Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Talk is Easy

So the Lib-Dem Spring Conference is over and the activists have headed back to their constituencies, patting themselves on the back for telling their leaders they have to be something more than just a Tory sock-puppet when it comes to things like the NHS and DLA Mobility Component.

Talk is easy, but the Liberal Democrats currently stand complicit in a massed attack on the benefits disabled people need to enable them be truly equal in our society. It isn’t just DLA Mobility Component where we are under attack, it’s the threat to DLA as a whole, with an expected 20% cut in the people eligible for the replacement benefit — does the Government somehow have Lourdes and St Bernadette on tap to manage the miracle cures needed? Or is the truth that 1 in 5 people are going to see their benefits slashed without any change in their acute need for those benefits (and with ATOS running the assessments it’s likely to be 4 in 5 refused, not 1 in 5).

Then there’s ESA, where Lib-Dems like Danny Alexander railed against the inequity of ATOS WCA assessments in opposition, but suddenly became rabid supporters in government. I’m one of those ESA claimants, so let me put a human face on the benefit scrounging scum Cameron and IDS would have people believe we are. I didn’t opt out of Alarm Clock Britain, it opted out of me. I worked through 20 years of disability, often working even while curled up in pain on the office floor, until my employer decided disabled people were just too much of a bother and got rid of me. Every employment consultant I spoke to told me to forget about the private sector, that discrimination in recruitment of disabled people is so rife I would be wasting my time, that the public sector was only a little better. I claimed JSA, but DWP is incapable of dealing with claimants who are either disabled people or highly qualified and God help you if you are both. It took a complaint to the Minister for Disabled People to get them to admit I couldn’t be treated like everyone else and they only way they could do that was by placing me on ESA.

I passed my ESA WCA, despite ATOS destroying six weeks of my life at the first attempt (and claiming that I had failed to attend rather than admit that they had failed to provide the needed reasonable adjustments), the second attempt was nearly as bad and it was only when I became visibly physically distressed from the amount of pain I was in that the doctor stopped trying to force my situation into his computer generated script and deigned to treat me like an individual. And yet, sometime early next year, because I’m claiming Contributions Related ESA, my household income will drop to precisely zero, never mind that my disability is actually becoming worse, not better.

Then there is the savaging of the Independent Living Fund and all the other disability related benefits that are under threat, many gatewayed by DLA or the other benefits that are already being undermined, or funded by Local Authorities who have seen their budgets slashed and see us as an easy target with little political muscle to defend ourselves. We see the results in the replies here and on other disability sites when disabled people talk about the fear they are living under, far too many about how they are contemplating suicide if the cuts go through. That’s a proud legacy for the Liberal Democrat’s first year in office.

Talk is easy, votes count.


  1. And of course labour do not, and if labour had stayed in power with the Liberals, you do not think they would have done the same as the Tories have, for god sake wake up and smell the roses.

    Labour Tories and Liberals have all agreed with each other welfare reforms were needed it was costing to much, they did not have enough money for wars.

    Look whom ever is in power DLA would have been a target, as Brown stated, so to fight this it's no good hitting one party.

  2. Where does anything in there suggest that I agree with Labour's policies? The point in attacking the Lib-Dems is that they're the weak link. Labour's activists seem to be clueless about the reality of the sustained attack on disabled people having bought into the party's propaganda about IB/ESA. Fixing that is a major task that may take years and even then they aren't in power, so can't derail the changes on their own. On the other hand, the Lib-Dems are in power, even if they're currently acting as a Tory Sock-Puppet.

    The Lib-Dems are in a vulnerable position, with MPs and activists split between those who would sell their souls to be in power (cough, Clegg, cough) and those who hold to traditional Liberal positions and aren't at all comfortable with where they are and the policies they're being forced to support by the Tory Party's hand up their collective backside. The article was a slightly tweaked version of something I posted on the Liberal Democrat Voice website in response to an opinion piece patting themselves on the back that they had dared to allow conference delegates to say that they disagreed with Tory policy. Challenging them to admit that talk is easy, that only votes count, and to acknowledge the reality of what they have already wrought is my attempt to make them think about what they're doing, to admit that being a 'voice of moderation' isn't enough. Maybe I'll only make a few people think twice, but the nature of party politics at the moment means that Lib-Dem policy can be affected by smaller shifts in member views than that of either the Tories or Labour.

    (And isn't there something obscene about having to regard Labour as a lost cause when it comes to protecting disabled people?)

  3. The Liberal are in power, but so was labour and we are in this mess not because of the Liberals it's because labour put forward welfare reforms, it was labours Gordon Brown who stated DLA was a wasted benefit.

    I have been wondering for many years how long it would take before somebody said why should a cripple drive a car after all he is crippled.

    I'm seeing more and more judges saying you were driving a car for god sake you can drive.

    We are heading for what we wanted the most equality, people were fighting for ages that people who do not work get the same benefits as the rest of us, well we are now becoming equal, but not the way we wanted, we are going to get the same money as those that never worked.

    But the Liberals are not the problem it's not having a party at all.