Mar 162013
 

Beth was convicted for the crime of voicing dissent to David Cameron’s vicious attack on disabled people. She was fined £745 including costs – more than what she makes in a month. An appeal was raised to help her towards the fine and she has decided to donate the rest to DPAC. Many thanks! Reposted with permission from Beth. p/s Bethan needs to raise money still for her appeal – see how below.

blood on Cameron's hands

March 13th 2013

Today I was found guilty in the Oxford Magistrates’ Court of causing “harassment, alarm and distress” following a peaceful and legal political protest in Witney in December. The judge said “I can think of nothing more alarming than the statement that ‘Cameron has blood on his hands.'” I will continue to say that Cameron has blood on his hands, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

30 people have died as a direct result of the government’s ‘welfare reforms’. Thousands have died after being found ‘fit for work’. Over the long term, as more and more is taken away there will be increasing harm and death, including many hidden ones. The fine and costs come to more than I earn in a month, the judge said that on a whole £700 a month of course I’d have no trouble paying it back. After rent, travel to work, food and paying off loans I don’t have money left at the end of the month, and my salary is going down soon, so I’m not sure what will happen next. Except that I’m going to keep saying that Cameron has blood on his hands.

 

Here’s some notes I wrote earlier on what happened:

 

On the 30th November David Cameron was booed as he came on stage to turn on the Witney Christmas Lights. You can watch a very funny video of him(at 5.58) trying to drown out any criticism by awkwardly getting the crowd to cheer everyone from themselves to the Queen here –

 

When there’s some background heckling during the countdown he appeals to the crowd to “come on, shout louder!”Kind of funny. Also, kind of not funny.

 

I find it very weird watching the video, because while this was going on I was being beaten up by the police on the other side of the stage. I have never been so scared. My face was being pushed into the ground, I could feel blood coming from my nose, there was someone putting their whole weight on my back while someone else was stamping on my knees, along with various people grabbing and twisting my limbs. And then the officer on my back moved a knee up onto the back of my neck. Up until then I’d been shouting “I’m not resisting, I’m cooperating,” trying to ask them to stop, but from the moment I felt someone pressing their body weight into the back of my neck I gave up trying to communicate anything to them, I realised the police officers on top of me either couldn’t or wouldn’t hear me. Instead I began begging anyone who was nearby to intervene, to tell them to stop. Images flashed into my mind of what could happen. I was in pain, I couldn’t see what was going on, I was crying and bleeding, I couldn’t properly breathe, and I thought that they might leave me seriously injured. I’ve worked supporting people who’ve badly damaged their necks or back, and I can’t believe that any police officer was taught that kneeling on the back of someone’s neck is every an acceptable thing to do.

 

So that was one of the background sounds that Cameron was trying to drown out with his calls for round after round of applause. One of the things Cameron asked the crowd to cheer was “the Paralympics, that was great.” Well yes, the paralympics was great, but he should remember that his ministers were booed loudly whenever they appeared at paralympic ceremonies, and that it had the least popular sponsor possible, ATOS. The government gave ATOS the contract to kick disabled people off benefits they need to survive, and despite some of its staff quitting on grounds of conscience, they’ve done an admirable job of swiping those benefits away.To rub salt into the wound the government justify their cuts with misleading press releases about what percentage of disabled people they’ve deemed “fit for work.” These are taken up by the press, who spin them still further from reality and stir up public hatred of “scroungers” and “shirkers”. A survey by Inclusion London found that the general public believe that between 50% and 70% of disability claims are fraudulent. The reality is that the fraud rate for disability benefits is 0.5%. [Inclusion London]

 

