Archive

Tag Archives: Party politics

What an eventful political week.

Who could have predicted the momentous turn of events we have just witnessed only one, short month ago. Not me, for one. Saying goodbye to David Cameron and his team and hello to Theresa May and her’s is going to change so many things, long-term, for us all.

But, what do I as a disabled person, want to see delivered by the new regime?

Well, for a kick off I want to see an end to all Welfare Benefits sanctions, in particular sanctions which mean that disabled people are left without sufficient money to pay for food and medication and rent and energy costs and transport costs. I would like to see proper Welfare Benefits for disabled people where we didn’t have to continually justify our existence or prove how ill we are at every turn. Applying for Disability Benefits and attending never-ending face-to-face assessments or tribunals is soul-destroying, mentally traumatic and largely unnecessary. I want to see an end to people being punished for the crime of being too sick to work and being awarded benefit levels that allow us to actually live not just subsist. Just because we are either born or become too ill to earn our own livings does not mean we should always be put at the bottom of the heap or made to feel as if we are a burden on our families and society through no fault of our own.

I would like to see physically disabled people being able to access proper equipment based on what we want not what the government deem us as needing. The cheapest option is not always the best option in the long term. Giving us the bare minimum could be counterproductive. Spending a bit more to help us now may well mean less needs to be spent in the long term because our medical conditions might not deteriorate as fast, if at all because we are not having to struggle all the time for everything. There needs to be better provision of proper Mental health care and access to inpatient and outpatient treatment for as long as it needed, not a one size fits all system. Everyone is different and this needs to be recognised. There should also be mandatory mental health first aid training for anyone working with young or vulnerable people and for both physically and mentally disabled people, proper support for the NHS. I would like to see more funding made available for medical research which may lead to a better understanding of disabling conditions, better treatments and possible cures.

Another important consideration for many disabled people is care. I would like to see more money put into support for family carers, support for young carers. There should be mandatory respite care, for all disabled people of at least two weeks, annually allowing both disabled people and their carers a break where they can relax, safe in the knowledge that needs will be met. I would like to see this combined with increased level of social care. I would like to see family carers paid a living wage rather than just receiving the paucity which is Carer’s Allowance. I would like to see proper recognition of the value of family carers and how much money they save the nation. I would also like to see a proper rate of pay for all social carers. Without them and without family carers many more disabled people would need residential care or hospitalisation at a far greater cost to Social Services and NHS budgets.

And then there is transport and transportation costs. I would like to see a version of Taxicard available nationwide. I would like to see more investment in a fully accessible transport network. I would like to see much wider provision of wheelchair accessible transport such as Dial-a-Ride services and wheelchair accessible mini-cabs. Blue badges need to be universal for hospital carparks. There should be free parking or a refund of reasonable travel costs for relatives of people who are long-term in patients in hospitals.

These are only my initial thoughts and things that affect me personally the most but there are so many other things I feel that our new Prime Minister and her Cabinet should tackle that could benefit the lives of disabled and older people nationwide. Education, Transport, Access to Justice, Employment, the list is never ending.

Am I hopeful that we will see any of this?

Frankly, no.

Who was it that decided that hatred and bitterness and back-stabbing and nastiness were ever OK?

Well, as far as I am concerned, they aren’t and I’ve had enough.

Since Friday last week both Social and mainstream media has been full of nothing but hatred and doom and gloom and narrow-mindedness and I can’t stand it any longer. I know that there are people who are really happy about the Referendum result, I know that there are people who are really unhappy about it but all this gloating and loathing and racism and bigotry is all wrong and very unhelpful. Just today I have seen videos of a racist rant from a young person being made towards an older black guy on a tram in Manchester and reports of a firebombing attack on an Asian wholesalers which destroyed a family’s livelihood in Walsall. Thankfully, in neither incident was anyone killed or seriously injured but this is not something that should ever be considered to be acceptable. And then there are all the men and women who are being told to pack up and go home. Forgive me but these people are home. They were born here, in many cases, their parents were born here, their children were born here, their jobs are here, their lives have been spent almost in their entirety in this country. What are they supposed to do, where are they supposed to go? This is their home, this is where they belong and they should not be harassed or hounded or intimidated. They should be able to continue with their lives in peace and security. Then there are the other people, the people that voted on Friday, one way or the other. All I am reading and hearing about at the moment are families that are fighting amongst themselves over the dinner table, loving relationships that are falling apart, life-long friendships that are coming to a bitter end. I, myself, have had to ‘unfriend’ two people on Facebook that I thought were people that I liked and agree with but whose views have turned out to be at polar opposites from my own views. We might not live in a lovey-dovey, fluffy pink world but violence and intolerance and inhumanity has never been the the answer to anything.   

