Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled

Sue Marsh reports on the largest march of sick and disabled people in UK history in reaction to the savage, barbaric, inhuman government cuts to vital support.

Sue Marsh blogs at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger

On Wednesday, at least 5000 people in the largest ever UK protest of sick and disabled persons, took to the streets of London. It was supported by leading charities – Mind, Scope, Parkinson’s UK, RNIB, Mencap, Arthritis Care and many, many others. It was also supported by social media groups, campaign groups and by The Guardian and The Mirror. It was a peaceful, successful protest, but that seemed merely to encourage much of the UK media to ignore it.

Did you know, for instance, that protesters carried a vote of no confidence against the minister for Disabilities, Maria Miller? I imagine you didn’t because no-one reported it.

When the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the British Medical Association (BMA) take such action, it makes front page news, but when the sick or disabled do so, it goes unreported.

Did you know that Liam Byrne, shadow minister for Work and Pensions, made a well received speech in a tone that seemed to break away from Labour’s previous line on welfare reform? Did you know that he urged the Conservatives to “force the unemployed into work, not force disabled people into poverty”? I imagine you didn’t because no one ran the speech either live or later on in the day.

Did you know that when the BBC did carry the news, they carried an interview with Miller who claimed: “more people claim DLA for alcohol or drug abuse than for being blind”? Did you know that is simply not true? I imagine you didn’t, because the interviewer didn’t challenge her on it. Nor did any so-called investigative journalist spend a few minutes checking her claim for later bulletins.

The images of people in wheelchairs were followed by Miller trying to distinguish between the “deserving” and “undeserving sick” in a way that ignores all scientific evidence and aims to cause division.

In perhaps the worst ambush of the day, we were asked to take part in a Radio 4 “You and Yours” debate that simply felt like a political broadcast for the coalition, in which callers suggested sick or disabled people had no right to go to a pub, or meet friends for coffee or own a car. Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) was on the show as an “expert” who clearly knew nothing at all of the issues facing sick and disabled people.

He claimed it was our “responsibility” to overcome our conditions and take out payment protection insurance (PPI). These “solutions” totally missed the point that many people disabled from birth would never qualify for PPI and that many conditions will never be overcome, they will only get worse.

This really must stop. While there is, in fact, broad support for some form of welfare reform amongst sick and disabled people, the message that some of the measures being introduced will cause serious suffering amongst this most vulnerable group of all must be addressed and reported on. We are constantly pointing out that people will lose the means of supporting themselves, lose independence and dignity and in some cases lose their lives.

A blanket and lazy acceptance of the government position is ensuring that these measures may well pass into law without undergoing the scrutiny they should.

For how much longer will people stand up to save their trees and their libraries and their allotments, but turn a blind eye to this terrifying attack on profoundly sick and disabled people? If we were cute little puppies, millions would spring to our defence. It is a mark of our society how we deal with more uncomfortable or less glamorous causes. At the moment, I can only conclude that we are failing miserably.

For those who would like to learn more about the protest and why it was necessary, Scope have put together this video of the day; for now, it seems that we will simply have to carry on speaking up for ourselves.

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51 Responses to “Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled”

  1. False Economy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/Z46oJv3 writes @suey2y #hardesthit

  2. paulstpancras

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y

  3. mornington

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/Z46oJv3 writes @suey2y #hardesthit

  4. Sue Marsh

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y

  5. The Dragon Fairy

    “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/fW1Iyyv writes @suey2y” @BrokenOfBritain

  6. Reema Patel

    RT @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/mvHFBe – society failing the disabled. don't forget the elderly, either. great piece on the march.

  7. BendyGirl

    RT @Puffles2010: “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/fW1Iyyv writes @suey2y” @BrokenOfBr …

  8. Karen Vasquez

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y // Great article .

  9. Greg

    "Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled" by @suey2y http://bit.ly/jNe1Gy <- insidious demonisation continues. GRRR!!

