Pat’s petition may fail because good people did nothing

If you’re thinking, “She doesn’t LOOK disabled,” you’re a fool. Many disabled people don’t LOOK disabled. They hide the pain and try to live lives that are as normal as possible. If you’ve looked at someone with a disabled badge, or who you know claims benefit for a disability, and decided they didn’t deserve it because they don’t LOOK disabled, you need to tell yourself, it’s time to grow up. (In fact, I chose the picture because it represents despair. I have no idea whether the person in it has disabilities or not. But the point deserved to be made).

As I type this, the petition calling on the government to “stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families”, informally known as “Pat’s Petition”, which requires 100,000 signatures to secure a debate in Parliament, has gained just a few more than 60,000.

With less than half a day left (deadline is 10.12am on November 1) it seems likely that it’s not going to make it.

I think those who have signed deserve a vote of thanks. If you are one of those people, then you stood up for what you believed in, and can count yourself one of an extremely select group comprising 0.1 per cent of the UK’s population. Well done. I sincerely wish there were more of you.

The trouble is, I sincerely think there are more of you. The message just didn’t get across – partly because it was choked off by a mass media that has been howling for the blood of the sick and disabled since the government first started suggesting it was going to cut their money.

We’ve all seen the articles about “those filthy benefit scroungers” in the tabloid press, and seen some of them get caught on certain television programmes, and yes – there are a few people like that. But they are a tiny minority and it is monstrous that the actions of 0.4 per cent of claimants – that’s right, less than one per cent – are being used to justify the victimisation of 87 per cent of disabled people – seven-eighths of the total number of claimants. Doesn’t that seem disproportionate to you?

This is the percentage of those who, after going through a so-called ‘work capability assessment’ that we know through – again – TV documentaries is rigged, either lose their benefits completely or are told they will lose them after a period of one year, in which they must find a way to recover from (in some cases) progressively degenerative conditions.

So, if you decided you wouldn’t sign the petition because you think everyone claiming disability benefit is a fraud, then you’re a fool. You’ve let yourself be spoonfed tripe because you were told it’s caviar. I bet you’ve got a bad taste in your mouth right now. You deserve to.

If you want to what is really happening, to people with serious conditions that simply will not get better – no matter how much an ESA assessor or Job Centre Plus desk-jockey says they should – read this.

After that, if you can bear it, you might like to find out what has happened to at least one disabled person who had the audacity to protest against the way she, and fellow people with disabilities, have been treated – by reading this.

But there you go. Protestors cannot rely on the mass media because television stations, newspapers and radio channels are almost exclusively owned by people with a vested interest in keeping the plight of these victims of prejudice well and truly out of the public gaze. Go to sleep, they say. Do what we tell you. You are free… as long as you do what we tell you.

And you suck it on down and swallow it whole, don’t you?

The people behind the petition had to find other ways to promote it – virally, by word of mouth (or by passage from one internet user to their friends) – but clearly the act of lifting a few fingers to put a name to the petition was too much effort for many. That’s all you had to do. Lift your fingers. Hit a keyboard a few times. You didn’t even have to get up out of your chair.

There was an effort to get celebrities to endorse the petition. I’ve tried a few – only those with more than a million followers because I knew the kind of numbers that count and the simple fact is that most people were never likely to sign the petition. But if only one in 10 did, then a person with a million followers would have delivered up enough to get the petition to the next stage. You can probably work out who some of these people are.

That didn’t happen. Maybe they never saw the messages asking for their support – it’s entirely likely, as a person with that many people sending messages to them and only a limited amount of time to respond can’t possibly see everything that they receive. Maybe they were advised against it, for the sake of their careers. Maybe they were as gullible as everyone else who was taken in by the mass media manipulation of the truth. They’re not necessarily bad people just because they did nothing.

But that’s the problem. Einstein put it best: “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”

Look at this: Thanks to a Freedom of Information request – to the government – we know that an average of 73 people a week are dying because their disability benefits have been removed by the government. In your name.

Think about that. Another 73 – on average – will die next week. In your name. Because you did nothing.

Alternatively – prove me wrong. There are still 12 hours left, as I type this. Get your name on the petition. Get your friends to sign it – stand over them until they do, because there really isn’t any time for “I’ll do it later” nonsense. Broadcast to as many people as you can that it needs help and use whatever arguments you need – including the one I just employed about the next death being your fault – to twist their arm and bring them to sign it.

There’s still time to do some good.

… Unless YOU make a conscious decision not to.

25 thoughts on “Pat’s petition may fail because good people did nothing

  1. Jay

    People still don’t care enough because they still don’t understand what is happening – the thing is even if you don’t understand or care what is happening to those of us who are disabled, what about the simple fact that this effects EVERYONE.

    What is happening to disabled people is costing the country more than it’s saving due to appeals, poor value for money from ATOS, making people poorer, and by causing many of us enough stress that our conditions have worsened so we can no longer work. It’s also an issue to prejudice and propaganda, if they’ll go after us who else will they go after and what does it say about our government and so-called independent media that they will hide what’s happening?

  2. Lisa

    A brilliant post – thank you.

    Just to add that Pat’s Petition does want to look at all the changes – complete redesign of the NHS in England, slashes to local authority budgets, loss of legal aid, ending of the Independent Living Fund, changes to blue badges, the list goes on. Every change, on top of welfare reform, affects disabled people and carers disproportionately.

    All Pat is asking for is a pause to look at the bigger picture. Let’s look at the cumulative impact of it all and check how it will affect disabled people. Maria Miller, former Minister for Disabled People, said that was too complicated to do, but noone would ever say that about designing any other complex system.

