Encouraging words about disability – masking a sinister intent?


Even when David Cameron is saying something positive, we need to look for the hidden meaning, it seems.

This week, in Comedy Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron fielded a query from Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland about last year’s Paralympic Games. Mr Mulholland said: “We were all hugely inspired by the wonderful Paralympic Games in London last year – not only a triumph for sport but also a triumph for perceptions of disability.

“Will the Prime Minister welcome the ‘Generation Inspired’ report which is going to be presented to Downing Street today, as a great opportunity to use the legacy of this to improve the lives of young disabled people?”

On the face of it, this might seem very bright and noble – reminding us all of our paralympians’ achievements and making a commitment to keep trying to help them, so that their aspirations will not outstrip the support they receive.

But let’s all remember that this question was being put in the same week that Channel 4’s Dispatches programme aired a documentary about the disappointment that awaited our paralympians after the Games – the loss of interest, the loss of help and, crucially, the loss of benefits.

It seems that they are capable of work, you see.

Look at Mr Cameron’s response in this context.

“I thought that the Paralympic Games were an absolute triumph for Britain – the way they were put on, and also the way that the auditoria, the stadia were full for almost every single event.” On the face of it, very supportive.

But then he said: “I thought it was a great testament to the generosity of people in this country and their enthusiasm for paralympic sport, but I think the most important thing is the change in perception about what disabled people are capable of, and I think that is a real gift and something we should encourage.”

A “change in perception about what disabled people are capable of”? This is very worrying indeed. He’s saying that the performances of athletes are comparable to the abilities of other people with disabilities – many of whom struggle simply to get out of bed in the morning and get dressed!

Would he have grouped his late son together with paralympians in the same way?

It is completely unrealistic to compare the two – akin to equating a marathon runner with a 50-year-old woman with a tendency to overweight, who survives on junk food and runs a supermarket checkout all day (with apologies to any such ladies who may exist).

He thinks that’s a “real gift”? There can be only one reason for that – it’s a gift because it supports his government’s policy of clearing disabled people – real, honest, disabled people who deserve state benefits to help them survive – off the benefit books.

If the wider public perception of disabled people is that they can compete and win in Olympic sports, then that’s half Cameron’s work done for him. No wonder he said it was “something we should encourage”!

Perhaps you thought the Paralympics were excellent – and they were. Maybe you thought they struck a blow for recognition of disabled people – and they did.

But not all disabled people are the same. I’m no marathon runner – and I consider myself to be relatively fit.

But I’m not superfit. Neither are the majority of disabled people even remotely able to achieve the feats of our Paralympians.

Cameron should be ashamed of himself for trying to group them all together in this way.

At the very least, Conservatives across the UK should be ashamed of him.

24 thoughts on “Encouraging words about disability – masking a sinister intent?

  1. aussieeh

    Hello again,
    I have just paid a visit to the Benefits and Work website and this seems to be the latest drivel coming for our glorious leaders, it is posted OPEN ACCESS so here goes, it may be of interest.

    ESA appeals nightmare confirmed
    Created on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 23:45

    Category: Latest news

    Claimants could be left without any income replacement benefit at all when challenging a decision that they are fit for work, the government has confirmed. Once the new system of mandatory reconsiderations before appeals is introduced, employment and support allowance (ESA)claimants will lose their right to be paid the assessment rate when they first challenge a decision.

    Instead, they will have to try to sign on as available for work and claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or manage without either benefit until the reconsideration has been carried out. Only once an appeal has been lodged will they be able to reclaim ESA. The decision to refuse to pay ESA during the reconsideration period was confirmed by Lord Freud on 13 February, when he told the House of Lords:

    “I turn now to ESA. At the moment, if someone appeals a refusal of ESA, it can continue to be paid pending the appeal being heard; this is not changing. What is changing is that there can be no appeal until there has been a mandatory reconsideration. So there will be a gap in payment. In that period-and I repeat that applications will be dealt with quickly so that this is kept to a minimum-the claimant could claim jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit. Alternative sources of funds are available. Of course, he or she may choose to wait for the outcome of the application and then, if necessary, appeal and be paid ESA at that point.”

    However, there is no time-limit for how long the DWP can spend carrying out a mandatory reconsideration. Given the ever increasing workload and ever decreasing staff numbers, the probability of reconsiderations being carried out in weeks rather than months does not seem high.

    In addition, some people attempting to claim JSA may find Jobcentre Plus staff attempting to refuse to accept their claim on the grounds that, because of their health condition, they are not available for and actively seeking work. This may be particularly the case as claimants are likely to be required to continue submitting sick notes in relation to their ESA claim whilst presenting themselves as fit for work in relation to their JSA claim. Claimants may well find themselves in the nightmare scenario of being found too fit to claim ESA but too sick to claim JSA.

