It is with regret that we post this notice. We have been saddened by comments of a group of activists in Wales who have publically rejected the work, aims and objectives of the DPAC steering group, of DPAC’s members, supporters and co-founders as set out in the DPAC constitution. The issue began several months ago, with a more recent set of unacceptable actions which came about due to a joint statement between DPAC, PCS and Black Triangle (our sister group in Scotland). The joint statement has been rejected by the Welsh based group, as have the methods of DPAC working, the DPAC constitution and our long term aims and objectives in our fight against the cuts and the impacts on disabled people. DPAC campaigns from a social model perspective and in line with non-racist, non-sexist and non-homophobic principles. DPAC has an agreed set of aims and objectives within a constituted way of working to achieve our objectives and to achieve the rights set out in the DPAC Charter of Rights.
As most of you know DPAC began in 2010. The steering group have worked tirelessly, along with other local DPAC groups, supporters and members in unity in successful direct actions and events, whilst co-working with a growing number of anti-cuts groups and other allies. DPAC’s actions have succeeded in raising the profile of the attacks against disabled people and have created a strong collective voice against the injustices we face. The steering group put in many hours after their various jobs and other commitments to help make this happen, and we will continue to do so. We will continue to build our already extensive DPAC networks to challenge the impacts of this Government on disabled people and others. We believe as we hope you do, that unity is vital in strengthening DPAC campaigns. The recent event with Inclusion London, ALLFIE, NCODP and DPAC in September raised the prospect of a UK Network working with unions, active user-led disabled peoples’ organisations, activists and academics. We all agree that we are stronger together by being united in our aims and methods. There is no place for fragmentation, or disunity, this does not mean there is no room for disagreement or respectful discussion, without which we agree we become weakened and risk becoming ineffectual.However, endless disregard for efforts on DPAC’s part are also ineffectual because they take time away from the wider aims of the work of DPAC and disabled people as a whole
We have attempted to discuss disagreements and differences in the DPAC constitution agreed aims with some of the activists in Wales. It is regrettable that these discussions have floundered. It is the opinion of the elected steering group that we can progress no further. Some may be aware of the facebook posts which were critical of the DPAC steering group, members, local DPAC groups’ methods and DPAC co-founders. We have to add, that requests to the Welsh activists on an issue relating to talks with unions were ignored, damaging relationships and prospective DPAC campaigns.
This week DPAC agreed to liaise with a third party who put themselves forward on DPAC Caerdydd’s behalf- a stance that was agreed by them and by the DPAC steering group. The agreement was that we would create a space to discuss issues and would hold back from all public comment to try and achieve a mutual outcome so that we could work together. However, before this was underway the Welsh activists posted a press statement on their facebook page, again, stating their disagreement with the aims of DPAC , the elected steering group and the DPAC constitution. They announced the set up of a DPAC Cymru, and demanded that a revised joint DPAC, PCS, Black Triangle statement be issued owing to their ongoing belief that DPAC should target a particular set of low paid workers, many of whom are against the cuts and their impacts.
It is our opinion that to characterise every trade union member or individual worker in specific sectors as the enemy is unhelpful and can only make the task of building unity amongst all those with an interest in opposing austerity policies more difficult. The DPAC steering group is talking to unions with the aim of joint working to aid this unity. As a result we have been accused of ‘giving in’ by the Welsh activists. This is far from the truth. However, we do believe in adopting the best strategy for the best outcomes. This cannot be done overnight.
We are pleased that the group in Wales have had a meeting with Mark Serwotka that they felt was productive. However, we have been told that some people in that group were prepared to use tactics that would offer the Tory press an opportunity to issue statements which would have been incredibly damaging to the fight of disabled people. DPAC is no stranger to pushing the boundaries, but the tactics that were going to be employed would have endangered the very status of DPAC as a legal organisation, and put all the previous hard work of DPAC groups in doubt. We are grateful that this tactic was prevented.
To clarify, the outcomes of the DPAC meeting in 2011: individual members and any local DPAC groups use the DPAC name under the terms of the agreed DPAC constitution. The elected steering group encourage self-organisation, and we have seen a growing number of local DPAC groups. We will not however agree with such groups or individuals using repeated verbal attacks or using inappropriate language directed towards any other DPAC members, supporters, allies or Steering Group members. We do not agree with our supporters and allies being referred to as “Marxist scum” or “murdering collaborators”
We cannot accept that those who have repeatedly refused to work with the elected DPAC steering group when asked can continue to call themselves DPAC or use our logo which was produced under license and is copyrighted to DPAC co-founders and the elected steering group.
Nor will the DPAC steering group be associated in any way with reckless and dangerous acts by any activists who would even consider using unreasonable tactics as part of a direct action against any prominent union leader.
We do not accept that this is appropriate behaviour for anyone linked in any way to our name to even consider. This potentially unacceptable behaviour has brought DPAC Caerdydd/DPAC Cymru into total disrepute amongst both disability campaigners and mainstream anti-cuts groups.
DPAC was founded upon the basis of opposing all forms of oppression and inequality and therefore the use of language and other actions which undermine DPAC’s stance and use the name of DPAC can only be regarded as completely unacceptable.
It has also been clear for some time that DPAC Caerdydd/DPAC Cymru neither share our values or concerns, appear unable to resolve issues in anything approaching shared responsibility or respectful discussion, nor do they appear to agree with the criteria under which the DPAC steering group and others are bound by the DPAC constitution. One final attempt was put to them again, this week to cease the use of the DPAC name without reference to the constitution. This was met with further contempt towards the co-founder who was attempting to ease the situation.
Regrettably, the steering group can see no reason why the Cardiff based activists would want to continue using our name other than to damage the cause that full members, local DPAC groups and our allies are in agreement with and share through the DPAC constitution and under the ownership of the DPAC name.
The DPAC steering group can no longer find any shared purpose in the group continuing to be part of the DPAC structure, using its name, publicity, or attempting to capitalise on the goodwill DPAC has taken time to build up with allies. As in the steering group’s remit and as stated in the DPAC constitution we renounce any association with DPAC Caerdydd/DPAC Cymru.
We advise in the strongest of terms that they set up a group that does not use the well known name of DPAC nor use the DPAC logo. We wish them success in their potential campaigns, while we continue with the important work of furthering effective DPAC campaigns, legal challenges, our work within the UK and Europe in continuing to bring the impacts on the rights of disabled people and the growing number of deaths and suicides resulting from this Governments complete disregard for disabled people lives, we will do this with proven allies.
All matters for DPAC local groups and members are set out on the DPAC web site under ‘about’ at www.dpac.uk.net