Join the protests:
Protest: May Must Go – No Coalition of Chaos and Hatred – Saturday 17 June, 2-4pm, Whitehall, London, Called by Owen Jones. https://www.facebook.com/events/290268031384019
Protest the Queen’s speech – no to May/DUP racism & bigotry! – Monday 19 June, 6pm–8pm, Parliament Square, London, SW1P. Called by Stand Up to Racism. https://www.facebook.com/events/136916370208377
Not One Day More #ToriesOut National Demonstration SATURDAY 1 JULY – NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION. Not One Day More #ToriesOUT. Assemble 12pm, Saturday 1 July 2017. BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA. March to Parliament Square
While certain disability charities are trying to hook up with the new government, Disabled People Against Cuts is calling on Deaf and Disabled people and their organisations to boycott engagement with any government involving the DUP. Collusion with an anti-equalities party who openly oppose women’s right to choose and gay marriage while denying climate change is nothing less than shameful. Disabled people must be united in resisting the politics of hate.
Immediately after the election, Disability Rights UK released a statement offering to work with the new government. This bizarre move smacks of an organisation so out of touch that it called the wrong outcome and is now at sea with how to respond. Their “offer” is a desperate attempt to retain influence that not only stands in contempt of the years of suffering Disabled people have endured under the Tories but also disregards the harm and division that any form of alliance with the DUP represents.
The Tories are in chaos and cannot credibly remain in government. Now is the best chance since 2010 to end a government that has carried out a regime of conscious cruelty against Disabled people and systematically and deliberately dismantled our rights. We stand on the bring of social change built from the aspirations of the many not the few. Labour has made firm commitments to the issues that Deaf and Disabled people have been fighting to achieve for years such as enshrining our rights under the CPRD in domestic legislation, working with Disabled people to develop a national system of social care, and scrapping out-sourced benefit assessments.
Instead of helping build the grassroots movement for social justice that has shaken the political establishment in the UK to its core, DR UK would rather get in bed with the Tories and their anti-equalities partners. The demands they now apparently want to work with a hard right wing government on implementing are the same ones they failed to support when they were demanded by Disabled people on the streets and pledged by parties on the left.
DRUK’s position rests on a false notion that disability rights exist in a bubble that floats above Party politics and left and right ideological divisions. This is utter nonsense. The ideological division between left and right is based on a real difference in interests over whether society is better run when in the interests of the many (from which flows a belief in the importance of rights and equalities) or to secure profits for the few. At a time of economic prosperity governments can afford to make concessions in order to reduce opposition, but in a period of economic decline inequality grows as the many are made to shoulder the cost of the crisis.
Inequality has grown sharply since the last financial crash in 2008 and as a result of the austerity measures imposed as the response by Tory led governments since 2010. While still suffering under those impacts the economic outlook for the UK continues to weaken: as economist Michael Roberts notes in his post election analysis1, “In the first quarter of 2017, the UK’s real GDP grew more slowly than any other top (G7) economy”. These are not the economic conditions under which governments make concessions. They are the conditions under which they step up attempts to scapegoat and divide.
Bring in the DUP. A party with a track record of specialism in the politics of hatred and violence. In 1977 founding member Ian Paisley launched a political campaign to prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland called “Save Ulster from Sodomy”. In 2008, DUP MP Iris Robinson stated in Parliament that homosexuality is “viler” than child abuse and the party today continues to oppose equal marriage which is still not legal in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile the 1967 Abortion Act, which established legal abortion, has never applied in Northern Ireland. The law is far stricter and even pregnancy as a result of rape is not a circumstance in which an abortion can be performed legally. The High Court recently ruled that this was incompatible with the human rights of women, but the law can only be changed by legislators. Already an ex-Tory minister has hinted there could be a Commons vote on increasing abortion limits as his party looks to cement its alliance with the DUP.
These issues are not irrelevant to Disabled people who are not only Disabled but also Black, gay and women. We do not stand in isolation from our communities but rather fight against cuts that segregate and separate us.
The DUP’s position on welfare will also be familiar to those who followed the sustained attempt by other parties to block the welfare reform bill in Northern Ireland, despite fines from Westminster of £9.5m per month for non-implementation. Due to devolution of powers, this could only be introduced by passage through the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont. With a population that experiences greater levels of mental health issues, campaigners were concerned about the impacts welfare reform observed in areas of the UK where cuts had already been rolled out.
The Department for Social Development which oversees benefits in the North admitted that a full 25% of people currently receiving DLA would not receive anything under PIP while a further 33% would receive a reduced award. Nevertheless, DUP social development minister Mervyn Storey put a legislative consent motion to MLAs (members of the Northern Ireland Assembly) which was voted through, transferring power over welfare reform from Stormont to the Tory government in Westminster and paving the way for cuts.
Another DUP MP, Gregory Campbell, made a name for himself claiming that rising levels of DLA claims were due to fraud and pointing specifically to numbers receiving the “taxpayer-funded hand-out” in West Belfast. He claimed that “it would appear from these figures that there are people in some areas who are able to claim DLA long after you would assume they were no longer entitled to it” drawing a distinction from what he called “legitimate claimants”.
As the BBC, in its newest role as DUP apologist, keeps pointing out, DUP demands on the Tories include that the introduction of means testing for Winter Fuel Allowance, pledged in the Conservative manifesto, will not apply in Northern Ireland, as well as extra capital spending and more cash from the UK Treasury for Northern Ireland’s schools and hospitals. We shouldn’t let this fool us into seeing the DUP as a party with social principles. Had they really cared about the impact of cuts, they could have mitigated the effects with the funds that were instead ploughed in to paying businesses to heat empty properties in the “cash for ash” scandal.
Disabled People Against Cuts have led a bitter fight against the Tory cuts for 7 years, our #TrashTheTories campaign helped deliver a serious blow to the Conservatives at the general election. We can’t let this attempt by Theresa May to cling on and do more damage by trading away our rights to secure a deal with the vile bigots of the DUP go unchallenged.