions. This does not mean that all situations across European member states are now perfect, but that individuals and NGOs have other routes as well as their national government/national legal system to challenge human rights abuses against disabled people and disabled children at the European level.

European Social Funds: The EU provides millions of euros in social funds to NGOs/local authorities/regions/universities in its 28 member states to combat poverty, to promote and enact independent living, to challenge injustice and to remove institutions. It has also provided much needed regeneration in many areas as well as educational and project funds around human rights. These funds would be removed from disabled people and from communities if we leave. The Tory government will not replace them.

Misuse of social funds by member states: while social funds are meant to increase access to independent living and disabled people being part of the community with adequate support, i.e. the closure of large institutions, some member state governments have been misusing such funds to build smaller institutions. These issues are now being dealt with by the commission-and the point is: what Europe is accused of is often in reality a failing of a member state, but it is often wrongly blamed on the European Union itself.

Access and EU Accessibility Act: the UK enjoys comparatively good access in relation with some other European countries, but harmonization is important across the EU to serve all disabled people. The recent EU accessibility Act builds on other directives from the EU to improve access and harmonize the social gains disabled people fought for. Most countries have regulations on ramps and buildings, although these are not always adhered to. The EU can strengthen these gains and has provided more in line with their EU Disability Strategy

Transport-EU rules on accessible vehicles standards and provision of assistance on all forms of public transport, including planes meant that those countries that did not provide this can now be taken through the courts

Public web sites –must adhere to EU rules on accessibility

The list below shows new products and services that must be accessible to all impairment groups

-computers and operating systems;

– ATMs; ticketing and check-in machines;

– smartphones;

– TV equipment related to digital television services;

– telephony services and related equipment;

– audiovisual media services (AVMS) and related equipment;

– air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport services;

–  banking services;


– e-commerce.

For example the EU access directive means that:

ATMs will provide sockets for headphones with the support of audio instructions. Keyboards will provide tactual clues. ATMs will also have visual alerts (blinking lights) in addition to audible signals to indicate where the cards need to be introduced or where the money comes out.

Booking and travel: accessibility requirements of the Directive will allow disabled passengers to be able to book their tickets on the transport companies’ websites or directly via accessible ticketing machines. For example, a blind person will be able to use voice or tactual interfaces to interact with the ticketing machines and also to get information about the schedule of his/her journey. Deaf and hard of hearing persons will get information about the changes in the schedule of their train/bus journeys in real time in text format, complementing the oral announcements[6].

The European Parliament also has a disability intergroup made up of MEPs with an interest in protecting and extending the rights of disabled people, a disability strategy focused on independent living and equal rights and a whole set of different groups looking at issues such as de-institutionalisation.

Disabled people and European NGOs are the ones that fight for disability rights, but being in the EU  can help extend those rights and also help fund our battles. While we in the UK may know we have a significant battle, other countries have significant battles too in terms of access, attitudes, being part of the community, and poor financial support for the extra costs of disability-pulling out of the EU means rejecting our disabled European friends and significantly weakening our own fight too.

The closure of the ILF (independent Living Fund) has been covered and protested by MEPs and by European NGOs in a way that would not have been possible if we were not members of the EU. The additional 4 years of funds for ex ILF users were not given because the government wanted to be generous, but because of the campaigns around the ILF-a campaign that was supported by those in Europe.

The European Court of Human Rights is separate from the EU. It was set up to take cases under the European Convention on Human Rights and its members are the signatories to the convention. The Tory government plans for a British Bill of Rights might mean that the European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention become irrelevant. It’s also much more likely that we’ll lose the European Convention rights if we pull out of the EU which will mean we lose the European Court of Justice and the court of Human Rights in one swoop. We need both.

Myths and misunderstandings

The previous piece arguing for a vote to leave the EU because disabled people would be better off  raised a number of points that need to be clarified.

1.’ it is a false division to treat the interests of Disabled people as a distinct entity separate from the rest of the 99%’ It isn’t when the piece is on a disabled peoples’ campaign group’s site, disabled people are a distinct entity in that many of our rights are not met as they should be, as such we need to examine why remaining in the EU can aid and increase those rights, not just for us as an Island, but in solidarity with disabled people across Europe and beyond