    Even the start date for the new mandatory reconsiderations for ESA is the subject of confusion. DWP and ministerial statements refer to a start date in April for PIP mandatory reconsiderations and October for ESA. The draft regulations, on the other hand, give a start date of 8th April for PIP and 29 April for ESA, JSA and universal credit mandatory reconsiderations. We’ll keep you posted.

    1. Sasson

      I just want to note that this is already happening. A friend of mine was turned down for ESA after assessment, but was not allowed to claim JSA as he was unfit for work. This also happened to another friend of mine who had to wait 18 MONTHS until his benefit resumed. Luckily both had mothers who kept them while they fought this; some aren’t so lucky. I was also told I couldn’t claim JSA when I had to give up my job through ill health 3 years ago.

      Both these people were back paid, but ESA ‘reconsideration period’ will not be back paid. It is also suggested that if people try to claim JSA this may well invalidate the ESA claim as you are declaring your fitness to work a 40 hour week. In any case, chronically disabled people just won’t be fit enough to risk being put on the work programme. Also I and others can’t use public transport and need help with pushing a wheelchair, so where would the money come from to pay for that? DLA will also stop, and this also will not be back paid; people will have to re apply for that. You cannot claim income support as a sick person anymore as this doesn’t exist. You can claim housing/council tax benefit on the basis as a person with no income.

      People will have to find the money though for utilities, the bedroom/council tax charge and food. They can apply to charities, but they are apparently over-run at present. There are food banks, but I and others can’t use public transport and with no money for taxis to get there we’re stumped. Also there is a limited amount of times that you can apply to food banks.

      This has to be the most heinous of the welfare reforms. We all need to write to M.P.s now about this. People have died of starvation in the last few weeks due to their benefits being stopped, and more will die too if this goes ahead.

      I am ashamed of this country.

  2. Juli

    The words “the change in perception about what disabled people are capable of” – or similar were voiced over and over during last summer and I shuddered at the time for exactly the reasons you’ve cited…

  3. nic murphy

    if he thinks that paraolympians are an example of what every disabled person can do, maybe Cameron should show us how good he is at running the 100 m dash in under 10 s. After all, I have seen plenty of able bodied olympians run the 100 sup 10, and cameron as an able bodied individual should therefor be able to do the same.

  4. Jack Johnson

    If ever I was convinced that Tories are evil lying bastards I more convinced
    by them more and more each day,that anyone who votes for them knowing
    the damage they are inflicting on society is greedy, selfish and irresponsible.

  5. Kim Forbes

    My son is disabled. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, OCD to the point where he is afraid to leave his bedroom for days at a time (keeping the curtains closed and the lights off), psychosis with horrible images and paranoid thoughts constantly invading his mind, borderline learning disabilities, a severe personality disorder and he also self-harms, leaving his whole body covered in scars. He is medically deemed “unemployable”. But he can run like the wind, lift weights, is fastidiously clean, tidy and organised (part of the OCD) and his artwork is amazing. All of this after a lot of exhausting encouragement and support.
    I have a 1st Class Honours in Criminology and Social Policy, an HNC in Social Care and quals in psychology and counselling. I dreamed of working in the rehabilitation of offenders sector and worked like crazy for those quals. But I can’t now, as I am my son’s fulltime carer, because the system failed him, due to LACK OF FUNDING, RESOURCES AND TRAINING! Take away his DLA and I will still remain his carer, but he will never come out of his room again! I can’t work because he cannot be left alone for any length of time and my husband (who is self-employed) is exhausted with trying to keep a roof over our heads. Oh, and my son’s psychiatrist says that I am doing the government a favour!!!

      1. jack johnson (@jackjoh01219520)

        I said the government was stupid to waste talents,but it is more than stupid,
        it is deliberately using the power of the state to impoverish people and that
        to me in any definition is evil and must be stopped.Hitler would have been
        proud of them but he was more direct in the way he disposed of people.

    1. Peachy

      Kim- your email reminds me so much of us, Son 1 is alittle younger (teens) but very similar, he attends a Base for children with an ASD but when he hits 16 will go from HR DLA (becuase his aggression means supervision) to 0 PIP as a result of how the descriptors fall; I have managed to obtain a BA (hons) and have almost completed a part time MA in Autism but can I work? nope. Hopefully my husband can arrange working from home shortly but Universal Credit seems pitted against those in self employment; we are the strivers, we are also the ignored! When my son was treated for eating disorders at age 10 the CAMHs lady asked me to teach ehr about autism. Yet I learned today that people on remand are exempt from bedroom tax and carers not- I give up.