I’m not going to say how I actually voted myself, those people who know me personally will be able to have a very good guess, but it doesn’t matter and it’s not important. Personal viewpoints are just that, personal, that’s all. What is important is what we, as a country, as a nation are going to do next. People and politicians are bickering, political parties on both sides of the political equation are imploding, votes of no-confidence in our leaders are being proposed, voted on and passed, resignations and sackings appear to be two a-penny. Everyone is trying to second-guess everyone else but no-one is coming up with a decent plan of action and it’s not helpful. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now. Hand-wringing and recriminations will get us absolutely no-where. All it will do will be to make us seem to be weak and indecisive and that will be of no help whatsoever.

We, the electorate, need to know what happens next. I, for one, have a whole load of questions and I need answers. Will the prices in the shops go up? Will my rent increase? Will my daughter and her partner be able to find and afford a home of their own? Will my son be able to get a job and follow his chosen career path? Will there still be doctors and nurses available to treat me next time I have to go to a health centre or a hospital? Will I still be able to find personal assistants willing to come and attend to my home-care needs? Will my rights be protected? Then, as a nation we need to know, will our children’s and young people’s education be compromised? Will our jobs, and the jobs of our friend’s and relative’s, be secure. We need to stop and take stock. We need our leaders to talk to us and tell us. This is not a time for discord and disharmony, this is a time for us all to stand together, as one, and say “This is what we are going to do” and then, actually, do it. The hatred and bitterness and antagonism towards our neighbours needs to stop and it needs to stop now before it gets out of hand. What will it take before we realise that things have already gone too far and pull back from the abyss before we fall? We need to look at what we want for our future and decide how we’re going to get there. We need leaders who can actually lead, not men and women who seem to be more concerned about themselves and their own careers than the people who voted for them. We need to know what is going to happen next and we need to know it now.  

I can’t believe it’s nearly over.

After weeks and weeks of bitching and backstabbing and argument and counterargument, the Referendum Hokey,Cokey is nearly over.

And I can’t wait.

I know which way I will be voting and I have known this for weeks but does it actually matter?

What many people have not really understood is the fact that, whatever way we all vote tomorrow, the result is not actually legally binding. Tomorrow’s vote is, in reality, no more than a glorified nationwide opinion poll. Whatever way we all vote the Government doesn’t actually have to do anything at all. There are far more important, far more worrying things happening all over the world that we really ought to be worrying about and we are being distracted by something which doesn’t really matter and will change nothing. It’s a smokescreen.

And, people are being mislead about the timescales involved with the In/Out issue as well. I am currently watching a TV programme where Alan Johnson MP has just been asked ‘What will you do if you wake up on Friday and we are no longer part of Europe.’ What a stupid question! Nothing is going to change suddenly at the stroke of midnight like a Cinderella type fairy-story, it can’t

Firstly, there is the pure geography of the thing. We will always be part of Europe, it’s the continent our country is part of. Unless we manage to separate ourselves from the seabed and float off towards sunnier climes, we will not be leaving Europe. It’s not going to happen. Secondly, whatever the vote is, we will still be part of the EU on Friday and will still be part of it for another ten years or so at least, even if we vote to leave, because that is how long it would take to do so, even if that is what the Government decides it wants to do. The TV news is trying to make it sound as if what we all vote is actually going to make a difference but it won’t. A Referendum is not the same as a By-election or General Election, it doesn’t actually change anything. It’s a gauge of public feeling and that’s all it is. It’s not going to mean there will be a change at the top or at Number Ten or in the House of Commons. If the Government doesn’t like it, it can ignore the result and absolutely nothing will happen. There will be no Monty Pythonesque foot stomping in David Cameron and George Osborne. There will be no big broom sweeping Boris and Nigel out into the political wilderness no matter how much we all want either of those scenarios to take place. Granted, this is the cynic in me talking, and I know that we all like to feel that our politicians listen to us but, in reality, unless they are actually going to be kicked out of office, they don’t have to do anything at all. They can just go on doing whatever it is they are doing and we just get to sit back and watch. As far as I am concerned, the only elections that really matter are the ones where the vote can change things. Where we get to say which political party will lead our country for the next few years. This is a Referendum and it doesn’t have to change anything at all if our current set of noble leaders don’t want it to. They can look at the result, nod and say “That’s nice dear” and then go on doing what they want, even if we have shown by our vote that we don’t want them to.