  1. The EU ‘forces disabled people to suffer under austerity’, no it doesn’t national governments do. Is it nations (or member states) that chose their austerity measures and chose its targets? Nations do both not the EU. Nations do both whether they’ve been bailed out by the EU/IMF (international Monetary Fund)/member states money or not. For example Ireland was not directed by the EU (or any other parties to the bail out) to specifically cut disability spending by 10% any more than Ireland was directed by the EU not to sign or ratify the UNCRPD[7]. It’s the same case for other ‘bail out’ countries. The false conflation between the EU and its member state actions are misleading
  2. The EU is ‘an institution that condemns refugees (many of whom are Disabled or children) to drown in the sea’. The EU’s Schengen treaty of free movement across European borders is the thing that allowed people to escape war torn or other types of country within or outside the EU. It was a Tory dictate that rescues wouldn’t happen. They claimed it would just ‘encourage more to come’-so a national government that refused rescues and funds[8]. The EU is not responsible for refugees having their cash and valuables confiscated either, but national governments- Denmark[9] followed by Germany and Switzerland[10]. Again, the false conflation between the EU and its member state actions/inactions are misleading
  3. ‘Sweden, a country considered for a long time to be a world leader in independent living, did not join the EU until 1994. Demands made by STIL, the Stockholm Co-operative for Independent Living, set up in 1983 and inspired by the Independent Living Movement in California, forced the introduction of Direct Payments, using demonstrations and actions that gave them a “radical reputation” that they “exploited in our dealings with the authorities”. In Norway, which is not an EU member, disability benefits are a universal right, while in EU member states including Sweden these are increasingly limited’ STIL is a great model for independent living in Sweden, there are many around Europe and in the European Economic Area (EEA) including ULOBA in Norway. However, Norway has also seen reductions in support. They, like STIL and inspired by STIL, have fought a long battle to develop direct payments and gained a personal assistance law in 2014[11], Sweden had personal assistance law much sooner. This is not about being part of the European Union or not- it’s about the context, histories and cultures of individual countries. It should also be noted that that other member countries of the EU are not seeing reductions in disability financial support in particular those in Eastern Europe-again we cannot conflate what happens with a single issue on a national basis and claim that it’s the EU’s fault/not the EU’s fault, issues including those connected with disability, are much more complex.

Voting to leave the EU will protect us against TTIP??

No it won’t. Leaving the EU will not mean that we suddenly cease trading with other parts of Europe-we will still import/export and trading will continue. It’s likely that if we do leave we will take a position similar to Norway and be part of the single market or European Economic Area. We will still be subject to TTIP whether we’re in or out. If we’re out we can’t be in the fight to change aspects of TTIP through the European parliament or with other member countries such as France or Greece[12] who want to veto aspects of TTIP. National governments do have a say in TTIP contrary to some of the media’s claims.

If we’re out the current government might also see the need to create their version of TTIP too, given their appetite for cuts of all kinds and an abject lack of responsibility for any standards concerning our health or well-being this would prove to be an even bigger nightmare. Cameron’s extreme pro TTIP stance[13] show this is highly likely. ‘Red Tape’ and safety would be swept away and even more deregulation and privatization will follow. While we remain in the EU we are protected by the ‘precautionary principle’. The precautionary principle protects public health, the environment and food –stuffs. The Lisbon treaty states

“Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay”[14]

From 2006 these protections went beyond the environmental to products, additives, food stuffs, genetically modified food stuffs, and the disposal of waste[15]

If we leave the EU we’ll lose the protections we have, still be subject to TTIP and more than likely need to watch as the Tories create their own version of TTIP that will rocket their extreme unregulated privatization and love of the free market beyond even their wildest dreams as they rip the last vestiges of the NHS to its final defeat- don’t let it happen

UK vs EU on Google, tax avoidance and regulation

The Google tax deal proved once more that the Westminster government and Osborn will do little but tinker around the edges in relation to unpaid tax by multinationals and large companies. They’re just not interested in changing the British owned tax havens, or bringing corporate  tax avoiders to account-worse they’re quite happy to make sweetheart deals with the likes of Google and co. while they cut disability support and other social support while claiming austerity.

The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax base (CCCTB) from the EU could change everything. The European Tax commissioner Moscovici told MEPs that he wanted to make 2016 “the year of tax reform”, with the EU’s CCCTB at the centre of his plans. “We have a serious problem with tax avoidance and lack of transparency. Too many people have looked the other way”. He claimed the string of global tax scandals and the anger from the public can be used to bring those member countries currently against such measures in line[16].

The EU isn’t just gunning for companies like Google and Apple through its digital tax[17] on tax avoidance and ‘hiding’ multi billion profits. The EU has already secured regulation on mobile phone companies’ exorbitant roaming charges through a vote by MEPs to scrap them. As anyone unfortunate enough to have needed to use their mobile phone in Europe will tell you there are charges for the calls/texts out and receiving calls, and additional costs for internet on top of any service agreement or credit. The extra charges have been reduced and will be removed completely by 2017[18]due to EU membership

Do those agreeing with Brexit ‘want to have their cake and eat it’?

