Since the increase in anti-disabled polemic in the UK, some five years or so ago, I have had to go back on to anti-anxiety medication.
This past week I sold my mobility-scooter, as for the past few years I have been unwilling to use it. This was due to ongoing verbal abuse every time I have used it on my own since the ConDem co-alition came to power. Obviously such attacks shake one's confidence and adversely affect one's independence. The official statistics suggest that there has not actually been an increase in disability discrimination year on year since 2010 - although very slowly the number of crimes reported to the police services has been increasing. So it must just be me & my friends who are experiencing the increase!
On top of these personal and main-stream media (MSM) attacks, my anxiety has been exacerbated by the topsy-turvy nature of politics both here in the UK, in Europe, in the USA, and in Oceania. Logic, rationality, reasonableness, evidence and proof have all been thrown out, to be replaced by extremist ideologies, dogma, propaganda, spin, outright lies and MSM manipulation (including by the once fairly unbiased BBC - see my blog-posts January 2013, February 2013, August 2013, October 2013, June 2014, August 2015), let alone the usual political rhetoric and polemic. How can one respect authority, when the powers-that-be cannot respect the electorate: one simply cannot.
For the past few years I have turned to activism - attending my first ever political demo only a few years ago. Since then, whilst I have attended a handful of protests or demonstrations, due to my chronic ill-health and ongoing disabilities I have mainly acted in the rôle of bedtivist (I am bed-bound for the majority of the year).
I have learned to use my blog, twitter, G+ and of course facebook, and latterly linkedIn, to attempt to apprise, share and promulgate alternative perspectives, evidence, reports and harrowing tales of discrimination and in some cases death at the hands of the state apparatus, mostly via the dreaded and notorious Department for Work & Pensions (or DWP).
In some senses, I am one of the fortunate disabled in the UK: I can afford to engage legal assistance. Most folk who need such, no longer have access to Legal Aid to claim what is rightly theirs. I know myself that I was too ill to pursue appeals with the DWP, so had to let benefits to which I was entitled go by the by in the 1990s. Even now though, I live in dread, as most other chronically sick &/or disabled folk, of the brown envelopes from the DWP or even worse the white ones from ATOS/CAPITA/MAXIMUS - the private companies paid to assess one's fitness-to-work.
Illness & Disability
I have a neurological illness (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 G93.3).
I have a nervous system illness (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 G72.3).
I have musculoskeletal illnesses (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 M15, M16, M17, M18 & M19).
I have a connective tissue illness (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 M79.7).
I have a circulatory system illness (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 I73.0).
I have a digestive system illness (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 K58).
I have a respiratory symptom illness (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 R07.1).
I have a mental disorder illness (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 F06.7).
I have mental & behavioural disorder illnesses (categorised by W.H.O. at ICD-10 F40, F41 & F42).
The chances of me ameliorating permanently are slight at this juncture - obviously precluding any medical advances or divine intervention. My health is so complex and its management so complicated, I have two lead heath-care professionals (HCPs) rather than the usual one. I keep a spreadsheet of all the illnesses, major symptoms and co-morbidities totalling eighty-five in all. The document includes: supporting evidence; frequency; treatment (if any); and, notes. It is thus, no doubt, quite clear the reason for keeping a record for ease of reference.
State Harassment & Warning from History
Despite all this, and the fact I am unlikely to ever be able to hold down a job ever again, the DWP still believes that I need to be constantly re-assessed. Each time this costs the UK tax-payer (I am one myself) hundreds of pounds, even though the outcome is known - not fit to work. This of course is financial madness, as well as being medical lunacy. But the extremist politicos continue their harangue against we spongers and idlers (recalling the NAZI polemic against Germany's disabled in the run-up to WWII).
Some four years ago I posted the following on my facebook page:
[Image description: barbed wire graphic; the text reads -
First they came for the disabled,
and I didn’t speak out -
because I wasn’t disabled.
Then they made millions unemployed,
and I didn’t speak out -
because I had a job.
Then they came for the NHS,
and I didn’t speak out -
because I wasn’t ill.