      1. Kim Forbes

        Hi there!
        Carers get nothing! But, as I mentioned before, we are “doing the government a favour”! My son went to a specialist school ( for which I had to fight for six years) and I was constantly reminded by the education authorities of how “lucky” he was to be given a place, that it was costing 500,000 per year to send him there and that he was 1 in 500 to get a place (!). Prior to that, when he was in mainstream and if I could get him out of the door to get him there, he sat behind a screen in the “support” bay as the teachers complained that they were not payed to “deal” with him! He got a place when he was 13. He did well, but then they dumped him into the community when he was 18 into a filthy little council flat with inappropriate support, despite all the promises! I brought him back home three years later after he attempted siucide.
        Congratulations for getting your degree! I know only too well how much work you will have had to put in on top of everything else you have had to deal with. When I had a possible chance to get work, despite my qualifications, I was told that I lacked experience due to my years at home as a carer ( my youngest daughter also has AS). At least you and I and others like us, have proved to ourselves at least, that we could have been of great benefit to the workforce. It’s their loss in the end! I welcome you to keep in touch.

  6. Ghost Whistler

    ‘alternative sources of funds’?

    Is he specifically referring to JSA, or does he have something else in mind.

    Anyone doubting the corrupt nature of our political system need look no further thant his shameless capitalist, ‘Lord’ Fraud. An utter disgrace.

  7. Peachy

    Absolutely! I have 2 sons with a disability (autism), one is actually very able physically- and when school tried him at the local atheltics trials, he just couldn;t cope with the venue and crowds. Same as a paralympian? no. The other would run the wrong way around the track and then possibly wander off towards an interesting bug, oblivious. Of course this misses something crucial: the Paralympics serves only one part of the disability community, the Special Olympics a different portion. Notice how he does not champion this event.

  8. Martin Kroupa

    £71 per week ESA assessment phase or JSA – pretty little but vital to survive for disabled claimants. The mandatory reconsideration before appeal can be indefinite. Individually it may take moths or years. I think it is set so to put the claimants off claiming their benefits.. I noticed the same behaviour DWP has displayed towards EU immigrants who lost jobs and claimed JSA. DWP simply let them waiting to hear about their claims for so long that they either found another job in the meantime or left the country to avoid hardship and homelessness. If someone appealed after his/her claim was rejected, they could whistle for Tribunal for over a year. But, how many could afford to wait for that long? Their landlords would certainly not wait a year for their rent. I have never heard of any EU claimant has had a legal aid provided, despite DWP falsely declaring equality policy.

    I am not writing this to whinge about DWP racist discrimination against EU workers in UK. I would rather point out the similarities in DWP unofficial policies it uses against minorities. Members of both the minority groups can be left pretty much destitute by the state.There are however two major differences between the two groups. When an immigrant loses his/her job they may still find another job (despite language barrier etc.) or to leave the country. When a disabled claimant loses his/her benefit they are unlikely to find themselves a paid job and they cannot leave the country to seek help from family abroad. If the disabled person’s family was not willing to look after him/her using their own funds they would be destined to die in starvation and homelessness. Think – this is happening in the 21st century in one of worlds wealthiest countries that calls itself a developed and civilized.

    The UK ruling class nowadays are nothing but new era fascists. I am not sure what to think about the one that claims to reign it. Does she not give a damn?

  9. Sasson

    As I said above, if a claimant if finally successful in an ESA appeal, they will NOT be back paid for the reconsideration period.

    This means that for big chunks of possibly ever year, a claimant will be without income, and even if back paid for the qualifying period, the upshot of this is that it is a MASSIVE cut in the overall benefit paid.

    I have good family and friends, but none can afford to keep me for large parts of every year. Some people have no one, and recently people have died of starvation after having benefits removed.

    One can only hope that every single person affected by this visits their M.P.s surgery. Only by highlighting this issue to them will allow it to be directly raised in parliament.

    Not that I hold out much hope…

  10. john

    I was worried at the time of the paralympics that they would try to use those who competed as the benchmark for every other disabled person. Osborne was roundly booed by the crowd when, in a delusional state, he thought people actually liked what he was doing and expected to be applauded when entering the arena. I

    If that hadn’t happened we would have had by now more overt forms of manipulative behaviour from politicians who would try to create a “strivers v shirkers” divide amongst disabled people as they have done with the unemployed. Only the “grey vote” is stopping them doing it openly with the young v old.

    The spin of the politicians covers cruel intent.

  11. Kim Forbes

    Is anyone else scared? I am! What is going to happen to my son when I die? How are our children and future generations going to fare in this hidious and oppressive system that is developing?

  12. john

    There is a kind of fear they want – people too scared to speak out in case they get sanctioned or demonized by them.

    But you and everyone else who fears their policies and reacts to them in whatever way they can do make a difference. Look how Sue Ryder last week had to back away within a couple of days of social media pressure from using forced unpaid labour, including disabled people, supplied by the DWP. See how the Nationwide had to back away yesterday from plans to exclude people on LHA from private landords who had mortgages with them within a day of social media pressure being exerted.

    Keep it up!

  13. Ian Wolton

    You should not call cameron a comedy p.m.
    Because being responsible for 73 deaths a week is not fucking funny at all!

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