A report by the High Pay Centre Think Tank ( a think tank monitoring excessive high pay and inequality)  shows that some may. While many agreed with measures of the EU to tackle inequality and improve rights few knew that such measures originated from the EU, were on the EU remit to tackle or were in danger if we leave the EU.

The findings suggest that UK workers are unaware that their working conditions could be dramatically affected by plans to re-negotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership. Influential eurosceptics have argued that the reform of laws guaranteeing workers’ rights should be a priority for any re-negotiation[19].

While there is widespread support for the workers rights, just 25% of those polled were aware of the fact that these came from the EU.

The polling also found that:

70% of respondents supported the EU bankers’ bonus cap, limiting bankers’ bonuses to twice their annual salary

59% support a European-wide corporation tax floor, whereby European countries agree not  to reduce tax on big companies below a certain level

60% support a wealth tax on the richest EU citizens, such as that proposed by the French economist Thomas Piketty in his best-selling book ‘Capital in the 21st Century’

66% support a European wide pay cap, limiting the pay of company executives to a fixed multiple of their lowest paid employee.

So should we stay or should we go?

The EU referendum has been couched in right wing Eurosceptic terms of ‘stopping migrants’, regaining the sovereignty of the punitive ‘empire’ of centuries past, or left wing Eurosceptic terms of leaving an unaccountable capitalist monolith. Ian Duncan Smith has recently bizarrely announced that Europe is ‘a security threat’ while Boris Johnson sees Eurosceptism as the ticket to becoming the next Prime Minister[20].

Such rhetoric may be entertaining or rage inducing, but it obscures the facts and it stops us focusing on what a UK outside the EU will look like.

A vote to leave the EU is a vote to accelerate the Tory machine in cutting more social rights. A vote to leave will push us into even greater inequality; a vote to leave will push further forward with relentless privatisation and corporate tax avoidance, a vote to leave will erase standards on drinking water, clean air, safe food and a lot more, a vote to leave will erase social gains and rights, and a vote to leave will have every UKIPper and racist feeling supremely justified in their insufferable xenophobia.

Yes, the EU can be improved, but we can’t do that from outside. The last EU referendum was in Greece-they voted to stay. Yanis Varoufakis ex Greek finance minister thinks that the UK should stay in the EU too. Asked how the anti -austerity and equality proponents should focus discontent, he suggests a new pan European movement

‘..because the only way of changing Europe is to do this by a groundswell that rises throughout Europe. Otherwise the protest vote manifesting itself in Greece, Spain, the UK, Portugal, if it is not synchronised everywhere, will eventually dissipate, leaving behind it nothing but the bitterness and insecurity’[21].

Let’s create that groundswell-say yes to the EU-say no to Tory Boys Limited





















[14]  Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union article 191, paragraph 2


[15] Recuerda, Miguel A. (2006). “Risk and Reason in the European Union Law”. European Food and Feed Law Review 5.


[17] See 15






 Posted by at 14:11
Mar 112016


Extracts from speech by Richard Howitt

 “British Disabled People Are Stronger In Europe.” Speech by Richard Howitt MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament’s All-Party Disability Rights Group 11 March 2016.


So far the European Referendum debate has been dominated – at least in the airwaves – by discussion of Treaties, trade agreements, legal competences.


These are all very important.


But ultimately they are important because of their impact on people in Britain.

And today I want to talk about how people are better off with Britain in Europe.


And in particular how British disabled people are stronger with Britain remaining in the European Union.


I used to work in the Disability Movement before going in to politics and as Vice-Chair and now again Chair of the All-Party Disability Rights Group of MEPs during all my time in the European Parliament, I still see myself as an activist.


I have often told the story about how I was motivated to stand for the European Parliament by being part of a European project where we brought British and Dutch profoundly deaf people together. At first, differences in sign language meant they couldn’t communicate. But within 15 minutes they had spontaneously found a way of doing so – very effectively.


It taught me a lesson about pulling barriers down and how people benefit by doing so.

People with disabilities will always campaign to pull down barriers.


In the European referendum, the Disability Movement should campaign against erecting new barriers.


When I was elected, let me also remind you that there was no provision for Europe to be able to pass legislation for disabled people.


And we campaigned successfully to change that, in what is now known as Article 19.


Why did we do that?


Because discrimination does not stop at borders.


In all the talk of ‘free movement’, what about the right of a wheelchair user to move freely to visit another European country?


