Do you trust anything this government says on disability?
No, me neither, so it was with some caution that I approached a press release from them that editor James handed me to write up.
“Celebrities join forces with disability charity on role models campaign” runs the snappy headline, puffing up a new YouTube channel set up by the government to showcase 50 videos that “promote positive role models for disabled people.”
Included are videos from disabled soap actresses, entrepreneurs, paralympians and MPs, all “with a focus on overcoming barriers.”
But hang on, isn’t it this government itself that’s putting up the most damaging and often insurmountable barriers stopping young (and old) disabled people getting on with their lives? Aren’t they the ones gleefully taking away the money that enables people to get out and do things, and in some cases, simply to live?
A lot has been talked about the positive attitudes to disability that people took away from the Paralympics last year, but ask most disabled people and they’ll tell you that what’s bothering them most are the negative stereotypes this government has been spinning like mad. Weigh it all up and it still comes down to the rhetoric of skivers v strivers, the rhetoric this coalition has been more than happy to both spout at every opportunity.
The government buzzwords in this particular press release are “fulfilling potential” so let’s see just how this coalition is helping the disabled fulfill their potential.
Firstly, they’re reassessing people using the disliked French company ATOS Healthcare who many disabled people now live in fear of. People who were given indefinite awards of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) people with incurable disabilities, are being called up every year for intrusive and worrying tests and are being chucked off DLA in alarming numbers.
Both ATOS and the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) state there are no targets to get a certain amount of people off DLA, even though their published aim is to reduce this part of the benefits bill by at least 20%. Are they just too thick to see that we can put two and two together? Or, more likely, do they think we’re too thick to do the maths? After all, some of us have mental health problems and of course, you can’t trust a mentalist, can you…
Secondly, the very scheme that the likes of Emmerdale actress Kitty McGeever say helped them back into work, the Access To Work scheme, has seen the number of people benefiting from it plummet by over a third since this shower took over running the country into the ground.
The accompanying spiel on the YouTube site says that “The project is about showing what disabled people can do – not what they can’t. This is another meaningless government mantra doing the rounds, just like “we’re on the side of hard working people who want to get on” or “aspiration nation”. Think about them for a minute and they melt into thin air, so insubstantial, ridiculous and nonsensical are they.
Hard working people who want to get on? Get on what? With their lives? Doesn’t everyone want to do that, hard working or not? And what’s all this about “hard working people” all of a sudden anyway? As opposed to lazy people? You know, those scumbags who can’t get a job because this government isn’t doing anything about stimulating the economy as it’s too busy doing a smash’n’grab on the country before it gets kicked out? Those ones, you mean – those feckless feckers? And what is a feck anyway for feck’s sake?
“What disabled people can do – not what they can’t” is one step away from stupid people saying “you can do anything you want, you just have to want it enough.” NO YOU BLOODY CAN’T! I want to have the career of Stephen Fry but I can’t. I want to be able to stand up and sit down without being in terrible pain, but I can’t. I want a yacht, I want a thousand cats, I want a government that will look after me when I’m down. But reality steps in; that nasty creature that DOES limit what you can do; that nasty creature that often takes the shape of a disability and that makes me ineffably sad. But then I suppose we’re not allowed to be sad in these ‘can do’ days either. What the government is essentially saying to all disabled people is: “You can do it, you lazy bastards. You’re just not trying hard enough!”
And I mean, why the hell should a test for your level of disability concentrate on what you CAN do rather than what you CAN’T? You know bloody well what you can’t do: that’s the sodding problem! You also know what you can’t do “repeatedly and safely”, that bit of the test that they’re intent on removing, so that now, if you have a cat and are able to feed it, you’re most certainly able to hold down a 40 hour a week job, plus commute.
I dunno about you but what I want from the government is emphatically not role models saying “Look at me: I can achieve all this,” because right behind the role model is the government itself staring at you from over their shoulder, whispering “Look, you shirker, look. Look at this lass here. She can do it: why can’t you, eh, eh, EH??”
Thus, although I have great respect for the disabled people who have allowed themselves to be used in the videos, used they most certainly have been, as at this very moment we’re engaged in a war, make no mistake about it. It’s this government v this country’s disabled. They either expect us to ‘take up thine bed and walk’ or give up totally and die.
Mind you, I feel exactly the same way about them….
If you want to have a look at these vids, CLICK HERE:
There’s also a link to a Facebook page in the press release but that’s disappeared already. Now, I wonder why….