The words that the government and media are using is the indirect part of their attack on disabled people. Disability hate crime, which ranges from comments in the street through vandalism of motability cars up to imprisonment, torture, rape and murder (yes, in the UK, this happens) is growing.  A Comres study found that 66% of disabled people in September 2011 said they experienced aggression, hostility or name calling compared with 41% in May 2011. That’s a huge increase in a short amount of time. I knew about this through hearing and reading stories about the people who are being affected, I also knew that these stories weren’t being given the front page spreads that ‘scrounger’ stories get. I think it’s important to show that some of us are refusing to buy the rhetoric that would have us scapegoat disabled people. So I held up a placard that said “Cameron has blood on his hands,” and I shouted that “disabled people are dying because of Cameron’s policies.” I didn’t expect that to be a big deal, I only wanted to do my bit to show that we’re not all taken in by the rhetoric that disabled people are ‘scroungers’ and ‘shirkers.’ I didn’t think that it would lead to being beaten up, arrested, held overnight and then taken to court on two ridiculous charges.

 

Since December there has been a little more attention slowly coming to focus on the horrific way that this government is treating disabled people. MP Micheal Meacher told the House of Commons that Cameron has blood on his hands (he didn’t get arrested). We’ve heard more about how the bedroom tax is going to hit disabled people. But still, there’s very little media coverage of the disability campaigners who are also in court today, in London, challenging the cut of the Independent Living Fund, which will force people into residential homes? We had a huge amount of coverage of one large family getting one large council house. Where are the front page stories about the far more common experiences of people who are losing their independence, their ability to meet their basic needs, even their houses? Where are the front page stories about the people who have killed themselves, seeing no other option as the support they need is pulled away from under them? There are now 30 cases listed on the website Calum’s List, a memorial site for those who have died because of the welfare reforms, either through suicide or through ill health and hardship. Aren’t any of those 30 people as newsworthy as one large family getting a large house? We must do what the mainstream media will not, and resist the government’s attempt to divide and rule.

 

We can listen to the voices of the people who know what’s going on, the people on the frontline of the cuts, and share them with our friends – Calum’s List is hard reading, but important. It lists the deaths caused directly by welfare reform. dpac.uk.net – Disabled People Against Cuts campaign tirelessly, provide an endless amount of information and analysis, and receive hardly any media coverage, or even the recognition they deserve from the wider anti-cuts movement – the Black Triangle Campaign tells it just how it is, read their about page, read some of their blog posts, and you get a sense of just how violent the government’s two-pronged attack on disabled people is, and how dangerous it is for the rest of society to stay silent.

Continue to donate money for her appeal at the Bright Green website

 

Aug 132011
 

The unrest and violence we have seen across England over the past week is upsetting on many levels: there is upset for the innocent victims of criminality and those hurt and traumatised by events, upset over the prevalence of a lack of morality and empathy within our society, and upset that once again the violation of disabled people’s rights has been eclipsed.

In justification of the welfare to work programme, government and right wing media have played up the existence of a benefit scrounging element bent on fraud and deceit without regard for the consequences of their actions on the rest of the community who pick up the bill for their irresponsible lives. Disabled people have argued that so-called welfare reform is actually targeting the powerless and the oppressed in society and denying basic rights and freedoms. Just as we were being listened to, as the Work and Pensions Select Committee issued their report raising concerns over the Work Capability Assessment Process, just as the Lib Dems announced a vote on 10th September on their position over Employment and Support Allowance, a vision of the disaffected and feckless has been hurled into the lives of the nation, bringing to life the worst Daily Mail stereo-types in a fashion more dramatic and immediate than even shows such as Saints and Scroungers, have managed.

It is too early to say how recent events will impact upon the campaign against the government’s disability policies but our ability to protest is likely to be adversely affected. Last Saturday Disabled People Against Cuts stood with the anti cuts campaigners handing out leaflets in Birmingham City Centre publicising the protest against the Lib Dems on 18th September. It was intended to be the beginning of a mobilisation process to build support ahead of the march. To stand in the same spot this Saturday after the violence and murders that have occurred in the city since, would be insensitive and inappropriate. We had been planning how to oppose Birmingham City Council over the restrictions they are placing on the route for the march. We were hopeful there was room to negotiate. The chance to march down the main high street through the commercial area of the city is very slim, even more unlikely now . At the time of the TUC-organised March For the Alternative earlier this year there was some criticism of the demonstration by unsympathetic press and public, accusing protesters of wasting resources and police time. The association between violent disorder and dissent is now firmly etched into the public consciousness and it is reasonable to anticipate greater hostility towards plans for future demonstrations, however peacefully intended.