The great moves that have been made in accessible tourism. The spirit that Britain brought to hosting the Paralympics.


That’s the same spirit I – as a British politician – take to upholding rights of access and of participation for people with disabilities in the European Union.


And what are some of our achievements by doing so?


Non-discrimination in the right to work for disabled people in all European countries.


Access requirements – never enough but very significant compared with the past – for lifts in public buildings, for web accessibility, now in all major transport modes.


Today, on the table, a European-wide general Accessibility Act.


A ban on all new funding going towards segregating, institutionalisation of people with disabilities, particularly important for people with learning disabilities amongst others.


In addition, the legal exemption from EU state aid rules to allow public authorities to directly contract, provides an important boost for people with disabilities to set up and run their own social enterprises.


Like ‘Norfolk Industries’ in which a group of a group of blind employees produce and sell animal bedding based in Norwich and a computer recycling and repair company ‘Reboot’ formed from a group of people with Aspergers – both from my own East of England constituency.


People in Britain with rare diseases, too few for effective treatments to be developed, have benefitted from European Research programmes being able to do so, when the greater numbers experiencing the same disability are put together across all 28 countries of the EU.


International copyright rules have been established which allow blind people to continue to benefit from talking books and newspapers.


Those who campaign to leave the European Union say Britain could pass these laws on our own.


But disabled people should consider: do you believe that this or any British Government would tear up all these rights and then one-by-one draw up new laws to reinstate them?


Don’t politicians always delay things or water them down?


And what those who would leave the European Union won’t tell you is that this European social legislation is a minimum standard, and there is already a specific rule that says European Union countries can go further?


If there really was such political will in Britain to go even further for the rights of people with disabilities – why hasn’t Britain done so already?


The truth is that the minimum floor of rights created in Europe has actually pulled up standards for all.


And remaining in Europe will see that gradual process of improvement continue in to the future.


Indeed there are examples where British politicians have been tempted to act against or remove rights or benefits for disabled people, which have been and are being prevented by these minimum standards of European law.


The European Non-Discrimination in Employment law meant Britain’s Disability Discrimination Act had to be extended to small businesses too, which had not previously been the case.


British Sign Language only became an official language in the United Kingdom, following years of resistance, after a declaration in the European Parliament of which I was proud to be a co-signatory.


The position of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in the United Kingdom which has been under a barrage of criticism, is protected by the requirements of an ‘indeoendent body’ laid down in the EU non-discrimination directives.


British disabled people are stronger in Europe.


And although I am deeply sad at the abolition of the Independent Living Fund here in Britain, it is worth remembering that the whole concepts of independent living, personal assistance and personal budgets were pioneered in Europe by the Scandinavian countries and can be said to have been imported to Britain from there.


I believe remaining in the EU to be important for keeping the whole concept of ‘independent living’ itself alive.


The lesson for disabled people is that while they may not be truly independent, our country is. This very example shows social security laws – like the vast majority of areas affecting our national life – remain determined at Westminster.


But there is a lesson as well to EU ‘leave’ campaigners, from the experience of people with disabilities.


We all strive for independence. But sometimes a recognition of inter-dependence is important too. Cooperating with others can be a better route to maximising our own interests and welfare, working for and not against them.


Now the last big argument of the EU ‘leave’ campaign is that there is somehow a better alternative outside the European Union.


Could that be true for disabled people?


Just last month I helped host a visit to Brussels by organisations of disabled people from Asia, Africa and Latin America. They didn’t think it was better for them and their countries to create links to Britain if we left the European Union.


Indeed for them, life was better in the European Union and they had come to Brussels to learn from and copy our ways of working.


Add to that the campaign I and so many people have been integrally involved in, over the last decade, to successfully get agreement of a United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.


I know how European diplomacy played a vital role in winning support for the convention.  And it is now the first ever UN human rights convention to which the European Union as an institution has become a signatory.  Implementation of the convention is improving the lives of disabled people in Europe and in the rest of the world.


Europe wasn’t an impediment to achieving this, it was a powerful tool.


Britain in Europe does look out in to the world and is not held back from doing so.


Europe is a stepping stone, which helps us on our journey and prevents us from falling in the water.


Britain within the European Union is more influential in the world and the world is better off because of it.


Now my mention of human rights does cause me to explain that Eurosceptics deliberately confuse the Court of Justice for EU law with the European Court of Human Rights, which is nothing to do with the European Union.


Nevertheless, when the EU ‘leave’ campaign rails against the powers of the European Court, they should remember the landmark cases where disabled people’s human rights have been upheld.


