As the year of 2013 draws to a close, it is time to think about 2014 and consider what it has in store for disabled people on a political level, and I am not sure there is much good news here. While I have, as always, high hopes for my own situation in the coming 12 months, I fear for disabled people on a political dimension that there will be a continuation of the confusion, lies, mistruths and negative portrayal that has dogged us since 2010, and that does not include the actions of the government!
I feel disabled people’s biggest problem right now is that the issue of disability has been well and truly hijacked by the anti-cuts movement as they use the issue as their main weapon of attack. This is also true of what I am now calling the ‘work shy’ movement, a movement that likes to call themselves the ‘sick and disabled’ movement but I feel it is unfair and wrong for these people to claim to represent all sick and disabled people, when they are simply about one way of thinking, and that is a way I find quite offensive.
The ‘work shy’ movement is led by people like Sue Marsh, and Kaliya Franklin (better known as Bendygirl), who represent a negative ‘medical model’ way of thinking about disability, where ignoring 40 years of disabled people explaining they are citizens who face societal barriers, believe disabled people are naturally inferior who therefore can not work, despite them both now working as full-time ‘work shy’ activists. Their thinking is made worst by a pro-welfare ideology that assumes disabled people, as well as the unemployed in general, have a greater right to be dependent on the state, because of the pity of the middle class, than the right to be fully contributing members of society. The fact Sue Marsh invites members of her ‘work shy’ community to shred tears at the sight of people she considers too profoundly disabled for her imagination to bear, which would include myself if she did not know who I was, demonstrates the damage to society the workshy movement is doing.
The life of this parliament has been shadowed by the actions of the newly formed ‘work shy’ movement and the only hope I have for 2014 is that the possibility that is success of this terrible movement has peaked and that we can now start to move forward as we approach hopefully a new Labour government. There is only so many times this movement can complain about cuts that has not materialised in the all out chaos they hoped, so many times there can turned the fact the government, particularly Ian Duncan Smith, has misquoted a statistical figure by 0.1% into a media scandal, and so many times they can publish reports they claim contain facts where they refuse to provide evidence, describing themselves as political prisoners to excuse their CIA-like actions.
It is interesting to note that the big project of the ‘work shy’ movement in 2013 was the ‘Wow petition’, a desire to turn disability social policy back 150 years, and while it did reached the necessary signatures, considering the supposed public support it had, it just managed to limp past the finishing post, offering real disabled people hope that maybe, the tide is turning and we can begin to focus on more positive things, that are actually relevant to the real lives of real sick and disabled people.
So as 2014 sees the race to the next general election begin and where people, including the media, will be looking for solutions, rather than an another round of “I told you so”, the holes of the ideology of the ‘work shy’ movement may be further exposed, not just by brave or stupid souls like myself, and their creditability may be shattered, as history could and should regard them as a short-lived movement that was a small scar on the liberation of disabled people. If this is indeed the case, and 2014 will see the demise of this dreaded movement, please do remember you heard this prediction here first!