Thursday 30 September 2010

Shop a Twit!

It feels like forever since I was last well enough to write here. Over the last few weeks I've had to put up with my dodgy stomach putting me through hell and preventing me from sleeping and a slight cold which has aggravated my always crap sinuses making sinus pressure pain and the migraines it triggers almost a daily occurrence (I tried to explain on my own blog how severe my sinus pain is).

I've been feeling rather guilty about it actually. WtB was, after all, my idea. I should be leading from the front and posting regularly. But how can I write intelligent, well researched posts about benefit reform when I can't even muster up the spoons to call back the Choose and Book people about my referral to the migraine clinic?

The one small contribution I have been able to make to WtB over the last few weeks is that I've been able to post links and other really short updates to the WtB Twitter account and the WtB Facebook page. Tweeting and Facebooking only takes a few seconds and doesn't require much brain function so it's something I can do using my iPod in bed, in the dark, when I'm too ill to be anywhere else.

Today Tory MP for Mid-Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries said on her blog about people who tweet a lot:

if it's someone you know is on benefits, contact the DWP.

That was 2 paragraphs after saying that people who tweet a lot should:

[get] a job which involves being sat at a key board because there's nothing much up with their fingers, brain or attention span!!

That's right; she'd like to see me reported to the DWP for having the audacity to write 140 characters from my bed when I'm too ill to get out of it.

Lots of disabled tweeters have hit back. @beccaviola Tweeted:

Thank you, Nadine Dorries. Obviously, being able to Tweet via assistive tech indicates that I am in fact not profoundly disabled after all.

Becca also points out that:

I tweet usually immobile from bed, using switches, inbetween nursing visits and personal care.

While Mind in Flux and Writer in a Wheelchair have both written passionate blog posts in response to Dorries.

While Dorries implies that we're scroungers if we're capable of using Twitter it's worth remembering that when it comes to scrounging: The pot probably shouldn't call the disabled kettle black.

Edit: She's written a follow up post!

She says:

If you Twitter all day, every day about claiming disability benefit in one tweet whist arranging a night out in the pub in the next. If you tweet about claiming six months rent from the social fund whilst tweeting how bad your hangover is and if you stride into political meetings and shout the odds with energy and enthusiasm with no sign of any physical disability and if you claim to work for the Labour party and write porn at the same time as claiming your disability benefit - then don't expect someone like me not to a) inform the authorities and b) tell you to get of your Twitter [sic] and get a job.

Or as @TaobhCle paraphrases:

you can't be disabled and express political views. 'Stfu and be glad for your benefits'

Edit #2: Blogger and tweeter Ms Humphrey Cushion has revealed that she is the Twitter user Dorries was referring to today.


  1. Thank you for this post. I know how hard it is to write blog posts and it takes me several hours to do so. A lot of the time I will stop and rest for an hour or so before starting it up again - plus with my huge gap between updates, people are quite often hounding me to update it!

    As for Nadine, it seems that the story is someone was parodying her on Twitter, while she was on there and took a major dislike to it. As for those of us who are on (what little) benefits (we could actually get!), I think it's disgusting.

    Fine, report me to DWP because it's a lifeline for me to talk to my friends and people with a similar condition, in fact, why not just send them (or DirectGov or JobCentre Plus) a tweet? They all use Twitter too, and I'm sure they wouldn't care that I spend my DLA on things that make me happy. What are they going to do say "so you can't get out of bed but you can tweet from an iPad? Oh, well no DLA for you!" What a load of rubbish!

    Twitter for me is a means of communicating, because I -can't- go out and see my friends and socialise as much as I'd like to and I want to know how other people are coping with conditions similar to my own. Even while typing this I've had to relocate several fingers and right thumb about three times, because I'm using my laptop, in bed.

    I wish I wasn't ill, I really do, but I also wish that disabled people were treated better. I feel sometimes that some higher ups just want to stick up all in a room and shoot us, a culling of the lesser abled. Maybe I'm paranoid, maybe I'm just angry, but I really do feel "lesser" than "normal" people. As though before I so much as think about doing something I need to ask permission to do it, it's ridiculous. Please sir, may I send less than 140 characters of text to the internet where at most 6 people will read it? No? Oh.