Like the person with mental health [issues] who won a right to review his detention in a psychiatric hospital, the parents who challenged a hospital decision to put a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice on their severely disabled child or the woman who’d had a stroke who challenged her local authority for cutting her care package to a level which deprived her a minimum level of dignity.


It is a good not a bad thing that ‘the state’ can itself be challenged under the rule of law on such important issues of deprivation of liberty, cruel and degrading treatment and the right to life itself.


And in today’s economy of austerity, where rationing and denial of services has become the norm, never discount the fact that the economic prosperity which comes from Britain’s membership of the European Union is vital, if we are fund the public services which many disabled people believe should be theirs of right…


In the Disability Movement.


We want to pull down barriers not erect them.


We recognise discrimination does not stop at borders.


We want to protect Europe’s very significant achievements for people with disabilities, prevent others from being taken away and provide a platform for the further improvements of the future.


We know we can be independent and inter-dependent at one and the same time.


We know that there is no easy, better alternative – indeed the wider world becomes a better place if we remain in, than if we leave.


Above all, the EU referendum is about people and I have argued that British disabled people are stronger in Europe.


This is a call for people with disabilities themselves to vote in the referendum, to vote for Britain to remain in the EU and – in doing so – to vote for better lives for all disabled people in Britain and across Europe.




Richard Howitt MEP is Member of the European Parliament for the East of England and Co-President of the European Parliament All-Party Disability Rights Group of MEPs.











 Posted by at 14:42
Mar 102016

Update Sat 12th March:  We have received a huge flood of information from you about MPs and their links to charities. Thank you all who have sent in information!

Its going to take some time to go through it all and produce a campaign page, but we are working through it and it should be up on the blog by the end of this coming week. 

In the meantime, please keep signing and sharing the petition to reverse the cut to ESA

The petition has already reached over 60,000 signatures and its still growing – getting it over 100,000 signatures will keep the pressure up over the ESA cut and might help to get it more media attention – so please keep sharing it on twitter and facebook

Its come to light in recent days that many MPs who have voted for the cut  to ESA have links to local and national charities that claim to represent disabled people (see examples below).

It is not acceptable that MPs can use disabled people to further their political carers, while at the same time stabbing us in the back by voting for this harmful cut to ESA.

It is also unacceptable that charities, that purport to work in the interest of disabled people, have links with any MP who has voted to bring harm to disabled people.

DPAC are starting a campaign to force charities to sever all links with MPs who voted for the ESA Cut.

We can’t do this by ourselves – we need your help, this is what we would like you to do.

  1. Check to see if your MP voted for the ESA Cut. If you don’t already know the name of your MP – you can look that up here:
  2. Once you have the name of your MP – look up to see if they appear on this list, if they do, then they are one of the MPs who voted for the ESA Cut.
  3. Now we’d like you to do some detective work for us –
    1. Go to the MPs website – see if they claim to support any disability charities. Look at the “about me” page, and also look at the blog to see if they have been at any disability charity events
    2. You can also look up your MP on Wikipedia – see if their entry in there mentions any disability charity links.
    3. You can do a web search for disability charities in your local area – look at their website – look especially for names of Patrons or Trustees of the charity.
    4. Look at the Charity blog, see if you can see a photo your MP grinning inanely in front of the charity logo.
  4. If you find a connection between MP and Charity – tell us! You can either leave a comment at the bottom of this blog – or email us at
  5. We can then put it on the blog and ask people to contact the charity – asking them to sever all links with the MP, and to ensure that they can’t use disabled people as photo opportunities again. When putting it on the blog – we will credit your work in finding the information – unless you ask us not to.
Grinning inanely while posing for a picture of himself "supporting disabled people". Nigel Mills MP - who then voted for the ESA Cut

Grinning inanely while posing for a picture of himself “supporting disabled people”. Nigel Mills MP – who then voted for the ESA Cut. Credit goes to @Mikebythemoor for finding the picture.

This approach has is already been used and is working to force charities to disown MPs who voted for the cut.

Case 1) Peter Bottomley MP, NIck Gibb MP and Tim Loughton MP, all of them voted repeatedly for the cut to ESA. All three of them are also Vice Presidents of the Coastal West Sussex branch of Mind (CWSM).

Mind was contacted, and a petition was started  and within a day – CWSM had issued a statement to say that they were going to “discuss the position of the three MPs at the next board meeting“. Its a start – but its not enough – we need to keep the pressure up – so if you haven’t signed it already please sign the petition and share it widely.

You can also contact CWSM on twitter at: @MindWestSussex and let them know that you want them to respond.