What I am trying to say is, the Referendum Hokey Cokey may be nearly over but it doesn’t actually matter and nothing has to change at all because of it. The world as it is on Thursday will very much be the same as the world as it will be on Friday. Sure, we will all have put our ‘X’ on a bit of paper, indicating our opinion, but that is all it is – an opinion. All the politicians are trying to say that what we think really matters but it doesn’t. In my opinion, this Referendum isn’t as important as everyone wants us to think it is. Go and exercise your democratic right, I certainly will be doing so, but don’t expect anything to change because it might not. Nothing needs to happen at all. Don’t believe it can actually change anything because it doesn’t have to. It binds noone into doing anything at all. The Government can go on doing whatever it likes and, until the next General Election, we can do little more than jump up and down and scream about the unfairness of it all. We really are just giving our opinion in a very expensive nationwide Opinion Poll and that is all.

Why do successive Governments hate the voluntary sector so much?

Every year organisation after organisation is forced to close when their funding is withdrawn Organisations that have helped so many people are lost. During my working life I have been made redundant three times and, on every occasion, it has been due to the reduction of one charity or another’s means of support. Organisations that had, in one instance, been around for fifty years at the time of closure, gone forever.

My first experience of redundancy was when my local council withdrew the grants it paid to our Centre for Independent Living. An entire London borough, full of disabled people, who no longer had access to the support they needed. And half a dozen disabled people out of work. Me included.Then there was the disability organisation that had been serving the needs of all disabled Londoners for fifty years. Funding stopped. Disabled people in our nation’s capital left unsupported and another ten disabled employees thrown on the scrapheap. Me included. My most recent experience of redundancy was when the national organisation I worked for than helped and supported disabled people with legal issues was almost forced to close as well. Even more disabled people out of work. Me included. Thankfully, the organisation is still in existence but it’s size has diminished dramatically.   

And now, an organisation that means a lot to one of my children is under threat. So much so that my child has created an online petition to try to save it. This time it is a charity which supports LGBT victims of domestic violence nationwide. Over the past financial year it has helped over 10,000 service users,  People who would have found it significantly more difficult to access the support they need at a crucial and terrifying time in their lives.  

What is going on? What is the problem? Why is the Government doing this? Why are they taking away the money these organisations need so much and causing, at the very least, service reductions but, in many instances, closures and yet more redundancies. Anyone would think they were frightened. Anyone would think that these charities were some sort of threat to someone. Anyone would think that someone wants to restrict their activities. All these organisations all have one thing in common. They are all organisations which have challenged or are continuing to challenge local and national governmental actions and policies towards minority groups. Disabled people, LGBT people. Both groups of individuals who experience, almost daily, discrimination. Both groups of people who need help, advice and protection.

This week it has been revealed that the Cabinet Office has announced a new clause in grant agreements which will ban charities and other organisations that receive Government grants from using that money to lobby Government and Parliament about issues concerning the groups they support. Why? Could it be because the Government is fully aware that what they are doing is going to hurt people,make their lives so much more difficult and, in some instances, dangerous. Maybe even life threatening. What does it take for this Government to ensure that all citizens are supported, not just the wealthy few. Charity can be defined as the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need. This Government, and successive Governments over the past three or four decades, seem to have forgotten this and, instead, seem to see our organisations as easy targets. If you don’t want us to fight you, stop proposing and passing legislation which will cause discrimination, violence and harm to the people who are least able to do anything about it without help. Listen to us when we tell you what we need and then we might thank you and not have to challenge you at every turn.

To support ‘Broken Rainbow’, please read and sign the petition at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/120828. Thank you.

I am beginning to think that David Cameron must like to hear from me.