    And people wonder why I'm depressed, sheesh. Anyway, sorry for the long rant, but this subject really ticked me off.

  2. Nadine your post is an ignorant comment and coming from someone who is suppose to be highly intelligent and supportive of members in your consitutuency in my opinion disgusting.

    Have you not thought that many who are disabled may only be able to get as far as their computer which may be sitting on their laps whilst they are in bed! Have you not thought that many who are disabled may be sitting at their computer which may be in their bedrooms or lounge which means they do not have to go out to get to a keyboard!

    Why don't you question those who are able bodied and have no desire to go to work who sit at their keyboards all day long. Oh sorry, they are not receiving DLA are they, the benefit you are hell bent on cutting.

    Many folk who sit at computers are not constantly well enough to go to work and have 'off days'. Many over the years of having their disabilities have deteriorated over time and cannot do as much in a day as they used to like an able bodied person, with many activities taking longer than they used to.

    Try to be logical, sympathetic and understanding, oh sorry that's not within the governments remit is it because all they can see is saving pounds to correct the country's deficit, when the banks are the ones who caused the problems we are in.

    Please go to the banks, don't crone down those who have a hard start in life through no fault of our own. You see many of us have actually worked before our disability got the better of us and for many years, not like some able-bodied who have not even bothered to get their backsides of their chairs to do a decent days work.

    Very very angry at your ignorant statement and I hope you apologise. Oh, fat chance of that happening is there, after all this is the government we are talking about!

  3. You can't comment on her blog. My goodness, that's gutless.

    "If you Twitter all day, every day about claiming disability benefit in one tweet whist arranging a night out in the pub in the next" - right, because disabled people aren't allowed to socialise, presumably.

  4. It is people like her who make people like me scared stiff. This government say they are out there to HELP people yet why do we feel so attacked? Theyare going for the easy targets people who don't have the strength to fight back.

    And for that - I hate this govt I really do because they are attacking my only means of living. ithout my DLA I will have no life. I already have a very small life and I get out of my house very rarely - Mostly to the hospital! I cant even remember the last time I went out for a 'fun' reason. I can't remember.

    Just too tired for fighting, too tired they dont understand or care. Without my DLA I will not eat at all as I dont have the energy to stand and cook a meal I dont have the will. Ive lost so much weight but it doesnt matter if I die - That is just one less they will have to pay for!

    Conservatives do NOT care about the disabled. They dont care at all.

  5. Oh and when I say I havelost so much weight - I mean over 7 stones. Ok i was fat to start with but - I am not now. And it doesnt bode well for me to losemore

  6. I do have grave doubts about Dorries, most too libellous to post here, but bear in mind that anyone on disability benefits who engages with Twitter and/or, as I do, writes a blog, is doing nothing that is in breach of benefit rules, no matter what Dorries might think - assuming thought plays any part in her bigotry.

    Yes, I can write my blog, my brain still works (mostly!), but what that doesn't tell you is that most days that's ALL I can do, lurching from bed to computer, and back again when I'm done.

    The ability to bathe, shave, dress and go out to work simply isn't there 6 days out of 7** (yes, I need a carer - no, I can't get one!).

    **On the 7th day I make a supreme effort, get cleaned up, dressed, and go out to the pub with a friend (going out alone is just too scary), for lunch and a perhaps unwise amount of beer. And before anybody says if I can do that I can go out to work, no I can't - it takes 4 hours to get ready, sometimes longer, and it takes several days to recover from the effort.

    And, of course, at my own computer I'm not expected to work maybe 8 hours a day - I work in spasms, as and when I'm able. I might be in front of my computer 10 hours a day, but that's because this is the most comfortable chair I have, not, as Dorries would no doubt believe, because I'm beavering away for all that time.

    I have a blog post I'll be publishing in a few minutes, when I've finished here which has taken me three days to write. It's a mere 486 words! I don't think even Dorries could sanely claim that's a suitable output for employment.

  7. What are they going to do say "so you can't get out of bed but you can tweet from an iPad? Oh, well no DLA for you!" What a load of rubbish!

    You forget though that the Government are planning to grant themselves access to our bank accounts to see what we're spending the benefits on, and if they decide we are frittering the money away - on such "extravaganzes" as Kindles and other (actually assistive) technologies, they will stop your money.