  10. Emily Needham

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y

  11. C Blanks

    “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/5Ike7jK writes @suey2y” #HRW #disability #socialjustice

  12. Broken OfBritain

    “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/94vFwq4 writes @suey2y” #TBofB

  13. Broken OfBritain

    “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y” #TBofB

  14. Saskia EeSZed

    RT @BrokenOfBritain: “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y” #TBofB

  15. john peter ingamells

    RT @BrokenOfBritain: “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/94vFwq4 writes @suey2y” #TBofB

  16. salardeen

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/Z46oJv3 writes @suey2y #hardesthit

  17. Helen Woods

    RT @BrokenOfBritain: “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y” #TBofB

  18. helenlp

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y

  19. Douglas

    Brilliant post, Sue. I found it so heartbreaking that the largest protest by sick and disabled people, at a time when our very lives are at stake, was ignored by the media. I’m getting worried – scared, even – that society now sees the sick/disabled as a cost they can’t (or rather, don’t want) to afford. We’re constantly told we are worth less because we often are unable to work, and because we tend to not be big consumers. People are being reduced to their economic usefulness, it seems, and where does that leave the weakest people in society? It leaves us f***ed.

    We’ve been shouting and screaming, but the government definitely has the media on-side now. We’re all “scroungers”, we’re scared because we “don’t understand” the reforms. It is almost as if this is a deliberate campaign to make the weakest in society the victim, to blame us for the economic mess we are in.

    And I almost wonder if it is even more shameful, as you say, that many fellow progressives, socialists and left-wingers can’t be bothered to stick up for us and stand in solidarity.

    I really despair for the future. I really do.

  20. Jean Eveleigh

    If you wish to take part in a virtual protest to call for a vote of No Confidence in Maria Millers as Minister for Disabilities, please send the letter below to you local MP and news agencies and pass along to all your contacts to do likewise

    Many thanks

    ————————————–

    Dear Sir(s)
    I with many others, believe that there should be a vote of no confidence in Ms Maria Miller MP Disabilities Minister for the following reasons:

    1) For failing to fight hard enough to ensure that disabled people receive a fairer assessment of capabilities (specifically the Work Capability Assessment implemented by such companies as ATOS) and which is generally acknowledged to be a flawed test.

    2) I and many others believe that, in the light of the recent/threatened cuts to benefits for disabled people, and the cuts affecting disabled people generally, will bring harm, a loss of dignity and a loss of independence to disabled people both at home and where applicable, in their working lives. I and many others believe that her absence at the ‘Hardest Hit March’ on the 11th of May 2011 shows that she is reluctant to engage directly with disabled peoples concerns.

    3) To the best of my knowledge, I and many others believe that Ms Maria Miller, in her role as MP has not taken a sufficiently strong public stand to protect disabled people from disability hatred. Such disability hatred may include acts perpetrated by the media or individual perpetrators of verbal abuse, violence and/or criminal damage when it occurs.

    It is for the above reasons that I and many others believe that Ms Maria Miller MP is out of touch with the worries, concerns and outrage felt by disabled members of society and therefore, urge ministers to press for a vote of no confidence in Ms Miller.

    Name, Address.

  21. Sue Marsh

    RT @BrokenOfBritain: “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y” #TBofB

  22. DavidG

    Another great post from Sue.

    PPI — isn’t that the one pushing banks into the red for mis-selling, he asks innocently…

  23. Pamela Heywood

    Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://dlvr.it/RcshQ

  24. Sue Marsh

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://bit.ly/keX8m4

  25. Rosa

    Mark Littlewood = blood boiling rage! RT“@suey2y: RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick & disabled http://t.co/jRIDbrS

  26. Robert

    Sorry but why should the media say anything, when the march in London it was the riots which were picked up. As for Labour speech why is it we are now marching when the Tories are in power, nobody was interested when New Labour called us all scroungers, and then went ahead with the new medicals.

    In the end we have two parties Labour and the Tories having meetings to discuss welfare then coming out to tell us we need welfare reforms.

    We have government who would love to take up back to charities collecting money to pay for us to die on the streets.

    Life is great

  27. Andy Bean

    RT @suey2y: RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://bit.ly/keX8m4

  28. Michael

    Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://bit.ly/klDzyS

  29. Sarah Hill

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y

  30. yorkierosie

    “@suey2y: RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://t.co/8YzQg7r >>a must read.

  31. George McLean

    An excellent post, Sue, and I also thought your analytical piece in the Guardian this week was clear and to the point, which much comment is not. Where next? What role can trade unions play in the fight?

  32. Kim Blake

    RT @yorkierosie: “@suey2y @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://t.co/8YzQg7r >>a must read. <THIS

  33. Flash Bristow

    Shocking lies in media: RT @leftfootfwd Society & media are failing the sick & disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe

  34. Sue Marsh

    George – False Economy (TUC blog) have been very supportive and helpful in getting our message across, but of course, you’re right, we don’t have union support really either, because, yep that old chestnut again – we don’t work.
    It really is a case of those unaffected deciding that they will stand in solidarity with those affected. That takes a large degree of empathy if you’ve never been unwell or disabled. Sadly, I fear it will take visible results of these policies to change things. Of course, by then it will be too late.

