Reasons why I (and other disabled people) hate David Cameron
I think I need to begin this blog by clarifying my use of the word ‘hate’ as I don’t use it lightly. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as having an intense dislike or strong aversion towards someone, which pretty much actually summarises my feelings towards David Cameron. Furthermore, I cannot think of another human being that I would apply this word to. Sure, there are certainly tyrants and evil dictators around in the world today, but none of them have the negative impact on people like me that Dave has.
Way before the election hype and the unholy partnership of the Coalition Government, the writing was already on the wall for us disabled people. Some naïve people initially assumed that, as someone who had a disabled son, we should expect some empathy and support from Dave. But even as far back as 2004 I can remember being appalled by his speeches on ending “the bias towards inclusion” in schools, going against article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. With hindsight this is quite ironic, as personally speaking I’d quite like to remove the Government’s bias towards posh boys who went to Eton – which I suppose is itself a kind of special school, but with much better exam results than the ones I went to.
Had Dave said he wanted to reverse the bias towards the inclusion of another social group, such as Black and Minority Ethnic kids, there would have rightly been widespread accusations of discrimination. Had he wanted to end the bias towards including disabled people in other areas of life, such as employment or housing, there similarly would have been a public outcry. Yet how on earth can we expect disabled adults to play a full, active role in our society if we don’t include them right from the word go? As someone who went to a special school for 15 years, I know how difficult it is when it’s time to leave that closeted, segregated environment and make my way in the big, wide world. No amount of “tough love” and ATOS assessments will undo the damage done.
Then, in 2006, I received an email inviting me to perform at a seminar on future policy around disability. Basically they wanted me to do ten minutes of comedy and then probably pose for the press with Dave to make him look more “diverse”. But as if this prospect wasn’t tempting enough, they expected me to work for absolutely nothing. They weren’t even prepared to pay my travel and access expenses. But again with the benefit of hindsight, this does seem somewhat prophetic, given recent schemes to get jobseekers to work for no pay. It’s all just based on that good, old-fashioned right-wing concept of slave labour!
Anyway being the devious sort of person that I am, I felt I couldn’t just leave it there. So I emailed back my agent at the time, saying I’d still do it anyway as – and these were my exact words – it was “a golden opportunity to piss off the Tories.” But just as I hit the ‘Send’ button, I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was down to my sudden realisation that I’d accidentally selected ‘Reply to All’ and directly emailed Tory Party HQ too. Needless to say, I got a swift response saying my services were no longer required. I may not have got the gig, but this jolly little anecdote became a mainstay of my stand-up act for the next few years as I toured the country, warning people about what they were in for.
But it was at the beginning of this year that Dave showed his true colours and revealed the disdain with which he regards us disabled people, by describing Commons heckling by Ed Balls as like “having someone with Tourette’s sitting opposite you“. This disgusting behaviour from the leader of our country confirmed the worst suspicions of millions of disabled people.
A couple of weeks ago Harriet Harman said that Conservatives cannot be feminists. I’d go one further and argue that disabled people cannot be Conservatives. Of course there’s always the odd notable exception, such as Blackpool Tory MP Paul Maynard… and yes I fully expect more disabled Tories to leave derogatory comments at the bottom of this blog. But given the scandal over ATOS assessments, seriously ill people being found fit for work, the failure to tackle long-term care funding, the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the removal of Disability Living Allowance and the closure of Remploy factories whilst at the same time restricting the Access to Work scheme to name but a few issues, it’s hard to imagine there are many disabled Tory supporters left.
You see, Dave’s vision of Britain is one of family values and self-sufficiency, harking back to a golden age reminiscent of fifties Britain. Unfortunately, due to the lack of support available at the time, during this era the majority of people like me were put into institutions. As a direct consequence of Dave’s cuts, we’re now seeing a return to local authorities institutionalising us against our wishes.
Roll on 2015!Tagged in: benefits, david cameron, disability, Remploy factories, welfare
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