Less than five days since my rant to our glorious Prime Minister about bed-blocking and the paucity of social care in this country, he has managed to rattle my cage once again and is now saying that sick and disabled people on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) have made a lifestyle choice and don’t need money to help them cope with the effects of their impairments.

Exactly where are you coming from Mr Cameron? Are you trying to say that being disabled is something I, and many other disabled people, actually wanted? Do you really think that we like being unable to work and support our families? How disillusioned and out of touch with reality are you.

Disabled people are being demonised and Government policies and pronouncements are making our lives unconscionable. The general public are being told, once again, that we are ‘scroungers’ and ‘swinging the lead’. Hate crime against disabled people is on the increase and, in part, it is your fault. People are being hurt, both physically and mentally and you are to blame. The general public not being helped to understand that disability is not something we have chosen. You are telling them or, at least implying, that we have made a conscious decision that we want to be reliant on others for everything. Time and time again you are saying this and some people believe you without question. It’s hard being ill and reliant on welfare support to live. It’s not fun having nothing. Having you continually questioning our right to support does not help. I am begging you, stop making things worse.

You are now saying that you want to cut welfare support for disabled people even further. It’s not as if these benefits are extravagant or overly generous, far from it, but you still want to reduce them further. Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is to be reduced to ‘encourage people back into work’. Laudable but wrong.

What is it about ESA that you are just not understanding?

One of the most important things that you appear to be failing to grasp is the fact that disabled people did not put themselves into this situation voluntarily. These are people who have been independently assessed by your own doctors and medical professionals at the DWP. Doctors and medical professionals who have determined that they are not fit for work. Are you saying you do not believe your own professionals? These are not people who have said “we don’t want to work”, many of them are people who would love to have a job but who are too ill, too disabled, to be able to do so. Thanks to you, and your Government’s policies, people who are extremely ill or have serious impairments are having their pitiful support cut even further in an effort to ‘encourage’ them to get a job and stop malingering. What makes you think that not being able to eat, not being able to heat a home, not being able to turn the lights on, not having enough to pay the rent will help someone with learning difficulties or cancer or MS or innumerable other impairments find a job? It won’t. If someone has been assessed as too sick or disabled to work, then face it, they are not scrounging or malingering, they are extremely ill or seriously incapacitated for the foreseeable future and in the long-term.

Try making things better and not worse. Your continual meddling is making things so much worse. Help us to live a life that is worth living. Don’t punish us for something we can do nothing about and stop encouraging others to do the same thing.

Stop cutting and demonising, cutting and demonising and give us a chance to live.

So. There are two news stories that have grabbed my attention this morning. Two stories which need to be investigated and which need to be shared as widely as possible. Two stories which are indicative of the pain and suffering this Conservative Government is inflicting on the people of Britain. Two stories which make no sense.

The first is about a woman, a victim of domestic violence and rape, who has had a ‘panic room’ installed in her home, by her local police force, for her safety. Our government has decided, in it’s infinite wisdom that this room is an unused bedroom in her house and they have charged her ‘Bedroom Tax’ for it. This woman took her case to court and the court found in her favour. Our petty Government has decided to spend, what must be, thousands of pounds of tax-payers money appealing this judgement. It makes no sense.

And this is not the only story I have read recently about Bedroom Tax. Stories abound about how unfair it is or how cruelly it is being implemented and imposed. Disabled people who are being charged for rooms where they have to store necessary medical equipment such as wheelchairs, hoists, ventilators and medication. These are not bedrooms, they are storage areas. Then there are the disabled people who have a bed in a room that is not used every night. It is a room that is used when that person has to have to have a carer stay overnight sometimes to keep them safe and out of hospital. Then there are the rooms that were used by a disabled person who has died or by someone who has had to go into permanent care. These people’s relatives are not being given time to grieve or adjust to what has happened before the draconian Bedroom Tax is imposed. How insensitive, how stupid, how uncaring can this Government’s policies be? It makes no sense.