    Robert – I’m not sure how many more times I can tell you I’ve been opposing ESA since it was announced. I’m regularly critical of Labour on my blog. All the same, if I can make them or the other parties to change their minds, I have to try. They get to vote, they get to veto, they get to decide.

  35. Chris

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y

  36. Sue Marsh

    George – Reading my comment back, I realise it is very misleading. Of course many of us DO work, a point I go to great pains to make regularly. I’m tired and a bit useless today.

    I suppose I was pointing out that by definition many can’t work and wouldn’t have access to union support. WITHIN the workplace, the unions are of course great defenders of sick or disabled workers and provide most of the back up to achieve fair treatment

  37. mr. Sensible

    “He claimed it was our “responsibility” to overcome our conditions and take out payment protection insurance (PPI).”

    What? Brilliant timing, given the few weeks the banks have had with that…

    At any rate, the fact is that there’s a revolving door between the right wing press and the Coalition on welfare reform.

  38. Kaydence Aguilar

    Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled | Left … http://bit.ly/mdiG3n

  39. Nick H.

    RT @BrokenOfBritain: “@leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe writes @suey2y” #TBofB

  40. Nick H.

    RT @FalseEcon: RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://t.co/Z46oJv3 writes @suey2y #hardesthit

  41. Gregory Hansen

    Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled | Left … http://bit.ly/mUG4Sh

  42. Watching You

    RT @TheRightArticle: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://bit.ly/klDzyS

  43. Haro Yousofian

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled http://bit.ly/keX8m4

  44. liane gomersall

    Here’s something I wrote yesterday about the apathy and lack of media coverage:

    Don’t look now.

    Pull down the shutters, put the cameras away-
    it’s not pretty.
    Turn a blind eye; the others cheeks will take the slap.

    Don’t look now, just walk on by-
    Hurry.
    It’s really not your business. It’s not you. Yet.

    Lock the door and close your ears-
    Don’t listen.
    It really doesn’t matter what their voices say.

    Pull the wool over your eyes and the sheets up over your head-
    Look the other way.
    Make sure you see no evil, hear no pain that’s not yours.

    Hush your mouth and keep it quiet-
    Don’t make a fuss.
    Ignore it and it will go away. For now. It’s not you. Yet.

    Close the blind and turn away. Take the phone off the hook-
    Look after yourself.
    Make sure your voice is silent. They don’t mean you.

    Pull the rug out from under them. Put your fingers in your ears-
    They haven’t got a leg to stand on.
    Don’t worry. It’s not you. Or yours. Not yet.

  45. Ross Haffenden

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick & disabled http://bit.ly/keX8m4 Classic lies from Disability Minister #Miller

  46. salardeen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Society and the media are failing the sick & disabled http://bit.ly/keX8m4 Classic lies from Disability Minister #Miller

  47. Clare Fernyhough

    Thanks Sue for taking on this fight; many of us don’t have the means to do so. I listened to your item on Radio 4 and you provided a good defense to the absolutely maddening ‘experts’ and misguided callers.

    It makes me literally sick to continue to take the flack for all that is wrong in this country. Even a few years back before I had to finally give up work, friends and others told me that I should not have any more financial support than an able bodied person and that particularly I shouldn’t have had the support Access to Work provided for me (transport by taxi to wherever I had to work in the county). I felt that I just couldn’t win because whether I was in work or not I would ‘get it in the neck’. I feel ashamed to live in a country where the genuinely disabled are viewed in such a negative light and where propaganda is left unchallenged in the mainstream media who have generally become a mouthpiece rather than a platform for serious journalism.

    I’ve said here before, in just a few years time I face losing my home of 24 years with absolutely no provision for me to afford to live elsewhere, as well as losing my care and the income provided to enable me to live a dignified existence.

    This is why many of us feel that we are staring death in the face. I will not survive for very long sleeping rough.

  48. Daniel Pitt

    Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe #disability

  49. SideStix

    RT @myinfamy: Society and the media are failing the sick and disabled: http://bit.ly/mvHFBe #disability

  50. Consumer

    Oldie but a goodie. The invisibles in society. http://t.co/XXMUG4FI

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