Case 2) Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith voted for the ESA cut – he is also a Patron of disability charity Richmond Aid. Today Richmond Aid released a statement condemning him for voting for the cut (see below). Tania Mathias is also a Tory MP – who voted for the cut and she has also been included in the statement by Richmond Aid.

From these two cases it appears that with not very much pressure – we can force charities to act as they should have already done – and disown MPs that voted for the harmful cut to ESA.

There is also a petition to get parliament to hold another vote to try to reverse the cut to ESA :

Sign and share the petition to reverse the cut to ESA

 Posted by at 22:48
Mar 092016

Switched On London LogoSwitched On London


Launching Switched On London with a celebration of people power in our city!

The event is fully accessible – Please book your free ticket at

So much of what we love about London has been shaped by ordinary people coming together to fight injustice.

Today, from unaffordable rents to unliveable wages, from cold and damp homes to dirty polluted air, everyday life in the capital is becoming more and more difficult.

A million Londoners live in fuel poverty. But things can change. Switched On London – a coalition of community organisations, environmentalists and trade unions – think that part of the answer is a people’s energy company, owned publicly by the city. We want an affordable, clean and democratic alternative to the profit-hungry energy industry. Insulating our homes, driving new renewable power and bringing down our bills. Owned by us, controlled by us, run in our interests.

People power – energy for people, not for profit – is what we want. And people power – organising together to demand something better – is how we’ll get it.

On Saturday April 23rd, Switched On London is launching with a celebration of people power in our city, and a demonstration of support for residents of the Myatts Field estates in Lambeth – where tenants are resisting the council’s plans for expensive and undemocratic new heating systems.

Come along to…
– Hear and share stories of people-powered victories: from housing to fracking; from London to the rest of the UK and beyond.
– Join our first community energy forum: share your experiences of energy injustice and your ideas for what a people’s energy company should look like.
– Learn about the rights you have in challenging your energy supplier, and about the ways in which cities across the world are creating people’s energy alternatives.
– Show your solidarity with the Myatts Field estates and their struggle for affordable, clean and democratic heating.

More details on workshops and speakers coming soon. Details will be shown on the facebook event page here:

*The venue is fully wheelchair accessible.


 Posted by at 20:48
Mar 062016
16/01/15 Memorial unveiled to David Clapson in Stevenage - Hertfordshire,

16/01/15 Memorial unveiled to David Clapson in Stevenage. Pictured: Sharon Taylor(leader of the council) Gill Thompson Michael Thompson Stevenage Mayor Sherma Batson with memorial tree. Pics: Kerigh Palmer

DPAC are supporting Gill Thompson, the sister of David Clapson when she delivers her petition to DWP on March 9th where there is a protest at DWP HQ in London, which is part of the National Day of action against Sanctions called by Unite Community.

As part of Gill’s campaign, we want to try to get David Clapson’s name trending on twitter during the time Gill will be taking the petition into the DWP, so we need every one who can to join in between 2.30 and 4pm, using the tweetlist we’ve prepared, or your own tweets using the hashtag #DavidClapson.
In order to get the best effect, we want everyone to be tweeting at the same time, so please don’t start tweeting before 2.30pm.
Gill is joining with UNITE day of action against benefit sanctions to highlight the plight of people sanctioned and left without support.

Help Gill raise the money to fund an inquiry into her brother’s death

Shockingly there has never been any inquest held into David’s death and Gill is also trying to raise funds through Crowd Justice to appeal to the Attorney General to launch an inquest into David’s death.
By doing Gill hopes to show that David’s death could have been avoided and help ensure that this stops happening to others.
The Crowdfunding campaign is at the following link:
Please only contribute to this campaign if you can afford to. If you can’t afford it, you can still help by sharing the campaign link

David Clapson

David Clapson

David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died starving and destitute because he was penalised by the Job Centre for missing a meeting.

David had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped meaning that he couldn’t afford food or electricity. He was penniless, starving and alone.
His electricity card was out of credit meaning the fridge where he should have kept his diabetes insulin chilled was not working. Three weeks after his benefits were stopped he died from diabetic ­ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin.
 Posted by at 16:29
Mar 022016

Copied below is a second letter sent by DPAC to MPs late yesterday in an attempt to inform them of the misrepresentation of statistics used to justify the cut. Many thanks to Nick Dilworth for the content of the letter.

