Sunday, 31 October 2010

Talk is Cheap

I had some interesting conversations last night.
We were talking about the governments reforms to welfare (some of which I support by the way) and I was the only Labour voter in the room.

Time and again I heard the same caveat : "Of course, we MUST look after the most vulnerable in society"

I'm convinced they all truly meant it.

After much discussion and debate, there was total consensus, that, actually, the most important role of the welfare state was to look after those, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves disabled or sick, living lives of extraordinary suffering.

As the 4th richest economy in the world, despite the credit crunch, if we can't meet this fundamental mark of decency, we should hang our heads in shame.

You know what? You could wake up in the morning blind. You could wake up in agonising pain and your life could change forever. You could slowly and excruciatingly lose your ability to walk, or speak or hear or move. You could get a shock diagnosis of Cancer or Parkinson's or MS or Motor Neurone Disease. You could get a call at 3 in the morning to say that your child has been injured in an accident and will never know who you are again. There are plenty of these stories at Read some, I guarantee you'll be surprised.

The problem is, that by stopping 100% of a sick persons ESA benefit after a year, regardless of their condition, we  fail. We fail in the most fundamental duty we have to "protect the most vulnerable". By removing higher rate mobility allowance DLA from adults in residential care we take the most disgusting, sickening decision of modern times.

Can you honestly imagine someone with Cancer or severe Cerebral Palsy or Parkinson's being assessed and found fit for work? It's happening every day. And it's happening to Lawyers and Doctors and Stockbrokers and CEO's, sickness and disaster don't discriminate and they certainly don't only happen to people who are somehow too "weak" or "lazy".

If you really believe those easy words, if you honestly think we should "protect the most vulnerable" then join the campaign to change this.

If we can't look after our sickest properly, we might as well give up.

Share this blog, tell your friends, write to your MP and call your local paper.

Some things are truly worth fighting for.


  1. From my MP last week to a meeting about disablity..

    Dear Robert,

    You are absolutely right. There are so many different ways, both direct and indirect which are going to have a particularly harmful effect on disabled people. There is nothing "fair" about what they have announced this week and in the budget in the summer and the combined effect will be devastating. You will already have seen the comments by the very well-respected Institute for Fiscal Studies that all these measures will hit the poorest in society worst. And, as you say, they seem to have ignored the fact completely that they should have done proper impact assessments.

    Then in addition to the "obvious" cuts we have already heard them announce, you have all the indirect cuts such as cuts in grants to organisations which help disabled people, and cuts to services disabled people rely on, and some "hidden" cuts which people will only gradually become aware of (using the lower CPI instead of RPI to calculate annual increases to allowances does not mean much to people now, but the cumulative effect year on year will be a significant cut in real income).

    Labour MPs are currently working together to look at the all this week's proposals in detail, and adding that to what was already announced in the summer and we are specifically looking at the impact on vulnerable groups such as the disabled - I will certainly be bombarding ministers with questions about disability impact assessments + effects on disabled people of a whole range of measures. We will be working with groups who represent disabled people to campaign vigorously against hitting disabled people so hard.

    Another "stealth" cut that I am currently taking up with government ministers is the change from paying 6% mortgage interest to paying 3%, for those people who have their mortgage interest payments paid. As you know, people relying on that help are not in a position to renegotiate any mortgage deals with companies so they are suddenly having to fund more from their own pocket - this is going to lead to repossessions with people losing their homes

    We have got to shame this government into changing their plans in respect of disabled people. I will update you shortly, with more detail of what we are doing, and any answers that we have.


    I've been to Parliament I've spoken to many many MP's and minister in person, sadly when I had to do this the one thing I had to be was non political, because if people see you as political you get lost of disabled people saying ah well he is Tory or he is labour, when it comes to arguments and discussions about welfare fact are what count.

  2. "Can you honestly imagine someone with .... Cerebral Palsy .... being assessed and found fit for work?"

    What an unbelievable question.

    Of course I can .

    People with CP just want a level playing field -which god only knows has been a very , very long time in coming.

    Given that they have more ambition than most-they have to-they have to prove themselves all the time against the prejudice that comes with ignorance and pronounces that "these people" cannot do this that or the other.

    PLease-stop making sweeping assertions about what people with Cerebral Palsy are capable of.

    They know what they are capable of -and so do I.

    And it is astounding.

  3. I'm sorry Colin, Good point.

    The point I was trying to make (badly, I agree) was that most people think someone with SEVERE Cerebal Palsy, who CAN'T work, would automatically be someone we would support, but it isn't the case.

    I think accusing me of sweeping assertions is a little unfair though. Very quick to jump on a mis-type, but I don't recall any comments from you supporting people who CAN'T work.

  4. Robert - Great letter! Very encouraging. Who is your MP? I'd love to write to him.
    Thanks for sharing that Robert.

  5. "I don't recall any comments from you supporting people who CAN'T work."

    Then I do so now.

    THe other thing you need to be careful of Sue is sterotyping disabled people.

    "Cerebral Palsy" is a description of a non-progressive, non-contagious motor condition that causes physical disability.

    THe symptoms it produces vary enormously.

    "Severe Cerebral Palsy" means nothing.

    The four major classifications are :-


    Each produces different movement impairments reflecting the areas of the brain that are damaged.

    The range of ability is thus enormous & very varied.

    It is The Individual which matters.

  6. Colin - Stereotyping disabled people???

    Yeah, sure, that's what I set up this website to do.

    People have worked for decades to help people see that disabled people are still people.

    That's not what I'm here to do.

    If someone with cerebral palsy is offended. perhaps Scope will stop following me there on the right, but I think anyone who's read my blog knows I'm speaking for those who's disabilities ARE too severe for work.

  7. **By the way, I'm assuming you are the same Colin from other site and who has commented on here before?
    If not, comments may have been a little stringent, sorry.

  8. Oh yes-the same one-so your stringency was in it's accustomed place & you do not need to apologise to someone else for applying it to me.

  9. Lol Colin, that's OK then.
    To be fair though, we address those we are familiar with differently to those we don't know.
    You should hear the way I talk to my husband sometimes ;)