Without the option of protest, how are we then to raise awareness of the issues faced by an overlooked minority in whom neither the public nor the press nor politicians are interested?  Government cuts are hauling disabled people through fear and distress and robbing them of their dignity and in some cases their lives. The scenes of disorder and violence which the country has witnessed are symptomatic of a bigger picture, a picture where the rich can behave with impunity in the pursuit of material gain, whereas the poor are punished and demonised for the same.   Disabled people are part of that bigger picture but our voices just got smaller as attention is turned to more immediate issues and fears. Moreover there is a danger that government injustices against disabled people will now be justified as unfortunate but unavoidable consequences of necessary measures to deal with the disaffected in society and those dismissed as undeserving.  As emotions run high it is too much to hope that perspective will prevail and it is sadly inevitable that recent events will be exploited to discredit future dissent and protest.

-Ellen Clifford

Many of us have been glued to news listening with disbelief to riot details as they were spelled out in different cities across the country from London to Birmingham to Manchester etc. For disabled people, there is the extra fear of not having access and added stress and anxiety of being unable to get essentials from local shops in the affected areas. The Broken of Britain set out a hastag #disabledriothelp for disabled people in Twitter who felt the need to communicate about worries about the riots .

We joke amongst ourselves as mobility impaired disabled people that our disability gives us an alibi by default because we are not able to loot, break windows and disguise ourselves with hoodies.

It’s too soon to write about the impact of the riots on disabled people and our ability to protest. We can probably assume that the TUC March of the Alternative, Birmingham will definitely not be allowed to march pass the ICC where the Lib Dem annual conference is held this year.  But will the demo be curtailed further? What about peaceful anti protests against Atos – will these be jeopardised given the mood of the police and rhetoric from the Con Dem government?

And for those of us disabled people who use the social media to communicate, politicise, campaign and yes, to rant and vent – we will also be affected by David Cameron’s diatribe against social media. A 14 year old schoolboy in Leamington Spa was arrested by police ‘on suspicion of encouraging or assisting criminal disorder. The mind boggles about the reality of the implications that postings to “ incite criminal activity of any kind will be arrested and dealt with accordingly.” Another report of Jason Ulett ‘s arrest adds to my disquiet that the effect of the riot is to descend into some kind of witch hunt.

But we would want to question the reaction to the riots, undoubtedly disruptive and hard on those who have lost property and work, in comparison to the carnage wracked on disabled people’s lives as a result the result of the cuts. How many will give (media)attention and mourn for those who gave up in despair and committed suicides (eleven at last count)? Who counts the stress and worry the real cost of the havoc on disabled people’s lives – those who have to submit to Atos assessments? There was some uproar over the abuse handed out to disabled people in care homes after the Panorama programme but people in care homes are still systematically neglected and left unattended for hours in end. Do we see the same type of punitive and swift reaction for the perpetrators? Today (12th August) there was the ‘first’ Battersea riot-related eviction notice served by Wandsworth Council as a result of Monday night’s rioting and looting in St John’s Road and Lavender Hill. In fact we read that David Cameron has said there will be ‘no “phoney human rights concerns” (about publishing CCTV images of suspects involved in rioting) would be allowed to “get in the way of bringing these criminals to justice”. Is it not because of the same disregard of human rights – the shooting of Mark Duggan – that started the whole spiral of violence? Does he care equally about the woman in wheelchair who was stoned in Sittingbourne by ‘yobs’? What about violence against disabled people?

