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Archive for the ‘Disability Hate Crimes & Incidents’ Category

Nil Points…

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Nil Points… The WCA – Like a perverted Eurovison Song Contest, only no-one’s singing and dancing… mainly they’re being driven into destitution, or suicide, or simply dying while being ‘found’ fit.

The BBC seem to be catching up a bit of late, hopefully not too late, although it certainly is for a growing number of victims of Atos. There can no longer be any doubt that many have been driven to suicide by this government’s ‘welfare reforms’ in the area of health-related benefits. A recent news item on the BBC site is yet another in a never-ending torrent of evidence that the WCA is not only ‘not fit for purpose’ but is clearly a bureaucratic instrument designed to deny people their legitimate benefits. I no longer believe its simply about saving money. I believe its an ideological assault on the vulnerable, which has much in common with that of a more notorious historical regime. The parallels are striking, couched though they might be in a discourse more acceptable to modern consciences. This time instead of smearing all sick and disabled people, and being encouraged to regard them as ‘useless eaters’, we are invited to discriminate between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ sick and disabled. Once you establish that premise and install a bureaucratic system which finds the majority ‘underserving’, and then widely publish these distorted results in the mainstream press, you have paved the way for the wholescale demonisation of a community. Because ‘the public’ respond to messages, the same now as they did historically. And the overriding message for them has been that you can’t trust this sector of the population. The seeds of doubt have been sown in the minds of the ‘advantaged’, those who have no struggle with impairments in carrying out their daily lives. To the abject shame of our society the politics of resentment has been stirred up and aimed squarely at the vulnerable.

There is much denial that this is an offensive against the sick and disabled, with the utilisation of concepts created by disabled campaigners themselves, originally for the purpose of  overturning negative social preconceptions.  Now those concepts are being used against them in true Orwellian fashion, almost as if the government are saying “Well you claimed you could contribute to society, you claimed you could work, now get off your arses and do so, because we are not going to support you anymore”.  Or as Grayling prefers to spin it “identify people who can do more with their lives and give them the help they need to find their way back to work”, something that counter-intuitively will be facilitated by giving them less money rather than more, apparently.

More realistically, as disabled journalist Mark Sparrow put it earlier this year, these ‘reforms’ have compounded the disadvantage, as he writes: “Chris Grayling you’ve made me financially, as well as physically disabled”

To return to the most recently exposed victim of this system, Cecilia Burns received ‘Nil points’ at her WCA, despite the fact that she was still undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The government accordingly reduced her benefit by £30 per week. After fighting against the decision her ESA was reinstated shortly before her death. So this woman who had been enduring cancer, and enduring the side effects of treatment for it, was made to do so with less money, and had to spend the last months of her life in a pointless struggle to regain what she had been entitled to all along. Nil points to you Mr Grayling, and your immoral system, nil points.



The News Media’s Negative Bias Against the Disabled

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Black Triangle have reported on an academic study carried out by the University of Glasgow, undertaken on behalf of Inclusion London, in order to assess the  ways that disabled people are being portrayed in the mainstream print media. The results are not too surprising for the masses of disabled people who have watched, powerless, the steady stream of thinly veiled propaganda against the sick and disabled that has flown directly  from government offices  into the right wing press, acquiring a generous smear of poisonous prejudice along the way.

The University’s full academic report is here: Bad News For The Disabled: How The Newspapers Are Reporting Disability.

I was reminded of a famous quote that goes something like: ” The measure of a society is in how it treats its weakest members”. I went looking for the source and found to my surprise that among the great and good of ancient and modern history there appears to be a universal consensus around this idea. (Similar sentiments being attributed to such disparate figures as Christ, Confucius, Ghandi, Churchill, U.S Presidents/Vice Presidents and on…). Such a pity there is no contemporary figure with the conviction to restate this in our country right now…

Here’s a quote from a man who has been able to accumulate his billions through living in a country that has not taken care of its weakest members, one that prefers to foster the ‘every man for himself’ ethos. He belongs to a new wave of  ‘philanthrocapitalists‘ that are beginning to gaggle around Gates.

“Let’s say that it was 24 hours before you were born, and a genie appeared and said, ‘What I’m going to do is let you set the rules of the society into which you will be born. You can set the economic rules and the social rules, and whatever rules you set will apply during your lifetime and your children’s lifetimes.’ And you’ll say, ‘Well, that’s nice, but what’s the catch?’ And the genie says, ‘Here’s the catch. You don’t know if you’re going to be born rich or poor, white or black, male or female, able-bodied or infirm, intelligent or retarded.’ – Warren Buffet

Good as far as it goes, but a little ingenuous about the ‘luck of the draw’ accident of birth, rich/poor angle which tends to obscure the significant fact that a minority have become disgustingly rich at the expense of the masses of poor, via exploitation, or through the appropriation of what should be the communal resources of a country. Not a lot of people know that :/


Written by bigleyma

October 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

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Two relevant articles contained in this pdf from Brent Association of Disabled People.

“Cameron’s constituent appeals for help after ‘inhuman’ Atos treatment”

Relates one disabled person’s story of enduring multiple WCAs (three within three years, having the ‘fit’ decision overturned by tribunal twice so far) though he is so incapacitated by ankylosing spondylitis that he has to take morphine three times a day.

“Every time I think, ‘why have they put me through all this pain and agony just to sit there?’ Every time I feel degraded.”

Susie Drohan, manager of Oxfordshire Welfare Rights (OWR), said the WCA was clearly “not fit for purpose” and was producing a “revolving door” of disabled people moving from assessments to appeals and back to assessments.

The DWP mantra when challenged on the success rate of appeals is

“A successful appeal “does not necessarily mean that the original decision was inaccurate”, because claimants often “produce new evidence” for their appeal.”

But DWP ‘decision makers’ are not privy to this evidence when they make their decision. It is made solely on ATOS ‘findings’, and nothing more. They’re really saying that an appeal is essential if claimants wish to have medical evidence considered, because… not only will ATOS not consider it at the WCA, but they actively contest it.

Government ‘used Motability claims to stir up hostility’

refers to the Sunday Times supposed ‘exposé’ of abuse of the Motability scheme. The newspaper claimed that government was concerned that disabled people’s family and friends were exploiting the process, with the Daily Mail upgrading it to the level of a ‘scam’.

Anne Novis, a leading disability hate crime campaigner, said the story

“Smacks of government preparing to withdraw DLA and Motability schemes or tighten them exclusively to those they deem ‘severely disabled’”.

She added:

“Any scheme can be abused but the fact that this and other statements about disabled people’s benefits, allowances and support being misused are coming out from Whitehall almost every week indicates a deliberate smearing campaign against us as disabled people.

“We are cursed, reviled, demeaned at every turn because people now think they have ‘permission’ from government to treat us this way.”

And really the last statement is the nub of it isn’t it?  The most favourable interpretation is that the government are irresponsible and ‘reckless’ in cultivating a culture of blame which can only demonise and incite contempt towards the sick and disabled. The least favourable is much more sinister and suggestive of  contempt and callousness towards the weak and vulnerable.

Written by bigleyma

July 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm

North Wales Disabled Shopper in Parking Row | Black Triangle Campaign

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North Wales Disabled Shopper in Parking Row | Black Triangle Campaign.

“When the couple got back to their car they found a note on their windscreen declaring “Disabled People are Scum”.

Written by bigleyma

July 15, 2011 at 9:58 am