We would like to bring to your attention an important communication on the misleading call for cuts to the WRAG group of ESA and the use of 1% by Lord Freud, Justin Tomlinson and Priti Patel. This submission was prepared by Nick Dilworth, who has been working and researching for many years on the Employment and Support Allowance, and whose research led to a complaint to the UK Statistics Authority which was upheld, and to DWP changing the way it presented its ESA statistics
Nick Dilworth: Blog
Twitter account : @Mylegalforum
On Monday the House of Lords’ proposed sensible amendments to the welfare reform and work bill which require a report to be provided before the government presses ahead with plans to reduce the income of people already adjudged to be limited in their capability of work by around a third of their income; around £1,500 per year.

The Lords’ amendment was voted through and returns to the House of Commons on Wednesday the 2nd March 2016.  The proposed change in legislation is deeply unpopular with many effective representations being made against its implementation.  A significant number of disabled people’s organisations have voiced their concern over this drastic reduction of income and the effect it will have on around half a million Employment & Support Allowance claimants in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’.

Members of Parliament on all sides are strongly urged to reject the government’s plans to introduce this policy which is due to take effect from 2017.

The government has simply not set out its case and has shown no convincing grounds for voting this policy through on the grounds of financial privilege.

In particular, the Government has advanced a narrative that only 1% of claimants in the Work Related Activity Group come off Employment & Support Allowance in this group.

To quote the Right Honourable Member of Parliament for Witham, Priti Patel (23rd February 2016)

“However, with just one in 100 work-related activity group claimants leaving the benefit each month, it is clearly not working.”

This simply is not the case.

DWP statistics show that as of the August 2015 quarter, 465,860 claimants were in the Work Related Activity Group with 227,360 of them derived from new Employment & Support Allowance claims and 238,500 being claimants previously on incapacity benefits but deemed to be eligible to Employment & Support Allowance on the grounds of their limited capability for work.

For the avoidance of doubt, claimants in the Work Related Activity Group have already been through rigorous Work Capability Assessments, need to be signed off by their doctor as unfit for work as a condition of their claim, and should not be confused with people who are deemed capable of work and actively available for and seeking work.  The criteria for claimants who are unemployed and who would otherwise claim Jobseeker’s Allowance is totally different to the economically inactive claimants affected by this policy.

The DWP Work Capability Assessment outcome statistics confirm that between October 2008 and March 2015 573,200 new Employment & Support Allowance claimants had been initially assessed as eligible for placement within the Work Related Activity Group (by month of claim), to this should be added a further 488,400 claimants assessed as eligible for placement within the Work Related Activity Group (by month of referral).

The cumulative figure for all claimants initially placed within the Work Related Activity Group between October 2008 and March 2015 is therefore 1,061,600.

It stands to reason that if the number of claimants assessed in to the group is in excess of 1 million and less than half a million currently remain in the group, a significant number have been moved out of the group; contrary to the narrative that only 1 in a 100 move out of group.

Further DWP figures confirm that between December 2011 and August 2015, a total of 2,357,520 claimants came off Employment & Support Allowance.

This ‘off flow figures’ can be broken down as follows:

499,460 designated ‘unknown’
1,379,840 in the Assessment Phase
251,510 in the Work Related Activity Group
226,680 in the Support Group

That quarter of a million claimants have moved out of the Work Related Activity Group clearly shows the 1% or “1 in a 100′ statistic to be deeply flawed.  It should also be pointed out that of the 499,490 claimants designated ‘unknown’, a fair proportion will be Work Related Activity Group claimants.  The ‘unknown’ status is used when claimants are on Employment & Support Allowance, but do not derive a payment from their claim.

The argument upon which the government has advanced this policy is unreliable and therefore it is hoped Members of Parliament will see the sense in agreeing to the Lords’ on the need for a more substantial and evidence based report.  There is a clear need to get to the heart of what is going wrong within the Employment & Support Allowance assessment programme and to ask why over 5.5 million Work Capability Assessments, carried out at great cost to the tax payer, has resulted in so few attachments to the DWP Work Programme and even less when it comes to affirmative job outcomes.

* Between October 2008 and March 2015, 5,503,500 Work Capability Assessments (all cohorts) have been conducted)

DWP cumulative Work Programme figures confirm that from June 2011 to September 2015, a total of 318,710 incapacity related claimants were attached to the Work Programme, of which 297,270 had a ‘disability’ marker applied.

Of those attached to the programme, in the incapacity related cohorts, 41,020 culminated in a job outcome with only 2,780 coming from ex-incapacity benefit sets.

In conclusion, this is a clearly failing policy, it is wrong for genuinely sick claimants to end up paying the price by facing a 30% reduction in their already meagre income.  Future promises of help from the yet to evolve Universal Credit is not the answer, nor is setting up future local discretionary funding to make good the shortfall.  What is required is what has been needed for decades, a proper look at the system, a time to stop and pause for thought.  Knee jerk reactions to make good the chancellor’s budget should never be proposed with so little evidence upon which the policy can be safely agreed, the right course of action is dictated by common sense; Member of Parliaments must agree to accept the Lords’ reasonable amendment request.

