DPAC has today launched a series of short films for the final week of the #GE2017 election campaign. The films, generously produced for us by Tough and Rumble media production company, aim to expose the reality of so-called welfare reform and why this election matters so much to Deaf and Disabled People.
The series of four films have been published on the #DPAC Facebook page – please watch and share far and wide.
Here are the four films, please watch then and then share them far and wide:
Jenny Sealey’s Story
Jenny Hurst’s Story
You can also watch footage from the film preview Q & A with film-maker Anthony Swords and discussion with disability campaigner Jenny Hurst and DPAC’s Paula Peters which was held last night in the marginal constituency of Croydon Central.
It’s doubtful that anyone reading the DPAC blog will be in any doubt that Deaf and Disabled people in the UK cannot afford the Tories to get re-elected in June. Since 2010 the Tories have relentlessly attacked Disabled people, hitting the same group of people again and again with cut after cut.
Already, just this year, changes to PIP brought in through emergency legislation to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny have taken essential support away from 164,000 people predominantly with mental health support needs, Employment and Support Allowance has been cut by a third for people in the Work Related Activity Group and in April the Government sneaked through three more hidden cuts affecting Disabled people.
At the same time, social care packages are being cut to the bone leaving Disabled people trapped indoors without choice, control, dignity or freedom. Over the Summer, the Department for Work and Pensions will be rolling out the new “Health and Work Conversation” to create an added barrier before Disabled claimants even reach the notorious Work Capability Assessment.
It is wrong to assume however that because the Tories have been getting away with this for so long that this is what the majority of the public wants. Most people are shocked and horrified when they find out what has taken place, incredulous that this can happen in the UK in the twenty first century and angry that anyone would and could pursue policies of, in Ken Loach’s words, such “conscious cruelty”. As I argued in a previous post, the majority of people would rather live in a fair and just society that values diversity and works for the benefit of the many rather than the few.
What we have at the moment is a system when power and wealth are in the hands of the elite and that includes control of the mainstream media and the ability to communicate misleading information and to distract from the real problems in society. Thus we find people blaming migrants and benefit scroungers instead of challenging the real enemies who are those who choose to put profit before people.
Precisely because we are the many and they are the few, the obstacles to achieving a fairer society are not insurmountable. Jeremy Corbyn’s two elections as leader of the Labour party in spite of everything the right wing of the party and the media threw at him, the second time with an increased mandate, show that united we can win.
But social justice and a fairer society are not things that will ever be handed to us on a plate, they have to be fought for.
With a General Election called and the prospect of another five years of Tory rule bringing with it insurance based systems to replace benefits and the NHS, now is one of those times when we have to step up and fight even harder because of the very real human cost that a loss will entail.
We all have a part to play in the coming weeks.
It is up to us all to do what we can to make sure the real information gets out there about what a Tory election will mean for Disabled people.
We would like as many of you to join us as possible on the day but what is even more important is that members get out on the streets and your keyboards in the coming weeks to get that information out there to make anyone thinking of voting Tory or voting in a way that would help the Tories get in, think again.
The voices of Disabled people can and does make a difference. In the 2014 local elections the Disabled campaign group Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts ran street stalls to engage with the public and hand out information about how the cuts were impacting on local Disabled people and what the different local political parties were saying on disability issues. Unexpectedly, Labour unseated the Tory Council and followed through on honouring significant pledges they had made to Disabled voters before the election on issues such as abolishing home care charging.
We are asking all our members to think about what you can do and how you can help and encourage you to target marginal seats. There are some resources you may find useful at the end of this post. The media are often keen to cover stories about access to voting for Disabled people so do use this angle to get local attention.
–Make sure your friends, neighbours and colleagues are registered to vote before the deadline on 22 May and plan to use their vote?
–Leaflet on street stalls or door to door with information about how important this election is to Deaf and Disabled people?
–Circulate information about what the different parties are saying on disability issues?
–Hold a local screening of I Daniel Blake with a Q and A after?
–Organise a local Deaf and disability hustings event?
DPAC has some funding for leaflets, stickers and posters which we can post to you if you have an event organised. Please keep us informed with how you are getting on.
In 2016, despite opposition from campaigners, peers, charities and even Conservative MPs, the government voted to slash Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week for people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). The DWP claimed (as ever) that this would give people an ‘incentive’ to return to work, (but failed to supply any supporting evidence). Conservative MP, Heidi Allen MP argued “I do not believe mentoring and support alone will heat the home of someone recovering from chemotherapy, nor help out the man with Parkinson’s who needs a little bit of extra help.”
The WCA is an unreliable tick box exercise, driven by targets, and was ultimately designed to deny genuine claimants social security. Consequently severely disabled people end up in the WRAG, including Paul Mickleburgh, a man who has had 14 heart attacks.
People can find out how their MP voted here (note: only Tory MPs voted in favour of this). If you are unsure who your MP is you can use this website. Campaigner Rachael Swindon, has created memes of (almost) all the MPs who voted for this draconian cut. Here is an example:
(Description; on the right there is a photograph of MP Daniel Kawczynski. Text on the left reads: Daniel Kawczynski: Tory MP for Shrewsbury, Daniel on claming expenses: “I am always intrigued by the fascination with MPs’ expenses,” he said. “I just don’t understand what the story is”. The story here is simple Daniel, you claimed £174,473.29 in one year BUT still voted to cut ESA for his sick and disabled constituents.)
Rachael’s memes highlight the hypocrisy of MPs, and how out of touch they are with their constituents; with her permission we have uploaded them to our google drive account (they are arranged by surname, in alphabetical order). Please name and shame your MP on social media (or even use them for posters). The war on social security must be an issue in the upcoming General Election. Some MPs on this list (such as Byron Davies) have wafer-thin majorities, and can easily be ousted from the Commons. (Please let us know if your MP is not included, and we’ll see what we can do).