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Many of my chums eventually signed the WoWPetition, which called for Parliament to debate the war on welfare (previously named social security and paid for via a specific tax called National Insurance contributions or NIC) and specifically calling for a cumulative impact assessment (cia) of all the government's changes and cuts to recipients. The petition gained way more than the necessary 100,000 confirmed signatures. The debate happened in February 2014. The ConDem government refused however to carry out the cia despite the debate having been won. Now under a Tory (Conservative) government WoWCampaign have started another petition to get the cia debated in this new session.
Poll after poll of the public finds majorities against the vast majority of cuts being implemented by the politicians. Up to and including the 2010 elections I had always read the parties manifestos prior to voting to ensure I was aware of their policies and aspirations. The ConDem government blithely ignored their 2010 documents and forged ahead with a co-alition document, which itself was never fulfilled. Prior to the election this year, the Tories promised this and that and already, after a mere six months, they have breached at least twenty of those promises. This makes the political manifesto moot and not worth the paper it is printed upon. If the political parties cannot be trusted to do what they say they will do, then how is the electorate supposed to decide for whom to vote?
Week in, week out, at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), in debates and in committees, we see politicians lying unashamedly in Parliament. They also lie to the MSM, some ministers of government even stoop so low as to feed mistruths and spun statistics to media outlets that will blindly regurgitate them. And there is no redress. There is absolutely nothing the voters can do about it. Parliament either cannot or refuses to hold the miscreants to account.
Now we have the Prime Minister threatening to shut down the second chamber if they do not do what he wants. The result would be no secondary oversight of potential legislation.
The Home Secretary, responsible for internal security, has now defined extremism so broadly that anyone who speaks out against the government, or even a department, can be labelled as an extremist, watched by the security services and subject to detention without trial.
The latest ministerial code advises ministers of the government that they may ignore issues of justice and international law - quite probably illegal, but the UK courts appear to be impotent.
This is NOT democracy: at best it is an oligarchy; at worst, we now have a totalitarian state.
A couple of weeks ago, the Conservative Party conference was held in Manchester - a city in which they have not a single MP nor a single local councillor. A huge demonstration was organised with between 60,000 and 85,000 folk in attendance (depending whose estimate one accepts) in the city centre. This was the largest ever demonstration here. I invited 120 facebook friends, most of whom have complained of some aspect of the austerity agenda or other government polices. Only three attended.
This week the Chinese Premier visited Manchester with the UK's Prime Minister. I was too ill to personally attend the organised demo, so I offered to tweet (@criquaer) in support. Over two hours I typed one key at a time, 123 messages. I managed ten retweets (RTs). This really was not worth the exhaustion and pain that it entailed.
The Mercury is Dropping
The image above has been updated, as more and more of the UK population is effected by the austerity dogma:
[Image description: text as follows -
I NEVER SPOKE UP
First they came for the disabled & sick
and I didn’t speak out - because I was neither.
Then they cut legal aid and I didn’t speak out because
I don’t need any legal advice.
Then they came for the NHS and I didn’t speak out -
because I wasn’t sick
Then they came for the jobless [with sanctions, etc]
And I didn’t speak out because I had a job.
Then they came for the renters [with benefit caps &
bedroom tax] And I didn’t speak out because I don’t
rent a home.
They cut the Independent Living Fund and I didn’t
speak out because I’m not disabled
Then they took child benefit & tax credits
And I didn’t speak out because I have no children.
Then they came for the trade unions [ to stop strikes]
And I didn’t speak out because I’m not in a union.
Now they’ve come for me -
And tehre’s no one left to speak to me
My only slight hope for the UK is that Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the Labour Party, espouses policies that the vast majority of Brits also back - the electorate is to the left of all the neo-liberal parties. He is backed by the party's electorate but not by the party's parliamentarians. After May's local elections, we may be in a better position to feel more hopeful or equally despondent. However, I thoroughly expect him to be assassinated - I am turning into a cynic!
It looks as if my move to Scotland will remain on the cards, although a tad delayed. Although, that should not be taken to imply that I fully support all that the SNP are doing; they do at least actually still believe in and are attempting to support social justice.
Time to Say Farewell…
Time to Say Farewell…
In the meantime, I do not feel or believe I can waste any of my very limited time & energy on activism, or at least not in its current form. Unless, I can be convinced otherwise, I shall shortly disassociate myself from all political &/or campaigning groups and turn off the notifications of activist chums, as well as refusing to read anything else on politics. There just seems no real point in continuing to hit one's head against the proverbial brick-wall...