Eleanor Lisney

Jun 202011
 

We marched together- Now why disabled people should support the June 30th strikes…

Unite the Fights June 30th

Unite the Fights June 30th

The millionaire wreckers now in government are determined to continue the wholesale destruction of our National Health Service and welfare state both of which most of us rely on. The National Health Service and the welfare state were fought for through generations of poverty and misery by working class people, likewise disability rights came because of the strength of those disabled people who would not accept less then their human rights. Everything worked for is being destroyed in the biggest onslaught on social justice in our life-times.

DPAC believes in the united strength of disabled people to fight these savage ideological attacks. We also believe that supporting and joining in with the June 30th public sector strikes is an important part of our fight. On June 30th over 700,000 public sector workers will strike. Disabled people must be an important part of shaping the resistance to these cuts on June 30th.

This strike is not just about public sector pensions, the proposed changes to public sector pensions is only a very small part of how the welfare state has already been dismantled in other countries such as US, Canada, Australia. It is vital that we join together to protect hardwon services and rights for working class and disabled people and tell the millionaire politicians who have no need of these services that they were never elected to destroy them.

Added to all of that we have now witnessed the appalling ignorance and prejudice of Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, who publicly stated that disabled people should be willing to work for less then the minimum wage as employers may then be more willing to employ them. This type of outdated attitude helps to show the importance to disabled people in employment of strong unions both in the public and private sectors.

That’s why we’re asking our supporters to join in with any strike action in your area. If you’re unable to attend in person please send emails or telephone to

Andrew Lansley (architect of the destruction of our National Health Service)

lansleya@parliament.uk

constituency office 01954 211 625

Department of Health 0207 210 4850

Miller the Killer (alias Maria Miller monster ‘against’ disabled people)

Either- ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk

Westminster office 020 7219 5749

Ian Duncan Smith (man who tells disabled and unemployed people they are all ‘scroungers’) either ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or alambridgesl@parliament.uk

Westminster office 0207 2191210

Nick Clegg (a man who said his party would abolish H.E. tuition fees and then agreed to treble them)

Google him either in parliament or his constituency and there is an email form to fill in with your message

Write to him at Deputy Prime minister’s office, 70, Whitehall, SW1A 2AS

Constituency office 0114 230 9002

David Cameron (A multimillionaire who smiles as he takes away peoples’ income and presides over tougher WCA tests)

http://www.number10.gov.uk/footer/contact-us

http://www.facebook.com/DavidCameron

Ed Miliband (Red Ed leading the ‘opposition’) milibande@parliament.uk

Constituency office 01302 875 462

Philip Davies daviesp@parliament.uk

Constituency office 01274 592248

Westminster office 020 72198264

Apr 232011
 

DWP - headless woman interpreted as having a headache

cartoon by Crippen

Incapacity Benefit was introduced in 1995 to replace Invalidity Benefit – both come under the earnings replacement benefit heading. It is important to understand that earnings replacement benefits have a chequered history. Prior to 1971, those unable to work due to sickness or disability were generally not distinguished from other non-workers, and simply received means-tested assistance, if they were poor enough.

Tania Burchardt (1999) wrote:

The 1970s and 1980s were in general periods of expansion and improvement in the coverage of earnings-replacement benefits. However the tide did begin to turn. First in 1980 all long-term benefits, including IVB, were linked to prices rather than being up-rated with earnings as they had been previously.  Then through the 1980s short-term sickness benefits became flat-rate (losing their earnings-related element) and responsibility for them was gradually passed to employers. Finally, and decisively, Incapacity Benefit (IB) replaced IVB in 1995: taxable, unlike its predecessor, and with tougher eligibility criteria. For IVB, assessments of incapacity for work could take into account the  claimant’s age and qualifications, but for long-term IB the test (at least in theory) is whether there is any work the claimant could perform, regardless of the likelihood of him or her getting such a job or its suitability.

