I remember a time when disability politics was simply about the issues, providing improved accessibility and greater rights to people with impairments regardless of who was in power. The disability lobby always received a more friendly ear from Labour than the Conservatives but it was all friendly. But in recent years, as sick people and people with hidden impairments have gained a bigger voice, maybe at the cost of the voice of people with significant impairments (who may on reflection may never have had a voice), the agenda has turned from rights and responsibility to welfare and dependency as a desired goal, as the prejudices towards disabled people by disabled people becomes so much more apparent.
The sad reality of this agenda shift is that I believe the disability agenda as been hijacked by the wider socialist movement. By socialism, I am referring to people whose politics is Left of Labour and purport to believe in social justice. These are the people who enjoy attacking the government whatever the reason, and the supposed welfare cuts affecting disabled people are simply the latest in a long line of bandwagon issues which they have hijacked from anti-capitalism to the Vietman War to further back to beyond my time. Social media has galvanised the damaging power they can weld.
This has led me to believe that currently if you are a disabled activist, or claim to be simply one because by write anti-government tweets, you must be a socialist and that you can not be anything but a socialist. This is because a significant minority of people, claiming to be disabled, also have some link to socialism, and feel they have the absolute right to control the current disability agenda, viciously attacking any disabled person who refuses to go against their victimhood agenda. It is clear that the so-called collective has a dislike for disability despite often being disabled themselves and care less about the damage they are causing to disabled people, so long as they can attack this government.
For myself, the only difference between capitalism and socialism in terms of disability is whether the residential care institution people with significant impairments are locked away in are funded by charities or the state, as neither political ideologies has shown its natural desire to include disabled people as contributing citizens because disability is an issue far more complex than to be properly dealt within the simplification of party politics. As a result, I feel in recent years that the personhood of disabled people has been lost and we are all portrayed as victims dependent on the welfare state.
Like it or not there are only a small minority of the 12 million disabled people plus sick people in the country will ever encounter ATOS, even when they start reassessing people for PIP. But because of this fierce minority full of anger and hatred, who I am as a person is lost like so many others. My hobbies, my interests, my roles in society and so much more of who I am is boiled away until all is left is someone labelled ‘profoundly disabled’ and unemployable, with no means to contribute to society, simply reliant on state charity.
I am tired of this misrepresentation of how I am and I will not be silenced. Why should the silent majority of disabled people, who are also not socialists, suffer and be turned into nonsensical statistics, simply to please this minority? The answer right now is that if you refuse to nod your head when they demand, they will bully and intimidate you until you learn to behave, as they have turned social media into their own version of Room 101. And because the public just sees all disabled people as perfect angels who can do no wrong, they simply get away with it!
Impairment can affect anyone regardless of their background and we must assume that disabled people includes a wide range of viewpoints, just like any group, and it is immoral for any political movement to hijack any group for their own agenda. Diversity must be respected and for too many people, these are empty words as the only diversity they accept is the kind their approve of. What changes the world for the better has never been what a collective majority have wanted but the minority and extreme viewpoints of mavericks who have been prepared to challenge the norm and stand up for what they believed in.
I am disabled and I am not a socialist because I am an individual with my own mind, not a sheep following the latest fad because it is easy.