    Pat’s not suggesting a solution – every supporter will have their own ideas – but surely it makes sense to everyone to pause? As you say, before another 73 die. Please sign now, before it’s too late.

  3. Alex

    I signed the petition when it first appeared. Since then the Government assault on us, the disabled, has become ever more brutal. I, like many, await the sharp descent of the sword of Damocles never knowing when the hair will break but knowing the pressure dealt out by the system that originally helped me, has already broken me.

  4. KEV

    Signed…. Humble apologies for not doing this before….. We’ve been affected by this and won at tribunal. Sadly I fear that nothing will help….

  5. Jean

    No one cares anymore its a terrible society we live in having to beg for benefits and if u do commit suicide then it’s just another number less that they would have had to pay !

  6. Mike Sivier

    It’s now nearly five hours since the petition reached it’s deadline, so you should all know already that we didn’t get to 100,000 signatures. Site states on WordPress tell me that my article sent nearly 500 people to sign the petition; not nearly enough. Probably too little, too late, but I had always been aware of the petition and thought it was widely-enough publicised to win enough votes without too much effort.
    I think everyone who did sign – and there were more than 62,000 by the end – deserves recognition and gratitude. Not only were they aware of something that had passed by most of the population, they actually took action about it.
    I also think there are lessons to be learned, to do with the way petitioners campaign to get signatures. Perhaps there’s a need to be more clever. Multimedia clearly improves popularity – ‘memes’ go around Facebook and Twitter very quickly and a strong message gets an equally strong response. Also YouTube – I was made aware of a short film about Pat’s Petition, but only found out about it last night. Such things need to be memorable in order to be popular. The most popular are always humorous – disability isn’t a humorous subject. But impactful – that’s a possibility.

  7. Jane long

    I tried to sign petition 4 times last night and couldn’t get past code box!!! Think this is also happening with other epetitions.

  8. joan scrase

    I have tried on various occasions to sign pats petition and other petitions that i considered were important for the people of great britains wellbeing and freedoms,human rights,i believe that the code box is being got at so as to prevent numbers of people voting on goverment policies,human/civil liberties seem to be on a regular basis being denied by goverment agencys.

  9. Anna

    Tried to sign this, but it said it was closed… This was the first time I heard about this petition…. needed to be more publicised… Keep petitioning…. More people will keep signing.

  10. Cyril Zeldine

    I was very upset by this, and by what ATOS, JC+, DWP and the state more broadly has been doing for a while.

    I was equally angry to hear about it for the first time today, now that it’s too late. I hope you did get the extra signatures you needed. If not, and I know that you mention a viral campaign and adding to big twitter celebrities etc and have most likely done everything you could think of to get it out there, may I suggest re-launching it, sending it back out to those that have signed and targeting the activist community, trade unions etc. through viral campaigns, twitter, but also FACEBOOK, which more people use as well as the specialist NGOs and activist groups (try getting a message on their lists). Time and again at protests, conferences, actions etc I see many of the same faces, often good people who see much wrong with the world and want to help change it. These people, on the whole, are likely to support you and your campaign and there are many of us out there.

    Again, I wish you luck, patience and perseverence – you’ll get there eventually – because too many people realise that this governments’ cuts are unfair and target the most vulnerable, something most people, when faced with the facts, will find hard to swallow.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The petition has closed now, Jean. If you’re saying you tried to sign before it closed, it seems likely you were one of many who were defeated by the procedure – I understand that, for many people, the Captcha boxes weren’t accepting what was being input.
      There are other petitions on similar subjects, and the wording of a new petition along similar lines to Pat’s is being framed at the moment.

      1. Pat Onions

        Yes we were very aware that some people couldn’t sign for whatever reasons. There is a feedback box on all gov epetitions and if you ever experience it again please fill it in and the dept handling the site will get back to you with an alternative way of registering your sgnature. It is too lengthy to write it all out here.
        I have also had many emails back and forth from said dept telling them of our problems. It was implified in March!
        Pat x

      2. Pete Lumb

        Be sure to let us know Mike I did sign and the important point is that we all get behind ONE replacement petition. A very powerful article indeed. My failure was not pushing other people enough. I do find that hard to do. I suppose needs must.

      3. Mike Sivier

        Are you the Pete Lumb who’s been on TV today in the story about councils bringing people to court over council tax benefit changes? If so, keep fighting! It isn’t the council’s, or the government’s business to tell you what you’re worth.
        Also the Tory they wheeled on to defend the change was a complete waste of oxygen. Brandon Lewis, his name was (for anyone who didn’t see the report). He said Labour’s figures for the number of people brought to court were inaccurate and then suggested that this kind of inaccuracy was what caused the financial crisis. What a fool. The financial crisis was caused by bankers, who had sworn blind that they didn’t need to be regulated, gambling stupidly with other people’s money and getting into huge amounts of debt.

  11. mrs l meek

    i am disabled and struggle so much i have a son with adhd and he is so scared about work as he cannot cope with people has had to leave college but now he is 19 we are not getting anything for him so cant afford to live now

  12. Katie Goddard

    I am sure i signed this and also shared it with others. I’ve only just come back to this as i revisited a sight for people with my condition and saw my my share of this.. When did the red writing go up ? is it 12 hours from today or was this wrote a while ago and it’s too late 🙁 , sorry if this is hard to understand, i’m having trouble explaining myself

    1. Mike Sivier

      It was a while ago, I’m afraid, Katie. There are plans – well advanced – for a new petition, and of course other people have also put up petitions.

  13. lorna maria main

    I dont have energy to fight but now im near the end and want to teach everyone especially parliment

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