A number of issues arise from this period which still haunt us today and makes it extremely difficult to have a meaningful and rational discussion around the ‘benefits agenda’. Firstly, it is a widely held belief that Tory Government’s encouraged IVB claims rather than unemployment benefit in key regional areas in order to mask the true unemployment figures. Secondly, the State has always bound together ‘sickness and disability’ and as a result misrepresented and abused the lifestyles of people with chronic illness and/or impairment. Finally, it should be noted that three years after IB was introducted it became part of New Labour’s first shake up of the Welfare System under Alistair Darling. Labour were concerned by the fact that the ‘disability benefits’ element of the social security bill had between 1974 and 1998 risen from 16% to 27%.

This is the background to the rentless campaign that has unfolded since the end of the 1990s against people claiming ‘disability benefits’. DPAC has highlighted how both Labour and the Coalition have employed the rabid Tory press to witchhunt claimants. It is not our argument that there is no need for reform of the benefit system, nor would we foolishly refuse to acknowledge that some claimants might not need the benefits they are claiming; however, we assert that these issues should not detract us from questioning the real agenda behind the so called ‘reforms’ and the discriminatory and disablist manner in which the three major political parties and the mass media are targeting those on ‘disability benefits’.

The latest attack came on the 21st April 2011 when both the Daily Mail and the BBC using data collected by the DWP in August 2010 supported a speech made by David Cameron. In his speech Cameron said:

People on benefits due to drink and drug problems will be expected to work if they can

He promised “tough action” after government figures showed 80,000 people claimed incapacity benefits due to drink, drug or weight-related issues.

The Daily Mail carried an article by Daniel Martin which re-articulated a previous one written back in the Autumn – the theme of both being that drug addicts, drunks and people with minor ailments such as headaches were abusing IB. The BBC went one step further and produced a chart:

Most common ailments cited in benefit claims (top 10 and selected)

And this shows what exactly? That the world of work makes people ill, perhaps? Having a category such as “depression” or “obesity” masks the nature and degree of the condition, it fails to acknowledge the varied causes of the conditions held within the categories. Alcoholism is for example an extremely complex condition – however Cameron and the mass media are happy to make reckless generalised comments about people with a variety of medical conditions.

As a result of their actions the public are encouraged to pin “common sense stereotyped” labels on benefit claimants. The BBC’s chart, for example, are we clear as to what is covered by “drug abuse”? Are there 37,480 “junkies” on benefits or could it just be that this figure includes people who are ‘drug dependent’ due to the nature or treatment of their condition”? This approach tars everyone with specific impairments with the same brush – the social context of impairments are ignored in favour of crude discriminatory stereotyped descriptions. People are drug dependent for many reasons; people can have weight issues for many reasons too – but the Tories don’t want this to be considered.

Another question absent from Cameron’s lips and the media stories is: ‘Are these claims within the Social Security rules of entitlement?’ Why is the focus always on the claimants? When was the last time you read in the Daily Mail or heard via the BBC that senior officials at the DWP have been hauled over the coals?

Let’s cut the crap – the 21st April marked the latest attempt to instil in the minds of the public that there are two groups of claimants – “deserving” and “undeserving”. This Government has made “impairment” a political issue by asserting through a moral discourse there are acceptable and unacceptable impairments. How dare Cameron pretend to have morals when he has allowed the banking sector get away with immoral acts time and time again? How dare Cameron pretend to have morals when he fiddled his own expenses? We must stand up and oppose the immoral way in which people with impairments are being scapegoated as an excuse for dismantling the Welfare State.

——Bob Williams-Findlay

Bob Williams-Findlay

Bob Williams-Findlay

Mar 042011
 

Cameron with no clothes


Description
: David Cameron is standing under a sign that reads ‘Big society fashion show’. He is accompanied by two Tory MPs who are wearing their traditional blue suits. Cameron is stark naked but is holding a box in his hand that has ‘Big society clothing’ printed on the lid and which covers his genitals. A little boy, holding his mother’s hand is laughing and pointing at Cameron whilst saying: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

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

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

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