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Monday, 27 August 2012

Cameron and the paralympics. A big GGRRRR from Sue Marsh

Guest Blog
Cameron and the Paralympics

Well my friends, it is 2012.

Just 2 years ago, this coalition government, led by David Cameron and
Nick Clegg launched the single biggest attack on the lives and
livelihoods of sick and disabled people this country has ever seen.

They did it as wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. They lied about
their intentions, justifying their attacks with pretty words. They
told the people of this country that they were "supporting us" into
work, but there is no support. They told the country so many of us
were just cheats and scroungers, not really sick or disabled at all,
but leeches on the state, sucking money from hard working people. But
fraud is less than 1%.

They whipped the media - and so the country - into a frenzy of hate
and disgust. They said we were "mugging the state" (Osborne)
"festering on benefits" (Iain Duncan-Smith) or referred to us as
"stock" (Freud) like so much cattle.

Just two years ago we were alone in our horror. We could see the
truth, but few cared. The media would not report our stories, eager to
believe the dangerous rhetoric of millionaires crushing those with
nothing. Politicians of all parties too, were eager to turn away from
a regime of cutting support, cancelling services and a harsh and
degrading "assessment" process that saw hundreds of thousands wrongly
re-classified as "fit for work"

As cancer patients on chemo were sent to the jobcentre, those with
kidney failure were stripped of support and 32 people a week died
having been found "fit for work", we fought alone.

But how we fought!

We told our own stories on blogs and twitter and facebook. We sent our
stories to our MPs - not just once but endlessly, we insisted that
politicians could not turn away from this disgrace. We built up
relationships with journalists until they saw for themselves how
clearly we were being betrayed.

On Wednesday, the Paralympics opening ceremony will dazzle us all.
Those incredible athletes will amaze the people of Britain.

This Paralympics will be covered by Channel 4 as no games for disabled
people has ever been covered before. The advertising for the games
cleverly thanks the Olympics for "the warm up" putting disability
sport front and centre as never before.

With the games being staged in the UK, we have a chance to show our
disability credentials to the world. For all our many faults, this
country is accessible to disabled people in a way many are not. It
values the lives of sick and disabled people as many do not. It values
equality and inclusion as many do not.

At least it did.

Many of the athletes competing from Wednesday relied on the Disability
Living Allowance to achieve their great success. A working benefit, it
is designed to pay for the extra cost of sickness or disability. To
pay for transport or mobility aids or extra heating or food. It will
have helped very many disabled people competing to get to training
sessions or to afford the extra costs of the modified equipment they
use.

This allowance is being scrapped by this government, replaced with a
benefit that will only help the incapable or the housebound, and
trapping so many more in a life where just getting up and dressed in
the mornings will be a challenge just as great as winning Paralympic
Gold.

David Cameron will take his place in the stadium, smiling and
complacent, knowing that half a million people who previously
qualified for DLA will be cut adrift as a direct result of

the policies of his government.

He will bask in a glory that is not his, as he callously strips
sickness benefits from over a million more.

He will pay lip service to independence as he scraps the Independent Living Fund

He will ask you to wonder at the great achievements of those with
severe disabilities as he scraps the Severe Disability Premium.

He will encourage young sick and disabled people of today to strive
for greatness as he halves tax credits for disabled children

He will perhaps feel a terrible pain as he remembers his own disabled
child who tragically is no longer with us, yet will choose to look
away from children just like his own who will no longer have the
opportunity to achieve what the great athletes will achieve from
Wednesday.

I hope he is met with silence as he takes his place.

But today, I wanted to contrast the isolation campaigners felt in 2010
with the media this week.

Here is Polly Toynbee on slashing DLA and the Paralympics :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/paralympians-state-help-disabled-benefits-cut

Here is Owen Jones in the Independent :

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/owen-jones-david-cameron-praises-paralympians-but-his-policies-will-crush-them-8082036.html

Here is Disapatches and Panorama on the failure of Atos and "fit for
work tests"

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/links-to-panorama-dispatches.html

Here is the BBC : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19244639

And there are many more. We are no longer alone. The country is waking
up and despite the efforts of ministers, every day, fewer people
believe their lies, and fewer are willing to stand by and allow sick
and disabled people to suffer in their name.

As the saying goes, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is
that good men do nothing"

So if you are reading this article, if you clicked on a twitter link
or facebook page, if it is sent to you by email and you are going to
the Paralympic games 2012, by all means, marvel at the unbelievable
endeavour, wonder at the great sacrifice and bravery that brought the
athletes to the pinnacle of success, but don't forget that it was only
possible through support. Your support.

Like the Olympians who went before them it took family sacrifice,
amazing support and personal will. But it also took state assistance
and cold hard cash. It took a country prepared to make the lives of
sick and disabled people as equal as possible and all of that is under
threat today. In the case of ex-military competitors, it often took
months - if not years - of intensive rehabilitation, exercise regimes,
committed physios and caring nurses. These are never free.

If we ever again want to see a Paralympics like we are about to see
here in the UK, we must oppose the systematic destruction of
independence and inclusion sick and disabled people have fought so
hard for.

And please, when David Cameron or Nick Clegg take their seats, smug
and smiling, hoping to bask in a little of the glory of others,
remember that the glory is not theirs.

But whatever you do, do not clap these men. You will be giving credit
where it is not due. They aim to dismantle the very support that made
the Paralympics possible at all.

Posted by Sue Marsh

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*Thanks

Jules

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