The second story is about all the disabled people who have been been reassessed for their welfare benefits due to the change over from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIP). These are people who are severely disabled and who, under DLA, were awarded the highest level of payment for mobility. As a result they were able to access a specific charity, Motability, which allowed them to be able to lease a car and, if needs be, have adaptations made to that vehicle so they could use it or drive it themselves. A vital lifeline. Now, thanks to the reassessment many people have had to have, their mobility needs have, in the eyes of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), improved and downgraded so they have lost their vehicle. And we’re not talking about one or two people, no, the number we’re currently talking about is in excess of 14.000 people. 14,000 people whose medical condition has, miraculously, improved to a point where they no longer have sufficient mobility difficulties to warrant needing a car or adaptations. 14.000 people who may be using these cars to get to and from their place of work and who may now have to give up their jobs and claim unemployment benefits instead. Is this what the Government wants? They are forever reciting and repeating their mantra of ‘You can work your way out of poverty’ but how can disabled people do this if Government policies are meaning they can no longer get to the jobs they already have. As a disabled woman on the news last night said, the new benefit, PIP, is neither personal nor promoting independence. It makes no sense.

How is our government, our Tory government, getting away with wasting so much of our money? How are they getting away with it?

Challenging a legal ruling about Bedroom Tax such as the one about the woman with the panic room, installed for her safety, by the police, makes no sense. Imposing Bedroom Tax on disabled people for having a spare room which they us for their carers, makes no sense.

If disabled people need their vehicles so they can go out to work and contribute to the economy rather than claim welfare benefits and be an economic drain then reassessing them so they lose those vehicles makes no sense.  

This Government needs to stop, and stop now, before they become a worldwide laughing stock. There should be no more wastage of the money that they purport to want to save on legal challenges and benefit changes that must cost more overall, than they keep in the country’s coffers. People are suffering. Our country is suffering. How much longer will it be before everyone at home and our trading partners abroad start to realise that everything that is now happening, everything this Government is doing, makes no sense.

Why is David Cameron trying to rush this country, hell for leather, into battle? He calls it a war against terror but it isn’t, it’s the indiscriminate bombardment of innocent Syrian civilians dressed up as a pointless fight against Daesh.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.

As far as I am concerned, all airstrikes will achieve is the death of many civilians unconnected with terrorism and the destruction of the towns and villages where these people try to live.

Only a few weeks ago we were all horrified by the pictures and the media coverage of the body of the little Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi found drowned on the beach. Well, I hope we are all prepared to see more. I believe that all the aerial bombardment can achieve are more bodies of little children lying dead, blown apart by our missiles or lost in the Mediterranean as they, and their parents, try to flee and reach sanctuary in Europe.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

What else will we achieve? Will it stop our teenagers and young people being radicalised? Will it prevent attacks on this, and on other, countries? As far as I am concerned, I don’t think it will. The adults who are trying to radicalise our young people are telling them that one of the reasons they need to fight is because we, in the West, hate people who follow the Muslim faith. All that bombing Syria will do is confirm that belief. All it will do is create martyrs. All it will do is give young people a reason, in their minds at any rate, to fight.

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

What about the idea that we need to fight to prevent terrorist attacks? Well, as far as I can see, bombing Syria is unlikely to make any difference to the terrorist agenda apart from exacerbating things. The terrorists who killed and maimed innocent people in Paris weren’t new immigrants. They weren’t brought into the country especially. They weren’t Syrian. They were French and Belgian. They were already there. And, I believe, that if we are going to be attacked in a similar way in this country the men and women who will do it are already here. They are already living amongst us and probably have been living here for a long time. Missile strikes and aerial bombardment in North Africa won’t stop them, if anything, it will make them more determined.   

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.  

Then there is the cost. The financial cost. How much are these missiles? Where is the money coming from? We’re being reminded almost daily by our Conservative Government that we are all living in a time of austerity. We are all experiencing cut after cut after cut. Cuts to our welfare benefits. Cuts to police numbers. Cuts to allowances for student nurses. Cuts to public services. Cuts everywhere. We are constantly being told that we need to save, that there is no more in the pot. So where Is this where the money for the missiles, missiles that many of us don’t want, coming from? Not the bankers and the politicians and the captains of industry, no, it’s coming from us.  

Is that what we want? Not me, not in my name.

Apparently we are all in this together. If that is supposed to mean that we are all prepared to go to war together, that we are all prepared to kill and maim innocent civilians together, that we are all prepared to be party to death and destruction together then, I for one, don’t agree. I don’t want any part of it.

Not me, not in my name.