UK Politics

The Hardest Hit Demonstrations

Being a true scion of the bourgeoisie, I’ve generally had a somewhat (if not totally) sceptical attitude to the #Occupy! phenomenon.  Bob from Brockley notes:

the spectacular, media-oriented, fashion-driven form of the protests, with an emphasis on kettling as an indicator of success and pornographic delight in images of “police brutality”, however unconvincing; a sense of out-of-touchness with the concerns of a lot of ordinary people in the squeezed bottom and middle; the adulation expressed towards the half-arsed superstars of the movement, from buffoon Michael Moore to, more worryingly, Julian Assange; and the predictable heavy presence of the ortho-left

Here’s another interesting post on the issue – particularly Jacob’s account of his odd conversation with a fellow protestor at the end of the day.

Today’s Hardest Hit demonstrations have a more precise focus – cuts in disability living allowance, benefit changes and local service cutbacks.  I’ve covered the ways in which cuts are affecting disabled people here in the past, but here are a few more recent developments.

In the New Statesman it is reported that those appealing against a ruling they are fit to work will lose their benefit while the claim is in train.  Serious doubts have been raised about the fairness of the Work Capability Assessment, and when the WCA was piloted in Burnley, ‘a third of those declared fit for work appealed, and 40 per cent of them won.’

Anne McGuire, the shadow minister for disabled people, has criticised the new universal credit system, saying that it:

would see support for disabled children halved, while the severe disability premium – an extra allowance for many disabled people on income support – would be scrapped with “nothing appropriate put in its place”.

McGuire’s statement has been welcomed by campaigners, some of whom were angered by Labour’s apparent avoidance of these issues at the recent party conference.

Sue Marsh writes effectively here, making the point that the worst consequences of such cuts should – and do – worry people with moderate views, including natural Conservatives.  She describes the devastating effect of cuts on the life of one disabled man and then writes:

As campaigners like myself have tried to explain so many times, no one minds a fair assessment to see what work a person could do, but no-one, anywhere in the country has the appetite for sending people like Mark Saunders to the jobcentre.

We all have ageing parents or face the threat of a minor condition worsening. No-one in the country wants to see severely disabled, bedridden citizens left lonely and lying in their own filth, unable to feed themselves or draw up life saving medicines.

Janet Daley opined recently in the Telegraph that a little belt tightening and thrift might be a salutary experience for many. But as Norm points out – ‘in order to come to a balanced, a compelling, judgement about how good or bad a thing reduced affluence is, one should consider the plight of those who will be hardest hit by it’.  If you are wealthy, or just comfortably off, and manage to hold on to your job, then cuts and inflation may well not have a devastating impact on your life. But many disabled people and carers are already struggling with poverty and complex problems:

The term “hardest hit” is a loaded one – who suffers most is not a competition. It is used because it is true – disabled people are amongst the hardest hit by the cuts and as individuals who are already disadvantaged, will be the ones to feel them most deeply.

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