We hope you will consider this crucial information and vote in favour of the Lord’s amendment for an impact assessment.

Yours Sincerely

The DPAC Team

Disabled People against Cuts is on Facebook

twitter: @dis_ppl_protest



 Posted by at 18:42
Mar 012016

Following last nights stay-of-execution of the Welfare Bill in the House of Lords with their voting for the Stop and Assess Amendment, the Welfare Reform Bill which includes the £30 cut to the ESA WRAG returns to  the Commons.

We learned this afternoon that the Government intend to hold the Commons debate and vote on whether to accept or reject the Lords Amendment as soon as tomorrow evening.

As there was so little time to compose further detailed statistical arguments which could be read and assimilated by MPs in time to make a difference to the debate, we sent a brief summary of the arguments , as best as we could in the hope that they might swing some wavering MPs over to our side. This letter is reproduced below.

We don’t yet know the exact time that the debate will be held tomorrow – when we do we will post an update to this page – so keep checking back.

As we’ve previously said – its worth stating again – DPAC will fight against this measure every single step of the way and we know that many others are too. There is formidable opposition to this cut taking shape and the government are far from having won this battle.

How you can help: write to your MP today.

Urge them to do all in their power to oppose the £30 cut to ESA Wrag. You can use, if you wish some of the text of the DPAC letter below in your email.

You can contact your MP using this page :


To: All MPs

Urgent: Welfare Reform Bill “Stop and Assess” Amendment Debate

Dear MP

We urge you to please consider the following brief points before the welfare reform debate tomorrow

  • The often quoted “1% coming out of WRAG” statistic is a cherry-picked and misleading figure. A formal complaint is in preparation as MPs, Peers and the British public have been deliberately misled by DWP Ministers over the 1% figure
  • People in the Work Related Activity Group have been assessed as not being able to work. If they had been assessed as fit for work they would not be eligible for ESA at all.
  • The government have provided absolutely no evidence that a cut in payments to people in the WRAG will act as an incentive for them to find work
  • The Work Capability Assessment is notoriously inaccurate and there are large numbers of people placed in the WRAG who should be in the support group with degenerating conditions and /or a prognosis that they will never be capable of work. The best estimates we can produce suggest that there could be 4800 people in this situation.
  • Around half the people in the WRAG have mental health conditions. Lowering of their income to JSA levels will put people with such conditions at serious risk of harm, even suicide as their financial position becomes ever more intolerable
  • While the current situation in the employment market is discriminatory, bordering on hostile to disabled people, a £30 “incentivisation cut” can only be a punitive and cruel measure with no positive outcome.
  • Disabled people who are benefit claimants on ESA genuinely fear this measure, they fear about how they will cope, and some even fear for their very lives.

The Amendment from the House of Lords asks the Government to “Stop and Assess”. We ask you as a member of the House of commons to stop, and seriously think about what this cut will mean and the harm that will be caused to disabled people if this cut is not prevented.

If you wish to discuss any points in this email further, please email us at and we will be happy to discuss it with you and provide detailed evidence.

Please think and please vote to stop the cut to ESA.
Yours Sincerely

The DPAC Team


Disabled People against Cuts is on Facebook

twitter: @dis_ppl_protest

 Posted by at 17:03
Mar 012016

Any DPAC supporters who want to are invited to join Gill Thompson the sister of David Clapson when she delivers her petition to DWP on March 9th. Gill has asked for anyone who hasn’t already to sign up to the petition which has over 200,000 signatures.

David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier, died starving and destitute because he was penalised by the Job Centre for missing a meeting. David had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped meaning that he couldn’t afford food or electricity. He was penniless, starving and alone.

His electricity card was out of credit meaning the fridge where he should have kept his diabetes insulin chilled was not working. Three weeks after his benefits were stopped he died from diabetic ­ketoacidosis – caused by not taking his insulin.
Gill is joining with UNITE day of action against benefit sanctions to highlight the plight of people sanctioned and left without support.

Shockingly there has never been any inquest held into David’s death and Gill is also trying to raise funds through Crowd Justice to appeal to the Attorney General to launch an inquest into David’s death.
By doing Gill hopes to show that David’s death could have been avoided and help ensure that this stops happening to others.

The Crowdfunding campaign is launching Wednesday 2nd March at the following link:

Details of protests against sanctions around the country can be found here:

 Posted by at 16:41