Oct 302011
Mike Higgins

Mike Higgins

What is this struggle of DPAC all about?

It is not about charities keeping their funding. Why, when the Disabled People’s Movement was at its strongest and most vibrant during the 1980s, was its central demand ‘Rights not Charity’?

It is surely not ok for Disabled People to have to go to charity ‘cap in hand’ to have our needs met. We should not have to beg or be grateful for:

  • Enough money to live and make ends meet
  • Accessible information
  • Wheelchairs or other equipment to live independently
  • Human support
  • Accessible transport
  • Decent housing to live in

We should certainly not have to beg for the maintenance of segregated or so-called ‘special’ (i.e. inferior) services. Equal access to jobs and services ought to be our right. The Con-Dems are ushering in a revival of the notions of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor.

Charity, by definition, makes us compete with other ‘deserving’ or ‘less deserving’ causes for public sympathy and scarce resources. We do not have common cause or common interest with those who need to perpetuate our oppression. We do not have common cause with those who beg on our behalf without our permission.

The struggle of DPAC is not about fighting to keep funds for the big charities. It is not about us saying that we are affected more or worse than others who are also under attack from the Con-Dems and New Labour. Such a ‘divide and rule’ approach plays directly into the hands of the Con-Dems.

We do have common cause with:

  • Trades unionists facing the sack because of privatisation and service cuts
  • Trades unionists fighting for better pensions for all
  • Trades unionists fighting against ATOS, which is now also being used by the Government to discipline and sack public sector employees on so-called ‘ill health’ grounds
  • People having to wait for NHS treatment and those whose GPs say that their needs are too expensive
  • Social and private housing tenants being evicted due to cuts in housing benefit
  • People who desperately need more and better social housing
  • People who cannot afford inflated fuel prices
  • People who need legal aid to fight injustice
  • People who cannot get advice or advocacy because of service cuts
  • A million young people looking for work
  • People unable to afford the ‘privilege’ of higher education

DPAC should be justly proud. In the UK at least, it is the first mainstream campaign against injustice led entirely by Disabled People.

We (Disabled People) are in all of the groups affected by the Coalition attacks. Many will try to divide or weaken our campaigns. Our opponents will try every possible tactic of ‘divide and rule’, even perhaps within DPAC itself!

Cameron says “we are all in it together”. Well we – pensioners, trades unionists, tenants, jobless, students, asylum seekers, refugees and Disabled People – are all in it together and must work together to defeat these attacks.

These are our services; our benefits; our taxes. These are our hard-won rights that they are trying to take away. We must struggle alongside all others facing these attacks as this is the only way we can win.